Mbulelo Goniwe, MP Editor-In-Chief
|Mbulelo Goniwe, MP
Editor in Chief
As the year Of Popular Mobilization to Advance the Vision of the Freedom Charter draws to a close, we need to pause and reflect on the journey we have traversed towards socioeconomic emancipation. In this last edition of the year, we reflect on the economic legislative achievements of 2005. (see pg4) In historical perspective the year 2005 represents a defining moment in the life of our nascent democracy. Our people commemorated the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter by the Congress of the People. From the tribune of parliament the ANC affirmed the vision of the Freedom Charter. The adoption of the vision of parliament marked a watershed in the transformation of parliament.
The proceedings of the joint sittings of the NA and NCOP at Kliptown as an integral part of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Charter was a fitting tribute to the thousands of volunteers who campaigned for the Congress of the People.
The mobilization of the people around the vision of the Freedom Charter cemented the peoples contract to create work and fight poverty. In the voter registration drive thousands of ANC cadres addressed issues of service delivery in the context of accelerating transformation. Increasingly our people are becoming impatient of bottlenecks in service delivery. Deployment of cadres should be correlated with the requirements of transformation.
The overwhelming victory of the ANC in the upcoming local government elections will accelerate a better life for all.
The NGC of the ANC convened in June 2005 underscored the importance of unity and cohesion of the ANC. Of critical significance for the cadres of the ANC is the understanding of the oath in the ANC Constitution. It is the obligation of cadres to internalize the oath as the source of revolutionary discipline. History has placed on the shoulders of the ANC the onerous responsibility of transforming South Africa into a United, Non-Racial, Non-Sexist, Democratic and Prosperous South Africa.
The 20th anniversary of COSATU highlighted the special contribution of the working class in the deepening of the NDR. Inspired by its revolutionary traditions, this motive force should be galvanized in the consolidation of democracy. Another important campaign that raised the centrality of gender in the transformation agenda is Sixteen Days of Activism against violence on women and children.
The continued violation of women and children represent an affront on our democracy. As an integral part of moral regeneration we should inculcate a spirit of intolerance against the abuse of women and children. Also we should encourage support and respect for survivors of abuse. Elsewhere in this edition, we publish the decisions of the womens parliament that took place during August - the month of women.
The parliament dealt extensively with the issue of women and children. As we adjourn our proceedings for the festive season we wish all our readers a Merry Christmas, well deserved holiday and a prosperous new year.
2005 Economic Legislative Achievements
By Langa Zita, MP
2005 was the first year in our second decade of freedom. It is also a year in which the ANC led National Assembly passed a
number of strategic pieces of economic legislation designed to deepen the creation of dynamic economy and a caring society.
One of the most important laws passed this year was the Cooperatives Act. The act seeks to regulate the establishment and promotion of cooperative enterprises, instruments for advancing the political economy of the working class. As the working class is the leading class force of the national democratic revolution, this act seeks to encourage workers to participate in the economy not only as employees but as joint employers of themselves. It is an attempt to build a sector of the economy that is informed both by the market logic and the imperatives of solidarity.
NATIONAL CREDIT ACT
The credit market that we inherited had no concerns about the interests of working people as reflected by the fact that; 67% of the population receive less than 6% of credit extended whilst only 22% of SMMEs receive financing (only 7% from banks). The lowest income group faces the highest cost (average 175%) and the Credit market effectively split between super-included and super-excluded (Usury Act versus Exemption Notice). The act intends to promote competition and transparency by treating all credit transactions equivalently, whilst recognizing different market segments. It seeks to provide measures for over-indebted consumers and reckless credit extension as well as a central register of consumers debt obligations. Furthermore, it creates a scheme for the regulation of credit providers, debt counsellors and credit bureaux.
ELECTRICITY REGULATION BILL
The Electricity Regulation Act seeks to consolidate and integrate the regulation of the energy industry. The Act advocates central regulation of the energy industry and this will ensure uniformity and control in the regulation of the industry. This legislative development strengthens and recognizes the role of the National Energy Regulator. In terms of the act, the regulator is mandated to be the enforcer of national electricity regulatory framework. The National Energy Regulator will be responsible for the provision of licences and registration for generation, transmission, distribution, and import and export of electricity.
AUDITING PROFESSION ACT
This Act is prompted by the current international crisis of confidence in capital markets, arising from widespread business failures and which is aggravated by the failure of auditors to report accurately companies true performance and to identify fraudulent activities in several cases. Many of the companies that collapsed had unqualified or `clean audit opinions prior to their demise. Part of the problem is that auditing companies have broadened their activities to non audit activities as consultants creating a conflict of interests between their auditing brief and their keenness to win other consulting work with their clients. This Act provides for the establishment of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors as well as, the education, training and professional development of registered auditors. It regulates the accreditation of professional bodies, registration of auditors and regulates the conduct of registered auditors .
ELECTRONIC COMMUNICATIONS ACT
The Act sets the legal framework for the convergence of broadcasting and telecommunications networks and services. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will be able to apply for licenses which give them access to frequency spectrum. They may even build wireless broadband networks to serve consumers directly. Interested parties can also provide international telecoms links. The Bill creates two broad categories of licenses; individual licences and class licences. Individual licences include many sub-categories; the principal one being communications network service licences. These are infrastructure providers: Telkom, the cellphone operators and the SNO. The Bill also allows for additional infrastructure licences to be issued. Amongst other measures it enables ICASA to constrain players with significant market power through licensing conditions, interconnection regulations, wholesale rates in facilities, retail and wholesale tariffs, etc and to intervene in anti-competitive behaviour.
ICASA AMENDMENT BILL
Some of the measures of the ACT include: to determine in greater detail, the functions, powers and duties of the commu-nications regulator, ICASA, to provide for enquiries by the Authority, to further regulate the financing of the Authority and to amend the procedure for the appointment of councillors. Furthemore it empowers the minister to appoint ICASA board members in consultation with the National Assembly.
SPECIAL PENSIONS AMENDMENT ACT
The Act seeks to provide pensions for individuals or their eligible dependants, who were prevented from doing so because they had made sacrifices and served the public interest in the course of establishing a non-racial, democratic South Africa. The amendments to the act seeks to extend the deadline for applications (31 March 2006) from the original closing date (30 November 1997). It promotes the exercise of the Special Pensions Amendment Act no 75 2003 which condoned any late application if the Board was satisfied that, for reasons beyond the control of the applicant, the application could not be submitted on or before the closing date. It retains the principle of one benefit and introduces a monthly pension for surviving spouses or orphans retrospectively from 1 December 1996; funeral benefits for pensioners, surviving spouses and orphans; and ensures the lump sum benefit on the death of pensioners for surviving spouses or dependants.
REVENUE LAWS AMENDMENT ACT
The Act seeks to regulate tax of visiting skilled expatriates and reduces tax on medical scheme contributions and employer provided off-site medical services.
It partially taxes public benefit organisations that trade on income and creates a equitable and fair dispensation for them.The Act withholds tax on non-resident entertainers and sportspersons whilst allowing Tax concessions for individual home office expenses. It Increases tax on company car fringe benefits, whilst allowing for taxexemptions for travel expenses of family members to visit an employee working away from home. More importantly for MK veterans, it exempts taxation of pension provisions for previous non-statutory force members
ROAD ACCIDENT FUND ACT
The Act seeks to amend the existing Act and the existing fund in three principle respects. It seeks to ensure that the functioning and especially the governance of the fund work much better. Secondly, it puts a cap of the amount that can be claimed by those who claim after their involvement in a road accident as well defining the exact conditions for claiming (serious injuries), thus correcting a serious inequity that exists in the current fund. Thirdly, at the same time it tries to be careful and cautious about financial sustainability of the fund.
DIAMOND SECOND AMENDMENT ACT
The Act is about the administration and control on all matters relating to the purchase, beneficiation, import and export of diamonds. It creates the framework for the establishment of Diamond Exchange and Export Centres (DEEC) which will be responsible for the facilitation of diamond trade. It allows for the establishment of the State Diamond Trader (SDT) which will acquire and supply rough diamonds to local beneficiators as well as provide support, research and development to the industry.
Strategic Approach To The Budget Vote Debates
By Mark Sweet
Head of Caucus Research
Each year the ANC prepares itself for the critical period in Parliaments calendar, that of dealing with the Budget.
Since the Budget deals with Governments revenue and spending plans and how the Budget will be appropriated between National, Provincial and Municipal spheres of government, the ANC ensures that detailed attention and time is given to prepare for each appropriated vote before it is debated in Parliament.
The stated aim of the Budget is a fundamental pillar of the ANCs programme and manifesto: i.e. to build a better life for all, the ANC must ensure that the Appropriation Bill meets the requirements of its programme and policies.
Preparation for the budget votes are primarily done in the study groups, as well as in strategy. Strategy develops a strategic approach to dealing with the budget votes and the study groups apply detailed debate to the specifics of each budget vote.
The key areas that ANC study groups focused on were: -
- Is the specific budget vote adequate for the programmes we have set ourselves.
- Is our developmental agenda spelt out in the budget vote, and how has the budget been realigned to meet these developmental objectives.
- That the areas of focus would be on promoting GDP growth in real terms and making this growth increasingly pro-poor and employment creating, and interrogating the contribution of the budget vote to this growth.
- Anchor points would be the Freedom Charter and programmes as laid out in the RDP, the State of the Nation address of May 2004 and Feb 2005 and the governments cluster programme for 2005.
- Seeing whether the departments strategic plans and measurable objectives advance our developmental agenda allocate sufficient resources and whether the departments manage to spend their budgets for the past year.
- Seeing if our policies are reflected in adequacy of the budget, and whether the MTEF reflects a correct alignment of projected expenditure and policy development.
- Matching our policy priorities to the budget.
- Matching our priority programmes to the budget.
- Examining where the expenditure increases in real terms are in the budget, and are they aligned to our priorities.
- The point of departure is an analysis of previous expenditure.
This will be based on pre-budget analysis, which assesses progress for that particular budget vote, not just for the forthcoming year, but for preceding years as well.
- Inputs need to demonstrate progress in relation to the priorities that where set in the State of the Nation Address May 2004, as well as within the context of policy priorities that have been set.
