Kruger Park could lose 7% of rhino population to poaching before year end

Please find attached soundbite by Dave Bryant MP.

The ongoing incidents of rhino poaching at the Kruger National Park since the beginning of the year are continuing unabated with little to no intervention by the ANC government. It was revealed in a recent meeting of the Forestry, Fisheries and Environment portfolio committee that a further 241 rhinos have already been poached this year.

SANParks continues to set an annual poaching “target” of 250 rhinos and so with 241 precious wild rhinos already killed by poachers this year, SANParks are currently deemed to be on target. The disturbing reality is that 250 rhinos represent roughly 7% of Kruger National Park’s total estimated rhino population of 3 529 and the estimated rhino growth rate is only between 5-6% per year. This means that Kruger Park’s rhino population will continue to decline, even if SANParks targets are achieved.

How then can SANParks continue to set a target of 250 rhinos to be poached every year? Rhino poaching is a criminal offence and setting targets for acceptable levels of criminality is not something that should be condoned in any instance. The DA believes that the target for rhino poaching at Kruger National Park should be revised to 0 rhinos per year and that SANParks and their partners in the SAPS should be marked against compliance with this target.

In order to successfully stop rhino poaching SANParks will need to take drastic measures, and these will require additional budget. Unfortunately, the ANC government chose to instead cut SANParks budget this year which has put more rhinos at risk. We believe that the many good people in SANParks truly want to do more to fight rhino poaching but unfortunately they are not being provided with the budget required to do so.

This lack of additional financial support has led to ongoing incursions via Kruger Park’s porous borders and over 1 000 incursions were estimated last year. SANParks now appear to be moving desperately to protect the last few thousand rhinos by corralling them into protected zones within the park. This government appears to have chosen to look the other way while the last great herds of South Africa’s wild rhinos are picked off one by one.

The DA has a plan to protect and save our endangered animals and we will ensure that the requisite budget and manpower are provided to achieve this when we are in government. We only hope that by this time, there are still rhinos left in Kruger Park to be saved.

Privatisation is Eskom’s only hope in light of ballooning debt and R18.9bn in losses

Despite valiant attempts to cut debt, Eskom’s annual results reveal an outstanding amount of R401.8 billion – the finance costs thereon reversing an operating profit of R5.8 billion into a loss of R18.9 billion.

While Eskom’s current leadership is arguably the strongest in years at prudent financial management – even if those strengths are sorely lacking on the technical and engineering side – they are facing a Sisyphean task when it comes to dealing with the mountain of debt.

If you add to this the cost of compliance with emission challenges which is estimated at R300 billion, the problem is compounded beyond ken.

Perversely, in the Covid- related economic downturn environment where demand has dipped by as much as 11 000 MW South Africans have had to endure more loadshedding than ever.

In view of this and repeated warnings by the DA over many years, all we have seen is the presentation of turnaround plan after turnaround plan to successively worse effect –  yet the minister and his department remain steadfastly opposed to any efforts at privatization, hoping that private investors will come to the rescue on his terms.

It doesn’t work that way, and while we face the prospect of ongoing loadshedding, Minister Pravin Gordhan had best wake up to the realization that Eskom, unlike SAA is no mere albatross around the neck of the Treasury, it is in the words of Ed Stoddard of the Daily Maverick, a whale – of massive proportion – about to beach or impale itself on a harpoon. South Africans demand that this reality is faced and that this state market failure to provide public goods as per its mandate now be fully addressed by the private sector.

The DA will continue to champion this unassailable logic in the interests of all.

Home Affairs must address the real issues causing system downtime

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Adrian Roos MP

The DA welcomes the support of the Minister of Communications, Khumbudzo Ntshaveni, for our call to address the real issues causing Home Affairs system downtime.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Home Affairs met on Tuesday to review progress on the issue of long queues outside Home Affairs offices after the DA’s relentless pressure on the issue.

The DA highlighted the alarming fact that only 35 offices out of 691 have a backup link and it was confirmed that Home Affairs is the only major Government Department to not have dual communication links to all their offices.

This means that if one form of network goes down then the system cannot be accessed and Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, has been sleeping on the issue since 2019 when it was raised.

Minister Ntshaveni has gone on to challenge Minister Motsoaledi to match their significant investment on the State Information Technology Agency’s network with investment in its own Home Affairs network in order to resolve the system offline issue.

A report which served before the committee highlighted that over 90% of incidents of Home Affairs systems downtime are caused by issues inside Home Affairs offices as a result of outdated equipment where 88% of network equipment is obsolete.

The potential revenue lost every time the system is offline will more than cover the costs of upgrading these devices and putting in place a backup link to the Home Affairs system, and should finance not be immediately available there must at least be a phased roll-out.

The DA has brought home the urgency of the matter in that South Africans who are forced to stand for hours outside Home Affairs offices, and emphasized the importance of interventions that bring relief to as many as possible as soon as possible.

The joint Department of Communications and Home Affairs plan is expected to be tabled before Parliament rises at the end of the year.

If we do not solve the real issues causing Home Affairs system downtime we will get nowhere. The DA will continue to fight for the right to dignity for all South Africans until the ‘war on queues’ is won.

