Johannesburg Coalition Government Address

The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, John Steenhuisen, during a live broadcast.

Good evening fellow South Africans,

After months of efforts to destabilise coalitions across the country, today the ANC succeeded in seizing control of Johannesburg. I warned precisely, a few weeks ago, that this is what is transpiring in the background.

This was done through nefarious tactics that culminated in smaller parties helping them to conduct the kangaroo-style council meeting in Johannesburg today. The ANC’s desperation to get their hands on tenders and contracts from Johannesburg’s R76 billion budget is now clear for all to see.

The outcome of the special sitting of the Johannesburg Council today has led to much speculation about the effectiveness and credibility of coalition politics.

Let me begin by stating clearly that the Democratic Alliance remains committed to coalition government and making coalitions work.

We firmly believe that with the commitment of all parties to work for the betterment of the citizens of this country rather than narrow self-interests, coalition governments have a vital role to play in the political landscape of South Africa.

We believe that what transpired in the council meeting today was unlawful and unprocedural. The sitting was little more than a sham and the Speaker, on debut, showed she is neither competent nor capable of managing a council meeting in the prescribed manner.

Mayor Mpho Phalatse has been the target of a coordinated attack, not because she has done anything wrong, but because she has done everything right. We have always had, and still do have, the utmost confidence in Mpho Phalatse.

Mayor Phalatse has achieved 71% of her targets to date and we have many examples of how the residents of the city have started to benefit from good, clean governance and dedicated service delivery projects for all residents.

I started this address by saying that the very concept of coalitions as a way to save South Africa has also suffered because of the events of the past weeks. I can state, without fear of contradiction, that it is not the system of coalitions that is at fault but the often mercenary way that some participants approach their role in such a government.

This very unfortunate sequence of events started with an unprovoked Motion of No Confidence against our Speaker, Vasco da Gama.

In terms of the signed coalition agreement with all our coalition partners, this position must be filled in Johannesburg by the DA. But due to the treachery of individual members of coalition partners, Vasco was voted out.

We are grateful to all our coalition partners – except COPE – who acted swiftly to expel their rogue members.

After our prescribed processes, the DA re-nominated Vasco to fill the vacant position. On receiving resistance from coalition partners, we were willing to be flexible on the candidate and nominate an alternate, Alex Christians.

Then it emerged that ActionSA had suggested that the DA relinquish this negotiated position and hand it to the IFP. This went against the signed and agreed coalition compact, and the DA drew the line, saying: A deal is a deal. If we revise it, this must occur in terms of the procedures laid down in the coalition agreement itself.

Smaller parties, including ActionSA continued to agitate for the IFP to be handed the Speaker’s position. After thorough discussion, the PA announced that they would not support the DA Speaker candidate.

The ANC, EFF and PA voted together to select the COPE rogue Councillor, Colleen Makhubele, as the Speaker.

Ignoring due process entirely, Colleen Makhubele forged ahead to convene a Council meeting to oust Phalatse as Mayor this morning, in a process so flawed that we will challenge it in court.

It is entirely spurious and false to blame the DA for any of these developments. We have, from the outset, held to the letter and the spirit of the coalition agreement in good faith.

When it became clear that the PA and some other partners were conniving with the ANC, our representatives on the Coalition Technical Task Team wrote a letter spelling out in detail what the coalition agreement required. By then, as it subsequently transpired, the PA deal with the ANC was done.

It is quite clear that the PA will not accept their defeat by the DA in the recent Prince Albert and Matzikama by-elections, and they have brought down coalition governments in Knysna, Cederberg and now Johannesburg.

The blame lies squarely with the coalition partners who refuse to recognise or respect the terms of the signed Coalition Agreements, which they clearly do not believe are worth the paper they are written on.

If these coalition governments are to work, we need our partners to be dependable and stick to the written agreements they signed. These are not mere suggestions to be amended at whim, but binding agreements aimed at the ensuring everyone is on board and shares the same values.

We are grateful to our coalition partners who remained loyal, not to us, but to the coalition agreement, all through this time, and who honoured and accepted as binding the written agreement we all signed.

