DA extends its condolences to the families of first South African COVID-19 victims

 Please find attached soundbite from John Steenhuisen MP.

We learnt with sadness this morning of the first loss of life in South Africa to COVID-19. Two women, one 28 year-old and one 48 year-old, both in the Western Cape, succumbed to the virus this morning. Their identities have not yet been released. On behalf of the Democratic Alliance I would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to their friends and relatives. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in these difficult times.

This sad news is a reminder that this deadly virus is very real, and not something that happens far away to other people. It will spread through our communities – as it has done elsewhere in the world – and all that stands in the way of significant loss of life is our collective effort as a nation. We dare not take the lockdown measures lightly.

To date there is no cure and there is no vaccine. The only weapon we have in the fight against this virus is time. If we can slow down the infections by breaking the social contacts that spread the virus, we can buy our healthcare workers the precious time needed to treat those who require critical care.

I call on each and every South African to play their part over the coming weeks. Yes, the effects of this lockdown on our economy and on our people’s livelihoods will be brutal. But the alternative will be far, far worse. It is imperative that we all make the sacrifice now that could save the lives of thousands. And following this, we must all roll up our sleeves to rebuild what we lost.

Please stay in your home and respect the rules put in place. Don’t travel, unless it’s absolutely essential. Don’t meet with friends or colleagues. Don’t congregate in supermarkets. Maintain a safe distance from others. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly, and don’t touch your face. That is the only way we will break the chain of infection.

This may be uncharted territory for the whole world, but I know South Africans have what it takes to overcome adversity. We’ve stood united before, and we can do so again. Our actions today can save the lives of many – particularly our grandmothers and grandfathers, and all those who may not have the protection of a robust immune system.

While we separate ourselves physically, let us stand together in spirit. And please join us as we observe a minute’s silence at midday today in honour of the two women who lost their lives this morning.

DA Leader Steenhuisen successfully launches party’s Covid-19 info channel

Please find attached a soundbite from John Steenhuisen MP following the launch of the party’s dedicated Covid-19 information channel. Please also find attached pictures here, here and here.

Today the Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, John Steenhuisen MP successfully launched “Corona Cast”, the DA’s dedicated Coronavirus information channel.

We will be broadcasting live every Tuesday and Friday at 14:00 on our social media pages to keep citizens informed during the 21-day lockdown period. The broadcast affords a unique opportunity to citizens to ask questions live and receive answers instantly on issues related to the Coronavirus.

The party will be collaborating with and hosting industry experts, its Shadow Cabinet, and public health professionals on the channel to provide up-to-date information on the state of the Coronavirus outbreak in South Africa.

South Africans can make use of the following addresses and platforms to submit queries, raise concerns, and make suggestions:

Email: coronavirus@da.org.za
Webpage: www.da.org.za/defeatingcoronavirus

Those who have missed todays broadcast can still watch it using the following links:

Facebook: https://bit.ly/2WM8W0O
Twitter: https://bit.ly/3dwpEaP
YouTube: https://bit.ly/33In90h

“Now is the time for us to band together as South Africans, put our country first, and defeat the Covid-19 virus.

The next three weeks of lockdown, and the months that follow this period, will be our greatest test as a nation. We can get through this if we stand united against our common enemy.

I ask that all South Africans focus on what needs to be done and comply with everything that is required of them. Our efforts to beat this virus are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. Everyone has to be 100% on board and committed. Every measure is essential. Stay at home, avoid gatherings, maintain your hygiene, and cooperate with law enforcement and the SANDF. These will be trying times, but we must show restraint and peaceful cooperation in everything we do. That is the only way we will win.” – John Steenhuisen MP, Leader of the DA

DA welcomes lockdown and SANDF deployment to combat the spread of COVID-19

The following remarks were delivered by the DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, following the televised address by the President on 23 March 2020.

The DA welcomes the President’s announcement this evening of a nationwide lockdown and the deployment of the South African National Defence Force. These measures are of critical importance in our efforts to combat the spread of the Coronavirus through our communities and contain, as much as is possible, future COVID-19 infections. We also welcome the announcement of a Solidarity Fund to support the vulnerable in the wake of this crisis, and thank the patriotic South Africans who made extremely generous donations.

Locking down our country and deploying the SANDF is something no South African would ever want to see in peacetime, but given the severity of our challenge it is absolutely the right thing to do. The threat of this virus is akin to a wartime situation, and this requires of each of us to make sacrifices in our daily lives, and to some of the liberties of our democratic society.

It is important to bear in mind that this lockdown has been scheduled for a period of 21 days. While this could possibly be extended should the circumstances call for it, it is not an indefinite situation. Three weeks of drastic measures now can save us many lives and buy us critical time for our healthcare professionals to deal with the unfolding crisis. If we don’t make this sacrifice now, we will pay a far greater price in the long run.

What is important right now is that every South African recognises the gravity of the situation. This is not something that happens far away and to other people. It is not something that might happen to us somewhere down the line. It is here already, and the full impact will hit us very soon. Already the most recent number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – 402, as announced by the Ministry of Health this afternoon – shows that our country has not been spared, and that our rate of infection looks to mirror that of countries currently battling hard to treat their citizens and prevent loss of life.

