Are SASSA and Minister for Social Development, Minister Lindiwe Zulu, deliberately under servicing Western Cape residents?

Please find an attached soundbite by Alexandra Abrahams MP. 

National government competencies such as SASSA in the Western Cape is in disarray.

However, based on Statistics South Africa mid-year population estimates (2016 -2021), the Western Cape has the second highest provincial in-migration figures, while provinces such as Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal have the highest provincial out-migration figures.

This shows many South Africans are moving to the DA – run Western Cape in search of a better life and access to better government services.  Government services in other provinces are severely lacking and rapidly deteriorate under ANC management.

The Democratic Alliance is exposing devastating disparities in the number of SASSA offices in the Western Cape in comparison to other provinces despite the Western Cape having the fifth highest SASSA clients in the country. (see here)

Parliamentary written questions submitted by the DA highlights the Western Cape only having 16 SASSA offices, while other provinces have significantly more.

SASSA offices in the Western Cape are located in: Beaufort West Caledon, George, Oudtshoorn, Paarl, Vredenburg, Vredendal, Worcester, Athlone, Bellville, Cape Town, Eerste River, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mitchells Plain and Wynberg.

Province Number of Offices Total grant clients as at 31 March 2021 (excl. R350 SRD)
Eastern Cape 67 2 849 184
Free State 23 1 040 837
Gauteng 45 2 847 820
KZN 86 4 065 512
Limpopo 55 2 647 292
Mpumalanga 42 1 555 838
North West 33 502 725
Northern Cape 57 1 291 307
Western Cape 16 1 640 057

On Friday 27 May 2022, during an unannounced oversight visit to the local SASSA office in Khayelitsha. We found the 18 SASSA officials diligently seeing to clients and the queues were moving. It was a welcomed sight to see chairs were provided on the premises as well as access to ablution facilities. (see pictures here, here, here, and here)

However, the number of officials were insufficient as the 400-client quota for the day on the premises was reached by 11:40am. Meaning, those outside the gate would not be seen to on the day.

Many SASSA clients take their anger and frustration out on the staff at local offices, but this anger and frustration must be directed at senior management, the SASSA CEO and the Minister of Social Development for the shortage of SASSA offices in the Western Cape.

Pressure from the DA has seen Minister Zulu respond that SASSA is in the process to establish four additional offices: two in Khayelitsha and two in Gugulethu. Additional SASSA offices will alleviate the demand and pressure on other offices in the metropole.

SASSA’s online services are not up to par.   Many eligible clients struggle to upload documents and have to wait for months and in some instances more than a year to get approved.  Their alternative is to opt for in person assistance at local offices.

While cautious not to grow the public sector further, it boggles the mind when R370 million will be spent on salary increases to millionaire managers in the public sector while critical SASSA services to the vulnerable are an afterthought.

The DA will submit follow up questions to Minister Zulu and Minister De Lille, Minister for Public Works and Infrastructure, to establish the timeline for these new offices, but also to ensure no wasteful or corrupt expenditure takes place.

R373 million salary increase for top ANC cadres while 73% of phone calls and emails to government departments go unanswered

Please find an attached soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP

The DA today reveals the findings of a research project into the effect that ANC cadre deployment corruption has had on two of the most basic functions of any government department: answering the telephone and corresponding with the public via email. The full analysis can be viewed here and here.

The analysis reveals that:

  1. ANC cadre deployment corruption has led to a near-complete collapse in government capacity wherever the ANC governs, with 7 out of every 10 phone calls or emails to national or provincial departments run by the ANC going unanswered.
  2. The only exception to this collapse is the one province where cadre deployment has been defeated, namely the DA-led Western Cape, where not a single call went unanswered.

