South African cities see rising poverty and unemployment; Cape Town bucks trend

English audio clip attached.

The South African Cities Network’s report on the State of South African Cities in 2021 has demonstrated in clear terms that South Africa’s local government’s are in dire straits, with “unacceptably high” unemployment figures in many metros. However, the City of Cape Town has bucked the trend, and leads the way in several key indicators.

The report, which is published annually, found that Cape Town had the highest life expectancy of South Africa’s cities, with woman living to 71 and men to 65.6 on average. Cape Town also claims the country’s lowest metropolitan unemployment rate, and contributes R287 billion to the national economy. Additionally, the city has a high level of service delivery, with electricity delivered to 98.6% of households, basic water supply to 95.9%, and municipal refuse removal to 89.7%. This is in stark contrast to several other metropolitan districts, with Nelson Mandela Bay claiming the country’s highest unemployment figure – an astonishing 35.7%.

These results come soon after the release of the Auditor General’s municipal audit outcomes for the 2020/2021 financial year, which found that only 41 municipalities in South Africa had received clean audits, with more than half of these being found in the DA-led Western Cape.

Reacting to the report, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Local Government Derrick America said: “It is heartbreaking to see our country’s municipalities and cities succumbing to a continuous tide of corruption and maladministration. While it is heartening to note that the DA has managed to turn things around in the Western Cape, we are fast approaching a point at which many localities will be unable to render even the most basic of services to their residents. While there is always room for improvement, I urge leaders throughout the country to look to the Western Cape’s example of clean, citizen-orientated governance before it is too late.”

DA protests against draconian BELA Bill, demands Lesufi denounce Bill

Please find attached English soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP, and Afrikaans soundbite by Desiree van der Walt MP, as well as pictures here, here, here, here and here.

Today, the DA protested against the draconian Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill and handed a memorandum to the office of the Gauteng MEC of Education, Panyaza Lesufi.

The DA has numerous concerns with the BELA Bill, as outlined in our formal submissions to the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education.

The Bill, and the ‘Lesufi clauses’ in particular, seeks to disempower school governing bodies (SGBs) by removing their power to ultimately decide their schools’ language and admissions policies. It further fails to address the effective regulation of blended and online learning; fails to engage properly with the home schooling sector to determine accountability measures to ensure quality education; and fails to take into account the financial, human resources and infrastructure impacts of compulsory grade R education.

The DA demands that:

  • Lesufi publicly retract his support for the BELA Bill;
  • Lesufi must put pressure on the Department of Basic Education, and the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to withdraw the Bill from Parliament;
  • Lesufi must publicly denounce and distances himself from the BELA Bill, in particular clauses 4 and clause 5 which aims to take power away from parents on language and admission policies;
  • Lesufi must publicly retract and apologise for his attack on single medium- and mother tongue education;
  • Lesufi must publicly retract and apologises for his attack, racialisation, and stigmatisation of especially Afrikaans as an indigenous language;
  • Lesufi must publicly retract his attack on Afrikaans as a language, which is spoken as a first language by 77% of the coloured population; and
  • Lesufi must recognise democratic processes and hear the voices of millions of South Africans who are opposed to this Bill.

The DA will do everything in our power to ensure that children are empowered through empowering their SGBs. All children deserve quality education. It is time Lesufi, Minister Motshekga and her Department focused on addressing the serious concerns plaguing the basic education sector instead of trying to centralise power and bully schools and SGBs that want the best for their children and communities.

The Department must address the following serious concerns:

  • The sector is facing high learner drop-out rates;
  • Infrastructure is dilapidated with too many mud and asbestos buildings and pit toilets remaining; and
  • Poor quality teaching due to the unions’ strangle hold.

We call on the public to submit their concerns in writing to Llewellyn Brown, the secretary of the parliamentary portfolio committee via email to belabill02@parliament.gov.za or online at https://forms.gle/MoC6AdbdQyYPk3Y49 or via WhatsApp: +27 60 550 9848 by no later than 15 August 2022 at 16:00.

FUEL PRICE INCREASE: DA presents Fuel Price Deregulation Bill to Parliament

Please find attached a soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP.

