Royal AM breached multimillion Rand contract with eThekwini to score with Msunduzi

It has now come to light that Royal AM football club dribbled Msunduzi and eThekwini municipalities in order to score a double deal at the expense of taxpayers’ money.

While the history of how the dodgy deal between the financially-strapped Msunduzi Municipality and Royal AM was initiated and concluded has been well-documented, new revelations show the billionaire-owned football club breached an existing contract with eThekwini at the cost of millions.

The metro entered into a 3-year deal with Royal AM, which would see the club promote Durban as a preferred world class destination. This was a deal that was meant to run till the end of the 2023/24 financial period. However, as contained in an EXCO supplementary agenda, in July this year Royal AM revealed that it was sitting with a similar deal which would see it relocate to Msunduzi – a move heavily characterized by gross manipulation and violation of several documented processes.

Royal AM’s move meant that the club had double parked between the two cities – ultimately hedging bets on taxpayers’ money while the ANC was only more than willing to create financial opportunities for their rich billionaire buddies.

During its sitting Exco questioned the matter coming to light 3 months after the offer was made and agreed on termination of contract. It was also agreed that the R3, 5 million which eThekwini would have paid for the 2023/24 financial year of the Royal AM deal be redirected towards other sporting partnership initiatives.

It is without a doubt that the ANC feeding frenzy, which the DA has repeatedly warned about, has begun. The brazenness and blatant disregard are distinct behaviours akin to a kick of a dying ANC horse in KZN.

Now that the greedy ANC and its cadres have revealed their identity and intention, the DA in KZN calls for the people of the province to see this for what it is – and take the opportunity in 2024 to remove this uncaring and desperate government and replace it with one that can make a difference.

The DA will also be updating the courts, through litigation against Msunduzi, on these new revelations by means of supplementary affidavits.

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Eskom clocks a R24 billion loss but still wants a new logo

Corporate dissonance was laid bare today when Eskom, which currently has an open tender for a new logo, announced that it has registered a record-breaking R24 billion net loss for the year ended March 2023.  

By getting another qualified audit, Eskom has once again proved that it has no plan to stop the bleeding and has instead resigned itself to the reality that it is a badly run organisation. 

The failure to reign in loadshedding means that there won’t be change to Eskom’s financial crisis even if they keep getting double digit and above inflation tariff increases every year. The load shedding is shaving off almost 10% of sales, and hence revenues, from a business that is at least 60% fixed-cost business. In addition to the reduced top-line comes an increased cost of goods sold because of the high diesel usage. 

It easy to see why the continuous burning of diesel to run the Open Cycle Gas Turbines is not a sustainable long terms solution to fix loadshedding. This practice is burning a hole in Eskom’s finances and eating away at budgets that could have been better spent on capital projects like the expansion of the transmission network. 

Today’s presentation of Eskom’s financial statements has all but confirmed what we have always known – Eskom is bankrupt and no amount of taxpayer funded bailouts will ever return to profit again. Yet the ANC government is happy to keep throwing taxpayer money at this failed entity and subsidise its death spiral. 

Eskom’s shambolic finances have exposed why the imposition an aggressive 31,4% tariff increase over two years has been nothing but a hostile raid on consumer pockets to subsidise the entity’s losses. South Africans have become Eskom’s captive victims as they forced to pay for high tariffs for electricity that they only receive some of the time. 

Despite running a multi-billion rand loss, Eskom had the audacity to issue a tender asking service providers to provide services for the design of a new logo and the development of a new corporate identity for Eskom and its subsidiaries. This corporate dissonance is clear evidence of an organization that has lost its way and has lost sight of its strategic purpose – which is to provide electricity. 

While the acting CEO, Calib Cassim has acknowledged receiving the DA’s letter requesting him to use his executive authority as Eskom’s chief accounting officer to cancel the tender, it remains our considered view that Eskom does not have the financial luxury to be engaging in vanity projects at taxpayers’ expense. 

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DA supports GBV Council but cautions its lack of power to hold government accountable

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Nazley Sharif MP

The DA supports the National Council of Gender-based Violence and Femicide (NCGBVF) Bill that will establish a council to co-ordinate, monitor, evaluate, implement, and regulate the National Strategic Plan on gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) and all other legislation pertaining to the eradication thereof.

