The House met at 14:03.
The Deputy Speaker took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS – see col 000.
QUESTIONS FOR ORAL REPLY THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT Outcomes of overseas visits by Deputy President 1. Ms M M Ntuli (ANC) asked the Deputy President:
(a) What were the outcomes of the visits she recently undertook to (i) Japan and (ii) Indonesia and (b) what benefits will South Africa derive from these visits? N745E
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Madam Deputy Speaker, the reply to the question is as follows: While I was in Japan and Indonesia I met the following people – Prime Minister Koizumi; the vice-chancellors of 20 universities; the Japanese business federation, including Japanese businesses operating in South Africa such as Toyota and Mitsubishi; and several technical training institutions, especially those that have a history of collaborating with us in South Africa.
The outcomes of those discussions included the following: work that is going on where we are looking at collaboration on training, specifically in those areas where we have shortages and scarce skills, through placement of students and exchange opportunities in companies, universities as well as in government - of course where they can speak English. We intend to send people, especially middle-level managers, so that we can fast-track them in specific competencies that we need in South Africa.
They also included the strengthening of relationships and increasing confidence amongst Japanese institutions which do business in South Africa, for example assuring a company like Toyota of our support for their training programme. They already want to expand their manufacturing capacity in Durban and they have already employed 10 000 people. They have therefore made a commitment to upskill their workforce but our interest was to use their training methods also to train other people, other than the people that they’ve already employed. We are exploring that with them.
The major focus of the trip to Indonesia was on small, medium and micro enterprise development and tourism. Indonesia has considerable experience in the development of souvenirs and in the promotion of the tourism sector. The objective was to derive lessons from the Indonesian experience by focussing on roles played by government, SMMEs and the financial institutions in developing a robust SMME sector.
We were focussing, in particular, on the souvenir industry as the Indonesians turned out to be leaders in that regard. In my delegation I had the MECs of tourism for KwaZulu-Natal and North West; the Deputy Minister of Finance as well as the Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies; Ceda and the National Productivity Institute. These different members of the delegation focussed on the different possibilities of co-operation.
What emerged as interesting during that visit, was that in Indonesia they are already making 2010 souvenirs, which was something that I feared, namely that we are already being outsmarted by another country. But, of course, the Deputy Minister of Finance and the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, who are also involved, particularly the Deputy Minister of Finance, who is a member of the Local Organising Committee for 2010, had to look at how we could, as we collaborate with the SMMEs in Indonesia, ensure that they are also compliant with the requirements of intellectual property as requested by Fifa, without killing the possibility for collaboration between South African SMMEs and Indonesian SMMEs.
The other industry that is highly developed in Indonesia is the batik industry. This industry is also dominated by SMMEs who create unique products that are highly in demand internationally and very popular, especially on the African continent. An area of co-operation, therefore, was possible joint ventures between our SMMEs and the Indonesian SMMEs to create unique products, especially clothing that we would be able to use as part of the 2010 memorabilia and souvenirs.
Most of the cotton, well maybe not most but a significant amount of the cotton for their batik, is from Southern Africa, in particular from Zimbabwe. The cotton goes to Zimbabwe; they value-add it; and we buy it back. The idea was that we would import the skill from there. We would then buy the cotton from Zimbabwe and from South Africa, and we would develop partnerships on the basis of which we would increase our productive capacity in South Africa.
We are also exploring the possibility of having a one-stop facility to showcase the products of South African SMMEs so that the SMMEs are not burdened with the challenges of market access. Already, a follow-up visit has taken place. The Indonesians have come to South Africa and some agreements have already been signed between some of the SMMEs. Thank you.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Unfortunately, Ms Ntuli is not here with us but the hon Khunou will take the follow-up question.
Ms N P KHUNOU: Deputy Speaker, thank you Deputy President for your comprehensive answer. Japan is known for its amazing economic growth rate after the Second World War and that it has recovered from its economic downfall. One of the strong points of Japan is the technology that they have, but we also have a challenge with unemployed graduates. Is there any system or any plan that the government has to take unemployed graduates to go and learn in Japan? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Yes, actually, we are, in the main, obviously going to place unemployed graduates in South Africa, but we are also looking for placement anywhere else in the world. I think we have already sent about 150 potential “placees”, if I can call them that, who have qualifications in technical areas and who were underemployed where they were, to Japan. We are also taking some in the managerial sections, because Japan has a strong training capability in that area. We are also taking some of them into local government-related professions. We will, in all cases, be looking at the utilisation of whatever technology Japan has which has relevance to South Africa.
