South African’s National Liberation Movement

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Volume 7 No. 6 : Supplement - Parliament Focus

1 July 1996

Dealing with apartheid`s aftermath

Faced with crumbling administrations and severe backlogs, the ANC has managed in the last 24 months to lay a solid foundation for development and growth, writes Steyn Speed.

The ANC in government has spent the better part of the last two years unravelling the administrative and structural mess created by the apartheid system. At the same time most government departments have been able to put into place policies, structures and programmes to begin addressing people`s needs.

This emerged from an ANC media summit held in Midrand last month, which focussed on the ANC`s first two years in government.

Speaking at the end of the summit, ANC secretary general Cyril Ramaphosa said the briefings by ministers, premiers and MECs had revealed the extent of fragmentation, inequity and inefficiency which was inherited from the previous dispensation.

“It has shown the extent to which the machinery of government has had to be rationalised, integrated and re-positioned before the effects of previous poor government could begin to be addressed,” he said.

While significant gains have been made in government since 1994, the last 24 months have demonstrated to many the difficulties of achieving large-scale delivery within a short period of time.

“The mess we inherited [from the National Party] made the notion of mass housing delivery a dream,” housing minister Sankie Mthembi- Nkondo said.

Almost every other department has had to come to terms with an ineffective bureaucracy and an overwhelming backlog in houses, clinics, classrooms, sports facilities, roads, sanitation and other infrastructure.

This has meant that planning has had to be increasingly coordinated between different departments, particularly at a provincial level. The housing department, for example, needed to work closely with the transport, health and education departments in planning a new development.

Many provincial departments had to deal with fragmented and crumbling administrations. The Northern Province, for example, had to bring together the former administrations of Venda, Gazankulu, Lebowa and parts of the Transvaal Provincial Administration.

“Government in the province had semi-collapsed when we took over in 1994,” Northern Province premier Ngoako Ramathlodi said. The government had not only to restore stability, but also had to rationalise each provincial department.

This was a pattern which repeated itself in almost every province. At a national level also, almost every department had to integrate departments from the former bantustans and old South Africa. The majority of departments had to integrate between 11 and 14 departments into a single national department.

Another problem was the lack of reliable information about what resources the government owned or had its disposal. The justice ministry had to conduct an audit to establish the state of the 540 magistrates courts around the country. The department of public works is not even sure what properties the government owns. “We have gone a long way in compiling an asset register. The government`s property stock should be running into billions,” public works minister Jeff Radebe said.

The fragmentation of the public service was exacerbated by poor and inequitable salaries. “There are gross disparities in the salaries of health personnel,” health minister Nkosozana Zuma said. Her department was faced with a number of nurses strikes last year as a result of exactly this issue.

The government agreed last year to use the 1996/97 budget to substantially improve the salaries of public sector workers, and to iron out discrepancies between different levels of pay.

Yet despite these problems several government departments have chalked up notable achievements over the last two years.

“The Government of National Unity has spent the last two years putting in place the organisational infrastructure and policy from which to pursue the objectives of the Reconstruction and Development Programme,” Ramaphosa said.

“The ANC will be leading that process, as it has government up to now. It will do so with the wisdom and experience gained from two years of a difficult transition. It will do so re-assured of the support of the vast majority of South Africans, and confident in the knowledge that its historic mission is closer now than ever before in its history,” he said.

Special focus on government

The ANC Department of Information and Publicity hosted a three-week long media summit in Midrand recently on the ANC`s first two years in government.

The summit was addressed by ANC ministers, deputy ministers, premiers and provincial MECs on progress made in government since the April 1994 election.

Through daily briefings, ANC members in government were able to reflect on the achievements and shortcomings in their portfolio, whether at a national or provincial level.

This special Mayibuye supplement, in covering these briefings, provides an overview of the ANC`s performance in different areas of government during the first two years of democracy.

Free health care for all becomes a reality

Universal free health care will be available within weeks. But it will take years to achieve equity, writes Khensani Makhubela.

It would take between eight and ten years to achieve equity in health care provision in South Africa, according to health minister Nkosozana Zuma. This was because of the massive inequalities in health care services across the country. “It is difficult to move resources [to under-resourced areas] without collapsing existing services,” she said.

The Department of Health inherited a deeply fragmented and inadequate health system in April 1994. It had to bring together 14 health services under one department.

Because health care didn`t extend to all the people of South Africa, the government decided that comprehensive primary health care would be its guiding vision, Zuma said.

The primary health care approach incorporates a broad definition of health, of the nature and role of health services, and of the relationship between health services and other intervention which improve the population`s health.

The department was faced with a maldistribution of resources; gross disparities in the salaries of different categories of health personnel; and lack of information on what existed in the health sector, including the status of health facilities.

A hospital audit was commissioned to get a clear idea of the condition and suitability of a total of 438 hospitals and 106 health centres in the nine provinces.

