State must “get out the way” of economic recovery

It is now incontrovertible that lockdown greatly exacerbated the real disasters we face as a nation – poverty, unemployment, and inequality – hitting the most vulnerable hardest and causing far more suffering and loss of life than it prevented. Ramaphosa’s government is directly responsible and the very least they can do now is get out the way of South Africa’s economic recovery.

Two sets of socioeconomic data released this week confirmed what should have been obvious to all on 27 March 2020 when lockdown was implemented: that anything longer than a short, well-managed lockdown to buy time to implement more targeted interventions would wreak major destruction on a nation already in crisis.

StatsSA reported that 2 200 000 people lost their jobs in the second quarter of this year, with broad unemployment increasing from 39% to an unprecedented 42%, and youth unemployment (age 15-24 years) to almost 75%.

The NIDS-CRAM Survey Wave 2 gives valuable insight into the social effects of lockdown, which have been largely hidden from view, unlike the Covid death toll which is splashed on dashboards and reported on daily in the media.

  • Nearly 1 in 4 shack dwellers experienced hunger every week in July and August. Nationally, hunger rates are still substantially above pre-lockdown levels.
  • The 3 million jobs lost between February and April had not returned by June despite the partial easing of lockdown restrictions, suggesting these losses may be long-lasting.
  • From February to June, the most disadvantaged groups (poor, rural, women, unskilled, less educated) experienced the largest declines in employment and the slowest recoveries, with the percentage drop in employment 10 times higher for the poorest 50% of workers compared to the riches 25%.
  • 311 000 domestic workers lost their jobs.
  • 40% of school days will be lost for most children in 2020, with education inequality increasing.
  • ECD attendance levels were still down 75% relative to historical levels a month after programmes were allowed to reopen, mostly because ECD centres couldn’t afford to reopen.

This data vindicates the DA’s early call to end the lockdown, which was met with outrage at the time, when we argued that poverty kills by stunting bodies and lives, that lockdowns kill, that the poor and young would suffer most, and that growing inequality would dangerously destabilize society.

It is not good enough for government to claim these are “unintended consequences”. Many things have “shocked” Ramaphosa, but no self-respecting president can claim not to have foreseen the catastrophic socioeconomic consequences of shutting down an economy in recession and forcing people to stay inside their homes for weeks on end.

It is crucial that we as a nation recognise lockdown as a monumental blunder on the part of government. Because rule number 1 for recovering from lockdown is to not go back into lockdown if covid cases start to rise again. But also, because Ramaphosa’s government must be held to account for the devastation. South Africa needs a new government.

Anyone who believes that the same government that caused this devastation can lead a rapid economic recovery is living in fairyland. And indeed, Ramaphosa’s “Economic Recovery Action Plan” is the stuff of fairy tales.

The evidence suggests that these 3 million job losses and our economic depression may be long lasting. Lockdown has turned to slowdown. A recovery even just to pre-lockdown levels of employment requires bold pro-growth reforms to free up the private sector.

Instead, Ramaphosa’s plan is to double down on state-led “development”, a contradiction in terms for a state as hollowed out and incapable as ours. Dyed-in-the-wool communist, Trade and Industry Minister Ibrahim Patel, is to tell us what we may and may not import, fresh from telling us what shoes and shirts we may and may not wear. Investment-killing NHI is to forge ahead. BEE regulations are to be strengthened. Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, recently fingered as having received payments from Mr Edwin Sodi in the asbestos audit scandal and champion of tighter employment equity regulations, is to chair the Economic Recovery Leadership Team. You can’t make this stuff up.

The only possible economic recovery for SA is one which is market-led. The individual choices and risk assessments of 58 million people must direct what gets produced and how much. Power to the people who care about their lives, not to the state that doesn’t. No government that cares about people’s lives would cut R10.5 billion from social programmes at a time like this to resuscitate bankrupt SAA. It is unforgivable that public transport for the rich is being subsidised while people are starving.

The government cannot even perform its own core roles to any acceptable level – witness stolen railway lines, crumbling infrastructure, broken health and school systems, bankrupt municipalities, and delayed social security payments. Nor can it run its own businesses – witness bankrupt Eskom, SAA, Denel, SABC, SAPO and Transnet. Yet it wants to direct the private sector, the only sector which still has capacity.

