DA welcomes Mboweni’s call for Covid provincial health contracts to be published

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the call by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, calling on all provincial Health MECs to publish the list of all companies that have been awarded personal protective equipment (PPE) tenders related to Covid-19 in their provinces.

The DA, this week, put pressure on the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to make public all companies and their board of directors that have been awarded contracts by provincial departments in light of the dubious R2 billion PPE contracts in Gauteng that have allegedly been awarded to companies, which are politically connected or with no history of supplying services that are being rendered.

The Western Cape Provincial Government has already published all contracts awarded during this time on an online platform for public scrutiny. It is import that both Ministers Mkhize and Mboweni insist that the other eight provinces follow the Western Cape’s example.

We trust that this will not remain a mere call but that all MECs will immediately act to publish these details without any further delay. It simply is not enough for the Finance Minister to remain a mere spectator when he has the power to bring about this accountability.

The ball is now in the court of the provincial Health Departments to play open cards, if there is indeed nothing to hide, this exercise will not be difficult.

South Africa is currently in the midst of a difficult battles to save lives, and this fight cannot be intercepted by greedy politicians and elites for their own personal benefit.

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DA Chief Whip receives memorandum from Private Charter Passenger Association protesting lockdown regulations

This morning, the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Chief Whip in the National Assembly, Natasha Mazzone MP, received a memorandum from the Private Charter Passenger Association (PCPA) at the gates of Parliament. This follows a slow-drive protest by the association, from Athlone to Parliament.

Throughout the lockdown tour guides and private charters across the country have been unable to earn an income. To date, the R30 million Tour Guides’ Relief Fund promised by government has not materialized.

The DA supports this sub-section of the Tourism industry and we are happy to receive their memorandum and hand it to the Tourism and Transport Ministers, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane and Fikile Mbalula.

Download pictures here, here, here, here and here

Please find attached a soundbite by  Manny De Freitas MP, the DA Shadow Minister of Tourism.

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DA calls on Parliament’s Ethics Committee to act against ANC MP’s insidious threat to freedom of the press

The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns in the strongest terms the threats made by ANC Member of Parliament, Boy Mamabolo, to shoot Sunday World journalist, Ngwako Malatji.

We will refer Mamabolo to Parliament’s Ethics Committee, to ensure that he is held fully accountable for his statements and that his actions are thoroughly investigated.

Threatening journalists is a serious and insidious problem which, if not properly addressed or challenged, will reverse the gains made towards protecting media freedom and freedom of expression as enshrined in Section 16 of our Constitution.

As a Member of Parliament, Mamabolo has failed to protect and uphold the values enshrined in the Constitution and allow members of media and to carry their responsibilities without fear and intimidation.

We commend Malatji, and his paper, for opening a criminal case against the ANC MP and for pursuing this matter and seeking justice.

The DA has also noted that the ANC has come out to condemn Mamabolo’s actions and given the serious nature of the matter, we urge the ANC in Parliament to pursue this matter with the same same vigour and urgency that they have done in public.

These comments by the ANC MP once again shows the governing party’s disdain for not just the members of the media but South Africans in general. Daily, the ANC demonstrates that the rules that apply to South African citizens do not apply to the ANC.

We have seen this recently in the way the ANC conducts funerals – with no social distancing or Covid-19 protocols being adhered to. Whereas ordinary South Africans are limited to a certain number of people who can observe funerals.

South African’s are receiving criminal records for smoking yet army generals were seen smoking freely without anyone rebuking their actions. Moreover, ordinary South Africans have been criminalised for breaking some of the senseless Covid -19 regulations yet the real criminals who are responsible for looting relief funds remain in their cushioned homes and air-conditioned offices.

The ANC has a poor track record in holding anyone associated with it accountable, it is, therefore, incumbent on Parliament to act in the interest of preserving South Africans’ rights as enshrined in our Constitution. The ANC’s velvet gloves won’t be enough.

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#CrimeStats: More questions than answers

The Democratic Alliance  (DA) will urgently write to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele to provide clarity on several problematic and confusing aspects of the annual crime statistics for 2019/2020.

