LIVE BLOG: Inter-Ministerial Committee on employment of foreign nationals to be set up

President Cyril Ramaphosa, during a virtual reply to oral questions, briefs the National Assembly on among others government’s fight against gender-based violence and femicide and the combating of corruption in the public and private sectors.

"We are therefore strengthening financial, human resource and other management systems to reduce the risk of unlawful conduct by any person in the public service."

"While all wrongdoers must face the full might of the law, our priority is to ensure that corruption does not occur in the first place."

"To ensure action against those who transgress these laws, systems have been put in place through the Personnel Salary System – PERSAL – and the Central Supplier Database to identify public servants who tender for contracts with the State."

"This criminalised the act of public administration employees conducting business with the State."

"In 2019, I extended this provision to the whole of the public administration, when Section 8 of the Public Administration Management Act, 2014 was brought into effect by means of a proclamation."

"In 2016, Government reviewed the Code of Conduct for Public Service employees to prohibit public service employees from conducting business with the State, be it in a personal capacity or as a director in a company that conducts business with the State."

"At the same time, we have worked to strengthen the measures inside government to minimise the potential for corrupt activities."

"Over the last two years, significant progress has been made in strengthening institutions like the NPA, the Hawks, SARS, the SIU and others so that they are able to detect, investigate and prosecute all acts of corruption.

"The Committee will also need to ensure that our approach to the employment of foreign nationals provides the scarce and critical skills that we need to grow our economy."

"The IMC will also review decisions on special dispensation work permits, amendments to our Immigration Act and Employment Services Act and Labour Migration Management."

"The IMC will provide guidance on matters such as existing labour supply agreements, trade relations and transportation agreements. It will also address criminality and related security matters across our borders."

"Convened by the Minister of Employment and Labour and co-chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs, this IMC will deal with the migration of foreign nationals for employment and related opportunities."

"To ensure a coherent and sustainable solution to these challenges, Cabinet has recently established an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on the Employment of Foreign Nationals."

"By the same measure, we need to understand and respond to the frustrations of many South Africans at the violation of immigration laws and other regulations by those companies that employ foreign nationals illegally."

"This means, among other things, that we need to look at migration, employment & economic activity. As we do so, we should avoid the populist temptation to blame our unemployment crisis on foreign nationals working in our country, either legally or illegally."

"The unemployment crisis in our country has been dramatically deepened by the economic effects of the global coronavirus pandemic. We are therefore called upon to use every means at our disposal to rebuild our economy, protect existing jobs & create new jobs."

"Government remains committed to improving education and health outcomes, and reducing poverty, as shown by the size of allocations to the learning and culture, health and social development functions over the medium term."

"Improving efficiency – meaning that government will have to do more with less – is a necessity. For example, more will need to be done using communication technology instead of spending money on accommodation & subsistence and travel costs."

As a consequence of our decisive and absolutely necessary response to this pandemic, Government debt is expected to reach R3.9 trillion in 2020/21.
 
This does not include the debt of state-owned companies.

"If the SIU finds evidence that a criminal offence has been committed, it is obliged to refer such evidence to the prosecuting authority. It is also empowered to institute civil proceedings for the recovery of any damages or losses incurred by the state."

Government will incorporate technology to reduce corruption in tenders.

ACDP'S Kenneth Meshoe says the ANC is a sinking Titanic.

R11 billion of the COVID-19 relief fund has been spent on PPE.

"The measures that we are taking will definitely lead to procurement reform that will ensure that we find solutions to many procurement maladies, including corruption, and ensure that government does not overpay for goods & services and gets value for money."

Ramaphosa denies that he is advancing the interests of the ANC over the country.

Government is looking into special courts for COVID-19 corruption.

"We now need to look at the tendering system as a whole."

Ramaphosa says doing away with the PPE tendering system is a good idea and government should do insourcing but that government does not have the capabilities right now.

Malema says the CR17 campaign donor documents must be unsealed so that the public can see whether or not donors were given PPE tenders.

Crime-fighting entities must be strengthened to fight corruption, fraud by government, Ramaphosa says.

The Gumede issue is being discussed in ANC structures Rama

Ramaphosa says it is not the president's duty to arrest people. If that happens, then democracy ceases to exist. He says he can't go out and investigate Gumede. His job is to set up institutions to investigate.

Ramaphosa says the public anger over corruption is justifiable.

Steenhuisen asks is Ramaphosa supports Gumede's appointment.

Steenhuisen says the ANC is incapable of self-correcting. He makes an example of Zandile Gumede being brought to the KZN Legislature while accused of fraud.

Ramaphosa says the money being spent is the people's money and they deserve to know how it is spent.

Ramaphosa says this is a watershed moment marking a new era in the procurement of goods by public entities. This will lead to procurement reform. It will ensure government does not overspend for goods.