We need open, competitive energy and labour markets. We must decisively reject investment-killing policies such as NHI, EWC, BEE, prescribed assets, and Reserve Bank nationalisation. We must stop bailing out state-owned enterprises. We need high-level arrests of corruption suspects Jacob Zuma, Ace Magashule, Nomvula Mokonyane, Gwede Mantashe and the like, to stop corruption in its tracks and build immediate confidence in South Africa. Scapegoating through token arrests of small-fry suspects is not going to cut it.

Only if our corrupt, incapable state gets out the way of innovation and entrepreneurship in this country will jobs be created at the scale required, and will the financial reserves be generated to offer a strong safety net and trampoline to those pushed down by lockdown. What Ramaphosa envisages as a state-led recovery, will more likely be a state-blocked recovery. The DA’s headline advice for government’s economic recovery action plan is just four words long: Get out the way.

Stella must step aside pending investigations of numerous allegations of corruption

Please find attached soundbite by Phumzile Van Damme MP

Following the latest in a string of allegations of Covid-related and other corruption implicating the Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, she must step aside to allow investigations against her to be investigated without impediment.

The latest allegation is that in July 2020, Ndabeni-Abrahams flouted procurement processes at the South Africa Post Office (SAPO) by introducing a businessman and chairperson of private equity firm, Convergence Partners, Andile Ngcaba, to SAPO’s executives in an alleged bid to partner on a highly lucrative R2.1 billion e-commerce platform.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has it on good authority that this is a practice Ndabeni-Abrahams regularly engages in – facilitating “meetings” to influence outcomes in the awarding of tenders. This is said to occur not only in her department but many others.

We are aware that the SIU is currently conducting an investigation of corruption related to Covid-19 tenders. We will therefore be writing to the SIU to ascertain whether the allegations against Ndabeni-Abrahams are being investigated, if not, we will formally request that it does so.

The string of allegations against Ndabeni-Abrahams almost all relate to alleged improper influence and abuse of power in favour of her husband, Thato Abrahams and go back nine years.

  • A draft forensic audit in 2011 by the Universal Service Access Agency of South Africa (USAASA) found that Thato Abrahams while in its employ had stolen about 20 iPads and other electronic gadgets from USAASA. At the time Ndabeni-Abrahams was the Deputy Minister of Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services, the department USAASA reported to. The forensic report was given to Ndabeni-Abrahams and was concealed from public record. No further action was taken against Mr. Abrahams. Ndabeni-Abrahams and Mr. Abrahams were in a relationship at the time and married a year later. The DA will be submitting a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) to get hold of the report.
  • In August 2020 Ndabeni-Abrahams was accused of putting pressure on SAPO and the Postbank to award a Covid-19 relief grant contract to her husband. Mr Abrahams is alleged to have played a vital behind-the-scenes role between Blue Label Telecoms, the SA Postbank and a former SA Post Office executive to benefit financially from the distribution of the R350 Covid-19 relief grant. SAPO’s board was against SAPO’s involvement in the distribution of the grants, saying that the partnership with SASSA exposed it to massive financial losses. Ndabeni-Abrahams subsequently instructed the Chairperson of the SAPO board Tshikani Colleen Makhubele, to step down.
  • In the same month it was alleged that in another entity reporting to Ndabeni-Abraham’s department, the State Information Agency (SITA), Mr Abrahams was  working closely behind the scenes with SITA to identify companies that have been granted, or are in line to receive IT-related government contracts. Mr Abrahams is said to have close ties with the SITA’s administrator Luvuyo Keyise, appointed by Ndabeni-Abrahams soon after she dissolved the SITA board.

We are aware that Ndabeni-Abrahams has made herself available to the ANC’s Integrity Commission but that is neither here or there. The allegations relates to infringement in her capacity as a Minister, an elected public representative not only as an ANC member. The ANC is well within its rights to investigate the Minister’s conduct, but one conducted by a public law enforcement agency is required. And it is practice that the individual implicated steps aside or is suspended. This is a precedent set by President Cyril Ramaphosa himself when his Spokesperson Khusela Diko took a leave of absence following a Covid-19 tender scandal.

It is still our firm belief that Ndabeni-Abrahams is not fit for the office she holds and ought to be fired. We await the rumoured impending Cabinet reshuffle and trust that she will be shuffled straight out of the door.

Open letter to the Minister of No Tourism

Dear Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane,

Although I was shocked, I was not surprised with your out-of-touch and oblivious comments made over the weekend during the International Tourism Day celebrations. You unbelievably stated that, “[looking] back at where tourism was two months ago, we have much to celebrate.”Perhaps you could tell us exactly what there is to celebrate?  Because from what I have observed, there is precious little.

