Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa: Reply to questions in the National Council of Provinces

15 Mar 2017

Question 1 - The state must ensure access of sex workers to health services, support and information.
 
Honourable Members,
 
The National Sex Worker HIV Plan, which we launched in 2016, is fundamentally about human rights.
 
It is about affirming the right of all South Africans to life, dignity and health regardless of their occupation and circumstances.
 
Section 27 of the Constitution guarantees the right of access to health care for all and explicitly includes the right to reproductive health care.
 
This places a responsibility on the state to ensure that sex workers, like any other member of society, are able to access health services, support and information.
 
This plan is also about public health.
 
With HIV prevalence rates three to four times higher among female sex workers than among women in the general population, our national effort to arrest new HIV infections will not succeed if sex workers are disempowered, marginalised and stigmatised.
 
At the centre of this plan is a peer education programme, through which 1,000 peer educators will be recruited to provide support and assistance to around 70,000 sex workers over three years.
 
This plan goes beyond the provision of targeted health services.
 
It also addresses issues of violence, stigma, alcohol and drug abuse, depression, social isolation, forced migration and lack of economic opportunities.
 
This plan aims to sensitise health care providers, social workers and law enforcement officials on the right of sex workers to quality care, confidentiality and consent.
 
The fact that sex work is criminalised does not mean that the rights of sex workers to health care and other basic social services can be disregarded.
 
The fact that sex workers have such high HIV prevalence makes it particularly important that we implement targeted programmes that will have a meaningful impact on the epidemic.
 
We will never end AIDS in this country unless we dramatically reduce HIV, TB and STI transmission among sex workers and other vulnerable populations.
 
I thank you.
 
Question 2 - NEDLAC in process of developing National Minimum Wage enforcement mechanisms.
 
Honourable Members,
 
If the national minimum wage is going to be successful in lifting the income of the lowest paid workers, it is critical that all employers are compliant.
 
The social partners have therefore, in developing the architecture of the national minimum wage, agreed on a number of measures to promote universal compliance.
 
Firstly, they set the minimum wage at a level which all social partners agreed was affordable and sustainable.
 
Secondly, they created mechanisms to assist those sectors and companies that may encounter difficulties in meeting the minimum level. These include a temporary exemption for companies and possible support for vulnerable economic sectors.
 
Thirdly, they agreed to establish a NMW Commission that would regularly review the impact of the minimum wage on employment, incomes and poverty, so that any adverse effects can be identified and addressed.
 
Fourthly, they agreed that implementation would be accompanied by an intensive advocacy campaign centered around making citizens aware of their rights and responsibilities.
 
In the preparation for the discussions at NEDLAC, the Department of Labour commissioned research that looked, among other things, at the human resource and organisational capacity to monitor and enforce compliance with a national minimum wage.
 
It found that:

  • The quality and availability of inspectors was a challenge. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reported that in 2009 approximately 60% of labour inspectors in South Africa did not hold university degrees which would provide them with the technical skills and qualifications needed to enforce the minimum wages.  South Africa has about 1,056 inspectors stationed at 128 Labour Centres across the country.

 While this is sufficient by ILO standards, the distribution of these inspectors is skewed both regionally and sectorally.

  •  Lack of awareness of existing minimum wages results in violations not being reported.
  •   Enforcement of a single wage mechanism instead of the current sectoral determinations would be more effective.

 The agreement reached by the social partners will now be encoded in a new proposed National Minimum Wage law.
 
The further engagements that need to take place between social partners on the details of the proposed law will indicated whether the current enforcement regime needs to be changed and what the human resource and organisational needs for an effective enforcement mechanism would be.
 
We are confident that the commitment shown by both business and labour to the effective implementation of a minimum wage will have a significant impact on levels of compliance.
 
I thank you.
 
Question 3 - Government condemns violence against foreign nationals and works with stakeholders to prevent it.
 
Honourable Members,
 
Government has been unequivocal in condemning acts of violence against foreign nationals.
 
Government has been working together with various stakeholders to prevent violence against foreign nationals.
 
This has involved policy interventions, community engagement, and targeted cime combatting and prevention.
 
Guided by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration chaired by Minister Radebe, a multi-pronged strategy is underway.
 
South Africa’s immigration and refugee policy is being reviewed.
 
Another area is the development of an integration policy for foreign nationals living legally in South Africa and ongoing, sustained dialogue with representatives of immigrant communities.
 
Through Operation Fiela, the security cluster has undertaken intensive crime combatting and prevention operations targeting hot-spot areas in all provinces.
 
This has taken place alongside briefings to councillors on their role in preventing attacks; engagement with churches, NGOs, political parties, traditional organisations and community based structures; engagement with immigrant communities; and public campaigns to prevent attacks on foreign nationals.
 
At the same time, government continues to work against xenophobia, racism, sexism and other related intolerances through izimbizo, community conversation and campaigns.
 
We recognise that communities have raised concerns about the involvement of some foreign nationals in criminal activity.
 
We cannot allow these concerns to be used to fuel xenophobia.
 