I must say that this process of placing students, whether in South Africa or oversees, is very labour intensive. We learnt that after we recruited, especially women. We were looking for 100 but we ended up with 500 applicants and we had a strong offer from the United Arab Emirates, UAE, and from the private sector. But to place every student or graduate in an area where they will learn meaningfully and to make sure that they have accommodation, they have a stipend, they have a supervisor, is proving to be quite a slow process.
We are learning as we go along. We have increased our staff in that respect and we hope that, at least, at the end of the year we will be able to give a comprehensive report on those that we have been able to place successfully. Thank you.
Mr L K JOUBERT: Deputy Speaker, Madam Deputy President, it appears that you spent more time in Indonesia than in Japan. Now, given the fact that, overall, Japan is our third largest trade partner and our largest in Asia, wouldn’t it have been better to spend more time in Japan? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: It is not about the time but the quality of interactions that we had. We have had a long collaborative relationship with Japan so it was easy to get all the people we needed to meet in order to collaborate with them. And I spent most of the time in one city when I was in Japan, whereas in Indonesia, for instance, when I had to see batik I had to go to central Java, in Solo, to actually spend time there with SMMEs, and to travel from Jakarta to Solo takes about three hours. The reason more time was spent in Indonesia was just the size of the country, the distances and the capability of getting in-depth interaction. Length of time doesn’t always imply quality. [Applause.]
Perceptions regarding Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgisa)
2. Mr I O Davidson (DA) asked the Deputy President:
Whether she will make a statement regarding the perception among commentators that the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (Asgisa) is little more than a repackaging of existing economic growth initiatives for public relations purposes? N748E
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The answer to the question, hon Davidson, is that I do not intend to make a statement about a few isolated misperceptions about the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa. Asgisa, in fact, is repacking existing initiatives so that we can implement them better. So if people have that perception, that’s not a problem for us.
We are doing the repackaging so that we can accelerate and ensure better sharing of benefits of growth. If that also benefits our public relations, that’s also good. That’s not a problem for us.
However, I need to state that Asgisa is a set of priority initiatives, most of which are led by government departments or partnerships in the area in which they were already doing this work, but maybe not doing it as well as we want them to do it.
Asgisa does not have a separate and special budget. It is not a fund. It is not an alternative planning system to only help a programme of action of government or budgeting system. It is a strategic intervention that seeks to capitalise on those things that we can roll out faster if we remove particular obstacles.
What it does is that it identifies key actions for government that should be prioritised in planning and budgeting. So, it is not a shortcut to the budget cycle also. It is not as if we are asking departments not to follow whatever they need to do in order for them to access resources from the Treasury.
If a project is agreed to be an Asgisa priority, its implementation takes high priority. We would expect other partners such as business who have also identified areas where they would collaborate with us or nongovernmental organisations and trade unions to prioritise them in the manner in which they implement those projects. Asgisa also acts as a mechanism for monitoring the implementation of decisions and for responding where initiatives are falling behind or running into problems.
One of the most important contributions of the Presidency, obviously, is the use of our office to convene meetings between parties that struggle to get together so that we can make sure that we supervise that they are working in a collaborative manner.
Perhaps, a few commentators may not yet fully understand what we are trying to do, but the majority of the commentators and the partners do understand what we are doing and, I think, for now, that you also understand that. I am happy if you understand it. It doesn’t matter about other people.
Mr I O DAVIDSON: Madam Deputy Speaker, I thank the Deputy President for that reply and I accept what she said. However, when you made your announcement on that, you identified certain interventions. Some of them were infrastructure; some of them were sector strategies. There was the business process outsourcing and tourism Durban-Johannesburg corridor.
In relation to education skills, we had the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition. A committee was formed. Nothing has come back from there. There were interventions in the second economy – there was the whole question of regulation. There was the whole question of review of the labour laws. These were all intervention strategies that you put on the table and said they were going to be part of Asgisa.
Now, we have heard nothing since then. I think what we will be requiring from you, ma’am, is to actually come forth with these strategies to actually add meat to the bone so that we can see that Asgisa is on course, that we are achieving, and that we will receive that potential 6% growth rate.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I don’t know, because we have been coming back and adding information as we go along, but obviously, many of these things don’t take a few months before you can see concrete results. So, we don’t want to be reporting every five minutes.