Your statement that “travellers will prefer to travel to countries that offer greater diversity of attractions so that they don’t have to travel to multiple countries to enjoy different activities”shows a Minister that knows nothing of the intricacies of the tourism sector. Tourists do not make travel decisions on diversity of attractions but on experiences, ease of travel and interaction with the local people.

Take the tourism success of Monaco, one of the smallest countries in the world, with a land space of just over 1.9 km2. The size of Monaco is about half the surface area of the top of Table Mountain and lacks the “diversity of attractions” that you describe. Using the internationally recognised comparative tourism ratio of tourism to population, Monaco achieved 8.9 tourists per resident in 2018, ranking it seventh in the world and first in Europe. South Africa, with our tourism diversity achieved 2.1 tourists per resident in the same year. In fact, we feature only fifth in Africa with Botswana (also with limited tourism attractions) leading the continent with a rating of 4.0.

So Minister, your argument falls flat. And even if you were correct, surely you, particularly as Tourism Minister, should be encouraging repeat visits to South Africa by the same tourists for the very reason that we have such a diversity of tourism attractions.

Unfortunately, Minister, you and your fellow Cabinet members have failed dismally in attracting these tourists. Not just because of your nonsensical lockdown regulations which destroyed countless small businesses and industries in the tourism sector, but also due your failures in government.

Your statement that South Africa “is arguably one of the safest tourist destinations in the world” in reference to Covid-19 may hold some truth, the reality is that the same cannot be said about South Africa as a safe destination from a variety of other perspectives. An official Parliamentary Content Advisory Note dated 27 May 2020 echo this by stating that, “[before] Covid-19, the brand reputation for South Africa had already suffered due to perceptions caused by negative crime reports, xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals, tourist animal interactions, canned hunting, government policy of expropriation of land without compensation, and related brand killers and disablers.”

Welcoming back international travellers will therefore be a long and difficult process for our tourism sector. Especially with the introduction of irrational tourism red-list.

In a briefing last week, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, stated that government “will use its own level of coronavirus risk to determine countries considered high, medium or low risk”.  I have carefully studied the red-listed countries and using the latest official statistics I cannot see what criteria was used to red-list countries.

Minister Pandor stated that those countries with “significantly higher levels of infection spread and deaths than South Africa will be rated as high risk” – using new cases statistics as a criteria I am baffled as to how Russia, the United Kingdom and Mexico have been red-listed, yet Spain with more new cases than any of those countries does not appear on the list. If total Covid-19 deaths to date were to be used as a criteria, then it makes no sense that Italy is not on the list when better performing countries such as Peru and France are on the red-list.

It is clear that your government has created clandestine lockdown sub-levels within level 1; how else does one explain that leisure travellers from our biggest markets will not be permitted to enter our borders. Why are only high-skill individuals, investors, sports people and diplomats permitted entrance? Are they magically immune to Covid-19 and tourists not? At what stage will we then move onto the next sub-level and what criteria will be used to do so?

The latest regulations continue your government’s trend throughout lockdown – that of an arrogant and destructive authoritarian government that cares nothing for its people and the economy.

State land disposal policy will fail if it is not a transparent process

While the Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza’s announcement yesterday that 700 000 ha of underutilised or vacant State land will be released for farming practises, we cannot move forward with this programme if current emerging farmers on State land do not have title deeds and security of tenure.

The DA has consistently called on government to release unused State land, but to do that while farmers currently farming on State land are unsure of their futures would be foolish.

We are aware of farmers that have received letters to “vacate the land” that they have been farming on for many years. The 2013 State land disposal policy was never properly implemented and left most farmers without valid lease contracts that forced them to rely on State support. These farmers are now under threat of losing their land because some official might decide that the land was “underutilised”.

The State has continuously failed to help these farmers with the most basic support, like renewing lease agreements in time so that they can get a production loan at a facility of choice. The agreements of offer to purchase were one-sidedly changed by the State, leaving many farmers frustrated and not able to use the land to full capacity.

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land reform and Rural Development, Zwelivelile Mandela, to ask for a meeting with Minister Didiza in order to fully understand the impact this new lease agreement will have on farmers currently on State land.

We need to get a transparent list of all farmers that already received letters to vacate the land.

