Questions For Oral Reply, National Assembly

27 February 2019

DEPUTY PRESIDENT

1.    Ms C C September (ANC) to ask the Deputy President:

In view of the fact that our nation’s greatest resource is its people and that the Government has a clear mandate on the creation of more and decent jobs, with a special focus on addressing youth and women unemployment, (a) what programmes does the Government have, other than the numerous programmes of the Human Resource Development Council of South Africa (details furnished), that are aimed at targeting young people and women and (b) how will the specified programmes prepare them for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

REPLY

Thank you Madam Speaker

Honourable Members, the lot and plight of young people remains foremost in our efforts to radically and economically transform our society.

As Madiba taught us:

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity; it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great.”

We want young people to become Madiba’s anti-poverty generation.

Ours as government is to help young people realise that dream. In all we do, we must put young people first. The future is theirs to inherit.

We must provide them with the necessary tools to ensure that we unlock their latent talents that will allow them to carry themselves by the weight of their own bootstraps.

For we are acutely aware that young people crave opportunities; that they are afflicted by their given family conditions; that they are what they are by mere accidents of birth, born into a social construct that keeps them trapped in conditions of poverty and unemployment; and chained by the accumulated burdens of our past.

We are determined to enable the youth to rise by the sheer weight of their talents and determination.
In this regard, let me start by emphasising the importance of special measures to support young people and women so that we unlock the enormous resource that is often underutilised and which can help us grow and transform our economy. Key among such measures is industrial funding to youth and female entrepreneurs.

I have been informed that in 2015, in this very Chamber, the Minister of Economic Development set a target to the Independent Development Corporation to ensure that at least R4.5 billion in funding be made available to women-empowered companies over a five year period. To date, the IDC has exceeded the target. But it has not stopped – it is still lending more to women entrepreneurs.

Similarly, a target was set for youth-empowered companies also of R4.5 billion over five years. We can report that this target too has been exceeded.
The IDC funding to women, and youth-empowered businesses, has also crowded in private-sector funding, bringing much needed financial capacity to a new class of South African entrepreneurs.

The measures we are taking through partnerships with the private sector on the YES Initiative as well as our own efforts in government to scale up internship opportunities, is beginning to provide young people with real opportunities, though we must scale these up so that more young and female South Africans are included in the economy.

We are also addressing the structural constraints that continue to impede on participation of more women and youth in the economy. The Competition Amendment Act, which was signed by the President two weeks ago, is just one example of legislation that is directed at increasing participation and investment in our economy.

This law directly responds to the need for a more inclusive economy in which women, youth, small businesses, new entrants and young innovators can enter markets and thrive.

As government, we have recognised that we require a robust process of skilling the nation through targeted investment in innovation, research and development that equally respond to the supply and demand in the labour market so that our country is not left behind in global developments that are driven and impacted upon by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

We should therefore see the National Development Plan as the basis or foundation of our approach to this much-talked about Fourth Industrial Revolution. This means that our policies, strategies and plans should place youth employment and creation of economic opportunities right at the centre.

We cannot afford to lag behind emerging global developments and that is why we must engage on a process of continuous innovation, research, skilling of our people, in particular the youth in order to meet the demands of today’s knowledge-based economy.

Let us be clear in our minds and in everything we do, that the Fourth Industrial Revolution is not a destination, but a reality of the moment. The pace of change over the last few years has largely been shaped by technological disruption and innovation. Already, there are sectors that are now supplemented by robotics and other artificial intelligence inventions. Simply put, there are jobs that were previously considered as vocational but are now becoming technology-intense and require specialised knowledge and skills. We therefore have to keep up with these developments.

It is precisely for this reason, Madam Speaker, that the process is currently underway to appoint individuals to the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as announced by the President in the State of the Nation Address in 2018. The Commission will coordinate the development of South Africa's national response through a comprehensive action plan to deal with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Having said that, let me reflect on some of the programmes led by government that focus on the preparation of young people and women for this new era of the global economy. As government, we recognise the need to make smart investments in research and development which support our industrialisation plan including manufacturing that will lead to the creation of more jobs.

In this regard, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is investing in a range of outreach interventions that enhance the capacity of young people and women to create employment opportunities for themselves and for others.

