DA launches one-stop-shop Federal Congress website

The DA has launched a detailed and information-rich website ahead of the virtual Federal Congress which takes place on Saturday 31 October and Sunday 1 November. For the first time, the 2020 Federal Congress order of events and sessions is now published, and is available on the Congress website.

The website is a one-stop-shop for Congress delegates and also for members of the public to discover more about the historic DA Congress taking place later this month.

The arrangements for our innovative Congress continue smoothly. With more than 2000 delegates attending from their homes or from physical venues nationwide, as connected to the virtual Congress, this is South Africa’s largest ever virtual political congress.

The website includes a 14-page delegates’ guide which is a handbook for delegates attending the elective meeting.

The site also contains the DA’s first ever digital toolkit for a Federal Congress. The kit includes the DA’s values ​​and principles adopted at our Policy Conference earlier this year and a variety of digital graphic and social media content.

The site also explains the Congress theme: Real Hope. Real Change. Now.

The Congress website will soon add a full media information section, with the full scope of details required for journalists and media houses to ensure successful coverage of the virtual Congress.

This website will be updated regularly as information is released by the Party in the run-up to the Congress.

We are delighted to be able to ensure that despite more than 200 days of Covid-lockdown, the DA’s democratic processes go on and our internal democracy is working.

The DA Federal Congress website can be accessed at: https://www.da.org.za/dacongress2020

South Africans must unite against farm attacks

Young farm manager Brendin Horner’s brutal torture and murder may come to mark a tipping point for South Africa. It could strengthen radical groupings on the left and right, further polarizing and racialising our society, risking a rural civil war of sorts. Or it could strengthen the centre, spurring South Africans from all communities to come together against this attack on our farming community and food security and more broadly against lawlessness.

The EFF has been quick to use this issue to incite violence. On Wednesday, Malema tweeted “Magwala a chechele morago! (Cowards move to the back) Fighters attack!” in response to Tuesday’s incident of violence outside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court where the two men accused of Horner’s murder appeared. EFF MP Nazier Paulsen posted a picture of a machine gun captioned “Get ready!” Racial hatred and division are the lifeblood of their political support.

This reckless, irresponsible opportunism must meet a united front against violence, criminality and racism. South Africa’s society is growing evermore fragile and volatile. Those in the centre need to stand together behind a powerful set of principles: the rule of law, equality before the law, non-violence, and nonracialism. Only with these principles and a plan to enforce them will we overcome the forces tearing our country apart.

There is absolutely no justification for farm attacks, no matter the race of victim or perpetrator. This brutality is a sickness and a crime against our humanity. These crimes cannot continue to be committed with impunity. It is only when people demand and see accountability that criminality and violence will decline. There is also no justification for the destruction of public property as we saw in Senekal this week, no matter the race of the perpetrator. All must be equal before the law, and the law must be able to run its course.

This moment calls for strong, uniting leadership. President Ramaphosa needs to break his silence and condemn farm attacks. He should unequivocally retract his infamous 2018 denial of farm murders. When EFF members attend the second hearing of Horner’s attackers next week as Malema has called on them to do, these “fighters” as he calls them will be looking for a fight with those whose anger and frustration is at boiling point. President Ramaphosa should call for peace to prevail and make it clear that violence will not be tolerated.

His government has a constitutional duty to promote tolerance and the protection of all citizens. He should replace Police Minister Bheki Cele who has failed to take decisive action and refused to classify farm attacks as priority crimes even though it is today four times more dangerous to be on a farm than in other areas of SA. Instead Cele has aggravated the situation, most recently this morning by attempting to blame farmers themselves for farm attacks.

Farm attacks must be classified as priority crimes, so that more resources, manpower and expertise can be dedicated to fighting them. Farming is already an incredibly high-risk vocation in South Africa, not just because farming is so heavily dependent on the weather, but also because of the threat of expropriation of farms. The constant fear felt by farmers and farmworkers is becoming unbearable. Make no mistake, this coordinated attack on our farming community is also an attack on our food security.

