Deputy President David Mabuza: Replies to questions in the National Council of Provinces

7 Nov 2019

Oral Replies by Deputy President David Mabuza to the National Council of Provinces, Parliament, Cape Town

Question: On maintenance strategies in place at Eskom, to ensure grid reliability for viable electricity supply and asset lifetime.
 
Reply by Deputy President Mabuza:
Honourable Chairperson, we indeed acknowledge that our country is currently experiencing enormous energy challenges that have a potential to hinder prospects for new investments and economic growth. However, Government has put in place key performance indicators, and targets that are outlined in the Shareholder Compact to ensure that Eskom executes maintenance strategies at its Generation, Transmission and Distribution assets.      
    
The Shareholder Compact is signed by the Eskom Board Chairperson, and the Minister of Public Enterprises, and is revised annually.

The National Development Plan has identified the need for South Africa to invest in a strong network of economic infrastructure designed to support the country’s medium, and long term economic and social objectives. Energy infrastructure is therefore a critical component that underpins economic activity and growth in our development trajectory.

It is concerning that ESKOM’S fleet performance has since deteriorated significantly due to lack of maintenance and refurbishment over the years, greatly compromising the security of electricity supply.

This situation is also worsened, amongst other things, by coal shortages and the supply of sub-standard coal.

With regards to grid reliability, ESKOM has a responsibility to conduct maintenance of its grid assets according to published standards that are benchmarked with international best practices. In the course of time, there have been weaknesses in terms of adherence to published standards. However, we are working very hard to ensure that the Power Utility reverts back to compliance with these published standards.

With an ageing power station fleet, the need for planned mid-life refurbishment has increased to meet the planned life. Critical areas that need work have been identified, and are being funded, and resourced to renew the power plants to a more reliable state. Unfortunately all these shortfallshave resulted in rotational load shedding being implemented early this year and during the past three weeks in October.

With regard to the current generation capacity of coal power stations, we are advised that, as at 23 October 2019, the maximum available for the grid at full power operation is 36 221 Megawatts. 

Under the leadership of the Minister of Public Enterprises, work is currently underway to ensure that interruptions in the performance of coal power stations is minimised to disruptions and avoid load-shedding. 

Honourable Members,

Accelerated economic growth, the rising population, and the expansion of human settlements and industrial development zones must be matched by targeted measures to cater for energy security needs.

Government remains committed to ensuring that ESKOM is supported to address persistent sustainability challenges, including unsustainable levels of debt, under-investment, and inadequate maintenance of plants resulting in energy supply interruptions. 

To this end, ESKOM has developed a detailed Turnaround Plan to address its structural, operational and financial challenges.  This entails a clear focus on improving efficiencies, reducing costs, optimising plant performance, and enhancing governance systems.

In spite of difficulties ahead, we believe that policy reforms announced by the President in respect of repositioning ESKOM will put ESKOM on a sustainable recovery path. Government continues to provide support to ESKOM to ensure that prospects of investments, economic growth and job creation are not negatively impacted.

Last week, the Minister of Public Enterprises released a New Road Map on Eskom outlining government’s plans for the future of Eskom. The Road Map for Eskom proposes a New Business Model which will provide reliable, affordable, economically competitive and environmentally sustainable electricity that will drive inclusive economic growth.

We therefore urge organised labour, business, energy expects, and civil society at large to constructively engage the Minister on this proposed Road Map to explore lasting solutions to our energy security challenges.

Alongside efforts to address ESKOM challenges, Cabinet has since approved the Integrated Resource Plan which seeks to diversify the energy mix through the introduction of alternative sources of energy. 

While coal will continue to play a significant role in electricity generation, new investments will need will be channelled to more efficient coal technologies, including exploration of other sources of energy like nuclear, natural gas, wind, hydro, and energy storage.

In the medium to long-term, we should be able to see a steady improvement in the country’s ability to supply reliable energy that will support economic growth and development.

Thank you very much.

 
Question: On government efforts to finding lasting solution to address the challenge of sewage spillage into the Vaal River.
 
Reply by Deputy President:
During the Oral Reply session in this august house on 11 September 2019, we indicated that we would visit Emfuleni Local Municipality to assess progress on government’s efforts towards addressing the sewage spillage challenges that are impacting on the Vaal River System pollution.

Indeed the visit took place on 12 September 2019 as indicated.

I was joined by the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation; the Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, the Gauteng MEC of Urban Planning, Human Settlements and Cooperative Governance; Mayors of Sedibeng District and Emfuleni Municipalities respectively, as well as senior officials from the South African National Defence Force, COGTA and Gauteng Province.

