#Matric2019: DA reveals real number of underperforming schools

It seems the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is deliberately misleading us on the number of underperforming schools. The matric results released last night indicate 6 schools in South Africa are critically underperforming, but a deeper analysis done by the Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal there are in fact 12 underperforming schools.

This is significant, since, by law, the relevant provincial departments need to present a turn-around plan for these schools to the Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshegka within three months.

If schools are not included on the Department’s list of underperforming schools, they are not required to provide a turn-around plan.

An underperforming school is one that attains less than a 40% pass rate for 5 consecutive years. In 2019 only 6 schools were listed as underperforming in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) School Performance Report.

All these schools are in KwaZulu-Natal.
However, looking at all the schools on this list in 2018, six of them are still performing under 40% in 2019, which means they should be on the list.

These 6 schools are all in Limpopo. One of these schools, Mahlaba Secondary, has been underperforming for 11 years!

The real list of underperforming schools can be found here.

The DA will now urgently write to the Minister to seek answers to the burning questions on this issue. Did the Department deliberately mislead SA, or did they simply give up on the six schools that were left off the list?

We will also be conducting an oversight at these schools to try and get to the bottom of the issue because it seems the DBE is simply not bothered with these schools.

Parents who can’t afford to take their children elsewhere have to endure this negligence which harms their children’s futures.

Every child deserves a good education coupled with equal and fair opportunities.

Shooting of DA MP: Crime affects us all

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is horrified and outraged at the shooting of one of its Members of Parliament, Mr Cameron Mackenzie MP, in an attempted robbery last night.

This attack has proved yet again, that no one in South Africa is safe, and that crime affects us all.

We can report that senior MP Mr Mackenzie, was shot in the shoulder, and we are pleased to be able to let the public know that he is recovering well from surgery. We are offering him and his family support and love during this horrendous ordeal.

South Africans live in perpetual fear. No place and no person is safe. Our economy and our people suffer daily because of the scourge of crime, and we call on the South African Police Service to act swiftly to bring the perpetrators to justice.

This act of senseless violence reminds us all that the fight against crime remains one of our top priorities. We must continue this fight on behalf of al South Africans to ensure that our country is made safe, our people no longer live in fear and that criminals are prosecuted and bought to book.

Our thoughts are with Mr Mackenzie and his family, and indeed with all South Africans, who have suffered at the hands of criminals for far too long.

#Matric2019: Real pass rate is 38.9%

The DA congratulates each and every learner who passed the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam and wishes them the best on the road ahead.

However, whilst Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the Department of Education are celebrating an all-time high matric pass rate of 81.3%, the Democratic Alliance can reveal that the real pass rate is in fact 38.9%.

In 2017, a total of 1 052 080 learners were enrolled in grade 10, yet only 409 906 learners eventually passed matric last year. This means only 38.9% of grade 10 learners actually wrote and passed matric.

This is for the most part due to an extraordinarily high drop-out rate, which means that hundreds of thousands of learners are denied the chance to write matric, let alone pass it.

This is an indication of a dismally failing system, not a functional and successful one.

The DA-led Western Cape is the province with the lowest drop-out rate (33.4%) and therefore the highest real pass rate, standing at 54.8%.

Attached (click here) is a table of the real pass rates of each province. This table, for instance, shows that, while according to the Department’s calculation (disregarding the drop-out rate), the Free State is the top-performing province with a pass rate of 88.4%. The truth, however, is that this province’s real pass rate only stands at 38.4%.

The real national pass rate for 2018 was 37.6%. The real pass rate of 2019 is, therefore, an improvement of a mere 1.3%.

For years now the DBE punts the national pass rate because it shifts the focus from their perpetual failures as an ANC government.

The slow poison of drop-out rates between grades 10 and 12 is eating away at the future of the youth of this country.

Since 2015, which saw the highest number of pupils who sat to write their matric exam, there has been a steady decline each year. This should be a real and urgent concern for the DBE.

A further concern is the shocking pass rate from June results of the Multi Examination Opportunity (MEO) – only a disappointing 7.1% passed.

