DA will go toe-to-toe with Cosatu on our Fiscal Responsibility Bill

We note the statement from Cosatu this afternoon in opposition to the DA’s Fiscal Responsibility Bill, which will be debated in the Standing Committee on Finance in Parliament tomorrow.

We acknowledge Cosatu’s opposition and welcome the opportunity for robust debate on South Africa’s fiscal future, but we also need to correct the misinformation they are peddling today.

Cosatu is free to oppose the DA’s Fiscal Responsibility Bill. But they should do so on the basis of facts.

The fact is that the DA is the only party that has presented a proposal for cutting the public wage bill that would protect inflation related increases for nurses, teachers, police officers, social workers and other frontline service delivery staff, while focusing cuts on “millionaire manager” head office staff that do not deliver services directly. This remains South Africa’s most sensible, costed proposal on the public wage bill.

While the overall government vacancy rate stands at about 10%, most provincial education, health and social development departments currently have vacancy rates of over 15%. This is a clear indication that departments have chosen to protect the millionaire lifestyles of cadres in management positions over the hardworking teachers, nurses, doctors and police officers who deliver vital services to citizens.

The government currently spends close to R30 billion per year to fund the millionaire lifestyles of 29 000 managers in the public services. This includes R7.2 billion spent per year on middle managers in provincial governments, R6.1 billion on senior managers in provinces, R8.1 billion on middle managers in national government, and R8.3 billion on senior managers in national government. On average, each of the 9 774 senior managers in national and provincial government takes home R1.4 million per year, with the highest level managers being paid over R2 million per year.

The DA believes that public sector wage bill cuts should be focused on these 29 000 millionaire managers, as well as by freezing the wages of the 33.7% of public servants who are not covered by the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD). This category includes office managers, administrators and supervisors who spend most of their working hours in air-conditioned offices. In turn, this would enable the state to protect the wages of frontline workers by ensuring that the 66.3% of public servants who are covered by OSD receive CPI inflation-linked increases.

In total, our proposal would save R163 billion over the MTEF period, exceeding the target set by the finance minister by R2.9 billion and restoring South Africa to the path of fiscal sustainability.

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DA bekommerd oor die Art 25 Ad Hoc-komitee se versoek  om die sperdatum uit te stel

Vind asseblief aangeheg ’n Afrikaanse klankgreep Dr Annelie Lotriet LP.

Die Demokratiese Alliansie (DA) is gekant teen die Artikel 25 ad hoc-komitee se versoek vir uitstel van die sperdatum vir voorlegging van hul finale verslag, welke sperdatum om middernag vandag verstryk.

Die uitstel word versoek omdat die ANC en die EFF nog nie ooreengekom het oor radikale voorstelle wat hulle in die wysingswetsonwerp probeer insmokkel nie, soos onder meer die verwydering van die howe uit die geskilbesleggingsproses.

Die oponthoud is onnodig, en kon voorkom gewees het as die ANC nie in die eerste plek geswig het voor populistiese vurigheid en die wysiging aan die Grondwet voorgestel het nie. In plaas daarvan om hul eie tekortkominge in grondhervorming aan te spreek het die ANC gekies om eerder die Grondwet te blameer, en sodoende die deur oopgemaak vir die veglustige EFF, wie graag die fondasies van ons demokrasie wil vernietig.

Die DA verwerp steeds ten sterkste die voorgestelde wysiging van Artikel 25, wat reeds in sy huidige formaat genoegsame voorsiening vir grondhervorming maak. Die ANC, wat kop in een mus is met die EFF, gebruik nou hul kans om wysigings in te smokkel wat nie net Suid-Afrikaners se eiendomsregte benadeel nie, maar ook die reg om gelyke beskerming voor die Reg.

Deur wysigings voor te stel wat die howe uit die onteieningsproses uitsluit, is die ad hoc-komitee besig om buite hul grondwetlike perke op te tree, aangesien die Parlement nie aan die howe mag voorskryf watter sake hul mag en nie mag aanhoor nie. Die DA staan sterk gekant teen enige poging om die rol van ons howe te verminder, omdat dit burgers se beskerming teen die aksies van die staat sal verswak.

Hierdie ongrondwetlike optrede van die ad hoc-komitee is maar slegs die jongste voorval, en is simptomaties van ‘n komitee wat reeds van die begin af sy perke gereeld oorskry het – onder andere deur substansieël af te wyk van die oorspronklike wysigingswetsontwerp wat in die Staatskoerant gepubliseer is. Die wet skryf voor dat materiële veranderinge aan die gepubliseerde wetsontwerp eers weer na die Parlement en na ‘n openbare deelname proses verwys moet word.

