Gauteng residents once again left without water due to Rand Waters’s incompetence

Gauteng residents once again have limited access to water due to Rand Water’s ineptitude.

The continued load shedding is negatively impacting Rand Water’s ability to supply our reservoirs in the province with water.

Municipalities are also severely affected by this as it means that there is not sufficient time between the scheduled blackouts for the reservoirs to fill up.

It is extremely worrying that during a heatwave, our residents do not have access to a reliable supply of water.

It is high time that Rand Water gets its house in order so that some of the pressure can be taken off municipalities.

Furthermore, we demand that Rand Water must communicate timeously to the residents of Gauteng through their municipalities about the planned water outages due to the maintenance of water infrastructure. They should also provide updates on reservoir levels per municipality so that they are aware of the severity of the issue and find ways to mitigate.

In order to find a solution to the current problem with the supply of water in the province, Rand Water should urgently convene a meeting with all the municipalities in the province.

Loadshedding has been ongoing since September 2022 and a solution to ensuring that Rand Water and municipalities can supply water to our residents is urgently needed.

Last year, I wrote a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, requesting that an inter-governmental task be established to find a solution to load shedding and the water crisis in the province.

To date, the only entity that has come back to me about our complaint regarding the water crisis is the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). During our engagement with the SAHRC last year, they indicated that they would be looking into our complaint.

We will be sending a request to the SAHRC for a meeting so that we can be updated on the progress made in our complaint.

The DA urges all our residents in the province to adhere to the current water restrictions in place while we are engaging with different stakeholders in finding a permanent solution to the issue.

Lesufi must first do his own job before interfering in Tshwane

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Cilliers Brink MP.

The premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, faces many crises that require his diligent attention. The most obvious one is the Rand Water supply crisis currently afflicting municipalities and their residents. Instead the premier seems to be dedicating his time to playing political games.

The DA takes note of Lesufi’s statement that “the provincial ANC will enter into talks with other political parties in Tshwane in a bid to remove the DA from power”, and we assure him that we will fight him every step of the way.

We know what happened the last time the ANC provincial executive in Gauteng intervened Tshane. Provincial ANC administrators found a surplus of R296 million on its operating budget, and by the time they left the city had a R4 billion deficit.  Systems and controls were also destroyed.

In fact, the multi-party coalition in Tshwane is still trying to repair the damage done to the city by the province’s administrators. This ‘intervention’ was eventually set aside by a court of law, and the ANC received even fewer votes in Tshwane in the 2021 local government than it did in the 2016 local government election.

The newly elected mayor of Johannesburg is a puppet, and he will have many masters. The ANC could manipulate smaller parties like the Patriotic Alliance to sell out their voters, because no single party or coalition in Joburg had a clear majority. Tshwane’s multi-party coalition does have a majority.

The DA will keep a close eye on Lesufi and the actions of the Gauteng provincial executive. In 2020 we stopped their unlawful power grab in Tshwane, and the precedent from that court case gives us even stronger firepower for prevent similar abuse in future.

If Lesufi wants to help the people of Tshwane, he should prioritise his job as premier over his job as provincial chairperson of the ANC. He has a constitutional obligation to support municipalities, including those that are not governed by the ANC, which in Gauteng is now the majority of municipalities.

DA’s SoD proposal was never intended to give the ANC government carte blanche

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The recommendation from the ANC, Cosatu and SACP that a national state of disaster be declared over Eskom comes about six months after President Ramaphosa rejected the idea in favour of the so-called energy action plan. He is on record as saying “We do not need a state [of]…. national disaster to implement common sense regulations that should help in resolving our energy crisis”.

The key feature of the president’s current turnabout is “to ensure that sufficient financial resources are allocated to end load-shedding.” It is for this reason that Parliament needs to fulfil the function of watchdog to ensure this does not become yet another opportunity for Covid-like misappropriations by key ANC ministers and officials.

The DA’s repeated request that a ring-fenced State of Disaster on Eskom be declared was to ensure  disaster relief funding be sourced from other departments and government resources, and reprioritized to keep the open-cycle turbines running in the immediate term.

Moreover, such a declaration would allow government to bypass its own self-imposed obstacles, bottlenecks and cost inflations in the form of unworkable labour legislation, localisation requirements, cadre deployment and preferential procurement. The DA was clear that the national focus should be on finding short term solutions to stabilize supply while expanding energy market participation by Independent Power Producers.

