Lessons from Gauteng metro upheaval

ANC one-party dominance is drawing to a close. We cannot afford to replace it with unstable coalitions. The recent upheaval in the Gauteng metros provides crucial lessons for South Africa ahead of the 2024 national election. We ignore them at our peril.


On 25 October, the DA’s Mpho Phalatse was reinstated as mayor, replacing ANC mayor Dada Morero who was in office for just 25 days. This, after the DA won its High Court case to have the ANC coalition’s motion of no confidence which forced her out on 29 September ruled unconstitutional and invalid.

The judgement is something of a victory for Johannesburg residents and the rule of law, setting a legal precedent that should deter councillors from pursuing illegal processes and frivolous reasoning to topple opponents.

But the fact remains that the political situation in Johannesburg is inherently unstable due to an enormously fragmented council where 18 parties are represented, with no party having an absolute majority, and with 8 of them having just 1 seat in the 270-member council. Phalatse’s new coalition remains at risk of being ousted.


On 8 November, DA mayor Tania Campbell was reinstated as mayor of Ekurhuleni having been ousted two weeks before in a motion of no confidence. Her 10-party minority coalition had spent 10 months working to undo the damage done by the ANC over the past two decades and achieving meaningful progress for residents. She has now formed a new minority coalition which remains at risk of being ousted.

Citizens suffer

The citizens of these two metros are the real victims of this political upheaval. Political instability inevitably disrupts and compromises service delivery, with the poorest citizens suffering most. Being unable to afford private provision, they are most reliant on government services.

If the dynamics within metro coalitions are replicated at national and provincial government level post 2024, it will lead to permanent instability, with South Africa possibly even becoming ungovernable.

The problem with PR

Proportional Representation electoral systems tend to encourage a fragmentation of politics into a large number of parties. In South Africa this is particularly extreme because a party can get a seat in Parliament with just 0,2% of the vote.

Yet even a party this tiny, with minimal electoral support, can bring down a government if that party’s seat is needed to make up 50%-plus-1 in the coalition. In Johannesburg, for example, COPE got fewer than 2500 votes out of more than a million voters. Yet their one councillor, Colleen Makhubele, brought down the DA-led multi-party coalition.

When no party wins an absolute majority, tiny parties can become “king makers”, wielding power that is far out of proportion to their electoral support. This makes them vulnerable to being bribed by larger parties that need their support to get into government, posing huge risk to the stability of coalition governments.

Electoral threshold

Other countries with PR electoral systems, such as Germany, Denmark, Austria, Belgium and Greece, have avoided instability by setting electoral thresholds. In Germany, parties require a minimum of 5% of the electorate’s support to get into national government while in Denmark it is 2%, Austria 4%, Belgium 5%, and Greece 3%.

To stabilise coalitions in South Africa, the DA has proposed an electoral threshold of 1 or 2%, among other legislative changes, which we will seek to introduce through Private Members Bills.

Promotes democracy

While preventing a tiny party from getting a seat in a legislature may be seen as somewhat undemocratic, allowing tiny parties to decide whether the ANC or the DA runs a government is a gross subversion of democracy. In pursuit of a generally democratic outcome and stable coalitions, we need to be willing to sacrifice a small degree of proportionality.

Avoids complexity

By preventing a proliferation of tiny parties, an electoral threshold also prevents cumbersome coalitions consisting of large numbers of parties, such as Tshwane’s 7-party coalition and Nelson Mandela Bay’s 10-party coalition. Decision-making is naturally slower and large coalitions battle to act with common purpose. Inevitably, delivery is compromised.

The DA-led multi-party coalitions in both Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni have managed to achieve meaningful successes while in government, despite the challenges of managing complex minority coalitions. But had the DA held outright majorities or been able to form majority coalitions with just one orSecurity of tenure and greater flexibility due to simpler decision-making processes make for better governing outcomes. This becomes very clear when you look at Cape town, Midvaal or uMngeni, where the DA governs outright, or Hessequa and Breede Valley municipalities, which are run by stable DA-led majority coalitions.

Two-horse race

If voters are serious about replacing the ANC with a functional government that can move South Africa forward, then 2024 needs to be a two-horse race between the ANC and the DA. A recent poll by the Social Research Foundation put the DA at only eleven percentage points behind the ANC nationally. In the next eighteen months we will close that gap still further.

Declare Eskom State of Disaster now, President Ramaphosa

The following address was delivered yesterday by DA Leader John Steenhuisen, on the DA’s latest proposals to address the electricity crisis as South Africans face the threat of complete grid collapse.

Good morning, my fellow citizens,

If you’ve tuned into this broadcast, you’re most likely one of the fortunate South Africans who still has power to their computer or their wi-fi router right now. Millions don’t, and as the day progresses, many millions more will face the same lot.

