Tag Archive | President Jacob Zuma

Parliament awaits to hear from Cabinet

Same Parliament, same Cabinet, different mood

..editorial……Parliament has now resumed with the same Cabinet, the same 400 MPs, the same ANC Allianceparliament 6 majority instructed whips and the same names in the party benches but the ambiance is very different.     This subtle fact, however, matters little in the immediate future.   Legislation before the National Assembly (NA) will still be subject to a simple numbers game when it comes to voting. Well, almost.

In the case of a Section 76 Bill, that is a Bill that needs not merely the concurrence of that portion of the 400 MPs that sit in the NCOP but subject to full debate by all nine provinces and a mandate returned in favour or not, there might be the beginnings of healthier opposition. Power at local level has been emboldened since Parliament last met.

So far, matters of consequence have been that the Department of Energy has presented its REIPPP plan with support from most other than Eskom with no Minister present and the Mineral Resources Portfolio Committee has re-endorsed a revised Minerals and Petroleum  Resources Development Amendment Bill for process by the NCOP using its ANC majority. Again no Minister was present. Eskom will be presenting on this and matters regarding coal any day.

Old tricks

jacob zumaHowever, presuming the picture in Parliament stays as it is until the 2019 national election with Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma at the helm as President, it will be interesting to see what type and how much legislation is hammered through the NA by the ANC using the same old tactic of deploying party whips with threats of being moved down on the party list system for a total majority, timed last year in a rush just before a recess.

Notably, now in the case of three Bills sent for assent after being voted through, the three were not signed by President Zuma into law acting on legal advice.

With this trio now back with Parliament on the grounds of either suspected unconstitutionality and/or incorrect parliamentary procedure, the issue is now whether the coterie of Cabinet Ministers that surround the President, with Director Generals appointed by and who report to those Ministers, will take Parliament more seriously.

Not hearing

Good advice is not good advice when it comes in the form of a last minute warning not to put signature to any Bill thereby turning it into an Act of law. Plenty of such advice not do this in respect of a number of Bills was previously given during parliamentary portfolio committee debate, at parliamentary public hearings from affected institutions, business and industry and even earlier in public comment when the Bills were first published by gazette in draft form.

Similarly, the lesson seems not to be learnt in higher echelons that the independent regulatory entities are also not to be ignored – institutions from the Office of the Public Prosecutor to ICASA, from NERSA through to the board of the Central Energy Fund and from National Treasury to international courts, the UN and international bodies protecting human rights. Parliament is due to hear from ICASA any moment.

Most worrying, however, are the attempts to by-pass Treasury when presenting policy to Parliament. Ideological bullying can bankrupt a country in no time.

Such issues as Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s National Health Insurance dream and Minister Joemat-Pettersson/President Jacob’s Zuma’s dream of six nuclear energy reactors – plans that the country should not possibly not countenance from a financial aspect – have neither been presented to Parliament in the proper national budget planning form or officially and financially endorsed.

Missing money details

Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi, has gone as far as a White Paper to Parliament on the NHI and Minister Joemat-Pettersson has briefed Parliament on nuclear tendering. Treasury have said nothing about a financial plan in each case. Money is short, as evidenced by Treasury stepping in on the provisions for BEE preferential procurement. Somewhere there is a disconnect.

As for President Zuma’s continued pressure to bring traditional leaders into the equation with what amounts to two separate judicial systems and has even talked of the equivalent of four tiers of government – one therefore not even reporting to Parliament and certainly no idea of local government and nor subject to the PMFA  has its problems. President Zuma has used his ally, the Minister of Justice, to table the Traditional Courts Bill before Parliament. Opposition parties will walk out on that one, we are sure.

The Speaker of the House, Baleka Mbete, as part of the same coterie, has made a mild signal that the days of Cabinet maverick behaviour, even arrogance, towards Parliament and no respect for the separation of powers may be coming to an end. The SACP is clearly not happy. That is where the new ambiance felt in an unchanged Parliament may play an unofficial part and pressure may start building.

