Mpumalanga Sunbirds: Transformation quotas for South African Sport all about optics

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, regarding reports that the Mpumalanga Sunbirds netball team lost points after their winning match in Section B of the National League because they did not have enough demographic quota players on the field during the second quarter of their game.

The DA has always been against using the quota system when choosing teams for sports in South Africa. As is the case with the Sunbirds, the quota system often discriminates against talented players and diminishes the accomplishments of players that have worked extremely hard to develop their talent.

According to a DA source there are direct and implied threats by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture regarding funding to federations and sporting bodies who are bullied and intimidated about achieving transformation goals regarding team selection. These federations are dependent upon funding from the Department and not in a position to stand against it.

While transformation in sports should be an ongoing project and goal, forced transformation is to the detriment of the players and the development of the sport itself. Transformation can only ever truly be successful if it’s done at grassroot level to ensure that all talent is developed and that players are chosen on merit when they reach provincial and national levels. Transformation in its current form is nothing but optics and does nothing to create more development opportunities for young players.

MTBPS: South Africans ‘thrown under the plane’ to pay for SAA

Two key things happened in today’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement:

  •  President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, have retreated from their commitment to the “active scenario”, which lasted just 3 months.

Debt will not stabilise by 2023. In fact, it will continue to balloon to a massive 95% of GDP and will now only stabilise in 2025/26, with an extra R1 trillion in additional debt.

  •  The ANC government has chosen to cut essential services to the public – like education and policing – to fund another bailout of South African Airway (SAA). This is an indefensible, immoral choice. It amounts to throwing South Africans ‘under the plane’ to pay for SAA.

In summary, the Minister has abandoned his commitment to get debt under control by 2023. And he has abandoned his commitment to stop bailouts of SAA.

South Africans will continue to pay for a zombie state company, and will continue to suffer the consequences of ever-higher debt.

That is why today’s Medium Term Budget Speech must be considered a failure.

SAA:

The granting of another R10.5 billion bailout to SAA, on top of R16.4 billion allocated in February’s main budget, shows the ANC’s disregard for poor South Africans.

Minister Mboweni should have held the line and refused this bailout.

He has made this an issue of principle in the past, and has repeatedly committed that no more public money would be wasted on SAA. But he has now capitulated, has broken that promise, and must now reconsider his position in Cabinet.

This new bailout to SAA is funded by (among others):

  • Cutting the policing budget by R1.2 billion;
  • Cutting the education budget by R1.4 billion;
  • Cutting the budget for the courts and the prosecuting authority by R1.2 billion; and
  • Cutting conditional grants to provinces and local governments, for things like new schools and health services, by R12 billion.

This is the immoral choice the ANC is making. They are choosing SAA over fighting crime. SAA over education. SAA over South Africa.

In contrast, this R10.5 billion could have paid for:

  • One month of additional TERS support for families who have lost income during lockdown;
  • 440 new community clinics;
  • 66 500 new RDP houses;
  • 130 new schools; and
  • 80 000 new teaching degrees, or 27 000 new medical graduates.

We will continue to mobilise against this bailout, and call on the public to take part in the budget process to make their voice heard in opposition to this.

Debt – The end of the “active scenario”:

The Minister’s “active scenario” died after just 3 months. The targets he committed to in July he has now retreated from. Debt will not stabilise in 2023, and will not stabilise at 87% of GDP. Instead, debt is now only targeted to stabilise in 2025/26,  and then only after ballooning to 95% of GDP. That means an extra R1 trillion in new debt!

The consequence of this retreat from the “active scenario” is that we will spend R271 billion on paying interest on our debt over the next year. We will now spend 21 cents in every rand of tax revenue on paying interest.

This means we will spend more on interest costs (R271 billion), than on:

  • Police – R104.7 billion
  • Healthcare – R231.3 billion

And because of the ballooning debt, interest costs will even overtake social grants in 2023.

This budget has undermined the credibility of the Finance Minister and the National Treasury. This credibility is further undermined when new commitments are made that are also unlikely to ever be achieved.

South Africans will continue to pay for a failing SOE, and will continue to suffer the consequences of higher debt.

That is why today’s Medium Term Budget Speech fell far short of expectations.

DA requests Speaker Modise to remove Bongani Bongo as Committee Chairperson – pending outcome of corruption cases

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to request that she urgently removes ANC Member of Parliament, Bongani Bongo, as the Chairperson of the Home Affairs Portfolio Committee, pending the outcomes of his criminal cases, one of which he was arrested for on Tuesday.

We will also request that he is immediately removed as a Chairperson of any of the public participation hearings taking place across the country regarding the change to Section 25 of the Constitution.