It is worth emphasising that, in the DA-led Western Cape, 100% of phone calls were answered. But in the other eight ANC-run provinces, only 22% of phone calls were answered. This wide discrepancy makes it clear that, wherever ANC cadre deployment is practiced, service delivery collapses to the point where the most basic functions of state cease to exist. Conversely, eradicating ANC cadre deployment as the DA has done since first winning power in the Western Cape in 2009, holds the key to improving service delivery to world-class levels.

These findings come at the same time that a parliamentary question asked by the DA revealed that the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo, regards a R373 million salary increase to the ANC cadres who destroyed most departments as a “just, equitable and efficient use of public money in the current economic climate.”

The DA categorically rejects the ANC’s fantasy that wasting R373 million on cadres who cannot even answer a telephone is “just, equitable and efficient” at a time when millions of South Africans can no longer afford fuel or food. Instead, the findings of our research confirm that cadre deployment corruption must be urgently uprooted and outlawed to repair our broken state.

The research

Over the past three weeks, the DA tested the basic capability of 140 national and provincial government departments to answer telephone calls. From the South African Police Service to provincial departments of roads and infrastructure, we systematically made at least three phone calls to each of these departments in order to ask a tailer-made question related to the work of the department. The contact information was principally sourced from the government contact directory. In each case, we rang the phone for at least 30 seconds.

At the same time, we also sent emails with questions that members of the public would realistically ask to 37 national government departments. For example, we asked the Department of Social Development for information on the current list of available grants. In the case of the Department of Mineral Resources, we asked for information on how to apply for a mining permit. And at the Basic Education Department, we enquired whether a learner could be expelled from school because she is pregnant. In cases where the initial email was not answered, we followed up with two additional emails.

At the end of this process, each of the 140 national and provincial departments had received at least three separate phone calls, while each of the 37 national department also received three emails. In total, the DA made 420 phone calls and sent 111 emails to ensure the accuracy of our analysis.

National government departments

In national government departments, where ANC cadre deployment corruption continues to run rampant thanks to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s impassioned defence of this practice at the State Capture Commission, 59% of the 37 departments did not respond to any of the three emails. Additionally, 65% of the departments failed to even answer the phone after three separate attempts.

This even included the Presidency nor the Department of Communications, which both failed to answer the phone or respond to email.


In total, 22 out of 37 national government departments failed to respond to emails. In seven of these cases, the department did not even have working email address at all. This means that emails from members of the public would never even reach the inboxes of these department.

The 7 departments without functional email systems are:

  1. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
  2. Arts and Culture
  3. Energy
  4. Public Enterprises
  5. Rural Development and Land Reform
  6. Sports and Recreation
  7. Water Affairs

In addition, the following 15 departments failed to respond to emails:

  1. Communications
  2. Basic education
  3. Government Communications and Information System
  4. Health
  5. Home Affairs
  6. Independent Police Investigative Directorate
  7. Labour
  8. Mineral Resources
  9. National Intelligence Agency
  10. Public Service and Administration
  11. Science and Technology
  12. Social Development
  13. The Presidency
  14. Trade and Industry
  15. Transport

Telephone calls

The following 24 national departments failed to answer the telephone after three separate attempts:

  1. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
  2. Arts and Culture
  3. Communications
  4. Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
  5. Defence
  6. Basic education
  7. Energy
  8. Environmental Affairs
  9. Government Communication and Information Systems
  10. Health
  11. Home Affairs
  12. Human Settlements
  13. Independent Police Investigative Directorate
  14. Justice and Constitutional Development
  15. Labour
  16. Mineral Resources
  17. National Intelligence Agency
  18. Public Service and Administration
  19. Science and Technology
  20. South African Police Service
  21. Sports and Recreation
  22. The Presidency
  23. Transport
  24. Water Affairs

Provincial government departments

The situation is even more dire in the eight ANC-run provinces, where cadre deployment corruption has hollowed out provincial administrations to such an extent that only 22% of the 91 departments in those eight provinces have the capacity to answer a phone calls after three separate attempts. In contrast, 100% of calls to the Western Cape Government’s 12 departments were successful.

