Ramaphosa misled the country on state custodianship of land

President Cyril Ramaphosa misled the country when he said that the ANC will not support the EFF’s proposal to make the state custodian of all land as this would “kill entrepreneurial spirit”.

Two weeks after giving this assurance, his ANC comrades in the Section 25 Ad-hoc Committee have formally included state custodianship as part of their new proposal to the amendment.

The implications of this about-turn is that South Africa cannot, at face value, accept anything that Ramaphosa says because even if he means it the ANC simply ignores him and does the exact opposite.

In its blind rush to ensure the passing of the amendment at all costs, the ANC has thrown out all reason and is now openly pandering to the EFF. The EFF has been demanding ‘state custodianship’ in return for their support to achieve the two-thirds majority necessary to amend the constitution to explicitly allow for expropriation of property without compensation.

State custodianship is nothing but just another byword for nationalisation of land under the administrative control of the ANC, a party that has proved itself time and again that it destroys everything that it purports to administer.

Almost every current example of state custodianship of land shows that it ruins agricultural productivity and keeps people trapped in poverty. Even with state ownership of land since its independence in 1975, the Mozambican economy has broadly been ineffective and inefficient at reducing poverty and providing a broader social and economic basis for development.

The argument that ‘state custodianship’ will benefit emerging farmers, in whose interest the ANC claims to be doing this, is another ANC lie. Not only will farmers be permanent tenants of the state but will struggle to derive profits from their operations due to an inability to access finance.

Every bit of evidence demonstrates that state custodianship does not work yet the ANC is barrelling on, following a ruinous ideology rather than evidence. The DA remains resolute in our rejection of the ongoing attempt to nationalise land by stealth and reduce South Africa to an economic wasteland.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA calls on Minister Sisulu to keep dispute regulator’s doors open

The DA notes the Community Service Ombudsman Scheme (CSOS) decision to summarily suspend walk-ins at all of their offices due to the rising Covid-19 levels.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced many businesses, corporations and organisations to rethink how their operations are conducted, ensuring that as far as possible, measures are put in place to safeguard the health and wellbeing of employees and the public. 

 

Whilst businesses across the country have developed plausible safety measures to protect employees and the public while the country is on level 3,  CSOS has simply elected to jump straight back to level 5 lockdown and shut its doors.

 

This can only be viewed as a convenient excuse for them to do the bare minimum while the rest of the country is hard at work saving lives and livelihoods. 

 

The CSOS has a key role in regulating the conduct of parties within community schemes such as sectional title‚ homeowners’ associations‚ retirement housing schemes‚ share block companies and housing.

 

They are mandated to perform critical work, especially in light of the government’s ban on evictions.

 

This closure will now have a direct impact on the level of access that South African’s have to this critical state service.

 

This will create avoidable and unnecessary administrative challenges to an organisation already reeling due to many challenges of inefficiency.

 

We call on Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to urgently intervene in ensuring that CSOS does not continue to use the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse for poor service to its clients.  

 

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA to submit objections to PEPUDA Bill

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP.

The DA strongly objects to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Amendment Bill (PEPUDA) which seeks to amend the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000.

We have been invited to make comments on this Bill by 30 June 2021 and will use this as an opportunity to object to the Bill. After an in-depth study of the Bill, the DA has the following fundamental problems with it:

  • Expanded Definition and Removal of Requirement of Intent

The DA is concerned that the amendments to the definition of ‘discrimination’ and the removal of ‘intent’ will have unforeseen far-reaching consequences whereby individuals might break the law either without knowing they have done so, or without ever intending to do so. The current definition of ‘discrimination’ in PEPUDA is simply too broad and will overwhelm South Africa’s already overburdened justice system.

  • Vicarious Liability

The introduction of vicarious liability in clause 2 will put an unreasonable responsibility on employers to police the actions of their employees, even during non-working hours. Employers should not be unreasonably held liable for the discriminating behaviour of their employees. In a country where the numbers of unemployment grows daily, government should not be introducing legislation that will discourage employment in any way or form.

  • Obligations Placed on Private Institutions

Clause 9 of PEPUDA gives government the power to prescribe how NGOs, community-based organisations, and traditional organisations promote equality in their dealings with other organisations and in their public activities. Ironically, this clause will give government ample opportunity to discriminate against any organisation when prescribing their code of equality. This may result in a selective and politically motivated application of codes upon organisations which the State may find undesirable.

