Let’s continue to build Midvaal into the beacon of service delivery and good governance

Please see pictures of the event attached here, here, here, here.

Leadership of the Democratic Alliance, colleagues and residents, I am honoured to accept my party’s nomination to stand for Mayor of Midvaal Local Municipality.

I remember growing up in the streets of Meyerton, riding my bicycle as a young boy. I have watched our area grow from strength to strength under the strong leadership of the Democratic Alliance and my predecessors.

I am ready to build on the work that the DA has laid – of providing quality services to all of Midvaal’s residents.

I want to acknowledge and thank our outgoing Executive Mayor, Bongani Baloyi, and the administration for a stellar performance in Midvaal.

The municipality has been recognized as the best performing municipality in Gauteng and one of the top six in the country through its achievement of clean audits, excellent service delivery and commitment to good governance.

Service delivery excellence is the golden thread used to weave a tapestry of transparent, accountable, clean and good governance. The DA in Midvaal has brought accountability and worked hard to remove corruption.

While ANC-led municipalities across the country are marred by corruption and mismanagement, the DA has held on to its brand of good governance and service delivery.

As I accept my party’s nomination, I look forward to taking Midvaal to new heights while continuing to ensure exemplary governance.

I have gained invaluable experience through various positions within Midvaal ranging from being a ward councillor, Member of Mayoral Committee and Political Head. This has placed me in an opportune position to understand the holistic culture of Midvaal and the perseverance needed to keep the wheels of success turning.

I undertake to serve and lead Midvaal with integrity and pride. I undertake to make my family, the DA, residents and most importantly God, proud, as I journey down this path.

I would like to extend my condolences to those who have lost loved ones during this unprecedented global challenge we face caused by Covid-19 and wish a speedy recovery to those recovering from the virus.

This pandemic has forced us into a new normal, and, as public servants, we need to recognize the economic hardships that our residents are faced with. Hardships that pose a threat to not only the fiscal situation of the municipality but have had a severely negative impact on people’s livelihoods.

Ensuring financial stability while maintaining and expanding service delivery in this time is a daunting task, however, it is not insurmountable. Thinking out of the box, coupled with hard work and dedication will certainly make it possible.

The DA has already started with the groundwork to keep Midvaal DA. In the coming months, we will continue to engage with all communities to ensure that we gain support and continue to build on the good work we are already doing.

Democrats, I leave you with this quote from the former President of America, Barack Obama: “We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent. The future rewards those who press on. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I’m going to press on”.

I thank you.

Delaying DNA Amendment Bill results in 96 800 violent offenders released in last 5 years without DNA samples being taken

Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

In an answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, has revealed that since 1 January 2016, 96 875 convicted schedule 8 offenders’ DNA was not sampled and therefore not added to the National Forensic DNA Database of Convicted Offenders before they were paroled.

Schedule 8 offences include murder, rape and sexual offence against children.

The reason behind this catastrophic miscarriage of justice is the failure by Minister of Police, Bheki Cele and his predecessor, to bring the DNA Amendment Bill to Parliament. This crucial Bill would compel the South African Police Service (SAPS) and correctional services to ensure that a DNA sample is taken from convicted schedule 8 offenders and added to the convicted offenders database before they are released on parole.

The problem started when the transitional provision of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act No 37 of 2013, expired in 2017. This provision placed the responsibility of collecting the DNA samples of schedule 8 offenders in the hands of SAPS. Once the transitional provision ran its course, collecting DNA samples was no longer a compulsory requirement resulting almost one hundred thousand violent criminals being let off the hook.

The DNA Amendment Bill was drafted in 2016 specifically to compel the collection and logging of DNA samples before convicted criminals become eligible for parole, which would have a huge impact on the prosecution of serious crime in South Africa.

The sole reason this Bill has not been passed into law is that the Ministers of Police, Bheki Cele, and Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, have a highly unconstitutional pipedream of a national DNA population database. In the meantime, convicted murderers and rapists are free to continue their terror sprees safe in the knowledge that the DNA they might inadvertently leave at crime scenes would not be traced back to them or their last crimes.

In a country where gender-based violence (GBV) is the order of the day and murder seems to have become a national sport, the DA finds it appalling that these Ministers would continue to cut SAPS and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) off at the knees and so endanger all who live in South Africa. How many lives could have been saved had Ministers Cele and Motsoaledi looked past their hubris and allowed the DNA Amendment Bill to become a weapon in the fight against violent crime.

