Ramaphosa must report back to Parliament within 14 days on Bosasa’s R3 million “donation” to the ANC

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s undertaking in Parliament today to consider a letter showing the ANC received a R3 million “donation” from Bosasa in March 2014.

This follows my disclosure of a letter in the House today from then ANC Treasurer-General, Zweli Mkhize, thanking Bosasa for this “donation” to the ANC. The letter expresses ‘sincere appreciation and gratitude for the R3 million and continued financial support and contributions rendered to the ANC.’

The President requested time to consider and reflect upon the letter and its contents, and to report back to Parliament in due course. In the interests of transparency and accountability, the President must respond to Parliament in writing within 14 days as to:

  • Whether as ANC Deputy President at the time, he was aware of the donation; and
  • Whether he will instruct the ANC to pay back every cent of money received from Bosasa over the past 15 years.

We cannot ignore the fact that Bosasa is a company that has been bribing ANC politicians for the last two decades. A 2009 SIU report found an improper and corrupt relationship between government officials and Bosasa. It appears that the ANC may be in the possession of the proceeds of unlawful activities which is an offense in terms of section 6 of the Prevention of Organised Crime (POCA) Act 121 of 1998.

Bosasa contracts with the ANC government total over R12 billion. This is corruption 101 and follows the standard ANC triangle of corruption: the ANC-in-government gives lucrative tenders to connected cronies who bribe officials, which in return funds the ANC.

In addition, President Ramaphosa received a R500 000 “donation” from Bosasa towards his CR17 campaign. Subsequent to that, his son Andile has secured lucrative deals with Bosasa to the value of at least R2 million.

The people of South Africa must know that this system of corruption has become part of the very fabric of the ANC – regardless of who leads the organisation. It’s time to break this system of corruption once and for all.

DA Leader Maimane submits urgent question to President Ramaphosa on “CR17” payments to at least four Cabinet Ministers

I have today written to the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Thandi Modise, requesting that an urgent oral question to the President be added to Thursday’s Order Paper, in terms of Rule 141 of the National Assembly Rules.

When President Ramaphosa appears in Parliament to answer questions on tomorrow, I will look to ask him the following question:

Whether the appointments of Ms K P S Ntshavheni to the position of Minister of Small Business Development, Ms R T Siweya to the position of Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Mr F Mbalula to the position of Minister of Transport and Mr Z Kodwa to the position of Deputy Minister of State Security were informed in any way by the fact that both worked for, and received payment from his CR17 campaign?

This follows recent reports that the “CR17” campaign – set up to elect Cyril Ramaphosa as President of the ANC – made payments to at least four individuals who later become Ministers in Ramaphosa’s Executive.

The Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Thembi Siweya, Minister of Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, and Deputy Minister of State Security, Zizi Kodwa, received a combined R7 million in payments from the “CR17” campaign – allegedly for work done to see Ramaphosa elected ANC president.

This raises great concern as to whether President Ramaphosa acted impartially and rationally when he appointed such individuals, and wasn’t repaying them for work done in the bid to get him elected.

In the matter of The President of the RSA v DA & others (664/17) [2018] ZASCA 79, the court was clear in its assertion that an executive decision must be rational and as such, the President must be able to supply rational reasons for the appointment of members of his Cabinet.

Therefore, the President needs to use his first oral question session for the 6th Parliament to clarify to the people of South Africa and unequivocally state whether these individuals’ payment for work on his campaign is related – in any way whatsoever – to his decision to appointment them as ministers.

Honour the victims of Marikana by reforming mining in SA, Mr Ramaphosa

Tomorrow, seven years ago, 34 mineworkers and breadwinners were gunned down by the South African Police Service (SAPS) acting on the direction of senior politicians and government officials. Today we remember those who lost their lives and honour their legacy. These men bravely stood up and protested against what they believed were unjust wages and inhumane living conditions. Instead of being met by meaningful engagement, they were met by live rounds of ammunition from a government far removed from the realities and struggles of daily life in South Africa. This will always be a tragedy that will haunt our nation.

We must honour these brave men, and ensure they are never forgotten. I have again today, as I did last year, written to President Cyril Ramaphosa – a central figure in this massacre – requesting that he officially declares 16 August “Marikana Memorial Day” in honour of the workers killed seven years ago. Given President Ramaphosa’s pledge to “play whatever role he can”, this is the very least he can do to honour the victims of this massacre.

