Extension of state of disaster is a blatant power grab

CoGTA Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has once again extended the national state of disaster, which was set to expire today, justifying it with “the need to continue augmenting the existing legislation and contingency arrangements undertaken by organs of state to address the impact of the disaster”.

Let’s be clear. This is a blatant power grab. The state of disaster deliberately cuts out parliamentary oversight. It effectively allows government to run a dictatorship, making new laws that fundamentally effect people’s lives without having to consult Parliament.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the virus. SA has recently recorded around 10 Covid-19 deaths per day, in a country where average deaths per day from all causes is well over 1 200. Around 40 people die daily on SA’s roads, yet we do not give government extraordinary powers to shut down our road network.

This is rank opportunism by a party hellbent on controlling every aspect of people’s lives. It’s an anti-democratic move that will hamper our economic recovery by reducing investment certainty and by enabling a continuation of government’s irrational, ineffective lockdown restrictions. They are abusing the shortcomings of the Disaster Management Act, which the DA is challenging in court.

The real disaster in this country is the rampant poverty, unemployment and inequality that have ballooned due to our disaster of a state and its disastrous, prolonged lockdown.

Even the World Health Organisation has appealed to all world leaders to stop using lockdowns because “they just have one consequence… and that is making poor people a whole lot poorer”. They have caused a “terrible, ghastly global catastrophe” that will likely see a “doubling of world poverty by next year” and “at least a doubling of child malnutrition”.

SA’s lockdown has done far more harm than good. Financial services group Discovery estimates that 16 000 lives may have been saved from Covid-related deaths by the lockdown. That’s the sum total of lockdown benefits, which is far outweighed by the catastrophic social costs which include:

  • A significant expected increase in deaths to cancer, TB and other diseases due to disrupted access to screening, testing, vaccines etc.
  • A significant rise in depression and suicide rates.
  • 3 million job losses including over 300 000 domestic worker jobs.
  • Widespread hunger – a quarter of township households don’t have enough to eat.
  • The most disadvantaged groups (poor, rural, women, unskilled, less educated) have suffered most, with job losses 10 times higher for the poorest 50% of workers compared to the richest 25%.
  • 40% of school days will be lost for most children in 2020, with education inequality and school dropout rates inevitably increasing. ECD attendance levels are still down by 75%.
  • Massive curtailment of basic civil liberties.
  • Billions of rands of annual tax revenue foregone, which could have been used to deliver essential services and reduce poverty.

And these are only the immediate costs. Then there are the long-term costs, most notably an inevitable drop in life expectancy due to greater poverty and childhood stunting. Add to that the opportunity cost of the increased life expectancy that could have been achieved had lockdown not reduced annual tax revenue by billions of rands for the foreseeable future. There will inevitably be lives lost to increased violence that is the natural result of the social instability which arises from SA’s large and growing inequality. Let’s not fool ourselves, lockdown is the bigger killer.

And yet the ANC government, far from recognizing the catastrophic damage it has caused to people’s lives, wants to extend its powers to cause even more damage.

No one should accept this blatant power grab. Please join the DA in calling for a full end to the state of disaster and the lockdown, including by ending:

  • All restrictions on international travel, which continue to harm our already crippled tourism industry.
  • All restrictions on the trade of alcohol.
  • All restrictions on normal school operations.
  • The curfew, which is an unnecessary restriction on people’s freedom of movement.

This government remains the biggest risk to South Africa’s wellbeing. Anything which gives them more power should be resisted.

Step one of President Ramaphosa’s Economic Recovery Action Plan that he is presenting later today should be a lifting of the national state of disaster and a full end to the lockdown. That would give investors some confidence that more rationality and stability can be expected in future.

Economic recovery action plan: implementation is all that counts now

Tomorrow, President Cyril Ramaphosa will present his government’s Economic Recovery Action Plan to the nation. Structural reform is no longer imperative just for the economy’s growth, but for its survival. South African households are in deep distress. Lockdown delivered a body blow to our economy which was already in recession on the back of bad policy, corruption and endless state meddling.

Ramaphosa has run out of road for plans and promises. Now we need action and results. If this plan fails on implementation, it will go down in history as his Economic Destruction Inaction Plan and his presidency will mark the biggest ever sustained contraction of South Africa’s economy.

Assuming the final version of this plan echoes the most recent draft circulated, it contains some long-overdue pro-growth reforms which, if actually implemented, will have a major positive impact on South Africa’s economic and social wellbeing.

The most vital of these is energy sector reform to improve reliability and affordability of electricity. Government has finally gazetted the necessary determinations to allow independent power producers to generate and sell almost 12 megawatts of much needed additional electricity. The measure of this commitment will be how fast the necessary requests for proposals are issued and the bid window for renewables opened. There is also a welcome promise to fast-track implementation of self-generation projects above 1 megawatt.

Other long-overdue reforms promised are the release of spectrum to bring down data costs and the overhaul of the visa regime to import critical skills and promote international tourism. The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Economic Structural Reform Tracker will be monitoring progress on these and other reforms closely.