The Department also supports a number of accelerated training programmes in areas where there are dire skills shortages. This includes, for example, programmes providing training in data science and analytics.
It also includes the mLab initiative that provides mobile application development support to youth-based enterprises. Through this programme, the DST is providing opportunities for more young people and women to interact with the technologies that will shape our future. Other initiatives include a network of Industrial Development Centres and technology stations where a large number of the beneficiaries are women and young people.

Industrial Development Centres are an outreach activity of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) providing product development support to entrepreneurs in new economic growth areas such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.

Technology stations are one of the oldest programmes of the Department of Science and Technology where small and medium enterprises (especially youth and women-owned SME’s), are provided with a range of technology services including product development and skills development. Technology stations are located at a number of Universities of Technology.

Through the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, government is forging partnerships with key industry players in the Information Communications and Technology (ICT) space to implement programmes that prepare our youth for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
These programmes include the training of young people in various disciplines related to the 4th Industrial Revolution such as Coding, Data Analytics, Block Chain, etc.
Our partnership with Google has, since 2017, benefitted 131 980 youth, 58% of whom are female.
Through the South Africa Network Academy Programme, CISCO has, to date, trained 10 590 young people and has set a target of 15 000 in 2019.

Over the past two years, the Huawei Seeds of the Future Program continues to expose students to the advanced ICT knowledge.
In addition, Microsoft is involved in a new partnership programme in South Africa, targeting the training of a million youth by 2023.

Young people will be the major beneficiaries of these training programmes. Government is also working on an enabling environment for e-commerce which will go a long way towards enabling SMMEs to provide services and transact online.

Through its ICT Women Empowerment Programme, Government has so far trained 450 women on digital skills to empower them with necessary skills required to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Broadly speaking, Madam Speaker, government is alive to the changing environment, and has committed to ensuring that key programmes are implemented to align our training and development with the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Thank you very much!

2.    Mr J H Steenhuisen (DA) to ask the Deputy President:

With reference to his oral reply to question 10 on 25 April 2018, what progress has been made with the Executive’s implementation of practical measures to deal with the problem of non-attendance of Parliamentary programmes by Members of the Executive through the (a) introduction of a roster on the attendance of Parliamentary sessions by Members of the Executive who will be monitored by the three Members of the Executive and (b) introduction of a monitoring and tracking mechanism to ensure that Members of the Executive respond timeously to Parliamentary questions?    NO170E

REPLY

Madam Speaker,

This question is coming up for the second time within a period of a year and thus demonstrates the gravity of this matter.

We must state at the outset that all Members of Parliament and those who have been appointed to the National Executive, have a constitutional obligation to represent the interests of the electorate and to be accountable to the the people in the execution of their responsibilities.

That is why in our 25 April 2018 response to a similar question, we assured this House that mechanisms were introduced at the level of the National Executive to ensure that Cabinet colleagues do honour their responsibilities to this House, and where they are unable to attend Members’ Statements and Oral Question Sessions for whatever reason, such should be communicated in good time to the Presiding Officers.

Honourable Members, Ministers and Deputy Ministers are well aware of the National Assembly Rules that govern Questions for Oral and Written Reply. I wish to reiterate that many of the Ministers and Deputy Ministers do make every effort to ensure that they comply with these rules.

There are instances where Members of the National Executive do not fully comply by either not submitting Written Replies or submitting Written Replies after the stipulated deadline.

In such instances, we look forward to the implementation of National Assembly Rule 136 (1) which provides that the Speaker must in consultation with the Rules Committee establish a system to monitor and report regularly to the House on questions that have been endorsed as unanswered on the Question Paper; and (2) that the Leader of Government Business must be informed of any steps taken in respect of any Member of the National Executive in giving effect to the monitoring of replies.

With regard to the attendance of Ministers and Deputy Ministers, I furthermore, on a regular basis remind them to attend Members’ Statements and Oral Question Sessions in this House.

Thank you very much!

3    Mr N F Shivambu (EFF) to ask the Deputy President:
With reference to his responsibilities as Chairperson of the Human Resources Development Council, what is the Government doing to align education with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, with particular reference to the production of relevant human resources? NO169E

REPLY

Thank you very much Madam Speaker,
Honourable Members, as you may recall, the President in his 2019 State of the Nation Address a few weeks ago identified five tasks that will underpin everything that must be undertaken by Government this year. He indicated that our history demands that we should improve the education system and develop the skills that our country needs now and into the future.

