South Africa: Deputy President David Mabuza - Reply to Questions in Parliament

press release

Oral Replies by Deputy President David Mabuza to the National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town

Question:

On government intervention mechanisms to improve service delivery within municipalities and improving municipal revenue collection plans.

Reply:

Thank you Deputy Speaker,

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Service Delivery at District Level is an important institutional mechanism to coordinate, and align government's interventions to support municipalities in addressing service delivery bottlenecks and key developmental challenges that negatively impact on the quality of lives of ordinary citizens.

The President established the Inter-Ministerial Committee in order to improve the overall performance and the state of local government in respect of key legislative mandates of governance, integrated development and service delivery.

The ongoing work that the Inter-Ministerial Committee is seized with constitutes the core component of the President's Coordinating Council agenda focusing on providing integrated and holistic support to municipalities.

Through the participation of Provincial Premiers and SALGA, the PCC is an important intergovernmental platform to direct, consolidate, and provide rapid leadership responses to challenges facing municipalities, including overall financial sustainability and the implementation of revenue enhancement strategies within municipalities.

Where existing and potential challenges have been identified, the IMC has a responsibility to ensure that rapid intervention plans are developed and implemented within the framework of the District-Based Delivery Model that government has adopted.

More importantly, the IMC on Service Delivery at District Level is tasked with providing political oversight and leadership in the implementation of the District-Based Delivery model to foster coordination, coherence, collaboration, and integration across all government spheres in the development and execution of one common intergovernmental plan within a defined District municipal space.

In the main, this new model calls for better alignment of infrastructure investment plans, joined-up implementation of sector plans, as well as efficient and effective intergovernmental systems to deploy limited fiscal resources for better impact on the ground.

In the process of implementation, government is committed to broad-based community inclusion, participation and empowerment in a manner that deepens social cohesion and stability.

Partnerships with the private sector and other non-state sectors are underway to ensure that everyone's contribution is brought to bear in building the country of our dreams together.

Embedded in the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee at District Level is our focus on the integrity and resilience of governance systems to give effect to the implementation of key service delivery and development priorities. These include the implementation of effective financial management systems and controls that ensure the long- term financial stability and sustainability of each municipality.

As part of the package of integrated support to improve the performance of municipalities, the national and provincial departments of COGTA, National Treasury, and Provincial Treasuries are supporting municipalities in the area of revenue collection to ensure that municipalities are able to meet their service delivery obligations.

I am advised that to date, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs has piloted a Simplified Revenue Plan Project in 42 selected municipalities, which is aimed at enhancing the municipal revenue management and debt collection system in local government. Progress on these municipalities is closely monitored by COGTA and the National Treasury.

The successful implementation of the revenue plan will result in improved revenue management, reduced municipal consumer debt and protection of municipal revenue.

The objective of the Simplified Revenue Plan Project is to assist municipalities to review and improve the generic replicable model of the revenue plan.

Targeted support is being provided to distressed municipalities to ensure that critical areas of revenue enhancement are strengthened and institutionalised.

Some of the key measures include:

Ensuring that revenue policies are in place;

Ensuring that clear credit control policies are implemented with no exception;

Putting in place accurate and credible billing systems, including the installation of meters for basic services such as water and electricity;

Ensuring that everyone who should be paying is actually paying property rates and services;

Monitoring of debtors' accounts to ensure those who must pay meet their obligations on time;

Implementing effective control systems to prevent revenue leakages, wastages, and corrupt practices that deplete money that has already been collected.

With these interventions, we are certain that improvements will be made on integrated development and delivery of services within our municipalities.

I thank you.

Question:

On measures adopted by government to address the concerns that were raised by rating agencies regarding slow economic growth, sustainability of our State-Owned Enterprises and the rising government debt.

Reply:

Deputy Speaker,

Our Government is tirelessly working to address the concerns that were raised by rating agencies. These concerns include slow economic growth, sustainability of our State-Owned Enterprises and the rising government debt.

Our collective efforts must help the country to not only mitigate the risks for downgrades but also to return it to a healthy investment rating. It is in our interest as South Africans to unite in championing sustainable efforts to collectively address the concerns raised by the rating agencies.

With clear focus and determination, it is possible to turn the tide.

