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

11 May 2017, Cape Town


13. Ms CC September (ANC) to ask the Deputy President:

With reference to his keynote address at the National Skills Conference on 24 March 2017 on the necessity of skills that are responsive to national priorities,

(a) how does the proposed new National Skills Development Strategy address the national priorities and

(b) what are the lessons from the previous strategy that have influenced the content of the new strategy?


Honourable Members,

The proposed new National Skills Development Strategy, which is referred to as the proposed National Skills Development Plan (NSDP), is currently the subject of consultations at NEDLAC.

Implementation is scheduled for the1st of April 2020 once the process of consultation is concluded and the relevant legislative framework is effected.

The proposed new NSDP focuses on occupations that support growth, encourage employment creation and enable social development.

This will allow for the delivery of a range of programmes and will not be restricted to scarce skills to ensure that these programmes reach a large number of people enabling them to access employment or self-employment.

The proposed NSDP is aligned with, among others, the National Development Plan, the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training and other key policy documents of government which have set out important strategies and priorities for development, with an emphasis on inclusive growth and employment creation.

One of the most critical mandates of the Department of Higher Education and Training is to ensure that the skills development systems and all supporting institutions are properly aligned to respond not only to national priorities but to the wide range of needs inherent to a developmental state.

The proposed NSDP specifically emphasises the need to address those challenges that have emerged from the current strategy, including but not limited to, production of artisans as envisaged in the NDP and the placement of learners and graduates in the workplace.

The role of the National Skills Authority will be restructured and refocused, with its functions concentrated specifically on the monitoring and evaluation of the skills development system.

Lessons learnt from the current strategy include the need to strengthen governance and administration across the skills development system.

There is also a need to standardise the various systems across numerous institutions in the higher education landscape.

The proposed plan seeks to establish a credible system for skills planning while increasing access to occupationally directed programes, and to promote the growth of a TVET college system that is able to respond to the national skills needs.

We need to be able to produce the skills necessary to support economic and social development and to ensure that we have a capable workforce to support a developmental state.

Finally, the success of this strategy and all other programmes aimed at building our human capital will judged by the extent to which our young people gain the skills necessary to participate meaningfully in the labour market.

I thank you.


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

How many times, since his appointment on 29 May 2014 as the Leader of Government Business, has he arranged with the newly appointed Minister of Police, Mr FA Mbalula, or the former Minister, Mr NP Nhleko, to appear before the (a) National Assembly and (b) Portfolio Committee on Police to deal with government business?


Honourable Members,

As I indicated in a previous reply in this House, Section 92(2) of the Constitution says that members of Cabinet are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and the performance of their functions.

The Constitution further says that members of Cabinet must provide Parliament with full and regular reports concerning matters under their control.

The Executive remains committed to ensuring it accounts regularly and effectively to Parliament.

Cabinet receives regular reports from the Leader of Government Business on this matter.

Where problems are identified, especially with regards to outstanding Parliamentary Questions, all Ministers are reminded of their obligations to reply to questions per the arranged schedule.

I thank you.


15. Mr EM Mthethwa (ANC) to ask the Deputy President:

(a) What is the Government`s candid assessment of the progress, successes and challenges of the Back to Basics programme in light of the 3rd Presidential Local Government Summit held on 6 April 2017, where the second phase of the specified programme that is aimed at strengthening the system of local government was launched and

(b) what will be qualitatively different in the second phase in light of the lessons learnt in the first phase?


Honourable Members,

Over the past 30 months, the Back to Basics programme in local government has become well known and accepted as a transformative intervention.

It has touched all municipalities and gained traction from metros to the smallest municipalities in remote regions of the country.

Even where there was a change of leadership after the August 3rd Local Government Elections, the Back to Basics programme has remained a priority for all municipalities.

Multidisciplinary, inter-departmental Back to Basics task teams have done work in most municipalities to develop Municipal Action Plans and provide hands-on support in areas such as financial management and human resource management.

Some of the indicators of success in the implementation of the first phase are, for example, that over 92% of reporting municipalities had complaints management systems in place at the end of the 2015/16 financial year.