While pollution challenges still remain, we were encouraged by progress that the intervention of the South African Defence Force has made in resolving sewage spillages, infrastructure network blockages, and sewer pollution flowing into the Vaal River. 

Through the intervention of the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, progress has been made in upgrading the existing Waste Water Treatment Works to respond to the growth demands.  Work is currently underway to expedite the commissioning of additional capacity resulting from upgraded infrastructure.

We have had several discussions with the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, regarding the situation in Emfuleni and the pollution of the Vaal River. In addition, the Presidency and the Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, and COGTA are having ongoing engagements with the Gauteng Office of the Premier, the Gauteng MEC for COGTA, and the municipal leadership at district and local levels.

Given the fact that the Vaal River system cuts through, and benefits, four Provinces, it has been agreed that a collaborative intergovernmental approach is required to holistically respond to pollution challenges across the entire Vaal River system in South Africa. In this regard, the Provinces of Gauteng, Free State, Mpumalanga, and Northern Cape will be required to work together to implement coordinated interventions that will drastically reduce the pollution of the Vaal River system. 

Within a short while, we will be convening a meeting with the Premiers of affected Provinces to ensure that we agree on the implementation of an integrated intergovernmental plan that will respond sustainably to the ongoing challenge of the Vaal River system pollution.

Despite progress made to date, it is evident that more urgent work still needs to be done to fully contain the Vaal River system pollution. In the main, urgent interventions include the upgrading of ageing bulk sewerage and reticulation infrastructure which contributes to the diversion of sewage into the river system.

The team led by the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has shared a comprehensive plan with clear sets of actions and required resources. It has been indicated that R1.1 billion would be required to stop pollution of the Vaal River. 

The Department of Water and Sanitation working with Gauteng COGTA, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency, SANDF, Ekurhuleni Water Care Company, Emfuleni Local Municipality and Rand Water developed an intervention plan to stop the pollution into the Vaal River.

The intervention plan includes the fixing of 44 pump stations and 3 waste water treatment plants, namely, Sebokeng, Leewkuil and Rietspruit. It also includes replacing and repairing gravity raising mains, leak detection and addressing deficiencies in the network system.

The Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has already appointed the Ekurhuleni Water Care Company to attend to the urgent task of unblocking the sewer reticulation system and fixing leakages to ensure that sewage flows into the Vaal River are eliminated.

To successfully deal with water pollution and negative environmental impacts, we need to mobilise resources to ensure that the Vaal River situation is completely resolved in short, medium, and long term.

The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has reprioritised an amount of R240 million of its Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant budget towards the mitigation of the Vaal River pollution and to pay the SANDF. The Gauteng Provincial COGTA Department as well as the Emfuleni Local Municipality have also reprioritised their budgets and contributed R20 million and R90 million respectively. The Department of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation has further requested funding from the National Treasury for the short fall of R750 million.

To fast track the Human Settlement Development Programme and contribute towards economic development in the Emfuleni Local Municipality, the capacity of the waste water treatment plants in the area should be augmented. It is estimated that the cost of this project will require R6 billion and a proposal has been submitted to National Treasury to fund this programme.

As the Presidency, we will continue to work closely with the other relevant stakeholders to ensure that we resolve sewer spillage challenges and restore the integrity of the Vaal River System.
Thank you very much.
 

Question: On strategies adopted by government to ensure transformation of township and villages from labour and consumption reserves, into thriving productive investment hubs.  
 
Reply by Deputy President Mabuza:
Honourable Chairperson,

We can confirm that indeed we are prioritising certain provinces in terms stimulating and supporting rural and township economies, especially those that are mostly rural and underserviced.

As we had indicated recently in this very House, our objective as this Administration, is to transform our townships and villages from the current state of labour and consumption reserves, into thriving productive investment hubs. 

As government we are prioritising a spatial approach and bringing a greater sub-national focus into our development strategy through the District-based Model.  This is not only about provincial convergence - but also about the relationship between rural and urban spaces, between poor and rich municipalities, between townships and villages to achieve a truly integrated form of development that fosters economic inclusion and job creation.

At the core of our efforts to revitalise the rural and township economies, is creating linkages with national interventions that inform our industrial strategy. The focus is on the expansion of manufacturing, mining, agriculture, automotive and other sectors. 