Die ANC is nou besig om radikale toegewings aan die EFF te probeer maak, ten einde hulle steun te werf vir die wysiginswetsontwerp, wat ‘n twee-derdes meerderheid in die Nasionale Vergadering benodig. Hulle optrede is nie net roekeloos nie, maar ook insiggewend, en illustreer duidelik hoe hulle die kwessie van grond gebruik om politieke punte te wen ten koste van die land se ekonomiese stabilitiet.

Die Parlement het ‘n verantwoordelikheid om die Grondwet te beskerm en die oppergesag van die Reg te respekteer. As ‘n beginselsaak moet dit die ad hoc-komitee se verslaag verwerp omdat die voorgestelde wysigings aan die Grondwet die regte van burgers en ook die skeiding van magte tussen die Nasionale Vergadering en die Gereg verontagsaam.

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Section 25 Ad Hoc committee request for deadline extension a cause for concern 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is concerned about the Section 25 Ad Hoc committee’s request to Parliament for an extension of today’s midnight deadline in which it was supposed to submit its final report. This extension is only being requested because the ANC and EFF cannot find common ground on extreme provisions, such as excluding the courts from adjudicating on land expropriation cases, which they are trying to smuggle into the amendment.

This standoff is completely unnecessary and could have been prevented had the ANC not succumbed to populist fervour and brought this ill-advised amendment to the Constitution Parliament. Instead of addressing its shortcomings in land reform, the ANC chose to scapegoat the Constitution and open the door to a belligerent EFF that wants to tear down the foundations of our democracy.

The DA continues to strongly reject the amendment of the Constitution because Section 25, as it stands, already provides sufficient room for land reform. The ANC, working in cahoots with the EFF, is attempting to use this ill-advised amendment to smuggle in provisions that not only violate the property rights of all  South Africans but also their rights to equal protection under the law as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

By attempting to include the provision that courts should not have a role to play on issues related to the expropriation of private property, the Ad Hoc committee is essentially overstepping Parliament’s constitutional role as it cannot prescribe to the judiciary what it can or cannot do. The DA will vehemently disagree with any attempts to reduce the role of the courts because it will take away the protection that citizens have against arbitrary actions of the state.

In any case, this unconstitutional attempt to sideline the judiciary is symptomatic of an Ad Hoc committee that has exceeded its authority by deviating from the initial Bill that was gazetted. Based on the deliberations that they have had thus far, the amendment that the ANC/EFF are proposing differs materially and substantially from the Bill as gazetted. By operation of law, any material or substantive amendments have to go back to Parliament and the public for comments.

The ANC is trying to make extreme concessions to the EFF on this ill-thought amendment in the hope that they will help them secure the two thirds needed in the National Assembly to pass the Bill. This is not only reckless but is also revealing because it shows that they are using the land issue to score political points at the expense of the nation’s economic stability.

Parliament has an obligation to protect the constitution and uphold the rule of law. It must, as a matter of principle, reject the Ad Hoc committee’s report because the proposed amendment infringes on the rights of citizens and violates the separation of powers between the National Assembly and the judiciary.

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Denel’s latest salary woes proof that the SOE must go into business rescue 

Denel’s decision to only pay its employees 20% of their May salaries is proof that the SOE must be placed under business rescue as a matter of urgency. 

There is clearly no other way forward for the arms manufacturer which is fast becoming commercially unsustainable. The DA is of the view that should a business rescue process not be initiated, the entire entity will collapse. This will not only compromise South Africa’s national security but also the thousands of jobs in its value chain.

Bailouts and government guarantees will do nothing to turn the tide for Denel as it will not address the root of its challenges. Which are the years of mismanagement, looting and capture. 

Only a credible business rescue process which is independent and overseen by credible business rescuers will turns things around at Denel.

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DA calls on Agriculture Department to unlock biosecurity funds following foot and mouth disease outbreak

The DA calls on the Department Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to urgently unlock biosecurity funding and plans in light of the current outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in KwaZulu-Natal.

The latest outbreak comes one year after the last outbreak of FMD in Limpopo. At the time of the outbreak, the DA urged the government to improve its livestock biosecurity budget. The Department made a request for an increased budget which was honoured by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, in 2020 when he allocated R495 million towards biosecurity. To date, no plans or programmes have been put in place to tackle crops and animal diseases. This year, the department allocated a mere R3 million towards biosecurity.

The current FMD outbreak coincides with the DALRRD struggling to contain the outbreak of locusts and the Avian Flu. The department’s failure to spend its biosecurity budget on real biosecurity programmes is clearly now backfiring.

