20 March 2018

South Africa: Deputy President David Mabuza - Replies to Questions in the National Assembly

press release

QUESTION 1 - DEPUTY PRESIDENT DAVID MABUZA ON SOCIAL COHESION , GENDER BASED VIOLENCE AND ECONOMIC INCLUSION OF WOMEN

Honourable Members, let us agree that social cohesion is the capacity of a society to ensure the well-being of all its members in a manner that minimises socio-economic disparities, thereby avoiding polarisation in society.

The reality of our country that we cannot ignore is that we are a plural society with notable racial, religious, ethnic and cultural diversity. The critical point is how we manage such diversity in a manner that supports our collective and mutual development.

A cohesive society must be able to balance all such contradictions in a mutually reinforcing manner, and work towards reducing if not eliminating inequalities in society. Once these inequalities are deep, they can lead to serious polarization that can produce social instability.

Therefore, the question that needs to be interrogated is whether our current social cohesion initiatives are working to produce the desired results.

I hold a view that the mere hosting of events that are narrowly around arts, sports and cultural heritage without substantively interrogating the source of social fragmentation and divisions, is not assisting in this programme.

The fundamental question that we must ask is - are we addressing the actual issues or we are glossing over them?

For as long as deep inequalities exist, whether as a result of wealth disparities or extreme poverty and joblessness that cause hopelessness, sport and cultural events would not holistically produce a common ground that will make people feel they belong.

Let me reiterate that as the ANC government, we are committed to building a country where people determine their own destiny through exercising their own initiative and determination to succeed, and not by their race and certainly not their gender.

We meet in this Parliament of our people during Human Rights Month and in a year celebrating the centenary births of our mother, Albertina Nontsikelelo Sisulu and founding President, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

One of the enduring legacies of this Parliament was to craft our Constitution which President Mandela signed into law at Sharpeville on International Human Rights Day on 10 December 1996.

Our Constitution envisages a democratic state founded on "Human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms."

Born from the evil experience of racial hatred and discrimination, sexism, and patriarchy, the Constitution enjoins us to give birth to a new society founded on human dignity, non-racialism, and non-sexism.

Violence perpetrated against women is an offence against the founding values of the supreme law of the Republic, our Constitution.

Prejudice and discrimination against women is a violation of the Constitution and all that we seek to build as a nation.

A nation that undermines the aspirations of women and oppresses them can have no peace, no social cohesion, and no development.

The neglect and social exclusion of women in our democratic breakthrough would mean a betrayal of the liberation struggle and of freedom stalwarts like Charlotte Maxeke, Ruth First, Dorothy Nyembe, Amina Cachalia, Winnie Mandela and many more.

Our liberation struggle was not just about ending national oppression.

It was also about ending the triple oppression of women. As mothers, sisters, and daughters, black women were oppressed on the basis of race, class, and gender.

The ANC-led government remains seized with this historic task of ensuring the full emancipation of women.

We are keenly aware, as feminist author Bell Hooks demonstrates, that patriarchy all over the world remains pervasive because it is insidious, and has no gender.

Patriarchy remains omnipresent in our language, idioms, metaphors, stories, myths, and performances.

The liberation of women demands that those who are a source of life - women - are also freed from sexist and oppressive language that is packaged as transcendental truth or ancient wisdom.

That is what our times require. That is what the new revolution of the soul warrants. This is what radical economic emancipation demands.

Forty-five years ago, the revolutionary Samora Machel warned that, "The emancipation of women is not an act of charity, the result of a humanitarian or compassionate attitude. The liberation of women is a fundamental necessity for the revolution, a guarantee of its continuity and a precondition for its victory."

The governing party, the ANC, is fully committed to gender parity and gender equality as a precondition of economic freedom in our lifetime.

We understand that women are the soul and fire, not just of the ANC, but of our nation. They are the indestructible dream of our ancestors.

We say Malibongwe because our women are the 'bricks and mortar' building the dreams of a resilient nation.