In this regard the President indicated a significant policy intervention in the area of education, to reflect preparation and adaptation to the demands required by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

To achieve this, the country needs to implement a multi-pronged approach that focuses on:

  • the realignment of the curriculum at basic education level to prepare learners for the changing world, and introducing requisite infrastructure and information communication technologies to support learning and teaching
  • implementing targeted interventions at higher education levels to respond to changing future industry needs in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution
  • partnering with the private sector to ensure that training and skills development programmes produce relevant skills for the economy
  • investing in research and innovation to drive industrialization in a changing world. In this instance, our universities must play a leading role.

In line with the Government’s Framework for Skills for a Changing World, training of both educators and learners will be expanded to respond to emerging technologies including the internet of things, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Several new technology subjects and specialisations will be introduced, including technical mathematics and technical sciences, maritime sciences, aviation studies, mining sciences, and aquaponics, or the combination aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants).

To expand participation in the technical streams, several ordinary public schools will be transformed into technical high schools.

More importantly, government will continue to invest in the necessary learning infrastructure and Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) tools to equip leaners for the future world.

As Honourable Members would know, the President articulated that, over the next six years, government will provide every school child in South Africa with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device. Already, 90% of textbooks in high enrolment subjects across all grades and all workbooks have been digitised.

Those schools that have been historically most disadvantaged and that are located in the poorest communities, including multi-grade, multi-phase, farm and rural schools, will be the first recipients of these devices.

At the tertiary education level, government, through the Department of Science and Technology makes a major investment in the training of Masters and PhD’s in the full range of technologies that underpin the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This includes Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, cybersecurity, additive manufacturing, block chain, next-generation telecommunications, Internet of Things, biotechnology and nanotechnology. Such programmes will enable talented young people and women to help shape a human-centred Fourth Industrial Revolution world.

The Department of Higher Education and Training is also in the process of establishing a Fourth Industrial Revolution Ministerial Task Team with expert participation from academia, industry, innovation and research, as well as from government departments such as the Departments of Trade and Industry, Basic Education as well as Science and Technology.

In 2019, the TVET college system is focussing on updating all the technology-related curricula with the introduction of updated curricula in areas such as information processing, advanced multimedia and online technologies in the Management Communication syllabi.

From January 2020, updated curricula will include the Internet of Things as a significant part of the Life Skills curriculum in the National Certificates or Vocational qualification, with further revisions in Information Technology and Computer Science programmes, which will equip students to engage in problem-solving solutions using technologies that are easily and readily available. A major part of the preparation for delivery of the updated curricula will involve the training and upskilling of lecturers to deliver this curriculum.

Therefore, we remain acutely aware that as entire industries adjust, many occupations are undergoing a fundamental transformation. While some jobs are threatened by redundancy and others grow rapidly, existing jobs are also going through a change in the skill sets required to do them.

However, the nature of the labour that is required is likely to be more skill-intensive and knowledge-based, which when all combined, could exacerbate the structural unemployment.
We therefore need to keep up with global developments in the information and technology space in order to make the right policy decisions.

Finally, we believe that the work of the Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution will provide further guidance on how we as government can address the issues relating to the massification of skills at society level, curriculum innovation at school level, digital literacy, re-skilling the youth and the development of innovation capabilities.

Thank you very much!

4.    Mr M S A Masango (ANC) to ask the Deputy President:

(1)    In view of aspiration number four of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 to ensure that we have a peaceful and secure Africa, in what manner has he found will our strategic resolve to build a better Africa contribute towards the recognition of human rights, justice and the rule of law which are necessary pre-conditions for a peaceful and conflict-free continent;
(2)    what were the salient issues emanating from his discussions with the leadership of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in relation to finding lasting peace and stability for the peoples of South Sudan and Africa at large? NO167E

REPLY

Honourable Members, the whole continent of Africa remains at the heart of South Africa’s foreign policy, which attaches particular importance to the African Union (AU). During the meetings of the AU’s various Organs and subsidiary bodies, South Africa has strived effectively to promote the AU’s shared vision as encapsulated in its Agenda 2063. Among others, Agenda 2063 commits the Continent to silence the guns by 2020 in order to realise Africa’s socio-economic development trajectories.

