Nelson Mandela Bay set to lose millions in grant funding

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Cllr Retief Odendaal.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality runs the risk of forfeiting hundreds of millions of rand to National Treasury due to an inability to spend its budget.

Over the last two years the Metro was forced to surrender R500 million to National Treasury.

Capital expenditure for the 2021/22 financial year stood at only 67%. The Metro only managed to spend R1,046 billion of its R1,562 billion capital budget.

During the 2020/21 financial year the Metro forfeited R319,6 million in grant funding. In 2019/20 R188 million in grant funding was forfeited to National Treasury.

NMB now runs the risk of once again forfeiting hundreds of millions of rand as we have incurred record underspending of conditional grant funding in the past financial year.

When comparing this to capital expenditure during the financial years 2016/17 (92,2%) and 2017/18 (98,42%) , it becomes clear that the current ANC-led administration has no control over the finances of the Metro.

During the two stipulated years NMB achieved some of the highest conditional grant funding spent in the country and was rewarded additional Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG) funding by National Treasury to the amount of R378,8 million.

Poor project management as well as poor financial controls are to blame for the record underspending that we have seen during the past year.

Adding to these financial woes, the collection rate has dropped to 75,67%. If not addressed immediately, the poor collection rate may lead to cashflow problems in future financial years.

The DA and its coalition partners will have a plan to get Nelson Mandela Bay working again.

Our plan to ensure that we timeously spend capital budget would include:

  1. Capacitating Supply Chain Management.
  2. Dual funding model for all large capital works projects.
  3. Credible procurement plans for all capital works projects.
  4. Weekly expenditure reporting to directorates.
  5. Weekly cash flow reporting to directorates.

Let’s take our future in our hands and get Nelson Mandela Bay working again.

Medical positions now included on new Critical Skills List after DA pressure

The DA welcomes Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s decision to accept the DA’s recommendations from earlier this year to include various professions of medical practitioners on the newly gazetted Critical Skills List.

The DA sent an advisory note in April this year, warning Minsiter Motsoaledi of the implications of the deficiencies in critical positions.

The DA has also constantly put pressure on Government to re-include these positions by posing questions to the Minister of Health as to what the reasons were for omitting these positions from the previous Critical Skills List. Parliamentary questions exposed a shortage of 27 000 critical medical positions that were vacant.

With the inclusion of critical medical positions, the following positions are now rightfully declared as critical:

  • Dentists – specialising in community dentistry, maxillofacial and oral pathology and maxillofacial and oral surgery, among others;
  • Medical practitioners – specialising in anaesthesiology, cardiothoracic surgery, clinical pharmacology and public health, and paediatrics, among others;
  • Pharmacist – including industrial pharmaceuticals, among others;
  • Registered Nurses – including critical care nurses, midwives, and childcare nurses, among others.

It is no secret that the healthcare sector, especially the public sector, is suffering from an immense shortage of skilled doctors and nurses.

This coupled with the fact that South Africa is not able to train sufficient doctors and nurses to fill the needs of the country, will surely give doctors and nurses around the country a sigh of relief.

Currently, the public healthcare system displaces about 800 intern doctors each year due to maladministration of funding.

Ideally, there should be no need to get outside assistance with filling critical positions when there are so many intern and community service doctors waiting to be placed, however, this is sadly not the case as it is no secret that the health department constantly mishandles its funding.

By opening up the health sector to foreign, skilled doctors and nurses, it will provide much relief to the short-term future of the health sector in South Africa given the current shortage of qualified doctors and nurses, with the rural areas and the poor benefitting the most.

The DA will now be looking to provide actual solutions to assist the medical community, especially with regards to training interns and community service doctors.

DA rejects Patel’s directive to ban the export of scrap metal

The DA rejects the decision by Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, to ban the export of scrap metal for a period of 6 months.

This is an admission by government that they have failed to capacitate law enforcement authorities in order to combat the theft and vandalism of public infrastructure.

Furthermore, they appear to be acting in contravention of the relevant public participation legislation, as the announcement by Minister in Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, on the 6th of June 2022 that public consultations pertaining to this issue were to be conducted – have not yet begun nor has a timeline for this process been made public.

While there are illegal metal recyclers who benefit from and are complicit in the pillaging of public infrastructure and should be criminally prosecuted, it is patently unfair to paint everyone in the industry with the same brush.

