President Jacob Zuma's replies to Parliamentary questions for written reply, National

9 Dec 2015

Mr MPG Lekota (COPE) to ask the President:

(1) Whether he was regularly holding discussions with the Minister of Finance to ascertain whether the notice from National Treasury, dated 19 December 2013, which was signed by Schalk Human, Acting Accountant-General, prescribing cost containment measures and urging fully compliance with sections 38(1)(b), 38(1)(c)(iii) and 51(b)(iii) of the Public Finance Management Act of 1999 was being taken very seriously by all accounting officers across all government departments and also by all accounting authorities in public entities, if so, (a) which departments were complying 100% with the notice and which were not, and (b) what action has he or the Government in general taken against those departments and officials that were in contempt of the National Treasury prescription, if not, why not?

Reply:

(a) There is evidence that National Treasury Instruction 01 of 2013/2014 related to the cost containment measures is being taken seriously by accounting officers of departments. When comparing actual expenditure of departments for the financial periods 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, it is clear that a saving of R5 billion, which represents a saving of 20% was realised.

Savings in respect of constitutional institutions and public entities are not available since these institutions use financial systems that are different to that of departments and which the National Treasury does not have direct access to.

(b) Non-compliance with the Treasury Instruction on Cost Containment shall result in irregular expenditure. Section 38(1)(h)(iii) and section 51(1)(e)(iii) of the PFMA requires accounting officers of departments and constitutional institutions and accounting authorities of public entities to take effective and appropriate disciplinary steps against any official(s) in the service of the department, constitutional institution or public entity who makes or permits irregular expenditure.

Transgressions of the Treasury Instruction shall only be known at institutional level and it is the responsibility of the respective accounting officer or accounting authority to take the necessary action for non-compliance with the Treasury Instruction.

Mr MGP Lekota (COPE) to ask the President of the Republic:

Whether, subsequent to his declaration of 2011 as the year of job creation followed by the announcement of several initiatives to boost job creation, including the setting up of a R9 billion jobs fund, the Government has achieved any significant milestones towards creating five million jobs by 2020 and bringing the unemployment rate down to 15% as it had set out to do; if not, why not; if so,(a) has half that target been reached in half the time that was allocated to achieve that goal and (b) have decent jobs indeed been created on an incremental basis annually?

Reply:

(a) Yes, there has been progress in job creation in the South African economy, although the unemployment rate remains unacceptably high.

The most recent Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Statistics SA puts total employment in September 2015 at 15 828 000. This is an increase of some 2 500 000 over the September 2011 QLFS estimate of 13 318 000 employed persons. It should be noted, however, that a new Master Sample based on the 2011 census data was introduced in 2015, and Statistics SA therefore cautions that year-on-year changes should be interpreted with care. Notwithstanding this caution, the data indicate that if the rate of increase in employment over the past years is continued over the period ahead, approximately 5 million jobs will be created by 2020.

It is also apparent from the QLFS data that the rate of increase in the labour force has exceeded the rate of job creation, and so the unemployment rate has remained broadly unchanged. In September 2011 the estimated rate of unemployment was 25.7 per cent, and in September 2015 it was 25.5 per cent.

(b) With respect to the question whether decent jobs have been created on an incremental basis annually, Government is mindful that wages are low and employment opportunities are irregular in some parts of the economy. Between 2011 and 2015, formal non-agricultural employment increased by approximately 1.5 million. In the September 2015 QLFS, informal sector work accounts for 2.7 million jobs, agriculture employment is 900 000 and private households account for 1.28 million jobs. These are important and sizeable shares of the employment total, and working conditions are varied in these sectors.

Programmes and policy initiatives that are aimed at improving conditions amongst lower-income workers include sectoral wage determinations by the Minister of Labour, investment in training and skills development and small enterprise support programmes. Government's main direct contribution to the expansion of job opportunities is through the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Work Programme, and the youth employment incentive has been introduced to encourage firms to create work opportunities for first-time young work seekers.

The objective of the Jobs Fund is to support innovative approaches to employment creation and work seeker support, thereby contributing to evidence and learning about effective employment initiatives and strategies. The Jobs Fund aims to create 150 000 sustainable jobs and will contribute to evidence-based policy making.

