Gordhan and De Ruyter must come clean on Medupi

Please find attached soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, Khaya Magaxa, to request the appearance of the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter, to explain Eskom’s statement that the Medupi power station “attained commercial operation status” which means that “technical compliance to statutory, safety and legal requirements have all been met”.

This statement does not address the issue that although Unit 1 of the Medupi station is finally online, many other factors such as attention to outstanding defects, scrubber installation for clean emissions and the ever-present matter of costs will continue to impact capacity and future blackouts that South Africans have had to get used to over the more than a decade of decline at the power utility.

The reality is that Eskom needs to do extensive repairs at Medupi which will take at least 24 months to complete and that all the necessary infrastructure to comply with environmental legislation will not be completed before 2030. When the World Bank gave Eskom a $3.75 billion loan, it was on the condition that it installs flue-gas desulphurisation equipment.

With Medupi not delivering as much energy as its design should allow for, the power station’s ability to compensate for older stations being decommissioned and creating enough buffer to weather loadshedding, is severely impacted.

It is vital that Eskom doesn’t raise South Africans’ hope only to dash them again when the next blackout inevitably rolls around. It must be honest about its challenges and the plans to get South Africa back to full power.

DA launches plan to Unite, Rebuild and Protect KZN communities

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has today launched a programme to Unite, Rebuild and Protect the communities throughout the province that were shattered by the violence and looting of the ANC’s factional war that spilled onto its streets.

Three weeks after the events, it’s still hard to come to terms with the sheer scale of the devastation and plunder, and it is critical that justice is done – and seen to be done – for not only the looters and instigators, but also those who failed in their constitutional duty to protect citizens. There has to be consequences for the damage and loss of lives and livelihoods. We cannot allow those responsible to simply walk away from it and this will require a considered and transparent analysis, not a cover-up.

But just as important, we need to pick up the pieces in these damaged communities and bring people together around the task of putting broken buildings, businesses and lives back together again.

What this province certainly does not need and cannot afford is the kind of crass racial baiting and scapegoating that we have seen from parts of the ANC and the EFF since the unrest. Nobody wins when hatred and blame are whipped up by politicians eager to score political mileage from the chaos, just as nobody wins when more businesses are destroyed and more jobs are lost forever.

Already the DA, through its leadership and councillors, has been at the forefront of this effort to safeguard threatened communities and clean up the mess. Now, through our project to Unite, Rebuild and Protect our Communities, we will take advantage of this momentum by extending an invitation to all role players and influential voices to join us in these efforts.

What we have seen in affected communities is that the desire to build is far greater than the desire to destroy. But in order to be effective, the builders need to find each other and become organised. And so our DA councillors throughout the province will be calling meetings with stakeholders in their wards to discuss all issues relating to service delivery and safety in an effort to better protect these communities.

These meetings will bring together traditional leaders, religious leaders, neighbourhood watches, ratepayers associations, community policing forums and any other significant voices of leadership in these communities. On the agenda will be service delivery steps that must be taken to improve safety, as well as discussions around ways to strengthen social cohesion and stamp out the poisonous narrative of racial scapegoating.

As with all the other big challenges in our country, the rebuilding and reuniting of KZN will require a whole-of-society approach. And in the vacuum left by a missing ANC government, the DA will do whatever it can to rally society around this crucial cause.

DNA Crisis: Backlog now exceeds 300 000 cases totalling 1.2 million samples

Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

The DA has reliably learned that the DNA backlog now exceeds 300 000 cases. It is estimated that there is an average of 4 samples per case which would translate into approximately 1.2 million samples waiting to be analysed.

The crisis in the Forensics Division of the South African Police Service (SAPS) has not yet been resolved as Minister Bheki Cele would have us believe. The Minister had previously lauded the SAPS’ turnaround plan and indicated that the contract management system had been improved with most contracts having been awarded. Minister Cele also assured the nation that we would see a reduction in the backlog.