The DA has called for a debate of national importance in Parliament and a joint ministerial summit on rural safety. Government can no longer turn a blind eye to this escalating crisis. We need to see a massive increase in research and statistics on this issue. Crime intelligence and investigative capacity must be boosted in rural areas.

Fully outfitted, dedicated rural policing units must be reestablished. Farm patrols must be supported and court watching briefs must be allocated to closely track court investigations and court proceedings to ensure attackers end up behind bars.

More broadly, the DA will continue to drive the issue of land ownership and financial support for emerging farmers and we will continue to fight expropriation without compensation. These are two areas of policy failure putting immense pressure on South Africa’s farming community.

There is uncertainty about the motives behind farm attacks but there can be no uncertainty amongst law-abiding South Africans that enough is enough. Let us unite behind the rule of law, equality before the law, non-violence and nonracialism. The vast majority of South Africans are tolerant, peace-loving and law-abiding. We cannot let our society be sabotaged by the radical, violent few. We must stand together and demand accountability.

Opinion | Successful land reform requires landowners, not tenants of the state

Last week, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza announced that the state will release about 700 000 hectares of underutilized or vacant state land for agricultural land reform. Specifically, previously disadvantaged South Africans will be able to apply to lease 896 farms owned by the state.

On the face of it, this is a potentially major step in South Africa’s quest to achieve a more equitable redistribution of land. These 700 000 hectares is a large amount of land, comprising roughly the same area as has been redistributed in the past decade.

President Ramaphosa lauded this decision in his newsletter this week, rightly remarking of the 1913 Land Act that “by depriving our people of their right to own and work the land on which they depended for sustenance and livelihood, this great injustice engineered the poverty of black South Africans”.

The Democratic Alliance has consistently called on government to release unused or underused state land for land reform. However, the key word in the above quote is “own”. Land reform will only be successful if it changes patterns of land ownership. And yet the government appears intent on leasing state land, including that acquired through expropriation without compensation, rather than transferring full ownership to previously disadvantaged South Africans.

Can land even be said to have been “redistributed” if it remains in the ownership of the state?

Government’s reluctance to grant emerging farmers full tenure of the land they work undermines South Africa’s land reform project, engineering the continued poverty of black South Africans and continued skewed ownership patterns.

Although there is a stated option for lease beneficiaries to buy the land, government has in fact displayed a marked reluctance in the past to transfer ownership. Perhaps best known is the case of David Rakgase, who last year secured a landmark judgement when the Pretoria high court ruled as irrational and unconstitutional the government’s refusal to sell land to him, the land he had been farming successfully for 27 years. Mr Rakgase finally owns the land he farms. This is the kind of land reform we need in South Africa.

The Democratic Alliance has long argued that beneficiaries of land reform should be full owners, through having full tenure and title to the land they work. We believe successful land reform requires secure private property rights. Full ownership sets emerging farmers up for success with both the collateral and incentive they need to invest in their land and make it productive. It protects rights, builds intergenerational wealth and promotes prospects for self-reliance, independence and economic prosperity.

Minister Didiza’s plan is that beneficiaries will sign a non-transferable lease agreement with the state and pay a rental fee consistent with the land value. A long enough lease could be used for collateral, except these leases are specifically non-transferable, conferring no security to the farmer since the farm can be repossessed at the whim of the state. Insecure tenancy sets emerging farmers up for failure and will more likely entrench rather than dispel the false “stereotype that only white farmers are successful in South Africa”.

Leasehold on these terms is a feudal, paternalistic approach that does little to change patterns of agricultural land ownership and much to grow patronage opportunities for the state. Let us hope this announcement is not just a political ploy, an electoral ruse to give the illusion of empowerment, while in fact growing patronage power for the state. Certainly, the process undertaken to identify beneficiaries needs to be transparent and fulfil the constitutional requirement for equitable access. This cannot be yet more enrichment opportunities for a connected elite.

Take the case of Lulama and Nothandekile Kapa, a farmworker-turned-farmer couple who have been farming a piece of state-owned land in the Eastern Cape without a lease for the past 31 years. They have been trying unsuccessfully now for a decade to get the government to formally lease the land to them. Despite having no formal tenure, their farming operation is flourishing. Far from supporting the Kapas to lease the land they work the government has more recently tried to shift them off the farm in favour of an ANC-linked family.

