Questions for Oral Reply to President Jacob Zuma in the National Assembly, Cape Town

19 November 2015

Question no. NO4778E

(19) Mr F Z Majola (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
What are the relevant details of his statements about the centrality of the need for a review of institutional autonomy in the context of public accountability and that institutional autonomy has a material influence on the ability of the Government to take decisions with regard to the transformation of tertiary education institutions?

REPLY:

Honourable Speaker,

Government recently introduced the Higher Education Amendment Bill in Parliament which addresses the question of institutional autonomy.
The recent student protests over the increase of fees at universities brought the issue into sharp focus.

A question has been raised as to what extent government should work more intensively with universities to ensure that the decisions they the developmental and transformation goals of the country.
In the meeting I held with university stakeholders on 23 October 2015 at the Union Buildings, we all committed to ongoing discussions on institutional autonomy and other related matters of transformation.

As announced recently, I am also establishing a commission to look at higher education transformation, funding, living conditions and related matters.

We need to get the balance right between autonomy and public accountability, while still promoting academic freedom which is enshrined in the constitution.
Government invests public resources to ensure that institutions contribute to national development goals and this has to be met by a degree of accountability to the South African public.

While accountability mechanisms exist already enabling oversight by the Department of Higher Education and Training, it is clear that such mechanisms need to be streamlined and improved.

The objectives of the Higher Education Amendment Bill include the following:

  • To ensure alignment and consistency with the administrative law provisions of the Constitution;
  • To address matters pertaining to institutional autonomy, public accountability, and cooperative governance;
  • To create mechanisms for expansion and differentiation of higher education institutions through institutional types; and
  • To clarify the rights of private higher education institutions in compliance with section 29 of the Constitution.

Therefore, the Bill provides an opportunity for a discussion on this question of autonomy by affected stakeholders and the public.

The Department of Higher Education and Training is also currently, in consultation with the sector, developing sets of indicators on financial health, governance, performance and transformation.

The goal is to use these indicators to align the autonomy and diversification of universities with accountability and the effective management of these institutions.

I thank you.

Question number NO4756E

Mr M A Mncwango (IFP) to ask the President of the Republic:

Whether, in light of his statement on 10 May 2014 (details furnished), that the Electoral Commission successfully maintained its track record of running successful free and fair elections, he has found that free and fair local government elections in 2016, including the independence of the Electoral Commission, will be compromised if the Commission appoints election officers from organisations
such as the SA Democratic Teachers Union who stated in their Provincial Executive Committee statement of 14 September 2015 (details furnished) their interest to ensure that a certain political organisation (name furnished) wins back all the wards; if not, what is the basis of his finding; if so, what is his position in this regard?
                                                                  
REPLY:

Honourable Speaker,

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has clear criteria for the selection and recruitment of officers.

The primary obligation of electoral officers as contained in the Electoral Act is that they must be impartial and exercise their powers and perform their duties independently, without fear, favour or prejudice.

The officer must be able to perform his or her functions without favouring one party or candidate over another.
The recruitment process is subjected to extensive consultation with political parties before it is approved and used in any election.

The names and details of all officers are distributed to all political parties.  

Parties that wish to object to the appointment of persons who they believe do not qualify for appointment in view of agreed criteria, have an opportunity to do so.

Honourable Members will recall that when these processes were undertaken in preparation for the last general elections, Party Liaison Committees across the country were convened and all objections raised were conclusively dealt with.
No more than one hundred and twenty objections were received by the IEC to the approximately two hundred thousand electoral officers employed in that election.

In instances where an objection was upheld, the affected persons were removed from any further consideration or participation in the election.

It is clear therefore that our country’s electoral system has checks and balances which create the necessary conditions for impartiality as well as free and fair elections.

I thank you.

Question number: NO4773E

Mr B H Holomisa (UDM) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1)   With reference to the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission’s work on social infrastructure and the Strategic Integrated Projects, and with specific reference to the roll-out of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) connectivity, what

(a) is the total number of ICT centres that have been created in:

 (i) urban areas and
(ii) rural areas and

(b) are the names of the specified areas where ICT connectivity has been rolled out;

(2)   What impact has the rolling out of ICT connectivity had on ordinary citizens’ access to information;
(3)   What is the projected time frame for the completion of the ICT connectivity projects

REPLY:

A number of connectivity programmes have been started in schools, health facilities, universities and government facilities countrywide and we are happy with the progress that is being made.

