President Jacob Zuma: Reply to questions in the National Assembly

17 May 2016

President Jacob Zuma’s replies to oral questions in the National Assembly, Cape Town

Ms J L Fubbs (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:

In view of his evaluation of the progress made in the implementation of the National Development Plan delivery methodology, Operation Phakisa, which he presented to stakeholders, the public and the media on 13 August 2015 and given that Operation Phakisa was chosen as a methodology largely based on the success in Malaysia of a Big Fast Results Methodology and that it forms part of the Government’s Nine Point Plan to reignite growth and boost job creation, (a) to what extent has this strategy contributed to growth and job creation, (b) what key lessons have been learnt over the past two years and (c) what aspects of Operation Phakisa can be improved upon?                       

Reply:

Operation Phakisa is aimed at enabling us to fast-track the delivery of national priorities contained in the National Development Plan 2030.

While the foundation of this concept can be traced back to Malaysia, it is being implemented in a unique, South African way.

Operation Phakisa has worked very well in South Africa in different sectors including the Ocean Economy, health care, basic education and mining.

Since its inception in July 2014, the Ocean Economy component of Operation Phakisa has unlocked R17 billion in both public sector and private sector investments. A total of four thousand five hundred (4 500) new jobs have been created in this segment.

A number of key lessons have been learned over the past two years.

Firstly, Operation Phakisa is unique in that it brings together – government, private sector, civil society, academia and communities, to develop solutions together.

Secondly, Operation Phakisa strengthens public accountability and transparency, through the consistent monitoring of progress made.  The challenges are addresed early on. We also constantly report back to the public on commitments made.

There are a few aspects of Operation Phakisa that can be improved upon.

Operation Phakisa provides great opportunities for partnerships between the public and private sectors – as demonstrated in the Ocean Economy sector.

However, greater effort is still required to unlock further investments in our economy by the private sector. Government is making progress in creating a conductive environment for investment.

This includes working to remove impediments such as the energy constraints, easing the regulatory environment and promoting labour stability. 

Rev K R J Meshoe (ACDP) to ask the President of the Republic:

Whether his statement made with regard to the judiciary during the sitting of the National House of Traditional Leaders in Pretoria on 7 April 2016, that judges convict you even if you tell the truth, represents a policy position of a lack of trust in the judiciary by the President of the Republic as the Head of State and head of the national executive as determined by section 83(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996; if not, what exactly did he mean by the specified statement?

Reply:

I have full confidence in the judicial system of the country. The statement made must be understood in the context of judicial independence and also access to justice for all, irrespective of race, gender, class, or financial means.

According to the Constitution, courts are independent and are subject only to the Constitution and the law, which they must apply impartially and without fear, favour or prejudice.

During the debate of the opening address to the National House of Traditional Leaders, members deliberated about land redistribution and the role that traditional leaders should play in this regard.

In my address, I encouraged traditional leaders to fully participate in discussions on land redistribution considering that they lead communities whose livelihood largely depends on working the land.

Secondly, I suggested that whatever decision or mode of engagement they choose to embark upon, will have to be within the framework of the Constitution and the law.

Thirdly, I proposed that it may be important for traditional leaders to seek good legal representation because the issue of land reform is complex and fundamental.

Because litigation is expensive, they should pool resources so that they can afford good legal representatives and deal with this historical injustice. 

Importantly, as government we take the question of providing good legal aid seriously to our people, which is why we are working to improve the functioning of the Legal Aid Board, whose budget has also been increased.

We are also building more courts so that the poor do not have to travel long distances to obtain justice.

For example, Limpopo now has a High Court for the first time ever.  We are doing this because of our belief that all must have equal access to justice. Poverty must not mean lack of justice for the poor.

I do not think that any of this undermines the Constitution and the rule of law. On the contrary, it affirms both.

I thank you.

