Ramaphosa fiddles while North West and Eastern Cape burn

The Democratic Alliance once again appeals to ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to listen to the people’s call for North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, and Eastern Cape, Phumulo Masualle to be removed.

Residents of Keiskammahoek and Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, and Mafikeng, Vryburg and Taung in the North West have taken to the streets to protest against poor service delivery, corruption and unemployment.

These protests are on the back of resistance from Masualle and Mahumapelo to mounting calls by deeply residents that they vacate office. The protests have resulted in violence, it is clear however that the frustration arises from a failure of leadership and governance at all levels.

Ramaphosa’s failure to recall these Premiers is a clear demonstration of his protection of leaders who are indifferent to the plight of the people who they purport to serve. The fact is, a sell-by date on both Mahumapelo and Massualle has long since expired and they must vacate their offices with the little dignity they have left.

If Ramaphosa is serious about the “New Dawn” he has promised our people, he will recall Mahumapelo and Massualle without further delay.

President Ramaphosa must put the needs of the people above the internal politics of his party. If he fails to remove these Premiers his “New Dawn” would be nothing less than a PR stunt. All the new dawn has brought is chaos and disorder.

These two Premiers have presided over poor health care and education systems and both have been at the centre of large-scale corruption.

The Eastern Cape is South Africa’s poorest province and its people are trapped in poverty. In the North West, there has been a complete shutdown of health care services and infrastructure development is non-existent.

Our people deserve better and it is squarely in the hands of Cyril Ramaphosa to remove these problematic Premiers and get the North West and Eastern Cape back to working for its people.

The DA is the only party that can bring Total Change and provide the people of South Africa with a prosperous future filled with opportunities for all, good governance and quality service delivery.

Shutdown of Tsepong Hospital endangers the lives of the sick and vulnerable

The DA notes reports that NEHAWU protesters have shut down Tshepong Hospital in Klerksdorp, North West.

While the DA supports workers’ right to down tools and protest for better working conditions, they cannot do so at the expense of patients’ lives.

Yesterday, the DA conducted an oversight inspection at the Tshepong Hospital and the hospital management confirmed that it does not have adequate security to maintain order and that freelance nurses would have to be employed once the strike commences.

Protestors have reportedly been burning tyres, refused to allow ambulances access and refused anyone from entering or leaving the hospital.

Staff at the hospital yesterday have warned the crisis in the North West health sector could possibly escalate into “a tragedy that will have a bigger aftermath than the deaths at the Esidimeni Health Care Centre”.

Such statements cannot be ignored as they give us an account of the dire situation on the ground.

The DA urges protesters at the hospital to adhere to the prescripts of the law and to respect patients’ right to access health care services.

Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi’s visit to the North West yesterday yielded no results and was clearly nothing more than a PR stunt.

The collapse of health services in the North West falls squarely at the feet of North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, and North West Health MEC, Dr Magome Masike. The ANC continues to protect ineffective leaders at the expense of the lives of the sick and vulnerable.

DA approaches Constitutional Court to have Arthur Fraser’s appointment declared invalid

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today filed papers (attached here and here) seeking exclusive jurisdiction, alternatively direct access to the Constitutional Court to have President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of Arthur Fraser as National Commissioner of Correctional Services set aside with immediate effect. Fraser is a compromised individual who is wholly unfit to hold such a vital position within government, and as such the President erred in his appointment of such an individual.

In light of the damning and serious allegations against Fraser – including that he operated a secret and parallel intelligence service from his own home whilst working for the State Security Agency (SSA) and utilised millions of rands of public funds for personal gain – the President’s decision to appoint Fraser falls foul of the President’s own constitutional obligations. We had initially written to the President seeking answers as to why Fraser was appointed, and the rationale behind this appointment. The President has to date failed to answer these questions, and as such we have little option but to approach the court.

Our legal action seeks an order declaring that the President’s recent appointment of Arthur Fraser violated the President’s constitutional obligation to appoint a National Commissioner who is sufficiently conscientious, has enough credibility to do this important job effectively, and is of good character. Arthur Fraser fails every aspect of this test. In fact, his co-ordination of a parallel intelligence network should have been reason to fire him – not rehire him in a different capacity.

