DA responds to Haffajee’s alarmist ‘freefall’ claim

The basis of Ferial Haffajee’s alarmist claim (“DA support in free fall, two new surveys show”, Daily Maverick, Monday 24 February) that the DA’s support is in “freefall” is based on two surveys which have major shortcomings.

The fieldwork of the Ipsos survey she heavily relies on was concluded three months ago – a key fact she deliberately omits.

Much has changed since then.

Let’s rewind back three months. At that time the party’s leader, federal chairperson and mayor of a prominent metro voluntarily left the organisation following the successive resignations of professional personnel such as the CEO and campaign manager. The party was undeniably at a low point.

Many outside the DA marked this as the beginning of the end of the party. They predicted there would an “exodus” of senior leaders.

Fast forward to today, the false prophecies are there for all to see. The party moved quickly to elect the interim leader and replaced the party chairperson without any turmoil. We immediately announced dates for the early elective congress to give party members the opportunity to elect new leaders. We are on track to finalise the appointment of a new CEO by April. Furthermore, we revealed plans for the policy conference with the unprecedented step of publishing policy proposals publicly to source as much extensive input both inside and outside the party.

All of these key developments have taken place without the dramatic collapse many had anticipated. No other prominent DA leaders have left the organisation. We have even managed to hold on to the majority of our wards in the by-elections were we supposed to lose.

For those of us who have been following Ipsos political polling for some time, we review their results with caution given the consistent differences between their pre-election polls and voting results.

For example:

  • In their press release one day before the 2009 general election on 21 April 2009, (“2009 National Election: Possible results”), Ipsos predicted an average 13% support for the DA, with results ranging between 11.34% and 14.66%. The DA eventually received 16.66% of the vote;
  • In a poll conducted in May 2010, approximately a year out from the 2011 local government election, Ipsos predicted 13% support for the DA nationally. One year later, the DA received 23.94% of the national vote, almost doubling Ipsos’ prediction;
  • Most recently, in polling released on 29 April 2019, on the eve of the 2019 general election, Ipsos had the ANC on 61% (vs. 57.5%) and the DA on 19% (vs. 20.7%) on their 71% turnout scenario, with a 2% percent margin of error. While the DA result was within the top range of this margin of error, the result forecast for the ANC was outside of this range, pointing to serious methodological errors in their work.

The Citizen Surveys which misinforms Haffajee’s analysis also makes the fundamental error of equating the favourability of a party leader to the support levels of the party.

John Steenhuisen has been the interim leader for a mere three months, and clearly will not yet have as broad a name recognition as that of the DA itself. This is always the case when a new leader is elected, and the challenge is overcome in the first major election campaign. While the profile and favourability of a party leader are important in leveraging support for any organisation, the reality is that South African voters don’t make their decision to vote for a party solely based on how they feel about its leader. They do so based on their feelings about the party, amongst other important considerations, informed by the fact that our country has a party system rather than a presidential one.

So for Haffajee to compare the favourability of a leader who has been in office for three months, with one who was in office since 2014, through two major election campaigns, is to expediently abuse polling to drive a narrative of misleading comparisons.

We do our own polling, which has consistently been accurate. It shows that our current support levels are nowhere near the 13% that the Ipsos poll claims. In fact we are polling at the same support levels we got during national elections.

When polling is done correctly, it’s highly informative and useful – not only for political parties but for journalists, analysts and most importantly, the public to keep track of political trends and developments.

However, when its methodology is flawed, it produces questionable results. These results are subsequently punted by many journalists like Haffajee and some analysts with evangelical vigour as the gospel without robust interrogation.

This reckless reporting on polls resurfaces into crazy headlines presenting propaganda as news while suffocating logic out of the ensuing debate that follows.

Ultimately for us, the poll which matters the most is the one on Election Day.

2020 National Budget: South Africa needs urgent national debt stabilisation to prevent a fiscal crisis

The following statement was delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of Finance, Geordin Hill-Lewis MP, at a press conference in Parliament ahead of the National Budget on Wednesday. Hill-Lewis was joined by DA Member on the Appropriations Committee, Ashor Sarupen MP, and DA Shadow Minister of Public Service and Administration, Dr Leon Schreiber MP. 