Now the Patriotic Alliance, along with COPE’s Coleen Makhubele, have decided to join the ANC’s coalition of corruption, and we again urge voters to remember that whenever you split the opposition, the ANC will win.

South Africa needs a strong, united opposition party to take on the ANC and win, and only the DA delivers that.

We are further disappointed that ActionSA’s Herman Mashaba has chosen to consistently attack the DA rather than call out the ANC for their desperate efforts to destabilise opposition coalitions across the country.

His media onslaught against the DA today is little more than an attempt to steer the blame for this collapse away from where it truly belongs. While pointing fingers at the DA, Mashaba has been instrumental in destroying the coalition from within, and was not even present in many coalition meetings with the party leaders to resolve the issues.

In the interests of full transparency, the DA is releasing the contents of a letter we sent on 25 September, where we warned ActionSA that their scheme to violate the coalition agreement would pose an existential threat to the government.

We will not dignify his lies with the social media battle he so desperately wants.

The voters of Johannesburg have every right to be angry that despite their rejecting the ANC, small parties along with the EFF have now handed the city back to the same organisation that has run it into the ground.

We will move quickly to do everything in our power to protect our other coalition governments from this ANC onslaught.

We will do everything we can to rescue failing governments from the ANC’s hands, but often it is the smallest of parties who sell out to the ANC, and against the very people who put them into office.

We want to assure those who believe in democracy and the rule of law that the DA is not done in Johannesburg, and we will continue to fight the forces that put their own greedy agendas ahead of the needs of the citizens of this country.

We are under no illusions that the fight for resources by the coalitions of corruption will increase as the 2024 elections draw nearer, but we will stand firm and we will be guided by not only the values and principles we hold dear, but also by the rule of law.

And finally, I would like to reassure all South Africans that what we are seeing playing out in Johannesburg right now – as messy and painful as it is – is part of the journey we have to take if we want to save South Africa from ANC domination.

I understand how angry and frustrated many of you are right now, and particularly if your vote was one of those that was betrayed. But we dare not back down or give in. That is what they want.

Battling through this disruption and chaos – and learning lessons from it – is the price of progress.

One of those lessons is about the importance of signing and sticking to coalition agreements.

I give you my word today that the DA will never give your vote away to a coalition without a binding written agreement that ensures good governance and service delivery.

Treachery will not stand. Subterfuge will not hold. And we will not succumb to the politics of extortion and blackmail.

Thank you

New Eskom Board – Hello cadre deployment my old friend

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The new Eskom Board announced by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, has been overshadowed by the deployment of an ANC cadre, Mr Bheki Ntshalintshali, who brings no value to Eskom.

Mr Bheki Ntshalintshali’appointment is nothing more than a cheap attempt to fulfill the ANC’s cadre deployment quota in a state owned enterprise. Ntshalintshali’s has simply been given a soft landing after he was rejected by Cosatu delegates.

For the rest of the Board, the jury is still out. Although an attempt was made to bring some individuals with a heavy engineering background, the government did not go far enough – and some are simply recycled executives with no engineering experience

Eskom’s new Board has been appointed into a perfect storm and they need to provide immediate answers to what is essentially one the worst loadshedding episodes that the country has ever gone through. This requires engineering expertise of the highest order.

The Board could have been freed up to operate in an unencumbered fashion had Ramaphosa’s ANC government listened to the DA’s call for a ring-fenced State of Disaster to be declared around Eskom. This would have empowered them to make decisions without the constraints of existing red tape, cadre deployment and more – all of which is responsible in no small way for the critical situation the utility is in.

The Board’s first order of business is simple – they need to bring Eskom’s power plant maintenance programme back on track, secure short term supply of electricity and end loadshedding.

For this new Board to be effective in accomplishing this objective, it is important that that political interference from the ANC government is kept at bay and board members are allowed to work with Eskom executives and engineers to stabilize the grid.

In order to inspire confidence and obtain public support to what is easily a colossal challenge before them, the new Board should, in the next few days, make a public address on how they intend to address generation issues at struggling power stations and the corresponding electricity supply constraints. This is the least that they can do to assure a nation that is on edge, living in constant fear that the grid can collapse anytime. The time for secrecy, com and and control and obfuscation is over.

