DA calls on South Africans to reject the impending electricity tariff increase from Eskom

The Democratic Alliance (DA) rejects the decision taken by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) to allow Eskom to recoup over R6 billion from consumers through tariff increases. It is projected that this decision will result in a 10,95% increase in tariffs, an above inflation increase that will increase the economic pain of consumers who have been hard hit by an underperforming economy and job losses due to Covid-19.

We now call on South Africans to write directly to NERSA and ask that the regulator reconsiders its decision to burden them with high electricity tariff costs, which will potentially be above the affordability range of most consumers.

While Eskom and NERSA argue about the correct allocation and implementation, the bottom line is that Eskom’s model is broken – along with much else in terms of operations, maintenance and governance.

The utility seeks to cover “efficient costs” from the consumer in line with past practice where Eskom borrowed money, charged consumers for electricity, and use the difference between finance costs and consumer income. It used that surplus to pay for operational costs, new investment and even dividends.

This is no longer possible – crippling debt, an inability to borrow in the market and a continued reliance on bailouts make the taxpayer and consumer the funder of last resort for a utility that is in a death spiral.

The proposed divisionalisation of the entity into Distribution, Transmission and Generation must be accelerated to pave the way for private sector involvement. In the absence of this, the death spiral will continue unabated and the brunt will be borne increasingly by consumers.

It’s time for government as the shareholder to wake up, lest we slide into increased debt and darkness.

Military Command Council must account to Parliament following arrogant statement over Interferon procurement

The Democratic Alliance (DA) rejects the arrogance of the South African National Defense Force’s (SANDF) Military Command Council (MCC) following a statement that implies that they are above any oversight and that their authority on the illegal procurement of Interferon Alpha-2B for use by the military to fight against the Covid-19 pandemic reigns supreme. In fact, the MCC and the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, should urgently appear before the Parliamentary defense committee to give account for this fraudulent statement and millions wasted on this procurement.

Not only does the statement contain a number of inaccuracies, the wording of the statement indicates that the MCC is trying to trick South Africa into thinking that the procurement of the drug was at the behest of the South African Military Health Services (SAMHS) and that SAMHS’ authority weights more than that of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) who has not registered or regulated Interferon Alpha-2B for use in South Africa.

SAMHS has made it very clear in the past that not only did it not request the procurement of the Interferon Alpha-2B, it also never sanctioned the procurement and would not have done so had the possibility of procurement been raised with it. Why? Because SAHPRA has not regulated its use in the country. Even by its own admission, SAMHS is still subject to SAHPRA regulation.

It seems clear that the procurement was deliberately done in a crooked manner and that the MCC is trying to squeeze themselves out of the tight spot it created.

It has also been clear for months that neither the SANDF top brass nor the Minister would take any accountability for the millions in taxpayers’ stolen and wasted on importing a useless drug under the guise of protecting soldiers against Covid-19.

And then there is the fact that even if Interferon Alpha-2B should prove to be an effective measure against Covid-19 – something that despite the MC’s ludicrous claims has not been proven in peer-reviewed scientific studies – SANDF ruined nearly 40% of the stock due to sheer incompetence in ensuring that the drugs’ cold-chain supply was adequately managed.

From the inception of this deception, the MCC has stumbled from one bungling to another. And these are the people in charge of South Africa’s security. A frightening thought indeed.

As Commander-in-Chief, President Cyril Ramaphosa, can surely see that there can be no other cause of action. Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, SANDF Chief General Solly Shoke and the MC must be fired. Not only are they incompetent, they have also been caught in a multitude of lies just over the past year and have not been held accountable for a single one.

DA asks High Court to instruct national government to provide a detailed vaccine plan

On Monday last week the DA’s lawyers wrote to the office of the President, giving him seven days to respond with a detailed report on all government’s negotiations with vaccine suppliers as well as government’s full vaccine rollout plan, failing which we would take legal action to obtain this information. Those seven days passed on Monday evening with no response from President Ramaphosa, which leaves us no choice but to approach the courts.

Today our lawyers made an urgent application to the Western Cape High Court to obtain a declarator that government’s conduct in procuring vaccines as well as its preparation for the rollout of these vaccines are in violation of several constitutional principles. We asked the court to instruct government to develop a comprehensive and coordinated vaccination rollout plan, and to deliver this plan no later than one month of the order.

The failure to provide Covid-19 vaccines timeously when these vaccines are available is a violation of people’s rights, in terms of Section 27(1) of the Constitution, to have access to healthcare services, as well as a violation of government’s obligation in terms of Section 27(2) to take reasonable measures to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to access healthcare.

Furthermore it is a violation of the right to life, as enshrined in Section 11 of the Bill of Rights. There is also no rationality in failing to secure sufficient vaccines despite knowing early on how important they’d be and having had access to them. This falls short of the fundamental constitutional prescript of the Rule of Law, which requires that decision-making be rational.