The crime stats once again indicate that South African Police Service (SAPS) is losing the battle against most major crimes. The murder rate is, again, the highest it has been in 10 years, with an average of 58.4 murders per day in South Africa. Sexual offences increased by 1.7%, with sexual assault increasing by 4.2%. On average, 115.8 people are raped in South Africa every day. Contact crimes also increased by 0.7%.

National Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, also confirmed that incidents on farms increased from 41 to 46 and murders from 47 to 49. The DA welcomes the inclusion of farm attacks in the crime statistics but calls on SAPS to accelerate the full implementation of the rural safety strategy.

The overall number of rapes increased by 1.7% to 42 289 cases, but rapes against women and children decreased by 15.8% to 25 801 cases. These figures appear to indicate that 16 488 rape cases were against men.

Does this mean that rape against men therefore accounts for almost 40% of all rapes?

More worryingly, during the presentation SAPS indicated these rape figures against women and children are “not yet completed” and are “preliminary”.

It raises serious questions about our fight against sexual crimes such as rape.

Similarly, sexual assault increased by 4.2%, whilst sexual assault against women and children decreased by 7.7%.

Minister Cele must account for these discrepancies and whether SAPS is using the stats to play political games in trying to paint a rosy picture with regards to gender-based violence.

These crime statistics are an indictment on SAPS and specifically the Minister who is more worried about alcohol and cigarettes than violent criminals.

It is clear that the ANC government is failing to keep our communities safe.

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The Minister of No Tourism confirms that things haven’t changed as joblessness increases

Please find attached English soundbite by Manny De Freitas MP, DA Shadow Minister of Tourism.

The Minister of No Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane’s announcement today about changes to regulations within the tourism and hospitality sectors indicate that in reality, nothing had changed. The announcements made indicate that the Minister and her Department know nothing about the challenges currently faced by the tourism and hospitality sectors.

Kubayi-Ngubane’s big announcement that the curfew will now start at 22:00, means that staff and anyone patronising restaurants would, in reality, need to leave such establishments at 21:00 (the existing curfew commencement time) to ensure that they are in their homes in time to meet the “new” curfew time. Unbelievably, the Department of Tourism officials confirmed that people’s freedom of movement would be curtailed because “dinner takes place at 8pm” – the ANC government has got to a stage that it now feels it can decide for South Africans when they will have dinner.

The announcement that only intra-provincial tourism leisure activities will be permitted is simply does not go far enough. Tourism establishments will continue to be hamstrung because they will not receive sufficient guests to be able to continue operating.

Minister Kubayi-Ngubane has today completely missed the mark and the opportunity to provide meaning changes to save lives and livelihoods by opening up the sector.

The DA reiterates its calls on Government to open the tourism and hospitality sectors in the Western Cape in light of the province, not only managing to capacitate its health system, but also the fact that the infection rate is plateauing. The Western Cape has proven they are capable and ready to safely open the tourism and hospitality sectors, which are major contributors to job creation and the provincial economy.

The Minister again confirmed today that jobs have been lost and will continue to be lost within the sector – a real indictment on the Minister of No Tourism as the reason for these losses are a direct result of these regulations which are not supported in science.

We will be submitting parliamentary questions to Minister Kubayi-Ngubane about the criteria, science, and claims of consultation to develop and draw up the updated regulations. In addition, the DA is launching a nationwide petition demanding that the tourism and hospitality sectors be opened up as in reality these regulations do nothing to save lives and livelihoods.

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Covid Corruption: Gauteng MEC leave of absence means nothing if corruption cannot be prevented

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP, DA Shadow Minister of Health.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s announcement today that the MEC for Health in Gauteng, Bandile Masuku, will be taking leave of absence following damning allegations of tender irregularities and corruption in his department will not deter rampant corruption which has taken root not only in the Gauteng Provincial Government but across the country.

That is why I have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa calling for the inclusion of all contracts, in his Special Investigative Unit (SIU) proclamation, that were awarded in Gauteng in relation to the Covid-19 response.

I have also called on the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to immediately make public the names of companies that have been awarded contracts; their board of directors; value of each contract; the service being provided and the status of these contracts.

This week, the Western Cape Government has taken the lead in this regard. It has published this information online in order for these contracts to be publicly scrutinized.

The 8 other provinces should follow this example.

This information pertains to the use of public money, it should therefore be easily accessed by the public.

