20 November 2003


Mayihlome!!

"Despite our resources limitations, we are pleased to say that the government has delivered services to our people in a way that has turned the tide against many centuries of colonialism and apartheid characterized by ever - increasing impoverishment of the majority."

Thabo Mbeki - National Council of Provinces 11 November 2003.


Foreword

The end of November brings us to the conclusion of what has been a very tight and short fourth quarter of plenaries. It has been a quarter characterised by intense political activity, and has been both mentally and physically demanding, as has been the year 2003.

This is the year in which we made further advances in the struggle to end racial disparities in economy and society. In the context of our work, this effort found expression in the specific form of the adoption of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment bill, which occasion represents a significant, though not the only, step forward.

And also, as has been observed before in the Towards a Ten Year Review, our crime prevention strategy has, since 1994, undergone radical transformation, and as a country and people, we have succeeded to end political violence, dealt with urban terror, and are succeeding in stabilising crime.

In this context, to consolidate and advance on the gains we have made in this regard, we have also focussed, among other things, on strengthening our gun control measures whilst respecting the rights of citizens to self-defence.

The year saw us dealing also, with a new policy for learning about religion. This policy recognises that, South Africa has a rich diverse religious heritage, however, the state in South Africa is not a religious organisation. It proceeds from the understanding and recognition that South Africa is a secular state, which is neither religious nor anti-religious.

These, and the very many other matters that we had to deal with, brought about intense national debates. The resistance of old values to change, their struggle to preserve themselves, found expression in the views of those who oppose the objectives of Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment.

In the same vein they would oppose tighter and efficient gun ownership regulatory measures, and similarly that was and continues to be their deportment toward the provision of a free and open space in which learners can examine religion and explore religious diversity.

In the midst of congested schedules and a heated political environment, organisational and, family and all other social pressures, we kept perspective, worked hard to create the framework necessary to address the needs of our people.

SEPHADI would like to convey our collective sympathies to the families and friends of all the comrades our movement lost this year. We salute them.

And at the head of those heroes is the name of uTata Walter Sisulu, of whom we said:"On Monday, 5 May, uBaba Walter Max Ulyate Sisulu passed away...

"This patriot spent all his life in the struggle, fighting for the South Africa that all of us are today so proud of;

He, throughout his life, has been the rock that solidified and embodied the courage and vision that characterize the majority of the people of our country and continent;

In uBaba uSisulu, South Africa produced a leader of profound quality, disciplined and responsible - a father to all;

His life represents all that is good and beautiful about our beloved country. He remains our model hero; he remains our model father, he will always be our model human being;

If we sing praises for uTata uSisulu, it is not because of our own choosing, it is, however, because his life restricts us to saying only good things about him."

His life, is as much a monumental reminder to us of the heroic victories of the national democratic revolution, as it is of the many challenges that still confront us as we continue the process of reconstructing and developing our country.

SEPHADI, on behalf of the Chair of Caucus, comrade Joyce Kgoali, and on behalf of the Chief Whippery, wishes all our comrades and their families a safe and happy festive season characterised by a robust voter registration drive.


The truth must not be compromised

Next year, 2004, South Africa will be celebrating its first decade of freedom.

What we initially thought is logical, has been questioned in certain quarters of our country. The question posed is whether there is anything to celebrate.

Interestingly, those who pose the question do not wait for people to answer, instead they answer on their behalf.

They conclude that there is nothing to celebrate.

At a distance, you may be confused by questioners as if they are a serious section of the people of our country.

At closer look, only to discover that it`s a group of few privileged elite that benefited from the apartheid era. Dissecting this group further, one finds that it is very resourced and shout together with those who are supposed to communicate to the public in a manner that is unbiased, fair, correct and balanced. It is very difficult to differentiate between the questioners and those whose duty is to report or communicate their messages to the public domain. The perception they seek to create in the public mind is, `The ANC has betrayed the people, and therefore, there is nothing to celebrate.`

Questioners seek to position themselves as an alternative to the ANC, and surprisingly, they speak as if they, are actually the masses of our people. Hence they ask questions and never wait for answers, instead they supply their negative responses even as they reap the fruits of democracy and freedom. It is trite to state here that the people do see through the wolf`s skin.

The people of South Africa overwhelmingly voted for the ANC in 1994 and 1999. These people believed, as they do now, that the policies of the ANC are a correct response to South Africa`s challenges. They believe that the Freedom Charter is correct when it declares that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, both Black and White. These South Africans believe in one human race, whose dignity must be respected and protected. These people believe that the wealth of the country must be shared.

Furthermore, they are committed to contribute to this SA and fight against whatever that seeks to bring back apartheid even in disguised clothes of neo-liberalism. Hence, they expect when asked a question to be given a right to answer. Their answers will be in line with the above.

If our people were to be afforded an opportunity to answer for themselves, amongst others, they would indicate the following as reasons for celebrating: Political violence in KZN and Gauteng is no more. The country enjoys political and economic stability. The rule of law has been restored. Corruption is being dealt with by the government without fear or favour. Public servants are more friendly and responsive than before 1994.

The public service is succeeding in transforming itself to reflect the gender and demographic balances of our country (Blacks, women and disabled). Information about government is more available and accessible today than at any other time before. In 1994 only 2.6 million received social grants and today its 6.8 million.

These grants are no longer racially allocated, but are now equal for all our people.

They would continue to indicate :

That the Public Works programmes have employed a total of 124 808 people since 1998. Matriculation pass rate is 69% compared to 54% of 1996. The number of clinics that have been built nationally by this government is 701. Integrated Nutrition Programme has increased from 89% of targeted learners in 1994 to 94% .

Effectively this means that 4.58 million children are guaranteed a meal a day.

More schools have been built. Children are able to access education free if they cannot afford to pay (Grade 1 - 10).

Illiteracy rate is improving. 9 million people enjoy clean water because of the policies of this government. To date government has approved 1 985 545 subsidised houses and transferred 481 373 houses built under apartheid era to their occupants. Effectively, this means 6 million citizens received houses in the last ten years of democratic rule.

The people would continue to indicate that conviction rates are on the increase. The rates of murder, vehicle hijacking and bank related crimes are on the decrease.

