Tag Archive | President Zuma

Parliament embroiled in state capture

State capture emerges as a fact  …

An impression might have been given recently that parliamentary meetings only occur as and when e-NCA cherry picks a meeting for the evening news on the subject of state capture.   Therefore, one might think, every parliamentary meeting is either about the SABC or Eskom, Transnet or Denel.   Nothing could further from the truth.

Although the perverse facts behind the carefully planned act of state capture, involving Bell Pottinger, the Gupta family, their friends and associates, the actual crime in parliamentary terms  is non-disclosure to Parliament committed by public servants in the name of the same “prominent” persons, plus lying and falsification in terms of an oath taken to serve the nation.

Parliament, as a structure, has remained untarnished as the second pillar of separated powers. It is the players who have broken faith.

Hundreds of meetings

This is not to say that truth has always been exercised in Parliament in the past nor to claim that from the President down to backbenchers, all have been unaware that fake news has been fielded in parliamentary meetings.  But what is heartening is that the parliamentary process has been an enormous hurdle for the crooked to overcome.

In any one of the four sessions a year, each roughly equating in timelines to the terms of a school calendar, there are some three to four hundred committee meetings in the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces.

The subject matters covered represent the activities of forty seven government departments, literally hundreds of SOEs and all legislation which is tabled for the Statute Book must be debated.   All this is conducted with two audiences. It is a daunting programme.

Standing out

But soon it was noticeable that it was the meetings on SOEs, particularly those with their own boards and where tender processes were involved, that there was  a common theme emerging.   In each case it was a matter of strategic decisions not being taken to Parliament for approval; balance sheets not squaring up to meet the requirements of the Auditor General and the sudden arrival of newly appointed board members with little or no experience of matters under discussion.

It all stood out like a sore thumb.   Meanwhile, investigative journalism was to become a major force in parliamentary affairs.

In fact it was the parliamentary system that began slowly to reject  the manipulative processes being fielded.  Many an MP started demanding investigative reports from Cabinet ministers with cross-party support;  parliamentary rules were enforced in order to restrain the passage of  mischievous legislation and the pointing of fingers and the use of the kind of language that is only allowed under  parliamentary privilege contributed to the wearing down of the cover-up machine.

To the rescue

Eventually, between the AmaBhungane team and the BDFM team and others such as City Press, investigative journalism saved the day.   It could then be seen in writing that many of the issues so slowly being uncovered in Parliament, where nobody could pierce the web of intrigue and see the picture in its entirety, the full story was beginning to  take shape.

The extent of the theft is still not known and still emerging are new players in the list of “prominent persons”.  There is also still no apparent follow up by either SAPS or the Hawks, nor matters acted upon by the National Prosecuting Authority.

Worse, many do not expect this to happen – so cynical has the taxpayer become and so deep are the criminal waters.  But, as the saying goes, “every dog has its day”.

In the engine room

Despite the bad publicity for Parliament and the institution itself being under fire as to whether or not Parliament is a reliable democratic tool, a good number of MPs, especially opposition members, have been slaving away.     This is despite the appointed Secretary to Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, going on “special leave” whilst allegations into his possible violations of the PMFA are investigated.

Mgidlana was appointed as “CEO” of Parliament by the Presidency.     His jaunts overseas accompanied by his wife are the subject of investigation and have been the cause of strike action by parliamentary staff for nearly a year, whilst their own pay packets are frozen.

This matter seems to have mirrored the very issues being debated in Parliament.   Fortunately and most responsibly, the strikes have been orchestrated so as to have little major effect on the parliamentary schedule

Top heavy

Meanwhile, despite the top guy being a passenger in his own system, notices are going out on time, the parliamentary schedule is available every morning and the regular staff are hard at it. Now is the time in the parliamentary diary when the April budget vote is activated; money is made available and departmental programmes initiated.    Hearings have been conducted on many important pieces of legislation.

There is an extraordinary team in Cape Town which runs Parliament, especially researchers and secretaries to committees.

Train smash

Added to this, if it was not enough, a normally busy schedule was further complicated by urgent meetings on poor governance; tribunal findings; briefings for new members of Cabinet and the fact that to match President Zuma’s ever-expanding Cabinet with appropriate government departments there were some fifty portfolio and select committees all being served by a reduced Parliamentary staff.

The extent to which corruption is embedded into government’s spending programme makes parliamentary oversight a difficult and lengthy task, especially when under performance or poor governance matters are involved.   It all reflects the times we live in. In one day alone there  is not enough parliamentary time for a whole range of public servants to be “in the dock” to answer questions on matters involving millions of rand.

No court of law

To be fair, it is often as difficult for the respondent to get around to answering as it is for parliamentarians to get to the truth.  When you know the boss is on the take, how does one answer?   Issues tend to go around in circles.

Sifting out the rhetoric when the truth is shrouded in political intrigue is no easy task in Parliament especially when people are frightened of losing their jobs.

As the millions of rand stolen turn into billions of rand during the early part of 2017 and parliamentary committees were introduced to new “acting” directors in charge of government funding, TV cameras popped up in all corners of the parliamentary precinct.    One was constantly tripping over metres and metres of black cable to caravan control rooms enabling the public to watch the latest saga.

Camera shy

At the same time, Parliament is clearly now being side-lined by members of the Cabinet or avoided by Directors General and this maybe because of this new found public form of entertainment of spotting the good guys and shaming the captured ones.

In the past, the abuse of parliamentary rules by the incumbent President used to be considered as country-boy innocence but now the position has changed.     As any election approaches, parliamentary rhetoric always descends into low grade babble in the National Assembly but this time it is very different.  there is a clear disconnect between Parliament and the President.

With the addition of the now infamous “white minority capital” campaign to the debate, orchestrated ostensibly as we now know from London (as probably was the over employed expression of “radical economic transformation”) most of the forty-seven ministers and deputy ministers hammered out the same slogans in their budget vote speeches 9r at any given opportunity to speak, as if orchestrated.

Looking back: 2nd session

Going back to the beginning of 2016/7, Parliament has ploughed through the Nkandla mess; the SABC crisis; the Eskom governance exposures; the troubles at SAA; the failures and manipulations at Denel; crookery at Transnet; the PRASA scandals and in the losses at PetroSA, the latter being just sheer bad management it seems driven by political desire.

All of this has involved a lot of committee time far better spent on enlightening issues to assist the economy and create jobs. The “blame game” simply led to a jungle of write offs with no explanations but, suddenly, an ill-timed series of cabinet re-shuffles rattled a hundred cages.

D-day

Friday, March 31, 2017 will always be remembered following a period of stun grenades and parliamentary brawling in the House as President Zuma announced yet another set of choices to make up his Cabinet.  In committee meetings, in no less than eight portfolios, new or changed Ministers and Deputy Ministers appeared at meetings with little background.

The second session of the 2017 Parliament had this extraordinary start and on it ending, the arrival of the Gupta emails has now confirmed and named many involved in the whole issue of truthful depositions before Parliament.  No doubt a lot more shocks are yet to come.

The next session of Parliament will represent one of the arenas where the gladiatorial challenge will be played out on state capture together with the battle to avoid fusion in the separation of powers.

It is to be hoped that spring at the end of the third session will herald more than just another summer.

