Despite ‘clever accounting’, Transnet is still an operational mess – Gauteng fuel pipeline breach is now at crisis point

Find attached a soundbite from the DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Ghaleb Cachalia MP

While Transnet may have succeeded in turning a profit through an accounting smoke and mirrors, its operational capabilities continue to deteriorate markedly across the board. Independent estimates indicate that the vital Gauteng fuel pipeline has been breached 9 times in the past 19 days.

With Parliament opening for a new term, the DA will motivate that the Committee on Public Enterprises invites Transnet Executives to come and account for the escalating breaches of the Gauteng fuel pipeline. They need to provide details of steps that they will be taking to ensure that this issue is addressed as a matter of urgency.

Despite spending R8 billion on pipeline security in the past 3 years, Transnet has completely failed to protect the Gauteng fuel artery and communities that live alongside it. In addition to the environmental damage that these constant oil spills have on local areas, the increasing incidents of pipeline breach now pose a serious risk to energy security in the Gauteng area.

The latest incident was on the 7th of August where a significant breach on the Trasnet pipeline is suspected to have occurred between Jamesonpark and Alrode. Eyewitness accounts contend that at least one hectare of land was overrun by a diesel spill which had got dangerously close to residential houses. Indications are that this fuel spill had been going on for days without prompt intervention from Transnet technical teams.

When Transnet executives appear before Parliament, the DA will ask that they account on:

  1. The full extent of the incidents relating to fuel pipeline breaches across all its major fuel arteries across the country;
  2. The level of inter-agency cooperation with law enforcement agencies, such as SAPS, in trying to stop these breaches; and
  3. Whether Transnet and SAPS have registered any success in apprehending individuals who are suspected of breaching Transnet pipelines.

Instead of wasting time in offices ‘cooking books’ and inflating asset valuations, Transnet should be directing its efforts where it matters the most – protecting its vital assets.

Alexkor diamond corruption – SIU dragnet must be extended to the former CEO Lemogang Pitsoe

“The DA welcomes the latest action taken by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) to conduct a warrant of search and seizure against the Gupta linked Alexander Bay Diamonds Company, which is alleged to have been at the center of the wholesale looting of the state diamonds company, Alexkor”, says DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Farhat Essack MP.

With revelations that Alexander Bay Diamonds Company irregularly won a contract on marketing, valuation, sale and beneficiation of diamonds on behalf of Alexkor, former CEO Lemogang Pitsoe also has a case to answer. Pitsoe must account on the role he played in awarding this contract and the circumstances that led to Alexkor becoming a cesspool of corruption under his watch.

The Gupta corruption network thrived on having enablers who were willing to do its bidding to advance the looting of state resources. Pitsoe must come forward and clear his name on the Alexander Bay Diamonds Company contract, including all the pending allegations that relate to corrupt activities at Alexkor.

The immediate victims of Alexkor corruption have been the Richtersveld community, who hold the land mining rights and have a Pooling and Sharing Joint Venture (PSJV) with Alexkor. While Alexkor has been selling diamonds mined on Richtersveld community land at below market prices, through its intermediaries, community members have been robbed of an opportunity to benefit from fair value mining royalties that were due to them.

In the interest of justice for the Richtersveld community, every business contract that Alexkor has ever entered into with third parties must be reviewed as a matter of urgency. The SIU investigation is the first step in exposing the malfeasance that has long been part of the company culture at Alexkor for years.

Stop the BELA Bill. Stop school capture

Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP

The deadline for submitting public comments on the discriminatory BELA Bill is Monday, 15 August 2022.

It is crucial that the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education receive as many submissions as possible highlighting the problematic clauses of the BELA Bill, in particular the ‘Lesufi-clauses’. This clause seeks to remove the power of School governing bodies to determine admissions and language policies (among others) while also curtailing the local communities’ ability to oppose the policy changes.

By robbing governing bodies of these powers, the Department of Basic Education plans to centralise control over public schools – not in the hands of the communities and parents who know what is best for their children, but in the hands of loyal ANC cadres like Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi who seek to capture public schools.