Access to higher education by historically disadvantaged is on the increase.

They would conclude that, on the basis of what we have witnessed, there is hope for more. They would not hesitate to indicate weakness. However, they would conclude that, they themselves in partnership with government, want to make South Africa work. They would commit to working together with their government to conquer poverty, diseases and unemployment.

Without a few being given musical instruments to play the opposite tune, you would not hear any other message from this narration of our people. The few who long for the past continue to present themselves as the majority voice. They do not respect the fact that the reason the people enjoy equality and dignity today, is because of the work that we have continued to do during this decade of freedom, which we are about to celebrate.

Surely, South Africans will celebrate through unity in action next year.

Premier of Gauteng, Mbazima Shilowa addressing the NCOP said : "While there may be a few who refuse to acknowledge that we have made good progress since 1994, the overwhelming majority of South Africans will say that South Africa is now a better place in which to live. Having chosen the people as the objective judges on our performance over nine years, we are not only going to listen to the positive things that they say in their judgement. We will listen carefully when they point to us areas in which they think we could have done better". We agree with the Gauteng Premier in this regard.

Those who question everything want us to behave in a manner contrary to the laws of the country.

Everyone is innocent till proven guilty.

When it comes to the ANC, they figure, this must not be applicable. The President of the RSA has been called upon to act as a court of law. All allegations must be tested in courts not in the media.

They accuse the President of spending most of the time outside the country.

Firstly that is not true. Secondly, official trips outside the country are meant to position SA as a global player. Thirdly, it is the citizens of this country that benefit from government`s international engagements, and this happens in all manner of ways not least economic or social. We are of the view that such trips must be embarked upon more.

As long as these meant to uplift our economy and contribute to human solidarity. South Africans understand clearly that we will not survive and develop in isolation.

What people want is material change in their living conditions. Their aspirations are still very clear, housing, food, jobs and better life for all. The ANC knows this and will continue to strive to achieve maximum within available resources. Our people are not interested in the coalition for change.

Instead, they expect change in their life conditions. Truth must not be compromised for expediency. Some of those who dominated the people in the past, not allowing differing voices, even murdering those who expressed differing opinions, today preach to us about some domination by a ruling party and its dangers. The coalition for change is meant to cut this domination, so we are told.

The KZN coalition tells it all. Instability will occur and these forces want to get a chance to delay delivery. The threat of dissolving KZN legislature will be the daily play. The fact of the matter is that we want the KZN province to be governed in a responsible way. People of KZN deserve a better life and stability. In the NCOP address, the Premier of this province instead of talking about what he has delivered like all other Premiers, he decided to excel in what he is best known for.

South African were told about his position as a person. Last year it was the same thing. The people in KZN must make a choice whether to remain slaves of irresponsible leadership and instability for ever or not. The historic fact is that the KZN Premier`s party is duty bound to loose more seats next year. The people will reject all that is not helpful in their lives.

People of Western Cape voted the ANC as the biggest party in their legislature.

This was a realisation of the correctness of our policies. Citizens of Western Cape prefer non-racial society and reject "swaartgevaar" strategy. Next year people of Western Cape will definitely increase the delivery muscle of the ANC in their province. We are committed to working with all people to accelerate the fight against poverty and unemployment.

The truth must not be compromised.

No space should be given for the recycling of old lies.

Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and not a tenth province of South Africa.

The government`s responsibility is never to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries. Ours is the respect for international law. There are those who left Zimbabwe when it attained its democracy with the hope that SA will never be a democratic country where citizens will be treated equally.

To them, true democracy is bound to fail.

Hence they conclude that the government has failed masses of our people by not interfering in Zimbabwe.

People of our country know what is the fundamental question in Zimbabwe.

Minister Trevor Manuel, addressing the National Assembly on 12 November 2003 said, " South Africa is a great place to be in. A few weeks ago, Tom Ainsley, the CEO of Elliot International, one of the larger removal companies in the country, was speaking on a business radio show.

In discussing his company`s financial results, he commented that in the 1980s, the number of people that his company moved out of South Africa exceeded the number of people moving in by about ten times. For the past two years however, the number of people leaving the country has roughly equalled the number of people being brought into the country. In September this year, for the first time since his tenure began in 1979, the number of people being brought into the country exceeds the number of people leaving. Skilled South Africans are coming back, skilled professionals are choosing to move here.

While this may be anecdotal, it signals a realisation by people of good judgement that this country is a great place to be in.

A realisation that if you take a serious look around, you soon recognise that you`d rather be here than anywhere else.

Madam speaker, it is this confidence that we are here to speak about today. We are here to talk about the way in which we have weathered the storm of global uncertainty, the way in which we are standing tall ... and about why this country is a great place to be in. But more importantly, our confidence is driven by our ability to give meaning to our vision of a better life for all South Africans, especially the poor.

We are progressively realising the social and economic rights of our people, we are building the foundations for stronger growth and employment creation, we have a policy framework in place to bridge the divide between the first and the second economies that is still such a pervasive feature of our society."

This indicates to us that `South Africa is a country with a hope. The future of our children is secured. What we do today, must be influenced by the fact that our children will live with this legacy.

Only truth will set us free. We are convinced that our country is on the right track. The truth must be told and not be compromised. The foundation has been laid for our society to develop into a truly united, non-racial and non-sexist nation. In conclusion let us say it loud and clear - ASINAMONA, ASINANZONDO, SIDUMISA I - ANC ( We are not jealous, we do not have grudges, forward with the ANC). Cadres against poverty Mayihlome. Editor


National Social Security Agency Bill and the Social Assistance Bill.

Access to social security in South Africa is a constitutional right of citizens and the delivery of social assistance has been recognised as the ANC-led government`s most effective poverty alleviation program.

Our government`s strategy is to work towards the creation of an integrated social security system to improve the quality of social spending and to enhance its positive impact on those who are in need.

Social security service delivery has been plagued by a number of problems such as operational inefficiencies and the lack of a clear financing policy for social services.

These problems are exacerbated by increased demands on the Department of Social Development, such as dynamic socio-economic conditions, mounting stakeholder expectations, new grants being added, increasing expectations on the responsible authorities` overall performance and enhanced service delivery.