We therefore ask of the court to review and set aside the President’s decision to appoint Arthur Fraser as National Commissioner of Correctional Services on 17 April 2018.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s “New Dawn” has failed to stop the ANC’s long-standing practice of reshuffling compromised individuals within government departments. This practice must be abolished once and for all,  not carried out by the President. In the tight fiscal space our country is currently in, we cannot be wasting millions of rands of public money on dodgy individuals.

Government admits South Africa Airways is beyond ‘repair’

The ANC has allowed SAA to be so badly managed and with considerable malfeasance apparent that SAA is now in debt in the amount of R9,2 billion. It has acknowledged that there is no possibility that SAA will ever be able to trade its way out of debt.

The Deputy Minister of Finance, Mondli Gungubele, told parliament today that, over and above the R10,0 billion already paid to SAA in 2018 as well as the existing R 9,2 billion currently owed to lenders, SAA would require an additional R 12,0 billion being:

• R 5,0 billion in 2018/19
• R 5,0 billion in 2019/20
• R 2,0 billion in 2020/21

This equates to a total of R 31,0 billion in taxpayer bailouts for SAA just to fund losses without any purchases of new aircraft.

The DM informed the SCOA that the calculated cost of liquidating SAA would amount to a massive R60 billion.

The choice facing the SA taxpayer is to pay another R21,0 billion and take the risk that SAA will be profitable by 2021 and will remain profitable thereafter or to cut the losses and pay R 60 billion to shut SAA down immediately.

The ANC government has prioritised funding wealthy people to fly SAA in place of using this money to fund service delivery that could be funded by the R 31,0 billion wasted such as:

• free higher education
• 775 New schools
• 238 461 RDP houses
• 172 222 Additional policemen

The DA will formally request that the Minister of Finance to explain why SAA should not be put under business rescue.

Just R700 per month – Tshwane leading the way with social housing

As part of its plans to meet the growing demand for housing, the City of Tshwane launched a R300 million Thembelihle Village Social Housing Project in the Tshwane inner city.

Completed in November 2017, with first occupation in February 2018, the project targets people in the low to medium income bracket, who earn between R3 500 and R15 000 a month. With rent for a bachelor apartment starting as low as R700 a month, the project is providing affordable quality homes to low-income earners nearer their place of work.

The ‘Thembelihle’ Village, which means ‘good hope’, is located close to government departments, other places of work, shops, social amenities and public transport. In total, the village will provide housing to more than 2,000 residents.

 “This brings people closer to where the opportunities are, without there being the characteristic of dividers of wealth. I am very proud of this project, as this is building homes for people.”

– Tshwane Mayor, Solly Msimanga.

DA led Johannesburg and Tshwane tackle youth unemployment through SMME hubs

The DA-led governments in Johannesburg and Tshwane have a vision of being attractive places for young people to do business. We want these cities to be the simplest, quickest places to start a business, and where young entrepreneurs can get the support they need to turn great ideas into profitable companies.

Today I saw what progress we are making, by visiting the Khoebo Opportunity Centre (OPC) in Johannesburg and the eKasiLab Programme in Tshwane. It was inspiring to meet dozens of young entrepreneurs whose innovative ideas are shaping an exciting future for South Africa.

With 42,8% of young South Africans between the ages of 25 and 34 who are unemployed and a slow economic growth of 1.3%, these hubs are crucial to assist our youth to become actively involved in our economy and can ultimately build successful and sustainable job-creating businesses.

These are not just offices. They are spaces of creation where ideas can be turned into small businesses within hours. They offer expert advice, practical help and useful services.

These visits show what is possible with a government that facilitates successful entrepreneurialism, rather than trying to direct the economy.

A multidisciplinary team of private and public sector partners have come on board the Khoebo OPC venture with some of these key players based at the hub. Skills training and appropriate courses have been earmarked hand in hand with the partners providing an SMME “Single Point of Entry,” SARS systems and company registration, business growth, economic infrastructure, markets, funding access and document assistance.

