Questions for Oral Reply by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, National Council of Provinces
2 September 2015
13. Ms P C Samka (Eastern Cape: ANC) to ask the Deputy President:
(1) Whether, as the 2015 deadline for achieving the 28 targets of the SADC Gender Protocol is drawing near (details furnished), the Government is engaging political parties and civil society organisations on their role in ensuring that the nation achieves gender parity political decision-making; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) whether, in preparation for the 2016 Local Government Election, the Government has identified any (a) actions and (b) programmes to encourage political parties to ensure equal representation of men and women when sending their public representatives in the local government; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
Since the achievement of democracy in 1994, South Africa has made great progress in advancing the participation of women in various political decision-making structures.
As South Africa, our approach to this is informed by the founding principles of our Constitution.
It is also in line with the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. In addition, South Africa has enacted legislation and undertaken measures to promote gender equality in the political process.
The Electoral Act, for example, requires every registered party and candidate to facilitate the full and equal participation of women in the activities political parties.
They must ensure free access of women to all public political meetings, marches, demonstrations and rallies.
More directly, the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act requires that every party must seek to ensure that 50 percent of the candidates on the list are women, and that female and male candidates are evenly distributed through the list.
Such measures have achieved positive results.
The proportion of women represented in the National Assembly increased from a mere 3 percent before 1994 to the current 41 percent.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission, the proportion of women candidates standing for national and provincial elections increased from 27 percent in 1999 to 31 percent in 2004 to 39 percent in 2009 and 40 percent in 2014.
Despite this progress, not all political parties in South Africa demonstrate a similar commitment to gender equality in political representation.
According to a 2011 report by the Commission for Gender Equality and the IEC, only two parties had committed themselves to implementing a 50/50 gender quota system in election lists.
Of these, the policies of the African National Congress in particular have had a profound impact on the gender composition of this House – the National Council of Provinces – the National Assembly, Provincial Legislatures, Local Councils and Cabinet.
As we prepare for the 2016 local government election, we urge all parties to demonstrate political will and take decisive measures to ensure equal representation of men and women in the selection of candidates.
It is clear that the achievement of gender parity will not be achieved merely through the enactment of legislation.
All social partners need to work together to achieve real gender equality in the political process.
At the same time, we need to ensure that the progress we make in the political sphere is matched by progress in areas such as education, health and the economy.
I thank you.
14. Ms E C van Lingen (Eastern Cape: DA) to ask the Deputy President:
Whether he has put any measures in place to address the challenges associated with the failing state-owned enterprises such as the SA Airways, Eskom and the SA Post Office since his appointment to oversee their turnaround strategies; if not, why not; if so, (a) what measures and (b) what are the further relevant details?
Given the critical role of state-owned enterprises in our economy, and recognising the challenges faced in particular by SAA, Eskom and the South African Post Office, the Deputy President was tasked to oversee the turnaround of these companies.
It should be acknowledged that these entities all operate in challenging and complex industries.
It is also worth noting that South Africa has over 700 state-owned entities at national, provincial and local level.
Many of these SOEs are fulfilling their mandates efficiently and effectively.
Notable progress has been made in implementing the turnaround of Eskom, SAA and the South African Post Office.
Valuable work has been done to stabilise Eskom and improve its financial position.
Governance and leadership challenges are being addressed.
With the support of the War Room located in the Presidency, progress has been made in the implementation of government’s five-point plan to address the country’s electricity supply constraints.
An important milestone was the recent opening by President Jacob Zuma of the first unit at the Medupi power station, which adds over 600 megawatts to the national grid.
With regards to our national carrier, as a result of a focused effort by the board and management and National Treasury as the executive authority, the ‘going concern’ status of SAA has been restored.
Operating costs are consistently being reduced and operational efficiency is improving.
In short, the 90-day action plan has been successfully implemented.
A long-term turnaround strategy has been developed and is being implemented.
A strategic turnaround plan for the South African Post Office is being considered by Cabinet.
A thorough diagnostic review of the challenges at the Post Office was undertaken and a business model more suited to the changing postal services environment has been developed.
A new Post Office board has been appointed.
The board is comprised of people with the requisite skills and experience to implement the turnaround strategy.
