President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Oral Replies to Questions in the National Council of Provinces

10 October 2019

Whether, in light of the concerns that were raised regarding border control and security to deter illegal immigration, the proliferation of drugs and various forms of cross-border crimes, the Government is developing any mechanisms and processes in order to strengthen border control; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Honourable Members,
Over the years, government has put in place various measures to strengthen border control around our country.  These interventions culminated in the decision to establish a Border Management Authority to take responsibility for all functions related to the management of our borders.
The Border Management Authority Bill was introduced to Parliament in the term of the fifth administration and is currently under consideration here in the NCOP. It is envisaged that the Authority will be responsible for border law enforcement functions at ports of entry and along the borderline.
In anticipation of the establishment of the Border Management Authority, transitional arrangements have been put in place to strengthen the overall coordination and management of role players at the ports of entry and the borderline environment.
Once established, the BMA will ensure a more efficient processing of people and goods at the country’s 72 ports of entry. It will strengthen our capacity to address border threats that could undermine the country’s security and social and economic development.
Another mechanism is the Border Policing Strategy to ensure effective and efficient combating of transnational crimes and other crimes within the border environment. The Strategy is being implemented in phases.
In addition to the Police and Home Affairs, the South African National Defence Force plays a critical role at various ports of entry.  Through the National Security Strategy, the SANDF has developed a long-term strategic view focused on specific threats to the sovereignty of South Africa and the authority of the State.
As part of this Strategy, 15 army sub-units have been deployed for border safeguarding. More however still needs to be done in this regard. The deployment of personnel needs to be augmented with resources such as hi-tech equipment to cover such an extensive borderline – be it on land, sea or air.
We also continue to sustain long-range maritime and air patrols in the Mozambique Channel and extend such patrols to the West Coast. The SANDF is working with those countries that share borders with South Africa through bilateral defence and security agreements to improve coordination.
Government has deployed significant amount of resources and put in place extensive measures to control our borders, but the extent of the challenges – and the sheer length of our land and sea borders – means that much more still needs to be done. The Border Management Authority represents a paradigm shift that will elevate South Africa’s border control to a new level of effectiveness.
The challenges of illegal migration and cross-border crime require a range of responses.
Central among these is better management of our borders and ports of entry, but, as the recent attacks on foreign nationals demonstrated, there is also a need for more effective and consistent policing within the country, improved engagement with affected communities and cooperation with countries from which many foreign nationals come from.
A good example of the latter is the agreements reached with the government of Nigeria during the state visit of His Excellency President Buhari last week.
The two countries have agreed, for example, to establish a joint early warning mechanism to share information, respond to concerns and pre-empt any possible outbreak of conflict or violence.
Through the application of a range of complementary measures, I am certain that we will be able to address issues of illegal migration, drug and human trafficking and other cross-border crime.
These measures are all meant to indeed create a much safer environment for the people of South Africa.
I thank you.
Whether, following his appointment of Deputy President David Mabuza in February 2019 in his capacity as Leader of Government Business to head a Cabinet Committee to look into the crisis at Eskom, the Deputy President reported back to him regularly on the matter; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, (a) what are the recommendations and (b) what are the further relevant details?
Honourable Members,
Due to the urgent need for government to stabilise Eskom and to deal with energy demands of the country, especially in the wake of load shedding, Deputy President David Mabuza was appointed in February 2019 to lead the Special Cabinet Committee on Eskom.
Prior to the elections in May 2019, the Deputy President regularly apprised Cabinet on the work of the committee, covering such issues as consultations with organised labour on the separation of functions at Eskom, improvements in coal supply, measures to address Eskom’s financial difficulties, and progress made by the Eskom Technical Review Panel.
With the reconstitution of all Inter-Ministerial Committees and Cabinet Committees at the start of the 6th administration, there is no longer a Special Cabinet Committee on Eskom.
Instead, Eskom is now a standing item on the Cabinet agenda, where the Minister of Public Enterprises apprises Cabinet on the progress being made in Eskom’s turnaround efforts, in particular on cost curtailment, revenue growth and functional restructuring.
