DA submits objections on PEPUDA Bill

Please find attached soundbite by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP.

The DA has submitted our objections to the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act (PEPUDA) Amendment Bill to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The Bill, which seeks to amend the PEPUDA, is steeped in hypocrisy, and the DA remains strongly opposed to it.

Upon further analysis, we have identified the following serious concerns with the Bill:

  • Expanded Definition of Equality

The DA is concerned that the expanded definition of equality will have unintended consequences, and place impermissible burdens upon all organisations and private citizens in South Africa. While the amendment may be well intended, the practicability will leave organizations and individuals regularly falling foul of this.

  • Vicarious Liability

The introduction of vicarious liability will place an unreasonable burden on organisations and companies to police the actions of their employees lest they be held responsible. The exclusion of “intent” in the updated definition of equality would put companies at serious risk of liability, and the DA believes that this increased risk may also reduce companies’ appetite to create new employment opportunities.

  • Obligations Placed on Private Institutions

Through clause 9, government is giving itself a backdoor mechanism to interfere with and regulate private organisations and their respective affairs by dictating how they promote equality from within and in the relationships they have with other bodies. The ability to prescribe different codes of obligation to different organizations allows government the opportunity to punish organisations which the State may find undesirable. The ANC government has proven time and again that it is not a bastion of morality and that any loophole to gain advantage will invariably be exploited.

  • General Responsibility to Promote Equality

The Bill seeks to amend the Section 24 general responsibility to achieve equality by the addition of a responsibility to “eliminate discrimination”. We trust that this was a drafting mistake, and that this clause is changed to state “unfair discrimination” instead.

The DA trusts that the Department will do its due diligence and take our objections into consideration. As the Bill reads now, it may have a significantly harmful effect upon employment and on the institutional autonomy of private entities, and place an onerous burden on employers and private citizens alike. The DA will fight this draft of the Bill to the bitter end.

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

The ANC’s way has failed and the DA won’t be following it

You’d think the choice in this year’s local government elections would be clear: where the ANC governs, things fall apart; where the DA governs, we get things done. But there is a cadre of journalists and commentators who will have none of this.

Nearly everything the African National Congress now touches turns to failure. Municipalities in ANC strongholds aren’t just struggling to deliver services, they’re falling apart. North West is the best example of how bad a powerful ANC has become for local communities. Never mind the municipal audit disclaimers, the theft of Covid-19 relief funds, and the easy escape made by officials implicated in the VBS heist. The billions in taxpayers’ money not spent on repairs and maintenance, or on renewing existing substations and water treatment plants, will have implications for years to come. Power and water outages will become more frequent, and income derived from these services will dwindle. Investment will flee. It is an institutional death spiral. And unless the ANC is replaced by the Democratic Alliance in this year’s local government elections, the rot is likely to spread.

The good news is that there are governments that are bucking the national trend of decline, and they are mostly governed by the DA. Most clean audits are produced by DA governments. The top five most financially sustainable municipalities in South Africa are all run by the DA. Poor households have access to the most reliable basic services in DA-run governments. Thanks to the returns of a decade or more of getting things done, DA governments in Cape Town and Stellenbosch can now invest in their own energy generating capacity. In this way local DA governments are well placed to protect the communities they serve from state failure. You don’t have to believe me, the Auditor-General, Ratings Afrika, Stats SA, or the dedicated men and women who run the country’s best performing municipalities. Ask the folk who move in ever-increasing numbers to DA-controlled towns and cities in the hope of a better life. Even under difficult national economic conditions, the DA is better at creating the conditions for upward social mobility, including economic growth, investment, jobs, and improved basic services.

So, you’d think the choice in this year’s local government elections would be clear: where the ANC governs, things fall apart; where the DA governs, we get things done. But there is a cadre of journalists and commentators who will have none of this. Steeped in the ANC’s worldview, they bemoan the former liberation movement’s corruption and incompetence in government but can’t bring themselves to denounce its toxic combination of racial nationalism and state control. They see the economy backfiring, the decline of the developmental capacity of the state, and vulnerable communities suffering as a result. But they can’t connect the dots between this malaise and the implementation of ANC policies and the adherence to the ANC worldview. The ANC’s spirit must be sustained, even if its body is rotting.