  • How long have they been on the land?
  • Whether they had a valid lease agreement and for what term?
  • What support did they receive from the state?
  • What is the reason for them to vacate the land?
  • Who were involved in deciding that they must vacate the land?
  • What is the process to be followed when they would like to appeal?
  • What are the outcomes on the cases already referred to the minister?
  • Should they be asked to vacate, who will receive the land?

The State land disposal process could only work if a transparent process is followed, something that is not currently the case.

As it stands, the Minister’s announcement does not bode well for the farmers currently farming State land, or those unfortunate enough to have future entanglements with the Minster and her Department.

#Jetgate: The President is as guilty as the Minister he’s protecting

The laughable statement from the presidency last night, claiming that President Cyril Ramaphosa gave the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, “verbal” approval to travel to Zimbabwe on a luxury military jet, further implicates him in the wrongdoing.

The President has admitted to verbally giving the Minister permission to go to Zimbabwe on 8 September, the very day she went and a day after she had requested permission. President Ramaphosa has now dug an even deeper hole for himself as he has admitted that both him and the Minister disregarded the Ministerial Handbook which requires approval two weeks in advance.

It is the President’s very responsibility, and legal duty, under his oath of office, to properly apply his mind to all of the legal requirements before giving approval. Instead of following this mandate, he verbally gave the Minister a blank cheque to do as she pleased.

It’s also suspicious that after Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and the ANC delegation’s return, and after public outrage had already been sparked, the President still chose to give written approval for this abuse after the fact. And as pressure mounted, the President was upset enough to demand a report from the Minister despite him approving the trip in writing when the cat was already out of the bag.

It would appear that not only had he neglected his duty before departure, but sought to cover the tracks after the delegation returned.

It also seems highly unlikely that the President of South Africa, who is also the leader of the ANC, would not know about this meeting between ZANU-PF and the ANC or how the delegation planned to travel to it as it was deemed important and urgent enough that a whole delegation which included two current Ministers had to attend. It is also important to note that Minister Mapisa-Nqakula‘s husband, Charles Nqakula, is an advisor to the President, increasing the unlikelihood that he had no knowledge of these transgressions.

In the same way the Minister was given a mere slap on the wrist for her role in this abuse, so should the President bear the burden for playing his part in furthering corruption in this regard. He should at the very least also be docked three months’ pay. By washing his hands off this debacle, the President only proves his hypocrisy on corruption.

It is evident that this type of abuse of resources and disregard of due processes is a common occurrence in the ANC-administration. The Democratic Alliance (DA) will therefore continue to interrogate this gross abuse of State resources as this surely is not the first time the Defence Minister abused an air force jet as an Uber.

The DA will submit parliamentary questions to ascertain how often this deliberate exploitation of South African taxpayers have occurred.

DA welcomes City of Cape Town’s possible SCA petition to appeal High Court judgment on land invasions

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has noted with disappointment the ruling by the Western Cape Division of the High Court on Thursday dismissing the City of Cape Town’s application for leave to appeal an earlier ruling that essentially bars the City from protecting property from land invasions.

The ruling prohibits the City from removing empty structures illegally erected on private property and in essence stops the metro from preventing illegal occupations and land invasions.

Since 1 July 2020, the City has removed 55 000 illegally constructed and unoccupied structures across the metro in a bid to stem land invasions and to protect property rights. The High Court’s decision, however, could set a dangerous precedent, not only for the City of Cape Town but for municipalities across the country.

This is as a major threat to the rights of the legal owners of property and counter-spoliation efforts.

The City has now indicated its intentions to possibly petition the Supreme Court of Appeal. The DA welcomes this move by the City as necessary and vital in upholding property rights and the rule of law and in protecting public land intended for services, housing, community facilities, and transport services.

Police brutality is on the increase while IPID’s capacity to investigate is on the decline 

A Democratic Alliance (DA) investigation on police misconduct over a 5 year period has revealed a troubling increase in police brutality and the Independent Police Investigation Directorate’s (IPID) declining capacity to successfully investigate the cases before it.

The DA will write to the head of IPID, Jennifer Ntlatseng, requesting that she provides clarity on any plans that the organisation has to clear its case backlog and fast track its investigations on pending cases.