South Africa is in the middle of a global health crisis. Daily, people are losing their lives and the number of cases are increasing exponentially, all the while the ANC presides over a government that allows for the looting and plundering of public money which is meant to provide equipment that will aid the fight against this pandemic.

Healthcare workers are forced to treat patients without protective gear or forced to endanger their lives by recycling PPE because politicians would much rather line their pockets than deliver services to the people of South Africa.

Placing implicated individuals on ‘leave of absence’ does not prevent corruption from taking place because there is not political will to root out this abhorrent culture. If the President is serious about fighting corruption, he needs to empower the SIU to review and investigate all contracts across the country. Those responsible must be removed from government and arrested.

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Ban on travel for hunting is without sense

This week’s ban on cross-provincial travel for the purposes of hunting, and the ban on hunting overnight within provinces are huge blows to the game ranching industry.

It makes little sense.

Hunting is an activity that requires very little close human contact. It can only be done in small groups. It takes place in the outdoors. These are precisely the conditions which are not conducive to the spread of Covid-19.

To allow hunting would be to say yes to an area of economic activity that can take place with a comparatively low risk of virus transmission.

South Africa has more than 10 000 game ranches. They produce more than 150 000 tons of game meat per year. Game ranchers depend on paid hunters, not only for a revenue stream but also for the hunters to do the work of culling.

The sector employs 140 000 people at salaries above those of the average in the agricultural sector. Many of those jobs will be at risk because of the hunting ban.

Every day hundreds of taxis cross provincial boundaries. The fact that hunting has been banned across these boundaries makes Minister Barbara Creecy look ridiculous and underlines that the ANC government is one wholly captured by factional interests.

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Minister Zulu, do the honourable thing and vacate your office

The following remarks were delivered in response to the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu’s Executive Statement before Parliament today.

Honourable Chairperson,

For some reason, I looked forward to Minister Lindiwe Zulu’s statement today. Firstly, because I hoped Minister Zulu would take the opportunity to ensure all the challenges with the payment of the special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant of R350 were sorted without court intervention. Having listened to the Minister, I am sadly disappointed yet again.

I am disappointed because South Africans have been understanding and patient in the face of ferocious hunger and starvation. I am disappointed because at every meeting the portfolio committee expressed itself clearly and categorically to the Minister and her Department that they should ensure the system works better and that millions of people actually receive that money to buy food.

I am disappointed because when the announcement of the special grant was made on the 21st of April, millions of people had their hopes high that they would at least get R350. For many of them, those hopes have yet to be fulfilled over three months later.

I am still receiving complaints and queries every day from desperate people who have not been paid their grant due to Post Offices telling them there is not sufficient money to pay them. I received complaints this morning from Cape Town, Witbank, and other places.

Honourable Chairperson, when you receive calls, emails, and WhatsApp messages asking you if you know what it is like to go hungry yourself while you have to face your starving children, asking you if tomorrow there will be something to eat – knowing that I don’t have an answer for these people, and being incredibly grateful that I have yet to be in such terrible circumstances – has left me with a deep sense of concern. Messages from people who wake up every single day hoping for a promised outcome that might never come if we have to wait for Minister Zulu to implement solutions. The messages my colleagues and I have received are a drop in the ocean. Countless people don’t even have the means of contacting us.

It is clear to me that in South Africa we don’t have a resource problem; we have an incapable state problem. A state with no capacity, a state that has no respect for constitutional rights and a state that is clearly far removed from the lived experiences of its people. That state, Honourable Chairperson and Honourable Minister, is the ANC-led state.

The Minister’s Executive statement, today, is yet another installment in a series of excuses from a cadre in a position of power that has done nothing to alleviate the scourge of hunger that has gripped millions of people.

Why is it that, to Minister Zulu, the lives and livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable are not important? Why is it, Chairperson, that we have to sit here and listen to a statement about why things have still not happened when they should have been addressed a long time ago?

