2019 To Now: DA to review the 6th Democratic Parliament

As the 6th Democratic Parliament draws to a close, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will reflect on progress to reform the national legislature in the wake of the Zondo Report, as well as the work undertaken to hold not only the Executive, but also the ANC to account. Given that the term of the national executive is also nearing its end, the DA will be announcing action it will be taking to gain access to President Ramapahosa’s cabinet performance assessments in the interests of democracy and transparency.

On Tuesday 5 December, The DA Parliamentary leadership will brief the media on key issues and events that occurred during the last five years, and what South Africans can expect from the official opposition in the coming term which may not yield a single parliamentary majority to any one party.

Democratic Alliance Federal Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, will be joined by the DA Chief Whip, Siviwe Gwarube MP, the DA Deputy Chief Whip, Annelie Lotriet MP, and the DA Leader in the NCOP, Cathy Labuschagne MP.

The details are:

Date: Tuesday 5 December 2023
Time: 10:00
Place: Room M24, Marks Building, Parliament of South Africa

Landmark court ruling exposes ANC’s role in energy crisis

Please find attached a soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP.

In a landmark decision, the Pretoria High Court has mandated the Minister of Electricity to take “all reasonable steps” to guarantee uninterrupted electricity for public hospitals, clinics, schools, and police stations by January 31. The DA, recognising the escalating electricity crisis, took decisive action in January by filing an application with the High Court for an interdict against the tariff hikes.

Today’s judgment, combining three separate cases, including the DA’s case, unequivocally declares ongoing load-shedding a violation of human rights. It lays bare the culpability of the ANC, emphasising that state capture, mismanagement, and cadre deployment by the ruling party are the root causes of our energy crisis. The court’s order, though potentially unenforceable due to the severity of the crisis, is a resounding message that the ANC’s actions have led to a breach of citizens’ rights.

While the proposed solutions are imperative from a human rights standpoint, it is acknowledged that they may not provide immediate or long-term relief from load-shedding. Nevertheless, this moment serves as a powerful testament to the impact of opposition pressure and civil society’s voice in holding the ANC accountable.

The consolidation of cases and the resultant judgment serve as a scathing indictment against the ANC. It reinforces the DA’s longstanding assertion that incompetence, cadre deployment, corruption, and mismanagement by the ANC are the driving forces behind load-shedding. The only viable long-term solution, as emphasised by this ruling, is for South Africans to exercise their democratic right and vote out the ANC in the upcoming 2024 elections. This landmark decision underscores the urgency of a political change to rescue South Africa from the grip of the energy crisis perpetuated by the ANC.

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DA rejects Transnet debt takeover

Please find attached a soundbite by Dr Dion George MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the announcement by National Treasury that it issued Transnet with a R47 billion guarantee facility, effective immediately. The DA unequivocally rejects this guarantee as it heightens taxpayer risk exposure to the ANC’s mismanagement of our logistics and transport sector – which has reached crisis level. The ANC has broken the sector, and its centralized grip is tanking any hope of recovery.

Transnet already has an existing debt pile in the region of R135 billion, which attracts interest of approximately R13 billion per annum. The entity further managed to incur a financial loss of R5,7 billion in the previous financial year and a further financial loss of R556 million due to irregular expenditure.

No guarantee facility can address the root causes of this inefficiency and fiscal irresponsibility. In fact, the Government’s safety net will ensure that the chaos is perpetuated while placing a substantial burden on our already strained national budget and further balloons our growing debt bubble.

Taking a cue from Eskom’s debt relief scheme, where a whopping R254 billion will be absorbed onto the national balance sheet, Treasury has been strong-armed into granting Transnet the same.

Absent this debt relief from Government, Transnet claimed it will not be able to implement its recovery plan for turning around the entity’s dismal operational and financial performance. It even had the gall to preface its entire recovery plan on this very expectation, which is yet to be tabled in Parliament.

That Transnet’s recovery plan has much to be desired has been widely reported. The DA does not have any confidence that it will address the structural issues that beleaguer the entity.

