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Responses by Deputy President David Mabuza to oral questions in the National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town

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On the Roles and Responsibilities of the Deputy President

Honourable Speaker,

According to the President's response, Ministers and Deputy Ministers have signed performance agreements. 

The President appoints the Deputy President and Ministers, delegating authority to them, and has the power to remove them, as stated in Section 91(2) of the Constitution. 

These performance agreements are meant to enable the President and respective Ministers and Deputy Ministers, to effectively evaluate the assigned responsibilities and to identify areas of concern. 

The current system is not determined to provide for the signing of the performance agreement by the Deputy President, who as you know, is appointed to assist the President in the execution of the functions of government in accordance with Section 91(5) of the Constitution. 

However, the work of the Deputy President is evaluated against the responsibilities that have been delegated by the President.

Thank you.

On the Signing of the Proposed Global Pandemic Treaty

Honorable Speaker,

The World Health Assembly agreed at a Special Session held on 29 November to 01 December 2021, to start a process of developing and negotiating a treaty on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.  

To this end, an intergovernmental negotiating body was set up to lead the negotiations and drafting of the treaty, in consultation with various stakeholders including Member States and civil society organisations.

Drawing on the lessons that were learnt from responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, the proposed Global Pandemic Treaty will complement the International Health Regulations. 

To this end, the agreement will seek to outline the objectives and fundamental principles necessary for effective collective action to fight against the pandemics, address gaps in the current legal framework, and clarify roles and responsibilities of states and international organisations, among others. 

It is envisaged that this global treaty will, among others, enhance surveillance of pandemic risks and alerts; ensure uninterrupted health supplies and services and effective research and innovation for timely development of vaccines, treatments and diagnostics; ensure better response mechanisms and implementation; as well as restore trust in the international health system. 

Currently, the intergovernmental negotiating body is conducting consultations with stakeholders to produce a working draft of the treaty, which is due to be considered at its meeting later this year.

The 76th session of the World Health Assembly in 2023 will receive a progress report on the draft treaty, with the plan for the treaty to be adopted in 2024. 

For South Africa, it is crucial that the treaty is anchored on human rights to ensure equitable access to available medical solutions in order to improve the health and well-being of all, regardless of socio-economic status or geographical location. 

Madam Speaker,

When it comes to international agreements, Section 231 (1) of the Constitution is clear that the negotiation and signing of all international agreements is the responsibility of the national executive. 

Parliament will have a role in the ratification of the treaty once concluded, as international agreements become law after being approved by the resolution in both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces. Simply, this means that international agreements become national law only upon ratification by Parliament. 

In this regard, it goes without saying that the Minister of Health is enjoined by the Constitution to submit the treaty to Parliament for consideration and approval.

Thank you.

On Sustainable Spatial Development 

Honourable Speaker,

The destruction to infrastructure and loss of lives in the floods affected areas, calls on us to ensure that as we rebuild, we do so better and differently. 

We acknowledge that the current spatial distribution patterns and water management systems, were not designed to handle severe natural disasters as experienced in the affected provinces. This calls for a rigorous re-design of our spatial arrangements and proper maintenance of our drainage systems to prevent it from clogging up.

Already, prior to these unfortunate floods, government through the Department of Water and Sanitation, had already started a process to investigate potential impact of projected climate change disasters that are caused by extreme rainfall and tropical cyclones. 

To this end, government has put in place interventions for post-floods reconstruction of the infrastructure in affected provinces. A war room by the Department of Water and Sanitation has been established as part of short-term interventions to assist vulnerable communities with water supply and sanitation systems. This will address current challenge to communities in affected areas, while essential services are being replaced and repaired. 

This Water and Sanitation War Room will in the short-term ensure the:  

- Provision of relief measures to vulnerable communities through the hired water tankers for a period of 90 days that complement the supply of water to affected municipalities while water services are restored and infrastructure repaired;

- Assistance to affected provinces to implement immediate interventions in order to stabilise water supply and sanitation systems; and

- Avail engineering services from the Department of Water and Sanitation as well as from affected municipalities, to repair or replace essential water and sanitation services infrastructure so that full water supply is returned to normality.

The Department of Water and Sanitation has dispatched a team of multi-disciplinary engineers and technical experts to assess and cost flood damage.  

The team will also prepare a report for the Department of Water and Sanitation and the National Treasury, which will include a full cost estimate of the damage caused by the floods so that adequate resources are allocated to rehabilitation projects. 

The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Water and Sanitation will continue to monitor these projects and ensure that political oversight is in place to support coordinated efforts to complete them.

In the medium to long-term, particularly for purposes of better preparedness in the vulnerable areas, the response will be to invest in climate-proof infrastructure including climate sensitive drainage systems. 