The DA-led City of Johannesburg will launch five more OPCs by the end of the year and aim to launch fourteen by 2021. The City is setting the bar as a government that builds an enabling environment for a generation of young jobless South Africans to get work.

This encouraging progress has been matched by the City of Tshwane’s eKasiLab programme, brought about by a partnership with The Innovation Hub Management Company as part of the City’s External Innovation Programme. It is a township-based programme that has created a space for young South Africans to create and innovate in their communities, to develop entrepreneurs, stimulate the growth of young people’s skills particularly in the ICT space and for township enterprises to be created that are self-sustaining.

Already this programme is bearing much fruit. Almost 200 young entrepreneurs have already received training and 50 entrepreneurs have been accelerated through this programme. These young entrepreneurs have even been given the chance by the City to present their prototypes and those who achieved the bar set by the Innovation Steering Committee have received funding.

The Khoebo OPC and eKasiLab programme are some of the best examples of how we can together create a South Africa where every person can overcome poverty and unemployment, and achieve their fullest potential.

The DA in government is showing how creative solutions can answer seemingly intractable problems like youth unemployment.


Nhlanhla Nene cannot sit on the fence when it comes to transparency at the PIC

The Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, cannot sit on the fence when it comes to the “transparency clause” contained in my Private Members Bill, entitled the Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill [B1-2018], which is currently before Parliament.

We have been informed that the minister was briefed, and did authorize, the submission of National Treasury’s response to the Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill [B1-2018], aimed at promoting transparency at the Public Investment Corporation.

However, we were also informed that the minister was not specifically briefed, and did not specifically authorize, National Treasury’s decision to oppose the provision in the Public Investment Corporation Bill [B1-2018], aimed at promoting transparency at the Public Investment Corporation.

This follows National Treasury, the Public Investment Corporation and the Government Employees Pension Fund’s stunning “about turn” on transparency and opposition to the amendment proposed in the Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill [B1-2018] as follows:

Amendment of section 10 of Act 23 of 2004

Section 10 of the principal Act is hereby amended by the addition after subsection (2) of the following subsection:
‘‘(3) A report reflecting all investments of deposits, whether listed or unlisted, must annually be—
(a) submitted to the Minister for tabling with the annual report of the department; and
(b) published on the website of the corporation.’’

This is a major setback for the campaign for greater transparency at the Public Investment Corporation, which is responsible for investing R1.928 trillion on behalf of its clients, most importantly the Government Employees Pension Fund, and wipes out a major disincentive to “rent seekers”, with political influence, who may want to raid the Public Investment Corporation.

That is why I will write to the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, requesting him to clarify his position on the “transparency clause” contained in the Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill [B1-2018].

We will not sit back and allow the Public Investment Corporation to become a “piggy bank” for the “rent seekers” swarming around the governing party in South Africa.

Minister must prevent a repeat of the Esidimeni tragedy in North West

The DA will write to the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, to urgently request that he ensure proper staffing and resources at the Klerksdorp/Tshepong Hospital Complex in Klerksdorp.

During our oversight inspection, we were shocked when doctors asked us for urgent help on the eve of a planned strike by NEHAWU which would see nurses down their tools. The strike in Klerksdorp is scheduled to begin tomorrow.

The doctors indicated that they are extremely concerned for the lives of patients who are currently receiving critical care. The complex (which includes Klerksdorp Hospital) has more than 1 000 beds.

Without professional nursing staff and proper care, these patients’ lives are at risk. Professional medical staff said this can escalate into “a tragedy that will have a bigger aftermath than the deaths at the Esidimeni Health Care Centre”.

NEHAWU is demanding that North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, steps down. During our visit, a group of members barged into the hospital complex singing and dancing amongst the waiting patients. See video here.

The hospital management confirmed they do not have enough security staff to keep order and that they will have to make use of freelance nurses once the strikes begin.

At the Khuma Clinic, in Stilfontein, there is a lack of chronic medications and some patients have been sent home without medication.

Medical staff in North West shared an open letter that was signed by 73 medical doctors. This was published in the Mail and Guardian today.

