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Speech by Honourable Michael Masutha during the SONA Debate

Honourable Speaker
Honourable Chairperson of the NCOP
President Deputy President
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members of Parliament
Honourable Premiers
Distinguished guests
Ladies and Gentlemen
Honourable Speaker

Let me start by congratulating our President for a successful delivery of his SONA which was well received by the majority of our people. Your address, Mr President outlined a coherent set of achievements and programmes going forward in pursuit of the goal of promoting a better life for all.

In your address you invited us to join you in celebrating the 60th anniversary or diamond jubilee of the adoption of the Freedom Charter .You declared this year as the year of "The Freedom Charter and Radical Economic Transformation".

Sixty Years later, we celebrate the unity of our people and the pronouncements of the Freedom Charter find expression in our Constitution, the Preamble to which states:

"We, the people of South Africa, recognize the injustices of the past, honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land, respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity."

This Preamble has its foundation in the Freedom Charter. We support the initiative alluded to by the Minister of arts and Culture of teaching our children at school to recite the preamble as part of the curriculum. Central to the establishment of a legal and just order the Freedom Charter pronounces as follow:

All National Groups shall have equal rights
The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth
All Shall be Equal Before the Law
All Shall Enjoy Equal Human Rights

The National Development Plan adopted in 2011 ushered in by your government Mr President and endorsed by the majority of our people including most opposition parties represented here not only reiterates this seamless vision, but puts forward formidable action steps for its full and effective realisation and depicts an end state envisaged by vision 2030, namely that:

"In 2030, people living in South Africa feel safe and have no fear of crime. They are safe at home, at school, at work and enjoy an active community life free of fear. Women can walk freely in the streets and children can play safely outside. The police service is a well-resourced professional institution staffed with highly skilled officers who value their work, serve the community, safeguard life and property without discrimination, protect the peaceful against violence and respect the rights of all to equality and justice"

President, on your SONA address last Thursday you also alluded to an Integrated Justice system and its capability to fight crime and corruption. The NDP is an overarching policy that guides Government in the implementation of programmes aimed at the realisation of the goals of our Constitution.

To this end we have made the following strides in the past 21 years:

We have demilitarised the Police.
Adopted a Corrective rehabilitation approach in the management of offenders.
Transformed the justice system so as to enhance access to Justice by amongst others the rationalisation of magisterial districts, built over 53 courts mainly in rural areas and townships as part of the comprehensive infrastructure built programme, constructed and are in the process of constructing new high courts in Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces which are due for unveiling in 2015 and 2016 respectively
The Office of the Chief Justice has been proclaimed as a separate state department to enhance the efficiency of the courts and the Independency of the Judiciary.

The NPA continues to exercise its powers and functions without fear, favour or prejudice. It does so from the mandate it derives from the Constitution and the law. We however are on course in addressing the leadership challenges currently facing that institution. We are talking about an NPA whose performance continues to improve in courts, for example by achieving 94.4% conviction rate in complex commercial crimes, during the 3rd quarter of the current financial year and exceeding its target of 93%. Is this a `broken NPA" Hon Maimane?

Honourable Speaker

Over the past 20years of democracy there has been an outflow of legislation, policies and jurisprudence emanating from the three arms of our democratic state which gives effect to the constitution. This includes the enactment of the Constitution 17th Amendment Act, the Superior Courts Act, the Legal Practice Act and the new Legal Aid Act. All of which were passed by the 4th Democratic parliament towards the conclusion of the second decade of our Democracy.

Honourable Speaker

One of the National Priority flowing from the NDP is the need for youth employment which must not be overlooked. A youthful population gainfully employed contributes directly to the lessening of inequality in incomes and access to opportunity, thereby enhancing the prospects for social coherence and stability and reducing socially motivated crime.

In line with government`s priorities, the peace and stability cluster continues to make a positive contribution in addressing youth unemployment, for example:

  • 980 learners permanently appointed into entry level positions within learnership programme of correctional services
  • 446 youth trained as correctional officers
  • 999 learners commenced their learnership programme training in Feb 2014.
  • 55 unemployed law graduates have been placed in the internship to provide capacity on the court annexed mediation programme
  • 416 interns have been placed across the various sectors within the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to gain exposure in the various components of the department
  • 200 unemployed paralegals have been placed at the courts and get exposure to, and provide capacity on quasi-judicial processes

Honourable Speaker

No functional and self-respecting state or Nation will ever condone anarchy resulting from the use of violence even in the exercise of legitimate and constitutional rights of protest, freedom of expression, association or conscience.