This is the context within which one must see the introduction of the National Social Security Agency and the Social Assistance Bills, i.e. in line with the mission to "pay the right person, the right amount, at the right time."

The Social Assistance Bill

Social assistance, in the form of monthly grants, plays an important role in the alleviation of poverty and constitutes the largest direct income transfer in the country to the poor. Social assistance grants are paid to close on 6 million citizens who often depend on the benefits as their only means of survival. The number of beneficiaries will increase approximately to 9 million over the next three years with the extension of the child support grant. However, the severe existing weaknesses in the management and administration of social grants often result in a failure on the part of government to ensure that those entitled to the benefits are provided with the best possible service. This continues to lead to ongoing litigation and substantial negative publicity in the press.

This Bill aims to consolidate the legal requirements and provisions for social assistance in the Republic and its objectives of this Bill are to provide for the administration and payment of social grants, make provision for social assistance and determine the qualification requirements and, therefore, ensure that minimum norms and standards are set for delivery of social assistance and provide for the establishment of an Inspectorate for social assistance. Through these measures, the Bill aims to promote the effective use of our country`s limited resources available for social assistance and the promotion of equal access to government services.

The Social Assistance Bill, if implemented properly, could have immense impact on our society and is line with January 8th statement of the ANC, ANC-led government must use the state budget to improve the quality of life of especially the poor, while contributing to the expansion of the economy. Among other things, we must ensure the proper functioning of our social welfare system and effective use of poverty alleviation funds.

The National Social Security Agency Bill

It is common knowledge that the delivery of services to the poor has been beset by problems and it is in this spirit that our government has committed itself to establishing a National Social Security Agency in order to improve service delivery to the most vulnerable sectors of our society, i.e. poor grant recipients.

The establishment of the Agency will mean that eventually provinces will no longer have any responsibility with respect to the management and delivery of the main social grants, but that provinces may be asked to play a role in poverty intervention. Provinces will be in a better position to provide social relief of distress and other relief programmes.

The provision of these programmes will form part of government`s enhanced response to sustainable poverty relief as opposed to only providing transfer benefits.

The main objective of the Agency will be to ensure the efficient and effective management, administration and payment of social security grants in the country.

This will ensure that there is equal access to social security for all citizens, implementation of uniform standards and norms across the country, reduced cost, less duplication of expenditure, and consolidation of institutional capacity in the formulation and implementation of policies related to social security.

We see the establishment of the Agency as our government`s definitive response to the problems besetting social service delivery in our country.

The National Social Security Agency Bill and the Social Assistance Bill are the cornerstones in our government`s mission to transform the delivery of social services to the most vulnerable people in our country and will, if implemented properly, be of great value in the fight to significantly decrease poverty.


Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill

The fundamental purpose of this article is to provide readers and the membership of the ANC and the entire public with an understanding, relevance and importance of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment(BEE).

The importance of BEE would be understood only if it is located into the broad South African historical liberation context and the strategic objectives of the ANC regarding economic transformation.

Central to our strategic objective is facilitate economic transformation for better job opportunities and better investment for the economic growth.

Before 1994, the South African economic market was purely white-dominated. It is against this, that the ANC felt that a policy framework is required to address the racial imbalances of the past in the economic sector for the benefit and development of black people.

The marginalization of the black majority in the economic participation meant that only the white minority shall have access and control of the country`s wealth.

The establishment of the BEE is in the context of undoing the racial economic imbalances of the past and addressing property relations, as a step forward towards the total economic emancipation of black people. The Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill seeks to deracialise and diversify the economy to promote effective participation of the black majority in the centre stage of the economic main stream and advance economic transformation, creating equal opportunities and increased broad based and effective participation of black people in the economy.

The establishment of this Bill also demonstrates the extent to which the ANC-led government is committed towards the implementation of the resolutions of the Growth and Development Summit because its resolutions find expression within the BEE Bill.

The objectives of the Bill have been summarized as follows:

The objectives of the BEE Bill seek to refute all the alarmists and those whose intentions are to taint the image of the ANC-led government suggesting that the BEE is meant for the few. Surely, the BEE Bill clearly demonstrates that the black majority of this country will be beneficiaries of the bill. We are determined and confident that out of the Bill there exist opportunities for black people to participate in the economy and have access to government services.

The introduction of the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill marks a significant progress and advances economic transformation. This social transformation is for the obliteration of racial economy. We should all say, the government is making progress towards ensuring that all citizens of this country shall benefit from the country`s wealth.

It is our sincere view that, the objective of the BEE is to change the living conditions of the majority of black people, and will ensure that everybody has got access to finances for the purpose of advancing and broadening business opportunities and the creation of job opportunities. As we are optimistic that this bill will bring about change to the millions of South Africans, we must also indicate that such change will not come easily nor overnight because this is a process not an event.

It would be incorrect for us not to reflect on the fact that the liberation of black people means access to the wealth of this country, hence, the South African economy has to be transformed in order to benefit all citizens of this country regardless of colour, race, gender and political affiliation.

Surely, the establishment of this bill marks a significant epoch in the history of our struggle and is a step forward for a better life for all. This bill has not been without challenges, but due to the determination and commitment of the ANC-led government we managed to walk tall from such challenges, as we are certain that the BEE Bill will improve the living conditions of our people and broaden access to government resources and services.


Anti-Terrorism Bill: Transforming the security apparatus of safety and security for all citizens

South Africa condemns terrorism without equivocation. Attacks against civilians cannot be justified. This approach is integral to the humanitarian values that inspired our own struggle and government`s conduct. These principles inform the core value of our Constitution..." (South African Government Statement after 9/11)

Since the events of 9/11, the Anti-Terrorism Bill (B12 - 2003) started to receive a lot of attention from several sectors in South Africa. Several critical comments from the media, communities/civil society, Human Rights NGO`s, and academia, had started to pour in. Some of these criticisms were flabbergasting if not ludicrous, and some were levelheaded.

Some criticisms included the sensational insinuations that, since 9/11, the ANC-led Government was fast-tracking legislation on terrorism to fulfill the American imperialist and self-interest aims of global security. These critics went on to say that, the South African Anti-Terrorism Bill is aimed at targeting a certain religious sector.