The relief we are seeking is similar to the relief that the TAC was granted two decades ago when it took government to court to compel it to make public its antiretroviral rollout programme. Without such a transparent plan that includes clear timelines and division of responsibilities it will be impossible for not only the DA as official opposition, but also the media and civil society, to hold government to account. It is critical for the success of the vaccination plan that we know exactly where we are procuring our vaccines from, how we will be distributing and administering these, and who will benefit from the government contracts.

More specifically, the plan must set out:

  1. National government’s selection criteria for choosing vaccines.
  2. The number of people national government intends to vaccinate, along with the full details and dates on which various priority population groups will be vaccinated.
  3. How national government intends to notify people that their vaccinations are due and how they will keep record of vaccines administered.
  4. The full list of vaccines, including numbers, dates and price, for which national government has concluded final, unconditional supply agreements – both direct contracts and other arrangements with multilateral organisations.
  5. The full list of vaccines for which national government must still secure final and unconditional supply agreements, including reasonably anticipated doses, delivery dates and prices.
  6. How each batch of vaccines will be divided among provinces.
  7. The funds national government has made available for the purchase of vaccines.
  8. The funds national government has made available for the vaccine rollout programme.
  9. The approvals that must be issued by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) for these vaccines and the reasonably anticipated dates of these approvals.
  10. The requirements as well as the arrangements for storage and transport.
  11. The role of provincial governments and public hospitals in the vaccine plan.
  12. The role of the private sector in the vaccine plan.
  13. Details of the personnel required to administer the vaccines, as well as their training requirements.
  14. The locations where vaccines will be administered along with the necessary health protocols.
  15. The medical equipment required at the above locations, as well as details of how much has already been procured, at what price, and what still needs to be purchased.
  16. The policies that national government has formulated to regulate the acquisition and administration of vaccines, as well as the policies that still need to be formulated.

Furthermore, we will ask that the court instruct national government to update the vaccine plan as required and notify the court at least once every three months of any such updates. It must also deliver a status report every three months.

Ideally it should not have to come to this court action, as a country united in its efforts to defeat the virus and rebuild the economy is in a stronger position than one divided. But in order to stand united everyone in the country needs to know what is going on, particularly on an issue as important and urgent as the acquisition and administering of life-saving Covid-19 vaccines. Government needs to be honest in reporting its progress, it needs to be transparent in all its dealings and it needs to demonstrate that the safety of its citizens is paramount.

To date government has done none of these things. It dithered as other countries leapt into action to secure vaccines as far back as May last year. It did nothing beyond arranging vaccines for a mere 10% of South Africans through the WHO’s Covax initiative, at the highest possible price and only due for delivery as other countries are already aiming to finish their vaccination programmes. And when its inaction was exposed, it quickly sprang into belated action, trying all the while to spin its way out of the scandal through lies and deflection, the latest of which saw President Ramaphosa blame other countries for buying up all available vaccines. The truth is they bought those vaccines and we didn’t, simply because South Africa was never in the queue.

The President’s claim that his government had been negotiating with suppliers for the past six months has also been exposed as a lie, not only by the vaccine manufacturers themselves, but also by the date on which the Department of Health applied to Treasury for deviation from the normal procurement processes for the acquisition of the vaccine. According to a letter from Treasury, this application was only made on 7 January this year. This reveals the date on which they finally woke up to the crisis and started scrambling for whatever vaccine leftovers they could find.

The blame for our botched vaccine programme does not lie at the feet of the pharmaceutical companies that produce them. It does not lie at the feet of the countries that bought their vaccines long before we’d even started thinking about it. It lies squarely with the ANC government, and President Ramaphosa in particular. His government is not the victim of some global conspiracy. The people of South Africa are the victims of his government.

Ultimately there must be consequences, but first there must be a truthful and transparent plan.

Parliament Media Office being abused by government to propagate fake news

On 28 January 2021, a media statement was issued by the Parliamentary Media Office with the title, “Tourism Committee welcomes Tourism Equity Fund”.   The statement implies that all members of the Tourism Portfolio Committee (PC) are united in support of the recently launched Tourism Equity Fund (TEF).  Not all members of the PC have been consulted on this matter which means the media statement by Parliament’s media office is simply untrue.

This is not the first time that statements have been issued on behalf of the committee without a mandate to do so.  The DA has previously recorded its objection to previous similar actions.  It is clear that the Parliamentary media office continues to be used by government to silence any disagreements or gag opposition that may exist on issues any member of the committee may have.

The DA issued a statement on 27 January 2021, a day before the statement issued by the Parliamentary media office, stating that it did not support the TEF as it believes these funds could be used more effectively differently.  Additionally, history has shown that it is common for funds such as this one to be will be pilfered, lost by corruption and mal-management or distributed to only those within the inner circle of the ANC.

