The DA congratulates Mayor Phalatse on 105 newly refurbished buses to improve commuting for Johannesburg residents

The DA congratulates Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Mpho Phalatse on the 105 newly refurbished buses as well as the launch of the Mid-life Refurbishment Program to improve commuting for Johannesburg residents.

The City of Johannesburg appreciates that Metrobus is an integral part of the Integrated Public Transport Network in the city, moving over 20 000 commuters daily. The newly refurbished buses will enhance daily bus availability as the demand for public transport increases, due to the ever-increasing petrol price.

This increased fleet capacity for the purposes of improved transport services was achieved through the refurbishment of the entire bus drive train, flooring and renewal of floors and seating. These refurbished buses are being deployed mainly in high traffic routes to improve bus intervals during morning and afternoon peaks.

The bus refurbishment involves the following:

  • Body overhaul, i.e. interior and exterior overhauling;
  • Drive train overhaul, i.e. engine, gearbox and differential overhaul;
  • Safety components overhaul, i.e. the air system, breaking system and engine compartment rewiring;
  • This refurbishment will decrease downtime for minor running repairs, prevent major component failures costs as well as increase overall bus reliability for the next 5-7 years;
  • It will also reduce maintenance costs of the vehicle, because the servicing and maintenance will be carried out according to the new bus schedule indicated above; and
  • Also refurbishing the Euro5 buses now will give Metrobus the opportunity to replace the faulty fuel plastic tanks to stronger aluminium tanks which will increase the life span.

Through this initiative the City of Johannesburg seeks to maintain a high standard of quality in service and performance is of paramount importance to encourage people to make public transport their preferred choice.

The extent to which people are able to use the opportunities available is dependent on how easily they are able to move around their towns, their cities and their country. The DA will continue to work to create a seamless, well managed and affordable transport network.

Prioritise patients not politicians – Why are Ministers exempt from loadshedding and hospitals are not?

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The DA finds it scandalous that the Bryntirion Estate, a small surburb in Pretoria where the official residences of Ramaphosa’s cabinet are located, is exempt from loadshedding while hospitals are not.

According to the National Standard Regulating Loadshedding (NRS 048-9:2019), hospitals are some of the national key points that are listed under institutions that are “scheduled for loadshedding”. Although hospitals are required by law to have backup power sources and some municipalities, such as the City of Cape Town, exempt them from loadshedding, the DA is of the strong view that the NRS should not make it optional for hospitals to be exempt from loadshedding.

The DA will write to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa calling for an immediate review of the NRS regulations. Hospitals should be designated as exempt from loadshedding as a matter of urgency and the pampered Cabinet’s Bryntirion Estate should be placed on loadshedding schedules just as everyone else.

It is morally wrong for the architects of the ongoing loadshedding crisis to have uninterrupted power supply while hospitals, which are often in the race against time to save lives, are made to contend with loss of power and unreliable generators.

With the year 2022 on course to be the worst loadshedding year on record, Ramaphosa’s  cabinet has remained clueless on how to solve this urgent national crisis. The economy has lost hundreds of billions of rand and millions of South Africans have lost their jobs due to loadshedding, yet the Minister’s enclave in Bryntirion Estate continues to receive uninterrupted power supply.

It was an ill-advised decision from the onset to place hospitals on the non-exempt list of institutions that can be loadshedded. The DA will use every tool at our disposal to correct this error of judgement and protect our hospitals from the inconvenience of loadshedding.

Oversight visits that the DA has done to state hospitals to assess the impact of loadshedding on the provision of healthcare, revealed that most of these health establishments do not have the necessary resources to maintain a stable power supply during loadshedding. One of the hospitals, Raheema Moosa in Johannesburg, has unreliable generators and often has issues with the supply of diesel to power the generators.

Tavern carnage: It is time to adopt the DA’s Gauteng Community Safety Oversight Bill

Gauteng continues to become a lawless society, and many innocent lives have been lost due to a lack of political leadership to ensure that the law enforcement agencies execute their mandate of preventing crime and ensuring residents’ safety.