Through the 2010 FIFA World Cup Legacy programme, 1650 were connected to the internet around the country.

Key metropolitan municipalities have extended free internet access to the public.

In Pretoria, there are 673 free Wi-Fi locations that are spread across Tshwane CBD, Eersterus, Mamelodi, Soshanguve, Ga-Rankuwa, Atteridgeville, Pretoria West and Centurion in Tshwane.

By August this year, the City of Cape Town had connected 69 sites with Wi-fi.

The City of Johannesburg has also introduced free Wi-Fi in areas such as Braamfontein and Tladi Park in Soweto and is promising that more parks will be activated.

Over half of all libraries and clinics across Johannesburg’s seven regions now have free Wi-fi provided by the municipality.

By July 2015 the City of eThekwini had connected more than eighty public libraries and seventy five of these have free Wi-Fi.

Ekurhuleni Metro has been deploying their fibre network infrastructure in the previous financial year and is currently deploying its own Wi-Fi access infrastructure.

The Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) has connected 212  information communication technology centers and schools across all nine provinces between 2012 and 2015.  

These include 71 information and communication technology access centres and 141 schools. 

The USAASA also has special programmes to address under-serviced rural areas. Since 2013 to date, the agency has concluded contracts to deploy broadband coverage infrastructure in the following Local Municipalities:

  • Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal 
  • Ratlou in North West
  • Joe Morolong in the Northern Cape 
  • Emalahleni in the Eastern Cape
  • Mutale in Limpopo and
  • Albert Luthuli in Mpumalanga 

In the Square Kilometre Array project near Carnarvon in the Northern Cape, 360 households will be connected with high speed broadband.

There are many other areas that are being connected around the country.
The impact of the extensive and comprehensive broadband availability has ensured that regardless of location, citizens can have access to information through mobile technology.
The possession of smartphones by millions of South Africans has also ensured that most South Africans enjoy the benefits of accessing information across the country, especially in rural and under developed areas.
Connectivity at schools and universities has had significant impact in making available additional information and knowledge for learners and students.

Through the work done on the implementation of SA Connect, the projections are that by 2020 all schools, clinics, hospitals, and government facilities will be connected starting with Phase 1 as announced during the SONA 2015. I thank you.

Question number NO4779E

(22) Ms J M Maluleke (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
With reference to the reply of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to question 2626 on 11 August 2015, what support will the Government provide to affected (a) communities and (b) farmers in light of the water shortages and persistent drought in some parts of the country?

REPLY:

Government has appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee led by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which is coordinating the response to the water scarcity and drought conditions in the country.

Affected government departments announced their respective programmes at a media briefing last week and the public will be kept informed on a continuous basis.

The state of disaster has been declared in the provinces of the North West, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.
These declarations will ensure that support is provided to communities and farmers in the provinces to address the impact of drought.

Provincial government departments are also rolling out various intervention programmes to respond to the challenge.

Government has set aside resources to enable the supply of water tankers for use in the distribution of water to affected areas, borehole drilling and rehabilitation, water conservation and demand management and water source augmentations.

Support to be provided to farmers includes the purchase and provision of livestock feed, transportation of feed to the accessible point and water sources such as drilling of boreholes for animal drinking.  

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has written to all the mayors in the country to take various actions to respond to the situation.
These actions include the introduction of water restrictions and other measures, monitoring adherence to water restrictions and application of penalties where necessary.

Municipalities must also prioritise the repair of water leaks, and the promotion of water-efficient technologies such as low-flush toilets, rainwater harvesting and the use of grey water for irrigation.

Uhulumeni uzokwenza konke okusemandleni ukusiza abalimi abakhungethwe ilenkinga yesomiso. Ohulumeni bezifundazwe sebeqalile izinhlelo.

Abalimi kumele bathinte iminyango yezolimo ezifundazweni ukuze bathole usizo.

This difficult period requires the cooperation of all in the country.

We call on all to save water and adhere to the water restrictions.