To date the Jobs Fund has issued five calls for proposals, and approved 108 project applications of which 85 are currently being implemented. R5.6 billion in grants has been committed to the 108 projects. These project partners have committed R7.9 billion in matched funding. To date R2.78 billion in grants have been disbursed to implementing projects and R4.2 billion in matched funding has already been leveraged from these partners.

The 85 projects being currently implemented have to date created 60 675 new permanent jobs and an additional 30 358 persons have been placed in vacant positions on a permanent basis. 16 124 short term jobs have been created, 13 291 persons completed internships and 128 196 persons has received work readiness/technical training.

Most of the jobs created have been entry level jobs for which the salary ranges between the sectoral minimum wage and R3500. Most of those employed are youth in their first jobs. Jobs have also been created in the salary cohort of R3500- R8800 with a few jobs created at salary levels in excess of R8000 per month. Jobs are evidenced through the submission of contracts of employment and payroll amongst others.

Mr MGP Lekota (Cope) to ask the President of the Republic:

Whether he has been actively promoting the concept of the African Renaissance with a view to ensuring, as former president, Mr Thabo Mbeki, had observed, that the African upper echelons do not remain as a mere parasite on the rest of society, who continue to enjoy self-endowed mandates to define and use their political power in a manner that keeps Africa at the periphery of the world economy, poor, underdeveloped and incapable of development, if not. Why not; if so, how has he and the Government pushed forward the ideals of the African Renaissance and (b) what outcome has he and the Government achieved in relation thereto since 2009?

Reply: 

The Honourable Member will be aware that African stability, development and prosperity have been the bedrock of the ANC-led government since the dawn of our democracy in 1994. We continue this trajectory by committing to various AU programmes, with the following discernible examples:

1. Peace, Security and Stability: On 08 November 2015, I presided over the closing ceremony of the Amani Africa Field Training Exercise held in Lohatla, Northern Cape, whose main objective was to test the 'Rapid Deployment Capacity' (RDC) of the African Standby Force. The success of this Exercise points to the Continent's readiness to expeditiously provide solutions to some of our instability challenges.

What was most gratifying about Amani Africa was the fact that Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Standby Force, North Africa Regional Command, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Volunteering Nations of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIRC), all participated in this historic exercise. Amani Africa is a practical headway that has been made to ensure stability, which is indispensable to continental development. The Honorable Member will also recall the swiftness with which SADC addressed the recent challenges in Lesotho.

2. NEPAD: As the Honourable Member will know, NEPAD has been one of the corner stones of the African Renaissance. The initiative is anchored on our collective determination to extricate ourselves and the Continent from underdevelopment and exclusion in a globalising world. It is a call for a new relationship based on domestic, continental and global partnerships to address under-development, founded on the realisation of common interest, obligations, commitments, benefit and equality.

NEPAD has a number of key programmes, one of which is infrastructure development.  The Continent continues to make progress in this regard through the implementation of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative (PICI) chaired by South Africa, and spearheaded by seven dedicated Heads of State and Government.

PICI is part of PIDA, serving as an initiative to bring political leadership to bear, to fast-track the implementation of important projects from the PIDA Priority Action Plan by identifying and dealing with blockages, missing links and choke-points. 

For example, under PICI, progress is being made in closing the missing link of the trans-Saharan highway project covering 4500 kilometres between Algeria and Nigeria and $40 million has been secured towards its continued construction. It is expected to be completed in 2016. The optic fibre component of the same project has seen substantial progress, with the completion of 60% of the project.

The ICT Broadband Fibre Optic Network Linking Neighbouring States project, championed by Rwanda, has been completed. Egypt recently held the first Steering Committee meeting of the footprint states of the Navigational route between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea. Construction on the Grand Inga project is due to begin soon. The Dakar Financing Summit in June 2014 prioritized 16 PIDA projects for exposure to private and institutional investors.

With an infrastructure deficit of about USD 92 billion per year, NEPAD is making every effort to highlight this very important challenge. In light of this, at its annual meeting in May 2014, the African Development Bank launched the Africa50 initiative in order to mobilise USD 100 billion for regional infrastructure projects, focusing on addressing the key part of the project cycle that is project preparation. There are several projects in this regard, so this is by no means an exhaustible list.