PEPUDA as it now stands, will leave the system open to all types of abuse, not least from government whose recent history has proven that any loophole will be exploited to advantage the politically connected, the corrupt and their cadres.

The DA will vehemently oppose this Bill at every opportunity and encourages all South Africans to do the same when the opportunity for public participation arrives.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA extends its condolences on the passing of Kenneth Kaunda

The DA extends its heartfelt condolences to the people of Zambia and the Kaunda family on the passing of former President Kenneth Kaunda. Zambia and Africa has lost one of its most influential and respected leaders.

Kenneth Kaunda spent his long life in the dedicated service of his country, first as liberator and then as leader. He was the last of a generation that spearheaded the fight for a post-colonial Africa in the mid to late 20th century, showing principled solidarity with his Southern African neighbours in their own struggles.

Later in life, his campaigning for HIV testing and treatment did much to counter the stigma of the virus and encourage people to know their status and seek treatment.

Kenneth Kaunda leaves behind a significant legacy and an important contribution to the freedom of Zambians. May he rest in peace, and may the people of Zambia find comfort in their time of grieving.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA invites Minister Cele to speak at Guns Summit

The DA has written to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to extend an invitation to speak and participate in the upcoming Firearms Summit scheduled for Tuesday, 22 June 2021.

The event is set to be the largest virtual Guns Summit in South Africa, comprising of civil society organisations, academia, various interest groups and members of the public.

The DA believes that it is important that the Minister participate in this event in order to afford him an opportunity to clarify the government’s position on the controversial Firearms Control Amendment Bill.

The Summit will  provide an opportunity for the legislation to be fully unpacked, understood and debated. We trust that the Minister will put politics aside and accept our invitation.

The Bill proposes scrapping self-defence as a reason to apply for a firearm and effectively seeks to take away the rights of South Africans to lawfully choose how they want to defend themselves and their families against rising incidents of violence and criminality.

The DA is strongly opposed to this draconian Bill and we encourage fellow South Africans to share their views on this ill considered piece of legislation by signing the DA’s petition opposing the Firearms Control Amendment Bill. To date, more than 73 000 South Africans have made their voices heard.

SAPS is in a state of disarray and is failing dismally to fight crime in this country. It is just mindboggling how any government would come up with a Bill that will put law-abiding citizens at the mercy of criminals.

We encourage South Africans to follow the Summit on Tuesday at 10AM live on our YouTube and Facebook channels.

The DA has also opened accreditation for members of the media. Journalists wishing to cover cover the Summit are encouraged to accredit by submitting their name and surname, media house, email address and cellphone number Bongisa Mhaga (061 109 2590 /bongisam@da.org.za or Debreé Kluge (072 034 4970 / debreek@da.org.za). A special Zoom and WhatsApp group will be made available to the media to pose questions and queries to the panelists and guest organisations.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Chaotic land administration system: what is Thoko Didiza and her officials hiding? 

Please find attached a soundbite by Annette Steyn MP

After the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD) admitted in a parliamentary reply that the state currently has 9,8 million hectares of land registered under its custodianship, I made plans to conduct an oversight visit at the Department’s head office in Pretoria.

The intention, captured in a letter that I sent to the Director General (DG) Mooketsa Ramasodi a week before my visit, was to obtain:

  • A detailed report on all farm evictions including progress report on investigations and consequence management where officials were found to have reneged in their duties.
  • A full and detailed database of all Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) farms including the number of farms assisted through the ALHA and the asset register.
  • A full database of all farms registered in the name of the state, this list must include a section of all farms that already concluded 30 years lease agreements as well as farms with options to purchase.
  • A database of all successful restitution claims with original beneficiary lists.
  • All policies guiding land reform including farmer development support
  • A beneficiary list of all RECAP funding committed and paid out to every farmer.
  • Detailed business plans for each Agri-park and Farmer Support Units. List of service providers and breakdown of work completed.
  • Lists of farmers supported per Farmer Support Units.
  • Total cost of development of business plans for Agri-parks.
  • A breakdown of all costs for Agri Parks and FSU

Not only was I prevented from carrying out the oversight and getting answers on the aforementioned, in line with my responsibilities as a Member of Parliament, but Departmental officials went to extreme lengths to make sure that I left.

While I understood that DG Ramasodi was booked off sick, Mr Kgobokoe who was acting in his place informed me they could not assist me in the absence of Ramasodi. This begs the question, does the Department stop functioning if the DG is not around?