The DA expects the new Board to double Eskom’s efforts to procure power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and accelerate the opening up of Eskom land for investment by IPPs – this while it fixes what is broken.

The DA stands and willing to cautiously provide support the new Eskom Board in this national effort to fix our electricity supply challenges and end loadshedding. But this will only work if the Board is willing to play open cards with South Africans and are clear on what needs to be done to secure the country’s energy security.

The DA welcomes the Minister’s comments on devolution of rail

The DA welcomes the answer from the Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula that the devolution of rail to cities & municipality’s will happen in the foreseeable future.

Mbalula responded to a question by DA Shadow Minister of Transport, Chris Hunsinger during the debate on the negative impact of heavy duty trucks on the safety of commuters on the road. The minister’s response was the strongest expression of support for devolution of rail to date.

Placing the management of passenger rail in the hands of municipality’s that can handle it, will alleviate the challenges faced by South Africans.

In April, the City of Cape Town announced that it had received the go-ahead to conduct a detailed feasibility study on the metropolitan rail function. With the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana having expressed support for such devolution.

The collapse of SA’s railway system should be squarely placed at the feet of government. Commuters are facing high transport costs due to astronomical fuel prices and the collapse of the passenger rail system. We need practical solutions to shield commuters from this abject failure by devolving public transport management to capable municipalities, as the minister agreed. The devolution of rail networks is a step in the right direction to ensure safe and affordable travel.

The DA will monitor the situation closely and hold the minister accountable for commitments made to the benefit of commuters.

Zenizole Vena failed by government

Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

This week, reports on the death of 15 year old, Zenizole Vena, from the Eastern Cape, rocked South Africans.

The DA calls on the Human Rights Commission to investigate. We will also write to the Police and Health Ministers to look into the matter.

She succumbed to her injuries after escaping from captivity where she was allegedly gang-raped. Her sad and gruesome ordeal was unfortunately prolonged by failures by our country’s health system when she was turned away by a clinic after the incident and later died at the Motherwell police station.

Unfortunately hers is not an isolated experience poor public service from hospitals and police stations. Our constitution makes it clear that no one should be turned away from receiving medical care.

How many times are South African’s going to be let down by this government. Every murder, rape or assault on women and children is one too many.

We cannot accept this as another tragedy and move on. We need to act decisively so there will never be another women or child that suffers the same fate as Zenizole.

The DA reiterates its call for better services at police stations across the country through adequate resourcing and staff training. Especially those who provide GBV-specific services. The expediting of forensic and DNA evidence required for convictions, to ensure victims receive justice is non-negotiable. Increasing the probability of being caught has been perceived as more effective in deterring crime than a harsher sentence.

GBV prevention systems should be enhanced and community support strategies strengthened. This will involve training of frontline workers and key stakeholders to facilitate effective GBV response, prevention, and risk mitigation.

GBV survivors must have access to comprehensive and well-coordinated response services. This entails access to health care services, legal services, emergency material support (shelter, household utensils, blankets, and mattresses etc.) and dignity kits (sanitary towels, hygiene kits, clothing, breastfeeding kits, kits for teenage girls, and post-delivery kits (for mother and baby) etc.

The issues of femicide, GBV and rape in our country requires a collaborative effort and we must hold police and health services accountable for their failures.

Public Protector confirms maladministration and irregularities in procurement of Cuban medicines by SANDF

Please find attached an English and an Afrikaans soundbite by Kobus Marais MP.

Today I received the long-awaited Public Protector’s report on an investigation into allegations of maladministration and irregularities associated with the procurement of the unauthorised medicine (Hebron) Interferon Alfa 2B from Cuba by the Department of Defence.

This follows my complaint lodged on 19 February 2021 with the office of the Public Protector to investigate the brazen irregularities around the South African National Defence Force’s procurement of (Hebron) Interferon Alfa 2B from Cuba.

The report confirms what the DA has been saying all along, namely that if ever there was a rogue unit in the DoD, it is this group of Military Command Council officials within the Department and the SANDF who have an exaggerated affinity for Cuba and anything Cuban.

