On Wednesday vote in a clear DA majority to beat the ANC

After 7 months of electoral suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Democratic Alliance calls on voters across the country to come out in their numbers and vote DA in a series of important by-elections to be held across the country on Wednesday 11 November.

At least four by-elections will be held in every province this coming Wednesday, with the fate of 12 municipalities hanging in the balance. Now that the DA has renewed leadership which has brought about stability, unity, and policy-led focus, I would like to call on voters across the country to vote DA to bring in clean, capable, and efficient blue governments across South Africa.

It is absolutely crucial that residents in communities across the country vote on Wednesday to help bring about the change our country so desperately needs. We can only do this by voting in a party with a proven track record in government and the necessary networks and support systems to formulate sound governments.

If you make a plan now, and prepare in advance to get to the polls in your Ward on Wednesday, you will be ready to participate and play your part in this crucial local democratic moment.

I want to urge residents not to vote for independent candidates or smaller parties as this will only splinter and divide municipal councils across the country and usher in political instability which will paralyse services.

Only the DA is large enough, and strong enough to topple ANC-led governments and replace them with world-class administrations under the DA’s banner. Only a clear DA majority in your municipality can give the DA the mandate to change your life for the better now.

On Wednesday, come out and vote DA. Let’s move your ward, your municipality, and our country forward together!

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

DA Speeches: Financial burden of sustaining non-profitable SOEs

The following speeches were delivered by Geordin Hill-Lewis MP, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, Ghaleb Cachalia MP, DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, and Alf Lees, DA Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts during Parliament’s debate on the financial burden of sustaining non-profitable state-owned entities. 

By Geordin Hill-Lewis MP – The ANC is grieving the end of its dream
DA Shadow Minister of Finance (072 320 1289)

“Over the last 12 years, the ANC government has spent R192.5 billion bailing out bankrupt state-owned entities (SOEs). In addition to this, they have committed the government to a further R383.2 billion in state guarantees.  

Full speech can be accessed here.

By Ghaleb Cachalia MP – To get good government, you must have good people in charge of government
DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises (083 675 2563)

“Let me take you back to last year when President Ramaphosa published his open letter on SOEs. He said that despite severe financial difficulties, operational problems and being mired in debt, he would not allow any of these strategic entities to fail.”

Full speech can be accessed here.

By Alf Lees MP – Don’t let the ANC kid you that this is the last SAA bailout
DA Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (082 806 4340)

“On the 26th of November 2019 I made a speech in this house calling for the bankrupt SAA to be put into business rescue. Eight days later, on the 5th of December 2019 Hon. Gordhan finally had no other option and SAA was put into business rescue.”

Full speech can be accessed here.

Hope is on the Horizon

Please see below the acceptance speech by the newly-elected Federal Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen.

Fellow South Africans,

I cannot think of a more fitting place from which to speak with you today than this beautiful City of eThekwini.

Twenty-one years ago, I made my way up the steps of the Durban City Hall for the very first time, as the city’s youngest ever elected councillor.

Back then – as today – many people asked me why I decided to go into politics.

My answer today is the same as it has always been: because I love my party, and I love my country.

I have travelled a long road in the DA.

I fought to fix potholes in the roads when I was a councillor.

I exposed corruption when I was a member of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature.

I held presidents accountable as a member of Parliament.

But never in my wildest imagination did I believe I would one day lead this great party, the Democratic Alliance.

When I first became a DP activist at the age of nineteen, I did so because I knew it was a party with a proud history of fighting to give power to the people of South Africa.

A party that waged a lone battle in Parliament against the evil Apartheid regime.

A party that was instrumental in the drafting of our nation’s liberal democratic Constitution.

A party that grew from a handful of seats in Parliament to become the official opposition.

In the years since, the DA has grown to become a party that governs cities and municipalities across the country, as well as a province.

And it is a party that will one day be at the core of a national government that will fix and unlock the boundless potential of this country.

Thank you to each and every DA delegate, and to every member of my campaign teams across the country, for the trust you have placed in me.

I am deeply humbled by your support.

Thank you also to my wife, Terry, and to my family who are all here today in the city where I grew up.