The DA has further forewarned that Eskom’s debt-takeover would establish a dangerous fiscal precedent as other unviable SOEs would come clamouring for taxpayer-funded relief. We remain opposed to the absorption of Eskom’s debt as it recklessly exposes taxpayers to the financial ramifications of governmental mismanagement. The same applies to Transnet and every other dysfunctional SOE.

The DA has an alternative. Exporters who have capacity should be given unconditional access to Transnet corridors to transport their products. Moreover, Government must immediately suspend bureaucratic hurdles, such as BBBEE and localisation criteria, in all procurement processes within Transnet. The business units under Transnet have no validity in central management and ownership. They must also be unbundled, and innovative public/private partnerships must be sought to own and run these as a precursor to privatisation.

Failure to promptly engage in meaningful privatisation and open the market to private investment will condemn South Africa to a perpetual low-growth cycle. Any inertia threatens the prospects of achieving economic stability and places the burden squarely on the shoulders of future generations. Government must act now to initiate the shift away from the unsustainable model of state dependent SOEs towards a robust, privatised, and competitively driven infrastructure landscape.

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Chinese generator donation is a symbol of ANC government failure to end load-shedding

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP

After 16 years of a crippling load-shedding crisis, the best solution that the ANC government could muster was to solicit and parade a donation of low voltage diesel generators from China. As if this wasn’t pathetic enough, the Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, had the temerity to gloat and perpetuate his discredited lie that ‘… load-shedding will be a thing of the past this December’.

Far from being a panacea to the load-shedding crisis, the Chinese generator donation was a symbol of ANC government failure. As the Chinese quadrupled investment in renewable energy in their own country, they were more than happy to dump the gasoline-guzzling generators to the hapless ANC government.

Even with claims that the Chinese have provided initial funding to fuel the generators, it is obvious that they won’t maintain this funding in perpetuity. Ramokgopa and his band of clueless ANC comrades have not provided any clarity on where the money for the diesel will come from once the Chinese money tap dries up.

With the number of schools, clinics, hospitals and police stations around the country, the donation is a drop in the ocean as it will not cover half of those facilities. Besides, one generator will struggle to provide enough power to supply an average-sized health centre. Ramakgopa and the ANC know that the Chinese donation was just a window dressing and is not a viable intervention to keep vital institutions with power over the long term.

Ramakgopa and the ANC government should stop with these sideshows and provide the country with tangible plans to fix the load-shedding crisis that they created. Reducing South Africa to a net receiver of donations is frankly humiliating and is a grave indictment on Ramaphosa’s failed new dawn.

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Reflecting on progress, confronting challenges: A call to action on World Aids Day

The speech below was delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of Health, Michele Clarke MP, during the World Aids Day debate in Parliament this morning. 

Click here to download the speech of the DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Health, Madeleine Hicklin MP.

Today, we commemorate World Aids Day. It is crucial that we reflect not only on the progress made but also on the challenges that persist in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As members of Parliament, it is our responsibility to scrutinise government’s actions, to ensure that good policies are implemented to make a difference, and to ensure that the health and well-being of our citizens are prioritized.

South Africa has a long and tumultuous history with HIV/AIDS. The scourge of this epidemic has affected millions of lives, and around 8.7 million people in this country still live with HIV/AIDS. Sadly the stigmatisation is still a very real concern for them. Over the years, we have witnessed both commendable efforts and significant shortcomings in the response to this crisis.

South Africa leads the research on HIV/Aids treatment and millions of people today are alive due to the efforts of excellent researchers and caring doctors like Prof Quarraisha Abdool Karim and Professor Glenda Gray. Their dedication to researching and treating this stigmatised disease and marginalised group of people shows the calibre of medical professionals we are fortunate to have in this country.

In recent years, we have seen a somewhat shift in approach from government, with increased awareness and commitment to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic. South Africa has made strides in HIV treatment, and availability of ARV drugs has improved, ensuring that those living with HIV can access life-saving medication.

