Underperforming Eskom power plants – when is Eskom rehiring engineers and technicians?

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

“Barely a week after President Ramaphosa announced his Energy Action Plan to fix the electricity crisis, the country is once again plunged into Stage 4 loadshedding. Eskom’s underperforming power plants threaten to throw Ramaphosa’s action plan off the rails from the onset” says DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

In announcing the immediate actions needed to restore system stability and increase generation capacity from Eskom’s installed generation fleet, Ramaphosa indicated that experienced former Eskom engineers and power station managers will be rehired to improve Eskom’s operational performance.

There is no indication from the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, the Presidency or the recently established National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) on when the engineering and technical expertise hiring programme will commence. The lack of urgency in capacitating power plants is astounding, precisely because the national electricity crisis appears to be getting worse with each passing day.

This follows an agreement with unions at Eskom which will increase the wage bill massively across the board to accommodate a bloated staff force, strangling key financial resources which should be instead redirected to the hiring of competent, qualified and experienced personnel.

Eskom’s poor plant performance is clearly a function of a depleted skilled workforce rather than a shortage of financial resources. Recently, Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, pointed out that Eskom had declined Treasury support for a maintenance budget claiming that their generation division already had R8 billion set aside for maintenance.

In addition, the Eskom public notice announcing stage 4 loadshedding attributes the loss of generation capacity to:

  • delays in returning generation units to service; and
  • unplanned breakdowns in generation units

These are issues that can be addressed by Eskom with a radical re-staffing at critical levels. It requires will, commitment, urgency and a dogged determination to see the process through to the desired end state.

Failure by Ramaphosa and Gordhan to approach the electricity crisis with the urgency that it deserves is precisely why the DA had called for a ring-fenced State of Disaster to be declared. After DA pressure finally forced the ANC government to take action on the crisis, they now seem to be dragging their feet in implementing the energy action plan.

While renewable energy may become the mainstay of South Africa’s energy source in the future, we cannot escape the fact that, in the short term, South Africa needs to secure the amount of power made available by Eskom’s fleet of power plants to meet the minimum demands by consumers. That will only happen when power plants are adequately staffed by experienced engineers and technicians with the technical know-how to restore system stability.

The key takeaway here is, concentrate on the bird in the hand while you attend to the two in the bush – and do it with the requisite urgency that you promised.

By-election victories confirm that voters trust the DA to lead coalitions

Yesterday the DA won two crucial by-elections in municipalities where we are at the helm of coalition governments, and where much work still needs to be done to overturn the ANC’s legacy of corruption and ineptitude.

In both elections, held in Limpopo and Gauteng, voters decided to unite behind the DA instead of dividing the opposition vote against the ANC.

In Modimolle Mookgopong, the DA retained ward 12 with more than two thirds of the vote. Wiets Botes, a former independent candidate, will now take up his seat as a DA councillor.

His election will help mayor Marlene van Staden and her minority coalition to keep making progress in the face of enormous governance and service delivery challenges.

In ward 42 in Tshwane the DA’s share of the vote grew from 73,6% to 77,6%. Shane Maas, who has been a proportional representative councillor since 2011, takes the place of the late Phillip Nel in representing Waterkloof, Monument Park and Erasmusrand.

Above all, these victories confirm that voters trust the DA as the leader of coalition governments in a post-ANC South Africa.

When it comes to building an alternative government that can withstand attack by the ANC and EFF, there is little sense in subdividing the opposition vote.

The DA is the only party with the support of a broad cross-section of South Africans, and a track record of getting things done in government.

These crucial victories not only consolidate the DA’s position in Tshwane and Modimolle Mookgopong, but give a boost to our momentum in the 2024 general election.

Statement of opposition political parties represented in the National Assembly

The Opposition Political Parties [(Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), National Freedom Party, African Transformation Movement (ATM), United Democratic Movement (UDM), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP)] represented in South Africa’s National Assembly held a meeting in Johannesburg on the 3rd of August 2022.

The primary agenda and focus of the meeting was to consolidate and strengthen opposition parties’ resolve and commitment to hold the Executive and President Cyril Ramaphosa accountable; especially in light of the serious allegations he faces regarding Phala Phala and the violation of the South African Constitution.

We are unanimous that the President must be held accountable as a matter of urgency and no delays, distractions and procrastination should be permitted.

All the opposition parties expressed misgivings and discontent with the manner in which the Speaker of the National Assembly has thus far handled the demands of political parties to hold the President accountable. We also agree that the concealment of the President’s responses to the Public Protector on the Phala Phala matter is unacceptable and must be challenged.