The world still believes in South Africa and this interest was expressed when Team South Africa, led by Minister Ntshavheni, engaged with about 300 investors at the 2019 Nordic-Africa Business Association Summit held this past week in Oslo, Norway. Together with the Nordic countries, we are looking into areas of overlapping interest, and possibilities for cooperation in the blue economy, smart cities and advancing digital skills for the youth.

As Government we continue to advance domestic efforts towards creating an enabling environment for taking up these investments. In the short term, we need to speed up the implementation of the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan, which outlines a range of measures to ignite economic activity and build investor confidence.

We also continue to expedite the implementation of the 2018 Jobs Summit commitments, particularly on areas where business has identified inhibitors to investment.

Business is committed to working with government in finding solutions in the labour market to address the crisis of job losses in the country.

Under the leadership of the President, monthly meetings are held with business and labour to monitor progress on the implementation of the Jobs Summit commitments by all social partners. In these engagements, government has committed to identifying and dealing with legislative and policy inhibitors, and improving the ease of doing business.

The recently appointed Presidential Economic Advisory Council will play the much needed role of coordinating all these efforts and ensuring that all the necessary elements for sustainable economic recovery are in place. Our Government continues to strengthen partnerships with all the social partners. In particular, our ongoing engagements with the private sector are focused on ensuring that the Investment Conference commitments made in the past year are implemented.

We are encouraged by reports that substantial investment projects pledged in the Investment Conference have entered the implementation phase.

We call on all stakeholders to continue with their support at the 2nd Investment Conference to be held in November this year, a further opportunity to partner in advancing South Africa's investment book towards the 5 year target of 1.2 trillion Rands in investments. Through this Public-Private Growth Initiative, our country will see growth in investments that will turn the economy around.

South Africa's participation in African Continental Free Trade Agreement will provide opportunities for locally manufactured exports in the continent, thereby expanding further investment opportunities in the country.

Deputy Speaker, the establishment of the 100 billion Rands Infrastructure Fund is another initiative of the Sixth Administration aimed at improving fixed capital investment.

The other pillars include interventions to ease the cost of doing business; expanding the number of small businesses through the revitalisation of our township and rural economies, as well as macro-economic reform and increased competition.

Some of the immediate interventions include:

Exploring alternative options to lower electricity prices and eliminate potential load shedding.

Increase efficiency and reduce port costs to improve South Africa's global trade.

The Economic Regulation of Transport Bill will be presented to Cabinet soon.

A review of the Basic Fuel Price is being considered as part of a broader review of administered prices.

In the bid to boost tourism, 82 countries will now receive visa waivers as part of South Africa's visa regime waiver.

A policy directive that will guide the licensing of broadband spectrum has been issued.

Trade measures to safeguard key agricultural and other sectors and protect local jobs have been introduced.

Government's plan to revitalise industrial parks is in progress and three new parks have already been launched in 2019. Also, a new Special Economic Zone has been proposed for designation in Bojanala in the North West Province, andGovernment has adopted the "Khawuleza" District Coordination Model which is beginning to play a crucial role in supporting local economic drivers at district level, ultimately leading to job creation.

Deputy Speaker,

In the advancement of our developmental mandate, steps are already being taken to improve the financial and operational sustainability of SOEs as well as improving governance challenges. The restructuring of SOEs is expected to bring much needed stability and enable the entities to recapitalise and reduce the need for bailouts and guarantees from Government.

For example, the Special Appropriation Bill to provide additional financial support to Eskom for the current and next financial years was recently passed. This will assist in keeping Eskom afloat while work on its restructuring is being finalised.

With regard to the need to reduce debt, government has identified several possible fiscal interventions to narrow the budget deficit in an environment of uncertain economic growth.

Some of these measures include expenditure reprioritisation, implementation of austerity measures, curbing wastage, and reducing the wage bill.

The road ahead will not be easy, but our collective will to triumph is stronger and more resilient. We will turn the corner.With all the interventions that are currently being implemented, there are indications that we are making progress. Change is gaining traction.

The improvement of South Africa's ranking in the 2019 World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index provides a glimmer of hope that we are in the right direction, despite challenges ahead. South Africa improved from 67 out 140 countries in 2018 to 60 out of 141 countries in the 2019 report.

Among other key areas, improvements in the quality of institutions, health outcomes, adminstrative efficiency of the public sector, and corporate governance are a cause for hope that our policy reforms and programmes are bearing fruit.

Our government will continue to focus on steering our economy to a higher growth path that reduces the possibility of any current and future ratings downgrades.I thank you.