Thoko Didiza’s Department does not have a database on land restitution

Please find attached English soundbites by Annette Steyn MP. 

Minister Thoko Didiza’s Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform (DALRRD) does not have a detailed database of all land restitution claims that have been submitted and finalised since 1994. This exposes land restitution claimants to possible risks of evictions, duplicate claims and disproportionately long waiting periods to have their claims settled. 

In making the conclusion on the non-availability of the land restitution database, the DA was prompted by the deliberate stalling and obstinate refusal by DALRRD to grant me access to inspect such a database, if ever one existed.  

On Monday, this week, I lodged an appeal with the DALRRD after they failed to honor a PAIA request that I had submitted on the 15th of June for information on whether they have a land restitution database and if so, that I be granted access to it. 

Before submitting this PAIA request, I undertook the oversight visit to (DALRRD) head office in Pretoria to try and take a look at the land administration database, records of lease agreements and the database of all Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) farms. Not only was I prevented from carrying out the oversight and getting answers on the aforementioned, in line with my responsibilities as a Member of Parliament, but Departmental officials went to extreme lengths to make sure that I left. 

The cover up was escalated when the then Speaker of Parliament, Thandi Modise, went to extreme lengths to try and shield Thoko Didiza from accountability. In an unprecedented act of overreach, Modise sent me a letter in which she erroneously attempted to dissuade me from exercising my oversight responsibilities as a Member of Parliament. 

DALRRD’s shambolic land administration system is already having a direct impact on communities on the ground. Early this year, the DA exposed how the Department was stalling the transfer of ownership rights to the Melmoth community in KZN. Instead of fulfilling its responsibilities as required under the Land Restitution Act, the DALRRD instead prolonged the process in order to take a ‘guardianship’ role over restituted land claims. 

The ANC’s chaotic handling of the land reform process in South Africa, as reflected in the chaotic land administration systems, is a national shame. To cover it up, they are trying to pursue a sideshow in Parliament through an ill-advised amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. 

DA calls on Andre de Ruyter to ensure Eskom ceases to undermine Parliament’s oversight powers 

Today, the DA has written to the Eskom CEO to formally ask him to ensure that requested documentation is provided timeously to Parliament by the entity, as failure to do so undermines section 195(g) of the Constitution as well as violating both sections 7(a) and (b) of the Powers, Privileges, and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, Act 4 of 2004. The latter is a criminal offence under section 27(1) of the specified Act.

On 31 August 2021, Eskom was scheduled to brief the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) on its expansion plans, its latest annual report, and all investigations currently ongoing. This briefing was a continuation of a previous meeting. 

However, members of the Standing Committee only received the report, comprised of 127 pages of documentation, the day before the scheduled meeting on 30 August 2021, even though the submission deadline was on the 26th of August 2021. 

Chairperson of Eskom’s Board, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, refused to take accountability for the umpteenth time that Eskom has failed to timeously submit documentation to SCOPA on the basis that he feels it is unfair that he is being blamed. 

We urge the CEO, Andre de Ruyter to urgently convene with the Chairperson of the Board in order to ensure that the requisite coordination takes place that will preclude Eskom from undermining the Constitution as well as illegally impeding the Standing Committee and its members from exercising their oversight duties over the executive, however unintentional it might be. This is not the first time Eskom has undermined the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and it simply cannot be allowed to continue. 

DA offers to pay for an independent physician to examine Jacob Zuma’s health 

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

The DA has noted former President Jacob Zuma’s refusal to be examined by doctors appointed by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). 

Zuma’s corruption case before the KwaZulu-Natal High Court has been postponed until 9 September 2021, after he was hospitalised while serving out his 15-month contempt of court sentence. Following his failure to appear before the court due to his ill health, High Court Judge Piet Koen ordered Zuma’s legal team to file his medical documents with the court and that the state “may grant a medical practitioner of its choice to examine Mr Zuma” for his fitness to stand trial

If the former President is not comfortable being examined by NPA-appointed physicians, the DA would happily pay for a private, independent doctor to examine him and his medical records. 

As a former President and defendant in a high profile corruption case involving public funds, Zuma’s medical status is of public interest. And the DA, as the official opposition, has a duty to ensure that the public is informed about Zuma’s condition, especially since his fitness to stand trial may be in question. 

Zuma’s medical records must not only be independently examined, but these records must be made public. The public deserves nothing short than full transparency. 

