DA lodges complaint with SAHRC over the water crisis in Gauteng

Many Gauteng residents have not had proper access to water on a daily basis since load-shedding was implemented a month ago. For one family living in Coronationville, this basic human right to access water turned into tragedy when their 13-year-old son was knocked down by a car while collecting water. Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has lodged a complaint to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Braamfontein regarding the current water crisis in Gauteng.

See the complaint here.

See pictures here, here and here

Rand Water has been calling on our residents to use water sparingly, yet during our recent oversight inspection of the pumping station and water reservoir in Eikenhof, we discovered that there is a water leak right outside their premises.

Access to water is a basic human right and this right is currently being infringed on by Rand Water which is throttling supply to various reservoirs and pumping stations in the province. Access to this right should not become dangerous, and our residents pay for a service that they expect to be delivered without interruption.

Furthermore, Rand Water’s license to purify and supply water has not been upgraded. This is despite Gauteng’s population growing at a very high rate. This clearly shows that they are not planning to improve access to water as a human right.

On 17th October 2022, the DA wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, the Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi and the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Mzi Khumalo, proposing that an intergovernmental task team be established to look into the electricity and water crisis in Gauteng.

See letter here.

To date, we have only received acknowledgement of our letter from The Presidency. The seven days in which we expected a response has now passed and it is clear that this current national and provincial government is not interested in solving the electricity and subsequent water crisis in the province.

We urge our residents to adhere to the Stage two water restrictions that have been put in place by Rand Water.

The DA will be closely monitoring the progress of the investigation by the SAHRC, as this issue is extremely serious. Access to water should not become dangerous and we need the inter-governmental task team to be set up immediately.

New Intelligence IG a breath of fresh air

The DA welcomes the appointment of Imtiaz Fazel as the Inspector-General (IG) of Intelligence for a period of five years with effect from 1 November 2022. Fazel’s appointment was ratified by a unanimous decision of Parliament.

The innovative solutions and recommendations presented during his interview are a positive indication of much-needed change to be implemented in state security.

The DA hopes for an open-door policy with the new IG to ensure regular engagements and to addressing issues of concern, including the distrust from the public in state security and national intelligence. Making the country safer and advocating national interest is a major responsibility which requires non-wavering commitment to public interest and the rule of law.

Accountability should be at the top of the agenda for the new IG. All public office bearers are to be reminded that they are custodians of the law and not above it.

If the presidency and new IG of Intelligence is indeed serious about strengthening the capability of the state, they would ensure that the silos between the various partners in state security including the South African Police Service (SAPS), South African National Defense Force (SANDF), State Security Agency (SSA) are bridged to ensure coordinated and efficient operations.

The DA will closely monitor Mr. Fazel’s tenure in office and not relent in our efforts to ensure a safe and secure society for all South Africans.

Ramaphosa must publicly support the Eskom board’s plan to ditch BEE

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The DA welcomes the refreshing and honest comments from Eskom Board Member, Mteto Nyati, who this weekend agreed with the DA that we need to relegate the ANC and Government key economic policy positions to the scrapheap of history. This follows after Cabinet also last week embraced the DA’s policy to “ditch” cadre deployment.

Mr. Nyati’s views that race-based empowerment (BBBEE) rules “that hamper Eskom’s performance will have to go” is a profound statement and acknowledgement that BBBEE is nothing more than a rent-seeking scheme to advance the politically connected within the ANC.

They vindicate the DA’s long held position that onerous BBBEE requirements at Eskom were significantly pushing up the procurement bill and shutting out critical skills needed to improve operational efficiency. Eskom is an entity that is currently in ICU and for the ANC government to continue insisting on heavy doses of failed empowerment policies is not only ridiculous but a sure way to destroy what’s left of the entity.

On Government’s flagship localisation policy, Mr. Nyati is equally scathing in his views saying, “when the supplier of equipment is an international company… you have to use middlemen to satisfy the localisation rule”. He went on to state that this only adds to cost pressures for Eskom saying “there’s no place for those kind of practices now.”

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, is still refusing to remove onerous red tape that is standing in the way of increased investment in the electricity sector. His insistence on retaining the 35% local content requirement, instead of removing it completely, is a case in point.