More than 340 clinics are currently being built, 58 are undergoing major upgrading, while 3,000 are budgeted to undergo minor upgrading. A hundred and fifty mobile clinics have purchased and distributed to the provincial facilities.

Health was more than simply the absence of disease, Zuma said. Health services encompassed promotive; preventative and curative services. The crucial role of environmental factors such as clean water, sanitation, housing and education were fundamental to the improvement of the health status of individuals and the population.

While she recognised that a primary health care system would need cooperation from agencies outside the health sector, the re- organisation of health services was fundamental.

“The use of population-based planning, service delivery and monitoring is a central element of appropriate health service organisation which is based on the principles of universal access, affordability, sustainability and cost effectiveness,” she said.

The health department had managed to provide free health care to pregnant mothers and children under six, as announced by President Nelson Mandela after he had taken office. This programme led to a rise in attendance at most public sector facilities, suggesting that user fees were a deterrent to use of public health services. More attendances at antenatal clinics, and a decline in the number of unbooked deliveries were also indications of the programme`s success, Zuma said.

By 1 July, universal free health care would be available for all permanent residents of South Africa regardless of social status, economic status, race, colour or gender, she said.

Significant progress has been made in immunisation, which saw 3.4 million children immunised against polio in 1995. “This will be followed up by a massive anti-polio campaign in August 1996, as a springboard for [combatting] other diseases like measles and hepatitis B,” she said. Immunisation of children was one of the future priorities of the health department, she said.

The government would need to regulate the optimal balance between public and private health.

“Is it correct for the private sector, which services 20 percent of the population, to use 50 percent of the personnel and 60 percent resources? Health is not a market commodity,” Zuma said.

Clinic-building and improved service delivery in provinces

The greatest challenge facing provincial health departments was the enhancement of services for marginalised or under-serviced areas, in the face of a declining budget.

Racial segregation and ethnic discrimination had resulted in an inefficient health service in most parts of the country, health MECs said at the recent ANC media summit.

Mpumalanga health MEC Candith Mashigo said for the province this translated into a health service profile which made it one of the most under-served provinces in the country. Mpumalanga had 24 hospitals with 4,081 hospital beds in use, and 217 primary health clinics.

Gauteng MEC Amos Masondo said improvements in service delivery had been made in his province. Ambulance services, for example, had been extended to areas which previously had no access to such resources. These areas included Orange Farm, Cullinan, Soshanguve and Kathorus, where there had been a substantial improvement.

In the Northern province over 80 percent of children under five years have been immunised. Mobile services which had almost collapsed in the past were now functioning. Twenty-five new clinics were being constructed and additional posts to cater for new clinics had been released. An audit of all 43 hospitals and 23 health centres had been completed and new equipment had been recently acquired for most hospitals.

In the Eastern Cape, the University of Transkei was training doctors in community and rural health. There were 45 new clinics built, with 20 more still to be built. By September this year all clinics in the province would have been electrified, according to Eastern Cape health MEC Trudie Thomas.

Road projects help local people

The government`s investment in transport is not only buying roads. It is also creating employment, writes Khensani Makhubela.

The Department of Transport has embarked on 20 major road projects, worth about R1.9 billion, over the last two years – many of which have brought substantial benefits to local communities.

The N1 toll road project between Kranskop and Pietersburg is valued at R650 million. For this project 23 emergent contractors were involved. Out of a total work force of 1,000 people, 634 people were trained and 768 drawn from local communities.

“This contract is successful especially in terms of job creation and on- site training,” transport minister Mac Maharaj said.

Projects in the Western Cape employed 995 people, of which 418 were drawn from the local community. Thirty million rand was directly injected into the local community during a 17 month period.

The Maputo Development Corridor`s first road will be built before the end of this year, Maharaj said. It will shorten the route from Gauteng to the nearest harbour by 150km, and will cut transport costs by as much as 25 percent. This move is an intergovernmental, provincial and departmental effort to get development going.

In the pipeline is the N3 De Beers Pass, a contract with a total value of R1,200 million, which has the potential to create up to 48,000 new jobs.

The former RDP office assigned R100 million to the transport department for small roads projects, secondary road and infrastructure provision. Currently there are 40 projects across the nine provinces, which create employment for 370 people each month and provide training for 83 people each month.

Maharaj said his department was developing four metropolitan development corridors in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

These corridors are aimed at promoting integrated and mixed land use, strategies which will bring people closer to work opportunities, promote effective public transport and improved passenger loads, as well as more sustained form of urban development. The planning work has commenced and contracting has been done with a conscious effort to realise the RDP`s objectives.

Bilateral agreements with governments worldwide on civil aviation have led to an increase in flights to and from South Africa. This improves the country`s capacity to promote tourism.

Maharaj said improvements at Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban international airports helped to better handle the increased flow of people through the airports. The department is involved in a planning exercise in Cape Town`s bid for the 2004 Olympics. The bid will boost transport infrastructure in the city, Maharaj said.