 

Previous articles on category subject
Zuma vs Parliament – ParlyReportSA
Parliament awaits to hear from Cabinet – ParlyReportSA
Parliament goes into Easter recess – ParlyReportSA

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Parliament under siege

NEHAWU strike chaos in Parliament…  

Editorial …Cultures under the microscope….

parliamentary committeeTwo cultures are developing in South Africa.  One is to lie to Parliament during oversight meetings, or to put it more politely telling “untruths” as was re-defined by one DA MP after being told to apologise during investigations into statements by the Department of Trade and Industry on who had leases or not in terms of the Centurion Aerospace Village issue.

The other unpleasant culture, which is also growing fast, is to ignore the separation of powers between Parliament, the Presidency and the Judiciary. Not that Parliament or the Judiciary has done anything wrong but certainly the Nkandla issue is a demonstration of where the problem might lie.

If such instances, particularly in the case of “untruths”, the media is usually quick to pick these things up and a whole horrid mess, whatever it is, comes out in the newspapers.  

As a parliamentary affairs website, we keep away mainly away from the lurid headlines but unfortunately we are witnessing more and more departments appearing before their relative portfolio committees appearing dysfunctional and without policy. This must relate directly to a Cabinet not in touch with the business of governing and government.

Eye not on the ball

Most of the Cabinet, especially No.1, seem to be travelling to conferences worldwide. The portfoliozumatravel committee on energy, for example has not met in three weeks nor is any meeting scheduled, at this stage, before Parliament closes.

However, departments controlled by Ministers and members of the SACP are indeed busy which would indicate either two factions within the Cabinet and two distinct attitudes towards the use of Parliament and the passage of legislation.

Consequently, we have ignored the two perfectly good opportunities to report on developmental issues or state policy in the transport area where failure of policy or malfeasance is represented either by poor governance or telling “untruths”.  This is where the journalists present do a good job.

Business alerts only

What went on in the SAA and PRASA presentations to portfolio committees, both reporting a litany of poor governance, lack of financial controls and dubious tender processing, probably represents everything you know already.   Quite clearly these two state entities have made a total mess of things but missing targets or who appointed their best friend to get the job is not what we are really interested in.

Sadly, it all comes down from the top and we have a feeling that the relationship between Parliament as a working tool of democracy and Cabinet will worsen as we head towards an election and attempt to please voters.

As an example, a ridiculous piece of legislation entitled the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill has been withdrawn by the Cabinet and now referred by President Zuma to the Council of Traditional Leaders for the consideration first. This will result, if eventually comes before Parliament again and is bulldozed through, as being a forerunner in amending the Traditional Leaders Act Framework Bill in what appears to be a policy of establishing two systems of justice for South Africa.

Sand in the cogs

nehawuOn the second issue of Parliament not being allowed do its work, our President has said very little and certainly done nothing when a piece of land and buildings, not in Cape Town by law but in national South African territory and certainly a Key Point, was recently invaded by hooligans. Meetings have not been held for well over a week, except in certain essential cases such as Budget appropriation approval – probably, as one commentator sourly advanced, because nobody would get paid.

However, importantly, breaking up the working structure of Parliament is a completely different issue from the EFF being ejected from the National Assembly for breaking House rules.  This is a criminal issue.
In this case, a crowd waving sticks and knobkerries invaded committee rooms, singing so loudly that MPs could not think or converse with each other. The intent was clear. To break up Parliament. Most of the crowd were wearing red NEHAWU vests.

Embarrassing

All visitors, whether an official from Union Buildings, an Ambassador or a CEO from a corporate giant, have to obtain a special daily pass to get into Parliament by showing their credentials, yet none of these persons who broke into Parliament have been arrested or charged for wrongful entry. ParlyReportSA sits with many a consular representative as an observer and we hate to think what kind of reports are going back to Embassies, onwards and upwards.

It was a sad moment for the South African Parliament and even more sad that the violation neither disturbed the Presidency or invoked any retribution from the Speaker of the House. And it’s not because either party do not understand the Constitution but rather they seem not to care.

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President Zuma determined to push Traditional Courts Bill

Traditional courts mean two legal systems….

contralesa logoMinister of Justice Michael Masutha, has promised the return of the Traditional Courts Bill very shortly setting up a parallel system of justice in rural areas.  Minister Masutha was appointed by President in May 2014 and was answering a parliamentary written question.

The Bill was withdrawn last year in the form proposed.

The fact that the question was put by no lesser than Mathole Motshekga, the African National Congress chief whip and a member of the ANC department of legal and constitutional affairs, indicates a strong desire by President Zuma to see this Bill through during his tenure in office.

In his reply, minister Masutha, previously deputy minister of science and technology stated thejustice minister masutha introduction of the Bill would be accompanied by dialogue with all stakeholders and “the broader public”. The contents of the Bill will be extended to (inter alia) women’s groups, academics and the legal profession, he said.

Bill perceived as chauvinistic by many

The reason for mentioning women’s groups was no doubt specifically for the ears of those who furiously objected to the first version of the Bill including those of his own party and the then minister of justice, Lulu Xingwana.   It was said at the time that president Zuma had proposed the Bill as a trade-off with traditional leaders to get rural support.

opening parliamentOpposition leaders have stated that if the Bill is “anything like the first version it will not have a hope of passing a constitutional test” but, nevertheless, quite clearly justice minister Masutha must believe his new draft has got the wording right.

South Africa will have two legal systems

Whatever happens, the Bill is bound to give rise to objections from many from parties on a number of subjects not only from gender prejudice, to the aspect of legal anomaly and retarding constitutional development.

Dr Buthelezi, in his capacity as leader of the IFP, said of the last Bill that in debate in all nine provinces, five provinces gave mandates to vote to scrap the proposals, only two being favour, and even they did not support all the Bill’s provisions.  In the end, he noted, the Bill did not get past parliamentary committee stage in the NCOP. “Its end marked a major victory for rural people, who have opposed it since 2008”, he said.

Back to 1960

The point raised by Dr Buthelezi at the time was that such law that “would bring back oppression byLesedi traditional unaccountable leaders, many of whom were apartheid appointees, and it would also mean that the government is not committed to the equal citizenship as promised by the Constitution.”

His complaint was that the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act of 2003 “locked rural people into the tribal boundaries created by the 1961 Bantu Authorities Act.”

“So now we not only have the resuscitation of the boundaries of the old bantustans but it is proposed that the chiefs are a fourth sphere of government within them.”   This, he concluded, was despite of the striking down by theof 2004 which gave control of land to traditional councils.

Bill “mediaeval”

lulu xingwanaLulu Xingwana said, as minister of justice at the time, said the proposals made in the Bill “took the issue of women’s rights back into mediaeval times”. Justice Minister Masutha, who will has tabled the Bill, comes himself from a small rural village in North Limpopo.  He studied for a BJuris degree at the University of Limpopo (then the University of the North) from 1985 to 1988, and obtained an LLB Degree from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1989.

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Zuma goes for traditional support with expropriation

Editorial….

Session ahead may bring clarity on expropriation…….

NAIt is a difficult time for business and industry to establish exactly where they are in terms of the legislative environment in South Africa, land expropriation and state or BEE participation being mainly the issues.  However, the cabinet must be aware of the need expressed in many circles for more certainty in terms of the investment climate.