Almost every growth-promoting reform does so by putting more power in the hands of ordinary South Africans, who together make up the private sector. The path to prosperity is private enterprise and entrepreneurship. Economic activity will flourish only to the extent that our feckless state stops trying to control every aspect of it and instead starts to perform its own role with a degree of competence and integrity.

The president must therefore be held to account for his promise to implement independent life-style audits for public office bearers and officials such as have already been implemented by Premier Alan Winde in the DA-run Western Cape.

The plan contains many insincere commitments that the government has no intention of acting on. “Building a capable state”, for example, isn’t worth the ink it’s written with until the ANC commits to ending their policy of cadre deployment that hollowed out the state in the first place.

In some areas, there is a stated intention to place yet more power in the hands of the state. Let us hope commitments to“strengthen the master planning process” fail on implementation.

And then there are some major gaps, such as a failure to commit to liquidating SAA, and to a clear roadmap to debt stabilisation.

Overall, the plan is unlikely to move the needle on socioeconomic wellbeing unless we see real and rapid implementation of the big-ticket structural reforms promised, particularly energy reform. Our future, and President Ramaphosa’s legacy, is at stake.

The president has long and often promised pro-growth reforms, and he must be held to account for these commitments. Endless plans and empty rhetoric are not going to cut it. Implementation is all that counts now.

Mpumalanga is a province crying out for the DA Difference

The following remarks were delivered today by the DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, at the DA Mpumalanga Virtual Provincial Congress.

My fellow Democrats

It is my pleasure and honour to address your provincial congress today. To reaffirm with you our values as a party, as well as our crucial mission to save our country from the destructive path we’re currently on.

That job is entirely in our hands. The DA is the only significant party talking about the reforms needed to right this listing ship.

We are the only party with a policy offer that is able to turn things around.

We’re the only party that proudly subscribes to the liberal values needed to restore dignity to millions of impoverished, abandoned South Africans.

We’re the only party that can point to a proud track record in government, at municipal, metro and provincial level.

And we’re the only party with the size, reach and momentum to effect change.

There is no one else. This is our task, and our responsibility.

And yes, that is a heavy burden to bear, and we still have a mountain to climb if we are to succeed in this mission. But whenever I find myself in a room full of DA people, I am always reassured that we are up to the task.

There is nothing wrong with our country that cannot be fixed with what is right with the DA.

I said the same thing to our colleagues down in the Eastern Cape a couple of weeks ago. It is a source of immense pride and reassurance to see the DA structures in action like this, because it confirms who and what we are.

It confirms that we are a party of true democrats.

It confirms that we put the people of South Africa first in everything we do.

And it confirms that all our contestations and battles of ideas leave us stronger and more united than before. Where other parties fracture along bitter factional lines, and resort to chaos and violence, the DA always acts like a party of democrats.

We treat each other with respect, and we also respect the rules that govern our processes and structures. We abide by democratic outcomes, and we immediately get back to work, fighting for a better South Africa for all who live in it.

The fact that our highly competent provincial leadership here – leader, deputy leader and chairperson – are all standing unopposed at this congress is also a great reassurance. It gives us much needed stability and continuity as we enter these twelve months leading up to the local government elections.

I have full confidence in Jane Sithole, Trudie Grové Morgan and Bosman Grobler to continue serving the DA with distinction in these respective roles.

I am proud to be part of your provincial congress because I know these things – I know we’re all in it for the right reasons, and we can trust each other to do the right thing.

My only regret is that I cannot be there in person, in Mpumalanga – the place where the sun rises.

As much as I admire the way in which we have adapted to these strange digital times and conduct our business online without skipping a beat, there is nothing like a trip to one of South Africa’s most spectacular provinces.

Anyone who has ever driven through the lowveld, the bushveld and the farmlands of Mpumalanga will attest to its unique beauty. The place leaves an unforgettable impression, and people find themselves returning again and again.

But despite everything this great province has to offer, it is still on its knees thanks to a selfish, corrupt and incompetent government. And throughout the province this failure of government is on full and permanent display.

There are 17 municipalities in Mpumalanga, and all of them are in a state of collapse. Sewage spills and potholes are so common in the towns here that people barely bat an eye anymore.

I am told in municipalities like Lekwa they speak of Lekwa-shedding and not loadshedding, because their lack of electricity has little to do with Eskom’s generation woes and everything to do with the municipality’s inability to pay its bills.

All the municipalities here receive qualified audits from the Auditor General, and not a day goes by without a service delivery protest in some part of the province.

And, of course, this is a province with a large farming community, which means the spectre of farm attacks always looms large in people’s lives. Without a clear, workable rural safety plan, people living on farms here are at the mercy of these ruthless criminals. They deserve far better.

But the biggest challenge – and failure – in this province was revealed with the latest employment figures from Stats SA. Over 45% of working age people here don’t have jobs.

And even that terrible statistic doesn’t paint the whole picture. Along with that you have to take into account that Mpumalanga has, by some distance, the widest gap between its “narrow” and its “expanded” unemployment figures – a staggering 32 percentage points.

What this means is that the vast majority of those 45% of unemployed people have lost all hope of ever finding work. They have given up looking. The government’s statisticians call them discouraged jobseekers, but that euphemism doesn’t fully describe their desperate situation.

They are the true victims of the legacy of this ANC government. They have been robbed of all hope for a better future.