During the DA’s Debate of National Importance on Covid-19 corruption yesterday we heard numerous speeches from ANC MPs informing the public that Parliament’s portfolios lead the charge against corruption.

How can committees lead the charge against corruption, when the very people heading them are accused and charged with corruption?

It is unthinkable that a Member of Parliament who has been arrested by the Hawks and, implicated numerous times during the Zondo Commission can remain a Portfolio Chairperson.

Bongo’s continued presence as Chairperson will only cast a cloud over the integrity of the work of the Home Affairs Committee as well as the work of Parliament in holding the Executive and public office bearers to account and in upholding the rule of law and the Constitution in South Africa.

Parliament needs to send a strong message to the people of South Africa, that those implicated in corruption and wrongdoing will be dealt with decisively by this institution.

Send them all to jail! 

The following speech was delivered during Parliament’s Debate of National Importance on Corruption related to Covid-19 tenders.

Speaker, 

South Africans can be forgiven for having foreseen that months after the world’s most devastating global health crisis, this House would debate the theft and misuse of public money meant for our response to this pandemic. 

We would all be forgiven because history would vindicate us. 

We would be justified because true to form, the very people who are meant to have led us through this time would be the ones who would steal shamelessly from the public purse. 

The President has made strong statements against the corruption that has taken place over the past several months.

However, those are once again words that ring absolutely hollow. 

After all, he has – without a shred of irony – told the country the country that he will always choose the ANC over his responsibilities as the South African president. 

It is no surprise that he is not bothered about preaching brave words in his weekly newsletter while seated next to some of the most corrupt individuals both in this House and at Luthuli House. 

His loyalties are not to the people of this country. 

He is loyal to the interests of the ANC. 

This is exactly why we find ourselves debating corruption in Parliament while the real criminals roam around free in state-sponsored luxury vehicles and all the perks that come with being a member of South Africa’s political elite. 

We are truly not led. 

At a time when South Africa needed leaders with integrity who would step up to the challenge of saving lives and livelihoods, we were shackled by the liability that is our current leadership. 

While people of the Eastern Cape fought each other for mere oxygen in hospitals, comrades were stacking their pockets. 

While healthcare workers worked under the most strenuous conditions, valiantly saving lives, the politically connected pocketed government contracts in the millions. 

While many family members lost multiple loved ones to this pandemic, our government officials found loopholes in the emergency procurement processes to steal and loot. 

It truly is an indictment on this government. 

As a young leader in this country, I am deeply ashamed to be sitting across some of you who have the audacity to want to be called honourable members. 

There is nothing honourable about people who would rather get rich on the backs of the very people who elected you to serve them. 

Before many of you nizingombe isifuba ngoba ingenini ababe imali, you are all complicit. 

Each one of you would rather defend your comrades than call out criminality when you see it. 

Nonke niyafana. 

These are your colleagues, your comrades and the people who are quick to remind us that they fought hard for the liberation of this country. 

You may have fought diligently for this democracy but with every cent of public money stolen, that legacy is washed away. 

The legacy of this organization will be that of a political party etye imali abantu besifa. 

The arguments advanced here by the past speakers are disappointing but not surprising. 

What should have been said is an unequivocal apology to the people of South Africa. 

A commitment to ensure that every single one of those implicated in corruption to the tune of billions of rands is removed from leadership positions both within the ANC and in government; 

And an earnest undertaking to ensure that our law-enforcement agencies are empowered to arrest and prosecute corrupt politicians and public servants. 

We wanted to hear a unanimous call to arrest them all. 

Every single one of those who were entrusted with the keys to the public safe and abused the privilege should go to jail.

Send them all to jail! 

Instead what we got was platitudes; empty words and an unrepentant government that is bound to repeat the very abhorrent behavior that is being condemned here. 

The only way South Africa can be saved from the abuse we have endured by this government is its swift removal at the polls.

Never has something been more urgent. It is now clear that nothing is off limits from the ANC – not even the lives of the people of this country. 

Jail them all!

The real cost of corruption is far more than many believe it to be

The following speech was delivered during Parliament’s Debate of National Importance on Corruption related to Covid-19 tenders.

Speaker,

When the lockdown started, the President asked us to support this government and adhere to the regulations imposed by them. The country rallied. It’s what we do as a nation – we stand together in times of crisis.

At that time, Minister De Lille informed us that in order to protect our citizens from cross-border contamination, most of our Land Ports of Entry would be closed and our borders would be fortified – in particular, a 40km stretch around Beit Bridge on the border with Zimbabwe. She made it seem plausible.