3. APRM: The APRM derives from NEPAD and its aim is to foster and promote good political, economic, social and corporate governance in Africa by encouraging Member States to adopt international best practice, which should eventually translate into political stability, economic growth, sustainable development and sub-regional and continental economic integration. South Africa is committed to advancing, nationally and continentally, the objectives of the APRM.

South Africa acceded to the APRM in March 2003 and was reviewed in July 2005. This resulted in the release of the Country Review Reports in 2007 and its' National Programme of Action .South Africa tabled its First Report on the Implementation of the Programme of Action in January 2009. The second such Report was tabled in January 2011, with the Third Report being tabled in January 2014. South Africa will soon enter the second Peer Review phase.

Membership of the APRM has risen to 35 and 17 countries have been reviewed to date. This is an utterly unique system of self-assessment in the world in terms of its transparency and extent, and the underlying benefits cannot be overstated in terms of the shaping of national development discourse and providing models of best practice on key cross-cutting issues. 

4. Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme and Other Programmes:

Another key priority for African development is agriculture, as reflected in the AU/NEPAD Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). CAADP is one of NEPAD's most successful programmes and has been key to driving development on the Continent and responding to poverty, hunger and joblessness. CAADP ensures that the great commodity that we have, arable agricultural land, is used for the benefit of all Africans.

In this regard, 52 states have been engaged in CAADP related interventions, 40 have received direct support under CAADP, 40 have signed CAADP national compacts, 30 National Agriculture and Food Security Investment Plans have been developed and reviewed, at least 8 countries have met the 10% of budget target, and four RECs have developed their own regional compacts. Ten countries have registered more than 6% annual growth in agriculture.

5. Partnerships:

The role of international partners is to help scale up and accelerate our own efforts.  Therefore, South Africa continues to play a leading role in engaging Africa's Strategic Multilateral Partnerships, such as FOCAC, TICAD, Africa-EU, Africa India, Africa-Korea, Africa-Arab, Africa-South America, NAASP, and Africa-Turkey going forward.  

One of the key NEPAD principles is "New partnerships within Africa and with the international community”. It is for this reason that all of the Partnerships have been constructed on the understanding that engagement with Africa is to be done within the framework of NEPAD, as the socio-economic development programme of the AU, with the aim of assisting in the achievement of AU/NEPAD objectives and programmes. 

South Africa continues to play a key role in the review of all of Africa's partnerships with the North and the South, being conducted by the AU PRC Sub-Committee on Multilateral Cooperation. South Africa is Co-Chair with China of FOCAC until 2018 and we have hosted a very successful FOCAC Summit in Johannesburg on 4-5 December 2015.

President Xi Jinping of China announced a development partnership with Africa worth $60 billion, accompanied by a 10 point plan focusing on areas that are key priorities for development in the continent. We look forward to taking the win-win cooperation further as the African continent as it holds great promise for the renewal of the African continent economically. This occurred on the backdrop of a very successful India-Africa Summit.

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

In the light of the Supreme Court of Appeal's finding on 8 October 2015, in the Hlaudi Motsoeneng case and the implications the specified court's finding has for the powers of the Public Protector, what action is he going to take to comply with the remedial actions contained in the Public Protector's report Secure in Comfort?

Reply: 

The question concerns matters that are currently before the Constitutional Court in the case of the EFF v the Speaker of the National Assembly and Others. I cannot respond at this stage in deference to the courts.

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

Whether, given (a) the reply of the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation to question 3509 on 22 September 2015 and (b) his statements on 15 September 2015 during his foreign policy briefing confirming the invitation of a Sudanese delegation to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan has been (i) invited to and/or (ii) confirmed his attendance at the FOCAC Summit to be held in Johannesburg in December 2015?

Reply:

The President of the Republic of Sudan did not attend the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation Summit, (FOCAC).

Ms D Carter (COPE) to ask the President of the Republic:

Whether the Government intends to encourage an independent mediation process in respect of disputes with other parties, opposition parties included, as first recourse in order to find amicable resolution so that matters of dispute do not have to be referred to Courts for adjudication; if not, why not; if so, what steps does the Government intend to take in this regard.

