National Assembly - 29 January 2009



The House met at 14:01.

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


                             NEW MEMBERS

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, I have to announce that the vacancies that occurred due to the resignations of Mr M E George, Ms N M Mahlawe and Ms M A Njobe, and loss of membership of the National Assembly by Mr S L Dithebe have been filled by the nomination with effect from 27 January 2009 of Mr D R Rwexu, Mr J M Matshoba, Ms A D N Qikani and Mr D Erleigh respectively.

In terms of section 48 of the Constitution, members of the National Assembly must swear or affirm faithfulness to the Republic and obedience to the Constitution before they begin to perform their functions in the Assembly. The CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: The members are waiting outside to be sworn in. [Laughter.]

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That is not a point of order.

Ningixolele inkonyane ithuka isisila. [Please bear with me, I am still new.]

Would two members please accompany the new members into the Chamber? [Applause.]


Mr D R Rwexu, Mr J M Matshoba, Ms A D N Qikani and Mr D Erleigh, accompanied by Ms J L Fubbs and Ms N D Ngcengwane, made and subscribed the oath and took their seats.

                          NOTICES OF MOTION

Mrs C DUDLEY: Madam Deputy Speaker, on behalf of the ACDP I give notice that I shall move:

That the House –

  1) noting that the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatima Hajaig
     is alleged to have made anti-Semitic comments at a public meeting
     in December;

  2) noting that such comments have caused the SA Jewish Board of
     Deputies to lay a formal complaint with the SA Human Rights

  3) calls upon the Deputy Minister to withdraw the comments and
     apologise to the Jewish community if such remarks were made; and

  4) calls upon this House to debate the rising levels of anti-Semitism
     both locally and internationally.

Thank you.

The CHIEF WHIP OF THE OPPOSITION: I hereby give notice that I shall move:

That the House-

  1) debates the current crisis surrounding the government’s provision
     of bus subsidies to bus operations; and

  2) considers possible solutions to this crisis. Thank you.

                        MOTION OF CONDOLENCE

                      (The late Mr Jan Van Eck)

The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move without notice:

That the House –

  1) notes with profound sadness the untimely death of Comrade Jan Van
     Eck, who passed away on Tuesday, 27 January 2009;

  2) further notes that Van Eck became a Member of Parliament in 1986
     representing the Claremont constituency and in 1992 joined the ANC
     together with four other Democratic Party MPs;

  3) recognises that for his principled stance against the National
     Party and its policy of apartheid, as such, he was ordered out of
     Parliament twice by the Speaker for refusing to withdraw
     ``unparliamentary’’ criticism of NP leaders on their complicity in
     police brutality towards activists;

  4) recalls that, over the past nine years, Van Eck’s role in Burundi
     was described as: ``What was in the beginning a relatively-speaking
     passive, `listening’ one, to that of a resource person on conflict
     resolution and negotiations, and more recently that of an active
     though informal, independent peace facilitator.’’;

  5) believes that his efforts were aimed at contributing towards
     reconciliation, ongoing negotiations, the search for home-grown
     compromise solutions and the progressive development of a
     democratic culture amongst the countries of the Great Lakes and
     Burundi in particular;

  6) remembers that Van Eck was a man of principle, peace, justice and a
     leader of integrity who has devoted his life for the betterment of
     others and that his honesty, objectivity and dedication helped him
     in getting closer to the real truth regarding the fears, concerns
     and objectives of the different and opposing parties than most
     other international players;

  7) further remembers that Van Eck was also recently named a Paul
     Harris Fellow by the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International `` …
     in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for
     the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations
     among peoples of the world.’’; and

  8) conveys its condolences to the Van Eck family and the African
     National Congress, and wants to assure them that the loss they
     sustained is not theirs alone but equally felt by Parliament.

Agreed to.

                       SECOND-HAND GOODS BILL

                         (Draft Resolution)

The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, I move without notice:

That the House -

(1) notes that it agreed to the establishment of the Mediation Committee on the Second-Hand Goods Bill [B 2D - 2008] (sec 76(1)) on 27 January 2009 and that the composition of the committee was not complete;

(2) elects the following member, as nominated by his party, as a representative in the Assembly component of the committee: Mahote, S (ANC); and

 3) elects the following member as an alternate member: Mabena D C

Agreed to.


                         (Draft Resolution)

The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Madam Deputy Speaker, on behalf of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, I move:

That the House, subject to the concurrence of the National Council of Provinces and notwithstanding the decision of the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces ratified by the House on 27 January 2009, which inter alia specified that the Ad Hoc Joint Committee to consider Matters in terms of Section 12 of National Prosecuting Authority Act has to report by 9 February 2009, extends the deadline to 11 February 2009.

Agreed to.


                         (Draft Resolution)


That the House revives the following item, which was on the Order Paper and lapsed at the end of the 2008 annual session, for consideration by the National Assembly:

 1) Consideration of Report of Joint Constitutional Review Committee in
    terms of section 45(1)(c) of Constitution for 2007 (Announcements,
    Tablings and Committee Reports, 26 June 2008, p 1437).

Agreed to.

                     ANC VICTORY IN BY-ELECTIONS

                        (Member’s Statement)

Ms J L FUBBS (ANC): Hon Deputy Speaker, members of the House, it is really a celebratory day for the ANC, which won 23 out of 27 contested wards yesterday. [Applause.] This again demonstrates unequivocally the confidence and trust the people of South Africa have in their organisation, the ANC.

As a mass-based organisation rooted among the people of our country, it reaches out to every sector of society and indeed every corner of our country. Yes, we do have the capacity to bring all the members of our society together to make changes happen faster. We can do this together.

Recently in the Northern Cape, the most hotly contested of all provinces, the ANC vindicated itself and won 11 out of 15 words, with one result unknown. [Applause.] Claims that the ANC has been losing support in the province, have been a gross exaggeration of the facts on the ground. It is time where you all consulted our people effectively.

As the ANC prepares for the next general election it will mobilise the members and supporters … [Interjections.] [Time expired.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr L K JOUBERT (DA): Deputy Speaker, the DA notes reports in the press that Advocate Musi Mkhize is a contender to succeed Vusi Pikoli as the National Director of Public Prosecutions. We note this with serious concern. Mr Mkhize is a former legal representative of Mr Jacob Zuma and should, under no circumstances, be put in a position to decide whether his former client is to be charged with 783 counts of fraud, bribery and corruption.

Further, we believe Mr Mkhize’s disciplinary record disqualifies him from the National Director of Public Prosecutions post, since the National Prosecuting Authority Act requires an individual appointed as national director to be a fit and proper person of conscientiousness and integrity. The DA does not believe that the President should have the sole prerogative to appoint the NDPP, and as such we will submit draft legislation to curtail the President’s powers in this regard at the earliest possible opportunity. I thank you. [Applause.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr H J BEKKER (IFP): Madam Deputy Speaker, the IFP has noted the indexes indicating that inflation in South Africa is indeed slowing down. The annual rise in the Consumer Price Index inflation gauge targeted for monetary policy is down to 10,3% from the previous 12,1% in November.

The headline consumer price index which will replace the CPIX as the official inflation target has indeed slowed down to 9,5% as against the 11,8% in November. With inflation dropping down to more acceptable levels and against the backdrop of international economic turmoil, it would be prudent for the Governor of the Reserve Bank to seriously consider dropping the repo rate by a full 100 points, which will practically mean a one per cent drop at the next meeting of the monetary policy committee.