I know that you have all sacrificed so much to help me pursue my dream of serving South Africa.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to my colleague in this leadership race.

Mbali, you did not make this an easy race. You fought me every step of the way, and you never gave up.

In doing so, you helped entrench a proud democratic tradition in our party: that we don’t anoint leaders here; we elect them.

We choose our leaders on the basis of their ideas, the content of their character and their potential to lead our party into new territory. Long may this democratic tradition continue.

However, I did not run to become the leader of the DA for its own sake.

I am here because I want to take the DA to greater heights in our fight for a country where each and every citizen has the power to build a dignified life.

Today, I stand before you even more determined and energized than I was when I first climbed those stairs in front of City Hall.

The task ahead of us will not be an easy one.

Our country is in serious trouble, and the stakes have never been higher.

When I look around me, I see despair and desperation; poverty and hunger. I see politicians blaming each other for what’s gone wrong, while people suffer.

All of this is happening despite the fact that the vast majority of South Africans are warm-hearted, honest and hard-working people trying to build a future for their families.

We are not a nation of thieves and criminals beset on destroying our country.

And yet, each and every one of us are exposed to thievery, criminality and decline on a daily basis.

As we journey through life, many of us no longer lift our heads to the horizon, because we are too scared of what we may see waiting in our future.

How is it that this nation of hard-working and peace-loving people knows neither prosperity nor peace?

The people of South Africa thought that democracy would put them in charge; that the people would govern. “All power to the people” was the cry.

Instead, people now feel further and further away from where power lies.

Over the past quarter of a century, you have been robbed of your destiny, your dreams held hostage to bureaucrats and central planners.

Just think of any problem you encounter in your daily life. At the root of it you will find a state that is utterly incapable and corrupt, yet absolutely hellbent on telling you what to do.

People don’t have electricity in their homes because government insists on a state monopoly for power generation.

People are poor because government crushes entrepreneurship, growth and job creation.

Excessive state control is the reason why people can no longer take the train to work, and why the government would rather spend the little tax money that’s left to fund an airline that we do not need.

People who are destitute and vulnerable may soon stop receiving social grants because corruption is bankrupting the state.

In every domain of your life, the incapable state is in the way of you getting ahead.

And what is the government’s solution to the problems caused by excessive state control?

Their solution is even more state control. Because the more the central planners fail, the more furiously the central planners plan.

And so we face the prospect of the state taking away private property.

In the future you may longer be able to take out private medical insurance.

And there is the very real fear that the pension you spent a lifetime saving will be taken from you.

No longer content with controlling you, the government now wants to own you. They are coming for your home, your health, and your savings.

The good news is that the people of South Africa are starting to reject state control.

People do not want to live a life of dependency on a failing and corrupt state. People are tired of being told what to do by rulers who only look out for themselves.

People want to stand on their own two feet as self-reliant, autonomous human beings. They want the power and the freedom to make their own choices and build a life they value.

This is what the DA will offer under my leadership. People power.

We will fight to give power and opportunities to every law-abiding, honest and hard-working citizen – regardless of their background – to build a life they value.

As the DA’s Constitution so eloquently puts it: “Our party is uniquely founded on faith in the South African people.”

People have sometimes had endless debates about the meaning of liberalism in today’s world.

But, for me, liberalism in its purest form is a commitment to give power to the people so that they can decide for themselves how to build lives of value.

This means building a capable state that protects citizens from harms like violent crime, and delivers the quality education, healthcare and other services that all people need to unlock opportunity.

We will take power away from the state and put it in the hands of the people, where it rightfully belongs.

The one thing that unites South Africans above all else is the desire to determine one’s own destiny.

We have many problems in this country. But the people of South Africa is not one of them.

There is nothing wrong with South Africa that cannot be fixed with all that is good about South Africans.

From the Uber driver in Soweto to the nurse in Mthatha and the farmer in Vredendal, the people yearn for a government that provides things like good schools, clean drinking water, a sustainable safety net for the vulnerable, and a reliable electricity supply so that they can pursue their own dreams in life.

They want a leg up from a caring and effective government, not handouts from a failing state.

And if you are looking for proof of just how committed this reinvigorated DA is to fighting on the side of the people rather than the state, look no further than the way we fought for you during the lockdown crisis.