Nevertheless, however dismal this percentage is, it is used to inflate the pass rate and when phased out this year, the high drop-out rates will inevitably increase. Only then will we see the real performance of the Department.

Every child has the right to quality basic education.

If we carry on this trajectory, more than half of all learners who start Grade 1 this year, will never see the inside of a NSC-exam room.

Let us not allow the wool to be pulled over our eyes and neglect the hundreds of thousands of young South Africans, failed by the system and who will most likely never be able to enter the formal labour market.

Three more FMD incidences: DA calls on Minister to lift failing moratorium and act decisively

Three more commercial farms in Limpopo, in the region previously affected by Foot and Mouth disease (FMD), reported new incidences of the disease. This brings the number of affected farms in the province to 13 and provides a worrying picture for the livestock industry.

In addition, one of these commercial farms has reported a new strain of FMD.

While the Department of Agriculture had a view that the temporary halt of nationwide auctions and livestock gathering will in some way prevent the spread of this disease, the reality is that the situation has worsened because it was a poor attempt at treating a symptom of the crisis, rather than the disease itself.

The recent gazetting of FMD, that included the ban of livestock gathering in the whole of South Africa, lacked the financial support needed to deal with the problem in the affected areas.

Government’s talk of commercialization of black farmers lacks substance as it has shown with the current outbreak of the disease.

All farmers are affected by this ban, but the smallholder farmers and drought-affected areas are worse affected as they don’t have the online trading facilities and financial capacity to conduct online auctions.

The DA is clear that Agriculture Minister, Thoko Didiza, must compartmentalise the red zone areas to exclude the unaffected areas and provinces.

Other measures should include the assignment of the police and/or the army to the affected areas to patrol the areas and ensure that animals being transported out of the red zone have been checked by a veterinary doctor to ensure that the movement of affected and infected animals is stopped completely.

The DA calls on Minister Didiza to immediately lift this moratorium on the non-affected area and deal decisively with the matter per guideline of the treatment of FMD as prescribed by World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

We call on the minister to release conditional grant funding to support the sector to fight the disease. This funding grant would go towards, amongst other things, the assignment of the police and/or the army to the affected areas, vaccination support, area patrol, increased veterinary services, disinfection of buildings and vehicles, an inspection of animals and management of the movement of livestock in the area.

The severity of this outbreak cannot be downplayed as the last outbreak of FMD in January 2019 resulted in a brief ban on South African wool and meat exports which cost the economy in excess of R10 billion.

We can not afford a repeat of this situation and we call on the minister and her department to take immediate action, before it is too late.

DA demands more time for comment on controversial Sport Amendment Bill

On 4 January 2020 the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote to Sports Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, as well as the Chairperson of the Sport Portfolio Committee, Beauty Ndlulane, seeking clarity on the deadline for submissions by the public on the controversial Sport and Recreation Amendment Bill.

According to a media statement by Minister Mthethwa on 11 December 2019 all interested parties are invited to comment on this bill by no later than 10 January 2020. Yet, later in the same statement, the deadline is stated as 28 February 2020.

The DA believes that, especially due to the controversial nature of this bill, 30 days for comment is a ridiculously short period of time, especially as it falls within the holiday period.

We have asked the minister for clarity on the matter and, at the same time, we insist that the date has to be extended, even beyond 28 February to provide enough time for the public and interested parties to thoroughly scrutinise the bill.

We are convinced that amendments in the draft bill are too comprehensive to adress in such a short period of time.

The bill places the minister at the centre of everything that happens in sport. Throughout the document the powers are vested in the minister and/or his authorised representative – at local, provincial as well as national level.

The role of recognized Sport Confederations is in some cases replaced with only the minister’s. Furthermore, sports bodies will no longer be able to arrange international events or meetings without the consent of the minister. Disputes between sports bodies will also only be resolved by the minister via a tribunal.

The Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc), is basically deprived of all rights. The minister will further be able to regulate the appointments of foreign coaches. Cricket SA or professional football (SAFA) will therefore have to obtain permission from the minister to make appointments in this regard. Even sports promoters will be regulated in the future.