On plant performance, Cabinet receives reports on the implementation of the nine-point recovery programme, which aims to fast-track improvement in generation performance and plant availability.
Under this programme, coal stock days have improved and are currently above the required minimum 20 days.
Government has taken bold steps to shore up Eskom’s finances and lay the basis for longer-term sustainability.
This is necessary because Eskom does not generate sufficient cash from operations to cover its interest payments, debt repayments and capital expenditure requirements.
Eskom’s financial challenges are mainly due to unsustainable operating costs caused by expensive coal contracts, high headcount, overall operating inefficiencies, high debt service costs, corruption in procurement and the excessive cost of the construction of Medupi and Kusile.
In the budget speech in February 2019, the Minister of Finance allocated R69 billion to Eskom over the next three financial years.
In July 2019, the Minister of Finance presented a Special Appropriation Bill for additional funding of R59 billion for the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years to further assist with the going concern and financial challenges.
Government has proposed a range of conditions to be imposed on Eskom in order to receive this additional funding.
These conditions establish certain requirements with respect to the entity’s finances, operations, governance and restructuring process.
It is broadly accepted that Eskom’s current structure is outdated and unresponsive to changes in the energy market.
As announced in the February 2019 State of the Nation Address, Eskom is in the process of being restructured into three separate subsidiaries for generation, transmission and distribution.
The restructuring of Eskom will be detailed in the Special Paper on Eskom which is planned for release before the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement at the end of the month.
Over and above the financial recovery, the newly-appointed Chief Restructuring Officer is developing potential solutions for Eskom’s debt.
The process to appoint a new Group CEO will soon be concluded.
The Board of Directors will be strengthened with additional members with the relevant technical expertise to lead the turn-around at Eskom.
Much progress has been made to stabilise Eskom since the load shedding earlier this year.
With the publication of the Special Paper on Eskom and the implementation of its recommendations, we will shift from crisis management to sustainable recovery for Eskom.
I thank you.

  1. Whether the Government has reviewed the Stimulus Package as part of the strategies to revitalise and bolster job creation; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
  2. Whether this includes concerted efforts to leverage opportunities that are presented by the 4th Industrial Revolution in order to create economic opportunities for rural communities and the youth; if not, (a) why not and (b) when will the review take place; if so, what are the relevant details?

Honourable Members,
In response to the country’s first recession in nearly a decade, in September 2018 I announced an Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan to ignite economic activity, restore investor confidence, prevent further job losses and create new jobs.
Most of the measures announced in the plan now form part of government’s Medium Term Strategic Framework to 2024.
Government has been tracking implementation of the plan and has reported progress in the February and June State of the Nation Addresses.
In the reprioritisation of public spending to support growth and job creation, for example, the Land Bank has been allocated R3.9 billion over the MTEF period to support black commercial farmers.
An allocation of R600 million has been made to support rural and township entrepreneurs.
For critical posts in health, R28 billion has been allocated to a new Human Resource Capacitation Grant, with 2,883 posts already filled.
There have been additional allocations to public employment programmes, industrial parks and municipal infrastructure.
More than 17,000 projects valued at over R174 billion are expected to be implemented by municipalities over the next three years.
As part of township revitalisation, 10 industrial parks have received new investments, including Botshabelo, Seshego, Isithebe, Komani, Vulindlela, Babelegi, Phuthaditjhaba, Elandustria, Garankuwa and Nkowankowa.
Since the upgrade of infrastructure in the Botshabelo Industrial Park, for example, the occupancy rate has increased, from 75% in 2015 to 82% in 2018 with 19 new investors attracted to the park.
Detailed work has been undertaken towards the establishment of the Infrastructure Fund, which includes elements such as blended finance, project preparation and strengthened accountability and transparency.
Government has set aside R5 billion over the medium term for blended finance proposals.
To ensure that young people in particular benefit from these and other stimulus measures, we have identified several growth sectors which have a high potential to absorb young workers.
We are engaging with these sectors, including tourism and agriculture, to determine the skills that they need and to design demand-led skills development programmes that will enable young people to take up emerging opportunities.
Further work is underway through the enhanced industrial policy to encourage new models in support of faster and more inclusive economic growth over the long-term.
