Cyril Ramaphosa’s Marie Antoinette moment

Please find an attached soundbite by Tsepo Mhlongo MP 

The DA has seen the video of President Cyril Ramaphosa addressing the Black Business Council where he chuckles as he jokingly gives details of how he told the Minister of Sports Arts, Culture, Nathi Mthethwa to “cancel” the R22 million giant flag project that has angered South Africans.

It was truly the President’s Marie Antoinette moment.

The DA does not see the humorous side of this. What does the President find funny about his Cabinet approving this project?

While President Ramaphosa was joking around in a room full of wealthy business people, millions of South Africans were struggling to put food on their tables.

The DA wonders when the President realised that the R22 million Flag Project was a bad idea. Was it:

  1. Before or after his party’s cabinet unanimously agreed to it?
  2. After close to R2 million was reportedly spent on a feasibility study? or
  3. After the DA, civil society, and millions of ordinary South Africans vehemently objected to it?

While the money already spent on flag may not be much to a corrupt ANC poverty cabinet, there are millions of struggling artists and athletes who are ignored by the Department who could use every cent they can get.

The DA calls on the President to tell the nation officially and in no uncertain terms that the vanity project has been cancelled and apologise for being out of touch with the lives of the citizens of this country. The entire Poverty Cabinet must apologise to South Africa for giving a green light to an ill-conceived and wasteful giant flag plan.

As for Minister Mthethwa, he has indicated a total lack of understanding or empathy with the plight of South Africans, he needs to resign. If he doesn’t the President should fire him.

Mantashe destroys all the work to attract foreign investment

At a single stroke yesterday, Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe destroyed all the work that has been done to try and attract foreign investment into mining.

Ending off the debate on his Department’s budget in Parliament, he threatened to remove mining rights from Sibanye-Stillwater because it has not settled a 10 week strike on its gold mines. He said he would do this by use of Section 47 of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act. It would be a huge stretch of doubtful legality to use this section to intervene in a strike and arbitrarily remove rights. To do so would be so send a signal that the South African government does not subscribe to the rule of law and any investor faces having their property seized at any time. The predictable result would be that investment in South African mining, already in crisis, would dry up even further.

It would be wrong to think Mantashe is an outlier on this in the ANC. ANC members in Parliament are generally even less supportive of investment-friendly measures than the Minister. They are certainly on the side of the strikers, who are in the tenth week of a strike because of executive bonuses. The company has offered an increase of almost 10% in the first year of settlement. The union wants more because it says executive bonuses show the company has money. This is a labour dispute and should be settled within the confines of South Africa’s already labour-friendly legislation. Intervention of the sort proposed by Mantashe would set a precedent that could be shattering for the industry.

Mantashe’s comments highlight what should be an obvious truth: The ANC does not understand mining, or any business, and is not capable of running a modern economy.

President should veto job-destroying Employment Equity Amendment Bill

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Michael Cardo MP.

The DA has written to the President, urging him not to sign the job-destroying Employment Equity (EE) Amendment Bill into law. The National Council of Provinces passed the bill earlier this week, several months after it was given the green-light by the National Assembly (despite the ANC’s initial embarrassing failure to muster a quorum).

The bill is a damaging and destructive exercise in social engineering, and it will worsen South Africa’s economic woes.

Critically, the Bill empowers the Minister of Employment and Labour to set numerical EE targets for any national economic sector after a vaguely defined process of consultation with the relevant sectors. The Minister will be able to set targets for different occupational levels, sub-sectors or regions, backed by fines for non-compliance.

This is a recipe for malicious ministerial meddling. It amounts to the tacit introduction of race quotas, and raises concerns around constitutionality.

At the most basic level, the new provisions confer upon the Minister’s wide-ranging, arbitrary powers that are completely incompatible with the principles of a market-based economy.

The bill will deter investors, undermine economic growth and jeopardise jobs at a time when many businesses are on their knees, with almost 12 million South Africans unemployed and a record-high unemployment rate (on the expanded definition) of 46.2%.

It will entrench crony-capitalism by benefitting ANC-aligned fat cats. However, the bill will do nothing for the huge numbers of jobless South Africans who are drowning as the cost of living rises like a tidal wave.

In its ideologically-blinkered and unconstitutional pursuit of “demographic representivity”, the ANC has unleashed a legislative wrecking ball on the private sector. Instead of freeing up businesses for economy recovery, the ANC intends to clamp down on them under the jackboot of racial interventionism.

The President must stop the madness and refrain from signing the Employment Equity Amendment Bill into law.