The names of those awarded tenders will be made public on the Treasury website as well as how much they received.

Ramaphosa says the entire procurement process must be made much more transparent.

National Treasury has taken effective steps to tighten procurement regulations to audit all COVID-19 expenditure.

Ramaphosa has instructed the SIU to probe COVID-19 looting.

Ramaphosa now addresses the looting of COVID funds. "It is disgraceful that at this time of national crisis, that there are companies who seek to criminally benefit from our efforts to save lives."

The issue of the employment of social workers is top of mind for me, says Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa says he'd like to see more of these shelters being set up.

More shelters are being built for victims of GBV.

Ramaphosa says the GBV Council will ensure the DNA backlogs and cases are dealt with.

"I am very hopeful that the efforts that we have put in place and have been initiated by civil society and women organizations of our country will make a great success of dealing with GBV&F against the women of our country."

"As a country, we remain determined to uproot the scourge of violence against our daughters, our mothers, our sisters, our grandmothers and our children."

"The National Council will be inclusive of all South Africans, including women from urban and rural areas, and different cultural, racial and class backgrounds. The members will be appointed through a transparent process of public nomination and selection."

"We need to ensure there is transparency, effectiveness and accountability [on GBV]." He says if MPs want to set up their own structure in Parliament, so be it. Ramaphosa says he just wants to ensure that the work gets done and is not another talk shop.

"At the same time, a major focus of our work has been on changing norms & behaviour through high-level prevention efforts, such as a mass media campaign & engagements with men’s groups, offenders in prison and youth at risk."

"Five new Thuthuzela Care Centres are to be established and will be operational by the end of March 2021."

"Working with our partners in civil society, we have managed to improve access to justice for victims and survivors and have improved our capacity to investigate and prosecute gender-based violence perpetrators."

"Three amendment Bills intended to strengthen the response of our criminal justice system have been approved by Cabinet and are in the process of being introduced into Parliament."

"For example, we have upgraded 11 sexual offences courts and implemented a system to track the processing of #GBVF related cases.
 
We have improved the supply of sexual assault evidence kits, which are now available in all police stations."

"We are not doing little, we are doing much more."

Hundreds of social workers have been deployed around the country.

Ramaphosa says the GBV council won't just be a talk shop.

"We are attending to that... we are making progress," says Ramaphosa.

The DA's Steenhuisen asks what government is going to do to tackle the backlog of DNA test kits in police stations.

"However, even as the National Strategic Plan was being developed we had to confront the reality that the violence perpetrated by men against women and children had become a national emergency that required urgent and decisive action."

Government is committed to ensuring the funds are set aside.

An oversight council will ensure the funds are spent on GBV programmes.

"The strategic plan provides for a governance structure in the form of a multi-sectoral Gender-based Violence and Femicide Council to lead the implementation of the Plan."

Over R1billion has been set aside to fight GBV

"The struggle to end gender-based violence and femicide succeed only if society as a whole is mobilised and organised behind a common programme of action."

"The National Strategic Plan recognises that the struggle against gender-based violence and femicide requires collective, cohesive and strategic leadership."

"Following the Presidential Summit against Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in November 2018, and after an extensive consultation process, a National Strategic Plan was adopted by Cabinet.
 
The implementation of the Plan began on 1 May 2020."

"The struggle to end GBV and femicide can only succeed if society as a whole is mobilised and organized behind a common programme of action."

Ramaphosa resumes his reply.

The DA objects to being called racist by the EFF. Modise rules that everyone's mics are muted.

The EFF is upset that it is being said they are late. Malemahas been let in.

Member remains stern against the EFF.

Mkhaliphi says members were early but could not log in, so it is unfair to proceed without them.

Speaker Thandi Modise rules that the session must continue as members are let in. Mkhaliphi says it is unfair.

As Ramaphosa begins to address gender-based violence, EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphe raises a point of order that some EFF members are not in the video meeting as they are in the waiting room. ANC Chief Whip suggests that while they are being let in,the business of the day continues.

Ramaphosa sends sympathies and condolences for all those who've died due to COVID-19 and other related causes.

These are the questions Ramaphosa will be responding to. 

The President will reply to oral questions in an online engagement today which follows a similar interaction on 18 June 2020.

President Ramaphosa will outline the progress of government in responding to the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide, and will update the nation on measures to fight corruption in the procurement of goods and services in relation to COVID-19 personal protection equipment.

The President will also discuss South Africa’s fiscal responsibilities to meet service delivery obligations in reducing inequality, unemployment and poverty in the context of the country’s debt exposure, and will outline action against public officials and civil servants who conduct business with government. 

WATCH LIVE: 

President Cyril Ramaphosa replies to questions in the National Assembly