What made this experience more curious is that Mr Kgobokoe appeared to insinuate that the order to get rid of me came from Minister Thoko Didiza herself. If this was the case, then it was hardly surprising because Minister Didiza has ignored countless letters that I have written to her seeking answers on the country’s chaotic land administration system.

In addition to being unable to see the land administration database system, I also could not get answers for farmers and communities who had asked me to ascertain why they were still waiting to get lease agreements signed or why their long outstanding land claims queries were not being attended to.

Didiza and her officials may dodge accountability but they will not hide forever. I will write to the Director General again requesting a new schedule for my oversight that was cancelled.

Open and transparent government is needed to ensure successful land reform.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Lindani Myeni: DA calls on DIRCO to ensure continued engagement with US authorities over new video evidence 

In light of the release of new video evidence in the murder case of Lindani Myeni who was shot and killed by police officers in Honolulu, Hawaii, the DA urges the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to ensure continued engagement with US authorities to ensure justice is served for his untimely death.

The Honolulu police have previously defended their actions of shooting Myeni saying that he had acted violently when he was being apprehended for an alleged house burglary. The new video footage which has emerged however shows Myeni as calm and composed.

The new evidence not only shows that the authorities have been less than economical with the truth but that the South African government has the right to be asking questions in order to ascertain what has really happened to Myeni.

It is important that the principles of unity and fairness are upheld. We fight for these ideals daily in South Africa and so it is consistent that we would continue to fight for it abroad too. Whilst we respect sovereign borders, we have a responsibility to our citizens.

We also note that in line with South Africa having the right to take responsibility for their citizens abroad, we recognize that reciprocity exists for those countries to ask the same questions from our authorities when crimes are committed against their citizens.

The South African government has a duty to ensure that justice is served in the senseless killing of Lindani Myeni.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Is the SAA/Takatso deal real?


Please find attached soundbite by Alf Lees MP.

The DA has written to Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, and the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to request urgent information regarding the deal that will see the Takatso Consortium, consisting of the Harith Group Partners and Global Airways, with a 51% share of the South African Airways (SAA).

While Minister Gordhan announced the deal with great fanfare on 11 June 2021, he failed to provide any real substance of what this would entail. There are a host of unanswered questions that must be dealt with in order to ensure that the proposed deal is not just another form of SAA bailout disguised as a deal via the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) or other development finance institution (DFI), or yet another enrichment exercise for connected ANC cadres.

Whilst the DA welcomes the fact that on the surface the State is finally apparently giving up control over SAA, we have grave reservations given the lack of transparency regarding the details of the process followed to identify a beneficiary for the 51% shareholding as well as the details of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) or agreement negotiated but apparently not yet entered into with Takatso.

In the interest of the constitutionally enshrined obligation for transparent governance and in terms of the rules of parliament that require that members of parliament be provided with information requested from the Executive, the DA has requested that Ministers Gordhan and Mboweni provide us and all South Africans with full, detailed and unequivocal answers to a list of questions as well as to provide the full details of the information requested.

Unfortunately, experience has taught us that both Ministers Gordhan and Mboweni have, on occasion, failed to give detailed or clear replies to requests for information. This is particularly true of Minister Gordhan who after some twelve weeks has still not provided the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) with information on SAA that was requested during a SCOPA meeting on 25 March 2021 and in writing on the same day immediately after the meeting. As Parliament is currently in recess, no parliamentary questions can be submitted to the Ministers.

In an attempt to ensure cooperation from the Ministers, the DA has also written to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Speaker of Parliament, Thandi Modise, to appeal that they use all the authority vested in them to guarantee that Ministers Gordhan and Mboweni swiftly provide the information requested and to bring all South Africans into their confidence.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA asks Cabinet to act in the national interest and oppose expropriation of land without compensation 

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Dr Annelie Lotriet MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today written to the national Cabinet reminding them of the oath that they took to defend the Constitution and requesting that they publicly reject the ongoing parliamentary process to pass the 18th Constitution Amendment Bill which seeks to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

The letter was sent to the Director-General in the Presidency, who also acts as the Secretary to the Cabinet – Ms Phindile Bakeni. We requested that the contents of the letter be read and recorded as part of the official proceedings of any Cabinet meeting to be held immediately after its date of receipt.