Fellow Democrats, you and I know it doesn’t have to be like this. With the right interventions – and a single-minded focus on only that which expands growth and opportunity – we can help restore hope.

I’m not saying this will be easy, and I’m not saying life is perfect where the DA has been given a mandate to make these interventions. But where the DA governs there is an undeniable difference.

Consider the expanded definition of unemployment. Where it stands at over 45% here in Mpumalanga, in the Western Cape it is almost 20 percentage points lower at just over 27%.

But more importantly, look at the difference between this expanded definition and the government’s “official” number, which excludes these so-called discouraged jobseekers. Here in Mpumalanga it is over 32 percentage points. In the Western Cape it is under 10 percentage points, and it was even less before lockdown.

What this means is that not only are people almost twice as likely to have work where the DA governs, but also that those without work are far more likely to believe that they will find employment again, and so they continue looking.

Of all the indicators of government success, which include service delivery, education outcome, healthcare access and many more, it is this measure of economic inclusion that is the most important.

And this is where we have put miles of clear blue water between the DA and the ANC. This is why people move to DA-run cities and provinces in great numbers. They know where they will have the best chance of making a life for themselves and their families.

That, fellow Democrats, is why our mission is so critical. We cannot be content with little islands of DA excellence in a sea of ANC misrule. Our commitment is to all the people of South Africa.

That is why we cannot support the idea of Western Cape independence, because we will never turn our backs on our fellow South Africans and leave them at the mercy of the ANC.

I look at this incredible province of Mpumalanga, and although we are still a long way from establishing a DA-led government here, I know it is a road we must walk one step at a time.

A few short decades ago we were a long way away from this goal in the Western Cape too, and look how that turned out.

That is why our task here over the next twelve months is so important.  We have to go out there in every single community and convince them, voter by voter, to turn their backs on the racial nationalism and patronage politics of the ANC.

We have to convince them that the only way to lift people out of poverty is through meaningful and inclusive economic growth, and that this can only be done with growth-friendly policies.

We have to convince them that only a party with absolutely zero tolerance for corruption can ever put the people first, and that the only measure of this is real action, not empty words.

And we have to convince them that the only South Africa worth fighting for is a non-racial South Africa, where people are truly seen as individuals with unique hopes and dreams, as opposed to mere representatives of their race or gender.

That is our task, and we dare not waver over the next 12 months. There is far too much riding on it.

We may still be an election cycle or two away from replacing governments here in Mpumalanga with DA-led governments, but the only way we’ll get there is by doing the hard yards now. By slowly painting wards, and then municipalities and then the whole province blue.

And when that happens, this province will finally realise its massive potential.

Imagine a Mpumalanga where everything works – where the roads are no longer filled with potholes and communities have uninterrupted water and electricity.

Imagine the possibilities that will open up in tourism, agriculture, mining and energy under a government that doesn’t steal and that truly welcomes investment.

Imagine how different life would be here when that unemployment number is halved and people no longer have to leave to ensure a decent life for their families.

That is the Mpumalanga you must keep in your mind over the next twelve months. That is the vision you must share with voters.

So let us conduct our business here this weekend with the respect and the decorum that only the DA can achieve.

Let us contest and debate passionately, but then abide by the outcome of our democratic processes.

And let us then go out there, armed with the four things that set us apart from every other party in South Africa: our principles, our policies, our track record and, above all, our committed people.

Let us use these four arrows in our quiver to present the DA Difference as the only viable option for the future of South Africa.

I wish you all the best for your congress.

Thank you.

Uncaring, incompetent government, not residents, to blame for NMB’s water crisis

Please find attached video from John Steenhuisen MP. Also see attached pictures here, here and here.

Today I am in Nelson Mandela Bay to highlight the area’s growing water crisis, the result of uncaring, incompetent government. The metro has a water management issue, not a water shortage issue. Taps have run dry in many areas, due to delays and failures to maintain and upgrade water infrastructure, and due to a failure to manage demand adequately.

For example, we have today inspected a leak near Despatch on the main water line between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, which has been an issue for the past eight months. This leak has been reported on numerous occasions, yet the municipality seems incapable of fixing it. It is safe to say that several megalitres of clean water have gone to waste here during this time.

Water interruptions are now a daily occurrence in the Northern and Western areas of NMB, where taps began running dry a month ago. The ANC-led coalition of corruption appears to have no idea how to address the water challenge. Instead, they are attempting to shift blame to residents themselves, to avoid accountability for their outright failures.

While NMB’s water consumption is high at 290 megalitres per day, the Metro loses 46% of its treated water to leaks and theft before it reaches residents. This is unacceptably high. DA-run Cape Town’s water loss rate hovers around 15-20%, in line with global norms. NMB’s excessive loss rate equates to over 100 megalitres of water being lost every single day. If even just half the leaks were fixed, the Metro would be well below the 250 megalitre target.

Coming on the back of ANC-generated recession, lockdown, and load-shedding, the current water-shedding is catastrophic for households and businesses alike. Many livelihoods may be lost as a result. Yet, NMB Metro has no water crisis plan to alleviate the dire situation in which residents find themselves. And while the water crisis is growing, the Metro has also spent only R35 million of the R230 million received from national government for drought mitigation.