Mr A F Mahlalela (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:

In view of his travel on 22 March 2016 to the city of Lyon in France to co-chair with President Hollande of France the official launch of the United Nations (UN) High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, noting that this is not the first time that he has been appointed by the UN to undertake work on the global stage, and in view of the establishment of the specified commission by the Secretary-General of the UN following the adoption of resolution A/RES/70/183: Global health and foreign policy: strengthening the management of international health crises, by the General Assembly of the UN, (a) what are the main objectives of the specified commission, (b) what is the specified commission’s relationship to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and (c) what impact will the specified commission have on the implementation of the 2063 Agenda of the African Union and the National Development Plan?

Reply:

On the 2nd of March 2016, the United Nations Secretary-General announced the appointment of a Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, co-chaired by myself and President Francois Hollande of France.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set an ambitious agenda to improve the lives of all, including through improved health and prosperity. Continuous outbreaks of diseases have confirmed the urgent need to build strong health systems and to strengthen our global health security.

At the heart of the work of this commission, are our health workers and employment in the health sector.

The global economy is projected to create around 40 million new health sector jobs by 2030; mostly in the developed and developing world or what is called middle and high income countries.

Yet despite this anticipated growth in jobs,  there will be a projected shortage of 18 million health workers for the developing countries in particular.

While the rising global demand and need for health workers, over the next fifteen years, presents significant challenges, we also believe it offers us in the developing economies the opportunity to generate employment.

The Commission is therefore charged with proposing actions to guide the creation of health and social sector jobs as a means to advance inclusive economic growth in the respective countries. We will be engaging different sectors of our communities, through the Commission, to ensure that there are investments in health employment that would generate benefits.

The Commission will also come up with new and creative ways of financing and supporting the growth of health and social sector employment as part of our investment into our future. 

It will analyse the risks that are caused by the global and regional imbalances as well as the unequal distribution of health workers in various countries. 

For example, many South Africa health workers including nurses and doctors work abroad, which has a negative impact in our own health facilities. 

The commission will also look for and secure the political commitment from governments in UN member states for the implementation of proposals. 

I thank you. 

The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the President of the Republic:

In light of the recent Constitutional Court judgments, CCT 143/15 and CCT 171/15, handed down on 31 March 2016 and especially with regard to the Court’s findings relating to section 83 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, regarding his duties and obligations as Head of State and Cabinet, what steps will he take to ensure that the executive complies with its obligations to be properly accountable to Parliament in terms of sections 85(2)(c) and 91(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996?

Reply:

South Africa is a constitutional democracy. The Constitution places certain responsibilities on the President and the Executive collectively. The steps required to be taken by the Executive are clearly spelt out in the Constitution and applicable legislation.

Members of the Executive do comply with their legal obligations as set out in the Constitution.  They appear in Parliament to discharge their obligations as and when required, such as through attending parliamentary sittings, answering parliamentary questions, participate in debates, attending meetings of portfolio committees and various other activities.

I thank you.

Ms B T Ngcobo (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:

In view of the fact that, despite significant progress that has been made since 1994 and which has been recognised both nationally and globally, the South African society remains divided due to the fact that the privilege attached to race, class, space and gender has not yet been fully reversed, the quality of services continues to be affected by who you are and where you live and that the social, psychological and geographic elements of apartheid continue to shape the lives and outlook of many South Africans, and given that the National Development Plan envisions a society where South Africans will be more conscious of the things that they have in common rather than their differences, what steps are necessary to ensure that a diverse, socially cohesive society with a common national identity is built and that the promise of a non-racial, non-sexist, equal and prosperous society is realised that takes the country onto a higher developmental trajectory, as well as build a more cohesive and equitable society?

Reply:

There is a lot that government is doing to promote a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa as envisaged in the National Development Plan.

The programmes of government of extending basic services and a better life are aimed at promoting a more equal and fully reconciled society. We are emphasising programmes aimed at achieving economic transformation as part of promoting social cohesion and unity.

