A DA government will use Stats SA to bring Total Change

The Democratic Alliance would like to thank the former Statistician General Dr Pali Lehohla for his 17 years of distinguished service to Statistics South Africa and the nation and welcome the new SG, Mr Risenga Maluleke. Mr Maluleke you, sir, have a very important, yet difficult task ahead of you and your shrinking team.

On that note chairperson, I am certain that much of today’s debate will centre on the continuous budget reductions applied to Statistics South Africa and the consequences thereof. This is entirely valid as it compromises both the aim and purpose of Stats SA.

The aim of Stats SA is to provide relevant and accurate statistics in line with internationally approved practice to inform users of the dynamics of the economy and society.

According to the Statistics Act, the purpose of official statistics is to assist organs of state, business, other organisations and the public in planning, decision-making, and monitoring or assessment of policies.

We are living in a global information society where the amount of information and its flow to society is increasing. Statistics play a major role in shaping and providing scientific information that is useful in almost every aspect of human life.

Modern decision making, whether done by a national government, potential investors or an international agency, is increasingly using statistical methods to improve the quality of information and decision making.

Increasing appreciation of the role, power and importance of statistics should lead to a higher priority attached to statistical capacity development.

Yet the budget before us stands at R2.22 billion for the 2018/2019 financial year. This is a significant reduction compared to the R2.49 billion budgeted in the 2016/2017 financial year.

These budget cuts have particularly compromised the ability of Stats SA to fill, attract and retain necessary skills. Its staff complement has been reduced with a significant decrease of funded posts in the current financial year.

At a time when Stats SA should have access to the best skills in the market to embody a modern, cutting edge utility, vacancies stopped being filled in October 2016, 170 staff have since left, and the vacancy rate has increased to 13%.

The consequence is that current staff are overstretched and more prone to errors, and the decline of the skills base continues unabated while Stats SA remains unable to fill critical vacancies. This puts basic statistics at risk of a declining quality over time.

Some of the key indicators at risk include:

– Gross Domestic Product;

– Poverty and service delivery;

– Consumer Price Index;

– Fertility and Mortality;

– Employment; and

– Population estimates

The risks to the population estimates alone will have significant consequences to the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill.

Hon. Chairperson, it thus becomes incumbent on us to ask why the untenable situation at this important institution has been allowed to persist given its importance to the nation and the work of government.

Last year in this very debate, I spoke of the need for government to make use of evidence-based policymaking in realising the goals set out in the National Development Plan.

In simple terms, evidence-based policy-making is a means by which policies and programmes intended to improve lives are based on clearly defined, time-bound, and measurable milestones.

This allows timely modification, consolidation or change of policy as the case may require, thus ensuring urgent responses to challenges.

It is in this context that statistics become part and parcel of ‘evidence-based’ policy-making, statistics understood here to mean more than a routine collection and storage of numbers, but rather as credible and scientifically derived evidence intended to evaluate the impact of policy-making.

Our statistics will remain meaningless and of little value to policymakers unless and until they are embedded in the key priorities of government and become part of the planning tools used by the three spheres of government in directing resources and informing the policy and practices implemented in order to achieve the goals set by the NDP in the manner prescribed by the NDP.

The lives of our people will also not improve when faced with a government that does not recognise the value and import of accurate statistics it can rely on in its every day work.

Honourabl eChairperson, a DA government would staff and equip this institution, utilising the valuable information produced to bring about total change for all the people of South African.

We will use it to combat inequality, to make our communities safer, to skill our youth, to attract investment and to create jobs, to combat illegal immigration, to confront apartheid spatial planning and improve the health services of government. Clearly this is not happening under our current government.

Statistics South Africa must be well-equipped to ensure continued success

The Democratic Alliance would like to applaud the former Statistician-General, Dr Pali Lehohla, for the praiseworthy job he has done over the years at Statistics South Africa.

We also wish him the best in his new endeavours.

Furthermore, we would like to welcome Mr Risenga Maluleke, the new Statistician-General, and wish him success in his high posting to this very important institution.

Stats SA has worked incredibly hard over many years to earn local and international respect and recognition as a reputable institution. This reputation must be jealously guarded by all of us.

As such, Stats SA must always be free from any political interference in the production and dissemination of official statistics.

While we welcome the commitment of Mr Maluleke and his team to collective leadership responsibility to enhance high quality performance of the institution, we would like to caution that this should not stand in the way of individual accountability where this is necessary.

The department has a budget of R2.2 billion for 2018/19, increasing to R3.3 billion by 2020/21. While this may appear to be significant, the department has some serious budget constraints that have serious negative consequences on staffing and staff morale.

During the 2017/18 financial year, more than 104 staff members left Stats SA, to make a total of 170 vacancies in the department – a vacancy rate of 13.8%.