Ideally, the Metro needs a rapid response team of plumbers to target leaks, and emergency procurement measures to tackle critical aspects such as the supply of water treatment chemicals. Rather than blaming residents, the council should be investing in critical maintenance and infrastructure to address these major water losses.

Furthermore, the Metro should be communicating with residents, keeping them constantly updated on the situation and building water awareness to manage demand. When DA-run coalition was in government here, we managed to reduce water usage from 290 to 248 megalitres per day through an aggressive water awareness campaign and by attending to leaks speedily.

Since March this year the DA has been calling for water engineers to be seconded to the Metro by the Department of Water and Sanitation, but to no avail. Expired contracts in the Metro, such as the contracts for water treatment chemicals and the purchase, installation and maintenance of water meters, have only served to deepen the water crisis.

The ANC-led coalition of corruption is also quick to blame dry taps on the drought, saying this is not a man-made issue, and that the water outages are beyond the Metro’s control. It is insulting to imagine that residents will fall for this hollow excuse when there is water in the dams, water coming from the Nooitgedacht Low Level Water Scheme, and water leaking from hundreds of broken pipes around the metro. This inept government is simply not able to manage the water. NMB has reached Day Incompetence, not Day Zero.

Water protests have broken out in parts of Nelson Mandela Bay, but the best way to protest is to vote the ANC-led coalition of corruption out of government and put the DA back in government. Where the ANC disappoints, the DA delivers.

Meantime, the DA will be drafting a dossier on the current water situation, including all previous correspondence to the minister which has simply gone unanswered, and will be tabling the issue at the next water affairs portfolio committee in Parliament.

A country with a heritage as diverse as ours needs a plan that serves all its people

As our country pauses today to celebrate Heritage Day, we are reminded once more of just how diverse and colourful our nation is. We don’t share a single heritage, nor even a common idea of what heritage means. Today South Africans will be celebrating in a thousand different ways. Some of it will be serious and reflective, and some of it will be light-hearted and fun.

And that’s fine. This diversity of approach to Heritage Day reflects the diversity of our country. We truly are a melting pot of people, cultures and ideas. But that doesn’t mean we must live our lives separately, divided from one another by these demographic features. Our future is still one, united South Africa, and our only way of achieving a prosperous future for all is by pooling our resources and ideas.

Only one party in South Africa can offer such a truly rich diversity of ideas and that’s the DA. Across all levels of our structures and governments, our party, more than any other, personifies the rainbow nation. And this is because we were brought together not by a race or a language or a religion, but by a set of common values and a shared belief in what it will take to fix our country.

It is from this diverse pool of DA people that our newly adopted policies and principles were born. And because our party is not driven by a specific racial or ethnic nationalism, we were able to put the needs of South Africans at the front and centre of our policy offer. The most diverse party embarked on the most diverse approach to writing policy, and the result is a set of policies that truly cater for all South Africans.

No other major party can say that. When they all speak of “our people”, the understanding is clear that there is an “us” and a “them”. But when the DA speaks of our people, it simply means South Africans. And when we write, debate and adopt our policies, we emerge with a complex plan that serves each and every citizen.

This is also why we adopted non-racialism as a guiding principle for the party. It is not only possible, but entirely necessary to fix our country’s unjust past by focusing on the devastating effects of this past, rather than creating further divides between us.

The way this debate has raged in recent weeks, it is hard to imagine that there was a time not so long ago when non-racialism was considered a noble principle by all – one that just about every South African claimed to aspire to. And this includes the members of the ruling alliance. But how times have changed.

Supporting the idea that we are so much more than products of our skin colour should not be a controversial position, and I know that sanity will eventually prevail and many of those who now try to paint non-racialism as some kind of radical idea will eventually come full circle.

Until then, the DA will not waver in our principles. The days of this party blowing with the prevailing winds are done. We are not a weathervane. We are a fixed signpost for people to follow. And one of the foundations that solidly moors this signpost is the idea that a non-racial society, where people are judged by the content of their character, is the only one worth fighting for.

This is why there is a new energy flowing through the DA at the moment. The party is genuinely enthused by the outcome of our recent policy conference, and we are looking forward to our virtual Federal Congress at the end of next month. Because the real work starts then, as we prepare to take our offer to the people of South Africa in the build up to next year’s local government election. We know our offer is good one.

Unanimous decision not to proceed with the RABS Bill a victory for all South Africans

The speech was delivered in Parliament today

The unanimous decision of the Portfolio Committee on Transport not to proceed with the Road Accident Benefit Scheme (RABS) Bill should be seen as a victory for the people of South Africa. A success for current and future road crash victims, families and caretakers. It is a huge relief for each and every vehicle owner contributing to Road Crash Compensation by buying fuel, as well as for service providers, stakeholders, Road Accident Fund (RAF) employees, Treasury and many more.

Estimate calculations of the cost to introduce RABS showed R20 billion per annum. By adding the next layer of consequential costs, RABS exceed the available budget of R30 billion per year by an exceptionally large margin. Given the realities of an existing constrained budget, the only way that RABS could function would have been through the limitation of rights and benefits.