And they will go through all of this tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, with literally no end in sight.

During these periods, factories shut down their machines, businesses close their doors, hospitals postpone theatre lists, matric students aren’t able to study for their exams.

But even more importantly, future plans are reconsidered. Business expansion plans are put on hold, investments withdrawn, tours are cancelled, posts are frozen, staff are retrenched.

And when the loadshedding seems indefinite, these things become permanent. That’s how a country slips backwards until it fails.

If you read the Eskom press statements, you will know that the available capacity of our country’s power stations has reached a critical stage, with multiple generation units at multiple power stations out of commission at the same time.

Many of these units have been offline for several months, and will be offline for many more, while day-to-day failures at power stations remove even more megawatts from the grid.

And while this shortfall could, until now, be somewhat mitigated through the expensive practice of burning diesel in open-cycle gas turbines, that option is no longer on the cards because Eskom has simply run out of money to buy diesel.

Eskom’s financial year runs to end-March 2023, but their diesel budget for the year has already been spent.

That’s why we’re in and out of stage 4 and stage 5 loadshedding right now.

That’s why no one can predict which stage we’ll be at next week, or tomorrow or even a couple of hours from now.

That is why more and more people are starting to use language like “total shutdown” and “grid collapse” when speaking of our energy crisis.

Those people are not being alarmist. Our country is standing before its greatest ever threat – an event that will dwarf the devastating economic effects of government’s Covid lockdowns.

This is no longer about inconvenience at home or in the workplace. This is about the future of South Africa.

Simply put, our country will not survive the collapse of the electricity grid, should it come to that. And that is where we are headed.

That’s why the response to the energy crisis must be treated as a matter of National Security, and handled with the urgency, the scale and the focus of a war-like situation.

But why does it not feel like we’re in a crisis of National Security?

Where are the leaders responsible for plotting our defense? Where are the weekly updates? What are the details of the plan? What are the budgets? What are they doing, and what can we do?

Why do we have to rely on sporadic press releases from the power utility and then piece together the extent of the crisis ourselves?

Where is Minister Pravin Gordhan in the biggest crisis of his political career?

And more importantly, where is our president?

Well, I’ll tell you exactly where he is. He’s trotting down the Mall of London in a horse-drawn carriage, on his way to have tea with the King.

His country is finally collapsing under the weight of three decades of ANC neglect and looting, and he’s out there trying to shine its tarnished image for the press and investors, and pose for photos at Buckingham Palace.

But surely the president knows that if you want to attract new investment and retain current investment, then a reliable supply of electricity is an absolute basic requirement.

This is not the time for flags and parades, for tea and scones and selfies with the Royals. This is the time to bring all hands on deck and stage a fight-back. This is the time to be present, realistic and transparent.

This is the time to be a president.

At the height of the Covid lockdowns, he was on the TV all the time. Where are those updates now?

And where is Deputy Minister DD Mabuza, the man tasked by the president with fixing Eskom?

He’s off on another one of his mysterious junkets in Russia, leaving Angie Motshekga in charge here at home.

So while the country is facing its worst energy crisis along with a public sector wage strike, our president is off swanning with the Royals, we have an acting president abroad and another acting president at home, and no one is doing anything.

It’s time to stop acting and to start leading.

While the media, analysts and energy experts all seem to grasp just how dire the situation has become, our government appears to be sleepwalking straight into this catastrophe.

Could it be that their weak response stems from the fact that they know this crisis is entirely their own doing?

Escalating it now to a crisis of National Security would be an admission that their entire business model around energy, since stepping into government, has been a failure.

An admission that they should have invested in building more capacity far sooner.

An admission that they should have invested far more in the maintenance and repairs of their ageing power fleet.

An admission that they should have retained the critical skills of experienced engineers instead of sacrificing them on the altar of racial transformation.

An admission that they should have opened the energy market to private players a long time ago and on a far bigger scale, instead of clinging to their Cold-War era fantasy of state control and state monopoly.

An admission that their party policy of deploying pliable and corrupt cadres to the executive of a critical entity like Eskom would ultimately sink the utility and drag the country down with it.

And an admission that the relentless looting of Eskom through crooked procurement deals and kickbacks, which has become synonymous with this ANC government, could only ever have one outcome: the destruction of South Africa.

Kusile power station is symbolic of all these failures

Construction on Kusile began in 2007 and it was meant to be completed eight years ago, in 2014, and for a budget of R80 billion.

It is now 2022, its final budget estimate has inflated to well over R200 billion, and it’s still not finished.

Kusile has six generation units, but as we speak four of them are down, and will be that way for months, if not years.

Kusile, along with the Medupi station in Limpopo, was meant to be the ANC’s answer to our looming energy crisis. But instead of alleviating the pressure, they’ve simply added to it.

