Hon Chair, hon Deputy President, hon members of this House, colleagues, comrades and the people of South Africa to whom this Bill is directed as beneficiaries, the enactment of the Legal Metrology Bill will underpin the quality and credibility of regulatory instruments in the health, safety, environmental and trade domains. It will do this through traceability of measurement and development of technical regulations.
Metrology is the science of measurement and its application. It represents something we value so much in our own country. It represents trust in the results obtained. South Africa's national metrology system represents infrastructure that enables the performance and application of measurement for purposes that mirror the economic and social core of our nation.
South Africa is committed to industrialisation to create jobs and grow the economy. Our strategic trade underpins industrialisation. South Africa's standards, quality assurance and metrology regulatory entities work together seamlessly to ensure our products and goods meet international requirements.
The Legal Metrology Bill strengthens South Africa's planned priorities, the Industrial Policy Action Plan, the New Growth Path and the National Development Plan.
The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications will, through this Bill - and this is what is so important - put the imprimatur stamp of sound metrology and quality assurance on all goods produced or manufactured in our great country, South Africa. [Applause.]
The Legal Metrology Bill will ensure uniformity of and conformity to measurement requirements. With regard to those who flout the law, leading to a loss of credibility of our products and services, and even loss of lives - of infants, mothers and even you yourselves, should you be in an accident - we say "thank heaven there is a 10-year penalty for our courts to consider." [Laughter.]
Indeed, the purpose of the Legal Metrology Bill, I want to repeat and repeat as a mantra, is to give confidence to you and me, me in my urban area and you in your rural areas, where sometimes you think we do not hear you. This will ensure that your lives get even greater protection.
When you fill up your car, and more importantly when buying your groceries and so on, you can be sure that you are getting the weight that is printed on the label. During blood pressure measurement blood pressure scales get you five different measurements, and you are not sure what to believe. [Interjections.] That is going to change. Don't tell me that you haven't had your blood pressure measured!
Is this a new thing? No, it is not a new thing. It has been going on for more than 5 000 years. As countries - perhaps there weren't countries then - as nation states and societies, they said it was important for their authorities, their governments or their states to take these measurements into account to protect them. Hence, a symbiotic relationship developed between the state and measurements to provide protection and services, and to plan and defend them, and in turn, of course, to raise the necessary revenue.
The ANC government has always been committed to developing an enabling environment in which people, especially formerly economically and politically dispossessed people, could and can now rely on the state to provide such protection and facilitate an architecture that is equitably driven so that you can thrive no matter where you are living in South Africa. You know that what you manufacture or produce will get a standard and imprimatur stamped on it so that it can successfully compete internationally.
Let me tell you, for the ordinary businessman worried about his pocket, when ships are overloaded they have to be unloaded due to what has happened and this has to be reported in the media. Here goods have been found to be overweight and had to be unloaded at great cost to whoever produced them, who were hoping to benefit from the profits.
How long did we go on before we came about? I said it was 5000 years ago that it started, but in modern history most of us in the House have heard of the French Revolution. Well, apart from anything else, that was also a revolution about the haves and the have-nots. It was about feudalism, those in charge of the feudal system and their right to nonuniformity and inconsistency in measures and units to the detriment of the poor, the have nots. This contributed to the inequalities and ensured inconsistency of measures, and even fraud and constant disputes.
Indeed, one of the victories of the French Revolution was the establishment of a uniform system of weights and measures, out of which grew the metric system. We are all working with this, and South Africa is pioneering steps forward. We are determined in South Africa to overcome the current challenges in this regard through the Legal Metrology Bill.
Land is, of course, another sensitive issue. It's a highly critical issue that will also benefit from measurements relating to prescribed purposes as designated in the Bill. The Legal Metrology Bill should be seen as an overarching Bill on measurement, really overarching. For example, in the sale of land or property it is applied to any such transaction. The regulations that are prescribed there will take into account the existing legislation. Thus the concerns that we raised in this regard will fall away.
Now, one vital issue is of fees. The private sector said their business would be taken away: "Oh, you are undercutting us!" The fact of the matter is that the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications has a fixed scale of fees and verification fees are charged accordingly. They are acknowledged by the private sector. We know that the private sector has to charge market rates - fair enough. Nevertheless, there is a sound working relationship between the two sectors. They work together very well.
They are also both experiencing shortages of staff in different directions. May I add with respect to legal metrology that they have also introduced an intern system. There are 11 interns and a training system is under way, and, yes, they are working together with the private sector. They are saying, "Let us see where we can fill in here and there." When expertise is lacking, of course, they make themselves available.
This is not a simple technical Bill. It is a Bill whose enactment and implementation will directly improve the quality of life of all South Africans, especially the most vulnerable who don't have the resources to contest metrology challenges.
The ANC therefore supports this important piece of legislation. I have every reason to believe that every member of this House will support this. I thank you. [Applause.]