1. Mr T N Mmutle (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
Given that South Africa will be assuming the Chairmanship of the BRICS nations in 2023,
(a) what strategic focus areas will South Africa advance during its tenure as the Chair of BRICS and
(b) how will South Africa ensure the advancement of the South-South Agenda, including the reform of the United Nations Security Council?
South Africa is chairing the BRICS group of countries in 2023 under the theme, “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism.”
South Africa will host the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China at the 15th BRICS Summit from 22 to 24 August 2023.
The BRICS group brings together some 3.2 billion people. After the United Nations and the Non-Aligned Movement, BRICS is among the largest bloc of countries by total population.
As part of our strategic intent to further advance the African development agenda within the BRICS group, we are inviting several other African leaders to the summit.
One of the priorities during our chairship is to build a partnership between BRICS and Africa to unlock mutually beneficial opportunities for increased trade, investment and infrastructure development.
We are focusing in particular on opportunities that will generate economic growth on the continent, particularly through the African Continental Free Trade Area and infrastructure. There are great opportunities for BRICS countries to participate in infrastructure development and the AfCFTA by locating production and services activities in the continent and partnering with local companies and entrepreneurs.
Another strategic priority is strengthening multilateralism, including working toward real reform of global governance institutions and strengthening the meaningful participation of women in peace processes.
Our priorities respond to challenges and opportunities that are shared by South Africa and other BRICS members.
They are also responsive to the needs and concerns of the broader global South.
One of the founding values of BRICS is the need to restructure the global political, economic and financial architecture to be more equitable, balanced and representative.
The BRICS countries agree that the United Nations must remain at the centre of multilateralism and be reformed to make it more effective, inclusive and representative of the global community. This includes reform of the UN Security Council to ensure that African countries and other countries of the Global South are properly represented and that their interests are effectively advanced.
A practical example of the contribution of BRICS to the advancement of the South-South agenda is the New Development Bank, which was established by BRICS countries in 2015 to provide financial support to emerging market and developing economies for infrastructure and sustainable development.
The Bank has to date approved eleven projects in South Africa, valued at around R100 billion in areas like road improvement, ports, water provision and energy.
In 2021, the Bank welcomed Bangladesh, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay as new members firmly positioning the Bank as an important global financing mechanism for emerging markets and developing economies.
The BRICS relationship extends beyond the governments of the member countries. Bodies like the BRICS Business Council, BRICS Women’s Business Alliance, BRICS Think Tanks Council and BRICS Civil Forum ensure that the opportunities of this association are explored across society. The relationship seeks to promote people-to-people contact, including among youth formations. Among other things, this person-to-person contact enhances travel and tourism between BRICS countries.
In all, there are some 190 meetings and events taking place during the course of this year.
Through its chairship, South Africa will continue to work with its BRICS partners to pursue the African agenda for growth, development and integration and to advocate for the needs and concerns of the Global South.
I thank you.
2. The Leader of the Opposition (DA) to ask the President of the Republic:
Whether, notwithstanding his first State of the Nation Address in 2018 in which he noted the importance of securing the full involvement of the community in the fight against crime and that it is at the local level that crime is most effectively combatted, the murder rate has, however, increased by 40% from 56 to 82 murders in each day on average under his watch, he will consider the fact that international best practice shows that policing is more effective when it is brought closer to the people and considered as part of the social compact which is now 295 days late, to include as one of the measures, devolving the policing functions as permitted in terms of sections 99 and 206 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
It is correct that in order for policing to be more effective, it needs to occur closer to the people and together with the people.
However, it is incorrect to suggest that this can only be achieved through the devolution of policing powers to provinces or municipalities.
A central pillar of our fight against crime is to ensure that communities are able to contribute to improving local safety and security through effective Community Policing Forums.
In line with the recommendations of the Expert Panel into the July 2021 Civil Unrest, we have taken steps to ensure that there are CPFs at all police stations throughout the country.
To date, a total of 1,156 police stations in the country have active CPFs.
The SAPS Act is being amended to strengthen the functioning of CPFs including through the provision of adequate resources.
Government does not have a policy on devolving policing powers to provinces as policing is a national competency.
The Constitution is clear on this. Section 199(1) of the Constitution says:
“The security services of the Republic consist of a single defence force, a single police service and any intelligence services established in terms of the Constitution.”
Furthermore, Section 205(1) of the Constitution says:
“The national police service must be structured to function in the national, provincial and, where appropriate, local spheres of government.”
The National Commissioner is, in terms of Section 207 of the Constitution, responsible to control and manage the police service, in accordance with the national policing policy and directions of the Minister of Police.
In terms of Chapter 11 of the Constitution, the responsibility of the National Commissioner to control and manage the single national police service cannot be transferred to a member of the Provincial Executive Council or to a Municipal Council.