But even if government’s intentions are sincere, South Africa should pursue an ownership model over leasehold. A leasing arrangement of the sort proposed by Minister Didiza requires an honest, capable state to administer this programme ongoing. Yet her department lacks the capacity to do so, as per Judge Edwin Cameron’s assessment of it last year when he stated “it has displayed a patent incapacity to get the job done” and “the department’s tardiness and inefficiency in making land reform and restitution real has triggered what rightly can be called a constitutional near-emergency”. And indeed, many emerging farmers have received letters to vacate their leased state land, for no clear reason. Many others still have no lease at all.

Although government claims a redistributive vision which implies broadening land ownership, its commitment to leasing state land (and to the policy of expropriating private land to the state without compensation and then leasing it) will in fact concentrate land ownership in the state and deter private investment in land productivity.

Successful land reform is so important for South Africa, not only to promote economic prosperity and food security, but to heal the deep divisions of our unjust past. I urge South Africans to reject this model of tenancy dependent on an all-powerful state and instead to support one of broad-based ownership with secure private property rights.

DA shows support to Horner family and farmers at Senekal gathering

A diverse group of Democratic Alliance (DA) members attended the gathering at Senekal today together with hundreds of other people from across the Free State and the country to express support for the family of Brendin Horner who was brutally and senselessly murdered on a farm near Paul Roux last Friday. The DA was also there to demonstrate outrage at the continuous criminal attacks on our farming community.

The DA regards both the owners of farms and their employees as farmers. Brendin Horner, who worked on a farm, paid the ultimate price for his choice of career as a young South African farmer. Crime continues to be one of the most serious security and economic threats to our farming community. Crimes on farms that include murder and rape are already treated as a costly low intensity war by the agricultural community and should be recognised as such by government.

The DA’s presence in Senekal is also a tribute to all our farmers who generate the agricultural commodities that are used to produce our food and clothing through their sweat and toil, and very often also through blood and tears. Our farmers who ensure our food security are national assets who deserve the respect of a grateful nation and the protection of their government.

The DA understand the emotions of a violent death of a young person and the frustrations people have with the criminal justice system. The DA will not react to violent outbursts and will continue to be the voice of reason.

State must “get out the way” of economic recovery

It is now incontrovertible that lockdown greatly exacerbated the real disasters we face as a nation – poverty, unemployment, and inequality – hitting the most vulnerable hardest and causing far more suffering and loss of life than it prevented. Ramaphosa’s government is directly responsible and the very least they can do now is get out the way of South Africa’s economic recovery.

Two sets of socioeconomic data released this week confirmed what should have been obvious to all on 27 March 2020 when lockdown was implemented: that anything longer than a short, well-managed lockdown to buy time to implement more targeted interventions would wreak major destruction on a nation already in crisis.

StatsSA reported that 2 200 000 people lost their jobs in the second quarter of this year, with broad unemployment increasing from 39% to an unprecedented 42%, and youth unemployment (age 15-24 years) to almost 75%.

The NIDS-CRAM Survey Wave 2 gives valuable insight into the social effects of lockdown, which have been largely hidden from view, unlike the Covid death toll which is splashed on dashboards and reported on daily in the media.

  • Nearly 1 in 4 shack dwellers experienced hunger every week in July and August. Nationally, hunger rates are still substantially above pre-lockdown levels.
  • The 3 million jobs lost between February and April had not returned by June despite the partial easing of lockdown restrictions, suggesting these losses may be long-lasting.
  • From February to June, the most disadvantaged groups (poor, rural, women, unskilled, less educated) experienced the largest declines in employment and the slowest recoveries, with the percentage drop in employment 10 times higher for the poorest 50% of workers compared to the riches 25%.
  • 311 000 domestic workers lost their jobs.
  • 40% of school days will be lost for most children in 2020, with education inequality increasing.
  • ECD attendance levels were still down 75% relative to historical levels a month after programmes were allowed to reopen, mostly because ECD centres couldn’t afford to reopen.

