Why we brought Wednesday’s Motion of No Confidence to Parliament, and why we’d do it again

The following address to the nation was delivered today in Cape Town by the DA Federal Leader, John Steenhuisen MP.

Fellow citizens,

As you may know, on Wednesday Parliament debated and voted on a Motion of No Confidence in the entire Cabinet – a motion which I tabled on behalf of the DA last month.

We brought this motion because every single member of this ANC cabinet is directly responsible for the dismal state of our economy and the failure to provide services, safety and dignity to our citizens. Their incompetence, indifference and corruption has brought suffering to millions of South Africans who cannot find work and who live an incredibly hard life of poverty and despair. Yet not one of these ministers is ever held accountable by the president who appointed them.

Our Members of Parliament swore an oath to serve the people of South Africa, and it is our duty as official opposition to hold government to account. Even when we know the numbers are stacked against us and the chances of ANC MPs suddenly discovering their conscience and doing the right thing are slim.

We owe it to all South Africans – and not just those who voted for the DA – to do everything we can to hold government to account. This means using every mechanism available to us – in Parliament, in provincial legislatures, in municipal councils, in court and through the media. That’s our job.

Our motion on Wednesday did not pass – it was ultimately defeated by 231 votes to 131 votes, with one abstention. This is mainly due to the majority the ANC still has – for now – in the National Assembly. A majority it has consistently wielded in the past to shield its members, its ministers and its presidents from accountability.

Throughout Jacob Zuma’s term of office, this ANC majority in Parliament was deployed no less than six times to protect him from consequences for his criminality – in five Motions of No Confidence and one impeachment vote. Aside from the very last Motion of No Confidence, when the writing was already on the wall for him and a small number of ANC MPs felt emboldened to vote against him, the ANC has always provided a single, unified cover for its errant members and leaders.

At the end of the Zuma years, no ANC MP wanted to talk about all those times they locked arms with their votes in Parliament to shield a man whom they all knew was a criminal. Many of them have subsequently tried to airbrush their part in protecting Zuma from history. But that won’t work. Their names are recorded alongside their votes. They will forever carry the shame.

And on Wednesday they did it again. Every single ANC MP answered out loud that they have full confidence in the ANC cabinet, despite a mountain of objective evidence and independent reports that point to the catastrophic failures and brazen criminality of ministers in this cabinet. Many of them laughed and cheered as they protected the looters and destroyers in their ranks. One day they will again try to erase this shameful vote from history, but they won’t succeed.

While this motion did not pass, it did succeed in publicly separating those elected public servants who serve their country from those who serve only their party. And that doesn’t only include ANC MPs. The other benefit of a vote like this is that you get to see all the little proxy parties of the ANC, stripped bare and exposed. Parties like GOOD, the NFP and Al-Jammah all sang loudly for their supper alongside their mother party.

These are the things all South Africans need to know: Who is fighting in their corner, and who is shielding the corrupt and the inept?

We may have lost this vote, but we certainly won the argument.

And while we didn’t have the numbers in the House, I know that outside of Parliament the support for firing this cabinet is huge. Thousands of people signed our petition and we’ve received encouragement from all sectors of society.

This bodes well for the next big vote of no confidence which takes place in 2024 – a vote every single South African 18 years or older will have a say in. And in that vote there is very little that 231 ANC or ANC-aligned MPs can do to hold back justice and accountability.

I want to thank every South African who supported us in the build-up to Wednesday’s vote. This was an important battle in a war we will ultimately win. With your continued support we will free South Africa from this failed government and set our country on a new path to prosperity. And this will happen sooner than you may think.

Thank you.

Cele casts dark cloud over selection of National Police Commissioner

Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

While the DA notes the fact that a career policeman was given the job as top cop, we have many reservations regarding Lieutenant-General Fannie Masemola appointment as the new national commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Police Minister Bheki Cele serving on the selection panel with Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, and the secrecy surrounding the appointment process does little to engender faith that Lt.Gen. Masemola is not simply another deployed cadre. It is simply absurd that the appointment of a national police commissioner is not open to public scrutiny, especially as there is already precedent in the appointment of heads of Chapter 9 institutions for instance.

Lt.Gen. Masemola’s key test will be his ability to stand up to Minister Cele’s bullying and efforts to micromanage the operational affairs of the SAPS. The commissioner will have to prove to South Africans that he is independent and not merely Minister Cele’s puppet. This will mean difficult and brave decisions that effectively combat corruption and crime, and also keep Cele from his dream of being both Minister and Commissioner.

The President wasted an opportunity to build trust in the police service at the outset by taking the public into his confidence through a transparent selection process. Instead he decided to conduct the process in the darkest corners of the Presidency.

The DA’s Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application regarding former police commissioner Kehla Sitole’s golden handshake is still in process. We will continue to seek the truth.

To enjoy the DA’s full support Lt.Gen. Masemola will need to deliver results not platitudes and we will be monitoring his performance very closely. He simply cannot allow Minister Cele’s efforts to capture SAPS to continue.