In keeping with the requirements of the Constitution, we are working to build an integrated police service ensures effective governance and accountability and optimal coordination and alignment across the three spheres of government.
The fight against crime will not be advanced through the devolution of policing powers, but by mobilising all available resources and capabilities – working alongside and within communities – to improve policing throughout the country.
I thank you.
3. Mr J S Malema (EFF) to ask the President of the Republic:
Whether, since his reply to oral question 3 on 17 March 2022, in which he acknowledges that crime statistics remain stubbornly high and following the publishing of the third quarter crime statistics by the Minister of Police, Mr B H Cele, which shows that crime across the board is escalating in the Republic, he is still confident that the Minister and National Commissioner of Police, both of whom he has appointed to lead the Government’s fight to rid the Republic of crime, are competent and able to do so; if not, what steps does he intend to take in this regard; if so, what is the basis for his confidence?
The escalation of crime and violence is one of the greatest challenges facing the country today.
To a large extent, crime and violence is rooted in the social and economic conditions that prevail in our country, which have worsened significantly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. These conditions are characterised by extreme inequality and poverty, spatial segregation and high levels of unemployment.
Many of the factors that contribute to crime go far beyond the scope of the mandate of the Department of Police.
A background note prepared for the World Bank in 2019, for example, notes that:
“South Africa’s current challenges of crime and violence are rooted in a legacy of exclusion and uneven development. Crime and violence are consistently concentrated amongst excluded geographic and racial groups, where opportunities for socio-economic advancement continue to fall short of real need, resulting in frustrated expectations.”
Therefore, central to the programme of government and our ongoing engagement with social partners are measures to address the social and economic conditions that fuel crime.
At the same time, effective policing is critical to curbing crime and violence.
I am confident that the Minister and National Commissioner of Police are competent and able to lead the government’s collaborative approach to building a South Africa where all people are and feel safe.
The Department of Police, under the leadership of the Minister, developed the Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy.
This Strategy complements other interventions that respond to crime and violence, such as victim support, access to justice, improvements to policing and strengthening of the criminal justice system.
The South African Police Service has also developed a National Policing Strategy, which was approved in September 2022 and is currently being implemented.
The National Policing Strategy include an initiative to increase the number of SAPS members which will improve visibility and capacity. It also involves skilling more specialised units, such as the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units, Organised Crime Units, Public Order Units, Tactical Response Teams and others.
The police continue to undertake targeted operations in crime hotspots. These include operations to tackle cross border crime between Mozambique and KwaZulu-Natal and the deployment of multi-disiplinary teams to counter the recent gang-related shootings in Westbury and surrounding areas in Johannesburg.
The turnaround of the DNA backlog has almost been concluded and capacity at the Forensic Science Laboratories has been enhanced.
We have seen the value of cooperation between the police and other law enforcement entities through the Fusion Centre. By the end of 2022, 193 people had been charged in COVID-related corruption cases, 42 court cases had been finalised with 40 convictions. This represents a 95 per cent conviction rate.
Ultimately, crime is not just a policing issue but also a societal issue. That is why the strengthening of Community Policing Forums and other community-based initiatives is an essential part of an effective response to crime.
The ‘Community in Blue’ initiative, for example, complements the work of CPFs. It encourages more citizens to be involved in community safety in a structured way. It promotes reporting of criminal activities and suspicious behaviour, increases visibility in order to deter criminal activities and promotes community participation in crime prevention initiatives.
The fight against crime and violence requires great effort and focus. It needs an integrated strategy that harnesses all the capabilities of the police and criminal justice system, alongside the efforts of broader society.
I thank you.
4. Ms J Hermans (ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
Noting that in order to build the social compact for the implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), the issue of building state capability, capacity, skills and cohesion in the three spheres of Government is critical for the implementation of strategic infrastructure projects, what are the plans of the Government post the audit of the civil service to build a capable developmental state for the implementation of the ERRP?
In October 2020, in response to the severe health, social and economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, government announced the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. The plan was founded on engagements among social partners, including government, labour, business and community based organisations.
For the plan to succeed, government identified several key enablers. These include regulatory changes, a supportive policy environment and enabling conditions for ease of doing business. They also include a capable state and effective social compacts.
In this year’s State of the Nation Address, I spoke of the centrality of a capable and effective state in addressing the country’s key challenges of poverty, inequality, unemployment, load-shedding, crime and corruption.
We are therefore working to build a public service staffed by men and women who are professional, skilled, selfless and honest. This includes implementation of the Professionalisation of the Public Service Framework. The Framework proposes fundamental reforms, including a stronger emphasis on merit-based recruitment and appointments, integrity testing before recruitment, revising the tenure of Heads of Departments, and curriculum development for ongoing learning of public servants.
In the State of the Nation Address, I announced that the National School of Government will work with other organs of state to conduct skills audits in infrastructure and frontline service departments.
