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President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the keynote address at the 2023 Basic Education Sector Lekgotla held at the Sandton International Convention Centre, Johannesburg
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Replies by Deputy President David Mabuza to oral questions in the National Assembly

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*1. On the consistency of energy supply:*
 
Honourable Speaker
 
Government’s policy options and position have not reached a point where privatisation is seen as the answer to providing better solutions to current challenges facing Eskom. 
 
Our current choice is to make Eskom a more efficient and effective energy generation and transmission public entity with all the necessary capabilities to ensure the security and consistency of energy supply, in the interest of both the economy and human development in general.
 
It would be inaccurate to characterise the current organisational transformation processes at Eskom as privatization or implied intentions to facilitate it. That is not the case.
 
Instead, the utility is currently in an advanced stage of the process of unbundling, which will result in the transformation of the electricity sector in order to achieve long-term energy security for our country. On several occasions, we have addressed the specifics of this plan with this Parliament in our capacity as government. 
 
However, we do empathise with your sentiments given the on-going challenges of load shedding that the country is once again confronted with. We have stated previously that, in the main, unanticipated breakdowns of our ageing fleet of power plants contribute to load-shedding. Needless to say, we are focusing on improving maintenance and repairs to ensure increased energy availability.
 
The issues of plant performance and maintenance have nothing to do with privatisation or public ownership of the utility.
 
The unbundling or legal separation of Eskom into three subsidiary businesses, namely, Generation, Transmission, and Distribution, is designed to enable Eskom management to focus, improve efficiency, create greater transparency around performance, and provide greater protection against corruption and rent-seeking.
 
In order to realise the potential of an independent transmission system and market operator, the primary purpose of unbundling is to separate the generation and transmission of electricity from one another. Given this information, the creation of a new Transmission Entity is the most important step in Eskom's unbundling process.
 
Eskom Holdings will have complete ownership of the new Transmission Entity when it is established. Its primary responsibilities will include acting as an independent broker in the electricity market, fostering capital investment within the industry, and catalysing energy efficiency and cost sustainability.
It is to be envisaged that the Transmission Entity will have Electricity Supply Agreements directly with consumers including Eskom Distribution, municipalities, the Southern African Power Pool, and Large Power Users.
 
The utility is on track to split its generation and distribution businesses by the end of 2022, as the President outlined in the national energy plan, in an effort to improve its operational and financial performance. This will also fulfil the needs of the national energy plan to drive the economy, stimulate reindustrialisation efforts, and ensure security of electricity supply to households.  
 
Therefore, privatising Eskom is not the answer. What we should continue to focus on is getting Eskom back to its optimal performance, by ensuring that the entity has sound governance structures in place, and that the required skills levels are met at the power plant level.
 
We take this opportunity to reassure every South African that we will continue to work hard to ensure that they have access to reliable electricity, to realise their needs and the developmental hopes and dreams that we have set for our country.
 
Thank you very much!
 
 
*2. On illegal mining and its effect on the economy and the environment:*
 
Honourable Speaker,
 
The problem of illegal mining has grown to the point where it is a major source of concern not only for the government, but also for the mining industry and the communities that are located close to illegal mining operations.
 
At its most recent Cabinet Lekgotla, which was held last week, the Executive was given an update by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster on the measures being implemented to combat acts of criminality and social ills in areas located in close proximity to illegal mining operations. 
 
At the Lekgotla, we agreed that illegal mining not only has a detrimental effect on the economy and the way people make a living, but it also puts the safety of the environment and the national security of the country in jeopardy.
 
On 11 August 2022, at a briefing by the Ministers of Police, Home Affairs, Mineral Resources and Energy, the NCOP was apprised that a Special Task Team was established by the South African Police Service in 2019 to tackle the phenomenon of illegal mining. To date, the Police have confirmed the arrest of 4 675 illegal miners in this regard. 
 
Furthermore, an existing multi-disciplinary Economic Infrastructure Task Team of various specialised units of the SAPS, in partnership with private security and business partners, is working tirelessly in preventing and combatting economic and critical infrastructure-related crimes, including illicit mining.                
 
A similar unit has been launched in KwaZulu-Natal on 13 June 2022, which will also contribute towards eliminating extortions at economic infrastructure sites.
 
The Justice, Crime Prevention, and Security Cluster has also developed a strategy that will focus on combating criminal activities in both formal and informal settlements. 
In addition to that, this strategy is built upon five pillars that include, amongst others: tighter intelligence gathering and co-ordination; intensification of police visibility mechanisms; tightened mechanisms aimed at disruption of organised and stubborn crime; enhanced prosecutorial-guided investigations, stepping up our crime prevention awareness  campaigns and  swiftly acting to crime prevention tips.
 