DA demands the real reasons for the cancellation of SANRAL projects worth R17 billion

The DA has written to the acting CEO of SANRAL, Lehlohonolo Memeza, to demand the reasons for the cancellation of road projects due to begin shortly in various locations including KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.

These contracts, worth over R17 billion, were awarded to effect essential work on the Mtentu River Bridge (R3.4 billion), The EB Cloete N3 interchange in Durban (R4.3 billion), the N3 Ashburton interchange in Pietermaritzburg (R1.8 billion) and the R56 in Matatiele, amongst others.

A spokesperson for SANRAL defended the decision citing a ‘material irregularity’ in the tender process and a failure to implement a ‘board resolution’ from 2020.

This cancellation decision create a crisis for the construction industry and the recovery of the South African economy. The tenders involved are instrumental to the survival of the construction industry and become a lost opportunity cost.

Not only are local companies affected, but the international partners involve will now view any project in South Africa with great scepticism.

SANRAL must urgently answer the following questions:

  • What is the material irregularity discovered at the 11th hour and why was it not detected in the bid evaluation and adjudication processes?
  • What is the resolution of the SANRAL board that was not complied with that is so serious to cause the cancellation of these contracts?

Until these reasons are revealed, uncertainty in the road construction industry will continue to the detriment of the infrastructure and credibility of our country.

The DA will always fight for transparency in government function and will not rest until this situation is resolved.

African horse sickness: Onderstepoort Biological Products leaves horse owners in the lurch

By now everyone that tried to get hold of AHS vaccines, produced by OBP, can attest to its unavailability. This comes at the back of a similar situation during the last vaccination season when only a limited amount of vaccines were made available at various intervals by OBP. The new AHS vaccination season starts on 1 June 2022.

It is fair to assume that whatever the problems was with vaccine production at OBP, it would have been resolved in time to meet the demand for AHS vaccines before the onset of the new season. However, this seems not to be the case. Democratic Alliance MP, Janho Engelbrecht, took the issue up with the Minister of Agriculture, land reform and rural development, Ms Thoko Didisa. Various Parliamentary questions in this regard were put to the Minister (see here) and a Parliamentary Motion was adopted (see here).

After an investigation by Mr. Janho Engelbrecht, it became clear that all was not well at OBP. He wrote a letter to Minister Didiza (see here), raising concerns, requesting ministerial intervention and recommended solutions with the 1 June commencement date in mind.

Up to date no feedback has been forthcoming from either the Minister or her Department on the issues raised. Subsequently a further set of Parliamentary questions had been submitted (see here) to get clarity on the status of AHS vaccines.

Minister Didiza made remarks on OBP in the recent budget speech she delivered on 12 May 2022. She said “The strengthening of our vaccine production capacity is more urgent now than ever before. The Onderstepoort Biological Products Company requires deliberate support, to ensure the completion of its GMP facility. It is important to ensure that information on availability and non-availability of vaccine is given timeously to producers.”

The sentiments stated in her speech did unfortunately not apply to AHS vaccines it seems. After a lengthy and challenging investigation by Mr. Janho Engelbrecht, the following information related to AHS vaccines can be communicated;

  1. OBP should have 25 000 doses of AHS vaccines available around the end of June/beginning of July.
  2. These doses would in all probability be distributed exclusively within the AHS exclusion zone. It is important to note that no AHS vaccines can be administered within this area after 31 October.
  3. A further 120 000+ vaccines should be available around August.
  4. OBP has apparently acquired a functioning freeze-drying unit but it is not in use yet.

Progress in Ekurhuleni shows multiparty coalitions can work

Multi-party coalitions are the future. As we head into our toughest winter yet since the dawn of our democracy, it is becoming ever clearer that there will be no progress or prosperity while the ANC governs South Africa. Unemployment is at a record high 46% including those who have given up looking for work; prices of essential goods are set to skyrocket with no plan to shield the poor; and our electricity grid is on the brink of total collapse.

With South Africa’s political landscape as fragmented as it is, a multi-party national governing coalition is the only way to reverse our current relentless slide to state failure. That’s why so much rests on the multi-party coalitions running the three Gauteng metros – Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

They are test centres ahead of the 2024 general election. If they can show real progress over the next two years towards building capable, honest, pro-poor, service-delivery-driven governments, they will build public confidence in the ability of a multi-party national government to take South Africa forward in 2024.

So it is great to be able to report that, despite being a minority government, the multi-party coalition that has run Ekurhuleni since December last year has held, passed an adjustment budget for the remainder of the financial year, and is making meaningful progress on multiple fronts.

