DA welcomes government’s intervention in the citrus export impasse

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes government’s intervention in the citrus export impasse on account of the European Union’s (EU) Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (ScoPAFF) decision to subject South African (SA’n) citrus imports to extreme cold treatment in order to mitigate and circumvent false coddling moth (FCM).

This decision has significant implications for the industry and if left unchallenged – may lead to significant job and income losses.

It was announced yesterday that the SA’n government would be lodging a trade dispute with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the EU on account of this decision.

This comes after serious disquiet amongst SA’n citrus exporters as well as a letter written by DA Federal Leader, John Steenhuisen to President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking him to intervene in this matter.

While we have enjoyed a constructive and mutually beneficial trading relationship with EU, that has resulted in them becoming our largest trading partner, citrus exports have remained a bone of contention.

The longstanding disagreement on the science which is used to justify the phytosanitary measures associated with Citrus Black Spot (CBS) is evidence of this.

While this issue has not been fully addressed since it first appeared ten years ago, we are pleased with the swift action taken with respect to FCM.

We will closely monitor the WTO process as it unfolds and we look forward to an outcome that is objective, scientifically-sound and fair in its application.

Motsoaledi must account after Home Affairs blows R300 million on dodgy tenders

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Mr Mosa Steve Chabane, to request that Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi appears before the Committee and explain how hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money could have been spent on a project that, five years down the line, is still incomplete?

This follows a recent exposé in City Press that revealed that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) had spent a total of R450 million on a contract to upgrade its population register system that, until this day, had not been completed.

In 2017, the DHA paid a company, EOH Holdings, almost R300 million to upgrade the Home Affairs National Information System to the Automated Biometric Identification System, a project that would benefit both the DHA and SAPS. However, that R300 million has now seemingly gone down the drain. The DHA then paid an additional R150 million to another company, Idemia, to complete the project. Bizarrely though, Idemia was the original subcontractor to EOH Holdings, who never finished the project in the first place.

Investigations revealed that government officials allegedly engineered an unlawful scheme to award the tender to the politically connected EOH Holdings. Despite these investigations and findings, no apparent action has been taken, which is typical of any ANC scandal. It is the ANC rot that the people of South Africa have unfortunately come to know and expect.

Despite the taxpayers losing hundreds of millions of Rands to yet another alleged corruption scandal, it is in fact the poorest of the poor who suffer the most. Instead of using taxpayer money to fix non-functioning DHA offices, or implement online booking systems, so that people don’t need to queue for hours on end, or providing the poor with valid identity documents, money continues to fall into the bottomless pit that is the corrupt ANC.

The ANC is incapable of not breaking everything that it touches. Minister Motsoaledi must come and account before Parliament and explain how R450 million later, this system is not yet up and running.

The Fuel Price should decrease over R6.00 next week

“The only announcement around the fuel price which the ANC government must make next week, is to slash over R6.00 per litre by ending the exorbitant levies and taxes on fuel.” said Kevin Mileham, DA Shadow Minister of Energy.

The ANC Government continues to keep fuel prices artificially high at the pumps, through fuel taxes, levies and a centrally determined fuel price.

“Indications that the ANC Government intends to lower the fuel price by just R1.00 next week, and that it intends to celebrate this, is laughable.” added Mileham

The devastation of our outrageously high fuel prices will not be alleviated by small decreases at the whim of the global oil price month-by-month, but only by substantive, calculated and fundamental changes to how government controls the fuel price.

The fact is that the ANC Government needs to get out of the fuel price manipulation game, and their time has now run out.

Patricia de Lille’s failure to act on CBE Tribunal recommendations should be her swansong

Please find attached a soundbite by Madeleine Hicklin MP

The failure by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, to act on the findings made by the Council for the Built Environment Tribunal (CBE) against the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) is not only a violation of the Council for the Built Environment Act of 2000 (CBE Act), it also exposes de Lille’s failure to show leadership on Built-Environment Profession Councils under her ministry.

At a Tribunal held under the auspices of the CBE in Pretoria on the 23rd of June 2022, the tribunal made findings against SACAP leadership which suggest that:

  • The President of SACAP, the Registrar of SACAP and the Council, have effectively established themselves as a ‘self-serving collective’ that control a regulatory body and believes that it is beyond the realm of the law.
  • Incompetence and total disrespect of the law have become entrenched in SACAP.
  • There is an urgent need to take action against the President and the Registrar of the SACP, though, at the very least, removing them from office for individually and collectively destroying the credibility and integrity of the offices that they were employed to serve.

Despite these damning findings, de Lille has stubbornly refused to take action and has instead chosen to sidestep the issue in the vain hope that it will go away.

In doing so, de Lille is violating the CBE Act, which enjoins her, as the Minister responsible for councils of the built professions to ‘…promote sound governance of the built environment professions… and investigate or initiate investigations into matters pertaining [their] functions and policies with regard to the built environment’.