The minister will henceforth be the only person to award Protea colors and the powers of federations and Sascoc will be limited to recommendations.

This direct political interference in South African sport is going to cost our country dearly.

This is in direct contrast to the ban by the International Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the Commonwealth Games on government interference in sports codes of countries.

Also worrying is that the minister may change the policy that may influence team selection. Minister Mthetwha’s statements in July 2019 that the demographics of national teams must change to promote social cohesion speak volumes.

The DA will certainly not support sports quotas.

We will not rest until an adequate period of time is granted for the necessary comments and submissions to this bill. Minister Mthetwha and his department must sort out the confusion around the closing date for comments and ensure that it is properly communicated to the public.

Still no proposal to transfer land into full ownership

On the 3rd of January the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development published the Beneficiary Selection and Land Allocation Policy for public comment.

While we welcome the steps taken in this policy proposal to set out criteria for beneficiary selection, the DA is disapponted that it contains no proposal for the transfer of land into full ownership.

We welcome the policy’s intention to promote conditions to enable prviously disadvantaged citizens and targeted groups to “gain access to land”. However, this will not mean much unless clear and definite proposals are set out for land ownership.

This omission confirms the DA’s long held view that the ANC government does not truly support black South Africans’ right to land and that, in fact, they seek to be the sole custodians of the land by keeping emerging black farmers in their control as lifelong tenant farmers.

The DA firmly believes that South Africans should own their land and property and that we do not need to change the constitution to achieve this.

To this end, the DA will propse the following:

  •  A full land audit to be finalised and made available as soon as possible;
  • All investigations into land reform fraud to be finalised and land to be made available to sucessfull applicants;
  • Land reform lists to be made public on a website;
  • Outstanding land claims to be finalised in order to accertain what land parcels are still available and
  • All sucessfull land reform beneficiaries to receive full title to land.

We believe that these steps will be crucial to ensure that qualifying South Africans become land owners instead of life-long tenants.

DA mourns the passing of successful businessman Dr Richard Maponya

The DA is deeply saddened by the passing of Dr Richard Maponya in the early hours of this morning.

Dr Maponya was a pioneer in the business community whose visionary leadership and business acumen saw him rise from a small business owner under difficult circumstances during apartheid into the mogul that he was until his death.

There is no doubt that his success inspired generations of entrepreneurs to pursue and ultimately excel in business.

Dr Maponya was more than a businessman. He used his wealth to pursue his strong passion to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate communities by uplifting emerging entrepreneurs and investing in community development programmes.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. His death is a great loss to all of us and we will uplift his memory. May his soul rest in peace.

DA calls on national government to ensure that dodgy tenders and possible cover-ups in Limpopo municipality are properly probed

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for urgent action by provincial and national government to prevent what appears to be a cover-up of rigged tenders and unlawful payments in the Ba-Phalaborwa municipality in Limpopo.

Documents in the DA’s possession, which can be made available on request, indicate that Ba-Phalaborwa awarded two tenders on respectively 26 June and 4 July 2019, for turnkey capital projects without following a competitive bidding process – one for the refurbishment of the Namakgale Stadium, and the other for the installation of storm water culverts in various areas.

The company appointed on the Namakgale Stadium contract invoiced the municipality for half a million rand’s work within two days of reportedly being appointed. The invoice was paid the next day. The R930 000 storm water culverts invoice was paid within 11 days. This is despite the fact that in the 2017/18 financial year Ba-Phalaborwa only had enough cash on hand to pay for six days of operations (the norm is 3 months).

Despite evidence of these payments, there is no evidence that tenders were formally awarded either for the refurbishment of the Namakgale Stadium or the installation of storm water culverts in the period January to June 2019.

Only in October 2019, months after they had received payment, were the companies contracted to serve on municipality’s panels of civil and electrical engineers. For a panelist to receive work before the panel in question has even been constituted is a logical and legal impossibility. And it suggests that Ba-Phalaborwa’s competitive bidding processes, designed to secure the best expertise and value for money, were deliberately by-passed.