This is aimed at making peace a reality by ending all wars in Africa by 2020. South Africa remains committed to work with other African governments to support the work and mandate of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in its monitoring and enforcement of decisions on the advancement of human rights and democratic governance in the Continent. The promotion and protection of human rights is also one of the fundamental obligations as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
South Africa also has an obligation to honour its commitment to the implementation of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and other international treaties. The African Union Constitutive Act discourages unconstitutional changes of government. The African Union’s desire to promote good governance in Africa manifests itself in the establishment of the instruments such as the African Peer Review Mechanism and legal frameworks such as the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance.

South Africa’s involvement in the South Sudan peace process has been undertaken as part of our country’s commitment to make a meaningful contribution to finding African solutions to the African problems and ensuring the creation of a peaceful and prosperous continent. In this regard, as the President’s Special Envoy to South Sudan, we held consultations with the leadership of the Inter Governmental Authority on Development, or IGAD.

This included holding bilateral meetings with the Heads of State of Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, the Sudan and Uganda, where we exchanged perspectives on the required contribution to be made to ensure long lasting peace and security in South Sudan.

In this regard, we commended the contribution by the IGAD leadership in facilitating the various stages of the peace process, including the signing of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) signed on 12 September 2018.

Furthermore, we emphasised South Africa’s position regarding the need for the South Sudan parties to be allowed to engage in a dialogue in deciding their country’s future and that efforts by external actors should be geared towards providing the necessary resources and support needed to ensure successful implementation of this Revitalised Agreement.

One of the key issues that are being raised is providing support to the South Sudan Government and all Signatories to the Agreement in terms of resourcing of all committees and structures provided for in the Revitalized Agreement.

Honourable Members would be aware that in terms of the Revitalised Agreement, the Transitional Government will come into effect in April 2019 and pave the way for the drafting of a new constitution and holding of democratic elections. These processes require both financial and human resource support, as well as humanitarian assistance.

South Africa has committed itself to walk this journey with the Government and people of South Sudan. We are pleased that the warring parties in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) have found each other and recently signed a reunification agreement. This will bring the much required cohesion in the country. Our intervention is beginning to bear fruits.

In the coming few weeks, we will be sending a consignment of humanitarian assistance under the auspices of the African Renaissance Fund.
Thank you very much!

5.    Mr X Ngwezi (IFP) to ask the Deputy President:

In leading the public employment programmes, what steps has he taken to ensure that all relevant Ministers and their departments and all government institutions implement the call made by the President of the Republic of South Africa, Mr M C Ramaphosa, in his State of the Nation Address on 7 February 2019 that experience will no longer be a prerequisite when applying for an entry-level job under the public employment programmes, in order to address the youth unemployment crisis? NO168E

REPLY

Madam Speaker, a portfolio of public employment programmes are, in essence, implemented through the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) under the Department of Public Works.

This is a nation-wide Government-led initiative aimed at drawing a significant number of unemployed South Africans into productive work in a manner that will enable them to gain skills and increase their capacity to earn an income or pursue entrepreneurship opportunities in their sector of training.

To participate in the EPWP, there is no experience required as participants are recruited for temporary employment through a self-targeting mechanism where individuals should be willing to work for the set minimum daily wage paid by EPWP projects as per the special Ministerial Determination on the EPWP issued by the Minister of Labour.

However, if the Honourable Member is referring to the removal of experience as an unjustifiable barrier in terms of minimum entry requirements in the public service, I would like to confirm that this matter is currently receiving attention by the Department of Public Service and Administration.
In the main, this is meant to fast track recruitment of persons, especially the youth, into the public service.

The call made by President Ramaphosa on experience no longer being a prerequisite for entry-level jobs in Government, is a game changer and will see a decrease in the high unemployment of suitably qualified young people. We have seen in the private sector other similar initiatives that also afford our unemployed youth an opportunity of a first time job, and we call upon all our partners in the private sector to embrace this change.

As for implementation of this pronouncement, the Minister for the Public Service and Administration has issued a Directive to all government departments on its implementation, and the commencement date is the 1st April 2019.

In terms of this Directive, all the Departments are required to introduce a graduate recruitment scheme, and to identify graded posts based on the need identified in the departmental Human Resource Plan, and other service delivery improvement initiatives.

The Department of Public Service and Administration will soon be undertaking roadshows to further engage with national and provincial government departments on the implementation of this change.

Thank you very much!