On employment equity, Mr. Nyati did not mince his words when he said “we need to be focusing on who is the best person for the job… regardless of how they look.”

The DA supports Mr. Nyati’s views that the only way to turnaround State Owned Enterprises and our faltering economy, is to ditch failed ANC economic policies that seek to advance those connected to the governing party.

There is no doubt that Mr. Nyati and Eskom will come under immense pressure in the coming days after his public comment, and has already started on social media. The DA therefore calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to publicly come out in support of the Eskom board’s determination to ditch ANC ideology in an attempt to save Eskom.

Corruption cost provinces R121 million in Health funding

Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

In total, the provincial Departments of Health have lost more than R121 million through corruption since January 2020.

In answer to a parliamentary question from the DA, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, revealed that R121 554 424.75 was pilfered in 76 different cases of corruption in public hospitals countrywide.

The provinces that bled the most money were the Mpumalanga (R 58 380 442.25), North West (R27 328 762), and the Free State (R24 259 970).

While these figures are staggering, the DA is worried that they might be underreporting the extent of corruption in public hospitals. News24 reported that the whistleblower Babita Deokaran flagged nearly R850 million in suspicious transactions just days before she was ruthlessly murdered. Of this, R36 million were payments to Hangwani Morgan Maumela, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s nephew by marriage.

Also of interest is the Eastern Cape Department of Health’s flagging of two cases of corruption – with a dismissal and disciplinary action as consequence – but reporting the amount lost as nil. It is worrying that the National Department of Health did not seek to clarify and verify the puzzling information before sending it as an official reply on a parliamentary question.

While it is Parliament’s work to hold the Executive to account, it is reasonable to expect transparency and cooperation from the Minister and his Department, including the provincial departments. Parliamentary questions is an important tool to ensure that government places the people above their own agendas. The lack of cooperation and transparency, as well as cadre deployment, is what led to State capture and the abysmal state of the public health sector. And without it National Health Insurance (NHI) will be nothing but a second feeding frenzy at the trough for corrupt cadres and cronies.

DA wishes matric class of 2022 well with their exams

The DA would like to wish the Matric Class of 2022 well as they write their first National Senior Certificate (NSC) examination today. We trust that all their hard work and preparation will pay off.

We would also like to thank the teachers that have gone the extra mile to ensure that more than 923 000 pupils are prepared for their NSC exam starting today.

They have had to face and overcome many obstacles beyond simply ensuring that they put in enough study time. Apart from loadshedding and years of Covid-lockdowns wreaking havoc with curriculums and in-classroom teaching.

They’ve tried their best to gain an education in crumbling, dangerous and often unsanitary infrastructure, while often being let down by the quality of teaching. The rising cost of living on food and transport have also made it difficult for many learners to continuously attend classes with a nutritious meal.

Yet they persevered.

We anticipate positive outcomes in the announcement of results on the 19th of January 2023 and that Department of Basic Education (DBE) can report on how many learners are in universities, pursuing work opportunity or upgrading from the previous cohort.

The DA will be monitoring the examination, marking and verification processes, as always, keeping a close eye on the true pass rate. With 3.8 million youth not in education, employment or skills training, the country cannot allow a single learner to slip through the cracks.

We believe that every young learner deserves to have their hard work rewarded with a stable and growing economy that will allow them to pursue their dreams.

The DA will continue to work hard to hold the ANC government to account and ensure that school infrastructure is upgraded and maintained, that learners receive quality educations and that not a single learner is left behind. It is crucial therefore that provisions must be made for the schools mostly affected by the floods and natural disasters to ensure that they write exams in a conducive learning environment.

We will also monitor the possible impact of loadshedding and other factors on the marking of scripts and ultimately the announcement of results.

Water crisis in Johannesburg: Why we’re here and what we’re doing about it

The following remarks were delivered today by the Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Dr Mpho Phalatse, during a live broadcast.

My fellow residents of Johannesburg

The rest of the rightful executive committee and I are back where we belong and we are hitting the ground running, picking up right where we left off. The task of saving Joburg continues.

On Tuesday evening, I chaired an urgent virtual meeting of the Mayoral Committee in order to the get the City and its Executive back to work.