Question

With regards to aims and objectives of the Moral Regeneration Movement (MRM) including the financial support from government.

Reply

Honourable Members,

Nation building and social cohesion are key pillars of social progress and inclusive economic prosperity. A nation bound by a deep sense of cohesiveness, patriotism and national pride is built on the foundations of a shared purpose and common goals.

It is a nation defined by a common set of positive moral norms and values that guide our actions, behaviours and interactions in society.

The Moral Regeneration Movement remains a critical platform to galvanise and mobilise our society to advance the promotion of positive values and ethical conduct in a manner that confronts deep-seated challenges of moral decay within our communities.

Deputy Speaker,

The sustained and heinous attacks on women is a clear indication that our moral compass as a nation is dangerously out of tune with our common values of compassion, care, human dignity and Ubuntu.

The enquiry about the funding of the Moral Regeneration Movement is accompanied by a necessary reminder of ensuring that we effectively utilise such forums towards moral and ethical renewal and transformation of our society.

This renewal also requires that all citizens, young and old, take on their rightful roles in the war of redefining and reaffirming ourselves as moral beings, as citizens in living out values that are compatible with our democratic South Africa.

Currently the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture is the only government department which provides financial support to the Moral Regeneration Movement.

The financial support is 12 million Rands for three years, which amounts to just 4 Million Rands per-annum.

All support to the Moral Regeneration Movement is towards shaping the moral fibre of our society, thereby contributing to the project of nation-building.

As a civil society driven Movement that is supported by government, the Moral Regeneration Movement has been able to achieve a number of successful milestones which, with greater support from both state and non-state role-players, can be replicated and up-scaled.

Some of the key milestones include:

The establishment of structures in Provinces;

The development and adoption of the Charter of Positive Values by government and its social partners;

Mainstreaming of moral regeneration initiatives with respect to people in conflict with the law in partnership with the Department of Correctional Services;

Honouring domestic workers for their role as pillars of homes/families and within society;

Charter of Election Ethics, focusing on the values and ethics of the general elections by voters, those voted for and those administering the elections;

Anti-Femicide Campaign in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, South African Police Service, Department of Social Development and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, focusing on community engagements with respect to measures that can be taken to address femicide and child abuse.

As government, we will continue to support the work of the Moral Regeneration Movement, including addressing some of the capacity constraints that the Board has raised during our interactions.

We have also agreed on structured collaboration with key national departments, provinces and municipalities to ensure broad-based, multi-stakeholder participation in national moral regeneration programmes.

This will require the existence of vibrant Moral Regeneration Movement structures at local levels to bring communities together to promote moral renewal, ethical conduct, and cohesive communities.

It is the responsibility of all South Africans, particularly us seated here, to be agents of the work that is being led by the Moral Regeneration Movement and other similar organisations. The Charter of Positive Values must feature prominently in the Programme of Action of Government including in our schools and all public facilities.

To further on this work, next month my office in partnership with the National Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, and the Moral Regeneration Movement will, convene a national consultative session to evaluate the work of the Moral Regeneration Movement.

More is needed from us all as social partners to step up in our nation building efforts. In this regard, we engage the private sector to solicit increased financial contribution and participation in this nation-building effort.

We need to wage war on violence that threatens to undo the gains that we have made towards ensuring the safety of women, youth and all those who live and work in our beautiful country.

I thank you.

Question

On government strategies to achieve gender equity in the job market and to address the shortage of skills.

Reply

Honourable Member, we fully agree with your statement that we have more young women graduates from our institutions of higher education but fewer of them are being absorbed into the labour force.

According to the Council on Higher Education's Vital Stats, 59 487 women graduated with degrees from public universities in 2017 compared to 36 627 men. A similar trend is evident when considering students who graduated with diplomas and certificate qualifications.

Yet, women remain the most affected by unemployment in comparison to men. And, this has consistently been shown by the Quarterly Labour Force Surveys conducted by Statistics South Africa since 2011.

This is a serious cause for concern.

The systematic exclusion of women, and workplace discriminatory practices are rooted in patriarchal culture, social systems of male dominance, and gender stereotypes that undermine the role and standing of women in society.

These social norms and gender stereotypes tend to be replicated in recruitment and selection processes for employment.

In a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and equal society, this injustice cannot be allowed to continue.

As Government, we will continue with efforts to ensure that we make more progress in ensuring the representation of women.