In the end, a communication effort is being implemented, which includes awareness campaigns and tips on how to prevent crime, in addition to requests for assistance in capturing wanted suspects.
 
All of these measures will be largely based on working together, wherein Members of Executive Councils for Community Safety in all provinces and the South African Police Service cooperate in the process of capacitating community forums. This will serve as the foundation for all of these measures.
 
In addition, the JCPS Cluster, in collaboration with the Government Communication and Information Services, will re-establish improved communication methods, as well as engagements with community structures in the form of Izimbizo and community meetings, in order to raise educational awareness regarding the fight against illegal mining.
 
Honourable Speaker
 
We are confident that the approach that has been outlined will ensure that all of us live in environments that are conducive to free and harmonious economic activity, which will ultimately result in a reduction in poverty, unemployment, and inequality.
 
In the Witwatersrand alone, 135 mining holes have been closed, and the process of closing the remaining 20 holes is currently under way. The process of closing decommissioned mines is an ongoing operation.
 
Investment in mining infrastructure projects that are impactful, resilient, and sustainable stands out as the most effective weapon to fight low economic growth. 
To ensure the continued health of our economy, it is essential that we take measures to preserve not only our mining infrastructure but also any other type of infrastructure.
 
Thank you very much!
 
 
*3. On indigent street hawkers in Gatesville, Athlone, Cape Flats:*
 
Honourable Speaker,
 
We share the Member's concern that street vendors in Gatesville, Athlone, and other districts of Cape Town have been in constant conflict with law enforcement officials over their economic activities and efforts to make honest livelihoods for an extended period of time.
 
While municipalities are responsible for trading regulations, markets, street trading, and beach ordinances in their areas, it is important to ensure that these rules should always be administered with the highest regard for the dignity and human rights of everyone, including hawkers.
 
There is no doubt that the government as a whole has a responsibility to assist the informal sector, particularly the enterprises of hawkers in Athlone and elsewhere in the country.
 
Part of our red-tape reduction efforts focuses on the elimination of onerous rules and artificial participation barriers, including ease of registration and access to permits.
 
For instance, here in Athlone, we are advised that informal traders are required to register on the internet portal platform, and obtain permit approvals, while the reality is that many of the poor traders have no access to internet and connectivity infrastructure.
 
Consequently, it takes time to allocate trading bays to hawkers, whilst these delays are not factored in when the municipality enforces its by-laws. 
 
We said in the NCOP earlier this month that the majority of our cities and towns struggle to deliver the key infrastructure and services required to maintain local businesses and attract the new investments necessary for inclusive economic development and job creation.
 
Therefore, expediting the application process for permits and licences and reducing prohibitions on informal business, including through changes to zoning and land use regulations, is not only a matter of convenience; it is a key intervention for stimulating development.
 
We are encouraged by the efforts of the Department of Small Business Development to improve the situation through consultations with various stakeholders in the sector towards finding innovative, inclusive and sustainable solutions that would make informal economy thrive.
 
We are advised that the Minister of Small Business Development held stakeholder engagements in the Western Cape on 20- 22 April 2022. With regard to the specific challenges experienced by street hawkers in Gatesville, we will ensure that the Department of Small Business Development convenes an engagement with the City of Cape Town to find lasting solutions to the plight of these street these hawkers. 
We believe that Honourable Members would agree with us that the informal economy continues to assist historically disadvantaged individuals and communities escape poverty, generate income, and establish their own businesses.
 
In this regard, we will always encourage municipalities to support policies that enable their residents to participate in efforts for sustainable local economic development. Our objective as a government is to create resilient, sustainable, and cohesive communities in which municipalities serve as thriving economic and cultural hubs.
 
Government, through the Department of Small Business Development, has been partnering with the South African Local Government Association and municipalities to normalise the deteriorating conditions of trading spaces in several metropolitan municipalities, including Cape Town.
 
In addition, we propose that educational dialogues be held between communities, street vendors, and law enforcement officials as an alternative to what has been seen as excessive force on the side of the authorities. We also urge development assistance, ongoing training and empowerment programmes, and, most critically, the protection and support of informal traders.
 
Even as such initiatives may not be exhaustive, but they do offer a glimmer of hope towards a workable social compact in responding to the concerns of this community.  
 
In conclusion, we do not condone any form of violence against law-abiding persons who work hard to provide for themselves and their families.
 
Thank you very much!
 
 
*4. On the outcomes of the Summit on Communal Land and Administration and Tenure Reform:*
 
Honourable Speaker
 
The highlights of the Summit must be understood in the context of the ongoing programme of Land Reform in South Africa whose aim is to ensure equitable access to land by all South African as stated in our Constitution, in particular Chapter 2 (25). 
 
