Mboweni confirms that Treasury doesn’t know how big the Eskom bailout will be

The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, has confirmed in a letter to the Democratic Alliance (DA) that the National Treasury does not know how big the proposed bailout to Eskom will be.

Following the National Energy Regulator’s (Nersa) announcement of tariff increases, the DA wrote to the Minister to request an update on the bailout allocation to Eskom, given that the tariffs granted are lower than what the Treasury used to calculate the bailout announced in the 2019 National Budget.

In his budget speech the Minister said that they will give Eskom bailouts of R23 billion per year for the next three years. However, this is now likely to increase.

Given Eskom’s rolling blackouts and power failures across the country, it is shocking that almost two weeks after Nersa announced its tariff decision – Treasury, Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprises – have not concluded discussions on what is needed to start addressing the problems at Eskom. This is a clear indication that the ANC government is neither capable nor serious about fixing the catastrophic failures at Eskom.

The problems at Eskom were created by the ANC, and South Africa cannot rely on the ANC to fix these problems. The DA is the only party capable and big enough to keep the lights on in South Africa.

Lack of budget will render New Investigative Directorate of the NPA useless

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the Proclamation signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa regarding the new Investigative Directorate of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).  While we have expressed our concerns regarding the constitutionality of this course of action, a far more worrying component is that during the budget speech in Parliament, Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni,  made no mention of any further funding for the NPA.  It is common knowledge that the NPA is under-resourced in terms of human resources as well as budget.  It cannot perform its functions on the budget currently allocated to it.

What the new Investigative Directorate is required to do is to investigate racketeering, corruption and fraud on an unprecedented scale.  This type of investigation is not only labour intensive (requiring very specific skills that the NPA currently does not have enough of) but is also very expensive to investigate.  It will be essential to make use of outsourced skills sets such as forensic auditing, cyber-forensic capability as well as deep knowledge of tax and financial matters.  These skills cost a tremendous amount of money.  It will be quite impossible to investigate the information coming out of the Zondo Commission, the Nugent Commission and the Mpati Commission without a vast budget.

So signing a proclamation for an Investigative Directorate to do this job is devoid of any concrete truth unless it is backed up by a budget to do the job.  Appointing a new NDPP is devoid of any real intention of correcting the criminal justice system unless Advocate Shamila Batohi is given the tools with which to do her job.  The job is difficult as it is, with no budget it is impossible and she cannot be expected to make a difference if her hands are tied.

What President Rampahosa is doing is smoke and mirrors, a very dangerous and disingenuous game.  Unless he backs up his big talk with a budget it is as good as doing nothing at all.  Unless the NPA is properly funded, it must be clear that the President has no intention of addressing corruption and going after the perpetrators (also in his Cabinet), but is merely trying to create the impression of being serious about it.  South Africans should not be fooled, the President talks a big talk, but fails miserably to walk his talk.

Today marks 4th anniversary since Ramaphosa promised South Africans “light at the end of the tunnel” on Eskom

Today marks the fourth anniversary since Cyril Ramaphosa promised South Africans “light at the end of the tunnel” on the Eskom electricity crisis. As the country continues to buckle under the sustained and relentless pressures of the failing ANC’s rolling power blackouts – government is yet to provide South Africans with a clear plan of action to keep the lights on.

On, 20 March 2015, then Deputy President Ramaphosa stated in Parliament that “We can say there will be light at the end of the tunnel. As we all know Eskom faces challenges and these challenges are being addressed”. It is now clear that this is a promised that will never be realised under the Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa.

As was the case back in 2015, as is the case now – the failing ANC cannot and does not know how to switch the lights back on.

The country, over the past week, has been crippled by rolling blackouts and power failures. Instead of providing the country with answers, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan chose to plunge the country into further confusion through useless PowerPoint presentations.

No amount of promises and talk shops will fix Eskom. What we need now is action. The collapse of Eskom lies squarely at the feet of the failing ANC.