The truth is that there are serious ongoing procurement challenges which continue to undermine the turnaround plan resulting in the slow processing of cases.

The DA has championed this issue since we exposed the critical shortage of rape kits at police stations across the country in 2019. We have persistently and doggedly raised issues regarding the SAPS Forensics Division in the Portfolio Committee and initiated a debate of national importance on the DNA backlog.

The DA welcomes the arrest last week of 5-year-old Chantel Makwena’s rapist/murderer after DNA results were finally processed some two years after her murder. The DA highlighted Chantel’s case in the debate in Parliament and we are pleased that her murderer has been arrested. But why should it take two years to process DNA samples in our most violent cases against our most vulnerable citizens? It is a disgraceful failure on the part of SAPS and the Minister and National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole must take full responsibility.

I will now write to the Chairperson of the Police Portfolio Committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to urgently invite Minister Cele, Police Commissioner Sitole, the National Forensic Science Laboratory and the DNA Board to appear before Parliament. The Portfolio Committee must investigate whether Minister Cele misled Parliament about the progress in dealing with the backlog during the debate of national importance. If it is found that he did mislead Parliament, he must be sanctioned.

SAPS is losing the battle with current interventions doing little to reduce the backlog. There needs to be accountability and a clear commitment from the Minister and SAPS to address this disaster.

This failure to timeously process DNA cases is clogging up the criminal justice system and denying justice to the thousands of victims and their loved ones.

Easier to rebuild warehouses than trust – no accountability without consequences

Celebrated investor, Warren Buffett, once remarked, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

We need to start doing things differently here in South Africa. There must be consequences for violence, corruption and governing failures.

The damage done to infrastructure during the week of violence and looting unleashed by Zuma’s faction of the ANC is vast. But it pales in comparison to the damage done to people’s trust in the rule of law and other institutions needed to ensure peace and wellbeing. And it’s going to be harder to rebuild. But rebuild it we must, if we are to ensure public safety and achieve the economic growth needed to tackle the tinderbox of poverty and inequality that so fanned the flames of insurrection.

As the preamble to the 2030 Global Sustainable Development Agenda puts it: There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.

To rebuild trust in the rule of law and our security system after these riots, we need full transparency about what went wrong and full accountability for actions and inaction, coupled with an honest assessment of the country’s problems. Residents in KZN and Gauteng deserve the whole truth of why their lives and livelihoods were torn apart. And we all need reassurance that this kind of anarchy won’t happen again.

The DA has called for a Parliamentary Enquiry that is chaired by members of the opposition and broadcast on national television. The intelligence reports that Dlodlo claims to have handed to Cele and that Cele denies having received from Dlodlo must be made public. If the three ministers of the security cluster (Police Minister Bheki Cele, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula) are found to have failed in their constitutional duty to protect the public, they must be removed.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Parliament needs to be able to undertake its constitutional duty of executive oversight without fear or favour. When Parliament works, South Africa works. Parliament cannot continue to be a toothless lapdog for the governing party.

South Africans must not accept the usual ANC-style enquiry run by ANC cronies under a veil of ANC secrecy with the purpose of covering up ANC governance failure to resolve an ANC-caused crisis. This cannot be the fox guarding the henhouse. It cannot be another Seriti Commission where the tax payers fork out millions to be kept in the dark and told lies. And it cannot be a replacement for the actual prosecution of the instigators and perpetrators of the violence and looting.

We must also not allow the ANC and EFF to foment racial division and use racial scapegoating to divert attention from the very real governance failures that lead to such loss of lives and livelihoods and confidence in the social contract.

People in positions of power must face consequences for their failures. It has been five weeks since President Ramaphosa received the damning SIU report implicating Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in the Health Department’s R150 million Digital Vibes scam, yet still he has not acted against Mkhize, who remains on fully paid “special” leave, nor has he published the report. And Mkhize clearly feels no compulsion to resign.