Terrorism legislation has always been deemed necessary by this democratic government to protect both civilians and our hard-fought democracy against the heightened urban terror bombings. In 1998, our Government had requested the South African Law Commission to lead a project committee that would investigate South Africa`s security legislation, a legislation that was previously abused by the racist Apartheid regime, branding Freedom Fighters as "terrorists" and as "enemies of the state".

In the same vein, there have been rational and reasonable critical comments that have challenged the necessity for an omnibus Anti-Terrorism legislation for South Africa.

First, it was critically observed that the South African Police Service (SAPS) effectively crushed the terrorist activities of a religious fundamentalist group, and BOEREMAG, a right-wing extremist group, using "ordinary" legislation and the common law. The accompanying argument was that, no new laws were necessary because the South African statute books contain numerous laws that can be used to fight terrorism and related activities.

The answer to the argument that no new legislation is necessary is that: South Africa is not an island. South Africa is part of the global arena that also seeks to combat international terrorism through international instruments/conventions.

The changing circumstances regarding terrorism in South Africa, in the continent of Africa, and elsewhere in the world, had required our Government to acknowledge that the existing legislation on state security had shortcomings when it had to deal with international terrorism.

Kenya, for example, has yet to convict a suspect for the 1998 terrorist bombing of the US-embassy in Nairobi that killed 219 people, mostly Kenyans. As witnessed in Kenya, international threat of terrorism is often directed at foreign officials, guests, embassies and the interests of foreign states. South Africa is wary of this type of international terrorism where innocent civilians are often killed.

As member-state of the United Nations, South Africa is also obligated by the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373/2001 which it is signatory to. This Convention compels South Africa to formulate an Anti-Terrorism legislation that would (1) provide for extra-territorial relating to terrorist activities. Terrorist activities have been re-defined so as to distinguish between "intentional" and "unplanned" support of terrorist activities.

This definition will also differentiate "terrorist activities" as deliberate attacks on innocent civilians from "liberation struggles" as legitimately fighting against colonialism and foreign aggression.

The section on "powers to investigate or prevent terrorist activities" have been carefully re-formulated to align it with the spirit of the Bill of Rights. It is now neither the judge nor the police to institute investigations. Only the Director of Public Prosecutions have the power to do so.

The President has been tasked to make notice in the Gazette whenever the UN Security Council proclaims/identifies a person/entity as committing terrorist activities. The critical aspect though, is that the President will not solely rely on a Security Council decision for seizure of assets/property. Instead, all UN-listed terrorist entities will be submitted to Parliament for consideration and decision

True to the spirit of our Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights, the Government is now ready to transform security legislation that would protect the hard fought democracy of this country. Most importantly, though, is that, this legislation will guarantee a sustained security freedom for all citizens against deliberated and organized terrorist.


Firearms Control Act Turning the tide against violent crime

The late Minister for Safety and Security, Steve Tshwete noted that, firearms are almost without exception at the center of all instances involving serious violence in South Africa.

The current Minister, Charles Nqakula in his recent media briefing, identified drug/substances trafficking and abuse, domestic violence and rape, aggravated robbery, and police killings as key focus areas in the war against violent crime.

These are violent crimes that are mostly carried out by the use of firearms.

The Firearms Control Act is hence aimed at strict and efficient gun control. Its ultimate goal is to disarm criminals, stop illegal trafficking of firearms, and to confiscate unlicensed guns.

However, there have been outcries that this Legislation has been one of the most controversial policies Parliament has ever passed.

those claiming that, through a "gun quota system" the Government is limiting the rights of South Africans to protect themselves, while it does nothing to solve the spiralling crime.

These claims are not only highly irresponsible, but are also clouded with ignorance and contempt of the major strides this Government had gone in formulating a legislation that has demonstrated an unequivocal commitment to the values and the spirit of our Constitution on which our democracy is based.

Firstly, this Act does not sacrifice the legitimate needs of South Africans to possess firearms. Section 13 (2) (a) clearly demonstrates that this Act is not formulated to compromise the rights of civilians to defend themselves. However, it is a fact that this Legislation`s longterm goal is to improve policing and public security so that the factors that drive people to possess weapons for self-defence are reduced as stated in Section 2 (a).

Secondly, crime statistics are continuously helping the police to meet their targets when combating violent crime. It is unfortunate then, that whenever the Minister for Safety and Security releases new crime statistics, the media and the opposition always cry foul, claiming that the "inaccurate" crime statistics are being "sexed-up" for SAPS achievements in tackling crime.

It is about time that these over-zealous critics start to acknowledge that Police do not use crime statistics solely for measuring violent crimes. Crime statistics are predominantly used for effective planning and operational purposes.

For example, after the SAPS top management perused the statistical data, they saw a trend in the form of indicator that the majority of violent crimes are committed using firearms. Various operations were then launched to give momentum to the SAPS firearms strategy, aiming at the proliferation of firearms and their use in crime and violence.

Operations Sethunya, Tswikila, Rachel have all been successful initiatives by SAPS, showing that the intentions of this Government is to vigorously reduce the number of firearms and to institute better and efficient regulations regarding ownership and possession.

The accompanying regulations have been created to sensitize legal gun-owners about the Firearms Control Act. Most importantly, though, is that the regulations are there to tighten up provisions to be used when implementing this Legislation.

Competency training, and background evaluation are some of the critical new provisions that have made this Act as comprehensive and as efficient in accreditation of a potential licensed gunowner.

The new system requires the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) to evaluate the applicant`s physical and psychological fitness to possess a firearm. This will include the requirement that people close to the applicant be consulted before the issuance of a firearm license.

Obviously and rightly so, this will make it difficult for those people with criminal records, domestic violence history, and psychological/emotional or mental disturbance to get a firearm license as indicated in Section 9 (1) to (5).

The onus is then on gun dealers to advice potential firearm buyers to undergo the whole procedure of competency test and accreditation procedures before they can pay for their firearms, training, safes, and revenue stamps.

It is critical if not imperative that there is a strong partnership between all lawenforcement agencies and the broader civil society in addressing firearm-related violent crime. The challenge to create all schools as gun-free zones still remains.