In an effort to protect our constitutional democracy, the following were the principles that were agreed upon;

1. Parliament must hold President Cyril Ramaphosa accountable for the violation of laws, in terms of what happened at Phala Phala, which implicate him.

2. Opposition parties will initiate and participate in broader consultations with civil society organisations, non-profit organisations, trade unions and religious bodies to consolidate a common approach and response to holding the Executive and the President accountable.

3. The Public Protector as a matter of urgency, and as required by law, should release the report on the Phala Phala investigations.

4. Opposition parties will request a follow-up meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly to discuss all accountability issues including the usage of a secret ballot for motions of no confidence.

5. Opposition parties will intensify our collective and individual court actions against the Speaker of the National Assembly and all other institutions that are attempting to suppress Parliament’s constitutional obligations to hold the Executive and Parliament accountable.

6. Parliament must be physically convened to deal with all Parliamentary issues and its agenda.

7. Opposition parties will hold a follow-up meeting on Wednesday, 10 August 2022 to finalise a common approach on establishment of a Section 89 Committee, Parliamentary ad hoc committees and an approach to a motion of no confidence in the President.

DA challenges Lesufi to public debate on BELA Bill

Today I accepted an invitation from Pretoria FM to debate the controversial BELA Bill with the ANC’s Gauteng chairperson, Panyaza Lesufi. We challenge Lesufi to similarly accept the invitation.

This follows after Lesufi yesterday released a statement defending the BELA amendments, which would rob school governing bodies of the power to determine their own language and admissions policies, and hand that power over to ANC cadres like Lesufi.

Under the discriminatory BELA Bill, the head of provincial education departments and MECs like Lesufi will ultimately decide what language is taught in your child’s school and who is admitted to the school.

Lesufi is the proud sponsor of this discriminatory move, and the ANC is attacking mother tongue education, especially Afrikaans, and will destroy our schools. The DA will not stand for this.

I look forward to Lesufu’s confirmation that he will participate in the debate.

Speaker’s silence is reducing Parliament to a spectator once again on the electricity crisis

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

“National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, has once again given the executive a free pass to do as they please with no accountability. Not addressing our request for an Ad-hoc committee to oversee President Cyril Ramaphosa’s National Energy Crisis Committee undermines Parliament’s oversight function.” said DA Shadow Minister of Energy, Kevin Mileham.

Today marks exactly one week since the DA wrote to Mapisa-Nqakula recommending that Parliament takes immediate steps to establish a parliamentary Ad-hoc committee to oversee National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) and the implementation of President Ramaphosa’s energy plan.

Based on this 5-point energy plan, NECOM is expected to oversee the budget for Eskom’s power station maintenance programme, a cross-departmental suite of regulatory waivers to enable new generation capacity from independent power producers (IPPs) and adherence to set timelines. Parliament cannot afford to standby and be a spectator, especially over an executive that has a poor record on implementation.

Not too long ago, Mapisa-Nqakula herself wrote to Deputy President, David Mabuza, in his capacity as the Leader of Government Business, “requesting that Parliament be kept abreast of Executive interventions to deal with the energy crisis”. Instead of waiting for the Executive to cooperate with Parliament, Mapisa-Nqakula should be proactive and take steps to establish an Ad-hoc committee to oversee NECOM.

Barely two weeks since he announced his energy plan, President Ramaphosa’s promises of a return to reliable power supply are already starting to unravel. Eskom just announced a return to stage 2 loadshedding due to several units from its generation fleet tripping or failing to return to service on time. All this is happening while Parliament is standing on the sidelines and refusing to exercise its oversight function over what is essentially a national electricity crisis.

Ultimatum to Health Department for silencing whistleblowers

Please find an attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

The need to protect whistleblowers exposing corruption and maladministration have become more important than ever. The Zondo Report on State capture revealed that hundreds of millions of Rands were looted by ANC officials, yet the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, and the parliamentary portfolio committee on health chairperson, Dr Kenneth Leonard Jacobs, have yet to respond to the DA’s letter calling on the Department of Health to explain the systems and processes in place to protect whistleblowers in the health sector. This followed the suspension of whistleblower, Dr Tim De Maayer, at the Rahima Moosa Hospital.

It comes as no shock that the ANC refuses to protect whistleblowers in a Department that is rampant with corruption and tender fraud. After all, if the Zondo Reports showed us anything, it is that the ANC, as an institution, is a professional criminal syndicate that does not plan on stopping the looting any time soon.

Sadly, the lack of actions of this criminal syndicate to protect whistleblowers culminated in the assassination of Babita Deokaran, the former acting CFO of the Gauteng Department of Health, in August 2021. Deokaran was murdered after she discovered several dodgy payments being made to small, unknown companies belonging to Gauteng ANC heavyweight, Sello Sekhokho. She flagged these payments with the Gauteng Health Department CFO, Lerato Madyo, calling for further investigations to be done. A week later, she was assassinated.

