2022: A year for building

I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022 and hope you are feeling cautiously optimistic about it, as I am. To be sure, South Africa starts the year with a collapsed economy, widespread suffering from loss of livelihoods, and a largely unaccountable government. Huge challenges.

Yet the pandemic is drawing to an end, EWC has been defeated, coalition governments run our major cities and many councils across the country, cadre deployment has been exposed, the full Zondo Report is now imminent, and the ANC is on its last legs. These hold the possibility to build our lives, our economy, our democracy, our future.

Pandemic

As I argue in this press statement, it is time to go back to normal living, with all the certainty that brings to families, investors, entrepreneurs, tourists, students and schoolchildren. This is a first and necessary step to building our economy.

Expropriation without compensation

The historic defeat in December of the ANC’s Expropriation Without Compensation Bill brings certainty around secure property rights, another important step to building our economy.

Coalition governments

The DA is now tasked with delivering services to over twenty million South Africans. Our coalition governments have survived the first 50 days and I look forward to reporting achievements in their first 100 days in office. These governments are an opportunity to enable job creation, relieve poverty, and inspire hope.

Cadre deployment minutes

Last week, the DA finally obtained the ANC’s cadre deployment minutes, hard evidence of how cadre deployment hollows out the state and enables corruption and state capture. The first step to recovery is accurate diagnosis.

Zondo report

The release of the full Zondo report at the end of February is a massive opportunity to hold the corrupt accountable, strengthen our public service, and firewall our democratic institutions against state capture.

ANC on last legs

ANC support dropped below 50% in the November 2021 local government election. This is a massive turning point for the country, showing that most voters now realise SA is better off without the ANC. The ANC knows it too. They won’t go down without a fight (and the burning of Parliament may well be one of these – the DA will push for the full truth), but they will go down.

Conclusion

South Africa is down but not defeated. The DA will work hard this year to find solutions, fight corruption, run successful coalition governments, and build an alternative offer that people can trust ahead of the national election in 2024. Hope is on the horizon.

DA welcomes Tshwane Mayor’s Mayoral committee announcement

Today, Executive Mayor Randall Williams announced a dynamic group of councillors who form part of the Mayoral Committee (MayCo) that will continue to bring good governance, quality service delivery and financial stability to the City of Tshwane.

This multiparty MayCo comes after weeks of coalition negotiations with other political parties to ensure a stable government that will put the residents of Tshwane first.

Mayor Williams announced the following councillors to his committee:

MMC for Finance and Leader of Executive Business– Alderman Peter Sutton (DA)
MMC for Human Settlements – Cllr Abel Tau (Action SA)
MMC for Community Safety – Alderman Grandi Theunissen (VF Plus)
MMC for Roads and Transport – Cllr Dikeledi Selowa (DA)
MMC for Economic Development and Spatial Planning – Cllr Andre le Roux (Action SA)
MMC for Health – Cllr Rina Marx (VF Plus)
MMC for Social Development and Community Services – Cllr Peggy de Bruin (Action SA)
MMC for Corporate and Shared Services – Cllr Kingsley Wakelin (DA)
MMC for Utility Services – Cllr Phillip Nel (DA)

The MMC for Environment and Agriculture will be announced in due course, in the meantime, MMC Dikeledi Selowa will act in this capacity.

The DA wishes Mayor Williams and his team well, we are confident that they will serve in the interest of the people of Tshwane.

DA congratulates Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse on her Mayoral Committee

The Democratic Alliance is delighted to announce the Mayoral Committee (MayCo) for the City of Johannesburg.