The report includes the following:

  • My main allegation that the DOD did not follow a proper procurement process when procuring the drug is substantiated;
  • The DOD contravened the Operation Thusano bilateral agreements between South Africa and Cuba, which they claimed to have relied on to procure the drug;
  • The DOD contravened sections of the Constitution, Treasury Regulations and the DOD Policy;
  • The drug was not registered to treat Covid 19 in South Africa and the DOD senior officials proceeded to bring it into the country on 27 April 2020, prior to them applying for its registration to the SAHPRA. The SAHPRA directed the DOD on 3 November 2021, to return the drug to Cuba; and
  • The DOD spent approximately R 33 million under false pretenses to procure the drug without following the normal procurement processes, which amount has not been recovered to date.

It can be deduced from the report with reasonable certainty that Minister Mapisa-Nqakula, the Minister of Defence at the time and currently the Speaker of parliament, has shared with her executive colleagues on the Corona Command Council, that there were no support for this importation, but still she seemingly did nothing to prevent these irregular, illegal and wasteful actions and expenditure

The absolute disregard for our laws and regulations was confirmed when she and her ANC colleagues flew to Zimbabwe during lockdown onboard a SAAF VIP jet, for which the President punished her.

There seems to be a prevalence of total lack of political will among the ANC executives to uphold the Constitution and laws of our country.

It is clear that the ANC government has little regard for South African laws and regulations as it applies to all other South Africans

The Public Protector obliges the Secretary of Defenece as Accounting Officer of the Department to take appropriate remedial actions within sixty (60) days from the date of this report, to initiate an investigation in terms of section 10 of the Defence Act and take appropriate remedial action in terms of section 8(g) of the Defence Act against the DOD officials involved in the irregular procurement of the drug from Cuba.

I will now hand over the report to the Auditor-General and the NPA for whom it will form an important support to my criminal charges which are currently being investigated by the NPA against some of the persons mentioned in the report.

DA rejects kangaroo council sitting in Johannesburg today and the inept Speaker’s rulings

If it wasn’t so serious, it would be laughable.

The Johannesburg City Council meeting earlier today had all the hallmarks of a tragi-comedy as the Speaker, on debut, ignored procedural protocol in her quest to push through the motion of no confidence in Mayor Mpho Palatse as quickly as possible and at whatever the cost.

This was done because a court action brought by the DA to stop this sham meeting was being heard at the same time.

Unfortunately, the Speaker’s tactic worked and the motion was carried before the court action could be concluded.

It was evident for all to see that the Speaker had a political agenda that she would push through without any regard for the rules of the house.

The DA, however, will continue with its court action to prevent the election of a new mayor and ensure that this railroad tactic by the Speaker and her allies is brought to a halt and sanity prevails.

DA welcomes latest arrests by Hawks in NMB

The DA welcomes the spate of arrests by the Hawks that took place across Nelson Mandela Bay today, including that of former DA councillors, Neville Higgins, Trevor Louw and Victor Manyathi.

The arrests of these former councillors vindicate the DA’s decision to terminate the membership of these individuals in 2018, following their role in collapsing the DA-led coalition in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The DA also notes the arrest of Nelson Mandela Bay’s Acting city manager, Noxolo Nqwazi, ANC regional secretary, Luyolo Nqakula, as well as that of Nelson Mandela Bay housing official, Norman Mapu, and business people Xolani and Nwabisa Masela.

The arrests are reportedly in connection with fraud, money laundering and contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act.

The Hawks have alleged that R400 000 from a corrupt contract with HT Pelatona Projects, was redirected to the ANC’s regional secretary, Nqakula, who in turn paid the funds over to the three former DA councillors.

Should this be confirmed in a court of law, it will confirm what the DA has suspected all along, which is that the ANC will stop at nothing to stay in power, including stealing money from the public purse, to pay bribes to swing votes in the council.

The DA stands for good governance and has a zero-tolerance policy for corruption and will be monitoring this case closely. The law must take its course.

Mashaba’s dishonesty risks returning the ANC to power in Johannesburg

The DA rejects the vitriolic and false claims made by representatives of ActionSA, the PA and COPE today blaming the Democratic Alliance for the failure of the City of Johannesburg coalition to elect a speaker in the council meeting yesterday.

