Be our President for once, and end the lockdown

Please find attached soundbite from John Steenhuisen MP.

The State of Disaster – already extended – comes to an end in less than 24 hours, and there is no clarity at all on what happens next. This is unacceptable. The stranglehold this places on our country goes way beyond the immediate damaging effects of the regulations enforced under the State of Disaster, because it is the uncertainty that inflicts the most damage. Millions of livelihoods are in peril as thousands of businesses cannot plan for the immediate future, and every day more and more of them are taking the heart-breaking decision to close their doors.

Where is President Ramaphosa in all of this? How can it be that a country’s leader goes missing in the midst of its biggest crisis? We know he’s around, because he can find the time to make Women’s Day addresses or pen platitude-filled newsletters about a fantasy future, which we know will never happen under his government. But as far as making critical and urgent decisions right now to save our economy, which is fast collapsing thanks to a self-inflicted lockdown crisis, he is nowhere to be seen.

It is crystal clear what President Ramaphosa should do: Grow a spine and end the lockdown immediately and entirely. There can be no more talk of levels that don’t serve any purpose whatsoever other than to obliterate what’s left of the economy and jobs. There can be no more bowing to narrow interest groups or the agendas of ANC factions. The lockdown must be ended right away, and along with this the irrational bans on alcohol and cigarettes as well as the curfew and travel restrictions must be lifted. And there can certainly be no consideration to extend the State of Disaster.

This is not the view of the DA or business or any specific interest group. It is the widely held view of the vast majority of our society, including government’s own political allies and its own scientific advisors. Just this week, both Cosatu and Nedlac urged the President to end a lockdown that cannot be justified. The scientists on the Ministerial Advisory Committee have long said that the lockdown should be lifted. We welcome this support for a view the DA has held ever since the initial three weeks of lockdown came to an end, and we urge the President to listen to these voices.

The virus will still be around a year, or even two, from now. We cannot remain trapped by indecision and ego until then. We must be smart when it comes to reducing the risk of transmission through masks, hygiene, distancing and ongoing testing, but we have to get out there now and rebuild our shattered economy.

Every day that the president dithers, our country is one step closer to economic ruin. Already we have lost more revenue thanks to the inexplicable ban on alcohol and tobacco than we borrowed, amid great fanfare, from the IMF. What is the point of that then? Our economy is estimated to have lost over a trillion Rand already due to this extended lockdown, and any positive outcome that might have followed the president’s much vaunted investment plans has certainly fizzled away as his government committed economic hara-kiri.

The truth is, this extended lockdown could never be justified, and President Ramaphosa knows this. But he and the ANC have painted themselves into a corner, because ending it now – without any significant increases in the country’s healthcare capacity, without any significant advances in our testing strategy and without any sign that we have contained the virus – would be an admission that it was all for nothing. And so it seems he would rather crush the economy and ruin the lives of millions than say “we got it wrong” and bring it to an end.

South Africa needs him to do the right thing for once: Act like a president, find some courage, face down the factions in his own party and end the lockdown immediately.

Time to end hard lockdown

Please find attached soundbite from John Steenhuisen MP.

The DA calls on President Ramaphosa to end the hard lockdown now, including the irrational bans on tobacco and alcohol. The tourism industry, schools, and borders need to be fully opened, the curfew lifted, and the state of disaster ended. It is high time for Ramaphosa to grow a spine, stand up to his party and start putting South Africa first.

South Africa’s daily Covid-19 infection rate is declining, taking pressure off our public health system. At the same time, our recovery rate has increased significantly. While this is no reason to drop our guard, it is reason enough to fully open our economy. This must happen immediately.

There is general agreement that a second wave is unlikely but not impossible. Either way, we cannot hide from this virus forever while our lives and livelihoods fall apart. We need to learn to live with it, since it will still be with us for many months, perhaps even years, to come.

While we should all continue to wear our masks and adhere to safety protocols, we need to pick up the pieces and start to rebuild our shattered economy, which has lost over a trillion rand and three million jobs to this long, irrational, secretive, brutally hard lockdown.

The DA has long called for the economy to be opened, with hard lockdown replaced by a well-resourced, coordinated testing strategy to suppress the epidemic. Instead, the ANC saw fit to slam the brakes on our economy, even as it kept its looting of the state in top gear.

Economists have estimated that an effective testing strategy would have cost around R20 billion per year, allowing us to adequately suppress the virus. Instead, our economy has lost over a trillion rand, thousands of lives have been destroyed, and millions of livelihoods, while the virus has spread uncontrolled in vulnerable communities.

The government’s rank failure to allocate the necessary resources and skills towards building testing capacity has cost South Africans dearly. This is the price of an incapable state, hollowed out and corrupted by years of cadre deployment, where political patronage guides state appointments, rather than any consideration of ability to serve the public.

