Ramaphosa should instruct Sisulu to retract and issue a public apology for attacking the Judiciary

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the Head of the Executive, to instruct the Minister of Tourism, Lindiwe Sisulu, to retract and issue a public apology for undermining the Judiciary and casting aspersions on its integrity in a recent opinion piece. Even if no formal finding of wrongdoing has been made on Sisulu’s remarks, President Ramaphosa has an obligation to protect public trust in the constitutional integrity of other arms of government.

We will also call on the minister to appear before Parliament’s Ethics Committee where she will be asked to explain how, as a Member of Parliament, she reconciles her attack on the Judiciary with the Parliamentary Code of Conduct. This Code stipulates, among others, that members “act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them”. It also demands from members that they “discharge their obligations in terms of the Constitution, to Parliament and the public at large, by placing the public interest above their own interests” and that they “maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity of Parliament and thereby engender the respect and confidence that society needs to have in Parliament as a representative institution.”

In an op-ed titled “Lindiwe Sisulu: Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?”, that was carried by Independent Online on 7 January 2022, Sisulu launched a direct attack on the Judiciary and appeared to insinuate that black judges were “house negroes” whose interpretation of the law had no African or Pan African ideological grounding. She claimed that: “Today, in the high echelons of our judicial system are these mentally colonised Africans… (whose) lack of confidence permeates their rulings against their own…”

As an incumbent member of the national Executive, Minister Sisulu (i) violated the Executive Code of Ethics by engaging in behaviour inconsistent with her role as a Cabinet Minister, and (ii) violated the principle of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary by insinuating that members of the Judiciary were misinterpreting the law to pursue vested agendas.

Section 2.1(d) of the Executive Code of Ethics enjoins members of the Executive to “act in all respects in a manner that is consistent with the integrity of their office or the government”. Sisulu’s unprovoked attack on the Judiciary struck at the heart of our constitutional democracy and created a perception that members of the bench cannot be trusted.

When she was appointed to her Cabinet post, Sisulu took an oath to “…be faithful to the Republic of South Africa and…obey, respect and uphold the Constitution and all other laws of the Republic; and…undertake to hold…office as Minister with honour and dignity…”. Her divisive and race-baiting op-ed on the Judiciary means that she has violated her oath and undermined the constitutional principle of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary.

Simply put, Minister Sisulu is not fit for Cabinet, and anywhere else her job would be on the line. In a functional democracy a member of the Executive who launches a calculated and damaging attack on the integrity of the Judiciary would be summarily fired by the Head of the Executive. But we also know that President Ramaphosa demands very little in terms of accountability and ethics from his ministers and is unlikely to take such action.

A retraction and apology, however, are the very least he should demand. Failure to do so will leave the generality of South Africans, who were appalled by Minister Sisulu’s op-ed, with no option but to conclude that the President of South Africa condones her actions.

The overwhelming majority of South Africa’s judicial officers have consistently conducted themselves with integrity and probity in the discharge of their duties. It would be highly irresponsible to let politicians, especially a sitting Cabinet Minister, undermine their work through unsubstantiated claims of bias.

Parliament fire: DA calls for independent investigation

Please find attached a soundbite by the Chief Whip of the Official Opposition, Natasha Mazzone MP.

The DA applauds the speed and efficiency with which the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town reacted to the devastating fire that ravaged large parts of Parliament today.

We thank President Ramaphosa for acknowledging that the City of Cape Town has an incredible fire response team, and agree completely with his assessment. Had it not been for these firefighting heroes, who responded within six minutes of getting the call, we could have seen nothing but a pile of ash where the buildings of hope and freedom once stood.

It cannot be denied that the upkeep of Parliament, security and general maintenance has been headed on a downward trajectory for the last ten years. The buildings have become neglected, dirty, dangerous and certainly not befitting of the home of South Africa’s democracy. Today’s disastrous fire has been a catastrophe just waiting to happen.