The nine provinces ranked as follows:

  1. Western Cape: 100% (12 out of 12 departments answered)
  2. Mpumalanga: 45% (5 out of 11 departments answered)
  3. Limpopo: 40% (4 out of 10 departments answered)
  4. KwaZulu-Natal: 31% (4 out of 13 departments answered)
  5. Free State: 18% (2 out of 11 departments answered)
  6. North West: 18% (2 out of 11 departments answered)
  7. Gauteng: 15% (2 out of 13 departments answered)
  8. Northern Cape: 10% (1 out of 10 departments answered)
  9. Eastern Cape: 0% (0 out of 12 departments answered)


The DA’s analysis offers a vivid and alarming demonstration of the true extent to which even the most basic elements of service delivery collapses wherever ANC cadre deployment festers. But perhaps most striking of all is the finding that this damage was entirely reversed in the one province where the DA replaced the ANC as governing party. By replacing cadre deployment with professional, merit-based appointments in the public service, as the DA did in the Western Cape, we have been able to replace a failing state with a capable state that provides effective service delivery to residents.

These findings further strengthens the resolve of the DA to fight back against ANC cadre deployment until it is outlawed once and for all, and to replace corrupt ANC administrations with capable DA governments in more provinces as well as nationally in the 2024 election. For voters, the message is equally striking: in every upcoming by-election and in the 2024 national and provincial elections, vote to replace ANC cadre deployment corruption with DA good governance, so that we can fix what ANC cadres have broken.

As Nathi Mthethwa nie die Afrikaanse Taalmonument gaan respekteer nie, sal die DA dit oorvat en beskerm

Please scroll down for English

Tydens vanoggend se geskiedkundige “Wys jou STaal” protes-konsert in die Paarl het die DA ‘n beroep gedoen op ANC Minister Nathi Mthethwa om beheer oor die Afrikaanse Taalmonument aan die DA-beheerde Wes-Kaap te oorhandig eerder as om die Monument se naam te verander.

Ons verwelkom ook die feit dat die Wes-Kaapse Minister van Kuns en Kultuur, Anroux Marais, reeds ‘n formele versoek in hierdie verband aan Mthethwa gerig het.

Verskeie senior DA-leiers het ook tydens die vergadering van die bestuur van die Afrikaanse Taalmonument sterk kapsie gemaak teen Mthetwa se beoogde naamsverandering. Ons verwerp die ANC se voorstel met die minagting wat dit verdien, omdat dit die Momument van alle betekenis sal stroop.

In samewerking met van ons land se grootste kunstenaars, het die DA ook ‘n geskiedkundige protes-konsert aangebied. Ons bedank die honderde mense wat die konsert sowel as ons betoging bygewoon het. Die konsert het dit duidelik gemaak dat die Afrikaanssprekende gemeenskap saam met die DA verenig staan teen die ANC se aanval op die Afrikaanse Taalmonument.

Die DA sal nie rus totdat ons hierdie waansinnige ANC plan afgeweer het nie.

If Nathi Mthethwa does not respect the Afrikaans Taalmonument, the DA will take over and protect it

During this morning’s historic “Wys Jou STaal” protest concert in Paarl, the DA called on ANC Minister Nathi Mthethwa to hand over management of the Afrikaanse Taalmonument to the DA-controlled Western Cape rather than changing the Monument’s name.

We also welcome the fact that the Western Cape Minister of Arts and Culture, Anroux Marais, has already made a formal request to Mthethwa in this regard.

Several senior DA leaders also strongly objected to Mthetwa’s proposed name change during the meeting of the management of the Afrikaanse Taalmonument. We reject the ANC’s proposal with the contempt it deserves, because it will strip the Monument of all significance.

In collaboration with some of our country’s greatest artists, the DA also presented a historic protest concert. We thank the hundreds of people who attended the concert as well as our demonstration. The concert made it clear that the Afrikaans-speaking community is united with the DA against the ANC’s attack on the Afrikaanse Taalmonument.

