Issue No. 1
THE PEOPLE SHALL GOVERN
20 November 2002
When our people elected us into public office, they bestowed upon us a specific responsibility.
That responsibility is to create, through this public institution, a peaceful and prosperous South African nation.
It is for this reason that the ANC identified parliament as a site of struggle.
It is an institution that represents all those without a voice, the nameless, jobless.
We are now in the eight-year having assumed leadership of this institution.
In this Year of the Volunteer for Reconstruction and Development, we are charged with the responsibility of ensuring a light link between parliament and our people. This emphasises the ongoing sensitisation and consciousness on our part as legislators in passing pieces of legislation that make a positive impact in changing the lives of South Africans.
This is an extract from an address of the National Assembly by the ANC Chief Whip.
South Africa as a country is faced with the challenge of attracting foreign skills for economic development and growth. Particularly given that the country is emerging out of the apartheid past, which ensured that our people remain unskilled and poor.
It is for this reason that the government had to update and review its Immigration laws, with an emphasis on replacing the Aliens Control Act. On the other hand the Constitutional Court ordered the government to come up with an Immigration law that will seek to repeal the Aliens Control Act before the 2 June 2002.
But this challenge of introducing a new Immigration law had to be balanced with the need to provide employment for the millions of South Africans who were denied job opportunities under apartheid.
The Immigration Act is an important piece of legislation. The issue of immigration has become increasingly topical and controversial in South Africa and in the world in general.
Today we live in a global village where we have to engage and compete in terms of skills and technology with other markets. We acknowledge the shortage of skills in many categories that also contribute in the slow down of the pace of economic growth and development.
It is important to note the trends in the formation of economic regional blocs with migration regimes that has preferential treatment and mobility of citizen of member states e.g EU which represents the most advance model of such arrangement. It is clear that in the long term we will have such arrangement in the SADC. For this goal to be achieved we should continue to work towards building vibrant and strong economies of our region.
The Immigration Act is the first step in contributing towards the creation of a planned system of immigration that is simple, achievable, and manageable and serves our country`s interest.
The three key objectives of this Immigration Act are:
- To regulate the movement in entry and exit of immigrants.
- To promote capital and human investment in South Africa
- To set up a new system of Immigration control.
The Act establishes a legislative framework for the issuing of temporary residence permits allowing foreigners to enter, sojourn and conduct certain activities including work activities in the Republic of South Africa.
The Act empowers the Department of Home Affairs to issue such permits as per the economic needs and political objectives of the country.
The Act also provides for a human rights based legal framework to deal with matters relating to foreigners within the Republic.
THE NEW SYSTEM OF IMMIGRATION SEEKS TO ENSURE THAT:
- Temporary and permanent residence permits are issued expeditiously without consuming excessive administrative capacity.
- State retains control on the immigration of foreigners
- There is inter-departmental co-ordination to enrich the functions of Immigration control
- The border monitoring is strengthened to ensure that the borders and the ports of entry are efficiently administered, managed and that immigration laws are effectively enforced.
- Immigration control is performed within the highest applicable standards of a human rights culture
- Lastly that racism and xenophobia are prevented and eliminated from our society.
South Africa as a country realises that, it has to make a contribution, as part of the family of nations to combat racism, xenophobia and related intolerances. We are obligated as a people to promote a culture of human rights and in this regard ensure that our Immigration laws uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution.
The recent political realignment of political parties as witnessed provide a lesson for all of us.
Firstly, the New National Party and the Democratic Party formed what they called a democratic alliance, and the intention of this particular alliance was to mobilise for a” white bloc” within the South African politics.
As a result the NNP and DP fought the 5th December 2000 local government elections under the banner of the Democratic Alliance.
The DA as an alliance failed to pull through and the NNP broke away from the DA, and this necessitated that a constitutional amendments be effected to allow DA councillors to be able to move back to the NNP without losing their seats in the respective municipalities.
The significant political development with regards to a decision taken by the NNP to move away from the DA led to a change in the country`s political landscape. More importantly, the agenda for nation building and reconciliation was boosted as it provided an opportunity to reconcile our people.
Our electoral system at the national and provincial level is on a party-list system, based on proportional representation, and does not provide for the crossing of the floor. In local government we have a mixed proportional and ward system. Under proportional representation voters vote for parties, rather than individuals, and for this reason our Constitution has an anti-defection clause. Generally, individual elected representatives should be bound by the mandate of their respective parties, and should not see themselves as free agents to come and go while still retaining their seats.
However, the fluidity of our still very new multi-party democracy, the crisis in the DA, and also the fact that internationally many established proportional representation systems allow for some crossing of the floor – all of these considerations led the ANC to support the idea of amending the Constitution and other relevant laws to allow for some crossing of the floor.