The department is also involved in the National Taxi Task Team. Recommendations have been made by the task team which involve the spending by government of R40 million per year for the next two years, in an attempt to stabilise the industry and make it economically sustainable.

Public works for the people

The Department of Public Works has a key role to play in South Africa`s development, writes Steyn Speed.

There has been a “paradigm” shift in the function of the public works department, according to Public Works minister Jeff Radebe.

“The public works department is no longer merely a service provider to government, but is now a service provider to society more broadly,” Radebe told an ANC media briefing last month.

This was to be achieved through creating jobs and a massive infrastructure development programme over the next 15 years.

The public works department, responsible for meeting all the government`s construction and building needs, was committed to job creation and the development of the small and medium-sized construction sector, he said.

The cornerstone of this commitment was a national framework agreement on labour intensive construction in civil engineering, which the department would sign in June with representatives of labour, industry and the civic movement.

The agreement would bind all sections of government to use labour- intensive methods of construction wherever possible. The main benefit of this approach was the reduction of unemployment, Radebe said.

Radebe used an example of road construction to demonstrate the benefits of labour-intensive practices. Using current methods of road construction, 15,000 jobs would created for every R1 billion used. With the use of labour intensive methods, this would rise to about 75,000 jobs for every R1 billion.

By using labour-intensive methods and increasing government investment in infrastructure, the department expected to be creating 300,000 jobs a year by the year 2000.

In addition to job creation in local communities, the framework agreement would also provide opportunities for local and emerging contractors, especially from disadvantaged sectors. Other objectives of the agreement included the education of workers as a means of economic empowerment; the creation, rehabilitation and maintenance of physical structures to meet the needs of communities; and building the capacity of communities to manage their own affairs, strengthen local governance and generate sustainable development.

Radebe said that once the agreement had been signed certain criteria would be applied each time the government built something. There would be a high degree of participation by the beneficiaries of a project in the planning and implementation stages. Employment of workers would be targeted at the most needy within the beneficiary community, with special attention given to the position of women and youth.

But, Radebe said, the government could not achieve its objectives alone: “Both the ANC and the government have accepted that the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) cannot be entirely financed out of public funds… but needs private sector support.”

He cited the example of the `Clean and Green Campaign`, which was a joint initiative of the public works department, the Keep South Africa Beautiful organisation and South African Breweries. The campaign has targeted various local areas across the country to demonstrate a cost effective waste management system. The campaign was intended to set an example for all local authorities.

The construction industry also needed to undergo a fundamental transformation if it was going to be able to meet the government`s infrastructural needs. The South African construction industry would have to increase its output considerably above current levels in the face of severe capacity constraints, Radebe said.

“Research indicates that the existing industry is plagued by declining efficiency and output quality, and gross inequalities which have seen a disproportionate few dominate the market at the expense of the majority,” Radebe said.

The public works department, together with eight other government departments, had therefore launched an initiative to create an environment in which the industry could be transformed. This initiative would involve interventions by government on issues like the development of emerging contractors and the revision of regulatory frameworks.

Radebe said the public works programme would only be successful if it could harness the country`s human potential: “Ultimately, it should be acknowledged that the main benefit of the RDP is not going to come from physical development of housing, services and facilities, but from the active participation of all sectors in the South African population.”

Public works held up by inherited problems

The paths of provincial public works departments have been strewn with obstacles, writes Phil Nzimande.

Public works departments in most provinces have had to devote a lot of time to restructuring the fragmented, inefficient or sometimes even non-existent departments which they inherited from the old order, before being able to tackle the massive backlog of facilities.

The task of the Department of Public Works, both nationally and provincially, is the construction and maintenance of roads, public buildings and other infrastructure. The department contributes to the economic development and improvement of the quality of life of South African society by rendering efficient, effective and caring services, and the creation of jobs and generation of skills through community involvement and participation in worthwhile projects.

Provinces like the Eastern Cape, North West and Northern Province, had to bring together administrations from former bantustans and the old South Africa into single provincial departments through restructuring and rationalisation.

This has been a difficult task in most provinces, however. In the North West, for example, the public works department inherited a staff of 6,300 permanent employees and a further 2,000 casual workers, some of which had been continuously employed for many years. The new structure only allowed for a total of 7,250 posts.

To get communities involved in decision-making, the national public works department introduced the Community Based Public Works Programme, run by the provincial departments. In this programme, payments are made directly to communities for the implementation of projects. However, there is a list of requirements that must first be met by the community before payments are made.

The aim of the programme is to create capacity for the more comprehensive and sustained implementation of the overall transformation programme.

In the North West, for example, there are 15 projects being implemented at the moment, employing about 650 people. A further 28 clinics are being implemented on the same principle.

In the Eastern Cape, a total of 32 roads, 46 buildings, 23 water and 4 environmental projects are in various stages of implementation. Integrated development is further pursued through the involvement of local technikons, the private sector and the Department of Labour in training community participants in these projects.

