DA Coalition Bills gazetted for public comment; on track to stabilize coalition governments

The instability we have witnessed in the various metro governments across the country and the possibility of national or provincial coalition governments has spurred the DA to table legislation in Parliament which would stabilize these governments.

We are submitting a suite of bills to prepare Parliament for the possibility of local, provincial and national coalition governments. It is critical that Parliament is proactive in creating a legislative framework that would assist with governance stability and reliable service delivery.

The first Notice of Intention to Introduce a Private Members Bill on stable coalitions was published in the Government Gazette on Friday, March 24th. While the second one was published on Monday the 27th of March.

The first two of these suite of bills are the Constitution 19th Amendment Bill, 2023 and the Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill, 2023.

The Constitution 19th Amendment Bill, 2023 will seek to amend sections 102 and 141 of the Constitution which deals will the removal of a President and a Premier through a motion of no confidence. The Local Government: Municipal Structures Amendment Bill, 2023 will seek to amend sections 40, 41(e) and 58 of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act 117 of 1998.

These two Bills seek to achieve stability in all spheres of government by prescribing the number and the circumstances under which motions of no confidence can be moved in a speaker, mayor, premier or the president. While motions of no confidence are a crucial accountability mechanism, they are susceptible to abuse as we have seen at a local government level.

Limiting the frequency and placing clear grounds under which these can be moved and voted on, will see a level of stability that is needed for effective service delivery. Currently, coalition governments may be voted in, and pass a budget that they may never get to deliver against. It is impossible to hold these governments to account for good governance practices and services delivery if they change frequently, and often due backroom deals that have nothing to do with the people.

Firewalling governments against this kind of disruption will serve citizens better than is currently the case.

These are important amendments to the Constitution and existing legislation as we head towards the 2024 National and Provincial Elections, as well as the 2026 Local Government Elections.

While we seek to limit motions of no confidence to a year, there will be a safety net built in that will allow additional motions to be brought within this period providing for exceptional circumstances , such as a violation of the Constitution or law; misconduct or the inability to perform the functions of office. This is a much higher threshold for a motion of no confidence and forces the movers to base these in fact or in law.

The DA is now awaiting the gazetting of the remainder of these coalition bills which seek to:

  • Introduce electoral thresholds in local government to stop the over-fragmentation of political parties which gives rise to coalition governments made of several parties. This has proven to be an impossible task to manage and have often given rise to one-seat king makers opting in and out of agreements due to cheque-book politics. Successful coalition governments across the world have some threshold in place for this desired stability.
  • Extend the time in which a mayor, speaker or whip must be elected after a local government election and align it with the 30-day time period allowed at a national government to elect a president.

In addition to these Bills which are already before in the process of being introduced in Parliament, the DA will introduce more amendments to propose a national electoral threshold and binding coalition agreements once the Electoral Amendment Bill has been constitutionally challenged and signed into law.

The DA calls upon the public, civil society, political parties and interested organisations to provide their comments on these Bills by emailing speaker@parliament.gov.za and copying in legislation@da.org.za.

191 cases of sexual misconduct reported to SACE, only 4 educators struck off the roll!

The number of cases of sexual misconduct reported to the SA Council of Educators (SACE) last year, has risen quite dramatically from 92 in 2019/20 to 169 in 2020/21 and 191 in 2021/22. The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, revealed this in answer to a written parliamentary question by the DA.

Given the 199 school days last year, that’s almost one case of sexual misconduct a day reported to SACE.

The 2022 crime statistics indicates a total of 294 rapes reported to have occurred on the premises of educational institutions (schools, universities, college, and day care facilities).

The DA finds it very concerning that SACE only instituted 23 disciplinary proceedings last year – a mere 12% of the reported cases of sexual misconduct. Of these 19 educators were found guilty of sexual misconduct, yet only four were struck off the roll indefinitely.

SACE indicated that some cases were closed due to lack of evidence to substantiate the allegations, deliberate unavailability of complainants to assist with the investigation/disciplinary proceedings, and witnesses refusing to cooperate with the Council.