Government has also stepped up its work to improve the investment climate in South Africa.
Our inaugural Investment Conference in October last year drew commitments of R300 billion to expand production and jobs across the country.
We will host the second South Africa Investment Conference from 5 to 7 November this year, and I encourage the provinces to work with Invest SA, the IDC and others to ensure that the regional opportunities are presented to investors as well.
There are several related initiatives by government to leverage opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In April this year, I appointed members of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which will lead the development of a national strategy to respond to technological change.
Part of the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan was to finalise the allocation of high-demand radio spectrum and consider proposals to increase competition in the telecommunications sector, promote investment and reduce data costs.
Government has published the final policy on licensing of high-demand spectrum and ICASA has initiated the process to complete the allocation.
Access to data is an important element of ensuring that we are ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
In April this year, the Competition Commission published its provisional findings and recommendations for the Data Services Market Inquiry, confirming what many South Africans already know – that data prices in South Africa are high and that many of the pricing structures can be considered anti-poor.
The Commission has been working with mobile network operators to look at how price-based competition in mobile markets can be improved.
Work has begun to develop a business case for a Digital Hub model.
The digital hubs will provide young people with skills and access to e-learning opportunities, basic business development support and business intelligence to ready our young people for the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
At the time that I announced the stimulus and recovery package, the economic data showed that South Africa was in a recession.
Since then the economy has grown, though still not at the rate required to provide economic opportunity and jobs for South Africans.
It is for this reason that we have been undertaking extensive consultation on a comprehensive growth strategy.
Incorporating many of these measures, the strategy is expected to place the economy on a new trajectory of growth.
I thank you.
Whether, with regard to the victims of asbestosis who even marched to the Union Buildings in 2018 for intervention in the relief that was due to them, particularly in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality in the Northern Cape (details furnished), any interventions have been made in this regard; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
Honourable Members,
The Asbestos Relief Trust and the Kgalagadi Relief Trust were established following a settlement reached in litigation instituted by mineworkers and the Gencor group of companies.
These trusts facilitated payment of compensation to qualifying mineworkers who suffered with asbestos-related diseases.
The settlement in the amount of R650 million, which was made an order of court, was a private matter to which the state was not a party.
A group of aggrieved individuals, the Kgatelopele Asbestos Community, approached government complaining that they did not receive compensation from the Asbestos Relief Trust.
Their complaint is premised on the role that they played during the litigation, in that their names were used in bringing the litigation, which led to the successful conclusion of the settlement.
The community has since approached the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy with a request for assistance.
The Department convened a meeting between the community and Mr Richard Spoor who was involved in the aforesaid litigation and settlement.
A memorandum of understanding was signed in which Mr Spoor undertook to assist the community to make submissions to the Asbestos Relief Trust and Kgalagadi Relief Trust to consider making payment to persons whose “names” were used to successfully conclude the settlement of claims.
Mr Spoor further undertook to finalise these submissions within 3 to 6 months from 20 August 2019 and to provide monthly updates to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Since Government has brought the parties together to facilitate a resolution to the matter, it is recommended that the relevant Departments must be updated regularly by the parties on the progress to resolve the matter.
I believe this matter is being reviewed and that there will be justice meted out.
I thank you
With reference to his plans in the Joint Sitting on 18 September 2019 to reduce gender-based violence (GBV) through implementing legislative and policy changes, what mechanism will be put in place to professionalise and train the police and social services in order to improve the quality of investigations into GBV crimes and increase the conviction rate of offenders in courts?
Honourable Members,
A vital pillar of our emergency action plan on gender-based violence is to strengthen the criminal justice system.
This is to ensure that justice is served, perpetrators are held to account, survivors do not suffer secondary victimisation, and the law acts as a deterrent.
In pursuit of these goals, members of the South African Police Service undergo training programmes to professionally assist victims of gender-based violence.
This training includes programmes on children and youth at risk, domestic violence, vulnerable children, victim empowerment and a First Responder to Sexual Offences Learning Programme.
More than 5,000 members have been trained since April 2019.
In addition, there is an initiative to train and capacitate female SAPS members who are placed at Client Service Centres on the ‘Sexual Offences for Investigators Learning Programme’.