Almost one million work days of employment for 8,000 people have been created through this programme. Several other multi-sectoral initiatives are underway in the areas of town re-development, youth, agriculture and the environment.

There have however been a number of problems which have further delayed the implementation of programmes. Tender Board procedures are very long and tedious. A lot of restructuring and rationalisation requires the approval of the Public Service Commission, which can take a long time.

Provinces have also identified as problems the lack of management systems; a lack of skilled personnel and low morale of civil servants; and the lack of well-established local government structures.

Housing on the upswing

The last half year has seen a major upswing in government spending on housing. Steyn Speed reports.

Actual government spending on housing has risen dramatically over the last six months, housing minister Sankie Mthembi-Nkondo said recently in a review of the ANC`s first two years of governance.

The average numbers of subsidies provided each month to would-be home-owners rose from 490 before August 1995, to 4,700 between September 1995 and March this year. In March alone, over seven thousand subsidies were provided by government – the highest ever monthly delivery.

Mthembi-Nkondo said the growth in the number of houses being built was significant. Up until August 1995, less than R10 million was being spent each month on housing nationally. By March this year, this figure had steadily risen to R90 million.

She said she expected this amount to grow: “Between now and October [this year] I have directed that spending on housing average between 150 and 200 million rand a month.”

Mthembi-Nkondo said mass-scale delivery of housing had just begun in Mpumalanga, and that other provinces were expected to follow shortly. Last month a R190 million housing initiative – which would see 6,000 homes built in the next 18 to 24 months – was launched in Mpumalanga. This initiative is a joint project of the provincial government, Nedcor bank, Condev construction company and local communities.

If obstacles experienced in other provinces could be overcome, between 20,000 and 40,000 houses could be built nationally in similar projects in the next eighteen months.

Until now the housing ministry has had difficulty spending the money it was allocated for housing. Although it has spent R931 million of its 1995/96 housing fund, this is only 30 percent of its R3 billion budget. The remaining funds will have to be used during the course of the next year.

Mthembi-Nkondo said some provinces were still spending more money on projects approved during the old dispensation than the new. This was a problem, she said.

The Western Cape, for example, had spent 61 percent of their allocation last year, which was the highest for any province. However most of this money was spent on projects approved under the former House of Representatives.

“The Western Cape is a major source of concern. The new subsidy scheme is hardly moving,” she said.

Spending on old housing projects also exceeded spending on new projects in KwaZulu/Natal and the Eastern Cape.

Gauteng showed the most “positive trend”, spending 48 percent of their housing allocation. The Northern Cape had spent 60 percent of their allocation, and Mpumalanga had spent 38 percent.

At the bottom end of the scale were the Eastern Cape and North West, both on 12 percent; the Northern Province on five percent; and KwaZulu/Natal on 23 percent. Spending in most of these provinces though had shown a marked increase over the last six months.

Mthembi-Nkondo singled out KwaZulu/Natal, however, whose spending had been “very erratic”.

“Something drastic has to happen in KwaZulu/Natal, things aren`t going very well,” she said.

Progress made in the delivery of housing was due to some improvement in problems that have dogged the government since April 1994. A key component of the government`s strategy is to mobilise private sector finance for the provision of housing, which has been difficult as lending institutions have been reluctant to lend money to low-income earners.

While the government was not completely satisfied with the banks, some were making progress. “We still need to talk to some banks,” she said.

Mthembi-Nkondo said her ministry was committed to using local government more effectively in housing delivery. Before last year`s local government elections there had been a substantial distance between the government and potential beneficiaries. She hoped local government would be able to remove this distance.

The parliamentary portfolio committee on housing had also played an important role in providing feedback to the government on public opinion around housing. Recent public submission to the committee had shown an interest from the public in getting more housing available for rent, she said.

The Masakhane campaign was also important for the success of the housing programme: “It needs to ensure the liaison between government and the people is kept alive.”

The campaign had faltered because there had not been enough capacity in provinces to absorb it, Mthembi-Nkondo said. She said it was difficult to convince some partners in the private sector to make finance available for low-income earners unless the government could show a response to its call for a new approach to lending and repayment.

Provinces tackle housing problems

Provincial governments have spent the last two years trying to overcome numerous obstacles to effective large scale housing delivery. This emerged from the ANC`s recent media summit, where provincial housing MECs reported on progress made in their portfolios.

Chief among the problems was a lack of capacity at a provincial government level. Many provinces had to build new provincial administrations from scratch. In provinces like the Northern Province, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape, the process was complicated by the integration of former bantustan and South African administrations.

Eastern Cape housing MEC Maxwell Mamase said there had been no general plan for housing in the former Transkei and Ciskei bantustans. This problem was reflected in the Eastern Cape`s failure to spend more than 12.5 percent of its housing allocation last year.

Another problem in the Eastern Cape was the variety of different forms of legislation governing land tenure. In provinces like the Eastern Cape, Northern Province and North West disputes between traditional leaders and communities over land ownership have hampered housing development in several areas.