Almost a year later, no official forensic investigation has been launched.

If whistleblowers in South Africa are not afforded protection by government, we will continue to see things like State capture happening year in and year out. The DA will, again, be writing to the chairperson and provide him with 7 days to respond to our requests. Parliament needs to start working.

Should Dr Jacobs fail to provide us with an answer, the DA will write to the house chairperson of committees, Cedric Frolick, to intervene. If the ANC continues to refuse to protect whistleblowers, the DA will look to implement our own changes to help those who want to protect this country, starting with getting Parliament back to work.

‘Lucky to be raped’? Bheki Cele must go!

Please find attached a soundbite by Nazley Sharif MP.

“Police Minister Bheki Cele saying on national television that ‘a 19-year-old woman was lucky to be raped by one man while others were raped by 10 men’ should be the absolute last straw. Bheki Cele must go!” said DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Women, Nazley Sharif MP.

The Minister, during an interview on eNCA, was referring to the rape of 8 women in Krugersdorp.

The DA is disgusted to its core.

Minister Bheki Cele has said many atrocious things in his disastrous career, but this latest statement is simply unforgivable and can not be ignored.

How can a person with an attitude that perpetuates rape culture in an already violent society be the head of the SAPS? This is more than enough reason for him to be fired.

The fact that South Africa is the rape capital of the world already clearly indicates the absolute lack of government response and lack of care for survivors as well as zero accountability.

Bheki Cele’s comment showed an utter lack of sensitivity towards women and rape survivors. This creates a complete breakdwon in trust,

August in womens’ month and in exactly a week, on the 9th, the country will celebrate Women’s Day.

If Bheki Cele is still the Minister of Police on this day, it will be a clear sign of the utter insincerity of the ANC Government’s “seriousness” about GBV. On that day, no member of the ANC government dares stands on a stage and spout platitudes about their commitment to women’s rights. It will simply be vulgar.

It is time for the SAPS to be led by a serious and skilled Minister – not a clueless, irresponsible misogynist.

The DA calls on all South Africans to sign our petition calling for Bheki Cele to be fired. Enough is enough.

Only 3 days left to submit concerns regarding draft health regulations

Please find an attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

The public only has three days left to submit their concerns regarding the draft health regulations before the public participation period closes on Friday, 5 August 2022. The DA encourages everyone to submit their objections in writing via WhatsApp on 060 012 3456; e-mail at legalreviews@health.gov.za, or the website on www.health.gov.za/public-comments-on-regulations.

The DA has called on the Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, to recall the draft health regulations on a number of occasions. These draconian regulations would have far-reaching implications for our Constitutional rights. All Covid-regulations and restrictions have already been removed and the National Department of Health has also recently conceded that the current variant does not even warrant them to provide daily updates on figures anymore.

The proposed draft regulations would enforce, without the option of refusal or any oversight from Parliament:

  • Quarantine should a patient test positive for Covid-19;
  • Forced testing and taking of bodily samples in the event of a positive Covid-19 case, or even should a positive test be suspected;
  • Forced treatment or providing of prophylaxis in the event of a positive Covid-19 test. Currently, the only lawful prophylaxis for Covid-19 are the various vaccines as approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Agency (SAHPRA); and
  • Trivial limitations on gatherings and funerals without the need for scientific evidence or input. This will negatively impact small businesses as well as the restaurant and arts and culture industries, which have yet to recover from the lockdowns.

The ANC government seeks to consolidate as much of its dwindling power as possible, and the draft health regulations are a perfect example of this. It does not bode well for the South African public or economy should these regulations be bulldozed through by the Minister.

The DA has also raised concerns regarding the public participation process. In the interest of transparency and accountability, the DA has requested an audit of the public participation process and all submissions received. The ANC government has often used public participation as a mere box-ticking exercise, and given Health Department officials’ comments regarding submissions opposing the draft health regulations, the DA will do everything in our power ensure that no citizen is undermined.

Cele guts SAPS reservist programme: Numbers down 90% in 10 years

Please find attached a soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) reservist programme has effectively been wiped out by Minister Cele with SAPS losing 90% of its reservists since 2011/12.

These shocking figures, which the DA received from a reply to a parliamentary question, prove that Minister Cele has been central to the gutting of the reservist programme which has placed the safety of law-abiding South Africans at risk.