South Africa never could afford more than a 3- to 5-week hard lockdown to prepare our hospitals, build testing capacity, drive awareness, and put in place the safety protocols needed to slow the spread. A capable, caring government could have bridged vulnerable households and business across that short divide, saving lives and livelihoods. Instead the ANC government opened up a wide chasm and allowed people and businesses to fall to their deaths.

South Africa’s economy was already in crisis before the virus arrived. Now national insolvency is all but guaranteed, while our economy lies in ruins and millions of people will suffer unnecessarily for years to come. Enough is enough. Let’s get back to work and start rebuilding.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Tackling Covid corruption requires action, not inter-ministerial window dressing

The inter-ministerial committee set up by President Ramaphosa to probe his own party’s Covid procurement corruption is, like every other inter-ministerial committee trotted out in the past, just window dressing to create the illusion of action. This toothless gathering of ANC cadres has no real capacity to investigate and prosecute those involved. But more importantly, it has no motivation to do so either.

Never, in 26 years of ANC government, has the ruling party ever found itself or its own members guilty of anything. It’s not going to start doing so now. This Covid corruption committee will go the same dead-end route as the inter-ministerial bodies that investigated Nkandla and the Gupta landing at Waterkloof, and ended up exonerating every high-ranking ANC cadre. It’s nothing but a whitewashing exercise.

South Africans are tired of these empty gestures and feeble attempts at placating them. They want to see action from the president. They want to see dirty cadres swap their luxury clothing brands and German SUVs for orange overalls and prison beds. But instead we have a spectator president whose best offer to the nation is more talk shops, platitude-filled newsletters and meaningless inter-ministerial committees.

Why is this committee centralised in the Presidency? How independent is it? Who will provide oversight over it? What real powers does it have? Could the President not ask Parliament to set up a committee empowered to deal with this corruption scourge?

The feeding frenzy over PPE procurement by ANC cadres and their families was entirely predictable to anyone who has ever seen the ANC government in action. Many, including the DA, warned of this at the start of the Covid crisis. For this reason the DA urged government over two months ago to put in place a meaningful deterrent. On the 25th of May the DA proposed to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni a Special Inspector-General to prevent the looting of Covid-19 relief funding.

The DA specifically proposed that the Special Inspector-General should have the power to:

  1. Summon information or assistance from any government department, agency, or other entity at National, Provincial or Local government level. Failure to disclose information within seven days will be regarded as a criminal offence;
  2. Direct departments to take immediate action to address deficiencies identified by a report or investigation of the Special Inspector General;
  3. Prevent the payment of any monies to, or recall moneys from any individual or entity where the Special Inspector-General finds deficiencies, non-adherence to processes, or potential abuse of power or corruption;
  4. Nullify the awarding of tenders and contracts where the Special Inspector-General finds deficiencies, non-adherence to processes, or potential abuse of power or corruption;
  5. Investigate the legitimacy of any eligible businesses receiving any state-backed Covid funding;
  6. Require an explanation of the reasons the State determined it to be appropriate to procure any goods or services for Covid relief, including a justification of the price paid for, and other financial terms associated with, the applicable transaction; and
  7. Prevent and/or terminate procurement where exorbitant pricing is detected.

To date, the president and his cabinet have refused to consider this proposal. The scale of the looting we have seen makes a mockery of his solemn vows back in March that Covid procurement corruption will not be tolerated, and that anyone implicated will face serious consequences.

Only the Western Cape government proactively published the details of all Covid-19 related expenditure. And only the Western Cape government conducted lifestyle audits of all its cabinet members. It is hardly surprising then that only the Western Cape has managed to put together an adequate healthcare response to safeguard its citizens.

That’s the kind of transparent and capable government our country needs to get through this crisis. But this will require a president who is prepared to act – even if this means acting against his own party.

We call on President Ramaphosa to abandon the empty window dressing of this inter-ministerial committee and focus instead on steps that have real power to stop corruption in its tracks and hold the guilty to account.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Budget Vote Speeches: Police and Small Business Development

The following budget speeches on Vote 28: Police and Vote 36: Small Business Development were delivered in Parliament.

Vote 28: Police

Andrew Whitfield MP –  Mr President, come out of hiding and address farm murders

DA Shadow Minister of Police

072 613 9265

Okkie Terblanche MP – SAPS transgressions no surprise when Rambo leads them

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Police

082 778 9259

Vote 36: Small Business Development

Zakhele Mbhele MP – Government’s irrational lockdown regulations, a sledgehammer that delivered a final blow to many businesses

DA Shadow Minister of Small Business Development

083 600 2349

Henro Kruger MP – Small Businesses in South Africa are on their knees, and the ANC couldn’t care less

DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Small Business Development

083 258 5734

Budget Vote Speeches: Social Development, Science and Innovation, and Trade and Industry

The following budget speeches on Vote 19: Social Development, Vote 35 : Science and Technology and Vote 39: Trade, Industry and Competition were delivered in Parliament.

