DA calls for De Lille to be fired following damning SIU report into Beitbridge saga

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to do the right thing and fire the Minister of Public Works and Administration, Patricia De Lille for her role in the erection of the R37 million Beitbridge Border ‘washing line’.

This comes in the wake of the report by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) which established that the Minister erred when she issued an emergency directive on the fence to the Director-General of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) on 16 March 2020 in which she instructed that the:

  • Project Team meet with the Contractor by no later than 18 March 2020 to finalise the arrangements for the project;
  • The Contractor be appointed by no later than 20 March 2020;
  • Costs be determined to facilitate the emergency variation order;
  • A Project Manager be appointed; and
  • Weekly progress reports be provided to the Minister.

The report found that these instructions “placed an enormous project and compliance risk on the Department”. 

Furthermore, the SIU has found that Minister De Lille issued this emergency directive two days before the National State of Disaster Regulations were gazetted by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. According to the report, Minister De Lille did not have any authority to declare the emergency on the 16th of March 2020, as this prerogative rested with CoGTA Minister Dlamini-Zuma.

The report further sheds light on the Minister’s advisor, Melissa Whitehead’s role in this debacle. The report lament’s Whitehead for advising the Minister to issue directives without ensuring that the directive complies with the prescripts and legislation applicable to the emergency procurement process. The SIU has also recommended that Whitehead be charged with gross negligence for interfering in the administration of the DPWI.

The DA calls for Melissa Whitehead to be fired as she has clearly demonstrated that she does not have a firm understanding of her role and that she does not care about following due processes or stepping outside the bounds of her duties.

Despite the Minister claiming high and low that these investigations would absolve her from wrongdoing and that she had no role to play in the procurement of this “washing line” – the SIU report clearly states the opposite.

She did not follow the law by flouting procedures, and as such, she failed to uphold her oath of office. As a Minister, De Lille is bound by her oath to uphold the values of the Constitution and her actions in this entire debacle point that is she has failed to do so.

Minister De Lille, therefore, is a constitutional delinquent, and she along with her advisor should be fired.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Opinion | DA Conference to respond to failure of Economic Transformation

The majority of South Africans would agree that the pursuit of economic transformation in South Africa has been an unambiguous failure. However, what we understand economic transformation to mean differs, and this is evident in how it is assessed.

In order to measure progress of economic transformation, there is a self-defeating habit of looking at the demographic profile of the owners of JSE listed companies and those who occupy executive positions in companies and institutions broadly. The theory is that in an economically just society these outcomes would reflect the racial demographics of the population. This is of course not true.

It is entirely possible, as will surely one day be the case, for there to be ‘black’ majority ownership of the JSE and for the majority of executives to be ‘black’ while economic injustice persists. In fact, we can go as far as saying that there can be 100% ‘black’ ownership of the economy and for the economy to still exclude the majority of South Africans, as it is possible for economic injustice to exist in racially homogenous societies. Indeed, many South Africans reject the idea that replacing a white economic elite with a black economic elite equates to economic justice. And yet, we obsess with indicators that can only inform us about the racial demography of the ‘1%’.

We need to find a way of focusing the measurement of transformation away from elite gains towards measuring the ability of all in society to earn an income and build wealth. It is for this reason that the DA’s draft economic justice policy is a key discussion point for the upcoming policy conference.

The stark realities we are confronted with now, require concessions from a wide variety of stakeholders:

  1. Established businesses cannot continue to take part in setting up a regulatory edifice within which new companies cannot compete, that kills innovation and aids cronyism. It has not worked out for South Africans for big businesses to spend eyewatering amounts to sit in close proximity to some or other minister who whispers sweet nothings in their ear. Sweet nothings which either never materialize or which materialize at the expense of South Africans. Executives walk away from these conferences drunk on imagined influence. The result is always premature talk of renewal and greenshoots, only to be disappointed. That disappointment reaches its zenith just in time for another conference where the Kool-Aid overflows.

    Critically, the official policy of trickle-down redress i.e. coopting the politically connected onto boards and ownership of companies, will not work as a plan to include the majority of South Africans into the economy. And thus, ultimately it will fail as a way to buy businesses the social license to operate which many seek. There will continue to be mass resentment from the majority excluded from the economy.