- Key focus areas are targets laid out in strategic plans and measurable objectives in Estimates of National Expenditure, and priorities set in relation to achieving targets.
- Examining the main instruments needed to measure progress by departments, and whether these instruments continue to be appropriate.
- Holding the departments accountable for progress, by carefully examining annual reports against strategic plans.
- Inputs need to examine whether the resources we have at our disposal are shared equitably according to the priorities that have been laid down.
- Close examination of transfers between national, provincial and municipal spheres as well as to state entities linked to departments, and the nature of the transfer and its intended purpose.
- Inputs examine how the money that has been given in the previous budget was spent, and relates this to current budget allocations.
- Particular programmes are highlighted.
- The performance of parliament is dealt with under this particular debate and detailed preparations are done.
- Procurement procedures, tendering and the delays in spending and how these challenges are addressed are dealt with.
- Weaknesses on delivery are reflected as challenges for the future.
- A close examination of capacity constraints, which impact upon efficiency are dealt with.
EFFECTIVENESS OF THE BUDGET FOR THE PARTICULAR VOTE
- The tracking of efficiency and effectiveness are critical.
- The role of government and how it has directly contributed to growth and the GDP, in relation to a particular budget vote.
- Bringing through that the budget is but one instrument that is at the disposal of government and the need to present a comprehensive approach to this.
- Is the flexibility that is allowed by the PFMA within a budget vote, to shift unspent funds between programmes being applied.
ENGENDERING THE BUDGET
- The point of departure here is to ensure that the budget vote is disaggregated, so as to examine who the beneficiaries are.
- An examination of how services that arise from the budget vote are accessible to women and how will these services be delivered to women.
- An examination of how much of the budget vote relates to informal unpaid provision of services through households and family networks.
- The commitments at the WSSD and their impact upon specific budget votes
IDEOLOGICAL ELEMENTS OF THE BUDGET
- Do the expenditure trends in each budget vote reflect the needs of a developmental state.
- Do the budget votes align themselves to the goals of the Freedom Charter and can these be demonstrated practically in the vote.
- The People Shall Govern Imbizos/listening campaigns and other outreach programmes have the outcomes been reflected in the specific budget vote.
- Our collective set of ideas which arise both in our National Conferences and Policy Conferences to what extent does the budget vote reflect these.
KEY ANC MESSAGES
- 51st Conference resolutions and the particular budget vote Peoples Contract and the commitment of the budget vote to this
- State of the Nation Address May 2004 and the targets that were set examined against the particular budget vote.
- NEC Lekgotla 2005 and the priorities it set and whether this is reflected in the particular budget vote.
- Freedom Charter - implementation and how the particular budget vote deals with this.
The ANC Caucus this year introduced Political School sessions for all its Members in Parliament. On its launch workshop, Lechesa Tsenoli, Dan Montsitsi and Pallo Jordaan gave inputs on the ANC Constitution, History of the ANC and Through the eye of the needle.
Sephadi captures a summary of their inputs in this edition. (pg8-11)
ANC Constitution A Revolutionary Tool
The late Phoka Noka who spoke at the NGC, sadly died a week later of ill heath that had troubled him for a long time. He was a veteran of the movement and was a respected thinker and theoretician. He was known to insist on the big picture and discouraged being seduced by too narrow consideration of issues. He was also known to insist on critical engagement with ideas and people and frequently did so, often strindently as well.
He argued at the NGC that unity is a crucial attribute the movement must always strive to achieve but that it must not be invoked to prevent vigorous debates within the democratic movement. That unity must be the result of such debate.
Thats the legacy he leaves us in the movement.
As a long standing member of the ANC his conduct was informed among others by its constitution, a crucial foundation document for any new and or old member of the movement.
Supplemented by the freedom charter and other policy documents emanating from the conferences and the NEC, the constitution require constant study for both induction and renewal to create combat ready cadres.
We hereunder take and overview of the meaning of the constitution and leave a clause by clause scrutiny to individual and other collective platforms.
- The constitution of the ANC is a contract between a member and the organisation.
- It is used for purposes of induction and renewal of members.
- It tells us what the organisation is, what it aims to achieve, its character, what is expected of its members and its structures.
- It regulates the relationship among members and structures of the organisation.
- It is a tool to preempt, to prevent and to mediate conflict and resolve disciplinary violations When internalized, it guides us towards a coherent approach to the internal and external running of the organisation.
- It is an anchor that generates useful common experience in the running of the organisation.
- It serves us to raise revolutionary consciousness beyond sloganeering.
- It is always changing, based on the experience of its cadres, members and structures.
When we join the organisation, the national general council (2005) decided, members must undertake the oath in the constitution more thoroughly:
I, Lechesa Tsenoli, solemnly declare that I will abide by the Aims and Objectives of the African National Congress as set out in the constitution, the Freedom Charter and other duly adopted policy positions, that I am joining the organisation voluntarily and without motives of material advantage or personal gain, that I agree to respect the constitution and structures and carry out tasks given to me, that I will work towards making the ANC an even more effective instrument of Liberation in the hands of the people and that I will defend the unity and integrity of the organisation and its principles, and combat any tendency towards disruption and factionalism.
We are also advised by its veterans and by its practice that the ANC leads all of society, and it must do so decisively, that, it is a revolutionary organisation and not a debating society. Once issues have been debated internally closure to such debate must be brought by practical decisions that must be implemented by everyone.
When we join the organisation, we subordinate our individual interests- of course not absolutely - to that of the organisation.
The lower structure we become part of, are themselves subordinated to higher structures. That between National Conferences and the National General Councils, the NEC acts on behalf of the entire organisation, Once decisions are taken, they must be implemented with vigor, including by those who differed during debate and discussion.
This is how we have understood democratic centralism as practiced by the movement. We said earlier that we subordinate our individual interests to the organization but not absolutely because there are choices we can make given extraordinary circumstances. When we do exercise those choices we must then take responsibility for the consequences our task always is to advance the collective good even when we act individually. The constitution itself is thus a crucial signpost, a contract, a guide, a revolutionary tool, an anchor and, in its evolution, reflects movement from the simple to the complex-it is always changing.
This dynamism of the constitution must encourage us to approach it positively and not seek to deal with departures from its provisions in a mechanical way. We must constantly refer ourselves to its value as articulated above nor should we ignore its strictures conveniently to advance our individual or factional interests.
It is, however, appropriate as we conclude to site Rule 25 on discipline in part;
Disciplinary proceedings against a member and public representative shall be confined to violations of the ANC Constitution and shall not;
a. Be used as a means of stifling debate or denying members their basic democratic rights, or
b. Be instituted as means of solving private problems or as means of interfering in the private lives of members
In memory of the late Phoka Noka and as a monument to his revolutionary commitment, lets have our eyes firmly on the Big Picture, the National Democratic Revolution, and be critical of our ideas and practices in the service of the Revolution guided by the constitution and other key policy documents.
History Of The ANC
By Z Pallo Jordaan, MP
The ANC is one of the oldest liberation movements in the world. In spite of that, it remains a growing and dynamic movement.
In dealing with the history of the ANC and Alliance, one has to reflect on the issue of radical white supremacy as it manifested itself in South Africa. Similar to what was the case in Nazi-Germany, its transplantation locally was taken beyond the notion of whites being superior to all other races, to the notion of some whites being superior to other whites.
Regarding the pillars of the ANC as political movement that opposed such racism and capitalist oppression, we recognise the following:
- Mass mobilization;
- Armed struggle (the ANC has always viewed the pursuit of
armed struggle as `political struggle by other means`);
- International solidarity (The Anti-apartheid movement in the UK and Europe are examples of yet another means of advancing political struggle by the ANC);
Values that ground the ANC non-racialism - a strong belief in the equality of the human race; non-sexism and advancing the needs of the working class.
During various historical periods the ANC had to deal with the struggles of people who were oppressed and caught up feudal social arrangements: These characteristics were evident in the rural revolts in cases such as Pondoland, Zeerust, Sekhukhuni and Qwa-qwa.
The relevance of these was the alignment of ordinary people with the ANC and its values. It must also be recognised that this led to decades of sustained revolt and resistance across barriers of race and class that led to the development of the Freedom Charter.
The ideals expressed in the Freedom Charter and the values of non-racism, non-sexism and an alignment with the plight of the working class continued to guide the struggle in a variety of forms during the decades stretching through to the late 70s, 80s and early 90s.
The ANC as national liberation movement continue to be relevant in its current role as leading political party in this democratic context as it consistently drives towards its stated aim of transformation of this country in a contract with the people.
Input On Through The Eye Of The Needle
By Dan Montsitsi, MP
Getting the work done satisfactorily means putting the right cadre in the right position at the right time. Cadres therefore have to fit through the eye of the needle in order to ensure that they are ready for the right positions and tasks.
It remains important to always ask the question:
How do we choose the best cadres for deployment to positions in the organization or government?
We need to delve a bit into what it means to be ready to pass through the eye of the needle. What do cadres of the NLM possess that ensures that they contribute to the struggle to reach the ANC`s stated aims along its strategy and tactics?
The ANC as NLM has in the past been resting on four interrelated pillars:
- Mass Struggle
- Underground Movement
- International Mobilisation
- Military Wing
In all four these pillars, cadres with exceptional abilities operated to ensure success of which we reap the fruits today.
However, much of those abilities are still needed. The abilities at the height of the struggle was that of being highly flexible, being able to do different things often at the same time, without necessarily being recognised. Cadres lived as ordinary persons having ordinary family, working lives while being active in totally different reams in the underground.
On the issue of individual ambition:
It is a source of impatience. Such cadres do things to be recognised. If they are not recognised, their impatience makes them unstable in their positions and functions so that the liberation work is often neglected to satisfy individual ambition.
On the issue of aspiration:
People can aspire to be in a particular position or to do her work like someone else. This does not necessarily mean that the person is individualistically ambitious. Aspiring means that the person could be working hard to be ready to pass through the eye of the needle.
When we declare our intentions/aspirations, what advice do we follow? Cde Nelson Mandela during 1997-98 traveled the country telling cadres to cover yourself with strong comrades.
He explained that it meant little to interpret `strong comrades` as meaning friends who agree with everything that one does.