This past weekend two people were killed, and four others were wounded in a tavern shooting in Katlehong, Ekurhuleni on Friday night. In the early hours of Sunday morning, fifteen people were shot dead in yet another tavern shooting in Soweto, leaving several others injured in hospital.

Soweto and Katlehong are among the high crime spots areas in the province, yet the Gauteng provincial government is not doing enough to ensure that police stations in those areas are well-equipped with much-needed resources to fight crime. The leadership of the current Gauteng government has admitted that we are living in a lawless society, but they do not have a plan to turn the situation around.

It is now time to adopt the DA’s Gauteng Community Safety Oversight Bill to improve the police intelligence to fight and prevent crime. The Bill would give effect to the province’s constitutional mandate and regulate the Gauteng Provincial Government’s powers and functions regarding its oversight function over the police services.

The taverns shootings have created unnecessary anxiety about the ability of the SAPS to ensure business safety through visible policing, with people now being scared to visit taverns and these businesses being at risk of losing their clientele base. Taverns like many small businesses that operate in townships play a critical role in the economy and creating local employment which makes their safety even more critical for the economic stability of these communities.

The DA demands that the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko and the Gauteng SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela must immediately engage with the tavern’s associations and the Gauteng Liquor Board to ascertain the root of these violent incidents. They must also implement a crime prevention strategy to ensure the safety of taverns across the province.

The DA is embarking on its own oversight inspection of the 144 police stations in Gauteng to assess the challenges that the police stations are faced with on a daily basis as well as provide solutions to ensure that the police can execute their work without any hindrance.

Our residents deserve a police service that is adequately resourced to keep them safe in their homes and everywhere they go, and the DA will continue to advocate for the safety of Gauteng residents.

Cele’s conduct a blight on the SAPS, Police Committee must act

Bheki Cele

Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

The DA has written to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to request that she summon Police Minister Bheki Cele to explain his unacceptable conduct at a community stakeholder meeting earlier this week.

The DA believes that the Minister’s conduct has brought the South African Police Service (SAPS) into disrepute and that the officers who strong armed Action Society’s Ian Cameron out of the venue used excessive force in the circumstances.

Minister Cele and the SAPS officers must account to the portfolio committee for their conduct. The committee must receive an explanation as to who issued an instruction to SAPS officers to forcibly remove Mr Cameron. Was this a political instruction? Or has SAPS become so politicised that SAPS officers instinctively leapt into action to defend the Minister’s ego?

The DA has repeatedly called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Minister Cele. The Minister has now given the President yet another reason to do so. South Africa deserves better than this.

DA’s response to the electricity crisis

Let’s be clear about what has caused Stage 6 load-shedding. A small group of illegally striking workers is putting their own interests ahead of those of the nation by blocking work at Eskom until their demands for higher salaries are met.

Their actions are destroying jobs and businesses, scaring away investment, making communities more dangerous, causing huge inconvenience for people, destroying private appliances and public infrastructure, and impacting service delivery.

This unlawful strike action is especially unconscionable since Eskom has 41 000 employees yet needs fewer than 16 000 for the amount of power it currently generates, according to global norms. And these 41 000 workers already earn an average salary of around R700 000 per year excluding benefits, yet the call is for above inflation increases even as their actions plunge even more people into unemployment.

But make no mistake. This is just the straw breaking the camel’s back. The real problem is insufficient power supply due to failure to build new supply capacity, lack of maintenance, over-regulation of the energy sector, and lack of strategic planning, all at the hands of deployed cadres and socialist ideologues.

This has rendered South Africa’s electricity system terribly vulnerable. The threats feed off each other. The less supply we have, the easier it is for specific interest groups to use sabotage to get what they want. The more sabotage, the less supply we have.

DA’s plan to end load-shedding

It is incredibly frustrating being in opposition and seeing the country plunged into darkness and despair, knowing that solutions exist, knowing the situation calls for urgent action, knowing the human suffering and economic damage is avoidable.

The frustration is all the greater because the DA has been pointing out root-cause problems, issuing warnings, and offering solutions for many years now, most importantly calling for an open energy market and an end to cadre deployment. Crises like this don’t appear unheralded.