Indeed, I believe there is sufficient scope for the Governor to even consider a larger cut in the repo rate in the months to come. Consideration must be given to the fact that the South African economy has to remain internationally competitive, whereas most of the larger world economies have dropped their bank rates dramatically to even as low as a base rate of one to two per cent.

It is simply imperative that South Africa must remain competitive, particularly with regard to our export markets. [Time expired.]

                         FIGHT AGAINST CRIME

                        (Member’s Statement)

Ms M M SOTYU (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, the ANC views crime as a major national challenge and the fight against crime and its causes remains a priority of our government for the next five years. As a result of this commitment the ANC government has established an integrated and seamless National Criminal Justice System Information Technology database containing all information relevant to the criminal justice system and reviews and harmonises the template for gathering information relating to the criminal justice system.

The ANC believes that the national struggle for freedom was the critical overarching vehicle to bring about peace, security and stability to our society. In dealing with issues of crime, the ANC proceeds from the premise that a rising quality of life also means improvement in the safety and security of citizens in their homes and environs where they live, work and engage in extramural activities.

However, government cannot fight crime alone. A critical focus therefore must be placed on mobilising society to make life difficult for criminals in our midst; mobilising communities and the establishment of street committees to assist law enforcement agencies.

The ANC-led government’s overall programme of national democracy and transformation will eradicate the conditions that breed social crime, so shall our contribution also create an environment of peace, stability, economic growth and social development in South Africa and on the rest of the continent. I thank you. [Applause.]

                     2010 WORLD CUP SAFETY PLAN

                        (Member’s Statement)

Mrs C DUDLEY (ACDP): Madam Deputy Speaker, the ACDP is alarmed that South Africa’s current 2010 World Cup Safety Plan has not sufficiently provided for the rights and safety of young people. Nor do we have an effective regulatory system to monitor pornography sites and sex offenders, whose activity is likely to rise along with other exploitive crime as we approach the World Cup.

The ACDP is, however, pleased to hear that the United Nations Campaign led by former Springbok Rugby Captain, Dawie de Villiers, to stamp out sexual exploitation is making a major international impact; and establishing a global code of ethics for tourism which reflects the responsibilities of all stakeholders. But what is South Africa’s position? On the one hand we hear statements by the former chief of police and some ANC Members of Parliament supporting the legalising of prostitution for the 2010 World Cup; while on the other, the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development expresses the admirable intention to have new legislation on human trafficking in place by the end of the year.

Clearly a contradictory position, as it is impossible to separate issues of prostitution and human trafficking. Surely, in an Africa where the shame and tragedy of the slave trade is still so keenly felt, we should be passionately protecting the rights of all our people against slavery and exploitation of every kind. The public is unmistakably against proposals to legalise prostitution and there are concerns that, with less than 500 days to the World Cup and with the high rate of Aids deaths, the government is not taking this issue seriously enough. What is government’s position and what are its intentions?

The ACDP also calls on all parties to be upfront with the electorate on these issues. Thank you.


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mnr I E JENNER (OD): Speaker, die Onafhanklike Demokrate is bekommerd oor die steeds stygende voedselpryse wat talle Suid-Afrikaners in behoeftigheid gedompel het.

Die OD veg aanhoudend vir die reg van ons mense om nie hul sakke leeg hoef te maak net sodat hulle die basiese items kan koop nie. Dis egter `n verligting en verblydend om te hoor dat daar groot maatskappye is wat daartoe verbind is om ons mense se lewensstandaard en nood te verlig. Meer gesprekke van hierdie aard moet plaasvind sodat ons mense se belange eerste kan kom, en dan moet die daad by die woord gevoeg word om dit te laat geskied. Ons doen ook ’n beroep op groothandelaars om nie net aan winste te dink nie, maar om op ons mense se swaarkry te fokus, en meer ondersteuning word benodig om te verseker dat hulle kos kan bekostig.

Die grootste uitdaging in ons land is dat armoede, wat geen kleur of partypolitieke assosiasie ken nie, steeds die grootste bedreiging is. Die platteland word die ergste hierdeur geraak omdat daar min, of bykans geen, ekonomiese aktiwiteite plaasvind nie. Die inwoners van ons land se hoop is op ons gerig om hulle omstandighede indringend te verander. (Translation of Afrikaans member’s statement follows.)

[Mr I E JENNER (ID): Speaker, the Independent Democrats are concerned about the ever-increasing food prices that have plunged many South Africans into indigence.

The ID is continually fighting for the rights of our people to not have to empty their pockets simply to buy the basics. It is, however, a relief and gladdening to hear that there are big companies that are committed to uplifting our people’s standard of living and alleviating their need. More discussions of this nature should take place so that our people’s interests can come first, and words must then be put into action for this to be realised.

We also want to appeal to wholesalers to not only think of profits, but to focus on our people’s suffering, and more support is needed to ensure that they can afford food.

The greatest challenge in our country is that poverty, which knows no colour or party-political association, remains the biggest threat. The rural areas are the worst affected, as very little, or almost no economic activity takes place there. The hopes of the inhabitants of our country are directed at us to change their circumstances significantly.]

                     CHALLENGES OF FOOD SECURITY

                        (Member’s Statement)

Mrs N M TWALA (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, the ANC is committed to creating an environment that ensures that there is adequate food available to all; that we grow our own food and protect the poor communities from the rising prices of food and eradicate hunger.

In response to challenges arising from food security, the ANC government will embark on the following, amongst other things:

Introduce “food for all” programmes to procure and distribute basic food at affordable prices to poor households and communities; the government will develop an appropriate institutional approach for the implementation of this programme; introduce measures to improve the logistics of food distribution such as transportation, warehousing, procurement and outsourcing in order to reduce food prices in the long term; continued enforcement of stronger competition measures will be used to act against food cartels who collude to inflate food prices.

The ANC welcomes the commitment made by Pick n Pay to summon their suppliers to look at how come food prices go up while the international oil prices go down. We call upon other retailers to emulate this example set by Pick n Pay.


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr I S MFUNDISI (UCDP): Deputy Speaker, the plight of the working poor is exacerbated by the ANC-led government that owes bus companies over R1,5 billion in subsidies. Much as the country, led by the ANC government, may try to look good to the world by ensuring that the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, Fifa, 2010 World Cup becomes a success, that may also fail as workers may not make it to work and, therefore, not have the stadiums completed on time.

The UCDP calls on government and the Department of Transport, in particular, to do their utmost to find money and meet their contractual obligation to the transport service providers. Pleading poverty is out of the question as services have been rendered as agreed to by the department. We support the bus companies that have gone to court in an effort to extract what is due to them from the radical central government.

It is unthinkable that a Black-led government would ever mete out such treatment to people who try to lead an honest living and at the same time provide employment to citizens of the country. If the bus companies stop operating at the end of this month, as they threatened to do, many people will not make it to work and production will fall as most work in the industries is on the shoulders of the black commuters.

The UCDP puts it to government to do all they can to seek a political solution to the imminent crisis, lest we have chaos in this country on the eve of the Confederations Cup. I thank you.