With regard to infrastructure, for instance, it is about ensuring that we have capacity to spend the money for social infrastructure. So, as far as that is concerned, for instance, one complete task that we have done is to beef up the capacity of the municipalities to spend by deploying people to actually go and work there. That is one concrete action that we have taken since then.
Eskom has actually begun to implement the work that they need to do so that they can address the issue of generation capacity. They are on course in terms of the commitments that they have made. Transnet, in terms of addressing harbours, also has a strategy plan. They have employed people. They have gone back to look at some of the data that they have in order to make sure where their implementation strategy had gaps. They are fixing it. So, life is going on. We are meeting constantly to make sure that they are going forward.
I don’t think that you can say that nothing is happening in Jipsa. Not only do we have a committee, but we also have staff. We have students that we have actually at least placed in the different institutions, be they unemployed graduates. We have people that we are placing in the workplace so that we can accelerate their training. We have technikon students that were otherwise sitting at home and couldn’t graduate because they didn’t have internships. We are bringing them on board so that they can graduate.
So, you are actually going to see people who have a ``before’’ and ``after’’ story. Before there was Asgisa, they were sitting at home; they didn’t know what was going to happen to them. We have helped them to get learnerships to train so that they can go back and graduate.
We are taking students who are sitting at home, and we are actually giving them jobs. Just last night, we concluded a programme with KPMG concerning 20 young women who are going to go to KPMG, with the potential of going up the ladder and becoming chartered accountants. That is one of the Jipsa programmes. [Applause.]
So, I don’t have worries that nothing is happening. I would probably like more. That is really my anxiety. I would like much more than what we are doing. But, definitely, people are doing their best.
In relation to BPO, the strategy for business process outsourcing, there are hundreds of students that we are putting into training with IBM and with Microsoft, and we are preparing them for that. Of course, we have finished the strategy. The team which has government and the private sector working on the strategy is now about to adopt the strategy, and we are going to launch the strategies.
With regard to tourism, we have the same situation. So, hon member, there is progress. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART: Madam Deputy Speaker, the ACDP, like all other political parties, I’m sure, wants government to succeed with Asgisa. Whilst we appreciate that there are enormous challenges, particularly in the area of skills shortages, we must achieve the target of 6% growth by 2010 as well as halve poverty and unemployment by 2015, or at least go a long way to achieving these targets.
In view of the accusations by commentators as set out in the question, hon Deputy President, what significance do you place on last month’s UK-South Africa Bilateral Forum, whereby the United Kingdom agreed to work with South Africa to determine how best it can support Asgisa.
In a statement released following the forum, both governments agreed that ``a special focus of the work of the forum and future SA-UK co-operation would be support for Asgisa’’. Does this not signify acceptance of Asgisa by a major trading partner that already supports us in development through the employment promotion programme, and the consolidated municipal transformation programme, and thus that there is already certain progress with Asgisa and acceptance of it?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I couldn’t agree with you more, hon member. In fact, as I speak, the Minister of media and sport in the United Kingdom will be coming to South Africa, and one of the things that will be done will be to interview some of the students that they intend to recruit in order for them to be placed in the construction sector in the UK, where they are building stadia for their Olympics. During that time, those young people will be mentored. Obviously, they have to have the necessary qualifications and degrees, and we have already provided them with all the data.
That is just one concrete thing that has happened since that visit. We are hoping to send at least 30 young people and this has been one of the shortest interactions that we have had, because in many of the places where we are trying to place students, as we have done with the United Arab Emirates, it just takes too long. There’s a long wait, the visas to be sorted out, etc, and with the UK, the issue of visas is processed much more quickly. The language isn’t a problem and the enthusiasm on their side is actually quite commendable. Thank you.
Mr K A MOLOTO: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Deputy President, will you be able to explain to this House what the different roles or responsibilities are of certain elements within civil society in the enhancing and implementation of Asgisa?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: The private sector has contributed financially. Jipsa, the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition, is in part being supported by the National Business Initiative. They have provided a secretariat and a budget. They are also facilitating the placement of some of the students in the companies that are members of the chambers that are supporting Asgisa. Labour has contributed ideas and criticism, which has been very good. We have used some of the criticism to integrate.
In the work that we are doing on co-operatives and women, the nongovernmental organisations in particular have sent us a lot of people that we are now training. We have 150 people that are part of a training programme that we are doing collaboratively with India and at least half of those people have been sent by NGOs who are taking them back, and who will make sure that when they go back to those NGOs they will have work to do to apply the skills that we are imparting to them.