This is the biggest threat our country has faced in its 26 years of democracy. It will test our healthcare system and it will test our ability to withstand an economic onslaught like nothing before. But above all, it will test the resolve of our people, and this is where we can take great strength. We have been through tough times before, and we have overcome our obstacles. We can do it again, as long as we are in the fight together.

I would like to reiterate to the President my offer of the DA’s support in this fight. He and his government cannot do it alone. My Shadow Cabinet has already made this offer, along with constructive suggestions, to their counterparts in the President’s Cabinet. I urge him to take up this offer and bring on board as many people as he can.

I also urge him to consider our proposals put forward for an Economic Recovery Package to deal with the devastating effect of this virus on households, businesses and jobs. We have to put in place, right away, the measures to rebuild our economy and shield employers and employees from the worst damage.

And finally, to the people of South Africa, I ask that you focus on what needs to be done and comply with everything that is required of you. Our efforts to beat this virus are only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. Everyone has to be 100% on board and committed. Every measure is essential. Stay at home, avoid gatherings, maintain your hygiene and cooperate with law enforcement and the SANDF. These will be trying times, but we must show restraint and peaceful cooperation in everything we do. That is the only way we will win.

The next three weeks of lockdown, and the months that follow this period, will be our greatest test as a nation. We can get through this if we stand united against our common enemy.

DA outlines proposals to assist government in fighting Coronavirus

The following comments were delivered at Parliament today at a press conference on Coronavirus.

It is safe to say that we are on the precipice of a full-blown national crisis, the implications of which will be devastating to our society, our economy, and ultimately, our future as a nation. Especially given that South Africa was in a precarious economic state prior to Covid-19’s arrival.

The DA has already pledged its full support to the fight against the spread of Covid-19 in South Africa, and we remain committed to working side-by-side with National Government to stop the spread of this virus and ensure the safety of each and every South African.

Yesterday I convened an urgent meeting of my extended shadow cabinet including the Premier of the Western Cape and the Mayor of the City of Cape Town. The shadow cabinet will reach across the aisle and contact their relevant Ministers offering any assistance they can provide. My shadow cabinet is available to form part of Ministerial task teams and to provide any necessary input into the Covid-19 response.

Each shadow minister has been asked to look at their portfolio and examine what portfolio-specific measures need to be taken to mitigate the effects of the virus while identifying loopholes in the existing measures that need to be plugged. I have also formed a Shadow Cabinet Committee which will meet regularly in order to exercise oversight over the announced response measures and to offer useful and innovative idea and approaches that governments at all levels can adopt in their response efforts.

We will submit these recommendations to the President at a multi-party meeting being held tomorrow in Cape Town:

Economic recommendations:

  • A four-month loan forbearance for businesses.
  • A four-month rental forbearance for small businesses.
  • Pause in VAT, UIF and Worker’s Compensation Fund payments and outstanding VAT refunds should be paid to businesses urgently, and new VAT payments should be deferred to later this year.
  • We are engaging with DA local governments on possible immediate rates payment relief to businesses in their jurisdiction.
  • We propose that business rescue proceedings should receive an automatic three month extension beyond the three months provided for in S132 of the Companies Act; and
  • SAA’s R16.4 billion bailout should be cancelled immediately and the budget amended to allocate this money to disaster management. The Minister should also urgently clarify what funds are available in the National Disaster Management Fund.

Health Mitigation Strategies

  • The private sector should pledge further resources to fight Covid-19.
  • The DoH, through additional funds that must be made available, should sources additional Covid-19 screening and testing.
  • We are calling on the extension of screening and testing capacity through the coordination of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the National Health Laboratory Service and private laboratory services.
  • Public hotspots should be implemented as a matter of urgency. This would transport hubs, workplaces such as mining companies and communities.
  • The DoH should urge retired healthcare professionals to come out of retirement on a voluntary basis to be deployed to screening hotspots and managing public queries on the public hotline. The DoH should also be reaching out to medical students who can provide the service over and above their training.
  • The Coronavirus public hotline should be expanded and capacitated. This can be in collaboration with private partners who are already running call-centre companies.
  • Health and safety officials who fall within the local government structures should be deployed to shopping centres and places of high frequency to ensure that businesses are complying with the basic requirements of protecting their staff members and the public.

Other Mitigation Strategies

  • Parliament needs to close down, except for essential services. It is therefore disappointing that the ANC has pushed for Parliament to go ahead with a National Assembly sitting tomorrow. As Parliamentarians, we have a responsibility to set an example during this unprecedented time.
  • South African law enforcement should be deployed to monitor and assess the roll-out of mitigation strategies across the country.
  • Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, however, gave a very brief and vague plan as to how he will ensure the hygiene and sanitisation of passenger rail services across South Africa. This must be better though-out.
  • Minister Blade Nzimande should shut down universities and suspend lectures in order to mitigate or contain the spread of Covid-19.
  • The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation should consider piloting a system whereby the visas of foreign residents currently in South Africa can be extended.
  • In municipalities and rural regions of the country where water is either scarce or has run out completely, mobile water supplies must be made available for hygiene purposes.
  • The DA last week wrote to the chairperson of the portfolio committee on water and sanitation to request a meeting between all relevant stakeholders to address the impact of Covid-19 on water and sanitation infrastructure.
  • In light of the National Disaster declaration, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs must put systems in place to monitor the implementation of contingency measures in municipalities, ensuring that disaster management funds are spent efficiently and effectively.