Mayor Mpho Phalatse announced the following group of councillors to her MayCo:

MMC for Finance- Cllr Julie Suddaby (Democratic Alliance)
MMC for Group Corporate and Shared Services- Cllr Leah Knott (Democratic Alliance)
MMC for Transport- Cllr Funzela Ngobeni (Action SA)
MMC for Development Planning- Cllr Belinda Echeozonjoku (Democratic Alliance)
MMC for Housing- Cllr Mlungisi Providence Mabaso (Inkatha Freedom Party)
MMC for Economic Development – Cllr Nkuli Mbundu (Action SA)
MMC for Health and Social Development- Cllr Franco De Lange (Freedom Front Plus)
MMC for Community Development- Cllr Ronald Winston Harris (African Christian Democratic Party)
MMC for Environment and Infrastructure Service Delivery- Cllr Michael Sun (Democratic Alliance)
MMC for Public Safety – Cllr David Thembe (Action SA)

While success will not be achieved overnight, we know that Mayor Phalatse and her team are more than capable of turning things around and restoring the shine to the city of gold.

The DA wishes Mayor Phalatse and her team all the best as they work towards restoring service delivery and getting things done for the residents of Johannesburg.

DA welcomes Ekurhuleni mayoral committee

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the announcement of the City of Ekurhuleni’s mayoral committee.

The multi-party committee follows weeks of negotiations between political parties to bring a stable government to the City of Ekurhuleni.

Mayor Tania Campbell announced the following dynamic group of councillors to her mayoral committee:

  • MMC for Finance, Information Communication Technology and Economic Development – Graham Gersbach (Democratic Alliance)
  • MMC for Health and Social Development – Announcement pending (Action SA)
  • MMC for Transport Planning – Alco Ngobese (Inkatha Freedom Party)
  • MMC for Water, Sanitation and Energy – Senzi Sibeko (Democratic Alliance)
  • MMC for Infrastructure Services – Themba Kalipa (Congress of the People)
  • MMC for Corporate and Shared Services – Ruhan Robinson (Democratic Alliance)
  • MMC for Human Settlements – Mabekenyane Thamahane (Democratic Alliance)
  • MMC for City Planning – Heather Hart (Democratic Alliance)
  • MMC for Environment and Waste Management – Andre du Plessis (Democratic Alliance)
  • MMC for Community Safety – Announcement pending (Action SA)

As Mayor Campbell said in her inaugural speech – no more empty promises, it is time to get things done in Ekurhuleni.

We trust that her team will work hard to restore and fast track service delivery, remove the rot that hinders the progress and delivery of housing projects and infrastructure development.

The DA is delighted that the people of Ekurhuleni will experience what a capable coalition government can do, focussed on clean governance and excellent service delivery.

The DA wishes Mayor Campbell and her team all the best, and although success will not be achieved overnight, we believe that they are more than capable to deal with the task ahead and will get things done.

Defeat of the populist EWC bill another sign SA is fighting back

This has been a historic week for South Africa as the ANC’s attempt to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation was defeated in Parliament.

The DA and many other political parties and civil society groups fought hard for this outcome. It ends three and a half years of uncertainty around secure property rights, which experience the world over shows are an essential pre-condition for economic growth and prosperity.

This bill was a populist move to scapegoat the Constitution and distract from the real impediments to land reform, which are inadequate legislation, lack of budget, lack of political will, lack of capacity, tenure insecurity, lack of support for emerging farmers, corruption, and capture by politically connected elites, as identified in Former President Kgalema Motlanthe’s High Level Panel Report of 2017.

We can and must achieve meaningful land reform in South Africa. But it requires recognizing and overcoming these real obstacles. It is to this that we must now turn our focus. We will certainly never achieve it by changing our Constitution and destroying our economy.

The DA is committed to building an inclusive society. We believe the outcome of the equally historic local government election in November provides a pathway out of ANC dominance and towards a national coalition government able to start tackling these and other impediments to building a South Africa that truly is a country for all.

These bright rays of hope come at the end of another exceptionally tough year for South Africans, during which broad unemployment has grown to a record 46.6% while the economy has contacted by 1.5% in the past three months.

While the pandemic, including the recent travel bans, has dealt a major blow, our pain is mostly ANC-inflicted, and much of it could have been avoided had the DA been in national government.

