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"Sephadi"

October 2007


Editorial

THIS EDITION of Sephadi coincides with an important period in the political life of our movement, namely our preparatory work for the 52nd National Conference. It is critical therefore that as cadres of our movement, we should use this publication to strengthen our ideological and theoretical capacity.

As the ANC, we are all engaged in Conference debates, once again proving that the movement is alive and leading. The issues that we are dealing with and the direction we will take will not only affect the future of the movement, but also the future of our country as well.

As Members of Parliament we are expected to give leadership in many fronts and engage in debates within the movement, be it at our local branches or in other organisations and institutions.

We have also witnessed that a wide range of forces in society are trying to influence the debates.

The issues covered in this edition of Sephadi, have a wide scope.

The Three Doctors` Pact is reviewed, reminding us of the deeply rooted ANC non-racial traditions born in a common struggle for freedom, justice and human rights.

Fifty-years ago, Ghana became the first independent state in Africa, and soon other African countries followed, and we are proud to celebrate with the people of Ghana their 50 years of independence. On May 25 we celebrated Africa Day with the rest of Africa, an event we as a country only started to celebrate officially after the advent of democracy.

Once again as a country, we are now a proud member of the African Union, and within our structures and at our National Conference we will debate how we can make a further contribution in the reconstruction and development of Africa.

Since 1994, we as a country, have made significant strides to realise the goal of a better life for all. The government has made major advances in providing social security to all our people, growing the economy and ensuring peace and stability. However much still needs to be done.

These issues will constitute the central focus of the 52nd National Conference, where delegates will engage and develop policies to take us forward.

Since National Conference has taken centre-stage in the life of our movement, it is incumbent on all the cadres of the movement to give leadership and direction on the issues currently being discussed within the organisation.

Contestation of views is inevitable and good, as long as it is done in a constructive manner, and the debates are aimed at building the organisation and advancing the objective of creating a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.

Happy reading, hoping that this edition of Sephadi will help in enriching our political lives. Forward in “The Year To Intensify The Struggle Against Poverty As We Advance In Unity Towards 2012."

Chief Whip
Isaac Mogase


OR Tambo Tribute to a Great South African!

Dr Z. Pallo Jordan

Heritage is one of the primary sources of identity, imparting to communities a sense of belonging. That South Africa is culturally diverse is readily recognised. Less evident is the role that heritage can play in nurturing our national identity, social cohesion, conflict prevention and promoting human security. A group of independent experts set up by the Director General of UNESCO defined cultural diversity as `the manifold ways in which the cultures of social groups and societies find expression.` This suggests that rather than dividing us, cultural diversity is our collective strength, which could benefit the entire world. In this sense, it should be recognised and affirmed as the `common heritage` of all South Africans.

Our South African Heritage draws on three continents and we, on this side of the house, readily accept this outcome as the verdict of history.

Humanism, that affirms the dignity and worth of all people, based on our human capacity to reason, is the connecting thread among these traditions.

Its African spirit is best expressed as `Umntu ngumntu ngabantu` - Ones humanity is affirmed in the recognition of the humanity of others!

One finds the same notion highlighted in the writings of a social and political philosopher who was voted the most influential thinker of the second millennium A.D.by the audiences of the BBC World Services: "To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter.

But for humanity the root is humanity itself… hence… the categorical imperative to overthrow all relations in which humans are debased, enslaved forsaken, despicable beings…"
The man whose life`s work we are commemorating was born on 27th October 1917, in the Mbizana district of Eastern Mpondoland (eQawukeni) in the Transkei.

After serving the usual rural apprenticeship as herd boy he enrolled at an Anglican school before going to St Peter`s Secondary School in Johannesburg.

He was awarded a scholarship by the Transkei Bunga which took him to the University College of Forth Hare, where he attained a degree in science, qualifying to become a teacher of mathematics and science.

From 1943 until 1947 he taught these subjects at his Alma Mater, St Peter`s in Johannesburg.

He gave up teaching to study law in 1948 and established the first African legal partnership with Nelson Mandela in December 1952.

The repressive hand of the apartheid regime pre-empted a second career change in December 1956.

Two days before the Bishop of Johannesburg, The Most Reverend Ambrose Reeves, was due to prepare him for ordination as a priest, Oliver Tambo was arrested with 155 others on charges of High Treason on 6th December 1956.

Oliver Tambo chose his path when he joined the ANC after completing his studies at Fort Hare.

From 1947 until his death in 1993, Oliver Tambo was among the leading figures of the ANC and he left an indelible mark on South African politics.

When Walter Sisulu was forbidden to take an active part in ANC affairs in 1954, Oliver Tambo became Secretary-General of the ANC; by 1957 he had been elected Deputy President to Chief Albert Luthuli.

He became Acting-President when Chief Luthuli died in 1967 and assumed the ANC`s Presidency at the Morogoro Conference in 1969.

Though the ANC-led campaigns were militant, they were scrupulously non-violent.

The response of the White minority government, however, was not as restrained.

It unleashed a wave of repression.

Armed police, sometimes assisted by army units, shot peaceful demonstrators; police wielding batons, billy clubs and pick-axe-handles administered brutal beatings to those not fleet-footed enough to get away; entire villages of people in the rural areas were deported to distant areas; and the pre-dawn Security Police raid became a regular feature of South African life.

Commencing with the passage of the Suppression of Communism Act of 1950, in incremental steps the apartheid government turned the law into a formidable instrument of repression.

These repressions culminated at Sharpeville in March 1960, when 69 peaceful demonstrators, the majority shot in the back, were massacred by police as they protested against the Pass Laws.

A few days prior to 30th March, Oliver Tambo was instructed to travel abroad to establish an external mission for the ANC to mobilise international support and coordinate activities for the anticipated years of underground struggle.

In July 1963 Security Police swooped on a farm, Lilliesleaf, in Rivonia.

The upshot was that ten leaders of the ANC, including Nelson Mandela, were put on trial on charges of planning acts of sabotage and conspiring to overthrow the government.

Their trial, known as the Rivonia Trial, ended with Nelson Mandela and seven of his colleagues being sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.

Rivonia and the repression which followed thrust upon the very ample shoulders of O.R.

Tambo, the responsibility of leading the ANC in exile as well as at home: A task he assumed with a quiet determination and immense dignity.

By the time he took over the helm of the ANC, Oliver Tambo was a seasoned political leader with two decades of active engagement behind him.

He understood his task as two-fold - to rebuild the ANC as a mass movement inside South Africa, while enhancing its capacity to lead an armed insurgent movement from outside South Africa`s borders.

In celebrating the life of Oliver Tambo, we are honouring an important dimension of our South African heritage - the heritage of struggle against colonial domination and racial oppression.

Oliver Tambo pursued the goal of liberation and creating a democratic South Africa with an unrelenting energy, a quiet tenacity and steadfast perseverance.

By the end of his life, the object of his dreams was within sight.

His singular contribution was his insistence that the movement never compromise its humanity!
At the ceremony marking the ANCs adherence to the Geneva Protocols on the Conduct of War, among other things he said:
"We in the African National Congress (of South Africa) solemnly undertake to respect the Geneva Conventions and the additional Protocol 1 in so far as they are applicable to the struggle waged on behalf of the African National Congress by its combatants, Umkhonto we Sizwe.

This Convention is one of the cornerstones of humanitarian law."
By that action, Oliver Tambo demonstrated that even though the liberation movement had taken up arms, was engaged in acts of violence which sometimes resulted in deaths, there was no moral equivalence between it and the oppressive apartheid regime.

Historians have warned that it is not nations that generate nationalism, it is nationalism that produces nations.

Definitions of who is included and who is excluded are not pre-ordained, but take account of differing historical circumstances.

South Africa, like many other states in the world, is a heterogeneous melting pot of different races, ethnic groups and languages.

Our Constitution defines a South African citizen in terms of our national territory, allegiance to our national institutions and the people of our country.

This conception of the nation has won near universal acceptance amongst South Africans today.

But that was not always the case.

At the time of the founding of the ANC all the White political parties espoused an undisguised White supremacy.

From 1913, when General Hertzog founded the NP, it strove to exclude all Blacks from South Africa`s body politique such that by the time Verwoerd assumed leadership of that party in 1957, African, Indians and Coloureds had all been disenfranchised.

The NP thus became the party of the pre-1994 status quo - deeply racist, repressive and backward looking.

Addressing the Nation on Radio Freedom on 8th January 1979, Oliver Tambo reiterated that vision, dating back to 1912:
"Let us in South Africa learn to stop being Bantus, Coloureds, Indians and Whites.

Let us be what we are, Africans in Africa.

Let those who are committed racists, who came to this continent determined to keep Africans in chains, to be perpetual white masters over blacks - let them persist in their role as foreigners on African soil."
This profoundly anti-racist and non-racial ethos was rooted as much in his politics as in his deeply held Christian values.

However, he never allowed these to impair the movement`s capacity to wage armed struggle.

Drawing a sharp distinction between the institutionalised violence of the oppressive system and the violence of resistance, he argued that an unconditional adherence to non-violence on principle, would help sustain the institutionalised violence of apartheid.

Oliver Tambo was a very tough task master because he insisted on the quality of the movement he led.

He repeatedly underscored the quality of its leadership as he did the quality of its actions.

But he was a leader who led from the front.

While he was demanding on those who worked under him, he was himself a tireless worker, very often undertaking far too much tasks and consequently over-extending himself.

In the end it was the demands he placed on himself that subsequently led to his ill-health and probably hastened his death.

It was these qualities which made Oliver Tambo a truly great leader of the ANC and of the South African liberation movement.

It was these qualities that endeared him to all the ANC ranks, from its leadership to the youngest cadre.

It was these qualities that made him a great South African!

Dr Z. Pallo Jordan is Minister of Arts & Culture


Albert Luthuli - The Legacy Is Stronger

This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the death of Chief Albert Luthuli, president of the ANC from 1952 - 1967.

BEN TUROK pays tribute to the life of the great statesman and first Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Albert Luthuli became a national hero due to his public support for the 1952 Defiance Campaign. By then he was already the Natal Provincial president of the ANC.