The 54th National Conference of the ANC once again committed to the fifty-fifty gender representation at local, provincial, and national government.

More needs to be done by other political parties. More needs to be done in the private sector to empower women. And more needs to be done to keep girls in the classroom, in training, in employment, and in enterprise development.

Our commitment, therefore, to ensure women's participation in the economy is unequivocal, but these initiatives have no chance of success if women continue to bear the brunt of gender-based violence, usually at the hands of their intimate partners.

Essentially, I am saying programmes that seek to build social cohesion, must operate from a basis of empowerment that will address gender inequality, bring a sense of security for the vulnerable and address the wealth gap that is racial in character.

I thank you.

QUESTION 2 - ON MORAL REGENERATION AND FOUNDING VALUES OF SOUTH AFRICANS

Honourable Speaker, we meet in this Parliament of our people during Human Rights Month. One of the enduring legacies of this Parliament was to craft the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa that President Mandela signed into law at Sharpville on 10 December 1996, which happened to be an International Human Rights Day.

In adopting the Constitution, we said we want to, "Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights."

We entered into a covenant with the nation that through this Constitution, we will "Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law."

The Constitution remains our moral compass and the loadstar to a society in which we all should work to "improve the quality of life of all citizens and in which we free the potential of each person."

Honourable Members, moral regeneration is a fundamental pillar of building a cohesive and caring society founded on ethical values, and a foundation on which the society that we envision should be built on. When in government we speak of building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society, an objective reality we have to contend with, is how we build this society from the polarised past that shaped our history.

It was under the sterling leadership of President Mandela that we agreed that our country needed an 'RDP of the soul'.

We were a society in pain due to years of oppression, marginalisation, deprivation as well as denial of civil and political rights. We had no common nationhood and the black majority of our country was treated as sub-human.

In many respects, the soul of our nation remained broken along the parallels of the ruler and the subject.

The heavy-handedness of security forces against the people, and the accompanying high levels of violent crimes experienced in society pointed to a spiritual malady of a nation seeking its renewal, its rebirth, its renaissance, and nation-building.

President Mandela said from our national spiritual sickness, "emerge the problems of greed and cruelty, of laziness and egotism, of personal and family failure."

This, he said, "helps fuel the problems of crime and even corruption and hinders our efforts to deal with them."

At the Moral Regeneration Summit in 1998, President Mandela pointed to the "symptoms of our spiritual malaise." They included, "corruption both in the public and private sector, where office and positions of responsibility are treated as opportunities for self-enrichment; the corruption that occurs within our justice system; violence in interpersonal relations and families, in particular the shameful record of abuse of women and children; and the extent of tax evasion and refusal to pay for services used."

From the onset, faith-based organisations and the public broadcaster were critical partners of the moral regeneration movement.

In 2008, South Africa's MRM Charter of Positive Values was presented to retired President Mandela. It was meant to be a cornerstone of ethics and a moral compass for our citizens. The Charter was intended to steer our nation towards the values of Ubuntu.

These were values derived from the Constitution: the respect for human rights, respect for others and their dignity, and upholding equality.

In the year of Nelson Mandela, we must be brutally honest and admit that the objectives of our moral regeneration movement have not produced the new citizen envisaged by our Constitution. The levels of violent crimes remain unacceptably high.

Girl children in particular and women, in general, remain victims of abuse at the hands of men that are supposed to treat them as fellow human beings and also to provide care for them. They are physically and emotionally abused, raped and murdered.

The fundamental human rights of those in vulnerable groups, including those with disabilities, those who have a mental illness, people living with albinism and the LGBTI community are violated.

Many of our churches are losing their moral standing in society. They are seen as places that financially exploit the poor, places that protect evil deeds of sexual abuse of young women and young men.

We look to the media, especially the public broadcaster as partners to conscientise society and expose this malaise. Perhaps not just to expose these social ills in society, but to allow society to dialogue about how to end these inhumane practices.