Rather, strong comrades have the characteristic of often strongly disagreeing with one, thus ensuring that you stay sharp, remain vigilant and are always receiving the necessary criticism that strengthens the quality of what you deliver to reach the aims of the NLM.
Key issues raised by this input:
- On the notion of the ANC as governing party:
It is of crucial importance that cadres adhere to the understanding of the ANC as a national liberation movement that strategically functions as political party that is leading government depending on the context its cadres are functioning in. In parliament it should for example always be remembered that in reality, we are cadres who function as politicians in our positions as Members of Parliament.
- On the key characteristics of cadres of the NLM: Cadres of a special type are needed to ensure that the NLM reaches its aims.
`Special type` refers to cadres who:
- Are flexible, multi-capacitated individuals who are disciplined and would know what behaviour, language and functions are appropriate.
- Carry the interest of the organization and the people they represent at heart.
- Unite rather than divide - no matter what the consequences may be for positions.
- The discipline and respect that cadres display in their actions constitute the discipline and respect of the organisation (refer to the 1991 Conference).
Trusts Women With Responsibilities At All Levels
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed South Africas first woman Deputy President on 22 June 2005, after serving as Minerals and Energy Minister for six years. Born 3 November 1955, Mlambo-Ngcuka obtained her degree in Social Sciences and Education from the National University of Lesotho in 1980, and a Masters Degree in Philosophy from the University of Cape Town in 2003. She became a Member of Parliament in 1994 and chaired the portfolio committee on Public Service the same year. She also served as Deputy Minister of the Trade and Industry department from 1996 until 1999. She has been involved in youth and community development as well as women economic empowerment since early 1980s.
Mlambo-Ngcuka is also a member of the National Executive Committee of the African National Congress and a Leader of Government Business in Parliament.
She spoke to Sephadi on her historic appointment as the first women Deputy President and challenges facing women and government in the second decade of democracy
What does your appointment as the first woman deputy president mean to the women of this country and to the nation?
Well I think it says that the ANC trusts women with responsibilities at all levels. It also says that we have an opportunity as women to demonstrate, what in a way has been missing, the capabilities to harness both the strengths of men and women in taking the revolution forward. So it provides us with an opportunity to really demonstrate and secure for future generations some of these positions so that it ceases to be a big occasion if a woman reaches an office like this. It must be more of an expectation. But clearly, in South Africa and in government in particular, we have already broken the mould in the executive, so this indeed assists us to consolidate the status quo.
Could you say that the issue of women empowerment is being embraced at the necessary pace, not only in government but also in the private sector?
The private sector is really still lagging behind. The ANC and the government are leading - there is no doubt about that. The private sector is seriously lagging because even if you look at the number of women on boards in South Africa, the numbers go up because of the parastatals. It is a misleading reflection to add parastatals when we are talking about gender progression in South Africa and when you remove public enterprises from the equation, it looks very bad.
It is also bad for equity shareholding and therefore the current challenge for us in terms of broad based economic empowerment is to ensure that, on the score cards, as the different sectors we are very vigilant and that we do not accept the situation whereby companies, including black-owned companies, bring in women shareholders at a most minimum level. Of course one of the challenges particularly of being a woman today is the struggle for financing.
Women tend to play down their own involvement because they think they cannot raise enough money. So those are some of the market failure issues which happen in the gender context which we need to address squarely. Women have a limited borrowing history which works to their disadvantage. The trend has been that the more you borrow and owe, the more you will be able to borrow in future, so the women need to break in. They need that first deal that will give them a relationship with the lending institutions and demonstrate that they can utilize them at value. So institutions have got to take that first step as they have done with the men.
Still on the issue of gender transformation, the NGC of the ANC has taken a decision that the next elections must be contested on 50-50 gender basis. This is an issue that will have huge impact in ensuring equal representation in government.
Could we see government exerting similar pressure to the private sector?
I think the government can do the same in the private sector; however, there are limitations. We should ensure that companies that do business with us play ball. I dont think we have used that space fully.
Banks that do business with us should demonstrate to us that they take the issue of gender equity seriously. Otherwise why should we bank with them if they undermine one of our cornerstone policies? I dont think we have utilized this space seriously.
This should be one of the things that we ask them. Government might not have all the capabilities to influence the sector in this regard but where as government we matter, either as client etc, we should utilize such advantage. Therefore we should work smart as government in this regard.
Government and ANC are accelerating the issue of the empowerment of women, but are sufficient mechanisms being put in place to ensure that women in major positions are provided with necessary support for them to succeed?
The ANC Womens League needs to develop such women, but this should not only be the responsibility of the League. Other sub committees of the organization need to also assist. For example the local government task team has to devise some interventions to assist women in local government. The same goes for the likes of the economic transformation subcommittee, the social subcommittee etc. I think that if we do not empower women it is an overall reflection of some of the weaknesses that are there in our support institutions. So again, we need to go back to those institutions and make sure that we consolidate them because I think they are not adequately prepared to provide such support.
Do you think women, specifically those serving in legislatures and councils are given adequate support?
It is not adequate. But I believe that as ANC and as government there is a greater openness to deal with intervention support mechanisms. The thing is by the time women come into a work situation in institution such as parliament they already come from a generally women unfriendly society such as at a family level. Some of this support system has to be built at a domestic level. Government cannot do much about issues such as shared parenting for instance. Therefore we need to create those conditions for women in parliament in order to allow them a space to focus.
But also we do not want to alienate those with children, because women dont want to make those kinds of choices. They want to be able to balance their multi tasks without being judged. For example, if a woman says that I am leaving now because I have to administer medication to my children at home - that must not be trivialized. But men must also be able to do that, because it is only through their assistance at home that women get a space. It is vital that labour is divided at home level.
You have been involved in issues of woman empowerment since your youthful days; could you say that things are now moving towards the direction you envisaged?
Yes, but I think we need to change the tactics because I think the nature of the problem is much bigger- and I dont think we are catching up. It becomes traumatic that we have been through so much and we dont always seem to get the kind of results that we wanted. The fact is that globally speaking, so much has been done around the issue of women and yet in 2005 there are more women who are poor.
So clearly, we need to cover and address the issue of the population and poverty - the issue of the population growth against economic growth. Therefore there is a need for us to leapfrog so that our effort becomes bigger to cover population growth. Otherwise we would find ourselves doing good things too little too late.
Do we have mechanisms to monitor government delivery progress?
We do, that is why we are able to criticize ourselves. However, we need something much bolder than what we have now.
Some of the shortcomings we experienced in our monitoring are that the bulk of our monitoring interventions is government monitoring itself rather than government monitoring the impact of its interventions.
We need to get the perspective of the end user not the perspective of the person who is delivering who will tell you that this is how much I have delivered; this is how much I have made a difference. I want to know from the end users perspective - because there could be a discrepancy there.
On general governance, the period between 1994 and now could be defined as building the foundation phase, could you say after ten years we are beginning to build on that foundation?
I think we are consolidating, and we are also harvesting. When you look at our macroeconomic balance, which is very favourable, we now have the possibilities that we did not have in the first ten years to take much bolder steps because we know that the foundation is solid. What is still missing is making those very bold steps. I think that is what the President has assessed and this committee that we have established on accelerated and shared growth is about ensuring that we do much more on labour absorption.
We have also been asked to look at the next ten years We know what we are good at, and we know what we are bad at those things that we are good at lets go all out and consolidate them and lets channel our energies into those challenges that confront us. So this is the time of big things as against the careful building blocks that we have been making as we have seen the foundation has been built.
Women are one of the beneficiaries of BEE that has been marred by lot of fronting. Is there monitoring?
Well the score cards are supposed to be monitoring that. The President said that we need to come up with a monitoring tool to examine what is happening with these score cards and whether the people that are compiling them in the departments are monitoring the right things and that they can say without fear of contradiction that what they think is happening is actually what is happening.
You have been tasked with the challenge of bridging the two economies, the first and the second economy. What could we say are the main strategic factors that have to be looked at in achieving this plan?
We firstly need the will of all the stakeholders. We must make sure that issues of the second economy are not relegated to being only public sector challenges. They are the challenges of all South Africans. We need therefore to make sure there are much greater linkages and a greater enthusiasm by business to create opportunities for the second economy.
We need domestic direct investment into this economy so that South African confidence, for which the closing of this gap will also auger well, is able to thrive. We are talking about partnerships; we are also talking about other things such as BEE policy.
There must be a greater commitment so that companies dont make a minimalist interventions. We also have some other issues such as the Growth and Development Summit commitments which have not been fully taken up.
Then, of course, there are crucial skills in the economy without which we cannot be able to build the staircases from the 2nd to the 1st economies. So we need a pipeline to actually focus on developing those skills so that every year we set targets as to which staircase is going to close which gap and ensuring we have the skills to do so. We also have to ensure that we take advantage of our economic growth because sometimes jobs are being created for which we have no skilled people to deploy. We need to ask ourselves why are we not training them.
The alignment also has to be done with universities curricula.
All those are very crucial interventions. Transformation of the curriculum content in the high education sector is a crucial factor in making sure that you have first and second economy transformation. Then there is also a direct intervention into the second economy itself where you must build those interventions that reflects the excellence that exists.
For example stockvels generates a particular socio-economic activity which is a niche. So there is a need to make those things sustainable.
And then there is an issue where you need safety nets; we need to address the issue of early learning inputs because if not dealt with adequately you will continue to bring up children who will go to school when they are not ready and become a problem in the system later on.
Labour laws flexibility ?
Well we are saying a certain degree of review needs to be looked at. But what is not negotiable is that workers of South Africa should lose some of the cornerstone rights that they have won.
On local government issues, is the recent wave of municipal protests in a democratic developmental state such as ours a reason to worry, or is it normal?
Of course it is normal in a democratic state for people to exercise their right to protest. However, in doing so, it is not on for people to conduct themselves in a manner that is violent. It is also not on for people to make their point through vandalism.
Is poor communications between government and public to blame?
That is our responsibility. We need to inform our people. Just as some of the protests are not justifiable there are some that are justified. In some cases you find that a service that people should have reasonably received has not been delivered or they have not been informed appropriately on how to get it. So we need to clean up our act as government.
Is the issue of incapacity part of the problem?
