Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa: Oral replies to questions in National Assembly on 9 March 2017

9 Mar 2017

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s replies to questions in the National Assembly – Thursday, 9 March 2017

Question 1 – Science and Technology the key to equitable economic growth

Honourable Members,

Science, technology and innovation hold the key to equitable economic growth.

That is why the National Development Plan has set ambitious targets to increase the number of students eligible to study towards maths and science based degrees by 2030.

It calls for the percentage of PhD qualified staff in the higher education sector to be increased from the current 34% to over 75% by 2030.

In a rapidly-changing global economy – where many traditional occupations are being displaced by technology – it is critical that South Africa develops its scientific research capabilities and produces suitably skilled people.

That is why government is directing greater effort and more resources towards skills development in science, technology and innovation.

Since the advent of democracy, we have made important progress.

The number of graduates who have done science, engineering and technology has increased from around 20,000 a year in 1994 to 58,000 a year in 2015.

But significant challenges remain.

Performance in mathematics is poor across our education system.

Although enrolment in science, engineering and technology in universities has been increasing, only a few complete their degrees.

Less than 25% of students who enrol for a Bachelor of Engineering or a Bachelor of Science actually graduate.

Many of these challenges have their roots in the basic education system.

To address these challenges, government introduced a new conditional grant for provinces to promote the teaching and learning of mathematics, science and technology.

The Department of Basic Education also plans to award 38,000 Funza Lushaka bursaries over the medium term at a cost of R3.3 billion to train teachers in mathematics, science and technology.

To strengthen these efforts, the Human Resource Development Council has established a Mathematics and Science Standing Committee, consisting of seasoned academics and professionals led by Prof Mamokgethi Phakeng, to advise the HRDC on improving maths and science education.

As we work to get the basics right, we are also increasing investment in high-end skills development in areas such as space science, energy, bio-innovation, nanotechnology, robotics, photonics, synthetic structural biology and functional genomics.

South Africa is determined to use its knowledge and innovative products to compete globally and to further generate new knowledge and train new researchers.

In the 2015/16 financial year:

  • Over 400 postgraduate students were supported through government-funded research and development initiatives.
  • Over 13,000 postgraduate students and 796 postdoctoral fellows were awarded bursaries through the National Research Foundation and programmes managed by the Department of Science and Technology.
  • More than 4,300 researchers were awarded research grants through NRF managed programmes.

To ensure that our skills development programmes meet the needs of an innovative and dynamic economy, SETAs conduct research in partnership with universities and research institutions to inform their skills planning.

The skills levy is then channelled to address these skills priorities.

The private sector is at the centre in the execution of this work.

In the 2015/16 financial year, SETAs entered into over 4,400 partnerships with TVET colleges, universities and employers to improve the quality of qualifications and facilitate the entry of students into formal employment.

There are other partnerships worth mentioning.

The National Skills Fund contributed R105 million for the establishment of the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

This centre, which is critical in the production of a set of new skills required for the green economy, partners with a number of private sector companies and development agencies.

The University of Johannesburg’s Engineering Development and Innovation Programme, undertaken in conjunction with several private sector companies, provides practical work experience to engineering students with the view to increasing the engineering graduate throughput rate.

These are some of the several initiatives in which the private sector plays a key role in absorbing graduates in science, engineering and technology and ensuring learning relevant to the needs of the workplace.

I thank you.

Question 2 – Communities at the centre of preventing and combating gangsterism cohesion

Honourable Members,

There are several factors that contribute to the civil unrest that we have witnessed in our country at various times over the last few years.

The problems of xenophobic violence, violent protest and gangsterism manifest in an environment of widespread poverty, high unemployment and stark inequality.

They are exacerbated by geographical dislocation, corruption, poor social services and competition for scarce resources.

Government’s response to these challenges is therefore multi-faceted and multi-pronged.

The response involves not only the organs of the state, but also civil society formations, community groupings and individual citizens.

This approach is well demonstrated in government’s new national strategy against gangsterism, which was approved by Cabinet on 1 March 2017.

In developing the strategy, government undertook a diagnostic process which confirmed that gangsterism is rooted in socio-economic conditions, and is therefore not merely a law enforcement issue.

The strategy places communities at the centre of efforts to prevent and combat gangsterism.

It aims to empower communities by addressing human development, social cohesion, unemployment, poverty and inequality.

It prioritises social partnerships with civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders.

It aims to prevent gangsterism through improved spatial design and creating safe living spaces for communities.

These strategies will be implemented alongside effective law enforcement strategies, upholding the rule of law and maintaining the integrity and efficacy of the criminal justice system.

A comprehensive inter-sectoral implementation plan for the strategy has been finalised, engagement with stakeholders is underway, and implementation at the security cluster level has begun.

A similar approach has been taken in responding to xenophobic violence.

This requires interventions at a policy level, through community engagement, and through 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.

The better management of refugees through, among other things, the establishment of asylum processing centres closer to the country's northern borders, is being explored.

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.

Programmes range from electronic media campaigns by Brand SA on the values of the Constitution, to community conversations on social cohesion organised by the Department of Arts and Culture, to anti-xenophobia campaigns organised by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Underpinning all this work is government’s programme to grow the economy, create jobs, tackle poverty and reduce inequality.

The task of fostering social stability and cohesion falls on all our shoulders.

We need to work together to address both the causes and the manifestations of unrest.

As we do so, we must stand united against all forms of criminal behaviour, racism, sexism and xenophobia.

We must ensure that all people, regardless of where they come from, are treated with dignity and respect.

I thank you.