The fact is that there is a significant proportion of those in the industry who abide by the law and conduct legitimate business dealings.

The DA reiterates that this issue is a crime problem and not a trade policy issue.

However, it should be recorded that Minister Patel has been lobbied extensively by special interest groups in the upstream steel industry – who want an artificially low scrap price – so that they are able to make obscene amounts of money at the expense of metal recyclers.

Moreover, these very same special interest groups have received favourable terms from development finance institutions such as the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in order to fund the acquisition and expansion of their businesses – with Patel’s explicit consent.

In January of this year the Kenyan government decided to a follow a similar route and were forced to walk back their decision in March. This was on account of the fact that they could not empirically prove that it had meaningfully dealt with the theft and vandalism of public infrastructure and that it had led to many businesses closing and jobs lost.

If Minister Patel and government at-large were serious about combatting this scourge they would cost, review and implement the local, provincial and national government interventions put forward by the DA in May of this year.

Lack of police intelligence creates opportunities for Zama Zamas

Please find attached soundbite by Okkie Terblanche MP.

The DA calls on the national commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) General Fannie Masemola to appoint a national head of crime intelligence as a matter of urgency.

Despite SAPS’ recent operations on illegal mining enterprises, following the horrific rapes of eight women in Krugersdorp, a connection between the so-called Zama Zamas that were arrested and the crime have yet to be proven.

While the DA welcomes the action by SAPS, belated as it might be, this tragedy could possibly have been avoided had the police and government made any real effort to address the illegal mining activities prevalent all over South Africa. Reactive policing when there is public outcry following atrocious villainy will not put a dent in South Africa’s sky-high crime statistics.

SAPS’ lack of proper intelligence and glaring lack of proactive policing have put all communities, not only those where the Zama Zamas operate, in increasing danger. Criminals have become more brazen in breaking the law. They simply do not fear the police as the chances of them facing the consequences of their actions are infinitesimally small.

It is time Gen Masemola addressed this gaping hole in SAPS’ crime intelligence. Without fully functioning intelligence services, the police will continue to fight a losing battle to the detriment of everyone living in South Africa.

Small Enterprise Policy: Yet another Masterplan with another task team with more annual reviews

The Small Business Development Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams intends to gazette a Small Enterprise Development Masterplan as policy for small enterprise support.

This is yet another ANC Masterplan, which intends to form yet another task team, with yet more annual review processes.

The Small Enterprise Development Masterplan fails to identify any meaningful and practical interventions to assist SMMEs. Instead, it wants to formulate more guidelines, establish another task team between government and business and establish more annual reviews of laws for “priority reform”.

This reminds of the President’s SONA promise to form a red tape reduction unit under the leadership of Sipho Nkosi. 6 months later and no red-tape unit in sight, we can only speculate that Mr Nkosi’s red tape ghost squad is busy drafting more masterplans, identifying more task teams and creating more review processes.

The ANC is as always big on plans, and nowhere on execution. Historically these type of policies and masterplans introduced by the ANC have rendered the South African business environment hostile to investment, employment, and growth. Reforms to enable small-, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) growth through efficient governance have instead seen years of iterative draft masterplans going nowhere.

Instead of adding more layers of bureaucracy, the ANC-led government can simply do the following:

1. Stabilize the electricity supply, and specifically open the network for small business to help put power in back in the grid. Make small business part of the energy producing solution and include them in in Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) opportunities;
2. Scrap all BEE legislation and requirements, it’s only big business that can afford to comply with this elite cadre enrichment scheme that is BEE;
3. Identify laws and regulations that prohibit bringing the informal economy into the formal economy, in particular compliance requirements that restrict access to formal finance solutions;
4. Overhaul and scrap rigid labour legislation, minimum wages and collective bargaining. The ANC should get out of the way of SMME’s to create jobs; and
5. Reduce the cost of petrol prices by implementing the DA’s Fuel Price Deregulation Bill, which has been submitted to Parliament. This could result in an immediate saving of R9 a litre, which would be a welcome reduction in significant spending across all business industries.

This is the difference between ANC and DA governments. In ANC governments cadres promise, plan, loot and review. The result is clear to see in failed audits, broken service delivery and rampant corruption, all contributing to more poverty, inequality and unemployment.

In stark contrast, in DA run governments throughout the Western Cape, DA public representatives identify, execute and bring real reform where we govern. The result is the clear blue DA difference of clean audits, improved service delivery and the lowest unemployment figures in the country.