The Bills held back by the Presidency for re-consideration or signature are re-emerging slowly back into the public sphere.   Aside from the highly controversial Traditional Courts Bill adding power to the arm of President Zuma’s supporters in rural  leadership roles but offending women’s rights groups, now re-tabled in Parliament in a different form, as a section 76 Bill, is the Expropriation Bill.

Being a 76 section Bill means that the proposed changes and the formation of a state valuator’s office as thezuma traditional final arbiter on land restitution will have to be debated in all nine provincial legislatures and a mandate provided to the National Council of Provinces to gain concurrence with any vote on the Bill taken in the National Assembly. 

It is interesting to note that some time ago, President Zuma let it be known that he would also like to see this Bill considered by the House of Traditional Leaders. This is probably in the light of the debate now emerging that traditional chiefs were not consulted properly, if at all, in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights amendments.

Serving notice

Crucially, the Expropriation Bill still seeks to allow any ‘expropriating authority’ to take property by serving a notice of expropriation on the owner stipulating the value the state will pay, presumably according to the state valuation if there has been an appeal.

Commentators have noted that the new Bill differs in that the state may then serve a further notice of expropriation, which could be less, more or not necessarily revised at all, and the owner will be deemed to have accepted that transfer of land to the state unless the owner commences litigation within 60 days.

The short amount of time to respond and appoint and brief counsel and the fact that litigation, a highly costly process (costs being to the owner not the state), will no doubt be an issue debated extensively in Parliament. At this moment the main opposition party has been caucusing on the Bill. The fact that the Bill will now have to be debated in all nine provinces will leave a fluid situation for some time yet.

Struggling to produce

The Protection of Investment Bill remains an unknown quantity. Speaking to the DTI legal advisor, all he could say was “We are struggling with it”. 

Similarly, no tabling notice has been published with regard to the Private Security Industry Bill.

No energy  outcome

At the time of writing the “Five Point Energy Plan”, promised by the cabinet “war room”, has also not been presented to Parliament, the minister of energy advising all that it was necessary to have first a trip to the DRC and discuss the Grand Inga Hydro project.

Instead of her unadvised non-appearance in Parliament, a presentation by the department of energy took place, monitored in this report. What did emerge however was that future regarding the intended energy mix is also very fluid, there clearly being a division of interest in what is necessary to bring about in the short term better service delivery to the poor and in the longer term the needs of investors.

Traditional support

Time and time again, since his state address to the nation, President Zuma, where land matters are concerned, has made reference to the Council of Traditional Leaders, the majority party having no doubt realised that this base of power can either be pacified or radicalised – a very sensitive area and where the least service delivery by government occurs.

In his speech opening the National House of Traditional Leaders, he encouraged traditional leaders to take advantage of the 2013 Restitution of Land Rights Act as amended and rushed through at the end of the last Parliament and for them to put in claims.

The amendment Bill passed reopened the window for lodging restitution claims, but retains the restriction that dispossession must have taken place after 1913. The hints by the President in subsequent days in further briefings that the date of 1913 “is negotiable” have led to further claims being notified some of them apparently going back many hundreds of years. 

Once again, this will only be finalised when parliamentary debate finally takes place as the issue is bound to be raised but the whole matters adds to current uncertainty.

Hole in the pocket

Meanwhile the budget for what can be paid out in the form of restitution has been decided by minister of finance Nene and was presented in the last budget to Parliament in the current session.

President Zuma’s reference in Parliament to land held by foreigners in the state of nation address produced an unfortunate atmosphere which was somewhat mollified by off-the-record remarks by ministers to the media but no legislative clarity for Parliament to consider has emerged.

Indeed, a difficult time for business and industry, not forgetting that the Eskom issue is about to be raised again in forthcoming portfolio committee meetings in the coming week, hopefully bringing some clarity to the issue of reliable electricity supply.

Editorial only

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MPRDA Bill to be amended urgently

Some form of compromise….

coal miningIn referring back to Parliament the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (MPRDA) and acknowledging in his State of Nation Address (SONA) that in its present form it could be damaging to South Africa’s investment climate, President Zuma and his cabinet have introduced more certainty to both the mining and oil and gas industries.

At least a year and a half delay was a guess if the suggestion that two replacement Bills were to be drafted separating mineral resources from oil and gas in the light of the fact that both have separate BEE charters.

Certainty needed

However, mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has agreed with mining companies and also the point put forward by Chamber of Mines that the best and fastest way forward to bring certainty to theRoughnecks wrestle pipe on a True Company oil drilling rig outside Watford industry would be to pass the Bill subject to amendments based on a new approach to the mining beneficiation issue and the matter of state “free carry” in any successful gas exploration.

Originally, on an issue raised both in submissions and by opposition parties and, even a couple of ANC MPs, the presidency has also agreed to doubts expressed whether, once signed, the MPRD Act after amendment would pass constitutional muster on the basis of the amending Bill’s passage through Parliament and the process adopted.

Section 79(1) of the Constitution empowers the President to return a Bill to Parliament for reconsideration if reservations about the constitutionality of the Bill prevail.

Mining land

Subsequently pointed out as a further reason for the Bill not beingtrad leaders signed, raised in a presidency statment issued by spokeperson Mac Maharaj, was a concern of cabinet that the Bill had to be processed through the Council of Traditional Leaders.

Parliament passed the Bill all in a rush at the end of March 2014 after much lobbying by ANC whips and despite warnings and constitutional challenges from many parties.  Nearly a year has passed since sending the proposals off for presidential assent.

The subject of the regulatory environment has not even been touched upon or has come up in the debate at this stage.

During the parliamentary recess both the Chamber of Mines and others have complained of sustained uncertainty in their industries and in the investment world.

Two issues emerged almost immediately when the President announced he was delaying his signature. The first issue was a hefty warning from mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi who said “the implications for companies that did not meet BEE targets set out in the mining charter would be severe”, inferring that this might eventually affect the granting of mining licences. He raised, once again, the issue of employee shareholding.

“Developmental” metals pricing

Consequently, it still remains somewhat foggy what government policy was in instituting such clauses other than an overall ambition for the state to have more ownership of strategic resources in both industries and the drive by minister of trade and industry, Dr Rob Davies, to assist smaller manufacturing metals industries becoming more viable at the cost of larger industries, therefore creating more jobs, he said.

On the subject of BEE and the two different charters affected, all that has been said officially was a remark by minister Ramatlhodi “We have to satisfy ourselves that the Act meets our broader socio-economic development activities.”

The second issue to emerge after the announcement of the return of the MPRDA to Parliament was further mention by the department of energy of“Operation Phakisa”, the speed-up process as part of a co-ordination exercise with the oil and gas industry to reduce reliance on oil imports.

Fracking and renewables

On a separate issue, further statements by ministers with regard to fracking and speeding of delays in the IPP world with renewables has also emerged, overshadowed by the urgent need of an energy plan from the newly formed energy “war room”.

Whatever happens, both industries should be prepared for another round of public comment, hopefully in the first parliamentary period after the Budget…… minister of finance Nene notably mentioning nothing of nuclear interest in his budget speech.
Other articles in this category or as background
Energy War Room formed to meet crisis – Parly ReportSA
Mineral and Petroleum Resources Bill halted perhaps – ParlyReportSA
Medupi is the key to short term energy crisis – ParlyReportSA

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Debate on Nkandla to intensify

Facts on Nkandla with MPs…..

effIn an internal parliamentary question paper, M Khawula, an MP of the IFP-KZN, asked for a reply in writing from the minister of police to his question, “Which structures, buildings and/or areas have been declared national key points and, secondly, what qualifies such to be declared national key points.”

