Who is footing the bill for Deputy President Mabuza’s latest trip to Russia? 

Please find an attached soundbite by Willem Faber MP

The DA calls on the Presidency to provide details around the Deputy President’s latest trip to Russia. The Presidency has confirmed that Deputy President David Mabuza has requested leave to travel to Russia for a medical consultation. 

We urge the government to clarify the details of this trip, specifically who is footing the bill. 

It is highly peculiar that Deputy President Mabuza would travel all the way to Russia to seek medical assistance when he can receive world class medical treatment in South Africa. 

It is a shame and a slap in the face of our medical practitioners and medical facilities that their own Deputy President would rather seek medical treatment abroad than in South Africa.  

The trend of health tourism among the political elite, where our leaders seek medical attention in other countries is a concerning and costly undertaking. The Deputy President previously received medical treatment in Russia at least twice before in 2015 and 2018. This will, as we have seen previously, come at a huge cost to South African taxpayers. 

The Deputy President must come clean with South Africans and give us the real reason for his mysterious trips to Russia. Is this trip really for medical reasons or is it a sneaky way to mend a relationship with the Russian President after the failed nuclear deal? 

We trust that the Deputy President will return to health speedily and that he will soon find the strength to return to his duties of overseeing the country’s vaccine rollout – a job which he has performed dismally. 

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

DA calls for extension of UIF Ters scheme

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Michael Cardo MP.

The government should re-open the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF)’s Covid-19 Temporary Employer-Employee Relief (Ters) scheme for businesses that won’t be able to operate over the next 14 days.

This comes in the wake of the Level 4 lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa last night, which effectively shutters the liquor industry. The tougher lockdown will also deal a devastating blow to many enterprises in the restaurant and hospitality sectors, as well as tourism, weddings and conferencing.

The new lockdown regulations will threaten the livelihoods of thousands of employees who are unable to earn an income.

The Covid-19 Ters scheme came to an end in March, but the lockdown did not. For as long as the government prevents people from participating in the economy, it has a duty to mitigate the devastating economic impact with financial assistance.

The DA calls upon the government to extend the Covid-19 Ters scheme for the duration of the Level 4 lockdown. The Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, should communicate with the public on this matter urgently.

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

South Africans forced to pay the price for Ramaphosa’s catastrophic vaccine failure

Every covid death and every job lost to the draconian restrictions he announced tonight are on President Ramaphosa now. He is now forcing South Africans to pay the price for his administration’s catastrophic vaccine failures, or “missteps” as he calls them.

The DA has called for a comprehensive parliamentary inquiry into government’s handling of the vaccine programme. There must be accountability for this failure.

To much media fanfare, Ramaphosa personally took delivery of one million AstraZeneca vaccines in February. These alone could have protected 500 000 high-risk individuals from severe disease or death, saving lives and taking pressure off our healthcare system during this inevitable third wave. The DA pleaded with him to administer them as per scientific and WHO advice, but instead he sold them.

South Africans are being battered by the third wave with less than 1% of the population fully vaccinated. Not one single Covax vaccine has been administered. (To think Ramaphosa was planning to rely solely on Covax vaccines.) Today, only 2 289 vaccines were administered. Compare that with Chile, which months ago reached rates of 300 000 jabs a day.

Ramaphosa and his government have had a year to secure an adequate supply of vaccines to protect South African lives and livelihoods from this virus. A year to plan a speedy, efficient rollout programme.

Having spent fifteen months in various levels of lockdown, South Africans should at least be able to expect universal access to life-saving medical treatment.

But he and his government have failed to build healthcare capacity to be able to accommodate all in need. And failed to build track and trace capacity to isolate the virus and break chains of transmission.

All they have delivered are lame excuses and damaging lockdowns.

“Not enough money” is no excuse for failing to vaccinate on weekends. For twice failing to pay Covax deposits. For failing to secure supply from a variety of vaccine suppliers. For failing to enlist additional staffing for expensive Gauteng covid facilities that are therefore standing empty while patients wait in chairs and share oxygen.