The private sector is collaborating on training. As I speak, we have concluded an agreement with Old Mutual to train hundreds of project managers, mainly for local government-related services. They have started training at the Old Mutual business school. Those are the different contributions by different stakeholders.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I don’t see another hand. I will then give the slot back to Mr Davidson.
Mr I O DAVIDSON: Thank you, Madam Deputy Chair. Madam Deputy President, thank you for your response.
However, laudable though it is to train people to take their rightful place in our economic life, I do want to urge you to go back to that document that you put out on your intervention strategies. Just do a checklist against that, and see what was promised in terms of those intervention strategies, and give us a report back on what has actually been achieved, because then we will be able to measure the ongoing progress of Asgisa, and then the charge won’t be made of you that this is just nothing more nor less than a public relations document.
Let’s get the facts on the table so that we can all see, most of all those people that are attempting to deride the programme. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: No problem. It will be done in my own time, obviously, because I don’t want to bring half-baked information, and I can live with criticism. It’s not meant to be easy. [Applause.]
Action to address skills shortage in the country 3. Mr B A D Martins (ANC) asked the Deputy President:
(a) What action is the Government taking to address the shortage of skills in the country and (b) what contribution are the business and organised labour sectors making in this regard? N746E
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Madam Deputy Speaker, again, this has to do with skills. I’m quite excited that members are so concerned about this issue.
There are several approaches to addressing the skills shortage in the short, medium and long term. In the short term, we have concluded the identification and definition of what we regard as key skills that are scarce, if we are to deliver in the short term.
These include the high-level engineering skills for networking industries, such as telecommunications, transport logistics and energy, the city’s urban and regional planning engineering skills, artisans, apprenticeship, and technical skills for infrastructure needed in the construction sector, management of the health care system, education, as well as teachers in the public sector, especially for maths, science, ICT and languages.
These include skills also required in the specific industries that we have identified, such as tourism and BPO, as well as cross-cutting skills such as skills in finance, in project management as well as in ICT.
We’ve also identified challenges that exist in the skills pathway, and some of the solutions that we are working on, together with the training institutions, are improving the match between the supply and the demand and unlocking the training capacity in the public sector. For instance, we are reopening some of the training facilities that Eskom and Transnet used to have for training apprentices so that we can utilise them again.
In the short term also, as you know, we have recruited people that were retired. They are providing expertise and are also mentoring some of the younger people in the municipalities and elsewhere. Of course, we also have contributions in the Jipsa task team by labour, which is also assisting us to identify the value of the training that is being given to the people that we ultimately intend to place in the workplace.
I have already, in the reply to the previous question, indicated the collaboration that we are having with the private sector, so I will not repeat the reply to that part of this question. However, I do want to mention that, in the long term, curriculum alignment at higher education is fundamental. We certainly still have a problem in that what is taught at higher education and what is required in the world of work is not aligned.
We also do not want to do that to the extreme, such that we turn students into robots that only learn in order to lay a brick. But, if you can’t lay a brick, you won’t have bread. So it’s the balance between learning universally so that you can be a learned person and learning a competency, so that you can do work. We are engaging with higher education institutions in this regard.
Of course, also in the long term, this question has to do with the overall improvement of the quality of education in the schools, something that the Department of Education is seized with. Thank you.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, before we call for a supplementary question, I just wish to appeal to you: There are just too many meetings taking place in the House. We encourage the meetings, but please go and have a very fruitful meeting elsewhere, and leave those who’d like to continue with the business of the House to do so. Agreed?
HON MEMBERS: Agreed!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you very much for that commitment.
Mr D A A OLIFANT: Comrade Deputy President, it’s wonderful to address you this afternoon. I just want to say that Mr Davidson falls within the category of those that are “none so blind as those that don’t want to see, and none so deaf as those that don’t want to hear”.
I just want to say that it’s quite critical that most of the opposition parties, except the DA, are supporting the Asgisa programme as introduced by the Deputy President. You have all these questions that have been asked so far, which are very interrelated. So I just want to ask, on the part focusing on business, whether there is any indication from your side that business or the private sector is committed and coming to the party as far as training is concerned? In the past there was a great deal of reluctance on the part of business to come to the party because they always complained that this would affect their production levels. What’s the position, in your own opinion, at this particular point in time?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Madam Deputy Speaker, business is coming to the party, but I think that there is still a notion that training is a corporate social responsibility rather than a strategic investment. And I think this is the paradigm shift, which we are trying to introduce.
