The Incapable ANC government is responsible for the SARB needing to hike rates

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Dion George MP.

Today the Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) announced that the repo rate will be increased by 75 basis points. This means that the cost of servicing debt will increase and reduce disposable income at a time when South African households are already battling a government induced cost-of-living crisis.

The announcement comes as a measure to contain the unprecedent levels of inflation consumers have experienced in recent months. The shocking inflation statistics released yesterday by StatsSA revealed that year on year food prices increased by 12% while transport prices increased by 17%.

The price of bread, a basic food item, has increased by nearly 20%.

The upward spiralling cost-of-living is the direct consequence of the ANC’s incoherent economic policies that get in the way of economic growth. In inflationary times, fiscal policies are required to soften the impact of rising prices, yet, in his mid-term budget, the Minister of Finance did nothing and never once mentioned the cost of living crisis. Instead he bailed out bankrupt state owned enterprises, again.

If the ANC Government had a more effective economic framework our economy would be able to grow, and monetary policy would not need to tighten as much as it has. The SARB’s latest response is largely a consequence of government failure to implement effective fiscal policy.

To combat the cost-of-food crisis and alleviate pressure on lower income South African households the DA has proposed to cut the fuel levy and expand the zero-VAT rated food basket to include items as bone-in chicken, beef, tinned beans, wheat flour, margarine, peanut butter, baby food, tea, coffee, and soup powder. VAT on these items disproportionately impact the poorest 50% of South Africans who are already battling to put food on the table.

The Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, has rejected the DA’s proposals. In this blatant electioneering attempt the Minister continued to favour his ANC cadres by opting to provide additional funding for the party’s patronage networks.

It is clear that government doesn’t care about the reality of hunger and starvation in South Africa. The DA will not allow this to continue. We will increase pressure on Government to implement workable economic policies to get our economy on the path to growth and to  urgently address the cost of living crisis, especially the cost of food.

President Ramaphosa speech continues to give China a free ride on climate change

In a recent speech to leaders of the United Kingdom, President Cyril Ramaphosa lectured the country, and the developed world at large, about their expected contribution to assist South Africa and the developing world to combat the effects of climate change, all the while ignoring the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas emissions – China.

China continues to pollute at a gargantuan scale, releasing 28% of global emissions, yet is exempt from any critique or consequence from Ramaphosa and his government.

South Africa’s position has been to agree with China that they should be seen as a developing country, and therefore should not be bound to provide financial assistance to developing countries suffering the consequences of China’s immensely pollutive economy.

It appears that in the eyes of the ANC government, China can do no wrong when it comes to global emissions and should be treated with kid gloves. This is no doubt due to the ideological alliances between the Chinese Communist Party and the ANC which seek to place blame on the West and the developed world entirely.

The President’s calls for reparations from the United Kingdom cannot be taken seriously if he fails to call for the same from China. Failure to do so is beyond hypocritical – it is dishonest.

President Ramaphosa should be focusing on fixing South Africa’s domestic energy challenges and cutting red tape to allow for greater access to the renewable energy market. Instead, he is riding around in a golden carriage and sipping tea with the King while South Africans are left to toil in the worst year of blackouts on record.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander, and if the West is to provide financial assistance to the developing world to combat the effects of climate change, so too should countries like China whose carbon footprint is often the largest on the planet.

President Ramaphosa should stop misleading the international community at South Africa’s expense while the ANC and China remain chums – our country, and the global climate, deserve better.

Ramaphosa’s broken promise – where are the tax incentives for rooftop solar installations?

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Kevin Mileham MP.

Eskom’s unofficial move to put South Africa on a semi-permanent loadshedding schedule, with promises of more worse to come, has forced many South Africans to consider the option of going off-grid by installing roof-top solar panels.

The only problem is, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise to help them do so, through tax incentives, has not materialized. In fact, his government appears to have developed cold feet and is now stalling on the issue.

According to ‘intervention 4’ contained in Ramaphosa’s Energy Response Plan, which he announced in July 2022, to speed up the rollout and reduce the cost of rooftop solar, national Treasury was tasked with considering the expansion of tax incentives for residential and commercial installations.

When the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, delivered his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the assumption was that he would announce these tax incentives but he failed to do so.

Not only this, when Ramaphosa’s ineffective National Energy Crisis Committee appeared before the joint committees of Energy and Public Enterprises in Parliament to report back on the implementation of the Energy Response Plan, they did not mention anything on progress made towards incentivizing rooftop solar installations.

While Ramaphosa’s Cabinet enjoy the benefits of uninterrupted power supply at Bryanston Estate, hardworking South Africa’s are being denied the opportunity to free themselves from Eskom’s loadshedding nightmare.

Incentivizing households and businesses to install rooftop solar will assist ordinary South Africans to mitigate the effects of loadshedding. While it will not solve the issue of rolling blackouts and huge gaps in generative capacity, it will provide some required domestic relief. It is therefore important that Ramaphosa’s government make clear its stance on these much needed incentives.