The Western Cape Government

  • The Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, has put in place a Central Provincial Structure to monitor and mitigate the Covid-19 virus.
  • The Joint Operations Centre has been activated 2 weeks ago and is operational on a 24/7 basis.
  • Work streams are meeting daily at 10:00 and there is a daily Cabinet meeting at 12:30 to receive updates and take the necessary emergency decisions.
  • A provincial Covid-19 hotline was introduced to relieve the pressure on the national hotline. The provincial hotline number is: 021 928 4102.
  • Using the Joint District Approach, local governments across the Western Cape have action plans.
  • Outbreak response teams are in place.
  • Radio messages in the three official languages of the Western Cape have been issues.
  • The Western Cape government are briefing various sectors, including sporting, cultural and religious bodies.
  • This morning, the DA Minister of Agriculture in the Western Cape, Ivan Meyer, closed the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute from Wednesday 18 March until 14 April as a precautionary measure.
  • Officials returning from overseas, will self-quarantine for 14 days.

City of Cape Town

  • Mayor Dan Plato has established a Coronavirus Task Team
  • City has closed various recreational hubs to avoid non-essential contact
  • The City has taken the decision to withdraw permits for previously approved events
  • MyCiti buses will no longer allow more than 20 persons on
  • The City has stopped non-essential travel

Call to Action

South Africa is an incredibly resilient nation, and we are known as a people to band together under any set of circumstances in order to overcome any obstacle.

The DA is leading by example. In addition to the postponement, the Party has also suspended all political meetings across the country. We have also taken precautionary to prevent the spread of Coronavirus among DA staffers. At our Federal Head Office in Cape Town, we have sent non-essential staff home for them to work remotely, de-densified our offices to prevent close contact, and conducted a full sanitisation of our offices.

Covid-19 is a collective issue which can only be solved through a collective response, and South Africa needs everyone to get on board. We need to ensure that we break the chain of infection in order to stop the virus in its tracks. This is precisely why travel restrictions, self-quarantine, and good hygiene practices are so crucial. We need to understand that while the virus may not be fatal to ourselves, it may cause the death of someone who may contract the virus from us in the greater chain of infection.

Understanding this phenomenon is key to tackling this outbreak, and public awareness campaigns must focus on this.

In this spirit, I want to make the following Calls to Action to get each and every level of society on board with the fight against Covid-19.

Private Sector Support

  • I want to appeal to the private sector to consider adapting its operations where possible to accommodate the President’s announced contingency measures. This includes allowing staff to work from home, providing less densified work environments for essential staff, and ensuring that workplaces are clean and sanitised at all times.
  • I also want to call on big business to get involved. Telecommunications companies such as Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom should consider making discounted or free data packages available for students accessing online learning platforms remotely. The private healthcare sector can assist government in augmenting patient capacity and providing additional medical supplies to regions where they are needed.
  • I want to call on private medical aids to make Covid-19 testing freely available on all plans without unnecessary conditions in order to fast track detection and quarantine.

We will only defeat Covid-19 if we roll up our sleeves and do the hard yards for the good of our country. Now is the time for us to band together as South Africans, put our country first, and defeat the Covid-19 virus.

The DA is 100% committed to leading a government in Tshwane

The following remarks were delivered today by the DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, following a meeting with the DA’s Tshwane Caucus.

The current situation in the Tshwane Metro, where the city has no Mayor, no City Manager and no Mayoral Committee, is frustrating to all who want to see services delivered to the people. No single party in Tshwane has a governing majority. Of the total 214 seats, the DA has 93 seats, the ANC has 89 seats, the EFF has 25 seats and the remaining seats are shared out among several parties. A functioning government in the Metro requires some form of cooperation, whether this is through a minority government or a coalition agreement. And to establish this cooperation requires council meetings attended by at least 108 of the 214 members.

Unfortunately, the second and third biggest parties in the Metro have displayed no political will to reach an agreement on such a cooperation, and this has left the city rudderless and functioning on autopilot. This impasse, brought on by the continuous sabotage of council meetings by the ANC, cannot continue. It is imperative that we find a way forward soon, so that the people of Tshwane do not suffer.

The DA is fully committed to finding such a solution. It is also our intention to lead a government in Tshwane so that we can serve the people of the city, more of whom put their trust in the DA than in any other party. We will do whatever it takes to reach an agreement with both the ANC and the EFF – at local and national level – to break this impasse. This commitment to remain in government in Tshwane has the full support of the caucus. Our aim is to be the core of a realigned majority nationally by 2024, and the best way to achieve this is to demonstrate what we can do in government.

In Tshwane this could happen via another coalition agreement, or through a minority government. Either way, the DA is prepared to step back into government, and we have a comprehensive plan to restore service delivery to the city. The roll-out of this plan would be closely managed by the political leadership in the Metro, by our provincial structures in Gauteng, and by our Governance Unit at Federal level.