I have called on President Ramaphosa to clean up his cabinet by replacing useless or obstructive ministers and by working with people outside of his own party who want the best for the country. The president needs to look beyond his own party to find the support he needs to reform our economy.

On Saturday, I said in an interview that President Ramaphosa has been badly let down by his security cluster and that it is time to axe Minister Mkhize and to bring in people with capacity. I said the DA wants to be part of the solution in South Africa and we stand ready to offer our expertise and support to help rebuild South Africa.

I did not say, as SABC news falsely claimed, that I am ready to serve in Ramaphosa’s cabinet. South Africa needs a strong opposition and a credible alternative to the ANC. I have no interest in taking Patricia De Lille’s if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them approach to cabinet.

It is possible to be part of the solution while still occupying the opposition benches. If Ramaphosa brings his long-promised economic reform agenda to Parliament, the DA will provide the votes needed to pass these reforms, votes he will not get from many within his own party.

Our Olympic medalists and Springbok heroes can only do so much to unite South Africa and buoy the national spirit. Now the president and parliament need to go for gold through consequence management, reform and good governance.

Otherwise, there must be consequences at the ballot box.

Until elections can be held no municipal council should be dissolved

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Cilliers Brink MP.

The DA cannot find any evidence of a cabinet decision that 45 municipalities should be dissolved, as widely reported by the SABC.

But it is nonetheless still important the government provide clarity about this issue, as it would appear that the North West provincial cabinet aims to dissolve at least five of the province’s municipalities.

It makes no sense to dissolve any municipal council until there is a clarity on when communities will be able to elect new councillors.

The law requires a fresh election to be held within 90 days of a municipal council being dissolved.

But in light of the recommendations made by Judge Moseneke and accepted by the IEC, there is a risk that dissolved councils will not be replaced within 90 days.

If municipal councils are dissolved in this democratic vacuum, the same incompetent municipal officials will still be in place but communities will be left without elected representatives – for in indeterminate period of time.

The vast majority of all dysfunctional municipalities are run by a single party with a clear majority, and that party is usually the ANC.

But these municipalities also have dedicated councillors from the DA and other opposition parties.

While these opposition councilors do not have control over municipal budgets and mayoral committee decisions, they serve as a crucial link between communities and the municipality.

They report water and electricity problems, help resolve billing queries and get municipal officials to share information with communities.

If these councils are dissolved and elections can only be held in February next year, communities will be left without any channel of communication with the municipality for up to six months.

The DA will ask the CoGTA Department to provide clarity on this issue at tomorrow’s meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee.

DA outlines expectations for Inquiry into riots to avoid a cover-up

Please find attached English soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP and Afrikaans soundbite by Kobus Marais MP.

The DA has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Amos Masondo, to outline our expectations for the Parliamentary inquiry into the riots which took place three weeks ago in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and to ensure that the correct processes are followed in setting up the ad hoc committee.

While the DA welcomes the initiative by House Chairperson, Cedric Frolick, to call for an inquiry into the wide-spread looting and violence that led to the deaths of more than 300 people, he should have known that the proper procedure to establish an inquiry of this nature would be for the Speaker and the NCOP chair to request it, and that these Parliamentary processes and rules cannot be deviated from.

Joint Rule 138 of Parliament states that an ad hoc committee may only be established if the resolution is adopted by both Houses; or if both or any of the Houses are in recess, by decision of the Speaker and the Chairperson, acting jointly after consulting the Chief Whips of the majority party in the National Assembly and the NCOP.

Since this has yet to happen, the announcement to establish an ad committee is premature.

Once an ad hoc committee is correctly established, the DA expects both the NCOP and National Assembly co-chairpersons to be a members of the opposition; we expect the three Ministers of the security cluster, Police Minister Bheki Cele, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to be removed if the inquiry finds that they did indeed mislead the country regarding the insurrection; and the ‘redacted’ intelligence reports must be made public. Residents in KZN and Gauteng deserve the full truth of why their lives and livelihoods were torn apart.

