Replies by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to Questions in the National Assembly

1 March 2017


1. Ms F S Loliwe (ANC) to ask the Deputy President:

Whether, with reference to the process of introducing the National Minimum Wage which aims to reduce income poverty in the country,

(a) he has found that there is an emergence of sufficient consensus among the social partners on the proposed figure of R3 500 per month, with flexibility and exemptions for certain sectors, and

(b) what mechanisms are in place to monitor and evaluate whether this policy choice indeed makes the desired impact in addressing income poverty and inequality?



Honourable Members,

Following nearly two years of deliberations under the auspices of Nedlac, the social partners have agreed to the introduction of a national minimum wage of R20 an hour to be implemented by 1 May 2018 at the latest.

The agreement was signed by all parties, with the exception of Cosatu, on 7 February 2017.

Cosatu requested an opportunity to report to their Central Executive Committee (CEC).

We hope and trust that they will not make their views known shortly after consulting the CEC.

The amount of R20 an hour translates to a monthly wage of about R3,500 for those working 40 hours a week and about R3,900 for those who work for 45 hours a week.

The introduction of a national minimum wage at this level will have a significant impact on the lives of roughly 6.6 million working people who currently earn below R20 an hour.

Several measures were agreed by the social partners to ensure that the introduction of the national minimum wage does not have a negative effect on the viability of businesses or employment.

Businesses that are unable to afford the national minimum wage may apply for an exemption for up to 12 months.

Any fragile sectors that are having difficulty in complying with the NMW will be considered for assistance within the available means, including through incentives.

A National Minimum Wage Commission will be established to recommend annual adjustments to the level of the national minimum wage.

The national minimum wage will also be regularly reviewed by the Commission taking into account the impact of the level of the minimum wage on employment, poverty and inequality.

In addition, as is the practice in the development of new legislation, government will conduct a socio-economic impact assessment ahead of the finalisation of a new National Minimum Wage Bill.

The introduction of a national minimum wage in South Africa is historic.

It has been described by some of the community representatives in Nedlac as a revolutionary development, which sets the stage for a far more concerted national effort to defeat poverty.

Not only will it significantly improve the income of nearly 50% of working South Africans, but it establishes a foundation for progress towards the realisation of a living wage for all.

I thank you.


2. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the Deputy President:

Whether he as the Leader of Government Business responsible for liaising between the executive and the National Assembly was informed by the relevant Executive Authority of its decision to deploy extra stringent security measures to the parliamentary precinct on Thursday, 9 February 2017?



Honourable Members,

Deployment of the SANDF is solely within the purview of the President of the Republic in his capacity as head of the national executive and Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Force.

Section 4 of the Powers and Privileges Act sets out when security forces may enter the precincts of Parliament.

Decisions of this nature are not communicated by one branch of the state to another via the Leader of Government Business, nor is there any requirement in law or in the rules of Parliament that they should be.

This year, as in previous years, the issue of the deployment of SANDF personnel was transmitted by letter from the President to the presiding officers.

The letters historically include the reason for their deployment, the number of officers deployed and the period for which they are deployed.

These letters are a matter of public record.

I thank you.


3. Mr N F Shivambu (EFF) to ask the Deputy President:

Whether, with reference to the public hearings hosted by the Standing Committee on Finance on the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill on 25 January 2017, a certain person (name and details furnished) made any submissions to him as Leader of Government Business before the specified person made submissions to the Standing Committee on Finance; if so, what is his position with regard to the submissions made by the specified person?



Honourable Members,

On the question of whether I, as the Leader of Government Business, received a submission from the said individual on the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill, the answer is no, I did not receive such a submission.

I would however like to make use of this opportunity to commend all parties in the House for the unanimous adoption yesterday of the amended Bill.

This legislation will significantly strengthen our ability to tackle money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and bring South Africa in line with international standards.

I thank you.


4. Ms J L Fubbs (ANC) to ask the Deputy President:

Following the convening of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland,

(a) what has been his finding with regard to the cohesiveness of the messages from Team South Africa and its reception in the global community and

(b) did he find that the WEF has a greater sense of getting to grips with rising global income inequality with specified relevant proposals to deal with this?



Honourable Members,

South Africa was represented at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland by representatives of government, business, labour and media.

Working together as Team South Africa, this group was extremely effective in communicating a coherent message around the progress South Africa is making in several areas.