The DA will not rest until we have repelled this insane ANC plan.

DA governments in Gauteng on track as they pass 2022/2023 budgets

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is excited that the City of Johannesburg, Midvaal Local Municipality and West Rand District Municipality have all passed their 2022/2023 financial budgets.

Midvaal Local Municipality and the West Rand District unanimously approved their budgets during their Council meetings which took place yesterday.

In Johannesburg, Mayor Mpho Phalatse and MMC Julie Suddaby passed through their budget with support from all coalition parties and will thus begin with the golden repair to get Johannesburg working again. The following capital expenditure allocations were made:

  • R1.2 billion capital expenditure on electricity infrastructure.
  • R1.1bn capital expenditure on road infrastructure.
  • R930 million capital expenditure on water supply and sewer infrastructure.
  • R89 million capital expenditure on sports and recreation facilities.

Midvaal adopted a fully-funded budget which was approved by all political parties in Council. Through this, Mayor Peter Teixeira and his team will be able to continue with the excellent service delivery that Midvaal Local Municipality is well-known for. Here are some of the allocations and plans:

  • The capital infrastructure projects will be a top priority with a total budget of R180,6 million.
  • There will be upgrades to the Waste Water Treatment Works and the electrification of important corridors along the R59.
  • R25 million has been allocated towards the improvement and expansion of road networks to unlock the structural transformation of Midvaal.

In the West Rand District, Mayor Hullet Hild, and MMC Alderman Brian Blake remarkably passed their first annual budget with the support of all political parties with a capital budget of R45,7 million.

The district faces a lot of challenges which includes but are not limited to the provision of unfunded and underfunded mandates, non-restoration of powers and functions as prescribed in Section 84 of the Structures act, the district will have to work hard to be able to table a funded budget in the next two outer years.

The municipality has put in a plan to achieve this; the budgeted operating surplus or deficit for the 3-year 2022/2023 medium-term period is R16 036 (surplus), R1.12 million (deficit) and R8.77 million (deficit) respectively. In other words, the municipality is budgeting for a surplus, in 2022/2023, and then budgeting for a deficit for both 2023/2024 and 2024/2025.

The City of Ekurhuleni and Tshwane also passed their budgets on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

Mogale City will be holding their budget Council meeting on Tuesday 31 May 2022 and we are confident that it will get passed.

The DA wishes to congratulate all the Mayors and their Mayoral Committees, we look forward to seeing improved services across the municipalities and seeing them getting things done for their residents.

Fuel price hike: Cabinet’s “special consideration” is not good enough

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Kevin Mileham MP.

The claim by the Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, that the issue of the impending fuel price increase was receiving ‘special consideration’ by Cabinet is not only an excuse to buy time but an attempt to hide government’s failure to free South Africans from high fuel taxes.

During a post-Cabinet briefing held yesterday on the possibility of extending the temporary reduction in the fuel tax levy introduced in March by the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, Gungubele gave the false assurance that “…whether the government will intervene again and ensure that fuel prices remain reasonable as it’s a matter that affects the entire country is receiving special consideration…”.

This is obviously not good enough as it does nothing to provide relief to consumers who will be saddled with a R4 increase in the price of fuel next week, and the resultant domino effect that this increase will have on the already high prices of food and transport costs. What South Africans need is a stop to the impending fuel price increase to protect jobs and shield millions more people from falling into poverty.

Gungubele’s assertion that the issue of the fuel price increase was under ‘special consideration’ contradicts the statement made by the Minister of Energy, Gwede Mantashe, who earlier this week said that the general fuel levy cut won’t be extended beyond the end of May. The contradictory positions coming out of Cabinet confirm the ANC government’s enduring failure to respond effectively to rapidly rising prices of fuel.