  2. The economic left and dominant unions will need to confront the fact that there is no decent work without work. Decent work is impossible if nobody actually has any work. And so, we must balance labour demands with the need to get as many people as possible into work. It is imperative that we reduce the transactional costs related to doing business in South Africa, to grow the economy, and to increase the jobs available and suited to the labour force we possess. There is nothing decent about mass unemployment.
  3. The economic right and chanters of ‘pull yourself by your bootstraps’ will need to acknowledge that if we are not deliberate about improving the opportunities available to all, meritocracy can reinforce inequalities and place a cap on economic mobility. Meritocracy is a fine principle, the idea that our success in life is to be determined by our performance i.e. a combination of hard work and our innate abilities. This is in stark contrast to a society based on nepotism, aristocracy or inherited status, or even cadre deployment. And indeed, selecting the best society has to offer has benefits for all not just the individuals themselves.

    However, how merit is assessed at various stages (e.g. extra-curricular activity, university attended, referees for job referrals) can be elitist. And we must be concerned about how we ensure that everyone has a reasonable opportunity to nurture innate talents and develop strengths. There also needs to be recognition that some may never possess or have not been able to develop, through no fault of their own, any monetizable ability. And thus, we need to provide a floor below which no human being, no matter how vulnerable their situation can fall beneath.

  4. Analytically we must view the drivers of economic exclusion as multifaceted and that they work in reinforcing ways. Focusing on ownership, executive management of companies, and the awarding of contracts reduces economic exclusion to one predominant assumption: that were it not for the recalcitrance of ‘white monopoly capital’, the majority of South Africans would be better off. This could not be further from the truth. Economic exclusion is a heady combination of succumbing to illness and disease due to poor public healthcare, the high cost of transport which reduces mobility and increases reservation wages, low levels of savings and savings in low return investment vehicles, unaffordable housing close to areas of economic activity, unreliable and costly energy, digital disconnect, poor educational outcomes etc. All of which contribute to a cycle of deprivation which is difficult to escape. We need a concept of economic justice which tackles economic exclusion as a basket of deprivations.

Balancing the realities highlighted above, and no doubt numerous others, is the primary work of the DA policy conference to be held on the 5th and 6th of September 2020. The future of South Africa depends on successfully challenging the current hegemonic view of economic transformation. Absent any policy change, South Africa will continue to be characterized as an economy of outsiders and insiders.

DA calls on StatsSA to commit to specific timeline on release of QLFS following second postponement

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) to commit to a specific timeline of when it will release the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the second quarter of the financial year. StatsSA has indicated that the report will be released at the end of September citing data collection challenges posed by Covid-19.

Whilst we understand the extent to which the pandemic has affected the entity’s ability to collect data, it is concerning that StatsSA has again cited the same excuse it relied on two weeks ago when it announced the initial delay, promising that it would be able to release the report at the end of August.

Now more than ever, we need to deepen our understanding of the extent to which the ANC’s hard economic lockdown has impacted on the cessation of economic activity, the collapse of the job market and the sustainability of households trying to make it through the month.

The continued delays in the release of the report, however, will only cast a shadow over the reliability and credibility of the QLFS report.

The importance of this data cannot be overstated as the report is likely to lay bare the disastrous consequences of the hard lockdown.

A post-Covid-19 economic recovery effort will only be possible if there is reliable empirical data on the magnitude of challenges the country is facing. The QLFS  data is critical in this regard.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

6 months of lockdown and thousands still waiting for answers from SASSA over R350 grant

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has learned that the previous Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, spent more than R2.5 million for a technical task team to review the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) business model and make recommendations in reforming how SASSA made its cash payments.

In a reply to a DA parliamentary question, the Department of Social Development (DSD) said that it paid six technical advisers a total of R2 534 831,05 between May and October 2018.

These technical advisors clearly did not fix any of the Agency’s challenges as reports confirm that SASSA is currently drowning under a backlog of 300 000 emails and 4 000 attempted phone calls a day from desperate people needing assistance with the Special Covid-19 Relief of Distress (SRD) Grant of R350.

SASSA now hopes to solve this dire situation by outsourcing the flood of calls and emails to a new call centre that is expected to deal with 90% of the emails and phone calls with an 80% success rate.

While the DA welcomes SASSA’s initiative to address the chaos, we cannot help but wonder why SASSA waited until the end of August to announce such plans. The Agency has been inundated with millions of applications and people desperate to ascertain the success of said applications since the announcement of the grant.