More recently we have put a plan on the table that charts South Africa’s quickest route out of the crisis and to reliable, cheaper, cleaner electricity.

Replace energy minister Gwede Mantashe with an individual who grasps the urgent need to open the energy market and act firmly against saboteurs.

Declare a state of disaster in the electricity sector and thereby suspend all bureaucratic obstacles blocking businesses, organisations, municipalities and households from producing, buying and/or selling energy.

We need to make it easy and attractive for independent power producers to bring new power to the grid at scale and in the shortest possible time. It is inconceivable that in this crisis, the state is blocking them from doing so with cumbersome, irrational regulations.

For example, government’s localization requirement for renewable energy projects demands that 30% of all inputs are sourced locally. When your house is burning and someone is offering to put out the fire, it makes no sense to delay action with a list of petty, irrational demands, like insisting that 30% of the water must come from a specific dam.

The social value of decentralizing our energy market cannot be overstated. It’s not just that private power production is currently our only route out of load-shedding. Decentralising and diversifying our energy sources also builds resilience and flexibility into the system, leaving us less vulnerable to future breakdowns or sabotage. Nature generates energy in this decentralized way and so should we.

The state of disaster should also be used to waive BEE requirements, so that Eskom can follow the most cost-efficient procurement processes to keep electricity prices as low as possible and processes as streamlined as possible.

Arrest, prosecute and fire those Eskom employees who break the law. The unreasonable demands of Eskom employees for even higher salaries should not prevail over the needs of the country and economy at large.

Far from tolerating unlawful behaviour and entertaining unreasonable demands, the state should be enabling a drastic reduction of Eskom’s wage bill, with serious consequences for those who seek to sabotage the system. It is deeply unfair to expect over 30 million South Africans living below the poverty line to sponsor inflated salaries for Eskom staff while enduring blackouts and joblessness.

Declare power stations and their immediate surroundings security zones. Deploy adequate law enforcement and arrest and prosecute trespassers.

Where the DA governs

A DA national government will act urgently and firmly to end load-shedding in the shortest possible time. We will not allow narrow interests to prevail over the common good. Meantime, DA governments are doing what they can to protect citizens from load-shedding.

In May, DA Mayor of Johannesburg Dr Mpho Phalatse convened a major energy indaba to start the process of bringing on board independent power producers. And on 1 July, her multi-party coalition’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year kicked in, beginning the rollout of a R1.6 billion capital investment to upgrade and stabilise the City’s power network to avert the possibility of further breakdowns caused by Eskom’s load-shedding.

Ekurhuleni’s DA-led multi-party coalition earlier this year appointed 47 private power producers to build and sell electricity direct to the city from 2024 onwards. To finance the replacement and expansion of backbone infrastructure at a rate of at least 10km of cables per year, the City has committed to a 40% increase in capital expenditure in the next financial year and an average 12% thereafter.

The DA-run City of Cape Town is using its Steenbras Hydro Electric System to protect City residents from two stages of load-shedding. It is also pushing as hard as it can to end the City’s reliance on Eskom. (The City also last week kicked off its feasibility study on taking over the management of passenger rail from National Government.)

The DA-run Western Cape Department of Health has installed back-up generators in most hospitals, sparing them from rolling blackouts. This means that quality healthcare can continue without interruption. Many lives literally rely on this.

In 2024, a DA-led national government will act urgently and firmly to end load-shedding within two years. We care deeply, and are determined to build a resilient, prosperous South Africa.

South African cities see rising poverty and unemployment; Cape Town bucks trend

English audio clip attached.

The South African Cities Network’s report on the State of South African Cities in 2021 has demonstrated in clear terms that South Africa’s local government’s are in dire straits, with “unacceptably high” unemployment figures in many metros. However, the City of Cape Town has bucked the trend, and leads the way in several key indicators.