Yesterday, DA Leader, John Steenhuisen, presented a workable solution to lower the cost of fuel and promote competitive pricing. The proposals are centred on removing the ANC government’s artificially inflated fuel prices, which cost 33% more due to the General Fuel Levy and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy. The premise of the DA’s offer is that these levies have led to similar direct crippling increases on the price of food and all other goods transported by road.

The cost of fuel can be further reduced by deregulating the fuel sector to spur competition between sellers, as per the DA’s pending Private Member’s Bill. The Bill aim to codify, through legislation, the deregulation of the fuel price to encourage competition between wholesalers and retailers. The PMB will seek to protect the consumer from exorbitant price increases by decoupling the basic fuel price from government taxes and levies.

The timing of this massive petrol price hike could not be worse, with South Africans battling under the weight of 46% unemployment, rolling blackouts, irrational Covid regulations, flooding, drought and collapsing service delivery. South Africans simply cannot afford to pay R25 per litre for fuel.

Cognisant of the severity and economic implications of the impending fuel price hike, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula, has acceded to the DA’s request for a debate of urgent national public importance on the impact of steeply rising fuel prices on the cost of living and the steps that must urgently be taken to shield the poor from the worst effects of this. Parliament has a duty to act whenever the country is faced with an urgent national crisis such as the anticipated fuel price increase.

The DA is pursuing every available avenue to prevent the upcoming rise in fuel prices and to slash fuel prices going forward. We will fight this fight on behalf of every South African battling to make ends meet, because we care about their plight.

Time to say no to SA’s exorbitant petrol price.

On Wednesday, the government is planning to increase the price of petrol by around R3.80 per litre, to an outrageous R25 per litre. As we did with the R22 million flagpole plan, South Africans need to put our national foot down and say a firm NO.

It’s high time to heed the Chinese proverb that says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now. The best time to push back against South Africa’s inexorable petrol price hikes would have been a decade ago, when it began its swift climb from R11 per litre. The second best time is now.

A petrol price increase will take food prices up with it because the price of food includes the cost of transporting it to shops, and all our food is transported by road now that South Africa’s rail system has collapsed.

As it is, millions of South Africans are already going hungry, and things are about to get a lot worse. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s covid lockdowns and the impact of climate change are reducing the supply and increasing the cost of food and fertilizer globally.

Russia’s blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odessa is trapping 25 million tonnes of grain, equivalent to the annual consumption of all the world’s least developed countries. Many countries have put export blocks on grain to protect their own supply.

At the same time, South Africa faces multiple domestic crises, where 46% unemployment, stage 4 load-shedding, floods in KZN, drought in the Eastern Cape and collapsing service delivery are already making it hard for millions of households to put food on the table.

State-owned Foskor, which has historically produced 80% of SA’s fertilizer needs locally is only managing to produce 20% now, due to the same cadre-deployment-induced mismanagement that has blighted other state-owned companies.

This week, Tiger Brands, South Africa’s largest food manufacturer warned that prices for some basic food categories such as bread, maize meal and baking flour will rise by 15-20% in the coming six months.

All in all, government’s plan for a massive petrol price hike next week is terribly timed. It will push millions more into poverty and hunger, risking violent riots as seen in Sri Lanka recently in response to exorbitant fuel price hikes there.

South Africans cannot afford this price hike and shouldn’t accept it. A full one third of the price of petrol goes to government as taxes and levies. Petrol in Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia and Kenya is on average about R5 cheaper per litre, because their governments don’t tax it as much. The South African government can do something to lower the fuel price in South Africa, it just chooses not to.

The DA has put a plan on the table to slash fuel prices and we’ve successfully requested a debate of urgent public importance in the National Assembly to get the ball rolling. There are three elements to the plan.

1. Scrap the General Fuel Levy

The General Fuel Levy of R3.93 per litre is little more than a corruption tax. Road users are effectively reimbursing National Treasury for taxpayer funds lost to corruption and wasteful expenditure. By cutting wasteful expenditure on luxuries like catering and entertainment, VIP protection and vehicles, and by uprooting state capture corruption that has cost South Africa at least R1.5 trillion so far, the General Fuel Levy of R3.93 per litre can be scrapped entirely.