It is crucial that the envisaged State of Disaster is ring-fenced around Eskom and that it is overseen by an independent panel of suitably qualified experts to ensure probity and transparency.

Should this putative move by government be implemented it is of utmost importance that the president and his implementing minister, Gordhan, be placed on terms: mess this one up and you will have driven the final nail into South Africa’s economy and the lives and livelihoods of millions of citizens.

This initiative – first tabled by the DA – will be under our intense scrutiny, particularly as it will enable disaster relief funding to address immediate actions while fully costed measures to augment generation are presented and actioned without let or hindrance and that maintenance and repairs are carried out with urgency and transparency.

Make no mistake, this is not carte blanche for a 20 year opaque contract with Karpowerships and it is imperative that every cent spent is accounted for and its impact measured.

ANC finally concedes the obvious: it has turned Eskom into a disaster

Please find attached a soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP.

Today, the ANC was finally left with no choice but to accede to the DA’s long-time demand to declare Eskom an ANC-made disaster zone. With more than a decade of loadshedding already having wiped billions off the economy, the reality that the ANC turned our electricity system into an unmitigated disaster appears to finally be sinking in.

The DA re-emphasises our long-held position that any declaration of a State of Disaster should be strictly ring-fenced around Eskom and the electricity sector. Most importantly, such a declaration must be subject to complete and transparent parliamentary oversight.

Properly implemented, a ring-fenced and transparently-managed State of Disaster can enable government to bypass its own self-imposed obstacles, bottlenecks and cost inflation in the form of unworkable labour legislation, localisation requirements and BEE.

However, full and complete transparency and parliamentary oversight will be required along every step of the way to prevent a repeat of the PPE looting frenzy during the Covid-19 State of Disaster. With this in mind, the DA will immediately write to the Speaker of the National Assembly requesting her to ensure this matter is urgently tabled in Parliament.

DA reveals Home Affairs applications deleted due to loadshedding

The DA has discovered that Home Affairs applications are being deleted due to loadshedding. The possibility that this is also the case in other state departments is extremely concerning and the DA will be doing oversight in the coming weeks to ascertain whether it is indeed the case.

I have written to Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to urgently address this issue.

When visiting the Bronkhorstspruit Home Affairs office with ward 105 DA Councillor candidate Lida Erasmus, it was found that there are cases where citizens apply for an ID document or passport, complete the application and receive a valid receipt. A few weeks later when they return to the office to find out why the documents are not ready they find that the application was completely deleted due to load shedding that causes the system to go offline.

These residents are then required to reapply. This is a completely unacceptable waste of time for these residents. There can be no compromise on database replication and power failover systems in place for secure systems that contain such sensitive information.

The Minister has to date failed to answer a DA parliamentary question posed in October 2022 requesting a list of the home affairs offices with no functioning generator or uninterrupted power supply system and by when emergency power supply systems will be installed in each of these offices.

A detailed report presented to Home Affairs as far back as 2019 already highlighted electricity and environmental issues as major causes of system downtime including uninterrupted power supply devices not kicking in, no power backup or not having fuel in generators when power fails.

The lethargy in having these issues addressed is difficult to understand, given the severity of their impact. Ministers enjoy generators at their residences at taxpayer expense and are completely disconnected from the effects of load shedding.

The DA will be following up to ensure that this issue of applications being deleted due to loadshedding is addressed without delay.

Doctors should not have to march to be employed

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

It is shocking that more than 1 000 doctors were forced to take to the streets today in order to try and remedy the critical shortage of doctors in South African hospitals.

Last year, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, revealed a vacancy for 1 339 doctors in the public health sector, as well as 10 831 vacancies for nurses. In December, the South African Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu) said that at least 225 post-community service doctors had yet to find employment.

Since it has become crystal clear that the ANC government is either unwilling or incapable of addressing this critical shortage, the DA has taken matters into our own hands. We will be bringing a Private Members Bill (PMB) before Parliament to change the way medical students and doctors are placed for the internships and community service years.

The placement of community service doctors has never run smoothly. Every year, scores of doctors are left in limbo by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) putting 8 years of hard work in jeopardy.

And the issue stretches further than the chaotic placement of community service doctors. Last year 94 doctors who qualified at foreign universities, sued the HPCSA for seemingly hindering their registration to enable medical practice in South Africa. The Council also failed to provide the doctors who wrote the board examinations with exam scripts and marking memoranda, despite being ordered by the Public Protector after an investigation.

It is unfathomable that the ANC government refuses to address the country’s doctor shortage (0.31 doctors per 1 000 patients), especially given the large number of qualified doctors that seek employment.