It has come to our attention through the Chief Whips’ Forum that SAPS is awaiting permission from the Fire and Emergency Services to take control to conduct an investigation. It is our belief that an independent investigation should also be launched immediately, led by fire, arson and forensic experts to ensure nothing is missed or overlooked.

We urgently request that this investigation assesses how this fire started and spread with the speed and ferocity that it did to all the houses.

We demand an urgent meeting of the Chief Whips’ Forum to get a full report of matters as they stand.

We also demand that the Minister of Public Works, Patricia de Lille, makes public the documents in her posession regarding the previous fire.

It has been reported that a 51-year-old male is being held for questioning. The truth must out, and the President, Minister Bheki Cele and Minister Patricia de Lille must be completely open and transparent in sharing all information with the South African public. It is after all the People’s Parliament and they have the right to know the truth.

In the emergency meeting of the Chief Whips, it is vital that a decision is made as to where parliament will sit while repairs take place, how SONA 2022 will be conducted and from where staff will work. It is essential that the People’s Parliament must continue to sit and hold the government and the executive to account.

DA wins both Mayor and Speaker positions in Fezile Dabi District Municipality and is ready to get things done

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State is pleased to announce that Councillor Dennis Khasudi and Councillor Sidney Pittaway has been elected as Executive Mayor and Speaker respectively of the Council of the Fezile Dabi District Municipality.

Both positions won election to office today at the inaugural meeting of Council after being supported by the councillors of other opposition parties.

As no coalition agreement or co-governing arrangement or agreement were in place before the election, we are deeply aware that the election to office sends a clear message that opposition parties in the Fezile Dabi District Municipality agreed that in order to improve the services rendered by the municipality, a change in political leadership was desperately necessary.

Our office bearers will strive to establish an administration earmarked by sound financial management, honest and clean government and the delivery of good services to all communities.

DA wins Mayor position in Modimolle-Mookgophong

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo wishes to congratulate Councillor Marlene van Staden who has been elected as Mayor of Modimolle-Mookgophong Local Municipality during the council sitting held today.

Mayor Van Staden was elected through a coin toss after there had been two tied rounds of voting (14 votes each), with the EFF and FF Plus councillors voting for our candidate. The council had held four previous council meetings with no resolution on the position of mayor, while a speaker was only elected at the fourth meeting.

Councillor Sinah Langa of the ANC was elected as Speaker at the previous council sitting and Councillor Maria Kekana of the ANC has also been elected as Chief Whip today. The Council also resolved to replace the Acting Municipal Manager, Dr Melusi Mhlanga, with the current Town Planning Director, Ms Dakalo Sinthumule.

The DA is excited and looks forward to continue on its sustained efforts to ensure good governance, revitalise the local economy and provide good basic services for all residents within the municipality.

We are committed to putting the residents of Modimolle-Mookgophong first and ensuring that the municipality gets back to its main purpose of ensuring services for all residents.  

We wish Mayor Van Staden and her team all the best.

YES to vaccines, NPIs, and hospital readiness. NO to economic restrictions.

The DA has consistently spoken out against blanket economic restrictions, believing them to do more harm than good. We are glad that the government has finally come to its senses and moved away from stifling economic activity, banning beaches and so forth.

It is just a pity that thousands of businesses, millions of jobs, and billions of rands of tax revenue had to be lost before government came to its senses on economic restrictions.

We welcome government’s intention to lift the state of disaster and will hold them to this in the coming months. We also welcome their engagement with foreign travel partners to get them to lift international travel restrictions.

We reject any restrictions on freedom of movement – meaning we do not support the curfew and continue to call for it to end.

With respect to gatherings, we note that the ANC flouted their own regulations during the election. They should not create rules that they themselves are not prepared to abide by.