Given the high number of GBVF incidents, we face in the country, the Council has been a key priority for many in government, as well as many NGOs, GBVF organisations, and gender activists. The DA has put pressure on government to establish the Council and to ensure that it is capacitated and funded to be able to fight against the scourge of GBVF.

The DA is proud to have fought for, amongst others, the appointment of the board by Parliament, ensuring that the Board reports to Parliament, and ensuring that there are timelines for co-option of Board members. However, one of our biggest issues with this legislation, like many other bodies, is the Council’s lack of teeth.

The DA believes that the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities has missed an opportunity to give the Council powers to hold government departments and entities accountable. The DA fought for the inclusion of a legal committee that will have the power to litigate on behalf of victims but the Department argued against it stating that budget and mandate was not in line with this.

The root cause of the failure to address GBVF are flaws in the criminal justice system, poor socio-economic environments, and weak policing. Existing mechanisms are not functioning properly due to corruption, maladministration, and mismanagement.

Given the Council’s lack of teeth, government should have focused on providing better capacity, and empowering existing structures to combat GBVF.

The DA will hold the Council accountable and ensure that we monitor and evaluate its performance.

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Pravin Gordhan obfuscates on SAA/Takatso deal yet again

In a reply to a DA parliamentary question, the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, fails to provide the requisite clarity on the process followed to get the Takatso Consortium appointed as the private partner for SAA. 

Minister Gordhan makes a bland statement to the effect that proposals from other interested parties were received but fails to provide details of where and from whom these offers were received. 

A complete lack of transparency by Pravin Gordhan on the selection of a private shareholder for SAA has been his preferred strategy ever since this process began. 

The question on the R3 billion guarantee that Takatso is supposed to provide has not been adequately answered. In fact, it now appears that Takatso is now wavering on the point that it ever made such a guarantee. 

This creates considerable doubt as to the ability of Takatso to come up with the money when they are eventually called upon to deliver it. It is quite incredible that a major deal involving billions of rand, such as this SAA/Takatso deal, has been entered into without guarantees of performance being provided by Takatso. 

What is also astounding is that the deal appears to under renegotiation in terms of the latest valuation of SAA. It remains seriously doubtful that Takatso would be prepared to renegotiate the price that they will pay for SAA given that the 51% of the SAA shares was to be “sold” for a token amount of R51. 

The DA warned from the first announcement of the Takatso deal that the gifting of 51% of SAA shares to Takatso for a mere R51 was outrageous and failed to take the real value of a debt free SAA into account. The DA will use every tool available to us to ensure that Takatso pays the market value for the shares that it currently holds. 

It is the DA’s considered view that the whole SAA privatisation process should be restarted from scratch. This will ensure that fresh offers from interested parties are generated, with a view to claw back some of the tax payer funded bailouts that exceed R47 billion given to SAA over the years. 

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High veterinary doctor vacancy rate threatens fight against animal diseases like avian influenza

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

In response to a written parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance on the number of budgeted veterinary posts in the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), Minister Thoko Didiza revealed that the total number of approved and budgeted for veterinary posts has increased from 324 to 326 posts. However, despite the increase in the number of veterinary posts, the DALRRD still has a vacancy rate of 32% – which translates to 103 unfilled posts from the 326 positions that are funded. 

The lack of veterinary doctor capacity has been an ongoing problem such that, at one point, the DA made representations to Minister Didiza asking her to motivate for the reversal of the decision to exclude veterinary doctors from the scarce skills list by the Department of Home Affairs. Subsequent to the DA’s representations, Minister Didiza confirmed that she had successfully motivated for the return of veterinary doctors on the scarce skills list. 

It is concerning that South Africa is currently facing an outbreak of Avian Influenza (AI) and Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV) with limited veterinary doctors available to assist. Both AI and RHDV have become a national crisis, with Gauteng being the epicentre of these outbreaks. Farmers have lost millions of chickens and thousands of rabbits are dying daily. Veterinary services are a provincial responsibility, but Gauteng is struggling to manage the situation and there is not enough available capacity elsewhere in the province to deploy at the specific epicentres. 

The DALRRD requires additional manpower to assist farmers affected by these outbreaks. Poultry farmers require expedient processing of permit applications to import fertilized eggs. Upon arrival in the country, these eggs must be inspected by veterinary doctors, but there is not enough capacity to inspect the consignments quickly, causing delays. 