From as early as April last year, the DA warned against lockdown as a response to the pandemic, arguing it would do more harm than good. Instead, we proposed more targeted interventions and decentralised decision-making, and pushed early and hard for vaccines. Our position has been entirely vindicated, with President Ramaphosa finally admitting last month that lockdowns are irrational and unaffordable.

We have also consistently fought for the economic reforms that could pull millions out of poverty and into jobs.

Our objectives in 2022 and over the next 1000 days until the 2024 election are threefold.

Where we are in government, deliver on our manifesto pledges and turn the places we govern into shining examples of good governance. (On that note, I can report that the DA-run Western Cape’s was the only provincial health department to achieve a clean audit this year.)

In opposition, continue to challenge harmful policies such as EWC, expose and fight corruption, and champion reform.

Internally, strengthen our branch network so that we can best hold our local public representatives accountable, train and capacitate activists, and attract talented, committed individuals to the party as we work towards the 2024 national election.

For now, on behalf of the DA, I wish everyone in this beautiful country a healthy and peaceful festive season.

33 DA mayors are more than ready for the challenge

At the time of writing, 33 local, district and metropolitan municipalities across South Africa had DA mayors, and this could go up to 35 in the next couple of days with Metsimaholo and Overberg still in the balance. This list spans seven different provinces and includes places where the DA has never been in government before – places such as KZN’s uMngeni and the Eastern Cape’s Beyers Naude Municipality. Our mayors are as diverse a bunch of people as you could hope to find, and there is a wonderful blend of youth and experience. Having spent last Friday in a governance workshop with them, I have absolute confidence in their abilities to govern, and govern well.

But what also has to be said is that these local governments differ greatly from each other in terms of their stability – both politically and financially – and the challenges faced by these mayors could not be more different. Twelve of these municipalities have outright DA majorities, and many of them have had such majorities for multiple consecutive terms. These are the places where we have the freedom and the financial stability to implement our bold vision. These also just happen to be the places that consistently top all the good governance rankings and achieve regular clean audits.

The remaining municipalities either have reasonably stable majority coalitions, or they have minority governments, where no majority coalition could be formed and where each council vote is decided on an ad-hoc basis. These are clearly the most unstable and vulnerable governments of all, and pose an entirely different set of challenges to those you’ll encounter in multiple-term, DA-majority governments like Cape Town, Midvaal, Kouga or Mossel Bay, or even stable majority coalitions such as Saldanha Bay or Breede Valley.

In the past couple of weeks there has been much talk in the press of how these minority governments came to be – who masterminded the situation, who pulled the strings, who betrayed whom, who walked into a trap. There have been dozens of pieces written and almost as many theories put forward. Depending on which publication you read, the story was either that Action SA brought everyone together, or that the Freedom Front Plus orchestrated a last-minute minority party pact, or that the EFF played everyone from the start. Plenty of column inches have also been devoted to the “impossible bind” the DA now finds itself in, and how it ended up in a governing arrangement it never wanted.

But what very few of these pieces said was this simple truth: All along – before the elections, during the elections and throughout the post-election process of coalition negotiations – the DA stood firm on its promise to voters. We said we would not seek to be part of a government in which we were expected to compromise on our core principles or give in to unreasonable or unethical demands from parties or individuals just to remain in power. If that was the price of being in government, we were not prepared to pay it.

We singled out the EFF in this regard, because we’ve learnt hard lessons from our previous attempt at governing Johannesburg with their hands on the steering wheel. But also because we know that they stand diametrically opposed to almost every core principle and value of ours. This makes finding common ground, in service of the people, extremely difficult, if not impossible. That is why we said we would not vote for a governing arrangement that relied on their support.

None of this has changed. We are still 100% committed to clean, accountable governance in service of the people wherever we play a role in government, and for however long we remain in government. Our only priority is to serve the people of these towns and cities, and we will do our best, whatever the governing circumstances might be. But we will certainly not allow any party or individual to hold a gun to our head. Should this ever happen in any of these governments, we would sooner take up our positions in the opposition benches and serve the people from there – unencumbered and uncompromised – than repeat our mistakes of 2016.