The complainants’ reluctance to cooperate with SACE in investigating and disciplining their alleged abusers indicates a perceived bias against the victims of abuse. SACE must take responsibility for this perception and ensure that disciplinary hearings are environments where alleged victims and witnesses feel safe, are protected from further trauma, and where evidence and testimony from both parties are examined in an objective and sensitive manner.

The DA also suggests that SACE takes appropriate steps to better categorise cases to ensure effective oversight of processes and procedures. Without a thorough analysis of data, no institution can critically access its effectiveness.

In a country where sexual crimes are ever on the rise, schools must be safe havens where learners, educators and staff should only have focus on quality education. In holding abusers to account, SACE plays a crucial role in creating a safe environment. The Council must ensure that victims of sexual abuse are protected when reporting these crimes and that guilty abusers suffer the consequences for their heinous actions.

Minister Motshekga misleads the nation on pit toilets

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP.

It is clear that neither the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, nor her Department (DBE) is willing to accept responsibility for the danger unsafe pit toilets still pose to learners at schools across the country.

Once again, Minister Motshekga has tried to twist the circumstances of 4-year-old Langalam Viki’s tragic death. At a media briefing today, she claimed that Mcwangele Junior Secondary School (JSS) – the school that Langalam attended and where she died – had been provided with pit toilets that conformed to the Minimum Norms and Standards, so-called ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrines. And that Langalam’s body was found in the tank of a senior toilet, not the age appropriate toilet that she should have used.

Had Minister Motshekga visited the school, as the DA had done, she might have known that firstly, the toilets where Langalam was found, is the only ones available at that school. And secondly, that if those toilets conformed to the Norms and Standards, it is high time that the standards are amended as no human should have to suffer the indignity of such facilities.

The Minister herself would certainly not deign to use those toilets, nor would she allow her children and grandchildren to use them. Yet Langalam had no other choice to use these pit latrines, and her classmates, teachers and the other learners are forced to continue using facilities where their friend horrifically died knowing that anyone of them could be next.

While the DA welcomes the police investigation into the circumstances of her death, we will not allow the Department to use it as a diversion from its own failings at Mcwangele JSS.

During the media briefing, the DBE Director-General, Mathanzima Mweli, blamed slow rollout of appropriate and safe infrastructure on the building industry’s inability to move with greater speed. Despite this realisation – which is by no means new – the Department has a terrible track record of implementing consequence management. Had the well-being of learners and educators truly been a priority, the Department would have taken every opportunity to eradicate each and every pit toilet in a timely manner and remove unsafe infrastructure. DBE would have engaged with the Western Cape Education Department regarding its Rapid School Build programme, which built the equivalent of one school every four days.

The Department also went to great lengths to bemoan reporting on the numbers of pit toilets, yet takes no responsibility for the data discrepancies it provides.

Because it has become increasingly clear that DBE data is unreliable at best, the DA has launched a campaign against pit toilets. We will visit as many schools as possible to determine the true situation on the ground.

We will also approach the courts in an attempt to ensure all schools are outfitted with safe and appropriate sanitation facilities.

The DA will do all in our power to ensure that Langalam’s awful death is the last of its kind.

Home Affairs must urgently resolve chaos at Lebombo and Oshoek border posts

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Adrian Roos MP

The Democratic Alliance calls on the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to urgently address unacceptable poor services, resulting in long queues at South African border posts.

In a Home Affairs parliamentary portfolio meeting on 7 March the DA reminded the Minister and Border Management Authority (BMA) that there are border posts other than Beitbridge and called for the urgent resolution of the issues, specifically those reported at the Eswatini post at Oshoek and Komatipoort / Lebombo border post with Mozambique. Almost three weeks later and the situation has worsened.

These issues include only one operating desk at passport control, problems with faulty generators, a lack of coordination between the Border Management Authority and the South African Revenue Service and lack of law enforcement in the kilometre long queues leading up to the border post.