Defence Secretary and Minister must explain failures to implement AG recommendations

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Kobus Marais MP.

The DA is calling on the Minister of Defence, Thandi Modise, and the Secretary of Defence, Sonto Kudjoe, to appear before the parliamentary portfolio committee on defence to account for their failure to implement disciplinary recommendations by the Auditor-General of South Africa (AG).

A recent leaked audit report has revealed the shambles of the South African Defence Force’s (SANDF) finances. According to reports, the top tiers of the Department of Defence (DoD) failed to ensure and monitor compliance with supply chain management laws and contravened the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). That no disciplinary action was taken in the vast majority of the cases that amounts to R15.28 billion in wasted, fruitless and irregular expenditures through misconduct, fraud and improper supply chain management last year, shows that corruption is endemic at DoD.

The tragic state of affairs of South Africa’s Defence Department has far-reaching consequences for the country’s safety and security. Already, our forces are battling to comprehensively secure South Africa’s increasingly porous borders. With SANDF set to shed 3 000 soldiers in the next three years, it might not have the ability to launch a meaningful defence should the political turmoil of our neighbours spill over our borders or more widespread riots – like the ones that crippled the country in July 2021 – occur.

A hollowed-out DoD is crumbling under its top-heavy structure that is either unable or unwilling to fulfil the responsibilities of their ranks. Unless top management prove that they can not only be trusted to be fiscally responsible, but also to discipline corrupt officials and officers that loot SANDF’s coffers, they surely must expect continued budget cuts.

Minister Abrahams must unlock potential for SMME participation in concentrated renewable energy manufacturing industry

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Henro Kruger MP.

With the increasing drive for renewable energy adoption in South Africa, the DA finds it concerning that the Minister of Small Business Development, Stella Ndabeni Abrahams, is not actively working to promote increased SMME participation in the renewable energy manufacturing sector.

I will be writing to Minister Abrahams requesting clarity on what her department’s plan is to guarantee inclusion of SMMEs in Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) and the amendment of the National Integrated Small Enterprise Development (NISED) Masterplan to reflect this.

Recent media reports indicated that South Africa only has two companies that manufacture modules or panels for solar energy generation. Clearly, an opportunity does exist to reduce barriers for entry to a multiplicity of small to medium enterprises which will create jobs and provide skills to the unemployed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Energy Action Plan did acknowledge that there is significant potential for households and businesses to install rooftop solar photovoltaics (PVs) and connect this power to the grid. SMMEs can play a vital role in increasing output for solar PVs and lower the cost of installation over time, which at the moment remain very high.

In addition to renewable energy hardware manufacturing, extensive employment opportunities do exist to upskill the unemployed in solar PV installations and maintenance.

Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) has a very extensive value chain that can open up opportunities for SMME participation in manufacturing, transportation, installation, and maintenance of components, or through the generation of electricity itself.

The DA supports the inclusion of South Africa’s SMME in the energy industry as the sector holds the key for sustainable economic growth, inclusion and long-term social stability.

DA condemns ActionSA’s xenophobic actions

Please find attached soundbite by Angel Khanyile MP.

The DA condemns ActionSA (ASA) councillor and MMC for economic development in the City of Johannesburg, Nkululeko Mbundu’s incitement of violence against the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) and the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF).

This after the non-profit human rights organisation and SAITF challenged Mbundu and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department’s (JMPD) illegal prohibition of informal traders working at the De Villiers trading precinct in Johannesburg. The Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg found that Mbundu and the JMPD had violated a Constitutional Court order that prohibits the City from interfering with the rights of informal traders.

Given his historic xenophobic rants, it is hardly surprising that ASA leader Herman Mashaba supported Mbundu when he tweeted that Seri and SAITF were protecting the rights of illegal immigrants, and tried to defend the distribution of photos of Seri staff with their phone numbers on social media platforms.

ASA blaming foreign nationals for their own failures is a play straight out of the ANC’s playbook.