We call on the government to take the following steps:

  • Ensure that healthcare facilities are adequately equipped in case of an uptick in demand.
  • Monitor hospitalisation rates and bed availability.
  • Ensure that every healthcare worker is placed, as a matter of priority. Interns and other qualified healthcare workers waiting for placement are dead assets to the healthcare system if not placed.
  • Support non-pharmaceutical interventions.
  • Make vaccines more readily available to the poor and vulnerable, including by offering them at workplaces and in easily accessible places in poor communities. People should be able to get their jab at many more points in SA than just Clicks and Dis-Chem. Government should partner with retailers and have mobile units.
  • Run proper communication campaigns to dispel myths about vaccination.
  • Provide booster doses of J&J or Pfizer to all adults who received a single dose of J&J, as well as to high risk individuals.

In addition to these steps, and crucially, government needs to provide financial support for businesses, especially in the tourism and hospitality sector, if international travel bans endure throughout the festive season. If necessary, government should seek foreign aid relief. Support to businesses should be administered as transparently as possible and should not be based on race.

South Africa’s record high unemployment rate is driven by low rates of business creation and survival. International travel bans over the festive season will decimate businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector, many of which are hanging on by a thread, having barely survived the lashings of lockdown and loadshedding that the government has already administered.

If government fails to get international travel bans reversed and fails to provide financial support to businesses, we can expect first quarter unemployment numbers to rise and more people to join the social grant queue.

DA leaders, including Premier Alan Winde and mayors Mpho Phalatse, Tania Campbell, Randall Williams and Geordin Hill-Lewis will all be asking our travel partners in the international community to rethink their stance on travel bans to and from South Africa, as there is no evidence that this variant originated in South Africa, only that we were the first to sequence the RNA.

Cape Town’s first floating solar pilot project paving the way for a more sustainable city

The City of Cape Town has become the first municipality to install a floating solar photovoltaic (PV) system with partners Floating Solar (Pty) Ltd, the Water Research Commission and the University of Cape Town. The floating solar PV pilot, which has been established at the City’s Kraaifontein Wastewater Treatment Works, includes a floating solar PV array as well as a ground-mounted PV system to determine evaporation savings and relative energy generation performance of floating solar PV technology. This is an innovative research study where data is being collected over a 12-month period to potentially inform the design of larger utility scale floating solar PV projects over the next few years through competitive bid processes.

Floating system consists of: 

• A floating solar PV system: Nine 360 kilowatt peak (kWp) PV panels mounted on a floating solar island, with panels installed at a 12 degree tilt.

• Two identical tanks (20m in diameter) including a water supply system: one reservoir is covered by a floating solar PV system and the other reservoir is uncovered as a control.

• The one reservoir is covered using the HYDRELIO® AIR technology with a four-per-row configuration.

• Water levels in each reservoir is being monitored with a float switch. When the water level drops below a predetermined point, a pump will be turned on and water fed back into the reservoir. The volume of water will be measured by a flow meter and recorded.

• A three-phase inverter.

Ground-mounted system consists of: 

• Two land-based solar PV systems: comprising nine 360 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar PV panels at the same tilt as the floating solar PV system (12 degrees) and nine 360 kilowatt peak (kWp) solar PV panels installed at the optimal South African tilt of between 28 and 33 degrees

• All instrumentation and equipment required for the experiment (ambient temperature and humidity sensor, pluviometry, solar irradiance sensor, data logger, wind speed and direction sensor)

• Instruments installed on the solar PV panels (energy generation monitoring system and temperature sensor)  

Future-fit city 

‘The City has a target to achieve 300 MW of renewable energy generation by 2030, with 50 MW of this comprising of City-owned solar PV plants. The City has been fighting to move away from the sole reliance on Eskom and to diversify the energy mix for cleaner and more affordable and secure power for all. In addition, given that vacant land in the city is very expensive and rooftop solar PV systems are relatively small, Cape Town aims to explore floating solar PV systems for larger scale solar PV installations as part of its pioneering work to diversify the energy mix, to lead by example and to take climate action leadership. Importantly, great things can only be done with great partners. We thank Floating Solar, the Water Research Commission and the University of Cape Town for helping to enable this project and driving it forward with the city. 