This data vindicates the DA’s early call to end the lockdown, which was met with outrage at the time, when we argued that poverty kills by stunting bodies and lives, that lockdowns kill, that the poor and young would suffer most, and that growing inequality would dangerously destabilize society.

It is not good enough for government to claim these are “unintended consequences”. Many things have “shocked” Ramaphosa, but no self-respecting president can claim not to have foreseen the catastrophic socioeconomic consequences of shutting down an economy in recession and forcing people to stay inside their homes for weeks on end.

It is crucial that we as a nation recognise lockdown as a monumental blunder on the part of government. Because rule number 1 for recovering from lockdown is to not go back into lockdown if covid cases start to rise again. But also, because Ramaphosa’s government must be held to account for the devastation. South Africa needs a new government.

Anyone who believes that the same government that caused this devastation can lead a rapid economic recovery is living in fairyland. And indeed, Ramaphosa’s “Economic Recovery Action Plan” is the stuff of fairy tales.

The evidence suggests that these 3 million job losses and our economic depression may be long lasting. Lockdown has turned to slowdown. A recovery even just to pre-lockdown levels of employment requires bold pro-growth reforms to free up the private sector.

Instead, Ramaphosa’s plan is to double down on state-led “development”, a contradiction in terms for a state as hollowed out and incapable as ours. Dyed-in-the-wool communist, Trade and Industry Minister Ibrahim Patel, is to tell us what we may and may not import, fresh from telling us what shoes and shirts we may and may not wear. Investment-killing NHI is to forge ahead. BEE regulations are to be strengthened. Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi, recently fingered as having received payments from Mr Edwin Sodi in the asbestos audit scandal and champion of tighter employment equity regulations, is to chair the Economic Recovery Leadership Team. You can’t make this stuff up.

The only possible economic recovery for SA is one which is market-led. The individual choices and risk assessments of 58 million people must direct what gets produced and how much. Power to the people who care about their lives, not to the state that doesn’t. No government that cares about people’s lives would cut R10.5 billion from social programmes at a time like this to resuscitate bankrupt SAA. It is unforgivable that public transport for the rich is being subsidised while people are starving.

The government cannot even perform its own core roles to any acceptable level – witness stolen railway lines, crumbling infrastructure, broken health and school systems, bankrupt municipalities, and delayed social security payments. Nor can it run its own businesses – witness bankrupt Eskom, SAA, Denel, SABC, SAPO and Transnet. Yet it wants to direct the private sector, the only sector which still has capacity.

We need open, competitive energy and labour markets. We must decisively reject investment-killing policies such as NHI, EWC, BEE, prescribed assets, and Reserve Bank nationalisation. We must stop bailing out state-owned enterprises. We need high-level arrests of corruption suspects Jacob Zuma, Ace Magashule, Nomvula Mokonyane, Gwede Mantashe and the like, to stop corruption in its tracks and build immediate confidence in South Africa. Scapegoating through token arrests of small-fry suspects is not going to cut it.

Only if our corrupt, incapable state gets out the way of innovation and entrepreneurship in this country will jobs be created at the scale required, and will the financial reserves be generated to offer a strong safety net and trampoline to those pushed down by lockdown. What Ramaphosa envisages as a state-led recovery, will more likely be a state-blocked recovery. The DA’s headline advice for government’s economic recovery action plan is just four words long: Get out the way.

Opinion | Zuma’s latest Zondo dodge is an old ANC trick

Former President Jacob Zuma’s latest attempt to frustrate the work of the Zondo Commission and evade justice is not a strategy unique to him. It is a pattern that has repeated itself in the ANC over the years, where an action or institution that is lauded with much fanfare at its introduction is eventually turned on and dismissed as soon as it gets uncomfortably close to the criminal activities of high ranking ANC members.

Zuma himself appointed the Zondo Commission two and a half years ago, and he is on record stating his willingness to cooperate with the commission. His latest claim that Judge Raymond Zondo is somehow biased due to a personal history with him must be dismissed with contempt. Not only did Zuma appoint Judge Zondo to chair the commission, he also recommended him for the position of Deputy Chief Justice a year earlier.