                        (Member’s Statement)

Ms S RAJBALLY (MF): Madam Deputy Speaker, on 2 January 2009, India celebrated the auspicious occasion of Global Friendship Day in Delhi, North India and the Chief Minister of Delhi, Smt Sheila Dikshit and Dr Bhishma Narain Singh, former governor of Tamil Nadu and Assam, proudly presented a lifetime achievement award certificate of excellence to our very own hon MEC for Sports and Recreation, KwaZulu-Natal, leader of the MF, Mr Amichand Rajbansi.

We take this opportunity to thank the hon Chief Minister of Delhi for honouring our MEC and recognising his valuable friendship and contribution from within and beyond South Africa. We further take this opportunity to congratulate hon Rajbansi on his auspicious award and wish him the very best in his continued striving, dedication and commitment with regard to our people. We invite the House to consider making such honorary awards that follow India’s example of appreciating the contributions from within and abroad. Thank you.

                     INVESTIGATION OF ARMS DEAL

                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr E W TRENT (DA): Madam Deputy Speaker, almost four years ago the DA released what we believe to be enough evidence to justify a further investigation into the arms deal. At the time, we also predicted that the arms deal would not go away. Indeed, it has not. These are just a few of the issues that have emerged since then. Jacob Zuma said in March 2008 that if he is convicted on charges, he will expose others; recommendations concerning the appointment of a commission of inquiry made by Judge Nicholson on 12 September 2008, at which the ANC rejoiced; some of the assets of Fana Hlongwane, an advisor to the then Minister of Defence, have been frozen pursuant to a court order obtained in November 2008, following his alleged involvement in corrupt dealings in connection with the arms deal. The Sunday Times published a report in August 2008, to the effect that former President Mbeki received a bribe of R30 million, of which he passed R28 million to the ANC. No action against any person involved has ever been instituted by anybody.

In this report we ask for an independent panel, that Parliament should continue to exercise its oversight role with respect to the arms deal, including a debate on the adoption of a resolution calling for the appointment of a judicial commission.

On Tuesday this week, I gave notice of a motion that this matter be debated by the National Assembly. In so doing, the DA has opened a window of opportunity for this matter to be debated publicly. The ANC must stop running away from this issue. [Time expired.]

                            JOB CREATION

                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr D C MABENA (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, decent work is the foundation of the ANC-led war against poverty and inequality, and its promotion is the cornerstone of all our efforts. Due to the ANC-led government, sound management of the economy and better use of our national resources has seen the economy grow every year since 1994.

In recent years the economy has, for the first time, been creating jobs faster than the rate at which new people have entered the job market. On average, half a million new jobs have been added to the economy every year since 2004, reducing unemployment from 31% in 2003 to 23% in 2007.

There is still much to do to reach our goals and new challenges have arisen. We have to ensure that we grow the economy to meet the needs of our people squarely. Lasting victory over poverty and hunger requires the creation of decent work opportunities and sustainable livelihoods.

The creation of decent work remains the primary focus of the economic policies of the ANC-led government by ensuring that macroeconomic policy is informed by the priorities that have been set out in this manifesto. The Expanded Public Works Programme created a million work opportunities a year ahead of its target.


                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr M W SIBUYANA (IFP): Madam Deputy Speaker, on behalf of the IFP, I stand to commend the good work of the medical, nursing and administrative staff of both Mapulaneng and Matikwana Hospitals in their daunting task of handling and administering the influx of patients suffering from cholera in the region of Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga province. Regrettably, the area has no clean water supply and the people depend on water from rivers and wells, which become polluted during rainy days.

Hospitals have the responsibility for treating cholera. The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry and local communities are responsible to see to it that people’s basic rights to cholera-free water supply are not infringed. I call upon all officials to rise above petty party politics on issues of national interest. Thank you.

                        HEALTH CARE INSURANCE

                        (Member’s Statement)

Ms R J MASHIGO (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, the statement will be on Health care insurance. The Freedom Charter commits the ANC-led government to a preventative health scheme run by the state, free medical care and hospitalisation provided for all, with special care for mothers and children.

The ANC believes that South Africa commands huge health care resources compared with many. Yet the bulk of these resources are in the private sector and serve a minority of the population, thereby undermining this country’s ability to provide quality health care and improved health outcomes.

The ANC, however, is determined to end the huge inequalities that exist in the public and private sector by making sure that these sectors work together. We will introduce a national health insurance system which will be phased in over the next five years.

The health insurance system will be publicly funded and publicly administered and will provide every South African with access to quality health care, which will be free at the point of delivery. People will have a choice of which service provider to use within their district.

A social solidarity principle will be applied and those who are eligible to contribute will be required to do so. Access to health care will not be according to payment. The ANC will improve quality standards for both public and private sectors, which will include specific targets for the provision of adequate numbers of workers at all levels of the health care system, including recruitment, treatment and the filling of all vacant posts. Thank you.

                           MATRIC RESULTS

                        (Member’s Statement)

Mr G G BOINAMO (DA): Madam Deputy Speaker, the Western Cape Education department is making absurd excuses to avoid conducting a simple enquiry into the 2008 matric marking process to establish whether or not marking standards were lowered. Its refusal to do this investigation suggests that it knows full well that there were problems with the process. It is in the interests of everyone in South Africa that the matric results be seen as the credible and accurate reflection of matriculants’ skills.

Learners who have worked hard and done well do not deserve to have the value of their hard work undermined by inflated pass marks given to others. Employers, trainers and tertiary institutions must know they can use the matric exam to evaluate the learners properly.

The DA received several reports earlier this year from exam markers, who for obvious reasons wish to remain anonymous, that they had been instructed by their supervisors to raise the marks of weak students. We have over the past few days received several similar complaints from others. It would be easy for the department to corroborate this by pulling a random sample of weak students’ marks, having them independently evaluated and releasing the results to the public. This would put the controversy to an end once and for all. But it continues to refuse to do so and continues to evade its responsibility to do its duty to guarantee the credibility of the results by accusing the DA of fabrication. [Time expired.]


                        (Member’s Statement)

Adv Z L MADASA (ANC): Madam Deputy Speaker, the ANC wishes to express a very serious concern at the unfolding humanitarian crisis that is emerging in Sri Lanka. This war between the Tamil Tigers and the Sri Lankan government has been going on well over 27 years and has resulted in hundreds of deaths of civilians from both sides of the conflict and much destruction in the country.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, LTTE, is regarded by the Tamil people of Sri Lanka as their authentic liberation organisation who is fighting for their inalienable right to self-determination. The continued conflict in Sri Lanka has been cited by the human rights watch international monitoring mechanism as a conflict now reaching unacceptable, wanton destruction of lives and property.

The African National Congress urges all parties in the conflict, both the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lankan government, to immediately institute a ceasefire and to allow humanitarian aid and assistance to be brought to the civilians caught in the conflict and who are in need, and to immediately return to the negotiating table and resume a peaceful process of finding a lasting political solution. Thank you. [Applause.]


The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Hon members, I have been informed that the first Order will stand over. The Secretary will read the second to sixth Orders.






Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, on a point of order, we didn’t seem to have Ministerial responses to the statements today. Was there a reason for that?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, we are now dealing with the second to the sixth orders. You had an opportunity earlier to raise that point.

