Did Ramaphosa mislead the nation on vaccine acquisition?

In his address to the nation on Monday night, President Ramaphosa claimed that his government has been working on vaccine acquisition for six months, which would have been since July last year. Yet there is much evidence to suggest this is simply not the truth.

We cannot fully discard the risk that government’s reluctance to secure a full supply of vaccines from reputable suppliers is because the politically connected are hoping to score kickbacks from Chinese and Russians suppliers.

The DA has been reliably informed that calls to the reputable vaccine manufacturers only started this year once the political pressure ramped up, even though some of them stopped taking orders in June last year already.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the government’s Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), stated yesterday in an interview on SAFM that South Africa did not join the vaccine race, that we did not pay the necessary deposits to secure vaccines in large numbers as other countries did.

We also know from news reports that it was left to Johnson & Johnson, a global pharmaceutical company whose vaccine is partly manufactured locally here in SA, to reach out to the SA government in early August, months after most other high and middle-income countries had already secured their supply. And even then, the SA government cancelled the scheduled meeting and only got round to meeting them in September whereupon health officials showed no keen interest to secure supply. As a result, every single one of the 300 million vaccines put into vials in Port Elizabeth are set to leave our shores, if they haven’t done so already.

Furthermore, South African officials claim to have been in direct discussions with AstraZeneca since September, yet it is the Serum Institute of India, and not AstraZeneca itself, that holds rights to sell the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine in South Africa. It is no wonder the Presidency is refusing to give any detail on alleged discussions with AstraZeneca.

SA’s top virologist, Professor Shabir Mahdi, stated earlier this month that South Africa will struggle to secure vaccines this year. Why on earth would this be the case, if government has been negotiating in good faith for six months now?

It seems that government put all its eggs into the Covax basket, knowing full well that this multilateral arrangement would only ever be able to provide 10% of our total requirements. Even then, government is yet to provide details, including when we can expect to take delivery of these.

If government has indeed been negotiating to acquire vaccines at scale for six months now, people have a right to be informed of why those negotiations patently failed. The public has a right to know why, after six months of claimed negotiations, not one single bilateral agreement was signed, and not a single dose secured for South Africa in 2020. Why has the government had to scramble around this year to secure even a measly 2% of our total vaccine requirement (1.5 million of the up to 80 million doses we require to achieve herd immunity)?

Consider that every single other member of the G20 was able to secure a supply. Most other upper-middle income countries have already begun rolling out vaccines, yet South Africans are still trying to work out whether or not we can believe our President’s claims, let alone when vaccines will actually be accessible.

SA’s vaccination programme is crucial to South Africa’s economic recovery. Until we successfully roll out the vaccine, our dying economy will be dialed up and down on ministerial whim while the government uses (and abuses) the only tool it seems able to wield – rolling lockdown – in an effort to show that it is “doing something” about the virus.

A successful vaccination programme requires people’s buy-in. President Ramaphosa needs to start giving the country reasons to trust his government. He should start answering people’s legitimate questions openly and honestly. If that means admitting his government dropped the ball massively, so be it. At least then South Africa can move forward on the same page, trusting that people are not being kept in the dark and lied to about life and death matters.

The DA will submit detailed parliamentary questions and PAIA applications (that utilize the Promotion of Access to Information Act) to establish exactly when the process began and what has been achieved so far.

DA grants extension to Presidency to justify Garden Route beach closures

Please click here for a soundbite by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP.

The Democratic Alliance has received formal correspondence from the Presidency requesting an extension to the proposed deadline of 17:00 today, to provide reasons justifying the closure of beaches along the Western Cape’s Garden Route.

We have written back to President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma granting them an extension to 10:00 on Thursday 17 December 2020.

The fact that national government has requested additional time to prepare a response to our letter requesting reasons for the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches only demonstrates that there was none to begin with. It would seem that any reasons now provided would be ex post facto manufactured.