In addition to this, today is not only about justice for the 34 miners who were killed by the ANC government on that fateful day, but the over 500 000 South Africans who work directly for the mines. With at least as many working in associated industries, the mining industry is responsible for approximately 1 million jobs in South Africa and faces profound stress with continual job losses. The mining sector is integral to our economy and is in desperate need of profound reform.

In this light I have also approached President Ramaphosa requesting the establishment of a Mining Task Team in order to oversee much needed reform in the sector. This Task Team ought to compromise of government officials, opposition parties in Parliament, industry experts, union representatives, and representatives from all major mining companies in South Africa. The Task Team must focus on the following:

  • Promoting the mining industry as a key catalyst for investment and exports both locally and internationally;
  • Exploring new evidence-based, safe and sustainable mining options, including offshore oil and gas fracking;
  • Ending illegal mining by increasing competition and opening up the formal mining economy to more players;
  • Exploring the role of local governments in building safer housing communities in mining towns;
  • Reviewing the current Mining Charter; and
  • Drafting proposals on how best to ensure just and meaningful profit sharing exists between mining companies and miners.

Lastly, we must ensure accountability is pursued. Many of the key players involved in the massacre walk free today. Then Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, and former Police Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, have never been prosecuted with Mthethwa still serving in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet. The ANCs culture of zero accountability continues unabated under President Ramaphosa.

The conditions that enabled the Marikana massacre to occur still exist today. President Ramaphosa has the power to honour the victims of Marikana by pursuing the reform of our nation’s mining sector. The time for talk is over, the people of South Africa want action.

DA to table “economic recovery plan” in Parliament’s upcoming debate on SA’s unemployment crisis

The DA welcomes the decision by the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Thandi Modise, to grant my request for an urgent debate of public importance on South Africa’s jobs crisis. The DA will use Parliament’s debate of national importance on the jobs crisis to table our “Economic Recovery Plan” – a comprehensive package of reform interventions that are unashamedly pro-growth, pro-investment, and pro-job creation.

This “Economic Recovery Plan” will include the following proposals, among others:

  • Splitting Eskom into two separate entities while allowing IPPs to come on board by passing the ISMO Bill;
  • Rejecting the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill that threatens to collapse our health sector;
  • Immediately placing SAA under business rescue;
  • Beginning the rollout of a Voluntary Civil Service Year for young people;
  • Cutting the Public Sector Wage Bill; and
  • Creating an enabling environment for job creation by freeing up micro enterprise and relaxing labour legislation.

Our country’s economy is in a dire state and on the verge of passing the point of no return – which we may never fully recover from. Urgency is now more vital than ever, and I implore Parliament’s programming committee to set a date for this debate at the soonest available opportunity.

The ANC government has made history again – albeit for the wrong reasons – as the number of South Africans without a job has now crossed the dreaded 10 million threshold, with an expanded unemployment rate of 38.5%. Despite longwinded promises of reform from Mr Ramaphosa, we have seen no noticeable improvement in the economy, the unemployment rate, and the living conditions of ordinary South Africans.

Instead, since Mr Ramaphosa assumed the Presidency, 746 000 more South Africans have joined the ranks of the unemployed. Ramaphosa appears to either have no plan to fix this crisis, or no power to do so within his own party. We cannot continue along this path any longer, we need urgent and wholescale reform.

In the two weeks since the StatsSA confirmed that 10.2 million South Africans are now without a job, neither the President nor the ANC government has taken action and put forward a concrete plan. Two weeks ago I therefore also wrote to the President to establish an economic crisis recovery plan with relevant government stakeholders and political parties to reform the economy, Eskom and stem the jobs losses. I am yet to hear back from the President.

Parliament must now rise to the occasion and play its part during this leadership vacuum. The debate will need to address unsustainable levels of government spending; how to stop runaway bailouts to mismanaged SOEs such as Eskom; the size and growth of the Public Sector wage bill; and how to stimulate both local and foreign investment. Investors have lost all confidence in this government and are selling South African assets at an unprecedented rate. If we fail to stop this trend we will soon be staring down the barrel of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.

South Africa is fast running out of time. In order to avoid economic collapse, we need a clear, concrete plan for urgent reform. The DA will table such a plan during this debate, and will work hard to gain support for this plan across party lines.

Only the DA can manage the real problems South Africa faces. The DA’s governance track record speaks for itself. Where we govern, we govern well, get stuff done and have a solid agenda with workable solutions. Our approach to the economy is no different.