The Speaker and NCOP Chair cannot dally any longer in setting up this inquiry and the DA suggests that they convene the Chief Whips Forum to consult with all the Chief Whips, not just the Chief Whips of the majority party, to ensure everyone’s buy-in.

The DA also suggests that a formula be found in order to reduce the number of ad hoc committee members to a manageable size as convening a meeting with all the necessary role players including the portfolio committees in the National Assembly for Police, Justice and Correctional Services, and Defence and Military Veterans, as well as the Joint Standing Committees of Defence and of Intelligence, and the Select Committee for Security and Justice of the NCOP, would make it difficult to engage in the sort of cross-questioning that is necessary in an such an inquiry.

Finally, any opportunity for a cover-up, or even the perception of a cover-up, mut be removed entirely. This inquiry can therefore not be led by the parliamentary committee on police, nor its chairperson, Tina Joemat-Pettersson. The DA suggests that the credibility of the inquiry would be enhanced if both of the chairpersons of the ad hoc committee were drawn from the ranks of the opposition parties, and it is further suggested, in the interests of transparency, that the lead is taken by the justice committee.

Any attempt by the ANC to exonerate the Executive and to whitewash the security cluster’s failures in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, will not be allowed.

DA calls on DIRCO and Treasury to assure SA medical students in Cuba are brought home

The DA calls on the Department of Health to work with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to ensure that struggling South African medical students in Cuba who want to return home, are brought home safely.

We have received complaints from students that their stipends from the Department of Health have not been paid since May.

The Nelson-Mandela Fidel Castro Medical Collaboration Program was established to give students from poor and disadvantaged backgrounds an opportunity to study in Cuba on full scholarships. This program has been mired with faults since inception leaving students stranded in a foreign country without sufficient stipends, poor quality accommodation and food, and limited access to necessities such as toiletries and sanitary pads.

In addition to these poor living and learning conditions, recent reports have come to light that students have not received their stipends since May. Government’s reasoning for this is that international payments to the students go through United States financial systems, and since there is an embargo on Cuba, these monies have been paid, but have not made it in the hands of students. It seems that these students are getting the short end as a result of poor management and planning on the part of the Department.

We call on National Treasury to intervene and ensure stipends paid are released and paid to the students.

The South African government cannot continue to send students to Cuba, only to leave them with the bare minimum needed to survive.

DA calls for the establishment of food security task team in Gauteng and KZN

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Annette Steyn MP.

The Democratic Alliance calls on the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to urgently set up a task team to address the looming food crises in the provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

Following ANC political unrest which led to widespread violence and looting, millions of South Africans have been left unemployed with little to no income, while some surviving retailers have resorted to price hiking in areas where they have a monopoly as the only source of food store available.

While President Ramaphosa has extended the R350 grant, this may not be enough to cover basic commodities in provinces affected by the recent unrest, and history has shown that government incompetence severely delays this financial relief from landing in the pockets of those who need it.

As a result, residents are poorer than before, getting far less for their money, and queues have begun to snake around any remaining retail outlets and food distribution centres due to increased pressure on remaining food stores. While it must be stressed that South Africa has enough food available to feed everyone, the task team must focus on reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable nutritious food. We are receiving reports that there is a looming food security crisis in these provinces and the Minister must intervene to bolster food supply and ensure basic food affordability.

Indications from Agri SA are that immense pressure on the agricultural sector can be expected within three weeks. It is clear from reports that panic has already set in.

Minister Didiza must urgently establish a task team to ensure sufficient food supply which will in turn ensure food affordability by driving prices down. This must be the primary task of her Department in these provinces to prevent further unrest as a result of hunger and desperation.

The imminent crisis provides the perfect environment for the desperate to be mobilised again – even more so than the days following the arrest of Jacob Zuma. If there is anything we have learned from the past 3 weeks, it is that government must address a looming crisis when it has been warned of one. This is the DA’s warning, and I trust Minister Didiza will take heed.