As Section 140 (1) (a) says, the Minister for Safety and Security may declare a school as a gun-free zone.

A concrete mechanism still needs to be set up for effective coordination when Private Security Companies are registering with the Security Industry Regulatory Authority (SIRA) and applying for firearms from the South African Police Service DFO. Through effective management systems, SAPS must be able to either trace or collect firearms when a Private Security Company closes down.

The Firearm destruction programmes are a demonstrative resolve that the Government is succeeding in retrieving guns from criminals and gangsters. The is a progressive step towards creating a safe environment.


Policy on religion in education

The dawn of democracy in our country in 1994 signalled the beginning of the process of healing for all South Africans. In this respect we are guided by the founding principles of our democracy, as contained in our Constitution and its Bill of Rights. Fundamental to this is the call for respect and the promotion of the diverse cultures and religions of all our people, and hence we are duty bound to ensure that through our diversity we develop a unity of purpose and spirit that recognises and celebrates our diversity.

As all of us should know, one of the major mechanisms of exclusion in our country`s past was in fact religion, and a great deal that was done within the apartheid system was done in the name of religion. So following the lead of the Constitution and the South African Schools Act, we have now in partnership with all stakeholders, contributed to the development of an educational framework within which public schools are not only allowed to exercise religious tolerance, but also set the tone for a healthy relationship between religion and education that will be good for education, good for religion and good for our schools in a democratic society.

Religion Education

It is our view that religion education, with educational outcomes, is the responsibility of the school. It shall include learning and teaching about the religions of the world, with particular attention to religions of South Africa, and it shall place adequate emphasis on values and moral education. Religion in education is therefore an educational programme with clearly defined and transferable skills, values and attitudes as the outcomes.

It should enable pupils to engage with various religious traditions and should contribute to their spiritual and moral character. We further believe that it will enable learners to acquire an early and proper understanding of their identity and an understanding of the religious identity of others. Moreover, learners will develop creative and critical abilities for tolerance, reduced prejudice, and respect for diversity and together discover their common humanity.

Unlike a single-faith approach to religious education which provides religious education in one religion, a multi-tradition approach to the study of Religion in Education, does not promote any particular religion. It is essentially a programme for studying about religion in all its forms and a significant subject field in the school curriculum.

Religious Instruction

Religious instruction is understood to include instruction in a particular faith or belief, with a view to the inculcation of devotion to that faith or belief. We believe that this is primarily the responsibility of the home, the family and the church and we encourage the strengthening of this role, in place of the school. It should not be part of the formal school programme, as constituted by the National Curriculum Statement, although we encourage the schools to use their facilities for such programmes, provided that it does not interrupt the core educational purposes of the school.

At present schools make provision for important holidays in regard to the setting of examinations and tests, to ensure that learners are not prejudiced by their attendance at religious observances. So we are saying that similar arrangements can be made for learners to attend religious observances or instruction off the school premises, provided that loss of teaching time is made up.

On the whole this policy provides for the religious instruction in an equitable manner to all faiths represented in a school and those persons offering religious instruction are doing so under the authority of the religious body and do not have to be registered with the South African Council of Educators.

Religious Observances

School assemblies have been a long standing tradition in many but not all our schools, and although not be seen as an occasion for religious expression, but as the African National Congress we are saying that it should acknowledge and reflect the multi-religious nature of our society in an appropriate manner.

While we are encouraging observance of religion at school, we are at the same time emphasising the provisions of the Constitution and the South African Schools Act, that this be voluntary and equitable, and in accordance with the rules made by the authorities.

Hence School Governing Bodies are provided with a framework in which to operate and we encourage them to make arrangements which are sensitive to the religious diversity of our country. We do not prescribe any particular approach, but we would not accept any discriminatory approach and urge parents who feel that their religion is neglected to approach the school to ask for assistance.

Conclusion

We are enormously grateful for the positive responses and support this policy development has received from religious leaders and churches in general. All support materials will be developed in a participative and inclusive manner and teachers will de empowered accordingly.

To our detractors we say: we will never again, given our terrible past, place our learners who come from diverse religious, cultural and linguistic backgrounds at risk of discrimination and prejudice.


Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill

Fundamental to our struggle for liberation was the element of restoring the dignity and respect of the people of South Africa.

Significantly, As the African National Congress, we have to ensure that the masses of our people gain unhindered access to our land - a source of survival to all South Africans, particularly those living in rural areas. The Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, therefore, addresses the restitution of those rights in land that were dispossessed after 1913 as a result of the apartheid legislation.

Whilst our movement had assumed that there would be absolute co-operation from those who unfairly inherited forcefully acquired land from our people under the Land Act of 1913, most farmers abused the law by shifting the goal posts during negotiations. Under the "willing-buyer willing-seller" principle, many such farmers stalled the process by demanding unfair and exorbitant prices.

It was again thought that we would all be reasonable and agree to speed up the process by resolving land claims by way of settlement agreements rather than be forced to go court. Hence we had to amend that current legislation to ensure that all arbitrary obstacles are removed in an attempt to resettle our people back to their rightfully owned land.

The main purpose of this amendment is to fast-track land claims and, therefore, considerably reduce and alleviate the huge land claims backlog that we currently face. This legislation also allows the minister of land and agriculture to purchase, acquire or expropriate land for the purposes of restitution and other forms of and reform purposes. In future, therefore, government will not have to reach an agreement with the relevant landowner or obtain a court order in order to expropriate land. The opposition has an issue with the power given to the minister to expropriate land without a court order and that the land could be expropriated for other land reform purposes besides restitution. Those concerns are just based on white fears and depict and reflect the conservative mindsets, which contribute to the resistance to the process of transformation of land in this country.

Those people should not be allowed to undermine the delivery and pace of land reform objectives in this country.

What such people fail to realise is that our government is committed to upholding and respecting the law. For instance, whenever, a landowner or any affected person is not satisfied with a decision and action of the minister, he or she has recourse to our courts of law, including the Constitutional court. Cognisance should also be taken of the fact that the constitutional rights of a landowner or holder of the right in land whose property or right is expropriated is endorsed in the Constitution.

The amendment proposed, is not by anyway, taking away, the right of current owners to appeal to decisions of our government. It merely prevents unnecessary delays on the process of the restitution by uncooperative landowners.