These queues stretch for kilometres and residents report that they often can’t leave for work in Malelane/Nelspruit or take their children to school. This cannot be allowed to continue.

The Minister promised that the BMA would resolve issues of border control and coordination but has only served to create another entity with millionaire managers and insufficient funding from Treasury for much needed boots on the ground.

These unnecessary delays not only slow trade but badly affect regular travellers and communities around these border posts. The government is aware of the situation but does not seem to care. The DA calls on the Minister to resolve these issues with the greatest of urgency.

DA Land Invasions Bill referred to Parliamentary Committee for Consideration

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Emma Louise Powell, MP

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can confirm that the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Amendment Bill 2023 has been referred to the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements by the Speaker of the National Assembly, in line with Rule 283(1) read together with Rule 285. The Programming Committee of Parliament will now place this item onto the Order Paper for introduction in the National Assembly.

Illegal land grabs have become a crisis, placing enormous financial and logistical burdens on Municipalities throughout South Africa. Money required to secure sites against invasion is now reallocated from housing budgets, depriving law-abiding citizens of their rightful opportunities.

Currently, the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from and Unlawful Occupation of Land, Act 19 of 1998 (“PIE”) creates a rigid set of definitions and requirements that need to be satisfied in order for a person to be lawfully evicted, despite their intentions or circumstances during such illegal occupation.

According to Section 4(7) of the current Act, where an unlawful occupier has been occupying a property for more than six months, the court is obliged to consider alternative land in deciding whether it is just and equitable to issue an eviction order.

In recent judgements, the courts have interpreted Section 4(7) to place a responsibility on Municipalities to provide permanent, formal housing within a specific radius.

The DA’s amendment bill will:

  • Criminalise the incitement of illegal land invasions regardless of whether or not financial exchanges occurred;
  • Extend the explicit criteria that courts must consider before granting an order for alternative accommodation for an unlawful occupier; and
  • Require the courts specify the length of time, if any, a municipality is required to provide alternative accommodation to unlawful occupiers.

The DA has always been at the forefront of protecting the rights of property owner, whilst ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable in our society are cared for by the State within its available means.
If decisive action is not taken to address and regulate the issue of on-going and orchestrated land invasions, this crisis will materialise as legislatively enabled expropriation without compensation.

The public and civil society are kindly invited to provide their comments on the PIE Bill before it proceeds to the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements. Comments can be sent to legislation@da.org.za.

Concourt ruling on water rights a victory for farmers

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa, MP

South African farmers have registered a significant victory over water rights use after the Constitutional Court ruled that water rights holders are entitled to transfer such rights in accordance with the provisions of the National Water Act. In 2013, the Department of Water and Sanitation issued a circular barring farmers from transferring and trading in water use rights. The alienation of water use entitlement and lawful transfer of such ownership to a third party has been contentious for some time.

The DA welcomes this seminal judgement as it puts to rest years of ongoing friction between farmers and the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS), where the latter wrongfully misinterpreted sections 25(1) and 25(2) of the National Water Act to deny farmers the full benefit of their water rights.

A fair and transparent water rights system is the cornerstone of any successful agriculture and commercialization of the sector, especially for emerging farmers. The Concourt ruling ensures that farm sale transactions will allow the purchaser to become the successor in title of lawful water uses associated with the farm operation, post-closure of the transaction. What’s more disappointing is that farmers who purchased farms or wanted to do so with the sole aim to conduct empowerment programmes were failed by the ANC government’s failure to interpret the National Water Act 36 of 1998.

The DA encourages all farmers who previously had their water license applications denied based on the wrongful interpretation of the Act, to resubmit them and have them reevaluated based on the findings of the Concourt.

It is preposterous for the DWS to stand in the way of lawful farm sale agreements to reflect the farm purchaser as the licensee in the title of the water use rights. If farmer A has a source of water that they were not using, they should be allowed to open it up for use by farmer B if they so wish. Such an arrangement is beneficial to both parties as one benefits financially from their water resource while the other is able to carry out their agricultural activities with a steady supply of water. The DWS’s interference in such an arrangement was simply administrative overreach by the government and a violation of the National Water Act.