The number of water service interruptions nationally decreased by more than half between 2014/15 and 2015/16.

This represents progress because water service interruptions are taken as an indicator of supply and infrastructure problems.

However, there are still challenges in several municipalities.

Although there are fewer water disruptions, there are still problems with the state of water infrastructure in many municipalities, to the extent that around 10% of municipal water schemes can be described as dysfunctional.

These problems include poor management, a lack of effective maintenance, vandalism and theft.

It is important to note that local level protests doubled from 1,000 protests in 2014/15 to over 2,000 protests in the 2015/16 period.

Some municipalities have had difficulty paying their Eskom bills and the provision of refuse removal services remains a challenge, especially in rural areas.

The first phase of Back to Basics focused on laying the foundation for a developmental local government by doing the basics right.

Building on this foundation and all the lessons learnt, the second phase will focus on ways in which municipal programmes can become instruments for social and economic transformation to build a more inclusive local economy.

There will be a greater focus on issues such as spatial planning, local economic development and opportunities to improve the financial health of municipalities.

It will include a reconfiguration of the district system to augment regional economic development, infrastructure planning and delivery.

In the second phase, municipalities will integrate the possible impact of climate change into their plans and work to mitigate the effects of droughts, floods and other disasters.

Municipalities that are not yet achieving the basics, will still need to first concentrate on getting the foundational pillars right.

Given the enormity of developmental challenges, and severe resource constraints, the second phase of Back to Basics requires all spheres of government to work together more effectively and efficiently to build municipalities that are able to meet the needs of our people.

I thank you.


16. Ms SP Tsoleli (ANC) to ask the Deputy President:

In light of his statement during the Debate on Vote No 1 – The Presidency, Appropriation Bill in Parliament on 4 May 2016, that it is only when we work together in a concerted and coordinated effort that we will overcome the severe economic challenges of the present and change South Africa for the better; what is his assessment of the nation`s progress towards achieving a stable, equal and prosperous South Africa from the ruins of racial division, deprivation and underdevelopment?


Honourable Members,

South Africa is a far more stable, prosperous and, in many important respects, more equal society than it was over two decades ago.

We emerged from a divided past to adopt a democratic Constitution that has formed the bedrock of a new, better society.

We have established democratic institutions that are stable and robust.

In addition to the Chapter 9 Institutions established to support constitutional democracy, there are thriving civil society organisations that work to advance the values of the Constitution.

We have regular elections for all spheres of government, which have consistently seen high voter turnout, and which have resulted in several instances in the smooth transfer of power.

We have achieved and maintained macroeconomic stability and have managed public resources prudently and progressively.

We have a stable, effectively regulated and adequately capitalised financial sector and a diversified economy.

South Africans are very active in challenging the state and the private sector to give effect to socio-economic rights enshrined in the Constitution.

The South African economy has expanded significantly.

It is now around 85% bigger in real terms than it was in 1994.

Real per capita GDP is about a third higher.

About 8 million more people are in employment now than in 1994. The number of Africans and women participating in the labour market has more than doubled.

The growth of the black middle class has been accompanied by a significant drop in both absolute and relative poverty, the transfer of assets to the poor and higher consumption.

This ANC government acknowledges that in spite of these important developments, challenges do remain.

Although South Africa is a more prosperous society, the benefits of economic growth have not reached all its people.

We have not grown enough or created sufficient jobs to defeat poverty and unemployment.

The jobs we have created have struggled to keep pace with the number of new entrants into the workforce, with the result that many people remain in poverty despite the redistributive policies of government.

There has been progress in making the economy more representative, particularly as government`s employment equity and broad-based black economic empowerment policies have taken effect.

Several areas of society are more equal.

Access to education and health care has been significantly expanded.

University enrolment has doubled since 1994.

As a proportion of university enrolment, Africans increased from less than 50% in 1994 to around 70% today.

Through massive investment in social infrastructure, millions of poor South Africans now have houses, water and sanitation and electricity.

The representation of women in all sectors of society, particularly in public institutions has improved.

Around 42% of MPs and 46% of the national Cabinet are women.