Furthermore, the BELA Bill:

  • Fails to take into account the practical implications of making grade R compulsory;
  • Takes the decision of final admission away from school governing boards without allowing for a more nuanced appeal mechanism;
  • Removes power over a school’s language policy and places it in the hands of Head of the Department of Basic Education;
  • The clauses regarding home schooling fail to take into account the various concerns of the stakeholders; and
  • The Bill is also missing an opportunity to effectively regulate online and blended learning to alleviate the pressure on physical schooling.

This draconian Bill has received widespread criticism, with signatures that oppose it in the DA’s Afrikaans and English petitions fast approaching 20 000.

The BELA Bill will significantly change the educational landscape to the detriment of our youth for decades to come.

The DA calls on public to stop this destructive and discriminatory Bill in its tracks and 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.

South Africans can fix South Africa with a government that empowers them

Help people to help themselves. Empower individuals and communities to solve their own problems and build their own lives. Work with people rather than against them. Unlock private sector investment by cutting red tape. Be open for business. Devolve power where possible. Collaborate, cooperate, support, empower. This is the DA’s approach to government.
 
The ANC’s approach of jealously guarding power and ruling from on high has broken South Africa. Don’t allow them to blame foreigners or the Constitution. And don’t fall for their quick-fix solutions that give them even more power, such as NHI, stronger employment equity legislation, more sector masterplans, SARB nationalization, and expropriation – all of which are being trotted out now in an effort to hold the party together and shore up its dwindling support. That way lies more ruin.
 
South Africa needs fixing, and fast, before lawlessness and instability spread further. This country is fixable with a government that empowers everyone to get stuck in. Realistically, decentralised control is the only way forward. We must unleash the creativity and resources, incentives and ingenuity of all the people of South Africa.
 
Harnessing people power
 
DA-run Western Cape and Cape Town are pursuing a decentralised approach to build resilient communities, a healthy economy, and a safe society. Some recent examples.
 
Education MEC David Maynier met with the CEO of Spark Schools this week about the provision of low-fee, quality education by the private sector in the Western Cape, to see how the province can support this initiative. The province welcomes the private sector’s contribution.
 
The province’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism this week revealed that the province has received R103 billion in Foreign Direct Investment into its technology sector in the past decade. It has successfully positioned itself as “Africa’s Tech Capital” by partnering with Wesgro and GreenCape to attract private investment rather than by over-regulating this growth sector.
 
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis this week published an article answering the most common questions about installing private solar generation in the City. DA-run Cape Town is doing everything possible to enable businesses and households to generate their own electricity and earn money by feeding excess power into the grid. The DA has long urged the minister of energy and NERSA to cut red tape and allow independent power suppliers to get on the grid and to devolve power to competent municipalities to buy, produce and sell energy directly.
 
The City is harnessing people power by rewarding residents who report illegal dumping, and by increasing budget support (to over R7 million) to equip neighbourhood watches in support of residents who give of their time freely to make their communities safer.
 
The murder rate in the Cape Town suburb of Kraaifontein has been nearly halved, thanks to an all-hands-on-deck approach whereby the City and Province’s joint LEAP initiative (Law Enforcement Advancement Programme) has partnered with SAPS, neighbourhood watches, the community policing forum, and churches in the area to bring down crime. Just this week another 100 graduates were deployed to the LEAP programme, bringing the total to 1100 LEAP officers.
 
Devolution
 
The Province and City are pushing for devolution of policing to competent provinces and metros, as the best way to restore law and order. They have amply shown that they will do a better job of keeping people safe than the national government does. Devolution of policing is fully within the scope of the Constitution and experience around the world shows that policing is done better when it is brought closer to communities.
 
Federalism is a core DA value. It is defined as the devolution of power between different spheres of government (national, provincial, local) to the lowest effective level, to ensure decisions are made close as possible to the people, communities and businesses they affect. In line with this value, the City has also embarked on a feasibility study to have power over passenger rail devolved to it, so that it can build an integrated, quality public transport system for residents.
 
Creating jobs, growing the economy, ending poverty
 
Similarly, if we’re going to create jobs, grow the economy and end poverty, economic decision-making power needs to be decentralised to individuals and businesses in what the DA calls a social market economy.
 
Current overregulation at the hands of such socialists as trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, mining and energy minister Gwede Mantashe, and labour minister Thulas Nxesi is killing investment, stifling job creation, and fueling poverty and instability.
 