 
Previous articles on category subject
Parliament to open Aug 16 – ParlyReportSA
Parliament under siege – ParlyReportSA
Radical White Paper on NHI published – ParlyReportSA
Zuma’s nuclear energy call awaits Treasury – ParlyReportSA
Here it comes again…. the Traditional Courts Bill – ParlyReportSA

Posted in cabinet, earlier editorials, Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Health, Justice, constitutional, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Here it comes again…. the Traditional Courts Bill

Dubious motives ……..

justice minister masuthaMinister of Justice Michael Masutha is to re-table once again the Traditional Courts Bill setting up a parallel system of justice in rural areas,  he says.   Minister Masutha was appointed by President Zuma in May 2014 and this same Bill, known to have the President’s wishes behind it, was withdrawn last year in the form it was proposed. It was thought by many to have been scrapped.

Whether this is an election ploy or whether a draft will actually appear from the Ministry of Justice for public comment remains to be seen. Should it appear, in whatever shape and form, it will have to be debated as a Section 76 Bill by all nine provincial legislatures. At least five would have to approve it for the Bill to move forward from the NCOP to the National Assembly.

Gender insensitive

It was said at the time by the media when President Zuma originally withdrew the Bill that it had been proposedtraditional chiefs
as a trade-off with traditional leaders to get rural support. The Bill then was perceived as chauvinistic by many and was certainly frowned up by legal professionals as a distinct attempt to set up two legal systems and was therefore constitutionally unacceptable.

Lulu Xingwana, at that particular time Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said the proposals “took the issue of women’s rights back into medieval times”. Her ministry was subsequently closed down.

Unexpectedly, the incumbent Minister of Justice, before his 2015/6 budget vote debated just before Parliament went into recess, told a parliamentary media briefing that he intended to re-introduce the Bill as “a priority”. He added. “We are working with representatives from traditional leadership and civil society to take this process forward, with a view to introducing the Bill in June.”

Majority provinces voted against

butheleziDr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, in his capacity as leader of the IFP, said of the old Bill when it was debated by all nine provinces, that five provinces had put in votes to scrap the proposals entirely, two would not make a decision and only two were in favour. Even then, said Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the two in favour did not support all the Bill’s provisions. In the end, he noted, the Bill did not even get past parliamentary committee stage in the NCOP.

“Its demise marked a major victory for rural people who had opposed it”, he said.    Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s view was that the Bill would bring oppression by traditional and unaccountable leaders many of whom were apartheid appointees. “It would have meant also the resuscitation of some of the boundaries of the old Bantustans”, he added.

Four tiers of govt

Chief Buthelezi also noted at the time that the Bill would mean that chiefs would become a fourth tier of government, something the country could ill afford. The Minister of Justice’s next move should be to gazette a draft for public comment.

Previous articles on category subject
President Zuma determined to push Traditional Courts Bill – ParlyReportSA
Zuma goes for traditional support with expropriation – ParlyReportSA

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Facebook and Twitter, Justice, constitutional, Land,Agriculture, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts0 Comments

Parliament, ConCourt and Business

...editorial…

Parliament wins with ConCourt judgement…

Political comment on recent and fluid events involving Parliament and ConCourt are beyond the brief of ParlyReportConcourt other than perhaps the effect on Parliament as an institution capable of assisting business and industry. Nevertheless, these following words rang out from eleven of our judicial elders from the precincts of the highest court in the land when making their recent unanimous judgement…….

“Certain values in the Constitution have been designated as foundational to our democracy. This in turn means that as pillar-stones of this democracy, they must be observed scrupulously. If these values are not observed and their precepts not carried out conscientiously, we have a recipe for a constitutional crisis of great magnitude. In a State predicated on a desire to maintain the rule of law, it is imperative that one and all should be driven by a moral obligation to ensure the continued survival of our democracy.”

Parliament drawn in

national assemblyGiven those precepts and the fact the highest court in our land took it upon itself to chastise the Speaker of House, ANC’s Baleka Mbete, and the workings of the National Assembly in that there was a lack of respect by the Secretary for Parliament for the Public Protector’s report on the Nkandla issue.The judgement spoke volumes on the lack of Cabinet’s understanding of the principle of separation of powers and focused on its disrespect for Parliament.