In 2011/12 there were 52 054 SAPS reservists across the country. Ten years later SAPS is now left with just 4 393 reservists. This is a devastating blow to the fight against crime as reservists play a critical role in supporting SAPS with its declining numbers of personnel.

It is clear from the figures that Minister Cele targeted the reservist programme as his final act as National Police Commissioner ten years ago. Numbers declined sharply from 2011/12 (52 054), when Minister Cele was the National Police Commissioner, and 2012/13 (19 129), which was the financial year he was fired. That is a 63% decline in reservist numbers in just one financial year.

Since then, reservist numbers continued to decline steadily until another sharp decline after Cele was appointed as Minister of Police from 2018/19 and 2021/22. During this period numbers fell from 8707 to 4393 – this is a 50% decline in reservist numbers.

Less boots on the ground is good news for criminals and bad news for law abiding citizens who want to live in safe communities free from fear.

We need all hands on deck in the fight against crime and SAPS should be pursuing a deliberate and urgent recruitment drive to bolster their ranks with hard working reservists who are committed to supporting and strengthening the SAPS.

It is time for the SAPS to be led by a serious and skilled Minister, who can implement the urgent changes needed to get the SAPS working.

The DA petition calling for Bheki Cele to be fired is gaining momentum online. The growing numbers show that South Africans agree that this Minister must go.

DA Energy and Electricity Policy will end loadshedding, provide cheap and reliable electricity and fuel

Click here to download a soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP and here for a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

Download a photo here.

After years of energy paralysis and uncertainty by a failing ANC government, the DA has today released its Energy and Electricity Policy to fill this policy gap.

Presented today at the DA’s Federal Head Office, the goal of the DA’s Energy and Electricity policy is to ensure access to cheap electricity and fuel, end loadshedding and secure the environment for future generations. These are the building blocks that South Africa needs to build an energy secure economy that will stimulate investment and support job creation.

In the short term, South Africa needs to secure the amount of power made available by Eskom’s fleet of power plants to meet the minimum demands by consumers in addition to opening up – with speed – alternative sources of supply to meet the nation’s requirements.

The following key features distinguish the DA’s policy approach from the ANC’s approach to the energy and electricity crisis:

Consumer centric electricity model

The DA’s electricity policy is built on putting the consumer first. In contrast to the ANC’s current policy of a state driven electricity model, the DA approach actively facilitates the emergence of “prosumers”, where customers of electricity may also generate energy into the grid when they have surplus energy through:

  • Solar installation incentives – incentivize the uptake of rooftop solar for residential purposes by granting a once-off tax rebate.
  • Tackling the electricity grey market – eliminate illegal connections and provide an amnesty for all households with illegal connections.

Eliminating loadshedding

Eskom, as the primary generator of electricity is beset by an apparent inability to fix it’s fleet and plug the short-term needs while longer term solutions are put in place. The immediate and short-term electricity needs must however be addressed by a plan that addresses the reliability of supply within existing parameters in the most cost effective and source agnostic manner:

  • Unbundling Eskom – There should be a complete unbundling of Eskom. This means entirely separate enterprises which do not fall under the same holding company.
  • Competitive generation sector – Commercially viable power stations should be sold to private owners and operated until the end of the remaining life of the station. The envisioned end state for generation is of a diversified and competitive generation sector.
  • Independent electricity transmission operator – With generation and distribution privatized, the remaining transmission entity of Eskom, free from conflicts of interest, should become a national, state-owned, ITSMO, with power planning, procurement, contracting, grid system and electricity market operation functions.

Prioritizing new generation and storage capacity

The underlying premise of the DA’s policy is that, in view of the dire state of the country’s electricity generation capacity, South Africa should be making it easy, not difficult, for IPPs to bring new power at scale and in the shortest possible time:

  • Bring new electricity generation and storage capacity online as quickly as possible.
  • Attract and incentivize investment in embedded generation and IPPs. Ease the onerous regulatory burden that inhibits a speedier rollout of these technologies.

Just energy transition – no one left behind

A ‘just transition’ towards lower-carbon technologies requires reducing the risks faced by people who might be most adversely affected. It includes workers, poor communities, and small businesses. There needs to be a clear transition plan that will upskill and reskill former coal sector workers as well as reducing barriers for community owned projects to compete.

Competitive fuel industry

In order to promote a competitive fuel industry with low retail prices for consumers, there is an urgent need to remove government taxes, levies and price controls on liquid fuels to promote competition and ease the cost of living for all South Africans.

South Africa needs a competitive energy market where the state does not have a monopoly on energy generation, supply, and distribution. There should be a multiplicity of private suppliers, competing with one another to provide the best service and lowest price. This requires making it easier for energy suppliers to enter and participate in energy markets.