New Eskom CEO – a legacy executive will not save Eskom

The DA rejects the decision taken by Eskom to confirm the appointment of Dan Marokane, the former CEO of embattled sugar producer Tongaat Hulett, as the new CEO of Eskom. As the former Head of Group Capital at Eskom, Marokane is a legacy executive and as such he will not bring anything different to salvage what is left of an already collapsing entity.

After the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, spent almost a year stalling the process of appointing a new CEO for Eskom, the best that the ANC government could muster is to recycle an old Eskom executive to retain the status quo and keep the nation firmly in the grips of loadshedding.

What Eskom needed as a new CEO was a rank outsider, someone with tried and tested technical and engineering expertise to run aging power stations while at the same time, ramping up capacity to expand generation from renewable energy sources.

We hold the view that Marokane’s appointment does not inspire confidence at all. If anything, it will only perpetuate the culture of impunity that currently exists at the entity as well as Eskom’s worsening financial position, after it incurred a net loss after tax of R23,9 billion for the 2022/2023 financial year.

Having been a former head of group capital for Eskom, at some point in his professional career, Marokane carries part of the blame for the poor financial position that the entity finds itself in.

Should Marokane’s turnaround plan for Eskom, assuming he has one, not include the following 5 urgent and pressing issues, then Marokane should do himself and the country a favour and decline the offer:

  1. Improving the generation capacity at Eskom’s struggling plants and increasing their Energy Availability Factor to reduce load-shedding;
  2. Accelerating the Eskom unbundling process;
  3. Prioritising the connection of renewable energy projects to the grid;
  4. Getting the Koeberg life extension project back on track; and
  5. Fixing Eskom’s poor financial position.

Marokane’s appointment as the new CEO of Eskom confirms that the ANC has learnt nothing from the previous disastrous appointments that they have made at Eskom.

Instead of bringing in technocrats with the requisite technical expertise to manage the country’s ailing SOEs, the ANC has continued with its inward looking and exclusionary policy of cadre deployment.

If South Africa is really looking for a way out of the current loadshedding crisis, then Dan Marokane is definitely not the individual to show it the way out.

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DA increases reward to R1 million for information to find Councillor Ndlovu’s killers

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal can today announce that is now offering R1 million for information that leads to the conviction of those individuals that murdered DA Chief Whip in the uMngeni Municipality, Councillor Nhlalayenza Ndlovu on the 5th of December 2023.

The DA will spare no expense and leave no stone unturned to hold those responsible for this barbaric crime as we seek justice for the Ndlovu family and seek to bring an end to politically motivated killings in KwaZulu-Natal.

Anyone who has information, no matter how small it may be, is urged to contact the uMngeni Municipality private investigator on 082 545 5499.

DA calls on Minister Didiza to find a solution for Botswana export crisis

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP

The DA expresses deep concern regarding the recent announcement of Botswana’s extension of import restrictions on fresh produce from South Africa.

We have taken note of Minister Thoko Didiza’s efforts to engage in discussions through the South African Ambassador to Botswana to address this issue. While we welcome this initiative, it is disconcerting that a meeting date has not yet been established.

Urgently setting a date is crucial, as farmers are already facing significant challenges.

They are producing goods for their markets, and those who have planted crops for Botswana customers are now unable to sell their produce. Adding to the complexity, South Africa lacks mechanisms to shield its farmers from such market disruptions, in contrast to Botswana and other nations that prioritise their farmers through rebates and protectionist measures.

The DA firmly upholds the principles of a free-market economy and discourages any form of anti-competitive market regulations imposed by trading partners. We call upon the ANC government to articulate its position on this matter decisively.

In a recent live television interview, Minister Didiza highlighted the challenges confronting South African farmers, including the impact of the Russian war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, and animal diseases. These issues are compounded by the ANC government’s failure to proactively safeguard farmers from such shocks.

The root causes of the problems affecting farmers lie in poor ANC governance, lack of clear priorities, corruption, mismanagement, and inadequate geopolitical strategies. The ANC’s alignment with communist, war-mongering nations lacking respect for the rule of law further exacerbates the situation, negatively impacting our economy and contributing to rising unemployment.