6.    Mr A M Shaik-Emam (NFP) to ask the Deputy President:

In light of the serious challenges the country faces as a result of corruption, fraud and maladministration, taking into consideration the revelations made at the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Bosasa and the Parliamentary Committee Report on Eskom, (a) what mechanisms does the Government intend to put in place to vet all public representatives and the executive, including officials at national, provincial and local level to ensure that they possess the highest level of integrity and morality in governance and (b) will the Government consider introducing legislative amendments to ensure that anyone found guilty of any corruption and/or fraud will have all their benefits forfeited to the State? NO171E

REPLY

Thank you Madam Speaker

Honourable Members, the President, in his 2019 State of the Nation Address, identified stepping up the fight against corruption and state capture as one of the five tasks that we all are required to undertake, working together. This is a very clear message that we as government are committed to not only root out corruption, but to strengthen the environment in which public representatives and officials alike can perform their duties and responsibilities to the highest standards of ethics and integrity.

There is currently a gap with regard to the vetting of public representatives, which at the moment is limited to their exclusion from being a Member of Parliament only on the basis of one having been found guilty and sentenced for a prescribed period by a Court of Law. The process is currently left to political parties to select among its members those who can best represent them in this House.

The leaders of political parties therefore have a responsibility to ensure that proper integrity checks are conducted so that elected public representatives are compliant with standards set for public representatives.

In the event the Independent Electoral Commission identifies individuals that are not compliant with provisions set out for public representatives, it is empowered to disqualify those individuals.
However, if vetting were to take place for the public representatives, this House must introduce such a vetting mechanism to ensure that the fit and proper persons are elected to represent the people.

For government officials, we wish to assure this House that the different tiers of government do have a number of measures in place to strengthen accountability and responsibility in the public sector.

In order to ensure that public service employees at national and provincial spheres of government possess the highest level of integrity and accountability, the Department of Public Service and Administration issued a revised Code of Conduct in 2016 which clearly outlines the expected conduct of all public service employees.

This Code of Conduct requires government departments to establish Ethics Committees and also to appoint Ethics Officers as one of the means to strengthen good governance and ethical conduct in the public service.
The Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit, is in the process of being promulgated and will be effective from 1 April 2019.

The Public Administration Ethics, Integrity and Disciplinary Technical Assistance Unit will be required to:

(i)Develop Norms and Standards on Integrity, Ethics, Code of Conduct and Discipline
(ii)Provide technical assistance to government departments in managing Ethics, Integrity and Discipline.
(iii)Assist Accounting Officers to improve oversight and also ensure that public service employees comply with the Norms and Standards on Integrity, Ethics, Code of Conduct and Discipline

Furthermore, as part of government’s efforts to ensure that public service employees at all levels display the highest level of integrity and accountability, the National School of Government provides various training programmes to officials in the public service targeted at improving the integrity of the State.

Regarding the issue of employment in public service, all government departments are required to conduct personnel suitability checks on individuals as part of their recruitment processes.
These checks are done in order to ensure that suitable and credible individuals are employed in the public service.
The Minister for the Public Service and Administration issued a Directive on Personnel Suitability Checks effective from 1 February 2018. This shall consist of the following:

a) Criminal record checks
b) Citizen Verification
c) Financial record checks
d) Qualification/ Study verification
e) Previous Employment verification

Honourable Members, there has been no decision by government at this stage to consider legislative amendments to ensure that anyone found guilty of any corruption and/or fraud will have all their benefits forfeited to the State.

However, as part of dealing with corruption in the public service, Government is introducing mechanisms through the Public Administration Management Act (PAMA), 2014, to ensure that employees who continue doing business with any Organ of the State are subjected to internal disciplinary action and criminal prosecution where applicable.

As Members are aware, Section 30 of the Public Service Act prohibits employees from performing outside remunerative work without permission. If the public service employee contravenes this section of the Act, the Act provides that such remuneration earned must be paid into the national revenue fund.

Furthermore, disciplinary action shall be taken against public service employees who perform outside remunerative work without permission.

In addition to this, any funds received by the public service employee through illicit means may be dealt with by the asset forfeiture structures within the National Prosecuting Authority. We must reiterate that government remains firm on getting rid of corruption and fraud within its ranks. We will continue to explore all mechanisms to achieve this goal. In doing this, we call on all South Africans to contribute to this endeavour.

Thank you very much!

Enquiries: Thami Ngwenya, Spokesperson to the Deputy President on 082 428 4263 or thami@presidency.gov.za

Issued by the Presidency
Cape Town