Should it be evident that the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches be without rational reasons and therefore unlawful, as we believe it to be, we will file papers.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

Shun those who celebrate Reconciliation Day while driving wedges between us

Fellow South Africans

As we spend the 16th of December celebrating our national Day of Reconciliation, I want us to pause for a moment and think about what exactly it is we’re celebrating.

Few other countries in the world have culture, history or people as diverse as South Africa’s. We like to speak of this diversity as our strength – we don’t claim to want to blend everything and everyone together into an uniform mixture. Rather, we state that a sense of unity in our incredible diversity is far better and far stronger than bland sameness.

We claim to believe it so much that we’ve put it up there on our national Coat of Arms: Unity in Diversity. It’s in our Constitution too, right upfront in the preamble. “We, the people of South Africa… believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.” But are we truly living up to that claim 26 years into our democracy?

It would seem that many of those who are meant to be leading us towards a better future as one, united South Africa don’t actually believe that this is necessarily the way forward. In recent years it is division rather than unity that has become the staple of a number of political parties, including the ANC.

When you listen to much of the language coming from the ruling party and its leaders, the words on the Coat of Arms are little more than an empty slogan.

In a party like the EFF, this drive to divide rather than unite has become its entire identity. They are obsessed with fanning race wars and creating a permanent state of distrust.

No gathering, no action and no campaign can be considered worthwhile if it does not deepen the fractures in society and pit South Africans against each other.

And on the opposite side of the political spectrum you will find parties equally eager to capitalise on any growing distrust and resentment.

The tense standoffs in places like Senekal and Brackenfell show just how easy it is to whip these feelings up and turn citizens against each other.

Any party that seeks out these flashpoints in society and tries to use them as wedges between us has no business plotting our country’s future. And yet you will see them out here today celebrating our Day of Reconciliation alongside everyone else. Don’t let them speak for you, because they do not have a united, reconciled South Africa in mind.

Any party that speaks of “us” and “them” does not have a united South Africa in mind. Any party that refers to “our people” when they don’t mean the whole country does not have a united South Africa in mind. These parties are driving a narrow agenda – a nationalist agenda – and that can never be in the interest of our country.

Our only hope, if we’re to rebuild our shattered economy and our fractured society, is as one people pursuing a common vision.

Because once we’ve retreated into our little lagers of race, culture or language we are of no use to each other. We have to learn to resist the language of blame, scapegoating and resentment. We have to see that as someone else’s agenda and not ours.

On this Day of Reconciliation, spend a little time thinking about what this means in our bright and diverse nation. Listen to the language others are using and ask yourself: Are they truly speaking of one nation pursuing one common future built around shared values?

Because I can assure you that’s the only future the DA has in mind – a strong and prosperous South Africa, united in its glorious diversity.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

DA launches fight to open Garden Route beaches

The Democratic Alliance has sent a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and National Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in which we request that they justify the grounds upon which National Government took the decision to close the beaches in the Garden Route District for the entirety of the festive season.

We have given the President until 17:00 on Wednesday, 16 December 2020 to respond, failing which we will approach the courts for urgent relief.

Premier Alan Winde has told National Government repeatedly that beach-going in the Western Cape does not present a significant threat of Covid-19 infection.

The provincial government has submitted various hotspot containment plans demonstrating that the Western Cape is adequately capacitated to manage the seasonal influx of tourists who visit our province for its beach tourism.

Furthermore, the DA and our governments across the Western Cape’s coastal municipalities have fought vehemently against any closure of beaches over the festive season. As such a regulation is not in line with the scientific advice available from medical experts, and is impossible to enforce.

Such a regulation will also be the final nail in the coffin for the Garden Route’s coastal economies which are nearing total collapse.

It was very clear from the start that the Western Cape did not want beach closures, nor did the province need them. National government has blatantly ignored these requests and overlooked the competency of the Western Cape government at the peril of the lives and livelihoods of the province’s coastal communities.

It is also our view that national government has not been fair and consistent in its imposition of this regulation across the country.

Infection rates between the Garden Route and KwaZulu-Natal, for example, are not dissimilar. Yet while beach closures in KwaZulu-Natal are limited to but a few days, the Garden Route has had a blanket restriction imposed unjustly for the entire festive season.