What we couldn’t do, however, was control how others used their votes. And when the other parties stood together to support our candidates in several metros and municipalities in order to topple the ANC, we ended up in the unique position of having a Mayor, a Speaker, or both in municipalities where we had already resigned ourselves to the opposition benches. To paraphrase Shakespeare, some achieve coalitions, others have coalitions thrust upon them. In several municipalities, including the metros of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, the DA now finds itself at the heart of such minority coalitions. It’s not a situation we anticipated and it’s not an outcome we petitioned others to support.

But here’s the silver lining: We wouldn’t have decided to field mayoral candidates in any of these metros and municipalities if we did not have candidates whom we trust entirely to do a great job. We put their names forward because we know they are capable and committed public servants. And, as the second largest party in most of these municipalities, we have a duty to our voters to represent them with the best DA candidates. Now these 33 men and women find themselves in a situation where they could make history.

As I said last week when we introduced our mayors to the media, whether we end up serving in these minority governments for five years or five days, we will work tirelessly at improving the lives of the residents in these towns and cities. We will seek out allies in this mission among our co-governing parties as well as beyond politics – in NGOs, civil society, organised labour, churches and educators. We will do everything in our power to make it work.

I can assure you that these DA mayors will be better supported by their party than any other mayors in the country. The DA has a dedicated governance unit whose sole purpose is to ensure that DA governments live up to the high standards we set for ourselves. This unit has spent years compiling a comprehensive “Ready To Govern” guide which deals in detail with every single aspect of governance, and which every DA mayor now has in his or her possession.

What I can also assure you is that the DA will not stop working at turning these unstable minority governments into stable majority coalitions. Our talks with other parties are ongoing. Within the framework of our non-negotiable governing principles, we are prepared to sign coalition agreements with any party that has the interests of the people at heart and that shares our vision for improving the lives of South Africans, and particularly the poor and the vulnerable in our society.

If we can find a majority that cares about those same things – and I believe there is such a majority – then we have every reason to succeed.

How to fix the jobs crisis

Yesterday, Statistics SA released unemployment data for July to September 2021. The results are devastating and tragic. But not unexpected. And not inevitable.

660 000 jobs lost. South Africa’s narrow unemployment rate has hit a record high of 34.9%.

But the broad unemployment rate, which includes those who have given up looking for a job, more accurately depicts the real situation on the ground. It is at a high of 46.6% amongst all ages (15-64) and 77.4% amongst young people (15-24). These numbers show the real level of hopelessness, desperation, suffering, disempowerment, deprivation. The real level to which lives and dreams are being ruined.

Devastating and tragic, yes. Surprising, no. Because our current set of policies – the rules by which our economy is forced to operate – code failure into our economic system.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here is what we need do to fix this jobs and humanitarian crisis.