Comments such as those made by the DA in its media statement do not sit comfortably with government as they go against the narrative that they are trying to create.  Unmandated media statements from Parliament such as the one in question matches the latest allegations at the Zondo Commission that confirm that certain mainstream media houses have been used to drive a government-compliant media narrative.  The use of the Parliament media office is an extension of this.  The DA will again challenge this practice at the next PC meeting as this is a carefully crafted way of censoring any opposition voices.

DA formally asks Minister Dlodlo to disband captured State Security Agency

In the face of complete radio silence from Parliament as the treasonous looting of South Africa via the State Security Agency (SSA) is exposed daily at the Zondo Commission, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to Minister Ayanda Dlodlo asking that she drives the total shutdown of the Agency. She must ensure that every single person linked to the Agency is examined under a microscope.

These acts of theft, as revealed one-by-one every day this week, we believe have clearly revealed an attempt to overthrow the government through unlawful means: treason. From private armies to attacks on the Judiciary and free media, it seems the only word adequate to the situation.

Two days ago the DA called for the total disbandment of the entire SSA and for the establishment of an independent, efficient and transparent state security agency.

The revelations at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry have shocked the nation, but these events should have been dealt with a decade ago. The DA has laid criminal charges, on numerous occasions, but those cases were swept under the Jacob Zuma-carpet. This Agency had but one aim, to protect Zuma.  We knew it was bad, but few could have predicted that they looted over R9 billion to keep him in power and living in luxury.

There is no possibility of saving the SSA in its current format. Those nameless, faceless official are still there, and may well still be looting at levels never before seen in South Africa.

The looted money could have paid for vaccines for every single one of us. Instead, it was swindled, and as far as anyone knows, millions are still streaming out of the SSA via the hands of those employed by that agency and given to people who have no right to it.

The ANC destroyed the best-working crime fighting unit this country has ever seen, and today we ask that they show the same commitment they used to shut down the Scorpions, to shut the doors of this Agency, conduct a full investigation into every single staff member, and refocus on the security needs of our country.

To date, not a cent has been recovered, not a single arrest made. It’s time that the soundproof walls keeping the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence in the dark came down, and the thieves who have been stealing South Africa blind, donned the orange overalls they so richly deserve.

DA welcomes Parliament’s rejection of the NYDA cadre list

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision by Parliament to restart the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) board appointment process following the objections by young people across the country. Last year, it became clear that 6 of the 7 candidates had links to the ANC in some way and that the NYDA board recommendations were an ANC-sponsored cadre deployment scam that sought to facilitate the legal looting of the Agency’s almost R500 million budget.

This suspicion was all but confirmed in a letter by the ANC National Youth Task Team (NYTT) convener, Tandi Mahambehlala, sent to the ANC deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, last year where she listed the Progressive Youth Alliance’s (PYA) preferred candidates for the NYDA board.

We are pleased that Parliament has succumbed to pressure from the DA and young people across the nation in objecting the ANC-sponsored shortlist and to restart the process from scratch.

The DA will demand a thorough public participation process in the shortlisting of the new board which must be inclusive of all young people. We will also seek an appointment process that will ensure that brilliant and talented young people across South Africa are given a fair process that prioritizes meritocracy over political connections.

The DA will also table terms and references at the Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities to ensure that an independent, fair process is established going forward. And we have also requested that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Nonhlahla Ndaba, schedule an urgent meeting to discuss the state of the NYDA.

The NYDA is an entity that is supposed to empower young people with skills development and assist young entrepreneurs with funding. Yet, thanks to the ANC, the Agency has regressed into a full-blown criminal entity of the ANC, where looting has flourished under the guise of transformation, BBBEE and empowerment.

The DA will continue to keep a watchful eye on the new processes and ensure that the NYDA stops being a graduation school for cadres leaving ANC-affiliated youth politics.

DA welcomes confirmation of Nqaba Bhanga as NMB Mayor

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the confirmation of DA EC Provincial Leader, Cllr Nqaba Bhanga, as Executive Mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.

The confirmation of Cllr Bhanga was never in doubt, as the DA and its coalition partners have a strong coalition based on a shared goal of taking Nelson Mandela Bay forward again. We are committed to delivering services to residents who have suffered for two years under an uncaring ANC government.

Last week the DA settled out of court after the Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Xolile Nqatha, challenged the 4 December 2020 election of Cllr Bhanga in court.

The DA remains convinced that we had a strong enough case to win this court battle, but decided to put Nelson Mandela Bay residents first, opting not to waste valuable taxpayer money on a long, drawn-out legal battle with MEC Nqatha.

Today’s council meeting, which was ordered by the court, was a rubber-stamping of the multi-party Coalition of Good Governance’s mandate to bring stability to the Metro after years of neglect by the ANC.