And let us not forget that both Medupi and Kusile saw some of the worst looting in our country’s history. In 2019 a corruption scandal was revealed here at Kusile which involved various Eskom executives, at least four contractors, and R10 billion worth of contracts.

This is not a state-of-the-art power station. This the ANC’s monument to load-shedding.

A massive construction reminding us why they cannot be trusted with our country’s energy plan, or our country’s future, for that matter.

The good news is that they won’t be in charge of this for much longer – they’re a party in rapid decline and very likely won’t see another term of office. But 2024 is not soon enough. This needs to be fixed now.

And so I call on President Ramaphosa to come home right away and address the nation on his plans to avert the disaster of a grid collapse.

And by plans, I mean actual interventions and not just platitudes and vague statements about Eskom having turned a corner.

South Africans are sick and tired of those stories because we’ve been hearing for years how things are looking up at Eskom and how load-shedding will soon be a thing of the past, and yet nothing changes.

Words alone won’t fix this mess. You cannot will it better with thoughts and prayers. You have to be honest about what caused it, and you have to be bold in how you change trajectory.

Since loadshedding began fifteen years ago, the DA has been offering government an endless stream of workable solutions on how to stabilise our electricity supply and turn Eskom around. Those solutions can no longer be ignored.

The very first thing President Ramaphosa needs to do when he steps off the plane is to declare a ring-fenced State of Disaster around Eskom.

This should have been done months ago, when he presented his Energy Response Plan, and his refusal then to concede the urgency and scale of the disaster has now left our grid on the brink of collapse.

This State of Disaster needs to be declared right away so that disaster relief funding can be reprioritised in order to keep the open-cycle turbines running in the immediate term.

But more importantly, a State of Disaster will allow government to bypass its own self-imposed obstacles, bottlenecks and cost inflations in the form of unworkable labour legislation, localisation requirements, cadre deployment and preferential procurement.

These ANC policies lie at the heart of Eskom’s collapse and need to be set aside if the utility is to recover.

Secondly, President Ramaphosa needs to assemble an Energy War Cabinet to see our country through this crisis.

A threat to National Security demands an appropriate response. If he could do so during his government’s Covid lockdowns, he can certainly do so now.

Importantly, this War Cabinet should contain independent experts in the energy field who know what a recovery will require, and who can counterbalance the ideological drag of his ANC cabinet and his deadbeat Energy Minister.

They must be given free rein to act in the interest of the country and not the party.

And finally, President Ramaphosa must agree to urgently address the critical skills shortage at Eskom.

From the executive to management to employees, the utility desperately needs experts in power generation. Most of the critical jobs at Eskom are currently held by people who don’t know what they’re doing.

Those experts are out there – some here in South Africa, some abroad – and we need to recruit them into Eskom as a matter of urgency.

Forget cadre deployment, forget the made-up rules on employment equity, all that matters here is employing the people who can save Eskom and save our country.

When the City of Cape Town was facing the very real prospect of taps running dry a few years ago, they didn’t overcome the challenge alone. They leant heavily on outside experts to guide them through the crisis, and they also called on the public to become part of the solution.

This combination of government response, independent expert guidance and public buy-in through dramatically reduced water usage is ultimately what saw Cape Town survive the drought crisis.

This is what we now need to replicate on a national level if we want to avert the catastrophe of a grid collapse. Never before has this “whole of society” approach been more critical.

President Ramaphosa and his government need to stick their pride and their ideology in their pockets and cast the net wide for help and expertise.

Bring in experts into a War Cabinet, bring back experienced engineers to Eskom, and make ordinary citizens part of the solution by speaking to them honestly and frequently about what they should do to change consumption behaviour.

It also wouldn’t hurt the President to take a leaf from the DA’s book. We may not be in national government yet, but that hasn’t stopped our local and provincial governments from doing all they can to beat load-shedding.

The City of Cape Town has embarked on several projects to reduce its dependency on Eskom and shield residents from load-shedding, and is pioneering a number of new energy interventions.

It has put out a tender for its first Ground Mounted Solar PV Plant in Atlantis, which should be constructed next year. This would then pave the way for even bigger solar plants to be built by the City in the near future.

The City is also currently evaluating bids from its IPP tender, which will ultimately result in a power purchase agreement that will run over a 20 to 25 year period.

When it comes to small-scale embedded generation by households and businesses, Cape Town is leading the way by being the first city in the country with a registration process and basic standards for such generation, as well as an incentive feed-in tariff for customers who have grid-tied systems.

The City is also undertaking a pilot programme which will look to wheel electricity to customers who want to buy energy from third-party suppliers.

And then there is the City’s pumped hydro-storage scheme at the Steenbras Dam, which was optimised earlier this year and now protects City of Cape Town customers from two stages of load-shedding.