The department had a staff complement of 1 352 in 2017/18 compared to 1 408 staff members in 2016/17, a significant decrease in funded posts.

At the same time, what the institution has tagged as abuse of sick-leave continues to plague the department. This has a serious negative impact on performance. The committee noted with deep concern that 13 423 days were lost to sick-leave at a cost of R35.7 million during the 2016/17 financial year. The matter is being investigated to establish the real causes and deal with them expeditiously.

The deep concern for Stats-SA is that staff members who leave the department are mostly specialists and technically skilled people who should be retained. An adequate budget for Compensation of Employees should remedy this problem.

However, due to inadequate budget, the department has not been able to fill any vacancies since 2016.

In fact, the projected overspending on compensation of employees before virements is expected to be R146 million for 2018/19, R181 million in 2019/20 and R194million in 2020/21.

The DA recognises that economic times are tough and that there should be serious belt-tightening, but we would like to caution that the government should not be penny wise and pound foolish in the case of Stats SA.

A major risk to the department is that budget cuts can lead to a decline in the quality of performance due to staff shortages.

Another significant risk concerns Census 2021.

The Census 2021 Budget has been estimated at R3.3 billion. If this cannot be provided, the department will have to revert to costly old mode collection of statistics. This will impact the timelines for the release of the numbers. It furthermore cost the country R7 billion to get the task completed if the department was forced to revert to old statistic collection modes.

For this reason, the Portfolio Committee has recommended that National Treasury, working with the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation on the budget prioritisation framework, should ensure that Stats SA is provided with adequate funds to conduct the Census.

The results of the Management Performance Assessment Tool 2017, finalised in March 2017 provide but one justification to pay special attention to the funding of Stats SA

Stats SA scored highest in a comparison of three key departments: The Presidency, the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and Stats SA in the key performance areas of Strategic Management, Governance and Accountability, Human Resource Management and Financial Management.

Accurate, credible data enhances precise planning and costing, and reduces wastage of resources.

For this reason alone, it is crucial that we provide Stats SA with the resources it needs to continue to provide high quality services to our people.

Technical skills shortages a constraint to economic growth

Speaker, chairperson, officials from the Department of Science and Technology, colleagues and guests.

Mass unemployment is an unavoidable consequence of the conditions that have been created in South Africa by a combination of lack of skills, poor education, unavailability of on-the-job training and the aversion of employers to hiring unskilled, inexperienced, poorly educated, and otherwise disadvantaged individuals.

According to StatsSA approximately 16.1 million people are employed whilst roughly 9.2 million people in SA are either unemployed, discouraged about finding a job and are considered under-employed.

Technological innovation is taking place at an intense pace and is lauded as a game changer for humans. Technological innovation is disrupting almost every industry in the world, this is the 4th industrial revolution or industry 4.0.

Technological advancement means that humans through digital intelligence can simplify and achieve which was once complicated and impossible.

The biggest problem in South Africa is that our leaders are stuck in a protectionist mode.

Unions in South Africa is not engaging government and business on the issue of job security and skills development around industry 4.0 – loosing the opportunity to become major players with regard to technological advancements in their respective industries.

It is estimated that by 2030 at least 60% of occupations will be automated, meaning that globally almost 375 million people may need to change jobs or learn new skills.

The world economic report estimates that disruptive trends in the labour market could lead to a loss of 7.1million jobs, two thirds of which will be in administration. The saliency regarding the looming 4th industrial revolution which indicates that over one third of skills that are considered important will have changed in the near future, should be addressed.

The urgency to create a knowledge economy is clearly hampered by our education system.

  • The ratio of maths literacy to maths candidates have changed from 0.9: 1 in 2008 to 1,5:1 in 2016;
  • In the poorest quintile schools 1/100 matric candidates will receive a maths and science distinction;
  • Just 1 in 3 schools have a library and 1 in 5 schools have a science laboratory; and
  • The unemployment rate for tertiary qualified professionals have increase from 7.5%in 2008 to 13.2% today.

While maths and science education is poor across the board in South Africa, the quality is worse in the poorest quintile of schools, leaving no doubt that school education is replicating trends of poverty and inequality in our society

The purpose of this budget vote is to realise the potential of science and technology in social and economic development by developing human capacity resources, research and innovation.

The budget increase of R233.3 million in real terms mean a decrease of 2.3% when considering inflation and the 1% VAT increase. Funding allocations to the research, development and support programme and technology innovation programme is not adequate enough to reach the desired outcomes of generating a knowledge based society for inclusive economic development.

The World Economic Forum identifies critical skills needed in 2020 such as; complex problem solving skills, critical thinking, creativity, people management, coordinating with others, emotional intelligence, judgment and decision-making, service orientation, negotiation and cognitive flexibility.