But what brought him to the limelight was the fact that he was the Chief of Groutville reserve where he dedicated himself to the needs of his people.

His support for the Defiance Campaign brought him into direct conflict with the state and he was dismissed. He was elected ANC President-General at the December 1952 annual national conference. He was re-elected in 1955 and 1958.

What is so important about Luthuli’s contribution is that he held this top post during the stormiest years of the rise of the ANC as a mass movement. The Defiance Campaign was the platform for this process which unfolded in uneven stages in the following decades with Luthuli’s hand guiding the movement.

Despite his banning order which confined him to his rural home throughout most of his presidency, he saw through the creation of the Congress Alliance of the ANC, SAIC, SACPO, COD and SACTU, which firmly established the movement on the road to non-racialism, and the recognition of the legitimacy of all racial groups as South Africans.

His opposition to white racism was powerful, but he was also determined to make it clear that neither he nor the ANC would tolerate anti-whiteism.

It was in this context that I met Chief Luthuli when I first joined the movement during the Treason Trial of 1956, and as National Secretary of the COD. It soon became clear that the white South Africans among whom we campaigned, wanted to hear from an African leader what he stood for, and what his position on the future of white South Africans was.

Luthuli drew a large audience at a public meeting in Cape Town, and his book, ‘Freedom is the Apex,’ was read widely.

His stature as the leader of the movement grew immensely at the Treason Trial. The arrest of 156 of the top leaders of the whole movement was front page news for months, and Luthuli was rightly portrayed as the distinguished leader who could not be ignored.

What was remarkable was his kindness to everyone, no matter how junior in the movement, and his ability to work with all, no matter their political identity and affiliation. This was quite important for members of the banned Communist Party, since it was not part of the Congress Alliance, but for Luthuli as long as you were a member of the ANC, or one of its partners, you were a comrade. Most notably, Moses Kotane, who was both a senior member of the ANC national executive, and Secretary General of the Communist Party was a close adviser to Luthuli.

Luthuli’s courage was once more demonstrated when he publicly burned his pass in Pretoria when he called for a national day of mourning. He was then detained in the big 1960 swoop with thousands of cadres across the country and released five months later.

In December 1961 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and allowed to travel to Oslo to receive it.

It was at this time that Umkhonto we Sizwe was being formed, and although he was not asked to participate, he supported the process. He told Kotane, “I am not a pacifist, you try and steal my chickens and see what happens to you.” But being isolated in Groutville, and with the movement working underground, the ANC was illegal by then, Luthuli found it increasingly difficult to be involved on a daily basis, even though his influence remained enormous.

On July 21, 1967, he was struck by a train, near his Natal home and was killed. The mystery of that accident has never been solved.

Ben Turok is ANC Veteran and Member of Parliament


The Doctors’ Pact
Laying The Foundations For Non-Racialism

Mewa Ramgobin

March 9th 2007 was the 60th anniversary of the Dadoo-Xuma-Naicker Pact.

Dr Yusuf Dadoo (president of the (TIC) Transvaal Indian Congress )), Dr AB Xuma (president –general of the (ANC) African National Congress) and Dr Monty Naicker (president of the (NIC) Natal Indian Congress) signed a declaration, which was indeed a covenant among the three liberation organisations. A covenant for the working out of a practical basis for co-operation between these in their fight against racial domination, oppression, economic exploitation and political control.

In 1943, the South African Indian Congress resolved to explore ways of achieving co-operation with the African national Congress. Both these congresses at the time were racially exclusive… engaged essentially in the politics of r petitions. In this period of human history, the world was characterised by one of the greatest crisis of humanity, the fight against racism and fascism. Ironically, whilst South Africa, under the leadership of the likes of General Smuts was an ally in this fight, its racial policy was no different from the ‘Herrogy,’ which was the bedrock of Nazism and fascism.

Recognising that this ideology was bound to lead to further wars, the allied powers urged most nations essentially Western, to assemble in San Francisco in 1946, and they framed the Charter of the United Nations. They resolved to ‘outlaw’ discrimination based on colour, race or creed. South Africa refused to accede to this charter. It was General Smuts “who drafted the original declaration, in the preamble to the United Nations Charter, with its emphasis on fundamental human rights, the value of the human personally…” (quoted by Prof TRH Davenport: South Africa: A Modern History page 312.) Whilst South Africa was present at San Francisco in 1946 with all the pomp at its command, it was systematically engaged in giving credibility and respect to racism by making it legal.

Among the host of laws already on the statue books of SA, General Smuts pioneered in 1946 the passing of the Asiatic Land Tenure and Representation Act, which became known as the ‘Ghetto Act.’ Among the several divisive and discriminatory designs of the Act was to ‘peg’ Indian residential rights, trading rights and property rights. It offered to Indians the ‘right’ of direct representation in the provincial governments, (excluding the Orange Free State) and indirect, restricted representation in the national government. The Indian leadership of the TIC and NIC rejected this.

“The Indian community was outraged and launched a concerted two-year campaign of passive resistance to oppose the measures. Led by Dr Dadoo and Dr Naicker… The Indian Community conducted a mass campaign that impressed us with its organisation and dedication… Housewives, priests, doctors, lawyers, traders, students and workers took their place in the frontlines of the protest… Two thousand volunteers went to jail… Dr Dadoo and Dr Naicker were sentenced to six months hard labour… Dr Xuma and other African leaders spoke at several meetings and along with the Youth League gave full moral support to the struggle of the Indian people… The Youth League and the ANC had witnessed the Indian people register an extraordinary protest against colour oppression in a way the Africans and the ANC had not,” Nelson Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, page 118, 119.

The effects of this campaign were wide and varied. It reached the United Nations ‘which’ decided by a two-thirds majority that ‘South Africa and India should meet so as to bring the treatment of Indians in this country in accord with the United Nations Charter…” which South Africa had violated. South Africa remained intransigent. This attitude of the South African Government compelled India to sever diplomatic relations, to apply economic sanctions and to keep this question on the UN General Assembly agenda year after year.

Broadly, it was against this background that a joint declaration of the ANC, NIC and the TIC was made.

It reads, “This joint meeting between the representatives of the African National Congress and the Natal and Transvaal Indian Congress, having fully realized the urgency of co-operation between the ‘Non-European’ peoples and other democratic forces for the attainment of basic human rights and full citizenship for all sections of the South African peoples, has resolved that a joint declaration of co-operation is imperative for the working out of a practical basis of co-operation between the national organisations of the ‘Non-European’ peoples…”

“This joint meeting declares its sincerest convictions that for the future progress, goodwill, good race-relations and for the building of a united, greater and free South Africa, full franchise rights must be extended to all sections of the South African peoples, and to this end, this meeting pledges the fullest co-operation between the African and Indian peoples and appeals to all democratic and freedom-loving citizens of South Africa to support fully and co-operate in this struggle for:

  • Full Franchise
  • Equal economic and industrial rights and opportunities and the recognition of African trade unions under the Industrial Conciliation Act.
  • The removal of land restrictions against ‘Non-Europeans and the provision of adequate housing facilities for all ‘Non-Europeans’.
  • The extension of free and compulsory education for ‘Non-Europeans’.
  • Guaranteeing freedom of movement and the abolition of the Pass Laws against the African people and the provincial barriers against Indians, and
  • The removal of all discriminatory and oppressive legislation from the Union’s Statute Books.”

“This joint meeting is therefore of the opinion that for the attainment of these objects, it is urgently necessary that a vigorous campaign be immediately launched and that every effort be made to compel the Union Government to implement the United Nations Decisions and to treat Non-European peoples of South Africa in conformity with the principles of the United Nations Charter…”

Signed: A.B. Xuma – President General, ANC
Dr G.M. Naicker – President: Natal Indian Congress
Dr Y.M. Dadoo – President: Transvaal Indian Congress
(Dadoo, Xuma, Naicker Pact 1947)

‘As an epochal agreement’, some assert that the pact, played a major role in the liberation struggle. Credence is given to this assertion, when Nelson Mandela at page 125 of his book, ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ records:

“The Doctors Pact laid a foundation for the future co-operation of Africans, Indians and coloureds, since it respected the independence of each individual group, but acknowledged the achievements that could be realised from acting in concert.” Examples of acting in concert, of unity in action, on the basis of what Mandela proclaims ‘a foundation’ is:

  • The defiance campaign of 1952;
  • The Congress of the People in Kliptown 1955, and
  • The formation and work of the United Democratic Front in 1983. This spearheaded the most formidable mobilisation of South Africans against apartheid, under the banner ‘Apartheid divides, the UDF Unites.’

Much has been achieved through acting in concert; we have a democracy. Through our democratic institutions much more has to be done, acting in concert; to transform our country – from the devastation of apartheid to one that is livable for All.

We need to protect, cherish and nourish our democracy with our lives. To celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Doctors’ Pact is good. But, we should shy away from celebrating an event, only. Our celebrations must be a call to action by all South Africans to shoulder the responsibility of making South Africa livable for ALL.

Mewa Ramgobin is ANC Member of Parliament and Former president of Natal Indian Congress (NIC)


Is Monopoly Capital The Enemy?

Jeremy Cronin

At the ANC’s crucial June Policy Conference, one of the more contested debates on the draft “Strategy and Tactics” document concerned the role and character of monopoly capital. Many comrades argued that we should state clearly that “monopoly capital is the enemy”. This view-point was countered by others who argued that it would be hypocritical to call on monopoly capital to invest productively in South Africa one moment, and the next moment declare it an enemy.

The good thing about a debate is that it forces us all to unpack more clearly exactly what we are talking about.

WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “MONOPOLY CAPITAL”?

In the Policy Conference Commissions dealing with this matter, it quickly became apparent that we often use the concept “monopoly capital” in different ways.

The most obvious use of the term “monopoly capital” is when we refer to monopolistic behaviour on the market by a dominant corporation. We have legislation in South Africa that seeks to prevent this kind of conduct, and the Competitions Commission conducts hearings and makes findings on monopolistic market behaviour.