The coalition consists of the DA, Action SA, Freedom Front Plus, Inkatha Freedom Party, African Christian Democratic Party, Congress of the People, and Patriotic Alliance. Working together, these 7 parties are turning the ship. The clearest evidence of this came last month when the City’s credit rating was raised two notches from negative to stable.

This was after the coalition adjusted its medium term budget for greater efficiency and established systems to strengthen Ekurhuleni’s financial position and root out the scourge of fraud and corruption in the metro.

But the coalition cannot take all the credit for this. Ekurhuleni is lucky to have had an experienced and diligent City Manager since 2016, Dr Imogen Mashazi, who was re-appointed last month for another five years.

Together with Dr Mashazi, the coalition is taking a pro-poor, back-to-basics approach, focusing on the things that matter most to residents: reliable electricity and water, public transport, waste management, housing, safety and financial stability.

This has already made some positive impact on the lives of residents and laid the foundation for much more to come. The City faces massive infrastructure maintenance backlogs, but just the first few months in office has shown that Ekurhuleni citizens can expect steady, meaningful, measurable progress over the coming years.

Electricity: The coalition is confident of ensuring a reliable and expanded electricity supply well before the end of this political term. It recently appointed 47 Private Power Producers to build and sell electricity direct to the city from 2024 onwards. To finance the replacement and expansion of backbone infrastructure at a rate of at least 10km of cables per year, the City has committed to a 40% increase in capital expenditure in the next financial year and an average 12% thereafter.

Water: By June 2023, nine additional water towers and reservoirs will have been constructed, in addition to the nine projects being completed by the end of this financial year. This is to counter the metro’s all-too-frequent water outages caused by drops in pressure in supply from Rand Water due to Eskom outages. Last month, Ekurhuleni won six Green Drop awards for excellence in wastewater treatment plant operation. This year, the City is on track to replace 8000 water meters and replace or upgrade sewer pipes across the city.

Stormwater drainage: During its first 100 days, the coalition cleared and maintained 2100 stormwater drains and are on track to well exceed performance of prior financial years.

Potholes: In its first 100 days, the City patched 29 000m² of road and has reallocated savings from the salary bill to try to get on top of massive inherited backlogs.

Public transport: The Harambee Bus Rapid Transport Network running from Thembisa via Kempton Park to OR Tambo International Airport will be fully operational, and three public transport facilities will be refurbished, in the coming financial year.

Waste management: The City is rehabilitating infested waterbodies, targeting the protection of wetlands, reopening two inoperative landfill sites, introducing waste separation at source at all municipal buildings, and dealing with illegal dumping around the city. Maintenance activities such as grass cutting have increased significantly, and clean-ups have started in the CBD to entice businesses back, with many other waste initiatives underway.

Safety: In January this year, the City launched Operation Buya Mthetho in which the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EPMD) will work with other law enforcement agencies to address the many crimes plaguing the City. In the next financial year, the EMPD will deploy an additional 480 municipal police officers to improve policy visibility and by-law compliance.

Financial stability: Cash on hand has improved to a 21-day reserve from just a 14-days reserve and the metro is working to meet National Treasury’s 30-day minimum requirements. Spending on non-service-delivery areas has been reigned in to reverse the depleted state in which the coalition found the city’s finances. And audit systems have been put in place to build an honest administration.

While Ekurhuleni’s multi-party coalition is fully aware of the challenges and the mammoth task ahead, the 7 parties are working together to build a capable, honest administration that can take the metro forward. In doing so, they are showing the nation that a multi-party national governing coalition is a realistic and hopeful option for South Africa post 2024.

DA Budget Vote Speeches: Correctional Services

The following speeches were delivered in Parliament on Thursday, 19 May.

Janho Engelbrecht MP – If we are to address serious social problem, serious attention needs to be paid to rehabilitation holistically
DA Shadow Minister of Correctional Services
060 528 5257

Werner Horn MP – The DCS must increase its efforts to strengthen offender rehabilitation programmes
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
083 262 2846

DA Budget Vote Speeches: Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities

The following speeches were delivered in Parliament on Thursday, 19 May.

Luyolo Mphithi MP – Department for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities is completely out touch with the realities of the most vulnerable South Africans
DA Shadow Minister on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities
079 551 9791

Nazley Sharif MP – Government has made no strides to protect womxn, youth and persons with disabilities
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Woman, Youth and People with Disabilities
079 875 4930

Sibongiseni Ngcobo MP – Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities continues to fail persons with disabilities in the country
DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities
071 414 7673