Reply:

The general principle is that all political and other disputes should be resolved through discussion, negotiation, mediation, and other forms of non-adversarial dispute resolution mechanisms. We should only resort to the courts when these channels have failed. Parties should refrain from using the courts to resolve political disputes. Parliament has various mechanisms in place to resolve disputes between parties in terms of its Rules, and all parties should make optimal use of those Rules to resolve disputes.

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

In the light of the Supreme Court of Appeal's finding on 8 October 2015, in the Hlaudi Motsoeneng case and the implications the specified court's finding has for the powers of the Public Protector, what action is he going to take to comply with the remedial actions contained in the Public Protector's report Secure in Comfort?

Reply: 

As the honourable member might be aware, various applications dealing with the nature and scope of the remedial actions of the Public Protector, amongst others, are currently pending before the Constitutional Court. I therefore would not like to comment further on a matter that before the court of law.

Mr MGP Lekota (Cope) to ask the President of the Republic:

(1) Whether his statement on 8 November 2015, that his political organisation comes first, represents his policy position as the President of the Republic of South Africa; if not,

(2) whether he will unreservedly retract the specified statement and apologise to the nation for devaluing the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, which he is sworn to uphold through the specified statement; if not, why not; if so, (a) when and (b) how is he going to apologise;

(3) Whether he will make a statement on the responsibility of the President of South Africa to place the interest of South Africa above every other endeavour; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?      

Reply:

(1) I made the statement that the ANC comes first at an ANC Provincial Conference in my capacity as the President of the ANC. Since its founding in 1912 the ANC has been at the forefront of the struggles to defeat apartheid colonialism, and since its election into power in 1994, to liberate South Africans from the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Like many South Africans, I joined the ANC to contribute to the achievement of its historic mission of building a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous and democratic society. Given this important role that the ANC has played and still plays in leading this society towards the achievement of these goals, and considering that a large number of citizens have put their faith and hopes on the ANC to lead them to a better life for all, it is important that the work of building the ANC into a stronger organization that can continue to lead society is vigorously pursued.

There is therefore nothing wrong or untoward in saying the ANC comes first. It does not mean I love my country any less. It is in fact because of the love of my country and my commitment to its success that I believe that the ANC should be stronger so that it can lead us to a united and prosperous society.

(2) The statement I made does not devalue the Constitution of the Republic in any way, nor does it contradict the Oath of Office which I took when I was sworn in as the President of the Republic of South Africa. There is therefore no reason to retract the statement I made.

Mr MGP Lekota (Cope) to ask the President of the Republic:

(1) Whether he intends to initiate a scientific investigation(s) to ascertain (a) why South Africans are prone to arson, vandalism and violence when they participate in protest action and (b) what the different spheres of Government need to do to alleviate the anger of the South African population and therefore curb the destruction related to protest actions; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;

(2) Whether he will make a statement on how the Government is planning to prevent and discourage protesters from routinely resorting to arson, vandalism and violence during a protest action?                                                         

Reply:

(1) The widespread incidents of violence and destruction of property during protests is a cause for major concern. I have spoken about this matter many times in public platforms. The violence in our society is inherited from the violence perpetrated during the apartheid system and the violence response it engendered.

There are studies that have been undertaken to understand factors that contribute to a culture of violence in our society. Some of the studies have been undertaken by organisations outside government. Others have been commissioned by government itself. For instance, a few years ago the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster contracted the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation to undertake research on the violent nature of crime in South Africa.

The critical step that we need to take is not so much to commission more studies because there is already some research that has been undertaken. What is important is taking steps to turn the tide against violent protests and the destruction of property.

(2) There are various important initiatives government will implement to address the matter next year. These include educating society about the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. This education campaign about rights and responsibilities of citizenship is important considering that next year (2016) will be the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the Republic by former President Nelson Mandela. It will also be the 40th anniversary of 16 June 1976 student uprisings.

Studies show that violence in our society affects mostly women and children. Government will use the year 2016, which is the 60th anniversary of the Women's March to the Union Buildings, to mobilise society against violence that is committed against women and children.

Other measures will be announced in due course.

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