We are fully aware of the challenges of such a transitionary period. The tricky seven party coalition that the DA had to lead in Cape Town from 2006 to 2011 required an extraordinary effort, but the end result was a full mandate in 2011, and the ability to roll out our plans for the city unencumbered. It is no coincidence that today, a decade on, Cape Town leads every other Metro in every measure of governance. This is what we envision for the City of Tshwane too, and we will do whatever it takes to restore leadership and order in the Metro.

But we can only control our own actions. The destructive strategy of the EFF and the ANC in repeatedly denying council meetings the required 108-member quorum is nothing but a delaying tactic to buy these two parties time to broker a power-sharing deal at national level. Such a deal would allegedly secure a split of Mayorship and Speaker positions for both parties in the cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane. By all accounts, such a deal has not and cannot be reached nationally, and so their indefinite sabotage strategy continues in Tshwane, at great cost to the residents of the city.

However, the ANC is not necessarily interested in trying to resolve these issues. In making the City ungovernable by constantly breaking quorum and walking out of meetings, they can create conditions for Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Lebogang Maile to place the Metro under administration.  This will enable the ANC to take over the Council for their interests, despite the fact that the voters rejected them in the last election.

The ANC’s goal is always power. They will make the City ungovernable to gain control by nefarious means, because they could not get it by democratic means. They are sabotaging and by-passing democracy through manipulating the use of Section 139 of the Constitution. The DA will resist that because it was never intended to use 139 to by-pass the outcome of a democratic election, through enabling minorities to make a Council ungovernable.

The solution to this is for minority parties to ensure that their councillors attend meetings, nominate candidates for election as Mayor and accept the outcome of a democratic vote. This is how to break the current impasse, without trying to manipulate section 139 of the constitution for nefarious power grabbing purposes.

The ANC has also worked hard to create the perception among the public that all parties, including the DA, are to blame for this governance crisis in Tshwane. This is simply not true. The DA has always been and remains fully committed to finding a solution to break the impasse. We realise that, due to the authoritarian nature of the ANC and EFF’s decision-making process, any efforts to broker a deal at local level will inevitably be subject to the backroom deals these parties reach at national level.

And so while we have mandated DA Mayoral candidate Randall Williams to seek solutions with the ANC and EFF in the city, our Federal leadership is committed to do the same with both parties nationally. Unfortunately this has, to date, been met with a complete lack of interest to reach out from their side.

However, within the ANC there appears to be a faction that is willing to engage, and this is where the hope for not only the future of Tshwane, but indeed the future of South Africa lies. Collaboration between those who genuinely have the interests of the people at heart, regardless of their party, can lead to the emergence of a new majority built around shared values and a shared vision for our country and its cities and towns. The DA has always been eager to seek out and work with those who want to break free from the destructive status quo in our politics and plot a new way forward. If there is a chance to pilot such a realignment in Tshwane, we will pursue it.

What we see playing out in Tshwane is the growing pains of a democracy as it progresses from the hegemony of a one-party state into a fully-fledged multi-party democracy, where governing power exchanges hands orderly and peacefully at the ballot box. This process is never easy or painless, but it is essential that we go through it if we want our democracy to mature and break free from one-party dominance. If we can find our way through this in Tshwane, we can ultimately do so at national level too.

Minister Nzimande should stop window dressing and take the future of this country seriously

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today in response to the Minister of Higher Education’s executive statement on the state of readiness at higher education institution.

Sekela Somlomo

Malungu Abekekileyo

Fellow South Africans

 Ndiyanibulisa Ngale Njikalanga

 Molweni 

Today I stand here having seen the true state of our Higher Education Institutions with no presentation nor Department of Higher Education staff to paint a facade of what is happening on the ground through power points, not even you, Minister, can fool my sight, because I’ve seen it for myself.

Like a broken record, I will continuously remind you without fear, and with vigour of all the issues that are setting up my brothers and sisters for failure on our university and TVET campuses. I will offer you solutions you can immediately implement until you act and resolve these issues Minister! I suggest Minister you start using your free flights, to go see for yourself.

Standing here I carry the harsh realities of my brothers and sisters whose dreams have been denied, whose hopes have been diminished, whose trust has been broken and whose talents have been crippled.

During my oversight visits I met an administrator at the admissions office at the Nelson Mandela University that expressed the uselessness of the poorly coordinated CACH system that was used to assist walk-in students and give them hope of access with only a 2% take up rate as confirmed by the department of Higher education and Training (DHET).

I met Walter Sisulu University (WSU) Mthatha-students whom are yet to academically register, nor have lectures commenced to date – a month post the date of the commencement of lecturers – because of poor administration processes and the poorly coordinated online registration process. This, while 1 000 Bachelor of Education and Nursing students are rejected because the Council of Higher Education failed to accredit some courses on time.

I met Sinawo who is one of the more than 3 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Fort Hare who was requested to pay 30% upfront to settle her student debt before she could register. Yet, she is NSFAS qualifying student.  Similarly, Mlamuli from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) who is a “missing middle” student, is expected to pay R36 000 upfront at a university where R31 million worth of property has been burnt down.

They are part of the 192 000 students who cannot register due to historic debt and being subjected to upfront payments they cannot afford. Yet the Minister has announced clearance interventions, but these have not materialised.