This is why Stephen Grootes, writing in Daily Maverick last week, says that the DA has failed to capture South Africa’s imagination. Unable to see beyond the ideological horizons of the ANC, Grootes is in fact referring to his own imagination. Too difficult to imagine is the idea, supported by evidence at every audit cycle and most indicators of good government, that a liberal democratic party that rejects racial identity politics has a better roadmap for governing South Africa. And so, soft ANC apologists like Grootes are suckers for anything that makes the DA look just as bad as the ANC. What can possibly be worse than a corrupt, inept racial nationalist government that sees its own politicians as proxies for the African people, self-licensed to eat on their behalf? An opposition composed only of and supported only by racial minorities and defending only their interests. And so, the worse the ANC performs, the more pressing the need to hang this tag around the DA’s neck.

Last week Clement Manyathela became bizarrely enamoured by the racial composition of a list of DA election campaign managers. And Grootes was keen to jump on the bandwagon. Ignoring exceptional black leaders in the DA, including the majority of our provincial leaders, all of our metro mayors, and the party’s heads of communication and policy, he draws an adverse conclusion about the DA’s “image of inclusion”. He also suggests that the DA’s defence of gun rights is a play to the insecurities of white men. But what if – and this might push the limits of Grootes’ imagination – there is a significant number of black people who share the interests the DA is fighting for? What if, just as Grootes is blind to black DA leaders like Ivan Meyer, Solly Msimanga, Albert Fritz, Jane Sithole, Gwen Ngwenya and Siviwe Gwarube, he is also blind to the black people who are lawful, licensed firearm owners?

The same point can be made about protecting property rights, pension funds, and medical aid reserves against the grabby hands of the state, the other major battles being fought by the DA against the ANC and the EFF (the ANC’s fundamentalist faction). Black South Africans have no less a stake in these issues than anyone else. Without a modern industrial economy, secured by property rights, a free society, and a capable state, there will be no middle class to aspire to, no chance of rapid upward social mobility to redress the inequities of the past. To create the kind of society envisaged by our Constitution, South Africa needs a party like the DA, capable of seeing and fighting for shared South African interests that cross racial lines. To continue to get things done, on a bigger scale, in more towns and cities, we won’t be using the failed roadmap of the ANC. The choice now is simple. South Africans can choose the ANC that is failing in government or the DA that governs well and gets things done.

DA to submit Private Member’s Bill to prohibit LGBTQIA+ conversion therapy for children 

Please find an attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP

As Pride month draws to a close, the DA will be submitting a Private Members Bill (PMB) which will prohibit conversion therapy for minors – a dangerous practice focused on the LGBTQIA+ community that falsely claims to change sexual orientation for children.

This is in line with the resolution passed last year at the DA Federal Congress, which committed to endorse a bill that will make conversion therapy for LGBTQIA+ youth under the age of 18 illegal.

However, the current legislative framework under the Children’s Act does not prohibit conversion therapy on children nor does it consider it an offence. The DA believes minors should not be subjected to this reprehensible practice, and that it should be banned in South Africa just as it is in countries like Canada and Brazil.

Section 9 of the Constitution provides that “the state may not unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone based on their gender or sexual orientation.” It is in the interest of young people and children within the LGBTQIA+ community to be protected against conversion therapy.

The harmful effects of conversion therapy on mental and emotional health have been widely documented, with many mental health bodies around the world, agreeing that it is ineffective, dangerous and grossly unethical.

The SA Society of Psychiatrists have also stated “there is no scientific evidence that conversion therapy is effective in changing a person’s sexual orientation. There is, however, evidence that this type of therapy can be destructive.”

The DA is committed to challenging human rights violations which seeks to target the LGBTQIA+ community.

Our activism in this space cannot be limited to just the month of June, it is to endure throughout the year and we must find ways to tighten legislative loopholes and change cultures. We are committed to be part of the solution.

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

Minister Zulu leaves millions to fend for themselves as R350 comes to a halt 

Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP.

The DA notes that the special Covid-19 social relief of distress (SRD) grant of R350 has not been extended and that only outstanding payments will be made.