We need to promote and advance initiatives that link education to real world application of skills and we need to enhance skills that will serve our youth in the future. This can be achieved by expanding the high-skilled talent pool through development of the future ready curricula, with a large portion of that focusing on STEM education.

The spending of research and development of 1% of GDP is needed for science and technology to fulfill a greater role in economic growth, to adequately transform the sector and to increase South Africa’s global competitiveness.

Government should have a relook at its STI funding model and incorporate flexible legislation to attract and encourage more private sector involvement to address advancements in innovation and technology.

Economic freedom is only realised once people have the necessary education and skills to access opportunities and decreasing the unequal gap in society.

Klaus Schwabs in his book the 4th industrial revolution states “we have to large a disparity in the world; we need more inclusiveness. If we continue with the unemployment situation, particularly youth unemployment, our global society is not sustainable”.

It is clear that the ANC does not have the political will to address the challenges which come with the 4th industrial revolution.

ANC government continues to ignore the plight of poor learners

Twenty four years into our democracy, the plight of the poor seems to be ignored. Honourable Chair, up to this day there are currently 8 million learners who attend dysfunctional schools.

So as I stand here one would ask: “what do learners, parents and South Africans expect from this basic education budget vote?”

Our attention must clearly be on sanitation, which has been highlighted by incidents like the drowning of Michael Komape, who fell into a pit toilet in 2014 in Limpopo and Lumka Mketwa, who also fell into a pit toilet that was supposed to be decommissioned in the Eastern Cape.

The death of Lumka Mketha teaches us that if you don’t learn from the past, history has a way of repeating itself. Michael Komape’s death should have been a wake-up call that such tragedies must not happen in our country again.

According to the latest statistics on sanitation from the Department of Basic Education: 

  • South Africa still has 3 533 school pit toilets to be decommissioned;
  • 25 schools have no sanitation in the Eastern Cape;
  • We have toilets without any water connection, even when water is available elsewhere on school premises as we saw at Isisusa Secondary School in KwaZulu-Natal; and
  • There are 30 000 outstanding Grade R toilet seats to that are needed for primary schools.

And that will cost about R7.8 billion – almost the same amount that the national Treasury has astoundingly cut the school infrastructure budget by.

The poor performance of the Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) programme is not helping.

The Department of Basic Education was unable to meet a single target:

  • Out of a targeted 59 schools, only 16 were built;
  •  Out of a targeted 265, a mere 10 were provided with sanitation;
  • Out of a target of 280, just 10 were connected to water; and
  • Out of a targeted 620, zero schools were connected to electricity.

And even with funding, the Eastern Cape mismanaged their building process – no doubt a justification for
the downsizing of the budget. This is not progress!

Provinces are also facing major budget cuts – with competing priorities making it hard to balance infrastructure needs with other serious difficulties our learners face, like those in Ukuthula, KwaZuluNatal, who have to walk 10km to school every day. This is why Treasury needs to allocate direct grants for items like school transport – to take the pressure off of our provincial budgets.

I am sorry to say, Chairperson, this budget falls short of our expectations. We seem to be making it harder and harder for South African children to get a proper education and improve their future.

As the Democratic Alliance, we will continue to highlight the plight of poor learners in this country. We will go to every corner of this country to raise the indignities of pit toilets and improper infrastructure.

Maladministration and budget cuts are a crime against our learners – it is time the ANC government stands up for the rights of learners, instead of lining the pockets of the wealthy.

Science, Technology and Innovation still remains underfunded

Honourable Chairperson

I would first like to acknowledge that this is the first budget speech of the new Minister of Science and Technology, Honourable Kubayi.

Minister, I think you would have realised by now that this is a well-run department with excellent staff and that they and the entities reporting to the Department have been able to do wonders with the little they receive.

In preparing for this budget speech, I had a look at the previous four years’ speeches and the issues that were raised. It was very clear that a golden thread ran through all the speeches – this is a department with its entities that are totally underfunded.

This budget is unfortunately no different.

The Department’s budget allocation has increased by R233.3 million from R7.6 billion in the 2017/18 financial year to R7.8 billion in the 2018/19 financial year. However, when adjusted for inflation, there is, in fact, a real decrease of 2.3%. The Department’s budget allocation is projected to increase to R8.2 billion in 2019/20 and R8.7 billion in 2020/21. The reality is, that over the medium-term, Cabinet has approved budget reductions of R186.1 million, which will be effected on spending on goods and services, and on the baseline budgets of entities.

Although we are always in favour of budgets where fat and unnecessary expenses are cut, the problem is that due to the unique nature of the mandate of the Department of Science and Technology and the kinds of skills, knowledge and infrastructure needed to fulfil this mandate, a budgetary decrease in real terms will have and already has had severe negative implications.