DA seeks urgent legal opinion on Constitutionality of crippling NHI Bill

Introduction

Last week, the world learnt that former Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, has spent the past four months in Singapore receiving continuous medical treatment. His successor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, revealed this was not Mugabe’s “regular” routine medical check-up in Singapore, but that Mugabe had been in Singapore for this extended period in order to receive medical treatment for an “undisclosed ailment”.

The man who ran Zimbabwe for close on 40 years does not receive medical treatment in his home nation. Instead, he seeks out quality medical treatment beyond Zimbabwean borders – an indictment on the country’s healthcare system and the quality thereof.

This act of “medical tourism” is not a Zimbabwean anomaly. Former Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos regularly travels to Spain for treatment; Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari receives medical treatment in England; and Patrice Talon, the President of the Republic of Benin, recently underwent surgery in France.

Even our own Deputy President, David Mabuza, has received medical treatment in Russia. There is a clear pattern here.

Many liberation movements in government tasked with providing free, quality healthcare for all citizens have fallen short, and there exists little incentive to improve the quality of healthcare. At the drop of a hat – and using taxpayers’ money – politicians are jetted off to foreign countries to receive quality healthcare which their fellow countryman can only dream of.

It is within this context of elitism and vast inequality that we ought to consider the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which was tabled in Parliament just five days ago by Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize.

Globally, countries are moving towards the provision of universal healthcare. It is without doubt that South Africa needs to follow suit. There still exists “two South Africa’s”, one with access to quality private healthcare, and one with access to substandard, public healthcare. This needs to be rectified through progressive legislation that will not break both the health system and the economy.

The Constitution provides basic free healthcare for all those within South Africa who do not have any form of medical aid/medical insurance. Any person, regardless of citizenship, is entitled to free basic healthcare. At present, this costs approximately R222 billion per year, servicing over 80% of SA’s population. South Africa – like many other countries across the globe – provides free access to basic healthcare for all its citizens.  However, it is the quality of the healthcare received by the majority of South Africans that is of pressing concern.

This reality has ushered in a fresh discussion on healthcare in the form of the NHI – one which seeks to hand government unfettered power in order for them to be the sole health provider in the country.

At its very core, the NHI Bill seeks to fundamentally alter healthcare policy in South Africa by creating a State-Owned Entity (SOE) to consolidate all funds within the public and private health system. This is the nationalisation of all healthcare in SA. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize himself admitted that medical aids will most likely cease to exist under NHI.

It is our view that in its current form, the NHI Bill will not bring about universal healthcare but will consolidate power, cripple the private health sector and collapse our economy. At a conservative estimated cost of over R250 billion, the NHI is to the health sector what Zuma’s nuclear deal would have been to the energy sector.

The ANC seems to think that in order to fix state hospitals, private sector healthcare needs to be destroyed. Instead of focusing attention on fixing the current condition of our public healthcare system, the ANC government has introduced a scapegoating piece of legislation in the form of the NHI.

And it is not just limited to healthcare. There has been an intensified assault on our Constitution, and on individual rights, choice and freedom by the current government in an attempt to cover up its own endless list of failings. From property and land rights to the independence of the Reserve Bank, these are the last kicks of a dying horse that is hellbent on outsourcing responsibility for its own failures.

It is our view that the role of national government ought to be this: radically improve public healthcare – which is free at the point of entry – while strengthening private healthcare by increasing competition within the sector. Ultimately, the public health system needs to be at the same level of standard as the private healthcare system currently is. South Africans cannot afford a situation where it is simply a race to the bottom and their lives do not materially improve.

However, the NHI Bill will not achieve any of this.

Urgent Legal Opinion

After careful consideration of the Bill, we are not satisfied that it will pass constitutional muster and will therefore be requesting Parliament to seek a comprehensive legal opinion as to the constitutionality of the Bill in its current form – particularly in terms of Schedule 4 of the Constitution.

I have today written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Thandi Modise, urgently requesting that on behalf of Parliament she instructs the Parliamentary Legal Services to obtain a legal opinion on the Bill well before it appears before the Health Committee and eventually the House.

Schedule 4, Part A of the Constitution sets out the functional areas of concurrent national and provincial legislative competence. That is, areas where decision making is split between national and provincial spheres of government.

“Health services” is an entry under this part, which means that both national and provincial legislatures share the competency to make legislation in respect of matters relating to health care. The key word here is “concurrent”.

It appears that the NHI Bill proposes a system that provinces will not be able to opt out of. “Health services”, as defined, will be bought and determined at national level, with the Minister of Health effectively becoming the single authority over the health sector in the country.