By refusing to act on the CBE Tribunal findings against SACAP, de Lille is neither promoting sound governance nor is she enforcing a sound code of conduct with regards to the proper functioning of the councils.

De Lille’s tap dancing around the CBE Tribunal’s findings is hardly surprising. This is the same Minister who went to extreme lengths to stop the release of a report into allegations of severe and repetitive governance challenges, bullying and sexual harassment at SACAP. Her motivation, it seems, has been to sweep the rot at SACAP under the carpet and hope it will all go away.

If de Lille has decided to abdicate on her responsibilities, the DA will not allow the impunity at SACAP to continue taking place without consequences. We will use every avenue available to us to ensure that they are held accountable.

DA rejects (another) proposed Eskom bailout

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Dion George MP.

Reports that National Treasury is working on a plan to absorb a significant share of Eskom’s R400 billion debt are not only concerning but are setting up a very expensive precedent on the management of debt in failing State-owned Enterprises (SOEs).

The DA finds it unacceptable that, after years of ANC sponsored corruption and mismanagement of Eskom, the South African taxpayer is now being asked to reward Eskom for its failures through a debt subsidy.

Current Eskom debt is hovering around R390 billion. Eskom has stated that debt servicing will only be sustainable at R200 billion, signaling that an almost R200 billion bailout is required. The DA has warned that a bailout by the State of this size will pose a severe risk to South Africa’s already fragile sovereign debt profile. Thus far Eskom has been provided with R136 billion to pay off its debt, with a further R88 billion guaranteed until 2025/26.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that Eskom’s operational and debt problems have raised macro-critical challenges for the South African economy and reported that any solution to Eskom’s debt must be preceded by concrete and credible actions. Additionally, the IMF has warned that shifting Eskom’s debt onto the State’s balance sheet would precipitate a marked deterioration in the nation’s already stretched finances.

Gross State debt had already increased from R2.5 trillion to R4.3 million in just the past 5 years. Consequently, skyrocketing debt and debt-service costs have become the fastest-growing expenditure line item in the budget, to the detriment of those who are dependent on the State. Amidst a failing economy government needs now to alleviate the pressure on hard working taxpayers and the most vulnerable.

It is wholly naïve to think for a moment that another bailout is an appropriate solution to address the structural problems that beset the utility. Treasury absorbing up to half of Eskom’s debt will not only set a dangerous precedent for other failing SOEs, but will risk flinging South Africa back to junk status as soon as the announcement is made to do so.

The DA is currently working on a Fiscal Responsibility Bill that will prevent what Treasury is trying to do with Eskom debt. The Bill introduces, for the first time in South Africa, a limit on how much government will be able to borrow. This Bill will not permit reckless financial behaviour by the State that National Treasury is unable to contain.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana is set to unveil a proposal for Eskom’s unsustainable debt during his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in October. Any proposal for the State to take on more of Eskom’s debt will have to be subject to normal budgetary processes. This will include incorporating the proposal into the national fiscal framework in addition to being approved by the Finance Minister, Cabinet, and Parliament.

Throughout this process the DA will reject any plan that will entail allocating Eskom’s debt to the State’s balance sheet.

DA calls on the SIU to obtain a preservation order against NLC commissioner

Please find attached soundbite by Mat Cuthbert MP.

The DA calls on the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to obtain a preservation order against the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) Commissioner, Thabang Mampane, from the Special Tribunal (ST).

This comes after revelations by publication GroundUp that she used money meant for the rebuilding of a school, gutted by fire, to purchase a luxury home worth R3.6 million in a golf estate near Hartebeespoort Dam.

It is alleged that the house was registered in a trust of which Mampane and her family were beneficiaries.

Moreover, GroundUp alleges that the money was channelled through a company linked to notorious NLC COO, Philemon Letwaba, which has been cited in several other cases of corruption involving the NLC.

This is the second public revelation in just over a month, which fingers a senior member of the NLC’s leadership having purchased a home with money meant for grannies, the sick and marginalised communities.

Furthermore, we call on the NLC’s new board to swiftly conclude disciplinary action against her and in the interim place her on suspension.

There is nothing ‘GOOD’ about what is happening at Hout Bay Harbour

Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP.

It is astonishing to see Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, touting improvements to Hout Bay Harbour as a personal achievement in her capacity as leader of the GOOD Party, rather than a fulfilment of her mandate.

Minister De Lille’s celebration is not just disingenuous; it is also premature.

While it might be true that work on the Hout Bay Harbour – at a value of R89 million – created 110 short-term jobs and work for 11 small medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), oversight by the DA revealed that the harbour is currently being vandalized to the extent that millions of rands of investment are being lost every month while the Minister’s Department drags its feet on security, leases and implementation of the DPWI’s Spatial and Socio-Economic Development Frameworks (SEDFs).