While this kind of market-distorting behaviour often has negative consequences, the ANC is not market-fundamentalist – a point the draft “Strategy and Tactics” re-affirms very strongly. In other words, we do not believe that all we have to do is vigilantly prevent monopoly market behaviour, so that the “free” market can then be left to its own devices and solve all our problems. In fact, we may even sometimes need to actively encourage market monopolies for developmental purposes.

This brings us to the second important distinction that is needed. The private sector often complains that our state owned enterprises (SOEs) are “monopolies”, arguing that they should be broken up and privatised for a more “efficient” “free” market. It is true that we need to guard against the potential dangers of a publicly-owned corporation abusing its market dominance for the wrong reasons – for instance, increasing its own revenue at the expense of our strategic developmental goals. However, it is equally true that we will not be able to drive our national democratic revolution and a sustainable growth and development process unless we actively use strategic SOEs that may be monopolies in their respective fields (ESKOM, ACSA, Transnet, etc.). In short, we need to distinguish between private (for profit) corporations that dominate in particulars areas, and publicly-owned corporations. We need to ensure that the latter have clear, democratically mandated priorities, especially when they hold a monopolistic position.

THE FREEDOM CHARTER AND MONOPOLY CAPITAL

In the course of the Policy Conference, many comrades referred to the Freedom Charter’s use of the concept “monopoly capital”:

“The mineral wealth beneath the soil, the banks and monopoly industry shall be transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole; All other industries and trades shall be controlled to assist the well-being of the people…” The Freedom Charter’s reference to “monopoly industry” in conjunction with the “banks” and “mineral wealth” of our country suggests that it is not narrowly referring to monopolistic anti-competitive behaviour on the market. Rather, it is highlighting the problematic concentration of undemocratic, minority power, resources and wealth in these places. It is this extreme concentration of private economic power in the mining and finance sectors of our country that the Charter is high-lighting as the key democratic challenge on the economic front. In other words, the Charter is addressing a systemic feature of our economy and not the market behaviour of this or that corporation.

Interestingly, the Charter doesn’t refer to monopoly industry as the “enemy”. But is monopoly capital, nonetheless, the main enemy of the national democratic revolution?

In the draft “Strategy and Tactics” document tabled for adoption at the ANC’s December National Conference, there is an attempt to provide an outline of our strategic objective: a “national democratic society”. This end state is (perhaps necessarily) rather vague with key questions left hanging. For instance, in regard to the values of solidarity in a future national democratic society, we are told:

“Whether such common social decency is achievable under a market-based system with its tendency to reproduce underdevelopment and inequality, in a globalised world, is an issue on which society should continually engage its mind. Concrete practice, rather than mere theory, will help answer this question.” (para. 56, final draft)

This may, or may not be true, but it is so open-ended and pragmatic on a crucial question that it is not helpful. Yes, concrete practice and history itself will decide in the end. But surely the central task of a strategy document is, precisely, to provide a theoretical guide to that concrete practice, so that we do not just leave key things for history to decide?

Part of the problem here is that the draft “Strategy and Tactics” document nowhere provides a clear statement of what in our economy has to be changed. It tells us that:

“The NDR seeks to eradicate the specific relations of production that underpinned the national and gender oppression of the majority of South Africans. It does not eradicate capitalist relations of production in general.” (para.57, final draft).

Not even a socialist society eradicates capitalist relations of production in general. But what exactly ARE the “specific relations of production that underpinned the national and gender oppression of the majority of South Africans”?

We don’t have a clear statement of this. And this is why, in my view, many comrades were insisting at the Policy Conference that we characterise monopoly capital as “the enemy”.

Comrades want to know not just what, in general terms, we are aiming for in the long run. They also want to know what we are up against, here and now.

MILITARISING THE POLITICAL

However, the problem with a military term like “enemy” is that it does not provide an effective guide to political strategy. In the first place, it runs the danger of treating all opposition as the “enemy”. In this way, we might conflate anti-constitutional, illegal, counter-revolutionary forces (like the Boeremag), with our legitimate strategic political party opponents (like the DA, IFP, etc.). And, worse still, we might begin to label different tendencies within our own movement as the “enemy”, as “counter-revolutionary”, etc. At best this makes for clumsy politics, at worst it can result in very grave errors.

By militarising the political, the loose use of “enemy” also pre-vents us from analysing more clearly the systemic features of our society that need to be radically transformed. In the depths of the apartheid period we always correctly said that whites were not the enemy, it was the SYSTEM of white minority rule that we were fighting.

Likewise, to say that “monopoly capital” is the “enemy” today is too sweeping a statement to be a useful guide to practical politics. We need to ask, rather: What are the SYSTEMIC features of our economy that are constraining growth and development, and reproducing underdevelopment?

The Freedom Charter begins to provide an answer to this question by pointing to the high levels of concentration of undemocratic, private power in the key minerals and finance complex of our economy.

Clearly, this is a discussion that needs to be pursued...

Jeremy Cronin is chairperson of the Parliamentary Transport Portfolio Committee


Women’s Month Commemoration
Challenges Of Poverty

Kiki Rwexana

The month of August marks a special period in the history of South Africa. It is during this month that we pay tribute to the significant contribution made by thousands of brave women who chose to rise against the oppressive minority regime on August 1956. The historic women’s march spurred the country’s liberation struggle that brought about democracy in 1994.

With the demise of apartheid, expectations and aspirations for improvements in livelihood among ordinary South Africa’s socio-economic development strategy for the first ten years of democracy sought to address disparities created by the apartheid past.

Central to the role of fighting poverty is the fulfillment of the objectives that the African National Congress (ANC) has set itself, that of eradicating poverty and creating jobs for the poor in order to ensure a better life for all.

However, despite the socio-economic development strategy and status of South Africa as a middle income country, poverty and inequality are still widespread and manifest themselves in high rates of unemployment, extreme land hunger and lack of access to basic human needs.

In both urban and rural areas, the majority of South Africa’s population continues to experience conditions of severe deprivation and squalor. A significant number of South African households continue to be poor or vulnerable to poverty. Women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities bear the brunt of poverty. In addition, the distribution of income and wealth in South Africa is among the most unequal in the world and many households still have unsatisfactory access to education, healthcare, energy and clean water despite concrete progress in redressing the inherited backlog since 1994.

(APRM, Country Review Report, Nov 2006, pg 254)

GAPS AND CHALLENGES

The challenge of ongoing marginalization and exclusion of the poorest of the poor by organs of society as well as the inadequacy of service delivery resulting in poor or non - realization of good poverty related to policies and program goals, compels all South Africans to take charge for change and fight poverty. Below are the gaps that continue to confront poverty reduction strategies:

  • Absence of a common definition of poverty
  • Fragmented and uncoordinated service delivery
  • Existing poverty reduction initiatives not co-coordinated between government departments and between government departments, and between government, private sector and civil society organs
  • Inadequate monitoring and evaluation mechanisms for measuring impact of poverty reduction services
  • Absence of consistent measurable social indicators.
  • Un-coordinated participation for Non-Governmental organizations
  • Un-structured mobilization of parastatals
  • Non-prioritization of women poverty programmes

Parliamentarians need to commit to poverty eradication as there can be no better life for all if poverty is still the order of the day for the majority of South Africans.

South African Women in Dialogue (SAWID) has, through research, study tours and previous dialogue events found that:

  • Overwhelming majority of the poor are women
  • Conditions of women have not improved
  • Economic empowerment is still not accessed by women
  • There is no special funding for women programmes
  • The existing gender machinery needs to be strengthened
  • Rural women, children and disabled are the most vulnerable

RECOMMENDATIONS

In light of these findings, it is critical that parliamentarians, as representatives of the people, should find ways to implement the following:

  • Agree on the current poverty status
  • Agree on the poverty eradication model and formulate an approach that will be able to target the poor, agree on a basket of services for the poor, agree on a strategy to work together with Non-governmental organizations, and mobilise government support for social mobilization and funding.
  • Contribute on the debate to find a common definition for poverty
  • Mobilise women to lead the efforts to eradicate poverty as they are mostly affected in the majority.

PLAN OF ACTION

  • Organise workshops for parliamentarians to ensure brain-storming, ideas and expectations
  • Create subcommittees to work on different areas of the programme such as the definition of poverty and social indicators, good practice models ( research from other parts of the continent), funding for poverty programmes, partnerships, and building capacity for women and special programmes for eradicating poverty for women, children and disabled.

During the 2006 Nelson Mandela lecture, President Thabo Mbeki emphasized that “to achieve the social cohesion and human solidarity we, we must vigorously confront the legacy of poverty, racism and sexism”.

Despite impressive advances of South Africa’s young democracy, many South Africans are still trapped into poverty cycles or structural poverty, which is embedded in the country’s history of racial oppression and exclusion.

Women in particular form the majority of those that are locked in poverty and therefore cannot participate effectively in the spaces created by the new democracy.

It is important to realize that in order to strengthen the fight against poverty there is an equal need to improve the status of women and development of communities where they live. It would make sense for all parliamentarians to commit to poverty eradication as there can be no better life for all if poverty is still the order of the day for the majority of South Africans.

Kiki Rwexana is Chairperson of the Women’s Caucus


Youth facing challenges and demands of democracy

In 1976, youth took the centre stage of the struggle and put itself on the national political scene throughout the 1980s. With the advent of democracy in 1994, youth face new challenges. BULELANI MAGWANISHE explores some of these challenges.

During the Soweto Uprising, the youth of South Africa firmly established itself on the national political scene. In 1976, South Africa’s youth took center stage and remained there throughout the unrest and strife of the 1980s and the political transformation of the 1990s. In fact, many observers see 1976 as the political watershed that culminated in the country’s first democratic elections in 1994.

Ever since, the youth has played a major role in the public life of the country (Worden, 2000). By being preoccupied with burning political and social and economic problems, the youth in South Africa takes control over their own future.