The DA urges Minister Thoko Didiza and her department to collaborate effectively with Botswana to find a lasting solution for regional farmers. Additionally, we call for transparent and regular communication to keep both farmers and the South African public informed. The DA will be corresponding with the Minister to inquire about the expected dates of engagement and the actions she plans to undertake if Botswana persists in its current stance.

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Health Minister’s ‘Ubuntu’ will bankrupt South Africans and enrich cadres 

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP

The Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla’s remarks yesterday simply proves that the ANC government is unwilling or unable to face the fact that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill is not only widely rejected, it is also unaffordable and will decimate the public and private health sectors.

As for his so-called support for the NHI Bill, the truth is that the South African public, health and economic experts, doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, opposition parties and civic society organisations staunchly opposed the Bill, and continues to do so.

Minister Phaahla’s “Ubuntu” and social solidarity is nothing more than cheap electioneering, when the ANC government is eating while their neighbour (the South African public) is literally going hungry.

His promises are cheap and cruel when mothers are forced to have their babies on hospital floors, when surgeons are forced to perform surgeries by cell phone flashlights, when hospitals and clinics are unsafe, when patients are refused health care, when vulnerable and sick patients do not have access to life-saving medicine and the backlogs for surgeries are staggering. Minister Phaahla’s promises mean nothing to the registrars who wasted two years training as specialists while their Master of Medicine (MMed) specialist degrees were unaccredited or the 991 unplaced applicants of the Internship and Community Service Programme (ICSP).

Under the NHI, the only South Africans that will thrive will be politically connected tenderpreneurs and deployed cadres. Taxpayers will be bled dry, while the corruption and mismanagement will continue to flourish.

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Health Minister must explain non-placement of interns and community service applicants

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP

The DA notes the Department of Health’s statement that 9 395 of the 10 386 applicants were placed in the Internship and Community Service Programme (ICSP). We are however very worried about the 991 unplaced applicants.

The DA will write to the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, in order to gain urgent clarity on why these applicants weren’t placed, when they can be expected to be placed, and how they are being supported. It is ridiculous that nearly 1 000 future medical professionals are unable to complete their internships and community service years without any explanation.

Every year the DA is inundated with worried students and interns being left in the lurch and unable to continue with their training, and this year is no different. We’ve received complaints from doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists who are all extremely worried that they have received no placements, nor any communication in this regard from the Department of Health.

Given the ANC government’s relentless irrational push for the National Health Insurance (NHI), one would assume that the training and capacitation of the health sector would be a primary concern. Yet every year, the Department leaves countless students and interns who spent years studying to become medical professionals in the lurch.

This latest travesty once again proves that the NHI Bill is nothing more than cheap electioneering – or in this case dear electioneering and the cost will be the destruction of both the private and public health sectors.

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DASO rejects over 300 000 state-sponsored student exclusions

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Liam Jacobs

Over 300 000 students stand to be financially excluded thanks to tertiary education funding being cut by approximately R13.7 billion. DASO unequivocally condemns and rejects this.

DASO notes that these budget cuts are happening across various departments but also notes how spending on frivolous line items such as VIP security has not decreased. It is clear that the governing party is governing without any modicum of conscience. It is clear that the government of the day has forsaken the very same human rights it played a role in fighting for.

The Department of Higher Education and the National Treasury are placing the dreams of students across South Africa on hold and they are thus placing the future of South Africa on hold. Many students across South Africa are often the first members of their families to attend tertiary education and thus carry the hopes of their families and communities on their backs.

With the upcoming budget cuts, more and more of these young South Africans will be systemically forced out of higher education by the governing party. This cannot be the case.

Thanks to a Minister who is as effective as an underwater toaster and policy that is as relevant as a typewriter in 2023, higher education in South Africa is undeniably collapsing. It cannot be that higher education is treated as a spaza shop for dodgy tenders and dubious administration and rental costs.

Students across South Africa deserve a new higher education system with a funding model that speaks to the contemporary needs of ordinary South Africans. The DA presents that alternative and continues to advocate for this alternative.

