Replies by President Jacob Zuma to questions asked in the National Assembly
15 Nov 2012
19. Mr D D van Rooyen, African National Congress (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
What is the essential aspect of the message to the nation that he conveyed at a recent Social Dialogue Meeting on the State of the Economy when he referred to our capacity as a society to deal with our immediate challenges and lay the basis for long-term growth and job creation?
On 17 October this year, I announced a package of measures intended to address the widespread and unprocedural strikes in the mining sector, the violence associated with it as well as the economic slowdown that resulted from slower global growth.
The announcement followed a high level dialogue on the economy with NEDLAC constituents, government, business, labour and the community sector. The essential message that came out was the need to pull together our collective strength and resources and unite in action for the common good of our country.
Significant progress has been made since the dialogue. We have established a Presidential task force on mining communities led by Minister Collins Chabane, which will look at human settlements, local economic development, transport as well as migrant labour issues in responding to the grievances and underlying causes of the strikes in mining towns.
We have seen a unified approach to responding to the labour issues since the dialogue. Union leaders have addressed meetings of workers to call on members to adhere to collective agreements and defend the collective bargaining system, whilst recognising the underlying grievances.
A number of mining companies reversed decisions to dismiss workers and allowed for an orderly return to work, sometimes accompanied by negotiated settlements to grievances. At the height of the strikes in the mining sector, the Chamber of Mines estimated that 120 000 workers were on strike.
Following these various interventions, this has been reduced to less than 30 000 workers who are still on strike and negotiations are continuing. I must emphasise that the right of workers to strike and protest is constitutionally guaranteed. Our call is for this to be done within the framework of the law.
In the spirit of making a statement against inequality as proposed by the dialogue, Cabinet has committed to a salary freeze for the next 12 months for Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The Forum of SA Directors General has in turn endorsed the call for a salary freeze for the Directors-General. We now await the processes of consultation within the private sector regarding their executive salaries.
To promote the cooperation of all spheres of government, we have briefed provincial Premiers as well as district and local mayors of key mining towns. Since a number of accords were signed last year, we have also held discussions with social partners about the implementation of commitments on the green economy, localisation and skills development.
One of the key problems identified in the Marikana area is the high level of debt by workers. The National Credit Regulator, together with the SA Police Service, has thus begun a crackdown on illegal and exploitative lending in the mining belt.
To promote improved living conditions and job creation, a number of infrastructure as well as community works programmes have been mainstreamed into the budget, as per announcements in the Medium Term Budget Statement by the Minister of Finance.
We are encouraged by the cooperation we continue to receive from all the partners. We will continue to draw on the expertise and support of all partners in building our country.
I thank you.
20. Mr V B Ndlovu, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether he intends to instruct his Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform to hold discussions with (a) stakeholders on land ownership issues and (b) foreign owners of land; if not, why not, in each case; if so, in each case, (i) when and (ii) what issues will be covered;
(2) Whether he will make a statement on the matter?
(a), (b) Since the approval of the Green Paper on Land Reform by cabinet in August 2011, the department has conducted numerous consultative workshops with a range of stakeholders.
The stakeholders consulted include organised agriculture, emerging and commercial farmers, academics, non-governmental organisations, agri-business, donors and other interested parties. The discussions have focused on all the policy proposals contained in the Green Paper.
From these larger consultative processes, a National Reference Group was established, consisting of representatives from the earlier mentioned groups. Six work streams aligned to thematic areas of the Green Paper on Land Reform have also been established and are operational.
The streams include representatives from the South African Local Government Association, the South African Council of Property Valuers and other government departments. The stakeholders are discussing the proposals in the Green Paper to find the best ways of reversing the legacy of the 1913 Natives Land Act.
The primary objective is to change the systems, patterns, ownership and control of land and landed assets. Our ultimate objective is to de-racialise the rural economy for shared and sustained growth and create democratic and equitable land allocation as well as use across gender, race and class.
We also want to promote a strict production discipline in order to ensure national food security. That is why we promote the return to the land so that communities especially in rural areas can be able to plough and sustain themselves.
Sifuna abantu ezindaweni zasemakhaya babuyele emasimini, balime, ukuze baziphilise, ingakho ukubuya komhlaba kubaluleke kangaka.
The Green Paper also sets out the objective of graduating black farmers into successful commercial farmers through the Recapitalisation and Development Programme. It also calls for the creation of institutions such as the Land Management Commission and the Office of the Valuer-General, which would become the arbiters of the principles of just and equitable land reform.
As you are aware, the National Development Plan also makes proposals for land reform which include the concept of District Committees. It is proposed that these committees would identify and select people to be resettled. They would also identify people who demonstrate suitability, passion and commitment to rural development, despite the limited space and resources.