That the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, could leave millions of vulnerable people who have come to depend on the grant to provide for their needs in the lurch just as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced two weeks of an adjusted Level 4 lockdown period, is shocking, but not surprising. And this during a period when many businesses are again forced to close their doors by a government that failed to prioritize a successful vaccine roll-out which enabled the rise of the third wave of infections, further decreasing the chances of finding work.

The DA has learned to expect such callousness from an ANC government that has repeatedly put their own interests and those of their cronies and the politically connected over the people of South Africa.

How many people could have been helped had Treasury not prioritised the bailout of SAA and other failing entities over the continuation of this grant, or if Covid-corruption from the government elite was not as rife as the Covid-19 virus itself?

The government has a responsibility to provide relief to the poor and unemployed during this time. The right thing to do would’ve been to extend the payment of the R350 SRD grant.

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

Minister Mthethwa must reveal his plans to support arts and culture sector during adjusted Level 4 lockdown

Please find attached soundbite by Tsepo Mhlongo MP.

The DA calls on the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, to reveal his plans to assist the arts and culture sectors during the next two weeks of the adjusted Level 4 lockdown period, which shut down all cinemas, theatres, casinos, nightclubs, exhibition spaces at conference centres, museums, libraries, archives, galleries, restaurants, taverns and shebeens with immediate effect.

In essence, the ANC government has once again shut down many of the platforms that artists use to earn a living without any indication from government on how it will support them.

Government is punishing South Africans for its own dismal failures with the vaccine roll-out, while those in the arts, culture and heritage sectors are still struggling to gain access to relief funding. These lockdown measures will be detrimental to an already devastated and suffering sector.

Every day South Africa is losing immense talent to unemployment queues, because the ANC government has proven itself not only incapable of any meaningful management of the economic and health impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, but the widespread corruption has showed that they never cared about South Africans to begin with.

It is time Minister Mthethwa started earning his exorbitant salary. South African artists need real and urgent intervention.

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

DA congratulates the SARB on its centenary

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Geordin Hill-Lewis MP. 

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance, I convey our congratulations to the Governor, Deputy Governors and the professional staff of the South African Reserve Bank on the occasion of the Bank’s centenary.

As we celebrate this centenary, we recommit ourselves to the firm defence of the SARB’s independence against all those who would seek to undermine it.

South Africans can rightly feel proud of the Reserve Bank. While so many other institutions in our democracy have faltered, or have been deliberately hollowed out, the SARB has stood as a consistent champion for sensible economic policy.

It is an institution marked by its commitment to excellence and independence, demonstrating the very best of what our country can do.

Of course, it was not always so. For many decades, monetary policy was deployed in aid of an isolationist siege economy, cut off from the world and from economic best-practice. Now the Bank faces pressures of a not-too-dissimilar kind, as populists try to capture the SARB for their own destructive political ends.

It has also all too often had to carry the burden for irresponsible fiscal policy by the government of the day.

Against all of these forces, it has stood as a bulwark.

Future prosperity for South Africa depends on strong independent institutions like the SARB applying the best evidence to formulate stable and predictable policy.

May the SARB continue in this important work over the next 100 years.

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

It is time for government to acknowledge failure and accept help

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, today in Cape Town during his address to the nation.

Attention Editors: Letters to all SAHPRA-approved vaccine manufacturers can be found here, here and here.

Fellow citizens,

Before we talk about the crucial issue of vaccines, I am sure most of you would have heard the news that the Constitutional Court has just found former President Jacob Zuma guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to 15 months in prison.

This is one of the most important ConCourt judgments in the history of our democracy because it confirms that no one can stand above the law in South Africa. Not even a former President who still enjoys strong support within the ruling party.

Mr Zuma – who has steadfastly dodged his day in court for well over a decade while claiming all the while that his day in court is all he wanted – has finally run out of runway.

This is a major day for the DA. For 12 years we have pursued the case against Jacob Zuma relentlessly. We did so, often with very little public and media support, because we knew it was the right thing to do.

Long before Zuma was public enemy number 1, we rang the alarm that he was destroying the institutions of democracy and subverting the constitutional order, to enrich his friends and family.