On face value, it appears that the Bill actively seeks to curtail this constitutionally granted shared power between national and provincial spheres of government, and we believe that the Bill and the system that it proposes is overly intrusive on the constitutionally enshrined rights of provincial legislatures to also legislate on matters relating to healthcare.

It is this possible constitutional breach which Parliament must probe and must begin by obtaining a legal opinion. If we fail to do so, the Bill may spend years in the courts – sapping public funds while South Africans remain trapped without quality healthcare.

Analysing the NHI Bill

The DA has done a comprehensive analysis of the NHI Bill and highlighted the aspects of the Bill which are catastrophic, not just for the health system but for the economy at large.

Should this Bill be passed in its current form, all South Africans will be the main causalities of this system. There are deep inequalities in the system. 84% of South Africans are dependent on an ailing health system with only 16% of our people who can afford private medical care.

The broader inequalities of insiders and outsiders in this country play themselves out painfully within the health system. In line with global trends, South Africa must move towards Universal Healthcare – however not in the form of NHI.

The greatest tragedy of this Bill is that it will not in any way achieve universal healthcare for South Africa. Instead, it is bound to destroy the health system as we know it by fragmenting it, eroding provincial powers, centralizing and nationalizing healthcare, and establishing a multi-billion rand SOE that will be in the hands of the politically connected few.

The DA is opposed to the following aspects of the draft Bill:

  1. The establishment of The National Health Insurance Fund as a public entity or State-Owned- Enterprise – the Bill explicitly states that the fund will operate as a public entity which will be constituted by the pooling of funds both from the public and private sector. The Minister has sole discretionary powers over this fund. In addition, the board which is appointed by the Minister, will be tasked with overseeing this fund, leaving very little room for adequate checks and balances. In addition, the Bill makes provision for investigative powers in cases of corruption and maladministration within the National NHI Fund Office , and not through any independent body. This fund will serve as just another SOE vulnerable to grand corruption at the expense of the nation’s entire health system.
  2. The nationalization of healthcare and clear erosion of provincial powers – the Bill completely centralizes the provision of healthcare by placing the management of all central hospitals under the national department. This is, in our view, is the undermining of provincial powers as enshrined in the National Healthcare Act of 2003. In practice, the equitable share of funds to provincial departments will directly finance the fund, meaning poorer health outcomes for ordinary South Africans. Provincial departments are already stretched in terms of the healthcare services they are required to rollout, and a reduction in their equitable share will be disastrous for the actual delivery of healthcare. Provinces are at the coalface of the delivery of health services and must be given more funds to improve public health care, not less.
  3. Fragmentation of the health system Currently, the health system is premised on an all-encompassing referral system, from community health workers who form part of the primary health system right through to tertiary hospitals. The Bill seeks to change this by having tertiary hospitals under the management of the national department. This will lead to a complete breakdown in the system, and ordinary South Africans will not be able to hold provincial departments to account for poor outcomes. In addition, the referral system that is prescribed by the Bill, will slow down the provision of emergency care. According to the legislation patients would need to follow a cumbersome and bureaucratic referral path before being seen by a specialist. This will curtail the powers of all medical healthcare professionals who can easily identify emergency cases that need urgent attention. Fragmenting the health system will bring normal functioning systems to a grinding halt, and take power and decision making further away from people, not closer to them.
  4. The additional tax burden that will be imposed on South Africans – The financing model of this Bill will mean the removal of the tax credit benefit afforded to medical aid clients while imposing a new tax on ordinary South Africans to fund this new SOE. Ordinary South Africans have been squeezed dry by government and cannot be subjected to yet another tax.
  5. The complete removal of choice for South Africans – this Bill removes the autonomy of South Africans to choose their own healthcare. It mandates the national department of health as the sole provider of healthcare in the country while all private healthcare providers will be contracted by the state. This means that there is absolutely no choice for people on which services to purchase, nor will there ever be competition to drive up the quality of healthcare. Medical aids will cease to be useful as the model makes the state the only provider of healthcare in the country. Considering that the ANC government will be the sole medical service provider in the country, medical aid companies will also have to contend with payment from the state. Currently, the ANC government is battling with upholding the 30-day rule of paying service providers and this problem will only be compounded. This was clearly demonstrated at each and every NHI Pilot Project where payments were never made on time and private GPs simply pulled out of the system. This will, no doubt, lead to massive brain drain and erosion of talent in our health system. Doctors and health professionals will seek opportunity beyond our borders.