The currently electricity catastrophe has been sponsored by the ANC’s corruption and mismanagement and Ramaphosa’s silence and inaction.

The ANC cannot be trusted to fix Eskom, and it is clear that the DA is the only party that can Eskom. Our governments across the country has been working tirelessly to mitigate the devastating effects of Eskom’s power failures – despite our limited mandate. This is why the DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, announced that the party will lead a nationwide day of action on Friday the 29th of March. South Africans from all walks of life should join our call for immediate government action on this crisis.

The only way Eskom can be fixed is to vote out the ANC government.

Eskom crisis: In the Western Cape we will fight to keep the lights on

Today the Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Dan Plato, and I conducted an oversight inspection at the Energy and Climate Change Head Quarters in Cape Town.

This comes amidst the biggest energy crisis that our country has ever faced.

City of Cape Town Executive Mayor Dan Plato and DA Western Cape Premier Candidate Alan Winde addressing the media at the Energy and Climate Change Head Quarters in Cape Town today.

Especially after yesterday’s briefing by Eskom it has become clear that the power utility is broken and almost beyond repair and that after years of mismanagement, corruption and capture the ANC government will not be able to lift our country out of this crisis. They have completely lost control of the situation.

This morning the DA Federal Leader, Mmusi Maimane, announced a national Day of Action next week Friday, 29 March. From now until then, the DA will mobilise South Africans in their thousands, from all walks of like to participate in activities across the country to protest the damage and destruction that the ANC government has caused,.

The complete collapse of Eskom is a long time coming. That is why DA-run governments have taken concrete action at both provincial and city levels to start to manage the impact of ANC failure in the province.

Over the past decade, while the national economy struggled, the DA-run Western Cape delivered half a million new jobs and the lowest unemployment rate in the country. Unfortunately, the residents and businesses of the Western Cape are being sabotaged by the ANC’s collapse of Eskom.

When we had stage 4 load shedding for the first time in February, that day cost the Western Cape economy more than R3 billion. We are now on our fifth consecutive day of stage 4 – the cost is going to be enormous. Businesses fail when the lights go out. Investors shy away from the uncertainty over the power supply. This costs jobs and growth.

While today, we announce what we have already done to ensure that the Western Cape keeps on working and that the lights stay on, we will announce further steps and actions to ensure that where the DA governs, the people are protected from the failings of the ANC.

Make no mistake, this crisis was avoidable and can be fixed with the right leadership, as we have shown in the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a whole.

The Province’s response – Alan Winde, DA Premier Candidate for the Western Cape

In 2016, the Western Cape government embarked on an Energy Security Game Changer, to stabilise our electricity supply and invest in green energy production.

27 IPP contracts that were ready to go and bring about R56 billion in investment were delayed until 2018 while Jacob Zuma’s captured cronies attempted to force a catastrophic nuclear deal on our country. The new bid window that was supposed to open at the end of last year still hasn’t opened.

“The simple fact is that the ANC is intentionally keeping energy and jobs out of the hands of the people of our province. We cannot rely on the national government, and the DA will fight for energy independence from Eskom,” said Winde.

The Western Cape has legalised generating your own electricity with solar panels in 22 municipalities, and in 18 of those, you can sell excess electricity back to the grid. And six studies have been conducted exploring the potential of natural gas to supply power and create jobs in the province.

The DA will continue the fight to source electricity from IPPs. Already, IPP projects in the Western Cape have generated over 3 200 jobs per year, despite national government’s restrictions. Many more jobs could be created through IPPs and lower our unemployment rate even further if we work around the ANC’s resistance to this growth.

The City’s response – Dan Plato, Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town

Mayor Plato outlined how the DA-run City of Cape Town has taken active steps to mitigate the energy disaster brought about by the ANC.

“The City recognises that the future lies in energy decentralisation technologies like gas and renewables. This is why we created a dedicated Energy and Climate Change Directorate at the end of 2018,” said Plato.

“As one part of our immediate action plan, we’ve asked the courts to compel the Minister of Energy to allow us to buy cleaner renewable energy from independent power producers.”