This training is aimed at creating a conducive setting for GBV victims, especially female victims, who find it difficult to report such crimes to male officers.
In addition to these measures undertaken by the Police, the Department of Social Development, and the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities have put in place a package of social services to improve investigations and increase conviction rates of offenders.
Government is providing funding to NGOs operating in some police stations to provide counselling and psychosocial services to victims of violence.
Among other things, this is meant to enable victims to give quality statements and reduce the number of cases later withdrawn by victims.
Government is recruiting more social workers to reduce the huge work load for the police and social workers.
The Department of Social Development is currently managing the Gender Based Violence Command Centre, which provides online counselling services such as trauma debriefing and psychosocial support.
The toll free number to access these services is 0800 428 428.
The GBV Command Centre is a partnership with the private sector.
It is imperative that other private sector institutions also work with government to raise awareness of GBV in this manner.
As outlined during the Joint Sitting of Parliament on 18 September 2019, we are committed to enhancing the safety of women as a matter of urgency by making the necessary amendments to our laws and policies to ensure that perpetrators of gender-based violence are brought to book.
Government is making substantial additional funding available for a comprehensive package of interventions to make an immediate and lasting difference.
These interventions are being implemented across several departments, with monitoring and evaluation systems being put in place to ensure fast and effective progress.
I thank you.
Whether South Africa has developed any strategic interventions in order to protect the economy and domestic industries, like the manufacturing sector which is one of the most lucrative, from the raging trade wars that are increasingly creating unstoppable global transformation that will shape global trade relations and the economies of many countries; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
Honourable Members,
Trade tensions have contributed to uncertainty and slow growth in the global economy.
This has negatively affected South Africa and many other countries.
The decision by the United States to increase tariffs on steel and aluminium imports has had a direct impact on South Africa.
In response, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has presented a series of submissions to the US authorities to exclude our goods and products from these duties as South African exports do not pose a national security threat to the US.
While South Africa has not obtained a country exemption, Government’s intervention has achieved important relief for the industry in the form of product-level exemptions on 36 steel and 161 aluminium tariff lines.
We continue to raise our concerns about these duties with our US counterparts, particularly as it relates to the potential for job losses in South Africa.
More widely, we continuously encourage the large trading nations to seek resolution to their differences in appropriate multilateral trade forums and within the context of the rules-based trading system.
In an effort to diversify trade towards the African continent, South Africa played a leading role in guiding negotiations around the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The South African Government’s approach is based on developmental and investment-led African economic integration.
The AfCFTA will in time create a market of 1.2 billion consumers with a combined GDP of over $3 trillion.
As South Africa exports mainly value-added manufactured goods to the African continent, the AfCFTA represents an important additional source of export market development against the background of the trade tensions between major economies in the world.
The Agreement will fundamentally reshape the South African economy .
Already, exports to other African countries support about 250 000 South African jobs and it is the fastest growing part of our manufactured exports.
We are working with other African countries to finalise the detailed modalities and benefits of the AfCFTA.
Beyond Africa, we are working to increase the volume and address the composition of our exports, to shift from simply selling raw materials to the rest of the world and importing finished goods from various countries in the world.
South Africa, along with five other countries in the Southern African region, has concluded a new trade agreement with the United Kingdom in the event of a ‘no-deal Brexit’.
Without such a trade arrangement, a ‘no-deal Brexit’ would have a negative impact on the South African economy, jobs and exports.
The UK remains one of South Africa’s key trading partners.
In 2018, the UK was the fourth largest destination for South African exports, with bilateral trade between the two countries amounting to more than R140 billion.
An exit in which the UK leaves the EU without any agreement of succession would add significant additional costs to exporting and importing goods.
This would impact a range of industries, including our vehicles and auto components sectors, wine and food products.
In some cases, this may lead to a loss of exports completely.
The new agreement will effectively replicate the terms of trade present in the existing SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement in respect of tariffs, quotas, rules of origin, and health and safety regulations.
This agreement is important for the thousands of South African workers whose jobs are dependent on this trade, and for the investors who have utilised South Africa as an export base to the UK and the rest of the world.
I thank you.