In the JSE they have a triple-bottom-line index that they have introduced, which involves corporate social responsibility, environmental compliance and profitability of the company. Those are the three things by which they will gauge whether a company is sustainable.
We are saying that investment in human resources is another index that must be added, so that we can get more companies to see investment in human capital as a make or break for productivity and for profitability. It’s not a nice-to-do.
In fact, it’s not just South Africa that is dealing with these issues. Globally there is a shortage of the same skills that we are looking for. So it’s not as if we are going to get these people somewhere around the world.
Remember we were very enthusiastic about bringing in people from outside South Africa. But we actually realised that a lot of the people who are coming back do not necessarily have some of the skills that are crucial for us.
So, in the medium to long term, it’s going to depend on us investing in the training. It’s also going to mean that, globally, most companies and nations go back to the drawing board as far as the issues of training and skills are concerned. Economies in many parts of the world are booming and growing, and all of the people with those highly sought skills are being absorbed. So we have to create our own base for those skills.
If industry does not make a big investment in the skills, it’s always going to come back and haunt us. For me, that is the real thing that I’m trying to push for, that paradigm shift. It’s not a nice-to-do, it’s not a corporate social service, it’s a fundamental survival investment that the companies need to make. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr C M LOWE: Good afternoon, Deputy President. It’s also an honour to address you this afternoon. I’m sure you won’t need the hon Olifant to answer for you, though.
Deputy President, my question revolves around the skills revolution, because at the end of March, when you launched Jipsa, the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition, you quite correctly said that what South Africa needs is a skills revolution, and the DA agrees with you wholeheartedly.
The problem is, we’ve had the RDP, we had Gear, we had the Setas, all of which, quite frankly, have not delivered the skills and certainly haven’t delivered the jobs. What happens now? The question is: What makes it any different? And the reason I ask this is that if you really want the skills revolution that will truly deliver the skills and the jobs – and as I said, we believe that you do – then economic growth has to be the non-negotiable priority above racial preferencing, especially with regard to skills acquisition.
And as you know, that hasn’t happened up to now. In fact, what happens is that there are many skills, there is racial bias and there is prioritising of one race above the other. With 8 million people out of work and with 500 000 skilled jobs vacant, we can’t afford to do that.
Will you, ma’am, identify priority scarce skills and exempt them from employment equity requirements? Will you, in fact, ensure that the current racial bias in hiring that sabotages the push for skills is amended, so that everybody, whether black, white, Indian, coloured or whatever, who has the skills, has the ability to work, wants to stay here and wants to be part of South Africa can apply for these jobs, and we can fill the skills and everybody will benefit together? That is the question, and I would ask that you take the initiative that nobody else in your government has done and say today, “yes, we will do that”, so that everybody belongs in the skills revolution. [Time expired.]
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: I don’t think that there’s racial preferencing, in the manner you put it. Statistics show that the majority of the people who are unemployed, including those that are qualified, are African. That’s a fact. There is no “manga-manga” about that one. We are, therefore, trying to increase the number of people from those communities so that they can also feel that they are part of this new South Africa.
Of course, we have to do the balancing act. Sometimes you get it right, sometimes you don’t get it so right. In trying to do that balancing, you have to make sure that you do not alienate those of other races. That is why in the recent recruitment drive we were happy to receive names from the FF and we brought in those people and interviewed them.
One of the things that they are doing – and I think they are going to be great – is the mentoring of other people so that they do the job. They are imparting skills, but at the same time you are bringing in other people.
Once you completely relax employment equity – we are underachieving in any case - can you imagine what would happen if we didn’t have that? So I think it’s the sensitivity of the leadership to do these things not in the extreme; and to create an environment where all South Africans can feel that they are able to co-operate and to collaborate.
And I think that, amongst ourselves, hon members, we need to try and create that environment so that we do not make any South African feel that they are unwanted. [Applause.]
Laba okuthiwa banesipiliyoni basithola bengebodwa, kodwa kwakukhona nabanye abantu abamnyama nabo ababesebenza bengama-administrators emalokishini abamnyama nasezindaweni ezazibizwa kuthiwe “amaBantustani”. Nabo-ke banesipiliyoni esifanayo nesalaba futhi babephethwe yilaba abayi-100 obathole kulolo luhla.