It should be acknowledged that the powers given to the minister in terms of this bill are befitting, as in the absence of a court order, presently government cannot expropriate or acquire land for restitution purposes but has to depend on a protracted negotiations process.

Government has set 2005 as the year by which the restitution process should be finalized, the activities of the Land Claims Commission are hindered by the protracted negotiations, by landowners who are unable and unwilling to agree to certain aspects of the process, when on the other hand our people are waiting patiently, as at now, for us to give them back land which they lost. Be that as it may, we salute those farmers who went out of their way to support the land reform process and even became good Samaritans in supporting and assisting and training those who got their farms on how to run them efficiently.

We should bear it in mind that, the massively unequal distribution of land is not just the unfortunate legacy of apartheid, and it is the total unacceptable continuation of apartheid. This amendment therefore seeks to expedite the restitution process of land in this country...so as to be able to deal on the same par with human and social questions and problems, work towards total deracialisation of the economy look to the full achievement of a secure legal regime for property rights respected by all.


Domestic violence: The scourge of our nation

In South Africa, the apartheid legacy has bred a culture of violence, which has contributed to a damaged society. The violence and molestation of women and children is a symptom of this degeneration and breakdown in family values.

South African women have been the easy targets of this scourge of violence, both in public and in their own homes.

The South African Police Service, hospitals, rape crisis centers and battered women shelters have all recorded increasing occurrences of domestic violence, rape, sexual assault and battery against women in this country.

The fact that such violence knows no boundaries in terms of race, class, age and culture, awakens our national consciousness. A consciousness that realizes that the similarity shared amongst these victims is the fact that they are all "women".

The South African public`s awareness of domestic violence has increased largely due to media coverage, academic studies focusing on the cycle of abuse prevalent in families, stories of victims of domestic violence and their resistance to being another statistic and the passing of the Domestic Violence Act No. 116 of 1998.

One of the most demanding issues facing the criminal justice system today is how to react to and control interpersonal violence.

In most cases of domestic violence, the violence is so severe that most victims, in addition to facing physical and emotional pain, also have to face the financial costs of treatment.

The argument by the police services is that they face "repeat victims, a large number of those victims fail to turn up at court and who repeatedly return to their perpetrators. This affects the conviction rate.

The bigger picture here though, is that in most instances, the victims often lack the resources such as money to provide for their children, education and housing.

Many victims also lack the will and strength to abandon abusive relationships.

However, although we are faced with what appears to be insurmountable challenges, we do acknowledge interventions by the government to reform the reaction of the criminal justice system to domestic violence. Legislation has increased police powers and the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units has raised pubic awareness around the existence of these crimes and the role of the SAPS in assisting affected individuals and communities.

The Human Rights Watch clearly emphasizes that government assistance to battered women can only succeed through a concerted and co-ordinated effort on the part of a number of different departments.

And it would appear that government departments have heeded that call.

The Department Of Correctional Services, by virtue of being at the "tail end" of the criminal justice system, seeks to" promote social responsibility and human rehabilitation of all prisoners and persons subjected to community corrections".

One of the key functions of the Department of Correctional Services is to offer service delivery in the form specialized programmes and projects.

Rehabilitation is touted as the center of all activities within DCS. Perpetrators, who are convicted of domestic violence, are assessed to determine causal factors of the crime and specific needs of the individual. After assessment, a correctional plan is developed in consultation with the offender, targeting offending behaviour. Part of this process involves continued evaluation and monitoring of the impact of intervention.

The process of intervention takes place from admission, throughout incarceration and after release.

The Department of Safety and Security has committed itself to prevent and combat crimes against women and children, and is further committed to continue to regard such crimes as priorities in the coming years.

The National Crime Prevention Strategy also identified gender violence and crimes against children as crime categories.

Further, The Department facilitated the development of a strategy on shelters.

There are now 46 shelters accommodating abused women and their children for 1 week up to 6 months. The majority of existing shelters are run by NGOs. However, scarce financial resources affect the sustainability of these shelters, less than half of which are subsidized by the provincial departments.

On World Aids Day, 1 December 2002, more than 20 foreign ambassadors pledged to join hands with the local communities to fight back against what they called a universal war against women and children, which is endemic across foreign nations.

Legislation on domestic violence stresses constructive police intervention where protection for the victim is paramount. The judicial system has the responsibility of ensuring that speedy resolutions are found whereby the victims of violence are protected, that all police and judicial personnel are well versed with the legislation and that consistent implementation of the legislation by all role-players is undertaken.


Traditional leadership and governance framework bill

South Africa, through the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Bill, has bestowed upon herself and traditional communities the greatest gift of all, "a more human face".

This is made possible by recognizing Traditional Leaders and the institution of traditional leadership in this country.

Our Constitution laid the foundation and provided for the recognition of the institution of traditional leadership.

Most importantly, the ANC-led government provided in the Bill that the institution not only has a place in our democracy, but that it has the potential to transform to contribute enormously towards the restoration of the moral fibre of our society, and to play a significant role in the reconstruction and development of our country, especially in rural areas.

This significant recognition and reinstating of our system of traditional governance will result in the rebirth of the spirit of our people. This will allow traditional communities to be the custodians of their respective languages, customs, cultures, histories and art forms. With the advent of this Bill, the institution of traditional leadership will occupy an important and significant place in the lives of African people. This comes at the time when President Thabo Mbeki is advancing the cause of African Renaissance.

The adoption of the Bill will be a unifying factor to both South Africa in particular and Africa at large. The vision of this Bill is to rekindle the African flames from the ashes left by colonialism and apartheid, which have attempted to damage, and pervert the institution with the intension of destroying even the last spirit of Africanism of the people. It is therefore clear that Africa`s traditional democratic forms of governance have a role to play in the government of our country.

It must also be in mind that the ANC-led government has made it clear that Traditional Leaders and the institution of traditional leadership are here to stay side by side with the democratic institutions to deepen democracy, to preserve our cultural and indigenous knowledge and by developing the lives of all South Africans.