Today, in the wake of another massive fuel price increase, the DA has handed in our Fuel Price Deregulation Bill to Parliament for processing by Parliament’s Legal Services. This groundbreaking bill will seek to amend the Petroleum Products Act, which gives government the power to prescribe the price of petroleum products.

We intend to publish our ‘Notice of Intention to Introduce’ in the Government Gazette later this week, within which the public will be invited to provide comment on the stated aims of our Bill.

Now the ball is firmly in the ANC government’s court and it has the chance to do the right thing. The success or failure of regulating the fuel price, now rests with the ANC in Parliament.

Given that South Africans will wake up to another hefty fuel price increase that will take the fuel price well beyond R25 a litre on Wednesday, the primary objective of the Bill is to deregulate the fuel sector to increase competition in fuel price setting at both the wholesale and retail level, which will result in lower petrol prices for consumers, as retailers compete to win customers based on price levels.

The Bill does this primarily through the removal of Section 2 of the Petroleum Products Act. The Bill also amends section 2(1)(d) to allow for businesses to implement creative methods of trading which may result in reduced petroleum prices.

We are taking the possibility of collusion and the abuse of dominant market positions seriously. The Competition Commission will be tasked with keeping a close eye on the fuel price market. Should any anti-competitive practices be determined, swift investigation and remedial action will follow.

Most consumers spending a significant part of their salaries on ever-increasing transport, and the frequent fuel price increases are leaving many with little to spend on the equally expensive basic food basket. South Africa’s high fuel prices are a consequence of government mandated fuel price controls that have killed competition and failed to deliver efficient cost-reflective prices.

The tragedy of high fuel prices is that their knock-on effects will hit the poorest the hardest at a time when they are already struggling under the consequences of 46% unemployment, loadshedding, soaring global inflation driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a State increasingly unable to deliver on even its most basic mandate.

The regulated fuel price system is rigged against the South African consumer. The average fuel price is composed of at least seven levies that combine to make our fuel one of the most expensive in the region when compared to countries such as Botswana, who happen to get most of their fuel supplies from South Africa.

Independent estimates indicate that costs and profits at the wholesale, transport, and retail levels account for about 20% of the fuel price. This is unsustainable if South Africa is to have a competitive fuel market and fuel price system that protects consumers from exorbitant increases.

Agriculture Minister must intervene in Potch College of Agriculture’s decline

Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP, as well as pictures here, here, here, here, here and here.

The DA has written to the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to seek answers regarding the neglect of the Potchefstroom College of Agriculture and the unhealthy status of their cattle.

The DA’s oversight on Friday confirms the recent reports showing dilapidated buildings and unhealthy-looking cattle on the premises of the college. It is totally unacceptable for any agricultural college to allow their buildings to deteriorate to that level and to neglect their animals.

Colleges and agriculture schools teach students how to take care of animals and the land. Furthermore, agricultural colleges are where students are taught how the maintenance of infrastructure on farms, including sheds and buildings for animals and packaging of produce on the farm are done or conducted.

Unfortunately, the state of the college indicates that its quality of education cannot be trusted. It is no wonder there are so many unemployed graduates from the agriculture colleges if this is what they’re exposed to.

The DA has asked the Minister:

  • To explain the college’s deterioration and the animals’ unhealthy condition;
  • For a detailed budget breakdown of the upkeep of the movable and non-movable assets owned by all the agriculture colleges and their values because is important that all assets are maintained or replaced using budget allocation; and
  • The standard maintenance protocol required by all agricultural colleges in order to maintain their teaching license.

At least the Western Cape Elsenburg College of Agriculture’s land and infrastructure (movable and non-movable) are in good condition and provide the students with great exposure to practice how to apply their theoretical knowledge once placed on farms. Because of the already existing strong collaboration between the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and agribusiness, the theory gained in class empowers students to effectively apply themselves during their internships on farms.

All South Africa’s agriculture students deserve the same high quality education. Agriculture is crucial to both food security and economic development. Government must ensure that the future generations of farmers are well-equipped for their vital tasks.