When the national government tried to make it impossible for you to earn a living while their cadres embarked on a massive looting spree, the DA stood alone in defence of the people.

We were the first to reject the brutal hard lockdown.

We fought for justice for Collins Khoza and the dozens of other citizens brutalised and killed by the state.

We forced the state to keep soup kitchens open and allow hungry children to be fed.

In the Western Cape we built hospitals of hope, while other provinces sent people to hospitals of horror.

During the lockdown crisis, the DA offered practical and constructive alternatives which would have saved countless people from unnecessary suffering.

In the midst of the greatest crisis that has faced our country in a generation, the DA has revealed that our character is stronger than ever.

That we can be a powerful force for positive change when we implement solutions based on our principles.

But I must also be frank with you. We have made mistakes.

There were moments in our recent past when the DA looked for populist shortcuts and failed to offer clear solutions to the decline caused by state control.

There have been times when the DA failed to be a dependable ally in the people’s fight for power.

For a while, we lost sight of who we were and what we offer: clear, principled and decisive leadership.

Fortunately, mistakes don’t have to be fatal – provided you learn from them.

Over the past year, we embarked on a journey of introspection to fix that which was broken in our party.

Precisely because we had the courage to face up to our mistakes, I can tell you today that the days of breaking trust with South Africans are well and truly over.

Under my leadership, the DA will never again turn our back on our core principles.

We are a liberal party committed to non-racialism, a market economy, and a capable state that empowers citizens and cares for the vulnerable.

We have always been at our strongest – and achieved our best results – when we stood strong on these principles.

Our task now is to show how our policies can lift 13 million people out of unemployment and 30 million people out of poverty.

We are ready to show South Africa that another way is possible.

A better future beckons on the horizon under a DA government that will replace state control with people power.

A future marked by world-class service delivery in the towns and cities where we govern.

Schools staffed by dedicated professionals where every child is given the power to reach for the stars.

Hospitals that heal the sick and care for the most vulnerable members of society.

A rapidly growing economy that creates millions of jobs, because it is owned and controlled by the hard-working people of this country.

Empowerment that works for 30 million impoverished people, rather than for a predatory elite.

Going forward, we will evaluate every decision on the basis of a single question: does it give more power to politicians and bureaucrats, or does it give more power to the people?

Measuring every decision against this metric – and always choosing to empower the people rather than the state – holds the key to fixing South Africa.

The DA also has a clear roadmap for South Africa’s journey towards a horizon of hope.

Together, we must build a new majority in South African politics, with the DA at the heart of governments across the length and breadth of our beautiful country.

It can be done.

Just look to the City of Tshwane, where we took back control only two days ago.

As a result, the capital city of South Africa is once again governed by the Democratic Alliance.

Aside from giving us an opportunity to restore good governance in our country’s capital, our most recent victory in Tshwane offers two important lessons for the road ahead.

The first is that our opponents will stop at nothing to undermine our fight for people power.

Terrified by the prospect of losing control, the Gauteng provincial government used every dirty trick at their disposal to prevent the DA from delivering for the people of Tshwane.

The second lesson is that there simply are no shortcuts to victory.

It is only because we diligently fought the unconstitutional power grab in the courts for almost a year that we are now again able to bring change to the residents of Tshwane.

If we resolutely stick to our principles as we’ve recently done in Tshwane, there is a clear path to victory for the DA and people power for South Africa.

In addition to the dozens of municipalities where we already deliver world-class services as the party of government, another two dozen could have DA-led councils after the 2021 local election.

Five of them are in Gauteng, eleven are in the Northern Cape, and three are in the Eastern Cape.

We are also ready to unleash all of our firepower in the fight to get outright majorities in cities like Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.

A clear DA majority that avoids the need for coalitions is the best way to protect these metros from underhanded takeovers that disrupt and undermine service delivery.

By waging a principled fight for people power, we will reignite momentum and get the ANC out of power.

We’ve done it many times before. In Cape Town. In Midvaal. In the Western Cape. In Tshwane.

If we show that we are the party of people power, we can do it again. This time, we can do it all across South Africa.