There’s been a lot of speculation over the former President’s health and because we do not want a repeat at of Schabir Shaik’s episode, the DA calls on Zuma to either cooperate with the state or to take up the DA’s offer.

New blood elected to lead the DA Abroad

The international ancillary of the DA, the DA Abroad, has elected new experienced leadership:

  • DA Abroad Leader – Ludré Stevens

Ludré is a former leader and founding member of the DA Abroad. He is an entrepreneur living and working in the United Kingdom (UK) and his prior experience in the role will allow him to navigate the distractions and focus on the projects that will add the most value.

  • Chairperson: DA Abroad Global Council – Kate Lorimer

Kate, a former DA MPL from Gauteng and member of the DA Federal Executive, brings a wealth of on-the-ground political experience to the international body. She has recently emigrated to the UK.

  • DA Abroad Finance Chairperson – Neville Marshall

Neville offers experience in finance, business and compliance and was involved in setting up the DA Abroad. He is based in Guernsey and London.

The new leadership team takes over from Rory Jubber (Leader), who has put the DA Abroad on the map as a body that has the ability to network and lobby internationally on critical issues affecting South Africa; Nigel Bruce (Chairperson), former News Editor and DA MP, whose wise guidance kept the organisation stable and on-track; and Gareth Bloor (Finance Chairperson), whose political and business experience was an invaluable resource.

The new team has committed to the following programme of action to protect the constitutional rights of South African citizens abroad:

  • Launch a DA Abroad Report Card on South African Embassies, Consulates and Missions abroad to advocate for better service delivery to South Africans overseas.
  • Lobby foreign governments and political parties to recognise the dangers of Expropriation Without Compensation and support the DA in their fight against it.
  • Continue the DA fight in the courts against the unfair loss of citizenship for South Africans abroad.
  • Conduct a listening tour among DA Abroad members, supporters, volunteers and other stakeholders in order to update the roadmap to Election 2024.

The DA Abroad can show, through highlighting important issues and lobbying those who can amplify the cause, that no matter who we are, where we come from, where we are and where we are going, we have a common vision for South Africa that we can all strive for together.

A vision of a united nation that recognises the inequalities of the past, reconciles the divisions between communities, celebrates the joys of our diversity and effectively delivers inclusive services and opportunities to all South Africans.

Geordin Hill-Lewis announces first campaign pledge: Let’s make Cape Town the easiest place to do business in Africa

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

Over the past week, I have visited businessowners and workers in communities across Cape Town. From informal traders at the Nonkqubela Link Centre in Khayelitsha to female entrepreneurs participating in the Women-in-Business program in Plumstead and the Furntech incubator in Nyanga that equips learners to open their own furniture making and upholstery businesses, it is clear that Capetonians across all communities want a government that gets more done to create thriving businesses and job opportunities in Cape Town.

That is why I am today announcing the first of my seven pledges as DA mayoral candidate is to make Cape Town the easiest place to do business in Africa. I will be announcing one pledge every week over the coming seven weeks.

We all know that Cape Town already does more than any other city to empower entrepreneurs. But in a country with an unemployment rate of nearly 35% and where four out of every five young people cannot find work, we must now do even more than ever before to protect Cape Town against the failing national government by attracting investors, empowering entrepreneurs, and getting Cape Town working like never before.

Given all the talent and resources at our disposal, we need to do much more to ensure that Cape Town overtakes cities like Nairobi and Kigali on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index. The Index indicates that it currently takes 88 days and thousands of Rands to obtain a construction permit, 37 days to have building plans approved, 14 days for a business owner to get a rates clearance certificate when registering property, and up to 97 days to establish a new electricity connection.

The DA will ensure that Cape Town becomes the most attractive investment destination on our continent by:

  • Relentlessly cutting red tape wherever it holds businesses back, including by making it easier and faster to obtain a construction permit, approve building plans, obtain a rates clearance certificate, register a business, establish a new electricity connection and comply with licencing requirements;
  • Creating a culture in the city administration of empowering and helping entrepreneurs rather than merely enforcing compliance;
  • Ending load shedding in Cape Town to ensure that every business has a reliable supply of electricity around the clock;
  • Doing the basics better so that every business owner gets quality basic services in exchange for their municipal rates;
  • Using every tool at our disposal to prevent destructive national government policies like expropriation without compensation from ever being implemented in Cape Town; and
  • Fighting for control over passenger rail so that workers and customers have access to reliable public transport to look for work, trade their goods and get to their jobs on time.