DA welcomes retraction of 12% proposed tax

Please find attached a soundbite by Geordin Hill-Lewis MP. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the announcement by the Department of Social Development (DSD) that the green paper on a social security tax of up to 12% has been withdrawn.

After the initial publication of the green paper, the DA launched a public campaign to put pressure on the DSD to scrap their asinine proposal. Our pressure has paid off.

South Africans are already facing unprecedented economic pressures in an environment with low economic growth and the highest unemployment rate in the world. It is therefore downright immoral for Minister Lindiwe Zulu to suggest taxing the poorest of the poor far beyond their means to pay.

The ANC has, once again, shown that they do not have the interests of ordinary South Africans at heart. They cannot pay their own taxes, yet want the poor to hand over the little money they have to government just so it can be wasted on pointless blue light brigades and bloated civil servant salaries.

DA can get South Africa working

Dubbed last week by Bloomberg as the “highest in the world”, South Africa’s unemployment rate drives poverty and inequality in this country. At 34.4%, it is five times that of the world average, and double what it was in 1995 according to economist Mike Schüssler. If you include those who’ve given up looking for a job, that number goes up to a crippling 44.4%.

Tackling unemployment would be the obsessive focus of a DA national government just as it is already that of local DA governments and the DA-run Western Cape provincial government. We believe no decision should be taken by government without considering its effects on unemployment.

There is only one route to mass job creation and that is inclusive economic growth – economic growth that creates opportunities for all.

The DA’s approach to growing the economy can be summed up in four words – power to the people. Economic decision-making power should be decentralised to all the people of South Africa, because even the most brilliant and well-intended cabinet could never match the aggregated knowledge and incentives of sixty million people all making economic decisions in their own best interest, as expressed by free markets.

President Ramaphosa is going to update the nation on Friday on his administration’s latest plan to grow the economy. Our advice to him can also be summed up in four words – get out the way.

It is a great irony that the ANC cannot afford to pay its own employees at Luthuli House and aren’t organised enough to submit its local elections candidates list on time yet want to micromanage every aspect of South Africa’s economy.

When it comes to prosperity there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Experience the world over shows that economic freedom and prosperity go hand in hand. The Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World report concludes that “virtually without exception, these studies have found that countries with institutions and policies more consistent with economic freedom have higher investment rates, more rapid economic growth, higher income levels, and a more rapid reduction in poverty rates.”

Which isn’t to say there is no role for government in job creation. Quite the contrary. All three tiers of government – national, provincial and local – have a crucial role to play in creating the conditions that bring as many people as possible into the active economy.

Give plants water, soil, air and sunlight and the garden will grow. Give people affordable, reliable, quality water, electricity, education, health, transport, ICT, energy, safety, and a coherent regulatory regime and the economy will grow.

Governments don’t create jobs. Businesses create jobs. So here are the top ten steps a DA would take in national government, to make it easy and attractive for people to invest in businesses:

  1. Ensure reliable, affordable electricity by opening the energy market to independent producers and allow municipalities to buy directly from them.
  2. Level the playing field for small businesses by exempting them from all but the basic conditions of employment, including from wage bargaining council decisions to which they have not been party.
  3. Stand up to SADTU so that teachers can be properly trained and incentivized to deliver a quality basic education to SA’s labour force.
  4. Curb the public sector wage bill to bring down debt and release funds for spending on essential infrastructure such as ensuring bulk water supply.
  5. Sell or close failing state-owned companies to improve services to the public and bring down debt.
  6. Part-privatize rails and ports to bring down the costs of logistics.
  7. Bring down the cost of data by auctioning spectrum.
  8. Introduce an independent public service commission to ensure public appointments are based on ability to deliver to the public, to ensure performance-based remuneration, and to hold public servants accountable for lack of delivery.
  9. Devolve some power over rail and policing to competent metros to enable integrated local public transport systems and greater public safety.
  10. Decisively walk away from investment-repelling, corruption-abetting, control-centralizing policies such as EWC, NHI, asset prescription, BEE, and the mining charter.

The DA in national government would put the “inclusive” into “inclusive economic growth” by protecting against anti-competitive behaviour and by using tax revenues to open opportunities to more and more people, as per our Economic Justice policy. As employment and tax revenues grow, so will we be able to ensure a stronger and more sustainable social safety net/trampoline for the poor and vulnerable.

But since metro and municipal elections are imminent, this is where the DA can have the most immediate impact on job creation. DA mayoral candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis plans to make Cape Town the most business-friendly city on the continent. There can be no more pro-poor undertaking than that because there is nothing that poor South Africans need and want more than jobs.

Nowhere are the effects – and many of the causes – of unemployment more evident than in the embattled North West Province which, together with seven of its municipalities, has been placed under administration due to collapsed service delivery. I am touring it this week to see for myself and to share the DA’s approach to job creation at the local level.

Where the DA is in local government, we attract investment and job creation to the area by reliably delivering quality basic services – water, sanitation, electricity, roads, streetlights – that are fundamental operating requirements for businesses.

A state of local government report presented to Parliament this week shows that the vast majority of South Africa’s stable, well-run municipalities are in DA-run Western Cape. Which goes some way to explaining why the Western Cape’s unemployment level is 17 percentage points lower than the rest of South Africa.

In the upcoming local government elections, a vote for the DA will be a vote for the only party with a track record of getting things done to create jobs.