The full preview document can be accessed here.

Overview

Minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech on Wednesday 26 February 2020 must address South Africa’s immediate fiscal crisis, described by four devastating simultaneous pressures:

  • the unrestrained expansion of public debt means more is spent on interest charges, and there is less money for essential services;
  • the sharp decline in tax revenues because of near-zero economic growth means there is less money for essential services;
  • the ballooning of the public wage bill which means less money for essential services;
  • continuous enormous bailouts for zombie state-owned companies, which means less money for essential services.

If this does not change in a very significant way, then South Africa will lose its only remaining investment-grade credit rating and will not avoid a solvency shock.

If Minister Mboweni does not make some ‘crunch-time’ commitments that will arrest this situation, then his budget will simply not be credible.

There is already a growing credibility gap between the strong language in budget speeches on cutting debt and the public wage bill, and achievements to date.

Despite the stern commitments in last year’s budgets, national debt, measured as net loan debt, is set to increase to a staggering R4,2 trillion, or 67,5% of GDP by 2022/23. That is if there are no further revenue shortfalls, an increasingly unlikely outcome.

Therefore, the only real important test of this budget’s credibility is the seriousness of the plans presented to rein in national debt, cut the public wage bill, and grow the economy. That is how we will judge the Minister’s speech.

We also make a number of positive and proactive proposals for how to turn our fiscal and growth crisis around:

A fiscal anchor for South Africa:

As part of our core budget proposals, the Democratic Alliance is today presenting a legislative fiscal rule that will help to stabilise national debt. The Fiscal Responsibility Bill (FRB) will ensure that debt levels and debt service costs are kept under control in South Africa.

This kind of legislative fiscal anchor is an idea gaining currency around the world. In its 2019 Article IV consultation report on our economy, the IMF cautioned that ‘authorities should establish a credible debt anchor to stabilize debt in the medium term.’ Similarly, in November 2019, Moody’s Investor Services indicated that ‘it wants to see a credible fiscal strategy to contain the rise in debt in the budget’. On Wednesday, Minister Mboweni’s only priority should be to limit further debt growth while finding ways to grow the economy.

Tito Mboweni has recommended such fiscal anchors for South Africa, saying in his 2018 Medium Term Budget Speech: “New fiscal anchors may be required to ensure sustainability, in addition to the expenditure ceiling. We must choose public sector investment overconsumption.”

First, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill provides for:

  • a fiscal rule prescribing that, for each financial year from 2020/21 to 2023/24, net loan debt expressed as a percentage of GDP must not be more than it was the previous year.

Second, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill provides for:

  • a review of the fiscal rule by the National Assembly every four years, beginning in 2023/24 by either amending, renewing or terminating the fiscal rule; and
  • an annual Fiscal Responsibility Report to be tabled by the finance minister at the same time as the budget is tabled, setting out whether the fiscal rules were complied with or not, together with reasons for those outcomes, and recovery plans in the event of a failure to comply with the fiscal rule.

And, finally, because South Africa is a small open economy, vulnerable to shocks, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill provides for:

  • an exemption from the fiscal rule to be granted in respect of a specific financial year, or years, by the National Assembly upon application by the finance minister, with good cause having been shown and on the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Finance.

Our proposal to alleviate the electricity crisis:

We propose income tax incentives to assist individuals to generate electricity at their private residences for their own consumption. This will alleviate pressure from the grid, helping lower the load-shedding burden for other families, and importantly for businesses.

The DA is therefore proposing an Emergency Solar Rebate (ESR) that would offer tax rebates for solar systems installed at residential properties.

This Emergency Solar Rebate would be available for three years only, designed to alleviate our current energy crisis, and would work as follows:

  • 100% tax deduction for the cost of installed solar equipment, up to a maximum of R75 000
  • The purchaser would fund the cost of installation upfront, and would claim the cost against their taxable income at the time of submitting their ordinary annual returns

This emergency initiative would cost R4 billion over 3 years, and remove 480 MW from the grid, with even a moderate take-up rate.