This question has still not been clarified, causing tension between traditional leaders, civics and local councils, Northern Province housing MEC John Dombo said.

North West MEC Darkey Africa said the problem was particularly bad in his province, where 62 percent of the land is communally owned.

The lack of infrastructure in many provinces has also had a negative effect on housing. Particularly in rural areas, housing projects have to wait for infrastructure like roads and sanitation to be put in before houses can be built.

“Some developers complain that infrastructure costs are too great to spend money on the actual houses,” Mamase said.

In the Northern Province, the government first had to survey rural areas and establish services before houses could be built, Dombo said.

Gauteng`s housing problems were aggravated by the migration of people from other provinces to Gauteng. The province had therefore agreed to release land to communities, “not to encourage squatting, but so that people have places to live until houses can be built”, Gauteng MEC Dan Mofokeng said.

Government moves to transform higher education

The government has a responsibility to ensure the survival of higher education in South Africa. Khensani Makhubela reports.

The government`s education ministry was involved in the higher education sector, not as intruders, but as the public authority responsible for advancing the interests of the sector, attending to its needs and accounting for its conduct, education minister Sibusiso Bengu recently told an ANC media briefing.

Bengu said the apparent paralysis of the transformation project at several institutions, coupled with deep divisions on their moral purpose, vision and objectives, demanded a national approach and way forward.

The government established therefore the National Commission on Higher Education so that the “definition, repositioning, restructuring and resourcing of the higher education sector” over the medium to long-term could be decided in the light of a “transparent, collaborative and professional investigation based on principles which command wide agreement”.

Government subsidies for universities and technikons, an ongoing site of struggle, have been on a continuous downward slide, which in turn has affected the costs of, and access to, higher education. Bengu said the overall slide in the government subsidy would be stopped by the middle of 1996 and reversed. The increases in subsidies to the individual universities and technikons were substantial, he said.

An amount of R150 million has been allocated to universities and technikons to begin the process of rolling back serious backlogs in building. The department further negotiated with the RDP office to find additional funds to win the battle against escalating building requirements and backlogs.

The education ministry has set aside R300 million in the 1996/97 budget to get the National Student Financial Aid Scheme off the ground. The ministry has also called in the assistance of leaders in the private sector to raise additional resources for 1996, as well as to create a sustainable fund for student financing. “The Swiss government has offered to assist the scheme and Dr [Nthatho] Motlana is working on establishing a committee to assist in fundraising for student financing,” Bengu said.

There are also efforts directed at improving the library systems and collections of historically black institutions. The programme draws the Department of Education, historically black institutions and the European Union into a collaborative effort “to deal with a matter of great importance”.

The relationship between the education ministry and students is positive, Bengu said. The ministry has sought a relationship of cooperation and partnership with student organisations in the development and implementation of policy. He said they regarded students as an integral part of the new governance structures.

Commenting on recent upheavals at tertiary institutions, Bengu said the task of transformation “could not be derailed or distracted by disruptive or unlawful activities by those who prefer coercion to reasoned agreement”.

South Africa returns to the world stage

South Africa`s international relations over the last two years have been based on a philosophy of cooperation rather than conflict, writes a correspondent.

South Africa knows it has a continuing responsibility to contribute to the building of a new world order based on equal relations between nations, foreign affairs minister Alfred Nzo told an ANC media briefing recently.

Explaining the government`s philosophy in his budget vote in the Senate, Nzo said: “We strive toward contact rather than confrontation. We commence from the premise that as contact increases, affinity of values, mutual understanding and cooperation will increase and where we act within an atmosphere of animosity, we can avoid the hardening of attitudes and try to cultivate a climate conducive to good relations.”

The South African government has chosen to pursue this goal through its participation in international forums, like the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and the United Nations.

A major priority for the Department of Foreign Affairs was to establish peace and stability in South Africa and within the southern African sub-region. Through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) a draft framework has been developed for cooperation within the sub-region on issues of security and stability.

Agreements have also been reached on the sharing of water and the creation of an electricity pool. The SADC member states have committed themselves, among other things, to tackle jointly the problems of illicit drug trafficking, crime, small arms proliferation and the refugee problem.

South Africa has also participated in the OAU structure for conflict prevention and resolution. South Africa has contributed election observers to OAU missions in Cote d`Ivoire, Tanzania, Algeria, Ethiopia, the Comores and Uganda.

Nzo said Africa is still ravaged by conflicts and power struggles, most notably the ongoing strife in Burundi and Liberia. He said all African states should do everything in their power to end the “senseless bloodletting” that is taking place in these countries.

He said the current peace processes in Mozambique and Angola are, by contrast, “very encouraging”. The South African government has demonstrated its commitment to assist in the reconstruction of their war-ravaged economies, Nzo said.