To deal with Eskom’s load shedding demands, the City has invested extensively in technologies to assist with the switching process as shedding proceeds. In addition, the Steenbras Dam generation capacity has been used to lower the load shedding stage in Cape Town. It is currently undergoing maintenance to ensure that it continues to function optimally – something Eskom fails to invest in.

The City aims to keep all consumers accurately updated on schedules and the current load shedding stage, especially in light of the unpredictable announcements from Eskom.

Our national pledge

At a national level, the DA has introduced a national bill – the Independent System and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill – which proposes that Eskom be split into a power-generating entity and a separate power-distribution entity. The power-generating division would compete fairly with other power producers to provide cheaper electricity.

One would think, given how dire South Africa’s electricity shortage is, that the ANC would be doing everything possible to develop new energy suppliers.

It isn’t. Instead, ANC factions fight publicly over whether to allow independent production, while their allies take the government to court to prevent IPPs from providing electricity. The ANC and its allies have one goal: keeping their own pockets lined while blackouts cripple the country.

The ANC’s solution is to pour more bailouts into a corrupt Eskom that it cannot fix. The DA is the only party with a plan of action to keep the lights on permanently in the Western Cape and fight for energy security for our province.

We call on all South Africans to join us on Friday 29 March to send a clear message to Cyril Ramaphosa and his ANC government that South Africans have had enough of ANC corruption, mismanagement and capture.

Eskom Crisis: DA announces National Day of Action on Friday 29 March

The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, outside Eskom’s Megawatt Park in Sandton, Johannesburg. Maimane was joined by DA Gauteng Premier Candidate, Solly Msimanga, and Team One SA Spokesperson on State Capture, Natasha Mazzone.

My fellow South Africans,

Today we are here outside Eskom’s HQ, Megawatt Park, to stand with the people South Africa and echo their anger at this government’s failure to provide a basic service to the nation. It is a complete failure of governance that has brought the country to the brink of collapse, with level 5 and 6 loadshedding and nationwide electricity blackouts the new normal. While the ANC may predictably look for anything but themselves to point fingers at, this national emergency will never be the collective responsibility of the people of South Africa. This energy crisis has been the sole responsibility of the ANC and the ANC alone for over a decade.

What has become clear over the past days is that there is no plan to fix this mess. From the President, to the Minister of Public Enterprises, to those at Eskom. No plan and no political will to take immediate action to get our country out of this ANC-created crisis. We cannot accept this any longer. The ANC broke Eskom, the ANC allowed it to be captured, and the ANC now has no plan to fix this crisis.

A simple apology from President Ramaphosa is not good enough. We demand action! Because if we don’t act now, the power utility will never service the hundreds of billions it owes in debt, the almost dozen units lost will never be recovered, the coal supply will never be augmented, the institutional staff experience lost will never be replaced and the entity will implode.

As South Africans, we must take a collective stand before it is too late.

That is why today we announce our plan to launch a National Day of Action next Friday 29 March. We call on South Africans in every community, town and city across the country, to join us in a collective protest against what is now a national crisis. As when we came together to take a stand against Jacob Zuma and the capture of our state, next Friday will see citizens showing this ANC government that we have the power. The time is now – we will not sit back and watch our country implode at the hands of this failing ANC government.

This National Day of Action will include civil society groups, NGOs, religious bodies, community activist organisations and the nation at large. Our call is for this ANC government to get off its hands and take real action. There is a way to fix this mess. We could immediately:

  • Privatise the generation entities of Eskom, allowing a diverse range of energy to enter the grid, increasing competition and lowering costs;
  • Instruct Eskom to immediately freeze the build on the last two outstanding units at Kusile, and instead look to bring on more IPPs to provide power. Eskom’s debt is spiralling due to cost overruns on the two big coal builds, while the units are not running at full capacity due to design and build flaws;
  • Reaffirm Eskom’s engineering and maintenance employees as an “essential service” that cannot enter into strike action;
  • Install major smart meters for municipalities to force municipalities to collect revenue timeously; and
  • Allow well-functioning metros to source energy directly from independent energy suppliers.