The data shows that complaints of deaths in police custody increased by 16%, from 99 incidents in 2018-2019 to 115 during 2019-2020. Even more troubling is the fact that complaints of rape by a police officer increased by 20%, from 55 to 66 incidents. The table below provides a summary of the systemic impunity within SAPS:











5-year % change
Deaths in police custody 103 154 98 99 115 11.6%
Rape by police officer 61 51 49 55 66 8.1%
Deaths as a result of police action 159 207 224 215 205 28.9%
Torture 73 61 87 144 106 45.2%
Deaths as a result of police action 159 207 224 215 205 28.9%

It is simply unacceptable that, at a time when crime has reached an all-time high, rotten cops within SAPS have become agents for the re-victimisation of South Africans seeking protection from communities overrun by criminals.

Perhaps even more troubling is the emergence of a worrying trend where IPID’s capacity to investigate police brutality cases has severely declined during the past 4 years. In the current report, 2 806 registered cases were registered with IPID and only 757 were classified as being ‘decision ready’. This translates to only 27% of ‘decision ready’ cases. The table below provides a summary of the state of affairs:

Registered cases Decision ready %
Deaths in police custody 115 64 55.6%
Rape by police officer 66 28 42.4%
Deaths as a result of police action 205 27 13.1%
Torture 106 18 16.9%
Deaths as a result of police action 205 27 13.1%

The incapacity of IPID to hold the SAPS accountable along with the resultant increase in complaints contributes directly to the loss of public confidence in the SAPS.

These horrific figures present the perfect opportunity for new IPID head, Ms Jennifer Ntlatseng, to turn the tide on police brutality and to assure South Africans that her organisation is up to the task of protecting them from this scourge.

Opinion | Zuma’s latest Zondo dodge is an old ANC trick

Former President Jacob Zuma’s latest attempt to frustrate the work of the Zondo Commission and evade justice is not a strategy unique to him. It is a pattern that has repeated itself in the ANC over the years, where an action or institution that is lauded with much fanfare at its introduction is eventually turned on and dismissed as soon as it gets uncomfortably close to the criminal activities of high ranking ANC members.

Zuma himself appointed the Zondo Commission two and a half years ago, and he is on record stating his willingness to cooperate with the commission. His latest claim that Judge Raymond Zondo is somehow biased due to a personal history with him must be dismissed with contempt. Not only did Zuma appoint Judge Zondo to chair the commission, he also recommended him for the position of Deputy Chief Justice a year earlier.

Reading Zuma’s statement at the time of announcing the Zondo Commission in January 2018 puts into perspective the farce of his latest actions. Back then he said that the state capture allegations were “of paramount importance and deserving of finality and certainty”. He told us “there should be no area of corruption and culprit that should be spared the extent of this commission of inquiry.” And he assured us that he had “faith in all the judges and their ability to execute their tasks with the requisite levels of fairness, impartiality and independence”.

There was no talk of any personal history with Judge Zondo, and there certainly was plenty of time for Zuma to raise any possible conflict of interest issues since then, but he didn’t. For him to now insist that Judge Zondo recuse himself smacks of the desperation of a guilty man cornered by the law. The country needs to move on from the disaster that was the Zuma presidency, and he must stop wasting everyone’s time.

But equally, the ANC cannot be let off the hook, because this practice of making a 180-degree about-turn when things get uncomfortable is their very own modus operandi. We have so many ANC scandals that occur concurrently these days that it’s often difficult to remember exactly who said what years ago. But it’s important that we do.

Back when our country signed the Rome Statute in 1998 and ratified it in 2000 to become a member nation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), this was done with much fanfare by the ANC government. Then Justice Minister Dullah Omar said at the time that “the establishment of an international criminal court would not only strengthen the arsenal of measures to combat gross human rights violations but would ultimately contribute to the attainment of international peace.”

But the moment this ICC membership put the ANC on a collision course with a fellow Big Man Politician in Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, history was instantly erased and the ICC was rebranded a pariah institution and colonial relic.

Similarly, the establishment of the independent Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) – better known as the Scorpions – back in 1999 was done with much bluster, including a promise that it would look into crime within the SAPS ranks. But that was all quickly forgotten and erased when it became clear that the Scorpions were truly independent and were prepared to go after criminals at the top of the ANC, and particularly the national Police Commissioner at the time, Jackie Selebi. Then the unit was quickly turned on, disbanded and replaced with a compliant and controllable unit in the Hawks.

Such is the volume of the daily ANC scandal deluge that they hope people will forget things that happened years ago and overlook their inconsistency and hypocrisy. Just as the ANC did when they killed off the Scorpions and withdrew from the ICC, Jacob Zuma is now hoping to rewrite his relationship with Judge Zondo as somehow compromised and problematic.