In an interview last year Dr Nicholas Crisp, the deputy director-general for the Department of Health (DoH) responsible for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, blamed the failure to fill posts on the annual decrease of budgets and the rising cost of employment. Yet the 2021/22 annual report revealed that R42 655 000 of the Department’s dwindling budget was spent on just 44 NHI posts.

And to this day, the Department has failed to provide an NHI financing plan. To add insult to injury, the Minister and Dr Crisp have not managed to come to an agreement on how the NHI would be funded with everything from introducing additional taxes, possible increases in value-added tax (VAT), changes to general taxation, adding a payroll tax to the reallocation of funds being touted.

Today’s march has illustrated the Department of Health’s clear disdain for South Africa’s medical professionals and the people they serve. Instead of prioritising front line health care by capacitating the public health system, the ANC government is wasting money on an ill-conceived idea that will inevitably fail and erode the little that’s left of the country’s health care.

It is time the NHI was scrapped entirely, and the money reprioritised to employ nurses and doctors.

Loadshedding crisis: DA again calls for bone-in chicken to be zero-VAT rated

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP.

Permanent loadshedding is having a devastating effect on the poultry industry.

This week the poultry producer Astral Foods said that they expect their earnings for the first half of this financial year to be “decimated” by loadshedding disruptions. These blackouts brought on by the ANC government are causing the poultry industry to fork out millions on diesel to power generators. The ANC government unashamedly failed to respond positively to a request for diesel rebates to farmers to save the sector and protect food security.

Currently, the cost of poultry production exceeds the price at which the chicken meat is being sold.

The economic principle dictates that poultry farmers must increase their prices in this instance to cover their costs. However, consumers can no longer afford these price hikes, especially for a staple item in most households, and food security. In many rural and urban areas poor citizens rely heavily on poultry meat and egg for safe nutrient proteins in their daily diets. This poses a huge threat to national food security.

The DA therefore reiterates its call for bone-in chicken to be zero-VAT rated. Removing VAT on bone-in chicken would benefit the poorest 50% of South Africans who are already battling to put food on the table – now exacerbated by permanent loadshedding.

It is every government’s duty to protect its poor citizens through the protection of its agriculture commodity group instead of exposing it to market forces that will lead to its demise.

Currently, the government of South Africa and Eskom is doing the opposite.

The current ANC-engineered Eskom destruction of agriculture is a disaster for the entire economy. Whilst agriculture’s contribution to the GDP is 2%, the entire value chain of agriculture contributes up to 30% to the GDP. This applies to all sectors inclusive of the poultry industry. If these actions of Eskom and the ANC do not stop, the economy in no time likely to bleed double the digit of the GDP which shall be disastrous to all planned infrastructural plans.

Rural towns are rapidly becoming ghost towns due to Eskom’s loadshedding. The Democratic Alliance has written to the chairperson of the portfolio, requesting him to invite Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Ms Thoko Didiza and Eskom management to appear before the portfolio committee to provide the committee with a plan to avert potential food security disasters and job losses.

Loadshedding does not discriminate and neither must Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Jan de Villiers MP.

The DA welcomes the announcement by the Department of Small Business Development that they are working on a loadshedding relief package for the SMME sector. However, 8 days has lapsed since the announcement, and SMMEs need aid immediately as the ANC-induced power outages are wreaking havoc on the sector and small businesses are battling to keep their doors open.

The economic impact of loadshedding on small businesses has been severe, and many of them are struggling to stay afloat. The DA looks forward to an announcement that is practical and easily accessible to all small businesses, and we trust that the pronounced relief will not be dependent on whether a business meets the requirements set out by BBBEE legislation.

Loadshedding does not discriminate on race and neither must the government when providing relief. The past actions of the previous Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, using BBBEE racial requirements in the provision of relief to small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the announcement by the previous Minister of Tourism, Kubayi-Ngubane, that the Tourism Covid-19 relief fund would be guided by BBBEE legislation, were unacceptable, illegal and must be not be repeated.

Even during a pandemic – when businesses that are owned and operated by people of all races suffered and many had to close their doors permanently – the ANC government still prioritised its racial agenda.

We call on the Department of Small Business Development to stop stalling and take immediate action by providing relief to all SMMEs who are suffering as a result of loadshedding. The government must ensure that relief is distributed in a fair and transparent manner, without any discrimination. We trust that the department will take this into consideration when finalizing the relief package.