He was not to know that minister of police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, would be forced out of blustering and show that president Zuma’s country homestead in the hills of KwaZulu-Natal, Nkandla, was indeed a national key point whereas, as illustrated by a newspaper in the parliamentary recess, nuclear experimental station, Pelindaba, north of Johannesburg, was not.

The reply in writing from the minister in the parliamentary replies of 19 September, in response to Nhleko’s question, was as follows, “To publish or to make known a list of all national key points would to a large extent defeat the purpose of the National Key Points Act 102 of 1980, namely the protection of such NKP’s. It is therefore not policy to provide such a list for public knowledge.”

When is a key point not one?

The minister added to the written note, “In terms of the National Key Points Act, section 2 deals with the declaration by the Minister of Police and I quote; “Declaration of any place or area as a National Key Point.

(1)  If it appears to the Minister at any time that any place or area is so important that its loss, damage, disruption or immobilization may prejudice the Republic, or whenever he considers it necessary or expedient for the safety of the Republic or in the public interest, he may declare that place or area a national key point.

(2)The owner of any place or area so declared a national key point shall forthwith be notified by written notice of such declaration.

That was the full extent of the reply from the minister.      Meanwhile in the recess, the opposition has written to the Speaker of the House, requesting that President Zuma be forced to respect the Constitution and answer questions from MPs in the National Assembly orally on a regular basis.

Weight of the law

settlement_law_justice_In the meanwhile during the recess, Judge Roland Sutherland in the Johannesburg high court  ordered the minister to hand over the list of national key points and national key point complexes in “the next thirty days” to the parties complaining, who were the Right2Know Campaign and the South African History Archive. Such was finally acceded to.

It is now understood from a statement made at the proceedings by the Mail and Guardian, who joined the action as a friend of the court and who were represented by advocate Matseleng Lekoane, that according to the Act, security guards are allowed to search and seize peoples’ belongings if the people were in a national key point. “They were also allowed to use guns to do this”, she said.

Adv. Lekoane argued that if this was the type of reaction that people, including journalists, might face, then they had the right to be prepared for it. “You need to know the status of a place so you can inform your conduct,” she argued.

Just so we know

The advocate representing Right2Know campaigners, Steven Budlender, had earlier complained that his client was only asking for the names of the places not the addresses.

In any case, he added, it would not make a difference to the country’s security if places like OR Tambo International Airport were publicly known as national key points.  This is because, Budlender said, the “dark forces” that the minister’s counsel feared would inflict harm on the country do not need to be told that a place is important. They would already know.

He was responding to argument made by counsel for the minister of police who said that revealing which buildings and places were NKPs would place national security at risk. “This does not stand up to logical scrutiny”, said Budlender.

Judge Sutherland said minister Nhleko’s refusal to release the list was unlawful and unconstitutional, and ordered the ministry to pay the legal costs.   The matter will no doubt be tabled for discussion in the next parliamentary session by which time it will be even clearer what the realtionship  between President Zuma and Parliament will be after his State of Nation Address.

Maybe appeal

However, debate at parliamentary committee working level will now be at a different level in the new session . The facts are there and what was fog in a bucket is now in the open for proper debate.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/cabinetpresidential/nkandla-debate-rekindled-da/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za/cabinetpresidential/nkandla-ndp-argument-rages-go/

Posted in cabinet, Cabinet,Presidential, earlier editorials, Facebook and Twitter, Justice, constitutional, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Security,police,defence0 Comments

Minister Nene maps survival route

Not so merry Christmas….

Editorial……

candlesWithout wishing to put a dampener on festive arrangements, the last few weeks of the closing parliamentary session, which included the medium term budget from minister Nene, have seen a difficult period, not in the least caused by fiascos in the National Assembly with the EFF. Baiting President Zuma, whatever the reason, has nothing to do with running a country.

Such hooligan behaviour completely demeans the status of Parliament but worse, it also denigrates all the real work that is going on the engine room of Parliament, the working committees.  Some observers are quietly happy that the ANC Alliance is being called to account on certain matters but the overall effect has been to take South Africa perceptually into dangerous waters.

Nkandla unpleasant diversion

The Nkandla issue has clearly damaged the political standing of Parliament as well as giving the media a field day, or a field month as the case turned out to be.  But in the parliamentary portfolio, ad hoc, finance standing and NCOP select committees, the work has gone on and it has been a busy and difficult period as a result of the necessity to approve finance minister Nene’s medium term budget.

Difficult because some fifty utilities, government departments and section nine companies had to declare their objectives, say how things were going and reflect upon the auditor general’s findings on each of them.   Difficult because cabinet statements are really giving no true direction on questions being asked every day in Parliament.   Difficult because it is still the first year of a new Parliament and everything is running late with new MPs.

Whilst the auditor general (AG) may have declared that government departments only received 15% unqualified reports, the balance of 85% are qualified to some degree by the AG.  A learning process. This means the working committees have seen it, everyone knows about it and the system works. This is the difference between weekend newspaper reporting and monitoring. It is not just a question of putting a positive spin on things but recognising that there is, indeed, a force working for morality and financial correctness.

Focus is on medium term budget

Nevertheless, minister Nene’s budget speech was still the key issue of the last month, not Nkandla as the perception might be.  Nene’s remarks that “business is a key area in fostering the ideal that the NDP becomes a reality” had the all too familiar ring of what Alec Erwin had to say twenty years ago when the ANC promised private and public partnerships on energy matters. Nothing happened of course, the ANC embarking upon ten years of infrastructure inactivity.

In fact major private sector participation in the country’s development was totally halted at that point and has since never really got going.

When is when?

Now the question is being asked once again as to whether the government will actually ever embark upon real hard core private/public investments, other than dishing out a few solar and wind power projects. This is the question being asked by opposition MPs in Parliament at working committee level, ignoring for the moment the embarrassing fracas upstairs in the National Assembly.

It is difficult to imagine in parliamentary terms that minister Rob Davies, minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, minister Jeff Radebe, minister Lindiwe Sisulu and minister Lynne Brown will ever truly understand the tenets, motivations and passion that drive businesses, even perhaps the President himself.  South Africa suffers from bad politicians, not necessarily bad government.

Circus with no ringmaster

What the presidential national planning commission is actually saying to the cabinet is an issue that cannot be guessed at by anybody at this stage, such private messages certainly not being conveyed in Parliamentary papers. In fact nobody seems to be talking, the DA having as little knowledge as half the SA cabinet, it appears.

Consequently minister Nene’s hopes appear somewhat lame at this stage. To be positive however, it may be that as next year’s parliamentary oversight programme on service delivery targets gains momentum, as it has already, accompanied with all the political pain that will occur if voters remain dissatisfied, political reality may force the governing party to at last start walking the talk that minister Nene espouses.

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Zuma

Nkandla vs NDP: the argument rages

Editorial…

Has the emperor got clothes on?….

Whilst the nation focuses on the Nkandla issue, which has now involved to a lesser or greater extent the parliamentary process on the subject of who reports to who in terms of the Constitution, the largest elephant in the room still remains. This, of course,is how far the ANC will go to protect President Zuma in terms of the law, aside from the Constitution.

