Speech by Joan Fubbs during discussion on the Centenary Anniversary of the Bambatha Rebellion
6 June 2006
Hon Members of this House
Comrades and compatriots
My fellow South Africans
Bayhete Bambatha! Your famous call Usuthu as you and your people fought for social and economic justice continues to echo throughout our land South Africa. Namanje sisathi USUTHU.
The South African Revenue Services has reaffirmed this cry for social and economic justice in its rolling reform initiatives.
At a time when it seemed that so many black Africans would succumb to colonial oppression there rose up a man, a chief of conviction and courage whose is name is forever carved in the hearts of South African compatriots.
Bambada, the peoples chief, tha nkosi yabantu watshala imbewu who sowed the seeds of our peoples ye democracy and paved the way for the democratization of the taxation system in South Africa will be forever remembered.
Bambatha will be remembered as the person who refused to comply with his designated colonial duties to suppress his people by digging their economy donga even deeper because of a unjust poll tax.
Such a tax was not the result of a mere whim but rather designed to ensure that in the absence of revenue from the many men who travelled to the gold fields of Gauteng, the remaining men over the age of 18 would carry the full burden of a poll tax over and above the hut tax.
Kwakuyintela yokyu robha abampofu. Yes a tax designed to rob the poor to pay for the generation of wealth for the rich. This is the genesis of structural Poverty. Poverty, which challenges South Africa today had its origin in a policy designed to remove people from the land and force them to work in the towns so that through their earnings they could pay the one pound sterling Poll Tax.
This paved the way for greater penetration of poverty by changing the structural relations of Africans from a land owning people to a landless people dependent on urban earnings to pay poll tax.
Ubuhlobo bethu nomhlaba wonke: In this way our humanity, our kinship with the world, the soil, the streams and the sky was sorely split asunder.
Daughters and sons of the soil: Amahoda kazi namadodana: The ANC Government, through the democratization of tax, has persistently pursued reconciliation and reconstruction and redistribution.
As part of the paradigm shift in taxation, SARS embarked on a revolutionary journey which would ensure that no longer would tax be used to abuse people. Instead taxation would be used as an instrument to overcome poverty and develop the potential of our people.
Tax seeks to harness the economic energies of our people so that together we can generate an accelerated increase in the gross domestic profit. But more important so that we can eliminate and make our developmental State a reality. In this way the South African Revenue Services and our economic fundamentals have re-affirmed the principles of the Freedom Charter.
Many factors called for tax reform but perhaps the more important were the socio-economic policies of the ANC government, globalization, governance, and the Constitution.
In 1994 we not only faced a fiscal deficit but more importantly a socio-economic deficit which manifested itself in the chasm between the haves with asset base and the have nots whose physical assets had been readily and systematically eroded so that it was almost impossible to leverage and to acquire assets not withstanding new earnings
The measures to eradicate poverty, fast-track skills development within a fledgling democracy and new found peace forms the backbone of the RDP. In 1997 government recognized the need to ensure a sound macro-economic platform from which to create sustainable jobs.
The tax system has played an important role in governments fiscal stabilization programme. Therefore efficient and equitable tax collection. Closing the tax gap and generalizing a culture of compliance is critical for government to achieve its stated policy goals.
The economic isolation of South Africa prior to the democratically elected government in 1994 led to a closed economy of a special kind. This called for far fewer exchange control because the previous regime only taxed institutions within our geographical boundaries.
But when SA re-enlisted the international community it had to compete internationally for investment. So this called for tax reforms to be both acceptable and competitive. Companies were encouraged to compete globally.
South Africa has been a constitutional democracy since 1994 ushered in with the interim constitution in 1993 and the constitution whose anniversary we celebrated earlier this year.
There are a number of fiscal provisions in the constitution and indeed a clause also insists that all legislation enacted must comply with the Bill of Rights.
As an organ of State SARS is also bound by the Bill of rights. Rights that Bambatha ever enjoyed, Rights that generations of black Africans did not enjoy.
Good Fiscal Governance is at the heart of democracy. Sibambe ngako kwezomnotho: Our ANC Government has implemented a phalynx of legislation to mention a few pieces there is the PFMA the MFMA and the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Act.
Tax measures designed to relieve distress but also to democratize the economy and develop the potential of the people in this developmental State of ours have been passed every year. In fact even more frequently. The latest was only yesterday with the Small Business Amnesty.
To mention a few of these tax reform initiatives there is the Right to privacy, fair administrative action from SARS. An entire appeal process from which taxpayers can turn for assistance in resolving matters that were in their opinion not adequately resolved at the local SARS branch Office.
In 2002 SARS published its client charter that sets out taxpayers rights and service levels they can expect based on batho pele principles.
Tax has so far taken place in two phases. The first phase was an audit of tax legislation to ensure that thru amendments and if necessary repeal that the tax laws complied with the Constitution.
The second phase involved reforms that would broaden the tax base but also ensure it complied with international norms. Then there was the expansion of trade treaties from ten in pre 94 to more than 50 now which underpins the open economy and our relationship now with the international community of nations.
Bambatha's resistance forced by his rejected attempts at dialogue with the colonialists marks not only a fight for land but the fight for economic freedom. walwela inkululeke yomnotho!.
Asigisa has launched a new battalion for economic freedom and human dignity. Bayhete abantu. Vukazenzeli.