My fellow residents, not only have you had to contend with the worst year of loadshedding since the first scheduled blackouts in 2007, but you have also been forced to live with an unstable supply of water.

This is not the Johannesburg we want our children to grow up in. The Democratic Alliance will not allow it.
Last week’s court judgment that confirmed the ANC illegally removed me as the executive mayor was indeed a win for democracy.

The DA never gave up the fight, a fight on behalf of the residents of Johannesburg.

Now we get back to work.

Before the coup by the ANC, the multiparty government made significant progress in undoing decades of neglect of our water system.

We made this clear when we debated on this urgent matter in council on 21 October, when the false ANC leadership said the solution would be Jojo tanks and boreholes. It can only be the corrupt ANC that suggests a plaster to heal a severe wound.

Joburg Water has proposed medium and long-term interventions and projects to ensure sustainability of water supply to our municipality. Plans for a new connection from Rand Water to supplement supply to critical bulk water supply areas in Joburg are underway.

Sadly, however, with all these continuous interventions, the problem of ANC maladministration remains with our bulk water supplier – Rand Water.

This entity has failed dismally in the maintenance of the electric infrastructure which now impacts its ability to pump water.

As MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Services, Cllr Michael Sun, said during the urgent council debate: As long as Rand Water does not upgrade and proactively maintain its pumps and infrastructure and as long as Eskom cannot guarantee supply, the system will continuously fail and Joburg residents’ taps will continue to run dry.

But today I stand before you, as the executive mayor of the City of Johannesburg, a city I so dearly love, and I make a commitment that only a party with a proven track record of service delivery can make: using concrete solutions to real problems, the multiparty government will start the major task of fixing Johannesburg. Truly fixing, not merely sticking on a plaster.

And the good news is, the work has already started.

We have invested R930 million in water supply and sewer infrastructure. We have already started the project of replacing asbestos pipes in the greater Fourways area, and started the upgrade of the Brixton and Crosby reservoirs. Joburg Water has replaced 100.8 km or water pipes and 69.5 km of sewer pipes during the months of April to June.
Over the coming days we will also be working to ensure that urgent matters, like the water and power crises, and that the safety and security of residents, are attended to.

I believe most residents of this City know that there is still a long way to go to turn around Johannesburg and will likely take many years to fix.

But if there is one thing I know to be true, it’s that the DA can get it done.

Nearly 30 years into democracy, people in rural areas still live on land owned by Hendrik Verwoerd

Please find attached a soundbite by Thandeka Mbabama MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can today reveal sickening new information on the extent to which the African National Congress (ANC) has failed to provide land ownership rights and tenure security to the millions of South Africans living in the former apartheid-era homelands.

New information obtained by the DA through a series of Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) requests reveals that, nearly 30 years into democracy, many people in South Africa’s rural provinces still live without full ownership rights on land owned by Hendrik Verwoerd and his successors as apartheid-era “Minister of Native Affairs.” In other cases, the land is owned by entities like the “South African Bantu Trust” and “Government of the Transkei.”

The information, which the DA has published here, indicates that over ten million hectares of land in fertile provinces like the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal are still owned not by the people who live on and work the land in those areas, but by entities like the “South African Bantu Trust,” the “Government of the Transkei” and the “Minister of Native Affairs,” a Cabinet post that was abolished prior to South Africa’s transition to democracy in 1994. In many cases, this land is registered in the name of the “Minister of Native Affairs” held “in trust” on behalf of a local chief.

For example, in the Ubuhlebezwe Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, a specific plot of 139 hectares called “Lot M.A.” is owned by “The Minister of Native Affairs in Trust for the Madsikane Tribe of Natives under Chief Ndida.” Instead of providing title deeds and other forms of tenure security to the people who live on so-called trust land like Lot M.A., the ANC government has chosen to maintain an oppressive system that continues to regard rural South Africans as “tribes of natives” without the right to own their own land.

By continuing to treat people in rural areas as second-class citizens without the right to own property, the ANC has not only betrayed their aspirations, but has actively prolonged and aggravated their dehumanisation. Without secure property rights, residents in these areas suffer under some of the highest rates of poverty and unemployment in the country.