The Department of Higher Education and NSFAS are more than welcome to copy, paste, and apply our policy to ensure that the future of students is safeguarded.

Should this not be realised, DASO will continue to take the fight to DHET and NSFAS in the name of ensuring a just higher education sector in the Republic of South Africa.

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DA appoints an independent task force to bring the murderers of Councillor Ndlovu to justice

Please find attached a soundbite by Solly Malatsi MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) appointed an independent task force of experienced homicide detectives to work with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to bring the murderers of Councillor Nhlalayenza Ndlovu, the DA’s Chief Whip in Umgeni, to swift justice.

The independent investigative task force combines the expertise of experienced South African detectives with top investigators from the FBI and Scotland Yard who successfully brought the perpetrators of political assassinations to justice worldwide.

The task force will use cutting-edge forensics and technology to identify the assassins who pulled the triggers. However, the main focus of the investigation is to identify their cowardly masters who gave the instructions to murder Councillor Ndlovu and to bring them to justice. The communications of the assassins with the faceless cowards who hid in the shadows giving the instructions to murder have already provided vital clues that are being vigorously pursued.

The task force will bring charges based on compelling evidence with the NPA in South Africa and with the International Criminal Court (ICC) where there is a clear precedent to prosecute the perpetrators of pre-election violence for crimes against humanity.

Ongoing political assassinations pose an existential threat to the integrity of the 2024 election. If parties cannot campaign freely for fear of violence and murder, it undermines the freedom and fairness of the election.

In addition, the DA will request an international tribunal to be established to prosecute the cowardly masters of the assassins. The murder of Councillor Ndlovu is not an isolated incident but part of a deliberate and ongoing campaign of terror to target and murder honest officials who have the courage to oppose criminals who prey on communities.

For security reasons the DA is not at this stage disclosing the identity of the independent investigative task force members.

The DA will make further announcements as the investigation progresses.

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Urgent call for Minister of COGTA to sign SADC Disaster Management Protocol

The DA urgently calls on the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Thembi Nkadimeng, to promptly endorse the Southern African Development Community Disaster Management (SADC) protocol. Furthermore, we urge the minister to heed the call made by Minister Naledi Pandor and institutionalise a set of norms and standards equal to that of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG).

Minister Naledi Pandor, in her role as the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), has emphasised the necessity for an emergency operations center for SADC. However, in response to our inquiry (Reference: 3841-2023-11-27), the Minister of COGTA has cited procedural constraints, particularly the need for comments from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJCD) before signing the SADC Disaster Management protocol. This highlights a concerning lack of alignment within the ANC executive regarding emergency operations that impact South Africa both on the international and domestic fronts.

The INSARAG, established within the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, mandates certain guiding principles and standards for member countries, as per resolutions passed in 1991 (57/150 & 46/182). Despite South Africa being a member, the country has yet to meet these established principles.

On February 27, 2014, South Africa formulated and published the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Framework Policy, aimed at developing USAR capacity in the country. Regrettably, adherence to these guiding principles has not been achieved to date.

Urban Search and Rescue is a complex, multi-disciplinary skill requiring international technical rescue certification (NFPA 1006) as issued by the South African Emergency Services Institute (SAESI) or Advanced Medical Rescue Certification (SAQA 64229).

The Department’s inconsistent approach, neglecting critical aspects outlined in the INSARAG guidelines, such as funding arrangements, capacity requirements, regulations, and entities mandated to participate in Emergency Search and Rescue (ESAR) and SADC activities, jeopardizes the safety not only of South Africa’s rescue personnel but also compromises joint efforts conducted by the country.

We urgently call on the Minister of COGTA to prioritize the signing of the SADC Disaster Management protocol and address the shortcomings highlighted to ensure the safety and effectiveness of South Africa’s emergency response capabilities.

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DA calls for greater transparency over Koeberg’s life extension

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP

Koeberg’s operating license runs out in July 2024 and Eskom has still not succeeded in extending its life span to ensure safe, reliable long-term operation. If the project is not completed and the license is not renewed by the July deadline, Eskom will be required to shut down the plant’s two reactors. Should that occur, it would plunge South Africa into an even greater load-shedding crisis than we are currently experiencing. As it is, extended shutdowns of each reactor (consecutively) will be needed over the next 12 to 18 months to ensure the necessary upgrades and maintenance for ongoing operational safety.