Overregulation in the form of the Mining Charter has deterred investment in mining and given rise to the phenomenon of Zama Zamas (illegal miners who operate under dangerous conditions and outside the tax system). Overregulation in the form of local content requirements, BEE, employment equity and other regulations has similarly crippled our electricity sector. The recent temporary lifting of restrictions on local content requirements and chicken imports, to ease the electricity and the cost of living crises respectively, are both tacit admissions that these restrictions harm society.
 
Less red tape and more decentralised economic decision-making leads to more investment, more jobs, and more tax revenue to be spent by government on growing equality of opportunity and providing strong safety nets and trampolines for the vulnerable. It’s a virtuous circle that a DA-led national government will embrace. We believe government’s role in the economy is to create the enabling environment and be a referee (in ensuring open and competitive markets and protecting the environment) rather than a player.
 
Power to the people
 
The DA is working to prevent the centralization of power and thereby to put more power in the hands of ordinary South Africans. We have gone to court to have the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment declared illegal and unconstitutional in a bid to prevent the party from controlling all levers of political and economic power.

While the minister of small business development is about to gazette yet another socialist ANC Masterplan, the DA is calling for the scrapping of rigid labour legislation, collective bargaining and BEE requirements for small businesses so that entrepreneurs can be freed up to create jobs on a massive scale.
 
We are fighting NHI (National Health Insurance) because the solution to our dysfunctional health system is to fix and capacitate our clinics and hospitals, train more doctors and nurses, and harness the private sector, not to centralise more power in our incapable bloated bureaucracy. It is outrageous that government has approved R30 million towards employing 44 personnel for the NHI Scheme, which has not been passed through parliament, and plans to allocate more resources next year to fund an NHI staff of 120 people. Yet hospitals battle extreme shortages and patients suffer in horrific conditions.
 
The DA is also opposing the controversial BELA Bill which will rob school governing bodies of the power to determine their own language and admissions policies, and hand that power over to ANC cadres.
 
And we strongly oppose nationalizing the Reserve Bank, an anti-growth plan that President Ramaphosa appeared to support last weekend. It would give government power to unduly influence the country’s money supply and banking sector. The Reserve Bank needs to be left in independent, technocratic hands so that it can be free to take necessary, often unpopular decisions in the country’s best long-term interest.

Conclusion
 
Rather than fall for xenophobic scapegoating and populist short-cuts that give the ANC more power and lead to more ruin, South Africans need to take back their power so that together we can do the real hard work of fixing and building for all. The DA cares deeply about South Africa. We are committed to decentralizing control because we believe in the people of this country and their ability to fix South Africa together if given the chance.
 
PS. Applications for the DA Young Leaders Programme are now open, and close on 31 August 2022. Click here to apply.

DA welcomes arrest of 20 instigators of July unrest

Please find attached a soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

The DA welcomes the arrest of 20 instigators of the July unrest which terrorised our country in 2021.

The families of the more than 300 people who died during the violent unrest deserve swift and decisive justice having waited more than a year for these arrests to be made.

The Hawks must be commended for their work in synchronising these arrests which took place across the country yesterday, however the DA remains extremely concerned by the state of policing in South Africa and Kwa Zulu Natal (KZN) in particular.

With more than 35% of public order policing vehicles in the country in the workshop for repairs and over 50% in KZN, it is clear that the systemic and management dysfunction within SAPS is not being addressed. SAPS’ ability to respond to future violent unrest is constrained by outdated training, lack of vehicles and a shortage of personnel. The fact that crime intelligence is still without a permanent head is a further risk that requires urgent attention.

Parliament must now interrogate the Minister of Police’s compliance with the very clear recommendations contained in the ‘Report of the Expert Panel into the July 2021 Civil Unrest’. The Minister of Police was required to act on these recommendations without delay but does not appear to be taking the report seriously.

DA welcomes SA-EU agreement on citrus imports

Please find attached English soundbite by Mat Cuthbert MP, and Afrikaans soundbite by Noko Masipa MP.

The DA welcomes the agreement between the South African government and the European Commission regarding the possible destruction of citrus that had been underway to the European Union (EU) when new regulations were suddenly introduced.