The report, which is published annually, found that Cape Town had the highest life expectancy of South Africa’s cities, with woman living to 71 and men to 65.6 on average. Cape Town also claims the country’s lowest metropolitan unemployment rate, and contributes R287 billion to the national economy. Additionally, the city has a high level of service delivery, with electricity delivered to 98.6% of households, basic water supply to 95.9%, and municipal refuse removal to 89.7%. This is in stark contrast to several other metropolitan districts, with Nelson Mandela Bay claiming the country’s highest unemployment figure – an astonishing 35.7%.

These results come soon after the release of the Auditor General’s municipal audit outcomes for the 2020/2021 financial year, which found that only 41 municipalities in South Africa had received clean audits, with more than half of these being found in the DA-led Western Cape.

Reacting to the report, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Local Government Derrick America said: “It is heartbreaking to see our country’s municipalities and cities succumbing to a continuous tide of corruption and maladministration. While it is heartening to note that the DA has managed to turn things around in the Western Cape, we are fast approaching a point at which many localities will be unable to render even the most basic of services to their residents. While there is always room for improvement, I urge leaders throughout the country to look to the Western Cape’s example of clean, citizen-orientated governance before it is too late.”

DA welcomes progress on Rooiwal forensic investigation

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Cilliers Brink MP, DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the progress that has been made by the Tshwane coalition government in investigating the Rooiwal matter.

Earlier this year Mayor Randall Williams ordered a forensic investigation into the first phase of project to refurbish this waste water treatment plant.

Mayor Williams’ decision was a response to findings by the Auditor-General into the appointment of the contractor on the project.

The investigation is now underway, and Mayor Williams will today ask the municipal council to give forensic investigates six weeks to complete their work.

It is essential that this investigation be completed, and that no further time is wasted in ensuring that the long-standing problems at Rooiwal be resolved.

If any improprieties were committed in the awarding of the Rooiwal contract, this investigation is what will unearth the necessary evidence.

We welcome the example of openness and accountability set by Tshwane and Mayor Williams.

An era of clean, capable government is on the horizon

If you’re feeling hopeless about South Africa’s future, here’s some good news showing that the DA is a proven alternative for South African voters, and we are fighting hard for a real new dawn.

Clean government

Last week, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke released the annual municipal audit outcomes. She reported that 73% of municipalities in DA-run Western Cape received clean audits (22 out of 30), while the eight ANC-run provinces averaged just 8% (19 out of 227). DA-run Midvaal in Gauteng received its eighth consecutive clean audit.

Practically, a clean audit means public money is spent on the public, so things work, so people feel confident to invest in the future, so jobs are created.

Yesterday, StatsSA released the 2021 General Household Survey confirming that DA-run Western Cape scores highest on almost all service delivery metrics:

  • 99.4% of households having access to piped or tap water
  • Less than 4.9% of households reporting water interruptions (the national average is 30.8%)
  • 94.5% of households with access to improved sanitation in the country
  • 94.8% of households of households with access to flush toilets
  • the WC having the highest proportion of households that get refuse removal at least once a week
  • 95.1% of households connected to the mains electricity supply
  • the WC having the highest proportion of children in pre-school and grade R
  • 71.2% of WC households deriving their income from salaries (the highest in the country – speaks to the relatively high number of people employed in the province compared to other provinces)

Where things work, people work. So it is no coincidence that the unemployment rate (including those who’ve given up looking for work) is 16.5 percentage points lower in DA-run Western Cape (29%) than the average for South Africa (45.5%), according to StatsSA’s QLFS 2022Q1.

Clean government translates into jobs and a higher quality of life. Where the DA governs, life is far more likely to be easier and get better.

Pro-poor government

The DA-run Western Cape also comes out tops by far on delivery to indigent households, being  households that qualify and are registered for poverty relief in the form of a basket of free basic services. According to StatsSA’s Non-Financial Census of Municipalities 2019:

  • Overall service delivery to indigent households is 96.8% for Western Cape against a national average of 53.1%
  • Water: 97.4% compared to SA average of 74.4%
  • Electricity: 97.9% compared to SA average of 63.2%
  • Solid waste management: 96.6% compared with SA average of 68.8%

Capable government

The DA difference springs from merit-based public appointments. Ability to serve the public is the sole criterion that DA governments use for selecting public officials. This tends to build a clean, capable state that delivers to all.