The multi-party coalition can now focus on the business of the day without the distraction of frivolous court cases and ANC political infighting with the only goal of lining the pockets of cadres.

The past two months, under the Coalition of Good Governance, has seen the fortunes of Nelson Mandela Bay start to turn around.

Since taking office, a concerted effort has been made to stop the rampant spread of Covid-19, and as a result, the City has seen new infection numbers dropping. Over R1,4 billion rand that was withheld from the municipality by National Treasury has been secured.

Key service delivery projects have been kickstarted, addressing the years of neglect under the ANC -who put themselves ahead of the needs of the people, no matter the cost.

The DA, as part of a multi-party Coalition of Good Governance, will not be deterred from its mission to take Nelson Mandela Bay Forward Again!

Like John Vorster in 1979, Ramaphosa must resign if #ANAGate allegations are true

The DA calls for an urgent probe into shocking allegations before the Zondo Commission this week that the State Security Agency (SSA) colluded with Africa News Agency (ANA) to skew news reporting in favour of former President Jacob Zuma and the ANC government.

When, in 1979, a Commission of Inquiry found that then State President, John Vorster, knew “everything” about attempts to use government resources to fight a propaganda war for the Apartheid government and influence public opinion (the so-called Information Scandal), Vorster resigned in disgrace.

The testimony by Sydney Mufamadi this week is as shocking as this decades-old scandal and if there is any truth to it, Ramaphosa – just like Vorster – must resign. It is unconscionable that Ramaphosa as Deputy President and Head of Government Business would not have known about this at the time.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for an urgent investigation by the Hawks and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) into the corroborated allegations that ANA was paid millions over a period of 8 months to write positive stories on Zuma and the government, and to provide “multi-media” training to SSA agents.

A proper investigation must establish the degree of truth in ANA CEO Vasantha Angamuthu’s claims that the Agency retained its independence and was not a front for the SSA, or launched as a propaganda machine for the ANC, especially as she admitted to receiving R20 million in payment from the SSA.

The DA believes that it was highly inappropriate for the SSA to pay for the production and publication of positive stories about the SA government.

In a country plagued with the rot of corruption that has been allowed to take root in seemingly every nook and cranny of all spheres of government, media independence is vital for our constitutional democracy.

Game over for Zuma – He must testify or face arrest

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the judgment by the Constitutional Court this morning compelling former President Jacob Zuma to appear and testify before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture. The Court has also ordered Zuma to pay the full costs of the Commission in the matter.

The game is now over for Zuma. Should he fail to appear for his testimony, he must be arrested.

He has been employing insidiously devious strategies for more than a decade to evade accountability and “his day in court”. He has employed the same strategy to evade testifying in the case of capturing the state, despite him on many occasions demanding that his name be cleared.

This application was a last, desperate attempt to avoid public accountability and the apex court has delivered the final word. Zuma’s day has indeed now arrived and there is no corner left in which he can cower.

The Commission simply could not have concluded its work without testimony from Zuma. It is patently obvious to all by now that Zuma and his crooked cronies, the Guptas, are the main masterminds behind the capture of the South African state, but ably assisted by the ANC.

We look forward to hearing his long overdue testimony in front of judge Raymond Zondo. It will no doubt be stomach-turning and breathtakingly evil. His one last resort would be to refuse to incriminate himself, but that sticky avenue would tell the full story in itself.

This judgment is a victory for South Africans and the Commission who have for years been waiting on Zuma to testify regarding his role in the capture of the South African state.

DA will fight Eskom’s plans to make solar panel users pay more for electricity

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will file its own submissions with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) opposing plans by Eskom to introduce a split energy tariff system that will punish solar panel users by making it more expensive to generate their own electricity.

Eskom’s latest application for a review of electricity tariffs proposes a new tariff system in which it plans to split energy tariffs into fixed and variable costs, which would increase the cost of independent power generation and force people to use Eskom for their energy needs.

This anti-competitive behaviour by Eskom is reprehensible and could be in violation of South Africa’s competition laws. Eskom is trying to use its market dominance to bully private households generating power ‘for own use’ by increasing the cost of solar power use.

Eskom has been an unreliable source of electricity for more than a decade and its plans to force people to rely on its unreliable power supply is simply ridiculous. South Africans cannot be expected to continue subsidising a failing company that has become a hindrance to the country’s development.

The DA’s submissions to NERSA will make it clear that Eskom’s proposals must be rejected outright and the right of private citizens to generate their own power without being bullied be protected at all costs. Eskom has to accept that its monopoly is over and its time that it stopped its bullying tactics in the energy sector.

Click here to read more about the DA’s plan to drive the cost of electricity down, introduce competition into the energy sector, and diversify the country’s energy sources to introduce more renewables, as well as our record of action on the electricity crisis over the last 8 years.