The DA is requesting the National Minister to consider a targeted provincial disaster intervention, comprising public and private veterinary capacity, to help the Gauteng Province address the pressing issue of the current outbreak of animal diseases, which includes African Horse Sickness, Avian Influenza, and Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease Virus. 

The DA refuses to fold its arms while Gauteng’s food security is placed at risk due to a lack of comprehensive plans to stop the spread of animal diseases and their potential spread to other provinces. 

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ANC government blows R180 million on BRICS talk shop

Please find attached a soundbite by Emma Louise Powell MP.

A parliamentary question put to Minister Naledi Pandor by the Democratic Alliance (DA) has revealed that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) spent a staggering R104 350 405 hosting the 3-day BRICS Summit last month.

This is in addition to the R75 million spent by the South African Police Services (SAPS) protecting attendees at the summit, despite most international delegations being accompanied by their respective national security agencies.

We now know that between SAPS and DIRCO, the 3-day BRICS summit cost the South African taxpayer no less than R180 million. This grotesque expenditure is a kick in the teeth for ordinary South Africans who have been left to fend for themselves in a country with one of the highest crime and unemployment rates in the world.

These millions, spent on a talkshop, could have been spent on addressing the crippling cost of living crisis that South Africans are currently battling.

Given the absence of a single BRICS trade agreement, it is doubtful that South Africa stands to derive any tangible economic benefit from this increasingly unholy alliance. Conversely, South Africa’s alignment within the expanding BRICS bloc – which now includes theocratic dictatorships such as Iran – may come to jeopardise existing relationships with our biggest trading partners in the West. In recent years, roughly 77% of foreign direct investment (FDI) into South Africa came from three main Western markets. The ANC will of course, not admit this because it is not in their political interests to do so.

Given that the ANC is funded by Russian oligarchs, it becomes clear that South Africa continues to give BRICS credibility not because it is in our interests as a nation, but because it is in the interests of the ruling elite and their party-political ambitions ahead of the 2024 elections.

The DA will now submit a promotion of access to information (PAIA) request asking for a full breakdown of each invoice cost, the service providers and procurement processes that were followed.

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DA welcomes the appointment of UNISA administrator

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Chantel King MP

The DA welcomes the long-awaited appointment of an administrator at the embattled UNISA. UNISA is too big an institution to fail, and the DA hopes Prof Ihron Rensburg is able to sort out the governance and administrative challenges at the university.

Noting the court interdict to hold off on placing UNISA under administration until the outcome of court proceedings, we believe that the institution cannot be left hanging waiting for a dragged-out court case. The academic programme in preparation for the 2024 academic year should not be in disarray due to the in-fighting of UNISA executives (or what is left of the executive) and staff.

The independent assessor, Prof Themba Mosia’s report highlighted the level of governance instability brought about by a culture of bullying, intimidation, and fear, leading to a lack of social cohesion at the institution. It also showed decisions taken by the executive were irrational and lead to maladministration and financial irregularities.

Prof Rensburg should take the findings of Prof Mosia into consideration and recommend to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that consequence management be taken against negligent decisions taken by UNISA Vice Chancellor, Prof Puleng LenkaBula, and her executive.

The DA further calls on Minister Nzimande to amend the Higher Education Act to ensure that higher education institutions be subjected to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Professor Ihron Rensburg will have his work cut out for him to turn UNISA around and we wish him the best of luck.

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DA writes to Calib Cassim calling for the immediate cancellation of the ‘Eskom logo’ tender

The DA has written to the Eskom acting CEO, Calib Cassim, requesting that he uses his executive authority as Eskom’s chief accounting officer to cancel a tender in which they are asking suppliers to provide services for the design of a new logo and the development of a new corporate identity for Eskom and its subsidiaries.

Eskom has been bankrupt for a while now and has been kept afloat by taxpayer funded bailouts, the most recent of which was the R254 billion Eskom debt takeover by the government – which will worsen the country’s already precarious debt burden. It is therefore simply astounding that Eskom sees a logo change as a priority when they are literally surviving on taxpayer money.

For an entity that has become chronically unable to provide a reliable supply of electricity and has an insurmountable debt burden, the push for a new logo is outrageous and not justifiable by any rational measure. Consumers are struggling to pay their electricity bills after Eskom imposed a 31,4% tariff increase over two years, yet Eskom sees it prudent to use their money for a new corporate logo.