Any attack on the dignity of any person in our society is a violation of our Constitution. The justice system must bite. Even though laws and their enforcement alone will not heal and transform our nation, people need to have confidence in the justice system that it will ensure justice for both the victim and the perpetrator.

Honourable members, the moral regeneration campaign remains a critical pillar for our collective future. Our renewed energy and focus on moral regeneration work will be anchored on a broad-based and inclusive approach that allows all key sectors across the social spectrum to make positive contributions. Among others, these sectors include religious leaders, traditional leaders, women's organizations, men's organisations, youth formations, people with disabilities, political and cultural formations, the private sector, and all other interested civil society formations.

We have begun with consultations to finalise a clear programme of detailed engagements with specific sectors that we have already identified. In the coming weeks, we will be meeting with the relevant sectors to assess progress to date, identify challenges and areas of improvement, and ensure that a new and more inclusive Programme of Action is developed to guide our work going forward.

As Deputy President of the Republic, one of my responsibilities is to provide leadership on these critical issues confronting our nation, and to reverse what Nelson Mandela characterised as the moral malaise of our nation.

As leaders, we must collectively seize the moment presented to us by the positive mood that is prevailing across our country, and lead this process of building on what unites us as a nation.

I thank you.

QUESTION 3 - ON GOVERNMENT STRATEGY TO ADDRESS ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS

Honourable Members one of the biggest problems confronting the developing world today, especially the African continent, is the illicit and illegal movements of money, extraction and capital flight of our natural resources.

Correctly defined these illicit financial flows should for us be characterised as the re-and-neo colonisation of a special type. They constitute organised crime just as corruption, tax-evasion and racketeering steals from the national fiscus.

These are monies that could be better spent on economic infrastructure, education and social services. It is monies that could be better spent on growth, development, deficit reduction and the reduction of indebtedness across the African continent.

In the final analysis, these illicit financial flows steal from the people. Accordingly, they should not be treated lightly as misdemeanours, they should be recognised for what they are - organised crime and corruption. They represent a significant opportunity cost on the poor. They create deeper inequality, unemployment and need.

We, therefore, need to respond in equal measure and with the requisite firmness, decisiveness and strong legislative and criminal justice mechanisms to root out this crime. A further problem confronting especially the African continent, concerns the illegal movements of money or capital from one country to another.

Globally, this phenomenon of illicit financial flows manifests itself in various ways, including amongst others:

import and export trade mis-invoicing to evade customs duties, VAT, or income taxes,

using trade-based money laundering techniques by mixing money from legal sales with money from the proceeds of crime such as drug sales,

using off-shore shell companies to transfer money from one country to another, as well as

the illegal cross-border transfer of goods to evade customs and taxes

The report by the AU's high-level panel on illicit flows, led by former President Mbeki, gives an indication of how Africa's development is negatively constrained by illicit financial flows as resources for development are diverted inappropriately.

There seems to be a consensus that we need improved and sustained cooperation among countries to tackle the problem of illicit financial flows.

As South Africa, we will continue to cooperate with the rest of the continent and the world to stem the tide of illicit financial outflows. More specifically, it is critical to strengthen the capacity of our institutions to institute measures and strict controls that enable us to detect and prevent illicit financial flows and profit shifting. There has to be seamless coordination between the Reserve Bank, SARS, the Financial Intelligence Centre, and all law enforcement agencies.

Consequently, the South African government has implemented a number of interventions to enable the fight against illicit financial flows. The Reserve Bank monitors outflows and inflows through the administration of exchange controls in terms of a delegation by the Minister of Finance.

To the extent that the Reserve Bank and Financial Intelligence Centre identifies any criminal violations, they report such activities to the prosecuting authorities over and above any administrative action they may take. The Reserve Bank and SARS work closely together to monitor capital flow movements.

Applications for cross-border transactions often require tax clearance by the SARS to ensure that tax risks are being reduced. On-going interaction between the two means that attempts to move capital offshore for tax reasons are reduced. Yes, much more still needs to be done. However, we are yet to see the attendant criminal justice responses and consequences to curb this crime.