In Johannesburg, the DA-led coalition government has also embarked on a multi-pronged approach to reducing its reliance on Eskom, shielding residents from load-shedding, moving Johannesburg to a greener and more resilient source of energy, and ensuring that the energy plan is environmentally sustainable.

This includes launching phase 1 of the City’s IPP bid process, preparing for the rollout of 15,000 solar powered geysers to old age homes, orphanages, shelters and other vulnerable residents, replacing street light units with LED bulbs, installing high-mast solar-powered lights in high crime areas, and supporting community groups that protect infrastructure from cable thieves during load-shedding.

These interventions alone will not save South Africa from Eskom’s failure, but when combined, they can make a massive difference and buy us critical time to get our country’s energy generation fixed.

This is what we mean when we talk of a whole of society solution: contributions of all shapes and sizes, where the sum of the parts can help stave off the catastrophe of a grid collapse.

But first we need President Ramaphosa to grasp the severity of the crisis.

He needs to recognise that we are already in the midst of a crisis of National Security, and he needs to act like a president with a plan to get us out of this crisis.

This plan has to include the help of outside experts in an Energy War Cabinet, it has to include a ring-fenced State of Disaster, and it has to include bringing back critical skills to Eskom.

And then we need to see him on TV every week, with a detailed and honest update on how this plan is progressing.

That is the very least the people of South Africa deserve from their president.

It’s not too late yet to avert this crisis, but very soon it will be. We cannot allow that to happen.

Thank you.

Freedom Front Plus protects alleged criminal corruption in Abaqulusi

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal is alarmed by the outcome of today’s council meeting in the Abaqulusi Municipality (Vryheid), where the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) voted to protect alleged corruption and wasteful spending committed by the IFP Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

At the council meeting, a full Special Ethics Committee Report (view here) was tabled to be deliberated on by parties represented in the municipality. The report makes very serious findings against the Mayor and Deputy Mayor, including:

– Wasteful expenditure of R513 063.00 by using an extra VIP protection guard and backup vehicle, in contravention of COGTA regulations;
– No threat analysis or permission for this expenditure was ever sought from council or the Speaker of Abaqulusi Municipality; and
– Wasteful expenditure on renting a mayoral vehicle (Toyota Prado) at a cost to taxpayers of R281 551.00.

Deputy Mayor:
– Unauthorised expenditure of R103 500.00 on VIP security where no threat analysis was conducted; and
– Wasteful expenditure on renting a mayoral vehicle (Toyota Fortuner) at a cost of R187 489.00.

The report recommended that the a full forensic investigation be carried out by investigators into these matters, as there may very well be criminal cases to answer.

Instead of voting in favour of the report along with the DA, the FF+ voted with the IFP to defend this alleged corruption and shelve the report. The FF+’s collaboration in shielding this alleged corruption led to a deadlock in council, which enabled the IFP Speaker to cast the deciding vote to block the report.

The DA is appalled by this behaviour. It is clear that the FF+ is now complicit in this alleged corruption perpetrated against the people of Abaqulusi. We will be exploring remedial steps. The DA will be meeting with the IFP regarding thisl conduct at a technical task team meeting taking place on 18 November 2022

The DA is fighting, and winning, the battle of ideas

The following article by DA Leader John Steenhuisen was published in News24 this week and is republished here. Part 2 to follow. 

Often an idea seems good at the time, or at least harmless, and it is only years later once the consequences have played out that those who warned against it are vindicated. By then, it seems obvious that the idea was bad all along, and almost no one admits to ever having supported it, or acknowledges that those who warned against it were derided for doing so.

The DA has many times warned against a decision and been labelled alarmist, or even racist, but then proved correct years later. Hardly ever have commentators acknowledged that we were right and that great harm, suffered most keenly by the poor majority, could have been avoided had our warnings been heeded.

Our 2009 “Stop Zuma” campaign met howls of indignation at the time, but silence years later when Zuma went on to break our institutions and sell the country to the highest bidder. The immense loss and damage were avoidable.

I highlight more of these instances here, not to say: “we told you so”, but to build public trust in the DA’s ideas. We want people to know that we care enough to do the hard work of considering not just the immediate, but also the longer-term consequences of decisions, and how they will impact not just specific groups, but everyone. We care enough to propose good ideas and call out bad ones, even if it makes us unpopular at the time.

Cadre Deployment

For 25 years since its adoption in 1997, the DA has warned time and time again that the ANC’s policy of deploying loyal cadres into every institution of state in order to control all “levers of power” would fundamentally derail the project of building a prosperous South Africa.

We warned that public appointments based on political loyalty rather than merit would inevitably erode the ability of the state to deliver on its mandate. And we warned that it would destroy the ability of our democratic institutions to check and balance power, leading to corruption, cronyism, impunity and capture.