Sources inside the municipality claim that the ANC Mayor of Ba-Phalaborwa, Cllr Merriam Malatji, was given the same documents now in the DA’s possession. But she allegedly has not made a full disclosure to the municipal council, and neither has the council appointed an independent investigator as required by disciplinary regulations for senior managers of the Municipal Systems Act.

The matter has instead, at the Mayor’s apparent behest, been fobbed off to a committee of councillors that has no legal authority to investigate the allegations.

The DA will write to the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as well as to National Treasury to inform them, and urge that they, in cooperation with the relative provincial authorities and as far as is in their power, ensure that immediate action is taken in order to establish the facts of the matter and institute appropriate remedial action.

The DA has also written to Limpopo MEC for local government, Mr Basikopo Makhumo, asking him to use his power in terms of section 106 of the Municipal Systems Act to order an independent investigation and take steps to prevent implicated officials from undermining the investigation. See letter here

But accountability of ordinary officials is not enough. Mayor Malatji herself must clarify what she knew about these transactions, and when she knew it.

In the run-up to the 2021 local government elections voters deserve to be able to put faces and names to stories of financial mismanagement and the breakdown of services, especially in small, rural towns.

Eskom: DA demands full transparency as madness continues

South Africans are barely into the new year, and despite President Ramaphosa’s assurance in December last year that there would be no loadshedding until mid-January, Eskom announced last night that it would implement loadshedding from 10pm to 8am on Sunday morning. A further announcement has extended this to Monday.

We were also told that leave had been cancelled for Eskom managers and executives. Despite these assurances South Africans are facing a rude introduction to the new year.

Moreover, Eskom now wants to reward its workforce with R1.8 billion in performance bonuses between 2019 and 2022, regardless of a debt that has ballooned to R450 billion.

Analysts believe that Eskom is 66% overstaffed and despite the financial burden of this it has been reported that Eskom’s estimated 6 500 middle managers are reportedly unhappy with the 7.5% increase given to lower-tier workers, and want to be put into the same bargaining unit as those workers.

When is this madness going to end? When are we going to stop rewarding dismal performance?

To add insult to injury Eskom is also seeking to squeeze an additional R69 billion out of consumers, via a price hike – an application which NERSA is opposing.

When is South Africa going to be told the unvarnished truth about the mismanagement and ongoing theft that bedevils this crucial supplier of public goods to the economy and country?

We demand full transparency, full forensic audits, the institution of rotating tier 1 audit firms and a halt to this profligacy at the expense of consumers.

Wishing all South Africans a wonderful 2020

I would like to wish all South Africans a safe and prosperous New Year. May 2020 be the year in which you allow yourself to not only dream big, but also to realise some of your goals. May you experience good health and good fortune, and may you find joy and happiness in the people around you.

Happy New Year South Africa!

🎊🎉🇿🇦Wishing each and every South African a happy and prosperous 2020!"The time for lamenting is over. Now is the time to renew, refocus and rebuild" – John Steenhuisen MP

Posted by Democratic Alliance on Tuesday, December 31, 2019

I would ask that you use this time of transition from one year to the next to pause and reflect on the year that was. Let us be grateful for the opportunities that came our way, but let us also try to understand where we – as individuals or as society – fell short of what we wanted to achieve. And let us always keep those in mind who might have suffered this year

2019 was not always an easy year. Our economy was under immense pressure and many South Africans felt the pinch. As always, it is those who can least afford it who were worst affected. Poor South Africans – and particularly those without work – had to deal with much hardship this year.

As a country, we’ve had to come to terms with the massive cost and burden of years of corruption and mismanagement, and nowhere has this been more evident than in our unreliable electricity supply. 2020 has to be the year in which we tackle this issue head on and make the tough decisions that we all know need to be made.

As we prepare for the year ahead, it is crucial that we reflect honestly on the path our country is on. We can do so much better. It is well within our reach to turn our struggling economy around and play to our strengths as a country, but only if we are prepared to face the tough questions and make the big calls.

Let us commit to making 2020 the year in which we do just this. Let our resolution for the new year be “action, not words”.