Limitations of rights and benefits that are boldly to be found – hidden discreetly in the suggested claims procedure and cunningly camouflaged in unnecessarily sophisticated mathematical benefit formulas. With common law being removed, a no-fault system and less check and balances. RABS is a bad idea in design and expression. Over the years, the Democratic Alliance (DA) consistently opposed RABS describing it as: “A solution but not the only solution”. We identified 5 final arguments that directed this report:

First, RABS failed the public participation process. 76% of civic submissions in 9 provinces amongst 981 attendees did not support RABS.

Secondly, RABS is out of touch with realities in townships and rural areas. How can we expect a vehicle-crash-victim to self-compile, prepare and submit claim-documents to a centralised “somewhere” head office? Under 18 and over 60 year olds are excluded with complete disregard for income levels at the time. Informal-sector-earners like taxis operators, traders, hawkers, and vendors are not recognised at all and would be treated as zero income. As such, RABS is ill-conceived and anti-poor.

Given the existing Fund and the legal principle of vested right, vehicle-users would have had to finance two compensation schemes at the same time for at least 30 years. Naturally, with near immediate and regular fuel price increases. Vehicle owners cannot be burdened with a dual system, instead – we should look at an insurance-based system and focus on ways to reduce fuel expenses for everyone.

Over the past 7 years, at nearly every occasion, I asked for proper costing and reliable actuarial projections to evaluate the financial implications of RABS. To this day nothing more than a thin financial opinion has been presented – a document which dismally falls short of adequate assessment, fair comparison and convincing financial relevance and reliability. In the fourth instance, therefore, RABS carries no empirical quantum-backing to support consideration – let alone, approval.

In the last instance, we underlined that it is unacceptable and immoral to indemnify the wrongdoer. Given our poor road use track record and general shameless road behaviour, our focus should be on decreasing crashes and to improve law enforcement as a measure to stabilise claims. Not with a no-fault system – in fact most countries have changed back in recent years.

After a seven year battle against RABS, I want to thank my team, colleagues in different political parties and various specialists with whom I have worked closely, we have spent hours in efforts to build understanding and calculate implications. Also, to the parliamentary legal advisory staff and officials of the department.

Lastly, to the Transport Portfolio Committee who today submit this unanimous report not to proceed with RABS – showing that one does not fix something by replacing it with something worse.

I fully commit the DA as part of this team to fix the Road Accident Fund with real solutions as a combined effort.

This will complete the story and be the real victory for South Africa.

I thank you

John Moodey | Setting out the facts

The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, during a media briefing.

It is unfortunate that, in leaving the party he (until recently) wished to lead, John Moodey has spread blatant falsehoods which appear to be an attempt to justify his reasons for leaving.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) sets a standard in all that we do and we aim to rise above gutter politics. It is regrettable that matters still undergoing internal process are now being played out in public.

In leaving, Moodey has sought to deflect attention from himself by defaming his erstwhile colleagues, playing the race card, and seeking to inflict as much damage on the party as he could on the way out by spreading mistruth and false rumour.

The DA wish to ensure the facts are understood and they are:

Mr Moodey, in resigning, is running away from facing very serious charges relating to an attempt to frame a political opponent in a sex-for-jobs scandal, which also allegedly involved attempting to bribe two young and vulnerable first-time councillors into giving false evidence.

Moodey was also to face a charge that he was involved in offering these councillors promotions on the candidates’ list for the 2021 election, if they co-operated into making false statements to smear the senior politicians.

It is to be noted that the charges Moodey were to face are not based on hearsay evidence and mere allegations from party members. The evidence in this case includes tape recordings of relevant conversations as well as documentary evidence.

The case was one of the most serious that has ever been before the DA’s Federal Legal Commission (FLC). Their proceedings were due to be heard in the near future. In such proceedings, Mr Moodey is given full right to review all evidence and bring forward his own legal defence.

It is clear that John Moodey preferred to leave, choosing to avoid the formal disciplinary hearing as he is no longer a member of the DA. He also issued a blatant threat saying he would “expose the DA” if the party reacted to his allegations.

The party has nothing to hide. John Moodey does, and his threats will not prevent us from setting the record straight.

For reference, here is proof of John Moodey’s most recent FLC referral from the Federal Leader’s office.

Masithethe ngazwi linye ukuze silwe, soyise ukubulawa kwamafama, abasebenzi-zifama, kunye nabahlali basezilalini

The following speech was delivered during the Democratic Alliance (DA) Debate of National Importance on the Recent Scourge of Farm Attacks and Murders. Please find attached a soundbite in IsiXhosa by Thandeka Mbabama MP