The DA has called for SASSA offices to be fully capacitated with proper Covid-19 health and sanitation processes in place since the start of the lockdown. We have warned that vulnerable people need urgent help and intervention from the DSD and SASSA and begged for them not to be ignored.

Anyone with eyes could see that SASSA and the DSD seemed to have little empathy for the millions of people unable to provide for their families during the Covid-19 lockdown. Anyone with ears would have heard pleas for help from all sectors of society. Instead those mandated to provide this vital intervention have been blind and deaf for these past six months – not just to new applicants of the SRD grant, but to those beneficiaries of other grants that had to suffer due to SASSA’s continued ineptitude in processing new and other claims.

Had SASSA successfully implemented the suggestions for which it paid so dearly in 2018, vulnerable South Africans might have had more of a fighting chance these past six months. Instead, SASSA made a white elephant of the advice and millions of vulnerable people still have no certainty of how they will provide for their families today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future while those without empathy reign supreme as SASSA and DSD.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Harrismith tin shack housing scheme an insult to the dignity of residents

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by DA MPL in the Free State Legislature, Leona Kleynhans.

Amid the 26 years of chaotic uncontrolled expansion of the Selahliwe informal settlement at Harrismith, the Free State Department of Human Settlements is now building a vast shanty town consisting of 2,5m X 2,5m corrugated iron shacks, 100m from the local dumping site.

This is allegedly part of the Covid-19 “de-densification” project previously announced by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

The moving of families into these hastily constructed tin shacks is an insult to their dignity. There are no roads in the area, with sites pegged out in dusty veld, and raw scraped passages for streets. There is no water reticulation, no electricity and a long-drop toilet in each yard.

Water is delivered by tanker to JoJo tanks in each “street”. These tanks are mounted on a pile of rocks.

According to replies received by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to questions in the Legislature, 885 of these “Temporary Residential Units” are being erected, consisting of a slab of concrete with a 6,25 square meter “lightweight steel space frame with corrugated iron sheeting mounted on the frame”. The area, about 500m from the national N3 highway, is notorious for tornadoes. The extremely flimsy construction of the tin shacks could be an extreme hazard during simmer when the strong winds could result in sheets of corrugated iron flying over the highway.

The Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipality is awaiting the finalisation of the township register from the Surveyor General. This means that only 247 households will be able to receive title deeds once the conveyancer has been appointed. The other 638 will not receive title deeds now because the township register is not yet opened. These people will receive a “Permission to Occupy” document from the municipality.

According to information we received, a Gauteng based company, Rich Soil Resources was awarded the contract to erect the structures, allegedly at a cost of R22 080 each, which includes the long-drop toilet.

During my oversight visit to the area, a resident complained about the dust, that he had received no documents to certify his occupation of the allocated site but his name had been written in a book, that he had not paid anything to be allocated the site, and that residents had been informed that proper houses would be built with no time frames.

There is a situation of anarchy in the area where a person claiming to be a traditional leader is busy selling ‘sites’, and local councillors are fighting about who should receive houses. It is blatantly clear that the previous populist actions of the Mayor Vusi Tshabalala, when he declared that people can peg sites and occupy the land, despite these sites already having been sold as business premises, has simply made any formalisation of the settlement, or controlled housing development impossible.

It is hard to imagine that the Free State Department of Human Settlements believed that this uprooting of 885 families in the dead of winter, and moving them to a tin shack in a dusty veld, with no services whatsoever, was providing a better life.

It is clear that the ANC government has no idea what they are doing, and are now simply falling around to avoid facing the voters next year with nothing to show.

The DA will continue to investigate this project and contract, and will raise further questions about this matter with the Minister of Water, Sanitation and Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, in Parliament.

DA calls for action from Premier following brutal double murder in KZN farming community

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) is dismayed and horrified by reports of a double murder on a farm murder near Normandien in the Battlefields area of the province.

The couple was found murdered on their farm earlier this morning in what is an ongoing spate of attacks on farmers and rural communities in South Africa. According to reports, the suspects fled in a Pajero, which was later found abandoned. No arrests had been made by the time of writing.

The DA extends its deepest sympathies to the family of those who lost their lives under such shocking circumstances.

This latest murder comes just two days after the province’s Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) portfolio committee should have met to make recommendations and resolutions on the issues affecting the safety of farmers, farm workers and rural communities. Unfortunately, the meeting was postponed in what has become a drawn out process that started in January 2020.

