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President Jacob Zuma`s Oral replies to Questions in the National Assembly

16 March 2017

1. Ms P T Mantashe (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:

With reference to his speech to the leaders of business and leaders of labour on the eve of the State of the Nation Address, in which he highlighted the challenges of inequality and economic exclusion in our country, what (a) does the Government envisage the roles of industry and organised labour to be in tackling the specified challenges and (b) is the role of the Government in fostering unity of purpose given the historical antagonism between the two groups?

NO387E

REPLY:

Honourable Speaker,

As we mentioned in the State of the Nation Address, income inequality and economic exclusion of the majority of our people from the mainstream of the economy cannot be sustained and has to be attended to seriously at this point in our history.

The exclusion will not lead to the levels of economic growth we require in order to eradicate poverty, inequality and unemployment. It will also make our attempts at achieving true reconciliation futile.

The country needs to undergo radical socio-economic transformation, which is a decision that was taken by the governing party the ANC at its 2012 national conference in Mangaung.

One of the key aspects is to ensure the participation of black people in the economy as owners and top managers and not only as workers.

The Constitution of the Republic is not as explicit on economic rights as it is on political rights. However, it does enjoin us to use legislative and other measures to reverse the discrimination of the past suffered by black people.

Government will continue to work with business and labour to achieve the goals set out in the state of the nation address and other programmes, to bring black people into the mainstream of the economy.

The unity of purpose is underpinned by the National Development Plan which is a road map for every key stakeholder and citizen in South Africa.

Honourable Speaker,

We are indeed pleased with the improvement in working relations between government and the private sector to date.

We have been building on an existing good history of working together. The NEDLAC mechanism has proven to be an effective clearing house for policies and laws. In recent times, this mechanism has helped us achieve agreement on the National Minimum Wage.

We have also worked together successfully in times of crisis.

Since the beginning of the global economic crisis in 2008, we have worked together and found mechanisms of cushioning the economy.

We continue to work together to reignite growth given the on-going pressure on the global and domestic economy.

Together we established the CEO Initiative and meet at a high level as business, government and labour to discuss critical issues facing the economy and inclusivity.

We also work together in designing implementation plans for key sectors in the implementation of the NDP, through our flagship Operation Phakisa big fast results programme.

Experts from business, labour, government, academia and professional organisations come together to develop implementation plans.

We have successfully developed implementation plans for the ocean economy, health and basic education.

We are busy developing implementation programmes for agriculture and rural development as well as mining through the Operation Phakisa initiatives directed at these two sectors.

We have also seen the fruits of working together in the mining sector especially on the platinum belt in the North West province which had been hit by instability a few years ago.

We commend labour and business in the mining sector for bringing about stability in the sector.

Working together has also proven to be helpful with regards to marketing the country to promote inward investments, at premier forums such as the World Economic Forum meetings.

We look forward to sending a central positive message about the country together in May this year when WEF on Africa meets in Durban.

Last year a new initiative of joint international marketing road shows was undertaken by business, government and labour to the United Kingdom and the United States led by the Minister of Finance. Another roadshow is scheduled to be undertaken later this month.

We also value the inputs we receive from business and labour in engagements at key forums such as BRICS and the G20.

With unity in action between business, labour, government and civil society we will make progress in addressing economic and social exclusion in our country, and achieve the meaningful transformation that is required.

I thank you.

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

What steps has he, as the head of the national executive, taken to ensure that all members of the Executive and any other person who takes an oath of public office and whose assumption of such office is dependent on his prerogative as
the President evinces accountability, integrity and respect for the public and rule of law?

NO394E

REPLY:

Section 96(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, requires members of Cabinet and Deputy Ministers to act in accordance with a code of ethics prescribed by legislation.

In line with the above mentioned provisions of the Constitution, an Executive Ethics Code was promulgated to govern the conduct of members of the National Executive and Deputy Ministers. Members of the National Executive are briefed on the said Code on their assumption of office, adding to the oath of office that they all take when they are sworn into office.

From time to time, members of the Executive are reminded of their responsibilities in this regard, at various Cabinet-level platforms.

I thank you.

3. Mr M S A Masango (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:

In light of the fact that 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands by the state of Israel, and that there is talk in certain quarters of a one-state solution to this long drawn-out conflict, what diplomatic measures is the Government pursuing within world bodies in order to find a lasting solution to this conflict?

REPLY:

Honourable Speaker,

President Nelson Mandela declared in December 1997 that we can never be free until Palestine is free. He stated; "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians``.

Guided by our history of struggle and by Madiba, South Africa continues to pledge our unshakeable solidarity with the Palestinian people and to support the cause of the emancipation of the Palestinian people.

South Africa remains convinced that a two-State solution is the only possible solution for durable peace in the region.

We reiterate that the expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories undermines global efforts aimed at realising the two state solution and the Oslo accord.

After 50 years under Israeli occupation, Palestinians continue to live in deplorable conditions. They are subjected to human rights violations and face what UN Special Rapporteurs have described as a form of Apartheid.