The poor expect us to act and intervene on their behalf as a state. They expect that we should treat crimes of greed with the same ferocity that we treat petty crime.

For our part as Government, we have generated the consensus and sustained cooperation necessary to tackle the problem at a multinational level.

For your part as the legislature, you must engage whether you should not initiate the necessary legislative consequence that befit corporate crimes. More specifically we are strengthening our institutional capacity to monitor, detect and prevent profit shifting.

The Reserve Bank, SARS, the Financial Intelligence Centre, and all law enforcement agencies are reporting seamless co-ordination but we need to see more action. The day we see arrests, the public will be confident that the law is taking its course. Our people need to see the prosecuting authorities act and they need to see administrative action that recovers the proceeds of crime.

I thank you.

QUESTION 4 - ON FEE-FREE QUALITY HIGHER EDUCATION AND ITS VALUE TO THE COUNTRY'S HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY

The issue that needs to be addressed is the nature of the relationship between the human resource development strategy and development. For the country to develop, we need a skilled workforce so that as a nation, we are able to raise our competitiveness and are able to respond to the dictates of a modern economy. Therefore our skills development interventions must respond to what we want to achieve in our agenda for national development.

Access to higher education has always been an issue for the poor. The fee- free education addresses the barrier that is prohibitive to the development of the poor and their escape from poverty. We have thus introduced a fee- free quality education to ensure that we open the doors for the poor who would ordinarily not have access to higher education.

The provision of fee-free higher education is a victory for all the people of South Africa. It is a victory for the sacrifices of generations of freedom fighters like John Langalibalele Dube, Oliver Tambo, Braam Fischer, Yusuf Daidoo, Helen Joseph, Anton Lubowski and Idah Mtwana.

It is a victory for our heroic youth like Solomon Mahlangu, Andrew Zondo, Ashrely Kriel who were killed on the apartheid gallows for fighting for the vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.

It's a victory for the 1950s Congress movement and a late South African teacher, Eskia Mphahlele who read to the Freedom Charter delegates in Kliptown that, "The Doors of Learning and Culture Shall Be Opened."

It is the victory for our fallen children, Hastings Ndlovu, Hector Petersen, and many others whose lives were brutally cut shot on 16 June 1976 and afterwards. In achieving this generational mission of opening the doors of learning to children of domestic workers, gardeners, mine workers, teachers and the unemployed we are, day by day, realising the transformational imperative in our Constitutional democracy.

The preamble of the Constitution also enjoins us to "recognise the injustices of our past [and] to honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land."

And we have no doubt that this august house, this people's Parliament will continue to work in unison to ensure that no one renders meaningless this dream of the millions of our impoverished masses who need education to improve their lives.

And let us always be guided by the wise counsel of our founding President Nelson Mandela who said,

"Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworkers can become the head of the mines, that a child of farm workers can become president of a great nation. "

Honourable Members, one of the main pillars of the Human Resource Strategy is the supply of adequate skills, especially scarce skills, through further and higher education and training.

Fee-free higher education will ensure that students will now concentrate on learning. If they focus on their core business of learning, we expect that overall performance will improve. The unique feature of fee free higher education is the funding of the total cost - meals, education, books, accommodation, and other needs.

Thus far, the challenge for many students is that they were partially funded. Previously, financial support tended to cover some aspects and not all of the needs of students. Through fee-free higher education, we expect improved performance by students.

QUESTION 5 - ON SOUTH AFRICA'S RELATIONS WITH THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

Honourable Members, South Africa and the People's Republic of China (PRC) established diplomatic relations on 1 January 1998. South Africa and China have reached a historic milestone as the two countries celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations this year.

The diplomatic relations between the two countries have grown significantly over the past 20 years. The nature of the relations has also assumed increased strategic significance, from a Partnership in 2000 leading to the establishment of the Bi-National Commission in 2001, to a Strategic Partnership in 2008 and to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2010, with the signing of the Beijing Declaration. Despite all these developments, China has never dictated to us as to what we should do or how we should manage our domestic policy and affairs.

