Replies by President Jacob Zuma to oral questions in the National Assembly
08 September 2010
13. Ms B M Dambuza (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1) (a) What authority and impact does the Presidentís Coordinating Council (PCC) have in ensuring integrated service delivery compliance and (b) how does it relate to the National Planning Commission in terms of realising the national objective of eradicating informal settlements;
(2) whether the Government has any plans to shift from the current allocation system of bulk infrastructure towards human settlements provision; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NO2869E
(a) The Presidentís Coordinating Council is a crucial coordinating mechanism that brings together the President, Premiers, representatives of the South African Local Government Association and Ministers with concurrent functions, for a discussion once a quarter, primarily on governance and service delivery matters.
The PCC gives effect to the provisions of Chapter 3 of the Constitution and the Intergovernmental Relations Framework Act.
In our meetings we receive reports and share ideas on the implementation of government priorities at provincial and local government level.
We also identify bottlenecks in our delivery machinery and put in place processes to unblock the challenges.
For example, the last PCC, which was held in May, focused exclusively on matters relating to human settlements. A number of obstacles were identified in the areas of planning, financing, land availability among others. We have put in place processes to respond to each of these.
Recently, the PCC also discussed extensively the issue of legislation that hinders service delivery at provincial and a local level, which was a matter introduced by the Premier of the Western Cape, and is supported by all Premiers.
The outcome of the PCC meetings is sent to Cabinet for processing so that outputs can become Cabinet decisions for implementation.
(b) When we established the National Planning Commission (NPC) we stated that we want it to focus on long-term issues and to harmonise and integrate long-term planning within government.
The NPC was formally established at the end of April, with the appointment of Commissioners.
We gave it 18 months to produce the national plan for consideration by Cabinet and Parliament.
Although the NPC has a mandate to address long-term planning, it must also make sure that the short to medium-term plans of departments do not lock government into bad decisions, which will make it difficult to achieve our long term vision.
It was precisely for this reason that we tasked the Minister responsible for National Planning Commission to lead the process of identifying and unblocking logjams in our planning system.
In our bid to make government work better we have adopted the outcomes approach. Two outcomes are relevant to your question.
Outcome 6 is about an efficient, competitive and responsive infrastructure network, while outcome 8 focuses on sustainable human settlements and improved quality of households.
In doing background analyses of problems in both these areas, it became clear that we need better ways of coordinating infrastructure delivery. The delivery agreement for Human Settlements contains targets for the upgrading of informal settlements.
Relevant stakeholders will be brought together to play their part in ensuring a coordinated approach.
14. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the President of the Republic:
Whether, with regard to his statement (details furnished) it is the Government's intention to establish a media tribunal; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details? NO2866E
Government has not discussed the proposed investigation into the establishment of a Media Appeals Tribunal.
The proposal is included in the resolutions of the national conference of the ruling party which took place in Polokwane in 2007.
The resolution promotes media freedom within the context of the human rights ethos of the South African Constitution.
It promotes the view that the right to freedom of expression should not be elevated above other equally important rights, especially the right to human dignity which is also enshrined in the Constitution.
The intention is that the Tribunal would strengthen, complement and support the current self-regulatory institutions such as the Press Ombudsmanís office.
It is proposed that such a Tribunal could be a statutory institution, established through an open, public and transparent process, and be made accountable to Parliament.
Parliament would be charged with the mandate to establish it in order to guarantee the principle of independence, objectivity, transparency, accountability and fairness.
The investigation would look at, amongst other things, the tribunalís role in dealing with matters or complaints expressed by citizens against the print media.
This would be in the same way it happens in the case of broadcasting, through the Complaints and Compliance Committee of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
The proposal states that the media and other stakeholders, including civil society, shall be consulted to ensure that the process is open, transparent and public.
It must be noted that this vibrant public debate has resulted in a decision by the Press Council to review its Constitution, with a view to strengthening its self-regulatory mechanisms.
We welcome the fact that this vibrant debate, which is raging in the public arena, has now also entered Parliament, thanks to this question from the Honourable Member.