The Government’s blanket approach to budget cuts cannot be applied to the Department of Science and Technology. This was underscored by the presentations by the Department and the different entities to the portfolio committee. Especially entities such as South African National Space Agency (SANSA), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) are severely affected by budget constraints.

The Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) sector has to attract and retain highly-skilled individuals. There can be no growth, development or even just maintenance of current levels of STI without sufficient funding.

A further demand on the STI sector is that human capital development programmes have to grow to provide for the growing need for experts, scarce skills and knowledge.

The Department and the different entities spend a lot of time and resources to train and supervise students in an effort to provide the required capacity for the STI sector. However, the limited budget and the blanket budget cuts on salary expenses mean that they cannot employ these students. And we have to remember that these are senior researchers.

Critical to any country’s success in STI is the maintenance and acquisition of infrastructure. Unfortunately, this budget does not make this possible and the entities have to make to with ageing infrastructure which will have a negative impact on any progress and development in the country’s STI.

Another aspect that also has to be considered is that when STI initiatives are funded, the funding is required over the full lifetime of these initiatives. The nature of most STI initiatives is such that they often run over many years and there has to be security of funding for the completion of it.

I want to refer to one of the entities to highlight the effect of an underfunded budget on the Science and Technology sector. The South African National Space Agency (SANSA) cannot fully meet its mandate. This includes global navigation satellite services (GNSS) and satellite telecommunications solutions and applications, as well as support to the local space industry. To make it more practical they play an important role in space weather services, and they are busy with a pilot project where ships can be detected that are in our waters illegally.

However, funding for the further development of EO-Sat 1 has not yet been confirmed and this results in inadequate support to the South African space industry and an inability to develop the necessary human capacity. Due to constrained finances, SANSA cannot employ more researchers. It also cannot employ the students it trains. This leads to a loss of credibility, loss of income, and a downgrade in the services offered.

The tragic part of this is that SANSA is regarded globally, based on merit, as the preeminent space agency and strategic leader in space issues on the African continent. This is something that our country and the Science and Technology sector cannot lose.

The question then remains, why does government not ensure that Science, Technology and Innovation are properly funded? Why is it that we have to have the same speeches in the budget speeches for this Vote, year after year?

Science, technology and innovation have long been important drivers of economic growth and human development. This growth relies on research and development at both public and private levels, as well as on an international scale. It is critical that even during periods of economic slowdown, science, technology and innovation continue to receive sufficient funding.

As stated by the G7 Academies’ statement in 2017, growing levels of public and private investments in science and technology are needed to address the challenges of sustainable and inclusive growth. Governments should recognise the key role that expenditure for research, advancement of knowledge, higher education and innovation can play in supporting high-quality socio-economic growth and that these benefits outweigh many short-term concerns for balancing public finances.

One of the root causes of weak growth is the inability or unwillingness to see innovation as a key element in identifying new engines for growth and jobs in a country. In this regard, it became clear during the interactions with the different institutions that there was a recurring theme of a lack of science communication. The Department and the institutions are doing excellent work and are making a meaningful and important contribution to the country. But the problem is, very few know about it and I think this includes government.

Although the Department has a variety of programmes where there is engagement with the public, I think that this is an aspect that should be further explored. Although the Department has funded two chairs in Science Communication, more needs to be done. Not only do we need to encourage the youth to become involved in science and technology with the aim to attract them to the field, but the general public has to understand and appreciate the critical role STI plays in their daily lives. Many of the things we take for granted are due to investment in STI.

To quote Carl Sagan, “[w]e live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

Perhaps if there is a concerted effort and more emphasis placed on science communication, we can look forward to the government understanding that the future growth of the country depends on optimal investment in STI.

As in my previous speech on this Vote, I want to conclude with the words of Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist who really has the ability to communicate science, “Innovations in science and technology are the engines of the 21st-century economy; if you care about the wealth and health of your nation tomorrow, then you’d better rethink how you allocate taxes to fund science.”

Justice Ministry continues to fail South Africans

Madam Speaker, honourable members, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development deals with issues that remain important to each and every citizen of South Africa.

Justice is an issue that arises in the lives of each and every South African on a daily basis. Constitutional development is crucial to the continued wellbeing of all the citizens of this country and to our constitutional democracy.

The minister and his deputy have a huge job to do. A huge burden of responsibility rests upon them.

The minister often tells us that his is the task of ensuring that South Africans live in safety and security, without fear – a very big task indeed. Sometimes he succeeds, sometimes his efforts bring success and for this we are all grateful.

But most times, unfortunately, he continually fails to make a difference in the lives of ordinary South Africans.