We do have wrongly deployed people at government level and we must address that. We also need comrades to have enough humility to seek help rather than sugar coating the problem.
The DPLG recently embarked on Project Consolidate and the President recently alluded to the possibility of acquiring foreign skills?
All that we are saying is that the challenges at local government level are so big that we need to find appropriate skills wherever we can get them. If it means that in some areas we do not have enough of our own people, so be it. The point we are trying to make is that in seeking these skills the whole world is our oyster because the problem is major. But this does not mean we are opting for foreign skills at the expense of local skills.
Womens Parliament A Success
As part of an initiative to celebrate 10 years of a democratic Parliament and to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the constitution, the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa hosted a Womens Parliament on 20 August 2004. The theme of this event was What has 10 years of a democratic Parliament meant for women? The objectives of the event were as follows:
- To celebrate ten years of a democratic Parliament in South Africa.
- To create a platform for diverse women to come together and enter into dialogue on the achievements gained and the challenges that still face South African Women.
- To reflect on the legislation reforms made and how this has affected the lived realities of women To provide an opportunity for a Listening forum where women in civil society could articulate their stories and experiences of 10 years of a democratic Parliament to Members of Parliament.
- To reflect on the role that South African women have played at an international level.
The event was structured around 5 thematic areas, namely:
- Violence against women
- Women and labour
- Women and land reform and housing
- Women and economic empowerment
- The regional, continental and international role of South African Women.
The themes for engagement within the above-mentioned areas included a focus on the impact of legislative reform on the lives of women, the role of women in law making, the achievements of Parliament over the past 10 years., the challenges that women still grapple with and the ways in which Parliament can continue to make a contribution in enhancing the quality of womens lives.
The womens Parliament strived to hear the testimonies of a diverse group of South African Women. It used narrative techniques in the plenary session to elicit stories on the lived realities of women within each of the 5 thematic areas. Within these groups, participants worked primarily on identifying the key challenges that women still contend with in the sector and identified ways in which Parliament could assist in addressing these.
Participants included Parliamentarians and 75 women from non-government organizations and community based organizations (CBOs) working in the thematic areas focused on.
Representation by participants reflected the nine provinces, with a focus on rural and peri-urban women. A number of special guests who made significant contributions to the fight for womens liberation were also in attendance. These included Mrs. Adelaide Tambo, Mrs. Albertina Sisulu, Mr. Gertrude Shope, Mrs. Martha Mahlangu, Mr. Amina Cachalia, Mrs. Ellen Nkosi-Shandu and Mrs. Bibi Urbaniah.
RECOMMENDATIONS PERTAINING TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
- Female condoms should be made available free of charge and distributed widely in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
- The Department of justice should ensure that women have access to justice. This includes physical access (in terms of distance) and access in terms of language by removing language barriers in application forms, etc.
- Orphanage homes should accommodate children up to the age of 16 or 19 years.
- The withdrawal of cases should be regulated and bail should be refused for people accused of rape.
- People should be encouraged to use the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act that allow for the removal of the perpetrator form the premises, thereby minimizing the risk of victims.
- Campaigns should be launched to raise awareness around the legislation applicable to women.
- Community workers who volunteer their services should be empowered.
- Community organizations should become actively involved in the implementation of legislation.
- Computerized database should be developed for protection orders and maintenance orders.
- Criminal justice personnel should receive ongoing training on issues related to domestic violence and maintenance.
- The Maintenance Act provides mechanisms for the enforcement of maintenance orders, such as emolument attachments, attachment of property and garnishee orders.
The courts must apply these civil options more often instead of opting for the criminal route.
- The South African Police Service should employ more women.
- Government should subsidise shelters accommodating women and strengthen existing shelters.
RECOMMENDATIONS PERTAINING TO LABOUR:
- There is no need for greater monitoring of the implementation of labour-related legislation.
- The 2004 2009 Labour Strategy must address the need to create more jobs for women.
- There is a need to train and capacitate the Gender Focal Point in government departments.
- MPs need to contribute to driving an awareness campaign on the rights of domestic workers. Legislation must address the specific problems experienced by domestic workers.
- There is a need for comprehensive research on child labour, particularly with regard to children who work as a result of being orphaned. There is a need to find sustainable ways to providing support to older siblings who work to support younger ones.
- In facilitating better communication flow between Parliament and the Public, strategies such as the simplification of legislation and use of community road shows etc to get information to people, need to be employed.
- Employment equity and affirmative action must be addressed so that there is greater improvement in this regard. There is a need for better monitoring of how employers are meeting targets.
- Sexual harassment must be dealt with. There is a need for educational material in this regard and these must target men.
- It is critical that a strategy is developed to deal with the issue of women being retrenched (e.g. in telecommunications industry) as this lead to significant social problems.
- The use of the tot system on farms must be investigated.
Because farm workers are a particularly vulnerable sector, the problems affecting this sector need to be identified and addressed.
- Sex work should be decriminalized.
- The informal sector needs greater protection. Legislation is needed to address this.
- Parity in remuneration must be addressed so that women earn the same as their male counterparts.
- More funding must be allocated to the Audit Basic Education Training Centres.
- There is a need for awareness campaigns to inform rural women workers of their rights.
RECOMMENDATIONS PERTAINING TO THE ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN:
- People must assist to start their own enterprises using the BEE legislation.
- Establish networks in the local areas using the South African Women Enterprise Network - SAWEN. Establish cells in local areas.
- Change the mindset of people so as to work optimally with service providers so that local communities can benefit from support.
- Accelerate the process of delivery.
- Expand on the opportunities made available for womens participation in legislative processes.
- Tenders must be used to empower women entrepreneurs.
- Government departments must become more user friendly.
Staff needs to be reoriented and their attitudes to the people they provide a service to must be improved. People should not be sent from one department to another for assistance.
- There is need for improved communication between the different tiers of government.
- Government forms must be improved upon and become more user friendly, particularly for people who are illiterate.
- Teach people financial literacy, especially women in the local communities. Skills like accounting skills are very important and are lacking in local communities.
- When government officials change, there is a tendency for funding to be reallocated to different NGOs. Parliament should consider the implications of withdrawing funding from NGOs
- Women should be included in the expanded public works programme,
- Parliament should support the empowerment of women especially at a personal level. The confidence of women should be strengthened. Networking between women should be encouraged. The independence of women should strengthened. Dependency on men does not help the economic empowerment of women. Women should support each other.
- Should access the services provided at a local government level.
- Practical recommendations to empower women at a local level include women entrepreneurs getting their drivers licenses, becoming computer literate and economically literate.
- Access to finance and access to affordable finance needs to be facilitated.
- Fronting of women. Women are used to meet the quotas of some companies. This process does not serve to empower women. Women that are generally used for fronting purposes do not have many alternatives and are frequently exploited.
- Legislation needs to be continuously monitored.
- BEE must empower all and be as broad based as possible
- The advisory council of ministers should include representatives from the community.
RECOMMENDATIONS PERTAINING TO LAND REFORM AND HOUSING:
- The Deeds Registry Act (Act No.47 of 1937) should be amended so as to allow for the sale of houses or property only when both husband and wife give consent. This ensures that RDP houses are not sold without the consent of a spouse.
- Corruption within the Deeds office(s) should be investigated and corrupt officials exposed.
- Government should expedite the establishment of self-help building subsidies houses so as to hold sub-contractors or developers responsible for the improvements done to the substandard houses. The Department should not grant contracts to those sub-contractors or developers who are guilty of building substandard houses.
- The Department of Housing should elicit the help of social workers before approving housing subsidies so as to establish the neediness of an applicant.
- The establishment of the Khula Farmer Support Scheme, which would provide financial aid to emerging farmers, should be expedited.
- Municipalities should be capacitated to monitor, on a regular basis, whether occupants of RDP houses are legally occupying such houses.
- Houses for domestic workers should be provided within reasonable proximity to place of employment.
- The Establishment of a Peoples Housing Project should be encouraged.
- Municipalities and or Provincial housing departments should elicit and encourage the participation of women on the planning communities when new housing schemes are envisaged.
RECOMMENDATIONS PERTAINING TO THE INTERNATIONAL, CONTINENTAL AND REGIONAL ROLE OF SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN:
- The Joint Monitoring Committee on Improvement of Quality of life and Status of Women should be actively involved in checking how each piece of legislation impacts on the life of women in South Africa.
- Parliament should engage with communities, especially women and young girls, to inform them of happenings in international forums.
- Parliament needs to make instruments more accessible at a grassroots level by sharing information with and providing resources (such as funding and venues) to the women and organizations that work with these instruments. The language of the instruments should be demystified.
- The Beijing +10 conference took place in 2005. The reporting process should include a civil society participative process.
- The Optional Protocol to CEDAW should be ratified.
- Parliament should go to communities and teach women and young girls what CEDAW and the Beijing Platform for Action really mean.
- Parliament should facilitate or engage the involvement of women in the African Union and the Pan African Parliament. Public hearings at the Pan African Parliament should be accessible to all women of Africa. Access to the PAP must be facilitated by the provision of adequate resources.
- The relationship between Government and previously disadvantaged institutions such as historically black universities should be consolidated.
- A national conference or workshop that includes women from civil society should be hosted to thank international women for their role in fighting for womens rights in South Africa.
- It was recommended that tribal authorities in rural areas and in the house of Traditional leaders should be required to meet the quota to ensure that there is 32% female representation.
- Parliament should facilitate the access of older women to further education by providing funding as this will encourage them to engage in other processes.
- Parliament must strengthen its relationship with structures that work with international instruments.
- Government departments should make structures available to popularize documents dealing with international instruments and conventions. (source: Parliament)
Correcting the injustices of the past
The Special Pensions Amendment Bill is an amendment to the Special Pensions Act no 69 of 1996
The Special Pensions Act, 1996 gave effect to section 189 of the Interim Constitution, 1993 [Act No. 200 of 2003], in that it provides for the payment of special pensions to persons and survivors lump sums to their eligible dependent, who made sacrifices or served the public interest in establishing a non-racial democratic constitutional order while serving fulltime in a banned or restricted political organisation and as a consequence of such activity were unable to or prevented from providing for pensions, for a significant period.