On the table for discussion were important recommendations made by the DA and supported by SAPS in the Province. These include;

  • Declaring farm attacks/murders hate crimes or priority crimes due to their brutal nature;
  • Establishing an inter-ministerial task team to report the Premier on rural safety;
  • Calling a rural safety summit where experts can advise government on practical steps to make rural areas safer;
  • Directly subsidizing farm patrols, farm watches and private security initiatives; and
  • Making better use of technology such as licence plate recognition, drones and CCtv in the fight against crime.

Sadly, South Africans have become all too accustomed to the ANC-led government paying lip service when it comes to many of the challenges that our people face.

Certainly, rural safety is one of these issues and our communities are increasingly being forced to take their safety into their own hands. This, while ANC leaders fight over Covid-19 tenders and jostle for power in an organisation that has repeatedly admitted that South Africans are not their priority.

The DA will write directly to KZN Premier, Sihle Zikalala regarding this latest attack and on the recommendations outlined above. This after the poor response from both his MECs for Agriculture and Community Safety to date.

Despite the ANC’s uncaring stance on the matter, the DA has recently secured a victory in the National Assembly, where a Debate of National Importance on the scourge of farm attacks and murders across the nation will be held on Tuesday. This after ongoing pressure from our national DA counterparts and after a shocking rise in the number of reported incidents this year, which have particularly brutal in nature.

It is critical that Parliament uses its platform to highlight the dangers of living and working in our rural communities and the DA in KZN will demand that the provincial government look at rural and farm safety more seriously. Failure by government to address the scourge will result in communities mobilising to ensure the safety of their neighbours and loved ones.

DA EC elects new leadership at South Africa’s first-ever virtual political congress

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape made history today by successfully concluding South Africa’s first-ever virtual political congress.

DA EC Provincial Leader, Nqaba Bhanga, and DA EC Provincial Chairperson, Andrew Whitfield, were elected unopposed for another three year term.

The decision by our members to re-elect the incumbent Provincial Leader and Provincial Chairperson is not only an endorsement of their leadership, but also a confirmation that the party is on solid ground and in good hands in the Eastern Cape.

Delegates did, however, vote to elect two Deputy Provincial Leaders and three Deputy Provincial Chairpersons.

The vote and the vote count proceeded without a single query, objection or contest, and that is testament to the DA’s commitment to free and fair elections.

The DA thanks the outgoing leadership for their sterling work and dedication to the party.

The full complement of newly-elected DA Eastern Cape leadership is:

Provincial Leader: Nqaba Bhanga

2 Deputy Provincial Leaders: Chantel King, Bobby Stevenson

Provincial Chairperson: Andrew Whitfield

3 Deputy Provincial Chairpersons: Yusuf Cassim, Vicky Knoetze, Wonga Potwana

We congratulate the successful candidates and wish them well in their mission to bring about positive change and to grow the DA in the Eastern Cape.

The DA’s project has to succeed. There is no plan B.

The following remarks were delivered today by the DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, at the DA Eastern Cape virtual Provincial Congress.

My fellow Democrats

It gives me great pleasure to address you in this way – as my fellow democrats – because that is who and what we are.

We are democrats not only in name, but in our actions too.

Whether it is the way in which we conduct ourselves in government, or the way in which we contest elections, we wear our democratic colours with pride.

The DA does not get caught up in destructive factional battles.

The DA is not in it for patronage and wealth.

The DA is free from the stench of corruption that has settled on every ANC-run province, municipality and government department.

The DA has not, and will not, lose sight of why we do what we do. Which is to offer hope, dignity and opportunity to South Africans through governments of the people, by the people and for the people.

We are democrats in every sense of the word, and we should be proud of this.

I know, going into this provincial congress, that our democratic spirit will prevail. I know this congress will be conducted with respect and decorum.

Just as I know that the other DA provincial congresses, as well as our Federal Congress later this year, will play by the same rules.

And when these processes are concluded, we will abide by the democratic outcome and get straight back to work, doing what we do best: improving the lives of South Africans through freedom, fairness and opportunity.

On that note, I would like to congratulate Nqaba Bhanga and Andrew Whitfield on being elected unopposed as Provincial Leader and Chairperson respectively. This gives the DA much-needed stability here in the Eastern Cape, and allows us to not lose focus.

I know that each one of you understands the importance of the DA’s task. Our project has never been more urgent. South Africa is facing its biggest challenge in its 26 years of democracy.