The DA had previously called for the involvement of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as early as last year, and submitted a request for short-term technical assistance, seeking expert advice from the Agency to work alongside Koeberg’s engineers and finalise the life extension project. Not long after, the IAEA not only confirmed that this project was in serious danger but formally offered to assist in getting it back on track – provided that the Minister, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), and Eskom requested and accepted such assistance.

In July of this year, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, rejected this offer of much needed and urgent expert assistance from the world body overseeing nuclear energy.

We are no further along today, and, in fact, we are in an increasingly precarious position. With the life extension project dragging along and the odds of Eskom completing its efforts by the deadline next year waning, we must brace ourselves for further reactor shutdowns in the very near future, contributing to even more severe loadshedding.

The DA has already called on the government to reach out to the IAEA for expert assistance. We have already called upon the Minister, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), and Eskom to accept the IAEA’s first offer. Now, with so much time having passed, the need for the IAEA’s expertise is even greater.

We cannot afford to allow a project of this scale and importance to be conducted in secrecy and behind closed doors.

Considering the little time we have left and the urgency with which this matter needs to be dealt with, the DA calls upon the government, Eskom, and the NNR to approach the IAEA. We must not only seek their assistance in the implementation of the life extension project. We must also request another safety audit to be undertaken (considering that the last one took place more than a year ago), that regular inspections be done on the project’s progress, and that the IAEA will monitor and report on the project on a continuous basis.

Despite the ANC’s attempt at hiding the situation at Koeberg, with Eskom denying access to parliamentary oversight at the plant, the DA will continue to drive for greater transparency and accountability over this project. We will continue to press for
Members of Parliament to be allowed to conduct their constitutional obligation of oversight so that we can ensure that the life of Koeberg is not only extended successfully before the deadline, but that it is done so safely and under the watch of truly independent authorities.

Additionally, we call on the ANC government to make public all safety audit reports to ensure a transparent and accountable process is followed, so that the safety of Koeberg is not in doubt.

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Health Minister must intervene in Walter Sisulu University degree scandal

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Madeleine Hicklin MP

The DA has written to the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, to urgently engage with Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, to intervene in the debacle with the Walter Sisulu University failing to get their Master of Medicine (MMed) degree accredited with the Council on Higher Education (CHE) in time.

It is very concerning that Minister Nzimande, the CHE, and the Dean of Walter Sisulu University have apparently ignored letters from the South African Health Professionals Collaboration about the issue.

Furthermore, unless the situation is urgently solved, registrars will lose their years of training time, and might have to repeat it at great cost.

This issue was first raised in March 2022, after which the CHE issued a statement assuring registrars that their specialty disciplines were accredited. It now seems that the CHE were either mistaken or liberal with the truth. Neither of which will help the registrars unless CHE and the Walter Sisulu University pulls up their socks.

The South African Society of Anaesthesiologists (SASA) has stated that the on-going delays in accrediting the MMed degree specialisations in anaesthesia, ear, nose and throat (ENT), internal medicine, and ophthalmology at Walter Sisulu University will have a profound effect on both the struggling registrars and the delivery of healthcare in the Eastern Cape.

According to Dr Caroline Corbett, SASA President, many public health posts will remain frozen until the accreditation process is complete, which exacerbates the strain on an already stretched public health system, resulting in longer waiting times for patients, decreased access to specialised care, and compromised patient outcomes, thus impacting the well-being of the South African public.

The DA has written to the CHE to determine which of the MMed programmes at each of the universities are in fact registered, while the DA also requests for urgent intervention from Minister Nzimande.

The ANC government’s callous failure of these registrars, without even an apparent attempt at intervention, is the truest reflection of how they feel about South Africans. The ANC government does not care to assist registrars in completing their specialist training, they do not care to assist students and interns with placement for their internships and community service years, and they do not care to improve the public health system. The National Health Insurance (NHI) will exacerbate the many problems with the country’s health care without solving a single one.

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