Part of this plan is to pass the Independent System Market Operator (ISMO) Bill into law. The ISMO Bill seeks to open up the market, enable private sector investment and increase efficiency by finally splitting up Eskom into generation entity that can be privatised and a transmission entity to be operated by the state. This will in turn enable Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to connect to the grid and open up competition that has been starved from the energy market for too long. Currently, 85% of all municipalities in the Western Cape now have legislation in place to buy and sell alternative sustainable energy such as solar while the party remains locked in litigation with the ANC government over the right to buy and sell energy directly from IPPs.

In the immediate term, some of the proactive interventions taken by DA-led governments to mitigate against the risk of loadshedding include maintenance work, increasing strategic policing deployments and litigation. In Cape Town, our government has instructed maintenance work at Steenbras Power station to continue adding energy to the grid and across our governments maintenance has been assigned to the grid network to mitigate against surges when power is turned on and off and additional Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) deployments have been placed at busy intersections during loadshedding to cushion the impact on traffic.

The message is clear: there is a plan and we need to institute this plan now. And we will mobilise next Friday to call on this ANC government to take the action required to fix this national crisis.

South Africa needs this change, and we need it now. And I urge every citizen who loves this country to join this National Day of Action so that we can usher in change and save our nation from the brink of collapse.

The ANC is throttling democracy

The following speech was delivered in Parliament Today by Michael Cardo MP, the DA Shadow Minister of Economic Development.

Honourable Chairperson

At the dawn of our democracy 25 years ago, there was so much hope.

Where South Africa had once seemed to be on a collision course, we were steered – by brave and bold leadership – onto the right track.

We chose non-racialism over racial nationalism.

We chose the supremacy of a constitution over the sovereignty of Parliament.

And we chose market-driven prosperity over the dead hand of state-led, command-and-control economics.

But somewhere along the line, the ANC government took a wrong turn. It began to backtrack on the promise of 1994. It reneged on the social contract of non-racialism, constitutionalism and market-led growth.

Today, instead of forging full steam ahead, South Africa is stuck on the tracks. Our democracy has been derailed. The engine of economic growth has been throttled to a standstill. And, thanks to the ANC’s chronic mismanagement of Eskom, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.

Yesterday, President Ramaphosa experienced this quite literally. Having joined ordinary citizens on their daily commute, his train from Soshanguve to Pretoria got stuck. It took over four hours to complete a 50 km journey.

This incident was the perfect metaphor for the stalled state of our democracy.

Every day, South Africans face hardships caused by ANC corruption and maladministration, which cost the fiscus R30 billion annually. ANC corruption is why the lights don’t work and trains don’t run on time. ANC corruption is why we have crumbling public infrastructure and inadequate service delivery.

President Ramaphosa can tut-tut in mock sympathy all he likes. He can talk a big game about cleaning up after “nine lost years” of ANC-inflicted chaos. He can make idle threats about heads having to roll.

But we all know it’s one big con, because the ANC stands for Absolutely No Consequences. It’s the reason why some of the worst offenders from the Zuma era of state capture are back on the ANC’s election lists.

Instead of pursuing a better life for all, ANC cadres are obsessed with barging their way onto the gravy train. Here, they gorge themselves on tenders, kickbacks, empowerment deals and Bosasa-sponsored booze and braai packs.

Meanwhile, those in the second- and third-class carriages are left to fend for themselves.

That is why 10 million South Africans can’t find work.

That is why more than half of all South Africans live below the poverty line.

And that is why 14 million South Africans go hungry every day.

The election on 8 May is the voters’ chance to get South Africa back on track.

The DA has a plan to turn South Africa into a thriving democracy. We will build One South Africa for All, by fighting corruption; creating fair access to real, long-term jobs; fixing the South African Police Service; securing our borders; and speeding up the delivery of basic services.