Reading Zuma’s statement at the time of announcing the Zondo Commission in January 2018 puts into perspective the farce of his latest actions. Back then he said that the state capture allegations were “of paramount importance and deserving of finality and certainty”. He told us “there should be no area of corruption and culprit that should be spared the extent of this commission of inquiry.” And he assured us that he had “faith in all the judges and their ability to execute their tasks with the requisite levels of fairness, impartiality and independence”.

There was no talk of any personal history with Judge Zondo, and there certainly was plenty of time for Zuma to raise any possible conflict of interest issues since then, but he didn’t. For him to now insist that Judge Zondo recuse himself smacks of the desperation of a guilty man cornered by the law. The country needs to move on from the disaster that was the Zuma presidency, and he must stop wasting everyone’s time.

But equally, the ANC cannot be let off the hook, because this practice of making a 180-degree about-turn when things get uncomfortable is their very own modus operandi. We have so many ANC scandals that occur concurrently these days that it’s often difficult to remember exactly who said what years ago. But it’s important that we do.

Back when our country signed the Rome Statute in 1998 and ratified it in 2000 to become a member nation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), this was done with much fanfare by the ANC government. Then Justice Minister Dullah Omar said at the time that “the establishment of an international criminal court would not only strengthen the arsenal of measures to combat gross human rights violations but would ultimately contribute to the attainment of international peace.”

But the moment this ICC membership put the ANC on a collision course with a fellow Big Man Politician in Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir, history was instantly erased and the ICC was rebranded a pariah institution and colonial relic.

Similarly, the establishment of the independent Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) – better known as the Scorpions – back in 1999 was done with much bluster, including a promise that it would look into crime within the SAPS ranks. But that was all quickly forgotten and erased when it became clear that the Scorpions were truly independent and were prepared to go after criminals at the top of the ANC, and particularly the national Police Commissioner at the time, Jackie Selebi. Then the unit was quickly turned on, disbanded and replaced with a compliant and controllable unit in the Hawks.

Such is the volume of the daily ANC scandal deluge that they hope people will forget things that happened years ago and overlook their inconsistency and hypocrisy. Just as the ANC did when they killed off the Scorpions and withdrew from the ICC, Jacob Zuma is now hoping to rewrite his relationship with Judge Zondo as somehow compromised and problematic.

We cannot allow that to happen. We cannot allow Zuma to do to the Zondo Commission what he has been doing for two decades on the Arms Deal issue. When he says he wants his day in court or he wants to have a chance to clear his name and set the record straight, he is not being honest. He is using the oldest trick in the ANC playbook to delay, obfuscate and rewrite history in the hope that this will buy him time or even exonerate him.

It is time that Jacob Zuma was treated as an ordinary citizen and a hostile witness, and not afforded the leniency that these institutions have shown him to date.

Opinion | Why are we being kept in the dark on dealing with load shedding and where is the urgency, Mr President?

Where are the bold steps that were promised in December 2019? Why is the ANC blocking municipalities from purchasing directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs), and the opening of the grid? Why did Minister Gwede Mantashe not raise the limit for exemptions from licensing of generation from 1MW to 10MW? Where is the negotiation with existing IPPs to take up excess supply? And why, in the name of all that is good, have we not opened REIPPP Bid Window 5 yet?

Dear Mr President,

Your letter “From the Desk of the President” of 28 September rightfully acknowledges the impact load shedding – or let’s call it what it really is: rolling blackouts – has on the lives of every South African.

From the economy, which according to some estimates loses R1-billion per day for every stage of load shedding, to the hospitals, which cannot perform surgeries or keep ventilators operating, to schools, which cannot teach and pupils who cannot learn. These are just a few of the real-world impacts of the failure of the state-owned electricity utility, Eskom.

To the government’s credit, there have been some positive developments of late. A request for proposals (RFP) was at long last issued for the Risk Mitigation Power Procurement Programme on 20 August 2020 – eight long months after the rolling blackouts peaked at Stage 6 in December 2019.