Kukhona imibono-ke futhi ethi sengathi laba abansundu ababekulolo hlelo lwakudala baduduleke eceleni kodwa benesipiliyoni esifanayo nesalaba abatholakele lapha. Kunemibono eyakhekayo yokuthi sengathi okumhlophe kungcono kunokumnyama. Nalaba abamnyama bazibona sengathi bashiyekile ngoba babesebenza ohlelweni oludala kodwa sekukhona abashuthekwayo ngoba bemhlophe. Ngiyathokoza.
IPHINI LIKAMONGAMELI: Hhawu, baba, angazi ukuthi uyithathaphi le ndaba embi kangaka! Ayikho leyo nto. (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[Mr B W DHLAMINI: Madam Speaker, Deputy President and colleagues, hon Deputy President, you have just said that, as another means to tackle the skills shortage, you have accepted a list of more than 100 people from the FF Plus. The other question is, is it true that other people were sidelined when we came into power in 1994 because it was said that people who were employed during the old system could not understand the new system?
Those who have experience, when they got it, they were not alone but with black people who were working as administrators in townships and in the then Bantustans. They also have the same experience as those and they were managed by those who are on the list of 100.
There are perceptions that those who were in the old system are sidelined although they have the same experience as those who are on the list. There are also perceptions that whites are better than blacks. Blacks also feel sidelined because they were working in the old system and others are squeezed in because they are white. Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Wow, sir, I don’t know where you take such a bad thing! There is no such thing.]
Firstly, let me correct this: the names that we got from the FF were not actually 100. The 100 names I was talking about relate to the young women that we recruited for placement internationally in the United Arab Emirates in particular, whom we are now redirecting to other countries because we’ve more quality offers where they will get better benefits, especially because of the language, amongst other things.
However, regarding this list from the FF, yes, we have placed some of the people, but we didn’t take everybody on it because there were interviews. Some people, when they realised where they were going to be placed, decided that maybe it would be difficult for the family to relocate, that the skills didn’t match the offer and so on, and didn’t take up the offer. So, in the end, a much lower number of people was placed than was anticipated.
Angikezwa lutho maqondana nokuthi sesithole amagama abantu abavela ezabelweni. Asibaxwayi abantu abavela ezabelweni. Phela, angithi thina sinokubuyisana, noma ngabe uvelaphi siyakuthatha. Angikezwa lutho.
Uma kukhona abantu enicabanga ukuthi mhlawumbe sibabandlululile, ngicela usinike amagama abo. Sizowathatha lawo magama siwahambise kuMnyango wezemiSebenzi kaHulumeni nezokuPhatha. Iwona-ke uMnyango ozobabiza ukuze babonisane. (Translation of isiZulu paragraphs follows.)
[I haven’t heard anything about the list of people from the rural areas. We don’t avoid people from rural areas. We are reconciling; no matter where you come from, we accept you. I have not heard anything.
If you think that there are some people who we have discriminated against, please give us their names. We are going to take those names and submit them to the Department of the Public Service and Administration. The department will call them and have discussions with them.]
Mr C M LOWE: Deputy President, through your answer to me, I certainly did understand, not just the measure of sympathy but an agreement that we need to move forward with this. We’ve so many positions that are vacant in South Africa and so many people with those skills, whom we can use. We’ve got to move past the hurt and the sensitivities. And I think, from our side, we do understand the sensitivities of what’s happened in the past; you can’t just simply pretend that they weren’t there.
The question I’d like to put to you, as a follow-up, Deputy President, is specifically this: There are a number of very scarce skills in this country but, truly, as you’ve said yourself, the education system that we currently have doesn’t provide sufficient skills at matric level for people to go to university. Until we can deal with that problem, can we take people from groups that would have been seen as advantaged before and actually allow them to apply for jobs? I’m thinking of the Gautrain, for example.
I’m told by some of my colleagues that we don’t have enough engineers in this country to actually work on that project, and yet many young South Africans with those skills, either here or abroad, would love to come back and apply. The question is: Would you identify those priority skills that we do have and exempt them from the current employment equity requirements that only people from certain backgrounds may apply? Would you take that as a start, to say to everybody, “We’re all part of this; let’s work together”? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: No, hon member, I will not call for an amendment of the Employment Equity Act, but I do want those people to be taken on board. They will mentor other people. So they will have a job. They will provide a service, but they will actually mentor, especially if they are older. If they are younger, obviously we must also incentivise them; so they must have longer-term contracts. There is a way of doing that without having to change the law.