The DA’s Sizani Universal Healthcare Plan

In contrast to the NHI, the DA’s Sizani Universal Healthcare Plan will ensure all South Africans are provided with quality healthcare, without crippling the economy.

The DA plan would ensure the following:

  1. It will be funded through the current budget envelop which includes the tax benefit currently afforded to medical aid clients;
  2. It would strengthen the role of primary healthcare in many communities;
  3. It would invest heavily in the provision of maternal and child health services, and the training and provision of healthcare professionals;
  4. It would reinforce the powers of provinces by ensuring they are adequately funded and equipped to provide quality healthcare to all;
  5. Through these interventions, all South Africans would have access to a quality health system that provides them with a standard package of care across all facilities;
  6. Medical aid companies would be used as a top up measure for those South Africans who choose to use them and who can afford to do so;
  7. Ultimately this system would increase competition, drive up quality, and afford every South African the choice of which medical provider they wish to use.

The DA team on health will spend the next 100 days driving support for the DA’s alternative plan. We will demand that Parliament rolls out an extensive public participation process in the form of public hearings and submissions across all 9 provinces.

Ultimately, this Bill has far reaching consequences for each and every South African. It is key that public and civil society input is taken on board. It is telling that the majority of inputs made in the last version of the Bill have not been taken on board and there are very few changes which have been made to the current Bill as a result.

We cannot allow Parliament to be a rubber-stamp station for problematic pieces of legislation. We will also be engaging with various civil society organisations, health interest groups and health providers to implore them to make inputs to this Bill in order for there to be material changes.

Western Cape Successes in Healthcare

Despite the widespread failures of SA’s current public healthcare system under ANC rule, the DA-run Western Cape has increased the quality and the accessibility of quality healthcare across the province. This has been achieved by combining innovative healthcare solutions with clean, corrupt free governance which ensures every cent is spent on services.

Today the average life expectancy in the Western Cape is the highest in the country. Since 2009, life expectancy in women has increased from 64 to 72 years of age, with an increase from 59 to 66 years of age in men.

In terms of access to healthcare, at 91.5%, the Western Cape has the highest percentage of households living with 30 minutes of the nearest health facility.  The province has introduced its own rural pick-up service, which transports over 150 000 patients to their nearest healthcare facility each year.

Since 2009, the DA-run Western Cape has spent R6 billion on health services, including capital unfractured and maintenance. This includes new multi-million-rand district hospitals in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain, as well as:

  • 10 emergency centres upgraded or replaced;
  • 14 new primary healthcare facilities completed; and
  • 11 new ambulance stations built.

The introduction of the innovative School Wellness Mobile Service in 2014 has seen over 400 000 learners across the province benefit from treatment following over 3000 school visits.

The Western Cape is the only province in the country to have digitised patient records in public healthcare. The eVision for healthcare now has over 13 million patient records, accessible from over 300 healthcare facilities in the province.

In addition to this, DA-led cities such as Johannesburg have broadened access to healthcare by introducing mobile clinics in areas of dire need, as well as extending operating hours of clinics.

Conclusion

The inequalities of the current health system can be rectified but this would require commitment to growing the economy, partnership with the private sector, strengthening the powers and functions of provincial departments and rolling out Universal Health Care within the current budget envelope. South Africa cannot afford NHI.

NHI will not be able to improve the lives of our people. The DA is prepared to fight this Bill all the way to the Constitutional Court should the need arise.

DA Leader Maimane pays tribute to South African women on Women’s Day

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA) I would like to pay tribute to all the women in our nation and wish them a very special Women’s Day. We dare never forget as a country the contribution that women made to the struggle for freedom.

The DA also recognises that 25 years into democracy, women remain worst affected by poverty, violence and abuse. This is why the party’s Women’s Day celebrations throughout the country today will be dedicated to the fight against gender based violence and an improvement in policing to make sure that we abolish violent crimes against women.

Let us build economic models that ensure that more woman are able to participate in the work space. There must be an equal payment for the work that woman do as per their male counterparts.

Our society will face technological developments, climate change and will require a new way of managing healthcare. It’s critical that we make these transitions into the future so that our country becomes more inclusive with our young girls able to code, participate in the green economy and ultimately be benefactors of quality healthcare.

Let’s build a society where woman are safe, prosperous and leaders in our society.