Herein they state who the biggest losers during the strikes are:

  1. Poor/ homeless;
  2. Disadvantaged;
  3. Disabled/vulnerable;
  4. Those with lack of access to private care; and
  5. Those with chronic illnesses that include HIV, TB, Hypertension, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, etc.

An extract of the letter reads: “As caregivers, we have been silent for too long. We have taken an oath to “do no harm” and in our silence, we have contributed to harm. This cannot go on as we are concerned about methods used which include closure of health care facilities that affect the health of our society. Of note provision of health care is an entrenched Constitutional right in South Africa”.

It is time for Total Change. A DA-led government will always support the Constitutional Rights of patients to receive health care and will ensure that proper resources are available to support our healthcare workers in their important quest to save lives.

Standing Committee on Finance turns a blind eye to the controversy surrounding Sagarmatha Technologies Limited

Last week, I wrote to the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance, Yunus Carrim, requesting a special hearing on the controversy surrounding the Public Investment Corporation, Sagarmatha Technologies Limited and Ayo Technology Solutions in Parliament.

However, today the finance committee reject my proposal for a special hearing following an intervention from the Deputy President of the Economic Freedom Fighters, Floyd Shivambu, who argued that the Public Investment Corporation had not actually invested in Sagarmatha Technologies Limited.

The suggestion that questions on the controversy could be raised at a general meeting with the Public Investment Corporation sometime in the future is ridiculous not least because no such meeting has been scheduled in the second term of Parliament.

The fact is that Standing Committee on Finance is turning a blind eye to the controversy surrounding the Public Investment Corporation, Sagarmatha Technologies Limited and Ayo Technology Solutions.

Which is a dereliction of duty given the massive exposure of the Government Employees Pension Fund to Independent Media, which was to be part of the Sagarmatha Technologies Limited.

We were assured by Dr Dan Matjila, the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Corporation, when it came to the investment in Independent Media work on an “exit strategy” was underway.

The suspicion was that the “exit strategy”, referred to by Dr Dan Matjia, was Sagarmatha Technologies Limited, will probably never be confirmed, given the blind eye being turned by the Standing Committee on Finance.

Land Bank supports DA call to release land to black emerging farmers

In the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries today, the Land Bank told Parliament that they want the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) to release farms under their custodianship to black emerging farmers on a “free title ownership” basis.

In its presentation to the committee, the Land Bank weighed in on the issue of emerging farmers not having enough collateral due to historical disadvantage in terms of dispossession and a lack of ownership.

In the Western Cape we leverage approximately R80 million per annum from the private sector to support emerging farms, especially black female farmers.

The DA believes the call can be made for the same to be replicated in other provinces in order grow support for emerging farmers nationally.

This is where the ANC’s land policies have failed to fast-track and achieve meaningful land reform. To this day, too many people who were violently dispossessed of land remain destitute and without the dignity of land rights.

The DA believes that overcoming this challenge is the first step to unlocking our people’s entrepreneurial potential as this, coupled with adequate training and support, will enable black South Africans to become commercial farmers.

The Land Bank’s call to release land to emerging black farmers, as the DA has previously called for it, would enable commercial banks to finance emerging black farmers as they will have full ownership rights of the land.

The credit assessment criteria that financiers, especially commercial banks, usually apply when evaluating a farmer’s credit application includes collateral which refers to the land that the farmer has title over.

The DA has previously called for the DRDLR and other government departments to release land under their control. The Land Bank’s commitment to emerging farmers should be welcomed and the DA agrees with their call to increase funding in the form of equity support for farmers.

This goes directly against the ANC and EFF’s call for expropriation of land without compensation which is not only bad on principle but has practically failed where it’s been tried before. The ANC government has, through its land reform programme, opted for state custodianship  other than giving title deeds to black farmers.

The DA is optimistic that through key interventions, such as those advocated by the Land Bank will ensure adequate financial support and sufficient training for black emerging farmers to become successful.

The DA will continue engaging with various stakeholders and industry experts in our quest to address the land question as well as expanding support for emerging black farmers.