Furthermore, the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency's technical support services to municipalities will ensure that spatial allocation is reshaped, resulting in better access to safer settlements, economic prospects, and long-term infrastructure provision.

Most importantly, local government will need to communicate information to populations living in flood-prone areas in the future, as well as provide early warning systems and improved spatial design that is sensitive to environmental conditions, in order to build resilience.

Thank you!

On Rural Development and Job Creation 

Honourable Speaker,

We remain committed to ensuring the dignity of every South African, and we will continue to visit every part of the country including Tsitsikamma, to trigger necessary development where specific interventions at the level of the Presidency are required. 

For instance, in April 2021, we visited the area and handed over land to the community of Covie village, after a successful land settlement claim. The land had been lost when it was declared part of the Tsitsikamma National Park. 

Fishing rights, food security, a lack of economic prospects, and agricultural support are all issues that communities face. Given the land's characteristics, it should be used successfully for commercial and agricultural purposes. The Covie community's food security and livelihood are reliant on coastal resources, and the area offers abundant agricultural and eco-tourism potential. 

As part of our post-settlement assistance, we emphasised the government's focus on agricultural support initiatives to ensure the productive and sustainable use of the land, as well as the provision of critical service delivery infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water, and sanitation to support economic mobility and improve the community's quality of life.

The national and provincial governments committed to implementing cohesive intervention measures to address some of the difficulties faced by the Tsitsikamma communities, in accordance with our delegated responsibilities on Land Reform and Agriculture. 

Specifically, exploiting the area's economic potential by also focusing on non-agricultural businesses like tourism as well as promoting small business ventures to make the Tsitsikamma villages thrive. However, we must agree that limited resources continue to be a significant hindrance to exploring such possibilities.

Notwithstanding such hindrance, the following progress has been made since the handover:

- The Community Property Association collaborated with the National Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development and the Provincial Department of Agriculture to design the establishment of pastures totalling 50 hectares in order to reintroduce cattle farming to the area.

- The Department of Social Development has opened a Community Nutrition and Development Centre, which provides food and day care services to the community. 

- Collaboration and talks between SANPARKS and the Covie CPA has focused on reviving of the honeybush tea project. 

- The Covie CPA has formed a partnership with a private developer and signed a Memorandum of Agreement to form a venture for the development of both the Commonage and allotments.

- R12 392 475.00 was transferred to the Covie CPA in consideration of compensation for land owned by SANPARKS that is not restitutionable.

A follow-up visit to the Tsitsikamma area will be beneficial to assess the development and impact of our post-settlement support initiatives. Our visit should focus on the additional support needed to improve economic prospects for the people surrounding the Tsitsikamma National Park, both in both provinces of the Eastern Cape and Western Cape

In order for our land reform and rural development program to be successful, we must focus our support and interventions on the integration of our country's rural areas, which must be complemented by agricultural and infrastructure development to ensure sustainable rural communities and livelihoods.

Thank you.

On Reduction of Incidents of Loadshedding

Honourable Speaker,

As government, we are cognisant of the negative impact of load-shedding on the country’s economy, and the inconvenience and hardship it causes to the country. However, load-shedding is a last resort lever to protect the system from blackout, which is a total loss of the electricity network.  

Government has created a regulatory environment that is conducive to opening up the market for alternative power generation.

Within the framework of the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan, alternative energy generation measures are being explored and implemented to augment electricity supply, and improve the stability of the grid. 

Furthermore, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy has issued Determinations on the required new generation capacity, in concurrence with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa.  

We must make the point that Eskom’s load-shedding is not as a result of limited market role for alternative power generation, but mainly, a result of breakdowns encountered from the old and aging power generation infrastructure. 

An improvement in the reliability and predictability of the coal fleet requires adequate financial resources and generation capacity surplus on the system to execute the required additional reliability maintenance. To achieve this, Eskom is driving the Generation Turnaround Programme.

As coal-fired units and stations are shut down, it is essential that new generation capacity be added to the grid to ensure energy security.

Overall, the country has an immediate need for 4 000 megawatts to 6 000 megawatts additional generation capacity per year. 

To this end, the following interventions have been implemented:

- As part of its Just Energy Transition strategy, Eskom has proposed an extra 8 000 megawatts of clean energy projects to be added to the grid over the next 2 to 5 years. This is a mix of greenfield renewables and gas projects, as well as coal power plant repurposing.

- Government is also considering various changes which will speed up the acquisition of Independent Power Producers and to reduce further red tape. An announcement in this regard will be made once all the necessary tasks have been completed.

- In addition, Eskom has presented a transmission development plan to meet the country's capacity demands, which calls for the construction of 8 000 kilometers of line over the next ten years. This project will necessitate substantial funding, which Eskom has proposed as part of the Just Energy Transition financing and regulatory support for land and servitude acquisition.