Our proposal to cut the primary deficit

Economic growth is will average below 1% this year, with a likelihood of a further revision downwards. This low growth trap means that South Africa will continue to miss revenue targets due to declining VAT and corporate receipts, and as unemployment continues to tick upwards.

This paucity of growth also means there is no question of raising new revenue through new taxes. New taxes would only act as another brake on growth. The DA does not support any new tax measures.

In last year’s budget, the failure to adjust income tax brackets for inflation led to a stealth tax increase of R12 billion from working families pockets. This should not be repeated.

Next year, at current expenditure levels, the budget deficit is expected to reach R374 billion, 6,8% of GDP, and 35,3% of total government expenditure.

In order to stabilise the budget deficit, bring down debt and restore fiscal discipline, there is an urgent need to reduce spending by R250 billion over the next three years, averaging R83 billion per fiscal year.

The DA’s plan to stabilise the budget deficit and the national debt will be achieved by achieving the significant cuts in the public wage bill that the Minister has called for, but has not shown in progress in delivering; as well as by stopping all bailouts to failing zombie state-owned entities.

These changes will achieve an adjustment of R349,95 billion over the MTEF period.

It has become morally indefensible for government to continue bailing out SOEs despite clear evidence that they are beyond saving due to years of state capture and poor management. A choice has to be made on whether to keep throwing money at these zombie SOEs or to protect essential public services: policing, education and healthcare.

Expenditure Cuts

The DA proposal to stop all bailouts to SOEs will help realise R35,1 billion in the 2020/21 financial year:

  • R33 billion will be recovered from the bailout to Eskom in 2020/21;
  • R1 billion reserved for Denel in 2020/21;
  • The outstanding R1,1 billion from the approved R3,2 billion bailout for the SABC.

In addition to the R35,1 billion realised from SOE bailouts, the DA is still the only party that has presented credible plans for how to achieve the public wage bill savings that the Minister has targeted.

In October 2019 we presented a credible, costed plan to achieve a R168 billion cut to the public wage bill over the next three years through:

  • Freezing the wages of the 33,7% of public servants not covered by the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) (including the likes of highly paid head office managers and supervisors) at 2019/20 levels over the three-year MTEF period. This would protect the real front-line delivery staff, and would also yield R138,6 billion;
  • Saving another R29,4 billion over the MTEF period through reductions and a hiring freeze on all managerial positions (non-OSD levels 11 to 16) until the number of managers is reduced by a third – approximately 9 200 posts.

To plug the revenue gap and raise the requisite funds to facilitate productive investments in the economy, government has to consider potential revenue that could be raised from its asset inventory. The DA proposes once of revenue raising mechanisms and cuts over the MTEF period that can raise R67,85 billion:

Once-off mechanisms:

  • Auctioning digital spectrum would raise 5 billion
  • Selling Telkom shares would raise 5 billion
  • Selling Sentech would raise 8 billion

Cuts over MTEF period:

  • Eliminating New Development Bank funding would save 25 billion
  • Eliminating National Health Insurance funding would save 8 billion

Summary

The DA is making credible, costed and positive alternative budget proposals.

Our proposals aim to get debt under control, but introducing a Fiscal Responsibility Bill which would limit the amount of new government borrowings.

Our proposals aim to alleviate the energy emergency by incentivising homes to get off the grid, through an Emergency Solar Rebate.

And finally, we show how we will reduce public wage expenditure to stabilise debt, reduce the deficit and restore fiscal discipline.

In his 2020 National Budget presentation, Minister Mboweni must:

  • Present a credible plan to stabilise national debt, contain the budget deficit and prevent a fiscal crisis;
  • Provide pathways for energy market liberalisation to give South Africans choice over their energy needs;
  • Stop the immoral and indefensible bailout of all SOEs; and
  • Initiate cost containment measures to the public wage bill.