Our decades-long fight against cadre deployment achieved an extraordinary success last month, with cabinet officially endorsing the DA’s position that cadre deployment prevents the building of a capable public service and must therefore be “ditched”. That, along with the Zondo Report’s finding that the policy is “illegal and unconstitutional”, constitutes massive vindication of the DA’s long-held position.

Of course, this policy about-turn still needs to be implemented in practice. The DA’s legal case to have cadre deployment ruled illegal remains vital. Forcing cadre deployment out of the public service employment framework will be a massive win for the DA on behalf of South Africans.

Public Protector

In 2016, the DA was the only party to vote in Parliament against the appointment of Busisiwe Mkhwebane as Public Protector. We did so on the bases that she lacked the appropriate experience for such a high profile and socially important position, that she was not a suitable candidate as she had been a government spy employed by the State Security Agency, and that hers was a politically motivated deployment. Our position has since been vindicated.

Far from protecting people against the abuse of executive power, she has rather sought to protect those power abusers. Her impeachment hearings last week, themselves a result of a DA motion in the National Assembly, revealed that she spent around R147 million in legal fees to defend poor quality reports emanating from her office. Six damaging years later there is general agreement her appointment was a bad idea.

Cost of Living

In response to the cost-of-living crisis that has left 80% of families unable to afford three meals a day, the DA in consultation with economists drew up a set of relief proposals. In the lead up to October’s mid-term budget statement, we fought hard to expand the list of food items that are zero-rated for VAT, and other interventions to bring down the cost of living for South Africa’s poorest households.

In his mid-term budget speech, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana failed to even mention South Africa’s cost of living crisis, let alone address it.  The DA will keep up the pressure for these interventions ahead of his February budget, because we know that the socioeconomic cost of ignoring this crisis is far higher than the cost of addressing it.

Ministerial Handbook

Fortunately, not all our battles take years to bear fruit. Last month, the DA spotted and exposed changes to the Ministerial Handbook, signed off in April by President Ramaphosa, which gave his cabinet unlimited taxpayer-funded water and electricity at their homes, on top of taxpayer-funded generators, so shielding them from the effects of their own bad ideas that have wreaked such havoc in the lives of ordinary South Africans. The public outrage this sparked led to a hasty retraction, another DA victory on behalf of South Africans.


The DA has been slammed by all and sundry for opposing race-based procurement policies, which go under the misleading name of Black Economic Empowerment. But public opinion is starting to swing and soon it will be accepted by everyone that it was a bad idea all along.

There is now a growing realisation that BEE is an idea that sounds good in name and theory but has terrible real-life consequences, because it leads to inefficient state spending and corruption.

High electricity prices and load-shedding for all (except cabinet ministers of course) while BEE tenderpreneurs rake in millions in coal and other Eskom contracts have brought the message home that BEE is unfair. By adding an extra layer of cost and complexity to government tenders, it harms the excluded black majority most, since they are most reliant on efficient, affordable government services.

The DA has proposed a need- and disadvantage-based model instead, set out in our Economic Justice Policy, that promotes value-for-money government procurement while still incentivising private sector organisations to contribute where they can make the biggest positive social impact.

Our policy targets the vulnerable and disadvantaged, a much larger group of predominantly black South Africans, while BEE targets a small group. Ours is based on a globally recognised model which attracts investment while BEE deters investment. Ours is a good idea that will work in practice while BEE is a good-sounding bad idea that doesn’t work in practice.

Child Support Grant

The DA has long held that the Child Support Grant should be pegged to the food poverty line, to meet their basic nutritional needs and ensure a diversity of dietary intake. This year, the Social Development Department finally acknowledged that this should indeed be the case, on the back of the recent surge in child malnutrition cases, with 1 009 children dying of malnutrition in public hospitals in the year to March 2022.

Despite popular misconceptions, research has shown that the child grant is generally well used and improves child nutrition, health and education outcomes. It is a good idea, that all of society should get behind.

Electoral Thresholds

Last month, the DA proposed five legislative changes that would help to stabilise coalitions, most crucially an electoral threshold requiring a political party to secure at least 1% of the overall vote to qualify for seats in a legislature or council.

Tiny parties with minimal electoral support should not be able to determine whether the ANC or DA runs a government. That is a subversion of democracy. Yet this has happened in many local governments recently, most notably Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.

With the era of one-party domination ending, South Africa’s electoral legislation needs to cater for coalition politics. Other countries with Proportional Representation electoral systems have set electoral thresholds to avoid this instability. In Germany, parties require a minimum of 5% of the electorate’s support to get into national government while in Denmark it is 2%, Austria 4%, Belgium 5%, and Greece 3%.

Without legislative changes, the same kind of coalition instability we’re seeing in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni will happen at national level too after 2024, disrupting service delivery and possibly even rendering South Africa ungovernable.  This DA will be introducing this good idea in a Private Member’s Bill.