- Eskom has proposed a holistic approach to decarbonisation and environmental compliance by accelerating the retirement of ageing and unreliable coal plants as part of its commitment to the country's Just Energy Transition Plan. This will be done in a manner that is both socially and environmentally responsible.

Coordination across all tiers of government is critical in achieving our just transition, as it will ensure energy supply stability and provide a much-needed reprieve from the detrimental effects of load shedding in the future.

Honourable Speaker, 

In accordance with our constitutional and international commitments, we reiterate our commitment to establishing a socially inclusive decarbonisation growth path that prioritizes environmental sustainability. Climate change is an existential threat to all of us, and South Africa is committed to assisting in the reduction of global emissions. 

To this end, the President formed the Presidential Climate Commission, which will (1) advise on the country's climate change response and (2) support a just transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient economy and society. 

The Presidential Climate Commission encourages debate among social partners on these challenges, identifying the type of economy and society we want to attain and outlining comprehensive paths to get there. 

The Presidential Climate Commission has created a framework for a just transition, which allows for discussion of practical concerns such as jobs, local economies, skills, social support, and governance. The framework is based on the country's current body of knowledge as well as the National Development Plan's vision. 

Our transition must maintain policy alignment across all levels of government, including the current Climate Change Bill before Parliament. 

As a county, we must guarantee that we implement new infrastructure, technologies, and solutions that allow us to meet ambient air quality standards while also safeguarding community members from negative environmental externalities.                                 

Thank you. 

On Service Delivery Trouble-Shooting in Flood Stricken Areas 

Honourable Speaker,

We have since witnessed an incredible outpouring of solidarity and cooperation from a diverse range of stakeholders, including individuals, organisations, businesses, benefactors, and agencies, in the aftermath of the devastating floods that resulted in massive loss of lives and livelihoods, destruction of property and infrastructure, and displacement of many families, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal. As a government, we applaud these cooperative efforts.

Our government's response to this catastrophic calamity is three-pronged and summarised as follows: 

- Phase 1: Immediate humanitarian relief, ensuring that all affected people are safe and that their basic needs are met;

- Phase 2: Stabilisation and recovery, which includes rehousing people who have lost their homes and restoring service provision; and

- Phase 3: Reconstruction and rehabilitation, with a focus on "Building Back Better." 

The first phase of the three-pronged approach has mostly focused on providing urgent humanitarian relief, ensuring that all affected people are safe and that their basic needs are satisfied.

This has been hindered by the return of floods in eThekwini Municipality and nearby areas over the past two weeks. We applaud Premier Zikalala and the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government for their efforts to expedite recovery and reconstruction in the affected areas.

The collaboration of all spheres of government and organs of State, continues to improve the situation on the ground. It is a difficult situation and we appeal for appreciation of the complexity of what we are confronted with.

As part of Phase 2 interventions, the government is making headway with stabilisation and recovery actions, including rehousing those who were displaced  and restoring basic services. 

As previously mentioned, the Department of Water and Sanitation has established a Water and Sanitation War Room to assist the province's affected state organs, particularly the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, in restoring water services and addressing water and infrastructure-related challenges. 

To this end, water supply restoration has progressed in many regions of eThekwini, with the exception of the Tongaat Supply System, which remains a major challenge. This is due to the critical water infrastructure badly destroyed. We are advised that the restoration of Tongaat Waterworks is expected to take 3 to 6 months to complete.

In this regard, we appreciate the intervention being made by the South African National Defence Force, especially in providing water to social facilities in the area. This has ensured that schools remain functional and our learners are not adversely affected during this examination season. Our words of appreciation are also to NGOs and private sector that has lent support to needy households, especially for the elderly. 

Madam Speaker,

Since all affected people should be taken care of without losing a single day of their lives without basic necessities, the criticism that the processes have been slow is expected. However, the severity of the situation necessitates some time to fix. 

Even with all the difficulties we face, we want to apprise this House that affected municipalities and government departments have been conducting technical assessments of damage costs and recommending short, medium, and long-term measures since the floods. 

Last month, the national government received the coordinated response interventions and requested funds for both essential and emergency repairs, as well as long-term solutions to restore normalcy to the affected areas. 

The National Treasury has issued a directive outlining the public management and budgeting system that would be used in the event of a national disaster to guarantee that services to the impacted communities are not disrupted. 

Affected provincial departments and municipalities have already begun the process of reprioritising their budgets and submitting requests to the National Disaster Management Centre for the reallocation or repurposing of funds in conditional grants, focusing primarily on humanitarian relief and emergency repairs of critical infrastructure such as water and waste management, electricity, roads and engineering infrastructure, as well as social services such as healthcare.

We will continue to monitor and assist land identification processes by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, and rapid housing initiatives by the Department of Human Settlements; as well as the delivery of other necessary services to affected communities through Inter-Ministerial Committees.

Thank you.