When former Deputy Minister of Finance, Gill Marcus, introduced the Special Pensions Act to this House in 1996, she stated that the Act reflected the pain and anguish, torture and depravation that so many people experienced under Apartheid
This Act cannot provide full restitution or correct all the ills, misfortune and hardship caused by the Apartheid years. While nothing can compensate for that, the provisions of this Act are aimed at addressing the dire needs that these people may experience in their old age.
The process leading up to the Special Pensions Act in 1996 was preceded by wide ranging consultations with political organisations and NGOs. Public meetings were held in different parts of the country and the views of former political prisoners sought.
The passing of the Special Pensions Act in 1996 was indeed a historical event and unique in its foundation and probably the first and only its kind in the world. We are proud of the progress our country has made with the implementation of this dispensation.
A period of more than eight years has lapsed since the promulgation of the Special Pensions Act on December 1 1996.
The Act was amended in 1998 to enable the payment of a monthly pension to persons from the age of 35 [instead of 60 years].
It was again amended in 2003 in order to condone late applications, as the period provided for applications in terms of the Act was 12 months from the commencement date of the Act, which expired on December 1 1997. Subsequently to December 1 1997 a number of late applications have been condoned to date in terms of the Act.
THE TWO MAIN AMENDMENTS PROPOSED IN THE BILL BEFORE YOU, SEEKS TO AMEND THE SPECIAL PENSIONS ACT BY PROVIDING FOR:
- The lapsing of the provisions providing for pensions and survivors lump sums on 31 December 2006. This means that the consideration of new applications for pensions of survivors lump sums after this debate will no longer be possible; and
- The extension of certain benefits to better align with benefits afforded to pensioners, and spouses and dependants of pensioners under other pension schemes, taking into account equity and affordability. In this regard, provision is made in the Bill for the following new benefits: monthly pension for surviving spouses or orphans on the death of a pensioner, which will apply retrospectively from 1 December 1996; and funeral benefits for pensioners, surviving spouses or orphans.
Other amendments proposed, provides for the disestablishment of the Board 60 days after the lapsing of the provisions providing for pensions and survivors lump sums on December 31 2006 [and Review Board 90 days thereafter]. It also provides for the head of pensions administration in the National Treasury and the Minister to respectively take over the boards responsibilities; and the resolution of administrative and legal difficulties relating to the implementation of the Act. The Bill allows the Board and the Review Board to reconsider and amend a determination made by it under certain circumstances and recover any pension or benefit paid to which a person was not entitled.
As soon as this Bill is enacted, the National Treasury will embark on an extensive campaign to reach all those who qualify for a special pension and have not yet applied. We will make ever effort to ensure that as far as possible information about special pensions reaches every part of the country, urban and rural, in order for those who qualify for any benefit under the Act, to make application before the closing date.
I thank the Portfolio Committee on Finance and especially the Chairperson, Mr Nhlanhla Nene, for the manner in which they handled this Amendment Bill. I am aware that the Committee had to work under extreme pressure in order to ensure that legislation is passed by this house before it rises. (presentation by Finance Deputy Minister, Jabu Moleketi, on the National Assembly)
Credit Bill To Overhaul Existing Credit Law
At the 51st Conference of the ANC in 2002, Conference
noted that the financial sector had failed to provide
affordable services in poor communities and that legislation
on the regulation of credit bureaux, as agreed by the
Financial Sector Summit would need to be implemented.
Along with this Conference resolved a range of measures to support developmental, non-profit legal micro-finance agencies that target the poor for income generation activities to improve family livelihoods, and the establishment of an Apex fund that can lend to the very poor through developmental micro-lenders and community banking institutions.
Conference also called upon a review of the exemptions from the interest rate requirements for micro-lenders under the Usury Act.
Conference took place against the backdrop of a very successful Financial Sector Summit (August 2002), which helped to inform debate at the 51st Conference. Key to the outcome of the Summit was a 13-point agreement, which was taken as a package. Key to this agreement was: -
- Ensuring of access to basic financial services.
- New enabling legislation 2nd and 3rd tier deposit taking institutions.
- Appropriate regulation of micro-lenders to minimize the negative effects of surplus practices.
- Regulation of the credit bureaux.
Further to this these agreements were incorporated into the Growth and Development Summit Agreements in 2003.
Since 1994, serious efforts have been made to examine the level of indebtedness in the country. South Africa has one of the highest levels of indebtedness in the world. One of the reasons for this can be attributed to the manner in which the Credit Industry is structured and the weakness in existing legislation and regulations.
Credit Industry practices have led to further impoverishment, and with the increase in micro lending and various distorted practices, calls for a policy review grew. All stakeholders acknowledged the complexity of the credit market.
Since 1994 there have been a number of important interventions in a bid to properly regulate the credit industry. These include:-
- The Law Commissions 1994 review of the Usury Act
- The Strauss Report on Rural Finance
- National Small Business Regulatory Review by Ntsika
- Policy board Report on SME Finance
In 2002, the Director General of the Department of Trade & Industry asked the Micro Finance Regulatory Council (MFRC) to co-ordinate a review of consumer credit legislation, and to make proposals for a new regulatory framework covering all consumer credit products from mortgages, credit cards and vehicle finance through to hire purchase finance and microloans.
A committee was established to oversee the review, called the Credit Law Committee(CLC).
International experience was drawn upon, specifically those
countries who have reviewed their consumer credit legislation.
The experience of the reviews by the European Commission, New Zealand and UK were examined by the CLC.
Stakeholders were engaged from the consumer representatives and industry, building up a statistical and economic analysis of the consumer credit market.
The CLCs primary recommendation is that the Usury Act, Credit Agreements Act and Usury Exemption Notice be replaced with an overarching National Credit Act and that a Consumer Credit Regulator be established to ensure compliance.
Seven (7) significant recommendations were made by the Credit Law Committee and these were in summarized form: -That the scope of the National Credit Act should be narrower that the current legislation and be limited to natural persons, thus excluding businesses.
That the current interest cap is a primary factor that causes division between the primary market and the marginal market, and that the cap is regularly circumvented and thus of little significance to the majority of the population.
That the focus should be shifted from price control to protection against over-indebtedness, and to the regulation of predatory lending practices.
Detailed proposals to simplify and standardise disclosure, to improve redress, to prevent abusive contractual clauses and to improve disclosure of credit life insurance and other credit related fees and charges.
Numerous weaknesses were identified in relation to credit bureau activities, and that the new Act should include a section dealing with credit bureaux and credit information sharing.
That the Consumer Credit Regulator should be responsible for enforcement, borrower education, debt rehabilitation, and for the establishment of a national network of debt counselors.
That there is a need for reform in the debit order system, and regulation of the National Payments System, in the Magistrates Court Act, in the Insolvency Act and in the legislation and regulations that impact upon the township property market.
The Credit Law committee concluded that an improvement in the efficiency of credit market, both in terms of regulation and market performance, could make a dramatic contribution to improved access to finance, to a lowering in the cost of finance, to improved consumer protection and an improvement in the opportunities for asset accumulation for previously disadvantaged South Africans.
OVERVIEW OF THE DRAFT LEGISLATION
Under existing legislation consumer credit is regulated by the Usury Act, the Credit Agreements Act, the Magistrates court Act and common law. The Bill proposes to repeal the Usury and Credit Agreements Act, replacing both with a single Act (National Credit Act), which will give priority to its own procedures for enforcement over those of the magistrates Court Act and will modify common law in several respects.
SCOPE OF THE BILL
The Bill will apply to all credit agreements within the country with certain exceptions namely: -
- Loans to the state
- Loans between family members
- Mortgages in respect of immovable property policies of insurance
- Leases in respect of immovable property
OBJECTIVES OF THE BILL
Key objectives of the Bill are: -
- To promote enhanced consumer protection.
In this regard pre-agreement disclosures, quotes and contracts all have to be put in place. In addition there will be enhanced enforcement and redress through a new institutional framework
- To promote competition and transparency.
Under this objective all credit transactions are treated equally but recognition of different products and categories of agreements is stipulated.
- Control over indebtedness and reckless lending.
The establishment of debt counselors and a debt review mechanism with recommendations to the Magistrates Court.
Included in this is the important provision of an obligation to properly assess consumers ability to meet obligations.
The Portfolio Committee of Trade & Industry has convened Five (5) days of extensive hearings.
Over 50 submissions have been received and at present the Committee is applying its mind to these submissions.
In conclusion, the National Credit Bill is designed to completely overhaul existing credit law. It is designed to modernise and integrate existing legislation, remove perverse incentives to credit providers, improve disclosures, contracting standards and create effective access to redress, deal with reckless lending and over indebtedness and create institutional capacity for effective enforcement.
The Bill sets the legal framework for the convergence of broadcasting, telecommunications and computing. This simply means that now technology allows you to receive these services on any platform. For example you can now make a call on your computer whereas before you could only make it on a phone. You can watch or listen to news on a cell phone screen whereas before you could only do that either on radio or TV. It is now possible to receive email on your TV screen whereas before you could only receive that through your PC.
Instead of having different legal frameworks for the different forms of communication, this Bill creates one framework. When you transmit a message from sender to recipient, whatever form it takes (eg. phoning, TV, radio programme, email, etc) will be considered and regulated as electronic communication.
The Bill is also drafted against a policy that seeks to introduce more competition in this sector. It is a world trend to move from a state dominated communication industry to one that allows private entry and introduction of more competition. We popularly refer to it as managed liberalisation.
So, one of the central features of this Bill is to give an enabling environment for matters of competition. In this regard the Bill takes away much of the monopoly that Telkom enjoyed.
Competitors to Telkom will now be able to route their own traffic through the undersea cable independent from Telkom. All players will be allowed to interconnect with any player of their choice in order to route their traffic.
ISSUES OF CONTENTION:
Independence of the Regulator
This is a contested area because it often deteriorates or escalates in an ideological issue. Its often a battle between the view that the State should not have any role in matters of communication on the one hand and the view of maximising state involvement on the other.
While the opposition would like to give the Regulator absolute independence the ANC would want an independence that allows the minister some powers over the regulator.
The ANC maintains that the need for an added operator in telephones (mobile or fixed) and the determination of such need in a particular geographic area, is matter that must be determined by Government rather than to leave it to the whims of business.
The main reason is that business intentions will always be based on profit and disregard universal service and affordability.
