Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa: Reply to questions in the National Council of Provinces 17 Jun

17 Jun 2015

Question

(1) Whether the Government has established any processes or mechanisms to assess the responsiveness of our democratic institutions, policy and legislative framework to the new demands placed on democratic State (details furnished); if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

(2) Whether our nation is making progress in addressing the historical injustices of apartheid and social exclusion (details furnished); if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what progress;

(3)  Whether the available information points to progress in realising the ideals of our Vision 2030 as espoused in our National Development Plan, especially the elimination of poverty, reduction of inequality and building a cohesive society; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply
                                                                                                                                                    
The Constitution of the Republic provides for the establishment of institutions to strengthen constitutional democracy in our country.

These include the Public Protector, the Public Service Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the Commission for Gender Equality and the Office of the Auditor-General.

These institutions are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law.

They must report on their activities and the performance of their functions to parliament.

Parliament has a constitutional responsibility to ensure that these institutions indeed respond to the constitutional imperatives placed on our democratic government.

In addition, government has established the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation to, among other things, assess the effectiveness of our policies in improving the lives of South Africans.

Our nation is indeed making steady progress in addressing the historical injustices of apartheid colonialism.

Since 1994, the ANC government has undertaken extensive policy and structural reforms to transform the socio-economic conditions of our people.

The Twenty Year Review Report details the progress the country has made, indicating that the living conditions of the majority of our people have improved.

We have made good progress in consolidating democracy and expanding access to basic services such as water, sanitation, quality education, quality health care, housing, food security and social security.

The work of Government is guided by the National Development Plan 2030.

The key instrument that we use to implement the NDP is the 2014-2019 Medium-Term Strategic Framework, which identifies the key actions we need to implement over the next five years.

Cabinet uses progress reports on the implementation of the MTSF as the basis for monitoring the implementation of the NDP.

The progress reports are made available to the public through the Programme of Action website.

The progress reports indicate, for example, that there is good progress made in ensuring that South Africans live for longer.

This is due in large measure to the expansion of our HIV treatment programme.

In education, there is progress made in the Annual National Assessment results for literacy and numeracy.

Despite this progress, quality remains an area of concern for both sectors, a matter that is receiving the relevant departments’ attention.

The progress reports suggest significant challenges with respect to safety and security, economic growth and employment creation, and rural development and land reform.

Thanks to the mechanisms government has put in place to plan, monitor and evaluate, we are now better positioned than before to detail progress, address challenges, and work systematically to address them.

Question   

Whether all Ministers and Premiers have complied with the cost-cutting measures as announced by the Minister of Finance in his 2013 mid-term budget speech; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
                                                                                                                                                    
Reply

In line with the cost containment measures pronounced upon by the Minister of Finance, the necessary amendments have to be made to the Ministerial Handbook, whose review is in the process of being finalised.

It must be noted that the expenditure related to Ministers and Premiers is administered by the relevant departments and therefore details in this regard will have to be obtained from the individual departments.

By way of example, however, it should be noted that departments reduced travel and accommodation expenditure by approximately R580 million in the 2014/15 financial year.

The exact figure will be known when departments submit their financial statements and the audit of the figures are complete.

The savings were registered through the negotiation of bulk rates with hotels on routes frequently travelled, cost savings on air travel and reducing the number of delegations to meetings.

The National Treasury recently conducted an expenditure analysis at a provincial level between the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 financial years. Overall, savings of 42% were realised in entertainment, 20% in venue and facility hire, 12% in catering and 5% in travel and subsistence.

The cost containment measures demonstrate that government takes the financial pressure on the fiscus seriously and is responsibly seeking options to do more with less.

Leaders in government are expected to lead from the front, to be mindful of the current economic realities and to exercise fiscal prudence.

Question  

(1) Whether there are any indications that South Africa is aligning the Provincial Growth and Development Strategies with the National Development Plan; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;

(2) Whether there is any structured coordination in this regard; if not, (a) what are the areas that require strengthening and (b) what role can the National Council of Provinces play as a House responsible for co-operative government and intergovernmental relations in South Africa; if so, what are the relevant details?         

Reply

Government has adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) as its long term plan to eliminate poverty and unemployment and to reduce inequality by 2030.

The planning framework of government is the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) which serves as the first five year building block to give effect to the NDP.

The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation has established a process through which departmental plans are assessed to ensure that there is alignment with the MTSF and the NDP.

This process takes place on an annual basis.

Measures have been put in place to ensure that the 5 year strategic plans and annual plans of all national and provincial departments are aligned to the MTSF.

The Treasury Regulations have been amended to require departments to submit their draft plans to DPME to enable the department to review whether the plans are in line with both the spirit and letter of the MTSF before they are submitted to Parliament.

Offices of the Premier in provinces also have a responsibility to ensure that the Provincial Growth and Development Strategies and provincial departments’ strategic and annual performance plans support the implementation of the NDP.

There is much that the National Council of Provinces can do to ensure alignment.

Through its oversight role, it should satisfy itself that departmental plans and budgets support the implementation of the NDP.

The NCOP is well placed ensure that there is alignment between national and provincial plans with regard to the NDP proposals as contained in the MTSF.

Specifically, the NCOP’s focus should be on areas of concurrent responsibility, such as health, education and housing.  Provincial delegates should be able to report on the work being done in their respective provinces to implement the NDP and to identify opportunities to share experiences and lessons.

The NDP – and the work done by the National Planning Commission – has introduced a new way of approaching government-wide planning, coordination and implementation.

Because of the unique position it occupies in our inter-governmental system, the National Council of Provinces has an important role to play in shaping this new approach.