South African society is, even after the change brought about by the demise of apartheid in the 1990s, characterised by deep divisions not only on the basis of culture, race, historical background, language and religion, but also on the basis of economic and/or class status.

Many young people with the desire to contribute to the social good, are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty and deprivation, even though there are plenty of opportunities for the youth to grow in a democracy. While taking up professional positions in private and public sector organisations, the young worker prepares the ground for economic development.

Similarly, when the youth takes up leadership skills in the right perspective, the society is bound to benefit. It is of paramount importance for society to unleash the creative potential of these young South Africans.

On the practical level, this can be done by offering universal access to different types of education, and creating more employment opportunities for the young. If we do not defeat unemployment, many young people cannot reap the benefits of vertical mobility and will stay in the lower class for the rest of their lives, despite their ability and willingness to work hard.

Another major challenge for young people in South Africa is the scourge of HIV/AIDS. The spread of this disease produces a powerful impact on the patterns of sexual conduct as well as sexual identity of young people (Peltzer, Pengpid & Mashego, 2006). Resources employed by our country to fight this disease will not achieve the desired outcomes unless our attitude and actions assist in fighting the pandemic.

The ideology propagated by Karl Marx Marx calls for equal opportunity to all young hands, and the ideology firmly believes that the working class should never be oppressed for the well-being of the state and Capital.

When President Mandela signed the newly negotiated constitution, is when South Africa started to experience real democracy. A graduating democracy is now on its way to enjoy the benefits of globalisation, which is resulting in some disenchant-met amongst the working class, as the majority of globalisation policies are based on capitalism. It is important that young people should take a particular interest in understanding this ideology.

Our skills that we acquire through formal and non-formal education and training can only help us to build our country, if we have a good revolutionary theory to help us in applying our skills. The liberty we are enjoying today is because our struggle was always guided by good revolutionary theory and practice.

Marxsim/Leninism will give us a good understanding of our society. It is only that understanding that can help us to change our society for the better.

But, in today’s era of globalisation and liberalisation, the political system appears to be dictated by economic factors, therefore the issues of workers rights, respecting civil liberties and work for all, take second priority after the profitability aspect of the Multi-National Corporation (MNC) is taken care of.

Globalisation has opened newer vistas of trade and business, with MNCs outsourcing many of their works on contract to people from outside their own country. This way these companies are under no obligation to respect the rights of the workers, as they can fire the contract worker whenever they want.

Similarly, workers in their parent company/ country have to suffer, as they are now left jobless. Therefore it is indeed a necessity that Marxism/ Leninism must be understood in the correct perspective by the youth of the country, to advance the cause of the national democratic revolution in South Africa.

Continual recruitment and training is a necessity for the youth to acquire leadership positions in society. Young people should be encouraged to do research, because it is only new knowledge that leads to development of new products, better leadership and a good performing economy; without research there can be no new discoveries and no economic growth.

Proceeding with the discussion of challenges young people encounter, one of the major problems the youth faces nowadays is deep class segmentation of the society.

References:

  1. Freeman, Michael 2000). “The Perils of Democratization: Nationalism, Markets, and Human Rights” Human Rights Review 2.1 pp 33-51.
  2. Funke, Nikki (2007). “Redressing Inequality: South Africa’s New Water Policy.” Environment 49.3 (April 2007) pp 12-23.
  3. Marxist Education Plan, available online at http://www.socialistap-peal.org/edplan/index.php (July 16, 2007)
  4. Whitehead, Laurence (1997). “The Vexed Issue of the Meaning of Democracy” Journal of Political Ideologies 2.2 (June 1997) pp 121.
  5. Nash, Andrew (1999). ‘The Moment of Western Marxism in South Africa’. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Vol. XIX No. 1
  6. Dlamini, S.N. (2005). Youth and Identity Politics in South Africa, 1990-94. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  7. Dolby, N.E. (2001). Constructing Race: Youth, Identity, and Popular Culture in South Africa. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  8. Peltzer, K., Pengpid, S., & T.B.Mashego. (2006). Youth Sexuality in the Context of HIV/Aids in South Africa. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
  9. Saul, J.S. (2005). The Next Liberation Struggle: Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy in South Africa. New York: Monthly Review Press.
  10. Slabbert, van Zyl F., Malan, C., Olivers, K., & R. Riordan. (1994). Youth in the new South Africa: Towards policy formation. Pretoria: HSRC Publishers.
  11. Worden, N. (2000). The Making of Modern South Africa: Conquest, Segregation and Apartheid, 3rd ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.
  12. Pettifor, A.E., Measham , D.M., Rees, H.V., & N.S. Padian. (November 2004). ‘Sexual Power and HIV Risk: South Africa.’ Emerging Infectious Diseases, 10(11), 1996-2004.
  13. Ruden, S. (May 17, 2000). ‘AIDS in South Africa: Why the churches matter.’ Christian Century, 117(16), 566S.
  14. The South African Youth Council (SAYC). (N/d). ‘Profile.’ Retrieved July 13, 2007, fromh http://www.sayc.org.za/profile.htm
  15. Zegeye, A. (2002). ‘The Identity of South African Youth.’ Retrieved July 13, 2007, from www1.worldbank.org/devoutreach/spring02/article.asp?id=159

Bulelani Magwanishe is ANC Whip in the Justice & Constitutional Development Committee


Celebrating Africa Efforts To Rebuild The Continent

Fatima Hajaig

Africa Day is one of the important dates in the political calendar of Africa. It reminds us that Africa is the cradle of human kind. It symbolises African unity and entrenches the view that the only alternative for the people of Africa is to unite in order to deal with all the challenges facing the continent.

The Africa Day debate in our Parliament took place within the context of the theme entitled “Perspectives on and of Africa”. On 1st April 2006, President Thabo Mbeki gave an inaugural lecture at the Pan African Parliament. The message contained in his address was simply that no one should be allowed to do for Africa, what we would not do for ourselves. It is a message of hope that says the peoples of Africa have the means at their disposal to move themselves away from the abyss of destruction, poverty and conflict. It is a message that reminds us, as Africans of our rich history that we have to reclaim and preserve.

A debate was significant for a number of reasons. Firstly it sought to remind the leadership and the ordinary peoples of Africa of the difficult and harsh realities of the past. Secondly, the debate was important because it served to allow the political leaders of Africa to take stock of the challenges that con-front Africa. Thirdly, and most importantly, it attempted to encourage should force African leaders to re-affirm their commitments to re-building their countries and provide a better life for their people.

The drive to redefine what Africa should become necessitates the creation of a space to reflect on the past and thereby, find a different, but true history of Africa and a better way of explaining the African condition.

In looking at Africa’s past, it might be important to take a different angle. Instead of looking at how Africa was undermined, underdeveloped and looted by the West, it might be helpful to look at how Africa contributed to the development of the West.

In this context the views of scholars such as Ali Mazrui and Walter Rodney are important. Ali Mazrui argued that: “…the labour of Africa’s sons and daughters was what the West needed for its industrial take-off. The slave ships helped in exporting millions of Africans to the Americas to help in the agrarian revolution and the industrial revolution in Europe simultaneously”. On the other hand, in his seminal work, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa’, Walter Rodney stated: “The African contribution to European capitalist growth extended over such vital sectors as shipping, insurance, the formation of companies, capitalist agriculture, technology and the manufacturing of machinery. The efforts were so wide-ranging that many are seldom brought to the notice of the reading public.” The necessity to refer to such historical facts is important today, because it serves as a reminder of the forced contributions of resources, both human and mineral that Africans made in the development of Europe. It also assists us to reflect on what Africa could have become if its own development and evolution was not interrupted by foreign domination and colonialism.

It is this history of exploitation that contributed to Africa’s long period of economic stagnation and political instability.

What steps are we taking to revitalise and change the African condition, and ensure that the continent develops.

About this, President Mbeki says: “… as Africans, our struggle is to engage in both the total emancipation of our continent from the social, political and economic legacy of colonialism and apartheid as well as to reclaim our history, identity and traditions, and on the foundation that our ancestors built for all humanity, rebuild our societies to ensure that they are developed and prosperous.”

The decision to transform the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU) stands out as one of the most important decisions to be made in contemporary Africa. The AU organs with its different mandates were created in order to deal with different and new challenges facing the continent.

The AU has already taken successful initiatives in the continent’s peace efforts, for example, the deployment of the first African peacekeeping force in Burundi, the peace-keeping force in Darfur, Sudan, and the creation of the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Committee for Sudan (chaired by South Africa).

Ordinary Africans have also been able to witness the increasing political will of the AU and African Heads of States to ensure that they abide by and implement their own agreements. A case in point relates to the decision taken that no regime in Africa would be recognised if it came to power through unconstitutional means. This decision was implement-ed when the AU refused to recognise the regimes in Togo and Mauritania respectively, after they assumed control of state power without being elected by the people. The programme of the AU, namely, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), was unveiled a few years ago and is evolving mechanisms that would define what it is that Africans want to see occurring for their development. NEPAD has undertaken a number of initiatives. The aim is to form partnerships with the rest of the world, but must remain African-owned and African-driven. Some of the initiatives include among others:

  1. the Private Sector has responded through the formation of NEPAD Business Groups, which have been formed in countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The African Business Round Table has launched a continent- wide Nepad Business Group. The Commonwealth Business Council and the World Economic Forum have all become partners in the promotion of Nepad around the world Africans in the Diaspora have assisted by establishing the Nepad Council of Leading African Scientists working in the USA and Europe.
  2. During the period between 2002-2005, the African Development Bank has provided financial resources to 16 Nepad projects in the area of infrastructure development.
  3. Through efforts of Nepad, the Japanese International Co-operation Agency is funding 28 projects in infrastructure, focusing on the provision of essential services such as water, transport, energy and information communication technology (ICT).
  4. In the area of ICT, Nepad has facilitated the creation of the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System, which is a cable system that connects Mtunzi in South Africa to Port Sudan, covering a distance of about 9,900 kilometres.
  5. In the area of agriculture and food security, Nepad launched the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme Initiative, which seeks to re-align and develop Africa’s capacity to produce enough food to feed itself and export other agricultural products.
  6. In order to deal with Africa’s health challenges, e.g. the eradication of TB, Malaria, and dealing with the HIV pandemic, Nepad has launched a Health Strategy.