For example if it gives them profits business will have as many operators in Gauteng as is possible, irrespective of how that ignores the absence of such services in other areas.
The opposition on the contrary argue that that must be left to the markets and allow business to determine where it is feasible to provide such services.
Radio Frequency Spectrum
Here the debate is the powers of the Minister vs. the Regulator.
How involved should the Minister and the Regulator be in the allocation of Radio Frequency Spectrum. Naturally the opposition would argue that the entire allocation must be done by the Regulator and the Minister only do policy. The ANC position is that the Minister must be involved to the exclusion of the regulator at the first stage of allotment of frequency at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) level.
Based on the countrys allotment which the Minister shall have concluded at the ITU level. The Regulator can then be tasked to draw the national frequency plan. In that plan they, the Regulator, will leave the frequency allocation to the security forces as a competence of the Minister. After the Regulator has drawn the plan the Minister will approve or disapprove the plan.
After approval the Regulator will then do allocation based on the national plan free of any interference from the Minister.
Affordability to the consumer
This is a sore point. Not as a result of opposition and ruling party not finding one another, but just on the difficulty of reaching or shedding light on this eventuality.
Technological innovations and development in this industry are pioneered by business interests. Burning issues such as affordability and universal service often do not enjoy top priority.
We come in at a point when the technology is already there and it is a matter of using it or being left behind.
At the legislative level we continue to hope that introducing more competition will in the long term address the matter.
Universal service and access is also addressed in the Bill in order to penetrate communities that were previously disadvantaged.
The Regulator is amongst others seen as a watchdog for consumers and tariff hikes.
Icasa Amendment Bill
The present Icasa Act, 13 of 2000 has been amended to mainly put it in line with the Convergence bill.
The same arguments about the extent of the independence of the Regulator will be carried over into this amendment bill.
THE MAIN POINTS:
The amendment suggests a name change from Independent Communication Authority of SA to Electronic Communication Authority of SA. Obviously the opposition wishes to read some circumscription of freedoms in removing the word Independence.
The ANC believes that irrespective of this unexplained perception the actual competence of the Regulator is electronic communication as espoused in the Convergence Bill and in the amendment bill itself.
Appointment of Councillors
The amendment departs from the present method of appointing the councillors. The present method is done through the Portfolio Committee on Communications in a public process that calls for nominations, interviewing the nominees and finally, through the National Assembly, make a recommendation for appointment to the President.
The amendment takes away the role of the Portfolio Committee and in its place is an independent panel. Instead of the final decision of appointment lying with the President as is the case now, it is now amended that this decision should be the Ministers.
This is the oppositions main objection to the amendment. They argue that it takes away the independence of the Authority if the Minister is to appoint it him or herself. They also argue that it is unconstitutional because the Authority is established in terms on section 192 of the Constitution under chapter 9 institutions.
They believe as a result the Authority must enjoy more independence, and how it is appointed is one of the factors that speak to that independence.
Our study group believes that to argue constitutionality is to stretch the matter to extremes. We believe that the matter really rests on what method one prefers. That the independence of the Authority could still be maintained even if a different method of appointing them is applied. We continue to engage with the department, opposition and industry as to which preferable method we can settle for.
Dismissal of Councillors
In the present arrangement Councillors can only be dismissed by a resolution of the National Assembly. The Bill seeks to amend that and give the Mister the power to dismiss them after due process.
Opposition again argues issues of independence and that you may fear to differ with someone who has the power to dismiss you.
Our study group does acknowledge the point that the route of the National Assembly to dismiss a councillor is cumbersome and may unduly protect the councillors from dismissal even at times when it is desirable to do so. We are engaging in this matter to find a good balance.
The issue of the Regulator being financially adequate has been canvassed over the years by politicians, members of industry and councillors themselves. It was so canvassed that there was a popular plea that the Regulator should retain a certain portion of the licence fees that it levies on operators. This money is paid directly to treasury. We are presently working on a formulation that may help the Authority to apply for more funds over and above their normal budget may the need arise.
The activities of the South African Post Office are presently regulated by the Department of Communication. With the amendment this responsibility will now be taken over by the Authority.
An inspector will be introduced, and will deal mainly with policing whether operators keep to the requirement of their licences. That they comply with the provision of statutes that regulate them. The inspector can also receive complaints from members of industry and citizens.
Complaints and Compliance Committee
The Authority, after receiving complaints from industry and public, would then refer those they believe require or deserves probing to this committee. After due process the committee will report to the Authority and give their recommendation as to what form of action should be taken. The Authority will then on the bases of information at hand conclude on the form of action.
Board Members of the MDDA
The board members are selected through a public parliamentary process which is directed by the Portfolio Committee. The term of office of two board members is coming to an end on the last day of this year.
The Portfolio Committee has called for nominations. We have short listed six names from a list of 23 candidates. We will interview and recommend the two names to the National Assembly during the current sitting.
Forestry Amendment Bill, 2005
In 1996 a White Paper addressing Sustainable Forestry Development was introduced. This policy addressed the sustainable development of the countrys 1,5 million hectares of plantation forests, the 420,000 hectares of indigenous closedforests, and the approximately 32 40 million hectares of woodlands.
The White Paper recognised the major contribution that natural forests and woodlands make to economic, environmental and social development at national and particularly local levels. It emphasises that previous forest policies failed to reflect the value of the resource, particularly the woodlands, and that service provision was previously limited to preserving closecanopy forests. Flowing from this DWAF developed the National Forestry Action Programme (NFAP) in 1997. It is this programme that has shaped the Departments Strategic Plan on Forestry.
HISTORY OF RECENT FORESTRY LEGISLATION
The legal foundations for the implementation of forest policy in South Africa have been established within two Acts, that is, the National Forests Act, 1998 and the National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998. Both Acts were passed by Parliament in October 1998, but they did not take immediate effect. The Acts were promulgated in a staggered manner to enable the Department to fully equip itself to effectively administer the provisions of both Acts.
The need to improve on certain provisions of the Acts has required the drafting of an Amendment Bill, which has been passed by Parliament, known as the Forest and Fire Laws Amendment Bill, 2001. This Act specifically seeks to facilitate the restructuring of the commercial plantations, to help create certainty of meaning of certain words, definitions and provisions, and to remove anomalies.
The National Veld and Forest Fire Act of 1998 provides for systems to predict and prevent uncontrolled fires, and to manage fire in general. These provisions are in line with the National Disaster Management Policy, and in many cases, with international trends. A key concept is the incentive encouraging landowners and communities to accept the responsibility of managing fires in their areas. This concept is facilitated through the establishment of Fire Protection Associations (FPAs), as provided for in the Act. The duties of FPAs include the development and implementation of veldfire management strategies, as well as the communication of fire danger ratings.
THE FORESTRY AMENDMENT BILL, 2005:
The Bill amends related legislation to bring them in line with
current developments. The Bill amends the following legislations, with the following objectives:
- The National Forests Act, Act 84 of 1998:
- National Veld and Forest Fire Act, Act 101 of 1998:
- Wattle Bark Industry Act, 1960:
The input that follows provides a summary of the amendments to the National Forests Act, 1998, National Veld and Forest Fire Act, 1998 and the Wattle Bark Industry Act, 1960.
Amendment of the National Forests Act, 1998
- The prohibition of the damaging of indigenous trees in is amended to include not only living trees but also all indigenous trees, as it is difficult to prove whether wood originates from a dead or a living tree.
- The term specifically protected area is rectified to protected area.
- The powers of the Minister is extended not only to licence certain acts in respect of protected trees but also to authorise such acts by means of exemption on advice of the Council1.
- The Ministers powers are extended to prevent deforestation of and to rehabilitate a natural forest or woodland, beyond those already protected.
Amendment of section 27 of the National Forests Act, 1998
- The amendment recognises that individual and community claims to rights in what is State forests will need time to resolve.
- At the same time, the State is leasing out a considerable area of State forestland.
- As such, lease moneys may eventually have to be paid over to successful claimants of rights in State forests; a need has arisen for the State to keep such moneys in a trust account. A need also exists for the State to continue to receive and pay out lease moneys on behalf of some successful claimants by means of a trust.
- Where claims are unsuccessful, lease moneys kept in trust are paid over to the State. Where State forestland belongs to the Ingonyama Trust however, lease money kept for unsuccessful claimants go to the Ingonyama Trust.
- The Bill authorises the Minister to act as founder of the trust. She may also appoint and dismiss the trustees and create such powers, rights, obligations and exemptions for the trustees as may be necessary to achieve the objects of the trust. The Minister may also decide on the contents, variation and termination of the trust. The Minister may also terminate the appointment of all the trustees and perform their functions herself.
- Despite the discretion of the Minister, the beneficiaries as well as the object of the trust are well defined in the Bill.
SECTION 53 OF THE NATIONAL FORESTS ACT OF 1998 IS BEING AMENDED TO EXTEND THE REGULATIONMAKING POWERS OF THE MINISTER IN THE FOLLOWING MANNER:
- The Minister is given regulating powers for the measurement of forests.
- Access for recreation is added.
- A general regulation-making power is added.
- The existing formulation is improved.
- Certain acts in respect of temporarily protected trees are treated with the same criminal sanction as protected trees.
- Certain acts in respect of seven-week ferns, which are offences, are extended to include all forest produce.
AMENDMENT OF THE NATIONAL VELD AND FOREST FIRE ACT, 1998
- The Minister may determine a fire danger rating of extreme, which is higher than the current top rating of high.
- The minimum number of television channels, radio stations and newspapers on or in which the Minister must communicate a fire danger rating to the public, is reduced from three to one in each case.
THE WATTLE BARK INDUSTRY ACT, OF 1960
- A large part of the wattle bark industry is presently being regulated by this Act. In accordance with the policy of deregulation, the Act is repealed and thus deregulates the relationship between growers and manufacturers.
ANC salutes COSATU 20th Anniversary of A Giant Labour Federation
Twenty years ago, on 1 December 1985, a giant was born. The newly-formed Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) boasted a proud parentage, stretching back to the early years of the century, when South Africas growing working class began to organise itself to fight the daily struggles of an exploitative system.
In the genes of the giant born that day in December could be found traces of earlier organised national formations of the working class like the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), the Council of Non-European Trade Unions (CNETU) and, importantly, the South African Congress of Trade Unions (SACTU).