DA calls on SAPO, PostBank to account for state capture contracts

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications and Digital Technologies (CDT), Boyce Maneli, requesting that he convene an urgent meeting with all stakeholders, past and present, to explain the alleged attempts to ‘capture’ SAPO and PostBank and the billion rand supply contracts at each entity.

This follows reports over the weekend of alleged gross interference by both the boards of SAPO and PostBank, impacting the daily operations of the entities, and revealing misconduct by board members, supply chain irregularities, and possible corruption.

Allegations of impropriety at the SAPO include the suspension of Acting CEO, Lindiwe Kwele, and Acting Head of Supply Chain Management, Mothusi Motjale.

This is preceded by the DA’s submission of an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), requesting the full details behind the suspensions of both Kwele and Motjale.

Furthermore, although SAPO and PostBank are currently distributing social grants, PostBank Chairperson, Phumzo Noxaka, has admitted that attempts are being made to abandon the Integrated Grant Payment System (IGPS) being used now, in favour of a solution costing four times as much, which fails to meet the contract’s five-year build, operate and transfer (BOT) objective.

The current grant distribution contract is profitable for government and ensures that the fee paid for the service remains within the economy of the state – either with SAPO, Postbank or the Department of Social Development (DSD). Any moves aimed at overturning the current system will likely cost hundreds of millions more, with every cent spent so far rendered fruitless and wasteful.

More worrying still is the fact that PostBank’s Corporate Plan (CP) for 2020 includes targets related to a lending portfolio, starting at R262 million and growing to R2 billion by 2022. This is in clear contravention of the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) conditional approval for establishing a commercial bank. It is claimed that Noxaka, insisted that this be included in the CP, which could jeopardise the PostBank’s commercial licence application.

The SAPO and PostBank remain the only lifeline for many South Africans, especially in rural areas. It is therefore essential that the patterns of bad governance at other SOE’s not be allowed to take hold at either of these entities.

Parliament’s oversight role through the Portfolio Committee of CDT must be brought to bear immediately, given the evidence of irregularities on these SOE’s, to ensure good governance is applied, in order to guarantee their future stability and sustainability.

We are on track to deliver a successful Policy Conference and Congress

Over the past two days, the Federal Council of the Democratic Alliance (DA) – the party’s highest decision-making body between Federal Congress – convened at Nkululeko House, Johannesburg for its last sitting ahead of the party’s Policy Conference to be held on the 4th and 5th of April 2020.

STATE OF THE NATION

Federal Council considered President Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered in Parliament on Thursday the 13th of February. This follows the nation-wide tour we embarked on called the “Real State of the Nation Tour”, visiting diverse communities and interacting with ordinary South Africans in our quest to access the real state of the nation.

Economic growth has ground to a halt, direct foreign investment is down, tax revenues are down, crime is up and 10.4 million South Africans are without jobs while more are being lost in their hundreds of thousands under the watch of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

We have seen the people of Mamusa, eMlahleni, Upington, Butterworth and other corruption ridden Municipalities live without water, toilets or usable roads.

At the back of this, power has been taken off the people as the failing Eskom continues to implement rolling blackout while government sees no urgency in diversifying our energy sector and selling off failing SOEs. While dangerous and disastrous policies continue to be implemented and proposed by the ANC government.

This is why Federal Council believes that President Cyril Ramaphosa blew his last and only opportunity to announce bold reforms that will usher in a path towards prosperity. These include:

  • Switching off Eskom’s life support machine and supporting the DA’s electricity plan which takes power from the state and gives it to the people;
  • Pulling the plug on the dangerous National Health Insurance.  There is no way we can afford the additional R280 billion required for the NHI without triggering a flight of both tax revenue and skills that we will never be able to reverse;
  • He should have announced the end of and walking away from Expropriation of Property Without Compensation, and interference with Section 25 of the Constitution;
  • Devolving the powers of SAPS to provinces and metros, in line with international best practice;
  • Put an end to the cadre deployment policy by announcing a skills audit for public servants to ensure that we have highly skilled and qualified individuals to help reform our nation and not the connected elites.