2. Give exemptions to the RAF Levy:

Through a SARS tax rebate, government should exempt those who already pay for comprehensive third party insurance from the RAF levy. This includes bus, taxi and transport companies, and private commuters. This would free up the RAF from claims for those drivers and save those drivers another R2.18 per litre, who would get this back as a tax rebate from SARS.

3. De-regulate the Fuel Price:

The cost of fuel can be further reduced by deregulating the fuel sector to spur competition between sellers, as per the DA’s pending Private Member’s Bill.
The forces of market competition among fuel sellers, in a market for 11 Billion litres of fuel a year, would naturally drive down prices as they compete for business. Like any other consumer good, it is only reasonable that the same market competition determines the final price at the pump.
To this end, the DA has a Private Members Bill going before Parliament soon to de-regulate the Fuel Price. We call on all Parties to support this.

The DA will pursue every available avenue to prevent the upcoming rise in fuel prices and to slash fuel prices going forward. We will fight this fight on behalf of every South African battling to make ends meet, because we care about their plight.

Opposition Parties walk out of a Social Development Portfolio Committee Meeting

Yesterday, the DA and other opposition parties (the EFF, IFP, Freedom Front Plus and ACDP) as well as NGOs walked out of a parliamentary portfolio committee meeting with the Department of Social Development to finalise the deliberations of the clauses to be included in the Children Amendments Bill. This after a good faith agreement that Clause 21 would remain in the amended Bill was completely disregarded by the ANC members of the portfolio committee and Parliamentary legal advisors.

The Children’s Amendment Bill was introduced to implement the “comprehensive legal solution” ordered by the North Gauteng High Court in 2011 to address the challenges within the foster care system. The Bill seeks to strengthen the protective measures for children and to address other concerns, like early childhood development (ECD) and adoption.

On 18 May, Parliamentary legal advisors recommended the survival of 12 clauses in the Bill. The committee deliberated and agreed that 13 clauses would remain from the original Bill. It is concerning that despite committee consensus, the Department and the Parliamentary legal advisors have completely disregarded committee agreements and removed clause 21 from the agreed list of surviving clauses.

Clause 21 deals with the rights and responsibilities of unmarried fathers. Unless section 24 of the Children’s Act is amended, the jurisdiction to deal with guardianship would remain in the courts’ power, which would lead to unreasonable delays and would not be in the best interests of the child.

The DA, other opposition parties and NGOs walked out of the meeting when our concerns that we could not, in good faith, continue with the deliberations until we had confirmation that clause 21 would remain in the Bill, were ignored. The committee continued, essentially as an ANC only workshop, and, in bad faith, began raising queries on clause 21, which had never been raised before. It is clear that this was done solely to justify the decision to exclude the clause, which completely disregards any consensus that was reached previously in good faith between all parties involved.

It is clear the Parliamentary legal advisors failed to remain neutral. Despite the previous consensus reached between the committee, they acted as mere puppets of the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, to drive the Bill through deliberations without any previous considerations being taken into account. Both their and the ANC members’ shocking conduct in the meeting was unethical.

No wonder South Africa is descending into a failed state – Ministers and departments meant to care for the most vulnerable put their own agendas before the good of the people and children.

ANC agrees to DA’s call for independent legal opinion on SOCs

Please find attached soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The DA welcomes the rare moment of concurrence from the ANC in the parliamentary portfolio committee for public enterprises yesterday. In the committee meeting, the ANC agreed to the DA’s call for an independent expert legal opinion to clarify the findings of the Constitutional Court case Minister of Finance v Afribusiness NPC with regard to the procurement in State-Owned Companies (SOCs) and the need to comply with the precepts of fairness, equitability, transparency, competitiveness and cost effectiveness.