Today, the DA alongside millions of ordinary South Africans, takes the first step on our journey towards a horizon of hope where power lies with the people, not with the corrupt and incapable state.

We know that the voyage will not be an easy one.

There will be plenty of obstacles, battles and mirages along the way.

But we also know that with each step we take, decline will be further behind us and hope will be nearer than ever.

I know that many of you are afraid of what the future holds. We can all feel the decline created by decades of ever-expanding state control.

I know that many South Africans are so scared that they stare only at the ground in front of them, just trying to put one foot in front of another.

But I stand before you today as the leader of a revitalised Democratic Alliance, to give you a reason to again lift your eyes up from the ground.

You are no longer alone.

History has proven that when hard-working and peace-loving South Africans from all backgrounds overcome our differences to unite in the quest for people power, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Together, the DA and the people of this country can take power back from the corrupt and incapable state that stole it away.

It does not matter which part of the country you come from, what language you speak, what background you have, or what community you belong to.

If you want to live in a country where you have the security and opportunities to build a life of value for you and your family, you have a home in the DA.

If you have been stuck in the unemployment queue for years, you have a home in the DA.

If you are tired of the corrupt politicians who have stolen your future, you have a home in the DA.

If you want your children to receive a quality education, you have a home in the DA.

If you are tired of a state that spends more on VIP security for politicians than on protecting the farmers who feed us all, you have a home in the DA.

We can win this battle to take power back from the state if as many people as possible rally to the cause.

Our first opportunity to begin wresting power away from those who seek to control us will come in less than one year from today, during the 2021 local government elections.

That is why I am asking you to get out there and register to vote DA in your local municipality.

Talk to your friends and relatives, who have given up on our country, about the DA’s vision for people power over state control.

Spread the word that the days of indecision and mixed-messaging are well and truly over, and that our country can be fixed if we elect a courageous DA government that will give power back to the people.

From this first step we take together today and during every mile of the journey that lies ahead, the DA proudly walks side-by-side with the people of this country.

Not a day longer will you have to walk with shoulders slumped.

Because now the DA walks alongside you – the people of South Africa – with our chins held high and our eyes focused – not on the many perils that confront us today – but on the horizon of hope that beckons tomorrow.

Thank you.

Mayor Williams will restore DA stability, good governance, and service delivery to Tshwane

The Democratic Alliance (DA) congratulates its candidate Randall Williams and his team on his election as Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane at a Council meeting today after months of turmoil and uncertainty in our nation’s capital.

This follows the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling on Tuesday, which affirmed the DA’s position that the City had been illegally placed under administration by the Gauteng Provincial Government. Tshwane has suffered months of governance paralysis due to the ANC having continuously rendered the council ungovernable.

The SCA ruling proved what we have been saying all along: that the illegal administration in Tshwane was nothing more than a desperate power grab by the ANC.

Randall Williams’ election is a vital step in putting Tshwane back on the right track under a competent DA-administration, and I am delighted that we can now carry out the mandate of the voters in our nation’s capital to bring the change its residents so deserve.

During the 8-month period of administration, the City of Tshwane has gone down a path of regression and deterioration as services have stagnated. From ongoing power failures, water outages, and refuse removal coming to a complete standstill – service delivery has completely declined under the ANC-administration.

Today, the people of Tshwane can rest assured that good, clean, and effective DA governance is back in town. Today, we begin the hard work of bringing stability and service back to our nation’s Capital. Today we set things right.

Mayor Williams’ focus is to fix and perfect basic and essential service delivery, and lay down the foundations of a strong and capable administration to best serve and provide for the city and its residents. This will include:

  • Fixing streetlights;
  • Fixing potholes and painting road markings;
  • Making sure people have access to water, especially in Hammanskraal; and
  • Cleaning up the City.

This is the DA’s promise to the people of Tshwane. When we get the basics right, businesses thrive, communities become safer, and residents have a better quality of life.

Mayor Williams has also committed himself to rooting out the challenges left by the Gauteng Provincial Government’s illegal administration in Tshwane, and sweeping clean city departments to restore financial stability and transparency.

I have every confidence that Mayor Williams will again lead Tshwane into prosperity and good governance and demonstrate to the city’s residents what the power of a DA vote means. I look forward to getting to work so that we can turn the City of Tshwane into yet another bastion of DA excellence.