But ParlyReport rarely attends the National Assembly (NA) since that it is a place where a politicized debate takes place and the NA merely “dots the i’s” on legislation and registers its vote – legislation that has already been worked on by the parliamentary portfolio and select committees, i.e. the engine room of Parliament.

Most of this “engine room” process has only been slightly compromised by the ConCourt judgement.

ParlyReport’s mandate also is to watch and observe government departments as they spell out their targets, policies and decision-making on major issues affecting business and industry as they report to their relevant committees in terms of oversight. Some of these committee debates are intelligent contributions in the national interest, others less so. Here the system with government departments reporting to Parliament is even less compromised by the ConCourt judgement.

Political debate

The National Assembly, however, is where the political, ideological and debate on party lines takesEFF 2 place, assumedly in a democratic manner but sadly turned into a circus quite often by the EFF. However, one should remember that the judgement of ConCourt was as a result of a decision on the matter brought by the very same Economic Freedom Fighters vs Speaker of the National Assembly and Others and Democratic Alliance vs Speaker of the National Assembly and Others.

In other words, some of the people have spoken but not all of the people. At National Assembly level the ANC closed ranks on the impeachment motion as the nation knows and which was their democratic right whatever the Opposition members might have thought and said. The sight of the Speaker being told to stand down and for the Deputy Speaker take over was sad to see but for the rest, it was democracy in process.

Throughout, the final debate, the level of insults was high but this could be expected on an impeachment motion but Parliamentary procedure was observed by all; the bells rang for ajournment and consideration; the votes counted; the results confirmed on the motion to impeach and all other outstanding motions called for, before closing.

speaker UKIt was just noisier than PMQ in the British Houses of Parliament, that’s all.

In the end it may be said that the Constitution was the winner. The Parliamentary process was indeed observed after ConCourt had noted that the subject matter of the charges had resulted an abuse of Parliament in a number of ways. Now the political process takes over and however dirty it may seem at times in National Assembly debate, this is indeed democracy.

Where it goes wrong

It is unfortunate that what was not foreseen by the authors of an otherwise an excellent Constitution (or perhaps foreseen but could not be avoided) is the fact that South African MPs get their jobs and receive their pensions, perks and housing on a party list system which is very much adjustable, we have learnt, not only by parliamentary performance and hearing the voice of the Party whip but by other elements outside of Parliament.

In the case of the ANC Alliance, who are the majority by far in both Houses, obviously this leads tolithuli house patronage by those who run the party list at Luthuli House. It is a fact which cannot be avoided. One could say the same for the DA, the EFF and any smaller party that patronage must apply when MPs are not answerable, as is the case in South Africa, to a particular constituency of citizens.

In the case of South Africa, this leaves national policy and leadership very much in the hands of Luthuli House, particularly because Jacob Zuma is not only President of the country but, as is ANC practice, he is also the elected leader of the ANC. It was at this point the system failed and but not because of parliamentary failure.

Puppet on a string

What ConCourt found therefore was not only that President Zuma was guilty of certain charges and had to take remedial action but there had been a determined ANC attempt, with considerable success, to run the National Assembly from Luthuli House. It was on the Nkandla issue that ANC MP and party whip, Stone Sizani, probably realized that things had gone too far and that he was probably implicated.

Mbete,Baleka sworninThe eleven judges unanimously singled out the current incumbent of the position of Speaker of the House, Baleka Mbete, as also being tangled in the web of patronage. She has denied this but has conceded the “matter could have been better handled”. In fact, later she handled matters a lot worse in the initial moments of the motion on impeachment even agreed to by the ANC who obviously saw that she should have recused herself.

Outside the ring – a little

But as far as business and industry is concerned, our institutions are a little more insulated from such shenanigans.

Whilst all committees are indeed run by ANC Alliance chairpersons (the Standing Committee on Finance was originally by tradition chaired by the majority opposition party but now changed by the ANC) public hearings on legislation are encouraged. The public may attend any meeting government oversight hearings, which ParlyReport does – as well as members of the media, and all members of the public can attend any meeting with the exception of the Security and Intelligence Committee debates.