The DA has previously proposed an Emergency Solar Rebate (ESR) that would offer tax rebates for solar systems installed at residential properties. This Emergency Solar Rebate would be available for three years only, designed to alleviate our current energy crisis, and would work as follows:

100% tax deduction for the cost of installed solar equipment, up to a maximum of R75 000.

The purchaser would fund the cost of installation upfront, and would claim the cost against their taxable income at the time of submitting their ordinary annual returns.

This emergency initiative would cost R4 billion over 3 years, and remove 480 MW from the grid, with even a moderate take-up rate.

Ramaphosa rightly admitted that ‘There is significant potential for households and businesses to install rooftop solar and connect this power to the grid’. The only drawback is that he good at making promises but bad at fulfilling them.

Declare Eskom State of Disaster now, President Ramaphosa

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

Good morning, my fellow citizens,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And more importantly, where is our president?

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

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

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

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

This is the time to be a president.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kusile power station is symbolic of all these failures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

Food and transport prices spiral upwards and government doesn’t care

South African households face a bleak festive season as inflation statistics reveal the extent of rocketing food and transport prices.

StatsSA today published inflation figures for October 2022 which measured a staggering 12% year-on-year increase for food and non-alcoholic beverages, while a shocking 17,1% year-on-year increase for transport was recorded. These inflationary price increases disproportionately impact vulnerable South African households, with 81% unable to put enough food on their tables.

In his mid-year budget speech, the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, did not mention the cost-of-living crisis that is driving more and more South Africans into poverty. Not even once. Instead he spoke of “trade-offs” and again bailed out hopelessly bankrupt state owned enterprises. The Minister has reneged on his promise to subject the DA’s proposed expansion of the zero-VAT rated food basket to expert analysis if we requested it. In doing so the Minister clearly demonstrates how far out of touch he is with the daily battle of millions of struggling consumers and represents a government that doesn’t care about the reality of hunger and starvation in South Africa.

To combat the upward spiralling food prices the DA has proposed that Government drops VAT on more food items commonly purchased by the poorest 50% of households, which include bone-in chicken, beef, tinned beans, wheat flour, margarine, peanut butter, baby food, tea, coffee, and soup powder. This will help households to stretch food budgets further while enabling the purchase of more nutritious food.

The DA has long called for the fuel levy to be slashed, which would lower the cost of transport and knock-on to a lower food price. Government promised to lower the fuel levy, but didn’t.

In times such as these where the cost-of-living is placing enormous pressure on households, government’s job is to implement fiscal measures to alleviate their plight. Instead, it does nothing. The ANC government remains visibly unbothered by these price increases as they enjoy the benefits of lavish lifestyles, funded by hardworking taxpayers and boosted by tenderpreneurship and their other rent seeking activities, under the guise of BEE.

The DA will not stand by while South African households bear the brunt of savage inflationary price increases. We will increase pressure on the ANC Government to expand the zero-VAT rated food basket, cut fuel prices and make the policy reforms that will get our economy onto a sustainable path to growth.

Crime Stats: Bheki Cele’s bloodbath a stain on Ramaphosa’s Presidency

Please find attached a soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

The latest crime statistics for the second quarter of 2022/23 confirm that the bloodbath of violent crime remains out of control across the country with millions of people living in fear.

Under Bheki Cele’s leadership of the South African Police Service (SAPS), more people are being murdered, raped and assaulted than ever before while President Ramaphosa looks on from London and continues giving Minister Cele his full support.

When he was elected into office, President Ramaphosa promised to halve violent crime within 10 years. He is now almost half way through this ten year period and violent crime has increased exponentially because the truth is that the President is soft on crime.

The DA has repeatedly warned the President that violent crime will not be halved with Minister Cele at the helm of the SAPS. How can it be that a Minister is able to continue serving in this position when in the last 3 months 7004 people were murdered and 10 590 people were raped? It is unconscionable that President Ramaphosa rewards Minister Cele for his continued under performance.

Since Ramaphosa and Cele took office in 2018 murder has increased in Quarter 2 by 26% from 5554 in Q2 2018/19 to 7004 in Q2 2022/23.

The crime stats reveal that every day between July and September 2022:

  • 76 people were murdered
  • 115 people were raped
  • 448 people were assaulted with grievous bodily harm
  • 383 serious robberies occurred

These crime statistics which rob the people of South Africa of safety and freedom while at the some time imprison us all in the most terrifying fear that we may become a statistic, can be attributed to President Ramaphosa’s soft approach to crime. When it comes to crime the President is all talk and no action.