By hosting the recent United Nations Conference of Trade and Development (Unctad) in Midrand, South Africa had signalled its intention to overcome the marginalisation of developing countries. South Africa`s presidency of Unctad for the next four years had created a favourable environment in which to pursue this aim, Nzo said.

The foreign ministry has also been involved in international efforts to ensure the elimination of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. In April this year, South Africa signed the Pelindaba Treaty, which makes provision for the establishment of a nuclear- weapon free zone across the entire continent. Efforts are underway to make the entire southern hemisphere free from nuclear weapons.

“South Africans can truly be proud of playing a part in making the world a safer place,” Nzo said.

SA seeks solution to Chinese puzzle

South Africa`s diplomatic relations with Taiwan and the People`s Republic of China _ which has dogged the government over the last two years _ could be resolved soon.

Foreign affairs minister Alfred Nzo said the government would need to decide after its forthcoming delegation to Taiwan which of the `two Chinas` to officially recognise.

A recent presidential delegation to the People`s Republic of China was told that the Chinese government would not “expect” South Africa to have dual recognition of both Taiwan and China. China does not recognise the sovereignty of Taiwan, regarding it rather as a break- away province.

During the apartheid era, Taiwan was one of the few countries which maintained full diplomatic and economic relations with South Africa. The present government has therefore inherited a history of deep relations with Taiwan.

In terms of international practice, however, the People`s Republic of China is recognised by bodies like the United Nations, to the exclusion of Taiwan.

A South African government delegation which visited Beijing earlier this year was then supposed to travel to Taiwan in an effort to resolve South Africa`s position on recognition. However, the trip was postponed due to presidential elections in Taiwan. The trip is expected to take place shortly.

“The question will be decided as soon as we come back from Taiwan… within the next few months,” Nzo said.

Govt still firm on Nigeria

South Africa is the only country in the world to have paid such great attention to the Nigerian situation, according to Foreign Affairs minister Alfred Nzo.

South Africa had played a critical role last year in saving the accused in the Obasanjo `coup plot` case from execution, and had led efforts to have Nigeria suspended from the Commonwealth after its execution of nine Ogoni activists in November last year. South Africa was the only African country to recall its representative to Nigeria after the executions.

It became clear, however, that South Africa would need the support of the international community in encouraging Nigeria to move towards democracy, Nzo said.

“If it became merely a Nigeria-South Africa issue, South Africa might become marginalised,” he said.

The government therefore decided the issue should be pursued through the Organisation of African Unity, the Southern African Development Community and the Commonwealth.

While there was resistance to an OAU resolution on punitive action against Nigeria, the Commonwealth`s `task group` on Nigeria met in April to propose measures against the Nigerian government. These include stopping international flights to Nigeria, a sports boycott and the downgrading of diplomatic missions to that country.

Restructuring discussions still on track

Restructuring of state companies, given the right approach, could forward the priorities of the RDP. Khensani Makhubela reports.

The restructuring of state assets could provide equal opportunities to all in South Africa, public enterprises minister Stella Sigcau said at the ANC media summit recently.

If the restructuring was done properly, it would benefit those South Africans “without homes or jobs, those in desperate need of basic services, people who are already contributing to the wealth of the economy and people whose enterprise can create new jobs”, she said.

The first phase of restructuring state assets included extensive consultation with key stakeholders such as the cabinet, parliament`s portfolio committee for public enterprises, the inter governmental forum, business and labour _ and resulted in the signing of the National Framework Agreement (NFA) between government and labour.

The agreement was based on labour and government`s commitment to provide affordable, good quality basic services to all South Africans, Sigcau said. The objectives of restructuring _ economic growth, long- term job creation, a better quality and delivery of affordable services; and more efficient and competitive public enterprises _ remained unchanged.

She said the department needed to finance the Reconstruction and Development Programme and reduce state debt as far as possible. Restructuring needed to broaden ownership within the economy and meet the basic needs of the poor and disadvantaged. These benefits could only come about if public enterprises had access to the resources, skills and capital necessary to grow and flourish.

According to the framework agreement R3 million was allocated for the appointment of advisers to labour, to enhance their capacity to participate on an equal footing in discussion around restructuring.

Most of the obstacles to the successful restructuring of public enterprises have been overcome, especially with the signing of the NFA, Sigcau said. “One may expect new obstacles to emerge when discussion within the NFA structures gain momentum. However the department is optimistic that, as in the past, acceptable solutions will be found to obstacles which may arise,” Sigcau said.

Labour`s five-year plan is working

The labour ministry`s five-year programme of action is on course, writes a correspondent.

The Department of Labour has spent the last two years developing policies and legislation which would address the high level of unemployment, job discrimination and lack of competitiveness in South Africa, according to labour minister Tito Mboweni.

“Our activities… are very much related to the need to resolve the negative consequences of the legacy of apartheid as it is reflected in the high levels and incidence of unemployment, under-employment and poverty; to resolve the pervasive labour market discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age and disability; and to transform the economy in a manner that would facilitate growth, development and equity, and be globally competitive,” Mboweni said.