All of Eskom’s spending should be directed towards finding new generation capacity to end loadshedding. Stakeholders across the board share the view that, the 16 year old loadshedding crisis has been devastating for the economy wiping off billions of rand in potential revenue. One would assume that after crippling the economy, Eskom would be circumspect in their spending habits but it turns out that frivolous spending it still part of the Eskom culture.

With estimates pointing out a new logo and branding exercise for Eskom and its subsidiaries will run into millions of rand, the DA made it clear to Cassim that the tender must be cancelled as a matter of urgency. South Africans don’t care about the logo that Eskom uses, all they want is a reliable supply of electricity.

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DA wishes the 2023 matrics good luck on their exams

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile (Bax) Nodada MP

The DA would like to wish the 2023 matric class the best of luck as they write the first of their National Senior Certificate (NSC) examinations today. We believe that all their hard work and preparation will pay off.

We would also like to express our gratitude to the many teachers that have gone the extra mile to prepare these learners for the coming exams. We know that many learners and educators have had to overcome many obstacles in the pursuit of quality education.

Between access to learner transport, attending overcrowded classes in unsafe and unsanitary schools, and lack of necessary resources to ensure quality teaching, the matric cohort of 2023 showed remarkable perseverance – according to the DBE, 42.1% of the 2021 matric class dropped out before reaching this milestone.

We urge that matriculants keep their hopes and dreams in mind when studying and writing their exams and work hard in this final stretch of their school careers. We hope for positive outcomes when the Department of Basic Education announces the results on 18 January next year.

As always, the DA will be keeping a close eye on the examinations, and the marking and verification processes. We hope for an improvement of the real matric pass rate. More than 3.4 million youth in South Africa, aged 15 to 24, are not in education, employment, or skills training (NEET) – the Department needs to do better to ensure that every learner has the best possible chance for an excellent future.

The DA will continue to hold the ANC government to account, and work towards a coalition government that could unseat them to provide a stable and growing economy that will allow the youth of South Africa to pursue their dreams.

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DA’S Alternative Medium Term Budget Policy Statement to tackle cost-of-living crisis

Today, the DA presented its Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) for 2023. Our Alternative proposes policy changes that would enable our economy to grow and generate the jobs South Africans so desperately need. Adjustments to Government spending can redirect our fiscal trajectory from the cliff towards more sustainable budgeting and provide urgent relief to battling South African households.

  • Download a picture here.
  • Find attached a soundbite by Dr Dion George MP.

Throughout 2023 South Africans have become poorer and today face the worst cost of living crisis this country has ever seen, as households struggle to put enough food on their tables and millions go hungry. Unemployment continues to rise as business bears the brunt of unprecedented levels of rolling blackouts and rapidly increasing debt is crowding out more and more basic service delivery.

Major reforms are required for South Africa to recover. Reform starts by removing government-imposed barriers to growth. A government that is effective at serving the public, limits regulation and focuses on delivering essential services. This is what will create a dynamic enterprising economy, with market forces and individual freedom at the forefront.

Our 2023 Alternative MTBPS is therefore anchored in five core policy priorities:

1. Establishing the Foundations for Sustainable Economic Growth that Generates Jobs
2. Revitalizing the Electricity Sector to Address Ongoing Power Outages
3. Achieving Fiscal Stability through Controlled Government Expenditure and Debt Reduction
4. Protecting Vulnerable South Africans
5. Fortifying Institutions Tasked with Eradicating Corruption

Establishing a Foundation for Sustainable Economic Growth
South Africa’s fiscal environment remains characterized by an unsustainable level of debt, persistent deficit spending, slow economic growth, stubbornly high levels of unemployment, a deceleration of both foreign and domestic private capital formation, a decline in GDP per capita, escalating living costs, food insecurity, and political volatility. These circumstances are compounded by factors that fall under government purview such as uncertain private property rights, onerous labour market legislation, inadequate national and local governance, and a large and inefficient public sector dominated by monopolistic state-owned enterprises.

To establish resilience and stimulate economic growth the Alternative MTBPS proposes innovative solutions to attract foreign capital, encourage domestic savings, revitalise state-owned entities, fix our crumbling infrastructure, enhance labour market participation, and facilitate the expansion of both the small and large business sectors.

Boosting the energy sector and providing pragmatic solutions to blackouts
Throughout 2023 South Africa has seen unprecedented blackouts. The instability of the energy supply in tandem with a volatile political climate has had a severely detrimental impact on the advancement of South Africa. By maintaining its monopoly over the energy sector, the government has subjected every South African, with the notable exception of Cabinet members, to an exploitative energy regime which enforces controlled blackouts at will and crushes economic growth.