In February, National Treasury reserved R15 billion (R6 billion allocated and R9 billion contingency) to fund the vaccine rollout. Government found R150 million for the Digital Vibes scam and has just stumped up another R83 million (over and above the initial R200 million) to keep the 119 Cuban doctors here another twelve months.

“Not enough time” is no excuse for taking over two months to get Johannesburg’s 1000-bed Charlotte Maxeke Hospital operational after the April fire. The DA-run Western Cape Government took just 4 weeks to start admitting patients to the 850-bed CTICC field Hospital of Hope after gaining access to the site.

So now Ramaphosa is yet again resorting to the blunt instrument of blanket restrictions, the main purpose of which is to give the illusion of action.

Only people who have never started and run a restaurant and who don’t rely on its success would force a restaurant to close with no notice, to cover for their failures. What about all the food sitting in fridges waiting to be sold tomorrow? The government may not plan ahead, but business owners do.

The tourism industry continues to be shut down at a moment’s notice, with the expectation that they should continue servicing their debts and complying with draconian labour legislation, with no support from government at all.

All those who rely for their income on the alcohol industry are also once again being made to pay for government failure.

Every South African is having their civil rights curtailed by a curfew that would not be necessary had government planned ahead and delivered vaccines on time.

None of the individuals who have been entrusted to roll out an efficient vaccine programme and none of those who have decided to shut down parts of the economy face losing their own lives or livelihoods.

They remain on full salary no matter what, and most of them have probably been vaccinated. None of them will need to face their hungry families and explain why they can’t put food on the table. Even Zweli Mkhize who benefitted from the Digital Vibes scam is assured a full salary at the end of the month.

They wheel out excuses about bad luck, but that’s exactly the point. They shouldn’t have expected the vaccine programme to be without challenges. That’s why the DA urged government months ago to order excess vaccines and from a variety of sources.

Unless government is held accountable for their vaccine failures, South Africans will head into a fourth wave in a few months’ time with the population still largely unprotected, still locked down, and still not assured life-saving treatment from our shambolic healthcare system.

Latest brutal farm murder: Armed for self-defence is the only hope

News is emerging this morning of another horrific murder of an Eastern Cape farmer. During the attack, 34-year old Darryl Richter was able to shoot two of the attackers, after which he sadly died from severe injuries.

This underscores the importance of farmers being able to own a firearm for the purpose of self-defence, something which Police Minister Bheki Cele wants to remove with the controversial Firearms Control Amendment Bill.

The attack happened last night as Richter went out on patrol to investigate a suspicious vehicle. At least three attackers emerged and as they stabbed him he managed to shoot two of them dead, and wounded another.

Sadly for his young wife and two young girls, another stabbed him in the head and spine and then shot him dead. He had previously survived an attack in Butterworth.

This is a report on just one of the numerous brutal murders of farmers and farm workers over the past three months.

This is what South African farmers are facing on a 24/7 basis, and if Minister Cele gets his way, Richter would have been murdered, and the perpetrators would have driven off – perhaps to attack his wife and babies.

The Democratic Alliance has pointed time and again to the fact that South Africa has one of the highest murder and violent crime rates in the world. We recently hosted South Africa’s largest virtual firearm summit that brought together interest groups, civil society organisations, experts and concerned South Africans from all walks of life to discuss the proposed ban of firearms for self-defence and other aspects of the Firearms Control Amendment Bill.

Minister Cele has failed to honour his invitation to appear at the Summit, which spoke volumes about the concerns voiced by thousands upon thousands of South Africans who know a firearm is their only protection against torture and death by the heartless criminals roaming our lands.

The overwhelming consensus remains that South Africans are vehemently opposed to the Bill. More than 76 000 people have signed the DA’s petition against this Bill to date.