‘This exciting pilot project not only looks at the amount of energy that can be generated by floating panels, but also investigates how much can be generated compared with the ground-mounted panels. The other important pillar of the research is to see what impact the floats have on water evaporation. Generating clean power and reducing evaporation rates of water bodies could be a great double-win for sustainability. This type of project is a tangible example of how we can build a more sustainable future city and how the green economy can be harnessed for the sustainable, and inclusive, economic recovery we require especially after Covid-19,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy and Climate Change, Councillor Phindile Maxiti.

Water-sensitive Cape Town

The Water and Sanitation Department continues to explore a range of innovative concepts that could in future enhance water security and sustainability of its operations. City officials are willing to think outside the box, and this is so important for ongoing adaptability and resilience. The more we research and understand, the stronger and better prepared we become,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste, Alderman Xanthea Limberg. 

Floating Solar 

‘Globally, floating solar has rapidly become the third pillar of the Solar PV industry. In following this trend, we have identified significant potential within South Africa for this promising technology which has the dual benefit of producing power while reducing evaporation and preserving land for other commercial use. 

‘From the outset, we have identified over 60 high potential projects – with a combined capacity of over 450 MW – that will be well suited to benefit from Floating Solar development. One of the key target markets is the approximately 1 000 water treatment works across South Africa, which are well suited to floating solar due to significant on site power demand requiring a sustainable energy source, limited available land and water evaporation savings, as well as providing the opportunity to export additional power to the grid. 

‘We are extremely pleased that the City of Cape Town is enabling this potential with this pilot project to investigate this potential,’ said Peter Varndell, spokesperson, Floating Solar. 

About Floating Solar (Pty) Ltd

Floating Solar (Pty) Ltd was established in 2017 as a Floating Solar PV equipment provider and project developer. They are the distributors for the Ciel and Terre HYDRELIO® floating solar system in Southern Africa.

End the lockdown, end the State of Disaster, and stop the corruption vibes!

We repeat our call for President Ramaphosa to end the lockdown altogether, to save livelihoods. People are suffering and jobs continue to be lost unnecessarily to senseless restrictions that have long since been ignored by his own party. President Ramaphosa and his government appear not to grasp the severity of our jobs crisis that has produced the world’s highest recorded unemployment rate of 44%.

Only the most callously uncaring leaders would continue to force job-destroying restrictions on law-abiding people while breaking those rules themselves, as the ANC did yet again in its manifesto launch last week where there was not even an attempt at mask-wearing, social distancing or limiting the gathering to 500. This is hypocrisy of the worst order. All those who broke the law should be prosecuted like all the ordinary people who have been charged for lockdown violations in the past 18 months.

We also repeat our call for an end to the State of Disaster, which is enabling corruption by allowing government departments to bypass stricter financial control measures. The SIU report into the Digital Vibes scandal shows exactly why the State of Disaster must be ended immediately, and why the ANC are so reluctant to do so. Corruption with impunity is the only thing holding his party together. Which is why President Ramaphosa dragged his feet on making the Digital Vibes report public, and failed to condemn Zweli Mkhize, praising him instead for “serving our nation well”. It is not enough for those involved in this scandal to lose their jobs. They too must be prosecuted and jailed if found guilty.

There is no justification for continuing the lockdown and the State of Disaster. Covid cases are decreasing across all nine provinces, every adult has by now had ample opportunity to get vaccinated, and people are well aware of the precautions they need to take to manage the risks they face. South Africa’s economy will not recover while the threat of irrational restrictions imposed with no notice at all continues to hang over people.

Businesses require certainty and must no longer be held ransom to the whims of people who have no idea how jobs are created and whose own jobs are secure no matter what. Government should rather focus its efforts on educating and encouraging people on the safety and good sense of taking the vaccine. A well-run vaccine drive will be far more effective than a mandatory vaccination policy.