Do you remember your commitment at the time? You undertook to fill the short-term electricity supply gap by prioritising power producers who could come online within three to six months of approval. Did you forget to send that message to your Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe?

Concurrence was granted by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) on 25 May 2020. He delayed issuing the RFP, and when he did eventually do so in August, the timeframe specified that producers must be online by June 2022. Hardly “three to six months”, I am sure you will agree. It’s also not the “technology agnostic” solution you promised back then: this RFP seems designed to fit a small number of producers (possibly only one), at high cost to the South African consumer and economy.

And, yes, at long last the minister has gazetted the ministerial determination for procurement of electricity generation in terms of the Integrated Resource Plan. Again, we have to ask: what took so long? Nersa – fully aware of the electricity crisis facing the country – wasted seven months to concur with a determination made by the minister in February, a determination that was wholly in line with the Integrated Resource Plan approved by Nersa and Cabinet a few months before in October 2019.

What’s lacking, Mr President, is any sense of urgency. It’s not as if this has sneaked up on us. You and your government have been promising great things at Eskom for years now – in fact, ever since load shedding first occurred in 2007. In September 2015, addressing the National Council of Provinces, you said: “In another 18 months to two years, you will forget the challenges that we had with relation to power and energy and Eskom ever happened.” That aged well, didn’t it?

So how can we trust your promises now? Where are the bold steps that were promised in December last year? Why is the ANC blocking municipalities from purchasing directly from IPPs, and the opening of the grid? Why did Mantashe not raise the limit for exemptions from licensing of generation from 1MW to 10MW? Where is the negotiation with existing power producers to take up excess supply? And why, in the name of all that is good, have we not opened REIPPP Bid Window 5 yet?

Earlier this year, the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy rejected a private members’ bill to create an independent transmission system operator – something that is a global best practice, and which energy experts and investors unanimously agree South Africa desperately needs.

They did this purely on the basis of politics, without interacting with the provisions of the bill to see if they could be improved, or if there was room to reach a compromise. In fact (as has become common), the words used in the committee were “We reject this with the contempt it deserves!” Contempt, Mr President? Surely we should be exploring any and all options to resolve our electricity crisis? Or is your grip on the ANC so tenuous that the ideologues and the nationalists walk all over progressive thought?

Lastly, Mr President, I want to leave you with this thought: In your missive, you say that “the crucial first step in this reform process was the release of the Integrated Resource Plan last year. The Integrated Resource Plan updates the national energy forecast and provides a roadmap for our energy sector for the next decade.”

To a degree this is true, but the Integrated Resource Plan only addresses electricity. Our broader energy roadmap is the Integrated Energy Plan, which according to the National Energy Act 34 of 2008 is supposed to be updated annually. The last one the ANC government actually produced was in 2003, although a draft from 2016 seems to have disappeared. But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised, as Mantashe doesn’t know the difference between the Integrated Resource Plan and the Integrated Energy Plan.

The choice is yours, Mr President. Work with all South Africans for a better tomorrow, or continue kowtowing to vested interest groups inside your own party who want little more than to create new opportunities to pillage and plunder our country of what little economic resources are left. Whichever you choose, time is running out rapidly.

History made as DA scoops up two environmental awards

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape has scooped up two environmental awards in the prestigious Eco-Logic Awards hosted by Enviropaedia yesterday. The DA EC won Gold in the Eco-Innovation category and Silver in the Eco-Build category for the innovative plastic road, also known as the eco-friendly road which was built as a pilot project in Jeffrey’s Bay in the DA-run Kouga Municipality.

The event aims to identify individuals, organisations and communities that positively contribute to a sustainable world. The event is widely recognised as South Africa’s most glamorous green eco-calendar event and is made up out of 12 environmental categories, amongst others the Climate Change Award, the Water Conservation Award, the Eco-Build Award and the Eco-Innovation Award.

I approached the DA-run Kouga Municipality, under the leadership of Mayor Horatio Hendriks, to pilot the project after facing a disappointing dead stop by the ANC in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, who vehemently opposed the idea.