While we send our deepest sympathies and prayers to Richter’s widow, children and family, the DA once again calls on the Minister Cele, to shift his focus from disarming law-abiding citizens, to the disarming of violent criminals and gangsters – including those within the South African Police Service (SAPS) illicitly selling firearms to crooks.

Our farmers and farm workers are under siege, and it seems Cele won’t be content until they are completely unable to defend themselves from torture and death.

DA calls on the United Nations to adopt a resolution against the expropriation of land without compensation in South Africa

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) requesting that that the Commission considers adopting a resolution calling on the South African government to honour its human rights obligations under international law by refraining from pursuing processes that infringe on the property rights of South Africans.

In our submissions we stated that, the 18th Constitution Amendment Bill which seeks to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation, undermines the constitutional rights of citizens to own property and is at variance with Article 17 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Article 17 of the UDHR acknowledges the right to property as a moral right. The Article states that:

  1. Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
  2. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Adoption of the UDHR by the United Nations ensured that it became the basis upon which customary international law on fundamental freedoms and human rights were formulated in the UN Charter. South Africa is a signatory to the UN Charter and is therefore bound by its provisions.

The DA’s direct appeal to the UN follows our letter to the national Cabinet last week in which we asked them to publicly reject the ongoing parliamentary process to push for the expropriation of land without compensation (EWC). We pointed out that the Bill will be detrimental to the rule of law, the agriculture sector, Foreign Direct Investment and the long term sustainability of the economy. We did not receive a response.

The DA submissions to the UNHRC made it clear that South Africa needs a genuine and transparent land reform programme to address the skewed land ownership patterns in the country. Amending Section 25 of the Constitution however, will do nothing to provide justice for landless South Africans.  

What South Africa needs is a pragmatic and rational approach that will operate within the confines of current constitutional provisions on land reform. Nationalisation of land and the exclusion of the courts from adjudicating land expropriation cases, as proposed by the ANC and the EFF, will undermine the rule of law and reduce South Africa to an economic wasteland.

DA supports ECD sector’s calls for vaccination of employees

The DA supports and amplifies the calls made by the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector to urgently vaccinate ECD employees across the country.

ECD practitioners are educators too and should be respected and treated as such. The ECD migration from the Department of Social Development (DSD) to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) highlights and supports this fact as well as the critical role they play in preparing children for Grade R.

The call for vaccinations is not only about ECD employees, but about the safety of the children they teach and care for. Without a strong, healthy ECD workforce — who would fill this role as parents must be at work and/or actively seek employment?

The many ECD practitioners, principals and center managers who spoke their truth in front of the Social Development Committee at the Children’s Amendment Bill public hearings in Mpumalanga and Limpopo earlier this month were heart wrenching testimonies of a sector long forgotten by DSD.

Quoting an ECD practitioner from Mpumalanga “I started working in the ECD in 2009, if I should die, I die like a dog” and another: “Help us restore our dignity because we are teachers, but don’t feel like teachers”.

It is without a doubt these ECD practitioners, who are predominately women, care about one thing and one thing only – the wellbeing of the children in their care and protection.

The Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, who has a seat on the NCC, must demand that ECD employees be allowed to commence registration on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS).

Furthermore, it creates a window of opportunity for DSD to cross reference ECD registrations against the Vangasali database to identify the many ECDs in rural and township communities uncounted for.

The vaccination of ECD employees is in the best interest of the child, the future of South Africa.

The Democratic Alliance calls on Minister Lindiwe Zulu to act with expedience before there is no ECD sector left to migrant to DBE in April 2022.

SASCOC and SSA must account to Parliament regarding allegations of sexual abuse at SSA 

The DA has written to the chairperson of the Parliamentary portfolio committee of sports, arts and culture, Beauty Dlulana, to request that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and Swimming SA (SSA) appear before the committee to give account of allegations of sexual abuse at SSA.