Of significance, this Bill will allow the institution of traditional leaders together with traditional communities to strategically transform rural areas. This is made possible by providing for the establishment of Houses of Traditional Leaders. The National and Provincial Houses of Traditional Leaders provide for the role of traditional leaders at both National and Provincial spheres of government. However, the ANC-led government went further by committing itself at strengthening the capacity of these Houses so as to be better able to fulfil their respective Constitutional mandate. In addition, the Bill has also established Local Houses of Traditional Leaders to engage with District municipalities around issues of service delivery and development in traditional authority areas.

Moreover, the role of traditional leadership in our society is reconcilable with the basic principles and values of our Constitution, including democracy and gender equality. The Bill in fact provides for the transformation of the institution of traditional leadership so that it is consistent with the needs of our new democracy. The Bill further deals with the roles and functions of traditional leadership in governance generally.

This Bill represents a phase in the ongoing process of defining the role of traditional leaders in our new system of democratic governance. Essentially, the Bill has enhanced the role of traditional leadership institution; this is reflected, for example, in providing for Bills pertaining to customary law or customs to be first referred to the National House of Traditional Leadership for 30 days for its comments before Parliament can process them. It has also provided for 40% of members of traditional council to be democratically elected. This is made possible, however, still keeping the fibre of this traditional institution. The Bill has replaced the word "chief" as insulting and finds it unacceptable.

However, the Bill finally opted for "Senior Traditional Leader" with the understanding that the provincial legislation to be enacted will use applicable traditional terms, such as Inkosi, Kgosi, morena, etc.

This Bill refers to "functions" and not "powers". In principle, this is consistent with the Constitution for it refers to "roles" of traditional leadership. The Ministry and Department of Provincial and Local Government explained that the Bill does not take away any of the "customary powers" of traditional leaders and actually provides additional "statutory functions".

Moreover, the Bill provides for a role for traditional leadership, not just in the local government sphere, but also in all three spheres of government.

The ANC-led government in this Bill has recognised the importance of this establishment and allocated remuneration for headmen and headwomen who are currently not being paid. This is a clear indication that the ANC government cares for people and recognises the contribution they made to society.

The Bill also talks of establishing a Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims. This Commission will focus mainly on disputes and claims arising since the enactment of the Black Administrative Act of 1927. However, the Bill is aware that there are disputes and claims that predate this act and will also require the commission`s attention. This Bill is prepared to consolidate the system of government and advance national democratic struggles and further place the institution of traditional leaders in its rightful place.

This process must be understood within the context of a continuous engagement.

Dynamics of our country force us to engage with developments. This bill is not an end on itself. Certain roles will be put into place in consultation between relevant government departments and senior traditional leaders.

We do not have a reason not to believe that this bill will facilitate more understanding amongst stakeholders involved in this area. The African Renaissancespirit must also be taken into account when continuing with restoring the dignity of traditional leadership.


ANC Brings back people`s dignity through housing delivery

"Even before we came into power we were clear about the challenges and responsibilities in housing that we were facing."

The ANC in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) wrote "The lack of adequate housing and basic services in urban townships and rural settlements today has reached crisis proportions......the democratic government is ultimately responsible for ensuring that housing is provided to all".

The RDP further guided us by saying that the democratic government "must create a policy framework and legislative support so that this is possible, and it must allocate subsidy funds from the budget... so that housing is affordable to even the poorest South Africans". That is exactly what we did with the space of nine years!

Delivery so far

More than 1, 5 million houses were built by the ANC-led Government since 1994. Between 1994 and 2003, 1 985 545 subsidies were approved for an expenditure of R24.22 billion.

The opposition would like our people to believe that nothing is being done by the ANC. However, the above verifiable facts speak volumes about what we have delivered with a short space of time.

Moreover, 481 373 houses that were built in the Apartheid era were transferred to our people. By this, the ANC says our people have the right to dignity!

Redressing gender discrimination

Women were further affected by gender discrimination; they were not afforded housing ownership rights. The ANC repealed all the discriminatory laws that were perpetuating this situation. We have improved gender equality in housing ownership; 49% of all subsidies approved were granted to women.

International recognition

It is rather ironic that the opposition parties that are inside the country would dispute the fact that ANC has delivered houses; but outsiders recognise achievements in this regard. The United Nations Habitat has honoured the former Minister of Housing, Comrade Sankie Mthembi-Mahanyele (the current Deputy Secretary-General of the ANC) for improving the housing conditions of six million people during her reign as Minister of Housing.

She was honoured for her delivery of 1, 45 million houses worth R20 billion within a period of eight years, which housed six million people during her term in office. The United Nations has since confirmed that South Africa`s record of delivering so many houses to the poor is unprecedented in the history of housing delivery throughout the world.

Challenges

We are concerned about the quality of some houses that have been built during this term. It is encouraging to note that the Department of Housing (lead by Comrade Brigitte Mabandla) is currently emphasising on improving the quality of these houses. Initiatives are taken to empower contractors.

The ANC is also very concerned about the sale and resale of the RDP houses by the beneficiaries and municipal/council officials. Hence we took a resolution, at the 51st National Conference in Stellenbosch that we must find mechanisms to end the practices of selling of these houses. Municipalities should resist from attaching people`s RDP houses as a mechanism of credit control. Other ways and means can be used to encourage people to pay their municipal services.

We encourage people who know of such practices to report to the relevant authorities or to the ANC Constituency offices.

We must build a stronger partnership to ensure that these gains of our movement are not compromised by few individuals.


The tide has turned against crime

Edited adress by ANC, MP ME George (Chairperson of safety and security portfolio committee) during the debate on Budget 25 Safety and Security - 10 June 2003.

The 11% increase will go a long way in achieving the goals that were set by the President in his State of the Nation Address: that is "improving capacity of the SAPS to discharge its crime prevention and combating responsibilities".

Whilst I do not like to always refer to the past, but I must state that the ANC-led government inherited a police force that was highly centralized, paramilitary, and authoritarian against any collective challenges to Apartheid. Consequently, the Police were poorly equipped for crime control and prevention under a new democratic dispensation.

Section 205 (3) of the Constitution states that the objectives of the Police Service amongst other things, is to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic (not all inhabitants) and their property and to uphold and enforce the Law. This objective, is in line with the Freedom Charter`s vision that proclaimed, in 1955 that "There shall be Peace and Friendship".