Accordingly, we have not monitored the issue further until the subject once again reaches the level of parliamentary committee debate.

Nevertheless, there still remains a smaller elephant in the room. Whilst this issue does not reach the media in the same way, it concerns business, manufacturing and industry to a far greater extent than the Nkandla issue.

Reality check

This smaller elephant concerns the ever-present issue of how to create more jobs in South Africa.  It also concerns the manner in which South Africa goes about achieving the noble aspirations of the National Development Plan (NDP).    Meanwhile, unemployment has now reached a record 45%.

MPs across party lines are of two minds on this. There are two distinct camps of thought developing on these subjects and attitudes are hardening on which approach should be taken.  Firstly, to put it in question form, are the state utilities really the controllers of our destiny and will a massive infrastructure spend by state institutions alone, with emphasis on black procurement, turn the economic corner as far as jobs are concerned?

Or, is the answer to create a very much more enlightened environment for investors on the basis that we need their money and is this sufficient excuse to play down some more investor-unfriendly legislation and regulatory red tape and a place less emphasis on BEE with its sad and long history of black non-empowerment?

Problems, problems

In every parliamentary committee meeting one can sense this philosophical and ideological problem.   Indeed, if this is not the commercial and industrial elephant in the room, it is the dichotomy that ANC whips have to handle on a daily basis and work hard with every party MP involving strong messages coming down from Lithuli House.

Witness the confusion of the power of African traditional leaders, which clearly emanates from the President himself; the necessity to bulldoze through certain unworkable legislation on transformation which then gets returned to Parliament on good legal advice; and the fight between finance minister Nene to suck in more for the fiscus to finance social welfare and health budgets with ridiculous customs and excise tariffs at the expense of the national deficit.

Stay positive

mantasheWe cannot comment, only observe, but somehow we believe that many of Gwede Mantashe’s more obtuse observations do not represent all of ANC parliamentary thought patterns.   We sincerely believe that within the governing party machine and with added well-tuned opposition, there will follow a sensible compromise in order to survive.

We also believe that it may be discovered by adherents that the emperor may not have clothes on, despite what the praise singers say, and that also, and more importantly, a good investment climate can be balanced with social imperatives.

Hof Communications

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Nkandla debate rekindled by DA

ANC played for time on Nkandla issue….

The ANC used its hefty majority in the last Parliament to filibuster any full debate on Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s report on Nkandla by calling for such debate to be after the election and thus by a new ad hoc committee when and if the next Parliament formed such a body.

The DA has already called upon the new Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to enable a fresh ad mbetehoc committee to be formed and the debate re-started.

The committee was originally established by the now past Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, to debate the R246m upgrade to President Zuma’s homestead in Kwa-Zulu Natal.   The Nkandla issue is at present an inconclusive subject relying purely upon Thuli Madonsela’s findings and not that of Parliament.

Delaying by inaction

The ad hoc committee was established in terms of ATC notice 45 of 2014, dated 9 April, and a delaying tactic was used by the ANC whilst it took eight days of the allocated ten day mandate for the sitting just to name its seven representatives on the ad-hoc committee.

Eventually, only two days of debate took place, the first to elect a chairperson who turned out to be Cedric Frolick of the ANC, with seven MPs from the ANC, two from the Democratic Alliance and one each from the IFP and FF+.    The ANC maintained at the first meeting that they had received insufficient time to study the report.

They referred to the fact that the then Speaker’s notice called for the ad hoc committee to make its findings known by April 30, the date already then being late April.   Again much time was wasted in the first meeting around the decision to allow a COPE party MP to attend the meeting, participate in the debate but have no vote. The COPE member appointed had a legal and constitutional background.

Give money back

The IFP said it wanted the President to be called to expand on why, when the Public Protector had “castigated government officials in the way they handled the Nkandla development” and called on him to refund large sums of money, “it was necessary to wait for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to report before he responded”.   The IFP thought that the SIU should be called to Parliament as well to explain their findings.

The IFP questioned whether the committee would be able to give adequate attention to the matter by 30 April, time for input also being required from the Parliamentary legal advisors in summation. The DA also called for the Public Protector herself to give evidence, since she had already declared her willingness to do this.

President wanted by DA to appear

On the second day of debate, the DA, again represented by Lindiwe Mazibuko and James Selfe, called for the President himself to appear before the committee.   The IFP added the point that surely the President must have been aware of “things taking place in his back yard and… should not shy away from responsibility”.   The DA presented in writing a full programme for the committee to undertake urgently.

buti manamelaThe ANC, led by ANC  Buti Manamela, national secretary of the Young Communist League, then argued that the ANC also wanted to call certain parties to give evidence and as there was insufficient time left to handle all such visits, the DA’s suggestions were therefore impractical given the mandate of ten days.

To this the DA argued that they were only short of time because the ANC had taken eight days to nominate and co-opt members of the committee whereas all opposition parties had taken one day.   The ANC did not respond to this.

Mazibuko’s last appearance

In response to the ANC’s point that Thuli Madonsela, as Public Protector, had finished reporting and it was not for parliamentarians to query her findings,  DA’s Mazibuko said her party was outraged because the Public Protector herself admitted in her report there were a number of unanswered questions on which she was unable to get clarity. The DA said they would like her to articulate on this to Parliament.

Also, Mazibuko said, the President in his letter of response to the Speaker, Max Sisulu, had referred to “stark differences” between the findings of the Public Protector and the inter-Ministerial committee, which was also set up to investigate the issue.   Both therefore should also give evidence if the committee were to highlight what the President referred to as “differences”.

No time

At this point chair Cedric Frolick said there was indeed insufficient time left, whatever the reason, to undertake such a programme as envisaged by the DA.

After caucusing, the ANC members tabled a proposal for a vote that the matter should be closed for the present and left over for the fifth Parliament of South Africa to further, choosing not to vote on a DA proposal asking for the President to attend.    They said there was insufficient time before the elections took place and that opposition parties were “playing to the gallery” as part of electioneering.

Motion that President misled Parliament

The DA then asked that a further motion be adopted, if the debate was to be ended, demanding that the fifth Parliament investigate whether the President deliberately misled Parliament; whether he had violated the Constitution; whether he had benefited improperly from the work at his residence; any remedial steps to be taken and whether the President should be removed from office in terms of section 89 of the Constitution.

This motion was defeated by an overwhelming majority, the ANC arguing that the fifth Parliament could not be bound by such questions from outgoing members and the ANC motion instead was adopted….. “that although the ANC considered the matter as serious, there was insufficient time left and the matter be simply deferred for the fifth Government to decide on future action.”    This quashed any chance of further debate at the time.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/business-interests-bill-to-control-corruption-with-tenders/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/public-service-corruption-and-misconduct-could-hit-1bn-mark/

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New SA cabinet

Who for cabinet?…

NAAfter a week of intense speculation, with the swearing in of Members of Parliament, the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the re-election of Jacob Zuma as President, followed by a gala inauguration process at Union Buildings, the political and financial world held its breath until the moment arose when the composition of the cabinet was announced over the weekend.

Also in the week previous, the first seating of the National Assembly marked noticeable changes in the hierarchy of the new governing alliance party. Strategic seating arrangements displayed the fact that Cyril Ramaphosa took the conspicuous seat allocated for the Deputy President.  In this sense, the mould was cast for a new period in South Africa’s political history at that point.