We will now begin the process of putting together an action plan for our parliamentary and legislature caucuses to accelerate our fight in the interest of all South Africans.

DA GOVERNANCE 
 
Western Cape
 
Federal Council congratulated Premier Alan Winde and his team on the State of the Province Address delivered this week.

The Western Cape SOPA reaffirmed the DA’s commitment to building a prosperous nation and putting the people first through ground-breaking initiatives that enable his government to deliver services as well as a stable working economy.

Premier Winde announced future focused commitments to the people of the province, these are:

  • The establishment of a special Safety Cabinet, to meet every six weeks to report back on the work done to make the Western Cape safer;
  • The Western Cape government will work with municipalities who want to establish their own Red Tape Reduction Units to help businesses thrive. A new dedicated Municipal Economic Support Unit, housed within the Department of Economic Development, will help to ensure that these units are launched;
  • The province has announced a 4-point energy diversification plan to help give back power to the people and keep the lights on. The Western Cape is well on track to be the first loadshedding-free province in the country;
  • Continue the work of the recently-launched Economic War Room, using world-class methodology to address burning problems and help accelerate economic growth in the province;
  • Plans underway to finalise the establishment of the Western Cape’s very own Children’s Commissioner – a dedicated champion to protect and promote children’s rights in the province;
  • 3 605 housing opportunities in phase one of the Conradie Park Development, with half of these earmarked for affordable housing. This project has already commenced;
  • Housing Opportunity Priority Group to now include backyard dwellers. This means that every time the Western Cape launches a greenfield project, backyarders will also be prioritised;
  • Continue fighting for the control of passenger trains to ensure much-needed improvement to the rail system. The province is already proceeding with a full feasibility study on shifting passenger rail away from the control of national government.

Midvaal

The Auditor General has awarded the DA-led Midvaal Municipality another clean audit for the 2018/19 financial year, the sixth consecutive award since 2013.

We are proud of the continued good governance practices and management of financial resources in a sustainable manner towards service delivery. Midvaal remains the best performing municipality in Gauteng.

We commend Mayor Bongani Baloyi and his team for this exceptional performance. This is further evidence that where we govern as the DA, we govern better.

Tshwane

Council noted and welcomed the resignation of Stevens Mokgalapa as the Mayor of Tshwane.

We are also satisfied with the process undertaken by the Federal Executive and the selection panel to appoint Randall Williams as our Mayoral Candidate.

Councillor Williams has been a long-serving Councillor who served as a member of the city’s Mayoral Committee (MMC) for Economic Development and Spatial Planning and as Chairman of the Municipal Appeals Tribunal between 2016 and 2019.

We believe that Councillor Williams is an excellent mayoral candidate who stands ready to continue the DA-led coalition programme of progress and delivery made in the city.

We will always commit to putting the people of Tshwane and their needs first.

POLICY CONFERENCE

Federal Council is pleased that preparations for the upcoming policy conference are proceeding smoothly in line with the deadlines the party has agreed on. To date, we have publicly released the draft Values and Principles document. In the next few weeks, the Policy Unit will continue to engage with various provincial councils as part on the ongoing internal consultation process. On Friday, 28 February the party will release the framework for the Economic Justice policy as part of our commitment to get as much extensive input as practically possible.

FEDERAL CONGRESS
 
Federal Council is satisfied with the progress made in relation to preparations of the upcoming Federal Congress to be held on 30-31 May 2020, at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Midrand, Johannesburg.

Nominations for leadership positions were officially opened on the 16th of February 2020.

The following positions are to be elected:

  • Federal Leader
  • Federal Chairperson
  • Three Deputy Federal Chairpers
  • Furthermore, members of the Federal Council elect a Chairperson and two Deputy Chairpersons, as well as a Federal Chairperson of Finance.

Nominations received will be interrogated by the Federal Statutory Obligations Department under the direction of Greg Krumbock MP and Desiree van der Walt MP, Electoral Officers of the Federal Congress elections.