DA Leader Maimane implores President Ramaphosa to establish economic crisis recovery plan

Almost 24 hours have now passed since yesterday’s devastating news of double blows to our economy, and President Ramaphosa has done nothing to address the nation or provide leadership at this time.

Yesterday was indeed a dark day for South Africa, with the unemployment figures released by Stats SA for the second quarter showing that for the first time in democratic South Africa as many as 10.2 million people do not have a job or have given up looking for a job in South Africa, with the expanded unemployment rate climbing to 38.5%. This is symptomatic of an all-out economic crisis.

The second blow, later yesterday, was the announcement that Eskom had recorded a R20,7 billion loss this past year, after tax. This is a loss that will be paid directly from the pockets of South Africans, commandeering public money from where it is desperately needed to uplift the poor and vulnerable, and bailing out Eskom instead.

That is why yesterday I wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to call for an urgent debate of national importance on the unemployment crisis in South Africa. I acted immediately yesterday, but the President of our Republic has remained silent, and is nowhere to be seen or heard on this crisis.

I will therefore be writing to the President to establish an economic crisis recovery plan with relevant government stakeholders and political parties to reform the economy, Eskom and stem the jobs losses. Both South Africans, and potential investors, need to hear this certainty at this time.

The country expects leadership from its President, and urgent action to reform our State Owned Enterprises. The DA position is that the President must announce the splitting up of beleaguered Eskom into two, selling off SAA and non-essential assets at the SABC and reforming our labour laws by slashing red tape to allow more businesses to create jobs and replacing the national minimum wage with a sectoral minimum wage. Investors will not invest if they do not feel safe and we therefore need to devolve the powers of our police and rail services to provincial governments to ensure that South Africans have a safe and efficient work commute.

What I want to offer to President Ramaphosa is that solutions to save our economy are available, based on interventions that have already worked in governments across South Africa where the DA governs. The President needs to enable governments that are achieving growth against all economic odds to inform a national strategy around what local economies are doing best.

The lowest expanded unemployment rate in the country of 23.8% remains in the DA-led Western Cape against the National average of 38.5%. In his first 100 days in office Premier Winde has already launched a ‘jobs war room’ to create an enabling environment for businesses to grow and investors to invest safely.

Where President Ramaphosa is acting in the interest of the people of South Africa, the DA will work with him. Partisanship needs to be set aside as we implore the President not to waste another day, meet with relevant government stakeholders and political parties and come and see what works where we govern.

South Africa is in an economic crisis and the President must work with all levels of government to grow the economy and create jobs. The DA has tried and tested economic reform proposals to help the economy bounce back from this crisis and I look forward to working with the President to building economies, lowering unemployment, creating jobs and attracting investment where we govern.

Officially more than 10 million jobless South Africans

Today’s release of unemployment figures by Stats SA for the second quarter of 2019 shows that there are now officially more than 10 million people unemployed people in South Africa, with an expanded unemployment rate of 38.5%. The unemployment crisis has now turned into an unemployment catastrophe, with no clear plan from the Ramaphosa government on how to get the economy growing.

One of the biggest risks to the economy remains the lack of reforms to Eskom. The President must urgently endorse the DA’s Jobs Act and table the reform plan for Eskom. Similarly I will today be writing to the Speaker  of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to call for an urgent debate of national importance on the jobs crisis in South Africa.

The truth is that unless President Ramaphosa scraps the investment-sapping and economy-killing policies that his government is pursuing, and replaces them with clear pro-growth policies, this crisis will not abate. Land expropriation, nationalised health, propping up failing state owned entities and other destructive ANC economic policies have run their course and it is time for an entirely new approach that is unashamedly pro-growth and investment.

The official unemployment rate increased by 1.4 percentage points from 27.6% in the first quarter of 2019 to 29.0% in the second quarter of 2019. This means that 232 000 more people are unemployed from the first quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2019.

This catastrophe highlights the fact that the ANC government has no plan for turning around the economy. There seems to be no will to bring about structural reform to boost economic growth and create jobs in South Africa.

The DA run Western Cape still has the lowest expanded unemployment rate in South Africa at 23.8% against the National average of 38.5%. South Africa is in dire need of a change and a plan to propel the economy into a new trajectory, to create an environment where businesses can grow and where investors can safely invest which Premier Winde’s ‘jobs war room’ is at the helm of achieving.