While we address the challenges at these three entities, we are also undertaking broader transformation of the state-owned enterprise sector.
This is being coordinated by an inter-ministerial committee charged with implementation of the recommendations of the Presidential Review Committee on State-Owned Entities.
We are certain that if the strategies that have been developed are pursued with focus and determination, they will achieve the desired results.
I thank you.
15. Mr J P Parkies (Free State: ANC) to ask the Deputy President:
(1) Whether the national task team that was established to look at the living conditions of farm workers and dwellers, especially in the Western Cape has finalised its work; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) whether there are any specific recommendations and considerations made in respect of the concerns that were raised by farm workers and dwellers (details furnished); if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;
(3) whether there are any programmes and plans in place to ensure that (a) the rights of farm workers and dwellers are protected and (b) they will be able to (i) exercise their freedom of association and (ii) choose the Government of their choice without fear and intimidation; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
The work to address the challenges in the farming sector is progressing.
While the situation in the Western Cape has received the greatest prominence, many of these challenges are to be found in farming communities across the country.
We are engaging with all relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector on a comprehensive approach to address the growth and efficiency of the sector, the rights and needs of farm workers, enforcement of labour market regulations, and adherence to the rule of law.
As this engagement continues, the provision of services to improve the living and working conditions of farm workers and farm dwellers is being given priority.
This includes the delivery campaigns being led by the Ministers of Agriculture, Social Development and Rural Development.
This work is being coordinated by the Vulnerable Workers Inter-Departmental Forum, which engages with farmers and farm workers on a regular basis.
Government is also working to ensure the full implementation of existing laws, regulations and sectoral determinations aimed at protecting and advancing the rights of farm workers.
There are other initiatives in place to build capacity and provide support to farm workers and vulnerable households in farming communities.
Further information on these programmes may be obtained from the relevant departments.
The issue of freedom of association and the participation of farm workers and farm dwellers in the electoral process is an important matter.
According to the Electoral Act, it is an offence to compel or unlawfully persuade any personto support or not support any party or candidate.
It is also an offence to prevent any party representative, candidate or electoral official from gaining reasonable access to voters.
In addition, the Independent Electoral Commission, political parties and the relevant government agencies regularly engage with organised agriculture, labour and communities to address areas of concern.
As work is continuing to address the specific circumstances of farming communities in the Western Cape, we are working to achieve the fundamental transformation of South Africa’s agriculture sector.
That is a process that government is leading, but which requires the active and constructive participation of farmers, farm workers, industry bodies, communities and civil society formations.
Agriculture is vital to the future of South Africa.
It has significant potential to create jobs, boost exports, support economic growth, develop rural areas and ensure food security for all our people.
We have every intention of ensuring that the agriculture sector in this country realises that potential.
I thank you.
16. Mr L B Gaehler (Eastern Cape: UDM) to ask the Deputy President:
Whether the Human Resource Development Council and/or the Government has considered the regularly reported incidences of persons with either none and/or fake qualifications in the public and private sectors as a serious concern; if not, why not; if so, (a) what plans are in place to stop this problem and (b) what are the further relevant details?
Government has indeed considered reported incidences of persons who misrepresent their qualifications or who have fake qualifications.
Such incidents do great damage to the credibility of the country’s education and training system.
The Minister of Higher Education and Training is preparing a proposal for Cabinet approval on various mechanisms to address this problem.
Further details will be available once Cabinet has considered and approved the proposal.
The Minister has already requested the South African Qualifications Authority to establish a national register that lists the names of individuals who have misrepresented their qualifications or who have invalid qualifications.
It is important that the rigorous verification processes that are undertaken in the public service at national and provincial level are extended to other public institutions and entities.
We urge all public and private entities to make every effort to verify the qualifications of all prospective employees and directors, and to report any suspected fraudulent activity to the South African Police Service or the National Prosecuting Authority.
We call on members of the public to ensure that they do not jeopardise their employment prospects or face criminal charges by misrepresenting their credentials or qualifications.
I thank you.