Mr President, we’ll help you make sure this never happens again

The following remarks were delivered today by DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, during the Parliamentary Debate of National Importance on Covid-19 corruption. 

Madame Speaker

Honourable President

Honourable Members

On 23 March 2020, president Ramaphosa addressed the nation to announce government’s decision to enforce a nation-wide hard lockdown.

In that speech, the President made an explicit commitment to the nation, which bears repeating in this house today. He said, and I quote:

“I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interest of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interests.
We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis.
I have directed that special units of the NPA be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption.
We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail.”
Close quote.

Fighting talk. But not a threat his party took very seriously. This stern warning clearly didn’t prove much of a deterrent.

On the contrary, we now know that in this moment of great national crisis, the ANC abused the state of disaster, under which normal oversight mechanisms and procurement regulations were suspended, to embark on a feeding frenzy of Covid-19 funds.

And this, at a time when the poorest of the poor were being forced – sometimes at gunpoint – to sacrifice their right to earn a meagre hand-to-mouth living.

When schoolchildren were being forced to sacrifice their right to education and school meals.

When Collins Khosa was brutally and needlessly murdered by the State.

We now know that billions of rands intended as relief for the poor were diverted from UIF, TERS and SASSA and instead found their way into the bank accounts of connected ANC cronies, and were squandered on purchasing luxury items such as fancy cars.

We now know that two thirds of PPE and other contracts signed between April and August were dodgy.

And that three quarters of provincial PPE contracts were dodgy, with Gauteng, KZN and the Eastern Cape the biggest offenders.

Covid funds were intended for life-giving food and life-saving medical equipment. This is not just theft. It’s murder. Corruption costs lives.

Which is why, while the DA were building field hospitals in the Western Cape, the ANC were digging graves in Gauteng.

We’ve heard that Covid looters include high-ranking ANC politicians such as Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku. And that Ace Magashule’s sons and Nomvula Mokonyane’s daughter scored Covid-related contracts.

And we know this scandal reaches right into the President’s own office, with the husband of spokesperson, Khusela Diko, awarded R125 million of tenders.

These were a pack of heartless hyenas feeding off a helpless, dying springbok. And this should outrage us all!

Mr President, you may have been “shocked” that your party could plumb such depths of depravity.

But we weren’t shocked. Because we’d seen this movie before, with the Arms Deal, Former President Mandela’s funeral, State Capture and other grand-scale theft by connected cronies. Every time there is a big government procurement, the political hyenas are never far from the door.

Which is why the DA, from the outset, pushed hard for Covid accountability mechanisms.

We called for parliament to remain open, arguing that oversight is an essential service.

We called for an ad hoc committee to ensure continuous oversight during lockdown.

We called for a special inspector-general, with sweeping powers in the National Treasury to take pre-emptive action to prevent covid fraud and corruption in real time.

We argued that the exclusion of oversight mechanisms from the Disaster Management Act was itself a grave oversight and should be rectified.

Had these suggestions been taken on board it would have prevented the corruption from taking place and instead we are now spending more money to recover monies that should never have gone missing in the first place!

But our calls were ignored.

Instead, all procurement regulations and oversight mechanisms were suspended. Treasury stepped aside, and Parliament remained mute, while the ANC and their handlangers used the State of Disaster as a pretext to ramp up looting to dizzying new heights.

Mr President, we cannot keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

We must work together to put in place the mechanisms that will ensure this can never, ever happen again.

The DA will support you in this house and I’m sure many other opposition parties will too.

We’ll support you to end this state of disaster that is giving ANC cronies free rein to steal.

We’ll support you if you reinstate the Scorpions, a corruption-busting body with real independence and a real sting in the tail.

We’ll support a 15-year prison sentence for all those convicted of Covid corruption. Each and every implicated individual must be investigated.

We’ll support you to amend the Disaster Management Act to ensure continuous oversight.

Because Mr President, we’ll only win the fight against corruption when there are real consequences for wrongdoing.

We’ll only win the fight against corruption when we see the big political fish in orange overalls.

Mr. President, you’ll need the DA’s help, because your party can’t help itself.