For years he was protected and cosseted by the ANC. For years they defended him, knowing full well what he was doing to South Africa.

We may have many other challenges as a country right now, but this judgment has struck a crucial blow for equality before the law, without which no democracy can prosper.

Fellow citizens,

As I speak to you, there are many of you who are facing tremendous personal battles as a third wave of Covid infections surges through parts of the country.

Many of you have lost loved ones in recent times, and have done so under extremely harrowing circumstances that have made grieving and saying goodbye very hard.

Many of you have family at home or in hospitals right now who are fighting this disease, and the news that hospitals in Gauteng are running at full capacity and are struggling to keep ahead of the wave must be extremely distressing.

Many more of you are facing a scary and uncertain future, having lost your income and the means to look after your families. Those working in industries that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of lockdown restrictions must face every announcement by the President with a terrible sense of dread.

These are extremely difficult times for all of us. The worst part is not knowing when it will all end, and when we will be able to carry on living normal lives without the constant fear and uncertainty that has settled on our daily routines.

But we have no choice here. We have to be strong and we have to believe that we will beat this virus. That’s the only way through all of this.

Each one of us needs to find the strength to do whatever we can to win this fight.

Whether this means working on treatments, cures and vaccines, whether it is looking after the sick, whether it is helping take care of the vulnerable and hungry, or whether it is simply doing your personal bit to stay sanitised, masked and distanced, we all have a crucial part to play.

We dare not become fatigued by the relentless onslaught, and therefore complacent. Because even if we were to relent, the virus won’t. We cannot give it any more of a foot in the door than it already has.

But beating this virus also means being extremely honest and critical about the things that have and haven’t worked in the fight so far. Because if we don’t change these things we will make no progress.

We now have 15 months of interventions and measures to look back on, and this gives us a very clear picture of what we could have done differently and done better.

Looking back, we can say with absolute certainty where government should have spent the bulk of its time, effort and money to make the biggest impact, and that is by increasing hospital capacity, procuring enough vaccines early on, and formulating a proper vaccine rollout plan that would make the most of all available resources.

Those things would have significantly protected society, but government did none of them. As a result, we have one of the least vaccinated populations in the entire world facing one of the steepest waves of infections, in the middle of winter, without sufficient hospital beds.

Looking back, even our government should concede that many of the measures introduced in the name of fighting the spread of Covid did nothing of the sort, and only ended up compounding misery by destroying entire economic sectors.

Our tourism and hospitality industries are now into their second year of severely compromised operations, with no help whatsoever from government. Hundreds of thousands of families have been left with no income.

And, knowing all of this, the President has just done it again by shutting down the liquor and restaurant trade. The only reason he finds himself backed into this corner is because he didn’t do his actual job. So let us not give him a free pass on this and say he had no choice.

Looking back, we should never have sold those one million Astra Zeneca vaccines, nor cancelled the remaining 500,000 on the order, nor forgone the option of a further 1.5 million.

Not only would those vaccines have helped to prevent death and serious illness among vulnerable populations, we now know that they would have offered protection against the Delta variant.

The DA called on government to hold onto these shots and immediately roll them out to vulnerable population groups. And not only the DA. Many scientists, including those at the World Health Organisation, were saying the same thing: Don’t give away your vaccines because they will save lives.

Government always claims to follow the science. Well, the science says we should have used them.

Looking back, we should never have placed all our eggs in the Covax basket. For the entire second half of 2020, this was government’s sole plan and they turned their backs on the vaccine manufacturers who tried to reach out to them.

How many of those Covax vaccines have we seen to date? Not a single one.

The Covax promise, and every other promise made since then, has turned out to be lies. In December the President told us we’d have enough vaccines for 10% of the population by the beginning of the year. That was a lie.

Then he said we’d have 2 million doses by the end of March. That was a lie.

Now he’s still maintaining that we’ll vaccinate two-thirds of our population by year-end and that we’ll soon ramp up our daily rate to 300,000. And that, I’m afraid, is another big lie. Consider that over this past weekend we managed to do less than 25,000 over two days.

If there was any interest in changing tack to do things better, then the past 15 months have been full of lessons. But surely the biggest and clearest of these lessons is that our government is simply not up to the task of mounting and managing a response to the pandemic.