The DA calls on Minister Didiza and her department to immediately ensure the following:

  • Review the biosecurity budget and plans to contain this current FMD outbreak.
  • Restrict the movement of animals and get buy-in from both commercial and small holder farmers.
  • Work with the municipalities to ensure that by-laws dealing with stray animals are enforced to restrict their movements.
  • Where necessary engage SANDF and SAPS to assist with curbing the movements of animals until the surveillance is completed to stop further spread of the FMD disease.

In the long term, the department must also ensure that clear plans are put together on diseases and pest control management which include inputs from the farmers themselves; annual biosecurity training, especially with smallholder farmers, should be hosted; and the department should provide FMD biosecurity compliance training.

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Hawks must brief Parliament on investigation into SAPS’ R1.6 billion irregular PPE spending spree

The DA calls on the Hawks to urgently brief Parliament on their investigation into the R1.6 billion the South African Police Service (SAPS) irregularly spent on procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) between March and August last year.

An answer to an oral parliamentary question from the DA in August 2020 first revealed that SAPS had spent R1.4 billion on PPE procurement in the first few months of lockdown. The DA raised the alarm on what were blatantly over inflated prices on a number of PPE items. We revealed at the time that the SAPS spent a whopping R642 million, or nearly half of the total R1.4 billion, on 100 000 25 litre plastic sanitizer containers. Upon investigation by the DA, it was discovered that a 25 liter plastic container filled with sanitizer could be purchased for less than R2 000. SAPS had procured these containers at an inflated price of more than 3 000%.

Today, a report by the Daily Maverick revealed that an internal probe by SAPS exposed that irregular expenditure of R1.6 billion was incurred during the lockdown. This includes R11 million for cloth masks and hand sanitiser sachets paid out to the Dr Love Foundation – a non-profit company that could not be traced on Treasury’s Database of Small Business Development. And this on a verbal order to boot. There were 34 such verbal orders to the tune of R1 620 964 361.20, despite SAPS protocols not allowing for verbal authorisations of transactions of more than R500 000.

It is shocking that the very institution that should protect the country and apprehend corrupt looters, is part of a massive PPE corruption scandal. SAPS is supposed to be beyond reproach and set the example for all South Africans but has instead allowed its credibility to be torn to shreds.

The Hawks must leave no stone unturned and should ensure that this crucial investigation is impeccable. The DA looks forward to their update to the parliamentary portfolio committee on police. Oversight has become more important than ever as the ANC government’s unscrupulous looting of Covid-19 funds is revealed.

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South Africans do not need stricter lockdowns, they need vaccines

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

The announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that South Africa will move to adjusted level 2 lockdown comes as little surprise as at least 4 of the 9 provinces have entered the 3rd wave of infections. The reality is that this was inevitable with the sluggish rollout of the vaccine.

As of Friday the 28th of May, government would have vaccinated less than a million people. This means that the target of vaccinating 40 million people by year end is unattainable. This is a dismal performance considering how the 1st and 2nd wave of infections and subsequent lockdowns cost so many lives and livelihoods. This pace of vaccination will certainly lock the country in perpetual lockdowns for months to come.

The earlier curfew, permits for workers and closure of non-essential establishments by 10 pm, will do nothing in the long-term fight against Covid-19. While we welcome the restriction on large gatherings, vaccines are needed urgently to stem the bleeding of the South African economy.

Furthermore, President Ramaphosa has once again demonstrated his inability to take action against those in his own cabinet and in the ANC accused of corruption.

The only acceptable announcement this evening would have been that the President has instructed Minister Zweli Mkhize to step down until the finalisation of the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) investigation looking into his role in the awarding of a multi-million-rand contract to a company ran by close associates of the minister.

But President Ramaphosa failed to take this bold stance. Instead, he completely ignored this massive issue showing how his commitment to fighting corruption is just empty words.

Minister Mkhize cannot be the player and the referee in this investigation. He needs to be removed so that the SIU can conduct its work without undue political influence. It cannot be that the President allows the person charged with leading the Covid-19 response in the country has damning allegations against him.

The DA has repeatedly called for an efficient vaccine rollout programme for the past year. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated South Africa’s social and economic challenges and we simply cannot afford any further restrictions.

Only a proper vaccine rollout programme will put an end to the continuous upsurge in Covid cases in South Africa. Failure to do so is condemning South Africans to further devastation and economic ruin.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA submits PAIA request for beneficiaries of Green Tourism Incentive Fund

The DA has submitted a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) seeking clarity on beneficiaries of the Green Tourism Incentive Programme (GTIP) administered by the Department of Tourism.

Earlier this year, the DA submitted questions to the department requesting the details of all GTIP recipients and the corresponding funds issued since its inception. The department was unwilling to divulge the details of successful applicants in the private sector, insisting on a PAIA application before furnishing any further details.

The objective of the GTIF according to the department “is to encourage private sector tourism enterprises to move towards the sustainable management of water and energy resources whilst adhering to responsible tourism practices.”