Quite simply we propose seven reforms that will lead to an inclusive and modern economy:

  1. Reform our SOEs by splitting up Eskom into two, opening the market to more IPPs and allowing well-running municipalities to but directly from IPPs, selling off SAA and non-essential assets at the SABC with a proper skills and salary audit under strict bailout conditions;
  2. Reform our education to introduce charter schools through public private partnerships in poor and rural communities less than 5km from homes thereby breaking the hold of SADTU and offering parents choice;
  3. Reform our healthcare by stopping the NHI and passing the DA’s Sizani Universal Health Plan to make quality healthcare available to all South Africans without breaking our national budget;
  4. Reform our labour legislation by relaxing our labour laws, cutting red tape to allow more businesses to create jobs, replacing our national minimum wage with a sectoral minimum wage and opt out clause for young work seekers while setting up a Jobs and Justice fund to invest in future economies;
  5. Reform capacity by building a capable state through trimming Cabinet to 15 Ministeries;
  6. Reform land by extending property ownership to millions of South Africans through speeding up delivery of urban and rural title deeds, while rejecting expropriation without compensation; and
  7. Reform police and rail functions by devolving the power of our police and rail services to provincial governments to keep South Africans safe and ensure that citizens have a safe and reliable commute to and from work.

529 days after his first election as President of the Republic, South Africa still faces profound economic challenges. It is high time President Ramaphosa and his cabinet roll up their sleeves and get some real work done by joining these efforts and work with all levels of government to grow the economy and create jobs.

I believe strongly that the DA has the plans and the reform proposals necessary to turn the ship around, and for the betterment of South Africa I want to offer these to President Ramaphosa. The DA builds local economies where we govern, we reduce unemployment and create jobs, and we attract investment.

These are outcomes our national economy needs too.

ANC governments have failed in every Free State municipality

The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, in Mangaung, Free State. Maimane was joined by DA Free State Leader, Patricia Kopane.

Our Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to have access to sufficient water. But this promise is only as good as the local government tasked with delivering the service. And here in the Free State, the standard of local government is as bad as you get.

In the last Auditor-General report, not one single Free State municipality received a clean audit. Towns across this province have been brought to their knees through sheer mismanagement and corruption, and the result is a widespread breakdown of service delivery.

Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu, described the situation in the Free State as “of critical concern”. He went on to say:

“The Free State local government environment displayed a total breakdown in internal controls as the province’s political and administrative leadership, yet again, exhibited no response to improve its accountability for financial and performance management… we doubt if there is political will to do the right thing for the right reason, mainly due to political interference to the detriment of good governance.”

But this state of affairs is hardly surprising when you consider that the ANC entrusted the Mayorship of Mangaung Metro to the very person who oversaw this municipal collapse. As MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Olly Mlamleli was responsible for the performance of these municipalities. She could not possibly have done a worse job, but instead of facing repercussions for this poor performance she was put in charge of the province’s biggest city and only metro.

That’s the way the ANC does things. That’s why the man who wrecked this province through state capture, Ace Magashule, is now the Secretary General of the ANC. Elsewhere, when you fail at your job or when you have committed acts of corruption, you are fired. In the ANC you get promoted.

Olly Mlamleli must be fired, if accountability means anything. It is an insult to the people of Mangaung to be saddled with her as their Mayor after her disastrous stint as COGTA MEC. Back then, she did nothing about the looting and negligence that all but collapsed service delivery in this province, and she is now doing the same to this Metro.

Coupled with this corruption and mismanagement is an inability or unwillingness by local governments to collect payment for services, leaving them with debt amounting to billions of Rands owed to both Eskom and the various water boards. One third of all municipal debt to Eskom is owed by Free State municipalities.

The municipality of Matjhabeng owes its water board a staggering R2.3 billion, to go with the R1.84 billion it owes Eskom. Here in Mangaung, Bloemwater claim that they are owed more than R400 million. But because the City only collects half the monthly amounts due, they simply fall further and further behind in their debt.

It has become so bad that large parts of the Metro – particularly in the South – regularly go without water for days at a time due to a combination of infrastructure neglect and non-payment. During the past 15 months the suburbs and townships in the South, along with towns like Dewetsdorp and Wepener, have gone for 40 days without water. That’s three days per month, every month.

What use is the guarantee of sufficient water in our Constitution, when the local government cannot make good on this promise?

To make matters worse, there is water infrastructure here in Mangaung that should be able to augment the city’s water supply. This reservoir here was completed four years ago at a cost of R35 million by the Mangaung Metro. But in all the time since then it still hasn’t been connected to the water supply network. It has stood here on this hill since 2015 like a giant white elephant – a constant reminder of a government that simply does not care.