Honourable Chairperson, statistics are painting a grim picture for the poor people in South Africa. For example, predicted levels of poverty will have almost doubled after the Covid-19 lockdown has been lifted. This prediction calls for planning by the Department of Social Development. It should be at the forefront of looking after the poor and vulnerable. I doubt that this Department has that plan.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has used all avenues available to it to exercise oversight on the Department. We called for SASSA offices to be prioritized for PPE and open to provide the services many people needed when the special grant was announced. We called for the Minister to hold to account all those within the Department and its agencies to account for delays in payment of the special grant and the long queues on payment dates. All our reasonable and caring calls fell on deaf ears.

Honourable Chairperson, in the absence of a clear plan of action and given the Minster and her Department’s recent abysmal track record, the DA would put to the Minister that she should offer an unconditional apology to the millions of South Africans who have been victims of her lack of leadership, her being removed from the lived reality of the people she has the privilege of serving. After the apology, the honourable Minister must do the honourable thing and vacate her position as the Minister of Social Development.

Thank you

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DA welcomes Minister Ntshavheni’s commitment to long-overdue Small Enterprise Ombudsman

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni’s reaffirmation to her commitment, first made over a year ago, to table a Small Enterprise Ombudsman Services Bill in Parliament, in her budget speech before the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Tuesday.

The DA team in the Small Business Development Committee has for the past six years been advocating for the necessity of such a bill and the establishment of a Small Enterprises Ombudsman in order to tackle the problem of late payments of invoices of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) and the unnecessary bullying by Government and big business.

In May 2018, after four years of research and inputs from small businesses, the then DA Shadow Minister of Small Business Development, Toby Chance, tabled an identically named bill after the portfolio committee was bombarded with complaints from small businesses and pleas for action. Mr Chance took the initiative, wrote and published the bill and, after consultations and submissions from the public, presented it to the committee.

The fact is that an Ombud service could have already been operating had the ANC members in committee not rejected the DA’s private member’s bill as “undesirable”.

The Department of Small Business Development has now seen the sense of such a bill and will hopefully keep the flame burning. Minister Ntshavheni was quick to see its relevance to small business stakeholders after taking office in May 2019 and the Department conducted several consultative workshops later in the year where support for such a bill was overwhelming.

The DA looks forward to reading the new bill when it is published, and hopes that the Government will not remain talkers in this regard, but become doers like the DA.

We have long believed that small businesses too often find themselves on the receiving end of bullying by Government and big business, not just in late payments but in contractual negotiations, terms of trade and other matters where their bargaining power puts them at a disadvantage.

An Ombud service which looks after their interests will go a long way to leveling the playing field and creating the conditions for small businesses to be treated fairly and aiding post-Covid-19 economic revitalization through mass job creation.

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DA calls for Western Cape tourism and hospitality industries to reopen

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, to lift restrictions on the tourism and hospitality sectors in the Western Cape in line with Government’s risk-adjusted strategy.

We call on her to make this announcement in her briefing to the media at 2pm today.

Despite the initial unfounded panic with the province being branded the so-called “epicentre” and questions around the province’s competence to handle the outbreak, the Western Cape not only managed to capacitate its health system, with beds to spare, but the infection rate is plateauing.

The Provincial Government and the City of Cape Town have therefore proven that they are capable and ready to safely open the tourism and hospitality sectors, which are major contributors to job creation and the provincial economy.

The Western Cape Government projects that the continued closure of the tourism and hospitality sectors, the ban on liquor, and the irrational curfew, as a result of the lockdown, could cost the province 240 000 jobs and lead to a full-blown humanitarian crisis.

The situation is clearly long past the point where the continued Covid-19 lockdown is a mere inconvenience. People are losing their livelihoods at an unprecedented rate. A report from BankServAfrica indicated that more than a fifth of the South African formal workforce was already jobless in June. Almost 21% fewer salary payments were made since then. And there are predictions that 27% of jobs in South Africa has simply disappeared. Some of those from businesses that died from the chokehold of the continued Covid-19 lockdown.

The tourism sector is on its last legs. Unless Minister Kubayi-Ngubane urgently intervene most of it will simply die. Millions of more jobs would be lost and millions of families will be thrown to the wolves because of the Government’s inaction.

The Government now has an opportunity to begin saving the sector by reopening the Western Cape tourism and hospitality sectors. These sectors are ready to open with the proper Covid-19 health and safety protocols, the same as other sectors of the economy have done with great success. The tourism industry deserves the same chance at survival.