We continue to support all international efforts aimed at achieving a viable Palestinian state existing side by side with Israel, in terms of the 1967 borders. These initiatives include the French Initiative in which we participated last year.

We have supported UN resolutions in support of Palestine. We also played a leading role in the attempts by Palestine to gain UN membership.

While this initiative has yet to be successful, we are confident that we will one day welcome a free Palestine into the family of the United Nations.

We will continue, at every occasion, whether bilateral or multilateral, to champion the cause of the Palestinian people. Just last month, on 21-22 February, we attended the Sixth International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada.

We are also continuing to champion the cause of the Palestinians within groupings that we belong to, such as the Non-Aligned Movement.

At the end of this month, we will attend a BRICS High Level Meeting on the Palestinian situation.

This year we also celebrate the centenary of Oliver Reginald Tambo who reaffirmed "the principled solidarity of the African National Congress and the people of South Africa with the struggle of the Palestinian people".

We will never turn our backs on the Palestinian people.

I thank you.

4. Ms L L van der Merwe (IFP) to ask the President of the Republic:

(a) What steps does he intend to take against the Minister of Social Development who has allegedly led her department into a national grant pay-out crisis which puts the lives of the most vulnerable citizens at risk and allegedly shown a complete disregard for the rule of law and the Constitutional Court ruling of 2014 which declared the CPS/NET1 contract invalid and (b) what lessons has the Government learnt from the looming grant crisis?

NO395E

REPLY

Honourable Speaker,

The social grants are one of our most effective poverty alleviation mechanisms. They also remain one of the key achievements of our country and our government.

We appreciate the fact that even political parties that have been critical of social grants over the years, have now realised the important role of the grants in the fight against poverty.

Government is doing everything possible to ensure that there are no interruptions to the normal process of paying social grants to social grants beneficiaries at the end of this month.

Sifuna ukubanika isiqiniseko abantu abathola izibonelelo kuhulumeni - izimpesheni zabadala, izibonelelo zezingane nabakhubazekile, ukuthi senza konke okusemandleni ukuze kungabikhona ukuphazamiseka.

Bazoyithola imali yabo ekupheleni kwenyanga ogogo nomkhulu, izingane nabakhubazekile.

Lessons will be gleaned from the current unfortunate episode to ensure that there is no recurrence. I will not get into details at this stage as the Constitutional Court is currently seized with this matter.

However, as government we will ensure that a sustainable payment solution is found which is compliant with our black economic empowerment imperatives.

The solution must also help us to ensure that fraud and corruption do not take place in the social grants payment system.

Government already saves about R1 billion annually in the social grants system currently through our effective anti-fraud measures in the Department of Social Development, which is a great achievement.

We deeply regret the current situation as government. We will ensure that there is never again any apprehension with regards to the payments of social grants to our people.

Action against Ministers is the prerogative of the President.

I thank you.

5. Mr M S Mabika (NFP) to ask the President of the Republic:

Whether, in light of the State of Capture report of the Public Protector that resulted in the resignation of Mr Brian Molefe as Chief Executive Officer of Eskom, he intends to appoint Mr Molefe to an executive position in the Government?

NO386E

REPLY:

Honourable Speaker

The appointment of persons to the Executive is the prerogative of the President of the Republic as outlined in the Constitution.

The President communicates publicly if he takes such a decision.

I thank you.

6. Mr A J Williams (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:

(a) Whether, in light of the slow rate of global and domestic economic growth, the national infrastructure programme is making a positive contribution to the economy, job sustainability and transformation and (b) what role has the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission played in helping to improve the delivery of infrastructure? NO492E

REPLY:

Honourable Speaker,

The National Infrastructure Programme is making a positive and very concrete contribution to the economy, job creation and transformation.

Investment in infrastructure is important for a number of reasons.

First, infrastructure development creates the economic platforms on which a modern economy rests, through for example the building of energy plants, port facilities, broadband systems and water supplies to mines, farms and industry as
well as households.

New power plants generating close to six thousand megawatts of energy have been completed.

Second, infrastructure activities employ many thousands of people in construction activities. Currently, well over two hundred thousand jobs are tracked in the public infrastructure programme.

Third, infrastructure procurement stimulates industrial development when components are sourced from local manufacturers, whether cement, or industrial components in power-plants or buses used in the public transport systems.

In the past five years, South Africa has developed the most advanced minibus taxi manufacturing capability on the continent and fifty six thousand new taxis have been assembled locally.

Fourth, infrastructure expansion attracts private sector investment either directly in infrastructure such as through the renewable energy programme, or through investment in factories and mines that use energy or water.

Honourable Members, over the last ten years we have been ramping up the levels of investment in the economy.

Over the next three years, we expect more than nine hundred billion rand to be invested in new infrastructure or in the maintenance of infrastructure.

Indeed, economic modelling work done by government shows that without the additional investment in infrastructure, the economy would have gone into a recession in 2015.

The infrastructure programme also helps to transform the economy.

An agreement was reached with the construction industry recently. This agreement will transform the sector, bringing in black investors and black-owned construction companies and improving the number of players and competitors in the sector.

I thank you.

     
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