The skills audits will help to accelerate the professionalisation of our civil service. It will help us determine whether critical skills do exist to effectively deliver economic infrastructure and essential social services.
The key infrastructure and frontline service departments that will participate in the first phase of the skills audit are Transport, Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Cooperative Governance, Public Works and Infrastructure, Home Affairs, Social Development, and Employment and Labour
To enable departments to deliver services more effectively and efficiently and to establish a single public administration, amendments have been drafted to the Public Service Act and the Public Administration Management Act.
The Department of Public Service and Administration is leading the Building State Capacity Programme. This is intended to develop appropriate interventions and initiatives to enable the state to deliver efficiently, effectively and responsively.
This includes collaboration and partnerships with other departments and entities, Chapter 9 institutions, oversight bodies, academia, research organisations, civil society and the private sector.
For example, in February 2022, the Department of Public Service and Administration entered into an MOU with the Auditor-General of South Africa to audit compliance in areas such as filling of vacancies, performance management and institutional development.
There are multiple plans and interventions to ensure the successful implementation of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
While we face significant challenges, they are not insurmountable. With our social partners, through best practice and by replicating what has shown to work, we will succeed in overcome these challenges.
I thank you.
5. Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) to ask the President of the Republic:
Whether he intends to dissolve the Department of Public Enterprises and house state-owned enterprises in their respective line function departments; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
South Africa has more than 100 state-owned enterprises.
Our state-owned enterprises play a crucial role in the provision of public goods and infrastructure to enable economic growth. But they can only do so if they are properly capitalised and managed and if they have the capability and resources to carry out that role effectively.
We have made significant progress in restoring good governance at our SOEs and undoing the immense damage that was done by state capture.
As I announced in the State of the Nation Address, government is undertaking a far-reaching reconfiguration of our state-owned enterprises landscape.
This process of reconfiguration takes the overall approach that SOEs that operate in specific sectors of the economy should be placed under the relevant government departments.
This is currently the case for most SOEs. The only exceptions are the seven state-owned companies that are in the portfolio of the Department of Public Enterprises.
The reconfiguration process is supported by the work of the Presidential SOE Council, which, among other things, has made proposals to strengthen the framework governing SOEs and determining an appropriate Shareholder Ownership Model.
Among the recommendations of the Presidential SOE Council is the adoption of a centralised shareholder model for the management of the SOEs and that a state-owned holding company be established to house strategic SOCs and to exercise coordinated shareholder oversight. This will delineate the functions of policymaking and regulation from the shareholding and operations of those SOCs. Policy-making and regulation will reside in the relevant departments.
A holding company will instil effective governance and enhance the efficiency of SOCs to achieve the Government’s developmental objectives, ensure increased transparency and accountability and promote the commercial sustainability of SOCs.
A state-owned holding company would enable streamlined governance processes, transparent financial systems, economies of scale in procurement, shared transactional services and adequate funding to SOEs to fulfil their respective mandates.
The Presidential SOE Council is in the midst of an in-depth exercise to establish the strategic and developmental role of each SOE, their financial position and operational capabilities. As part of this work, the Council will make recommendations on which SOCs could be placed in the proposed holding company.
As I said in the State of the Nation Address, the Presidency and National Treasury will work together to rationalise government departments, entities and programmes over the next three years.
This work – which will review the role of all departments, including the Department of Public Enterprises – will inform the configuration of government going into the next administration.
I thank you.
6. Dr P J Groenewald (FF Plus) to ask the President of the Republic:
Whether, in light of the fact that section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, has not been amended, he intends referring the Expropriation Bill to the Constitutional Court to determine the constitutionality thereof, before he will assent thereto; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details?
The Expropriation Bill is currently in the National Council of Provinces.
My constitutional obligation, in terms of section 79 of the Constitution, is to satisfy myself of the constitutionality of a Bill before I assent to it.
If I have reservations about the constitutionality of a Bill once I receive it – and only once I receive it – am I constitutionally obliged to send it back to this House first. The Constitution only provides for a role for the Constitutional Court if I am not satisfied with the constitutionality of a Bill after this House has reconsidered it.
I cannot make such a determination until Parliament has finalised its work and the Bill is on my desk for assent.
As I have previously said to this House, the Expropriation Bill is critical to addressing a hunger that people have for land.
Deprivation of land was central to the disenfranchisement and dispossession of the majority of South Africans.
Addressing this historical injustice is critical to realising the promise of our Constitutional dispensation. This principle is entrenched in our Constitution, where section 25 speaks of the “nation’s commitment to land reform, and to reforms to bring about equitable access to all South Africa’s natural resources”.
The state is enjoined in our Constitution to “take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis”. We are also empowered to “[take] legislative and other measures to achieve land, water and related reform to redress the results of past discrimination”.
We are committed to respecting our Constitution and fulfilling its promises.
I thank you.