Working to change the quality of life of all especially the poor and the working class will go a long way towards achieving social cohesion.

At a social level government has several programmes in place of promoting unity and togetherness of our people. We promote our diversity, which is our strength as a nation. We are promoting the national symbols such as the national flag which serves to unite and promote a common nationhood.

The Departments of Basic Education as well as Arts and Culture promote the flag and the Constitution in schools so that children can learn what it means to be a South African at an early age.

Government will not succeed working alone.

NEDLAC remains an important body which facilitates consensus and cooperation between Government, Labour, Business and the Community in dealing with South Africa’s socio-economic challenges. This forum should also be used more to promote national unity since it brings all sectors together.

We also encourage our people to reach out to one another, and begin to understand and appreciate the various cultures, customs and traditions that make up our nation.

I thank you.

Mr S M Jafta (AIC) to ask the President of the Republic:

(1)     Whether, in view of public demonstrations and violent protests that are now common place and seemingly indicate a lack of leadership in the Government and, more importantly, a lack of public participation at all levels of government and given that the formation of many political parties in each and every election to be held and the independent candidates in the case of local government can both be perceived as an indication of a maturing democracy and possibly a confirmation that South Africans are dissatisfied with the Government and its style of governing, the Government has any plans to improve public participation, other than calling imbizos, and improve the leadership at all spheres of government; if so,

(2)     do the specified plans include empowering the public about its active participation in our democracy, which will make it possible for them to be responsible for their actions, especially in the time period between the elections; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

(3)     whether the Government has any plans in the near future to attend to the complaints and problems of the people before the people engage in violent protests and demonstrations; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?

Reply:

Honourable Speaker;

Our government is concerned about this scourge of widespread incidents of violence and destruction of public property during protests.

I have spoken about this matter many times in public platforms. We have condemned the recent burning of schools and other facilities in Vuwani in Limpopo, the violence on university campuses and also during other protests.

Such actions should not find a place in our democratic South Africa where people are able to engage government and also where freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Constitution. We also wish to emphasise that government continuously engages communities.

Cabinet introduced the Izimbizo programme in 2000 to facilitate direct and interactive communication between government and the public.

Ministers and Deputy Ministers continuously undertake public meetings with communities to listen to concerns and respond.

The President and Deputy President also hold several public meetings per year as well, engaging communities on many programmes that government implements, and also to hear their views on how we can improve services.

The GCIS also organises special National Imbizo Focus Weeks where Ministers and Deputy Ministers visit communities in a more intensive manner.

The last Imbizo Focus Week was held from 07 to 12 April 2015 and involved a total number of ninety-four public interaction meetings being undertaken.

The Imbizo Focus Week of 30 November to 06 December 2015 included sixty six (66) activities. The visits include door-to-door household profiling, walkabouts or project visits, stakeholder dialogues and community engagements.

The programmes in the Presidency include the Presidential Siyahlola Monitoring Programme that aims to fast-track interventions, the Presidential Imbizo and also the Presidential Infrastructure Programme.

The Deputy President leads the War on Poverty programmes and visits many communities in addition to visits linked to the fight against HIV and Aids and other diseases.

A report is presented by the Presidency at each Cabinet Lekgotla detailing the public engagements activities of each Minister and Deputy Minister, every six months.

The report for January to July 2015 to the mid-year Cabinet Lekgotla, indicated that over seven hundred events were held by members of the National Executive.

The report for July to December 2015 recorded over six hundred Imbizo events having been undertaken by Ministers and Deputy Ministers.

In this regard, community engagements do take place and these will be intensified.

A key feature of our Back to Basics local government plan is municipal leadership as this sphere is the closest to the people.

Where criminal elements take advantage of community concerns and engage in violence, law enforcement agencies have been directed to act swiftly to bring them to justice.

We cannot allow people to undermine the good progress we are making in building infrastructure that improves the lives of our people.

I thank you.

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