ANC defies Zondo Commission by opposing DA court case to abolish cadre deployment

Please find attached a soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

Less than a week after ANC national chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, launched a verbal attack against the State Capture Commission’s vindication of the DA’s long-held stance that cadre deployment is unconstitutional and unlawful, the entire ANC has agreed with him by formally choosing to defy Chief Justice Zondo’s recommendation that this practice be abolished.

As recently as January 8, ANC president and former cadre deployment committee chairperson, Cyril Ramaphosa, still pledged that “the ANC will support government in effecting the measures required to eliminate conditions and conduct that enable state capture and systemic corruption.” However, now that the State Capture Commission has directly implicated Ramaphosa and his cadre deployment committee in creating “conditions and conduct that enable state capture and systemic corruption,” Ramaphosa’s ANC has undertaken a treasonous about-turn.

The DA can reveal that the ANC has filed court papers to oppose our court case that seeks to have cadre deployment outlawed and abolished in the North Gauteng High Court. We received official notification of this decision on 1 July from the ANC’s attorney, Krish Naidoo.

Given that the DA’s case against ANC cadre deployment (see the court papers here and here) is built on exactly the same constitutional and legal foundation as the State Capture Commission’s finding that this practice is unconstitutional and violates the Public Service Act, the ANC’s desperate decision to continue defending cadre deployment corruption in court amounts to open defiance of the Commission’s findings.

If the ANC were in any way committed to “effecting the measures required to eliminate conditions and conduct that enable state capture and systemic corruption,” the party would have supported the DA’s case to proceed unopposed so that South Africa could be freed from cadre deployment corruption as soon as possible.

Instead, as they have done so many times before, Ramaphosa, Mantashe and the ANC have treasonously put party before country.

Fortunately, the DA has always anticipated that the ANC, an organised crime syndicate for whom cadre deployment is the single most important mechanism to capture and corrupt the state, would choose its own corrupt interests over the needs of the country even if that meant defying the Zondo Commission.

That is precisely why we launched our court action against cadre deployment in advance of the release of the final volume of the Zondo Commission’s report. We have anticipated all along that the ANC would never voluntarily end cadre deployment corruption, and that it would ultimately be up to the DA to force the implementation of the Zondo Commission’s findings.

The DA is more than ready for this historic task. As far back as March 2000, the DA’s predecessor party warned in a discussion paper entitled “All Power to the Party” that the ANC planned to use cadre deployment to “eliminate the distinction between party and state and extend its hegemony over civil society.” Two decades later, the Zondo Commission has confirmed that this practice culminated in state capture that, by some estimates, cost our country over R1.5 trillion between 2014 and 2019 alone.

Following the creation of the State Capture Commission in 2018, the DA redoubled our efforts to use this opportunity to outlaw and uproot cadre deployment corruption. We wrote close to a dozen different letters to the State Capture Commission, encouraging it to investigate cadre deployment as the foundation of state capture.

We publicly exposed minutes of the ANC’s national cadre deployment committee for the period between 2018 and 2021, which showed how state capture continues unabated under the Ramaphosa administration, and we launched an ongoing court case to force the ANC to make public minutes and all other records from the period between 2013 and 2018 when Ramaphosa personally chaired the cadre committee.

Last year, the DA submitted our End Cadre Deployment Bill to Parliament, which would ensure merit-based appointments throughout the public administration and make it a criminal offence for the ANC to interfere in appointment processes through cadre deployment. Parliament it likely to vote on this vitally important Bill before the end of 2022.

All of this careful work over the past years is designed to culminate in a DA court victory that declares ANC cadre deployment unconstitutional and illegal. A DA victory in this case will constitute the single biggest breakthrough against systemic corruption in the history of democratic South Africa. The DA’s case against ANC cadre deployment corruption is the case of the century.

Although the ANC’s treasonous decision to defy the Zondo Commission by opposing our case against cadre deployment may somewhat delay our ultimate victory in court, there is simply nothing that will stop the DA from seeing this war against corruption through to the very end. We have been waging this battle for over 20 years, and a few extra months in court will not deter us.

While the ANC is clearly desperately looking for a way to protect the criminal syndicate it nurtures through cadre deployment, the DA will proudly keep fighting to free the people of South Africa from ANC corruption.