We will address the electricity crisis by splitting up Eskom and enabling municipalities to purchase power directly from producers.

We will reboot economic growth and investment by guaranteeing private property rights. We will overhaul our visa, exchange control and labour policies to attract skills, capital and tourists. We will exempt small businesses from certain labour and BEE regulations.

On 8 May, South Africans face a choice between the corrupt, backward-looking ANC and the honest, future-focused DA.

A vote for the ANC is a vote for more empty promises. It doesn’t matter who leads them, they’re the same old party and they’ve had too many second chances.

Don’t reward ANC failure with your vote because nothing will change.

On 8 May, vote DA.

Electricity Day Zero looming as Gordhan fails to give clear solutions

Today, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan,  and the chairperson of the Eskom Board, Jabu Mabuza, confirmed what we have known all along.  The ANC has broken Eskom to the extent that it is on the verge of actual collapse. The damage the ANC has caused  has seen Eskom broken seemingly beyond repair, and the damage that this will cause will be catastrophic to the South African economy, job creation and to the lives of ordinary South Africans.  President Cyril Rhamaposa, Minister Gordhan and Jabu Mabuza are not only culpable, but they have run out of ideas on how to address the extent of the crisis. They are quite literally fumbling in the dark for solutions.

This follows four solid days of rolling power cuts as the embattled power utility battles to revive eight generation power units.

The challenges at Eskom lie squarely at the feet of the failing ANC, which has actively  looted and broken Eskom to the verge of collapse.

Minister Gordhan’s press briefing today was nothing more than a talk shop and is proof that the ANC cannot and will not keep the lights on – they have neither the capacity, ideas nor the political will to fix the electricity crisis which they have caused. Simply data-dumping PowerPoints presentations on the people of our country will not change this reality.

South Africans need a stable electricity supply which will reinvigorate our stagnant economy and create much need jobs for the millions that are unemployed. Continued blackouts like we have seen are causing a jobs blood-bath that the people of this country cannot afford. No investor will touch us as a country with an electricity grid that is headed to a complete shutdown. Very soon rolling black outs will impact the provision of water and many other basic services. This is indeed a national crisis.

Only a DA government can bring lasting, effective solutions to Eskom. A DA government will:

  • Privatise the generation entities of Eskom, allowing a diverse range of energy to enter the grid, increasing competition and lowering costs;
  • Instruct Eskom to immediately freeze the build on the last two outstanding units at Kusile, and instead look to bring on more IPPs to provide power. Eskom’s debt is spiralling due to cost overruns on the two big coal builds, while the units are not running at full capacity due to design and build flaws.
  • Reaffirm Eskom’s engineering and maintenance employees as an “essential service” that cannot enter into strike action;
  • Install major smart meters for municipalities to force municipalities to collect revenue timeously; and
  • Allow well-functioning metros to source energy directly from independent energy suppliers.
  • ANC has been and continues to be a the single biggest threat to Eskom and to the economy.

South Africans will have the chance on election day to cut the ANC’s power and bring in a DA government that is both capable and willing to fix the catastrophe left by the ANC on our energy sector.

Education Department violates learners’ right to basic education in Mpumalanga – SAHRC

Find attached voiceclips in Sepedi, English and Zulu from DA Mpumalanga Premier Candidate, Jane Sithole

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has found that the Mpumalanga Department of Education has violated Section 29 of the Constitution, the right to basic education, by not providing learners with enough textbooks.

See SAHRC report here.

In October last year, the DA lodged a complaint with the SAHRC, after we found that there was a severe shortage of textbooks in Mpumalanga schools.

In its annual report for the 2017/18 financial year, the provincial Department of Education stated that 63% of learners had been provided with the required textbooks in all grades and in all subjects during this period.

The Auditor-General (A-G) however found this to be false because only 31.26% of learners had been provided with the required textbooks. This meant that 68.74% or 679 837 learners in Mpumalanga did not have all the required textbooks in the 2017/18 financial year.