The President’s soft approach to crime is a declaration of war on women and children in South Africa. In the last quarter:

  • 989 women have been murdered (10 women every single day)
  • 13 701 women have been assaulted with GBH (148 women every single day)
  • 315 children have been murdered (3 children every single day)
  • 1670 children have been assaulted with GBH (20 children every single day)

Even more worryingly, if the murder and assault of our children was not enough, kidnapping in South Africa has increased by 101%, with 4028 kidnappings occurring in the last 92 days.

South Africa needs a war time President not a tea time President! It is time for the President to put down his tea cup, leave the palace and return to his people who are living in a permanent state of fear in a country which resembles a war zone.

The Democratic Alliance has today written to the President, yet again, calling on him to put politics aside and fire Bheki Cele as Police Minister once and for all. If not, the blood of our nation will be squarely on the President’s hands.

Declare Eskom State of Disaster now, President Ramaphosa

The following remarks were delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, during a live broadcast today. Please see photos here and here.

The following remarks were delivered by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, during a live broadcast today.

Please see photos here and here.

Good morning, my fellow citizens,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And more importantly, where is our president?

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

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

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

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

This is the time to be a president.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This power station here behind me – Kusile – is symbolic of all these failures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you.

DA demands confirmation of Zuma re-arrest

The DA yesterday sent a lawyer’s letter to acting national Commissioner of Correctional Services Mr MS Thobakgale demanding that he confirms within 48 hours that he will ensure that Mr Jacob Zuma is returned by 17h00 on Friday 25 November 2022 to the Estcourt Correctional Centre to serve out the remainder of his sentence.

This follows yesterday’s ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal that Zuma’s medical parole was indeed illegal, and that Zuma must therefore return to the Estcourt Correctional Centre to finish serving his 15-month prison sentence for failing to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture when called to do so.

The DA’s legal letter points out that Mr Zuma is obliged by order to immediately return to the Estcourt Correctional Centre and if he fails to do so within reasonable time, the Commissioner of Correctional Services is obliged to ensure that he is returned – by arrest if necessary.

This case, National Commissioner of Correctional Services v Democratic Alliance, was brought by the DA because we are determined to ensure that the democratic principles of equality before the law and accountability are upheld.

ANC government bankrolls Chinese Bank at the expense of hungry households at home

This morning, the Standing Committee on Finance approved a request from Cabinet to pay subscription fees to join the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB).

If Parliament ratifies joining the Bank, South African taxpayers would need to fork out a minimum fee of 5 million US Dollars, which includes 1 million US Dollars that is to be paid immediately, while another 4 million US Dollars would be callable by the AIIB at any time. This equates to roughly R 85 million that needs to be paid to the bank in the short run.

There is no benefit in joining another foreign Bank to hardworking South African taxpayers and hard-pressed South African households who are battling daily to put enough food on the table. Similar to the R 50 million “donation” to Cuba, this significant sum of money would be far better spent to alleviate the plight of vulnerable South Africans.

Instead, as the cost of living continues to spiral upwards the ANC Government chooses to waste money on bailing out failed State-owned enterprises that, due to years of corruption, cadre deployment, and mismanagement, find themselves hopelessly bankrupt. As a founding member of this new Bank, South Africa will be able to borrow even more, despite national debt expected to exceed R5.6 trillion within the next 3 years.

The ANC’s push to join yet another foreign bank, while also seeking to bankroll an expanded Post Bank, will carry no benefit whatsoever except for a handful of politically connected rent seeking cronies. As the ANC government runs out of money, they will become increasingly desperate to borrow from whatever source they can, to the detriment of South Africa’s economic growth.

This is unacceptable, and the DA will resist the formal ratification.

Ethekwini tourism death spiral: Minister Sisulu, where are you?

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Hannah Winkler MP.

The DA calls on Tourism Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, to conduct an urgent oversight to eThekwini Municipality to experience first-hand the impact that the sewage crisis is having on tourism in the city. Minister Sisulu must meet with eThekwini City Management to engage on a crisis action plan to save the city’s tourism economy.

Tourism in eThekwini is in a rapid death spiral due to the sewage crisis that continues to cripple the city. The collapse of waste-water infrastructure in the city has resulted in astoundingly high E. Coli levels on the beaches, rivers and harbours that are the life force of eThekwini’s tourism economy.

The short notice closure of beaches as a result of high E. Coli levels is dealing a severe blow to hotels, restaurants, and other tourism operators in the city. The viability of sporting events that take place on many of the city’s water courses hang in the balance too with valid fears over health impacts.

The city’s reputation as “South Africa’s Playground” is suffering irrefutable reputational damage. Thousands of jobs are on the line, and if urgent action is not taken by the Minister of Tourism, the rapid death spiral to eThekwini’s tourism economy will continue.

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal have already sent a letter of demand to eThekwini Municipality on the various pieces of legislation that the city is in contravention of, namely the National Environmental Management Act and the National Water Act and will take the matter to court should they not respond. The DA will continue to fight for this city in all spheres of government. The calls of the residents of eThekwini have been ignored for far too long.

Minister Sisulu, where are you?