When establishing diplomatic relations with China on 01 January 1998, South Africa was recognising the People's Republic of China (PRC) as the legitimate Chinese Government. South Africa recognises the PRC as the sole Government representing the whole of China.

It is our stated position, both domestically and in multilateral fora, that South Africa identifies Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China. Accordingly, we subscribe to the One China Policy.

As a sovereign state, none of our international partnerships have an overriding influence over our domestic policy.

There is no bilateral or multilateral partnership we have entered into that has dictated the policy agenda we must pursue. We are a sovereign nation and we tirelessly guard our sovereignty.

Similarly, we carefully consider diplomatic relations and international relations in determining our VISA requirements. However, none of these are influenced solely by protest, manipulation and/or popular action.

We place a strict separation between VISAs determined by the Department of Home Affairs and Official and Diplomatic VISAs issued in concurrence with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. South Africa treats each VISA application on its own merits.

We will from time to time accept or reject applications in accordance with our national interest and rule of law. South Africa does not have a policy of denying entry to people of Tibetan origin.

I wish to assure the Honourable Singh that the People's Republic of China respects bilateral and multilateral mechanisms available to her to pursue matters of common national interest. It is common course that People's Republic of China does not interfere in the domestic affairs of her partners.

I thank you.

QUESTION 6 - ON RADICAL SOCIO- ECONOMIC TRANSFORMATION

Honourable Shaik-Emam, poverty and unemployment are a daily lived experience of the poor in our country. It is a matter of fact that those in poverty are in the main black youth and women. This is a reality we cannot shy away from, but one that we must face and defeat.

The deep scars of underdevelopment caused by apartheid in its deliberate design of socio-economic exclusion over many years, cannot be left unchallenged. It must be confronted with greater urgency and focused interventions.

Whereas we have made progress in fighting poverty and mitigating its devastating effect on our people through social security interventions, the reality is that throngs of our youth remain on the margins of the economy as a result of the high unemployment rate.

The extent of poverty has declined somewhat, but its intensity for those in lower bound poverty has increased. This is a ticking time-bomb that we have to confront and tackle with utmost urgency.

That is why the President pronounced that we will be implementing a radical socio-economic transformation programme to effect these required changes for the upliftment of our people. At the heart of this transformation, is to address the patterns of economic ownership and means of production. Chief among these, is land reform which this House has debated, passed a resolution on, and agreed on an agenda for a Constitutional process for land reform.

It is not lost on us that we must implement this radical socio-economic transformation agenda within a constrained environment, which sometimes takes an antagonistic posture by financial market forces. We are mindful that these market forces may invariably seek to limit political and policy decisions by government.

That is why we have opted for a Constitutional reform route in order to implement this programme in a well-structured approach, thereby bringing certainty on the path of reforms we are taking.

The fact of the matter is that as a developmental state, we cannot afford to leave the project of transformation to the whims of market forces. The state must actively participate as a driver for meaningful transformation. In this way, we can address the legacies of the past that created a thriving section of the population whilst condemning the majority to the margins of economic activity.

In implementing a programme of radical socio-economic transformation, we are guided by the blueprint of a society we want to build as agreed to by our people and expressed in the Freedom Charter. Therefore land reform and transformation of economic patterns of ownership and production will continue to be implemented with much vigour.

As to how fast we move, those of us elected as public representatives in this august House, must work hard and work with speed in passing the required legislative reforms.

We have to identify and agree on a set of strategic issues and tactical considerations facing our nation.

There are areas of implementation in the immediate present that respond to the pressing challenges, which include strategic procurement from SMMEs and their payment on time to keep their cash flow in the positive.

For government, we must deepen the building of the capacity of the state as a driver for inclusive economic growth. We remain convinced that the state has a fundamental role in the economy through affirmative action aimed at inclusive economic participation to address deep socio-economic disparities and inequality in our country.

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency

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