The DA condemns in the strongest terms the ANC’s failure to liberate and empower rural citizens living on over ten million hectares of land through providing them with secure private property rights. In fact, it appears that the ANC government is more interested in upholding the ownership status of the likes of Verwoerd, than empowering rural citizens to become private property owners.

To urgently begin rectifying this injustice, the DA is submitting a complaint to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on the basis that the ANC’s failure to enact land reform in so-called trust areas violates the constitutional rights to dignity, equality and property ownership of landholders in these communities.

We will also shortly introduce a ground-breaking new Private Member’s Bill, called the Land Justice Bill, that will empower residents of so-called trust areas as well as land reform beneficiaries to become fully fledged private property owners.

While other political parties seek to scapegoat private property rights as protected in section 25 of the Constitution, the information revealed today by the DA confirms that the true root of the failure of land reform is to be found in the ANC’s failure to expand and deepen private property rights in communities that were deprived of these rights under apartheid. Section 25 (6) of the Constitution explicitly provides that “A person or community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled, to the extent provided by an Act of Parliament, either to tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress.”

The ANC has clearly failed dismally to implement this constitutional provision. To this day, there is no Act of Parliament on the South African statute books that fulfils the call contained in section 25 (6). Since the ANC refuses to empower rural residents to become landowners, the DA will now do it for them through our SAHRC complaint and our Land Justice Bill.

Empowering the estimated 16 million people already living on often arable trust and state-owned land to become private property owners and commercial farmers would be the single greatest step forward for sustainable land reform in the history of democratic South Africa. Instead of expropriating existing commercial farms, undermining property rights and weakening food security, turning landholders who still live on land owned by the likes of Verwoerd into private landowners would increase food security and deepen property rights.

This is a win-win solution that would right a historic injustice while promoting inclusive and sustainable economic development.

We call on all political parties represented in Parliament who care about justice and sustainable land reform to support our complaint to the SAHRC as well as our Land Justice Bill

Cadres Before the Cost of Living crisis

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr. Dion George MP.

In his mid-year budget speech on Wednesday, the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, not once mentioned the cost of living crisis or the daily battle faced by millions of South Africans to put enough food on the table.

This despite the minister’s undertaking on 24 September 2022 to, upon requested, establish a panel to assess the impact of expanding the zero-VAT rated basket of goods.

Subsequently, on 25 September, the DA wrote to the minister to formally request him to do so, with no response.

On 19 October we delivered a petition and a memorandum to his office in Pretoria.

The DA will now again be writing to the minister to ask whether he purposefully mislead Parliament when he said that he will consider expanding the zero-VAT rated basket, if so advised by an expert panel?

With the benefit of a significant tax windfall, the 2022 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) provided the minister a perfect opportunity to at the very least signal that government hears the plight of the most vulnerable in our society to urgently address the current cost of living crises.

Instead, with the delivery of the MTBPS the minister chose to snub the poor by not even acknowledging the easily affordable expansion of the zero-vat rated basked of goods and reducing the fuel-levy.

In his speech and subsequent briefing to a joint meeting of the standing and select committees on appropriations and finance – after the DA pressed him on the matter – the minister simply referred to a report that was published in 2017 by a previous panel that decided the zero-vat rated goods basket should not be expanded.

Local and international economic conditions have changed radically since then, and 81% of households responded to a survey that they are unable to put enough food on their tables.

The minister made numerous references to so called trade-offs that have to be made. Yet, by directing billions to failing State-owned enterprises, the minister followed ANC suit and traded off the wishes of poor consumers by pandering to the cadres who find their patronage networks drying up.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the minister to answer to the plight of those who are the most vulnerable in our society.

Ward by ward, we will liberate eThekwini from ANC failure

Please see attached photos here, here, here and here.

I will spend today campaigning in eThekwini’s Ward 10 ahead of next week’s crucial by-election, as well as conducting an oversight visit of the metro’s failing water and sewage infrastructure. This great city cannot be allowed to continue on its current downward spiral, and by-elections such as these are important stepping stones in wresting control from the ANC government that has brought about this governance disaster.