His ministry had achieved many of its goals to date: “We basically followed the plan we put together. We are well on course to completing the tasks we set ourselves.”

The labour ministry`s first concern was to formulate a broad policy framework to guide future policy initiatives in line with the requirements of the RDP. The president therefore appointed a Comprehensive Labour Market Commission last year to develop proposals on labour market policies, an industrial strategy to promote job creation, a social accord, the promotion of employment equity and the management of labour migration.

The commission is expected to finalise its report soon, which would inform the labour department on how to achieve its long-term goals.

Another key achievement of the labour ministry was the passage through parliament of the new Labour Relation Act, “arrived at as a consequence of painstaking negotiations among the social partners [in Nedlac] and debate in parliament”.

The new LRA, among other things, entrenches the fundamental labour rights contained in the interim constitution; establishes workplace forums for employee participation in decision-making; establishes the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, as well as the Labour Court; and regulates and promotes collective bargaining at the workplace and at sectoral level.

The LRA is being implemented in a phased manner “in order to allow for the establishment of the necessary institutions that would facilitate its implementation and proper functioning”. It is expected to be in full operation by August 1996.

Mboweni criticised both business and labour for failing to reach agreement on issues still delaying the implementation of the LRA: “That both sides have chosen to make their views known in the most strident and aggressive terms imaginable has not helped us to arrive at a resolution of these contending viewpoints.”

He said the differences between labour and business showed how difficult it was to build a social partnership. “But, we remain committed to ensuring the success of Nedlac and the project of social partnership we have started,” he said.

Putting justice back into the law

From being a weapon of the apartheid state, South Africa`s courts are being changed to serve the interests of the people. Steyn Speed reports.

Following the 1994 election, South African courts needed to be transformed to serve the people of South Africa, according to justice minister Dullah Omar.

“The courts must serve the people, and can no longer be instruments to impose the will of the state,” he said.

When the Government of National Unity took over in 1994, there were 11 departments of justice, and a great disparity in court facilities between black and white areas.

One of the greatest challenges was the establishment of a human rights culture in South African courts. The justice department was therefore involved in planning special training for judges and magistrates, Omar said.

South African courts also needed to become representative of the South African population. While nearly half of South Africa`s magistrates were black, most of these were in the former bantustan areas.

The justice department had therefore made a special effort at affirmative action, including at senior management level. “We are preoccupied with race and gender because we have had to make the department representative of all South Africans,” Omar said.

Eighty percent of all appointments over the last two years have been black. Out of the 16 supreme court judges appointed since April 1994, eight have been black.

“We appointed more black judges in one year, than have ever been appointed in South Africa before,” he said.

The transformation of South African courts also included a review of the physical state of the courts. The justice department conducted an audit of each of the 541 magistrates courts in South Africa, looking at issues like the state of the buildings, resources, court management and training.

“We came to the conclusion that many courts are in a chaotic state, especially in disadvantaged areas. The standard of justice suffered as a result,” Omar said.

The department had submitted plans to the RDP for the upgrading of these courts.

Another problem for the courts was the poor working conditions: “We are facing a brain drain because of poor salaries. Professionals [in the courts] haven`t been treated as professionals. We must make it attractive for them to stay.”

The government had asked the Public Service Commission to address this problem. The justice department has advocated a different salary structure for the judiciary, which had been agreed to by the finance minister.

Omar said the handling of crime was an area of concern. While he would support the courts if bail was denied for serious crimes, Omar said the government needed to respect the independence of the court.

“The independence of the judiciary must be maintained. In the last two years I haven`t given a single instruction to a judge or a magistrate,” he said.

He said he was personally dissatisfied with bail being granted too easily in serious cases.

With the application of the recently-launched National Crime Prevention Strategy, however, the justice system would work in a more streamlined manner, he said.

“An important consequence of the National Crime Prevention Strategy is that planning, policy and implementation will be coordinated [between different government departments], to ensure that one part of the justice system fits in with others,” Omar said.

Land reform: basis for development

Land reform is necessary for both stability and development, writes a correspondent.

White farmers had come to accept land reform as both necessary and desirable, according to land affairs minister Derek Hanekom.

Speaking at the ANC media summit recently, Hanekom said many farmers had realised that land reform, if managed properly, would serve their interests. “It`s the absence of land reform which is more threatening,” he said.

Effective land reform measures contributed to reconciliation and social stability in South Africa, and created conditions for economic growth, he said.

Without land reform, Hanekom said, the country would see an increase in land invasions and conflict between land owners and landless people: “Unless we deal with land reform, we`ll find ourselves sitting with a problem.”

Given the gross inequalities in land ownership in South Africa, the government was compelled to effect some kind of redress, Hanekom said.

“Our point of departure was that people needed access [to land], tenure and restitution,” Hanekom said.