Enkosi Mhlali ngaphambili

Bantu bakuthi, ndiyabulisa  kulemini yokuqala kwinyanga yoMsintsi, inyanga eza nentwasahlobo nokuzalwa kutsha (rebirth) kwe mithi, iintyatyambo neziqhamo emasimini. Ndithi namhlanje masizifune, sizibuze uba sekutheni intliziyo zethu ziliflathele kangaka ilizwi likaYehova ku Exodus 20:13 elithi  “uze ungabulali” Uthe uThixo xa edala umntu wamdala ngoko mfanekiso Wakhe. Xa ke siyekela ukubulawa kwabantu, nokuba ngabeliphi ibala, siyekela ukuba kuxajelwe umfanekiso kaThixo.  Ndinqwenela uba nathi sibe nentwasahlobo yokuzalwa kutsha, intliziyo zethu zithambe, sibenovelwano kubantu abangamaxhoba  ezi zihhelegu.  Oluhlaselo nobulawo ngokungena lusini lwamafama, abasebenzi-zifama, nabahlali basezilalini mihla le, alunyamezeleki, yaye ayiyonto esinovuma ibesisenzo semihla ngemihla. Siyi Democratic Alliance (DA) siyithatha ngokungqongqo  lenkohlakalo yaye sizimisele ukuyilwa ngako konke esinako

Mhlali ngaphambili, amazwi avela kwi nkonzo zepolotiki ezithile ezikhuthaza abantu uba maba thathe imihlaba ngokungekho semthethweni ; norhulumente ophetheyo ongayihhoyanga into yokuhlukunyezwa kwabantu basezifama nasezilalini ngokunjalo, inika izikrelemnqa isibindi sokwenza nantonina….besazi uba akukhonto ezakubehlela ngokomthetho. Kumafama, abasebenzi zifama nabahlali basezilalini sithi sikhona siyiDemocratic Alliance. Sesiqalile uku

  • Sebenzisana nenkonzo zawonke amafama ukubancedisa ekubeni balungiselele ukuzikhusela ngokupatrola indawo zabo
  • Ngenjongo zokuphuhlisa amafama athuthukayo sizakuqhubeka ukubanceda bafumane umhlaba ngokusemthethweni ngoku qhakamshelana ne dept. yeALRRD
  • Sizakuqhubeka nokulwa utshintso luka Section 25 womgaqosiseko ngoba asivumelani norhwaphilizo lomhlaba ngaphandle kwembuyekezo. Urhulumente makagqibezele ilandclaims ezishiyekileyo, anikezele  ngomhlaba ophantsi kaRhulumente .
  • Ndithetha nje sixakeke ngepublic hearings zeULTRA Amendment Bill enenjongo zoku nceda amanina abenamalungelo afana nawoTata ekufumaneni umhlaba

Ezinye inkozo sezichaziwe ngoogxabam kwinthetho zabo ngaphambili. Lilonke siyi Democratic Alliance sithi let us put our differences aside as political parties and condemn with one voice the killing of our farmers and farm workers who not only put food on our tables but have the right to life as prescribed in our Constitution.

Enkosi

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

The DA’s project has to succeed. There is no plan B.

The following remarks were delivered today by the DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, at the DA Eastern Cape virtual Provincial Congress.

My fellow Democrats

It gives me great pleasure to address you in this way – as my fellow democrats – because that is who and what we are.

We are democrats not only in name, but in our actions too.

Whether it is the way in which we conduct ourselves in government, or the way in which we contest elections, we wear our democratic colours with pride.

The DA does not get caught up in destructive factional battles.

The DA is not in it for patronage and wealth.

The DA is free from the stench of corruption that has settled on every ANC-run province, municipality and government department.

The DA has not, and will not, lose sight of why we do what we do. Which is to offer hope, dignity and opportunity to South Africans through governments of the people, by the people and for the people.

We are democrats in every sense of the word, and we should be proud of this.

I know, going into this provincial congress, that our democratic spirit will prevail. I know this congress will be conducted with respect and decorum.

Just as I know that the other DA provincial congresses, as well as our Federal Congress later this year, will play by the same rules.

And when these processes are concluded, we will abide by the democratic outcome and get straight back to work, doing what we do best: improving the lives of South Africans through freedom, fairness and opportunity.

On that note, I would like to congratulate Nqaba Bhanga and Andrew Whitfield on being elected unopposed as Provincial Leader and Chairperson respectively. This gives the DA much-needed stability here in the Eastern Cape, and allows us to not lose focus.

I know that each one of you understands the importance of the DA’s task. Our project has never been more urgent. South Africa is facing its biggest challenge in its 26 years of democracy.

And I’m not talking about the battle to contain the coronavirus because I know we will overcome this.

I’m talking about the battle to save our country from a slide into economic ruin. The battle to save millions of our citizens from desperate poverty and despair.

Because, unless there is an intervention to dramatically change our course, that bleak outcome will be our country’s future.

Fellow democrats, we are that intervention. You are.

I don’t mean to put unnecessary pressure on you, but whether our country sinks or swims depends entirely on whether the DA’s project fails or succeeds. There is no other plan.

We simply have to succeed in building a new majority in this country.

We have to set out our values and our plans for reform in such a way that this becomes a rallying point for both voters and potential coalition partners.

Now, we all know what it will take to turn our country around and avert disaster:

We know it will take a capable state, which can only be achieved by appointing people on merit rather than on their allegiance to political factions.

We know it will take an honest, hard-working government that truly has zero-tolerance for corruption and greed, and doesn’t just say this for effect.

It will take an unwavering commitment to the Rule of Law – one set of rules for everyone, and swift consequences for all who break these rules.

It will take the power of a market-economy, because only the entrepreneurial spirit and the willingness to take risks can create the scale of jobs we need.

