DA condemns ANC-led Committee’s rejection of Children’s Amendment Bill

Please find attached soundbites in English and isiZulu by Bridget Masango MP.

The DA condemns the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Social Development’s adoption of a motion that the Children’s Amendment Bill (B19-2023) is not desirable.

While both the committee as well as the Department of Social Development ostensibly supported the content of the DA’s private members bill, where they admitted that there are shortcomings and gaps in the law that have left children in danger, they still chose to vote against the best interest of children – specifically children in unregulated micro-partial care homes that provides care of six or less children.

Even more bizarrely, ANC Members raised that they had not had the chance to see public comments on the Bill and so they would not be able to vote it as desirable. However, as Parliamentary Legal Services and the DA correctly put it, a further hearing could simply have been scheduled to go through public comments – but the ANC refused this simple solution.

It must be emphasised that all public comments were submitted to the Speaker, who is an ANC Member, the Committee is chaired by an ANC Member, and the programme for the committees is determined by the ANC by means of their majority. It is them that have the power to place the public comments on the agenda and to say that it was never done is deceitful and disingenuous.

The DA even suggested that due to the lack of time left in the term the Bill stand over to the new term next year. Despite agreements from the ANC that there was no time and that this could be a solution, there was confusion, and they failed to understand the difference between voting a Bill as undesirable and still deferring it. It is one or the other.

The consequences now is that deplorable conditions in micro-partial care facilities will remain, with children being at risk of inhabitable conditions, untrained carers, potential abuse and being placed in facilities without norms and standards being required – such as running water and toilets.

The truth of the matter is that the ANC did not vote against the Children’s Amendment Bill because they wanted to create a more comprehensive Bill, or because of the short time frame to process the Bill, or even the human resources implications of the Bill. They rejected it because the DA offered the solutions to them on a platter, and their pride and ego trumped the protection of children. Selfishly, to them, its an ANC Bill or nothing – no matter how great the solution.

The DA will continue to advocate for the well-being and safety of children. After the 2024 elections, The DA will re-introduce this Bill back into Parliament and ensure the protection of all children as is enshrined in the Constitution.

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DA submits PAIA application to access the ‘SANDF rogue unit’ report

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Kobus Marais MP

The DA has submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to the chief of the SANDF, Gen Rudzani Maphwanya, requesting that he provides us with a copy of the Moorhouse investigation report into criminal activity in the SANDF, which encompassed the activities of some rogue elements within the force.

The SANDF is reported to have instituted a board of inquiry, headed by Brigadier-General John Moorhouse, to investigate complaints of alleged criminal activity within the military. As part of the investigation, the inquiry is said to have heard the testimonies of dozens of witnesses, shone the spotlight on corruption and abuse of office in the military, and heard evidence of torture.

However, six months after the conclusion of the inquiry, and its subsequent submission to General Maphwanya, the report has not been made public and neither was it tabled before the portfolio committee of Defence. The DA makes the submission that releasing the report is in the public interest because some of the victims of torture at the hands of rogue SANDF unit were civilians, whose cases have not been properly investigated and the perpetrators brought to book.

The DA is particularly concerned about the expose made by civil society organisation, Open Secrets, in which they highlight the existence of a military squad allegedly responsible for acts of torture and murder. This alleged rogue unit, comprising the Special Forces Brigade, the Military Police, Defence Intelligence and Defence Legal Services – are operating with impunity and have raised concerns of a large-scale criminal conspiracy within the SANDF. Open secrets further alleges that the activities of this rogue unit formed part of the Moorhouse board of inquiry.

The release of the Moorhouse investigation report will help to shed light on whether this rogue unit within the SANDF was in any way responsible for assassination of Hawks investigator, Frans Mathipa, who – at the time of his death, was conducting a criminal investigation into a Special Forces operative. In addition, the report will help to provide insight into the circumstances that led to the death of a civilian, Sphamandla, after hours of torture by some members of the rogue unit.

Democratic South Africa cannot afford to have a military that operates like a Gestapo force – assassinating, abducting and murdering citizens with impunity. All individuals implicated in these heinous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and if found guilty, made to face the full wrath of the law.

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DA will take court action if Ramaphosa withholds Ministers’ performance assessments

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will approach the courts to obtain the performance assessments of South Africa’s national cabinet ministers if President Cyril Ramaphosa withholds them from the public.

We are already appealing a decision by government to deny the public this information following our application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that:
“To strengthen the capacity of the State and increase accountability, I will be signing performance agreements with all Ministers before the end of this month. These agreements, which are base on the targets contained in the Medium-Term Strategic Frameworj, will be made public so that the people of South Africa can hold those who they elected into office to account.”

While the performance agreements themselves have been signed and made public on government’s website, it will be a futile exercise if the assessments are not then also made public.

The performance of the South African government is information that rightfully belongs in the public domaine for the requisite scrutiny as per the constitutional principles of democracy, transparency, and accountability.

It is the ultimate indictment on Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency as a so-called reformer, and his constitutional obligation to respect and uphold the values of democracy and accountability, that just over three years since releasing signed ministerial performance agreements, the President now refuses to make the results of their assessments public.

This act of public censorship shows not only a deeply concerning disregard for democracy and transparency, but a contradiction of President Ramaphosa’s initial commitment to reform the state and the public service.

It is now clear that in backtracking on his promises to reform the public service and hold his cabinet ministers accountable, he is censoring the public from measuring the performance of its government, thus being able to take the requisite electoral action.

It is not the President’s job to protect the reputations of his ministers, it is his job to be transparent with the public in the interests of true democracy and accountability.

Furthermore, it has been almost six years since President Ramaphosa promised to conduct lifestyle audits on Members of the National Executive, as announced in his 2018 SONA reply. To date, this process is still shockingly incomplete and inconclusive – yet another lie to the South African people from a President who exists only as a bystander to his own government’s failures.

Far from the reformer he painted himself out to be, President Cyril Ramaphosa has only done more damage to South Africa’s investor confidence, our economy, and our society with his decision paralysis.
As the South African people continue to suffer under the failure and collapse of government at the hands of the ANC, it is only fit that the people be allowed to judge the performance, or non-performance, of their government for themselves.

We will go to court if necessary to obtain the performance assessments of South Africa’s national ministers – we will not allow President Ramaphosa to run a government devoid of the transparency and accountability.

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Eleventh hour letter to ANC in the NCOP sees NHI pulled from order paper without any reason

Today, the ANC once again showed that it has a complete disregard for the rules of Parliament and due process.

The NCOP was supposed to have debated on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill today, but after allegedly receiving a mysterious letter, the ANC Chief Whip, together with its majority, quickly decided to postpone the deliberations to next week without any form of transparency.

At 1:32pm today, the DA received an email from the ANC Chief Whip of the NCOP wherein he requested a special whip meeting prior to the sitting in the House. It was there that the Chief Whip stated that the Chairperson of the NCOP, the Presiding Officer, had received a letter and requested time to deal with the matter.

No further information was provided; therefore, we are left with no choice but to speculate that this debate and vote on the NHI Bill was postponed due to the political, civil society and business interest pressure that the ANC government has been under.

The DA leader in the NCOP demanded that the letter and the reasons for the postponement be shared with all political parties. This was important because it cannot be that the executive can dictate to the legislature on its business.

The letter was not given to any of the parties and even now that the sitting has come to an end, no one has had sight of this mysterious letter even though it has completely disrupted the work of Parliament.

The DA was ready and set to reject the Bill today on the host of reasons why it will decimate not only the health sector but our economy as well. Some of these reasons include:

  1. South Africa is financially not able to finance the NHI, with the ANC refusing to do any feasibility studies in a post pandemic economy.
  2. This Bill will have a major impact on the cost of living by increasing taxes on an already overtaxed population, which will have a negative impact on all South Africans.
  3. The South African Medical Association (SAMA) has confirmed that the implementation of NHI will see hundreds of doctors emigrating overseas to escape the NHI.
  4. The Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) has confirmed that only a fraction of public facilities and hospitals have scored sufficiently to become accredited service providers should the NHI come into operation, meaning we will be left with even fewer medical facilities.
  5. The NHI would give the Minister far too many powers and duties to essentially run the day-to-day business of the Fund and have unvetted powers to make far-reaching health regulations without necessary oversight.

The refusal of the ANC to play open cards with other Members of the NCOP comes as no surprise as they have obviously been given a wakeup call on how detrimental and damaging the NHI Bill really is. Whilst the contents are not known, it is presumed that the letter comes from business groups wherein they voice their displeasure for the Bill. They have joined the DA’s call for this Bill to be scrapped and for the wholesale overhaul of the health system to be done.

The ANC now appears to be scrambling to try and save face and come up with a plan to ensure that they are able to continue bulldozing the NHI Bill through Parliament just in time for its electioneering season. Whatever the letter contains, it must pose a significant threat to the ANC for them to completely unravel and pull an item from the agenda 15 minutes before the hearing is about to start.

It is unfathomable how the ANC continuously pushes through a Bill that has so many issues and concerns without considering any of the points validly raised by the DA and other opposition parties. Notwithstanding the glaring constitutional issues that the Bill has, it also has a number of legislative shortfalls and clauses that are impractical and impossible to implement.

Should the NHI Bill eventually come before the House we call upon all parties to reject it with the contempt its unconstitutional provisions deserve, which will send it to a mediation committee between the NCOP and NA where it can be left to lapse and ultimately be sent to its grave after wasting millions of Rands already in resources and time.

The DA has been fighting the NHI at every step in the process and will continue to fight it in the courts should the President refuse to listen to logic and reason from political parties, civil societies, medical professionals, and society as a whole.

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Lie-sufi strikes again

Note to Editors: Please find video evidence of Lesufi lying to residents here

The DA in Gauteng condemns the unapologetic lies being spread by Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi in the strongest terms. All debt to Eskom has not been forgiven, nor can he claim that it has.

The truth of the matter, as economists have long pointed out, is that large-scale debt relief, not unlike what Lesufi is punting, will lead Eskom into a deeper financial hole than the one it is already in. This, and people must understand, is another hollow election promise that will only result in disappointment.

While the premier is on the campaign trail, he should deeply consider which, if any, of his promises have come to anything.

The people of Gauteng have been subjected to his lies time and time again – from panic buttons in every resident’s home, to a crime-busting campaign led by a ‘skilled’ group of green-clad law enforcers.

Not one panic button has been installed, nor have we seen any skilled law enforcers come from his promise. We have, however, seen a group of ‘crime wardens’ driving around in luxury cars, breaking the law with neither a constitutional mandate nor an idea of what they’re doing.

There is a serious disconnect between what the Premier promises and the reality. Next, no doubt, he will flout free education and housing for all. More promises South Africans have heard before. Yet, here we are. Housing projects across Gauteng are at a standstill because suppliers have gone unpaid, money continues to evaporate into thin air, and the ANC’s commitment to lining the pockets of their friends remains the same, here, and across South Africa.

Lesufi is quoted as saying: “All the people that have owed Eskom for years, all those debts have now been officially scrapped…”.

This blatant lie enforces what we already know – he is an unfit leader. The people of Gauteng deserve a government that cares about their well-being all the time, not only a few months away from the election. If he cared about debt relief or anyone at all, he would have made good on his promise to ensure that Gauteng is the economic hub of South Africa. Under his leadership, we have lost jobs, and he has made it near impossible for people to repay their debts to Eskom.

The disfunction the people of Gauteng have been forced to become accustomed to, should not be accepted as the norm. There is an alternative, and come 2024, we will show them what a functioning government looks like – Lesufi, pack your bags.

Cele must apologise to Cameron personally

The DA welcomes Parliament’s Joint Ethics Committee’s recommendation that Police Minister Bheki Cele must apologise to the house following his “shut up” tirade last year. While the committee recommended that Cele apologises “in the house for his conduct towards Mr Ian Cameron”, the DA believes that the Police Minister must also apologise to him personally and in public. Cele insulted Cameron in public and should therefore apologise publicly.

Since his appointment to the top job in early 2018, the Minister has caused irreparable harm to the South African Police Service (SAPS), and despite growing calls for the presidency to rid cabinet of the useless minister, Cele remains ensconced at the Union Buildings.

President Ramaphosa’s cabinet stands as a glaring testament to incompetence and disgrace, with ministers who excel at fabricating lies, deploy protectors to assault citizens, master the art of making hollow promises, publicly berate responsible citizens, engage in shameless looting of public funds, appoint cronies and cadres over merit, and consistently fail to fulfill the basic duties expected of their positions, actively contributing to the dismantling of our nation.

It is long overdue for this lamentable assembly to vacate their posts and allow competent leadership to rescue the country from their disastrous reign.

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Stage 6 loadshedding – Is the unavailability of diesel to power OCGTs to blame?

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Dr Mimmy Gondwe MP

With Eskom busy prioritising the design of a new logo and the development of a new corporate identity instead of permanently ending load shedding, the past few days has seen the country plunged back into heightened levels of load shedding, namely stage 6 load shedding. In a briefly worded statement, issued last Friday Eskom attributed these heightened levels of load shedding to insufficient generation capacity and emergency reserves.

The heightened levels of loadshedding that the country has been experiencing also coincide or correspond with the decline in the use of Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs). As case in point, the use of OCGTs declined by 50%, from 14 OCGTs on 22 November to 7 OCGTs on 25 November. It is therefore imperative for Eskom to provide some much needed clarity on whether it has run out of diesel or the funds to procure diesel to power OCGTs.

If indeed Eskom has run out of diesel or the funds to procure diesel, it means South Africans run the risk of spending their Christmas and possibly their new year in the dark and in midst of stage 6 loadshedding or beyond. It is for this reason that Eskom needs to immediately reassure the country that its diesel reserves and budget have not run out or been depleted.

Although OCGTs are not a permanent power source and not meant to run like regular power stations, they do serve as an effective stop gap measure during the peak periods of load shedding. However due to the poor performance of Eskom’s aged coal fired power stations which are perpetually out of service, OCGTs have to be run non-stop by burning diesel. As such, Eskom has become increasingly reliant on OCGTs to ameliorate its insufficient generation capacity.

The DA therefore calls on Minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom to reassure South Africans and urgently provide a status update on whether Eskom’s diesel reserves and budget remain intact and have not run out or been depleted as South Africans need to celebrate the festive season in the absence of this heightened and incessant load shedding that we are now currently being subjected to.

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Warrenton water crisis returns

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbites in English & Afrikaans from Willem Potgieter, Cllr. See pics here, here and here.

Extra demand for water amidst soaring temperatures and a scheduled “dry-week”, aggravated by cable theft and cash flow constraints, has left a large number of residents of Magareng municipality without water for over a week.

Magareng municipality has been aware of the dry-week, scheduled months in advance by the Department of Water and Sanitation to stop the pumping of water through the canal to Vaalharts Irrigation Scheme, to allow for work on the canal. This left affected residents totally dependent on pumped water from the Vaal River.

The municipality, however, failed to ensure that the pumps, used to extract water from the Vaal River were put back in commission in time for the dry-week. This led to the municipality scrambling to hire a sub-contractor to pump river water to the water purification plant, using portable pumps.

Oversight conducted by the Democratic Alliance (DA) yesterday, however, revealed that the sub-contractor cannot proceed to activate the portable pumps because the municipality has failed to fit the pump cables to the transformer. The municipality, meanwhile, is reportedly too busy replacing an overhead cable that was stolen, but an onsite inspection revealed that no work is being done to the overhead cable. The DA strongly suspects that this is because the cash-strapped municipality, which has been struggling to make salary payments, doesn’t have the funds to do so. On several occasions, cables have been procured by residents themselves.

The Warrenton water situation is a developing disaster and if not urgently addressed could turn into another full-blown crisis, as was experienced by residents of Magareng earlier this year. Residents were previously left without water for almost six months because of delayed repairs to the damaged, underwater pipeline caused by the severe flooding.

The DA has held numerous talks with the municipal manager. Yesterday, he again committed to prioritize the restoration of water and to further pursue our recommendation to request a week-long loadshedding exemption from Eskom, to allow the remaining operational pumps to work uninterrupted to replenish dam levels. Feedback is expected to be provided at a portfolio committee meeting today.

The DA previously lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) with regards to water challenges in Warrenton. The case is ongoing and I will update them with these latest violations of the basic right to access to water.

The DA also strongly condemns the ongoing scourge of cable theft and calls on the community to help protect critical infrastructure, by reporting information in relation to copper theft to the police. We also call on the police to establish a specialized metal theft unit in the province to tackle this costly and debilitating crime.

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Presidency refuses to release performance assessment outcomes for Cabinet Ministers

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbites in English and Zulu by Zak Mbhele MP

In a stunning development that underscores the continued disdain for accountability and transparency by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration, his Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Maropene Ramokgopa, has declined the DA’s PAIA application for outcomes of the performance reviews that were conducted on Ministers between April and July 2023.

Ramokgopa erroneously made reference to Chapter 1, Section 12(c) of the PAIA Act of 2000 as justification for her decision. It is our considered view that the Ramokgopa misdirected herself, as the performance review assessments were the outcome of performance agreements that Ramaphosa entered into in public with his Cabinet, in their capacity as members of the Executive.

The performance review assessments can never be classified material as, firstly, members of the Cabinet are accountable to Parliament for the performance of their functions, as per section 92(2) of the Constitution and, secondly, information on how Cabinet Ministers are performing in their portfolios is in the public interest.

The DA will therefore be submitting an appeal to contest Ramokgopa’s decision in terms of Section 74 of the PAIA Act. Ramokgopa cannot hide behind a tenuous and erroneous understanding of the law to deny South Africans the right to know how Ramaphosa’s Cabinet Ministers have performed over the past 5 years, and a year before the watershed national elections.

While responding to a DA parliamentary question on ministerial performance assessments, Ramokgopa revealed that ‘Performance management was conducted with Ministers between April and July 2023.’ Since signing performance agreements with Ministers in 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa has not lived up to the commitment he made to enhance accountability through a structured performance management system at the executive level because of the failure to either conduct or publish periodic performance reviews.

Then again, with the country lurching from one crisis to the other, it is hardly surprising why Ramaphosa and Ramokgopa will want to hide how Ministers have performed since their appointment almost 5 years ago. The country’s economy is at a standstill with an unrelenting loadshedding and port crisis, a crippling cost-of-living nightmare, a collapsing public healthcare system and record level unemployment. It is clear that Ramaphosa has nothing good to say about his poverty Cabinet except to shield their disastrous tenures from public scrutiny. The only recourse available to South Africans is to vote out Ramaphosa and his entire poverty cabinet in 2024.

The DA strongly believes that it is in the public interest that progress reports on the performance of Ministers are accessible to South Africans. Ramokgopa should therefore lift the veil of secrecy around the reviews conducted between April and July 2023 and make them available publicly as a matter of urgency.

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DA response to the tragedy at Impala Platinum

The DA learned with horror and sadness of the accident which, at the time of writing, had cost 11 lives and caused 75 injuries at 11 Shaft at Impala’s Rustenburg mines. South Africans have not seen a mine accident of this shocking dimension for many months. Our thoughts go out to the families, friends, and workmates of all those involved.

The 200m fall of a hoist carrying people apparently resulted from a broken cable. This is highly unusual and requires an urgent and thorough investigation. We trust it will receive the attention it requires from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

The results of the investigation into what caused this tragedy need to be made public so that if there has been negligence, then those responsible are held to account, and steps can be taken so that an incident of this nature never happens again.

Mining can be a high-risk occupation and too often South Africans forget the debt we owe to the hard work and courage of those who work in our mining industry.

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