All the above initiatives are indicative of the strides being made by Africa, especially the political leadership to advance the cause of Africa’s development. Underpinning the development goals of NEPAD is the need for effective and good political and economic governance. Thus the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) continues to serve as a vehicle through which Africans are able to participate and evaluate their own governance. Twenty-four countries have voluntarily joined the APRM initiative. Ghana, Rwanda and Mauritius have already been peer reviewed, South Africa is in the process at this time.

It is important that we strengthen all the different organs and structures of the AU so that it is able to fulfil its functions successfully. In this respect, the inauguration of the Pan African Parliament (PAP) is an important step forward. For the first time, the voice of the African people is being heard. The Pan African Parliament is a forum where African members of parliament can debate on the challenges facing the continent. It also has an important oversight role to play. Since the first session, Pan African Parliament Members of Parliament (MPs) have worked very hard to try and build an African sense of people’s governance. The fact that in its first five years, the PAP has advisory powers and not legislative powers, has not prevented the members from asserting themselves on key issues affecting the continent. For example, the PAP has sent fact-finding missions to Darfur and Mauritania. PAP has begun to interact with other structures of the AU, through this interaction, it has become clear that PAP has to be in continuous dialogue with NEPAD. It is through these interactions between relevant structures that Africa will begin to find joint solutions to challenges.

In our effort to strengthen the African Parliament we need to ensure that African resources are used, we cannot compromise our autonomy.

In conclusion I would like to quote two great sons of Africa, the former President of Tanzania, the late Mwalimi Julius Nyerere wrote: “Africans all over the continent, without a word being spoken, either from one individual to another, or from one African country to another, they were one”.

Africa of today need to see the same thing, that they are one.

In his address as the first democratically elected President of South Africa, former President Nelson Mandela stated: “In the distant days of antiquity, a Roman sentenced an African city to death “Carthage must be destroyed. And Carthage was destroyed. Today we wonder among its ruins, only our imagination and historical records enable us to experience its magnificence. Only our African being makes it possible for us to hear the piteous cries of the victims of the vengeance of the Roman Empire, and yet we can say this, that all human civilisation rests on foundations such as the ruins of the African city of Carthage. Those architectural remains, like the pyramids of Egypt, the sculptures of the ancient kingdom of Ghana and Benin, manuscripts of Mali, like the temple of Ethiopia, ruins of Zimbabwe and rock painting of the Kgalagadi and Namib deserts, all speak of Africa’s contribution to the formation of the condition of civilisation.” He continued; “… we are certain that you (Africa) will prevail over the currents that originate from the past, ensure that the interregnum of humiliation symbolised by among others, the destruction of Carthage, is indeed destroyed to the past, never to return.” When the civilisation of Egypt was teaching the Greek scholars about mathematics, medicine and complex surgery, most of Europe was in the age of darkness. The Malian civilisation reached its pinnacle when Timbuktu became the intellectual and trading centre between the 14th and 16 centuries. Much of European society at this time was characterised by high levels of illiteracy, acute poverty and violence. Africa had a glorious past that we can all be proud of. With hard work, commitment, Africa can once again rejuvenate itself. It has resources, which must be used for Africa. The efforts of the government of South Africa have focused on ensuring that Carthage is rebuilt. Let us today celebrate Africa and its people.

Fatima Hajaig is Chairperson of Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs.


Forging Stronger Bonds Of President Joseph Kabila

"PresidentMadam Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr. President of the Republic of South Africa and dear brothers, honourable members of Parliament, your excellencies, ambassadors and heads of diplomatic missions, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a real pleasure and a great honor for me to find myself among you today on the occasion of this state visit that I am paying to your magnificent country, and to speak to the people of South Africa through these dignified representatives gathered here.

At the beginning of my speech, I should like to start off by thanking President Thabo Mbeki for his kind invitation. My thanks also go to the government and the people of South Africa for the warm and fraternal welcome that has been reserved for the delegation accompanying me, for my wife and for me, as well as for all the marks of sympathy of which we have been the object since our arrival. I am happy, in turn, to transmit to the government and to the courageous people, brothers and friends of the Republic of South Africa the friendly and fraternal greetings of the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Madam Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr. President of the Republic, ladies and gentlemen, finding myself today in this chamber and before this august Assembly, I cannot fail to think of a well-known date in your country, the date of 27 April, a South African public holiday — it is celebrated each year under the banner of Freedom Day.

For the South African people this Freedom Day entails a double duty. For the people of Africa it justifies and symbolises hope.

Initially a duty of memory, this day is, in effect, a testimony for posterity that for those few who do not fold their arms and abandon the fight, the people always end up liberating themselves from tyranny and the force of law by prevailing against the right of force. It was, in effect, as from 27 April 1994 that the first multiparty and multiracial elections were organised and that the representatives of the South African people were elected to the national Parliament and to the provincial council. It was as from that date, which effectively marks the end of apartheid that democracy ceased to be a vague concept and became a living reality in this great country.

A duty of memory, then, but also a duty of tribute. A tribute to all of the anonymous heroes and martyrs, without whom this assembly would not have had the richness that confers upon it its multiracial and multicultural character. A tribute also to all of the artisans of the South Africa of today, models of national reconciliation and of peaceful cohabitation among communities.

On this subject, allow me, in a particular manner, to salute one of the most famous and most emblematic of those artisans. I have mentioned by name the impeccable President Nelson Mandela. He merits a glowing tribute for the inestimable service that he has rendered to South Africa and to humanity through his humility, his perceptiveness and his wisdom.

Madam Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr. President of the Republic, ladies and gentlemen, today the Republic of South Africa is a country in good health politically, economically, socially and culturally. It is a source of inspiration to all countries in crisis, a factor worthy of emulation by all peoples that fall victim to the denial of liberty and to repeated attacks on human dignity. An example of what, in less than a generation, can be accomplished that is beautiful, that is great, and by effort, if it arises from general interests and rehabilitates the value of work. As Africans and as citizens of the world, we are proud of South Africa, and we present to its president and to its people our warm and sincere congratulations. Better than any other country, the Republic of South Africa also justifies and symbolizes faith in Africa. It is a model of racial integration, of sustained economic growth, of success in the generation of a national private sector, and of the establishment of a political voluntarism of regional cooperation and of African solidarity.

A testimony to the engagement without reserve or restraint by the government and the brotherly people of South Africa in the search for solutions to the lengthy crisis that recently split my country and endangered its existence as a state and as a nation. As a reminder, it is here in South Africa, at Sun City to be precise, that the inter-Congolese negotiations were organised over a period of months, and it is for these, as you were able to lend support in the setting up of institutions of transition, in the election process, in the reform of the army and that of political administration, President Thabo Mbeki, brotherly people and the government of South Africa, that we would like to express our profound acknowledgement.

Madam Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Madam Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr. President of the Republic, honourable members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen, our two counties are developing in the same economic area, the SADC. They are therefore called to cooperate as much in the bilateral framework as in the implementation of the strategic plan indicative of regional development, as well as in different bilateral agreements already signed, particularly in the sector of civil service and the integration of the army and police. I wish to see an intensifying and a diversifying of our cooperation.

On that subject, I am bringing to your attention that after having managed to reunify the Congo, which was divided, this gave to the Congolese people its first leaders elected by direct universal suffrage; those are good governance and the five sites of construction that constitute the priority domains in governmental action. In this order of ideas, emphasis is placed particularly on agricultural revival and mine exploitation, restoration of basic infrastructures, particularly of roads, railway lines, waterways, the ports and airports. It is also placed on access to jobs, drinkable water, electricity, housing, health care and education. It is, lastly, placed on the fight against corruption, impunity and all sorts of criminality.

Facing this ambitious programme covering a territory of 2 345 000 square kilometres, occupied by 60 million people, the State of Congo has to mobilise important financial resources and form strategic partnerships. We are attached to free enterprise, practicing a social market economy.

We are also aware that globalisation demands reinforcement of interdependence. We are therefore making ours all of the recommendations aiming to strengthen regional economic integration.

The opportunities for reciprocal prosperity that are coming to us are huge. Let us seize and carry them out, our two respective countries having a calling to play a major role as the engine of the economic dynamism and the development of the region, and why not of Africa? Madam Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Mr. President of the Republic, ladies and gentlemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is open to the world. It is waiting to develop enriching international relations in independence and in respect of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, all having the common denominator of the construction of a better Africa and, more globally, of a better world.

I dream of a world continuously mobilised, with the aim of reducing terrorism to nothing, and where creativity and responsible solidarity express themselves promptly in the event of natural catastrophes. I want a world that does not spare any effort to avoid armed conflicts and which, in the event of the latter happening, always favours the peaceful settlement of differences. I dream of a world that forces itself to reduce socio-economic inequalities and to eradicate the Aids virus, tuberculosis and malaria, today endemic especially in Africa.

For the Democratic Republic of the Congo the search for lasting solutions to these African and worldwide pre-occupations of interest registers itself necessarily in a perspective of restoration of conscience of universal values such as respect for life, human rights, freedom, justice and equality. That is why we are rejoicing that peace is coming back and the democratic traditions are slowly but surely rooting themselves in the world and on our continent. That is why we are also worried by the ecological threats that hang over the planet.

Today, climate change is no longer a simple view that is being expressed. The time has come for Africa to devote as much attention to this phenomenon as to the thorny question of debt reduction, the pernicious effects of globalisation or the numerical gap. My country is ready to play an active role in all debates and reflections on this subject, because the future of mankind and the happiness of future generations depend on it.

Madam Speaker, the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, His Excellency the President of the Republic of South Africa, honourable Members of Parliament, excellencies, ambassadors and high commissioners present, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, in my speech I have expressed my appreciation to President Mbeki and the people of South Africa. I have paid a well-deserved tribute to the pioneers of your liberation movement, and to those who planted the seeds of reconciliation in this country.