Later today we will visit the Umbilo Wastewater Treatment Works, where raw sewage has been streaming into the river and flowing into the harbour. This oversight visit will form part of our fact-finding mission ahead of announcing our legal action against the eThekwini Metro Council for their failure to maintain these critical pieces of infrastructure and shield the city’s residents from dangerous pollution.

The challenges faced by the residents of Ward 10 are the same as the challenges faced right across the metro: the steady collapse of service delivery and a shocking neglect of infrastructure by an ANC-run local government that is simply way out of its depth. These challenges existed long before April’s devastating floods wreaked havoc across eThekwini, but not only did the floods dramatically worsen the situation, it also gave the ANC government a handy excuse to hide behind. Every failure and every derelection of duty now gets pinned on the floods.

By now, everyone knows of the largescale collapse of the city’s sewage and sanitation infrastructure, with 17 out of 22 wastewater treatment plants not operational, and rivers, estuaries and beaches across Durban and surrounds polluted by raw sewage. But the electricity grid here also suffered extensive damage in April, and more than six months later large parts of the ward still regularly go without power for extended periods. And the entire metro’s natural resources along its riverbanks, beachfronts and conservancies – such as the Kloof Conservancy here in Ward 10 – have been devastated by pollution and neglect.

The grim reality is that beach closures and serious concerns over the safety of the city’s tap water now threaten Durban’s holiday season. Media reports yesterday revealed that insufficient budgets to repair flood-damaged sanitation infrastructure call into question the city’s pledge to have these facilities fixed in time to re-open beaches for the peak tourist season. Already we have seen URC rugby matches in Durban cancelled after dozens of players from two different visiting teams fell ill in Umhlanga, and there is also a question mark over February’s Duzi canoe marathon.

Tourism is the lifeblood of this metro, and millions of jobs and livelihoods are threatened by this self-created disaster. Thankfully the DA has been working tirelessly here in Ward 10, and across the metro, to shield residents from the worst of these failures and to hold the metro government to account. All this work and all these small victories – a full timeline of which can be viewed here – make a difference, but ultimately we have to be in government if we are to save this metro from the ANC.

We will achieve this ward by ward, and that starts with defending one of our stronghold wards here next week. Last year, the ANC came perilously close to losing control of eThekwini, and it was only thanks to their disruptions and delaying tactics around a crucial council meeting that they were able to buy the support of a few small parties to build a 50% coalition. The leader of one of those parties, Abantu Batho Congress (ABC), was rewarded with the Deputy Mayor position and is now running against our candidate here in Ward 10.

We will send him a message on Wednesday that the people of Durban will not tolerate this criminal level of failure and neglect.

Parliament to rebuild itself as DPWI fails

The DA welcomes the announcement by the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, of an allocation of R2 billion for the repair and refurbishment of Parliament over the next three years.

This follows the outcome of Phase 2 of the investigation into the fire by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI). The report presented by the service provider Coega Development Corporation was presented to a meeting of the Joint Standing Committee on the Management of Parliamentary Finance on 9 September 2022.

In order to track the repair and refurbishment of Parliament and to ensure that the process is transparent, the DA will request strict timeframes and quarterly progress and expenditure reports.

According to Minister De Lille, a technical troika was to be established to ascertain a way forward which would be presented to Parliament for adoption. This was still her position Wednesday during a Portfolio Committee Meeting when asked why the media had already reported that the budget for the repairs would be given directly to Parliament and not to the DPWI.

In a statement released on Thursday, Parliament confirmed that the R2 billion will be paid to them by National Treasury and that Parliament itself will be responsible for the rebuilding of the structures. This follows Parliament requesting National Treasury directly to bypass the DPWI and provide Parliament with the funding.

It is evident and telling that Parliament does not have faith in the DPWI’s ability to deliver a refurbished Parliament on budget and on time. The controversial BDO Report that was kept hidden for over a year is a clear indication of the absolute failure of the DPWI to meet project deliverables on the Parliamentary precinct. This is despite the fact that the Prestige Programme within the Department is dedicated to the maintenance and management of Parliament, parliamentary villages and similar strategic properties.

Minister De Lille should worry less about being affronted and more about the very clear indications that her Department is no longer trusted by other government departments to deliver on its mandate. This is not a vote of confidence in her and the DPWI.