Trust in SAPS is extremely low, with very good reason. Minister Cele’s bungling plays a large part in the complete disarray of the police service. The new commissioner has a tough road ahead if he hopes to change the tide.

Fuel price: Selling strategic reserves a desperate move for a government that has run out of ideas

Below is the response by the DA Shadow Minister of Finance, Dr Dion George MP, to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s relief measures for the fuel price, delivered in Parliament this afternoon.

For a number of years, the question hanging over our heads has been: “What happens when government runs out of money?”

Government doesn’t have any money of its own, it all belongs to the people, and year after year, SCOPA hears how billions of rands have been irregularly spent, wastefully spent, or simply stolen. And there is never any consequence. Nobody is held to account and nobody goes to jail.

Yesterday, the DA proposed a motion of no confidence in the President’s cabinet, precisely because our economy has been mismanaged to the point of collapse, where we are unable to attract investment capital because there is no confidence, unemployment levels hit a record 35% in the last quarter and youth unemployment is at 65%.

Poverty continues to ruin the lives and future potential of more and more South Africans, every day. We face a cost of living crisis with skyrocketing food prices, driven largely, but not only, by the upward spiral in the fuel price.

The fuel price has been too high for too long because of government’s economic mismanagement. And this has crowded out opportunities for economic growth that we will never get back again.

The fuel price consists of four elements: the basic fuel price; taxes and levies; retail and wholesale margins and storage and distribution costs. The price of crude oil and the exchange rate impacts heavily on the price.

We don’t have much control over the price of crude oil although we certainly made an enormous mistake when the ANC government chose the side of Russia in its illegal war against Ukraine. The war has impacted negatively on the price of crude oil and when countries such as South Africa do not add value in bringing the war to an end, we actually do pay the price of more expensive fuel.

The ANC government’s disgraceful behaviour at the United Nations just served to make life more difficult for everyone in South Africa and just served to drive more people into poverty.

If government was actually concerned about the oil price and how it impacted on all South Africans, it would join the rest of the world in doing everything possible to stop the War.

Although the dollar-rand exchange rate is subject to market vagaries, it is possible to make our currency more attractive on the markets by ensuring that South Africa is an attractive investment destination. In that way, foreign investors in particular would want to purchase rands for investment and increase its value.

The DA has previously called on government to reduce the fuel levy and that could result in a reduction in the petrol price in the region of 20%. This would take pressure off rising food and transport prices and bring immediate relief to the poor. The petrol price in South Africa is higher than it is in Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia and Kenya because the fuel levy in South Africa is too high. It is too high because government relies heavily on it to fund its mismanagement of the public finances, at 6% of revenue. Bad government is making all South Africans poorer.

Social grants are set to increase by 4.5% in April. But electricity and fuel prices are set to go up by more than double that in April. Electricity prices by 9.6% and fuel prices by 11%. Food prices have increased by 5.7% in the past year according to Stats SA and that will gather momentum this year.

Cutting the fuel levy will create fiscal pressure that can be alleviated in many ways. The root cause of our dire fiscal situation is bad policy, incompetence and corruption. There are much better ways to deal with these than taxing the poor.

South Africa can no longer delay tackling our problems at their root. We need to grow tax revenue and jobs by rapidly reforming our economy to be open and competitive. We need to make better use of tax revenue by appointing public officials on merit and jailing corrupt officials. The benefits would accrue rapidly.

The Minister’s proposal to liquidate a portion of the strategic crude oil reserves for very short term relief is high risk and reckless. The purpose of holding a reserve is to ensure that South Africa does not run out of fuel during an emergency situation that is not easy to foresee. It was not long ago that an attempt was made to sell our strategic oil reserves under the guise of a “stock rotation” that was nothing more than a corrupt attempt to enrich a connected few. We need far more detail on what this transaction would entail and how the reserves will be replenished, and at what price.

If we are to take a short term view, and not make the structural reforms that would eliminate or reduce the high fuel tax, then we should look at funding this short term intervention with additional revenue that will be received as a result of the uptick in commodity prices that will temporarily increase tax revenue. We do have that temporary fiscal space.

We welcomed President Ramaphosa’s acknowledgement in his state of the nation address that business must be the job creator in South Africa. The incapable state is certainly unable to do that. We welcomed the Minister’s statements at his budget speech of what he intends to do about the State Owned Enterprises and managing the public sector wage bill.

Structural reform is the only way to grow our economy and avoid the significant risks that the Minister is now incurring. We are all agreed that the fuel price is too high and that immediate relief is needed. We just differ on how.
We support the suspension of the general fuel levy. Selling the strategic reserves is a desperate move for a government that has run out of ideas.

It is possible to reduce the fuel tax immediately, without selling our reserves, it just requires political will to do what will need to be done anyway.

We all know what happens when government runs out of money – it is forced to change its behaviour. If not, the people will remove you.