By contrast, the ANC’s policy of deploying politically loyal cadres systemically destroys the public service, producing a corrupt, incapable, captured state that enriches those in the ANC’s patronage network at the expense of the rest.

I cannot emphasize this enough: the difference between merit-based appointment versus cadre deployment is between keeping the taps running during the Cape Town drought and the taps running dry during the NMB drought; between safe roads in good condition and dangerous potholed roads; between keeping the lights on and being regularly load-shed; between affordable rail transport and a collapsed rail system; between having a job and being unemployed.

This week, the DA released a mini documentary showing how ANC cadre deployment is the root cause of corruption and state capture.

DA vindicated

Also this week, the DA’s decades-long fight against cadre deployment was fully vindicated when Chief Justice Zondo released the final instalment of his State Capture Report, confirming that cadre deployment was the mechanism whereby ANC cronies captured the state.

The report states: “it is unlawful and unconstitutional for a President of this country or any other government official to take into account recommendations of the ANC Deployment Committee.”

The Zondo Report personally implicates President Ramaphosa as being deeply complicit in state capture. “It must be noted that President Ramaphosa was the Chairperson of the Deployment Committee for a period of five years, between December 2012 and December 2017, and that many of these appointments (and indeed the worst excess of State Capture) occurred during this period.”

DA action

The DA has fought cadre deployment relentlessly. By exposing it at every opportunity, by making critical submissions to the Zondo Commission, through our End Cadre Deployment Bill in parliament, and through our ongoing court challenge to outlaw this destructive policy, we are rewriting the history of South Africa.

We are also pursuing every avenue to hold President Ramaphosa to account for his alleged actions in the 2020 theft at his Phala Phala game farm and for the central role he played in state capture. We do so to uphold the principle of equality before the law and to defend South Africa. The entire ANC, from the head down, is a criminal syndicate that must go.

Conclusion

With ANC support having fallen below 50% in 2021, the era of extractive, incompetent, corrupt government is drawing to a close. The DA has shown South Africa that we have what it takes to build an honest, skilled state that delivers to all the people of South Africa. Progress is faster where we govern outright, but we have shown we can manage complex coalitions that make steady, if slower progress. A real new dawn is on the horizon.

Declare a state of disaster now to save NMB from Day Zero

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Cilliers Brink, MP.

The DA is calling on the Eastern Cape government to declare a provincial state of disaster specifically for the drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay.

Day Zero will hit Nelson Mandela Bay within a matter of days and this will leave 40% of the city’s residents without water.

It is unthinkable that the provincial government has not seen the urgency of declaring a drought disaster in the Eastern Cape, specifically as Nelson Mandela Bay is set to become the first metropolitan municipality in the world to run out of water.

We believe a state of disaster will create the sense of urgency needed to deal with the situation. This will also enable the metro to ask for the urgent assistance of the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) in respect of ensuring public safety at communal taps, to help with logistics at these water collection points, and possible water rationing.

I will be writing to the provincial MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Xolile Nqatha, imploring him to declare a provincial drought disaster with all urgency. I will also copy the national minister of CoGTA, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in this communication. If the provincial government is unwilling to act, national government must take charge and declare a state of disaster.

A state of disaster declaration will also unlock other government resources that can be used to mitigate the impact of the water crisis.

I have been informed that by the end of this month the KwaNobuhle pump station will be fully upgraded and will have the functionality to draw water from the Nooitgedacht Low-Level Scheme, that can be integrated into the water reticulation system.

That will be crucial in order to partly prevent the southern and western parts of the city from running out of water. We need further commitment from the metro’s political leadership that they are willing to complete all projects that will integrate Nelson Mandela Bay’s water reticulation in a bid to give all communities fair access to water.

Today, 22 June 2022, I conducted an oversight inspection at a site in St George’s Park in Nelson Mandela Bay where four boreholes have been sunk. (see pictures here, here and here)

Boreholes have also been drilled across the metro, but due to delays with the construction of filtration plants and booster pumps, these water sources have not been integrated into the reticulation system.