Federal Council emphasized that all candidates contesting these positions and their supporters are required to uphold the DA’s Standards of Conduct for Internal Elections which outlines the rules of engagement. This document clearly stipulates that “the Party accepts that campaigning for offices may be robust but expects campaigns to be conducted in a way which is in the best interest of the Party and its supporters.” Any behaviour that is inconsistent with these rules will not be tolerated at all.

The deadline for nominations is 16:00 on the 9th of May 2020.

Federal Council resolved to obtain a legal opinion to clarify the composition of the delegates to ensure that there is absolutely no confusion about who qualifies as a delegate in good standing.

ORGANIZATIONAL RESTRUCTURING 

Federal Council noted the misleading reports about the state of the organization’s human resources. Contrary to the lies in the reports, the party has initiated an organizational restructuring process – in line with the previous federal council resolution on the recommendation by the review panel report – to align our staff composition with our political objective between now and the next national elections. This is no extraordinary development as it has been the norm following every national election in the past.

With regards to the vacancy of the CEO, the party is satisfied with the process to finalize the conclusion of the appointment of the CEO by 1 April 2020.

SCHWEIZER-RENEKE

Council resolved to accept the recommendation from the Federal Executive to refer the report to the Federal Legal Commission for investigation on the internal impact of the report. The party has already held engagements with the key stakeholders in Schweizer-Reneke on the findings of the report.

GENDER BASED VIOLENCE
 
The DA is disturbed by the ongoing spate of gender-based violence incidents throughout the country. The party expressed its condolences to the family of the 8-year old Tazne van Wyk who was brutally murdered by a repeat offender.

In Parliament we will now embark on a full review of the entire parole system in South Africa by submitting Parliamentary questions to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola.

We demand answers on:

  • Conditions on which perpetrators are granted parole;
  • Government’s policy regarding parole release; and
  • How parolees are monitored once released.

On a daily basis families across our country are confronted by the devastating news that their mothers, daughters and sisters have lost their lives due to the gross negligence in the parole system.

PASSING OF RAY SWART

Federal Council noted with sadness the passing of the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) stalwart, anti – apartheid campaigner and former Member of Parliament, Ray Swart. He played a crucial role in the fight for human rights, the rule of law and ushering in a new democratic South Africa, we pay tribute to him and send our heartfelt to his family and loved ones.

CONCLUSION

The State of the Nation Address has laid bare that the ANC is never going to fix SA, as such the DA is South Africa’s only hope.

The policy conference and subsequent congress are our opportunity to resolve and reset. They are our opportunity to achieve real unity and common purpose.

After this process, we will emerge united and stronger. We have built good momentum recently and need to keep building on this momentum by focusing on what matters for the people of South Africa.

Federal Council has unanimously agreed on the following:

  • Fixing our party – policy conference, federal congress, organisational and constitutional review;
  • Where we govern: governing well through honest, accountable and responsive governments will be our number one priority;
  • In opposition: driving the issues people care most about and leading with workable, evidence-based solutions;
  • Building a new majority – we need to “reach across the aisle” wherever possible to build relationships of trust with those who share our values. Populists that would destroy SA are not just to be found in one party – they are spread across parties. The reformists are also not just in one party. The DA will now lead the charge to unite the reformists ushering in a path towards prosperity and build a new majority.

Thank you.

DA calls on Minister to investigate ‘missing’ furniture worth millions at Freedom Park

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Minister of Sports, Arts & Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, to request an investigation into missing assets at Freedom Park worth millions.

In a Parliamentary Question (PQ) on Friday, it was revealed that R9 811 762 of assets were unaccounted for at the heritage site. This is in contrast to evidence in the DA’s possession.

The DA has letters that show clearly that Freedom Park Heritage site cannot account for R19 838 303.05 of its furniture.

The CEO, Ms. Hulisani Ramugadi, has in October 2019 been writing letters to staff members with invoices for non- compliance of the Asset Management Policy on the safeguarding of Freedom Park`s fixed assets.