I thank you.

Question number NO4710E

Rev K R J Meshoe, MP (ACDP) to ask the President of the Republic:
Whether, with reference to Israel’s reaction that the hosting of Hamas by a certain political organisation(name furnished) and the signing of an agreement by the leadership of Hamas and the specified political organisation constitutes an unfriendly act by South Africa, the effectiveness of the Government’s foreign policy which promotes a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine has been undermined? 

REPLY:

South Africa strongly believes that all Palestinian parties need to unite in order to effectively negotiate with the State of Israel for a viable and united Palestinian State.

In so doing, South Africa supports reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

We maintain strong relations with both the Israelis and the Palestinians. This is demonstrated by our presence through the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Israeli Embassy in Pretoria.

We also have a Representative Office in Ramallah and the Palestinians have an Embassy in Pretoria. Thus South Africa has access to both sides through these diplomatic channels.

South Africa engages with all the role players to the conflict with the hope that they will engage freely and openly on the future of Palestine.

It is for this reason that South Africa is viewed by both sides to be better placed to assist in the peaceful resolution of this conflict.

As part of South Africa’s contribution to the international diplomatic efforts towards the resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, I appointed two special envoys to the Middle East peace process, former Minister Dr Zola Skweyiya and former Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad.

Thus far, the Special Envoys have concluded rounds of consultations that took them to Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Syria.

South Africa supports international efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, existing side by side with Israel, within internationally recognised borders, based on those existing on 04 June 1967, prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

This Sunday, I will attend the conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, which provides an opportunity for engagement on these matters as South Africa will continue to play a constructive role in the peace process.

I thank you.

Question number NO 4780E
(24) Mr J L Mahlangu (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:

In light of South Africa and India sharing a common ideology based on ubuntu and ahimsa and premised on reshaping the global agenda, (a) how does the India-Africa initiative support the developmental challenges of the broader developing Southern Africa and (b) what progress has been made in implementing the decisions of the 9th Session of the India-South Africa Joint Ministerial Commission of 19 May 2015?                                                        

REPLY

South Africa maintains a strategic partnership with the Republic of India that spans numerous multilateral forums.

There also exists between the two countries, a dynamic bilateral relationship which includes consultation and coordination on a wide range of issues.

Bilateral relations are structured through two instruments. These are the Foreign Office Consultations and the Joint Ministerial Commission. 

The meetings are held annually and alternate between the two countries.  

The last ministerial commission meeting was held in Durban in May this year, and it was co-chaired by the Ministers responsible for foreign affairs in the two countries.

The commission adopted a comprehensive “Five Year Strategic Programme for Cooperation between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of India”.

Five key priority sectors for enhanced cooperation were identified; namely, financing, deep-mining, infrastructure development, agro processing and the defence sector. 

There is already good progress that has been made in implementing the decisions and outcomes of the last Commission.

Notable progress has been made in cooperation between Indian and South African mining engineering companies, mining technology firms and manufacturers of mining equipment.

The comprehensive Skills Development Programme offered by India is further evidence of the solid cooperation between our two countries.

The expansion and further development of this programme will provide for more students to benefit from this scholarship opportunity and also focus on addressing South Africa’s key priorities.

The Commission also launched the Sub-committee on Science, Technology and Innovation based on the comprehensive cooperation between South Africa and India in this sector.

Importantly, the joint commission has set a goal that the value of trade between the two countries should reach eighteen billion US dollars by the end of this year.

Reaching this goal under a difficult global economic environment will require a concerted effort by both countries, especially in removing barriers to trade and in facilitating the ease of doing business between the two countries.

A Preferential Trade Agreement is being negotiated between India and the Southern African Customs Union currently.

Once concluded, the agreement will facilitate an increase in the flow of trade between South Africa and India.
The ministerial commission also reaffirmed cooperation at a multilateral level.
 
Together with India we are members of India-Brazil-South Africa, (IBSA), BRICS, Brazil-South Africa-India-China (BASIC), the G77 plus China, the Non-Aligned Movement and the G20.

In these forums we address the developmental challenges of the global South, whilst stressing the critical importance of the reform of the global governance institutions such as the United Nations and international financial institutions.

I thank you.