In particular, it beggars belief that Herman Mashaba, whose party initiated the entire process by violating the coalition agreement to call for the renegotiation of previously agreed-upon positions, claims to be a victim of arrogance and bullying. The scale of Mashaba’s dishonesty in triggering the process and then seeking to blame the DA, raises a credible suspicion that he is actively undermining the coalition to score cheap political points.

Voters need to take heed that a party that cannot even be trusted to uphold a signed and sealed deal, is a party that cannot be trusted – period.

In an attempt to clean up the mess Mashaba created, the Coalition Task Team met last night to agree on a united communications plan. However, true to form, Mashaba immediately violated that agreement this morning when ASA went on a tirade trying to lay the blame at the door of the DA.

These unsubstantiated and dishonest attacks on the DA are clearly an attempt to divert attention away from ASA’s own complicity in what unfolded in the city council meeting yesterday.

While the DA has consistently upheld all elements of the coalition agreement, the only thing Mashaba consistently does is to speak from both sides of his mouth in order to undermine coalition governments.

Mashaba started the process that resulted in the election of an ANC-aligned speaker yesterday. Just like he did in 2019, his consistent dishonesty risks handing Johannesburg back to the ANC. The DA will not allow Mashaba’s lies to become the truth and we will do everything in our power to protect DA mayor Mpho Phalatse. Because at the end of the day, it is the people of Johannesburg who will lose if Mashaba succeeds.

Aunty Pat wants your flat!

Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP

Last night, the National Assembly debated the Expropriation Bill. Any illusion that the purpose of the Expropriation Bill is to be a mechanism for government to access land for the furtherance of a public purpose or interest was shattered by Minister Patricia De Lille, who finished the debate by shouting “This land is ours!”

It is now clear that the Expropriation Bill has been hijacked by GOOD and their bedfellows, the ANC, for populism and political point-scoring, by presenting this Bill as something it was never meant to be. Instead of opting to present an Expropriation Bill that effectively outlines the procedure for government land acquisition, GOOD and the ANC have delivered a dangerous piece of legislation that directly assaults private property rights and threatens property ownership.  This will take us on a very dangerous journey in the footsteps of failed states like Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Since the introduction of the Bill to the 6th Parliament, Minister De Lille has defended it as being necessary to ensure that the enabling legislation for expropriation by the state is brought in line with the Constitution.  After her utterances last night, it is abundantly clear that her motives are more nefarious. This Bill seeks to undermine private property rights in favour of state ownership, by sneaking expropriation without compensation through the backdoor inside of ordinary legislation. Resultantly, the DA believes this Bill is unconstitutional and violates Section 25 of the Constitution.

Minister De Lille’s response to the debate on expropriation without compensation was that the independence of the judiciary would ensure that compensation would be fairly determined.  Perhaps Minister De Lille should be reminded that the average person is not able to afford the costs of litigation, particularly against the state which has access to vast legal resources and no limit on expenditure.  Litigation should be the very last resort, not the preferred method, for determining just and equitable compensation.

The Democratic Alliance tabled two amendments to the proposed Bill which would have provided substantial protection of private property rights by ensuring that only state-owned property could draw an initial offer of nil compensation.  And further that indirect expropriation such as custodianship and regulatory takings fall within the definition of expropriation in order to ensure that these acts attract compensation for the owners of property which has been indirectly expropriated.  These amendments were stubbornly opposed by the ANC, GOOD and EFF.

The Expropriation Bill will now go to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and following a 6-week process of engagement with the provinces, the NCOP will send the Bill back to the National Assembly with or without amendments.

While we await the outcome of the NCOP processes, we urge the ANC and GOOD to reflect on the impact that expropriation without compensation will have on our economy, our international reputation and the millions of people who have waited for generations to become property owners and whose property rights are now under threat from their own government.

Despite the false promise that this Bill will result in land ownership transformation, the fact remains that the Expropriation Bill is simply not the appropriate mechanism to bring about this reality.  Land reform legislation, addressing the claims backlog, ensuring secure title and budgeting sufficient money for land reform will be the only way in which to correct the injustices of the past.  The Expropriation Bill does not provide for any of these, and therefore must be opposed.