Mr M J ELLIS: I don’t think there is anything in the Rules that says I can’t stand up later on and raise a point of order on the same issue. But this must be the first time ever that we have gone through a process without one ministerial response, and there must be a reason for it.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, on that matter that has been raised by hon Ellis, I have been advised that there is no Minister that is at this point ready to respond to the statements. I would like, then, to proceed with the Order of the Day.

Mr D V BLOEM: Madam Deputy Speaker, allow me to say good afternoon to everybody present. Thank you very much for this opportunity to present these five committee reports on behalf of the portfolio committee to this House. The five reports are the visits to the New Generation Prison being built in Kimberley, and so on. I think that they have read these reports to the House.

The reports are there for all of us to read. I’m not going to deal with the reports in detail. We made recommendations on all of them. [Interjections.] Can you please give me a chance?

However, I decided to deal with maybe one or two issues in these reports. And the first one will be our visit to Grootvlei and Brandfort Prisons. One of the things that concerned the portfolio committee very much was the awaiting-trial children and juveniles.

The committee raised the issue with the social workers and with the staff present there. Why do we have so many children in this prison? And this is what the social workers and correctional officers were saying: that in most of the cases when these children appear in court, when it is a black child, this child will be sent to prison. When it is a white child, the courts are doing everything in their power to see to it that this child must be diverted to community things. This is one issue that really concerned the committee very much.

On the unannounced visit to Pollsmoor, I’m going to deal with that report. The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa guarantees every sentenced prisoner the provision, at state expense, of adequate medical treatment. Health professionals in the department, as well, are equally expected by the relevant legislation, rules, regulations and their councils at all times to practise their professions within the legal frameworks.

In May 2007, the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services paid an unannounced visit to Pollsmoor Correctional Centre. The purpose for the visit was to assess the state and quality of health care service at Medium A and the admission centre. The need for such a visit was necessitated by a number of complaints the committee had received from both the inmates and the medical staff. On that visit the committee found the following: That the centre was crippled by the chronic and severe shortage of health professionals; extremely unprofessional and unethical conduct and practice by health professionals was uncovered by the committee; poor supply and no control of medications, including schedule six and seven drugs, were easily identified; basic principles of medicine storage and handling of expired medicines were not observed by the staff; basic principles of record keeping were also not observed by the staff; basic management principles of a ward or a unit were not implemented; emergency equipment was incomplete and not in good working order and not checked; this means that dealing with any life-threatening emergency would have been very difficult for the staff; wards and units were not providing a therapeutic or a healing environment and patients’ files were incomplete.

Whilst appreciating and acknowledging the severe shortage of health professionals, the committee was distressed by the high level of unprofessional, unethical conduct and the complete neglect of basic health care principles by the health professionals in these centres. The committee expressed its findings to the management and recommends that the management should attend to those gross shortcomings at least within a period of three months.

As such, on 27 November 2007, the committee undertook yet another unannounced visit to the same centre with the intention of following up on the recommendations made in May. During the November visit the committee was pleased by a number of dramatic improvements that had happened within a space of five months. Drugs storage had been corrected. The hospital had a fully equipped and functioning emergency trolley. Wards had been renovated. Twenty-four nurses had been recruited through headhunting and advertising of posts.

The committee is of the strong view that the department of correctional services should conduct inspections of all its health facilities in order to assess and evaluate the standard of professional practice, the quality of health care services and adherence to policies, amongst others.

It can’t be correct that things will be corrected only after the portfolio committee’s visits. I am saying this because Modder B and Barberton Prisons might be facing the same, if not worse, challenges as Pollsmoor did in May.

However, as a committee, we want to thank the Pollsmoor management for their swift and positive response to our recommendations. We hope that they will continue with their good work. We will continue to make unannounced follow-up visits. I want to thank everyone in the committee for their hard work and I wish them well. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

There was no debate.


That the Reports be adopted.

Motion agreed to.

Report of Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on Oversight Visit to New Generation Correctional Centre being built in Kimberley accordingly adopted.

Report of Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on Oversight Visit to Brandfort and Grootvlei Correctional Centres accordingly adopted.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on 2008/9 Budget Vote 18 and the 2008/9-2012/13 Strategic Plan of the Department of Correctional Services accordingly adopted.

Report of Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on 2006/07 Annual Report of Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons accordingly adopted.

Report of Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on 20 November 2007 Unannounced Visit to follow-up on Conditions at Pollsmoor Hospital Sections accordingly adopted.

working towards a peaceful election by promoting political tolerance and ensuring freedom of expression and freedom of association


Mr N SINGH: Thank you, Madam Speaker and colleagues; as political parties, we are about to fight an all-important election, one that will determine the future character of this country, either as a vibrant multiparty democracy or a stagnant one-party state. Our debate today, therefore, is one of critical importance as it goes to the heart of the environment that will prevail in the next election and whether our election will indeed be free and fair.

A recurring theme among political parties and the media in recent months has been the critical issue of avoiding pre-election violence and acts of intimidation. Most parties have paid lip service to a commitment to nonviolence, but it is clear that not all parties have done enough to ensure that supporters at the grassroots level adhere to this commitment. It is clear that there has been a disjuncture between word and deed.

The IFP and other parties have already asked what specific measures the Independent Electoral Commission will take to monitor and prevent political intimidation and violence in the run-up to the 2009 election. Our concerns have not yet been fully allayed.

We believe that the media also plays a very critical role in working towards ensuring peaceful elections. Earlier this week the IFP had to defend itself against two false claims relating to political intolerance which were broadcast on TV and published in various newspapers. My colleague, hon S C Vos, will later expand on the issue of advocacy journalism.

It was also suggested that the murder of a traditional leader, Inkosi Mbongeleni Zondi of KwaZulu-Natal, had to do with him parting ways with the IFP to join the ANC. But in fact, the truth is that Inkosi Zondi had no links with either the ANC or the IFP. So the false claims, based on unjustified information, only served one purpose, and that is to fuel political intolerance.

Furthermore, it had been claimed that the IFP attempted to disrupt preparations of other political party events and that, as a party, we have never had to endure disruption by ANC supporters in our electioneering campaigns. These claims, too, were false. The truth is that the IFP’s public meetings in KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere are routinely disrupted by rowdy ANC supporters.

In fact, many of our pre-election events in KwaZulu-Natal are never complete without disturbances and intimidation by local ANC supporters. Billboards have been set on fire and posters have also been defaced. Today, I must therefore say that we must guard against half truths and irresponsible political rhetoric because it can only work against our shared common vision of a free and common election.

In his newsletter last month, our President, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, referred to hostilities surrounding the launch of COPE, which, in our view, demonstrated that we still have far to go in order to place nonracialism and a genuine respect of diversity, including political choice, at the heart of our public disclosure.

Also, a few weeks ago, one of our IFP youth brigade leaders, Mr Bonginkosi Dube, was murdered. A member of the ANC has confessed that the murder was politically motivated.

We can never let the dark days of politically motivated killings return ever again. As political parties we have to ensure that we act against rogue elements within our membership. Let us work together and affirm today that as a country, we are committed to political tolerance and freedom of expression which must be the core principle of our democracy.

Lastly, I believe as political leaders of various political parties, we must send out a clear message today to those who do not adhere to the basic principles of democracy, free assembly and free speech that they will be strictly disciplined and they will face the full brunt of the law.