This botched vaccine programme has revealed the full extent of our incapable state.

There is no plan. There is no leadership. And there is no accountability.

Instead, we got billions of Rands of pandemic looting, a health minister at the centre of a corruption scandal and a Deputy President who is meant to be heading up our vaccine rollout, but who is mostly missing in action.

A Deputy President who jets off to Russia for his own personal medical treatment at the taxpayer’s expense, while leaving millions of poor South Africans at the sharp end of the state’s failing healthcare system.

Realising that it is way out of its depth, government should have called in the help of the private sector a long time ago. It should also have allowed provincial governments to shoulder more of the responsibility, particularly where these governments have proven that they have the capacity to do so.

For a government obsessed with central control, letting go of the reins was always going to be a big ask, but in the context of the unfolding crisis, it is undoubtedly what they should have done.

It didn’t take 15 months to reveal this either. Right from the start, when no province outside of the Western Cape used the initial hard lockdown to significantly expand hospital capacity, and when government’s tracking and tracing programme fell woefully short, we knew that the national government was in over its head.

That’s when the net should have already been cast wide by roping in the private sector.

But it is with the procurement and rollout of vaccines that we saw just how out of its depth this government truly is. It has been one catastrophic failure after another.

And on Sunday night, the closest President Ramaphosa could get to offer some kind of acknowledgement of these failures was when he euphemistically referred to some “missteps” along the way.

When your country has 60,000 official Covid deaths and excess deaths that suggest a Covid death rate far worse, you don’t call them missteps. You take full ownership, you apologise and you fix it.

Our country’s shambolic vaccine programme has now reached the point where it regularly makes the pages and the broadcasts of the international media.

We should have been in the best position on the continent to roll out a vaccination programme, given our infrastructure, financial clout and healthcare resources, yet we are languishing in the bottom half of the table of African countries.

This is shameful. But it’s more than that. It’s criminal too. Thousands of people have already died and thousands more will die in the coming months because our population is so poorly vaccinated.

The third wave was no surprise. Everyone knew it was coming, and when it would be here. And the fourth wave after this will be no surprise either. Just as the arrival of the Delta variant in our country was no surprise, despite what the President tried to claim on Sunday night.

The deaths that happened during the first two waves were tragic, but they happened before vaccines were readily available.

However, many of the deaths we are seeing now were preventable, had government initiated its vaccine procurement when other countries were doing so in June and July of last year.

Instead, our government only signed the Covax deal and then sat back down, ignoring meeting requests from vaccine suppliers.

Our Health Department only applied to National Treasury for procurement deviation to purchase vaccines on the 6th of January this year, months and months after other countries had locked in their orders.

The deaths that are happening now are a direct result of the incompetence and the inadequacies of our government. It rests on their shoulders.

And I’m not even talking here about the billions of Rands looted in the PPE feeding frenzy. I’m not even talking about the dodgy contracts like Digital Vibes awarded to connections of cabinet ministers.

I’m talking about the failure to do the very basics of their job: increase hospital beds and buy vaccines. Just those two things would have saved thousands of lives.

There has to be an accounting for these failures, which is why the DA has called for a full parliamentary inquiry. We will see to it that those who dropped the ball are held accountable.

But what should happen now to get our vaccination programme on track? Rambling on about the unfairness of the global vaccine market and blaming vaccine apartheid won’t put more jabs in arms. And that is all that matters now.

So, for starters, President Ramaphosa must admit that he needs help. He has to acknowledge that he, his cabinet and his Coronavirus Command Council are drowning and cannot manage this rollout.

And then he has to let other players into the game. And by this, I’m talking primarily about the private sector, as well as competent provincial governments.

Right now we need to dramatically increase our vaccine acquisition and distribution, and it doesn’t matter who brings these vaccines into the country. The moratorium on vaccine orders by anyone other than national government has to come to an immediate end.

That’s why I have now written to every major vaccine supplier approved by SAHPRA to let them know exactly how critical our situation is, and why we are in this situation.

I have asked each of them to consider entering into agreements with either private entities or provincial governments in order to speed up our vaccine deliveries because our national government cannot manage this task.