What is shocking is that NSFAS has still not paid out the R30 million allocated to historic debt for students from 2018 as reported to us just this morning, yet students continue to be financially excluded.

Yesterday, Port Elizabeth TVET students in their hundreds shutdown the Russel Road Campus because NSFAS has not paid their allowances for transport so as to get to class, for accommodation to avoid sleeping in labs and for food.

This is just one example of many, where TVET colleges in collaboration with NSFAS are failing to disburse student allowances timeously and efficiently where some students wait up to 7 months to receive allowances as is the case at the Northern Cape Rural TVET, South Cape TVET and Tshwane North TVET.

Similarly, students living with disability whom wait for over a year for their assistive devices from NSFAS.

Central University of Technology students have not received money for food, books and accommodation. Those who received funds for accommodation say it was not the full amount. Some students incurred historical debt while they are NSFAS beneficiaries, NSFAS had never paid the fees of these students since 1st year and now students are struggling to continue with their studies as they are not able to register.

ANC members stood on this very podium last week trying to praise a better mess at NSFAS which in current reality has again failed poor students who can’t commute to class, those who can are hungry, some without study material and some homeless.

I met Mr Marlin and their daughter whom had been sleeping at the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) SRC offices because the institution had failed to accredit the Southpoint residence she was living in the previous year and now has to travel an hour to campus because she is allocated in a residence in Eersterivier.

What was more concerning is the conditions in which our students live under, as backroom dwellers in unsafe off campus accommodation.  While there is heavy political interference, as seen with Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) and Vaal University of Technology (VUT), to build student accommodation, they cannot properly maintain existing buildings.

Students in HDIs, TVETs and Community Colleges are subjected to dilapidating buildings, residence ceilings falling on their heads and with no on campus with access to WIFI.

Our brothers and sisters are subjected to a culture of violence on and off our campuses. On one end students are stabbed to death and on the other hand buildings are being torched. A Tshwane North female student was advised to date an older man just to get by because they are poor and needy.

R35 million in NSFAS funds is being invested in the wrong skills with an outdated curriculum, with over saturated courses just are not relevant for industry, the job market, entrepreneurship and innovation. We need to conclude the 2018 review of the curriculum.

NSFAS irregular expenditure is sitting at R7.6 billion increasing from R280 million from the previous year. Not R4 million Minister.

Generally the sector has some core issues that were common across the board when I visited our institutions to ensure that these environments are ready for 2020, conducive for living and learning. We need to deal with the legacy problems of the curriculum, SETA cash cows that every TVET complained about, infrastructure maintenance, student accommodation, historic debt, allowances for TVET students and safety amongst other things.

This is the true state of our institutions Minister!

Therefore, there is no time for making excuses or tying to score political points around the genuine issues of our brothers who can’t access and if they do won’t succeed. Here are some of the immediate action steps you can take Minister:

  1. Honour the invite of UFH to visit their campus to see for yourself and other campuses and not only rely on officials presenting to you in boardrooms.
  2. Announce a plan with specific timelines to deal with historic debt, so that students are not financially excluded and can register.
  3. NSFAS should immediately institute a disbursement process that will pay students directly without having to go through the TVET college, further investigate corruption and maladministration at TVETs that have not disbursed student allowance and institute consequence management.
  4. NSFAS should expedite payments for student debts to ensure that the R30 million unused deal with the current financial exclusions requiring upfront payments from students without crippling our institutions or disrupting academic activity.
  5. Plan to standardise student allowances for both TVET and universities particularly for food, transport and accommodation.
  6. Engage the departments of Public Works and human settlements for unused buildings in the localities of our institutions so as to use that for student accommodation and lecture halls, as an immediate solution. Further involve local municipalities for problem buildings and land to build as part of cooperative governance.
  7. Engage National Treasury about DHET managing infrastructure development and maintenance projects to avoid political interference and underspending.
  8. Every campus to report on their safety/Security plan and equipment available to support a plan that will ensure our brothers and sisters are safe on and off campus.
  9. Conclude curriculum review relevant to industry, job market, entrepreneurship and innovation.
  10. CHE accreditation process needs to be fast tracked.

The DA’s mission is to rescue the future of this country, to create a better future for all South Africans, not only those whom are connected. Hence, we ask you to stop the window dressing Minister and go implement in order to try and change the circumstances of one’s birth determining their prospects of success, because their dreams lay beneath our feet therefore we should tread softly because we tread on their dreams.

I suggest you leave political commentry and focus on resolving the issues!

I thank you.

The Western Cape’s DA government continues to put the people first

Please find attached soundbite by John Steenhuisen MP.

We welcome today’s State of the Province Address delivered by Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde. He reaffirmed the DA’s commitment to building a prosperous nation and putting the people first through groundbreaking initiatives that enable his government to deliver services as well as a stable working economy.