The end result, which can been seen in Woltemade Street, Jeffreys Bay, came about due to an amazing team effort by various role-players such as the Kouga Municipality, SP Excell, who built the project at no charge to the municipality, and MacRebur who supplied the plastic product for the pilot. Without these early-onset adopters, who believed in this idea, the project would not have been possible.

This innovative method of road construction replaces a large percentage of bitumen with waste plastic in the road’s construction process. The result is a road using plastic as the polymer binder, which will suffer no potholes or edge breaks and will require no maintenance for up to 20 years, resulting in massive cost-savings.

The aim is to address a ‘triple threat’ of unemployment, the billion-rand roads maintenance backlog and also, very importantly, marine pollution. A standard ‘plastic road’ will contain 1.5 tons of waste plastic (1.8 million plastic bags) per kilometre. Plastic that would otherwise have ended up on landfills or in the ocean. This plastic would have to be collected, sorted and packaged, potentially providing an income for the unemployed, while simultaneously reducing the amount of plastic that can end up in oceans, of which South Africa is contributing approximately eight tons every year.

The DA will remain the only party that is forward thinking, innovative and able to embrace the fourth industrial revolution in moving into the future, creating jobs and embracing change

The media shows its racist underbelly in its portrayal of black DA leaders

In its analysis of the DA’s adoption of a new economic justice policy and the party’s renewed commitment to the principle of non-racialism, the South African media and political analysts, many of whom are white, have revealed a deeply reductionist and patronising attitude towards black voters and black leaders within the DA which is beginning to border on blatant racism.

It deeply frustrates and offends me that the media continues to refer to black DA leaders and members not as individuals capable of autonomous thought and agency within the party, but rather as helpless calves separated from the herd of group think and racial nationalism, the doctrine expected of us by those whose thoughts and opinions never go beyond what they see in the mirror.

The media portrayal is that Black DA leaders and members are not accomplished liberal politicians, or South Africans with informed opinions who reject the policies du jour and are brave enough to seek and embrace a workable alternative. Instead they depict us as traitors to our own kind, perpetrators of political heresy because we dare to exercise our right to stand up, disagree, and abandon the failed policies of the political left and the governing party. We are “rented blacks” and “puppets of the whites”, or as the Sunday World put it, the “darkies” who are being flushed from the party like mere political collateral.

As black DA leaders, the media will not afford us the luxury and respect of being acknowledged as sovereign and decisive adults who are active in the party and hold influence. Instead, we must be placed into narrow boxes of racial victimhood because we are too weak and stupid to think for ourselves, or contribute to the party to which we voluntarily and gladly serve.  Equally outrageously, they allow discredited leaders, who leave the party instead of facing very serious charges, to speak on behalf of us all. We love the DA and choose to serve South Africa this way.

Racial stereotypes may sell tabloids, but the cost is the denigration of the autonomy, capability and agency of individual black people, particularly those in the DA. This is not only insulting, but racist.

Steven Friedman recently stated that the DA is ‘determined to antagonize politically active black people’. To purport that black voters in South Africa are nothing more than victims of political antagonism, is highly offensive. In essence, Friedman is alleging that all black South Africans live in fear of those who make decisions on our behalf. Friedman should know that black leaders in the DA write and contribute to our policy, debate and vote on our values and principles as individuals, not as a racial block vote, represent our voters in parliament, and lead highly successful DA governments.

Moreover, the media cannot seem to fathom that black South Africans can and do choose liberal politics over racial nationalism and socialism, and the value of individual thought over the politics of racial identity. It is this sheer political illiteracy that has so many journalists lazily pitting black against white in a vacuum of logic and reason, egged on by the DA’s detractors who use the trope of racial victimhood as their only means to feel vindicated and relevant.