Mbundu’s Twitter thread clearly pushes the false narrative that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are an enemy to South Africans. He also saw fit to tweet the following threat, “We are at DeVilliers daily. @JoburgMPD are very keen to do the work they’ve been assigned. Let’s support them” [sic], and failed to stop the incitement to violence when his followers tweeted the following: “give those lawyers a friendly call bahlali tell them to back off or else. We cannot surrender our country because of constitution”, “We are making a mistake if we think foreigners and their proxy aka NGOs will leave the city and country without a fight, instead we should fight back hard”, “We can’t surrender our city to this aliens,all Operation Dudula members and concern citizens lets decend to Devilliers street tomorrow!!!” [sic]

Not only did Mbundu misrepresent the High Court’s findings, thereby attacking the judiciary, he gleefully allowed the xenophobic threats against foreign nationals and Seri staff.

In a country where attacking and killing whistleblowers and activists have become all too common, Mbundu encouraged a narrative that might lead to violence against innocent people. Should anyone be harmed because of his bigotry, their blood will be on his and Mashaba’s hands and the DA will ensure that charges are laid against them as well as the perpetrators of violence.

Foreign nationals cannot continue to bear the brunt for a broken government.

DA condemns shocking farm murder in Piketberg

Kindly find Afrikaans soundbite here and English soundbite here

After the brutal murder of Piketberg farmer, Hendrik Pistorius, the DA reinforces its call for the devolution of policing powers to provinces. This will, amongst other things, enable the Western Cape to immediately reinstate rural safety units.

Hendrik was a well-known and respected member of the community, and we wish to send our deepest condolences to his family and friends.

Our farming communities are extremely vulnerable and, since the South African Police Service (SAPS) is critically under-staffed and therefore not able to protect these communities, it is imperative that rural safety units be reinstated as a matter of urgency.

We cannot continue down a path that only leads to more killings, more violence, and more blood. The ANC government needs to acknowledge that they simply cannot run an effective police service and that they are incapable of providing viable solutions that will make our vulnerable communities safer. SAPS needs to be devolved as a matter of urgency to allow provinces to manage their own police service.

A President with nothing to hide would make his financial interests publicly available

Today I visited the Union Buildings, accompanied by the DA’s Deputy Chief Whip, Siviwe Gwarube, to view President Ramaphosa’s declaration of interests as head of the executive. This access was granted to us following a request made to the Secretary of Parliament in the wake of the Phala Phala revelations. But despite allowing two of us to view the president’s declaration, it remains shrouded in secrecy with no media permitted. And therein lies the problem.

It is inexplicable and unacceptable, in a modern, open democracy, that the president’s financial affairs and business interests remain a secret, unavailable to the public and the media. The latest scandal surrounding the theft and cover-up of a large sum of seemingly undeclared foreign currency from the President’s farm has shone a new spotlight on this issue, but it is by no means the first or only such incident.

If the media, opposition parties and the public had unfettered access to this information, much of former President Zuma’s murky dealings with the Gupta family as well as the infamous security upgrades at his Nkandla homestead would likely never have taken place. We also would have been able to put to rest many of the unanswered questions that still linger around the Bosasa scandal.

The DA has long called for the establishment of a portfolio committee on the Presidency – the only office in the executive with no such oversight mechanism – and we will not relent until this has been done. But in addition, I will shortly table a Private Member’s Bill in the National Assembly to amend the Executive Members Ethics Act in order to make public the president’s declaration. There is no justification for keeping this a secret, and I expect all members of Parliament to support this Bill in the interest of open, transparent governance.

Currently this Act stipulates that members of the executive should submit their interests to the president, but he is not expected to do the same. It is also unclear whether he will submit himself to the lifestyle audit he has long promised to perform on cabinet, should this ever happen. Although judging by all the secrecy and the struggle to gain access to any information regarding his business interests and income, it is highly unlikely that he will voluntarily audit himself.

None of this is acceptable. The President has a higher duty of transparency than any other citizen. His financial interests should be listed on the Presidency’s website, and not kept guarded at the Union Buildings.

He should also make himself available far more regularly to answer questions in the National Assembly. In the UK, the Prime Minister appears in the House weekly to answer questions. Here in SA, the president is only scheduled to appear four times in a year, and even that seems a bridge too far for him. If Ms Gwarube had not fought in Parliament’s programming committee for a make-up slot for the last missed question session, we would’ve only seen President Ramaphosa at three question sessions this year.

Now that the superficial sheen of this Ramaphosa presidency has well and truly worn off, it should be clear that he – or any future president, ANC or other – cannot be treated differently from any other public office bearer. Parliament, the media and the public must exercise their right to scrutinise his affairs, and he should have no choice but to comply. That is the very least our democracy deserves.