The new Constitutional and legislative amendments provide for:
- an immediate and once-off 15-day period in which elected representatives in all three spheres (national parliament, provincial legislatures and local councils) can cross over from one party to another, without any fear of sanction from the parties they choose to leave.
- Two window periods for crossing of the floor in every electoral term. In other words, in the second year and fourth years of the election term, crossing of the floor will be allowed. By so doing, we want to ensure that there is no opportunism, that individuals stand one day on one party list, and then, within months switch over.
- In future the 15-day period will be linked to a 10 percent requirement. When we implement these constitutional amendments now in June / July 2002, there will be no “ceiling” required from members of a party in the relevant legislature or council.
These provisions will strike the right balance between a degree of flexibility and realism on the one hand, while ensuring that the basic principles of proportional representation are maintained.
More importantly, it gives an opportunity as the ANC to consolidate our efforts on nation building and reconciliation.
Bills currently before the Justice and Constitutional Development Committee
CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AMENDMENT BILL, 2002
This bill amends the Constitution to allow a member of a municipal council to become a member of another party and remain a member of that council. The bill also allows an existing party to merge with another party, or to subdivide into more than one party, while allowing a member of a council affected by such changes to retain membership of that council.
CONSTITUTIONAL OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA SECOND AMENDMENT BILL
This bill amends the Constitution to regulate the allocation of delegates to the National Council of Provinces.
INTERCEPTION AND MONITORING BILL
This bill regulates the interception and monitoring of communications. It provides for the interception of postal articles and communications. The bill also provides for the monitoring of communications in the case of a serious offence or if the security or other compelling national interests of the Republic are threatened.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT BILL
The bill incorporates the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court into South African Law and provides for its implementation and enforcement in South Africa. This would include the arrest of persons and their surrender to the International Criminal Court.
INSOLVENCY AMENDMENT BILL
The bill amends the Insolvency Act, to further regulate the effects of sequestration on employment contracts and the claims for severance and retrenchment pay.
LOSS OR RETENTION OF MEMBERSHIP OF NATIONAL AND PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURES BILL
The bill amends Schedule 2 of the Constitution to enable a member of a legislature to become a member of another party while retaining membership of that legislature; it also enables an existing party to merge with another party, or to subdivide into more than one party.
JUDICIAL OFFICERS AMENDMENT BILL
The bill amends the Magistrates` Courts Act to further regulate the appointment of magistrates. The Supreme Court Act is amended to further regulate the remuneration of judges. Certain definitions are substituted in the Judges` Remuneration and Conditions of Employment Act, which is made applicable throughout the Republic. The offices of Chief Justice of South Africa and President of the Constitutional Court are brought in line with the Constitution. The bill regulates the remuneration of judges and Constitutional Court judges, the discharge of judges from active service, the performance of service by a judge discharged from active service, and the vacation of office by Constitutional Court judges. The bill creates a mechanism to deal with complaints against judges and amends the Magistrates Act so as to further regulate the salaries of magistrates. The bill amends the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-bearers Act, 1997, so as to extend the definition of “office-bearer“ to include judges and magistrates and extends the functions of the Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office-bearers; Finally the bill amends the Public Finance Management Act, 1999, in order to add the salaries and allowances paid to magistrates to Schedule 5 thereof.
PREVENTION OF CORRUPTION BILL
To provide for the prevention of corruption and related offences.
REINSTATEMENT OF ENROLLMENT OF CERTAIN LEGAL PRACTITIONERS BILL
To provide for the reinstatement of the enrolment of legal practitioners since deceased, who were struck off the role of advocates or attorneys as a result of their opposition to apartheid.
The core function of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is to provide a fair, equitable and accessible system of justice.
In the past, South African legislation recognized intellectual property rights only of composers, but not of performers in the music industry. This meant that performers, whose recordings were broadcast on radio stations, had no right to any income. There is a growing recognition that we need to generate an income stream for performers and the Amendments to the Copyright and Performers Protection Acts enacted earlier this year 2002. These Acts provide for a royalty payment to performers whose work is broadcast. A summary of these bills is as follows:
- The Copyright Amendment Act
This Act passed by parliament provides for regulations to be promulgated to govern the process of negotiating royalty payments to both performers and composers.
- The Performer`s Protection Act
This piece of legislation will require a broadcaster who plays a record to compensate performers as well as composers with a royalty payment set at a level subject to agreement. This law also makes provision for the registration and regulation of collecting societies formed to collect royalties on behalf of composers and performers.
These Acts are a response by the ANC government to a pressing need of our country`s artist, musicians and other performers. These Acts will provide a basis for generating an income stream that will contribute in developing a flourishing musical industry in our country.