In the fullness of time the DA will be proved right on many other ideas too, such as the need for a flexible labour market, decentralised policing, and secure property rights. We will continue to oppose bad ideas such as NHI, the BELA Bill, the Expropriation Bill, and the Employment Equity Bill.


The measure of a good idea is if it works, and works for all rather than a connected few. Good ideas can set a country up for generations of success while bad ideas can cause decades of human suffering. In pursuit of a prosperous, successful South Africa, the DA will keep fighting, and winning, the battle of ideas.

Does ActionSA want Gauteng coalitions to fail? The perplexing politics of Herman Mashaba

ActionSA seems to be billing itself as an opposition inside coalition governments. In this sense the party shares a key strategic objective with the ANC: they want DA mayors to fail, even if that means collapsing the Gauteng coalitions.

When ActionSA recently launched a branch in the Western Cape, Herman Mashaba declared that his goal is to bring the DA under 50% in that province. A startling mission statement, especially for a party whose unique selling proposition is its ability to win votes from the ANC, and break its stranglehold on politics.

As far as ending the ANC’s dominance and building an alternative in its place, the Western Cape is conquered territory. It is the one province in the country that works, not just for the well-off, but especially the poor who rely most on a competent and caring government. At the very least the Western Cape is where we want the rest of the country to be.

So, why would anyone who is interested in a post-ANC South Africa want to trade in a DA majority government in the Western Cape for the instability and uncertainty of coalitions?

What benefit could ActionSA possibly bring to the cabinet of the Western Cape or the mayoral committee in Cape Town? Will they help the devolution of policing functions, or to obtain more clean audits?

Come to think of it, what benefit has ActionSA brought to the municipalities where they did win votes and seats in the 2021 local government election? What key successes can ActionSA point to, and say: but for our involvement, this would never have happened?

In Johannesburg, Mashaba lost interest in the success of the multiparty coalition government the day that he realised he wouldn’t be returned as the mayor. His only remaining interest has been to blame the setbacks of the coalition on the DA.

Waging a low-level election campaign against your own coalition partner, even in peacetime, has implications of its own. What happens to the trust and collegiality inside these mayoral committees? What message is sent to the (often ANC-aligned) municipal officials who are meant to implement the mandate of the voters?

Whether it was sabotaging the appointment of Johann Mettler, an exemplary, apolitical civil servant, as the municipal manager of Johannesburg, or blocking Tshwane mayor Randall Williams from leasing out the city’s mothballed power stations to independent power producers, ActionSA seems to be billing itself as an opposition inside coalition governments. In this sense it shares a key strategic objective with the ANC: they want DA mayors to fail, even if that means collapsing the Gauteng coalitions.

In September 2022 it was Mashaba’s key lieutenant, Michael Beaumont, who insisted on a renegotiation of the Joburg coalition to include an IFP speaker (a position the IFP did not want), which then opened the door to further demands for further restructuring to give more jobs to the Patriotic Alliance and other parties.

Beaumont’s intercession came just after Cope’s Colleen Makhubele turned on the multiparty coalition, and several of the smaller parties voted with Makhubele to remove the DA’s Vasco da Gama as speaker. This was followed by the unlawful removal of the DA’s Mpho Phalatse as mayor of Johannesburg.

So the dominos fell one by one. And it was started by ActionSA’s bizarre campaign to replace the DA speaker against the provisions of the coalition agreement the party had signed only six months before.

For sticking to the provisions of the coalition agreement, and refusing to cave to the Patriotic Alliance’s demands, the DA was accused of “arrogance”. Again, ActionSA led the charge, and provided covering fire for the Patriotic Alliance to clinch a deal with the ANC.

Then, while Mashaba was abroad and the DA was fighting in court to have Phalatse restored as mayor (and the coalition government reinstated in Joburg), another Mashaba lieutenant, Bongani Baloyi, started negotiating with the ANC as a possible coalition partner in Gauteng.

Baloyi’s move was a direct challenge to Mashaba’s authority. Over and over Mashaba has vowed not to cooperate with the ANC, even as he has consistently championed a coalition with the EFF. It also signalled that ActionSA was ready to give up the multiparty coalition agreement, in exchange for a possible agreement with the ANC.

#GautengWaterCrisis: DA engages with SAHRC over water complaint

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng had a fruitful engagement with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) regarding the complaint we lodged with them over the current water crisis.

When stage six loadshedding was implemented towards the end of September, our water reservoirs were unable to fill up sufficiently to supply residents with clean water.

Since then, the situation has worsened and has prompted the DA to embark on a series of oversight inspections of water reservoirs in the province to assess the situation.

The Gauteng population is increasing on a daily basis, yet the daily capacity of Rand Water remains constant because the infrastructure remains the same.

This has a negative impact on the supply of water and the increased demand means that more pressure is being put on the water infrastructure which has also not been maintained properly.