They must be able to mentor. Eskom is doing this already; where they don’t have the skills in the designated group, they take the people they want, but you must be committed to mentoring other people. In many cases they’ve retired people who’ve these wonderful scarce skills who are mentoring about four or five other young people. The chemistry is just amazing.
The exchange of skills, the robustness of the interaction is amazing. We didn’t have to change the law. We’ve made sure that, at some point, when these people have their second retirement, we’ve definitely kept a position for someone from a designated group without robbing someone who has skills at entry point of his or her opportunity.
These things need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. If you tell me that there’s a person who has a skill and there’s a vacancy there that has not been filled, and the project is at a standstill, I’m prepared to go to the Gautrain people and raise the issue. That is what Asgisa is about, by the way, Mr Davidson - unblocking these things case-by-case when they arise. Thanks. [Applause.]
Implementation of youth development programmes 4. Mr B M Mkongi (ANC) asked the Deputy President:
(1) What programmes is the Government implementing with regard to youth development in view of South Africa’s commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the 1976 Soweto uprising;
(2) whether South Africa is meeting its international obligations in this regard; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? N747E
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Deputy Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that as we celebrate the contribution of the youth to our struggle for freedom and beyond, government has youth development concerns on top of the agenda.
We are implementing information programmes that seek to alert millions of young people about the opportunities available in this age of hope. Expanding access to information is critical since many of our young people do not enjoy the benefits of freedom as yet, not because there are limited opportunities in some cases, but because they lack information on where these opportunities are and how to access them.
It is within this context that we are hosting the National Youth Service Expo - please tell all young people! - this week in Soweto and in the Drakenstein municipality. The aim of this expo is to showcase community service and service delivery activities that young people are engaged in.
We hope that, through this expo, we will encourage those young people who do not know about the National Youth Service to become interested so that when we recruit again they will make themselves available.
Why are we focusing on the National Youth Service? It is because, obviously, this month we are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the uprisings which the young people led, but it’s also critical to emphasise that we are trying to provide young people with opportunities to be included in nation-building, in social cohesion and in accessing new skills.
In that way, the National Youth Service programme is a programme that is going to be with us; it’s going to expand throughout the country and it’s going to be implemented in partnership. It aims to accelerate service delivery. Many of the young people are involved in the housing projects to expand opportunities for skills development and occupational experience for unemployed and out-of-school youth and to promote social cohesion.
I do urge all the members in this House to please share this information so that as many young people as possible can participate in these activities.
But, more importantly, I want also to share with this House that we are engaged in various planning activities aimed at expanding the capacity of the existing programme to absorb thousands of young people, especially those young people who are in the so-called second economy. So we are now working on a business plan that will elaborate the placement of young people in SMMEs, and this we are going to be doing together with Ceda which has already opened offices in various parts of the country.
As far as the National Youth Service is concerned, we are targeting 10 000 young people by the end of this year, and those who are already in the programme and are ready to start, will be starting in July.
In regard to paragraph 2 of the question, hon Mkongi, regarding whether South Africa is meeting its international obligation, my answer is, yes. We are making considerable progress towards achieving millennium development goals. Both the World Programme of Action for Youth and the Millennium Declaration urge all member states to invest heavily in education and training, which we are doing.
Members will recall that I reported in this House last week that young people’s participation in the schooling system has increased from 96% in 2002 to 98% in 2005. The Minister of Education also reported in her Budget Vote that tremendous progress has been made in areas of secondary education, further education and training, as well as higher education, and now we are concentrating on improving the quality of this education, since access has improved tremendously.
Time permitting, I would have loved to go on further to demonstrate how we are meeting our obligations in areas such as youth participation and decision-making. Many departments have gone out of their way to recruit young people, either for learnerships or permanent positions, and the many programmes that we have in which young people are given opportunities for economic participation through access to finance as well as training. Thank you.
Mr M R MOHLALOGA: Deputy Speaker, I just wanted to establish from the hon Deputy President that, given the good programmes that government is pursuing with regard to youth development, one issue that is not quite clear is the role of the private sector, especially with regard to youth economic participation. Is there a particular role which you think the private sector can play in order to enhance the programmes that government is pursuing? Thank you very much.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Chairperson, I think we have a platform through which the private sector can participate, but we are not seeing the numbers that the country requires. For instance, if you take the economic empowerment charters, all of them make provision for enterprise development that, in many cases, would benefit young people. Most of them make provision for human resource development. If implemented properly, most of those would benefit young people, including young workers.