Good, healthy debate

In our ParlyReport this fortnight, we report on the very sensible suggestions of the Bankingbasa logo 2 Association of South Africa (BASA) made to the Standing Committee on Finance on the Financial Intelligence Centre Bill, tabled by the Minister of Finance. These suggestions were not only heard but acted upon.

In fact, BASA with other financial institutions were invited to subsequent debates under committee Chairperson Yunus Carrim (SACP) and with National Treasury, under the guidance of Ismail Momoniat, a Bill was crafted that was much more acceptable to all.

In some cases, changes called for were justified successfully by Treasury not to be in the national interest in terms of the international call for compliance against money laundering but in other cases calls for less red tape and overwhelming paper work heeded and requests for better definitions acknowledged. For example, the list of “prominent persons”, i.e. those who might be involved in “suspicious transactions”, is to be compiled by Treasury itself and not left to the intuition of financial institutions and the private sector, all suggested by BASA and other financial institutions and bodies.

Separation of powers still there

In conclusion then, it will take the continued support of business with submissions and voicing opinion at hearings at committee level to keep the playing fields level and to point out what is best for South Africa’s economic interests by influencing debate at this level. Business has rarely expressed its voice in the National Assembly since this is not the forum for such unless a summons to appear is made.

parliament 6As for the future of the National Assembly itself there is very little anybody can do until the majority party gets its moral compass adjusted in terms of its relationship with this important component of Parliament, the issues ahead being purely political ones.

The Constitution, Parliament and the Public Protector’s office have survived and the ordinary democratic process of citizen politics now holds sway, hence the current issue ahead of business and industry being described by Standard and Poor as “political noise”.

 

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Parliament rattled by Sizani departure

Closed ranks on Sizani resignation…..

As South Africa struggles with the backlash of having had three finance ministers rotated in four days and
Stone-Sizani-XXX-news echoes around the parliamentary precinct that the Chief Whip of the ANC has resigned, there is a palpable feeling amongst MPs that all is not well within the governing party. The resignation of Hon Stone Sizani has come at a bad time.

Also, the legislation that is zeroed in at Parliament at the moment clearly indicates that President Zuma cares much about the rural vote and knows full well that in the months before the municipal elections that this is the power base that must be focused upon politically. His recent statement that land reform will be backdated to the 1800s manifests this view.

Team spirit

But then much of the political rhetoric at the moment is typical of a pre-election period. This has unfortunately arisen at a time that the country is on a knife’s edge in terms of both financial ratings and a possible increase in interest rates.

cropped-sa-parliament-2.jpgThe dilemma being experienced in parliamentary meetings at the moment is how to turn the ever apparent failure of government departments to meet their targets and constant reminders that projects have not even arrived at tender stage into the positive spin called for by business heads to kick start team spirit and overcome the country’s difficulties by creating more jobs.

The fact is that the parliamentary process calls for oversight of government activities and criticism is an essential part of any debate. It therefore becomes difficult to walk the fine line between exposing obvious failure and unwarranted expenditure at a time when the country needs only good news.

Good news

Maybe, it would be good then to report, as we hereby do, that the meeting between business heads and President Zuma has produced a positive reaction amongst most parliamentarians, except of course the EFF and extreme Left. It has produced the re-emergence of the MPRDA Bill, sadly without the scrapping of the Private Security Industry Bill. It has seen some excellent plans emerging in the world of SOEs and public utilities.

It has also seen the re-emergence of positive statements of progress in transport, roads and the positive fact that Eskom has reported to Parliament that it feels it can make it without load shedding at the tariff figure fixed by Nersa. Also the rush to spend enormous figures on nuclear power has been slowed down.

Certainly it is good to see at most meetings reference made to the saving of unnecessary expenditure and an acceptance by most in Parliament that things cannot go on as they were.

Posted in earlier editorials, Earlier Stories0 Comments

Second fiasco before Zuma’s SONA address…

Fools go where angels fear to tread…SONA..