Women are however significantly under-represented in the economy and under-paid relative to their male counterparts.

Much work therefore still needs to be done to advance the empowerment of women, one of the critical indicators of a more equal society.

Despite the progress made in the economy, South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies.

The Gini Coefficient, which is a measure of inequality, has barely moved in 23 years.

There is still massive wage inequality, with millions of workers earning less than what is considered a living wage.

The introduction of a national minimum wage next year will go some way to addressing income inequality and improve the lives of millions of people.

In the sphere of local government, the number of service delivery protests have increased in recent years, demonstrating that there are sections of our communities that are frustrated that housing, services and other basic infrastructure have not yet reached all our people.

If we are to make substantial and decisive progress we need to work together to diversify and grow the economy, improve the skills of our people, create employment and change the racial and gender structure of our economy.

I thank you.


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

Whether, since his reply to oral question 19 on 2 November 2016, that the current electoral system has ensured inclusivity and participation and contributed to social cohesion and nation-building, the Government will introduce electoral reform to include a constituency-based system to ensure greater accountability of public representatives to the public first and foremost; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?


Honourable Members,

Government has no imminent plans to introduce electoral reform to include a constituency-based system.

As I indicated in my reply to this House on 2 November 2016, the current electoral system has played an important role in ensuring that Parliament is representative, inclusive and promotes social cohesion.

It ensures that all votes are equal, that every vote counts and that the allocation of seats in the National Assembly relects the diversity and the wishes of the South African people.

It is good and correct that, as Parliament and as a country, we reflect on the relative strengths and shortcomings of various electoral systems.

We should be cautious not to claim, for example, that a constituency-based system necessarily guarantees greater accountability of public representatives to the public.

Much depends on the design of the electoral system, whether it`s purely constituency-based or whether it`s a combination of PR and constituency.

Much depends on the size of the constituencies, on the design of the electoral system, on the balance between individual and collective accountability.

Most importantly, in engaging in this discussion, we need to ensure that we do not abandon an electoral system that has served South African democracy well out of a misguided notion that only a constituency-based system can ensure accountability to voters.

We need to remember that we have had five national and provincial elections and five local government elections, in which South Africans have held their public representatives to account.

The success of these elections should not, however, prevent us from continuing to look at how we can deepen accountability, representivity and inclusivity.

I thank you.


18. Ms N V Mente (EFF) to ask the Deputy President:

(a) What measures has he taken to ensure that sex workers are not as susceptible to HIV infections as they are now, in light of the 2017-2022 new Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and Sexually Transmitted Infections which has highlighted that sex workers are the most vulnerable group as far as the new HIV infections are concerned because of the continued criminalisation of sex work as about 130 000 sex workers in this country, many of whom are women, resort to sex work because of a lack of economic alternatives and

(b) what is the Government`s position on the decriminalisation of sex work?


Honourable Members,

As the South African National AIDS Council, we launched the National Sex Work Sector Plan in March 2016 to, among other things, reduce the spread of HIV among sex workers.

The plan provides for a standardised minimum package of services to be provided by all implementing partners within and outside of government.

This core package of services has been designed to encompass the multi-faceted lives of sex workers.

It calls for national coordination of a range of interventions to respond to the biomedical, behavioural and social and structural barriers that confront sex workers on a daily basis.

Evidence indicates that effective HIV prevention, care and treatment packages for sex workers, their clients and their children should be tailored to local contexts, and that such interventions should be led and implemented by sex worker peers.

The Sex Work Sector Plan therefore seeks to support sex workers not only with healthcare services, but it is also supporting them with human rights, psycho-social and economic empowerment services.

The South African Law Reform Commission has completed its report on the issue of the possible decriminalisation of sex work.

Cabinet has decided that the report should be released for public comment as part of a broader consultation process.

Once comments have been received from the public, government will finalise a position on the various options proposed in the Law Reform Commission`s report.

As this work continues, I encourage all sectors of society to support the National Sex Work Sector Plan, understanding that reduced infection rates among sex workers will impact on infection rates in the general population, while ensuring that the Constitutional rights of sex workers are protected.

I thank you.