The African National Congress, the voice of the voiceless, has once again, in the ongoing effort to uplift the living conditions of our people, introduced the Electronic Communications and Transaction Bill in Parliament`s National Assembly recently. This piece of legislation seeks to give under-serviced communities access to technology and the Internet in general.
The Freedom Charter states that The People Shall Share in the Country`s Wealth! This bill seeks, therefore, to realise this dream.
The Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill acknowledges the fact that, despite having won freedom from apartheid and oppression in 1994, our people are still marginalized and isolated from this country`s economic mainstream. The ANC believes that this legislation will contribute towards increased levels of service delivery in public as well as private institutions. We believe, therefore, that the Electronic Communications Transactions Bill is in keeping with the election manifesto, which calls for the improvement of the lives of our people wherever they stay.
The Bill will empower South Africans to run their own technology in an endeavour to play a meaningful role in the global community. This piece of legislation endorses the fact that more than one person should be involved in the decisions of how to deal with various .ZA issues, the accountability to Internet users of the country and the free flow of ideas of experts in the field of domain administration, including a dispute resolution mechanism.
As the ANC, this is our point of departure that the Internet belongs to the citizens of the world. It also belongs to the public and private sectors, which represent a vast percentage of the world`s citizenry.
This Bill recognises the need for a public-private partnership in encouraging the growth of the Internet. This principle was brought to light by ICANN when it confessed that the original concept of Internet naming and address allocation of “a purely private sector body, based on consensus and consent, has been shown to be impractical”
Worldwide there are disputes and a huge demand for domain names by different sectors such as business, cultural and community groups. There are millions of South Africans who would love to have their names and cultural and other personal identities registered by the domain administrator. But where will they find such an administrator? Will the current administrator be capable of coping with such demand, and resolve any disputes which might arise? A Business Day editorial even declared that ” control of domain names cannot belong to a selected group of people who happen to be largely white” We concur with this observation.
The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Bill
On the 3rd June 2002, the portfolio and select committees of Minerals Energy began a process of conducting hearings on the mineral and petroleum resources development bill. Presentations were heard from various stakeholders in the mining industry. These include new entrants in the industry, agriculture and environmental sectors, organised labour and individuals.
The fundamental principles of the bill include;
- Recognising the internationally accepted right of the State to exercise sovereignty over all the mineral resources within the Republic.
- Giving effect to the principle of the State`s custodianship of the nation`s mineral resources.
- Promoting equitable access to the nation`s mineral resources to all the people of South Africa.
- Expanding opportunities for historically disadvantaged persons to enter the mineral industry to benefit from the exploitation of the nation`s mineral resources.
- Promoting economic growth and development in the Republic.
- Providing for security of tenure in respect of prospecting and mining operations; giving effect to section 24 of the Constitution by ensuring that the nation`s mineral resources are developed in an orderly and ecologically sustainable manner.
Each stakeholder has submitted a compelling set of concerns or arguments geared towards satisfying its particular case or circumstances. In arriving at a truly representative legislative framework, the committee will have to take into consideration issues of national interests. These include the following: National and foreign direct investment directed at economic growth; job creation and skills development; environmental management and social upliftment; the levelling of playing fields and the bringing in of new entrants.
It is therefore imperative that all South Africans (irrespective of their political affiliation, race, religion or any personal interests) should focus their efforts on ensuring that this piece of legislation assist us in building our nation and creating a better life for all.
The ANC, through its study group will ensure that we strike a balance between these sectorial, if not sometimes competing interests. In so doing, we would have fulfilled our sole mandate and objective of producing a balanced piece of legislation that will ensure that mining truly becomes an industry that benefits all the South African people.
When looking at the fundamental objectives of the bill, one can clearly see that this piece of legislation breathes life into the third clause of the freedom charter; the people shall share in the country`s wealth.
Our people must cease this opportunity provided by this particular piece of legislation which opens up to starting businesses in the mining of lime, gravel, sand, gold, diamond, coal etc. It will encourage the forming of co-ops, in order for our people to be significant players in this important part of the economy. In addition, our environment will be better maintained for both this current generation and for those who will come after us. Workers in the mines will cease to be treated like pieces of machinery; rather they will be accorded human dignity and respect.
Sizabalazela ilizwe lokhokho bethu!
Sizabalazela ilizwe labantu abamnyama!
Peter Mokaba joins a parade of honor: Alfred Nzo, Govan Mbeki, Steven Tshwete, Curnick Ndlovu
Delivered at Farewell ceremony hosted
We live and speak no longer conscious of our
I know that in our hearts
Today is another battle we face
It is time for all of us
By Lechesa Tsenoli
MEC Local Government and Housing, Free State
Heroic one pass on
The revolution loses champions
People and the revolution itself