To achieve these objectives the government introduced a philosophy of Community Policing to make sure that the inherited Police Force is transformed into professional and effective law enforcement Police Service, a police service that will never again infringe on Human Rights.

This Community Policing approach - true to its premise that a community and its police service are equal partners with shared responsibilities in ensuring safety and security - has produced good progress, because it has yielded partnerships with relevant departments, relevant sectors, and the community at large. This partnership is a necessary strategy that is not only turning the tide against crime, but will also initiate and implement programmes to fight the scourge of violent crimes such as rape, gangster fighting and shootings.

This Budget informed by our National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) is accommodating the increase of police by 45 000 by the financial year 2005/2006. This holistic approach against crime refuses to look at crime only in terms of statistics and numbers of Police. Of course, I am not alluding that statistical data for measuring crime, are useless.

Any good democracy needs good statistical data to be able to identify and measure patterns and trends of criminal activities. However, statistical data must not be politicised, and not be overemphasized as if it is the only measure for solving crime.

Safety and Security for all citizens does not only mean 150 000 more police on the streets as some would like us to believe. Combating violent crimes against women and children will not be successful by merely increasing police in the streets. That is why this government led by the ANC emphasizes the importance of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS). The success of the 16 Days of Activism Against Abuse of Women and Children during November and December 2002 by this Cluster, is commendable. To create an impression or even say that nothing is done against the abuse of children and women is highly irresponsible.

The training and enlisting of more police officials will enhance visible policing, not only in the urban areas, but in the rural areas as well. We want to make sure that rural areas are given equal emphasis. Some people would like the farmers to believe that this government dos not care about farm killings, because to them farm killings is only farm-owners.

This government, however, also acknowledges that attacks against farm residents/workers are as much big problem. The government has embarked on a Rural Safety Plan that sees to it that the Police equally protect farmers and farm-workers. Phasing out of Commandos, which have their own history, is a major step taken by the government to ensure that all residents in farms (farm owners and workers) are protected. The government has made sure that rural safety is not compromised, that is why, each month, 9 000 reservists are activated to support the envisaged 35 000 sector policing.

Restructuring of the SAPS is one of the most critical tasks of the government. Closing down of some specialized units does not mean that those tasks have now ceased to exist, but are included in multidisciplinary units to avoid unnecessary duplication and redundancy.

The restructuring of these units into Organized Crimes, Serious and Violent Crimes, Commercial Crimes and Crimes against Women and Children, means leaner, effective, and easily monitored units.

Another leg of restructuring was the implementation of Resolution 7 of 2002, which I must state was not meant for the Police alone, but for all government departments. The main aims of this Resolution 7/2002 are (1) equal distribution of skills and other resources to bridge the divide on how the rich and poor are policed in this country; (2) improve service delivery; and (3) to progressively implement the SAPS National Employment Equity so that the Police Service reflects the true demographics of this country.

This restructuring and transformation within SAPS has resulted in a state of panic to those who are unhappy with change. They are threatening to do all sorts of actions against the Department.

The National Commissioner and the Minister will definitely sort out any genuine problems. The Minister has already indicated this when he was briefing the Safety and Security Portfolio Committee.

However, it must be emphasized that the transformation of SAPS is a progress towards rebuilding the nation, sharing of skills, and enhancing safety and security of the country.

The greatest concern of all peace loving South Africans, is the high rate of police killings. Community Policing is meant to facilitate mutual respect and understanding between the Police Service and the local community it serves. This is endorsed by the Constitution (Section 206 (3) (c), which says: "to promote good relations between the Police and the Community". The Community must realize that killing of Police officials is against the Constitution and hence against the hardfought democracy and related achievements of this country.

This government will continue to enhance measures of safety and security of our police members. This Parliament must look at the laws and check if they are adequate enough to make criminals think twice before killing a Police official. An attack on the Police is an attack on our democracy.

The ugly head of vigilantism is reemerging again. Some politicians in this house have tried to justify these acts of barbarism by putting the blame on the Police, eluding the inability of the Police to deal with crime. These prophets of doom allege that vigilantism is public frustration with the criminal justice system. Whilst this is debatable; but trying to resolve crime and conflict in a violent way cannot be frustration, but criminal aggravation to other human beings.

The Police will continue to work with the public to insist on proper law enforcement rather than resorting to vigilantism. The Police will not hesitate to act against vigilantism of any kind.

Yes, SAPS is still facing enormous challenges in combating crime. Corruption within SAPS and lack of skills are some contributing factors to allegations of "sloppy work" by Police officials. There are indeed constant complaints against police for their slow response to calls of emergency; if they respond at all. The Division Crime Prevention is currently addressing these complaints as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that the response to calls will be enhanced thus ensuring professional and rapid response to incidents of crime. The remedies to the situation include the

  1. updating of equipment/technology in 10111 Centres;
  2. developing uniform task specific training courses to enhance the knowledge and skills of all members performing functions in these centers and police stations; and
  3. implementing sector policing to ensure that the response times to attending to complaints decrease and service delivery improve. It must be acknowledged though that the following are other inhibiting factors that also have an influence on response times:

These inhibiting factors are also being addressed in cooperation with the Local Government. The Communities again will be of great assistance - Report to CPF`s and MP`s.

This Government must be commended on the tide it has turned on crime. Many of our people are beginning to realize the importance of the role in fighting crime.

That is why some serious crimes were quickly and easily defused with the assistance of the Community. Community Police Forums have been established all over the country and they meet and discuss means and ways of preventing crime and the role that can be played by the communities. We commend these CPF`s for discussing positively on how they can prevent attacks so that they can create a safe environment.

I want to appeal again to Members of all parties to speak with one voice against crime. It is saddening to discover that some parties are even using crime for electioneering purposes. They even get carried away by their imaginations to suggest that there is chaos in this country.

Even criminals are shocked with disbelief as they know that the Police are making it very difficult for them to commit crime. Though the levels of crime are still unacceptably high, we can say with confidence that we have turned the tide, and people are generally safer than they were before 1994.

SPECIAL THANKS

To Researchers who gave inputs and evaluated Sephadi:

To Chief Political Advisor, the Whippery and study groups concerned.