Ramphosa ZumaSince his defeat by Thabo Mbeki for status in the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, chairman of the Student Christian Movement, former secretary-general of the ANC and first secretary National Union of Mineworkers, was deeply involved in the negotiations that led to Nelson Mandela’s release. His involvement with South Africa’s political development is extensive.  He will now bring to cabinet decisions his twenty years of business experience gained whilst remaining as a political heavyweight in waiting.

Old faces

When the seating in Parliament took place, it appeared at the time that the incumbent minister of trade and industry seemed to haveRob+Davies maintained his influence within the ANC caucus and so it was to be.

tito mboweniWith the status-quo being to some extent maintained, one would therefore not expect any major changes or shifts in terms of policy, regulations and government position of matters related to business, the economy and international relations. The “behind the scenes” withdrawal of Tito Mboweni from parliamentary lists was significant since it had been clearly rumoured that he was tipped for the position of finance minister.

If the election of Baleka Mbete as Speaker and the massive influx of ANC cadres from Luthuli House to the National Assembly areMbete,Baleka swornin anything to go by, we can expect a more controlled environment in Parliament, particularly in the light of a reduced majority and the presence of the EEF.   Such tighter control will be evidenced in the nominations of chairpersons to the various Portfolio Committees.

Also in the past week, National Council of Provinces held its first seating. Unlike the National Assembly, 80% of the members of the NCOP are new to the House. Although this House does not particularly influence national, international and economic trends, one might expect significant changes in terms of committee positions on important issues.

Thandi Modise, former premier of the North West was elected chairperson of the NCOP and who is noted for her open-mindedness and approachability.

 The final choice

neneFinally, in a major cabinet reshuffle, President Zuma, announced his choice of ministers. To the surprise of most. he promoted deputy finance minister Nhlanhla Nene to finance minister, replacing minister Pravin Gordhan. Whether minister Nene was groomed for the position or minister Gordhan, who goes to governance and traditional affairs, is needed to sort out the finances and delivery disciplines in local government, remains to be seen. The appointments are nevertheless surprising.

The size of the cabinet apparently is not an issue with either the President or the ANC Alliance.    Clearly, the issues wracking the allianceanclogo are as important as economic issues and time will tell if the appointments are a consolidation of power or a compromise.

President Zuma also confirmed businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as his Deputy President. Considering Ramaphosa’s background and position, his appointment is expected to be welcomed by investors and the private sector.   As we speculated, Rob Davies is to maintain his position as minister of trade and industry, providing some continuity for the business world despite the fact that sparks never seem to fly in this area. However, DTI can be said to have had some success.

Mining and police

Mining minister, Susan Shabangu, who had been criticised for her handling of the strike in the platinum mines now in its fifth month, wasNgoako Ramatlhodi replaced by Ngoako Ramatlhodi, a former deputy minister in the prison service. Minister Shabangu goes to the new ministry of women, part of the Presidency.

radebeThe National Planning Commission and the ministry of performance, monitoring and evaluation have been merged and will be headed by former Justice Minister, Jeff Radebe, thus becoming part of the triad with the President and Deputy President. The total shake up of the security cluster, mining and energy portfolios could be set to have an significant impact on the five month strike in the platinum belt.

Left of centre

Mzwandile Masina has been appointed deputy minister of trade and industry. If there are to be “radical changes”, as President Zuma Mzwandile Masinaanticipated, this is where changes in B-BBEE might occur. Masina was formerly the national convenor of the ANC Youth League and was recently at the centre of a controversy when referring to NUMSA General Secretary, Irvin Jim, he used bad language.

Should Masina have any hold on policy and regulation, one could witness a significant shift in policy to the left, bearing in mind minister Rob Davies is a member of the SACP.

Electric shock

tina-joemattThe new minister of energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson, emerging from her fisheries complications and other difficult personal issues under investigation, will have her work cut out to get a grip on the energy picture and will have to rely, hopefully, on the many experts in the department of energy. This is before tackling the complicated issues facing the country in such areas as Eskom sustainability, the petroleum and fuels strategy and ISMO.

The new deputy minister of finance is Mcebisi Jonas, former MEC for economic development and environmental affairs of the Eastern Cape provincial government during which time it could be said that the Eastern Cape did not benefit from his term of office.
This is a disappointing appointment.

Madala Masusku, former Mpumalanga MEC for finance, is another provincial MEC who has made cabinet as deputy minister of economic development in a key position without too much experience.

Mr Policeman

Nkosinathi-NhlekoChief whip of the ANC, Nkosinathi Nhleko, previously deputy minister of labour, seems to have been rewarded for caucusing legislation through at the last minute in Parliament at the close of the fourth Parliament and becomes minister of police, whilst incumbent Nathi Mthethwa slips down to minister Paul Matashile’s position, Pallo Jordan’s old post, at arts and culture, Matashile disappearing from the hierarchy it appears, as did Jordan as well.

Also disappearing is Marthinus van Schalkwyk, whose ministry of tourism goes to Derek Hanekom, moving from the ministry of sciencehanekom and technology.

oliphantOn the labour front, experienced Mildred Oliphant stays where she is and continues to implement the four new labour laws thus providing some sort of continuity.

With so many changes, continuity in the short term is the issue.

Start up time

There is clearly going to be a time gap with so many shuffles and structural changes and it might be months before the whole impetus of the fifth government of South Africa gains traction to deal with the economic and delivery problems facing South Africa.

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The state of the nation

No commitment in state of the nation address before elections….

Most know the state of the nation, so the question  was really what President Jacob Zuma had to say about it and was a rabbit going to come out of the hat.

For the mining industry and the trade unions there were indeed some specific statements but for the rest, the state of the nation address was sadly a hodge-podge of known facts, most of it un-related to the year under review. Nothing particularly new emerged.

Furthermore, very little looked into the future, other than a surprising reference to both the possibility of nuclear development, with no timings given, and fracking, mentioning Shell by name and calling such development “a game changer”. Otherwise, general industry and commerce, trade and industry and agriculture might not have existed.

Cumulative numbers

Clearly, with an election coming and such a poor record behind him, President Zuma chose the option of saying nothing of consequence, other than to blame  current unrest in some areas as being due to success in others. Furthermore, much of the statistical success claimed by him in the state’s performance referred to the period since the ANC came to power, thus subtly once again referring to the bogeyman of apartheid.

Sadly, it was “nothing” speech, just simply delivered better than in the past.

The nation therefore seems to remain in exactly the same state as it was before; that is – without strong leadership; without any message to the international world that that South Africa is interested in doing business, and with legislation in the pipeline indicating a strong leaning by most of its cabinet members towards national socialism.

Lost opportunities

On the bright side, South Africa remains still one of the greatest countries to live in and according to the numbers, to visit. Nevertheless, the “lost opportunity factor” is growing; nobody seeming to get a grip on corruption and the slow slide downwards a failure of service delivery (which cannot be blamed on the US recovery and the effect on emerging countries) not happening.

Dr Wolsey Barnard of department of energy possibly summed up the problem, although unrelated to the address last night, in his report to the portfolio energy committee on the departments’ performance for the third quarter, contained in this report, when he said that South Africa has lost 3,000 engineers in the last ten years.