As part of the broader social transformation agenda, the empowerment of women across all facets of life experience is meant to eliminate all structural and social barriers that prevent women from accessing equal opportunities as men, including employment opportunities.

There is no doubt that transforming the world of work for women and ensuring their inclusion into economic growth and mainstream economic activities requires the elimination of discriminatory laws, policies, practices and social norms.

To achieve this, there should be a concerted effort to implement legislative and policy interventions to address women discrimination and advance gender equality.

Since 1994, Government adopted different equality and other empowering laws, including policies and charters which have quotas or targets for equity.

For instance, among others, we now have the Employment Equity Act of 1998 and its amendments, the Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act of 2003 and its amendments. South Africa has also adopted legislative directives to embrace a new and broader agenda for equal employment opportunities for women in an attempt to improve women's standing in the workplace.

The Employment Equity Act has been further amended to include the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in order to bridge the wage gap between men and women.

If implemented correctly, these anti-discriminatory directives will allow women to have a chance to enter the workplace in an equal manner, not only as a form of empowerment for women, but also to contribute equally to economic growth and capacity building within the country.

Consequently, giving women equal employment opportunities that will enhance their social and economic standing.

Relevant Constitutional institutions are working tirelessly to ensure that women are represented in the various facets of our society, including educational institutions and the labour market.

The Commission for Gender Equality plays a crucial role of monitoring and evaluating policies and practices of organisations - both in the public and private sector - across society to promote gender equality.

From time to time, the Commission makes recommendations aimed at further advancing gender equality in our society.

Another important intervention is through the Commission for Employment Equity which monitors and intervenes to address disparities in the labour market. The Commission's recently released 19th Annual Report highlighted the need to increase the employment and representation of women. It is also looking deeply at the issue of workplace targets by employers.

Indications are that, although progress is slow, these efforts to foster gender equality are bearing some fruits.

For instance, the reports of the Commission for Employment Equity show that the representation of women in top management positions has increased from 13.7 percent 2002 to 23.5 percent in 2018. Representation of women in senior management positions increased from 21.6 percent in 2002 to 34.5 percent in 2018.

Government is a key contributor to this positive trend. As evident in the Employment Equity Report for the year 2018, women are becoming increasingly represented in management positions within government - with 33 percent occupying top management positions and 39.2 percent occupying senior management.

We need to see similar improvements in the private sector. The private sector must implement targeted training, recruitment and mentorship programmes that create pathways for women to enter the labour market and gain promotions to leadership positions within companies.

We have an obligation to target the inequalities and gaps related to labour force participation and entrepreneurship by women. We call on all employers across all sectors to intensify efforts to engender equality in our society.

As a country, let us continue in our efforts of education, training and skills development to enable women, especially young women, to respond to new opportunities in the changing world of work.

I thank you.

Question

On government strategies to stimulate rural and township economy and to enhance economic inclusion, local empowerment, and address unemployment through job creation.

Reply

House Chairperson,

The development and promotion of productive economic activities in townships and rural villages are at the heart of government's efforts to advance economic inclusion, local empowerment, and job creation.

We need to transform our townships and villages from traditionally being apartheid-designed sources of cheap labour and consumption into thriving productive investment and economic hubs.

Real and meaningful transformation will occur when enterprise development and participation opportunities are deliberately created to benefit local communities living in these townships and villages.

In order to reverse the legacy of the apartheid space economy, government has a responsibility to implement a set of policy and regulatory interventions to direct infrastructure investment as well as financial, technical, and market access facilitation support that benefits enterprises in townships and villages.

There is no doubt that economic activities in townships and rural areas should be supported by the effective implementation of regulations and municipal by-laws consistent with our constitutional and legal framework. All businesses, whether local or foreign owned, must be subjected to applicable regulations and by-laws.

Effective economic regulation in township and rural areas will assist in curbing and minimising the problem of counterfeit goods that are sold in our country through illegal businesses.

More importantly, the impact of regulation must result in a fair and competitive environment for enterprises operating in township and rural villages to prevent the abuse of dominance by few monopolies. We have to find ways to open up markets so that new enterprises can compete fairly.

The Competition Amendment Act promulgated this year focuses on opening markets where concentration and the behaviour of dominant firms is harmful to the creation of jobs and the growth of small and medium businesses in all sectors across the economy.