The DA-led Western Cape government has made great strides since being reelected in May last year in delivering on its electoral promise to fight for the people of the province. In the first ten months in office, Premier Alan Winde and his team have managed to achieve the following:

  • 26 out of 30 municipalities in the province received unqualified audits.
  • Lifestyle audits were instituted for all members of the Western Cape cabinet, in line with the DA’s commitment to fighting corruption.
  • The provincial ministerial handbook was reviewed in order to continue saving hundreds of millions of Rands.
  • A comprehensive, province-wide Safety Plan was launched, aimed at halving the murder rate in the province. In partnership with the City of Cape Town, the first 500 of 3000 new law enforcement officers have been deployed to crime-ridden areas.
  • 24,000 new jobs were created in the last quarter of 2019. This was more than half of the net jobs created in our country for that period.
  • 1,144 title deeds were handed over to beneficiaries between June and December 2019, making these citizens real owners of their homes.

Today the Premier announced further commitments to the people of the province:

  1. The establishment of a special Safety Cabinet, to meet every six weeks to report back on the work done to make the Western Cape safer.
  2. The Western Cape government will work with municipalities who want to establish their own Red Tape Reduction Units to help businesses thrive. A new dedicated Municipal Economic Support Unit, housed within the Department of Economic Development, will help to ensure that these units are launched.
  3. The province has announced a 4-point energy diversification plan to help give back power to the people and keep the lights on.
  4. Continue the work of the recently launched Economic War Room, using world-class methodology to address burning problems and help accelerate economic growth in the province.
  5. Plans underway to finalise the establishment of the Western Cape’s very own Children’s Commissioner – a dedicated champion to protect and promote children’s rights in the province.
  6. 3,605 housing opportunities in phase one of the Conradie Park Development, with half of these earmarked for affordable housing. This project has already commenced.
  7. Housing Opportunity Priority Group to now include backyard dwellers. This means that every time the Western Cape launches a greenfield project, backyarders will also be prioritised.
  8. Continue fighting for the control of passenger trains to ensure much-needed improvement to the rail system. The province is already proceeding with a full feasibility study on shifting passenger rail away from the control of national government.

We congratulate Premier Winde and his government on these outstanding achievements in delivering on their promises and putting the people of the Western Cape first.

One of the biggest obstacles to economic growth and service delivery in this country is the rampant corruption and poor governance record of the ANC. The DA-led Western Cape government is proof that with a capable team and bold, workable plans, far more can be achieved.

Premier Winde’s team in the Western Cape will not rest on their laurels. There is always more to be done. However, the ball is now in President Ramaphosa’s court to choose the people of this country over his party, and respond to the urgent requests put to him by the Premier to allow for bigger and bolder reforms in the province.

The time for talk is over. We need action if we are to put South Africa on the path towards prosperity.

Onteiening sonder vergoeding: Suid-Afrikaners benodig beleidsekerheid

Die volgende toespraak sal vandag tydens die debat oor die Staatsrede in die Parlement gelewer word en is onder embargo tot ná die lewering van die toespraak vanaand.

Speaker, die President het tydens sy staatsrede aangedui dat sy toespraak binne die raamwerk van inklusiewe ekonomiese groei geskryf is.

Hierdie woorde het Suid-Afrikaners hoop gegee. Hoop dat beleidsekerheid gegee gaan word. Hoop dat vrese besweer gaan word, dat die versekering en versterking van almal se grondwetlike regte op ʼn inklusiewe manier aangespreek gaan word. Dat almal aan die einde van die rede ʼn gevoel gaan hê dat ons op koers is.

Helaas, het die hoop beskaam. Daar is met ʼn paar sinne ʼn streep deur die een fundamentele grondwetlike reg van elke burger van hierdie land getrek. Die reg om eiendom te besit soos verskans in art 25 van die Grondwet is in groter onsekerheid gedompel.

Ons het al by herhaling in hierdie Huis gewys op die onherstelbare skade wat ʼn gepeuter aan art 25 tot gevolg kan hê. Dit val gewoon op dowe ore.

Speaker, die president het die land verseker dat onteiening sonder vergoeding op so ʼn manier gedoen sal word dat dit nie die ekonomie en voedselsekuriteit in gedrang sal bring nie.

Wat is egter die werklikheid?

Sedert die begin van hierdie proses het sake en verbruikersvertroue tot ʼn rekord laagtepunt verswak.  Die aantal landbougrond-transaksies het regoor die land afgeneem. Private vastebeleggings toon geen vordering nie en onlangs is die Landbank deur Moody’s tot rommelstatus afgegradeer. En hulle motivering daarvoor is die onsekerheid wat onteiening sonder vergoeding tot gevolg sal hê.

Speaker, wat word van verbande wat op eiendom geregistreer is en sonder vergoeding onteien word? Soos dit blyk uit kommentaar vanuit die banksektor, gaan die persoon wat die verband uitgeneem het steeds daarvoor verantwoordelik wees. Met ander woorde die staat kan jou eiendom onteien en jy moet nog steeds betaal.

Dit impak hiervan, nie net op die individu nie, maar die finansiële sektor is geweldig. Daar is tans R1.6 triljoen se verbande op residensiële, kommersiële en landbou-eiendom deur banke toegestaan. Die Landbank kan R53 miljard verloor.

Dit kan die banksektor ʼn fatale knou toedien.

Daar kan nie van ekonomiese groei sprake wees as daar nie beleidsekerheid is nie. Die President en die ANC regering se bontpratery en Orwelliaanse dubbelpraat oor wat die wysiging moet wees, bied nie beleidsekerheid nie.