Furthermore, the IFP appeals to the hon Minister of Safety and Security, provincial MECs and other stakeholders to ensure the impartiality of our security forces in the run-up to the 2009 elections. This will also be a very critical element that will determine whether or not we are able to deliver a free and fair election, in which all members of the electorate have the ability to make informed choices and exercise their right to vote for their chosen parties without fear of intimidation. Prevention is always better than cure. [Time expired.]

Ms M M SOTYU: Chairperson, believe me, I won’t address you as Madam Deputy Speaker. When we went to the polls on 27 April 1994, we did so as a nation in awe of our first taste of democracy. Against all odds and despite all prophecies of doom, our first democratic elections were conducted in an exemplary manner, as an example to the world. Since then, we have continued the tradition of tolerance, pride and dignity with each election that we have had.

Who of us here can forget the image of a person being brought to the polling station, old and weak, pushed in a wheelbarrow by a family member, in order to be able to exercise his democratic right for the first time in his life? How can we forget the image of an old grey-haired man on crutches supported by a youth, exercising his right for which so many have laid down their lives.

We remember the long queues up and down the perimeters of the polling stations, multitudes waiting patiently, and sometimes in silence, for their turn to cast their votes for the first time, without any fear. This year will be no different from those times.

It would be wrong of us not to acknowledge the role of the Independent Electoral Commission in all our elections, and what a success story they have been and still are today. None of our democratic victories would have been possible without the commitment, professionalism and dedication of the group of women and men who, behind the scenes, put together what we sometimes take for granted.

They have not only been responsible for every election since 1994, but have also displayed the true spirit of ubuntu. They have become a beacon of hope for many people on our continent by assisting and ensuring free, fair and democratic elections. This year will be no different from those times.

It would be disingenuous of any of us to stand on this podium and not acknowledge the role of our security forces, and more specifically members of the SA Police Service, in ensuring that each one of us, no matter what political party one belongs to or supports, can exercise his or her democratic right in a free, safe and secure environment.

Our men and women in blue overcame all the challenges and threats that were there prior to and during the 1994 elections with dignity and pride. Our police have demonstrated and assured us that political parties are free to communicate their messages in the most remote areas. Most political parties have had their peaceful rallies in most provinces with overwhelming attendance and with no violence reported, in preparation for the upcoming 2009 elections.

The ANC-led government, as in the past, will again support and ensure full mobilisation of security forces and the SA Police Service in this election to ensure that they act speedily and effectively against anybody who tries to compromise the final results of these elections. Fifteen years later, our debates have become more vigorous, our resolve more intense and our democracy more mature. During these 15 years many things have happened; new players have joined the field with their own hopes and aspirations. Every party must be allowed to convey its messages in every corner of our country with no fear or intimidation.

Sinoxanduva siyi-ANC, ngakumbi singabemi boMzantsi Afrika. Amehlo elizwe lonke ajolise kuthi. Indlela esiza kuluphatha ngayo olu nyulo yiyo eza kusetyenziswa ukukhangela ukuba uluntu luza kube lukhuselekile na xa siza kube siququzelela umdlalo weHlabathi weBhola eKhatywayo wama-2010. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)

[We have a responsibility as the ANC, especially since we are the citizens of South Africa. The whole country is looking upon us. The way we are going to conduct these elections will be used to determine the safety of the people when we will be hosting the 2010 Soccer World Cup.]

Let each political party inside and outside Parliament play its role in ensuring that we have peaceful elections. We owe it to our forebears and to our heroes. We owe it to the images and memories of the 1994 elections and the future of our country and nation.

The local government by-elections held today or yesterday are a testimony to the fact that the ANC is the future of this country. The people of this country have spoken and they will speak again in April 2009. The people of this country will always support the ANC. I thank you.

Mr J SELFE: Chairperson, as all of us in this House know, we are approaching an election later this year - one which will probably be one of the most significant since 1994. Considering our nation’s history of conflict and injustice, it is remarkable that we have managed to hold elections that are more or less peaceful, that are characterised by greater or lesser degrees of tolerance and that are, by and large, efficiently administered and widely regarded as legitimate.

This is something we should, however, never take for granted. The manner in which we conduct our elections in South Africa stands in stark contrast to many other countries. Since 2000 there have been disputed elections in Cambodia, Georgia, Belarus, Ukraine, Peru, Venezuela, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Kenya. Disputed elections are not the preserve of developing or newly democratised countries. The accounts of electoral fraud over many years and at all levels of government in the United States would make any decent election observer’s hair stand on end. Election disputes in these countries have ranged from electoral fraud - that is ballot stuffing, inaccurate voters’ rolls, repeat voting and discrepancies in results - through to claims of inequitable access to the media, to campaign finance and to the voter registration process.

The most serious election disputes arise when the climate in which the election takes place is characterised by violence, intimidation and abduction. Some incidences of this sort of violence and intimidation have occurred in South Africa in our past and we pray that they do not continue in our future. Some of the worst examples of these have occurred and continue to occur right on our doorstep in Zimbabwe, where the elections of 2000, 2005 and 2008 were widely condemned as rigged. Thousands of Zimbabwean people have been abducted, tortured, humiliated, intimidated and in some cases murdered, in an effort to prop up the corrupt and violent regime of Robert Mugabe. The silence and inaction of the government of South Africa while all this was happening has damaged our reputation as a country that promotes freedom and democracy. We must never go down that road in South Africa! Democracy is a fragile plant; it must be nurtured and protected. It is very easily destroyed. The first test of any democracy is the ability to hold successful elections.

Successful elections are characterised by a number of features: Firstly, there needs to be a wide acceptance of what is known as the rules of the game. This includes permissible and prohibited conduct as well as a mechanism for policing and enforcing the rules in an even-handed and transparent manner by the IEC and by the security forces.

Secondly, one requires an informed and involved public. This means that there must be programmes of voter education. It means that the media in general, and the public broadcaster in particular, must present the public with the issues and the options in a way that enables voters to be able to make informed choices. In this respect, the SABC needs to be commended on the actions that they have recently taken. We are already enjoying, and will continue to enjoy, more debates between political parties and we will be having televised town hall meetings. New mechanisms have been put in place and an independent media monitoring body will measure election coverage for fairness. The DA has encouraged the SABC to build periodic, at least monthly, reports into the tender so that these can be conveyed to the public. A complaints officer has been appointed specifically for political parties with a 72-hour turnaround target in dealing with complaints.

Thirdly, one needs an election infrastructure that delivers ballots to stations, that ensures that the stations open and close on time, that are protected so that voters feel safe and believe that their votes will be secret and that deliver a result that is credible and legitimate.

Fourthly, we have to have a voters’ roll that reflects accurately the population who are eligible to vote and which makes it impossible for people who are not on the roll to vote.

Lastly, we require scrutiny of the registration and voting processes by agents of the parties and NGOs that ensure that vote rigging and manipulation of the processes are identified and can be interdicted at the level of the voting station. This scrutiny must be supported by access to party liaison mechanisms and, where these are insufficient, to the electoral court.

