January 29, 2020

Briefs that show it all: Members can have opinions, but don't get to choose the facts

"Members have a right to their own opinions, but not to their own facts". This was the conclusion of a brief, but possibly much-needed history lesson by the DA’s Cathlene Labuschagne, who put forward a motion noting “incorrect claims about the DA” made by the Minister in the Presidency, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She is alleged to have said that the apartheid-era National Party had merged with the DA and, further, that the DA has existed for over 300 years.

Labuschagne traced the DA’s origins to the formation of the Progressive Party in 1959, which then became the Progressive Reform Party and later the Progressive Federal Party (PFP).

She went into some detail about, among others, the NP becoming the NNP, which later formed a coalition with the ANC in the Western Cape, and then dissolved into the ANC in 2005, before concluding that “it is important for public representatives of the South African people to know the facts and never deliberately spread false information to divert attention from their own failures”.

Will this Bill ever be passed?

Whatever has become of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill (MPRDA), last heard of on its way for a third visit to the National Council of Provinces, where it seems to have disappeared.

This Bill, which had alarmed some with suggestions that mining companies intending to export minerals from South Africa would first have to apply for a licence from the mineral resources minister, and quotas would be introduced on export volumes. MDRDA has been in the legislative pipeline since the beginning of 2013, and got as far as the President in January 2015 before being returned to Parliament for further deliberation.

Rumours abound that after these five years of deliberation the new mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe is now trying to toss the whole Bill down an unused mining shaft and return to the old Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) which has been good enough for the sector during all this time.

SA needs to join Global TB Caucus

A draft resolution proposed by the National Council of Provinces (the upper chamber of Parliament), with the concurrence of the National Assembly, has been tabled to establish a South African Chapter of the Global TB Caucus.

The NCOP notes that TB is the leading cause of death in South Africa and that there is a need for a South African Chapter of the Global TB Caucus, which will help raise awareness of the TB epidemic. It is hoping this will support efforts to accelerate the elimination of the disease by 2030 in line with targets set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The NCOP wants the South African Chapter of the Global TB Caucus to drive efforts in the country and in their constituencies to bring an end to the disease.

The SA Chapter will be non-partisan, open to any parliamentarians, who will be called on to volunteer. The aim is a body comprising five Members of the National Assembly and nine Members from the National Council of Provinces.

Parliament question time is how we keep Ministers accountable

Or should be able to. A total of 2,386 written questions had been put to our 34 Cabinet Ministers, President and Deputy President by 4 September, in terms of parliamentary rules 146(3) and 143(1).

This is an excellent gauge to measure which issues matter most to South Africans, as our elected representatives are mandated to ask these questions on citizens’ behalf.

It seems our chief concern is the provision of health services. Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi was inundated with 361 questions. Crime is also clearly a concern as Minister of Police Bheki Cele came next and was asked 186 questions, followed by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga (148 questions), Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor (144 questions) and Minister of Transport Bonginkosi Nzimande (128 questions).

It is also a great barometer to reveal Ministers’ performance. To date, only 278 questions remain unanswered, with Dr Motsoaledi failing to provide most, at 68 unanswered questions, three times more than the next defaulting minister. Though this probably says more about the number of questions he was asked than his ability to answer.

Our Cabinet Ministers clearly find oral question time in the House much easier. They faced only 115 questions and failed to answer just 27.

Handing over of title deeds reflect slow land reform

The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform confirmed in Parliament in response to a question from the DA that since April 2015 the title deeds for 524 farms have been handed over to new owners, through a combination of successful restitution claims and the redistribution of land.

The restitution process has been applied most effectively in Mpumulanga where 352 new farms owners received their title deeds, mostly through the restitution process.

The other provinces show very mixed results. During the past three years the title deeds for only three farms have been handed over in the E Cape. One of the farms used to be owned by national government and is now in the hands of the Imikhonde - Masibambane Mikhonde Communal Property Association. A second farm in the province is in the process of being transferred to the Likhayalethu CPA, known as the Double Drift Community, from the estate of a Mr P Jacobs. The title deeds in both cases were handed over in March 2018.

Curiously, a third transation in the E Cape is listed but no details are provided at all about the new or former owners, or the date on which the title deeds were transferred or even the GPS coordinates of the farm.

In the Western Cape, title deeds have been handed to only two CPAs during the same period. The Ebenhaeser Communal Property Association received the deeds to seven farms in July and August 2016. The Beeswater Griqua CPA is currently in the process of transferring the Beeswater Farm, previously owned by F Masura.

Free State has also accomplished very little in redistribution of farmlands. The title deeds to a single farm were handed over

While 22 farms have been redistributed and title deeds handed over to new owners in the province of KZN in the last three years, land restitution has not touched that vast area. Given King Zwelethini’s response to the EEF/ANC talk of amending the Constitution to permit restitution without compensation, that comes as no surprise.

Last modified on Monday, 03 September 2018 23:49

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Notes from the House is an independent online publication that tracks and monitors Parliament’s role in fulfilling its constitutional responsibilities to improve the lives of South African citizens. Published by Moira Levy with the support of the Claude Leon Foundation.

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