Although it is imperative to regulate the micro-economy, regulation alone is not a total solution to address the challenges of economic exclusion and structural barriers of entry into the mainstream economy for township and rural enterprises.

Regulation must be accompanied by extensive enterprise development programmes supported by government and the private sector to develop skills, and integrate small businesses in towns and villages into major procurement value chains in government and private sector markets.

With this realisation, government is implementing various programmes and targeted policy interventions to stimulate and support the development of township and rural enterprises.

These measures include:

Implementing a special dispensation or set-asides in the awarding of medium- and long-term contracts to small businesses, co-operatives as well as township and village enterprises to allow for a period of incubation and other support to help reduce failure rates;

Establishing a township and village economy fund to support the productive activities and the development of industrial parks, business centres and incubation centres in those areas;

Formalising township and village-based enterprises through an active campaign by provincial and local governments that promote the benefits of formalisation; and

Addressing illegal trading through better regulation and implementation of by-laws.

Increasing the incubation network in rural areas and townships as part of government's commitment to grow rural and township enterprises.

Investing in key infrastructure and technology innovations to facilitate the ease of doing business in townships and rural villages.

I thank you.

Question

On government plan to accelerate the land reform programme in order to improve access to land which will support economic development and sustainable human settlements including unlocking the potential of the agricultural production.

Reply

Access to land for productive economic activities and social development remains a priority for government in addressing unemployment, poverty and deprivation.

There is a moral obligation to reverse the legacies of dispossession and skewed patterns of land ownership which continue to engender and deepen inequalities in the distribution of wealth in our society.

To accelerate land reform, government has prioritised intervention measures that will unlock land for redistribution to support agricultural production, human settlements and industrial development.

Cabinet has approved the release of state-owned land for the development of priority human settlement projects throughout the country, especially in urban and peri-urban spaces to deal with settlement congestion and the rising demand for development land and service delivery infrastructure in our metropolitan areas.

More importantly, government land released for integrated and sustainable human settlements will have to address the demand for the development of industries and business support infrastructure in close proximity to where people live.

The process for the identification, profiling and land use assessment of available state-owned agricultural land has been concluded. The policy setting out beneficiary selection and land allocation criteria is currently being reviewed and enhanced to ensure fairness, equity and transparency in the redistribution of land. This policy will be finalised by the end of November this year.

As we have mentioned before in this august House, we are continuing to engage with farmers, businesses and institutions wishing to donate land to advance land reform objectives. In this regard, government is finalising the Land Donations Policy to guide processes and transactions involving land donations by companies and non-state institutions. This policy will be concluded by the end of November this year.

Through the work of the Land Claims Commission, we are expediting the finalisation of outstanding claims on government-owned land to ensure that it is available for redistribution.

Honourable Members,

The success of our land reform programme depends on the quality and effectiveness of our post-settlement support to beneficiaries of land reform. We must ensure that restituted and redistributed land is put under optimal production.

In partnership with traditional leaders, we must ensure that communal land is effectively utilised to expand the country's production capabilities.

As part of our targeted post-settlement initiatives, government has prioritised mechanisation support, irrigation infrastructure, extension advisory services, the provision of inputs such as seeds and fertilizers and the facilitation of access to domestic and export markets.

To improve production support, an Integrated Producer Support Policy has been finalised to streamline the delivery of financial and non-financial support across various segments of producers. This model and policy will allow for better coordination and alignment of government efforts and investment decisions to grow and expand the agricultural sector.

In this model, provision is also made to support farmers with innovative farming technologies and financial instruments to mitigate the risks posed by natural disasters and climate change.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has several key interventions both at provincial and national level, aimed at supporting farmers and unlocking the growth potential of the agricultural sector.

Key among these interventions are the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme and Ilima / Letsema programmes, which aim to provide post-settlement support to the targeted beneficiaries of land reform.

In terms of access to export markets, Government is committed to assisting producers, especially emerging Black farmers to benefit from the existing trade agreements and protocols that South Africa is a signatory to.

These include the Southern African Development Community and European Union's Economic Partnership Agreement, the BRICS block as well as agreements in the United States of America, the Middle East and Asia.

The overarching goal of these initiatives is to ensure the adequate utilisation of land at our disposal, and the removal of barriers of entry into the agricultural sector by previously disadvantaged communities, especially young and emerging farmers.

In this way, we will contribute towards the attainment of the National Development Plan goal of ending hunger by 2030.

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency

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