All these are mechanistic devices. The IEC and the Electoral Act do, for the most part, deliver these outcomes, but these measures alone will be insufficient to deliver a successful election, unless they are accompanied by tolerance of opposing points of view and differing ideas. In the open opportunity society we stand for, debate and divergence produce better solutions to the challenges that face us. Unfortunately, however, there is an intolerance of debate and disagreement in many parts of our country and frequently intolerance of different ideas is accompanied by a rhetoric that can only serve to inflame emotions and provoke dissension.

When Mr Gwede Mantashe describes the DA as a party of “recycled National Party members” and when the ANC Youth League Gauteng leader, Jacob Kawe describes opposition parties as “cockroaches who should be destroyed”, as he did at a Swapo rally last year, they undermine the tolerance required for a successful democracy. When Angie Motshega calls the leaders of Cope “dogs” and Buti Manamela calls them “baboons”, they undermine the tolerance required to sustain a successful democracy. When Julius Malema, the ANCYL President, tells his organisation that “we are ready to take up arms and kill for Jacob Zuma”, he is undermining the tolerance required to sustain a successful democracy. When the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs makes the comment she allegedly did, about Jewish money controlling America and other Western countries, she fatally undermines that tolerance.

The campaign which will culminate in the election later this year has scarcely started, but the inflammatory rhetoric is in full flood. We should be proud of the fact that in 1994, 1995, 1999, 2000, 2004 and 2006 we were able to hold relatively peaceful and legitimate elections in South Africa. Each time we do so, the IEC and the public broadcaster and the security forces get better at their jobs. What will undermine a peaceful and legitimate election are those in any party who inflame their followers and who think that they have a monopoly on political virtue. Political leaders in all parties have a duty to ensure that those who make such statements are repudiated and disciplined and those who do not do so will face electoral censure and the judgement of history. Thank you. [Applause.]

Mr M H HOOSEN: Chairperson, as part of the leadership of the ID, I would like to express our party’s full commitment to creating and nurturing an environment which is conducive to holding free and fair elections this year.

The ID would like to call on all political parties and indeed the South African public as a whole, to be tolerant towards those who, by expressing different political beliefs from our own, are practising their constitutional right to freedom of political association.

We would like to call on all leaders of all parties to teach and preach political tolerance so that we can avoid any disruption of our democratic process. It is up to our leaders to lead by example and to refrain from war talk and other acts of disruption that prevent ordinary South Africans from holding or attending political meetings and political conferences and ultimately from voting for the party of their choice.

Political parties have the right to campaign in any community in the country and we need a commitment from all parties and their leaders that they will work hard to ensure that there are no no-go areas in the run-up to the national elections.

The ID has repeatedly warned against any intimidation on political grounds and we would like to reiterate that warning here again today. It is our sincere hope that the 2009 elections will be an opportunity for a mature exchange of ideas, where we will focus on the different policy options open to our people, rather than on mud-slinging and sensationalism.

I would like to remind political parties and their leaders that we are all, firstly, citizens of South Africa and thereafter members of our political parties. The ID is a signatory to the Constitution and we therefore take our mandate to contribute towards free and fair elections very seriously.

Debate will become heated but, as leaders, we need to take control, calm things down and restore order and normalcy in such situations. I thank you.

Mrs C DUDLEY: Chairperson, South Africans appear to have a new-found enthusiasm for politics and, with elections around the corner, they are debating issues and preferences passionately.

However, failure to practise political tolerance and failure to respect freedom of association remain obstacles that erode any democratic euphoria which may exist. Being able to accept that people are entitled to their opinions, ideas, customs, practices and religion, while maintaining the right to respectfully disagree, seems to present a greater challenge to some than would be expected.

Tolerance or respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our country, must be promoted, defended and maintained if we are to have a peaceful election. Political parties across the board should be expected to respect the views of other parties and to refrain from provoking individuals or groups intentionally. Without safeguards for the free expression of divergent opinions, we risk a tyranny of the majority or even, as we have seen in Zimbabwe, a minority, if they refuse to relinquish power.

Freedom of association, which includes the right to voluntarily form, join and participate in any association or to disassociate, must also be protected and political parties have a responsibility to liberate their members in this regard.

We can achieve a peaceful election, and choosing to value the concepts of political tolerance and freedom of association is a key element of that success. Thank you.

Mr I S MFUNDISI: Chairperson and hon members, the atmosphere is thick and tense in South Africa as political parties gear themselves up for the national and provincial elections.

We, in the UCDP, pray much for all involved to have the strength to heed the words of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, when he said, “peaceful elections are the responsibility of all.” It is not surprising that Ghana produced a tight, tense, yet flawless election.

We maintain that, with the 1 700 voting stations set for the forthcoming elections, there is no need to bus voters to the voting stations. Those who want to vote should be able to do so freely and should not be coerced into showing appreciation by voting for the provider of the transport.

We may have differences of opinion on Zimbabwe but, in Zimbabwe, people go to the election stations on foot; they are never bussed in. Therefore, on election day, their results are trustworthy.

The media should also play a responsible role in the elections – right from the run-up – by giving credible access to all political parties. They should also report activities responsibly and accurately so as to enable the electorate to make intelligent choices.

Security agencies should create general peace by ensuring crowd safety at all rallies and by exhibiting zero tolerance of all inappropriate behaviour. It is unfortunate that, in some cases, politicians themselves are our worst enemies because of the irresponsible and reckless statements they make that fan the flames of intolerance. They tend to disregard the golden rule that says, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is nothing wrong in people dissociating themselves from one party in order to associate with another. Calling such individuals dogs, baboons, witches or stooges polarises relations among the electorate while it debases those who say those things.

I have always wondered how people can disregard their own legislation. The regulations, especially the code of conduct contained in our Electoral Act, No 73 of 1998, as amended, spell out clearly what has to be done in order to have a peaceful election.

If all parties can follow the letter and the spirit of the Act, South Africa will enjoy going to the polls. If we take this legislation and Dr Afari-Gyan’s words of wisdom to heart, there is no reason why we should not have a peaceful and credible election. I thank you.

Mrs M M MAUNYE: Chairperson, comrades, hon members, as we approach this year’s general elections, I want to thank the ANC-led government for the history of violence-free, fair and thriving elections that we have had since 1994.

The promotion of political tolerance, freedom of expression and respect among political parties is an important means of establishing a culture conducive to acceptance of one’s freedom of association.

Instead of allowing diversity of race and culture to become a limiting factor in human exchange and development, we must refocus our understanding, discern in such diversity the potential of mutual enrichment, and realise that it is the interchange between great traditions of human spirituality that offers the best prospect for the persistence of the human spirit itself.

The ANC’s first elective conference in 1991 committed itself to political tolerance and further defined it as follows:

Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty; it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.

Since its foundation, the ANC has fought for and upheld the right of South Africans to vote, and be voted into positions of authority. This found expression in the famous statement of the Freedom Charter, that “the people shall govern”.

In the years before and after the 1994 elections, many of our people died tragically as a result of political violence, and since 1993 the ANC has done everything to ensure that we have free and fair elections.

The question we should repeatedly be asking ourselves as our democracy matures is, how can intolerance be countered? And, based on this, I will focus on these four points:

The first point is that fighting intolerance requires law. The ANC-led government is responsible for enforcing human rights laws, for banning and punishing hate crimes and discrimination against minorities, whether these are committed by political parties, individuals, NGOs or private organisations. The ANC-led government has always ensured equal access to courts, human rights commissioners or ombudsmen, so that people do not take justice into their own hands and resort to violence to settle their disputes.

