President Jacob Zuma’s Oral Replies to Questions in the National Council of Provinces, 25 October 2016
ê1. Mr B G Nthebe (North West: ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
What is the influence of the (a) rating agencies and (b) results of their findings on the different agreements and commissions entered into between South Africa and other countries (details furnished)?
Credit rating agencies assess the ability of debtors to pay back the money they owe. Depending on their assessment, they then issue credit ratings for sovereign borrowers such as our government.
Since most countries depend on international investors and access to international capital markets, good credit ratings are very important. They determine the cost of borrowing money and give an indication to international investors whether to invest in a country or not.
Our Government approaches economic policy, including fiscal policy prudently. It always seeks to ensure that there is macroeconomic stability and public finances are sustainable.
There is no doubt that adhering to this approach has helped preserve South Africa’s credit rating.
We take the agencies and their work very seriously because it is also another mechanism through which governments take stock of the work they do and ensure continuous improvements in governance.
While ratings agencies are an important feature on the world economy, they do not necessarily impact on agreements between countries.
I thank you.
Mr W F Faber (Northern Cape: DA) to ask the President of the Republic:
What is his position on South Africa’s economic stability, given the ongoing investigation into the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan?
The economic stability of the country is paramount, given that we are faced by three critical challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
We need economic stability and inclusive growth to enable us to respond to these challenges.
The National Development Plan outlines the goals we want to achieve, which will enable us to improve the living conditions of our people.
We are currently working together with business and labour to stabilise the economy and to reignite growth.
The recent events regarding allegations, and lately charges preferred by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) against the Minister of Finance are a concern to all of us, including the investor communities.
As Cabinet we have expressed our full support of the Minister, while respecting the independence of law enforcement and prosecution authorities.
The Minister has also received public support from various stakeholders in the country since the announcement of the charges, including business, religious leaders and community organisations.
The support is being expressed because of the belief in the rule of law and in the fact that the Minister has not been found guilty of any crime.
He is innocent until found guilty by a competent court of law like all citizens.
I thank you.
ê3. Mr T C Motlashuping (North West: ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
(a) What are the advantages of establishing the Presidential State-Owned Enterprises Coordinating Council with a similar structure to the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission and (b) what role will it play in socio-economic transformation?
In 2010 I commissioned a review of all State Owned Entities in South Africa through the Presidential Review Committee (PRC) on State Owned Entities, whose report was accepted by Cabinet in 2013.
Among other things, the Committee recommended that an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on SOE reforms should be established as a precursor to the formation of the SOE Council of Ministers.
In 2015 I established the IMC on SOE reforms chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The IMC has recommended the setting up of an SOE Council to be chaired by the President. The Council has not been established yet.
This was based on the recent successes in coordinating the work of various spheres of government.
An example is our Infrastructure programme which is coordinated through the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC).
The PICC brings together Ministers, Premiers and Executive Mayors. This central coordination brought about by the PICC has improved our work and has enabled quicker consultation and decision making, and more efficient monitoring of progress.
Government continues to work hard to find solutions to ensure that the SOEs function more efficiently and effectively.
I thank you.
ê4. Mr M Khawula (KwaZulu-Natal: IFP) to ask the President of the Republic:
(1) Whether, with reference to his 2016 State of the Nation Address to hold engagements and debates to move the seat of Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria, the engagements and debates have started; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details;
(2) whether such movement is still relevant; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details?
I want to emphasise first and foremost that the decision to relocate Parliament from Cape Town to Pretoria lies squarely within the ambit of Parliament. It is not a matter for the Executive to decide upon.
We have however expressed our views on the matter given the advantages we think will accrue to the fiscus.
In preparations for engagement with Parliament, the Department of Public Works was tasked by Cabinet to further investigate the merits of relocation.
An interdepartmental task team comprising government departments that contribute to the optimal functioning of Parliament was also constituted.
The task team comprises a few departments with specific tasks.
The National Treasury is looking at financial and budgetary implications. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is focusing on the legislative requirements and processes.
The Department of Public Service and Administration is looking into the administrative and human capital implications. The Department of Transport looks at the logistics and transport implications.
The South African Police Service is looking into the security and safety implications while the Department of Labour is investigating the human resource implications.