3 ways the President can show he’s serious about reform

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today.  

Mr President,

The content of your speech on Thursday was overshadowed by the context in which you delivered it.

For two years you have promised reform. You’ve staked your Presidency and your legacy on it.

But the pace of reform has been agonisingly slow.

Glaciers and continents move faster than this government’s reform agenda.

The Finance Minister is fond of talking of the mouth of the hippo, the yawning gap between tax revenue and government expenditure.

But there is another hippo’s mouth that must be closed, and that is the yawning credibility gap between what you say and what you do.

In fact, we did an exercise of actually tracking all of the most important reform commitments you’ve made since you were elected.

We went back 520 days to your first State of the Nation speech, and tracked them all.

We found that in 73% of them, there has been no progress at all. And this document is available on our website, please have a look.

Where there has been progress – for example in independent power producer regulation – we have given credit for that.

But still, in most cases, there has been no progress to speak of.

The consequences of this delay were clear before lockdown and they are now terrifyingly clear after lockdown.

An economy that teeters on the edge, and a society increasingly feeling like it is spinning out of control.

The purveyors of hate and division are back again, preying on the poor to drive South Africans apart and preaching violence as an answer.

That is why I’m afraid your plan failed to rise to the occasion. There is just no more benefit of the doubt.

What you do in the coming weeks and months is far more important than what you said on Thursday.

You must show you are serious.

Doing 3 clear things will show you are really serious:

  1. Ministers who stand in the way of reform should be removed from their posts.
  2. Commit to clear and immovable timelines for implementation, that we as Parliament and the public can hold you to.
  3. Stop all further bailouts of SAA. It is simply immoral to cut essential public services to fund yet another bailout for SAA. Between schools and SAA, choose schools. Between hospitals and SAA, choose hospitals. Between fighting crime and SAA, choose fighting crime.

These three actions will show you are serious.

If you dither longer, then soon we will be begging for help in Beijing and Washington.

No one wants that. We want South Africa to succeed. To rebuild what we’ve lost and thrive.

A time for urgent implementation of ideas

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today.  

Thank you, Hon. Speaker

Mr. President,

Mark me down as disappointed.

Last week Thursday you were due to appear before the Members of the National Council of Provinces to answer questions of national importance.

When we saw the notice calling a Joint Sitting, we were of course disappointed that you would not be giving account to the nation through the elected representatives, and yet we hoped that you would be taking the country into your confidence in the speech to the Joint Sitting.

Well that did not happen! Instead, just like the SABC, with no new material, we got a re-run.

Mr. President you had the chance to give us all hope. To show that decisive leadership had emerged from the crises caused by lockdown.

To prove that you are in charge, and not some faceless committee.

Sadly you chose to rebrand existing ideas and not address the hard
issues.

A Tweet that I read summed it up well:

“Even the Rand turned to the other channel halfway through that SONA speech re-run.”

So let’s reflect on why it was necessary to re-run SONA.

The fact is Mr. President, you have given us direction each time you deliver your State of the Nation Address and that is where we heard all the components of last Thursday’s speech before.

But your cabinet has ignored your SONA instructions.

Why has the broadband access not been released by Minister Stella (Ndabeni-Abrahams)?

What about sorting out e-Tolls?

Gender-based violence remains largely unaddressed, and in fact worsened under lockdown.

Infrastructure instructions are not taking traction and are being used for corrupt ends.

And the issues around power generation, unbundling of Eskom, and creating capacity for growing our country were ignored until last
week.

The core problem, Mr. President, is that your cabinet is not implementing your vision. They continue with their transgressions uninfluenced by your instructions. Either this is a sign of an administration in their comfort zones, ignoring political guidance due to their ability to baffle politicians with voluminous documentation and frustrate interventions with technicalities.

OR

It is a case of an Executive who is not taking instructions from their
President.

Either way Sir, you need to take control, and this is your chance.

Thank heavens for the opening, albeit reluctantly, of the electricity supply regulation published last week. Your minister defied you since SONA Mr. President. What have you done about that?

What about the broadband auction that has been promised for 10 years?