Statistics show that we are moving backwards, that we are finalising fewer and fewer cases with convictions, that the backlog of cases in all courts except the High Courts, continues to increase. We are less and less effective. Court hours across all courts, from the lower courts to the High Courts, are decreasing. Courts across the board start late, adjourn early and postpone cases for long periods, causingthe cost of litigation, both criminal and civil, to be beyond the reach of all but a few ordinary South Africans.

I am sorry to tell you Minister that you are failing – miserably.

I am not, today, going to quote boring figures or statistics, those are available for anyone with sufficient interest to go and read up on. It is sufficient, for today’s purposes, to point out that they demonstrate amply that too little progress is being made.

Of course, you are hampered by a constrained budget and austerity naturally has a negative effect on the ability to deliver, but even making generous allowance for that fact, there is no acceptable explanation to be given for the abject, dismal failure of you and your department to deliver adequate and acceptable justice to the citizens of this country.

Your department comprises of five departments and I concede again that yours is an enormous task. But having accepted that task, you should hold yourself to account and deliver.

Instead, as always, your offer paltry excuses, shift the blame and take no responsibility for the lack of performance in your own department and those over which you preside.

The baseline of the Justice Vote will decrease by R2 billion over the Medium Term, with the decrease being felt most severely by Court Services, the Administration Programme, State Legal Services, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and Legal Aid SA.

But there is nothing to be gained from bleating about a lack of funds. This department is your responsibility and you must ensure that it delivers. You must simply produce more with less. That is your challenge.

In the State of the Nation Address, the President highlighted the following issues that affect the Justice


  • The need to reinforce a commitment to ethical behaviour and leadership;
  • That plunder of public resources will not be tolerated;
  • That law enforcement institutions should be strengthened and shielded from interference in carrying out the investigation and prosecution of all acts of corruption; and
  • That leadership issues at the NPA will be attended to urgently to ensure that the institution is stabilised and able to perform its duties without fear, favour or prejudice.

Now, Minister, you will appreciate that charity begins at home. You must provide the leadership and the example for all of these lofty ideals to become reality.

You have sat on your hands and watched the NPA being systematically destroyed from the inside by the previous President and his deployees.

When Mxolisi Nxasana appealed to you for assistance in halting the rot and removing the toxic cabal of Jiba and Mwrebi, you did nothing. Instead, you involved yourself, rather questionably, in the exit negotiations and subsequent illegal contract.

When Abrahams, in a Hollywood style press conference, announced the still-born and disgraceful prosecution of the Honourable Pravin Gordhan and others, you remained silent.

When, days later, he was forced to backtrack spectacularly, you did nothing to hold him to account.

The National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) may be the appointee of the President, but you have considerable power and ability to influence the President in how he deals with such shameful behaviour. You have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and protect the citizens of this country, yet you did nothing.

Your favourite old crutch of trying to smear me by saying I face serious criminal charges and am therefore biased against the NPA has now, unfortunately for you, being taken from you. Even that prosecution, championed by you and Abrahams, failed spectacularly, with a finding of no evidence at all agains. This year you will have to come up with something better.

The DA, given the opportunity to run this department, would instil ethical leadership and accountability.

This, of course, costs nothing – but you would know nothing of that. You are that person that thought it would be just fine to meet with the NDPP at Luthuli House just hours before the ill-fated and indefensible announcement of the prosecution of the Honourable Gordhan.

The DA would ensure that prosecutors arrive at work on time and that courts sit for the entire court day, as required. This would cost nothing extra.

There are hundreds of prosecutors and court officials who go to work each day and do a sterling job under difficult conditions. To encourage all to follow their example would be no extra expense.

If courts sat for the requisite 4.30 that they are intended to sit, and not the paltry 3.16 that they currently sit, more cases would be finalised, and the backlog would be reduced. This would not cost one cent more. They are already being paid to do it. But of course, about accountability you know very little.

When questions are submitted to you by the official opposition regarding the nefarious activities of the Public Protector and she tells you to take a hike as she regards herself (erroneously) as accountable only to the National Assembly, you meekly accept that situation and offer her claptrap as an answer. Such behaviour is unconscionable, and frankly, cannot go unchallenged. Yet you remain silent.

When the Public Protector sits at the Justice Committee and tells us that the State Security Agency is involved in almost every aspect of her office, from front-of-house security to setting up, installing and running her Electronic Case Management System, you remain silent.

Not one word emanates from your office. It is shameful. This is an office tasked with protecting our Constitutional Democracy. It must investigate on behalf of citizens independently, fearlessly and without favour or prejudice.

There is no shred of independence left in that office, but you do nothing.

Ms Busisiwe Mkhwebane released the Estina Dairy Report, for which she has been lambasted in courts on a variety of levels, without one shred of investigation into the accountability of politicians and the Gupta cabal surrounding the ex-president, and we hear no word from you.