National Cabinet has an obligation to protect the integrity of our constitutional Republic and the protection of every citizen’s rights, including property rights. The 18th Constitution Amendment Bill is not only a direct attack on our Bill of rights but threatens the foundations of our constitutional democracy. Cabinet cannot continue to bury its head in the sand while a direct attack on the Constitution is being pursued in Parliament.

South Africa’s constitutional dispensation recognises the rule of law as a sacrosanct value that exists to protect fundamental human rights of all its citizens, including security of property rights.

In our letter, we make the case that upending the current system of private property ownership in favour of State custodianship, as advocated for by the EFF in the Ad-hoc parliamentary committee, will be detrimental to the rule of law as it would mark the end of existing constitutional provisions which guarantee property rights.

Placing land under the custodianship of the State will effectively “nationalise” the land under the control of the State – a disastrous move that will lead to economic devastation and escalating poverty, as it has already done in countries as diverse as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

The 18th Constitution Amendment Bill, if passed, will damage South Africa’s economy much more than Covid-19, which is a temporary phenomenon. Indeed, even flirting with the idea of EWC has already cost our economy dearly.

The value of South Africa’s financial sector has dropped by a third since President Ramaphosa’s first EWC announcement in 2018. South Africa is now the only sizable emerging market country with net outflows of foreign direct investment.

Foreign direct investment fell 46% in SA in 2020 compared with only 11% for Sub-Saharan Africa has a whole.

Amending section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation will not address the systemic challenges currently facing the land reform process in South Africa. What is needed is a pragmatic and rational approach that will operate within the confines of current constitutional provisions on land reform. Cabinet should commit itself to an expedited and transparent land reform process, within the current provisions of the Constitution, and reject the ongoing ill-advised attempt to push for expropriation of land without compensation.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Testimony in front of HRC confirms DA charges that Stellenbosch University violated human rights by banning Afrikaans

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

In shocking testimony delivered on Tuesday in front of an inquiry by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) – which was initiated following complaints submitted by the DA – the head of the Minerva women’s residence, Mariëtha Lemmer, confessed that the Stellenbosch University (SU) had violated the rights to human dignity, privacy and freedom of association of Afrikaans-speaking students.

Lemmer testified that these human rights violations came about after Minerva students were banned from speaking Afrikaans during the ironically-named “welcoming” period at the beginning of March. She confirmed that newcomer students were “strictly and firmly” told that Afrikaans was banned. Lemmer openly conceded that this instruction violated a number of human rights and acknowledged that first-year students were “victimised and policed” when speaking Afrikaans. She further testified that students who objected to the ban were told to “go to their rooms,” and that students were in some cases not even allowed to sing songs in Afrikaans.

The far-reaching extent of the human rights violations was further exposed by the testimony of Simthembile Xeketwana, the residence head of Huis Francie van Zijl on the SU’s Tygerberg campus. Xeketwana confirmed that students were told not to speak Afrikaans on WhatsApp groups and that an investigation had determined that acts of “micro-aggressions” against Afrikaans-speaking students were pervasive.

Earlier on Tuesday, DA Constituency Head for Stellenbosch, Dr Leon Schreiber, outlined how the DA has consistently supported students in their search for justice in this matter. The DA has over the past months met with various affected students, conducted fact-finding missions on the extent of the university’s assault on mother-tongue education, submitted a petition objecting to the language policy that garnered over 6 500 signatures, and laid the original charges that resulted in the ongoing HRC investigation.

Schreiber also testified that the assault on the rights of Afrikaans-speaking students was the direct result of the 2016 language policy, which sought to systematically reduce Afrikaans to a second-class language at the university, and that only a new language policy that explicitly granted equal status to English and Afrikaans would resolve the discriminatory practices.

The management of SU, led by rector Wim de Villiers, ought to hang their heads in shame following these latest revelations. Instead of dealing with the violations with the necessary urgency when they became known at the beginning of March, the management has sought to downplay, deny and deceive at every turn.

But the jig is almost up.

The DA is grateful that the ugly truth about the human rights violations perpetrated against Afrikaans-speaking students is being exposed as a result of the investigation we initiated. We look forward to findings and recommendations by the HRC that will help replace the current SU regime – which we now know violates the basic human rights of some students – with a new language dispensation based on full and substantive equality of opportunity for English and Afrikaans students.

The DA will not rest until this goal, which goes to the heart of our constitutional dispensation, is attained at one of the only universities in the country with the ability to offer tuition in an indigenous African language.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.