Furthermore, lockdown restrictions simply tilt the electoral playing field for those willing to break the law, undermining the prospects for a free and fair election.

For the sake of millions of South Africans who’ve been plunged deeper into poverty and face an incredibly uncertain future, end the lockdown and the State of Disaster now, Mr President, and stop with your party’s corruption vibes.

South Africa needs “Phuma ANC” weekends so that on 1 November, we can start moving the country to Adjusted ANC Level Zero.

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Tonight’s cabinet reshuffle needed to be a cabinet clean-out

Please find attached a soundbite from the Federal Leader of the DA, John Steenhuisen MP.

Tonight’s cabinet reshuffle contains one small positive in the departure of Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, and then a whole lot of the same, just dressed up in a different portfolio’s robes. It was also a big missed opportunity to demonstrate a real commitment to accountability, as some of the most compromised and worst performing ministers managed to hold onto their jobs.

Above all, this announcement confirms what we’ve known all along: there is only so much shuffling and reshuffling you can do with this limited pool of cadres. The list of non-performing ministers far exceeds those who do their jobs, and so what was required tonight was more clean-out and less shuffle.

We welcome the resignation of Minister Mkhize. Given the damning evidence against him – and given the fact that President Ramaphosa has been in possession of the SIU report into the Digital Vibes contract for more than a month now – it is baffling that it took so long to get rid of him. But this is better late than never.

What we do not welcome is the shifting of State Security into the Presidency. The country’s intelligence machinery should not rest in the hands of the president – this centralising of power has never been a good idea.

Tonight’s reshuffle also should have been an opportunity to fire both Police Minister Bheki Cele and State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo for their catastrophic failure to foresee, prevent and respond to the unrest and looting three weeks ago. The fact that Minister Cele stays in his post and Minister Dlodlo is simply shuffled off to Public Service shows that we are yet to see any accountability in the Executive.

Similarly it is puzzling how Minister David Mahlobo has managed to hold on to his job given the damning revelations at the Zondo Commission. Another Minister that should have been shuffled right out of cabinet is Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, and replaced with one who actually believes in renewable energy.

We regret the resignation of Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and wish him well. The new Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, will have to demonstrate very quickly that he has the stomach for bold reforms and that he will not budge from fiscal responsibility. He will need to put a stake in the ground right away.

He should also start his term by clearing up the details of his resignation as Deputy Minister of Economic Development back in 2012 amid a massive fraud scandal. We need to know that our Finance Minister is beyond reproach, and for this we need his full disclosure.

What was missing from tonight’s announcement was a plan to reduce the size of our bloated cabinet, and also to do away with the deputy ministers, of which some departments have multiples. We still have one of the largest cabinets in the world, and arguably one of the least productive. Instead, President Ramaphosa announced an increase in size by splitting the portfolios of Water & Sanitation and Human Settlements.

What the president also should have announced – in the light of the mounting corruption scandals that have plagued his administration – is the implementation of lifestyle audits for the entire Executive.

And finally, President Ramaphosa must realise that cabinet reshuffles alone cannot fix the fundamental underlying problem of his government, which is a seeming unwillingness to adopt any meaningful economic reforms. The only kind of cabinet reshuffle that can fix this is the kind where the new ministers not only support real reforms, but are also give a mandate to implement such reforms.

The DA has said many times – and we will say it again now – that we will lend our support and our votes in the House to any meaningful economic, fiscal, labour and energy reforms that President Ramaphosa’s administration wants to pursue, but can’t because he doesn’t have the full backing of his own party. This will be far more effective than any late night cabinet reshuffle.

We will clean up our streets, Mr President, but you must clean up your cabinet.

President Ramaphosa has acknowledged that his government failed to foresee and prepare for a possible attack on our democracy.