The procurement process is a critical part of a functional government service delivery mechanism.

Our Constitution explicitly mandates that this process takes on not only the purpose of attaining services or supplies, but the additional aim of achieving societal transformation.

The Court held that the Preferential Procurement Regulations, promulgated by the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, were inconsistent with the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act and were thus invalid.

The DA called for a legal opinion to clarify and inform the committee of any grey areas that will govern how SOCs, that are in considerable distress, will overcome impediments to proper functioning that may enable sustainability and assist with profitability.

Moreover, any failure to comply with the Constitutional Court’s findings may well open up the road to further legal challenges of unconstitutionality. Measures to correct and fix impediments faced by SOCs also need urgent attention and many of these are tied to the proper application of the Constitutional Court’s findings.

Without proper clarification on the judgment, South Africans find themselves at an interesting juncture in the procurement space.

With the recent release of the Zondo reports, which found damning evidence of how state capture was allowed to run rampant in SOCs due to weak and non-transparent procurement processes, it is imperative that a clear pathway is found.

With the DA’s call for the independent legal opinion being agreed to, the committee can now proceed, with certainty, to ensure that all procurement processes are fair, equitable, transparent and competitive.

Minister Creecy must provide urgent guidance on borer beetle threat

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dave Bryant MP.

The DA has noted with concern the potential threat to South Africa’s trees from the invasive polyphagous shot hole borer beetle. It is reportedly estimated that the damage resulting from the borer infestation could total hundreds of billions of Rands. Our country’s fragile economy simply cannot handle such a devastating loss.

The invasive beetle spreads a fungus that kills the host tree. It has been identified in eight of South Africa’s nine provinces, estimated to be the largest global outbreak. The beetle infests over a hundred different plant species across various climates and terrains, and it is not yet known exactly which trees and other plant species will be impacted. An infestation is usually terminal for large trees such as oaks, which grow in many established suburban areas. Falling branches from these trees provide further hazards to people and infrastructure.

It is reported that there are currently not enough chemicals available in South Africa to address such a large-scale infestation and the likelihood is that the infected trees will instead need to be removed and destroyed, at massive cost. Municipalities will likely be expected to carry these costs, along with the private sector. Identification and procurement of suitable chemicals should be made a priority.

Minister Creecy must advise urgently as to how national government intends to assist with a coordinated response to the shot hole borer threat. The infestation threatens not only private and municipal trees, but will also likely impact plantations managed by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DFFE).

We call on the Minister to convene an emergency meeting with all spheres of government to plan the way forward and provide guidance and support. Time is of the essence and we cannot afford to wait.

DA wins battle to have President Ramaphosa account to Parliament

Click here for a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP, Deputy Chief Whip of the DA.

Last week, I wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to argue that the rules of the National Assembly demand that the President appears before Parliament to answer questions on burning issues facing South Africans. See the letter here.

This morning, during the National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC) – with the support of opposition parties across the board – we argued that President Cyril Ramaphosa should fulfil his obligation to Parliament and be scheduled for Questions to the President during this term of the National Assembly.

This is in accordance with Rule 140 of the National Assembly rules which states that the President should appear before Parliament to answer questions at least once a quarter. This has not been scheduled in the current draft of the second term programme.

Despite the fierce opposition from the Speaker and the ANC MPs in the committee, the opposition was able to argue for accountability and for Parliament to flex its muscle as it pertains to holding the executive to account.

We will be unrelenting on this matter. The Zondo Commission Report details how Parliament has failed in its responsibility of demanding accountability from the executive on behalf of the people of South Africa. We will never allow the same to happen again.

The continued stonewalling of the work of Parliament by the ANC will not succeed. We will be intolerant of the Zuma Presidency era tactics of keeping the President away from Parliament when there are crises like the rising cost of living facing ordinary South Africans.

People have been let down by public representatives for far too long. It can no longer be allowed to continue.