17. Mr B G Nthebe (North West: ANC) to ask the Deputy President:
(1) With reference to his visit to Lesotho to brief the key stakeholders on the terms of reference for the establishment of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)-led Commission of Inquiry into the recent developments in the country, what was the response of the key role players in relation to the (a) Commission and (b) ceasing of hostilities to achieve the maintenance of public peace;
(2) what was the attitude of the SADC Double Troika Summit in relation to his report regarding his previous facilitation efforts in Lesotho?
During my visit to Lesotho on 30 and 31 July 2015, I had the opportunity to brief a number of stakeholders on the decisions taken by the Double Troika Summit held in Pretoria on 3 July 2015.
This included the decision to set up a Commission of Inquiry primarily into the circumstances surrounding the death of Brigadier Mahao, previously Lieutenant General of the Lesotho Defence Force.
I met with the government of Lesotho, the leadership of the opposition parties, the Council of Churches and the Council of NGOs.
All stakeholders have welcomed the establishment of the Commission of Inquiry.
The Commission will allow for an in-depth investigation into an incident that deeply affected the Basotho people.
It should provide insight into the challenges facing the security forces that will be useful in determining a way forward.
All stakeholders remain concerned about the long-term political and security stability of the Kingdom.
They expressed their appreciation for SADC’s interventions.
In addition, I formally presented to stakeholders in Lesotho the Final Report of the SADC Observer Mission to Lesotho.
This report had been tabled at the SADC Double Troika Summit on 3 July 2015, and included recommendations for the Kingdom of Lesotho to consider effecting constitutional and security reforms.
The summit adopted the report and urged the Kingdom of Lesotho to adopt the recommendations.
The report was welcomed by stakeholders in Lesotho, and the recommendations were accepted.
A subsequent SADC Double Troika Summit held in Gaborone on 16 August 2015 agreed that there is still much work to be done to achieve long term political and security stability in Lesotho.
This Summit discussed the terms of reference of the Commission of Inquiry and decided to reaffirm the terms of reference as adopted at the Summit held on 3 July.
The Summit also urged all stakeholders to adhere to these terms of reference.
In addition, the Summit considered a preliminary report of the Commission.
The Summit decided to extend the Commission’s life by an additional 30 days to allow it to fulfil its mandate.
The commission began its work in Maseru on Monday.
Once the Commission of Inquiry has finished its work, the work towards necessary constitutional reforms, to be facilitated through the Oversight Committee established at the Double Troika Summit of 3 July, will proceed.
The people of the Kingdom of Lesotho are yearning for lasting peace and stability in their country.
They recognise that stability is a precondition for growth and development.
It is for this reason that the leadership of SADC and the government of South Africa are firmly committed to help the stakeholders in Lesotho to chart a new path towards peace and prosperity.
I thank you.
18. Ms N P Mokgosi (Northern Cape: EFF) to ask the Deputy President:
Whether the National Economic Development and Labour Council task team has finalised its work regarding the minimum wage (details furnished); if not, (a) why not and (b) what are the delays; if so, what are the relevant details?
Significant progress is being made in deliberations under the auspices of NEDLAC on the modalities to introduce a national minimum wage.
The NEDLAC social partners adopted the Ekhurhuleni Declaration in November 2014 which said there should be a report-back on progress in reaching agreement on key issues by July 2015.
The Committee of Principals received a progress report on the work of the technical task teams of wage inequality and labour stability last month.
The report outlined areas of agreement and issues that needed further deliberation.
There is sufficient consensus, for example, on the broad definition of a national minimum wage for it to be referred to the legal drafting process.
The Nedlac constituencies have agreed that:
- The national minimum wage shall be the legal floor, guaranteed by law below which no employee may be paid in South Africa.
- The collective agreements, sectoral determinations and contracts of employment may not make provision for a wage that is lower than the national minimum wage, but may vary wages upwards.
Some of the issues that require further discussion include:
- the scope and application of a national minimum wage,
- the relationship between a minimum wage and other forms of wage setting,
- mechanisms for determining a national minimum wage, and,
- the actual level of a national minimum wage.
Work is underway to gather evidence, through research and investigation, to ensure that the national minimum wage is set at a level that has a real and significant impact on inequality and poverty while ensuring no negative effect on demand for labour.
The work involved in introducing a minimum wage is complex and multi-faceted and requires careful deliberation.
The Committee of Principals has nevertheless agreed that this work should be concluded without undue delay.
I thank you.