This includes the ongoing work to:

  • implement economic transformation and the reform agenda,
  • make progress towards achieving inclusive growth and employment,
  • restore investor confidence,
  • achieve a more supportive business environment, and,
  • refine government spending efficiency.

In each of these areas, Team South Africa was able to provide practical examples of where progress has been achieved and to highlight where further work needed to take place.

This message was well received by the many people with whom we interacted, collectively and individually.

There is a great deal of goodwill towards South Africa and a genuine desire – from both government and business leaders – to see the country succeed in overcoming the economic and social legacy of its past.

Among the issues that dominated this year`s deliberations is the problem of the increasing polarisation between the rich and the poor, exacerbated by the slowing down in the growth of the middle class as the mainstay of economic activity and prosperity.

There was broad agreement among the various global economic leaders at WEF 2017 that there needs to be a concerted global effort to promote inclusive growth, which brings the millions of poor and unemployed into productive and beneficial economic activity.

Among other things, this would include efforts to ensure countries are better prepared for the fourth industrial revolution, which is likely to have a profound impact on the workplace, employment and skills development.

Leaders also discussed the need to strengthen systems for global collaboration particularly in the face of growing protectionism and narrow nationalism.

A significant theme running through the meeting was the need to revitalise the global economy after nearly a decade of poor growth and to reform market capitalism so that it meets the developmental needs of the world`s poor.

There was a strong view that the benefits of globalisation should be harnessed for the benefits of all countries.

This would require innovation-driven growth models, greater cooperation between countries, fair and equitable global governance structures, and a balanced, equitable and inclusive development model.

The participation of Team SA in Davos was important not only in that we were able to market our country to the global investment community, but also in that we were able to gain a better understanding of how the global community is responding to many of the challenges we face – such as low growth, youth unemployment and social exclusion.

I thank you.


5. Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) to ask the Deputy President:

Whether he declared any possible conflict of interests before he assumed responsibility to oversee the turnaround of the South African Airways; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?



Honourable Members,

The Executive Ethics Code requires that where a member of the executive holds any financial or business interest which may give rise to a conflict of interest in the performance of that member`s functions, the member must either dispose of such interest, or place the administration of the interest under the control of an independent and professional person or agency.

In order to comply with the Executive Ethics Code, in November 2014, I disposed of my shareholding in Shanduka Group, an investment holding company which held a number of assets in regulated sectors.

I advised the Secretary of Cabinet accordingly and released a media statement outlining the actions I have taken in this regard.

With regard to the assumption of responsibilities with respect to South African Airways, I did not declare any possible conflicts of interest because there were no possible conflicts of interest to declare.

I have no business dealings with SAA or any other state owned company.

I have declared all my assets with the Cabinet Secretary and Parliament as required by law.

I thank you.


6. Mr A M Shaik Emam (NFP) to ask the Deputy President:

Whether, with reference to his reply to oral question 6 on 25 May 2016 and in view of the tragic loss of 94 lives under the care of the provincial department of health in Gauteng, the Government will now introduce a constitutional amendment that will provide greater powers to national Government with regard to the employment and hiring of services at provincial level; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?



Honourable Members,

The final report of the Health Ombud into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of mentally ill patients in Gauteng concluded that there was prima facie evidence that certain officials, certain NGOs and some activities within the project violated the Constitution and contravened the National Health Act and the Mental Health Care Act.

The report described several instances of negligent and reckless actions that contributed to the deaths of at least 94 mentally ill patients.

The report made several recommendations to hold those responsible to account and ensure that such a tragedy should never occur again.

With regard to the relative powers and functions of the different spheres of government, the report said there is an urgent need to review the National Health Act of 2003 and the Mental Health Care Act of 2002 to harmonise and bring alignment to different spheres of government.

It also said the centralisation of certain functions and powers of the Mental Health Care Act must revert back to the national Minister of Health.

The full breadth of the ombud`s recommendations are under consideration, including a review of the National Health Act and the Mental Health Care Act.

The Minister of Health has already informed the House that he has selected a review panel for this purpose.

The Constitution is very clear on the responsibilities of the various spheres of government.

It provides, for example, that provinces and their executive are subject to the national government`s decisions on policy governing health care.

The Constitution empowers national government, where necessary, to intervene in provincial governance.

These are some of the elements of our constitutional dispensation that will need to be considered during the course of such a review.

We would welcome any suggestions the Honourable Member may have on this matter to ensure that a tragedy like this never happens again.

I thank you.