And I’m not talking about the battle to contain the coronavirus because I know we will overcome this.

I’m talking about the battle to save our country from a slide into economic ruin. The battle to save millions of our citizens from desperate poverty and despair.

Because, unless there is an intervention to dramatically change our course, that bleak outcome will be our country’s future.

Fellow democrats, we are that intervention. You are.

I don’t mean to put unnecessary pressure on you, but whether our country sinks or swims depends entirely on whether the DA’s project fails or succeeds. There is no other plan.

We simply have to succeed in building a new majority in this country.

We have to set out our values and our plans for reform in such a way that this becomes a rallying point for both voters and potential coalition partners.

Now, we all know what it will take to turn our country around and avert disaster:

We know it will take a capable state, which can only be achieved by appointing people on merit rather than on their allegiance to political factions.

We know it will take an honest, hard-working government that truly has zero-tolerance for corruption and greed, and doesn’t just say this for effect.

It will take an unwavering commitment to the Rule of Law – one set of rules for everyone, and swift consequences for all who break these rules.

It will take the power of a market-economy, because only the entrepreneurial spirit and the willingness to take risks can create the scale of jobs we need.

It will take a government that knows when to get out of the way and let those in the business of growth and jobs do their thing.

It will take a commitment to a lean and efficient state. No more bloated civil service and top-heavy State-Owned Enterprises.

And it will take a truly 21st Century economy, and that means walking away once and for all from the failed ideologies and the doomed economic projects of the 20th Century.

We know all of this. We speak about it all the time, to the point where it seems so clear and obvious to us.

But knowing this is not enough. Believing in our vision for South Africa is not enough. Our job is to make others believe in this vision too. That is our project.

And the next big step in this project is only a year away, when South Africans go to the polls to elect local governments.

How we use the next twelve or so months to deliver our message to voters will have a profound impact on the future of our country.

But we’re not the only ones who are going to be busy. Already we’re seeing the same old pattern that emerges ahead of every election, as small parties crop up with fancy promises which they have no way of backing up with any proof or track record.

And such is the appeal of the shiny and new that these small parties inevitably end up taking away some votes from the strongest opposition party, the DA. Every time a voter does this, the net result is the strengthening of the ANC.

We’ve been through this scenario so many times. As soon as the elections are over, voters who tested the waters with one of these new start-ups realise they got zero bang for their buck from a one-man party with a regional footprint, and they return to the DA.

But by then the damage is done for the next five years. The momentum is halted and the ANC is bolstered.

There is only one way to unseat the ANC nationally, and that is by weakening them in every consecutive election. By pushing them below 50% wherever possible and relegating them to the opposition benches in municipal, metro and provincial governments.

We need voters to understand this. We need them to realise that if they want their municipality to be freed from the control of the corrupt ANC, they have to vote out the ANC by replacing it with the only party that can win against the ANC. And that is the DA.

We must make the case that our only hope to end corruption and bring change is for voters to unite behind the strongest opposition party, rather than splitting the vote.

And especially if that split vote goes to a breakaway from the DA, with individuals who are simply carrying DA ideologies and plans onto another platform.

These parties cannot effect change because they are too small. They cannot defeat the ANC because they are too small. All they end up doing is setting South Africa back in the fight against a corrupt government.

We have to make this point to people. We have to make them understand that falling for the grand promises of new parties with no experience, no structures and no track record always leads to buyer’s remorse.

Anyone can make promises. But only one party can hold up its track record and say: judge us by that.

And nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than right here in the Eastern Cape’s biggest Metro, Nelson Mandela Bay.

What played out in NMB over the past four years is the perfect case study for demonstrating the difference between South Africa’s only two parties of government.

After two decades of ANC looting and mismanagement, the people of NMB got to experience two years of DA-led government, before what was effectively a coup by the coalition of corruption gave them two more years under the ANC, EFF and UDM.

The difference between these governments could not be more stark.

Two years is not a lot when up against the enormous challenge of fixing 20 years of ANC government, but the list of achievements the DA-led coalition managed to rack up in that short time from 2016 to 2018 is remarkable.

And I would like to thank former Mayor Athol Trollip for the crucial role he played in turning NMB around.

His administration inherited a metro deep in the red, and within a year NMB had a R2 billion surplus and a AAA credit rating. That kind of turnaround doesn’t just happen. It takes an incredible effort.

But NMB didn’t just gain financial stability. It also saw a host of delivery milestones that were inconceivable under the ANC.