Providing people with land was the basis for addressing other development issues: “Land is only a beginning, but an important beginning.”

Hanekom said the government was compelled by the constitution to adopt measures to progressively meet every citizens basic material needs, such as shelter, water and health care. Land reform was an important way to give people access to resources to address these needs. “In so far as existing land allocations don`t meet the demands of the constitution, they must be changed,” he said.

The Department of Land Affairs chose to address land reform at three levels: restitution, redistribution and tenure reform. The government wasted no time in drawing up legislation to effect restitution _ the return of land to people who were forcibly removed from the land.

In terms of this legislation, a Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights and a Land Claims Court were established to process restitution claims. There were about 8 000 claims currently before the commission, Hanekom said. He expected that only about 30 of these would be resolved this year. The commission was under-staffed and under-resourced, he said.

Restitution was limited, however, to people who were forcibly removed from their land after 1913 because of apartheid practices: “Many people fall outside of the Land Restitution Act, many people were denied access to land, or are simply landless,” Hanekom said.

The government had therefore introduced a policy of redistribution. Hanekom said the policy had been wrongly characterised as `market- driven` programme. He said it could be more correctly described as a state-assisted land reform programme taking place within the context of the market. “The government is enabling people [through subsidies] to take advantage of market opportunities,” he said.

The government had linked the housing subsidy to a land subsidy, where people who wanted to buy land could get a once-off subsidy of R15 000. Although the purchase of land was largely conducted on a willing- buyer, willing-seller basis, there could be instances where the demand for land in a particular area exceeded the land available on the market. In such cases, the government would try to encourage landowners to sell some of the land.

“Expropriation is a measure of last resort, and then it must be subject to just and equitable compensation, as stated in the constitution,” Hanekom said.

This programme had kicked off, and many people had bought land, Hanekom said.

The overriding objective of the tenure reform programme was to give people security of tenure. “There are different forms of tenure. There are 1,2 million farmworkers on white farms who are very vulnerable. If they lose their job, they lose their house and the land they had lived on possibly for generations,” he said.

Dumping such people on the streets didn`t give due regard to their human rights and exacerbated social instability, Hanekom said.

Labour tenants were another group of people whose position was very vulnerable. Legislation was passed in parliament which prevented labour tenants from being evicted from their land, and gave them the opportunity to the buy the land which they occupied.

According to projections made by land affairs department, the amount of money which the government would have to spend on land reform would probably never increase more than two percent of the national budget. It was currently only half a percent of the budget.

“It depends on demand, capacity and market issues,” Hanekom said.

More facilities would give SA a sporting chance

Provision of facilities to neglected areas holds the key to the future of South African sport, writes Steyn Speed.

As long as the government paid lip service to the provision of sport facilities in under-resourced areas, South Africa`s national sports teams would remain white, sports minister Steve Tshwete said recently at the ANC media summit.

“We can`t talk of sports development in the absence of facilities. Providing facilities will assist in achieving proper representivity at a provincial and national level,” he said.

The lack of representivity in sports teams was an anomaly which needed to be addressed quite vigorously: “If not properly looked at, this [lack of representivity] will deny sport the role it could play in nation- building; reconciliation; the integration into society of so-called marginalised youth; the restoration of a culture of learning; and boosting the country`s profile.”

The Department of Sport and Recreation was able to register some outstanding achievements in the last 24 months, Tshwete said. Before July 1994, the responsibility for sport and recreation fell under the education department, which did little more than hand out grants to sports federations, most of them white. There was little, if any, assistance to black sports people.

The focus of the new sports policy therefore had to be on the promotion of `black` sports within the limits of a meagre budget, he said. The only way to develop sport was to invest in facilities in areas that had been on the receiving end of apartheid neglect.

Two hundred and nine sports facilities had been established by the government in the last two years, and a further 126 would be built in the course of 1996, Tshwete said. This would be boosted by a further R50 million rand from the RDP, and R100 million which would be used, together with the Department of Arts and Culture for multi-purpose centres.

Tshwete said the government needed to signal its appreciation for the role of sport by the amount of money it was prepared to put into it. “You can`t relegate sport to the periphery,” he said.

“The provision of sports facilities complements other development. I would contend very strongly that sport has a role to play in things like education, housing and health,” he said.

The health budget, for example, could be significantly reduced if the nation played sport, he said.

The government, however, would never be able to achieve this alone, Tshwete said. They had therefore started the Sports Trust, establishing the first formal relationship between government and the private sector to raise funds for sporting facilities. The funding would aim specifically at ending gender discrimination in sport and would focus on rural areas.

Tshwete acknowledged that the recreation side of his portfolio had to an extent been neglected during the course of 1994/95. He hoped that this would change with the establishment of the South Africa National Games and Leisure Association (Sangala), which had staged a number of special `games`. The focus was on providing recreational opportunities for street children, rural communities, old people and the corporate sector.

It was initially difficult to sell `recreation` to black people, he said, but the response has since been positive.