The City has the ability to pump water from here in the North to the areas so often affected by water cuts in the South, but in four years it has not managed to link this reservoir to the grid. And so the people in the South must go without water every month, sometimes for days on end.

And this is what you will find right across this province. There is not one town in the Free State that is not affected by water cuts.

This is not acceptable in our modern democracy, but nothing will change until government is held accountable and, where necessary, prosecuted for the corruption that caused this breakdown. To date, no such prosecutions have been forthcoming. Every time it looks like something might happen, the charges are dropped by the NPA and nothing happens.

We saw this in the well-publicised Estina Dairy Project in Vrede, where all charges were dropped and no one was held accountable for the grand corruption practiced there. And we saw it in the case of MEC Mathabo Leeto, who has been linked to a R2 million bribe while at Matjhabeng municipality, but has had her charges repeatedly dropped, reinstated and then dropped again.

If we want to turn a province like the Free State around, then we are going to have to get tough on corruption and follow through with prosecutions – even when these prosecutions are politically risky.

This is a good place for our new National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shamila Batohi, to start cleaning things up. Here in the Free State she will find enough corruption to keep her busy for a long time. Millions of people in this province are desperate for a better life, but are still waiting for the basic services promised to them in our Constitution.

This budget takes from the services the poor needs to fund the costs incurred by state capture

The following speech was delivered in Parliament’s Appropriation Bill Debate.

Parliament has a duty to actually engage with the budgets it is asked to pass by the Executive.

It is not a rubber stamp.

If we are concerned about the size of the national debt, we have the power to change it.

If we are concerned about cuts to basic services, we have the power to change it.

Parliament has not taken this responsibility seriously this year. It has rushed through the budget votes, and held only one day of public hearings.

We have spent a month on this budget, 34 budget debates and 32 committee meetings. We’ve collectively spent at least 160 hours debating this budget. In all of this Parliament has not come up with a single amendment. Not one.

After all of that, our collective position is that we agree with every Rand of the Executive’s budget proposals.

This is not the work of an active Parliament. It is the work of a rubber stamp.

“Bail out Budget”

So today we are being asked to pass a “bail out budget” that includes deep cuts to basic services for the poor, in order to fund another bailout for Eskom.

Where is it coming from?

When the ANC votes ‘yes’ to this budget, they will be voting ‘yes’ to:

  • a R2.4 billion cut from public transport for the poor, to bailout Eskom
  • a R1.3 billion cut from Social Development, including cuts to the number of social workers, to bailout Eskom
  • a R918 m cut from the municipal infrastructure grant, to bailout Eskom
  • a R686 m cut from Health, to bailout Eskom
  • a R312 m cut from Police, to bailout Eskom
  • a R300 m cut from Housing, to bailout Eskom

Next time you hear the ANC speak about its care for the poor, or even its commitment to a developmental state, just read this ‘bailout budget’ and see what a lie it is.

Nearly every basic service on which the poor rely will be cut to fund this bailout budget.

The DA’s Amendments

The ANC in the Appropriations Committee also rejected the amendments offered by the DA, to redirect money from wasteful and unnecessary programmes back to basic services.

We proposed 8 amendments, all of which were budget neutral.

  • We proposed an extra R2 billion for the Police budget, including an additional R200 m allocation to IPID to help fight corruption in the police and build an honest, professional police service; an extra R500 m to the Visible Policing budget for rural policing; and R1.3 billion to the training of Specialised Units within the SAPS. The ANC rejected these amendments.
  • We proposed a R1.5 billion allocation for Basic Education to fund specialisation schools teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The ANC rejected this amendment.
  • We proposed a R1.5 billion allocation in the Labour vote, with a dedicated fund to re-skill workers who lose jobs in the mining sector. The ANC rejected this amendment.
  • We proposed an additional R3.4 billion allocation to the Department of Health, including a dedicated R450 m fund towards a mental health programme to ensure that the horror of the Life Esidimeni tragedy is never repeated again. The ANC rejected this amendment.
  • We proposed a R3 billion allocation for desperately needed equipment in hospitals. This would include incubators for new born babies, radiotherapy machines for cancer patients, and other essential health equipment. The ANC rejected this amendment.

That is the truth of this budget. It is a budget which takes directly from the services the poor needs most, to fund the costs and the debts incurred by state capture at Eskom.

It is a bailout budget, with the poor doing all of the bailing out. This budget should be rejected.