He should have gone further and announced his decision to immediately fire police minister Bheki Cele and intelligence chief Ayanda Dlodlo.

In any other democracy, there would be no question that their heads would roll for this utter failure of intelligence and preparedness.

If the safety of South Africans comes before the unity of the ANC, then Cele and Dlodlo must go.

President Ramaphosa furthermore acknowledged that the violence and looting over the past week is a deliberate, coordinated attack on our democracy. He failed to acknowledge that the people who coordinated this attack are in his own party and that it is ANC factional fighting that has spilled onto the streets of KZN and Gauteng.

The president called for the country to unite to clean up the mess. The first step to cleaning up the mess must surely be to fire these two cabinet ministers who have so utterly failed in their duty to protect South African lives, property and livelihoods.

It is way past the time, Mr President, to put South Africa first.

South Africa cannot afford to have our national security undermined by Ministers who have failed dismally in their roles to preempt this sort of attack and defend our people.

This Mandela Day we will clean our streets, but we want the President to clean up his cabinet of those who have failed our nation.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

We need to re-establish law and order, Mr President. Where is the plan?

Please find attached a soundbite by the Leader of the DA John Steenhuisen MP

The DA notes President Ramaphosa’s broadcast announcement tonight on the escalating crisis in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and other parts of South Africa.

However, very little in his address offered anything new or significant in terms of measures to curb the violence, looting and destruction of property. There were no details, for example, of the SANDF deployment, such as numbers of troops and where they are to be deployed, as well as no details on any progress from Crime Intelligence.

In short, it was clear that the President and his government have no real plan and that citizens will have to face the mobs of rioters and looters entirely on their own.

Our country is literally burning, many South Africans have lost everything they had to the looters, and thousands of jobs have been laid to waste. We needed a strong statement of action tonight, but instead we simply got more of the platitudes that this presidency has become known for.

The DA supports, in principle, all efforts to bring the violence under control and re-establish law and order. The situation was allowed to reach this point precisely because our law enforcement agencies failed to take control early on and do their jobs. Of critical importance right now is that law enforcement regain control of the situation, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, but also elsewhere in South Africa. They need to do the job that the Constitution demands of them.

Because the violence and looting is so widespread, this means targeting our law enforcement resources exactly where they are needed to disrupt large gatherings of rioters. This calls for a coordination of Defence Intelligence, Crime Intelligence and State Security. Our forces on the ground cannot just fly blind and react to sporadic incidents.

It is also imperative that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is supported in its actual law enforcement efforts by the South African Defence Force (SANDF), and that the latter is not merely deployed to guard National Key Points in the province, as was the case this evening still in KZN. Our Constitution allows for the army to assist the police in maintaining law and order, and this is what is required of them now.

President Ramaphosa needs to acquaint himself fully with the situation on the ground, and then direct resources where they are needed most. If he did this he would know that the SANDF cannot simply be deployed as glorified guards. They need to support the SAPS law enforcement operation.

What the President also should have announced tonight was the immediate reconvening of Parliament so that it can start doing its job within 24 hours. It is quite extraordinary that this has not been a priority for him.

Particular focus should also be given to the protection of healthcare facilities and the supply of oxygen to Covid wards in violence-affected areas. As the country battles the third wave of a deadly pandemic, it is critical that we continue to take care of the sick and the vulnerable.

The reality is that South Africans would have come away from tonight’s address with nothing new, and nothing to ease their minds For many thousands of men and women this will be a frightening night ahead of them, and they would have wanted the President to offer them something in the way of leadership and reassurance.

The DA calls on President Ramaphosa to stand up for the law-abiding citizens of this country and meet these looters and thugs with strong decisive action, and a real plan to protect them from the damage of the ANC’s ongoing internal war.

We call on all South Africans to stay safe tonight and to protect their families and property, but also to remain calm and measured in these efforts. We dare not legitimise unnecessary violence, even in the most extreme circumstances. We dare not lose our humanity in this crisis.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.