Briefly, I have outlined the reconstruction programme of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and shared with you our vision of the role we intend to play in the development of the region and the African continent.

I have also highlighted strategic areas of development that are of great importance and significance to both countries, and indicated new opportunities that have recently presented themselves to us. Lastly, I have reiterated political issues deemed to be of mutual interest to South Africans and Congolese alike.

It is my sincere hope that, as a result of the continuous expressions of commitment and determination displayed by our two countries, as we forge even stronger bonds of African solidarity, the world will soon bear witness to the emergence of a new political and economic order throughout the SA Development Community and the continent of Africa. That will indeed stand as a living testament to the undeniable renaissance being experienced on our continent today.

Long live the Republic and the people of South Africa!

Joseph Kabila is the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is his speech to the joint sitting of Parliament on 14 June 2007


The situation in Palestine and Israel

Mampe Ramotsamai

The year 2007 marks 40 years since the end of the Six Day War, which was waged between Israel and various neighboring Arab State in 1967. The Arab States at the time vowed to ensure the "Liberation of Palestine" from Jewish occupation, however it ended in total defeat of the Arab States. Since then, the peoples of Palestine have been subjected to various forms of challenges, human rights violations and oppression which has further undermined their chances of having a State of their own with secure leaders.

According to a number of humanitarian agencies, the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) is faced with huge challenges in the area of socio-economic development. Recently UNICEF issued a donor request amounting to us $25.8m in order to meet needs of Palestinian women and children.

Women and children in Palestine have found themselves in the most vulnerable position due to continued military attacks by the Israeli army, and the ongoing public sector strikes have gravely affected critical services such as immunization and education.

Many a times as South Africans we draw similarities between what we went through during Apartheid and what is going on in Palestine and to the people of Palestine, but Palestinians suffering in much more than what we went through. The issue that continues to infringe on the rights of Palestine has been the creation of barriers which inhibits the free movement of its people, especially in the West Bank, like we were restricted during apartheid by pass laws, Influx Control etc. These barriers have come in different forms such as several check points, road blocks as well as a concrete wall.

The government of Israel controls 2.5m Palestinians through matrix of more than 500 check points and road blocks as well as 700km wall. Each town and village is surrounded by these checkpoints and road closures that cause extreme hardship to the people of Palestine. For a distance that could have taken one 20 minutes to reach destination it takes Palestinians seven hours due to a wall of apartheid.

This wall is highly monstrous it even cut farmers from their land, children from their schools, mothers from medical services for their babies, grand parents from their grand children.

Even during the era of Bantustans we were not surrounded by gates. These enclosures are creating huge poverty and stiffling the economy of these villages and towns with the purpose to drive Palestinian people out. Poverty has now spread to 26% of the population, compared to 17 % in 2005. Unemployment has reached 30% of the population in the first quarter of 2007 and 70% of Palestinians living in Gaza are now dependent on food aid.

By any measurable standards, it must come as an unacceptable outcome that currently across the OPT 66% of households fall below the poverty line and that, in Gaza especially, eight out of ten families are struggling or cannot meet their daily food needs.

Furthermore, the decision of the Western Governments to impose sanctions on the Hamas-led government in Palestine must be criticized. After Hamas won the legislative elections in Palestine at the beginning of 2006, The United States of America (USA), the European Union (EU), Canada and Israel imposed sanctions on the Hamas-led government.

These sanctions have impacted negatively on the capacity of the Palestinian Authority to deliver much needed social sources to the people of Palestine. By holding donor, they have directly contributed immensely to a process of undermining an elected government of Palestine. On the other hand, government of Israel`s refusal to release tax revenues, which it collects on behalf of Palestinian Authority, has only served to polarize relations between itself and the Palestine People. This situation has caused hardship for Palestinians.

The fact that today we are still discussing the issue of Palestinian self determination and the continuing aggression and deprivation is an indictment against all of us. Today as we speak forty years after the 1967 war, the reality is that Palestinians control only 23% of their original land. Even that 23% is threatened by increasing settlements. How long must the people of Palestine suffer before countries like US & EU act consciously?

It is important therefore for all of us as South Africans to understand the real reasons of this conflict. Many white South Africans believed what the apartheid government informed them about terrorists in S.A. In fact they did not see any thing wrong with the Group Areas Act, Pass Laws and many other unjust laws but many of us who suffered against that regime were feeling the pain. Today all of us in South African, black and white, as we enjoy life in a democratic country, lets not forget the people of Palestine. How can you we contribute to the liberation of this nation?

Every time I relate to my own children how it felt to live in apartheid conditions, detention without trial, State of Emergency. How we would be woken up at night as kids when police do their search for the illegals (Pass Laws). How as students we used to throw stones at police who were shooting us as it is happening in Palestine today. The respond I get from them is "Mom why did you allow them"? This they say without understanding how mighty the army was. I am sure children from Palestine wish to be in a situation where the present conditions they live under could be history.

As it was during apartheid in S.A. Presently there are 10 000 political prisoners in Palestine, 113 of them are women, 12 are children under the age of 16 as if that is not enough 2 babies in detention as well. All languishing in Israel`s jails.

The latest action by the government of Israel which has further undermined the authority of the Palestinian Government is the detention of more than 41 of Palestinian Members of Parliament including about 10 cabinet ministers for nearly a year now. Among those arrested is Mr Nasser Shaer Nasser who is the Minister of Higher Education who had been invited by our minister of education some weeks ago. He was arrested as he was preparing to come to South Africa to participate in the week of "ACTION AGAINST OCCUPATION OF PALESTINE". The conclusion here is that this is done to prevent him from talking to us.

We call on immediate release of all detainees and I call on all members of our Parliament to send letters or post cards to our fellow counterparts in Palestine and I`m sure our parliament would agree to co-ordinate that. All those in this house who have been in that situation know how it felt just to receive a postcard or a letter from outside.

How can we as free people who benefited from international solidarity not be concerned about a matter which is a thread to world peace? At the recent I.P.U. meeting, our South African delegation ie. MP`s unanimously supported the resolution that calls for the release of detainees in Palestine and hopeful that trend will apply there today as well.

Mampe Ramotsamai is ANC Member of Parliament


Legislation

CHILDREN`S AMENDMENT BILL [B19 B - 2006]

INTRODUCTION

The Children`s Amendment Bill, is dealt with in terms of section 76 of the Constitution and will complete the Children`s Act, by inserting the provisions that deal with welfare services as delivered by the provinces and local government.

Existing legislation has not been in keeping with the cur-rent realities of current social problems and thus no longer protects children adequately.

Also, as South Africa has acceded to various international conventions, such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and the Welfare of the Child, these principles have to be incorporated into legislation.

In 1997, the Minister of Social Development requested the South African Law Commission to investigate the Child Care Act, 1983 and to make recommendations to the Minister.

In 2003, the Law Reform Commission on completion of their work, recommended that government draft a new and comprehensive Children`s Act.

The Department of Social Development consulted various departments such as the Department`s of Justice and Constitutional Development, Education, Health, Labour, the South African Police Service, the provinces, Non-Governmental Organizations as well as the Office of the Presidency.

The consolidated Children`s Bill was introduced in 1996 and section 75 of the Children`s Act was passed in December 2005.

The Children`s Amendment Bill, [ B19 B] was introduced as a section 76 bill in the NCOP in June 2006 and was passed by the NCOP in May 2007.

Currently, the Amendment Bill is before the National Assembly Portfolio Committee on Social Development.

OBJECTIVES OF THE BILL

The objectives of the Children`s Act are to promote, pre-serve and strengthen families, to give affect to the constitutional rights of children and to obligations concerning the well -being of children in terms of international instruments which are binding on the Republic.

  • To make pro-vision for structures, services, and means of promoting and monitoring the physical, psychological, intellectual, emotional and social development of children.
  • To strengthen and develop community structures which can assist in providing care and protection for children.
  • To protect children form discrimination, exploitation, and other physical or emotional hazards.
  • To provide care and protection for children who are in need of care and protection.
  • To recognize the special needs that children, with disabilities may have.

The Amendment Bill does the following:-It expands on the Children`s Act, 2005, by inserting sections that pertain to the provincial and local government spheres.

PARTIAL CARE

Chapter 5 deals with Partial Care and the approval of and registration of partial care facilities.

EARLY CHILDHOOD DEVELOPMENT (ECD)

Chapter 6 deals with Early Childhood Development, for children from birth to school going age.

In clause 92 (2) the MEC`s for Social Development in provinces are required maintain records of ECD programmes, develop provincial strategies based on the national ECD frame-work, provide provincial profiles and make these available.

The legislation also compels the Minister of Social Development to determine norms and standards for ECD by regulation and in consultation with stakeholders, including the Department of Education and Health.

PROTECTION OF CHILDREN

Chapter 7 Part 1 makes provision for the protection of children by providing a strategy for child protection and the reporting of children that has been abused, sexually abused or deliberately neglected.

Clause 105 compels the MEC`s of provinces to provide and fund child protection services.

CHILD HEADED HOUSEHOLDS

Part 4 of Chapter 7 deals with Child Headed Households.

The Bill provides that a provincial Head of Social Development may recognize a child- headed household if the parent or care -giver is terminally ill, or has died; no adult family member is available to provide care for the children in the household; a child over the age of 15 years has assumed the role of care-giver in respect of the children in the household; the children in the household have been investigated by a social worker; or it is in the best interest of the children in the household.

In terms of the Amendment Bill, designated child-headed households may collect and administer for the child-headed household any social security grant or other assistance to which the household is entitled.

The Child heading the household may take all day to day decisions relating to the household and the children in the house-hold as if that child is an adult care-giver.

Notably, the Amendment Bill, provides that a child -headed household may not be excluded from any grant, subsidy, aid relief or other assistance or programme for poor households and vulnerable children provided by an organ of state, in the national, provincial or local sphere of government solely by reason of the fact that the household is headed by a child.

CORPORAL PUNISHMENT

Section 139 provides that no child may be subjected to corporal punishment or be punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.