There is no justifiable reason for beach closures anywhere in the Western Cape, and National Government’s decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches over the festive season is thus dangerously irrational.

All Western Cape beaches should be open for the entirety of the festive season, as requested by the provincial government. If not, the Garden Route should, at the very least, be afforded the same nuanced approach as the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

The residents of the Western Cape place their trust in the DA to protect and uphold their rights, to live in a just and equal society, and to pursue a life of freedom and dignity.

We will take this fight to the courts to ensure that we uphold this commitment to our voters, and to guarantee that there are still thriving coastal economies in this province long beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

A slap on the wrist for Magashule is a slap in the face to South Africa

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that one of the ANC’s most corrupt cadres, Ace Magashule, will be presenting himself to the party’s Integrity Commission on December 12, as announced today following a lengthy NEC meeting at the weekend, is simply not good enough.

This is a spineless move which proves that the President is too weak to take decisive action against his party’s most corrupt, opting once again to choose the ANC over South Africa, kowtowing to both his comrades and the voters.

Three months ago, in light of widescale ANC corruption relating to the procurement of Covid-19 PPE, President Ramaphosa stated, unambiguously, that all ANC cadres accused of corruption would have to step aside. In a strongly worded statement at the time he said:

“Cadres of the movement who are formally charged with corruption or other serious crimes must immediately step aside from all leadership positions in the ANC, legislatures and other government structures pending the finalisation of their cases.”

Ace Magashule has not stepped aside, nor has he been suspended. President Ramaphosa’s promises on eradicating corruption are thus empty, and the line he has drawn in the sand has completely washed away. This is a slap in the face to South Africans deserving of justice for the ANC’s theft of their money and livelihoods.

We know that the ANC’s Integrity Commission is completely and utterly toothless, and merely functions as a veil for justice for those the President and the ANC are too scared to have charged and jailed in a court of law for their crimes against the country.

In early October, former disgraced Mayor of Ethekwini, Zandile Gumede, who was removed from her position last year in the face of a litany of tender corruption charges to the value of R400 million, appeared before the Integrity Commission with her lawyer in tow. There has been no word of any action against her for her crimes since.

It would appear that the ANC treats the Integrity Commission as a de facto court where the judges are sympathetic ANC comrades presiding over cases which should be heard in an independent and impartial South African court of law requiring a string of criminal charges. This is not justice, it is merely the ANC’s portrayal of justice at the expense of our country.

The DA will not accept the ANC’s elaborately staged pantomime in which comrades are placed on a stage and given a slap on the wrist for South Africans to watch and applaud. I will only be applauding when the President has the guts to throw his comrades into a jail cell for the treasonous acts committed against our country. South Africa deserves nothing less.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

Suspend Magashule or admit that your line in the sand has again washed away, Mr President

Although it may be too late for the ANC to salvage credibility on their supposed tough talk on corruption, it is imperative that their NEC meeting this weekend culminates in the stepping-aside or suspension of their corruption-accused Secretary-General, Ace Magashule.

If that is not the outcome of the meeting, it will simply confirm that neither President Ramaphosa nor the ANC can be trusted on anything they say.

Three months ago, when the ugly head of corruption among the party’s officials, along with many of their family members and friends, was once again exposed in the Covid-19 procurement scandal, Ramaphosa was emphatic that both he and the party would not tolerate it any longer. He stated, unambiguously, that all ANC cadres accused of corruption would have to step aside. In a strongly worded statement at the time he said:

“Cadres of the movement who are formally charged with corruption or other serious crimes must immediately step aside from all leadership positions in the ANC, legislatures and other government structures pending the finalisation of their cases.”

He went on to say that, “If a member doesn’t comply, the ANC constitution kicks in and in this era that we are now in, we expect that all members abide by what is set out herein. When the NEC said that we are drawing a line in the sand, it means we are entering a new era and ensuring that our goals are now implemented.”

There is no hiding from the fact that this weekend’s NEC meeting will show whether that was a real pledge or just nice-sounding words. There’s no point in drawing a line in the sand if every little wave of corruption can simply roll up and wash it away.