We cannot allow that to happen. We cannot allow Zuma to do to the Zondo Commission what he has been doing for two decades on the Arms Deal issue. When he says he wants his day in court or he wants to have a chance to clear his name and set the record straight, he is not being honest. He is using the oldest trick in the ANC playbook to delay, obfuscate and rewrite history in the hope that this will buy him time or even exonerate him.

It is time that Jacob Zuma was treated as an ordinary citizen and a hostile witness, and not afforded the leniency that these institutions have shown him to date.

Now arrest and charge the ANC bigwigs too.

The true test of our fight against corruption will be whether the arrests and charges we have seen this week will go beyond the likes of former ANC MP Vincent Smith, former Mangaung Mayor and MEC Olly Mlamleli, and ANC-connected businessman Edwin Sodi, and will include all the high-ranking ANC individuals implicated in these scandals.

It is common knowledge that Bosasa bribes were not only paid to Smith, and that senior ANC cadres such as Dudu Myeni, Nomvula Mokonyane and Mining Minister Gwede Mantashe were also beneficiaries of the scandal. Even the President and his son received suspicious payments from this company mired in government corruption. None of these people should be above the law.

Similarly the Free State asbestos scandal for which Mlamleli and Sodi were arrested along with other officials, also involved several high-ranking ANC individuals, most notably ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule. News reports this past week have revealed that Sodi, the businessman who landed himself the R255m contract only to have this ultimately subcontracted out for less than a tenth of the value, made several payments to the ANC, including to individuals such as Ministers Zizi Kodwa, Thulas Nxesi and Pinky Kekana.

These are the names that need to appear on Hawks case files and NPA charge sheets. Throwing a handful of small fry under the bus cannot buy the big fish protection from investigation and prosecution. South Africans will not be placated with token arrests while all the big name ANC politicians remain untouchable.

From the Arms Deal to Nkandla and the Gupta landing at Waterkloof, we have only ever seen scapegoats take the fall for their political bosses. And although every new NPA head over the years has promised that they will be the one who will follow the rot all the way to the top, we are yet to see this happen. This has led to a breakdown in trust in our institutions responsible for fighting corruption.

With our country on its knees after a lockdown that has obliterated our economy and slashed millions of jobs, we cannot afford any corruption to go unpunished. We cannot afford for ANC politicians to get away with receiving “gifts and loans” from their business cronies in exchange for R255m contracts for work that can be done for R20m. That is common theft and must be punished.

The only way to stop this rot is to cut it out entirely. That means charging, prosecuting and jailing everyone involved, even if this removes half the ruling party’s top structures.

Tourism red-list as irrational as other Covid-19 lockdown regulations

The Democratic Alliance (DA) supports the Western Cape government’s decision to engage with the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, and President Cyril Ramaphosa on the list of countries that are allowed to travel to South Africa. The DA is of the view that the list in its current form is utterly ridiculous. For example, tourists who have tested negative for Covid-19 and have downloaded government’s tracing app should not be considered a health risk and be discriminated against because they happen to be of a certain nationality or traveling from a certain country.

If all the proper health and safety protocols pertaining to stopping the spread of Covid-19 are implemented at airports, on airplanes, at restaurants and hotels, then that should mitigate the risk of a second wave of infections in South Africa to a large extent.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, stated that government “will use its own level of coronavirus risk to determine countries considered high, medium or low risk”.  The DA calls for the data used to determine the countries on the high-risk list be made public.

Government’s worrying trend of trying to grab power seems to now be playing out on an international stage with the irrational banning of certain countries to its red-list. This list does not seem based on any facts or data. As with other Covid-19 regulations and decisions, it seems that countries are arbitrarily put on this list without proper interrogation of the possible negative outcomes of this action on South Africa’s economy and tourism sector.

It is irrational that leisure travellers from South Africa’s biggest markets will not be permitted to enter our borders. Why are only high-skill individuals, investors, sports people and diplomats permitted entrance? Are they magically immune to Covid-19 and tourists not?

The fact is that the Minister of No Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has done almost nothing to fight for the livelihoods of those working in her sector. She has been blind and deaf to their fears and realities. This might be because she has never understood her portfolio or sector.

The Minister is clearly out of touch with the industry she is meant to serve.

The latest regulations continue government’s trend throughout lockdown – that of an arrogant and destructive authoritarian government that cares nothing for its people and the economy.