A person who has care of child, including a person who has parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child, must respect the child`s right to physical integrity as prescribed by the Constitution.

ALTERNATIVE CARE

Chapter 11 deals with Alternative Care.

In terms of the Amendment Bill, a child is in alternative care if the child has been placed in foster care, a child or youth centre, or in temporary safe care.

FOSTER CARE

Chapter 12 deals with Foster Care, and refers to a child who has been placed in the care of a person who is not a parent or guardian of the child.

Section 184, provides that before a child is placed in foster care, the court must consider a report from the social worker about the cultural, religious and linguistic background of the child, as well as the availability of a suitable person with a similar background who is willing to provide foster care.

CHILD AND YOUTH CARE CENTRES

Chapter 13 deals Child and Youth Care Centres, and is a new concept that replaces the reference to residential facilities such as children`s homes, places of safety, secure care centres, reform schools.

Section 191, defines child and youth care centres, as facilities for the provision of residential care to more than six children out-side the child`s family environment.

Section 191 (2) man-dates child and youth care centres to offer therapeutic programmes designed for the residential care of children outside the family environment.

Notably, 191 (j) provides for the reception and care of children who live on the street.

Section 192 mandates the development of comprehensive national and provincial strategies aimed at ensuring the appropriate spread of child and youth care centres throughout the Republic providing the required range of residential care programmes in the various regions.

In these strategies the needs of children with disabilities and chronic illnesses must be taken into consideration as well.

Section 193 provides that MEC`s of social development must provide and fund child and youth care centres for their respective provinces.

DROP - IN CENTRES

Chapter 14, provides for the establishment of DROP-IN CENTRES.

A drop-in centre is defined as a facility located at a specific place which is managed for the purpose of providing basic service, excluding overnight accommodation, to children, including street children, who voluntarily attend the facility but who are free to leave.

National and provincial strategies are required, as well as norms and standards and registration of the facility.

CRIMINAL LAW (SENTENCING) AMENDMENT BILL (B15 – 2007)

BACKGROUND

The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1997 (Act No.105 of 1997) ( “the Act”), which came into operation on 1 May 1998, dealt with the abolition of the death penalty and created a legal regime of discretionary minimum sentences in respect of certain serious offences.

Sections 51 and 52 of the Act make provision for the imposition of minimum sentences in respect of serious offences, which are listed in Parts I-IV of Schedule 2 to the Act.

In terms of section 51(3), a High Court or regional court is given a discretionary power to impose such lesser sentence, if that court is satisfied that substantial and compelling circumstances exist, which justifies the imposition of a lesser sentence than the prescribed minimum sentence.

However, constitutional validity of sections 51 and 52 of the Act was tested in two cases, namely State v Dzukuda and State v Dodo in 2000 and 2001 respectively.

Courts in these cases dealt with two major challenges on two different grounds, namely an accused` s right to a fair trial and the independence of the judiciary, but the Constitutional Court rejected both challenges.

The Constitutional Court in Dzukuda held that:

…it had not been established, either for the reasons furnished in the High Court judgment, or for any other reason, whether taken individually or collectively that the provisions of section 52 of the Act limited an accused`s right to a fair trial under section 35(3) of the Constitution.

In interpreting the words “substantial and compelling circumstances” in section 51(3) of the Act, the Constitutional Court in Dodo endorsed the step-by-step sentencing procedure set out in S v Malgas (2001).

The Court held in this regard that the interpretation of the Supreme Court of Appeal: …steers an appropriate path, which the Legislature doubtless intended, respecting the Legislature`s decision to ensure that consistently heavier sentences are imposed in relation to the serious crimes covered by section 51 and at the same time promoting `the spirit, purport and objects of the Bill of Rights`.

In dealing with the issue of the separation of powers and the court`s role in sentencing, the Court concluded as follows: While our Constitution recognises a separation of powers between the different branches of the state and a system of appropriate checks and balances on the exercise of the respective functions and powers of these branches, such separation does not confer on the courts the sole authority to determine the nature and severity of sentences to be imposed on convicted per-sons.

Both the legislature and the executive have a legitimate interest, role and duty, in regard to the imposition and subsequent administration of penal sentences.

The Constitutional Court in both instances dismissed the constitutional challenges against these provisions and upheld the constitutional validity of the Act.

OBJECTIVES AND CONTENT

Despite the fact that the legislation has been found to be constitutionally sound, certain practical problems, experienced in applying sections 51 and 52 have been identified.

Hence, the Bill seeks to address these practical problems, whilst retaining the principles underlying the Act.

The Bill aims to expedite the finalisation of serious criminal cases, to punish offenders of certain serious offences appropriately and to avoid secondary victimisation of complainants, which, inter alia, occurs when vulnerable witnesses have to repeat their testimony in more than one court.

In this Bill regional courts are granted jurisdiction to impose life sentences in cases where this is prescribed and provision is made for an automatic right of appeal in cases where a person is sentenced to life imprisonment by a regional court.

With regard to prosecutions that must from the outset be instituted in the High Courts and not in the regional courts, the National Director of Public Prosecutions is required to adopt policy directives, which that set out such prosecutions.

Moreover, the Bill provides that when a sentence must be imposed in respect of the offence of rape, none of the following shall constitute substantial and compelling circumstances, justifying the imposition of a lesser sentence, namely:

  1. any previous sexual history of the complainant;
  2. an accused person`s cultural or religious beliefs about rape; or
  3. any relationship between the accused person and the complainant prior to the offence being committed.

In terms of the Bill, the act is not applicable to a person under the age of 16 years at the time of the commission of an offence referred to in sections 51(1) or 51(2)(a) or (b).

the act will also not apply to a person who was under the age of 18 years at the time of the commission of an offence referred to in section 51(2)(c).

a presiding officer, may when imposing a sentence under the act, under the new provisions, take into account the time that an accused was incarcerated as an awaiting trial prisoner.

Political Implications
  • A view has been expressed to the effect that, in effect, minimum terms narrow sentencing discretion of both the judges and magistrates, particularly in rape cases;
  • Since most accused persons who face long minimum sentences often plead not guilty, they use legal aid more and tend to appeal their sentences, thereby lengthening case cycles and adding to the overall burden of the courts.

CRIMINAL LAW (SEXUAL OFFENCES & RELATED MATTERS) AMENDMENT BILL [B50B – 2003]

BACKGROUND

The ANC has long noted the increasing incidences of sexual abuse and violence in our society and negative impact of such abuse and violence on the vulnerable groups, being women and children.

Having noted this, our democratic movement resolved to ensure that South Africa moves towards classifying violence against women and children first and foremost as a social problem and not as a legal problem and to implement and concretise international and national instruments, which deal with violence against women and children.

Moreover, our movement also resolved to ensure that our democratic government shifts emphasis in the criminal justice system to a more victim oriented approach and also improves cooperation in respect of matters relating to violence against women and children in our society.

In giving effect to the above resolutions of the African National Congress, in 1996 our democratic government mandated the South African Law Reform Commission to investigate sexual offences by and against children.

However, it was thereafter realised that our common law and statutory law do not deal adequately and effectively with sexual offences.

As a result, the initial mandate of the Law Commission was extended to include sexual offences against adults and the formulation of non-legislative recommendations with regard to the reform of the criminal justice system.

This meant legislative reform that would fundamentally change the processes currently employed by criminal justice system to deal with crimes resulting from sexual abuse and violence.

In December 2002, the Law Commission submitted its report - which was accompanied by a draft Bill - to the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development.

The Bill was developed and thereafter was introduced in Parliament as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill, 2003.

This introduced Bill only differed in few respects from the draft, which was recommended by the Law Commission.

Towards the end of 2003, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development received departmental briefing on this Bill.

Thereafter, the Portfolio Committee requested the Department to pre-pare a working document in line with the instructions of the Portfolio Committee so as to codify all sexual offences and to criminalise the act of deliberately infecting other people with HIV/AIDS.

OBJECTIVES OF THE BILL

In view of the fact that sexual violence against women and girls is a problem of epidemic proportion in South Africa, including a virtually unprecedented epidemic of child rape, the Bill essentially introduces mechanisms and measures, which purport to enable our criminal justice system to give full effect to protection of the women and children who are vulnerable to the escalating incidences of sexual violence.

In particular, this Bill purports to provide for medical treatment of certain victims of sexual abuse and violence as well as for related medical/health services.

More importantly, this Bill also creates specific mechanisms and procedures for compulsory HIV testing of the alleged sexual offenders.

Furthermore, this Sexual Offences Bill seeks to eliminate discriminatory differentiation, which is drawn between the age of consent for boys and girls in respect of consensual sexual acts with children.

CONTENT OF THE BILL

In essence, Sexual Offences Bill comprehensively and extensively reviews and amends the laws relating to sexual offences in South Africa.

Provisions of this Bill repeal certain common law sexual offences and enact comprehensive provisions, which deal with the creation of new sexual offences aimed at addressing vulnerability of women, children and mentally disabled persons in respect of sexual abuse or exploitation.

More importantly, the Bill entitles a victim who has been exposed to the risk of being infected with HIV as a result of sexual offence to receive, at state expense, a post exposure prophylaxis treatment at a public health institution designated by the Minister of Health.

In terms of this Bill, such victim is entitled to get free medical advice on the administering of post exposure prophylaxis as well as to be supplied with a list of the public health institutions, which provide these services.

Historically, our criminal law has always differentiated between ages of consent for girls and boys in respect of consensual sexual acts with children.

However, this Bill eliminates this discriminatory differentiation because it provides for the age of consent for boys, which is the same as that of girls, being 16 years.

In addition, the Bill also establishes a National Register for sexual offenders and provides for the regulation of such register in which personal details of sexual offenders would be recorded so as to ensure, among other things, that such offenders are prevented from working with children.