The North Gauteng High Court’s ruling that pharmacists may prescribe ARVs and programmes like the Pharmacist-Initiated Management of Antiretroviral Treatment (Pimart) are a game changer that have ensured increased access to ARVs.

However, let us not be blinded by progress alone. SA still remains one of the countries with the highest HIV infection rates globally.

We acknowledge that some positive steps have been taken, but we must also confront the reality that much work remains to be done. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has compounded the challenges faced by the healthcare system, further straining resources and diverting attention from longstanding health issues, including HIV/AIDS.

It is troubling that 23% of HIV positive people in the country are not receiving treatment, according to the Minister of Health.

We must address the persistent issues of stigma and discrimination that hinders progress in HIV prevention and treatment. Access to healthcare services, particularly in rural areas, remains a concern and government must do more to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their location or socio-economic status can access quality healthcare.

We must call for greater transparency in the allocation of resources dedicated to HIV/AIDS programs and a comprehensive review of current policies to identify gaps and inefficiencies, ensuring that every Rand is utilized effectively to combat this epidemic. The under-expenditure of R62 million during 2022/23 on the National Department’s HIV, AIDS and STIs programme is very problematic given the persistence of the epidemic and the strides that still need to be made towards achieving the UNAIDS 95-95-95 strategy.

In conclusion, on this World AIDS Day, let us remember those who have lost their lives. Let’s celebrate the people like Yvette Raphael, who was diagnosed with HIV in 2000, and is the co-founder and co-director of Advocacy for Prevention of HIV and AIDS (APHA) in South Africa. She’s a human rights activist who has spent her life advocating for people living with HIV/AIDS, young woman, and lesbian, gay and intersexed communities.

Let’s remember Andrew Mosane, a social justice and AIDS activist, who died on 15 January 2021 at the age of 45. He was and activist who brought the voice of the marginalised people and communities to the centre of the AIDS response. He was known to many South Africans as well as internationally for the work he did.

This is just to mention a few; there are many heroes within our country has actively campaigned and assisted so many South Africans on fighting this scourge.

Together, let us work towards a future where HIV/AIDS is a distant memory, and the health and well-being of our people are safeguarded.

Thank you

Odendaalsrus Police Station: Millions wasted, delays and neglect

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Sello Seitlholo MP

Millions have been squandered in the construction of the Odendaalsrus Police Station, leading to the appointment of a new contractor. Despite an initial budget of R77 million, R43 million had already been spent by July 2020.

During an oversight on August 31, 2023, it was revealed how the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure failed to deliver suitable buildings for essential services like SAPS. The Odendaalsrus Police Station is just one of many abandoned projects, costing South African taxpayers while benefiting unaccountable contractors.

To provide context, the planning and inspection processes started in 2006, with actual construction commencing in August 2018 and continuing until 2019. Numerous plan changes caused delays, and specialists involved in planning, including architects and electricians, claim they haven’t been paid since 2006.

Sub-contractor protests referred to as Business Forums or the construction mafia, led to the site’s closure. Despite the R43 million expenditure, the current state of the station is dire, featuring inadequate facilities, incomplete buildings, and a lack of essential services such as phone and internet lines. Security issues, including theft and unsafe conditions, further highlight the project’s mismanagement.

The Odendaalsrus Police Station is not an isolated case; it exemplifies the failure of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and its implementing agent, the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). The DBSA, tasked with rebuilding parts of a burned-down building, is mired in inefficiency. In response to inquiries during portfolio committee meetings in October and November 2023, the department revealed ongoing efforts to replace the contractor, with the contract award expected by December 15, 2023, and site handover anticipated by the end of January 2024.

The DA will embark on a follow-up oversight to this station in January to ascertain if a contractor had indeed been appointment.

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South Africans likely to spend the December holidays in the dark after Eskom depletes its diesel budget

After the DA raised the alarm on Thursday on the possibility that the heightened levels of load-shedding that the country is currently experiencing coincide or correspond with the decline in the use of Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs) by Eskom, Eskom has now confirmed that it has depleted its diesel budget. As Eskom’s aged coal-fired power stations struggle to generate enough power to meet the demand, the decline in OCGT use, by Eskom, means that South Africans will continue to experience heightened levels of load-shedding right into the December holidays.