It will take a government that knows when to get out of the way and let those in the business of growth and jobs do their thing.

It will take a commitment to a lean and efficient state. No more bloated civil service and top-heavy State-Owned Enterprises.

And it will take a truly 21st Century economy, and that means walking away once and for all from the failed ideologies and the doomed economic projects of the 20th Century.

We know all of this. We speak about it all the time, to the point where it seems so clear and obvious to us.

But knowing this is not enough. Believing in our vision for South Africa is not enough. Our job is to make others believe in this vision too. That is our project.

And the next big step in this project is only a year away, when South Africans go to the polls to elect local governments.

How we use the next twelve or so months to deliver our message to voters will have a profound impact on the future of our country.

But we’re not the only ones who are going to be busy. Already we’re seeing the same old pattern that emerges ahead of every election, as small parties crop up with fancy promises which they have no way of backing up with any proof or track record.

And such is the appeal of the shiny and new that these small parties inevitably end up taking away some votes from the strongest opposition party, the DA. Every time a voter does this, the net result is the strengthening of the ANC.

We’ve been through this scenario so many times. As soon as the elections are over, voters who tested the waters with one of these new start-ups realise they got zero bang for their buck from a one-man party with a regional footprint, and they return to the DA.

But by then the damage is done for the next five years. The momentum is halted and the ANC is bolstered.

There is only one way to unseat the ANC nationally, and that is by weakening them in every consecutive election. By pushing them below 50% wherever possible and relegating them to the opposition benches in municipal, metro and provincial governments.

We need voters to understand this. We need them to realise that if they want their municipality to be freed from the control of the corrupt ANC, they have to vote out the ANC by replacing it with the only party that can win against the ANC. And that is the DA.

We must make the case that our only hope to end corruption and bring change is for voters to unite behind the strongest opposition party, rather than splitting the vote.

And especially if that split vote goes to a breakaway from the DA, with individuals who are simply carrying DA ideologies and plans onto another platform.

These parties cannot effect change because they are too small. They cannot defeat the ANC because they are too small. All they end up doing is setting South Africa back in the fight against a corrupt government.

We have to make this point to people. We have to make them understand that falling for the grand promises of new parties with no experience, no structures and no track record always leads to buyer’s remorse.

Anyone can make promises. But only one party can hold up its track record and say: judge us by that.

And nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than right here in the Eastern Cape’s biggest Metro, Nelson Mandela Bay.

What played out in NMB over the past four years is the perfect case study for demonstrating the difference between South Africa’s only two parties of government.

After two decades of ANC looting and mismanagement, the people of NMB got to experience two years of DA-led government, before what was effectively a coup by the coalition of corruption gave them two more years under the ANC, EFF and UDM.

The difference between these governments could not be more stark.

Two years is not a lot when up against the enormous challenge of fixing 20 years of ANC government, but the list of achievements the DA-led coalition managed to rack up in that short time from 2016 to 2018 is remarkable.

And I would like to thank former Mayor Athol Trollip for the crucial role he played in turning NMB around.

His administration inherited a metro deep in the red, and within a year NMB had a R2 billion surplus and a AAA credit rating. That kind of turnaround doesn’t just happen. It takes an incredible effort.

But NMB didn’t just gain financial stability. It also saw a host of delivery milestones that were inconceivable under the ANC.

For the first time, the city had a Metro Police Service. It finally got an ITPS bus service. It got Shot Spotter technology to help curb and solve gun crime.

The DA-led administration immediately halted over R600 million worth of corrupt contracts. It got rid of 10,000 bucket toilets. It achieved the highest Urban Settlement Development Grants spending in the country.

The difference was like day and night. But there was a problem. The coalition held the most slender majority, and this made it a sitting duck. If the looters wanted back in, all they had to do was pay off one council member.

And we all know what happened at that shameful council meeting where the coup took place and the coalition of corruption installed themselves at the feeding trough once more.

Since then, it’s all been downhill for NMB, as the corrupt administration of Mayor Bobani opened all the taps that the DA had so effectively shut.

And where there’s corruption, the violence is never far behind. At least 18 people involved in SMMEs doing business with the metro have already been slain in politically linked killings.

The Shot Spotter technology, which had already started to reduce gang shootings, has now been ceased in NMB’s Northern Areas.

Similarly, the brand new IPTS bus system has collapsed, and there has been a dramatic deterioration of basic services across the city thanks to chronic under-spending of budgets.

Every improvement made under the DA-led coalition has been undone over the past two years, and NMB now finds itself worse off than before.

You could not ask for a clearer distinction between these two fundamentally different governments and their ability to deliver to the people.

But perhaps there is an even better example of how you get the government you vote for, and you’ll find that just down the road from NMB in Kouga.

The Kouga municipality flies largely under the radar, thanks to the constant turmoil in NMB. But under the DA it has been going from strength to strength and is an island of excellence in a sea of ANC misrule here in the Eastern Cape.

Kouga was a mess when the DA took over. As an example, consider that just 4% of the municipality’s fleet of vehicles were in good working order in 2016. Less than four years later 90% of these vehicles are in daily use.