  • Arrest the instigators of the July riots, to prevent and deter any further anarchy, and to reassure investors. The rule of law is essential for economic growth and job creation. This is why I asked him, during parliamentary questions to the President last weeks: “Four and a half months later, with no high profile arrests and no further word on the so-called instigators, can you honestly say to the people of KZN that your government has done its best for them?”
  • Run an extensive vaccine education campaign and enable widespread access by taking vaccines to where people are – main streets, shopping centres, taxi ranks and so forth. And by taking people to where vaccines are – the City of Cape Town, for example, is currently offering free MyCiTi transport to the CTICC mass vaccination centre.
  • Make it clear right now that there will be no further lockdown restrictions in the coming months.
  • Relentlessly root out corruption by firing corrupt public servants, capacitating the NPA, and re-introducing the Scorpions.
  • Restructure SA’s R2 trillion budget away from managerial salaries and waste and towards service delivery infrastructure and social support to the poor. This will stimulate demand while also providing some immediate relief.
  • Appoint public servants based solely on their ability to serve the public.
  • Invest heavily in water, electricity and transport infrastructure.
  • Enable a reliable, affordable, clean supply of energy by opening the energy market. Allow competent metros and municipalities to generate their own power or buy direct from independent producers.
  • Enable cheap, safe, reliable public transport by harnessing the power of capable metros and private companies to solve SA’s public transport problems.
  • Enable cheap data by removing obstacles to digital migration and spectrum auction.
  • Enable small business creation and success by opening up the labour market. Collective bargaining agreements should only apply to those who sign up to them.
  • Remove unnecessary red tape and make South Africa an easy place to do business.
  • Make it easy and attractive for scarce skills and capital to enter and stay in South Africa.
  • Enable high- and medium-density housing close to economic opportunities.
  • Scrap investment-killing policies such as EWC, BEE, NHI, the Mining Charter, localization.
  • Properly train, incentivise and independently evaluate school principals and teachers.

This is how we can code our economy for success. For rapid job-creating growth. We need to tackle each of these challenges, even if it’s hard. This is the kind, compassionate, inclusive way forward.

DA’s Tokkie Swanepoel elected as the Mayor of the Thabazimbi Municipality

The Democratic Alliance in Limpopo is pleased to announce that Councillor Tokkie Swanepoel has been elected as Mayor of Thabazimbi Local Municipality during the inaugural council sitting today. (See photo here.)

Councillor Butana Tlhlabadira of the TFSD has been elected as Speaker and Councillor Catherine Sikwane of the TRA has been elected as Chief Whip.

The DA has 5 key priorities:

  • Building safer communities
  • Better waste management and protecting the environment
  • Creating a transparent and responsive government
  • Creating jobs and growing the economy
  • Infrastructure maintenance and investment

The DA together with the FF+, the EFF, the TRA and the TFSD is committed to put the residents of Thabazimbi first.

All matters before council will be dealt with item by item to ensure the best outcome for service delivery.

George Municipal Council elects DA Mayor, Deputy Mayor and Speaker

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in George wishes to congratulate Cllr Leon Van Wyk for being re-elected as the Mayor of George; Cllr Raybin Figland for being elected as the Deputy Mayor of George; and Cllr Sean Snyman for being elected as the Speaker of the George Municipal Council (Council).

Their election into Council signifies that the DA will, again, be in a position to serve and lead the people of George.

Our focus for the next 5 years includes, amongst other things, bettering the basics in terms of the provision of quality services, securing jobs and investment for the local economy as well as governing in the interests of all the people of George.

In September this year, the principles of good governance and sound financial management resulted in George being awarded infrastructure grant funding in the amount of R1,1 billion, spread over a period of 5 years.

As such, our election into Council will also ensure that this groundbreaking funding is used to not only restructure our capital expenditure budgets but to also attract economic development and investment.

The DA in George appreciates the privilege and opportunity that it has been afforded – to, once again, serve and lead the people of George. We unequivocally commit ourselves to serving all the people of George with the utmost distinction, integrity and pride.

A new beginning for Mogale City as DA is elected to govern

The DA wishes to congratulate Cllr Tyrone Gray who was today elected the Executive Mayor for Mogale City Local Municipality. The comes after a vote of support from other opposition parties and affirms their faith in the DA’s ability to govern.

Cllr Jacqueline Pannall has been elected the new Council Speaker and will preside over Council meetings and perform duties in line with the role.

Mogale City has been plagued by serious service delivery challenges, financial mismanagement and lack of economic growth and productivity.

The DA is excited to bring its brand of good governance and to turn things around for the embattled municipality.

On our to-do list will be to get the basics right by working to restore service delivery, revitalising the local economy and fixing the public transport system.

We are aware that success will not be achieved overnight, but our team of councillors are capable and up to the task.

The DA wishes Mayor Gray and his team well.