The centenary of the Land Act next year will provide an opportunity to galvanise the whole country towards meaningful land reform and redistribution, in a manner that promotes redress and reconciliation. The consultations amongst stakeholders and the affected people will continue until the policy processes are finalised.
Land remains a central issue in the restoration of the rights and dignity of those who were dispossessed.
I thank you.
21. Mr L W Greyling, Independent Democrats (ID) to ask President of the Republic:
Whether, in view of the recent downgrades by Moody's and Standard and Poor, he intends to present his programme of action on the economy to Parliament (details furnished); if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
Honourable Member, our task as government is to lay the foundations for long-term growth and job creation in a complex global environment where developments in other economies impact directly on local economic performance.
Over the past few months, we have been faced by twin challenges of slower growth, caused by a slowdown in the global economy; as well as unprocedural strikes in parts of the mining industry.
Despite these difficulties, we remain focused on implementing our economic programmes aimed at achieving prosperity and a better life for all. We are building a thriving mixed economy, where the state, private capital, cooperative and other forms of social ownership complement each other, in an integrated way, to eliminate poverty and foster shared economic growth.
The State of the Nation Address this year outlined that the central and most pressing challenges we face, are unemployment, poverty and inequality. In responding to the three, we must simultaneously accelerate economic growth, which will assist us to create jobs, and promote dignity and social stability.
Ministers regularly share with this House various aspects of the implementation of our economic programmes.
To be able to achieve the prosperous society we speak of, we need to, in summary, do the following:
Enhance growth and job creation.
Narrow inequality and the income gaps, especially between poor and upper-income groups, while expanding the ownership, control and management of the economy.
Continue improving the living conditions of poor communities.
Implement our economic and social policies more effectively.
Continue improving our education system and skills development.
Help small and medium-sized businesses to grow, employ and export.
To sharpen the delivery of our infrastructure programme in all throughout the country, and to
Continue and deepen our fight against crime and corruption.
Economic transformation remains central to these programmes, in order to address the legacy of the past and promote reconciliation and growth. This includes promoting the ownership, control and management of the economy by black people, women, the youth and persons with disability.
To respond in particular to the global economic slowdown and its impact locally, on the 17th of October I hosted a dialogue of National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) social partners to consider the current economic challenges we faced.
The programme of action arising from that session builds on the coherent broader vision set out in the National Development Plan and the complementary economic strategy contained in the New Growth Path.
In addition, on October 25, the Minister of Finance tabled the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, which set out government’s fiscal and economic policy for the next three years. In the long-term, what we want the world to understand is that our biggest strength is the sound institutional framework of the country, built on the foundation of the Constitution.
This framework has enabled resilience and makes South Africa capable of mediating the contradictions that sometimes become apparent in our young democracy. We have held four national general elections which have given practical expression to the country’s commitment to democracy.
We have a fully functional governance system with cooperation amongst the executive, the judiciary and the legislature. We have effective checks and balances which includes Chapter 9 institutions. All these ingredients provide a sound and stable environment on which we are implementing our socio-economic programmes.
I thank you.
22. Mr H P Maluleka (ANC) to ask President of the Republic:
In light of his statement at the Presidential Infrastructure Investment Conference that infrastructure development is a catalyst to sustainable economic development and the improvement of the quality of life of our people (details furnished) (a) what constitutes actual change in the quality of life of our people through the envisaged infrastructure programme and (b) how he anticipates it to reinforce our industrialisation strategy?
Honourable Member, the actual change in the quality of life of our people means that we will provide more people with running water, electricity and gas, better roads and telecommunications, improved clinics and schools, parks and city buildings.
These investments will give our people a better life and enable them to engage better, both as workers and as citizens. They are meant to correct the historic under-investment and discrimination against black communities which to this day, underpin poverty and inequality in our country.
You will recall that at the time of the transition to democracy, less than half of African households had piped water on site or electricity. Similar disparities existed for investment in roads, telecommunications, schools, clinics, parks and other services.
We have already spent billions to overcome under investment in our communities and work is on-going. The Census 2011 results indicated that amongst other achievements, access to basic services such as piped water, electricity and refuse removal have more than doubled over the period 1996 to 2011.
However many more communities are still waiting for water, electricity, sanitation and other services, hence the importance of prioritising infrastructure development. To make a meaningful impact amongst the poorest areas, the National Infrastructure Plan has identified 23 district municipalities where poverty runs deep, which are mostly in the former so-called “homelands.”
Providing services is harder in these regions for a number of reasons. The households are often relatively scattered, increasing the cost of network infrastructure like roads and water. Unemployment is also still highest in these regions, which were set up under apartheid, deliberately to lack land and other productive resources. Our infrastructure investment will definitely change the lives for the better.
Honourable Member, the National Infrastructure Plan will reinforce industrialisation in two main ways.