In a water-scarce country such as South Africa, the sustainable management of water resources to secure the resilience and longevity of the tourism sector should not be a lacklustre tick-box exercise but a priority. South Africa has been hard-hit with multi-year droughts in the Northern and Eastern Cape whilst numerous other provinces face varying levels of water crises. This is compounded by poor water management and foresight by municipalities, as well as outdated and crumbling infrastructure. The litany of challenges to water security makes it vitally important to ensure that the tourism sector builds resilience through the adoption of sustainable water-use practices.

Unstable electricity supply and the projected effects of climate change as temperatures rise lend further urgency to the need for speedy green transformation of the tourism sector. Climate mitigation through transition to clean energy is not only driven by South Africa’s global commitment to decarbonisation, but by the demands of the global tourism market for responsible and sustainable tourism practice.

In light of the urgent need for Green Transformation, the department’s commitment to sustainable practice is dubious. In the Tourism Department’s Annual Performance Plan (APP) Green Tourism is briefly mentioned under Programme 4 Tourism Sector Support Services. The performance indicator for the GTIP is simply stated as “4 adjudication meetings”. There is no annual budget for the programme and neither a target for the number of applicants to be reviewed annually.

It is clear that the department lacks any ambition in the green and sustainable transformation of the tourism sector. The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of the sector – if tourism is to reach its potential as a significant contributor in post-Covid economic recovery, adequate foresight and planning are integral to build resilience.

The DA will continue to exercise oversight over the disbursement of public funds, and we await the outcome of our PAIA request. We recognise the need for sustainable transformation of the tourism sector and will continue to place this on the department’s agenda.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA’s petition against draconian Gun Bill: 45 000 signatures and counting

Note to editors: Please find attached a soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

The DA’s petition against the Firearms Control Amendment Bill is gaining significant momentum with 45 000 South Africans who have already signed the petition.

The DA stands in strong opposition to the Bill, which aims to ban ownership of firearms by civilians for the purpose of self defence among other limitations on firearm ownership which would affect the hunting, sporting and private security industries.

With our country’s high crime rate, self defence is the last line of defense for millions of South Africans. Without tackling the real problem of a high rate of violent crimes in the country – the Bill is merely aiming to disarm law-abiding citizens. This is reckless and leaves civilians with their hands tied behind their back when facing criminals.

The SAPS budget for visible policing is being cut by R3.8 billion while VIP protection has been increased by R26 million. This is the clearest demonstration that the ANC doesn’t care about the safety of ordinary South Africans.

We urge those who have not signed the petition to visit https://petitions.da.org.za/p/stopgunbill and sign it to keep “self-defence” as a reason to possess a firearm. This will go a long way towards putting a stop to this absurd and baseless piece of legislation.

We also urge the public to oppose this draconian Bill and to submit their objections to comments.fcabill@csp.gov.za and to the DA at stopgunbill@da.org.za.

The SAPS is now more than ever in complete disarray as is evident from the chaos at the Central Firearms Registry and the backlog in DNA case exhibits. While Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, wants to disarm citizens, SAPS is bleeding hundreds of firearms and “losing” them to criminals.

While the SAPS are failing to protect citizens, the DA believes this legislation should not mandate them to remove the option of civilians trying to fend for themselves.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

29 000 NSFAS students owe debt to varsities, DA calls for decentralised funding system 

The DA can reveal that 29 140 students currently owe money to universities as a result of inefficiencies at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

In response to a DA parliamentary question, Minister Blade Nzimande confirmed that these University students are in debt either due to late or incomplete payments by NSFAS.

The constant challenge of rising student debt because of NSFAS incompetence has caused a great threat to the financial stability of many universities across the country and contributes to the instability on campuses.

The blame should be placed at NSFAS’s door because of its inability to synchronize university and TVET college registration systems with their systems for ease of access and a faster turnaround time is failing the students who waiting on funding outcomes.

The DA is of the view that some of NSFAS’s functions must be decentralised to the financial aid offices of institutions to streamline processes and avoid further delays. It would certainly be better and work faster if universities and TVET college registrations were synchronized with NSFAS systems.

The spiralling of student debt is indicative of systematic and administrative failures which have been ongoing for a very long time. NSFAS’s failure to properly handle funding matters will result in higher learning institutions continuing to bear the brunt of student protests, which we have seen happen many times in the past. It is high time NSFAS and institutions work hand in hand to avoid future disruptions.

We therefore call on Minister Nzimande to put measures in place to ensure NSFAS offices are allocated at all universities and TVET colleges.

Only a different NSFAS funding model with decentralised processes into higher education institution will help to limit the delays and produce a sustainable and long-term solution.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.