Yet, we question why the Departments of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and Trade and Industry (DTI) did not engage with the EU as soon as the regulations were published.

The agriculture industry had to attempt to remedy the situation on their own before government joined the negotiations.

The regulations from the EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) required that citrus imported from South Africa undergo extreme cold treatment to mitigate and circumvent false codling moth (FCM) contamination. The requirements meant that more than 2 000 containers of citrus that had already left the country were in danger of being destroyed.

According to media reports, the processing of containers have begun after the meeting between DALRRD, DTI and the European Commission. However, a loss of at least R200 million in damages and profit due to the delays caused by the Ukraine-Russian war and the regulations was confirmed by the local industry. This staggering loss might have been averted had President Cyril Ramaphosa heeded the DA’s calls for his intervention in the matter.

The DA is extremely concerned about the impact of the delays on sustainable farming and we urge government to consider measures to support farmers hit by these EU export challenges including making sure that finance houses don’t disadvantage farmers that are experiencing financial strain as a result of the regulations.

The agriculture industry is a bedrock of the South African economy and food security, yet government constantly fails to fully support it. The DA therefore, urge government to improve its support towards commercial farmers. Government must do better.

While Cele stumbles, 1 100 LEAP officers are deployed in the Western Cape

Please find photos here, here and here

The DA-run Western Cape Government, together with the City of Cape Town today celebrated the deployment of another 100 new Law Enforcement Advancement Programme (LEAP) graduates across the city, bringing the total LEAP officers deployed to 1 100.

While the government is unable to capacitate SAPS and keep South Africans safe, the DA-led Western Cape continues to come up with solution-orientated interventions in policing.

Many communities are still threatened by violent crime, drug abuse and gangsterism, and there is still much more work to be done. But the LEAP programme is a leading step in the right direction. Since the very first deployment in February 2020, LEAP officers have made 8500 arrests, and have taken over 220 guns off the streets.

To date, the Western Cape Government has invested R712 million in the LEAP programme, and a further R400 million has been budgeted for the 2022/23 financial year. The DA welcomes the Western Cape Government’s commitment to making our province a safer place for all.

The DA in the Western Cape applauds the efforts of all stakeholders involved, and we thank them for their hard work to establish the LEAP, bolstering safety resources in crime hotspots across Cape Town. We also wish to extend a special word of thanks to the brave LEAP officers who are making our vulnerable communities safer.

President Ramaphosa must stop dragging his feet and suspend Hlophe

The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to suspend Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe as a matter of urgency. The President’s reluctance to act on the recommendations of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) is increasingly damaging to the judiciary’s credibility and integrity.

The President’s failure has emboldened groups like Project 27 and the Black People’s National Crisis Committee in their efforts to keep Judge Hlophe in power while the Section 177 removal process is before Parliament. The increasing politicization of Judge Hlophe’s suspension will only grow the longer the President delays the inevitable.

The JSC’s recommendation that the President suspend Hlophe two weeks ago was the culmination of 12 years of work by the DA, and other role-players within the justice and constitutional development NGO space. We will not allow these efforts to be wasted just because President Ramaphosa refuses to take the appropriate action.

In South Africa everyone is equal before the law, including Judge Hlophe. It is time President Ramaphosa stops pandering to political pressure and does the right thing – suspend Judge President John Hlophe.

DA’s Implementation Tracker shows that Ramaphosa’s Energy Response Plan is already flashing red

A snapshot of the DA’s Energy Response Plan Implementation Tracker can be found here.

Data from the DA’s Energy Response Plan Implementation Tracker, which was launched today, has revealed that measures announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the electricity crisis and end load shedding have stalled. Not only is the plan lacking it terms of urgency, it now faces the real risk of permeant derailment due to an ineffective National Energy Crisis Committee.

Using the Energy Response Plan Implementation Tracker’s (ERPIT) methodology, the DA’s initial assessment shows that out of the 29 energy plan project goals being tracked, 20 of these (or 70%) are still yet to move beyond the rhetoric or conceptualisation stage. This lethargic progress is a consequence of an ineffective National Energy Crisis Committee and an energy plan that lacks a time-sensitive plan of action.

The ERPIT is a real time policy monitoring tool that the DA has developed to track progress and measure project deliverables in the implementation of Ramaphosa’s energy plan.