The only currency available to a government or a president is the credibility of their word when making commitments. Our government under President Ramaphosa has rendered this currency worthless by continuously reneging on their word. Just in recent months we’ve seen them backtrack on commitments to freeze the public sector wage bill, to stabilise our national debt by 2023, and to no longer spend taxpayer money on bailing out SAA.

It is clear that these commitments were only made to temporarily appease and not to actually follow through on. Unless Ace Magashule is ejected as ANC Secretary-General this weekend, it would seem that the President’s bluster on corruption is no different.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

DA Speeches: SABC and Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill

Note to Editors: The following speeches have been delivered in Parliament  during the Debate on the escalating crisis at the SABC and the consideration of the Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill

Debate on the SABC:

Phumzile Van Damme MPSABC retrenchments must be dealt with, with empathy and respect for staff
DA Shadow Minister of Communications & Digital Technologies
074 462 1279

Consideration of Upgrading of Land Tenure Rights Amendment Bill:

Annette Steyn MPUpgraded Land Bill does not correct injustices of the past
DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
082 323 0027

Thandeka Mbabama MP – 30 years on, the Land Tenure Rights Act has not done enough to meet expectations
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
073 050 9467

DA Speeches: Debate on 16 Days of Activism for no-violence against women and children

The following speeches will be delivered in Parliament on Tuesday, 24 November at the Debate on 16 Days of Activism for no-violence against women and children. 

Nazley Sharif MPWe must all stand against the oppression of the LGBTIQA+ community
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities
079 875 4930

Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MPWe need 365 days of Activism from all men in SA
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology
063 795 7519

Alexandra Abrahams MPEnding GBVF requires a whole government approach
DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development
082 335 7740

DA Speeches: NCOP Debate on Provincial Week

The following speeches were delivered during the NCOP’s debate on Provincial Week.

Dennis Ryder MP – Provincial week in Gauteng was a failure
DA Member of the NCOP
072 642 8344

Mlindi Nhanha MP – The deteriorating state of affairs in Nelson Mandela Bay, a grave concern
DA Member of the NCOP
067 971 9128

Carin Visser MP – Dilapidated municipalities the fruit of government’s greed and corruption
DA Member of the NCOP
083 442 5409

While Ramaphosa sits on his hands, DA charges bring down rotten Magashule

After years of fighting for justice for the people of the Free State, the DA is delighted to hear of the warrant of arrest that was today issued for ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, in connection to the R255 million asbestos audit contract.

It was the DA’s Member of the Free State Provincial Legislature, Leona Kleynhans, who has pursued this case relentlessly since 2015, eventually culminating in the laying of charges against Magashule in May this year, which has ensured that Magashule finally be brought to book.

This is a win for the DA, but more importantly, this is a win for South Africa. It is high time that corrupt ANC cadres face the full might of the law and are jailed for their treasonous corruption which continues to steal from the poor and re-enrich the party’s elite.

It is highly unfortunate that this warrant of arrest has come about as a direct result of the actions of the DA, and not President Ramaphosa himself, who has made a number of commitments to dealing decisively with corruption in his party to no avail.

The facts of this case have been known to the public, and the ANC, since the publication of the book “Gangster State” by author and corruption whistle blower Pieter-Louis Myburgh in March last year. It is unintelligible that the ANC has, after almost two years since the book’s publication, done absolutely nothing to act on one of its own in the face of damning corruption allegations.

It is indeed very telling that the first high-profile ANC arrest has been made because of the actions of the DA. With the facts staring him directly in the face, Ramaphosa still remained silent, sat on his hands, and did nothing. Ramaphosa’s claims to be a corruption-fighter are a complete and utter farce.

It is blatantly evident that justice for our country remains the responsibility of the DA, and we remain committed to rooting out the lecherous corruption committed by the ANC and its cadres which continues to ravage our country.

I want to remind South Africans that we will not stop until every last corrupt ANC cadre and politician is placed behind bars. Our country deserves nothing less.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.