As indicated before, an important pillar of this industrial strategy is to develop new economic centres through Special Economic Zones, revitalisation of industrial sites as well as business and digital hubs. For example, we currently have 10 Special Economic Zones located and spread across various provinces in our country.

These are also based on comparative advantages of each province and location.

Our Government’s efforts of supporting the citrus industry are targeted at the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Western Cape; while agro-processing can support Free State and Mpumalanga.

The promotion of beneficiation of minerals will support mining in Northern Cape and North-West provinces, as well as the expansion of industrial activities in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. More importantly, focus on beneficiation of raw materials and products will diversify the composition of South Africa’s exports to global markets.

The provinces of Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal have the automotive sector, which could support existing and new township and rural businesses in the automotive sector to enter global value chains through manufacturing of car components. 

The other intervention by our Government, is the establishment of additional incubators through the Small Enterprise Development Agency in provinces of Free State, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern Cape and North West. 

Therefore, in coordinating these efforts, our primary objective is to build on existing national efforts, expand access and ensure that development models that we introduce, assist us in achieving economic inclusion. 

As Government, we endeavour to utilise public sector procurement in order to leverage the development and growth of rural and township enterprises. On a daily basis, Government procures huge volumes of goods and services for consumption in public facilities. 

The Office of the Deputy President has already convened technical level consultations with all Provinces to present interventions that are currently being implemented in various provinces. Provinces are already implementing workable models that need up-scaling and consolidation to achieve maximum impact across the country.

The emerging picture is that these empowerment models can best support agricultural production, and the local manufacturing of construction materials for infrastructure and built environment projects. These interventions are best placed to support the development of rural and township economies, given their pervasive nature across the country.

As government, we have a responsibility to provide the necessary infrastructure, financial and mentorship support to township and rural enterprises.

We believe that government has the relevant policies and strategies in place and that ours, is to fast track this work towards efficient and sustainable delivery at the right quality, to all South Africans.

Thank you very much.

 
Question: On the role played by the Leader of Government business in monitoring the affairs of the national executive in Parliament.  
 
Reply by Deputy President Mabuza:
Honourable Chairperson,

Our primary role in Leading Government Business in Parliament involves the following key responsibilities:
· Monitoring the affairs of the national executive in Parliament;
· Ensuring programming of Parliamentary business initiated by the national executive, within the time allocated for that purpose;
· Ensuring that Cabinet members attend to their parliamentary responsibilities;
· Performing any other function provided for by the Joint Rules, or a resolution of the National Assembly, or the National Council of Provinces, or resolutions adopted in both Houses.

In this regard, we constantly remind Members of the Executive to prioritise their Parliamentary responsibilities, including responding to Parliamentary questions timeously, both oral and written. Furthermore, as the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, we are required to present in every Cabinet meeting, a status report of all outstanding written replies in both Houses of Parliament, and the Roster of Attendance of all Ministers and the Deputy Ministers. 

According to the latest Leader of Government Business report that was presented to Cabinet on 30 October 2019, the Minister of Public Enterprises was asked a total of five (5) written questions from the NCOP, and all of them have since been responded to. We have also been advised that in the 5th Parliament, the Minister received a total of 54 questions from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), of which 53 were answered, and only 1 remained unanswered or lapsed.

It is against this backdrop that we equally encourage all Members of the Executive to fulfil obligations imposed upon them by the Constitution, and the Joint Rules of Parliament, by not only responding to Parliamentary questions, but through participation in all legislative processes, and appearing before relevant committees to give effect to their accountability role.  

Thank you very much.
 

Question: On South Africa’s constitutional imperative to protect marginalised persons and communities. 
 
Reply by Deputy President Mabuza:
Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, (Act No. 108 of 1996) provides for the Bill of Rights that sets out the fundamental rights of all South Africans, including the right to dignity and the right to equality.

This Bill of Rights is a cornerstone of our democracy and individual rights. It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom.

Furthermore, section 9 (3) of the Bill of Rights refers to Equality, and provides as follows:
(3) “The state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on one or more grounds, including race, gender, sex, pregnancy, marital status, ethnic or social origin, colour, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, conscience, belief, culture, language and birth”.

Notwithstanding our Constitutional provisions, the Honourable member should note that our laws should not be in violation of International Law that we are signatories to.

Under International Law, the sovereignty of states and their right to exercise their independence including making their own laws without the interference of other states, is guaranteed. In this regard, our Government upholds the international principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. South Africa only intervenes in situations where parties in conflict officially request her assistance and/ or intervention.  