And as lockdown continued, the people of this country suffered – socially and economically. But we rallied – strong in the belief that our government was acting in our best interests and in good faith.

And then the truth emerged that R40 million had been squandered on an ill-advised, rushed and woefully inadequate border fence that has come to be known as the Beitbridge Washing Line.

Minister De Lille went on the defensive (if you’ll excuse the pun). An investigation was underway. Heads would roll. The officials had overstepped. And not once, did she acknowledge that it was her directive that had set the entire process in motion. That her instructions were to expedite the procurement. That as a result, procurement processes were contravened. That a proper bidding process was circumvented. And that, as it turns out, this country was robbed of at least R14 million as a result. And that is merely the alleged overpayment on the project.

An SIU investigation is underway – at our cost. Three portfolio committees visited the washing line for oversight – at our cost. Legal processes have been instituted – at our cost.

It’s not just the incident of corruption that costs us. We pay for every case of corruption in myriad different ways. And it’s the people who pay. Not Minister De Lille who should already have been sanctioned by the President. But who continues to avoid answering the allegations as she passes the buck down the line.

We need to demand accountability from all our leaders for all forms of corruption, especially when so much has been asked of us and we have complied so willingly.

To quote author G Edward Griffin, “To oppose corruption in government is the highest obligation of patriotism.

I am a patriot. The people who suffered under the lockdown regulations, who lost their jobs, who had their incomes cut – they are patriots.

Mr President, Minister De Lille… Are you?

DA welcomes World Bank’s insistence that government commit to not bailing out insolvent SOEs using $2bn loan facility

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes reports that talks between the government and the World Bank over a   $2 billion loan facility have stalled. We welcome the World Bank’s insistence that government commit to not bailing out insolvent state-owned entities using the $2 billion standard loan facility it has applied for, as well as to cutting the public wage bill.

The DA has called for Minister Tito Mboweni to refuse any further public bailout of SAA. Such a bailout would be immoral, given the urgent social priorities in South Africa right now, and the need to bring debt under control.

It was inevitable that international lenders would begin to lose patience with the ANC’s unacceptably slow progress on needed structural economic reforms. The World Bank’s insistence on these obvious reforms is a clear warning to the ANC government: get public spending under control now, or face difficulty in borrowing money globally.

The World Bank has already shown good faith to South Africa by extending a $50 million unconditional emergency loan.

We urge National Treasury to heed the request of the World Bank if it is serious about both qualifying for the loan as well as effecting the urgent structural reforms that are necessary to revitalise the economy.

Mr President, we’ll help you make sure this never happens again

The following remarks were delivered today by DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, during the Parliamentary Debate of National Importance on Covid-19 corruption. 

Madame Speaker

Honourable President

Honourable Members

On 23 March 2020, president Ramaphosa addressed the nation to announce government’s decision to enforce a nation-wide hard lockdown.

In that speech, the President made an explicit commitment to the nation, which bears repeating in this house today. He said, and I quote:

“I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interest of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interests.
We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis.
I have directed that special units of the NPA be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption.
We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail.”
Close quote.

Fighting talk. But not a threat his party took very seriously. This stern warning clearly didn’t prove much of a deterrent.

On the contrary, we now know that in this moment of great national crisis, the ANC abused the state of disaster, under which normal oversight mechanisms and procurement regulations were suspended, to embark on a feeding frenzy of Covid-19 funds.

And this, at a time when the poorest of the poor were being forced – sometimes at gunpoint – to sacrifice their right to earn a meagre hand-to-mouth living.

When schoolchildren were being forced to sacrifice their right to education and school meals.

When Collins Khosa was brutally and needlessly murdered by the State.

We now know that billions of rands intended as relief for the poor were diverted from UIF, TERS and SASSA and instead found their way into the bank accounts of connected ANC cronies, and were squandered on purchasing luxury items such as fancy cars.

We now know that two thirds of PPE and other contracts signed between April and August were dodgy.

And that three quarters of provincial PPE contracts were dodgy, with Gauteng, KZN and the Eastern Cape the biggest offenders.

Covid funds were intended for life-giving food and life-saving medical equipment. This is not just theft. It’s murder. Corruption costs lives.

Which is why, while the DA were building field hospitals in the Western Cape, the ANC were digging graves in Gauteng.

We’ve heard that Covid looters include high-ranking ANC politicians such as Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku. And that Ace Magashule’s sons and Nomvula Mokonyane’s daughter scored Covid-related contracts.

And we know this scandal reaches right into the President’s own office, with the husband of spokesperson, Khusela Diko, awarded R125 million of tenders.

These were a pack of heartless hyenas feeding off a helpless, dying springbok. And this should outrage us all!