We therefore condemn in the strongest terms the violent acts against fellow citizens, the burning of public infrastructure and severe disruption of services. Incidents of this nature have, in recent times, had the effect of disrupting schooling of our children who bear the brunt of this suffering. These acts are not different from what Hon Malema said in his speech were he agitated for the unlawful and criminal conduct of so called land grabs. It is irresponsible for a leader to encourage lawlessness in a democratic Country that is subject to the rule of law.

The African National Congress condemns in the strongest terms the recent spates of violence in Soweto and many other areas, where these incidents occurred, amongst others, the looting of shops, the displacement of foreign nationals and other incidents of public violence in these communities thus taking the law in their own hands.

As government we are ensuring that the South African Police Services acts decisively and with sternness on people involved in acts of vandalism, intimidation or any other type of public disorder. All stakeholders in society must be part of the solution and exercise restraint when dealing with these matters in order to ensure that none amongst us exacerbates the situation by escalating tensions in an already sensitive situation.

Honourable Speaker

What we witnessed on Thursday night during the state of the Nation Address was unfortunate and unprecedented. The unholy alliance of the DA and the EFF has clearly conspired to achieve anarchy and the two were at pains to outdo each other, in their attempts to derail the President in discharging his Constitutional function as Head of State.

Honourable Speaker

We need to respect the will of the people and in this case the people chose the ANC to lead government. For the ANC, this is an activist Parliament and we have a the mandate of the majority to change the lives of our people. The opposition perceive Parliament as a confrontational forum not working together to transform society. They consciously lack the depth of understanding the character of nation building and transformation and seek to ensure non cooperation.

The Constitution as the supreme law of the country stipulates, in Chapter 4, that Parliament must provide a national forum for public consideration of issues. The vision of Parliament is to build an effective people`s Parliament that is responsive to the needs of the people and is driven by the ideal of realizing a better quality of life for all.

The people of South Africa chose the ANC to govern and no one should have illusions of Minority rule, we have seen from this Parliament by members of the opposition party wanting to rule from the benches by questioning the constitutionality and legitimacy of calling Security services in the house.

Section 199 of the Constitution which deals with Security Services, refers to a "single defence force, a single police service and any intelligence services established in terms of the Constitution." So even the SANDF can be deployed in Parliament as long as the intervention is necessary, justifiable and sanctioned by the presiding officers.

Section 4 of the Powers and Privileges of Parliament Act of 1963, allows the security services to enter or remain in the precincts for the purpose of performing any policing function in the precincts only with the permission and under the authority of the Speaker or Chairperson. Sec 11 provides that a person who creates or takes part in a disturbance in the precincts may be arrested or removed from the precincts on the order of the speaker or chairperson by a staff member or a member of the security services.

The problem with the 5th Parliament is that unlike (previously MPs who were ordered to leave by the Speaker or Chairperson did so. In the current Parliament firstly EFF and then DA members have on numerous occasions refused to do so. Previously the Speaker just ignored them if they were not disruptive but what is expected to happen if a handful of members is disrupting the whole house? And refuses to submit to authority of the speaker to desist from disrupting business of the house and leave the chamber

For the DA to opportunistically leave the house based on an untested Constitutional interpretation in any court let alone the Constitutional Court is both irresponsible and disrespectful to Parliament. This shows the fundamental shift in the right wing organization that does not understand the spirit of multiparty rule. This was further compounded when the Premier of Western Cape walked out with the party in the National Assembly showing disrespect to the highest law making body, head of State and spheres of government. The principle of the separation between party and state is clearly not well understood in the DA, this was demonstrated in the SONA delivery in their prehatched and misguided plan not to be part of such a prestigious event dressed in Black. What should be more confusing to their voters surely is how do people participate in a Debate whilst they were not even part of the SONA delivery itself, when they are entrusted by their voters to be part of. The least said about Honourable B Holomisa the better.

Honourable Speaker

There is a Latin adage "Fiat justisia ruat caelum" which simply translated to means "Let justice be done though the Heavens fall", it signifies the belief that justice must be realised regardless of consequences. It is therefore high time that opposition members know that you make the rules and live by them. Therefore let`s heed the presiding officers to apply the rules to the latter.

Honourable Speaker

The beacons guiding these advances are equal rights, non- racialism, non-sexism, democracy and mutual respect. A broad, inclusive approach, free of arrogance or complexes of superiority or inferiority, is fundamental.

The future of our country depends on the harmonious and simultaneous realization of the advancement of the majority of people, in the medium-and-long-term, release hitherto untapped and suppressed talents and energies that will both boost and diversify the economy.

Keeping our Communities safe, in turn, provide the basis for overcoming the divisions of the past without creating new ones.

Nakhensa! Ndolivhuwa! NDAA!

     
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