A person who commits a crime is a criminal, regardless of their nationality.
 
Let’s work together – South Africans and foreign nationals – to rid our country of crime in all its forms.
 
I thank you.
 
Question 4 - Government works with stakeholders to prevent job losses in the poultry industry.
 
Honourable Members,

Government will do everything in its power to ensure that there are no factory closures or job losses in the poultry sector.
 
Within the provisions of the World Trade Organisation’s rules and South Africa’s trade agreements, South Africa will vigorously deploy trade measures to protect the poultry industry from dumping and unfair trade practices.

Working closely with the private sector, government will deploy incentives and other support measures to protect the industry, maintain production capabilities, save jobs and ensure food security.
 
In short, South Africa will vigorously defend this industry against dumping and unfair trade practices.

Government has established two task teams to urgently address the situation within the South African poultry industry.
 
The first is a government task team, while the second is a broader task team that includes representatives of government, business and labour.
 
The partners are working in close collaboration on a programme to address the complex and multiple challenges facing the domestic poultry industry.
 
It is critical that South Africa preserves its production capacity across the entire poultry value chain.
 
This is important because poultry products are a critical source of protein for the majority of the population and the industry is an important employer.
 
The task teams are developing an economic analysis of the existing situation across the entire value chain, from upstream feed-stock production, poultry production and value-addition, through to the retail and logistics sectors.
 
They are developing a plan of action to support the industry, encompassing a range of supply and demand side initiatives and measures.

Areas under consideration include:

  • a range of trade measures to support the industry within the rules of the World Trade Organisation and South Africa’s trade agreements;
  •   industrial financing and incentive measures to support the industry with a range of reciprocal conditions, including transformation, labour retention and investment;
  •  measures to lower the cost of inputs and raise competitiveness;
  •  measures to raise aggregate demand through localisation of public procurement and a stronger collaborative export effort.

 The Task Team is also engaging with a wider range of stakeholders to ensure that the views and interests of all stakeholders is adequately addressed.
 
Significant progress has been registered by the Task Teams and government will make further announcements as and where appropriate
 
I thank you.
 
Question 5 - South Africa’s approach to ICC informed by imperatives of achieving peace, reconciliation and reconstruction in Africa

Honourable Members,
 
Government has noted the judgment of the High Court relating to the notice of withdrawal from the Rome Statute.
 
The High Court took the view that a notice of withdrawal requires prior parliamentary approval before Cabinet may implement its decision to withdraw from an international agreement.
 
The Court emphasised that there is “nothing patently unconstitutional about the national executive policy decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute”, because it is within the powers of the national executive to make such a decision.
 
What the Court has ruled is on process-based grounds.
 
After careful consideration, government has decided that the orders in this matter will not be challenged.
 
Cabinet has established a technical task team to develop a compliance road map to address what the High Court considered to be defects in the procedure preceding the issue of the notice of withdrawal.
 
Government has therefore already written to the UN Secretary General to revoke the Instrument of Withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
 
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services has also withdrawn the Implementation of the Rome Statute of the ICC Repeal Bill from the National Assembly.
 
To reiterate what I said in this House in November last year, government’s approach to the issue of the ICC is informed by extensive experience of the demands and challenges of achieving peace, reconciliation and reconstruction particularly in Africa.
 
South Africa is committed to the protection of human rights and the fight against impunity.
 
The intention to withdraw from the ICC should therefore be understood as a critique of the manner in which the institution has functioned, rather than a rejection of the underlying values of that institution.
 
South Africa will continue to work for peace, stability and the equal protection of human rights.
 
I thank you.
 
Question 6 - all spheres of government must align programmes to realise objectives of the NDP
 
Honourable Members,
 
The success of the National Development Plan in eliminating poverty and reducing inequality by 2030 requires active citizens, strong leadership throughout society, and a capable and developmental state able to intervene to correct our historical inequities.
 
For this to happen, the programmes of all spheres of government need to be effectively aligned and coordinated.
 
To this end, provincial departmental Strategic and Annual Performance Plans are submitted to the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation for assessment.
 
The plans are assessed for alignment to the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).

The Department facilitates the standardisation of programme performance indicators for departments with concurrent functions.
 
This is done to ensure alignment of provincial plans to the MTSF.
 
Each sector meets and agrees on the core set of performance indicators to be planned for and reported by the sector.
 
The performance indicators are aligned to the MTSF and are approved by the nine provincial Heads of Department in each sector.
 
There are eleven sectors that have standardised performance indicators aligned to the MTSF in the 2017/18 financial year.
 
These sectors are Basic Education, Health, Social Development, Environmental Affairs, Agriculture, Cooperative Governance, Public Works, Roads and Transport, Sport and Recreation, Arts and Culture, and Safety and Liaison.
 
In addition to these processes, coordination between the spheres of government on the implementation of the NDP is undertaken through structures like the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC).
 
The PCC, which the President convened last week, provides a platform for the political leadership in the national, provincial and local spheres to engage directly on key developmental issues and give effect to the objectives contained in the National Development Plan.
 
I thank you.

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