Mr President, you may have been “shocked” that your party could plumb such depths of depravity.

But we weren’t shocked. Because we’d seen this movie before, with the Arms Deal, Former President Mandela’s funeral, State Capture and other grand-scale theft by connected cronies. Every time there is a big government procurement, the political hyenas are never far from the door.

Which is why the DA, from the outset, pushed hard for Covid accountability mechanisms.

We called for parliament to remain open, arguing that oversight is an essential service.

We called for an ad hoc committee to ensure continuous oversight during lockdown.

We called for a special inspector-general, with sweeping powers in the National Treasury to take pre-emptive action to prevent covid fraud and corruption in real time.

We argued that the exclusion of oversight mechanisms from the Disaster Management Act was itself a grave oversight and should be rectified.

Had these suggestions been taken on board it would have prevented the corruption from taking place and instead we are now spending more money to recover monies that should never have gone missing in the first place!

But our calls were ignored.

Instead, all procurement regulations and oversight mechanisms were suspended. Treasury stepped aside, and Parliament remained mute, while the ANC and their handlangers used the State of Disaster as a pretext to ramp up looting to dizzying new heights.

Mr President, we cannot keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

We must work together to put in place the mechanisms that will ensure this can never, ever happen again.

The DA will support you in this house and I’m sure many other opposition parties will too.

We’ll support you to end this state of disaster that is giving ANC cronies free rein to steal.

We’ll support you if you reinstate the Scorpions, a corruption-busting body with real independence and a real sting in the tail.

We’ll support a 15-year prison sentence for all those convicted of Covid corruption. Each and every implicated individual must be investigated.

We’ll support you to amend the Disaster Management Act to ensure continuous oversight.

Because Mr President, we’ll only win the fight against corruption when there are real consequences for wrongdoing.

We’ll only win the fight against corruption when we see the big political fish in orange overalls.

Mr. President, you’ll need the DA’s help, because your party can’t help itself.

Major decline in Matric STEM subject enrollment

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to provide urgent plans on the work it is doing to reverse the alarming trend of decreases in Matric enrollment in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

In a presentation before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, the Department revealed that enrollment for STEM subjects decreased as follows from 2016 to 2020:

  • Mathematics decreased by 40 385
  • Physical Sciences decreased by 18 461
  • Life Sciences decreased by 21 940

These figures are alarming as it indicates that South Africa is heading backwards as it relates to enrollment in critical STEM subjects.

Provincial Education Departments have also reported that among Grade 11s Mathematics and Physical Science recorded the lowest averages compared to all other subjects.

This also means that in 2021 we can expect even fewer students to take these demanding subjects.

If the government is truly committed to the 4th industrial revolution, then greater emphasis will have to be put on getting learners into STEM subjects and other subjects of relevance to the immediate future, to encourage technological and digital innovation within our economy.

Learners need to understand that while these Maths and Science are demanding subjects, they should not be feared and could open many doors.

The DBE must address this regression in STEM subject enrollment, or the 4th industrial revolution will remain a pipe.

Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa confirms that our skies must open up to grow tourism

At the Tourism Portfolio Committee meeting this week the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa (BARSA) confirmed that government’s handling of Covid-19 and the lockdown has placed South Africa in grave risk as Africa’s airline hub.  The manner in which international tourism is being handled by the Ramaphosa administration has initiated a discussion amongst the international tourism industry that countries such as Namibia, Kenya and Ethiopia be considered as Africa’s travel hub, instead of South Africa.   Continue reading “Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa confirms that our skies must open up to grow tourism”

Mthethwa’s snubbing of Parliament proof that administrative problems in sport is the least of his concerns

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is appalled by the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa’s failure to appear before the portfolio committee today.

He was expected to brief the public and Parliament on his plans to bring about stability at Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC). Minister Mthethwa’s failure to show up in Parliament is totally unacceptable, however it is not surprising. It is proof that the Minister’s priorities do not lie with addressing the issues that plague the administration of sports in this country.

There is no excuse for the Minister not to be available to account to Parliament, especially in light of the mess in which both CSA and SASCOC are in.

The ongoing issues affecting sports in South Africa including maladministration, allegations of corruption, needs to be addressed urgently. The sooner the internal battles and power struggle in South African sport are addressed the better. Failure to do so will jeopardise our country’s international participation in sport.

As a Minister, Mthethwa is duty bound to account to Parliament about his plan, and actions, and his failure to make an appearance and tell the public how the rot in sport will be fixed is a massive opportunity missed.

The DA will also continue to place pressure on the Minister to make an appearance before Parliament because it is important for the ongoing issues at CSA and SASCOC to be addressed