The DWS’s interference with water rights use was particularly hard on our irrigation-reliant agricultural sector. Most farmers had to jump through hoops to obtain the bare minimum supply of water for their operations. In the current high inflationary environment where food prices have shot through the roof, the government should be making it easy, for farmers to grow their produce without interference.

Part of the friction and confusion that has characterized water use rights in South Africa is that the government has no data to establish who is using water, where and by how much. A critical first step in this regard will be to commission a national water use audit that would provide critical data on the distribution of water sources and all the national stakeholders who use them.

Ministerial Handbook scandal: ANC Cabinet blows R58 million on free water, security upgrades and electricity to escape load-shedding

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber, MP

In the latest abuse perpetrated by the African National Congress (ANC) through the Ministerial Handbook, the Democratic Alliance (DA) can today reveal that members of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government have abused over R58 million in taxpayer funds to provide free electricity, water and security upgrades at the 97 luxury mansions – themselves valued at nearly R1 billion – where they live courtesy of South African taxpayers in Cape Town and Pretoria.

Most shocking of all, this figure includes over R7 million spent on “alternative power supply” for the mansions occupied by Ministers and Deputy Ministers. While South Africans suffer the devastation of the load-shedding crisis caused by the ANC Cabinet, those same ANC Ministers and Deputy Ministers are abusing the hard-earned taxes of South Africans to insulate themselves from the consequences of their decades-long corruption and mismanagement.

While the people suffer, the ANC’s rockstar Ministers lounge around the swimming pools of their luxury mansions receiving an uninterrupted supply of power, free water and electricity, and an impenetrable wall of security – all funded on the back of a country where over 30 million people live in desperate poverty and face violent crime on a daily basis.

The DA exposes this latest information, which we obtained through a parliamentary question as part of our ongoing campaign to inform South Africans of how much the Ministerial Handbook truly costs them, despite the fact that there is no law that allows for the Handbook to even exist. The parliamentary question focused on the following;

  • The total amount of public funds spent on paying the water and electricity bills at state-owned official residences;
  • The total amount of public funds spent on procuring and installing generators, inverters and solar and/or other electricity systems;
  • The total amount of public funds spent on the procurement of boreholes, well-points, water reticulation and purification systems, at state-owned official residences; and
  • The total cost of security, including security upgrades, provided at state-owned official residences for Ministers and Deputy Ministers since 1 June 2019?

In response to the DA’s parliamentary question, Public Works Minister Sihle Zikalala revealed that since the 2019 election:

  • R18.3 million was spent on providing free electricity to Ministers and Deputy Ministers at their 58 mansions in Cape Town;
  • R7.5 million was spent on providing free water to Ministers and Deputy Ministers at their 58 mansions in Cape Town;
  • R22 million was spent on providing free electricity and water to Ministers and Deputy Ministers at their 39 mansions in Pretoria;
  • R7 million was spent on providing alternative power supply Ministers and Deputy Ministers at their 97 mansions in Cape Town and Pretoria; and
  • R3.4 million was spent on providing security upgrades to Ministers and Deputy Ministers at their 97 mansions in Cape Town and Pretoria.

This latest information further confirms how the ANC abuses the Ministerial Handbook to spit in the faces of the people of South Africa. This exposé follows on a protest held by the DA at the luxurious Bryntirion Estate in Pretoria last week, which houses many of the ministerial mansions where the ANC elite sips champagne at taxpayer expense. We have also previously revealed that Ramaphosa’s government spends R387 million per year on the salaries of 624 support staff.

The DA has already reported to the Public Protector that there is no law that provides for this Handout Handbook to exist. We are currently collecting more information on other abuses perpetrated through the Handbook ahead of further action we are considering to abolish this obscene waste of money once and for all. We undertake to provide complete transparency to the people of South Africa on the extent to which they are abused through the Handbook, and to continue leading the fight to end the wastage and corruption that have brought our country to its knees.