Through the use of a 3 key weighting system to score progress in the implementation of the 29 project goals listed in the energy plan, Key 1 represents the lowest score where no progress has been made towards implementation while Key 3 represents a project goal whose outcomes have been achieved.

The ERPIT is tracking the energy plan’s 29 project goals through two timescales, namely:

  • Short Term Priorities – Improving Eskom’s operational performance
  • Medium to Long Term Priorities – Procuring additional generation capacity

Accountability deficit in the energy response plan

The ERPIT assessment has exposed the severe lack of measurable targets and delivery milestones in Ramaphosa’s energy plan. Whether this was deliberate or not, South Africans are still in the dark on when, for example, Eskom’s installed generation fleet will be fixed to bring additional power to the grid and ease loadshedding.

Without specific time frames on project deliverables, Ramaphosa’s energy plan may well turn out to be another damp squib in the ongoing saga of failed plans by the ANC government to decisively deal with the energy crisis.

This lack of accountability is precisely why the DA has repeatedly called on the Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula, to establish an Ad-hoc Committee to exercise oversight on the National Energy Crisis Committee. Two weeks since we submitted that request, the Speaker has done nothing. By so doing, she has reduced Parliament to a spectator on the electricity crisis and undermined Parliament’s constitutional function to hold the executive to account.

Save for a single photo-op media opportunity that they held soon after Ramaphosa released his energy response plan, Ministers who serve in the National Energy Crisis Committee have failed to provide regular updates on the progress being made on project implementation. Instead, some of them, like Ebrahim Patel, are still refusing to remove onerous red tape that is standing in the way of increased investment in the electricity sector. His insistence on retaining the 35% local content requirement, instead of removing it completely, is a case in point.

Energy response plan current progress status

According to the ERPIT, only 9 project goals out of 29 are currently in progress towards implementation. This is a clear indication that Ramaphosa’s government is not functioning in a crisis mode or with the urgency needed to address the electricity crisis. It vindicates the DA position in which we had called for a ring-fenced State of Disaster to be declared on the crisis.

As it stand, some of the critical short to medium term project goals that have stalled include:

  • Recruitment or rehiring of experienced former Eskom staff (Engineers, Power station managers);
  • Procurement of electricity from neighboring countries (just an admission that negotiations are ongoing);
  • Amending contracts with existing IPPs to sell additional capacity;
  • Bringing Kusile Unit 5 and 6 online as quickly as possible;
  • Lack of a publicly available plan to Eliminate sabotage, theft and fraud at Eskom;
  • National treasury plan to expand tax incentives for residential and commercial installations is still pending.

The DA’s Energy Response Plan Implementation Tracker, in addition to holding Ramaphosa and his National Energy Crisis Committee to account, will inform the DA’s programme of action in following up on project deliverables.

Cele spends R600 million a year on catering and accommodation

Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

Since Bheki Cele took office as Minister of Police, SAPS and the Ministry of Police have spent R1.58 billion on accommodation, R42.7 million on catering and R1.8 million on entertainment.

Week after week, our country bears witness to the most horrific violent crimes committed against innocent South Africans while SAPS blows its budget on ‘nice to haves’.

In a reply to a parliamentary question Minister Cele revealed that his department has spent over R1.5 billion on accommodation and R42.7 million spent on catering since March 2019. This spending comes at a time when SAPS bemoans its inability to uphold its constitutional mandate to protect the citizens of our country due to financial constraints.

While Minister Cele blows the budget on catering and accommodation visible policing has suffered personnel and budget cuts over the years while millions of South Africans live in a permanent state of fear.

The DA accepts that accommodation costs includes the legitimate cost of housing SAPS members away from their ordinary duties but the exorbitant amount must be investigated by the portfolio committee on police. It is simply outrageous that SAPS is spending over R1.4 million per day housing SAPS members.

It is unconscionable that more than R1.5 billion can be spent on accommodation and R42.7 million on catering, when every year the SAPS reduces its front line personnel, detectives and reservists while South Africans are murdered, maimed and raped.

What more does Minister Cele need to do in order for President Ramaphosa to fire him? South Africans are sick and tired of his incompetence and disregard for them. It is time that Cele must go.