The theatrics before the SONA address in front of the world by Julius Malema of EFF, the partyHouses_of_Parliament_(Cape_Town) which objects to the Expropriation Bill on the basis that no compensation should be paid at all for land expropriated, has once again demeaned South Africa.

As if this poor nation had not suffered enough already from the giddy behaviour of the government towards foreigners over visas, land ownership, AGOA, intellectual copyrights and international agreements, the EFF has again sent to them the message that the country might well be ungovernable.

Core issues

ZumaWhy President Zuma should have fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Minister David van Rooyen is not of the slightest interest to South Africa going forward. The fact is he did and the result is that Minister Pravin Gordhan has his finger in the dyke. To know what was in the mind of President Zuma when he pronounced this change is to go down a very dark road and serves no parliamentary purpose at all, other than curiosity.

It appeared that the EFF really got it wrong this time when trying to disrupt Parliamentary procedure before SONA and the Speaker of House didn’t do much better either. In any case, the EFF was mysteriously upstaged by Patrickpatrick lekota Lekota and COPE walking out and an hour of the nation’s time lost, together with a good deal of national credibility.

In fact, it was no better than a performance under the Boswell Wilkie big top, our nation’s famous circus which sadly had its last performance in December 2015, but at least its traditions have been preserved.

Stop the side shows

WYSIWYG or “what you see is what you get” is how things work in parliamentary portfolio committees and before us we see Minister Pravin Gordhan at the pump head because of ANC malfunctions and because of an attempt to reign in the President before his cabinet ministers do any more harm to the economy.

So, in parliamentary terms, it is important that all get back to normal issues of whether or not business and industry agrees with the legislation tabled before Parliament; to continue to “get voices heard” and to determine whether government policy, in terms of mining, manufacturing, finance and banking, is giving the country the breaks it needs to score at the try line.

That is what Parliament is really about but dealing with the EFF is much like dealing with a family hooligan who hasEFF SONA just been given a new motor bicycle.

Fitch, Moodys, Standard & Poor

Such matters as firepools, the upgrading of chicken runs and the influence of various moneyed persons are of great interest to Malema, the EFF and gossip columns. However, the main issues involve the loss of billions of rands being misspent; obdurate government inaction coupled with incompetence; and whether South Africa can restore its economic image, reduce its debt and turn the fiscus around.

clem-sunterThe only road forward (and the only issue to march for in the streets) is for people to have jobs; jobs with skills that contribute towards economic output; jobs that increase tax input by employers making profits and jobs therefore that reduce the national deficit. That means investing in people and creating those skills. Its seems so long ago that Clem Sunther said this when describing the “High Road”.

Roll up the shirt sleeves

There are other forums to address the issues brought up by the EFF, especially matters regarding the re-incarnation of the office of Thusi Madonsela. To drag the Constitutional Court into the political arena is indeed a sad reflection of what political parties put first. As business heads have said, let’s stop this nonsense and put into action plans to save the economy.

At least President Zuma has acknowledged the superb effort by business leaders to avert the course being plotted by the present Cabinet. Creating more jobs in the public service is not the answer to job creation. Sadly, for those involved, this exercise of non-productive job creation in the public service must shrink urgently.

Now let’s see what the Budget produces and whether what President Zuma has said, after a ruler has been brought down across his knuckles, can be translated into practice.  (go to SONA article) History teaches us that leaders can emerge in times of trouble but a nation wearied of unfulfilled departmental targets and broken promises now awaits the outcome of a belt tightening budget.

previous articles in this category

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/cabinetpresidential/zuma-vs-parliament/

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/earlier-stories/state-of-the-nation/

Posted in earlier editorials0 Comments

Special cabinet statement might correct damage to SA

Editorial…..

At last, a sensible special cabinet statement……

Sent to clients 15 Jan…On 13 January, a Special Cabinet Statement was issued and, as compared to previous irregular missives, the word “special” indicated some hope.   Instead of just containing the usual reasons for having to rejoice on certain public holidays, details of the passing of MK operatives and certain Bills approved, the latest document was full of economic facts and financial fiscal information placing a positive spin on the current economic gloom. At last, an acknowledgement that there is a hand on the tiller.

Clearly there has been a palace revolution, if only in this sphere alone.