It is not clear how many staff members have received invoices, but some of the employees are apparently no longer/have never been employed at Freedom Park.

The DA is seeking clarity on the following matters:

  • Why is there a discrepancy between the letter and the Minister’s reply to the PQ;
  • Was about R10 million worth of furniture recovered since Oct last year? If so, please provide details;
  • Was anybody found guilty of corruption?
  • Why is there currently almost R10 million worth of furniture still unaccounted for;
  • What would the second asset verification entail? How will it be different from the first one? and
  • The employment status of all the individuals who received invoices.

For far too long we have seen gross negligence of public resources occur without proper interventions to hold wrongdoers to account. The DA will not allow this culture of unaccountability, wasteful expenditure and mismanagement to continue unchallenged.

DA welcomes court setting aside Eskom/Tegeta deal

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the High Court order setting aside a contract worth R3.7 billion between the formerly Gupta-owned mining group, Tegeta Exploration and Resources and state power utility, Eskom.

 The court order further grants the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) leave to institute legal proceedings.

The DA expects that the Gupta-aligned board, which was appointed by then Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown, led by Ben Ngubane and included former Eskom chief executive, Brian Molefe, will be charged accordingly.  Six of the board’s eight members had links to the Guptas or were their business partners.

It is high time that those responsible for the wholesale theft at Eskom and other state- owned enterprises (SOE) were brought to book. 

While we applaud the action by the SIU that has led to the court’s finding, the DA is adamant that this,however, cannot simply be one example pursued to appease the nation’s expectations and desire for probity.

The DA will continue to call for full public disclosure of all significant contracts entered into with our SOEs in order that more criminals be brought to book.

DA submits 7000 pages of supplementary evidence to strengthen our case against Public Protector

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite in English. The photo can be downloaded here.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today submitted over 7000 pages of supplementary evidence to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to strengthen our motion for the removal of Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

With over 7000 pages to support our motion, the DA hopes that Parliament will act swiftly by establishing an Ad Hoc Committee for Mkhwebane’s removal proceedings. There has been mounting evidence and continuous blunders to support our calls for Mkhwebane’s removal since the submission of our motion.

Some of her notable blunders include:

  • The Constitutional Court found that she acted in bad faith and was not honest with the High Court regarding her investigation process in the Reserve Bank matter.
  • She jumped to the defense of former President Jacob Zuma by laying criminal charges against former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, for releasing the transcript of her interview with him.
  • In late 2019, the North Gauteng High Court dismissed her appeal to overturn Judge Ronel Tolmay’s scathing judgment lamenting her handling of the Estina Dairy Farm matter and the report thereof.
  • She was also recently reported to have celebrated her 50th birthday party with individuals involved in state capture – she chose to spend an evening sipping champagne with the very people she should be investigating.

Throughout her tenure as Public Protector, Mkhwebane has time and again demonstrated an inability to conduct her work independently, and has illustrated a poor understanding of both the law, as well as of her mandate as Public Protector. Worse still, Mkhwebane’s actions have caused immeasurable damage to the reputation of the Office of the Public Protector.

In her almost three years in office, Mkhwebane has successfully tarnished the credibility, authority and independence of the Office of the Public Protector.

The DA hopes that the disgraceful chapter that was Mkhwebane’s rule at the helm of a once-proud Chapter 9 institution will soon come to an end, and that we can begin the work to build a strong and capable Public Protector’s office that upholds the rule of law and protects South Africans from state abuses. The DA will not rest till South Africans are given the Public Protector they deserve.

Mo Shaik’s latest appointment the very definition of cadre deployment

Statements yesterday by the former Head of Intelligence, Mo Shaik, following his resignation as Special Advisor to Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation (DHSWS), are nothing but brazen.

By his own admission, Shaik was initially appointed for undefined purposes by Minister Sisulu as Special Advisor IV at a Grade 16 Public Service payscale (R1.9m per annum at notch a).

