Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon members, in its 1992 policy document titled Ready to Govern, the ANC asserted that the rights of the child would be protected, as would environmental rights, the rights of disabled people, and the right not to be discriminated against or subjected to harassment because of sexual orientation.
On the occasion of the World Day Against Child Labour, the International Labour Organisation's Global Report revealed that 36% of all children between the ages of five and 14 in Southern and Eastern Africa were involved in child labour, with most of them working in the domestic and agricultural sectors.
The ANC government has done a lot to curb the problem of child labour in South Africa. According to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, it is a criminal offence to employ a child younger than 15 years of age - except in the performing arts, with a permit from the Department of Labour. A child aged between 15 and 18 may not be employed to do work that is inappropriate for their age or work that places them at risk.
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act further states that any work performed by a child should not be exploitative, hazardous or otherwise inappropriate for the child's age; nor may it be detrimental to the child's schooling or social, physical, mental, spiritual or moral development.
The newly promulgated Child Justice Act provides innovative ways to deal with children who have been involved in either offences where they were used by adults to commit crime or commercial sexual exploitation. Yet, despite the above efforts, there is an unacceptably high incidence of child labour in certain parts of South Africa. These incidents are widespread throughout South Africa.
Any incident of child labour should be condemned, regardless of where it happens in South Africa. Over the past few years, and recently, the North West province has drawn the attention of the country as one of the hot spots insofar as this evil of child labour is concerned. In June 2011, an underage boy named Molefe Mogale lost his hand while operating a machine on the farm where he was employed in Rustenburg. A recent report by the SA Human Rights Commission also points a finger at the North West province. The practice of using child labour in this province appears to be rife, in particular in the agricultural sector. We call on the provincial government to investigate this.
It is evident that we are becoming a violent society, especially against children and people with disabilities. The environment in which we live seems to be influencing the generation of the future in a negative way. For instance, children prefer to buy a toy gun, rather than other types of toys. The question is: Why? This is a clear sign of anger among our children; of the wish to defend themselves and to harm the next person. What kind of society are we building? These are challenges that we need to deal with. The ANC calls on the government to increase its monitoring and inspectorate work so that farmers who continue to breach our labour laws are brought to book. We call on parents to embrace education and to make use of the support that has been made available by the ANC government to promote education among the poor.
The ANC also believes that the advancement of women in society is a necessary means to the end of dealing successfully with the triple challenge of unemployment, poverty and inequality. The ANC Women's League expresses this profound vision when it says:
The gender agenda should not be perceived as an -act of charity| or goodwill, given that nonsexism is a strategic objective of the ANC. Central to the task of social transformation is the role of the ANC in government in confronting the challenges of poverty, inequality, unemployment and underdevelopment through the advancement of women and achievement of gender equality.
Society must therefore aim to eliminate the barriers that limit women's equal participation in society and the economy. This can be achieved by making use of existing South African legislation. I am going to request the hon Feldman to listen carefully here. [Interjections.] We have laws such as the Domestic Violence Act of 1998, the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act of 1998, the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act of 2000, as well as the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill, which is currently being processed by Parliament.
I want to ask the hon Feldman this question: Who is supposed to do oversight? We are here as representatives. We are here to ensure that we show compliance with any Act that we pass in this House. We are the ones who must conduct monitoring to ensure that whatever Act we agree on here is implemented on the ground. [Applause.]
The question would then be this: Are we doing enough to educate our people and create public awareness of these laws? I think this is where the hon Feldman comes in. Is that hon member doing what he is supposed to do to teach people on the ground and to conduct public awareness? I think the hon member must do his work and make sure he truly represents the interests of the people of South Africa. [Interjections.]
Under the ANC government women have made substantial progress but much more still needs to be done. Despite the ANC government's efforts to deal with gender issues, women still continue to be abused and raped in horrific ways. We call on the government to tighten the partnership in the Justice cluster so that perpetrators are arrested, prosecuted and convicted with high sentences.
More often than not, incidents of child abuse in large cities are given more attention and are treated as high-profile cases. Less is said about similar incidents in smaller towns and villages. To support my statement, just few months ago, in Kanana township in the North West, a toddler of nine months was raped by a 43-year-old man. The case was reported to the police and a motion was brought to be passed in this House, yet it was never given the same profile and treatment as cases that were recently reported. It is my view that we should give more attention to the people who are less privileged and more downtrodden than to those who reside in big cities. I wish to take this opportunity to thank the community of Kanana for their continued support in ensuring that justice prevails.
Society must appreciate that people with disabilities are human beings who have rights and that they should be respected as such. They are also entitled to receive an education and should be provided with better facilities. They should enjoy equal access to education. We must avoid what happened in the North West province in 2010, where children with disabilities were locked into their rooms due to poor infrastructure and this resulted in the loss of four lives. As a society we need to embrace, support and take care of children with disabilities.
People with disabilities encounter a number of barriers and almost all of these barriers have nothing to do with their physical condition. Instead, they reflect the negative attitudes of society, which are revealed in its failure to support people with disabilities so that they can live fulfilling lives without being made to feel less important. It is outdated ideas that lead to horrific behaviour, which includes situations where families lock up their members who have disabilities at home and do not enable them to interact with society and their environment.
In conclusion, boys and girls must be socialised in a nonsexist manner. This concept should be built into our schools curriculum, from early childhood development level. This should work to eradicate patriarchy and the perception that males are superior to females, which we see resulting in the rising incidence of gender- based violence. As part of this curriculum, children should be taught to appreciate that differences in appearance do not detract from the essence of equality, which is enshrined in the Constitution for the fulfilment of women, children and people with disabilities. The ANC supports this Budget Vote. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF WOMEN, CHILDREN AND PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES:
Chairperson and hon members, I want to thank the members who supported the debate, starting with the hon Mabe, the chairperson of the select committee, who highlighted the progressive laws that we have passed in the past 19 years. We have done so as a democratic Parliament under the leadership of the ANC, starting with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
I also want to say that the recognition of customary marriages does not just protect women. It protects the rights of children as well. Just to add something on the topic of moringa, I want to say that we also have women in KwaZulu-Natal, like ...
... Njengomama uMaureen Magubane eMooi River ... [... Mama Maureen Magubane from Mooi River ...]
... who have set up 20 co-operatives, were given a feeding scheme contract by the MEC for education, Senzo Mchunu, and are now setting up an umbrella co-operative, with the support of the Department of Trade and Industry, so that they can buy wholesale. They are now working on a contract for Simba chips, in terms of which they will produce potatoes for the Simba chips factory in Durban. Whether we like it or not, after 19 years, the ANC government has brought about a better life for our people.
I am not going to waste my time dealing with the lies of the DA and the lies of Cope. Cope must first go to a conference and obtain some leadership, not sit under a tree and then say that they have leadership. [Interjections.]