Collected in the genes of this new labour federation were the struggles of the unions, union leaders and union members that, over many decades, had braved harassment, illegality, imprisonment and even violence to carry forward the cause of the most oppressed and exploited.
The result of many years of organisation, mobilisation and negotiation, the birth of COSATU in 1985 served to inspire and encourage the mass struggles of the day. To the leaders and members of the broader democratic movement - whether in exile or in prison, whether active in community organisations or in the underground structures of the banned African National Congress and the South African Communist Party. Whether a combatant of Umkhonto we Sizwe or a member of a civic, whether a student or a teacher, all members of the democratic movement felt a great sense of hope at the birth of COSATU.
One recalls the many consultations and discussions that took place prior to the formation of COSATU, and the hard work undertaken by many leaders of the union movement to unify labour under the banner of a single progressive federation.
It was a milestone in the history of the struggle of South Africas workers. Throughout the course of the next two decades, COSATU was to lead the fight for workers rights, for better working conditions, and for social change in the interests of the working class.
The number of unions affiliated to COSATU was to grow, and the membership of these unions was to dramatically increase as the benefits of a unified, organised union movement became increasingly evident through the struggles fought by COSATU and the gains achieved.
Yet the formation of COSATU had a profound impact even beyond the labour movement, beyond the workers of South Africa, and beyond the memberhip of its affiliates.
COSATU became an integral and powerful component of the liberation struggle, recognising that the interests of workers were not merely restricted to issues of the workplace. From its formation, COSATU understood that the struggles of workers were closely intertwined with the struggle for a free, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist society.
It understood the need for the labour movement to engage directly in the national liberation struggle, the need to work closely with other organs of the national liberation movement, and the need to use its experience and capacity to build and strengthen all sections of the national liberation movement.
The young COSATU carried on its shoulders a profound responsibility to organise the working masses of South Africa into a single, united formation that would champion not only the interests of its members, but would also join the fight for the realisation of the ideals of freedom, equality and dignity.
That COSATU had this responsibility, and could be expected to fulfil it, was understood only too well by the apartheid regime of the time. It was also viewed by the white minority establishment, correctly, as presenting a direct threat to the iniquities of apartheid capitalism, and the exploitation of black labour on which it was founded and sustained. The new labour federation, its leaders and its members, therefore became a major target of the regimes machinery of repression.
The first twenty years of COSATU is therefore a story of great courage and sacrifice. It is a story of earnest and consistent organisation and mobilisation. It is a story of great obstacles, great challenges and even greater achievements. Most importantly, it is a story that is not yet finished.
For all the achievements of the last twenty years - the achievement of democracy, the constitutional enshrinement of the rights of workers, the progress made in building a better life for workers and the poor - the work of COSATU, and the broader liberation movement, continues.
While the conditions under which COSATU and the liberation movement operates have changed significantly over the last twenty years, the shared objective of a united, non-racial, nonsexist and democratic South Africa has not.
While COSATU and the liberation movement no long faces the daily threat of state violence, banishment and imprisonment, the need for an effectively organised, strong and united COSATU and Alliance has not diminished.
As we celebrate the first twenty years of a labour giant, we look to the experience and achievements of those two decades of unrelenting struggle to serve as both inspiration and guide as we work to tackle the challenges of today, tomorrow and the decades ahead. (source: www.anc.org.za)
Parliament cannot change laws to suite the whims of disgruntled opposition
THE 2005 FLOOR CROSSING PERIOD, CHARECTERISED BY DEBATES AND ATTACKS AT THE LEGISLATION BY THE OPPOSITION PARTIES, HAS COME AND GONE.
MOLOTO MOTHAPO reflects on the arguments.
In an attempt to illustrate the character of opposition politics in South Africa, former Justice and Constitutional Development Minister, Penuel Maduna, in 2003 drew an interesting analogy between the critics of the floor crossing legislation and the malcontents in the book of Luke as observed by Jesus Chris.
Maduna quoted Chapter 7 verses 31-34, in which Christ remarks: Now to what can I compare the people of this day? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the market place. One group shouts to the other, We played wedding music to you but you wouldnt dance. We sang funeral songs, but you wouldnt cry. John the Baptist came, and he fasted and drank no wine and you said He has a demon on him. The Son of Man came and he ate and drank, and you said:
Look at this man; He is a glutton and drinker, a friend of tax collectors and other outcast.
This biblical story has replayed itself within the countrys political scenery ever since the dawn of democratic dispensation eleven years ago. Under the championship of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, opposition role players have been like children in the marketplace shouting at everything every time.
The arguments that sought to justify the enactment of the Floor crossing legislation in the National Assembly in 2002, and the manner in which they metamorphosed throughout the three years of the legislations existence feeds well into this argument.
During the conceptualisation of the legislation, most parties in parliament, the Pan Africanist Congress, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Inkatha Freedom Party and Demoratic Party included, passionately argued for the passage of the legislation.
In fact, never before had the DA conducted such a vigorous mobilisation in support of the legislation.
The ANC, which resisted the floor crossing legislation when it was first mooted by the Democratic Party [DP], was accused of being out of step with the advanced democratic countries.
In fact, the ANC is on record as being virtually the only party that consistently advocated caution as far as this issue was concerned and that it was placed so much political pressure that it conceded to the overwhelming demand.
Having succumbed to the calls of the people of this day, the ANC is yet again being called to change what it initially disapproved.
The official oppositions somersault is unfathomable and puzzling in extreme, if one was to pause and rewind its involvement in this now contested legislation.
In its quest to conquer and weaken the ANC by forming an alliance with the NNP, in 1997 the DP, through MP Colin Eglin, declared to the ad hoc committee on membership of Legislatures in 1997 that Item 23A of Annexure A to Schedule 6 to the Constitution, which disallowed defection, should be deleted in its entirety as it, among others placed extraordinary powers in the hands of the party leaders and/or those who control the party machines and reduced the status of all members of the National Assembly from that of representatives of the people to that of agents of a political party.
The party further met the then Deputy President Jacob Zuma in 2001 in a concerted lobby for the possible introduction of legislation in Parliament, as envisaged in the same Item of the supreme law of the land.
In the words of Englin: South African politics will be healthier and that Parliament will be able to develop to its full potential as the custodian of representative democracy in our country.
The partys persistence resulted in its leaders sticking consistently to this perspective and voted with the ANC, ensuring that 86 percent of the members of the House who were present voted in favour of the removal of the constitutions antidefection clause. This saw both the DP and NNP joining forces to form the DA and effectively keeping the ANC out of the Western Cape Province in line with its controversial election slogan.
When the NNP woke up to the futility of howling opposition and started working towards joining the ANC, the DAs support of the legislation boomeranged.
And the ANC is being expected to yet again change its stance on the legislation, because it is no longer favourable to the DA as it was three years ago.
While the ANC has endorsed the need for open discussion around this matter, it cannot allow itself to be bullied around by shouting children in the marketplace. Further, as much as the legislation was not cast in stone, Parliament cannot change it to suite the whims of a disgruntled opposition.
The assertion by the DA that its u-turn from its original stance stems from its principles of morality is nothing than a desperate bid to save itself from the wraths of its creation.
The truth of the matter is that the party has just awoken to the painful reality that it is not as coherent as it thought it was. If found it unimaginable that it could lose members other parties.
This is the essence of the outcry, born from the reality that its members of parliament and probably also its rank and file membership, are gradually realising that the vision of the DA is inconsistent with the national goals of democratisation and transformation for the benefit of especially the historically deprived.
Rather than using legislation as a panacea for organisational ills, the DA must conduct a serious self introspection.
Any party in South Africa whose existence is premised on selfish and narrow interest that stand in contrast to the national agenda of creating a non racial, non sexist and democratic nation is bound to crumble.
It stands to reason that when the socio-political conditions change, all these organisations and institutions that fail to reconstruct themselves in accordance to the changed environment will gradually fade away in the transfomatory arena where the new replaces the old.
This organic motion cannot be stopped. All tricks can only serve to slow it down but cannot stop it. In other words what the DA must acknowledge is that the beginning of the decay has come.
Thebe E Seheloa Holim A Engoe
(Because we have the ANC, We have a Nation)
By Dr. Molefi Sefularo, MP
The current challenge facing the African National congress has seen some people predicting, wishing for if not working for the weakening or disintegration of the ANC or the Tripartite Alliance of the ANC, COSATU and the SACP. It is a repeat of what we have seen throughout our history though it has become more strident and determined since we won our freedom in 1994. It is at moments like these that we as a nation define, redefine and reinforce our understanding of what the African National Congress stands for in relations to the South African nation.
What this article seeks to convey is that in South Africa, we are a nation because we have the African National Congress. In so many ways, the ANC is the template and embodiment of the South African nation. The Sesotho saying Thebe e seheloa holima engoe (A new shield is cut upon the template of another shield) is most apt in capturing the organic relationship between the ANC and the South African Nation.
The importance of this organic relationship applies to those that are at the fringes of or outside of the ANC, including various formations of the opposition to the ANC, who so often wish the ANC to fail, and the Tripartite Alliance to disintegrate.
They may not realize how important the ANC is to the maintenance of a milieu, framework, sense making and orientation that make the pursuit of the full aspect of private and public, social, economic and civil life to proceed without hindrance. This normal, life includes the many freedoms that all citizens enjoy, including those that are opposed to the ANC.
On the other hand, there may be those of us that have belonged to the ANC for some time, who may have become so accustomed to the movements character, systems and values, that we may not realize how much we are part of very serious organic relation to the South African nation.
Let me say with all humility that the continued unity, cohesion and strength of the ANC and other older African liberation movements is also important for the realization of the goal of making the 21st Century Africas Century.
For all of us, it would be helpful if we first try to understand the three words AFRICAN, NATION (al) and CONGRESS - in the name of this mighty movement. The characteristics or features are what I believe represent the movement as a whole and every member, branch, region, province who form its constituent parts.