Vote 19: Social Development

Bridget Masango MP – Lack of leadership and incompetence at the heart of DSD failure – not Covid-19
DA Shadow Minister of Social Development
082 761 2480

Alexandra Abrahams MP – The poor and the young are invisible to the ANC government
DA Member on the Portfolio Committee of Social Development
082 335 7740

Vote 35 : Science and Technology

Belinda Bozzoli MP – Where will the scientists come from next time there is a pandemic?
DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology
082 802 5110

Baxolile Nodada MP – ANC government’s corruption steals from the national system of science and innovation, human capital development and Postgraduates
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology
063 795 7519

Vote 39: Trade, Industry and Competition 

Dean Macpherson MP – Minister Patel is the nightmare that haunts South Africa
DA Shadow Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition 
083 776 0202

Mat Cuthbert MP – Ebrahim Patel – A Caretaker of Corruption?
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition 
072 267 7759

DA Budget Vote Speeches: Defence, Justice & Constitutional Development and Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

The following budget speeches on Vote 23: Defence, Vote 25: Justice and Constitutional Development and Vote 32: Environment, Forestry and Fisheries were delivered in Parliament.

Vote 23: Defence

Kobus Marais MPThis emergency budget will speed up the further deterioration of the SANDF
DA Shadow Minister of Defence
084 448 3838

Thomas Walters MPDefence budget falls short of the standard required to build a credible military
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Minister of Defence
082 521 3763

Vote 25: Justice and Constitutional Development

Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MPCitizens turned into criminals by draconian lockdown regulations
DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development
076 306 7850

Werner Horn MPMinister Lamola, what happened to your promise of being a guardian of the Constitution and Bill of Rights?
Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services
083 262 2846

Vote 32: Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

James Lorimer MPThere’s big money in fishing and big corruption
DA Shadow Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
083 677 6582

Hannah Shameema Winkler MPWe have one opportunity to save South Africa’s natural heritage
DA Shadow Deputy Minister Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries
082 644 2356

Annerie Weber MPANC Government not serious about protecting environment, mineral rights or private property
DA Member of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee for Environment, Fisheries and Forestry
079 893 6823

DA Budget Vote Speeches: Water and Sanitation, Health and Treasury

The following budget speeches on Vote 41: Water and Sanitation , Vote 18: Health and Vote 8: National Treasury were delivered in Parliament.

Vote 41: Water and Sanitation

Leon Basson MPMinister Sisulu has nothing to show after 421 days at the helm of Water and Sanitation
DA Shadow Minister Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation
082 446 6123

Vote 18: Health

Siviwe Gwarube MPWe need strong courageous leadership to overcome the pandemic 
DA Shadow Minister of Health
068 113 0835

Lindy Wilson MP– This health budget reads like a children’s bedtime story. Lots of villains and a few heroes
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Health
082 353 9648

Vote 8: National Treasury

Geordin Hill-Lewis MP – Has Minister Tito Mboweni given up?
DA Shadow Minister of Finance
072 320 1289

Dion George MP- We cannot allow pensioner’s money to be used to bankroll this broken government
DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Finance
082 459 9342

DA Budget Vote Speeches: Cooperative Governance and Tourism

The following budget speeches on Vote 3:  Cooperative Governance and Vote 38: Tourism were delivered in Parliament.

Vote 3:  Cooperative Governance

Haniff Hoosen MP – Pandemic has created a massive opportunity for corrupt officials and politicians to loot

DA Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
082 323 9296

Cilliers Brink MPThe 3 reasons municipalities fail and why the District Model won’t solve the problem

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs
067 407 9701

Vote 38: Tourism

Manny de Freitas MP – Tourism Minister doesn’t care that #JobsSavesLives

DA Shadow Minister of Tourism

082 788 6824

Hlanganani Gumbi MP – Jobs Saves Lives, Minister

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Tourism

076 288 8844

Greg Krumbock MP –  Government doesn’t understand that #JobsSavesLives

DA Member on the Portfolio Committee on Tourism

083 655 6628

DA Budget Vote Speeches: Home Affairs and Basic Education

The following budget speeches on Vote 5: Home Affairs and Vote 16: Basic Education were be delivered in Parliament.

Vote 5: Home Affairs

Angel Khanyile MP – Reopening of Home Affairs long past due
DA Shadow Minister of Home Affairs
061 042 9926

Adrian Roos MP – ANC’s choice very clear: Cadres before Lives, Cadres before Livelihoods
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Home Affairs
082 800 2880

Vote 16: Basic Education

Nomsa Marchesi MP – Covid-19 exposes the inequality of the South African education system
DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
082 824 0601

Desiree van der Walt MP – In South Africa the government prioritises bailing out SOEs instead of investing
in adequate classrooms
DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education
082 452 0444