To reach its finding, the SAHRC conducted surveys at various schools across the province and found that the shortage of Learner Teacher Support Material (LTSM) still exists in the 2019 academic year. This, despite the department insisting that all learners had all the required material.

The SAHRC requested the Education MEC, Sibusiso Malaza’s department to respond to these findings by 12 March 2019, but the Department ignored this request, just as they have ignored learners in Mpumalanga for many years. Although last week, the Department suspended its HOD, Mahlasedi Mhlabane on allegations of maladministration, after sustained pressure from the DA, this will not fix the situation learners find themselves in until each learner has all the required textbooks.

The DA will today deliver a member statement in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, calling on the Department to respond on why they have left Mpumalanga learners to fend for themselves despite the Education Department getting one of the biggest shares of the provincial budget.

By abandoning learners at such a crucial stage of their development, the Mpumalanga Department of Education is systematically killing the future of thousands of young people and ensuring that they too end up joining the ranks of the unemployed.

We will continue fighting for learners in Mpumalanga until each and every learner can be guaranteed a quality education in a safe school that have adequate sanitation facilities. No learner will be left behind in our mission to build One South Africa For All.

ANC must stop protecting Gigaba on Gupta naturalisation

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is incensed by the efforts of the African National Congress (ANC) members on the Portfolio Committee for Home Affairs to whitewash the role of former Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba in the unlawful approval of the Guptas’ application for early naturalisation and to cover up his wrongdoing.

The ANC members have made every effort to lay the blame solely on Home Affairs officials for the irregularities in the processing of the application while absolving Gigaba of wrongdoing. This is despite the fact that the application was initially correctly rejected by officials and only approved on the submission of a further application on the grounds of ‘exceptional circumstances’ to the Minister.

The DA fought to include language clearly indicating the culpability of Gigaba in the report. This language was watered down in the final report. When the committee chairperson was confronted with this fact, he claimed that the report was in fact not final.

These efforts to obfuscate and delay are contrary to President Ramaphosa’s repeated calls for the clean up of the state, accountability of those implicated in State Capture, and for all allegations to be tested before the Zondo Commission.

We therefore call on the Portfolio Committee to finalise the report before Parliament rises on 20 March 2019; to ensure that the report includes the culpability of Gigaba as agreed upon rather than the current watered down version; and that the report be referred to the Zondo Commission, per the recommendations of the report, without delay.

President Ramaphosa’s train delays are a reality for South Africans yet he has ignored the rail crisis

Today President Cyril Ramaphosa took a train ride in Soshanguve, in what can only be described as a publicity stunt ahead of this year’s elections. The ANC has not shown any leadership on the rail crisis and has allowed our people to fall victim to a broken system which has claimed thousands of lives.

Daily, people are robbed, in trains and across trains stations due to the lack of safety measures to allow commuters to travel without fear. In addition, many lose their jobs because of delayed and derailed trains.

President Ramaphosa’s delayed ride today encapsulates what is exactly wrong with the system and the governing party. People are suffering daily at the hands of the ANC, and once every five years, politicians use their pain as an electioneering tool.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has made numerous calls for President Ramaphosa and the failing ANC government to intervene in the myriad of crises which engulf our country’s railway services to no avail. Train delays, chaos and crime have become the order of the day on our trains.

Just last year, the DA handed over a memorandum to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), calling on PRASA and Minister Blade Nzimande to urgently intervene with regards to the state of rail transport. We are yet to receive a reply. What is clear is that there is no political will to solve this crisis, and the ANC does not know what needs to be done to turn Metrorail and PRASA around.

Added to this, President Ramaphosa has now become a stuck record, claiming he did not know how dire people’s lived experiences have been. He has apologised for power cuts and for rampant ANC corruption, as though he did not sit idly as the Deputy President who presided over a government which has – through its actions and inactions – killed South Africans. The broken rail system is one such example.

The DA is the only party that can build One South Africa for All and solve the train crisis. A DA government will ensure that there is provincial control of Metrorail and we will upgrade Metrorail to ensure a safe and reliable system for all passengers.