There is no time to waste and plans must now be made in regards to how the metro can make use of this water immediately. There are safety issues regarding unpurified water, but once a state of disaster is declared, we can draw from the knowledge of experts on how the usage of this water can be expedited.

The ANC-led coalition government has proved incapable of dealing with this crisis.

The DA will do all it can to assist residents during this unprecedented drought, drawing from the best practice that our governments have already shown in drought disaster management.

NMB Day Zero is almost upon us: Letter from DA Leader, John Steenhuisen

Dear Nelson Mandela Bay Resident,

The day we have all feared has arrived.

Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) is South Africa’s first major city to run out of water, leaving hundreds of thousands of residents high and dry. It is a terrifying fact that 40% of NMB will soon be without water while some parts of the city have already started to run dry.

What is most infuriating about this situation is that it could have been avoided almost entirely or, at the very least, we could have pushed Day Zero out by months. There are some who will have you believe that this is strictly a drought issue. While there is indeed a pervasive drought in the region, the reality is that we have run out of water due to mismanagement, incompetence and greed. The defunding of critical projects, the lack of skills, political disruption, poor communication, failure to rapidly repair leaks… and the list goes on.

On taking office in 2016, the Democratic Alliance (DA) immediately implemented water restrictions. In so doing, within a couple of months we brought water consumption down from 300 megalitres to 250 megalitres per day. A drought mitigation plan was drafted, funding was secured, and a contractor appointed to implement this plan. In the 2018/19 financial year, while the DA-led coalition was in government, we secured R750 million in long-term loan funding of which most was earmarked for water infrastructure projects. This funding was to be used to expedite the integration of the City’s water infrastructure with the Nooitgedacht Low-Level Scheme – this project has now been abandoned by the ANC.

The DA had a plan and that plan was on track to deliver water security for all of the residents of NMB. When the DA was unceremoniously removed from government in 2018 these projects ground to a halt and, at best, to a slow trickle.

When the ANC coalition of corruption took over in 2018, many of these drought mitigation projects were put on hold or were simply not implemented by the ANC government. Funding was redirected to projects where money could be easily stolen, and the rest is history. The ongoing mismanagement, political interference and disruption to funding of critical projects is what has brought us to where we are today.

When we returned to government in NMB at the end of 2020 the DA and our coalition partners immediately embarked on reviving these projects and allocating additional funding to ensure water security. Sadly we did not get back into government after the 2021 local government elections and little to nothing has happened since then under the ANC and their coalition partners.

Throughout all of this, the DA has not sat back and watched from the side lines. We have worked hard to create awareness and offer solutions through council, parliament and our communities. 

We have:

  • held dozens of town hall meetings – both in person and online,
  • launched a website to keep residents informed,
  • run regular social media campaigns to reduce demand and delay Day Zero,
  • tabled detailed plans to the authorities,
  • lobbied national government to intervene in NMB,
  • exposed NMB’s contaminated water earlier this year,
  • raised the alarm that NMB was overdrawing from the dams thus expediting Day Zero, and
  • identified unused dams that can be reconnected to augment supply.

Many projects commissioned during the period when the DA was in government have never been completed, or even got off the ground, which has left 40% of residents now facing the inevitability of no water for many months ahead.

We are committed to establishing the state of all planned projects to integrate the Nooitgedacht system. The NMB Metropolitan Municipality (the Metro) has been unable to come clean as to which of these projects have been completed, are still in the planning phase, or have even fallen by the wayside due to insufficient budget.

The DA will now launch a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to force the Metro to provide this information.

The DA has also now written to the speaker of parliament to convene a joint sitting to address the unfolding water crisis in NMB. Bulk water supply is the responsibility of the national government, and the residents demand answers as to how this was allowed to happen and why the rudderless ANC-led coalition government has put almost no plans in place to mitigate this humanitarian crisis.

Day Zero will prove to have disastrous consequences for the people of NMB, as very few alternative plans to provide water to at least a third of the city have been communicated.The DA will continue to do all we can to assist residents during this unprecedented drought, drawing from the best practice that our governments have already shown in drought disaster management.