Furthermore, the independent investigation report conducted by SSA into allegations of sexual abuse, which was completed in September 2020, must be made available to the committee. This after SASCOC president, Barry Hendricks, refused to answer queries regarding serious allegations that coaches that have been accused of sexual abuse, some of whom criminal cases had been opened against, are still allowed to coach.

The DA is also concerned that one of these coaches might accompany athletes to the Olympic Games in less than a month.

In an interview to CityPress Mr. Hendricks said, “Must SASCOC respond to every MP who contacts us with queries and allegations?”, and as representatives of the parliamentary committee whose mandate is to conduct oversight over bodies such as SASCOC, we wish to make it very clear to the SASCOC president that he must indeed respond to our questions in full.

The DA is shocked at the brazen manner in which Mr. Hendricks seems to be trying to avoid giving account of the safeguarding policies that should have been in place to protect all athletes against any manner of abuse and especially sexual abuse. His handling of the situation gives rise to fears for the safety of athletes, many of them minors.

It is extremely concerning that coaches that have been accused of sexual abuse are still allowed to work at various federations. Both SASCOC and SSA’s policies have clear stipulations. Page 21 Point 18 of the SASCOC Code of Conduct states, “Employees are required by the act to inform their employers if they have been convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled, or is alleged to have committed a sexual offence against a child or a person who is mentally disabled and who has been dealt with in terms of section 77 (6) or 78 (6) of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977, irrespective of whether or not such offence was committed or allegedly committed during the course of his or her employment, must without delay disclose such conviction or finding to his or her employer.”

Since both SASCOC and SSA`s own constitutions are clear on what the procedures and guidelines are in such a situation, should they have failed to act to protect the victims of abuse and gender-based violence (GBV), they are guilty of enabling the alleged perpetrators by creating an environment where predatory behaviour not only appears to thrive, but seems to be rewarded.

The DA has also written to the Safeguarding Committee with a host of questions, including what the Committee and SASCOC has done to safeguard athletes, especially minors, travelling to the Olympic Games as we have it on good authority that the Safeguarding Committee has only had one meeting since its inception.

The DA will not stop fighting for the victims and we will not stop in our efforts to hold powerful entities such as SASCOC and SSA to account. Not only is it our mandate as Parliamentary representatives, but to do anything else would be morally reprehensible. Any athlete deserves to thrive in a safe environment free of fear that someone they are supposed to trust might try to harm them.

Minister Gordhan is spuriously abusing the National Assembly Rules to undermine the Constitution and the law

On the 17th of June 2021, the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote an open letter to Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, putting no less than 30 pertinent questions to him with respect to their decision to choose the Takatso Consortium as the preferred strategic equity partner for South African Airways (SAA).

Today, more than a week later, Minister Gordhan finally opted to respond to our questions with a complete non-answer.

Instead of providing us with detailed answers, the Minister opted to abuse the Rules of the National Assembly in a spurious manner by instructing us to follow the official parliamentary questions procedure, citing Deputy President Mabuza’s reiteration of the same line of reasoning.

Yet the Minister is well aware of the following facts:

1. That Parliament is in recess and questions to Ministers cannot be currently submitted;
2. How impractical the Rules make it for extensive, detailed questions such as those we put to him; and
3. That Members of Parliament are not prohibited by either the Rules of Parliament or the Rules of the National Assembly to write letters to Ministers seeking clarity on matters of national concern.

It does, however, seem as if the Minister is unaware of the following:

1. That section 195(g) of the Constitution mandates him to foster transparency “by providing the public with timely, accessible and accurate information”;
2. That section 55(2)(b)(i) of the Constitution empowers the National Assembly – and by extension those elected to it as public representatives – to oversee the exercise of national executive authority; and
3. That section 7(a) read with sections 12(1), 13(a), 27(1) of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act (PPIPPLA) of 2004 makes it both a criminal offence as well as an act of contempt of Parliament, punishable by a fine and/or jail time, amongst numerous other possible punitive measures, to impede Parliament in the exercise of its oversight powers.