Question    

Whether there is evidence that the Employment Tax Incentive has resulted in the creation of new job opportunities for young job seekers; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what evidence?
                                                                                                                                                    
Reply

The Employment Tax Incentive is one of several critical initiatives put in place to address the challenge of youth unemployment.

It is intended to reduce the cost to companies of employing younger and less experienced work seekers.

Initial evidence is positive.

Preliminary data indicates that 31,825 employers have claimed approximately R2.8 billion between the implementation of the incentive on 1 January 2014 and the end of February 2015.

In the month of August 2014, for which the largest amount was claimed, we can project that employers claimed the incentive for at least 274 000 employees in that month.

Although the initial data is encouraging, it is too early to assess the success of the tax incentive.

Government committed in the legislation to a full review of the programme by December 2016, after at least two years of implementation and a reasonable period thereafter to ensure the tax returns of most employers who claim the subsidy have been submitted and verified.

An evaluation should, however, be able to provide a better insight into how this incentive is working.

Ultimately, the success of these efforts will be determined by how government, business, labour and community formations are able to work together to positively change the fortunes of young job seekers.

We need to complement initiatives like the employment tax incentive with vocational guidance, mentoring support and mechanisms to match people’s skills to appropriate opportunities.

We should be broadening supplier development programmes, entrepreneurship incubators, and employment services and work-seeker support.

We call on employers to rise to the challenge by taking on first time employees and providing them with effective management support and mentorship.

If young people are given proper support and direction, all of us, especially employers, will discover that the energy and enthusiasm of these young people can be harnessed to improve the effectiveness of their business.

While we will always pursue greater improvement in the processes supporting the incentive, we must celebrate the experience that is being gained by thousands of young people.

This exposure experience not only changes their lives but is changing our economy for the better.

Question   

(1) Whether the Government and the SA National Aids Council have strategies and mechanisms to create a support network for the generation of young persons who (a) were born with HIV/Aids before the introduction of the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission and (b) continue to raise their younger siblings after the death of their parents as a result of HIV/Aids related illnesses; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

(2) Whether such a support network also involves dealing with the psychological effects of living with HIV/Aids; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
                                                                                                                                                    
Reply

South Africa has a comprehensive set of programmes in place to address the needs of young people born with, or affected by, HIV.

Mitigating the impact of HIV and TB on orphans, vulnerable children and youth is listed as a sub-objective of the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and TB.

By partnering with funders like PEPFAR and the Global Fund and working with various implementing NGOs, we have been able to reach out to orphans and vulnerable children across the country.

Recognising the need for effective coordination and collaboration, in 2002 the Department of Social Development and its key strategic partners established the National Action Committee for Children and Youth infected and affected by HIV and AIDS (NACCA).

The NACCA aims to promote an enabling environment in which orphans, children and youth made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS are protected, cared for, and supported.

Through the SANAC Country Coordinating Mechanism Global Fund Grant, we have been able to mobilise resources for NGOs and CBOs providing critical services.

Organisations leading this work include the Networking HIV/AIDS Community of South Africa (NACOSA), the National Religious Association for Social Development (NRASD) and the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW).

They provide a comprehensive package of prevention, care and support services appropriate for orphans and vulnerable children in carefully selected districts in all provinces in South Africa.

The departments of Health and Social Development use the home and community based care and support programme to provide comprehensive health and social services to children infected and affected by HIV and AIDS and their families.

In addition to psychosocial support, services include material assistance, bereavement counselling and treatment adherence support.

Young people with HIV are particularly vulnerable to distress caused by the illness itself, loss of loved ones and fear of rejection and isolation as a result of stigma and discrimination.

Government is putting increased emphasis on the need for psychosocial support.

As part of this effort, for example, the Department of Health in 2012 produced a handbook for health care practitioners providing them with a basic understanding of psychosocial interventions within clinical settings.

The Department of Social Development has also produced a conceptual framework to give government departments and NGOs guidance in developing, reviewing and implementing programmes which provide psychosocial support.

The work being done to support young people infected and affected by HIV is one of the most compelling examples of multi-sectoral collaboration in South Africa. 

It demonstrates what is possible when government, NGOs, CBOs, development agencies and donors coordinate their efforts to address the needs of some of the most vulnerable in our society.

Question

Why has the Government maintained an apartheid practice (details furnished) such as labour brokerage that materially contribute to wage inequalities?
                                                                                                                                                    
Reply

The Constitution of South Africa promotes an individual’s right to choose his or her trade, occupation or profession freely.

Similarly, the Constitution protects fair labour practice.

As Government, we have the responsibility of enforcing and, where necessary, balancing these rights.

In doing so, government has acted decisively to act against abuses associated with labour brokering.

The Labour Relations Amendment Act of 2013 responds to the increased informalisation of labour.

It regulates labour brokering by prohibiting abuse and protecting vulnerable workers and regulates genuine temporary employment.

Employees employed through a Temporary Employment Service – also known as labour brokers – now enjoy far greater protection than what is currently available to them.

There are also limitations placed on when such employment structures can be used.

The Employment Equity Amendment Act of 2013 protects equal pay for work of equal value.

The law forbids employers to pay employees less wages because of their status.

Therefore, it will be unfair discrimination if an employer pays lower wages to employees who do similar work simply because of the nature of their contractual arrangements.

If Honourable Members are aware of any abuse relating to labour brokering, I will encourage them to report such incidents.

South Africa has developed a progressive and robust labour relations system.

It has improved the basic conditions of employment for millions of workers.

The latest amendments further strengthen this system and significantly reduce the potential for abuse and exploitation.
 

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