Following the DA’s relentless pursuit opposing his appointment, Shaik resigned and was placed in a part-time position on an advisory committee of the Department.

For Shaik to then come out in the media noting that his resignation was merely ‘technical’ is not only disingenuous but brazen.

Shaik’s appointment as Special Advisor and subsequent re-appointment onto a tax-payer funded advisory committee of the Department, earning R7000 per day for a maximum of 15 days per month is the very definition of cadre deployment.

That Shaik or Sisulu would then see it fit to defend such a game of cadre deployment chess is a slap in the face to all South Africans.

The DA will remain steadfast in our pursuit of rooting out cronyism in government. It is high time the ruling party stopped putting their personal agendas ahead of the South African people.

The DA is awaiting responses on our Promotion of Access to Information Act request for full recruitment and selection and remuneration details of all Ministerial Office and National Rapid Response Task Team staffers appointed by Minister Sisulu and will continue to relentlessly expose this under-handed behaviour.

The Western Cape’s DA government continues to put the people first

Please find attached soundbite by John Steenhuisen MP.

We welcome today’s State of the Province Address delivered by Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde. He reaffirmed the DA’s commitment to building a prosperous nation and putting the people first through groundbreaking initiatives that enable his government to deliver services as well as a stable working economy.

The DA-led Western Cape government has made great strides since being reelected in May last year in delivering on its electoral promise to fight for the people of the province. In the first ten months in office, Premier Alan Winde and his team have managed to achieve the following:

  • 26 out of 30 municipalities in the province received unqualified audits.
  • Lifestyle audits were instituted for all members of the Western Cape cabinet, in line with the DA’s commitment to fighting corruption.
  • The provincial ministerial handbook was reviewed in order to continue saving hundreds of millions of Rands.
  • A comprehensive, province-wide Safety Plan was launched, aimed at halving the murder rate in the province. In partnership with the City of Cape Town, the first 500 of 3000 new law enforcement officers have been deployed to crime-ridden areas.
  • 24,000 new jobs were created in the last quarter of 2019. This was more than half of the net jobs created in our country for that period.
  • 1,144 title deeds were handed over to beneficiaries between June and December 2019, making these citizens real owners of their homes.

Today the Premier announced further commitments to the people of the province:

  1. The establishment of a special Safety Cabinet, to meet every six weeks to report back on the work done to make the Western Cape safer.
  2. The Western Cape government will work with municipalities who want to establish their own Red Tape Reduction Units to help businesses thrive. A new dedicated Municipal Economic Support Unit, housed within the Department of Economic Development, will help to ensure that these units are launched.
  3. The province has announced a 4-point energy diversification plan to help give back power to the people and keep the lights on.
  4. Continue the work of the recently launched Economic War Room, using world-class methodology to address burning problems and help accelerate economic growth in the province.
  5. Plans underway to finalise the establishment of the Western Cape’s very own Children’s Commissioner – a dedicated champion to protect and promote children’s rights in the province.
  6. 3,605 housing opportunities in phase one of the Conradie Park Development, with half of these earmarked for affordable housing. This project has already commenced.
  7. Housing Opportunity Priority Group to now include backyard dwellers. This means that every time the Western Cape launches a greenfield project, backyarders will also be prioritised.
  8. Continue fighting for the control of passenger trains to ensure much-needed improvement to the rail system. The province is already proceeding with a full feasibility study on shifting passenger rail away from the control of national government.

We congratulate Premier Winde and his government on these outstanding achievements in delivering on their promises and putting the people of the Western Cape first.

One of the biggest obstacles to economic growth and service delivery in this country is the rampant corruption and poor governance record of the ANC. The DA-led Western Cape government is proof that with a capable team and bold, workable plans, far more can be achieved.

Premier Winde’s team in the Western Cape will not rest on their laurels. There is always more to be done. However, the ball is now in President Ramaphosa’s court to choose the people of this country over his party, and respond to the urgent requests put to him by the Premier to allow for bigger and bolder reforms in the province.

The time for talk is over. We need action if we are to put South Africa on the path towards prosperity.