Magashule’s Free State Operation Hlasela flagship project sinks

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Roy Jankielsohn, see pictures here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

What was hailed as the Operation Hlasela flagship project by former Free State Premier Ace Magashule, has finally sunk.

An oversight visit to the approximately R150 million Diyatalawa Agri-Village project between Harrismith and Kestell in the Free State province has exposed the final destruction of the project. Residents at the village have reverted to trying to survive on what could be scavenged for scrap metal. All the dairy and beef cattle bought by government over many years have been sold or eaten and the orchards are abandoned and dead. A bare skeleton of a once fully equipped dairy parlour remains, and the shed is empty of the farming equipment and vehicles it once housed.

While some people still reside in the 50 houses built for the beneficiary families, and a school and crèche are still functional, the hopes and dreams of an agricultural livelihood outside of poverty are shattered. The few crops planted for them by the government sponsored Mokgolokoeng Farmer Production Support Unit cannot sustain those left, and current input costs such as fuel will make further planting of crops unsustainable.

Former President Jacob Zuma launched the Comprehensive Rural Development Project (CRDP) in 2009 and Diyatalawa was identified as one of the pilot sites for the project due to the extreme poverty of people living there. The CRDP was government’s socialist response to poverty and food insecurity, land redistribution, and the creation of business opportunities for rural women, youth and people with disabilities. Zuma visited Diyatalawa in 2011 and the project was meant to be part of the obviously failed Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme.

Like most other agricultural projects in the Free State, this project has been used, similar to the Vrede Dairy Project, as a financial extraction vehicle to inflate prices and loot at the expense of the beneficiaries. This included the construction of infrastructure that included a small guard house and gate at the cost of R600 000, cattle that were paid for with the sickly animals delivered and an apple orchard on which R10 million was spent with both the expenditure and production being fruitless.

The DA in the Free State legislature exposed the failure of collectivist projects as poor business models and vehicles for corruption over many years. It is only now that money is tight and the effects of corruption on poor people is eventually becoming a focus of public interest that the Free State Department of Agriculture have started to acknowledge the failure of the ideologically-based communist models.

The DA in the Free State believe that the only land reform models that will work are share equity schemes in existing viable enterprises or investment and training in family-based agricultural production units.

More than R600k and 15 years later, government fails to deliver FMD factory

15 years after the first financial allocation was made by Treasury for a foot and mouth disease (FMD) vaccine factory, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALLRD) has yet to dig a single trench to lay the foundation.

In answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, revealed that despite the first financial allocation of R214 million by the National Treasury to DALLRD in 2007/08 to build the FMD facility, no progress has been made. This is despite an additional allocation of R400 million in 2019/20. In fact, the project is only at the stage of appointing service providers.

Whilst the explanation provided make scientific sense, taking the necessary care to ensure compliance with international standards should not take more than a decade.

Due to the delay and the numerous outbreaks of FMD through the years, South Africa lost its FMD-free status from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in 2019. On April 11, Minister Didiza announced that South Africa was yet again battling the disease with 56 outbreaks of FMD.

FMD outbreaks has also cost the economy jobs and billions of rands. According to StatsSA, the sale of cattle and their products accounts for 16% of the total commercial agriculture revenue.

It is unfathomable that DALRRD has not made haste with this project. FMD is endemic in African buffalo in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and the Park as well as the surrounding areas are declared a FMD controlled zone. This is why the vaccine facility was endorsed when first proposed and had money allocated to it. It seems that DALRRD has become complacent and has forgotten the dangers of FMD.

The DA is calling for an investigation into the root cause of the delay, which will surely be revealed to be either complete ineptitude or cadre deployment and corruption. It is time the Department rid itself of corrupt cadres putting DALLRD’s food security mandate at risk.

National Police Commissioner should take command of SAPS operations at Eskom

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

National Police Commissioner, General Masemola, should actively take operational command of SAPS operations to restore law and order at Eskom power stations. Acts of intimidation have reportedly not deescalated but have continued to fester, which has contributed to Eskom retaining stage 6 loadshedding.