Of course, if young people are advanced enough to raise capital to buy equity in companies it would also introduce them to the economy, but I do know that that is perhaps one of the most difficult areas for young people to obtain access to.
That is why Umsobomvu tries very hard to support young people with access to finance. But, actually, the success of young people when it comes to areas such as access to finance depends on what the banks will do, because they are the people whose core mandate is to sell money. They have lots of it, so they need to find a mechanism that will bring in young people to start up businesses, because as a young person you need the start-up in many cases. When they require collateral from a young person who is historically disadvantaged, for that matter, it does make it very difficult for those young people to make an entry point.
So, some of our interactions with the banks on the basis of the Financial Services Charter, for example, is about changing the mindset in order to enable more young people to get start-up capital so that they can become entrepreneurs. Fortunately, there is a growing number of young people these days who have relative sophistication and skills. They know how to write a business plan, they know how to research a product and a market, and therefore they can be trusted as entrepreneurs.
I would be the first one to say that I don’t think that we are making as much progress there as I would like us to make, and I’ve already indicated that, in the area of education, we have a basis on which to co-operate but the numbers aren’t there. And it is tedious for us to get the co-operation at the speed at which we would like to have it.
I have experienced that in relation to our own South African companies, but even when we approached some of the international companies I find that the speed, the volumes and the numbers are not to the extent that we need them. However, I suppose this is something that we have to keep working on, and to urge the companies to support us. Thank you.
Mr M M SWATHE: Deputy Speaker, Madam Deputy President, the National Youth Commission has achieved very little over the past few years. [Interjections.] The salary bill of the commission, which stands at more than R7 million, is more than 50% of the commission’s budget. The commission seems to help only those it employs, not the broader youth population.
In the light of the imperatives to improve skills and grow youth employment under Asgisa, do you not believe that an ineffectual body such as the National Youth Commission should be disbanded, owing to its poor track record? If so, will you make this recommendation to the President? If not, how can you reconcile Asgisa’s goal with the ineffectual youth commission? Thank you. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Hon member, no, I will not disband the youth commission. We will improve where it is failing and there’s just been a review of all these agencies so that we can enhance their participation. The youth commission is also specifically involved in the rolling-out of the National Youth Service. In many of the areas where we actually have functioning young people in the National Youth Service, in the municipalities, it is because we have been assisted by the National Youth Commission.
I am not taking lightly what you are saying, hon member, but I’ll need to familiarise myself with the facts. I cannot accept such a drastic decision without being absolutely sure that this is the best thing for the people and the young people of South Africa. [Applause.]
Mr S N SWART: Hon Deputy President, arising from your response and in view of the issue of programmes that the government intends implementing, can it be said that the government is serious about protecting the vulnerable youth, particularly children – and one looks at sexual abuse - when it is an accepted fact that age-of-consent offences are one of the best protections for vulnerable children from predator adults? Statutory rape provisions protect child victims from the secondary trauma of having to disprove consent - once the act is proven a conviction can follow.
In general terms, hon Deputy President, the government intends lifting the legal age for purchasing cigarettes from 16 years to 18 years to protect children’s health. You must also be 18 to vote, obtain a driver’s licence and purchase alcohol, but to be involved in sexual activities, the government has decided, in terms of the Sexual Offences Bill, to make the age 16 years. How does the government justify this, particularly in view of widespread sexual abuse of children and the Aids epidemic, and this in view of the intention to lift the age for purchasing cigarettes from 16 to 18 years? Thank you.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: That’s a very new question, but ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That’s an ambush, hon member! Put it in print!
See also QUESTIONS AND REPLIES. SECOND READING OF REPEAL OF THE BLACK ADMINISTRATION ACT AND AMENDMENT OF CERTAIN LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
The DEPUTY CHIEF WHIP OF THE MAJORITY PARTY: Deputy Speaker, I move the motion printed on the Order Paper in the name of the Chief Whip of the Majority Party, as follows:
That Rule 253(1), which provides inter alia that the debate on the Second Reading of a Bill may not commence before at least three working days have elapsed since the committee’s report was tabled, be suspended for the purposes of conducting the Second Reading debate on Repeal of the Black Administration Act and Amendment of Certain Laws Amendment Bill [B 11B – 2006] (National Assembly – sec 75) today.