30 of the current tenants, who are the lifeblood of the harbour and surrounding community, are on month-to-month leases and the failure of the Department to address these and create certainty about the futures of these businesses is having a dire effect on the economic and infrastructural development of the harbour precinct.

Neither Minister De Lille, nor her Department have responded to the DA’s report regarding the condition of the precinct and the concerns of residents, tenants and their employees.

It beggars belief that Minister De Lille takes pride in this project when Hout Bay Harbour is an unmitigated disaster due to a complete failure of her Department to address the issues. There is nothing GOOD about what is happening in Hout Bay. In fact, it is just another example of the ANC government’s failure to protect resources, create jobs and uplift communities.

Policy documents reveal that the ANC is terrified of the DA’s court action to abolish cadre deployment corruption

The discussion documents published by the ANC ahead of its policy conference reveals that the party is terrified of the DA’s ongoing court action to abolish the unconstitutional and unlawful practice of cadre deployment. In the documents, the ANC desperately proposes that “Consideration should be given to introducing more objective, meritorious and fact-based criteria into the processes of the deployment committee, so that its positions are publicly defensible, including in court if challenged.”

This reactive proposal clearly comes in direct response to the DA’s historic court action against cadre deployment, which marks the first time ever that the entire ANC has been dragged to court for the central role it continues to play in state capture and corruption. This rear-guard proposal demonstrates that the DA has driven the ANC into a corner on this issue, with the ANC now running scared.

Later on in the document, the ANC also desperately claims that the untold “damage” caused to our state was due to the “flawed application of ANC cadre deployment processes.” The implicit claim that cadre deployment would be acceptable if only it were applied “correctly” is a bald-faced lie designed to justify the ANC’s continued use of this evil practice. It is like claiming that theft is acceptable as long as the thief applies the “correct” methods while stealing.

As Chief Justice Raymond Zondo made clear in the findings of the State Capture Commission, “it is unlawful and unconstitutional for a President of this country and any Minister, Deputy Minister or Director-General or other government official, including those in parastatals, to take into account recommendations of the ANC Deployment Committee…in deciding who should be appointed to a position in the public service or in organs of state or parastatals.” Zondo further noted that the only way to ensure fit-for-purpose appointments “is to allow government officials and bodies to make appointments in accordance with the Constitution and the law.”

In other words, ANC cadre deployment cannot be “salvaged” by tinkering to try and improve the instructions issued by the committee – because it is the very act of issuing instructions on who should be appointed, regardless of their content, that is unconstitutional.

If the ANC believes that the DA will allow it to get away with this transparent and desperate attempt to preserve cadre deployment corruption, then it is in for a nasty surprise. The DA will not rest until we have entirely abolished and outlawed cadre deployment corruption in its entirety.

Condolences on the passing of John Kane-Berman

The Democratic Alliance is greatly saddened by the death of John Kane-Berman, who died in Johannesburg yesterday at the age of 76.

Mr Kane-Berman’s life’s work was in service of the principle of non-racialism. He believed in the power of ideas, excellence in research, and good writing. These he used to better South Africa.

As CEO of the then South African Institute of Race Relations from 1983 to 2014, he oversaw the SAIRR’s prodigious and thorough research documenting the injustices and absurdities of apartheid and tracking South Africa’s transition, including through its yearly comprehensive publication, the South Africa Survey.

He was very committed to the SAIRR’s comprehensive bursary programme which enhanced the education of thousands in South Africa.

The ideas promoted by the SAIRR ensured the liberal basis of the South African Constitution adopted in 1996. His engagement with liberal ideas and non-racialism began early.

As President of the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), he fought against racial segregation in universities. NUSAS under his leadership confronted government directly and elevated student politics to a key role-player in defeating apartheid.

As a young journalist for the Financial Mail, he played his part in exposing the apartheid government in its lies. Such was his influence that it is said that it was at his behest that Robert Kennedy visited South Africa in 1966 toward the anti-apartheid cause.

As a youth leader, he worked on Helen Suzman’s 1966 campaign that enabled her political rise and that of the Progressive Party, the liberal party in which the Democratic Alliance has its roots.

Whether as a student, or as a journalist and then at the South African Institute of Race Relations, Kane-Berman made sure that there was nowhere for the apartheid government to hide from the facts about the consequences of its policies.

He continued to apply the same beliefs in the power of ideas and rigour in research to the challenges of post-apartheid South Africa.

Mr Kane-Berman played no small part in the demise of apartheid and in the persistence of the idea of the rule of law, non-racialism and protection of the vulnerable in the post-apartheid era.

The Democratic Alliance salutes his principled contribution to South Africa and offers its condolences to his partner Pierre Roestorf.