It is common cause that access to fast and cheap internet improves an economy by between 2 and 5% and is a great leveller. Yet, the Honourable Stella, and Nomvula Mokonyane before her, have defied instructions from presidents to release bandwidth. What have you done about that?

You are the President. Preside. And let there be consequences for those who do not do your bidding. Shuffle the cabinet if you need, to assert yourself and save the nation.

The power plays within the African National Congress have held South Africa back for far too long and have caused us to stagnate, all because you are too cautious to take a stance that will weaken your political position.

My colleague, the Honourable Hill-Lewis, has addressed the issues of policy uncertainty and the need to stabilise investor and international sentiment. EWC, nationalisation and monopolisation are not favoured in modern politics.

We need to get back to basics and remember what core to Government Responsibility is. Look for the enablers! Electricity. Infrastructure. Bandwidth and Quality Education.

The ego-driven projects and the self-flattery must stop. This is what we hoped you would announce last Thursday. Cut the unnecessary spending. Stop the theft by locking up the crooks on your benches and
in your departments.

The “Goose that lays the Golden Egg” is in Intensive Care. There is nothing left. Every programme in the budget of every department needs to be re-evaluated, and where necessity cannot be shown, the project must be cut.

This is a time for urgent implementation of best ideas, not rhetoric.

The Developmental State has become the Survival State. That message needs to go to every Minister and every department.

The developmental state is a worthy ideal, and redress is key to building a cohesive South Africa, but survival is more so, and the effect of  sovereign debt default will be devastating to developmental projects in the longer term. Short term pain for longer term gain is the only option.

Do the right thing Mr. President, and we will support you. You will find allies where you never expected, so long as you have South Africa at heart. So long as you put South Africa first.

But continue to dilly-dally around important matters and you will isolate yourself further. Continue to place the ANC before South Africa – a strategy that seems to have failed you so far both in your presidential duties as well as in the ANC – continue to place South Africa second and you will be short on support. Yours is a lonely position. You need all the friends you can get.

Mr. President you have followed the advice of the DA on unbundling Eskom, and now finally agreed to allow municipalities to procure power elsewhere (though it took a court case for this to happen.) The DA’s insistence that the public sector wage bill needs to be cut has now even been acknowledged by COSATU as an imperative. Is it not time to take some other suggestions from the DA in the interests of saving our economy?

Three important Private Members bills have been proposed, one, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill to ensure controlled spending, another bill to ease the regulations around access to pension funds to allow South Africans some flexibility to navigate through these unprecedented times and the third, to outlaw cadre deployment in order to ensure the efficient operation of government without the rampant corruption that has become synonymous with the ANC government.

Let us get beyond the politics and pass the bills for the sake of our people.

In summary Mr. President, you need a new cabinet that can take our
country forward, we need new thinking to adapt to the changed world,
we need a government that will fulfil the promises to take South Africa
forward out of this mess.

Your move, Sir.

We’ll help you pass the reforms your comrades won’t

The following remarks were delivered today by the DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP during the Parliamentary Debate on Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

Madam Speaker

Honourable President

Honourable Members

We’re here today to debate the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan announced by the President last week.

But before we get too far into this, it is important that we clear up one crucial misconception that has somehow found its way into the language of this debate.

We’re not trying to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, as has been repeatedly claimed. Covid19 didn’t destroy our economy.

We’re trying to recover from decades of bad governance and poor ANC policy. And it is disingenuous – and extremely opportunistic – to claim otherwise.

Our economy was in recession, more than 10 million South Africans couldn’t find work and we’d already been relegated to junk status long before anyone had heard the word “coronavirus”.

And when the virus did arrive, it wasn’t the pandemic that worsened our situation. It was the heavy-handed response by government – the hardest, longest, most unscientific lockdown in the world.

That is what closed down factories, restaurants, retailers and thousands of other businesses.

So let us approach this debate on the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan with that truth in the back of our minds.

But here’s the other problem: This isn’t a plan.

A plan has a list of steps.

A plan has details of resource allocation and funding.

A plan has deliverables and timelines.

This has none of those things. It’s a wish list of worthy intentions.

This is a letter to Santa.

That doesn’t mean it’s all bad. There were some good points in here.