Through the implementation of the DA’s energy sector reforms, the delivery of sustainable energy supply will be accelerated. Accordingly, the DA reiterates its call for the unbundling of Eskom and the opening of the energy sector to Independent Power Producers (IPPs), and in the interim, Eskom must prioritise the streamlining of its procurement processes while letting in private capacity to power a growing South Africa. By opening the energy sector, innovation and voluntary action will keep the lights on and the wheels of the economy moving towards the growth rate needed to address declining economic participation.

Managing Gross National Debt and Government Expenditure
Government has opted to implement a redistributive policy framework, which has necessitated a significant increase in expenditure. To secure the funds necessary to finance this expenditure, the government has resorted to the accumulation of debt. However, it is imperative to note that the ability to repay a loan, including both the principal and interest, is contingent upon the borrower’s capacity to generate wealth. Unfortunately, the economic agenda of the ANC has demonstrated an inability to serve as a wealth generator. Instead, the state, under the ANC’s leadership, operates as a consumptive entity, continuously extracting resources from the true wealth generators of society, namely individual workers, and private sector businesses, thereby undermining the wealth generating capacity of the economy.

To address this the DA’s 2023 Alternative MTBPS is therefore anchored on a framework of fiscal prudence that prioritises the attainment of the primary budget surplus announced in February. Our focus concurrently lays the foundation for economic expansion and job creation.

The DA’s economic policy suite, when implemented, will accelerate the stabilisation of national debt, and achieve fiscal consolidation. This can only be accomplished through catalysing and cultivating robust economic growth that surpasses the expectations under the current administration.

Supporting Vulnerable South Africans
The economic climate in South Africa exerts a disproportionate burden on low-income and marginalized communities. This was intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and extended lockdowns. The situation is further exacerbated by global economic volatility and domestic policies that hinder economic participation while inflating the cost of living.

With the savings realised from the DA’s targeted spending and savings, as well as the implementation of the DA’s policy framework targeted at uplifting poorer households, the DA commits to protecting increases in social grants and extending the Social Relief of Distress Grant, currently not budgeted for from next year.

Our Alternative MTBPS sets out several affordable proposals for tax relief. Given the current cost of living emergency, fuel taxes and levies must be refused , and an expanded zero-rated VAT food basket must be considered now, and not deferred.

Commit to the Bolstering of Corruption Busting Institutions
The 2023 Global Organised Crime Index (GOCI) shows that South Africa now ranks 7th in the world out of 193 countries and 3rd in Africa for mafia-style criminal networks and organised crime syndicates.

The systematic degradation and hollowing out of South Africa’s law enforcement agencies has transformed the country into a haven for organised crime syndicates who are threatening to overrun every sector of the economy.

Government’s proclaimed commitment to bolster institutions responsible for combating crime, such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC), has yet to be fully realized in terms of financial allocation. Despite the unresolved state capture crisis and the critical role these institutions play in addressing corruption and other specialized and organized crimes, the 2023 February Budget, much like previous budgets, has not provided significant relief to these perennially underfunded agencies.

The announcement of South Africa’s greylisting underscored our eroding credibility as an emerging market that is plagued by regulatory lapses and corrupt activity. Our greylisting has further signalled to the global economy that South Africa lacks the capability and determination to effectively address systemic organized crime and high-level corruption and serves as a warning to international market participants of the potential risks associated with engaging in transactions with South African companies and individuals.

Our economy is in serious trouble, a direct result of government’s failed economic policies.

Economic growth is stunted by a burdensome regulatory environment, a deficient skills base and low labour market participation rates, a shrinking tax base, overburdened public and private infrastructure, diminishing fixed investment, and alarmingly high levels of crime.

Given this situation, it is imperative that immediate and decisive action is taken. The failing ANC government is unwilling and unable to act. It is incompetent, incapable, and positioned in the wrong place in our economy. The ANC’s inclinations to expand its regulatory reach is fundamentally incompatible with cultivating a business-friendly environment that can attract vital capital, accelerate economic growth, ease the debt burden, and create the job opportunities necessary for lifting millions of South Africans out of poverty and despair.

South Africa deserves a government that can unlock its limitless potential. That government is the Democratic Alliance.

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