During our meeting with the Provincial Commissioner for the SAHRC, Zamantungwa Mbeki we once again highlighted the need for an intergovernmental task team to be established to look into the supply of water to our residents.

Our municipalities need assistance from National Government concerning resources to keep up with the current water demand and the increase in population in the province. It is not fair that municipalities are expected to continue supplying water without an increase in project specific budgets.

In addition to this Rand Water has not been maintaining its electrical infrastructure which is also impacting its ability to supply water to Gauteng residents.

Furthermore, the DA is urging our residents to continue to use water sparingly and to adhere to the water restrictions that have been put in place by municipalities.

The DA will be keeping a close eye on the progress of our complaint. We are hopeful that with the intervention of the SAHRC, the government will establish an intergovernmental task team to look into ways of ensuring that all residents have access to water on a daily basis.

Over 100 000 dropped calls to East London 10111 in three years

Over the past three years, more than 100 000 calls from people in East London seeking assistance from the police in a time of crisis never got answered. Even more damning is that the call centre has been without a reliable uninterrupted power supply since 2019!

Individuals who are facing terror and danger from criminals in a time of crisis cannot be thrown to the wolves in this fashion. The failure to answer calls is potentially life-threatening to people in danger from the criminal onslaught.

The 10111 number is for any emergency that requires a police response. It is no wonder people are losing faith in the ability of the police to help them in their time of need. Their calls are not even being answered!

In response to a parliamentary question, Community Safety MEC, Xolile Nqatha, revealed that, while the East London 10111 centre is in fact overstaffed, 107 938 emergency calls had been dropped over the past three financial years.

2020/21 – 47 517 dropped calls
2021/22 – 44 600 dropped calls
2022/23 – 15 821 dropped calls

MEC Nqatha said the dropped calls were due to the UPS failing, resulting in problematic telephone errors, as well as loadshedding, despite supposedly having three backup generators all in working order. He said the centre had also been closed on several occasions for Covid-19 fumigations.

Download response.

When asked how the Department dealt with complaints, MEC Nqatha said there had been no official written complaints about calls not answered.

The MEC also revealed that while the flying squad linked to the East London 10111 centre was overstaffed, the K9 unit was severely understaffed, and lacked vehicles.

The MEC also revealed that the centre has no wifi, and that the migration to the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system, which began in 2009, would only become operational in the 2026/27 financial year.

I will be raising the state of both the East London and Nelson Mandela Bay 10111 centres in the Legislature later this month.

We cannot allow the abandonment of people in their times of crisis to become acceptable. Heads should roll for allowing a crisis centre to be without vital equipment for more than three years!

DA condemns abusive bullying of learners at Fish Hoek High School

Please find attached an English and an Afrikaans soundbite by Cilliers Brink MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) unequivocally condemns the abusive and racialised bullying allegedly directed at learners of Fish Hoek High School on Monday. The demonising of people, particularly of children, on the basis of race has absolutely no place in our constitutional democracy. It is also completely unacceptable that teachers were barred from the compulsory “diversity course” where learners were allegedly abused, and that learners were prohibited from leaving the room or raising objections.

Genuine and constructive conversations about diversity will never succeed if they are conducted in an environment of bullying.

The DA welcomes that the “diversity courses” have been suspended by the Western Cape Government. We will also urgently engage the political leadership of the province with an eye towards holding accountable the individuals responsible and abolishing courses used to bully and racially indoctrinate learners. No learner should ever have to go through this type of bullying at the hands of adults and the DA will take swift corrective action.

The revolution has failed. Let’s try devolution.

The following article by DA Leader John Steenhuisen was published in News24 this week and is republished here in place of John’s usual newsletter.

As retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke put it recently, the revolution has failed. It’s harvest time, and South Africa is reaping the result of a quarter century of cadre deployment of incapable political cronies into every institution of the state. Load-shedding, water-shedding, job-shedding, investment-shedding, skills-shedding. And it won’t end there. We’re on track for fuel-shedding too.

With the national government failing on all fronts, the announcement on 26 September 2022 of the formation of the Western Cape Devolution Working Group was welcomed by many. But some interpreted it as an elitist, exclusionary first step towards Cape secession. They are mistaken.

Western Cape devolution will massively improve the lives of all those who live in the Western Cape, especially the poor. But it is also in the whole country’s interest. Let me explain.

Better services

Anyone who cares about poverty reduction, community safety, job creation and social inclusion should welcome the idea of national government assigning to the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town any services which would be better delivered by these lower levels of government.

There can be little doubt that poverty and crime would go down and living standards would improve for everyone in the Western Cape if policing services and passenger rail, for example, were devolved to the Province and City. These DA-run governments are far better positioned to deliver safety and affordable transport to the people of the province.