The DA would ensure that the judges of South Africa have access to the essential tools of their trade.

Since July last year, no judge has had access to the South African Law Reports, the Criminal Law Reports, Butterworths or the All South African Law Reports, neither electronically nor otherwise.

They only have access to the publicly available SAFLI, which reports selectively. They have been rendered incapable of doing their jobs, but you do nothing.

When the President, with no discernable consultation, transfers Arthur Fraser, the deeply compromised Director-General of State Security to the same position in Correctional Services, over which you preside, you say nothing.

The deputy minister assured us that none of you could refuse. Fraser is so compromised, so deeply involved in the illegal PAN project that he should be suspended and prosecuted. Yet you accept the transfer and say nothing.

Let’s face it, you are never going to speak truth to power. You are not concerned with delivering justice to the people of South Africa.This is not about money or how much of it you get or don’t get. You are desperately clinging to your job

– at all costs. And certainly at the cost of a functional justice system for South Africa.

I thank you.

School violence demands greater attention from the national government

The imagination of the country has been captured by the ongoing spate of violence and abuse within the schooling environment.

The National School Safety Framework which should be implemented by all schools has not been workshopped by all, and to date 9 894 (40.5%) of the approximately 25 000 public schools have not yet been trained.

This is indicative of the lack of will by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the provinces as this process will only be finalised in the 2018/19 financial year.

In a democratic society like ours and a Constitution that has established the rights of everyone to“equal protection and the benefit of the law”all stakeholders have the right and must deal with these abuses.

To name but a few, there are reasons for the failure of schools and provincial departments to exercise their responsibilities, namely

  • Gross underreporting of incidents due to poor and ineffective management systems at schools and provinces;
  • The lack of will to investigate these cases and the possible bribing of parents by the perpetrator;
  • Learners finding it difficult to speak out for fear of retaliation and the stigma that may be attached to them;
  • The fear of not being believed;
  • The fear of being blamed for the abuse;
  • The power relation often intimidates the learners into silence, where the educator is the abuser;
  • The lack of counselling and assistance, and

The inability of most learners to talk about sexual matters with adults, for cultural or other reasons. The South African Council of Educators (SACE), a statutory body within the DBE dealing with the vetting and verification of educators, and the investigation of all cases referred to them, have on numerous occasions indicated that they do not have the capacity to execute their mandate properly.

Currently the ethics department has the services of only three full time prosecutors and two full time investigators to handle these cases.

The appointment of more panelists will not assist in eradicating the backlog of cases. They need more full time prosecutors and investigators who must assist with these cases to ensure that perpetrators face the might of the law.

Those found guilty should be placed on the Child Protection Register or the Sexual Offenders Register if they meet the conditions, and their SACE certificates should be withdrawn.

Honourable Chair, our learners are on a trial of survival in unsafe schooling environments and invariably drop out due to the lack of support and become a statistical figure.

The DBE must admit that they have not adequately addressed their failures in creating a safe schooling

Honourable Chair, the Western Cape Education Department is the only provincial department with a Safe Schools Hotline playing an important and dedicated role in addressing the relevant needs, where reporting on all school crime and abuse can be made with immediate assistance. It would bode well if all provinces followed suit.

In closing, the DA has launched its Safe Schools campaign with seven strategic points on how to create a
safe environment for our learners and asks that this campaign be adopted by the DBE and rolled out to
provinces to ensure the well-being of our learners.

Basic Education not a priority for ANC-led government

Speaker, I’m sad to say that with the ANC in government in South Africa, mud schools are here to stay.

Pit toilets are here to stay and we are going to see more sexual assaults, violence as well as drugs sold on school properties. Poor teaching by underqualified teachers is also here to stay!

Primary school learners will struggle to properly grasp Maths and Science. We have policy failure, management failure, teaching failure and funding failure in our schools.

I wish I could say I was exaggerating or scare-mongering with these comments but unfortunately, deep down, we all instinctively know that I am not. I wish it were not so.

The DA has been visiting schools over the past few months, like the Mbhekwana High School in Limpopo where some pupils are part of gangs and one learner stabbed another at the school gate.

The Department of Education in Limpopo seems unaware of the gangs and even if they are aware, are doing absolutely nothing about it.

The police were warned by parents about the gang activity, and have done nothing about it – but there’s more.

Young Thabala Mashiane was stabbed to death in the principal’s office at Solomon Mahlangu High School in Modimolle.

In March, a 14-year-old learner from Mbangezike High School was killed. On 23 February, an 18-year-old high school pupil appeared in a Limpopo court for stabbing a fellow pupil who died on route to the hospital.

The DA also visited Isivivane Secondary School in the Eastern Cape. At that school last year, 100% of the matric learners failed their exams.