The second point is that laws are necessary but not sufficient for countering political intolerance in individuals and organisational attitudes. Intolerance is very often rooted in ignorance and fear – fear of the unknown, of the other - other cultures, nations, religions - and political rivalry.

Intolerance is also closely linked to an exaggerated sense of self-worth and pride, whether personal, national or religious. These notions are taught and learned at an early age. Therefore, greater emphasis needs to be placed on educating more and better. Greater efforts need to be made to teach our children about tolerance and human rights, and about other ways of life. Children should be encouraged at home and in school to be open- minded and curious.

Education is a life-long experience and does not begin or end in schools. Endeavours to build tolerance through education will not succeed unless they reach all age groups, and take place everywhere: at home, in schools, in the workplace, in law enforcement, multipurpose centres and legal training.

Intolerance is most dangerous when it is exploited to fulfil the political and territorial ambitions of an individual or groups of individuals. Hatemongers often begin by identifying the public’s tolerance threshold. They then develop fallacious arguments, lie with statistics and manipulate public opinion with misinformation and prejudice. The most efficient way that the ANC-led government has dealt with the matter was to limit the influence of hatemongers by developing policies that generate and promote press freedom and press pluralism, in order to allow the public to differentiate between facts and opinions.

The last point is that intolerance in a society is the sum total of the intolerance of its individual members. Prejudice, stereotyping, stigmatising, insults and racial jokes are examples of individual expressions of intolerance to which some people are subjected daily. Intolerance breeds intolerance. It leaves its victims in pursuit of revenge. In order to fight intolerance, individuals should become aware of the link between their behaviour and the vicious cycle of mistrust and violence in society. Each one of us should begin by asking: Am I a tolerant person? Am I a stereotypical person? Do I reject those who are different from me? Do I blame my problems on them?

An ANC-led government has passed the necessary legislation and subsequent amended legislation to make it illegal for anybody to unlawfully take away or diminish the very rights that are inherent in the practice of democracy.

The guarantees of these rights are anchored in the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Electoral Code of Conduct, which promote conditions conducive to free and fair elections, including tolerance of democratic political activity, free political campaigning and open public debate.

The ANC, therefore, requests all political parties to honour their pledge, made in Durban in November 2008 at the IEC pre-election conference, to respect political differences and desist from using violent tactics in the run-up to the 2009 general elections.

At that occasion, the ANC KwaZulu-Natal provincial chairperson, Comrade Zweli Mkhize, reaffirmed the ANC’s belief in freedom of choice and freedom of association and recommitted his party to a nonviolent and peaceful campaign by stating that for a democracy to prosper, we need an unhindered reflection of the people’s will at the voting booth. We in the ANC will take firm action against any of our members who do anything that undermines the attainment of a truly free, fair and peaceful election.

The ANC-led government has also, in the past, and will now, in this important general election which takes place soon, ensure the full mobilisation of the security forces and the South African Police Service to ensure that they are able to speedily and effectively act against anybody who tries to compromise the final outcome of results. Thank you.

Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, I am so pleased that this topic has been raised, especially when in the past political relations have been anything but what the topic suggests.

The pulling off of posters and the blasphemous ill-truths that rally political parties to be at each other’s throats are what I refer to. It is obviously expected in a diverse society such as ours that there will be great diversity in political views, values and plans to address sustainable delivery. However, we have learned to respect our citizenry’s freedom of choice without the ill-fated temptation to ridicule other parties so as to attract people into yours.

In this same diverse society we respect that citizens have different needs and, similarly, we as political parties have our strengths and weaknesses in this regard. However, I invite all to embrace this election with dignity and respect; dignity and respect for our citizens, ourselves and each other. The wheels of success cannot do without any of us, and the wheels of success will only turn when we all rest our hands on them.

Let’s do away with the opportunistic bullies who find no dishonour in defaming and degrading those of us who work feverishly at delivering to our people, and while we remain focused on our commitments to the people, they remain driven to dominate power and get rid of anyone in the way of doing so. It is crucial that we instil in our people a similar tolerance and encourage a dignified and respectable election climate by exhibiting such tolerance here on this podium first.

While the Minority Front certainly enjoys freedom of speech, we do not encourage this as a right to impose on anyone’s dignity and self-respect. We certainly hope that all parties shall join together in committing to this tolerance and paving the way to a free, fair, peaceful and democratic election for 2009. Chairperson, yes, together we can. I thank you.

Mr L M GREEN: Chairperson, to ensure a peaceful and politically tolerant election, we need to operate in a culture of freedom. The Federation of Democrats, a member of the Christian Democratic Alliance, further believes that the Independent Electoral Commission conducts its business as independently as possible to ensure a free and fair election.

However, when it comes to the SABC, the struggle for free and fair political coverage still continues. The SABC is not a neutral information service, but a broadcaster too politically embedded to appreciate freedom of ideas and association. Recently I voted against the amendment to the Telecommunications Act to defend the independence of the SABC board.

A case in point that I would like to mention here is the kind of coverage we receive, or more correctly the absence thereof, in respect of broadcasting political party footage on the SABC’s debate on election issues. I wish to bring to the attention of this House that the footage that was taken of our input on the debate on education on Sunday, 25 January 2009, was not broadcast.

Why should the SABC go through all the pretentious effort to interview me in my parliamentary office and not broadcast the interview? Is it because I took an opposing view to the education system? The SABC’s excuse is that the selection of parties to take part in the elections debate is an editorial one. That sounds more like political censorship.

The SABC can give editorial leeway to the Congress of the People, Cope, whilst the Christian Democratic Alliance, CDA, of which the Federal Democrats is a member, is overlooked by the SABC; given the fact that Cope, like the CDA, must still contest the elections to gain representation in Parliament. So, on what basis did the SABC make the editorial decision, one might ask?

A free and tolerant society that respects the political views of others is not only a requirement; it must also be ingrained in the business ethics of state institutions and other public corporations. Thank you.

Nmz J B SIBANYONI: Ngilothjisa uSihlalo namalunga woke wePalamende. Isihloko esikhuluma ngaso namhlanjesi siqakatheke khulu kwamabala; sithi:

Ukusebenzela amakhetho anokuthula ngokukhuthaza ukuzwana kezepolotiki
ngokuqinisekisa ilungelo lokukhuluma ngokutjhaphuluka nokuzibandakanya.

Inarha yeSewula Afrika iyinarha ehle nekarisako. Yinarha esibonelo eenarheni ezinye ze-Afrika nangaphetjheya. Isikhathi esigadungileko phambi kwamakhetho wango-1994, khabe kusikhathi esibudisi khulu. Soke siyakwazi okwakhulunywa ngaphambi kwe-Truth and Reconciliation Commission, i-TRC. Sithi into efana naleyo ingabe isenzeka godu. (Translation of isiNdebele paragraphs follows.)

[Mr J B SIBANYONI: I greet the Chairperson and all Members of Parliament. Today’s topic is of paramount importance, as it says:

Working towards peaceful elections in encouraging political tolerance by
ensuring freedom of expression and freedom of association.

South Africa is a beautiful and interesting country. It is an example to other African countries and abroad. The period before the 1994 elections was a very difficult time. We all know what was said before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the TRC. We say such situations should never prevail again.]