The DA strongly opposes any presupposition based on race and will fight the decision if the department bases access to the relief on racial quotas. All SMMEs are equal victims of loadshedding and deserve equal access to relief.

We call on the Minister and her Department to act swiftly and provide relief to small business owners who are suffering as a consequence of ANC incompetence. All SMMEs deserve equal access to relief, regardless of their race or compliance with BBBEE legislation. The DA will continue to fight for the rights of all small businesses and ensure that they receive the support they need to survive and thrive.

DA to meet ANC head-on in court again on Monday

Note to editors: Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can announce that we will be taking on the African National Congress (ANC) about its corrupt cadre deployment policy in court once again on Monday, 30 January. This will be as part of the DA’s ongoing effort to ensure transparency over the role played by cadre deployment in promoting state capture, corruption and service delivery collapse. Through this case, the DA aims to obtain and expose complete records and minutes from the ANC’s cadre deployment committee dating back to 1 January 2013, when President Cyril Ramaphosa became its chairperson.

This case, which will be heard in the Johannesburg High Court on Monday, has taken on new significance following the oral evidence presented by the ANC this past Monday and Tuesday as part of the DA’s separate application to declare cadre deployment unconstitutional. During that earlier hearing, the ANC argued that cadre deployment constitutes “free speech.” Yet the absurd nature of this claim is belied by the fact that every single decision ever taken by the ANC’s cadre deployment committee is a closely-guarded secret.

If cadre deployment were truly a matter of free speech, why is the ANC opposing the DA’s court case to make public full and complete records of all the decisions made by the deployment committee? If cadre deployment is not corrupt, why is the ANC so desperate to hide the facts about it from the people of South Africa?

This genesis of this case lies in a request that the DA directed to the ANC in February last year in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The PAIA Act makes it clear that “a requester must be given access to any record of a private body if that record is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.” In the DA’s original application, we provided a detailed outline of the way in which ANC cadre deployment violates the constitutional right to equality by preferencing loyal ANC cadres for jobs in the public sector. We also outlined how cadre deployment corruption infringes on a range of other rights by destroying capacity in the public sector.

Despite now opportunistically claiming that cadre deployment somehow constitutes “free speech,” the ANC has been hellbent on keeping the records requested by the DA secret, leaving us with no choice but to approach the court to force the ANC to reveal full details of how cadre deployment promoted state capture while Ramaphosa was chairman of the committee.

If the ANC genuinely believes that cadre deployment is “free speech,” the DA invites it to drop its opposition to our PAIA case and provide us with the full and complete cadre deployment records we requested. Anything less would prove that its opposition to the DA’s war on cadre deployment is nothing less than desperate hypocrisy in defense of corruption.

ANC Government Ignores the Inflation Crisis

The ANC’s reckless economic policies have once again hit South African households where it hurts most – in their wallets. Today, the Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee announced an increase of 25 basis points in the repo rate, meaning the cost of servicing debt will increase at a time when our country is already reeling from an ANC government-induced cost-of-living crisis.

The announcement comes as a measure to contain the damage caused by the anti-poor fiscal policy framework of the ANC and the party’s failure to implement measures to combat rapidly rising prices. The shocking inflation statistics released last week reveal the true extent of the crisis – year on year inflation for overall goods has skyrocketed by 10.1%, with transport prices increasing by a staggering 13.9% and food and non-alcoholic beverages by 12.4%.

The price of bread, a basic food item, has risen more than 20% in 2022 alone.

But the ANC government doesn’t care. Instead of implementing fiscal policies to soften the blow of rising prices and continuous power outages, they have chosen to bail out bankrupt state-owned enterprises and prop up their patronage networks.

The Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, has even rejected the DA’s much needed and practical proposals to cut the fuel levy, introduce a solar tax rebate, and expand the zero-VAT rated food basket to include essential items such as bone-in chicken, beef, tinned beans, wheat flour, margarine, peanut butter, baby food, tea, coffee, and soup powder. VAT on these items disproportionately impact the poorest 50% of South Africans who are already battling to put food on the table.

It is clear that the ANC government is far removed from the harsh reality of hunger and starvation in our country.

The DA will not stand idly by while they continue to play politics with people’s lives. We will increase pressure on the government to implement workable economic policies and urgently address the cost-of-living crisis, especially the cost of food.

The time for empty promises and electioneering is over. It’s time for the ANC to either take real action to address the plight of economically marginalised South Africans or step down and make way for a DA government that cares for all South Africans.