This countryís commitment to media freedom is enshrined in the Constitution, and government would never undertake any action that would be in conflict with the Constitution or our values of freedom and respect for basic human rights.
As Government we welcome the ongoing debates in the spirit of promoting free exchanges of views and ideas, to enable informed policy making processes.
16. Mr M L Fransman (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
(a) To what extent has the national human resource development (HRD) strategy been incorporated into the respective Government departments and programmes that champion the five priority focus areas of the national development agenda (details furnished) and (b) what (i) measures have been put in place to monitor the implementation and integration of the national HRD strategy in the Government, parastatals and the private sector and (ii) progress has been made in respect of human resource development in the past 16 years? NO2870E
Our government, working with other stakeholders, is working to ensure that we improve our skills and human resource base.
This is one of the reasons why we decided to split the education department into two stand-alone departments, to focus on basic education as well as higher education and training.
Cabinet will soon consider the Human Resource Development Strategy document. Already, wide-ranging consultations have been held both inside and outside of government.
All the five priorities have been incorporated into governmentís Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). All government departments are working towards these objectives.
The ten objectives of the MTSF have also been converted into 12 outcomes and the President has signed performance agreements with the respective Ministers on these.
Ministers are currently consulting with delivery partners from national and provincial departments, to finalise delivery agreements detailing the specifics of delivery. The delivery on these outcomes requires skills development.
It must be noted that the National Skills Development Strategy 3, currently being finalized by the Department of Higher Education and Training, also incorporates the key objective of the strategy.
The monitoring of our human resource development is to be done through the HRD Council which is led by the Honourable Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
Monitoring mechanisms will include all role-players in the strategy.
Honourable Member, there has been a significant expansion and growth in further and higher education and training over the past 16 years.
The dramatic growth and expansion of the education system has enabled the country to achieve high enrolment rates at school level, and we want to improve on these still to ensure 100 percent attendance ultimately.
A key development of the past 16 years is also the introduction of legislation that compels the private sector to invest in skills development, by introducing a skills levy and skills development plans.
The introduction of learnerships is an important development. It enables new graduates to be exposed to the job market for practical experience.
All in all, we are on track to introduce a comprehensive human resource development programme, working with all key stakeholders.
17. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the President of the Republic:
Whether, with reference to the Western Cape provincial government achieving a clean sweep of unqualified audit reports and his statement that there is a crisis of accountability (details furnished), he will ensure that steps are taken to hold accountable individuals who fail in their duty to manage provincial finances appropriately; if not, why not; if so, what steps? NO3005E
The need to achieve clean audits and effective service delivery is discussed constantly within national government and also with Premiers in the Presidentís Coordinating Council.
All nine Premiers share this determination.
The targets for clean audits in provincial departments also form part of the draft delivery agreement and the performance contract of the Minister for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
In these targets, the MECs for the various Departments are the delivery partners and therefore their own performance contracts will include the same targets for clean audits and it will be expected of them that they report and account on their specific performance.
18. Mr M G P Lekota (Cope) to ask the President of the Republic:
(a) Which (i) countries have been identified as high potential trading partners and (ii) of these countries have been visited by him accompanied by a delegation of Ministers and business people, (b) what was the selection criteria for the business delegations to each of these countries, (c) what benefits were derived in terms of job creation and poverty alleviation and (d) what was the total expenditure to the state for these official visits? NO2881E
The expansion of foreign trade is a means to an end, which is to improve the quality of life of all South Africans.
It must enable us to grow our economy, encourage market access and contribute to the creation of decent work, improved health care and education, rural development, safer communities, social security and other priorities of this government.
Business representatives are invited to State Visits to encourage and promote economic cooperation between South Africa and a particular country.
The Department of Trade and Industry constitutes the business delegation in consultation with organised business, Business Unity South Africa.
However other businesspeople also use the opportunity of the State Visit to travel to those countries, or their visits coincide with the State Visit.
The decision to participate in a visit lies with the businesses themselves depending on their interests.
However, we also have to look at South Africaís national interests, in particular what would benefit her people and advance governmentís domestic agenda.
Visits of this nature create investment opportunities which have a positive impact on the South African economy.