Reports indicate that Eskom is left with just R3.6 billion for the procurement of diesel to power its OCGTs. This amount is just enough to power Eskom’s OCGT fleet for a month. The attempt by Eskom to minimise OCGT use, as evidenced by the progressive decline from 14 OCGTs on the 22nd of November to zero on 29 November, is already a little too late. As such, the risk of a semi-permanent stage 6 load-shedding in the next few months, before the end of Eskom’s financial year in March 2024, is now very high.

With Treasury having long confirmed that it will not provide any additional funding to Eskom for the procurement of diesel, the DA immediately calls on Eskom to clarity how it will fund the procurement of additional diesel to power its OCGTs until the end of the financial year in March 2024.

It is our considered view that Eskom will have to dig deep into its coffers and reprioritise spending from its current budget to replenish its already depleted diesel stocks. Eskom has failed to address the load-shedding crisis and as such, it should shoulder the burden of lessening its impact, from its own balance sheet.

It is simply unacceptable that Cabinet Ministers and Eskom officials have spent the last couple of months misleading South Africans that the country had turned a corner on load-shedding when they knew very well that Eskom was busy burning diesel in copious and profuse amounts. The burning of diesel was never intended to be a long-term solution to ending the load-shedding crisis.

If South Africans are to celebrate the festive season and possibly the new year in the dark and in the midst of heightened levels of load shedding, then they deserve to know the truth about why this is really happening.

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DA condemns ANC-led Committee’s rejection of Children’s Amendment Bill

Please find attached soundbites in English and isiZulu by Bridget Masango MP.

The DA condemns the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Social Development’s adoption of a motion that the Children’s Amendment Bill (B19-2023) is not desirable.

While both the committee as well as the Department of Social Development ostensibly supported the content of the DA’s private members bill, where they admitted that there are shortcomings and gaps in the law that have left children in danger, they still chose to vote against the best interest of children – specifically children in unregulated micro-partial care homes that provides care of six or less children.

Even more bizarrely, ANC Members raised that they had not had the chance to see public comments on the Bill and so they would not be able to vote it as desirable. However, as Parliamentary Legal Services and the DA correctly put it, a further hearing could simply have been scheduled to go through public comments – but the ANC refused this simple solution.

It must be emphasised that all public comments were submitted to the Speaker, who is an ANC Member, the Committee is chaired by an ANC Member, and the programme for the committees is determined by the ANC by means of their majority. It is them that have the power to place the public comments on the agenda and to say that it was never done is deceitful and disingenuous.

The DA even suggested that due to the lack of time left in the term the Bill stand over to the new term next year. Despite agreements from the ANC that there was no time and that this could be a solution, there was confusion, and they failed to understand the difference between voting a Bill as undesirable and still deferring it. It is one or the other.

The consequences now is that deplorable conditions in micro-partial care facilities will remain, with children being at risk of inhabitable conditions, untrained carers, potential abuse and being placed in facilities without norms and standards being required – such as running water and toilets.

The truth of the matter is that the ANC did not vote against the Children’s Amendment Bill because they wanted to create a more comprehensive Bill, or because of the short time frame to process the Bill, or even the human resources implications of the Bill. They rejected it because the DA offered the solutions to them on a platter, and their pride and ego trumped the protection of children. Selfishly, to them, its an ANC Bill or nothing – no matter how great the solution.

The DA will continue to advocate for the well-being and safety of children. After the 2024 elections, The DA will re-introduce this Bill back into Parliament and ensure the protection of all children as is enshrined in the Constitution.

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DA submits PAIA application to access the ‘SANDF rogue unit’ report

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Kobus Marais MP

The DA has submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to the chief of the SANDF, Gen Rudzani Maphwanya, requesting that he provides us with a copy of the Moorhouse investigation report into criminal activity in the SANDF, which encompassed the activities of some rogue elements within the force.