The assurance that General Masemola gave the DA on Tuesday, on the activation of NATJOINTS to deal with illegal disruption at Eskom power stations, appears to be at odds with continued acts of intimidation that have led to an extension of Stage 6 loadshedding,

Responding to a DA letter sent to him on Monday, General Masemola, assured us “NATJOINTS has already been activated and ESKOM is receiving the required support.” With the security situation at Eskom power stations not showing any signs of improvement, General Masemola must now take charge and lead the execution of the SAPS tactical response plan.

The first priority should be to declare the power stations, and their immediate surrounding areas, as security zones. Any unauthorised individual who breaches this zone should be arrested for criminal trespassing.

Labour unions, NUM and NUMSA, must not be allowed to hold the country hostage through a criminal interference with the proper functioning of vital power generation plants. Eskom workers who want to work must be allowed to do so without fear of intimidation.

The DA believes that the actions recommended above should be a precursor to declaring a state of disaster around Eskom which would allow for suitably monitored additional interventions to secure and augment the utility’s generation capacity.

Days before another massive fuel price hike, no word from Godongwana or Mantashe

As South Africa approaches another fuel price hike in July, Ministers Gwede Mantashe and Enoch Godongwana are silent and have refused to even acknowledge the extremely well-supported petition submitted by the DA on 14 June to slash fuel prices.

An out of touch, uncaring and negligent approach by both Mantashe and Godongwana is not surprising from the ANC government who continue to impose sky-high fuel prices on us.

In fact, Mantashe has not even acknowledged receipt of the letter and petition, despite numerous attempts, letters and e-mails to his ministerial office. The office is simply “missing in inaction”.

That correspondence, supported and co-signed by more than 130 000 South Africans, called on the ministers and government to:

  • Scrap the General Fuel Levy – road users are effectively reimbursing National Treasury for taxpayer funds lost to corruption and wasteful expenditure;
  • Give exemptions to the RAF Levy – through a SARS tax rebate, government should exempt those who already pay for comprehensive third party insurance from the RAF levy. This would free up the RAF from claims for those drivers and save those drivers another R2.18 per litre, who would get this back as a tax rebate from SARS;
  • De-regulate the fuel price – the cost of fuel can be further reduced by deregulating the fuel sector to spur competition between sellers;
  • Support the DA’s Private Members Bill which seeks to amend the Petroleum Products Act, in particular the provisions contained in section 2, de-regulate the fuel sector and encourage competition; and
  • Support the DA sponsored urgent debate of national importance in Parliament on the fuel price.

In addition, at the beginning of April this year when fuel prices really began to bite, these two ministers undertook to review the fuel pricing model. More than 3 months later, there has been little movement on this issue, and no feedback whatsoever to a struggling nation.

This inaction by Mantashe and Godongwana is a slap in the face of all those who took the time to submit their comments and sign the letters, as well as every single South African who is struggling to make ends meet in the face of the rapidly increasing cost of living.

We must make no mistake: the situation is dire, and it is compounded by an uncaring and unresponsive government.

The DA calls on Ministers Godongwana and Mantashe to immediately table proposals on reducing the fuel price, and to report back to the country on the status of their interventions to date. South Africans cannot afford the excessive fuel taxes and the impact rising fuel costs have on food and other product prices.

We demand answers on how government intends to slash fuel prices now!

Ministers must ensure Gupta extradition request is translated urgently

Please find attached soundbite by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP.

The DA will write to the Ministers of Justice, Ronald Lamola, and International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, to ask that the translation of the official extradition request of the Guptas into Arabic be done as a matter of urgency.

South Africa only has 60 days from the Guptas’ arrest on 2 June 2022 to submit the formal extradition application as per the country’s extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, Minister Lamola revealed that the UAE authorities informed him of the arrest on 6 June 2022. On 8 June, the Justice Department received a request from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for the provisional arrest of the Guptas, which was then sent to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). On 10 June, the department was advised that the Investigating Directorate (ID) within the NPA was finalising the extradition request, and this would subsequently be translated into Arabic.

We urge the Justice Department and DIRCO to facilitate the translating of the official documentation without further delay, as a failure to do so could result in the derailment of the Gupta’s extradition.

The crimes the Guptas stand accused of are not trivial. South Africa suffers daily from the results of the widespread corruption and State Capture. It is of utmost importance that the Guptas stand trial and government ineptitude must not stand in the way of justice.