He also said it took Eskom twelve long hours to get a required licence to enter a defaulting municipal area to solve power problems at Richards Bay, closed down because of a power line fault in a municipal area and where overheating was causing an ammonia storage plant to overheat, thus threatening the area with an ammonia gas discharge.

Twelve hours of demurrage on dozens of vessels standing off at sea at South Africa’s largest export port because of municipal licence needed by Eskom to enter the area.

Somehow President’s Zuma’s speech  seemed strangely unrelated to what is actually going on in South Africa.

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Labour : nobody at top biting the bullet

Parliamentary labour committee gives hint…..

mildred-oliphantLabour Minister Mildred Oliphant said in her budget vote speech that she would meet with the trade union leadership to discuss the “adversarial nature” of the country’s industrial relations and explore ways to arrest the “potential threat” to the system of collective bargaining. With the Nedlac process under scrutiny, South Africa heads towards an election with a Parliament not quite sure what is really happening.

Meanwhile, after months of painstaking negotiations and re-drafting of South Africa’s new labour laws and with the amendments under the Labour Relations Act nearing finalisation and adoption, suddenly an adversarial attitude was also adopted by the governing alliance members over contentious and much argued about issues such as labour broking.

So, with attitudes hardening, business has again lost track of indicators regarding government’s views on labour matters. A swing to the left was previously the concern but as political commentators now note, a swing to the nationalistic right is even more worrying.

What relevance then her speech?

Minister Oliphant  also said in her address that her department would host a labour relations indaba to enable stakeholders and role-players to engage regarding the future of collective bargaining in South Africa but a reading of recent parliamentary views stated by ANC MPs would change the ground rules for such an engagement yet again. Quite clearly, with an election forthcoming, the pack of cards has suddenly been thrown into the air. Oliphant continued…….

“We want to generate greater interests and concerns of social partners in respect of labour relations conflict, and identify measures to strengthen labour relations and dialogue to achieve labour market stability and peace,”  adding that the department of labour (DoL) was working closely with NEDLAC and the CCMA to achieve this.

Smoky glass

The minister noted that her budget vote took place at a critical time, when South Africa was entering the collective bargaining season, which seemed a pretty pointless thing to say and then compounded the totally inert contribution by adding that “Looking at the year ahead, that all stakeholders will  have to work together to achieve a peaceful environment in labour relations and collective bargaining.”

Finance waves a finger at somebody

pravon gordhanShortly afterwards when introducing the debate on his budget vote in the National Assembly, finance minister Pravin Gordhan said South Africa “was at a cross-roads over renewed labour unrest in the mining sector” and something needed to be done or the country would lose jobs and investor confidence, and companies would close. ‘

In his medium term budget statement, he was at pains to re-assure the investing community that budget deficits were under control and that SA was walking the big talk. But there was no reference to the big issue. A bloated public service, way out of proportion to the size of the community in South Africa, has a  pay rise coming.  This is more than a bump in the road head, it massive pothole to be negotiated.

“Concerted action by organised labour, business, civic leaders, and government is needed in the coming months , said the minister. “There is no role for complacency here”, he warned. Gordhan reiterated that labour unrest and stoppages at mines contributed “to much of the weaker economic performance in 2012”, which was compounded by job growth of only one percent.

“We are all in this together. If we do not resolve our labour relations challenges we will be losers. We will see deteriorating confidence, job losses, and business failures.”

Finding sensible solutions, Gordhan said, to the labour strife would benefit all. “But if we find a balanced, fair, socially responsible solution, we all stand to gain and we will see higher investment, higher employment, and improvements in living conditions. This is the choice that lies before us.”

Misfire, or was it?

zuma2Then spoke President Zuma in a special extra parliamentary speech from Pretoria, who also called on mining participants in the wage talks to play a stronger role, saying government could not take sides in the turf war between unions. His continued reference to the minister of finance’s speech earlier in Parliament was the anchor point of what he had to say, which it turned out to be very little.

In the meanwhile, minister in the presidency responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation, Collins Chabane, told parliamentarians in his budget vote speech that the National Development Plan (NDP), endorsed by COSATU or not, would form the basis of strategic framework for the next five years for government focus, the NDP forming the basis of nearly twenty budget votes speeches in Parliament in the last three weeks.

The apparent focus by government on the NDP and COSATU’s renewed platform of referring back to the Freedom Charter, was also evident during a speech by Trevor Manuel, minister of planning and one of the main architects of the NDP, who told his audience “We should guard against be waylaid by all manner of self-serving agendas that direct us away from building the desirable plan”.

VaviMeanwhile, Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of COSATU, told his audience, “Four out of ten people are unemployed and 19 years after democracy, we have become the protest centre of the world, a country still far from achieving the economic demands of the Freedom Charter.” He told his audience there was a lot to celebrate but all COSATU wanted was for the wealth of the country to be shared.

No mention of the NDP. Nobody stepping to the footplate.

To-ing and fro-ing on labour issues appears to be average activity for politicians, including the President, and at the moment, with nobody sticking their heads over the parapet, Parliament heads towards an election with business sitting in a vacuum and the international rating bodies not quite are what we are up to .

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Land reform: Something very sad is going on

Apartheid debate goes back to land reform….

Minister Manuel and President Zuma are said to have repaired their relationship over Manuel’s demand that the governing party and state departments overcome their obsession of blaming apartheid for all their non-delivery performance statistics such as land reform, which excuse has also been constantly appearing in parliamentary and departmental report backs.

However, there lies a much deeper controversy building and this is maybe why the subject of apartheid, being such a dead-end route, was again raised.

Traditional roots

reed danceIt all goes back to disruption appearing at grass roots level in the apparent attempts by the ruling party to ignore gender “apartheid” in rural areas and what has been described as “locking approximately 16 million people into tribal land divisions ruled by customary law and baron chieftains”, areas originally defined in many cases by the dreadful Land Acts of 1913 and 1936.

But how does this affect business and industry since the matter seems so unrelated to the daily grind and to the economics of running a mining house, an investment business, a manufacturing plant or a marketing venture?

It deeply affects us all in the same way that the failure of the rail system means that commuters can’t get to work and in this case, where delivery of service and utilities goes back to apartheid structures that were unfair, caused fifty years of bloodshed and delivery service is so poor. People, mainly workers, get unhappy, cause unrest and may strike.

Apartheid was about land

We only have to look north from the Middle East to Zimbabwe to see it happening everywhere.   Land is usually the issue that provides thelandseizures grenade pin but refusal to reform is probably the catalyst.

Trevor Manuel is right, of course, from the aspect that we should get on with job of re-building the country and not find lame excuses such as playing the apartheid card as reasons for failure. The explosion from ANC policy makers was immediate and it seemed that Manuel had scored a bulls-eye.

President Zuma responded directly bearing in mind that he leads a determined effort to reinforce legislation that provides support powers to traditional chiefs, originally bestowed in the apartheid years to re-enforce the hated Bantustan division of land, thus re-enforcing the same divisions in what appears to be a chase for rural political power.

Bantustans or homelands

homelandsOriginally apartheid was implemented at every level of society: education, transportation, business, entertainment, employment and religion but at its most fundamental level it was about control of the land. This still forms the base of the problem.

Laws in this area introduced by ANC are the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework of 2003; the Traditional Courts Bill; some eight provincial leadership laws and now before Parliament is the National Traditional Affairs Bill which attempts to bolster the chief’s monopoly on rural land.