On the day I visited the school, all four teachers including the principal were not on site. One had taken the matriculants to a jobs expo, one was sick, one was at a departmental meeting and the fourth was presumably just taking a day off!

The DA also visited the Isisusa Secondary School, south of Durban. There, the pass rate plummeted to a dismal 26% last year. We visited Bothithong High School in Kuruman where 30 learners had fallen pregnant.

What we have learned on these visits is that most provincial education departments – the Department of Basic Education, the South African Police Service, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Justice are completely unprepared to deal with the crisis in education faced by young learners every single day in South Africa.

But just when you thought you had heard the worst, the ANC tables the 2018/2019 budget for us to vote on this month here in Parliament.

It shows a massive R7 billion budget cut to basic education over the next three years. But this is not the first sign of cutting.

As Nic Spaull accurately pointed out in the Business Day on 16 April this year: “to put it bluntly, funding per child has declined 8% in seven years.”

So where has all the money gone? Well, apart from the corruption of the ANC, it has gone to plug the hole created at universities through demands for free higher education.

The ANC and EFF have thrown your children’s education under the bus so that they can get free university education which will be hard for incoming students to pass because they have been deprived of quality Maths and Science education in primary school owing to the budget cuts.

In addition, teachers’ salaries have increased against an 8% decline in budget, which means that now over 80% of the budget is used for salaries, instead of school infrastructure, computers, libraries, science labs, scholar transport, and so on.

The matric pass mark is not going to go up and if it does, you already know that it’s going to be because schools are going to quietly hold back all marginal learners and push them out of the system, or because Umalusi is going to adjust the final marks upwards.

You can’t radically cut budgets and fail to improve teacher on-the-job training and expect better results.

Now let me get to the final catastrophe facing children in school. The Director-General of Basic Education recently reminded us that over 80% of school teachers in the system have a less than adequate education, particularly in the area of subject knowledge, in order to prepare learners for numeracy, literacy and final matric subjects.

So what, you may ask me, is the DA doing about all of this? Let me quickly list some of the things:

  1. Apart from oversight visits, we have met with the South African Council of Educators to establish why they are not vetting teachers properly who may have committed sexual and violent crimes and have agreed to a follow up meeting where they will give us feedback about their meetings with Departments of Justice and Social Development. Believe it or not they have not accessed the Sexual Offences Register once in the past two years to vet one single teacher accused of a sexual crime!
  2. We have visited the Western Cape #SafeSchools call centre and are calling on all eight ANC provinces to roll out a similar call centre in each province to provide help to learners and parents in dangerous situations.
  3. We have met with the police, for example, in Eldorado Park calling for greater action on drugs in schools. Gangs and drugs have to be eradicated from schools. The police told us that in Eldorado Park there isn’t one single drug free street in existence.
  4. We have launched our safe schools petition (https://protectourchildren.co.za/) and called on the public to sign our letter to President Ramaphosa to call for action to protect our learners such as eradicating pit toilets that children fall into.
  5. We have asked for a meeting with the Director-General of Social Development to investigate and pressure the department into partnering with basic education to vet and remove teachers named on the Child Protection Register.
  6. Now today, we are calling on Cabinet to cease and desist from budget cuts to schools in South Africa as well as the nine provincial cabinets.
  7. We have amended DA policy to call for computers and the internet to be delivered systematically to every school in South Africa for teaching and learning purposes together with training for teachers in how to facilitate online learning and security so that the computers don’t get stolen.
  8. The DA has submitted our application to the Essential Services committee to have certain positions in schools declared an essential service

But I guess none of this will happen while the ANC and their bedfellows, the EFF, cut the education budget even further to try and fulfil their populist promises.

Acting Executive Mayor appointed

Statement by the Acting Executive Mayor, Alderman Ian Neilson

The Democratic Alliance has ceased the party membership of Patricia de Lille. This means she has lost her seat as a councillor and is therefore no longer the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, with immediate effect.

In terms of the Municipal Structures Act, when the post of Executive Mayor is vacant, the Executive Deputy Mayor, who is elected by Council, automatically holds all Mayoral authority until such time as a new Executive Mayor is elected by Council.

As Acting Executive Mayor, I hold all the authority of the Mayoral seat and am committed to continuing to serve the residents of Cape Town with uninterrupted service delivery. Having served as the Executive Deputy Mayor for the past nine years, having been a City councillor for 22 years and having been involved in the leadership of numerous administrations, I am fully apprised of the needs of the City and those we serve.

The Mayoral Committee, which was appointed by the outgoing Executive Mayor dissolves, with immediate effect, due to the vacancy. As it stands, at this moment, only the Speaker and I are political authorities in the City of Cape Town.