Die aanvanklike motivering vir die wysiging van art 25 was om dit wat implisiet is, eksplisiet te maak. Dit is ʼn vals argument. Die Grondwet is voldoende eksplisiet oor spesifiek grondhervorming en restitusie. ʼn Standpunt wat ook deur die Hoëvlak Paneel gehuldig is. Maar, bygessê, dit is ʼn verslag wat volledig deur die Ad Hoc komitee geïgnoreer word. Wat nodig is, is ʼn toetssaak wat vir ons regsekerheid sal gee en nie ʼn wysiging van die Grondwet nie.

Ons het nou die 18de Grondwetlike Wysigingswetsontwerp. Hiervolgens, word voorsiening gemaak vir nil R vergoeding en dat wetgewing gebruik sal word om die omstandighede te bepaal vir wanneer daar onteiening sonder enige vergoeding is. Dit op sigself is uiters problematies, aangesien grond nie slegs landbou grond is nie maar enige grond insluit sowel as enige verbeterings wat daarop aangebring is. Verder word die goedkeuringsdrempel verlaag na ʼn gewone meerdheid in die Parlement.

Maar, nog meer problematies is die aankondiging, gemaak deur die president self, na afloop van die ANC NUK lekgotla. Die regerende party ondersteun ʼn wysiging wat die besluit oor die quantum van vergoeding in die hande van die uitvoerende gesag sal toelaat, met ander woorde, dat  die minister en dat die howe se rol verminder word. Die argument wat aangevoer word is dat die howe die proses vertraag. Derhalwe moet een van die mees fundamentele grondwetlike menseregte in die hande van ʼn minister gelaat word. As ʼn persoon nie gelukkig is nie kan hy of sy eers na afloop van die proses die howe nader om hersiening. Hersiening van die administratiewe proses, of hersiening van die substantiewe skending van ʼn grondwetlike reg? Ons weet nie en mnr die President, u sê nie.

Suid-Afrka se Grondwet is onomwonde ten gunste van die beskerming van eiedomsregte. Vergoeding moet billik en regverdig wees. En sodanige beslissing moet aan die hand van verskeie faktore wat in art 25 aangedui word, gedoen word. Dit is egter nie ʼn geslote lys nie en vereis ʼn delikate balanseringtoertjie waarin verskeie belange teen mekaar geweeg en gemeet moet word.

Dit is en was nog altyd die DA se standpunt dat die howe die enigste geskikte forum is om kompeterende belange op te weeg en in die lig van elke geval se unieke omstandighede ʼn beslissing te maak oor wat billike en regverdige vergoeding is.

Die besluit van die President en die ANC dat die howe se rol as finale arbiter verminder word deur dit te beperk tot hersiening, verwyder die beskerming teen misbruik wat die Grondwet aan alle Suid-Afrikaners bied. Die rol van die howe word dus vervang met die arbitrêre diskresie van politici en die burokrasie.

Dit word nou duidelike dat wat die regerende party nou wil doen is om die Grondwet te verander sodat die Onteieningswetsontwerp die grondwetlike toets kan deurstaan. Mnr die President, as een van die opstellers van die Grondwet, was dit seer sekerlik nie die bedoeling nie. Die Grondwet is die uiteindelike beskermingsmeganisme teen die staat se vergrype.

Hierdie voorgestelde wysiging is ʼn aanval op die oppergesag van die reg soos voorsien in Art 1 van Hoofstuk 1 van die Grondwet, waarin die grondbeginsels van Grondwet vervat word.

Speaker, indien die rol van die howe soos gestipuleer in die Grondwet verminder word, het ons nie meer te doen met ʼn wysiging van die Grondwet wat ʼn 2/3 meerderheid vereis nie, maar goedkeuring van 75% van die Nasionale Vergadering. Dit is hoe gevaarlik die ANC se posisie is. Dit gaan teen die grein van die Grondwet. Dit stel Suid-Afrika oop vir gruwelike magsmisbruik.

Uiteindelik is dit niks meer as die regering se poging om sy eie mislukking met grondhervorming toe te smeer nie.

Suid-Afrikaners verdien beter as dit.

Mnr die President, u kon hoop gee, u kon beleidsekerheid gee. Maar u het verkies om dit nie te doen nie. Inteendeel, ons het verwag dat u u sterk sal uitspreek teen enige vorm van grondgrype soos wat die EFF in die Vrystaat dreig om te doen.

Die DA sal daarenteen voortgaan om behoorlike, billike, en effektiewe grondhervorming te bevorder wat werklike ekonomiese groei en voedselsekerheid sal verseker.

Ons sal geen steen onaangeroer raak om die eindomsreg van elke Suid-Afrikaner te beskerm en te verdedig nie.

The DA is the best alternative for the ANC in government

In every State of the Nation Address by President Ramaphosa, we are serenaded with remixes of classics hits: from Thuma Mina to Khauzela and just last week to a verse by Ladysmith Black Mambazo

Beneath all those sonic seductions, are the echoes of unfulfilled promises.

Mr. President, while you artfully plead for more time from all of us to fix what’s broken in the country, the reality is that many South Africans have no more time left to wait.