The SANDF is reported to have instituted a board of inquiry, headed by Brigadier-General John Moorhouse, to investigate complaints of alleged criminal activity within the military. As part of the investigation, the inquiry is said to have heard the testimonies of dozens of witnesses, shone the spotlight on corruption and abuse of office in the military, and heard evidence of torture.

However, six months after the conclusion of the inquiry, and its subsequent submission to General Maphwanya, the report has not been made public and neither was it tabled before the portfolio committee of Defence. The DA makes the submission that releasing the report is in the public interest because some of the victims of torture at the hands of rogue SANDF unit were civilians, whose cases have not been properly investigated and the perpetrators brought to book.

The DA is particularly concerned about the expose made by civil society organisation, Open Secrets, in which they highlight the existence of a military squad allegedly responsible for acts of torture and murder. This alleged rogue unit, comprising the Special Forces Brigade, the Military Police, Defence Intelligence and Defence Legal Services – are operating with impunity and have raised concerns of a large-scale criminal conspiracy within the SANDF. Open secrets further alleges that the activities of this rogue unit formed part of the Moorhouse board of inquiry.

The release of the Moorhouse investigation report will help to shed light on whether this rogue unit within the SANDF was in any way responsible for assassination of Hawks investigator, Frans Mathipa, who – at the time of his death, was conducting a criminal investigation into a Special Forces operative. In addition, the report will help to provide insight into the circumstances that led to the death of a civilian, Sphamandla, after hours of torture by some members of the rogue unit.

Democratic South Africa cannot afford to have a military that operates like a Gestapo force – assassinating, abducting and murdering citizens with impunity. All individuals implicated in these heinous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and if found guilty, made to face the full wrath of the law.

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DA will take court action if Ramaphosa withholds Ministers’ performance assessments

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will approach the courts to obtain the performance assessments of South Africa’s national cabinet ministers if President Cyril Ramaphosa withholds them from the public.

We are already appealing a decision by government to deny the public this information following our application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that:
“To strengthen the capacity of the State and increase accountability, I will be signing performance agreements with all Ministers before the end of this month. These agreements, which are base on the targets contained in the Medium-Term Strategic Frameworj, will be made public so that the people of South Africa can hold those who they elected into office to account.”

While the performance agreements themselves have been signed and made public on government’s website, it will be a futile exercise if the assessments are not then also made public.

The performance of the South African government is information that rightfully belongs in the public domaine for the requisite scrutiny as per the constitutional principles of democracy, transparency, and accountability.

It is the ultimate indictment on Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency as a so-called reformer, and his constitutional obligation to respect and uphold the values of democracy and accountability, that just over three years since releasing signed ministerial performance agreements, the President now refuses to make the results of their assessments public.

This act of public censorship shows not only a deeply concerning disregard for democracy and transparency, but a contradiction of President Ramaphosa’s initial commitment to reform the state and the public service.

It is now clear that in backtracking on his promises to reform the public service and hold his cabinet ministers accountable, he is censoring the public from measuring the performance of its government, thus being able to take the requisite electoral action.

It is not the President’s job to protect the reputations of his ministers, it is his job to be transparent with the public in the interests of true democracy and accountability.

Furthermore, it has been almost six years since President Ramaphosa promised to conduct lifestyle audits on Members of the National Executive, as announced in his 2018 SONA reply. To date, this process is still shockingly incomplete and inconclusive – yet another lie to the South African people from a President who exists only as a bystander to his own government’s failures.

Far from the reformer he painted himself out to be, President Cyril Ramaphosa has only done more damage to South Africa’s investor confidence, our economy, and our society with his decision paralysis.
As the South African people continue to suffer under the failure and collapse of government at the hands of the ANC, it is only fit that the people be allowed to judge the performance, or non-performance, of their government for themselves.

We will go to court if necessary to obtain the performance assessments of South Africa’s national ministers – we will not allow President Ramaphosa to run a government devoid of the transparency and accountability.

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