The SADC member States, most whose economies are integrated with that of South Africa, are our countryís major trading partners.
African countries in general, have a huge potential to become South Africaís major trading partners, given their endowment in natural, mineral and human resources.
To date, in Africa, we have undertaken outgoing State visits to Angola, Lesotho, Zambia and Uganda. Outside the continent we have undertaken State and official visits to the United Kingdom, Brazil, Russia, India and China.
Time does not permit us to provide extensive details on these visits, we will provide highlights.
On the visit to Angola, we were accompanied by eleven Ministers and a business delegation of more than one hundred and seventy people.
The sectors represented included mining, energy, electricity, construction, retail, communications, transport, and agribusiness.
A number of Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding between the two countries were signed. There are already immediate benefits such as an agreement between the two governments on the South Africa and Angola Housing Initiative to build human settlements in nine provinces in Angola.
During the visit to Zambia in December last year, I was accompanied by seven Ministers, two Deputy Ministers and a business delegation.
In this highly successful visit, two Agreements and four Memoranda of Understanding were signed and we will continue to explore the great potential in economic relations.
Last month, I visited the Kingdom of Lesotho, accompanied by seven Ministers, one Deputy Minister as well as a business delegation.
Lesotho is an important neighbour of South Africa, as evidenced by the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which supplies of water to South Africa.
South Africa is currently finalising the modalities of Phase Two of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which is expected to increase the supply of water to South Africa.
I visited Uganda with seven Ministers and more than 50 business persons.
A number of South African companies have a presence in Uganda and rely on South African expertise and products in growing their market, thus increasing employment opportunities in both South Africa and Uganda.
Uganda also has a promising oil and mining industry which is of interest to South African industry.
European countries identified as key trading partners, among others include Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Austria, Czech Republic, and the Russian Federation.
I was accompanied by eleven Ministers and over one hundred and fifty business people on the important visit to the Russian Federation.
The business delegation represented the sectors of banking; education; agriculture; health, energy; mineral resources; water and environment; science and technology.
Several benefits will result from this visit in the long term, in tourism, education and skills development, science and technology, space engineering, minerals and energy to name a few.
Information on the highly successful United Kingdom State Visit has been presented in this House previously.
We visited China last month, South Africaís largest trading partner and a substantial investor in the country.
The signing of the Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, was the beginning of a new chapter in the bilateral relations between the two countries.
A number of agreements were signed, and collaboration in several areas was finalised which will contribute to ensuring a balance of trade.
The two countries will encourage companies from each side to explore cooperation opportunities in mineral beneficiation as well as infrastructure construction projects such as the green economy, roads, railways, ports, power generation, airports and housing.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and all the countries of the Americas and Caribbean have been identified as high potential strategic trading partners.
In the Americas, we visited Brazil in October 2009, and the President of Brazil undertook a reciprocal visit in July this year.
For the State visit to Brazil, the criteria included those companies with a presence in Brazil, those in a trading relationship with Brazil and those with an interest to establish a presence in Brazil in future.
The interaction with Brazil and India is a further step to strengthen relations with the India-Brazil-South Africa initiative and the promotion of relations with the South.
For the State visit to India, we were accompanied by more than 200 businesspeople. The visit also saw the re-launch of the South Africa-India CEO forum. The Forum met in South Africa last week, taking the strengthening of economic relations forward.
Canada and the United States are key and strategic trading partners of South Africa. However, I have not as yet undertaken a visit of this nature to that region.
Japan is also a strong trade and investment partner with whom we want to work further to expand trade relations.
Honourable Member, we prefer to view the expenditure on these visits not as a cost, but as an investment in building relations that will help us meet our political, social and economic goals.
As the Honourable Member is also aware, for outgoing visits, host countries extend the normal courtesies to the visiting delegations, as per standard international practice.
We estimate the investment in the Angola State visit to having been in the region of more than three million rand, Zambia at more than two hundred thousand rand and Lesotho to more than half a million rand.
We invested more than a million rand on the Ugandan visit.
Information pertaining to the expenditure of the visits to China, Russia and India is not yet available.