As the Cabinet Lekgotla is planned, Parliament also prepares to receive it’s parliamentarians all fresh from the respective political party get-to-gethers. A lot has changed since they all parted company and quite likely a lot more is to change before MPs gather for their first meetings.

No doubt the EFF will try to make a circus out of things but nevertheless the show will go on.    However, EFF or not, it is becoming more and more difficult to sort out between political comment, which is not our focus, and the mechanics of State policy and its direction, oversight on financial issues and legislative alerts that affect business and industry.

Bad four days

Rob-DaviesRed lights are flashing in all camps, not least of which is the fact that it is difficult to tell who did the most damage to South African markets – China or President Zuma. In parliamentary terms, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry seems determined to stand by SACP Minister of Trade Industry, Dr Rob Davies, in all matters dealing with BEE and trade agreements- as does DTI itself – and the Public Works Portfolio Committee seems unable to wear down SACP Minister, Jeremy Cronin, on issues regarding the Expropriation Bill.

Similarly, Lumka Yengeni’s Portfolio Committee on Labour Committee has no hope of a good outcome when it ordered, in the last session, an end to the shambles and confusion in Minister Mildred Oliphant’s Department of Labour, another Kwa-Zulu appointee of President Jacob Zuma.

Always a problem

Finally, despite some excellent MPs from all parties sitting in the Portfolio Committee on Energy, the vague report backs made to them by Department of Energy is leading to a sense of frustration in that particular Portfolio Committee which is not effective either as a result. In the area of good communications, Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson can only be described as a menace.

The good news is that stalwart ANC Joanmariae Fubbs remains Chairperson of the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee  and holds the ship steady with her disciplines. SACP executive Yunus Carrim stays as Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance and one wonders if he will see eye to eye in view of his ideologies with Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Overlooked as well

A Jacob Zuma appointee, Ebrahim Patel of COSATU fame but a hard worker and very leftist, remains Minister ofebrahim patel Economic Affairs but even he was overlooked for Minister of Finance when the President came up with name of David van Rooyen, who, to be quite frank, we had great difficulty in recalling his presence in Parliament over the last few months. A close shave but costly.

Back onto legislation. Whatever happened to the Private Security Industry Bill nobody knows but one hopes that the President was not using it to play silly games with the Obama administration on the AGOA issue. Maybe it gets discussed at the Lekgotla. Maybe not.

Politics ahead of economics 

In the meanwhile, one hopes that the message is got through at the Cabinet Lekgotla that what the President says vitally affects each one of his citizens and that that the private and personal politics being played out at the moment are particularly damaging to the business of Parliament and its relationship with commerce and industry.

Just as importantly, there has to be a better understanding in government departments when reporting to Parliament why business institutions need clarity of policy to gain investment confidence.

opening parliamentParliament is an important and independent tool of democracy in the fight against autocracy but so many departments seem more in awe of the auditor general than they are of the need for answers to parliamentary questioning and attempts to get the truth.

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Eskom is told at the top

Presenting his annual state of the nation address to Parliament, President Zuma said there was an ongoing concern from business and communities about high electricity costs.

“I have asked Eskom to seek options on how the price increase requirement may be reduced over the next few years, in support of economic growth and job creation and give me proposals for consideration,” he said.

Commenting in his speech to the nation that Eskom needs to find ways to slow price increases President Jacob Zuma said, “We need an electricity price path which will ensure that Eskom and the industry remain financially viable and sustainable, but which remains affordable especially for the poor.”

However to achieve sustainability, a pact would be required with all South Africans — including business, labour, municipalities, communities, and all customers and suppliers.

The President said, “We must save electricity. For the next two years, until the Medupi and Kusile power stations come into operation, the electricity system will be very tight.”

To increase energy capacity, government would continue searching for renewable energy sources, especially solar electricity and biofuels as the green economy accord with economic stakeholders was implemented.

But Zuma said that in the meanwhile, “everyone should play a part to avoid load shedding. To date we have installed more than 220,000 solar geysers nationwide.” The government target was one million solar geysers by 2014-2015, Zuma said.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments


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