The ANC-led government has passed the necessary legislation and subsequent amended legislation to make it illegal for anybody to unlawfully take away or diminish the very rights that are inherent to the practice of democracy.

The guarantees of these rights are anchored in the provisions of the Electoral Act and the Electoral Code of Conduct, which promote conditions conducive to free and fair elections, including tolerance of democratic political activity, free political campaigning and open public debate.

Amongst other issues, the Code calls on everyone - every registered political party and its candidates - to publicly state that everyone has the full right to freely express their political beliefs and opinions; to challenge and debate the political beliefs and opinions of others; to publish and distribute election and campaign material, including notices and advertisements; to lawfully erect banners, billboards, placards and posters; to canvas support and recruit members for a party and hold public meetings; to travel to and attend public meetings.

In the context of peaceful, free and fair elections, freedom of association would mean the freedom of an individual to support a political party of his or her own choice. This freedom also finds expression in the Electoral Code of Conduct, which, amongst others, makes it illegal for anybody to compel or unlawfully persuade any person to attend and participate in or not to attend and participate in a political meeting, march, demonstration or any other political event, by specifically prohibiting anyone from resorting to violence and intimidation to influence the outcome of the elections; to deny representatives or candidates of registered political parties reasonable access to voters in public and in private places and to unlawfully prevent the holding of a political meeting, match or demonstration or any other political event. The Electoral Act is very clear and specific about these matters. It makes it a criminal offence to resort to such means and methods to influence the outcome of elections. The law provides for the punishment of anyone found guilty of violating any of these provisions. The punishment of offenders derives from the central importance of the electoral process to the success of our democratic system.

We would never be able to say that we have a true democracy if our people do not have the possibility to freely choose people who represent them in our national, provincial and local legislatures.

The ANC is the party that gave birth to other parties since many years ago. Such parties do not have any impact whatsoever on the ANC in contesting elections. In three years’ time, the ANC will be 100 years old. It will be celebrating a centenary. One really cannot compare a 10-day-old party with a 100-year-old party. Soon and very soon, the ANC will prove this to all and sundry.

There is a freedom song that was sung in exile and inside South Africa. It says words to this effect …

E-South Africa safa yinzondo. Amaphoyis’ azonda thina, I-CCB izonda thina, Nale-SADF izonda thina.

That was the situation in the past.

Today, we are in a situation where we have a hostile media that profiles and gives a lot of coverage to some parties that the media wishes should win the elections.

We have a judiciary that always complains that the ANC is attacking it and that that amounts to a threat towards the independence of the judiciary. But luckily, we have the multitudes; we have the masses that are with us as the ANC. East London is a living example. One may ask, when the masses are behind us, who can stand against us?

In conclusion, I would like to point out that the ANC remains firmly committed to a free and fair election campaign where all parties will have access to voters. Our opponents can rest assured that we will do everything in our power to protect their rights to campaign. We have fought long and hard for the right to vote and all of us who are serious about democracy must protect each other’s rights in the electoral process.

However, during the last few weeks, the ANC has been criticised for the actions of people who claim ANC membership. Our message to our members is simple, namely that we would not tolerate any intimidation, threat or violence against our opponents. ANC members who break the provisions of the Electoral Code of Conduct will be disciplined by our structures as well as face prosecution for crimes under the Electoral Act. We have nothing to gain from violence and intimidation.

I think all of us, including those here in Parliament, should use the word contest’’ the elections, and notfight’’ the elections. We should not be saying we are going to a battle out there or going to battle it out. No, no! That sends a wrong message to the people on the ground who interpret it to mean real fighting - hence the incidences before 1994; and hence what we had during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, TRC, process and what we had with my colleague, hon Van der Merwe, during the applications for political pardons. I will not disclose this but it is one and the same as what was said in the TRC.

As the ANC, we know that “free, fair and peaceful” are the crucial words for assessing the quality of elections. They denote the international standards for measuring credibility at the ballot box.

Finally, I am glad to see that my former chairperson of the then Pretoria subregion of the ANC, Comrade Paul Zondo, is back in Parliament. We have been deployed with him to bring peace and political tolerance during the days of the former Intando ye Sizwe Party, IYP, together with the ANC and the alliance structures. I am happy that there is a lot that we are going to do together here in Parliament. Thank you, Chairperson. [Applause.]

Ms S C VOS: Chairperson, the Inkatha Freedom Party thanks all who have so positively participated in this debate. Many of us in this honourable House – though so few at the moment – experienced the horror, firsthand, of political intolerance and political violence throughout our land, prior to our first post-apartheid elections in 1994.

We witnessed death and destruction and human suffering which individuals, families and communities, to this day, remember as if it were yesterday. Many continue to be the victims of this trauma which affected many millions of lives.

Surely, what we are saying today is that this must never, ever, happen again in our country, and it is up to us to ensure that it never does. This is the commitment we must all make today. There are others outside this honourable House who must also do so.

Let me put a human face on the reality of political intolerance. I remember Dudu Dhlamini, a four-year-old girl, who was badly burned, when the home in which she lived with her mother, was fire-bombed in the early 1990s.

She was carried screaming into the nearby Kwesini hostel in the then East Rand. There I found her lying on a concrete floor, her eyelids melted beyond repair, the skin on her face suppurating and raw, her tiny hands so burned that they had contracted into misshapen stumps. I remember so vividly that there was a peach tree in flower outside the hostel, and, as we bundled her into my car, my thoughts fleetingly went to the flowers Dudu would never see. Today Dudu is in a home for the blind. Her mother died a few years ago of HIV/Aids.

To this day, I work as a trustee of the National Peace Accord Trust, attempting to assist ex-combatants – ANC, Inkatha, PAC, Azapo, Black Consciousness – whoever needs to receive the psychosocial help so many desperately still require 15 years since our liberation. Our work is far from over.

This human tragedy had its multifaceted causes and effects, but at its root was one word: Politics. There were many actors in this blot on our nation’s history and many wore various guises. While politicians must shoulder much of the blame, there were others who fanned the flames which condemned Dudu to a life of darkness and pain.

The media took sides. Advocacy journalists took sides. They too became political actors. Blatant lies became truths in which enemies were somehow made to be inhuman, and so then grew the fiction which became a reality that it was somehow right to kill the enemy.

Personal opinions were paraded as factual news stories which we still see to this day. Tensions were escalated, which we still see to this day. In the end, then, everybody had blood on their hands and the role of the media in this regard has yet to be truthfully exposed.

As we face what is probably the most important election in our history since 1994, let us indeed work towards a peaceful election by promoting political tolerance. We must recognise that, since 1994, there has been continuing, sporadic political violence and intolerance which must be stopped.

Let us indeed work constructively with all the other actors in this political drama – especially the media – because we are in a period of political drama.

Our forthcoming elections do appear to have all the signs of developing into a very serious political drama for various reasons, including the fact that both IFP and ANC leaders have been killed recently, and including the fact that political posters are already being defaced. People are being called the most dreadful names, as hon Selfe has just enumerated to us all.

Let us think before we speak and act. Let others, too, think of the consequences of their own actions when they, too, play their own roles in what should be an exemplary exercise in transparent political participatory democracy. Thank you.

Debate concluded. The House adjourned at 15:44.