Firstly, it will provide a market for capital goods and construction materials. We expect a substantial boost, amongst others, to producers of bitumen, cement, structural steel products, generators and electrical equipment of all kinds, as well as rolling stock for Transnet and Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
Secondly, infrastructure will improve the overall competitiveness of our economy and open new economic opportunities for both established and emerging enterprises. Key projects in this regard include the investments to open up the northern mining belt and improvements in rail and road transport between KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
They also include projects that will open new economic opportunities for people in impoverished rural areas, including the development corridors around the Eastern Cape and North West.
Significantly, we also won the rights to share the hosting of the Square Kilometre Array which brings a host of development opportunities for the country. In addition, the Minister of Energy has also announced concessions on renewable energy. All these will add enormously to our infrastructure development successes.
I thank you.
23. Mrs C A Dudley, African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) to ask the President of the Republic:
Whether he, as president of the programme for infrastructure development in Africa (PIDA), is taking any steps to coordinate implementable plans for the Africa Integrated Maritime (AIM) strategy; if not, why not; if so, (a) how is this envisaged to improve security in South African waters and (b) what are the further relevant details?
Firstly let me clarify that I am not the President of the African Union Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA). The initiative is led by the African Union Commission with the African Development Bank as the implementing agency. Its purpose is to develop a vision and strategic framework for the development of regional and continental infrastructure.
In January 2011 the Heads of State of the African Union endorsed key priority projects and their respective champions, as identified by the New Partnership for Africa's Development NEPAD High-Level Sub-Committee on Infrastructure.
In this regard, Algeria is responsible for the Missing Link of the Trans-Sahara Highway Project and the Optical Fibre Project along the same alignment, the Republic of Congo for the Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road, Rail Bridge Project, Egypt for Water Management, River and Rail Transport Infrastructure projects, Nigeria for the Nigeria- Algeria gas pipeline project and Rwanda for the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Broadband and Linking the Fibre Optic Network into neighbouring states. Senegal is responsible for the Dakar-Ndjamena-Djibouti Rail and Road project.
South Africa has been given the task of managing the North-South Corridor Rail and Road Projects. The Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative which I, therefore lead covers broadly, the following sectors: Transport, Energy, Information and Communication Technology, Water and Sanitation as well as Agriculture.
As such, the question of maritime safety is not within my mandate. However, I am aware that the African Union has a long-term focus on maritime security as part of its comprehensive 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime (AIM) Strategy.
As a member of the AU, we have been actively engaged with this strategy though the Minister for International Relations and Cooperation as well as the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans. The 2050 AIM Strategy remains in draft form and the African Union (AU) Commission has embarked on a consultation process with Member States on the finalisation of its content.
For our part, the South African Navy and the South African Maritime Authority have played an active role in providing the initial input to the document.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) is consulting and coordinating with all relevant departments whose portfolios would be affected.
Given that the AIM Strategy remains a draft which has yet to undergo further consultation by the AU Commission, no implementation plans have been deemed necessary at this stage. We regard the Strategy as a positive development that South Africa should support given that it also talks to the protection and security of South Africa’s own maritime domain.
I thank you.
24. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether he instructed his Minister of Public Works to cease all building on his Nkandla home pending the outcome of an investigation announced by the Public Protector; if not, why not; if so, when;
(2) Whether his instruction was carried out; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?
Honourable Member, let me make one thing quite clear from the onset. I have noted all sorts of public comments to the effect that government built my home in Nkandla. My residence in Nkandla has been paid for by the Zuma family. All the buildings and every room we use in that residence, was built by ourselves as family and not by government.
I have never asked government to build a home for me, and it has not done so. A necessary distinction must therefore be made between work which I have mandated and initiated in my home, as opposed to the security enhancement undertaken by government.
On the basis of a security risk assessment undertaken by a team drawn from the Departments of Defence and Military Veterans, Police and State Security, I was approached to allow security upgrades to be made to my Nkandla residence.
I was advised that the security upgrades were indeed necessary in terms of the National Key Points Act 102 of 1980. Therefore all the security enhancements that have been undertaken by the Department of Public Works at my residence in Nkandla have been part of these security requirements.
Any other construction undertaken by government, outside the perimeter of my home, such as the accommodation for government security personnel, are not part of my residence.
I have been advised by the Minister of Public Works that he has established a Task Team of experts to investigate whether supply chain procedures were properly followed by the Department in carrying out the security upgrades.
In addition, the Auditor-General has been requested to audit all classified Prestige projects. The Minister has also instructed the department to cooperate with investigations by any other authorised agency. I fully support these investigations.
We will not preempt the outcome of these investigations or respond to speculation at this stage. We must respect the institutions that are investigating, and the processes that have been started.
Should the investigations unearth wrongdoing of any kind, the necessary actions will be taken, as we have done in respect of irregularity in other instances.
I thank you!
Issued by: The Presidency
15 Nov 2012
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