Last, but not least, section 1(c) of the Constitution states unambiguously that the Constitution and the Rule of Law are supreme, not assertions made by the Deputy President in Parliament that, on top of being irrelevant to the matter at hand, do not even provide an iota of justification for the Minister’s violation of the Constitution and the law. Neither do the Rules of the National Assembly provide the shield against scrutiny that Minister Gordhan seeks, as the DA acted well within the Rules by writing directly to the Minister.

It is noteworthy that open letters regarding the same matter were also sent to the President, the Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, and to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise MP, with specific questions also having been put to Minister Mboweni. All of the aforementioned parties acknowledged receipt almost immediately. However, Minister Mboweni has still not responded to the questions we put to him.

The response on behalf of President Ramaphosa by Dr Gerhard Koornhof MP was also unacceptable. In the open letter to the President, the DA specifically urged the President to utilise the powers vested in the office he holds to compel Minister Gordhan to respond to our questions in a timeous manner. But instead of affirming that the President will do so in the name of upholding the constitutional value of transparent public administration, Dr Koornhof simply told the DA to wait for Minister Gordhan’s response. Surely Dr Koornhof will now, in light of Minister Gordhan’s blatant disregard for the Constitution and the law, consider urging the President to hold him accountable for his dereliction of duty, lest both he and the President be guilty of the same gross malfeasance.

The DA urges President Ramaphosa to take swift action against Minister Gordhan in order to force him to comply with the Constitution and the law by answering the questions that we put to him in our original letter dated 11 June 2021 within the next 72 hours. Failing this, the DA will, in defence of the Constitution and the Rule of Law, refer the matter to the Ethics Committee, on the basis that violation of section 7(a) of the PPIPPLA constitutes contempt of Parliament.

DA welcomes police action against the EFF following irresponsible march

Please find attached soundbite by Natasha Mazzone MP.

The DA welcomes the police action against the EFF following their highly irresponsible march to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) offices today. The DA had warned that this protest had the potential of turning into a super spreader event – it was for this very reason that we declined the EFF’s invitation.

The DA is glad that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has opened a criminal case against the convener of the EFF march.

It is clear as day that this so-called march to “save lives” was nothing more than a cheap political opportunity by the EFF to grandstand in an effort to postpone the local government elections. The EFF has once again proven that to their supporters that they will not hesitate to use them as cannon fodder which they can step on in their bid to gain power, but whom they will ultimately fail.

The EFF does not care about saving lives; if they did, they would not have held a march that contravened lockdown regulations and put approximately 2 000 of their followers at risk of contracting Covid-19 at a time when the Gauteng health care system is being overwhelmed by the third wave of the pandemic and people have an exceptionally high risk of catching this dreadful virus.

The EFF is battling for relevancy after an extended lockdown and a hybrid-Parliamentary environment proved that there is nothing more to them than their circus act of disruption and destruction. Unable to employ their one-trick pony antics, the EFF has proven that they are unable to affect change through the correct Parliamentary channels and will ultimately fail their followers, like they have done during today’s march and since the Covid-19 lockdown started.

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

When will the ConCourt rule in the Zuma / Zondo matter?

Please find attached soundbite by Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP.

Today marks three months since the Constitutional Court heard arguments from the Zondo Commission of Inquiry on why former President Jacob Zuma should spend two years in prison for his defiance to testify before the Commission. This despite a summons being issued to him.

While the DA respects the independence of the Apex Court when dealing with matters of this nature, we do encourage the Court to settle the matter as soon as reasonably possible. Such delays serve to embolden Zuma and those who still hold him in high regard, to defy and besmirch the judicial system.

South Africa cannot afford this.

The courts are often the last hope for South Africans to turn to in a country that is struggling against the ANC government’s overwhelming and relentless corruption. This bastion cannot be allowed to crumble.

As a nation, we need to know when we can expect a judgment on this matter. We don’t just need justice to be done, but to be seen to be done. The powerful should be as equal before the law as the vulnerable.

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