The auctioning of spectrum to bring down data costs is one of them. But this should have happened a long, long time ago, and this is not the first time it’s been promised.

Make it happen.

Similarly, reforms to Eskom and the opening of the energy market to more independent producers are long overdue.

You’ve listed this in your plan; now make it happen.

Extending the Covid grant is a welcome inclusion. This is a necessary stopgap measure for desperately poor South Africans, although we all know it is entirely unsustainable in a contracting economy.

But there is also a lot that’s missing here, and none more important than reforms to our labour legislation – the most taboo of all topics in the tripartite alliance.

We will not reverse our unemployment trend until we make our labour market far more flexible. Everyone in this house knows this.

Staying with jobs, the promised 800,000 job opportunities in the public sector is not the solution we need either, and particularly not when the same plan speaks of cutting the public sector wage bill. Even for a letter to Santa, that makes no sense.

Meaningful, permanent jobs can only be created by the private sector, and that is where all our focus should lie.

This plan should have also pulled the plug on bailouts to state owned enterprises, and particularly the failed South African Airlines.

And it should have addressed our spiralling national debt with a practical debt stabilisation plan.

Honourable Members, we can go on like this all day, listing the good, the bad and the missing. But until we address the actual implementation of these things, we’re just going through the motions.

And we’ve been through these motions countless times in this very house, listening to a president or finance minister wishing out loud from the latest plan, promise or manifesto.

Year after year we’ve heard how unemployment numbers will be halved, how 5 million jobs will be added in ten years, how 6 million jobs will be added in five years.

Magic numbers pulled from magic hats.

We all know that none of these things happened. No matter what the new promise was, the critical stats just continued moving in the wrong direction.

The point is, these goals are easy to announce.

But there is always a vast chasm between goals and implementation. And there are a few important reasons for this chasm.

Our woefully incapable state is one of them. And we can fix this by abandoning cadre deployment in favour of a true meritocracy.

Systemic government corruption is another reason. We can fix this by allowing investigations and prosecutions to reach right into the heart of the ruling party.

But the biggest reason for this gap between talk and action will be the hardest to solve. And that reason is that the ANC itself is forever opposed to its own plans.

The enemies of growth and the blockers of reform are not some outside force.

And, other than the members in red, they don’t sit here in the opposition benches either. They sit all around you, Mr President.

Every single time someone in your government has stood up with a proposal for meaningful reform, they have been summarily dragged back down and neutralised by their own comrades.

Just ask your Finance Minister. He can tell you all about that.

You are surrounded by people who are ideologically incompatible with the reforms needed to kick-start growth in our economy.

People who are wedded to an economic system that has never, in the history of the world, succeeded in delivering a better life for anyone other than a ruling elite.

People who think the state should own all property, steer the economy and control every aspect of people’s lives.

People who genuinely believe that businesses and employers are somehow the enemy, even as our broad unemployment rate crashes through 40%.

People who have convinced themselves that it is more noble for someone to go jobless and hungry than to work for a wage that doesn’t meet a minimum threshold dreamt up by those who only speak for the already-employed.

People who think paying out 17 million social grants every month is somehow a government success story, and not a shameful indictment of that government’s ability to deliver dignity through employment.

Those are the enemies of growth, Mr President, and they sit all around you.

They are the reason that every single economic recovery plan ever written by your government was dead in the water before it was released.

But there is a way around this.

There is a way to sidestep the enemies of growth and get these reforms passed.

Bring them to this house, and we will help you pass them.

“Thuma Mina,” you told us back when you stood here at the start of your presidency. Send me.

Well now it’s our turn to return the favour. Send us, Mr President. Let’s use our combined numbers to push through labour reforms, energy reforms, fiscal reforms.

Let’s do what we all know is in the best interest of the people of South Africa, even if it means going against some of your colleagues.

Between those on your benches who believe in the power of economic reforms, and the members here on my left, we’ll have the majority. We can pass any reform we like in this house.

On your own, you don’t have much of a hand to play, which is why you will be forever locked in this stalemate.

But if you let us help you pass these reforms, you can forget about the Aces and the jokers. You won’t need them. You’ll have a winning hand.

Let that be your legacy: the president who chose to put his country before his party.

Thank you.

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.