ISSUES FOR POLITICAL CONSIDERATION
  • Constitutional implications of compulsory HIV testing of alleged sexual offenders;
  • Merits of the proposal to the effect that the age of consent for girls and boys in respect of all consensual sexual acts against children should be more than 16 years;
  • Whether provisions in respect of Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) treatment for HIV infection might require further consideration, taking into account the scientific/medical advances;
  • Whether specific provisions are not required to protect other vulnerable groups, which are exposed to sexual abuse and exploitation, including the physically disabled persons and the aged persons;
  • With regard to the National Register for Sex Offenders:-
  • Whether the national register should also contain and store details of sexual offenders against other victims other than children,
  • As Children`s Act of 2005 also creates a national register of the offenders against children, whether we need not look at consolidating that register and register of sexual offenders against children, and
  • The challenge which relates to how the Registrar would obtain information regarding sexual offenders convicted in foreign jurisdictions.

IMMIGRATION AMENDMENT BILL, B28 - 2006 (S75)

BACKGROUND

Immigration Amendment Bill 19 of 2004 was passed by the house in September 2004.

It was implemented, together with new comprehensive regulations on 1 July 2005.

Immigration policy by its very nature is dynamic and needs to be constantly monitored to ensure that our immigration laws reflect government policy as a whole.

The 2006 State of the Nation Address (SONA) committed government to completing the Immigration Regulations within a given period of time.

In this regard the Amendment Bill seeks to provide clarity with regards to requirements contained in the Act and regulations, thereby ensuring effective implementation.

OBJECTIVES
  • The key objective of the bill is to provide clarification and revision of procedures and permits regarding admission to, residence in and departure from the republic.
  • It seeks to effect certain technical corrections to the immigration act, no 13 of 2002.
  • It seeks to incorporate cross-border and transit permits (section 24 of the act) as temporary residence permits referred to in section 10 of the act.
  • It seeks to increase the period for which an intra-company transfer work permit (section 19 of the act) may be issued.
  • It further seeks to provide for the issuing of an appropriate permit to the spouse and dependent children accompanying the holder of a retired person permit.
  • The Bill also provides for the withdrawal of a permanent residence permit if the holder has been convicted of an offence in terms of the Act.
MAIN CONTENT OF THE BILL

The Bill seeks to attract scarce skills to the country given government`s commitment to economic development.

There is a commitment to human rights and security in the Bill, with emphasis on the growth of the region and the continent.

Clarification of a number of definitions in the Bill, suggests a desire to take into account the recent Constitutional Court judgment and existing legislation on marriages and other relationships.

Administrative powers and labour related matters are seen to be a key area in the Bill.

In addition the Bill provides for statistical recording of entry into the country and subsequent departure.

The Bill proposes that the system of obtaining visa`s or transit visa`s needs to be simplified.

The Bill suggests a new clause which would introduce an asylum transit permit, arising from the fact that the Principal Act provides for an asylum permit.

In this regard an asylum seeker could report in person to a Refugee Reception Office.

Of significance to note is that foreign spouses will be entitled to a temporal residence permit which will permit them to work and study.

There are provisions that seek to prohibit wrong doing involving fraudulent ID`s, passport, permits and residential permits.

POLITICAL IMPLICATIONS

These amendments will reduce levels of bureaucracy and effect security appropriately.

It contributes to the economic development of the country, in that it addresses concerns that have been raised on difficulties in acquiring skills from outside the country.

The Bill paves the way to regulate the movement of the citizens and non - citizens alike.

It encourages law enforcement agencies to maintain peace and stability taking into account the implications of the 1994 democratic break through, which has resulted in people coming to the new democratic country for various reasons.

It is noticeable that the Bill tries to treat citizens and non-citizens equally.

Communities must be informed of these amendments to ensure awareness and implementation, and Parliamentary Constituency Offices (PCOs) must play an important role in making communities aware about the bill.

MUNICIPAL FISCAL POWERS AND FUNCTIONS BILL (B9B - 2007)

BACKGROUND

The Municipal Fiscal Powers and Functions Bill is the extension of the Provincial Tax Regulation Process Act of 2001.

In terms of this regulatory process, national government reviews each proposed provincial tax for consistency with national economic and fiscal policy and ensures that it does not have adverse economic consequences for other provinces.

The Municipal Fiscal Powers and Functions Bill prescribes compulsory national norms and standards when imposing municipal charges and municipal tax.

The bill does not impede fiscal autonomy of municipalities.

The Bill, like the Provincial Tax Regulation Process Act of 2001, does not introduce new taxes (municipal) but provides municipalities with a framework for making applications to introduce new taxes compatible with our Constitution.

THE OBJECTIVES OF THE BILL

The Bill seeks to:

  1. promote predictability and certainty in respect of municipal fiscal powers and functions;
  2. Ensure that municipal fiscal powers and functions are exercised in a manner that will not materially and unreasonably prejudice national economic policies and economic activities across municipal boundaries.
MAIN CONTENTS OF THE BILL
  • It allows the Minister on his/her own accord or by way of application by a municipality, group of municipalities or organised local government to authorise a municipal tax;
  • It regulates the application process for authorisation of municipal taxes in respect of application received;
  • It provides for matters that must be addressed in regulations, authorising and regulating the imposition and administration of a municipal tax.
POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS

This Bill does not permit municipalities to institute income tax, value-added tax or custom duties.

This Bill meets the requirements of Section 229 (1) (a) of the Constitution which empowers municipalities to impose municipal charges and fees for services provided by them or on their behalf.

This implies that the power to impose surcharges could not be exercised in a manner that materially and unreasonably prejudices national economic policies.

The Provincial Tax Regulation Process Act already makes similar provisions.

Although provinces have not implemented the Provincial Tax Regulation Process Act yet, circumstances in the municipalities are different.

Municipalities generate 95% of their revenue while provinces generate only 3 per cent.

There is a strong indication that similar provisions for municipalities will be implemented.

The concern that municipalities would not be able to share equitably in the growth of the economy because the abolition of RSC levies is therefore misplaced.

This bill is however not designed to deal with this.

There is a process to deal with the appropriate measures to compensate municipalities for the loss of revenue as a result of the abolishment of RSC levies.

Options such as local business tax which has a tax base similar to the abolished RSC levies.

The Bill does not introduce new taxes but merely provides a framework for municipalities keen on introducing their own tax/es.

The Bill makes provision for both the National Government and municipalities to examine a tax propos-al and to determine whether it makes sense and to determine whether it is aligned to broad objectives of Government.

Whilst municipal officials and business have proposed the establishment of an independent regulator to approve municipal taxes, the ANC does not support this view.

The FFC is, in a sense, fulfilling a role of an in dependent body.

The impact of municipal tax on the poor is not measured.

This can only be done once municipalities have tabled a tax proposal with an identified tax base.

ELECTRICITY REGULATION AMENDMENT BILL B20D 2006 (REINTRODUCED 29 MAY 2007)

BACKGROUND ON THE ELECTRICITY
DISTRIBUTION INDUSTRY

The distribution of electricity is currently regulated by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA).

NERSA derives its powers from the Electricity Act of 1987.

This Act empowers NERSA to regulate the full value chain of electricity, including reticulation.

The technical definition of reticulation simply means to build an electricity network.

The Electricity Act of 1987 is superseded by the Constitution, which empowers the municipalities to have regulatory oversight on the services listed in Schedule 4B of the Constitution.

One of those services is electricity reticulation.

The Constitution does not define reticulation and it has led to various interpretations from stakeholders.

This anomaly has presented challenges in the terms of regulating reticulation.

There is currently a proliferation of approximately 2 000 tariffs.

There are different tariffs even within the same metro boundaries (there are so-called inner city tariffs and outer city tariffs).

This results in unequal tariffs of domestic consumers.

This means that the most vulnerable consumers are not protected, and municipalities can charge whatever tariffs they want.

The setting of the electricity tariffs outside the regulatory framework has an adverse effect on domestic users.

National government, through NERSA, has limited powers to regulate the electricity industry under the above circumstances.

Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill is leading the advancement of the transformation agenda in the electricity distribution industry.

It seeks to regulate and provide uniformity in this industry.

This Bill serves as a springboard to the realization of the RDP pronouncement of electricity for all.

This legislative development seeks to integrate the regulation of the electricity distribution industry and do away with different tariffs.

This will immensely benefit the poorest of our country.

Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill serves as a propeller to the realization of an integrated electricity industry.

This piece of legislation effects changes that will go a long way in protecting the masses of our people from unequal tariffs.

OBJECTS OF THE BILL
  • The main object of the Bill is to insert a new Chapter into the Act dealing with the reticulation of electricity by municipalities
  • The Bill seeks to provide a framework for setting of tariffs by municipalities
  • The Bill seeks to empower the Minister to prescribe key performance indicators for municipalities in relation to reticulation services
  • The Bill also seeks to make provision regarding the relationship between municipalities and service providers who provide reticulation services on their behalf
CONTENT OF THE BILL
  • Identify powers and functions of various spheres of government with regards to reticulation, without impeding the municipal Constitutional mandate;
  • Provide uniformity for the treatment of end-users by, inter alia, prescribing a framework for reticulation tariff setting; and
  • It lays a solid foundation towards the formation of REDs
AMENDMENTS TO THE BILL

The changes in the Bill are not substantial and there are no fundamental amendments.

POLITICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The separation of electricity distribution business from the municipality, provide for the REDs as external mechanism for service provision.

Definition and separation of service authority (municipality) and service provider (RED) is a progressive development.

This separates the municipality from the service provider.

Furthermore, it is rather imperative to introduce EDI Restructuring Bill soon, this will give legality to REDs and dispel probable challenges facing EDI restructuring.

  1. Section 28 of the Constitution, Act 108 of 1996
  2. Wyndham Hartley (Parliamentary Editor) “New bill may entrench minimum sentences”, 13 June 2007
  3. Ibid.
  4. Jean Redpath and Michael O’ Donovan who are cited in Ernest Mabuza (Legal Affairs Correspondent) “Minimum sentences ‘not halting crime’, 3 May 2007
  5. This dispute arose because parliamentary legal advisors deemed that the bill contained provisions dealing with both national and provincial competences, hence it should have been tagged as a section 75.

Summary of the legislation compiled by the ANC Research Unit

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