Not only are they geographically closer to the challenges and therefore have a better understanding of the specific issues at play, but they also have a better track record of delivery. Their LEAP programme, which deploys crime-fighting resources to Cape Town’s 13 murder hotspots, has already yielded positive results.

Closer to people

Devolution is consistent with the constitutional principle of subsidiarity, which holds that social issues should be dealt with at the lowest effective level. Bringing government as close as possible to the people tends to yield better outcomes, by increasing responsiveness, knowledge, accountability and collaboration.

It makes it easier for citizens to hold public officials accountable and brings on board more resources by enabling collaboration between government and local community groups. This all-of-society approach has been instrumental in bringing murder rates down in Cape Town’s crime hotspots, where LEAP officers have worked closely with SAPS, community policing forums and neighbourhood watch groups.


Far from being an elite pursuit as some commentators oddly suggested, Western Cape devolution will benefit poor communities most since, being unable to afford private transport and security, they are most reliant on govt services such rail and policing.

As he set out in his well-titled article Getting Capetonians back on track on Monday, Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis is determined to build a reliable and integrated public transport system for Capetonians with rail as its backbone. This will reduce the cost and time it takes people to get to work and play.

The City of Cape Town is soon to release the first findings of its feasibility study in response to national government’s recent White Paper on National Transport Policy, which opens the way for devolution of public transport to competent cities.

In South Africa’s interest

But it’s not just those living in the province who will benefit from Western Cape devolution. South Africa as a whole will be better off. First, and quite simply, because a stronger, more prosperous Western Cape will contribute jobs, economic growth and tax revenue to South Africa.

Second, because Western Cape devolution will set an important precedent for any other provinces and metros able to improve on national government delivery. If a DA-led coalition runs Gauteng after the national and provincial elections in 2024, then Western Cape devolution will clear the path for Gauteng devolution too. KZN also looks likely to be shot of the ANC after 2024. Together, these three provinces account for two thirds of South Africa’s economy.

Third, because devolution to provinces and metros opens the opportunity to try different approaches, which could then be applied elsewhere. It will show South Africans that progress is possible and relentless decline not inevitable.

Removes pressure for secession

Far from being a steppingstone to secession, devolution will decrease the pressure for this. As the South African state fails, so calls for Cape independence ramp up. Far better to release that pressure through devolution than secession. Ultimately, it’s not the route but the outcome that people care about. They want to know there is a future for themselves and their children where they live. Devolution is the achievable, realistic path to the progress they want to see.

Realistic and achievable

The South African Constitution allows for devolution in many instances. Section 99 says that a Cabinet member may assign any power or function that is to be exercised or performed in terms of an Act of Parliament to a member of a provincial Executive Council or to a Municipal Council.

Section 156 (4) says that the national and provincial governments must assign to a municipality, by agreement and subject to any conditions, the administration of a matter which necessarily relates to local government, if that matter would most effectively be administered locally, and if the municipality has the capacity to administer it.

It is now up to the Western Cape Devolution Working Group, and the Province and City, to win public and national government support for devolution by showing that it will reduce poverty, improve lives, grow the economy, and offer South Africa a way to bend its trajectory towards progress, social inclusion and shared prosperity.

DA lodges complaint with SAHRC over the water crisis in Gauteng

Many Gauteng residents have not had proper access to water on a daily basis since load-shedding was implemented a month ago. For one family living in Coronationville, this basic human right to access water turned into tragedy when their 13-year-old son was knocked down by a car while collecting water. Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has lodged a complaint to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) in Braamfontein regarding the current water crisis in Gauteng.

See the complaint here.

See pictures here, here and here

Rand Water has been calling on our residents to use water sparingly, yet during our recent oversight inspection of the pumping station and water reservoir in Eikenhof, we discovered that there is a water leak right outside their premises.

Access to water is a basic human right and this right is currently being infringed on by Rand Water which is throttling supply to various reservoirs and pumping stations in the province. Access to this right should not become dangerous, and our residents pay for a service that they expect to be delivered without interruption.

Furthermore, Rand Water’s license to purify and supply water has not been upgraded. This is despite Gauteng’s population growing at a very high rate. This clearly shows that they are not planning to improve access to water as a human right.

On 17th October 2022, the DA wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, the Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi and the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Mzi Khumalo, proposing that an intergovernmental task team be established to look into the electricity and water crisis in Gauteng.

See letter here.

To date, we have only received acknowledgement of our letter from The Presidency. The seven days in which we expected a response has now passed and it is clear that this current national and provincial government is not interested in solving the electricity and subsequent water crisis in the province.

We urge our residents to adhere to the Stage two water restrictions that have been put in place by Rand Water.

The DA will be closely monitoring the progress of the investigation by the SAHRC, as this issue is extremely serious. Access to water should not become dangerous and we need the inter-governmental task team to be set up immediately.