While the national government often treats entrepreneurs as a problem that needs to be dealt with, entrepreneurs are in fact the real heroes of our country because of the jobs they create. From the traders of Khayelitsha to the technology CEOs of the CBD and the craftsmen of Nyanga, the DA is determined to let every entrepreneur know that Cape Town welcomes them with open arms, and that this is the best city in Africa in which to start a business.

New Tourism Minister is MIA

Please find attached soundbite by Hannah Shameema Winkler MP.

The newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu, has been missing in action from all three tourism portfolio committee meetings since President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle on 5 August 2021.

Economists and business analysts in the sector have already expressed reservations over Minister Sisulu’s appointment as Tourism Minister due to her poor performance track record in the previous departments she headed. Considering that tourism will need to serve as a significant driver to economic growth post Covid-19, the Department requires strong, decisive leadership at its helm.

Minister Sisulu has been offered an opportunity to overhaul her performance track-record and one would think that she would at least attend important portfolio committee meetings. Her absence as the new Tourism Minister certainly does not inspire confidence in the sector.

The DA calls on Minister Sisulu to urgently undertake the following:

  • To perform oversight to all provinces and to meet with the hardest hit stakeholders in the sector;
  • A review of the Tourism Grading System with a mind to free grading;
  • Cross-departmental collaboration to address security, infrastructure and environmental degradation;
  • Resource and funding of Community Tourist Organisations (CTOs) as key to driving recovery at local government level;
  • A review of the aftermath on the tourism sector in the wake of the riots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal;
  • Retention of Blue Flag status of beaches around South Africa; and
  • International Marketing of South Africa as a viable and safe travel destination.

The tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit due to the Covid-19 pandemic and requires a minister that is ready to roll up her sleeves if it is to unlock its potential as a significant job creator and driver to economic growth.

The DA will continue to hold Minister Sisulu and her Department to account. We cannot afford to drop the ball. South Africa deserves better.

City of Cape Town spends 99% of informal settlements grant despite Covid-19

The DA congratulates the City of Cape Town on spending 99% of its Informal Settlements Upgrading Partnership (ISUP) grant, despite the myriad of challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The City has also spent 95% of its Urban Settlements Development (USD) grant.

The USD grant is spent by Municipalities on the provision of basic services and certain categories of housing for vulnerable communities.

Despite national government’s on-going cuts to grants intended to eradicate the housing backlog, the City has maintained its commitment to vulnerable citizens, delivering more than 60 000 housing opportunities since 2012. It has also assisted thousands of people with affordable rental accommodation.

With R3.3 billion allocated to human settlements between the current financial year and 2023/2024, Cape Town is proving that neither an international pandemic, nor restrictive regulations and budget cuts will stand in its way of getting things done.

At the moment, 6 500 social housing units are in development. This includes the 2 000 units in Central Cape Town and the 2 500 units being constructed along the Voortrekker corridor – some of which are nearing completion.

The ANC government’s recent policy shift away from formal housing provision, and their increased cuts to basic service and human settlement grants will simply not detract from the DA-led City’s commitments to vulnerable residents.

On the national stage, the DA will continue applying pressure on Cabinet to finally release the 14 000 hectares of State-owned land that have long been identified for future housing development in Metro’s such as the City of Cape Town.

DA calls for alleged SSA report into ANC MP, Xaiomei Harvard, to be made public  

Please find attached soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP.

There is news today that an ANC MP is possibly spying for China, and this report allegedly comes via a leak from the sieve-like State Security Agency (SSA).

The DA will write to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is now the de facto Minister of State Security, and point out that as this involves a public representative, and thus is in the public interest, that this apparent report be released so that South Africans may judge for themselves.

On the 5th of July this year a story emerged about this new ANC MP – one Dr Xaiomei Harvard. It was claimed that she had donated two to four million rands to the ANC – and many saw this as the reason she became an MP. She was given the Parliamentary seat of the late Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu.

It was claimed then that she was linked to the shadowy United Front Work Department (UFWD), an entity within the Chinese Communist Party. The report claimed that the UFWD aims to build patronage networks and cement Chinese influence in Africa and elsewhere.

Today, a report by News24 claims that the news site has seen a leaked intelligence report from the SSA which has concluded that there is a “high likelihood” that this ANC MP has in fact been sharing classified information about our country with the Chinese Communist Party.

While I have also asked that this alleged report be put onto the agenda of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, this is not something that should be discussed behind closed doors – for the good of our country South Africa.