DA welcomes canning of R1 billion Tottenham Hotspur deal

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Manny de Freitas MP.

The DA welcomes the rational decision by the new minister of Tourism, Patricia de Lille, to stop the ludicrous R1 billion Tottenham Hotspur deal immediately.

De Lille’s decision comes after much public and political opposition to the proposed plan by the South African Tourism board. She echoed what the DA has long been saying that the Tottenham sponsorship is unlawful.

While we welcome this move we further reiterate our call for these funds to be re-directed to much-needed dilapidated tourism infrastructure throughout the country. By doing this we will be ensuring that our tourism numbers will grow particularly in lesser-known parts of the country so that more on-the-ground opportunities and job creation takes place.

Further we note that De Lille will also engage with the SAT board regarding the illegal appointment of SAT board members.

We request that the minister provide to the portfolio committee a full report of all expenditure with regards to this deal as well as full breakdown on costing.  This deal was a total waste of taxpayer monies and as such the minister must identify and reveal the names of those who will be held accountable to the committee. There should be stringent measures in place to hold SAT board members to account.

The DA will continue to hold the department of Tourism and the SAT board accountable and ensure that public funds are spent to uplift and grow our tourism industry sustainably.

At the next Tourism Portfolio Committee meeting I will continue to push for an investigation as to how this matter was even considered in the first place.

DA welcomes Concourt ruling against Malema and the EFF’s incitement to unlawfully invade land

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the ruling by the Constitutional Court to uphold an interdict preventing Julius Malema and the EFF from encouraging people to invade and occupy private land. This is a major victory for the rule of law and private property rights, and a repudiation of the EFF’s politics of anarchy.

Not only did the Concourt decline the EFF’s application to directly appeal to it on a 2017 High Court interdict prohibiting Malema and his party from inciting people to trespass on private property and to occupy it illegally, the Court dismissed the application after it “concluded that the application should be dismissed as it bears no reasonable prospects of success.”

In short, the EFF had approached the Concourt with dirty hands – you cannot ask the highest court in South Africa to rule in favor of actions that are in clear violation of the Bill of Rights and the foundations of our constitutional democracy.

EFF leaders should hang their heads in shame for using unlawful populist antics to hijack people’s legitimate concerns on lack of housing to ferment anarchy as a means of scoring cheap political points. The courts have made it clear that the EFF’s illegal actions have no place in our society and that respect for property rights is grounded in the rule of law.

Henceforth, should any EFF public representative or member actively promote the illegal invasion of land, they will be willfully in contempt of court and can be criminally charged for their action. Malema and members of his party must immediately stop inciting illegal land invasions and realise that they are now under legal notice to respect the property rights of law abiding South African citizens.

Just as South Africans rejected the EFF’s failed national shutdown, our court system has rejected their penchant for anarchy and chaos. DA governments have been at the forefront fighting for the release of state owned land for human settlement purposes by the ANC government and we will not back down until progress is made in reducing the housing backlog.

Correctional Services must account for alleged cover-up of Facebook rapist’s escape

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Janho Engelbrecht MP.

The DA takes note of serious allegations made around the alleged cover-up of the escape of convicted rapist, Thabo Bester.

These allegations were made by a Correctional Services official at the Mangaung Correctional Centre. Apparently, an inmate identified as Bester burned to death on the 3rd of May 2022. The inmate could however not be Bester as he allegedly escaped prior to 3 May with the assistance of Correctional Services officials.

The inmate that burned to death had purportedly died from blunt force trauma before being set alight. The official that made these allegations claims that he informed the Deputy-Minister about these events and further alleges that he has since been victimized and transferred to another facility.

Should these allegations be factual and if the Deputy-Minister had been informed, the situation points to very serious criminal activities by officials, executive shortcomings and possible obstruction of justice from the Deputy-Minister.

The DA has requested the Judicial Inspectorate of Correctional Services (JICS) to launch an urgent investigation into the matter. Furthermore, the Police service must investigate the alleged criminal activities, which includes murder.

Official questions to the Minister will be submitted to obtain more details on the matter.