I will now apply my mind in the coming days to appointing an interim Mayoral Committee that will serve until Council elects a new Executive Mayor.

The City Manager has informed the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) about the Council vacancy. We await due process to unfold and we will communicate further in due course.

In the meantime, we assure the residents of Cape Town that the administration of the City is secure and we remain committed to the work we do to deliver services across the City.

BOKAMOSO | Johannesburg has a long way to go, but it’s heading in the right direction.

Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba gave his second State of the City address on Wednesday, marking the first full reporting year under his leadership. I urge you to read this extract from his speech. Without doubt the Johannesburg we dream of is still a very long way away. But I am 100% confident the City is heading in the right direction.

Turning around a city in decline is like turning around a large ocean-going liner that is travelling in the wrong direction. First you must slow it down, then stop it, turn it around, get it moving in the right direction, and then power it up to full speed.

When a seven-party DA-led coalition took over the running of Cape Town in mid-2006, this is exactly the process that played out. By the end of 2007, visible change was not as marked as residents had expected. And yet behind the scenes, the right systems and processes were being put in place to get the city moving forward.

Mashaba’s team inherited road, water and electrical networks all in a dire state of decay, a massive service delivery backlog and a monstrous debt of R17 billion, R5 billion of which was due this year. With scarce resources and huge demands on multiple fronts, prioritizing is everything and trade-offs are unavoidable. Mashaba is clear about his top priorities.

Firstly, he is determined that the rule of law will prevail in Johannesburg. His team has taken a zero tolerance approach to crime and corruption because the social costs of these are unacceptable. As he points out, the R18 billion of fraud and corruption under investigation would have been enough to build houses for all 152 000 people on Joburg’s housing list. “Our fight against corruption WILL NEVER rest in this City.”  

They are building a well-trained, well-equipped metro police force to fight deep-rooted lawlessness, with 1500 newly recruited additional JMPD officers currently undergoing training. They are targeting criminal syndicates (particularly the major dealers and distributors of drugs) through a dedicated narcotics unit, reclaiming hijacked buildings, cracking down on the illegal consumption of services and facilitating the processing of undocumented immigrants by Home Affairs. Joburg must be “a dangerous place for criminals”.

Secondly, Mashaba is determined to build a highly capable, professionalized civil service that prioritises service delivery to the poor. “Nothing we do will be more important than this, because the accumulative effort of having 33 000 employees committed to a common cause – which is our people – will exceed all other interventions we can possibly achieve.”

Already they have cut wasteful expenditure by R480 million and tripled the spend on repairs and maintenance of infrastructure from 2% under the previous government to 6% this year. If wealthier residents can’t yet see any visible change in delivery, it is because Herman’s team is concentrating their efforts on where services are needed most: in the informal settlements where communities still lack even the most basic of services.

RDP houses are being built, serviced sites and other housing options are being planned, title deeds are being delivered, potholes are being filled, roads are being tarred and maintained – all at a significantly higher rate than under the previous government. But the backlog is staggering; even many township residents are yet to experience material improvements to their lives. The ship is well and truly turned around, but it is by no means moving at full speed.

Mashaba is the first to admit this. “It has to be the focus of our government to ensure that the pace of change increases, and that it reaches into the lives of more people, more businesses and more communities.”

And thirdly, Mashaba is determined to make Joburg a place that is attractive to investors and entrepreneurs. He recognizes this is the only way to ensure sustainable job creation, which is the only viable route to economic freedom and social stability.

And already his commitment to cleaning up the inner city, fighting lawlessness and wooing investors is bearing fruit. “At this mid-year point, R5.6 Billion of external investment has been injected into our City which has already exceeded the annual target, and the achievement of any full prior year in our City’s history.”

He is rolling out Opportunity Centres, which offer a basket of services to assist small businesses, including registering companies on the City’s supplier database and training to improve the ability of SMMEs to tender for city projects. These Centres will house a Work Seekers’ Database where qualifying people can register to benefit from temporary work opportunities in the City on a fair and rotational basis.

An artisan training programme is in the pipeline for young people, which will serve the dual purpose of fighting youth unemployment and providing the skills needed by a growing economy. Red-tape is being progressively cut. In the past financial year, they have processed 95% of submitted building plans within 30 – 60 days.

In fighting crime and corruption, growing a capable state and making Joburg attractive to investors, Mashaba’s team is laying the foundations for what they call “Diphetogo”, a seSotho word that can be directly interpreted to mean real, transformational change. “It captures the idea that change is not an event but a process.” I am confident that Diphetogo has taken root, and that all the people of Johannesburg will one day share in its fruit.

In the coming weeks, I will share with you the progress we are making in the DA-led metros of Tshwane, NMB and Cape Town, and in the Western Cape.