Other milestones in Kouga include two brand new waste water treatment works, boreholes to augment drought-affected water supply and a world-first plastic-infused asphalt road to help combat plastic pollution.

The municipality operates on an entirely different level to the rest of the province, whether you’re looking at its financial management, service delivery or simply the cleanliness of the towns.

Kouga has just passed its first billion Rand budget, and because it has a DA government, you can be sure all that money will be spent where it should.

Things work in Kouga, and that is the DA difference. That is what we can hold up as proof, when others can simply offer wild promises based on little more than fantasy.

And importantly, Kouga has given us a foothold here in the Eastern Cape – a province that is crying out for change, probably more than any other in South Africa.

Already known as South Africa’s corruption capital, the Eastern Cape cemented that position during the Covid crisis by becoming an epicentre of Covid corruption too.

Global audiences had to watch in horror as the terrible state of the province’s hospitals was laid bare, complete with scurrying rats and blood-drenched corridor floors.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, we had to endure the embarrassment of the scooter ambulance fiasco. All this, while cadres were looting the province through corrupt PPE contracts.

And as always, the people – and particularly the poorest in the province – had to pay the heaviest price for all of this. They are the real victims of a failed, corrupt government.

Fellow democrats, we can change this. We can bring hope to the Eastern Cape.

And we’ll do this by extending our footprint in this province, ward by ward, town by town. By taking what we have in Kouga, and what we had in NMB, and replicating it.

When we win NMB back next year, it will be with a strong enough majority that bribes will be powerless.

But we won’t stop there. We will take our message far beyond NMB and Kouga. And even where we won’t necessarily win control of municipalities, we will make inroads. We will take wards off the ANC, and we will establish a DA presence across every community in this province.

That’s how we’ll spread the word and sell the DA difference to the people of the Eastern Cape, and throughout the rest of the country.

We have almost 60 million people counting on us to succeed, whether they’ll admit it or not. For South Africa to work, the DA has to work. There is no other plan.

That’s a lot of responsibility to bear, but I want you to shoulder this responsibility with pride. Be proud of what we have already achieved, and be proud of who we are.

We are democrats, and that’s just what our country needs right now.

Thank you.

Zandile Gumede’s full-pay “jolly holiday” suspension is not good enough

If the suspension on full pay of disgraced former eThekwini Mayor and newly sworn-in member of the KZN Provincial Legislature, Zandile Gumede, is the ANC’s idea of strong, principled action against corruption, then it deserves every derogatory Twitter hashtag directed towards it.

Gumede, who stands accused along with 17 others on charges relating to fraud to the value of more than R200 million, and is currently out on R50,000 bail, retains the full R1.1 million salary she has just been promoted to, while taxpayers will not see a single cent’s benefit for their money. Life, it seems, is indeed one long jolly holiday for the corrupt cadres of the ANC.

Just this week the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) released a report detailing the eye-watering amounts spent paying the salaries of suspended public servants in provincial governments and national government departments. In provincial governments alone the tally to date is R158 million. Between 1 October and 31 December last year, government spent R84 million on precautionary suspension cases, while it spent a further R74 million in the first three months of 2020.

This is clearly unacceptable, and makes a complete mockery of President Ramaphosa’s solemn vows that corruption will no longer be tolerated in his party – a tune he has been singing for years now with no effect at all. If the ANC continues to either redeploy its corrupt politicians – and even promote them, as we’ve seen in Gumede’s case – or simply pay them a full salary to stay at home, then these vows mean nothing.

Furthermore, this suspension of Gumede only followed intense outside pressure, and particularly from the DA in yesterday’s parliamentary Questions to the President session. It had nothing to do with a newly discovered moral compass in the ANC. In fact, the desperate attempts to now row away from the decision to promote Gumede by both the KZN Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) and Luthuli House are almost comical. We now have sources in the PEC saying the deployment instruction came from Luthuli House, and we have ANC Deputy Secretary General Jesse Duarte demanding answers from the PEC.

The truth is that both the PEC and Luthuli House were perfectly happy with Gumede’s appointment, until the pressure came from outside and they had to start putting out fires. At the time of her swearing-in the ANC, through Nhlakanipho Ntombela, assured us that her deployment had the full blessing of Luthuli House and even went as far as claiming it as some sort of victory for the empowerment of women.

It is laughable statements like these that demonstrate just how much disdain the ANC has for the citizens of this country. No one truly believes that promoting an obvious crook up the ranks of the party has anything to do with women’s empowerment, but the ANC think they can get away with even the most outrageous spin and platitudes. The President’s refusal to answer my question to him in Parliament yesterday on where he stands on the Gumede matter is another demonstration of this disdain. It also shows just how sensitive this issue of dealing with the corrupt is to the ANC, because the rot has spread right throughout the party.

I am sure we are now expected to welcome this decision to suspend Zandile Gumede, as if it is some sort of turning point in the fight against corruption. But the DA will never welcome the blatant dodging of real accountability and the continued exploitation of taxpayers for the benefit of cadres who are already multi millionaires. If her mansion and the luxury cars confiscated from the homes of her co-accused by the Hawks and the Asset Forfeiture Unit of the NPA are anything to go by, Gumede will be just fine without her salary.

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