Question 3 – Promotion of common identity is key to nation building and social cohesion

Honourable Members,

The Development Indicators on social cohesion point to some progress in spite of a deeply divided history.

These indicators include the role of civil society, the participation of citizens in elections, views on race relations and pride in being South African.

The promotion of our common identity and accepting our differences is key to nation building and social cohesion.

For example, the percentage of people who see themselves either as South Africans or Africans first before any other identity increased from 71% in 2004 to 87% in 2014.

Many areas of government’s work contribute to nation building.

This includes improving the material conditions of all South Africans so that they can share in a common sense of ownership and belonging.

Since 1994, millions of houses have been built and access to electricity, clean water, education and health care has been expanded to those who were previously denied them.

Significant progress has been made in lifting people out of poverty and creating jobs in a growing economy.

To give effect to the Equality Clause in the Constitution, we passed the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, which commenced in 2003.

This Act aims to prevent and prohibit unfair discrimination and harassment, promote equality, and prohibit hate speech.

To date, 382 courts have been designated Equality Courts to enforce the provisions of the Act.

The personnel working at these courts are required in terms of the Act to have undergone social context training. 

More recently, the Prevention and Combatting of Hate Crime and Hate Speech Bill, published in October 2016, aims to provide for the offences of hate crimes and hate speech and provide for the prevention of these crimes.

This Bill has generated a great deal of debate on what constitutes hate speech and how broadly it should be defined.

We are hopeful that this debate will serve to enrich our understanding not only of these issues but of each other as South Africans.

Government and its agencies continue to work towards eliminating xenophobia, racism, sexism and other related intolerances.

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, for example, has consulted all provinces, including civil society and academic institutions, on the National Action Plan against racism, sexism, xenophobia and other related intolerances.

The Department is on course to complete all consultations by end of the financial year.

The Moral Regeneration Movement has held various campaigns to popularise the Charter of Positive Values.

The Department of Basic Education has embarked on a process to evaluate syllabi and learning materials for latent racism, sexism and other intolerances.

Nation building is, by its nature, an ongoing process.

While government has a leading role to play, it is ultimately the responsibility of every social institution, every company, every organisation and every South African to build a society in which all people share a common sense of nationhood.

I thank you.

Question 4 – Executive committed to parliamentary accountability

Honourable Members,

Section 92(2) of the Constitution says:

“Members of the Cabinet are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and the performance of their functions.”

Section 92(3)(c) further says:

“Members of the Cabinet must… provide Parliament with full and regular reports concerning matters under their control.”

On a practical level, it is an office here in Parliament, which accounts to the Speaker of the National Assembly, that makes the arrangements to which the Honourable Leader of the Opposition refers.

The Executive remains committed to ensuring it accounts regularly and effectively to Parliament.

Cabinet receives regular reports from the LOGB on this matter.

Where problems are identified, steps are taken to address them.

I thank you.

Question 5 – Promoting Economic Transformation

Honourable Members,

The transformation agenda of every administration since the advent of democracy has been directed towards the achievement of a better life for all.

Our programmes are guided by the vision of the Freedom Charter and by the Constitutional injunction to improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person.

Government has therefore directed resources towards meeting the needs of the poor, implementing policies to deracialise the economy, build the skills base of the black majority, and create jobs through sustainable growth.

There have been notable achievements.

On the growth side, real per capita GDP has increased by a third since 1994.

The number of South Africans in employment has doubled since 1994, from 7.9 million to 16 million in 2016.

However, because the size of the labour force has also grown over this period, the rate of unemployment has remained stubbornly high.

Creating jobs for these unemployed people is one of the most important mechanisms of ensuring that growth is inclusive.

Through redistributive financing, government has built an average of 1,000 houses every day since 1996, and provided piped water and electricity for cooking to an even greater number of households every day over the same period.

To the people who have benefited from these programmes, the improvement of their living conditions has been truly transformative.

Several legal instruments have been put in place to deracialise the economy.

These include the Broad-Based BEE Act, Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act, Employment Equity Act and many others.

The impact of these – together with our investment in education – is evident in the significant growth of the South African middle class.

Total enrolment at universities more than doubled in the first 20 years of democracy.

The percentage of those enrolled who were African increased from under 50% in 1994 to over 70% in 2014.

Because there is such a strong link between educational performance and inclusive growth, government continues to use redistributive financing to increase the number of students from poor backgrounds who can access tertiary education.

As indicated by Minister Pravin Gordhan in the 2017 Budget, government is directoring significant resources towards areas that promote inclusive growth.

These include support for SMMEs and cooperatives, industrial infrastructure in special economic zones and industrial parks, broadband roll-out and tourism promotion, among others.

We are further promoting economic transformation by strengthening BEE provisions and public procurement policy, intensifying land redistribution and supporting the emergence of black industrialists.

We have made significant progress in our transition from a racially divided, unequal and underdeveloped state towards one which is more equal, prosperous and in which all may achieve their potential.

While there is still a long way to go, we are making important strides.

Working together, we will reach our destination.

I thank you.

Question 6 – Lesotho Highlands Water Project phase ii due for timeous delivery

Honourable Members,

I am informed by the relevant department that there is no need for the South African government to intervene on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project Phase II.

I am advised that the delays in implementation have been addressed and the project will be delivered in line with the revised projections, with the delivery of water scheduled for the year 2025.

Both governments have committed to the implementation of the project and are in constant communication through the Lesotho Highlands Water Commission, which is the governing structure entrusted with the role of strategic oversight on implementation.

In the meantime, delivery of water to South Africa through Phase One continues.

I thank you.

Ronnie Mamoepa
Cell: 082 990 4853

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