I have made it clear to them just how many South African citizens are dying today as a direct result of national government’s failure to act sooner.

These are avoidable deaths, and we need to start avoiding them.

As far as the money is concerned, it is outrageous that government blames our extremely slow rollout – particularly over weekends – on a lack of money to pay staff overtime. Money is not, and should never be, an obstacle here.

Consider that a recent study by Discovery, PWC and Business for SA estimated that a vaccine programme to reach two-thirds of our population would cost around R13.5 billion, but would lead to a GDP growth of nearly 11 times that amount.

The money our economy lost due to the various stages of lockdown would have paid for this vaccine programme dozens of times over. Money cannot be the problem.

And indeed it isn’t. Government budgeted R6 billion for the vaccine rollout, plus an additional R9 billion in the contingency reserve. There is no better use for that reserve than to pay for a seven-day-a-week vaccination effort. The Finance Minister must immediately make those funds available.

If the money could be found to throw R150 million at Digital Vibes or to spend another R83 million on Cuban doctors on top of the R200 million already spent, then the money can be found to vaccinate our citizens.

Then there is the issue of hospital capacity, and particularly in Gauteng where healthcare is straining under the pressure.

It is simply unforgivable that the 1000 bed Charlotte Maxeke hospital has not yet reopened after the fire of two months ago. Five weeks just to appoint a contractor is unacceptable, and heads should roll.

The hospital – or as many sections as possible – needs to be opened right away.

Where there is a will there is a way. Consider that the DA government in the Western Cape started admitting patients to the 850 bed CTICC Hospital of Hope a mere four weeks after gaining access to the site.

If the Gauteng Health Department is incapable of ensuring that this hospital, along with their various other mothballed field hospitals, is reopened in time, then the National Department of Health should crack the whip.

And if they’re unable to do so – which I strongly suspect is the case – then the President himself must step in.

What we also need to do is admit when something is not working optimally and make changes. And here I’m referring specifically to the scheduling of vaccinations by SMS and by age cohort. We can see that this is not working the way it should, and we have a deadly third wave bearing down on us, so let us change course while we still can.

Where vaccine stocks allow for it, we should open the walk-ins to those above 50 right away, and not wait until the middle of July. This is the age cohort that made up the bulk of hospitalisations in the first two waves, and we need to get as many of them protected before the wave hits.

Right now the most important goal is jabs in arms. Who provides these vaccines, who distributes them and who delivers the shots are not what matters. And if we have unused vaccines at sites where 50 to 60 year-olds could be protected, we must have the flexibility to do so.

And finally, I want to appeal to each and every one of you to do whatever you personally can to help in these difficult times. Think of where people are struggling and where you can possibly make a contribution.

Perhaps there is a community soup kitchen that needs more hands or extra meals. Perhaps there is a school feeding scheme that has been shut down along with the school.

Perhaps the local shelter could use some of your clothes. Or perhaps it is as simple as supporting your local restaurant by ordering takeaways from them.

We all need to dig a little deeper and show a little empathy.

If you’re a landlord, is there a way you can accommodate your struggling tenants? Can loan repayments or supplier invoices be structured or temporarily deferred?

We have to get through this together.

I was told the other day that doctors at Cape Town’s biggest hospital, Groote Schuur, all put in extra unpaid hours every month to alleviate the pressure of Covid admissions. This is a great example for all of us.

For the foreseeable future, we are going to have to discover our sense of community and of service to others.

We must know by now that our government cannot and will not protect us and look after us the way it should and that we have to look out for one another.

Across the country, we’ve already seen many signs of this.

We’ve seen ordinary South Africans step in and take over the maintenance of water infrastructure, the filling of potholes and the cutting of grass verges where their local ANC governments have failed them.

We’ve seen heroic organisations like Gift of the Givers pick up much of the slack where government’s social programmes have fallen short.

We’ve seen businesses take on more and more of what should be government’s duties.

And now we are going to have to see this same selfless civic duty in service of our fellow citizens as we battle this pandemic together.

Luckily we have one thing on our side that stands us in very good stead here, and that is the fact that we are the South African people.