We are all aware that the impact of land dispossession had negative effects on the tenure systems that were prevalent amongst the indigenous communities by introducing new notions of land ownership and tenure systems. Customary land tenure therefore did not evolve, nor was it codified. Land in these Communities was held by the state as the custodian. 
 
Economic and social development in these areas have been lagging behind as a result of financial institutions being hesitant to invest in these areas as they deem communal land to be insecure.
 
Tenure security has been addressed through a plethora of legislation which in itself has had limitations. In this regard, the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture following their investigation and analysis of what has been done since the advent of democracy, recommended that government must develop a land tenure system that recognises diverse tenure systems and rights. 
 
The Panel further recommended that certain principles must underpin this tenure reform that moves towards tenure rights and away from permits to occupy so that the right to land is legally enforceable. 
 
Furthermore, that tenure reform must build a unitary non-racial system of land rights for all South Africans, with a system of land registration, support, and administration which accommodates flexible and diverse systems of land rights within a unitary framework, among others.
 
The Land Administration and Tenure Summit held in May this year, therefore was the culmination of years of work by South Africans to resolve land tenure matters, with a specific focus on communal land under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.
 
This summit was convened in accordance with the 2017 Traditional and Indigenous Leadership Indaba resolutions and the recommendations provided by the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture. 
 
The Summit centred on three thematic areas of focus. These were:
 
A.         Land Administration and Land Tenure Reform; 
 
B.         Spatial Planning and Land Use Management in Communal areas; and
 
C.         Khoi and San land-related matters.
 
The Summit outcomes highlighted a wide range of policy proposals and recommendations for implementation to improve communal land administration and tenure. 
 
Among many other key issues, the Summit highlighted the following:
 
•           Ensuring the development of land tenure legislation that will define the different types of tenure systems;
 
•           Transfer of ownership of communal land held in trust by the state to communities through recognised Traditional Councils, including the provision of critical development support;
 
•           Strengthening and capacitating land governance and administration structures;
 
•           Repositioning spatial planning legislation and processes to allow for meaningful participation of traditional leadership institutions at all levels; as well as
 
•           Addressing all the issues affecting the Khoi and San communities. 
 
The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture is currently in the process of developing responses and action plans to the Summit resolutions for presentation to Cabinet. 
 
The Inter-Ministerial Committee has also delegated the team of Deputy Ministers of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development; Traditional Affairs; Justice and Constitutional Development; Forestry, Fisheries and Environment; and Human Settlements to continue engaging with traditional leaders to work out modalities on taking the resolutions forward. 
 
Where consensus has not been fully reached, further consultations will continue to solicit additional inputs. This was done to get a deeper understanding of their perspectives on the issue.
 
As part of our broader land reform programme, we will continue to work in partnership with traditional leaders to ensure that land administration and tenure systems are consistent with culture, heritage and development aspirations of traditional communities. 
 
The formal recordal and administration of land rights for traditional communities is integral to effective land and tenure reforms. 
 
In order to guarantee communities' continued ownership of their property, the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture has made the development of a legislative framework for the transfer of land held in trust by the state and its administration a high priority.
 
The provision of land rights, the transfer of ownership from the State to the rightful owners, agricultural and infrastructure development, improved and inclusive land use management, and targeted support to rural residents will continue to be our goals in order to achieve the development and sustainability of the rural communities.
 
Thank you very much!
 
 
*5. On addressing concerns raised by Military Veterans:*
 
Honourable Speaker
 
Since the establishment of the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans by the President, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, in 2020, we have met with all military veteran’s associations that are registered with the Department of Military Veterans. 
 
We have also met with a contingent of military veterans that marched to the Union Buildings in November 2020, under the banner of the Liberation Struggle War Veterans.
 
Flowing from the in-depth discussions that we held, it became apparent that, in order for the Presidential Task Team to get to the bottom of the nature and extent of the various challenges that confronts military veterans on an ongoing basis, it would need to conduct further engagements with military veterans at a provincial level, and to focus on mitigating specific and localised challenges that military veterans face, in their respective localities.
 
To this end, the Presidential Task Team has already visited and engaged with military veterans in six provinces, namely, in Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Free State, Mpumalanga, and North West. 
 
We have also requested the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, to schedule and prepare for the Presidential Task Team to hold engagements with the remaining provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Northern Cape, as a matter of urgency.  
 
Honourable Speaker,
 
The establishment of the Presidential Task Team is just but one step towards reinvigorating the rendering of services to military veterans. In order to succeed with this effort, we will need a well-established and sufficiently supportive legislative framework and a properly funded department, that is staffed with committed and capable employees. 
 
It is also imperative that the Provincial and Local spheres of Ggovernment are encouraged to participate in this effort, so that the military veterans that we seek to emancipate are in fact, residents in the precincts of the various Provinces and Local authorities.
 