Similarly, South Africa therefore respects the sovereignty of the Republic of Uganda, and any other nation.

In cases where our positions, values, and approaches are in conflict with those of other countries, South Africa is of the view that such matters are best resolved at multilateral forums as provided for by international conventions.
In line with our Constitutional provisions, we condemn any form of human rights violations and abuses, especially when perpetrated by any State, including those directed to Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender persons, otherwise known as LGBQTIA.

As Government, we have adopted a comprehensive human rights approach to same-sex, or LGBQTIA-related rights. In this regard, in March 2011, the then Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development mandated the establishment of a National Task Team to develop a National Intervention Strategy that will address “corrective rape.” The Department initiated a process of engaging key government departments and other institutions to develop the National Task Team to monitor pending cases relating to gender and sexual orientation-based crimes in the criminal justice system.

We also echo President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call when he said:
“The violation of the rights and equal worth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people demeans our common humanity as South Africans. Not only does it expose individuals to pain, suffering and even violence, but it often limits access to social services and economic opportunities for LGBTI people in our country.”
 
Thank you very much.

 
Question: On mechanisms put in place by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in popularising climate change risks, mitigation and adaption especially for agriculture dependent communities.  
 
Reply by Deputy President Mabuza:
Honourable Chairperson,

The question being raised by Honourable Member Mohai, is very important when we are to consider the impact of climate change especially on food production and agricultural sector as a whole. Recently, we have experienced drought in provinces like Free State, Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape. 

If one considers for example areas such as Namakwa district in Northern Cape and Xhariep district in the Free State, the situation for farmers and communities dependent on crop and livestock farming, has been very challenging. 

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change has identified Southern Africa as a hot spot for climate change. For our part as South Africa, we have undertaken risk and vulnerability assessments in all provinces through the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and we continue to support the development of Provincial Adaptation Plans.

Critically, our Government in dealing with behavioural change in the management of scarce resources that are impacted by climate change, it continues to prioritising educating our communities and industry players on climate change risks, mitigation and adaption strategies. 

Given our commitments under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, we continue to endeavour to reduce the dependency of our energy from fossil fuels sources to cleaner ones including renewables. To this end, Cabinet has recently approved the Integrated Resource Plan 2019, as part of Government’s commitment to reduce reliance on coal as a source of energy to less than 20% by 2050.

South Africa is also a water scarce country, and we should therefore, look into technologies that improve precision irrigation for our agricultural sector.

The South African Weather Services in partnership with the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries has initiated the development of the National Framework for Climate Services. This is aimed at providing updates on climate and weather information to guide decision making. One of this Framework’s significant products to be developed, is the Early Warning System which will be critical for all climate sensitive sectors including agriculture.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute coordinates the implementation of adaption fund projects in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Northern Cape. These projects are aimed at developing communities and small scale farmers in early warning systems, climate-proof settlements, as well as climate resilient agriculture.

Government is currently in the process of developing the National Adaptation Strategy that articulates interventions to strengthen capacity building, awareness, including mainstreaming climate change in schools curricula. 

The National Adaptation Strategy will act as a common reference point for climate change adaptation efforts in South Africa. It will focus on key sectors such as water; health; agriculture; biodiversity, oceans and coasts. 

In our efforts to finance the climate change response initiatives, South Africa has concluded bilateral agreements with Germany that will enable the provision of support to South Africa’s response initiatives through the Climate Support Programme, as well as the Government of Flanders in Belgium through the Third Country Support Strategy focusing on Climate Change Adaptation.

On partnering with higher education institutions, the Horticulture, Milling, Grain and Meat Industries have identified climate change as a key skills driver within their sectors. To this end, in responding to the emerging skills challenges, the AgriSETA, in collaboration with higher education institutions, is prioritising the training of Environmental Research Scientists, Conservation Officers, Environmental Officers, Research and Agricultural Scientists. 

These programmes will be predominantly driven through the allocation of bursaries and graduate placement programmes.  The other participating institutions include the Agricultural Research Council, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Water Research Commission, Universities of the Witwatersrand, Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Rhodes and the Free State, to mention a few. 

Furthermore, the National School of Government has included a mainstream climate change module into their Compulsory Induction Programme, which will benefit government officials at selected levels. 

In this regard, we call upon government, business and civil society to collectively participate in tackling challenges that are posed by climate change.

As a signatory to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, South Africa is committed to reduce emissions from the energy sector, in particular, in line with our 2016 intended Nationally Determined Contribution. 

Thank you very much.

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