For the first time, the city had a Metro Police Service. It finally got an ITPS bus service. It got Shot Spotter technology to help curb and solve gun crime.

The DA-led administration immediately halted over R600 million worth of corrupt contracts. It got rid of 10,000 bucket toilets. It achieved the highest Urban Settlement Development Grants spending in the country.

The difference was like day and night. But there was a problem. The coalition held the most slender majority, and this made it a sitting duck. If the looters wanted back in, all they had to do was pay off one council member.

And we all know what happened at that shameful council meeting where the coup took place and the coalition of corruption installed themselves at the feeding trough once more.

Since then, it’s all been downhill for NMB, as the corrupt administration of Mayor Bobani opened all the taps that the DA had so effectively shut.

And where there’s corruption, the violence is never far behind. At least 18 people involved in SMMEs doing business with the metro have already been slain in politically linked killings.

The Shot Spotter technology, which had already started to reduce gang shootings, has now been ceased in NMB’s Northern Areas.

Similarly, the brand new IPTS bus system has collapsed, and there has been a dramatic deterioration of basic services across the city thanks to chronic under-spending of budgets.

Every improvement made under the DA-led coalition has been undone over the past two years, and NMB now finds itself worse off than before.

You could not ask for a clearer distinction between these two fundamentally different governments and their ability to deliver to the people.

But perhaps there is an even better example of how you get the government you vote for, and you’ll find that just down the road from NMB in Kouga.

The Kouga municipality flies largely under the radar, thanks to the constant turmoil in NMB. But under the DA it has been going from strength to strength and is an island of excellence in a sea of ANC misrule here in the Eastern Cape.

Kouga was a mess when the DA took over. As an example, consider that just 4% of the municipality’s fleet of vehicles were in good working order in 2016. Less than four years later 90% of these vehicles are in daily use.

Other milestones in Kouga include two brand new waste water treatment works, boreholes to augment drought-affected water supply and a world-first plastic-infused asphalt road to help combat plastic pollution.

The municipality operates on an entirely different level to the rest of the province, whether you’re looking at its financial management, service delivery or simply the cleanliness of the towns.

Kouga has just passed its first billion Rand budget, and because it has a DA government, you can be sure all that money will be spent where it should.

Things work in Kouga, and that is the DA difference. That is what we can hold up as proof, when others can simply offer wild promises based on little more than fantasy.

And importantly, Kouga has given us a foothold here in the Eastern Cape – a province that is crying out for change, probably more than any other in South Africa.

Already known as South Africa’s corruption capital, the Eastern Cape cemented that position during the Covid crisis by becoming an epicentre of Covid corruption too.

Global audiences had to watch in horror as the terrible state of the province’s hospitals was laid bare, complete with scurrying rats and blood-drenched corridor floors.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to endure the embarrassment of the scooter ambulance fiasco. All this, while cadres were looting the province through corrupt PPE contracts.

And as always, the people – and particularly the poorest in the province – had to pay the heaviest price for all of this. They are the real victims of a failed, corrupt government.

Fellow democrats, we can change this. We can bring hope to the Eastern Cape.

And we’ll do this by extending our footprint in this province, ward by ward, town by town. By taking what we have in Kouga, and what we had in NMB, and replicating it.

When we win NMB back next year, it will be with a strong enough majority that bribes will be powerless.

But we won’t stop there. We will take our message far beyond NMB and Kouga. And even where we won’t necessarily win control of municipalities, we will make inroads. We will take wards off the ANC, and we will establish a DA presence across every community in this province.

That’s how we’ll spread the word and sell the DA difference to the people of the Eastern Cape, and throughout the rest of the country.

We have almost 60 million people counting on us to succeed, whether they’ll admit it or not. For South Africa to work, the DA has to work. There is no other plan.

That’s a lot of responsibility to bear, but I want you to shoulder this responsibility with pride. Be proud of what we have already achieved, and be proud of who we are.

We are democrats, and that’s just what our country needs right now.

Thank you.

DA calls on Speaker to investigate ANC’s disregard for Women’s Parliament

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to investigate the ANC’s complete disregard for the rules of Parliament during the annual Women’s Parliament today.

During today’s sitting some ANC members present in the National Assembly were dressed in their party regalia.

This is in contravention of Rule 46 (f) of the Rules of the National Assembly which states that:

Members are expected “to dress in a manner befitting the dignity and decorum of the House, as may further be provided for in guidelines approved by the Rules Committee; provided that no party symbols may be displayed”.  