THE AFRICAN IN THE ANC:
The ANC is first and foremost a liberation movement founded in Africa, by Africans and for Africa. Our very history and cause at the head of the struggle for the liberation of the African people in South Africa has been shaped by the bigger goal of freeing all of Africa from slavery and colonialism. This common bond of Africanness informed the assistance and support that we received from other African nations. It is also in the same context of Africanness that we continue to see ourselves as part of the African continent, bound to its history, concerned about our fellow Africans, working with them to find solutions for our own and other African peoples problems.
Presently, it informs our investment of material and non-material resources to strengthening our relations with other African countries so we can succeed in our project of ensuring that we all overcome the scourge of armed conflict, poverty, disease and underdevelopment This firm and complex knot of blood, history and destiny is the foundation of the inspiring vision of the African Renaissance and the brilliant, epoch-making project of NEPAD.
THE NATION IN THE ANC
In modern history, the geographic boundaries, language and folk cultures into which we are born are one of the principal sources of identity. In defining ourselves we sometimes say we are Afrikaner, Indian, English, Batswana, AmaXhosa, Basotho, VhaVhenda, AmaNdebele, AmaZulu and so on. We go on to subdivide these identities or allow ourselves to be redefined even further as we call ourselves Barolong, Batlharo, Bakwena, Bakgatla, Bafurutshe, Amahlubi, Amampondo, AmaTembu, BaTlokwa, BaTaung, Griqua, Nama, Coloured, Cape Coloured, Malay Coloured, Gujarat, Sikh, etc.
These identities and differences are not so rigidly exclusively imprinted in our genes as to justify any claim to being different and separate peoples. However, we often think of them as though they are our essential nature.
Very often, to these many divisions we add religion. The result is that even people of the same clan as described above may take on different identities such as Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Rastafarian and many others. All of us here would know how in critical times, we often revert to these identities, to the extent that Christians would be on opposing sides as Catholic or Protestant, the Muslims as Sunni or Shiite
These many identities are not necessarily wrong. In so many ways, they define who we are. They add to the general identity a more specific identity that helps us to find a place in the world, relate to one another and negotiate with others our rights, cultural, political and material interests. They are the basis for the expression and pursuit of many things that are positive and beautiful about human beings. It is this sense that the South-African nation, described as Many Cultures, One Nation is another.
In that sense, they are helpful and necessary. But they are not and should not be essential, life-and- death definitions of ourselves that need to be defended at all costs.
IDENTITIES, UNITY AND THE STRUGGLE FOR LIBERATION
We must admit though, that these very identities have been the cause of many conflicts and tragedies throughout the history of human beings. In our own country, many wars were fought among Africans on the basis of these many identities. Our own struggle and resistance against colonialism was in the early stages weakened by the many identities that the African people held dear at the expense of national unity.
The earlier generations of our leaders realized the negative effect of these seemingly neutral, justified and precious identities on the overriding and superior goal of the emancipation of all of the African people.
It is upon this deep insight that Pixley ka Isaka Seme and other pioneer leaders of our movement called upon the African people to unite above their separate tribal identities. The response to this visionary call led to the formation of the African Native Convention, later to be known as the African National Congress.
NON RACIALISM AND THE TRIPARTITE ALLIANCE
The words of P ka Isaka Seme actually marked the creation of a new nation, the African National Congress. While initially confined to Africans of indigenous origin, the meaning would be later include other Africans, mainly Indians, Coloureds and Whites. This inclusion was not a mere adjustment of thought on the part of our leadership. It was arrived at on the basis of the recognition off the fact that though they had originated in other countries, their own history and their common cause with our struggle for liberation made them one with us. This nonracial and anti-racist perspective and policy position of the ANC would later be endorsed by the people of South Africa when on 26 June 1955, they gathered at Kliptown to declare that South Africa belongs to all who live in it! What followed then was the formation of a new nation, the nonracial African National Congress. Why do we call it a new nation? Let us think through this question by first describing the elements of a nation.
THE NARRATIVE (STORY) OF A NATION
Every one of the nations that we described above would have their own stories, images, landscapes, historical events, national symbols and rituals which stand for or represents the shared experience, sorrows and triumphs and disasters which give meaning to a nation. The more these stories are told separately, the more we are likely to see ourselves as different, apart and not the same people.
With the birth of the ANC, there began a new narrative of images, landscapes, historical moments, symbols, rituals, tragedies, triumphs and celebrations.
This narrative would include all of us, binding us together as one people, superseding all separate histories, symbols and rituals.
The formation of the ANC gave us one single date that the majority of us here can celebrate as one people. On every anniversary of the founding of the ANC, on this particular day, all separate histories go into the background. The entire nation, even the African continent, celebrates with us the anniversary of the ANC. Every year on January 8, the entire nation and the world wait with baited breath to hear what goals and the President and the NEC give orders to the ANC membership.
The ANCs colours of Black, Green and Gold, the emblem of the Spear, the Shield and the Wheel are instantly and warmly recognized here at home and all over the world. At the height of the struggle for liberation, these colours and the emblem struck fear into the hearts of the enemy while at the same time they filled thousands of our people with pride, hope and courage. More than each of the religious symbols or tribal totems and images we would otherwise celebrates as separate peoples, they make each of and all of us together jointly say silently or loudly, These colours and symbols represent me and my people, our history, protection and ultimately, the destiny of me and my people; the destiny of this nation to which I, together with others belong.
For Africa, these symbols represented the oldest liberation movement on the continent. They have represented the resilience and indestructibility of the African people and the certainty that whatever the odds, victory would be achieved.
An image is a very precious thing indeed. To image is tied dignity.
To merely belong to or be associated with the ANC conveys an image of bravery, wisdom, patriotism, sacrifice and concern for the well being of our people.
If you were to remove the ANC from our lives and the lives of many who have been assisted by and given a sense of identity, purpose and dignity by association, you would leave all of us adrift with separate identities and without anchor, certainly or a coherent image. The ANC remains the basis of orientation and sense making, regardless of the sector, group class or occupation we belong to. Even opposition political parties and various interest groups define themselves in relation to the ANC.
In so many ways, the ANC gives all South-Africans an image, an orientation and a sense of dignity.
SORROWS, DISASTERS AND TRIUMPHS
The political and economic history of South Africa, especially the liberation struggle, is defined primarily by the history of the ANC and the Alliance partners.
The setbacks of the ANC have been the setbacks of the nation, our sorrows and losses, such as when we experienced the massacres of Soweto, Sharpeville, Uitenhage, Bisho or when we lost of Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Cassius Maake, Ruth First, Kalushi Mahlangu, Ahmed Timol, Ashley Kriel, Neil Aggett, Matthew Goniwe, Phila Ndwandwe, Braam Fischer, Beyers Naude and other heroes were felt by the entire nation, African continent and the world.
Many times in the history of the nation the people of South Africa have relied upon the ANC to prevent a major disaster. One such instance, historical moment was when following Chris Hanis assassination; Madiba took over from De Klerk and the Nats to hold the nation together and back from a disastrous bloodbath.
ON OUR VALUES
I want to argue that the scrutiny, sanction and protests we experience when any of us commits a mistake as a person, ANC member, public servant or elected representative, is precisely because we are seen as the embodiment of all that is pure, good and exemplary. Ordinary people see in us the compensation for their own limitations while religious and other leaders see in us allies that will make it possible for them to succeed in their effort at safeguarding the values, ethics and morals of our nation.
They protest, yet they plead and hope that we should not fail any further. They do so because they fear that if the ANC collapses into weakness or some other moral failure, with it will go the rest of the nation.
WHAT THEN IS OUR RESPONSE AND RESPONSIBILITY?
We all need to understand that it is only because we as the ANC exist, that our nation has not been torn apart by ethnic, racial, tribal or other strife. The fact is that the ANC continues to bind together so many people who would otherwise have seen themselves as different and apart.
The ANC is called a broad church because it brings together people, groups and individuals of so many different values, persuasions, interests and worldviews. Inside the ANC, we deal with those relationships, compromises, tolerance, cooperation and other complexities that have to be dealt with by the South African nation are dealt with. It is no exaggeration to say that the ANC provides the laboratory and the crucible within which the great challenges of the South African nation are grappled with and solutions are found. In the vast majority of instances, when a national problem has been discussed within the ANC, it is very often in the interest of the entire nation.
Such is the seriousness with which our party approaches all the decisions that we take and policies we adopt.
The unity with the former National Party strengthened the process of uniting as part of the same nation the Afrikaner and other members of the white community with those that in the past were seen as a threat. In this case and consistently with other matters of national importance, we strive to put our nation and the interests of all of our people first . For us, nation building is far more important than narrow, partisan political agenda.
The African National Congress is the foundation upon which the South- African nation is built. It is no exaggeration to say that if this nation, the template of the ANC were to be torn apart; the South- African nation will surely disintegrate. The strong thread of Black, Green and Gold binds this nation together, protecting the weak and the strong, our supporters and our opponents. They truly represent the many identities, woven together into a continuum and community that may appear different but is ultimately, one nation.
The difference between the ANC and the majority of the opposition political parties in our country, especially those that dont have a history of participating in the liberation struggle, is mainly twofold. Firstly, their origin is fairly sectarian or ethnic or allied to some other minority cause or identity. Secondly, for their continued existence, they need to perpetuate these separate identities and causes. Unavoidably they have to counter those events, messages and programmes that seek to overcome or minimize the separate identities and national agendas.
It is in this context and no accident that we discuss with equal seriousness the Unity of the Movement and the National Question. The two are intricately and very seriously linked.
It is therefore a serious and permanent responsibility for each of us, to keep the nation together by keeping the African National Congress together.
It is a mission and history shaped and passed on from generation to generation; over ninety-three years of struggle, sacrifice, triumphs and disasters. It is about the inherited values, language and symbols and ultimately, the creation of a nation upon which the South-African nation is built.
Those that would deal with the affairs of the ANC as though they are a trivial matter or a matter that only affects themselves, their sector, tribe, language, little group or their perceived opponents will be running the risk of undermining the entire nation. Those pundits and members of the opposition who wish to see the demise of the ANC on such spurious grounds as the belief that a strong ANC is bad for the nation, are actually wishing for the disintegration of the South African nation.
It is my sincere conclusion that a strong, united and successful ANC is essential for the continuation of the building of the South African nation, and the creation of prosperous, peaceful future.
Finally, to have a nation, we need the ANC. It is true, Thebe e seheloa hodima engoe!