Mail & Guardian journalist, Lester Kiewit, wrote that the DA is moving towards a “colour blind” future upon its adoption of non-racialism. This derogatory perversion of our non-racialism clause would have the DA painted as a political party remaining purposefully oblivious to race and the effects of racism in South Africa, a policy bulldozed through by the “DA whites”. In reality, non-racialism was supported and voted in by an overwhelming majority, including the voices of many prominent black liberals within the party. The only person who is colour-blind in this instance, is Lester himself, because he and the rest of his media brethren are colour-blind to the power and prowess of our black leaders and the wisdom and excellence that they impart onto the party and its processes. The real DA is not whitewashed.  The fictitious DA is the one whitewashed by the media and opportunists who cannot and will not understand its liberal diversity. The DA is not colour-blind, but it would seem that many journalists are, ironically, blind to the talents and accomplishments of the DA’s black leaders and electorate.

It is one thing to state that a black member had left the DA based on irreconcilable ideological difference, but it is racist to those of us who choose to stay and serve South Africa, to state that black leaders are being purged from the party. This is precisely why the DA has adopted the non-racialism clause, because there is no such thing as black or white thought. There are only ideas, and among them, good and bad ones. It is this very ideal that South Africa needs to embrace if we are ever going to move forward. We need to judge individuals on the merits of their ideas and actions, and not on how well they adhere to the ideas expected of them based purely on the colour of their skin. If the media could wake up to this realisation, we may be able to move beyond a racially divided state.

Until then, journalists, including many whites among them, will continue to patronizingly tell us what we are supposed to think on the basis of our race.  In the DA we won’t be told what to think, because we know how to think. South Africans are far more than the colour of our skin – we are the sum of our ideas, our skills, and our merits. I am not an antagonized black, or as the media wish to portray us, out of place in a party where I don’t belong. I am a black liberal  who joined the DA out of my own free will and proudly stands for a set of ideals and principles that are not, and never will be, determined by the colour of my skin. And that is why I support, and will continue to support the DA – because it is the only party that doesn’t ask me what I am, it asks me what I think. Until the media, journalists, and political analysts are able to see and respect black independence and influence within the Democratic Alliance, they will continue to be the very racists they so condemn. It is high time that black, liberal minds are acknowledged with as much vigour and respect as black socialists and fascists. Identity politics is a double-edged sword – it may serve you in the short term, but it will box you in and silence you in the end.

For me as a graduate of BA in Political Philosophy, ANC was never an option and will never be.  I do not resonate with how in 25 years they have brought this country to its knees. They had the opportunity to make this country economically vibrant but have done the opposite of landing it as one of the most unequal societies in the world. What did their race-based policies do for South Africans? Nothing! This year, I completed my Master’s in Policy Development and realised that sadly many policies are formulated in government without proper problem definition – I am not stupid!

South Africa needs a party that will revitalize it and get the economy going again. I am not blind to the fact that I am a black woman and have black children.  I fully understand black struggles. In fighting for South Africans, like any other black South Africa, I need to help give hope to everyone. This is painful when daily, the media insults us in how they portray black leaders in the DA as objects. So, how about shifting focus to our work where daily, we are committed and fight for a better life for South Africans across all spheres of government. The beauty of diversity in the DA is that we bring those black voices to the table when we have robust debates on issues including on policy discussions. That is what makes the DA unique!

R2.5 billion irregular expenditure on Gauteng Health security contracts

The Gauteng Health Department has spent R2.56 billion on irregularly awarded hospital security contracts that were then irregularly extended on a month-to-month basis for four years.

This is revealed by Acting Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mamabolo, the contracts of 73 security companies that were appointed in October 2014 for a two-year period were extended month by month to the present day at a total cost of R2.56 billion for the four year extension.

This is all irregular expenditure which happened even though criminal charges were laid against the chairperson of the bid evaluation committee that first awarded the security contracts.

The Auditor-General warned the Department two years ago about the irregular extension of contracts, but nothing was done to fix this.

Hospital security contracts are notorious for corruption and gross overcharging. New contracts should have been awarded long ago, but it probably suited certain interests to keep extending them.

Suspended Health MEC Bandile Masuku cannot escape accountability for allowing these contracts to continue at great cost.

We need better security at a more reasonable cost in view of recent disturbing security incidents at hospitals in Gauteng.