In setting-forth the roadmap for all the parties involved in this process, it is our view that it will be necessary to enhance existing institutions, and to locate the coordination and support to military veteran’s programmes, in the Offices of the Premier.
 
However, this should not be read to imply that provinces will be expected to assume the responsibility of servicing military veterans on their own, as this remains the statutory obligation of the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans.
 
The important axis that we seek to emphasise as we engage with provincial stakeholders, is the role that effective coordination, located closer to the Provincial Executive, could play towards hastening the delivery of services to military veterans, most of whom are in dire straits. 
 
It is this axis that will enable the Department of Military Veterans to timeously and effectively communicate, and engage with the military veterans community in the Provinces. 
 
It will further ensure that appropriate services are promptly dispensed to military veterans, without the necessity for military veterans from across the country to travel long distances to seek support in Tshwane. 
 
Additionally, we have also added in this axis, the role that should be played by the various Government departments, including the Ddepartments of Transport, Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, among others, in facilitating the inclusion of military veterans in programmes and projects where military veterans will be able to add value.
 
With the right level of commitment, it should be possible for our government, to ensure that these coordinating mechanisms that are required to facilitate the alleviation of the plight of people who gave their very lives, for the attainment of the freedom that we all enjoy today.
 
Honourable Speaker
 
During our provincial visits, we were able to engage provincial stakeholders about the purpose of the seven workstreams that the Presidential Task Team has established; namely, the 
 
 A.        Legislative Review Workstream
B.         Pension and Benefits Workstream 
C.         Database Verification, Cleansing and Enhancement Workstream
D.         Heritage, Memorialisation and Burial Support Workstream
E.         Socio-Economic Support Workstream
F.         Organisational Redesign Workstream
G.         Communication Workstream 
 
Whilst the roles of these workstreams may be easy to deduce from their labeling, and whilst progress of their activities is ongoing, we are happy to report that as of July 2022, the Database Verification, Cleansing and Enhancement Workstream had Registered 4016 applications, a portion of which are still being reviewed.
 
In addition to this, the Presidential Task Team has directed the Ministry of Defence and Military Veterans to consider the establishment of an Appeals Board for the Database Verification, Cleansing and Enhancement Workstream, which will serve as a crucial mechanism to ensure that applicants who may not agree with the outcome of a verdict by the Verification team, are afforded an avenue for appeal. 
 
The establishment of the proposed appeals board remains necessary to foster overall perceptions of a fair verification process. It is therefore necessary to request the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans to expedite the establishment of this critical board.
 
Honourable Speaker,
 
Members of this House will remember that in an earlier response on the 31st of March 2022, we provided an update on envisaged changes to the Military Veterans Act, 18 of 2011. The Legislative Review Workstream has proposed a number of revisions for the consideration of Cabinet and Parliament. In addition, and as part of our provincial engagements, we have invited military veterans to comment about areas of the Act which in their opinion, may need to be relooked. 
 
Honourable Speaker,
 
September is Heritage Month. This year, we would like to recognise especially the liberation war veterans, whose selfless service has immensely contributed in the defeat of apartheid and colonialism. 
 
In this respect, the Heritage, Memorialisation, and Burial Support Workstream has taken the lead in tracking and locating the remains of those military veterans that fell in exile, for possible memorialisation or repatriation.
 
Furthermore, we are also working in cooperation with partners within the Southern African Development Community partners on a project to exhume and repatriate the remains of the fallen.
 
In the final analysis Speaker, there is no room for us to fail in our responsibility to support military veterans and their dependents.
 
We must continue to ensure that conducive conditions for the fulfilment of our commitment to military veterans, exists. We must continue to insist and to ensure that all stakeholders and Government entities, participate in the enhancement of the lives of military veterans.
 
Thank you very much!
 
 
*6. On Members of the Executive being accountable to the National Assembly:*
 
Honourable Speaker,
As the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, we have previously affirmed the centrality of this institution in ensuring that accountability of the Executive is upheld at all times. 
 
In this regard, we have always encouraged Members of the Executive to prioritise the implementation of findings and recommendations of Judicial Commissions of Enquiry, and those of state institutions supporting constitutional democracy. 
Furthermore, Section 92 (2) and (3) of the Constitution stipulates that Members of Cabinet are accountable collectively and individually to Parliament for the exercise of their powers and the performance of their functions. 
 
Therefore, Members of the Executive have a constitutional obligation to avail themselves to assist the National Assembly in its work of processing the findings of the Report of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.
 
With regard to enforcing sanctions imposed by the National Assembly on Members of the Executive, the Deputy President does not have constitutional powers to impose any sanction to Members of the Executive, but the President does. 
 
Notwithstanding this, the National Assembly can be assured of the full commitment of the Executive under the leadership of the President in the processing of the findings of the State Capture Commission. 
 
Thank you very much!
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