South Africans are no strangers to adversity. We’ve overcome tremendous challenges before. If anyone has the ingenuity, the heart and the fighting spirit to overcome this crisis – despite its government – it is the people of this great country.

We will persevere and we will make it through.

Until then, let’s all be responsible in our actions, let’s be kind to one another and, above all, let us all stay safe.

Thank you.

DA looks forward to ConCourt ruling on Zuma 

The DA welcomes the news from the Constitutional Court that judgment will be handed down tomorrow in the matter between the Zondo Commission of Inquiry and former President Jacob Zuma.

Three months ago, the Apex Court heard arguments from the Commission on why Zuma should be jailed for two years after he defied the Court’s ruling to testify before the Commission.

On Friday, the DA urged the Constitutional Court to settle this matter as soon as reasonably possible as these delays could serve to embolden Zuma to continue his defiance of the judicial system.

We are pleased that the Court will finally hand down judgment in this matter. The DA trusts that Zuma will be held fully accountable for his refusal to comply with a summons to appear before the Commission.

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

Minister Sisulu should read with comprehension before she publicly wrecks herself

The Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, blatantly violated section 195(g) of the Constitution, and impeded a fellow Member of Parliament’s ability to oversee executive actions, when she refused to furnish Parliament with the details of the contractors involved in the Alliance housing project in Ekurhuleni.

In response, the Democratic Alliance (DA) released a statement condemning the Minister for justifying her actions based on a document ostensibly titled “Guide to Parliamentary Questions in the National Assembly.” No evidence of such a document exists, and we urge the Minister to furnish us with the document.

The Minister did not take kindly to this statement and released a counter-statement wherein she cited a guideline pertaining to the stating of personal details in questions as reason for her omission to abide by the Constitution.

According to the Minister, this guideline from this secretive document, quoted below, justifies her omission to do her job (my emphases):

“…Names of persons, bodies and, for example, newspapers are only used in questions if the facts surrounding the case have been proven. As the mere mention of such names could be construed as publicity for or against them, it should be clear that this practice is highly undesirable. If a question will be unintelligible without mentioning such names, the Departments concerned are notified of the name (-s) and this phrase is used:   “…….a certain person (name furnished).”

Apart from the fact that secretive guidelines do not trump constitutional provisions, as highlighted in the excerpt above, the guideline which Minister Sisulu is relying on so heavily, pertains to questions _and not to replies to questions_.

We therefore extend a friendly advisory to Minister Sisulu to, firstly, refrain from citing guidelines, the mere existence of which is doubtful, to excuse her unconstitutional conduct, and secondly, to refrain from citing guidelines that do not even pertain to replies to parliamentary questions, but instead only have bearing on the questions themselves. In a post-truth world plagued by misinformation, the Minister would do well not to make herself guilty of perpetuating falsehoods that undermine our democratic project.

We will not be deterred by Ministers who are not interested in doing their jobs. We will not stop our pursuit of answers for the communities of Alliance and Lindelani.

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

Only 23 000 vaccinated this whole weekend – DA calls for release of necessary funds

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Geordin Hill-Lewis MP.

The DA calls on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to immediately release the necessary funds to ensure all state vaccination clinics operate at full capacity over the weekends.

Only 23 621 South Africans were vaccinated this weekend – 21 332 and 2 289 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. This is an unacceptably slow rollout, and the delay will be measured in lives lost to Covid-19. 

The Department of Health is blaming this slow rollout on the lack of “overtime budget” for vaccination staff to work over weekends. But this excuse is simply not true. 

Sufficient funds are available in the national budget to cover the costs of a 7-day a week vaccination rollout. Now is the time to use the contingency reserve of R9 billion and make it available to provincial health departments to cover the cost of additional staff and overtime pay for staff. 

The National Treasury budgeted R6 billion for the vaccine rollout in 2021, of which R1.5 billion was allocated to provincial governments for staff costs. On top of that, R9 billion extra was budgeted in the contingency reserve which could also be used for the vaccine rollout if necessary. 

There are four days to go to the weekend. This can be resolved by then if the Minister makes a clear statement that sufficient funds are available. Let us make sure this weekend’s performance is not repeated.

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