On various occasions, presiding officers have made a point in calling out individuals who wear party regalia at these extraordinary sittings of Parliament. However, this time around when the ANC are the offenders, no action was taken.

While today was an extraordinary sitting of Parliament, it is no excuse for the ANC to bypass the rules without being held to account. In whichever capacity Parliament meets, it remains an independent organ that should be seen to be impartial and representative of all South Africans.

The Women’s Parliament is not an opportunity for the ANC to grandstand but an important coming together of various stakeholders in order to debate and discuss issues that are important to South African women.

Furthermore, the DA is disappointed by the lack of participation from the Excutive, particularly the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, during today’s proceedings. Despite her being present on the online platform, when it was time for the Women’s Parliament delegates to pose questions, she and her Cabinet colleagues were no-shows.

For an organization that constantly talks about the strides they’ve made in women empowerment and the fight against gender-based violence, the ANC consistently cowers in the face of accountability when they are presented with the facts.

Without the participation of members of the Executive the Women’s Parliament is just another pointless talkshop that will not enact any tangible change.

The DA urges the Speaker to ensure that those ANC members who contravened the rules of Parliament are taken to task, and to engage the President on the poor showing of his Cabinet.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

South Africa is a sinking Titanic amid ANC corruption

In the National Assembly yesterday during Questions to the President, President Ramaphosa insisted that South Africa is not a “sinking Titanic”, but a turning one. Here’s why he is wrong.

No matter what President Ramaphosa does or says, South Africa will remain a “sinking Titanic” while the ANC remains in national government.

The ANC is largely a patronage network and corruption is the glue that holds it together. Without corruption, the ANC will unravel. Therefore, either South Africa sinks or the ANC does. Ramaphosa confirmed recently: “I would rather be seen as a weak president than… split the ANC.”

Therefore we should not be surprised when, in the same week that he pens a 7-page letter to his party decrying corruption Zandile Gumede, former mayor of eThekwini out on bail for her part in the R400 million Durban solid waste scam, was sworn in as a member of the KZN provincial legislature. In response to the public outcry and pressure from the DA in the house yesterday, she has today been suspended on full pay, meaning she retains her R1.1 million salary. Just this week, it emerged that R158 million was spent on the salaries of suspended public servants in the six months from October 2019 to March 2020.

We should not be surprised that the party this week appointed its Secretary General Ace Magashule – corruption kingpin in the covid looting, Estina dairy and other scandals – to identify corrupt leaders within the ANC. And this job should be easy since he himself brazenly remarked this month: “Tell me of one leader of the ANC who has not done business with government”.

The ANC cannot act on corruption because almost everyone who is anyone in the ANC is implicated. Everyone has dirt on everyone else. Take one card away and the whole house of cards collapses.

Hence, Ramaphosa cannot act on his commitment yesterday to implement independent lifestyle audits for members of his executive and top government officials. Just as he did not act on that same commitment when he pledged it in his 2018 State of the Nation Address, saying they would be done by October 2018.

In sharp contrast, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde committed to lifestyle audits for his cabinet and their spouses at the beginning and end of the five-year term. The beginning-of-term audits have been completed – conducted by an independent contractor appointed through an open tender process – and show that his cabinet members live a lifestyle in line with their income and that there are no conflicts of interest.

Like it or not, BEE is the mechanism that enables ANC corruption. Ramaphosa himself is a prime BEE beneficiary, so it was unsurprising that he restated his commitment to BEE in the house yesterday. BEE may be legal, but it is not moral. It is simply an instrument to enrich a small connected elite at the expense of the poor majority, under the guise of “transformation”. It enables the glue of corruption that holds the ANC together.

But let us imagine the ANC somehow held together even as most of its leaders were sent to jail. Even in this unlikely event, the Titanic would keep sinking. Because the party is committed to a “state-led economic recovery”, which is frankly a contradiction in terms. The experience of Venezuela, Zimbabwe, North Korea and The Soviet Union show that centralized control sinks economies.

The ANC is South Africa’s ZANU-PF. It will sink South Africa as surely as ZANU-PF has sunk Zimbabwe.

We do not need the DA to get over 50% of the vote to save the Titanic. Rather, we need to bring the ANC below 50%, and then lead a coalition that shares our commitment to the rule of law and accountable government.