Tension arose in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) sitting during the budget vote debate of Sport, Arts and Culture on Friday. This came as the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) member Fanie Du Toit made comments about ethnicity and calling on other ethnic groups to erect their own statutes instead of destroying the statues of other groups.
This was triggered by Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Member of Parliament Mmabatho Mokause, who called for the apartheid and colonial statues to be removed and placed in an apartheid museum. It was the last sitting of the NCOP for 2019.
Before bidding one another farewell, the NCOP members passed various budget votes and bills.
Mokause was critical, not only calling for the removal of statues, but also for Die Stem version to be removed from the National Anthem.
“We need to stop celebrating and honouring things that caused us so much pain. We need to remove apartheid statues with no apologies, particularly here in Parliament and take them to a dedicated apartheid museum as a reminder of our future generation, under the theme: ‘Never again’. We need to recognise the pain that Die Stem caused to the majority of our people and the symbol it still has to arch racist and that having Die Stem still as part of our National Anthem is offensive to the memories of all those who were killed by the racist government. Die Stem must fall with no apologies.”
FF-Plus’s Fanie Du Toit reacted to Mokause’s statement.
“If you do not know where your roots are, you don’t know where you are heading. Honourable chair, removing cultural statues that belong to a certain ethic group is not the solution. It’s turning a blind eye. If it is so offensive to other members in the House, I can make the example of having a stone and then putting it under the rug. They are going to fall over it all the time. The Freedom Front Plus suggests that other ethnic groups also put up statues of their own.”
African National Congress Member of the NCOP China Dodovu took offence and told Fanie Du Toit that he was out of order for his comments on ethnicity.
“Honourable Chair, I am calling a point of order because this Honourable Member is misleading the house. He is saying that we don’t know our roots; we don’t know where we come from; and we don’t know where he is coming from. We know where he is coming from! And when he came to this country! Therefore, he is misleading the country when he says we don’t know our roots and we don’t know his roots. We know his roots!”
It did not end there. House Chairperson Winnie Ngwenya’s hands were full as calls were made for Du Toit to withdraw his comments.
NCOP passes bills
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) passed five Bills that include the Adjustments Appropriation Bill, the Hydrographic Bill and three Taxation Bills.
The Adjustments Appropriations Bill was tabled with the 2019 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament by the Minister of Finance on 30 October 2019, outlining the budget priorities of the government for the medium-term estimates. The Money Bills and Related Matters Act, No. 9 of 2009 (as amended) provides that “after the National Assembly passed the Adjustments Appropriation Bill, the Bill must be referred to the National Council of Provinces and referred to the Select Committee on Appropriations.” Accordingly, the NCOP referred the Bill to the Committee for concurrence on 04 December 2019.
The three Taxation Bills, namely the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, the Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill, and the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill were part of Minister of Finance, Mr Tito Mboweni’s, Budget announcements on 20 February.
The Taxation Laws Amendment Bill proposals affect individual savings and employment tax, business tax, Value Added Tax and the Customs and Excise Act. A key proposal is an amendment to the tax treatment of surviving spouses’ pension. The amendment seeks to lessen the financial burden when calculating taxes, which retirement funds may withhold on spousal pensions. The amendment becomes effective on 1 March 2021. The original effective date, 1 March 2020, has been postponed for administrative reasons, to enable SARS and taxpayers to ready their systems for the changes.
The Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill was formally introduced on 30 October, when Minister Mboweni presented the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement. This Bill makes technical corrections to the Income Tax Act, 1962; the Customs and Excise Act, 1964; the Value Added Tax Act, 1991; the Skills Development Levies Act, 1999; the Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act, 2002 (to align time periods for a refund under this Act to the Tax Administration Act of 2011); and the Tax Administration Act, 2011.
The Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill deals with changes in rates and monetary thresholds, changes to personal income tax tables, increases of excise duties on alcohol and tobacco and adjustments to the eligible income bands that qualify for the employment tax incentive.
The Hydrographic Bill aims to, amongst others, provide for the establishment of the Hydrographic Office; provide for the safety of navigation in the – exclusive economic zone and internal waters of the Republic, and ensure that hydrographic surveying is done in accordance with the requirements of internationally accepted specifications and standards.
The sitting also considered and adopted two Committee reports – one by the Select Committee on Land Reform, Environment, Mineral and Energy Resources on the “Legislation relating to the domestic trade in Rhinoceros Horns” and the other on the Select Committee on Appropriations’ “Proposed division of revenue and the Conditional Grant allocations to provinces and Local Government.”