Importantly, the Department of Public Works, as a custodian of public infrastructure and an accommodation service department to Parliament, is also engaging with Parliament on a review of previous needs analysis and the space audits conducted in 2006/2007.
Also being looked at are the needs of Parliament, including the space requirements for residential accommodation for Members of Parliament, parliamentary office bearers and leaders as well as administrative support staff.
An examination of the costs of upgrading the existing Parliament precinct to meet the current space requirements, and those of constructing a new Parliament Precinct in Pretoria is also being done.
Government is also examining the benefits and challenges that are likely to follow from the change of the seat of Parliament.
This is informed by preliminary Socio-economic Impact Studies done by the Department of Public Works as part of normal feasibility studies done in considering state accommodation options.
The preliminary analysis continues to point to the same conclusions derived from previous studies in 1995, 1997 and 2011.
These indicated that in the long term, the cost to relocate the legislative authority from Cape Town to Pretoria will be significantly less than maintaining the status quo.
The negative impact includes the potential loss of income for the City of Cape Town and potential job losses in the finance and business sectors providing services to Parliament.
There are also indications that should the relocation to Pretoria be given effect, a significant portion of the redundant State-owned accommodation serving the Parliamentary function could be appropriated by accommodating various other Government departments.
Let me reiterate again that the seat of the legislature is a call for Parliament to make. However the Executive will continue to provide support and information to persuade Parliament to consider the big expenditure item of maintaining two capitals.
I thank you.
Ms B A Engelbrecht (Gauteng: DA) to ask the President of the Republic:
Why has a certain person (name furnished) been reappointed as the Chairperson of the South African Airways even though its losses for the 2014/15 financial year were at R5.6 billion?
The re-appointment of the South African Airways Board Chairperson was approved by Cabinet, having considered all the relevant factors.
The chairperson works with the collective to achieve the goals set by the shareholder, which is government, represented by the Minister of Finance.
The SAA is being assisted by government to stabilise. Government is optimistic that the new collective appointed to the Board will achieve the necessary turnaround that the company needs, guided by the shareholder, the Minister of Finance.
I thank you.
ê6. Mr L P M Nzimande (KwaZulu-Natal: ANC) to ask the President of the Republic:
What progress has been made regarding Operation Phakisa in relation to its main objectives (details furnished)?
Operation Phakisa is a methodology that helps us to deliver government programmes and projects faster and more efficiently.
Major milestones are being attained towards achieving the aims of Operation Phakisa.
To date, delivery laboratories have been convened focusing on the ocean economy, creating the ideal clinic in the health sector, promoting the use of information communication technologies in education, enhancing growth in the mining sector, advancing growth in the environmental sector and tourism, as well as advancing growth in agriculture and agro-processing.
Since its inception in July 2014 the Ocean Economy component of Operation Phakisa has unlocked 17 billion rand in both public sector and private sector investments.
The components of the Ocean Economy Phakisa are: Maritime Transport and Manufacturing; Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration; Aquaculture and Marine Protection Services and Governance; Coastal and Marine Tourism and Small Harbours Development.
With respect to Operation Phakisa in the health sector, a total of 414 Primary Health Care facilities have been transformed into ideal clinics providing efficient quality health care, since implementation commenced in 2015. Our target is that by 2019, a total two thousand eight hundred and twenty three primary health care facilities should be ideal.
On education, the aim is to make ICT a primary tool of teaching and learning. Since Operation Phakisa in the Basic Education Sector was launched, an additional two thousand four hundred and thirty (2,430) schools have been connected.
The Government’s vision is for all twenty four thousand public schools to be connected to the internet. To date, 54% of schools have been connected.
A key challenge remains the exorbitant costs of broadband in our country. However, measures are being implemented to address this.
The report from the Mining component of Operation Phakisa has been finalised and will be made public once approved by Cabinet, in the course of 2016. The implementation of the proposed initiatives will then commence in earnest.
A delivery lab on Bio-diversity was completed in May 2016. The aim of this lab was to enhance the economic potential of South Africa’s natural resources.
The Delivery Lab on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is currently underway, and will be completed by the end of 2016.
Government is firmly on course with the implementation of Operation Phakisa, and it has introduced a new way of implementing our programmes successfully.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency