STRAIGHT TALK: uMngeni chose progress and South Africa can too

uMngeni chose progress and South Africa can too

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

The story of uMngeni shows that we can fix South Africa and get it working for everyone – and get everyone working. Road by road, streetlight by streetlight, DA Mayor Chris Pappas and Deputy Mayor Sandile Mnikathi along with their team and many helpful residents are fixing uMngeni. This beautiful KwaZulu Natal Midlands municipality, home to towns such as Howick, Mpophomeni and Hilton, is the first ever to be run by the DA in the province. After just one year since taking over from the ANC, the difference between uMngeni and other KZN municipalities is already striking. Here is a taste of the real, tangible progress that has been achieved for residents so far. Prioritising the poor and youth

Since the DA took over last year, the number of households receiving free basic services has gone up from 133 to 3 005, a 22-fold increase. The budget allocated to develop young people has been increased by 50% to R1.5 million. And a lot of effort and resources have been targeted at fixing roads and other infrastructure in poor, rural areas such as Shifu, Emashingeni and Hhaza. Cleaning up

To improve waste collection and reduce impact on the environment, they’ve procured a new refuse collection truck and TLB (tractor loader backhoe), with more such vehicles planned once finances allow. To address littering and illegal dumping, they’ve employed 60 people for a 6-month period. They’ve also supplied their NPO partners with 25 temporary workers for cleanup and gardening purposes. Fixing infrastructure

This is a massive challenge due to decades of neglect. The first priority has been to fix high-use roads, so they almost doubled the road maintenance budget, from R11 million to R21 million. A lot of pothole-fixing and stormwater clearing has been undertaken and R4 million has been budgeted to retrofit LED streetlights. Fixing the finances

R25,5 million of debt has been recovered so far and after only 11 months, the municipality paid back R10.4 million of loans leaving uMngeni debt-free and saving rate payers R450 000 in interest each year. Bringing law and order

Recognising that law and order is the essential foundation for a functional municipality, they are building a vehicle pound that will double up as the official offices and base for uMngeni Traffic, beefing up their CCTV and LNPR camera systems, and training more traffic officers. They’ve also expanded their contracted security services and undertaken an extensive repair of street lights, to deter crime. Creating work and jobs

To grow tourism jobs, they have begun the process of redeveloping the Howick Falls as a major attraction. Since November 2021, the administration has also created 230 employment opportunities and added 16 new permanent staff members. The budget to assist small-scale farmers has been doubled from R300 000 to R600 000, while the budget to assist SMMEs has been more than doubled, from R130 000 to R300 000. A clean, orderly, working municipality leads to job creation, because people feel confident about the future, and so they invest. When you fix a pothole, you don’t just restore the road, you restore people’s faith in the future. This is the most important way for any municipality to drive job creation. Being open and fair

Their goal is to be transparent, so all council meetings are open to the public and as much information as possible is published on the municipal website so that the public can scrutinise everything. Employment opportunities are provided in a transparent and fair manner, and no longer to the politically connected. Temporary employment opportunities are allocated using a randomised selection process. Conclusion

This is just the beginning and there is an enormous amount of fixing and building still to be done. But it’s happening, one bite at a time. In four years’ time at the end of their first term in office, uMngeni will be an island of order and progress in a sea of chaos and decline. It will be a beacon of hope and a shining example of what’s possible elsewhere. uMngeni chose the DA difference. In the next general election, the whole of South Africa can too.

DA Budget Vote Speeches: Department of Health, DEDT and CoGTA

 The following speeches were delivered in the Mpumalanga Legislature during a sitting today.

Debate on Budget Vote: Department Health

Jane Sithole MPL – The Mpumalanga Department of Health needs a complete overhaul

DA Spokesperson on Health

082 854 9711

Debate on Budget Vote: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

James Masango MPL – With poor service delivery increasing, it is unacceptable that the allocation to strengthening municipalities decreased by 64%.

DA Spokesperson on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

082 891 0717

Debate on Budget Vote: Economic Development and Tourism

Bosman Grobler MPL – Clean Audit does not equal good results

DA Spokesperson on Economic Development and Tourism

083 697 0747

See motion without notice – Mpumalanga Government must Support the work of our journalist

Home ownership can help unlock real freedom

The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a Freedom Day celebration in Soshanguve in Tshwane today. The Leader was joined by Mayor Solly Msimanga, Mayor Bongani Baloyi, Regional Chairperson Abel Tau and DA Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey.

Fellow South Africans

We call today Freedom Day because on this day, 24 years ago, we set off on a road that was going to deliver freedom for all our people. On that day almost 20 million South Africans visited voting stations to have their say in our first democratically elected government. They voted freely, but they were not free yet.

As Nelson Mandela remarked in 1995, on the one-year anniversary of our first election: “The ultimate goal of a better life has yet to be realised”. He knew that the symbolic freedom of the vote would have to be followed by the true freedom that comes with economic inclusion.

Which brings me to this venue. The reason we’re celebrating Freedom Day here at the Thorntree housing development in Soshanguve is because this is what the beginning of real freedom looks like. Owning a house like this, with full title deed, is a big step down the road towards independence.

Property ownership is about much more than simply having a roof over your head. It’s about building an investment in your future, and the future of your family.

When your name is on the title deed to that home, it means that you can unlock capital to realise your dreams. You can start a business. You can borrow money from a bank without being punished with the high interest rates charged by short-term lenders.

Owning your own home also means that you can improve your investment. You can take pride in turning it into exactly the house you want, knowing that every little upgrade you do will make it worth more to you.

But there’s another important reason why owning your own home is so important. We often hear about the disadvantage that young black South Africans have when starting out in life, but we don’t always talk about what that means. So let me explain one aspect to you here: the idea of an inheritance.

Even if all opportunities in our society are equal, most young black South Africans start off on the back foot because they have to start building a life from scratch. They will not receive the financial kick-start that many white South Africans get through inheritance.

And I’m not talking about millions of Rands. I’m talking about the kind of security that ownership of a house like this can provide.

If we want to break the cycle of poverty that still entraps so many black people in South Africa, then we have to start building the cycle of ownership. And the best way to do this is by turning people into home-owners.

At the stroke of a pen, poor people’s lives can be transformed across many generations. That’s real freedom.

Now I know the issue of land expropriation is a hot topic right now. Our opponents can’t stop talking about it, and it is clear that this is going to be their election campaign for the next year.

They claim to be talking for all South Africans when they say that land expropriation without compensation is the path to freedom for poor South Africans. But if we’re going to talk about the issue of land and home ownership on this Freedom Day, then we have to ask ourselves: Whose freedom exactly?

Expropriating land so that the state can own it and lease it out to the poor won’t empower anyone. Yet this is the plan that is being offered as a solution to our country’s inequality.

But that’s not freedom. Living in your house or on your farm as a tenant of the state is just another way to keep people trapped in poverty.

True freedom is individual freedom. It’s when every man, woman and child is individually empowered to live life the way they choose. The state can’t be empowered on your behalf.

That’s why the DA believes in real land reform, where the ultimate goal is for South Africans to own their homes and their land, and where their right to own their property is not threatened by government.

And we’re the only party committed to this. We get insulted and threatened for not going along with the ANC and the EFF’s idea of land expropriation. But theirs is a terrible idea that will do nothing for the individual freedom of poor black South Africans.

The DA wants you to own your home or the land you farm on. We want this to be your weapon against poverty. We want you to improve and grow this investment. We want you to be able to one day sell it and make a profit, if that’s what you choose. And we want you to be able to pass it on to your children.

That’s why the DA leads the way when it comes to giving people ownership of their homes. Since 2016, our governments here in Tshwane and in Johannesburg have already handed over almost 10,000 title deeds. In the Western Cape we have handed over more than 90,000 title deeds since 2009.

We believe property ownership is your foot in the door. It’s your first step towards financial freedom and independence.

Fellow South Africans,

We’ve come a long way since the 27th of April 1994. We’ve made a lot of progress in this country, but in some ways we’ve also lost a lot of ground.

Many of the promises made back then seem further away today than ever before. More of our people live in poverty than ever before. More of our people can’t find jobs than ever before. More of our people have given up on the promise of freedom.

This has led to much anger and frustration, which we see spill onto the streets of our nation almost daily. But it has also led to a new wave of blame and scapegoating for the troubles in our society.

Lately we’ve seen many people try to re-write large parts of our history in an attempt to excuse their failure to help millions of South Africans secure their freedom. This blame is directed at struggle heroes, at brave journalists, at the TRC and even at our Constitution. Anything to distract and deflect from the real issues.

The other day someone tried to insult me on Twitter by calling me a junior Mandela sell-out. At what point did Mandela become an insult? At what point did reconciliation become less desirable than retribution?

We are told today that Section 25 of our Constitution – the part that protects property rights – must be rewritten. As if expropriating property without compensation and giving it to the state will solve any of the issues faced by poor, landless South Africans. It won’t, of course, but it will serve to distract and deflect from the things that kept these people poor and landless.

I have often wondered what our alternative path would have looked like if we hadn’t followed Mandela’s efforts to build a united, peaceful nation. Would our economy have ended up like Chavez’s Venezuela? Would we have ended up like Mugabe’s Zimbabwe? Would we have descended into civil war? We avoided these outcomes because we chose, back then, to build one South Africa for all.

Today, our country is again in need of healing. Again, we are faced with the choice of dividing our people or uniting them. Of dwelling on the past and opening up old wounds, or looking to the future and building a shared tomorrow.

And again, we simply must make the correct choice. We must pursue – and we must evangelise – the cause of true freedom. And we must turn our backs on those who keep us locked in battle with one another.

Because that is what liberation movements are – and we have seen this all over the continent – they exist to keep nations in constant struggle. They have to keep fighting enemies, and so they have to keep inventing new ones. Even if that means rewriting history and tarnishing the names of heroes.

But, fellow South Africans, while we must reject the divisive talk and blame games of the liberation movement, this doesn’t mean we can ignore the legacy of centuries of colonial and apartheid oppression.

Ours is still a deeply unjust and unequal society. And ours is still a society infected with racism and prejudice. It must be our focus to heal our country, both economically and socially. And the only way we will do so is together.

We need to rebuild our economy to include those who have been left out.

We need to resolve the land issue within the framework of our Constitution.

We need to fix our broken basic education system so that our children are not left behind.

And we need to entrust our people with the capital required to progress in life – both the physical capital of home, land and business ownership, as well as the social capital that so many white South Africans use to get ahead, but that is still denied so many black South Africans.

I mentioned this earlier when I spoke of building an inheritance. But this entrenched social capital goes beyond what you own. It is what and who you know too.

My wife and I appeared to have started off in similar places in life, but in reality there was a marked difference between us. She was all but guaranteed university entrance, she knew all the right schools, she could start a business if she wanted to thanks to a network of people willing and able to assist her financially and through advice.

For many white South Africans, this is the case. They have the benefit of a head start purely through the knowledge their social network carries. And I say this not to make white South Africans feel guilty about it, but to point out where we need to get to for our black sisters and brothers too.

Black South Africans aren’t poor because they are black. They are poor because they are still enslaved by a system that keeps them poor. A system that denies them their freedom every day.

This system is no longer apartheid or colonialism. This system is a set of policies, written and implemented by the ANC government, that has failed our country in every possible way. And yet we keep on banging our heads against that same wall.

It doesn’t matter who leads this ANC government if he’s going to remain committed to the policies that paralyze our economy and protect the insiders at the expense of the outsiders.

It doesn’t matter how much our media fawn over our new president if he still sticks to an economic plan that has seen our industrial output stagnate for more than a decade.

It doesn’t matter how much more presentable he is than Jacob Zuma if he is not prepared to make the structural changes to our economy that will allow the millions of outsiders a foot in the door.

We don’t need a more palatable ANC. We need a whole new start with an entirely new set of policies that can unlock the potential of this country.

There’s only one party with such a set of policies and that’s the DA.

There’s only one party committed to building a united nation with a shared future for all.

There’s only one party that wants to make real home-owners of millions of South Africans.

There’s only one party fighting for true freedom for all our people.

And I assure you, my fellow South Africans, it is a fight the DA will ultimately win.

Thank you.

DASO claims another historic victory at University of Fort Hare

The DA Students Organisation (DASO) yet again made history after emerging victorious in yesterday’s University of Fort Hare’s Student Representative Council (SRC) elections. In so doing DASO wrestled control of the SRC away from the ANC-aligned SASCO.

In 2015 DASO made history when it won control of the UFH SRC for the very first time.

UFH students have grown increasingly confident in DASO student leaders, who show commitment to fighting for better student conditions and increased access. DASO is now governing the historic Alice campus and also holds the majority of the seats in the Institutional SRC – which is the highest decision-making body.

The DA congratulates DASO for bringing total change to the University of Fort Hare. DASO would like to thank all of the students at Fort Hare who came out to support the DA and will now work tirelessly in leading the SRC to champion the pressing issues facing UFH students.

DA sees promising growth in Gauteng by-elections

The DA grew from 28.81% to 33.14% in the ward 92 by-election in Joburg yesterday. We welcome these results as a testament to the Party’s goal of winning this province in 2019.

We contested four by-elections in Joburg and Tshwane yesterday. These took place in wards 92, 88 and 72 in Joburg as well as in ward 47 in Tshwane.

Further to the encouraging results that we saw in ward 92, we also grew from 82.67% to 91.69% in ward 72 while support remained consistent in ward 88 at 79.66%. In Tshwane we grew from 87.67% to 95.18% of voter support.

We are encouraged by these results because as they signal the growing trust the people of South Africa have in our ability to govern and change their lives for the better. We are the only party that can bring about Total Change in Gauteng.

The ANC built a corrupt system to feed themselves and it is the people who paid the price. While it won’t happen overnight, people are seeing significant progress happen as DA-led governments spare no effort in undoing the damage that was done by a self-serving ANC.

DA-led governments are prioritizing better service delivery, greater access to opportunities and the fight against corruption,  so that we can help our people live a life they value.

I am thankful to each and every resident who came out and voted for the DA yesterday. We remain committed to our cause of bringing Total Change that builds one South Africa for All.

Listeriosis: Motsoaledi lacks political will to get to the bottom of the outbreak

The DA notes reports that Tiger Brands have confirmed that an independent laboratory has found strains of the Listeria bacterium at its Polokwane Enterprise facility.

While we welcome this sign of openness and transparency on the part of Tiger Brands and the decision to keep the facility closed whilst remedial work is done, the reality is that currently, we don’t know how the contaminated factories were infected.

Currently, South Africa has no continual testing of imported products because the Chief Environmental Health and Port Health Services instructed Port Health Officials to stop testing imported chicken products for Listeria.

Considering that South Africa imports Brazilian meat products, a country which does not recognise Listeria as a notifiable disease as well as recent reports that Australia has been exporting Listeria-contaminated products to South Africa, the government must ensure that testing for the Listeria bacterium continues.

This week, 50 new infections have been confirmed since the product recall and more than 200 people have lost their lives. The DA has repeatedly put pressure on the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to take decisive action to institute the necessary measures to prevent even further loss of life.

Since the Listeriosis outbreak, the DA has explored every possible avenue to hold government accountable and to keep consumers safe, by:

  • Submitting a slew of Parliamentary questions to the Department of Health;
  • Writing to Minister Motsoaledi to request contingency plans;
  • Requesting a joint meeting with the Departments of Health, Trade and Agriculture to find multisector solutions to the outbreak;
  • Consulting with listeria experts; and
  • Convening discussions with pork and poultry producers to learn how this outbreak has impacted on their industries.

The reality is that there has been a lack of political will and clarity on the part of Minister Motsoaledi to get to the bottom of the Listeriosis outbreak. This, and the fact that the primary source of the outbreak has not yet been identified has caused confusion among the public.

This outbreak points to a broader neglect of proper food safety mechanisms on the part of the government. The DA will continue to fight to ensure that food safety is prioritised for South Africans.

Essential Service Committee must declare minimum service level for school staff to protect our children

The DA has submitted an application to the Essential Services Committee (ESC) to have a minimum service level declared for school staff.

Every year, schools across the country are afflicted by strikes which have a negative impact on learners. It is the duty of school staff to care for and protect children in the absence of parents and guardians.

However, when they are away on strike or at trade union meetings during school hours, the safety and security of children is compromised. We are submitting three key concerns to the ESC in requesting a minimum service level declaration:

  • Leadership and safety: There must always be a school leader present to communicate with emergency services or other authorities and make alternative arrangements where necessary. These leaders must also be present in non-emergency situations to ensure safety during strikes, for example.
  • Supervision: Crime and violence continue to increase at schools and there should always be adult supervision to prevent learners getting harmed in any way. Earlier this year, two Eldorado Park Secondary learners stabbed each other while teachers were on strike, showing the importance of adult supervision at all times. Learners who walk home or have to wait until transport arrives to take them home are exposed to danger and supervision will minimise any risks they face in such instances.
  • Nutrition, health and hygiene: Staff providing food and cleaning of school premises are essential in making sure that children have access to a safe and healthy learning environment. Some learners also have specific health requirements and staff members need to always be on hand to respond to medical emergencies. They also need to be available to care for learners who suffer from chronic illnesses and those who have special needs.

We have included the request for the establishment of a minimum service level for school staff as one of our demands for school safety. The demands can be viewed in our letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, which South Africans can co-sign at

Learners deserve to learn in a safe environment and the establishment of a minimum service level by the ESC would go a long way to ensuring the well-being and safety of children.

Treasury tells Parliament that 15 municipalities are still at risk to VBS Bank scandal

In a presentation to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs yesterday, National Treasury revealed that 15 municipalities are still exposed to the VBS Mutual Bank scandal. These include some of the worst run and most financially unstable municipalities in the country.

It has become increasingly clear that VBS was being run as a pyramid scheme, whereby short term deposits from municipalities were utilised to fund long term loans. The bank seemed to have particularly targeted financially distressed municipalities, with weak internal controls and poor municipal governance to attract their deposits.

The Vhembe District Municipality, for example, is exposed to the amount of R311 million, or 34.57% of their annual operating revenue. The Greater Giyani Local Municipality is exposed to the amount of R158 million, or 52.27% of their annual operating revenue. A full list is available here.

Current forensic investigations indicate that VBS was using lawyers to “facilitate” municipal deposits, in contravention of Section 7(3) of the Municipal Financial Management Act.

The DA will be seeking to determine who these lawyers were, and what the nature and purpose of such commissions was. Given that the deposits were themselves illegal, we will be exploring options to have these lawyers disbarred for promoting an illegal activity.

The DA will also be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to request that each of the affected municipalities are invited to Parliament to report on what contingency plans they have in place to fund their activities, and what disciplinary action or other consequences they have initiated against municipal officials and public representatives involved in this matter.

It is unconscionable that these municipalities have played fast and loose with municipal funds, intended for service delivery and the upliftment of residents.

DA FedEx will consider way forward after De Lille MONC

Last week, the City of Cape Town Caucus requested permission from the DA’s Federal Executive (FedEx) to proceed with an internal Motion of No Confidence in Patricia de Lille.

These reasons included:

  • The caucus had lost faith in Ms de Lille as she had repeatedly breached the Code of Conduct for Councillors as well as the Constitution of the DA, had brought the DA into disrepute and the breached of the conditions of her suspension
  • That Ms De Lille’s conduct in the public domain has amounted to frequent criticisms of the DA and the DA’s management of her case, to the extent that it appears that she does not consider herself part of the DA any longer, or at least considers herself more important than it and above the rules of the party; and
  • Her recent comment “she is no longer cooperating with the DA” means she cannot effectively govern on a DA mandate.

Given the significant motivation, which explains why two-thirds of the caucus had voted to remove de Lille in the previous MONC, the FedEx granted permission for the MONC to proceed.

The previous MONC came about due to the damning findings against Ms de Lille contained in the independent investigation by Bowman Gilfillan which found prima facie evidence of gross misconduct, gross dereliction of duty, and conduct that amounted to deceiving Council. The Bowman’s report was supported by the fact that the Auditor-General downgraded the City’s audit status from clean, to unqualified with conditions in January this year. This downgrade was the direct result of the conduct of the Mayor herself.

This evening 97 councillors voted for the motion, 41 voted against, 15 abstained/ were absent and there was one spoilt ballot. It is clear that an overwhelming 70% of the councillors in the caucus have expressed that they have lost confidence in Ms De Lille’s leadership.

The Federal Executive will now provide Ms de Lille with the opportunity to make submissions as to why she should not step down.

The FedEx will then deliberate on the submission and come to a decision on how to proceed which could include the fact that Ms de Lille will be asked to resign, in line with the Accountability clause.

Despite numerous claims to the contrary, the Accountability Clause which was formally adopted the DA’s Federal Congress, is not about de Lille.

In fact, the clause has already enabled the DA to hold an executive member in the Matzikama municipality to account. This case was the first time the clause was used. We have also received a request from Stellenbosch municipality invoking the same clause.

Ultimately, the people we serve must come first. Any DA member who does not adhere to the highest possible standards of clean and efficient governance will be removed.

Claims that this clause will be used to unfairly remove executive members are untruths peddled to detract the public eye from serious leadership flaws and faults.

We will ensure that the interests of the people of Cape Town are our top priority and that the City of Cape Town leadership gets back to the business of dealing with the unprecedented drought crisis and delivering services to the people of this city. We will not hesitate to act to ensure that this happens.

DA opposes VAT increases in public hearings

Kindly find attached pictures of concerned residents who attended the hearings here, here and here.

The DA attended the VAT public hearings that were held today in Parliament before the Standing Committee on Finance (SCOF) where we reiterated our position that the 1% VAT increase must be scrapped as it is affecting the livelihoods of 9.2 million unemployed and poor South Africans.

I led the attendance at the public hearings because social grants recipients will be among the biggest losers of the VAT hike. The above inflation increase of social grants, particularly child grants, is simply not enough to ease the effects of the VAT increase.

The DA has noted the decision to review the zero-rated item list. While this is a welcome decision and will go some way in alleviating the repercussions of this anti-poor VAT increase, the reality is that in the past this list has not always been a true reflection of the items that the poor and vulnerable truly need for sustenance.

The DA has long held the view that the 1% VAT hike is a veiled attempt by the ANC government to make the poor pay for maladministration and corruption that continues to fester under its watch. For instance, government will bailout SAA to the tune of billions to subside a failing SOE but taxes the poor.

Instead of increasing VAT, it is possible to cut the equivalent amount out of the bloated expenditure budget through interventions such as reducing the number of ministries to 15, freezing salaries and bonuses of senior public sector employees, selling Telkom shares and selling unused state assets.

The DA have consistently opposed the VAT hike and took the fight to the National Treasury in Tshwane where a memorandum was handed over to Treasury officials. In addition, South Africans continue to express their displeasure at the VAT increase by signing the VAT petition launched by the DA –

South Africans will have the last say in the 2019 elections, where it is almost certain that the ANC government will have to answer at the ballot box on why it passes the tab to taxpayers to pay for its widespread and deeply rooted corruption.