All this in the light of the current and completely opposite Restitution Act of 1994 on the statute book on the one hand existing and now supported by the introduction of an Expropriation Bill on the other, all of which seems the very antithesis of support being given to leaving vast tracts of land in the hands of chiefs who govern by their own set of rules and laws.   Traditional courts.

In Britain, the monarchy lost its judicial powers hundreds of years ago and in France the monarchy was simply eradicated.houses of parliament In South Africa, we don’t seem to be able to make up our minds.

It would seem that aside from making a mockery of the land reform programme, the ANC  is courting not only a constitutional challenge, a subject bound to be raised in Parliament when the Bill is debated or even during parliamentary hearings, but the alienation of a vast section of his own progressive supporters.

UCT logoSays University of Cape Town on its Research Centre For Law and Society website, “The Traditional Courts Bill has raised numerous questions as to whether traditional courts should have criminal jurisdiction at all, and if so, which kind of offences they should try and what sort of punishment may be imposed.”

“Our research on traditional courts in one area reveals that cases undertaken in traditional courts include assault, murder and rape, to name a few, indicating that social contact crimes are at times being dealt with by the traditional justice system.”

“On the other hand”, says the article on the website, “it is evident through SAPS reports that certain crimes, such as property-related crimes, although they can be dealt with through traditional courts, are nonetheless taken to the police. This indicates not only a fluid relationship between the two justice systems, but also a blurring of categories of crimes.”

Blurring of constitutional issues is, however, a lot more serious. Especially on the land ownership issue.

Associated articles archived:
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//justice-constitutional/spatial-planning-land-use-management-bill-moves-on/

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/minister-says-need-for-legislation-on-land-reform-a-priority/

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Infrastructure Development Bill to cut red tape

Land expropriation tool….

BS000318Armed with a new tool, the Infrastructure Development Bill, government is hoping to speed up infrastructure projects by cutting red tape; shorten approval times; hit the corruption chain; force quicker decision making; and change the system by which expropriation of land takes place observing correct ground rules.

The new Bill with all of these objectives in mind has been tabled by economic development minister, Ebrahim Patel, and will grant statutory powers to a special Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Commission to address project management and regulatory delays challenges; coordinate the issuing of permits and licences; deal with resolution of land servitudes; bring the three tiers of government into better working relationships; improving co-ordination between public entities and improving cooperative governance in an overall sense.

Cracking down on corruption

The Bill was described by President Zuma in his state of the nation address.   He said, “We are cracking down on corruption, tender fraud and price fixing in the infrastructure programme. The state has collected a substantial dossier of information on improper conduct by large construction companies. This is now the subject of formal processes of the competition commission and other law enforcement authorities.”

Minister Patel’s statement, when tabling the Bill, said that “focused project management systems and clear performance dashboards” were being built up so that projects in hand could be monitored. Opportunities for the private sector were now being investigated and a conference would be held by government to bring about such a processes with business and industry.

Constitutional process

On the issue of expropriation of land, the Bill states it is being careful to follow constitutionally accepted procedures but Minister Patel said that bearing in mind expropriation can only occur for a public process, in order to speed matters up the process will be taken as a “given” and where such an action is involved, this will be handled on a “post development basis”, the state taking the risk of losses or losing cases.

The actual workings of the Bill envisage a statutory process led by a steering committee that can override and intervene in statutory matter affecting development, the principle being to cut down on time lag and legal obstacles.

No frills

The Bill is relatively telegraphic in its preamble and simply states the Bill is intended to “provide for the facilitation and co-ordination of infrastructure development which is of significant economic or social importance to the Republic; to ensure that infrastructure development in the Republic is given priority in planning, approval and implementation; and to ensure that development goals of the State are promoted through infrastructure development.

The Bill immediately gets down to the business of forming the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordination Commission and the first issue to be dealt with under “objectives” is the question of the acquisition of land, making it relatively transparent where infrastructure development delays might have been occurring.

Top team

The makeup of the commission also leaves little doubt on the intent that the Commission has to exercise its powers, its body made up of the President, the Deputy President; ministers designated by the President; the premiers of the provinces and the
chairperson of SALGA.

The President, or in his or her absence the Deputy President, is the chairperson of the Commission and a decision by the majority of the members present at a meeting of the Commission is a decision of the Commission.

The Bill will enable the Commission to tie in various government department to binding decisions. One has to assume that by giving such powers to the commission over the department of public enterprises, all state utilities therefore be subject to common actions.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Enviro,Water, Health, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Sovereign rating time after budget and SONA

SONA and Budget 2013/4 beat the pundits…   

zuma2With budget behind us, the script for the state of nation address (SONA) becomes a little clearer.

At the time SONA wasn’t what was expected and represented to many a total let down insofar as direction, information and inspiration was concerned.   President Zuma’s speech was really quite remarkable for the subjects it didn’t touch upon or skirted around.   Perhaps that’s what happens when a majority party is half way through its current tenure of office.

In all fairness, however, there is so much that is about to happen in South Africa on infrastructure development and so much “in the pipeline”, that there was little the current government could do other than recycle the list of eighteen major projects that the twenty seven government departments and sixteen utilities having been talking about for months, sometimes years, all of which seem in a pretty embryonic stage. The hope is that when it all comes together, it won’t be too late.

NERSA played a trump card

On energy, little was said – in fact practically nothing at all that was not patently obvious such as the fact that Medupi and Kusile are being built. In fact nothing was said on electricity at all, the reason for which was to become evident in the NERSA decision the following week when Eskom’s multi year price determination call of 16% was toned down to 8%.

Dangerous budget

pravon gordhanAlso the following week and following SONA came Pravin Gordhan’s budget with its surprising nil increase on income tax, severe budget cuts, the introduction of carbon tax and an increased fuel levy. Once again the National Development Plan was heavily emphasised and perhaps at last government is going to get on with it with a new presidential infrastructure co-ordination commission to support the initiative.

The Budget was in some ways masterful but still frightens the credit rating agencies, with Gordhan trying to balance the books after an increased deficit over the previous year, something the new government used to pride itself on not needing under finance minister Trevor Manuel – but times change and the global recession arrived.

Executive powers

Interesting for Parliament is the introduction of the draft Infrastructure Development Bill giving extraordinarily wide powers to an all-powerful commission to be known as the presidential infrastructure co-ordination commission, as stated above, with all nine premiers, the President and Deputy President steering the ship in an effort to cut red tape and speed things up.

This can only be good, if only for the fact that the captain of the ship can speak alone to the twenty seven departments and sixteen utilities described above.

Public Service too big

Which leads to the issue of a somewhat bloated public service which has had the benefit of above-inflation increases this year, so it was pleasing to see that a skills audit of public servants is about to be commenced amongst the 1.2m public servants, which in a country of only 51m, is totally disproportionate.

Public Service and administration minister Lindiwe Sisulu told Parliament that the increase of 1% per year in salaries has to be turned into a decrease of 1% next year.

Encouragingly also, planning minister Trevor Manuel (who has but ten staff) has clearly indicated that he is relying on the parliamentary oversight system to beef up his programme to wake up to the National Development Plan.  How well Parliament scrutinizes the national budget in the coming weeks in every parliamentary portfolio committee demanding both value for money and delivery on time, every time, is now the critical issue.

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