The people of Mzilela Village who have never had access to clean drinkable water since 1994 are tired of waiting.

The young graduates who have never had a job since their graduation are tired of waiting.

Victims of rape are tired of waiting for rape kits at police stations every time they report their cases.

All of them want a government that understands the urgency of their plight.

Their patience has been tested over and over again. All they need is more delivery, less promises.

All these claims about being serious about fighting corruption will only be credible
when corrupt politicians start going to jail.

Until then, such calls will remain the repetitive hollow sounds of broken records.

Mr. President, you spent a great deal of time in your speech sharing the extent of multiple consultations, summits, forums, councils and all other glorified WhatsApp groups overelaborating on the simplicity of our problems.

Truth be told, it shouldn’t take such endless consultations to fix what’s broken in our country because the solutions are so obvious for all of us to see.

All it takes is the courage to confront the left-wing ideologues and dump their dogmatic obsessions.

Reaffirm the independence of the South African Reserve Bank. Stop the nationalization of medical health care. Stop the expropriation of land without compensation. Privatize failing state-owned enterprises. Fire all corrupt politicians in government.

If you do this, you will restore the investor confidence that will help create the jobs that so many South Africans desperately needs.

But we all know that all of these are impossible because of the deep ideological differences between the factions you are trying so hard to appease.

Mr. President, now more than ever is the time for policy uniformity in government and not the expedient policy double-speak that currently prevails in your government.

What the country needs is the repetitive singular chorus of policy certainty from your administration not another remix of a classic song as a rallying call.

Fellow South Africans, perhaps now is the time to recognize that the ANC has simply ran out of the best ideas for our country to prosper.

The standard ANC response to every major debate about the future of our country is nationalization!

Nationalise the Reserve Bank! Nationalize health care! Nationalize banks!

Now is the time for a government that protects individual property rights rather than trample on them.

Now is the time for a government that embraces citizens’ right to choose the medical help they prefer rather than take away their rights.

Now is the time for a government has can deliver quality primary education that empowers our children to be amongst the leading nations in reading and writing with meaning and maths literacy.

Now is the time for a government that can devolve powers to provinces to establish provincial police services rather than fight provinces that are trying to fight crime.

As imperfect as we have often been on government, the DA in government in the best possible alternative to the ANC in government.

We have the most consistent record for spending taxpayers’ money wisely.

Where we govern outright – every credible research shows that – the quality of life is better.

Communities are much safer.

Public infrastructure is in a better condition due to regular maintenance.

Poor residents have access to a broad basket of subsidized free basic services than anywhere else in the country.

It is easier to start and run businesses because we have eliminated the red tape that frustrates entrepreneurs.

And yes, we could do better.

And we will.

I thank you.

When local government fails, millions of South Africans suffer

Honourable Speaker/Chairperson Honourable Members, Fellow South Africans,

Mr President, when local government fails to deliver on their responsibilities as mandated in the Constitution, the lives of millions of South Africans are severely impacted negatively – as we hear and see when we visit our constituencies or do oversight all over the country.

We have listened to quite a few plans over the years. While we are still waiting for these plans to come to fruition, I want to focus on the current crippled and incapable Local Government structures of our country.

Mr President, you have said, and often repeated that opposition parties should instead of making noise, offer solutions.

We welcome your acceptance of the DA’s solution for reform of District Municipalities in announcing the District Model.

In the Western Cape, the need for change in the operation of District Municipalities has been discussed for some time in the Premier’s Coordinating – and other forums. This resulted in the initiation of the Joint District Approach Model. The Western Cape government is taking the opportunity to implement the Joint District Planning Approach in all five of the province’s District Municipalities

This model will see the formation of the District Coordination Forums, and the utilization of shared services, especially in rural areas where specialised skills and knowledge are often scarce.

The Joint District Approach creates the ultimate opportunity to align plans, assess them and finally implement them. This will ensure that gaps will be closed and prevent the duplication of processes in service delivery.

Mr President, you referred to the need to address Climate Change. Some of the many environmental hurdles in local government is that of inadequate waste management, air quality and pollution that contribute to the decline of our environment.

Through the Joint District Approach, the Western Cape government has a mission to over time reduce the 162 landfill sites to just 9. This will result in more waste volume in concentrated areas. Consequently, better opportunities will be created for increased recycling, sustainable waste management and job creation.

Mr President, the district model should not be a powers and functions discussion nor a tool to unilaterally take control of unmandated powers and functions.

This should not be a vehicle to broaden the opportunities for corruption and malfunction. It should focus on streamlining resources and service delivery to the people of South Africa.

Several municipalities are failing in service delivery. With many municipalities under administration, now is the time to find proactive solutions to the way interventions are being implemented. Mr President, In September 2019, The Public Affairs Research Institute published a comprehensive report on Section 139 interventions. Our solution is to at least implement one of the many recommendations in this report, namely that Section 139 interventions are not used as a last solution, but as the framework to prevent the collapse of local government.

Bobby Unser said that “success is where preparation and opportunities meet”.

The Joint District Planning Approach is an opportunity – the Western Cape is prepared to implement it. This is what you call building a capable state.