When things fall apart the ANC turns a blind eye

Fellow South Africans

Honourable Members,

Speaker,

Mr President, last week I sat in this House and listened to you. I asked myself on what credibility does this government address us. With the increase in violence against women and children, a country that can’t keep the lights on, collapsing municipalities and Home Affairs that can’t protect our borders. 

On what credibility does this government look at ordinary South Africans across this country who look to this government and only see darkness. We, the people of South Africa, are here to hold you to account Mr President. It’s time to stop being shocked and face the people of South Africa. 

You said nothing about the Department of Home Affairs, you know why? Because everything is falling apart, and when things fall apart the ANC turns a blind eye and continue as if it is business as usual. While you were amongst the first people posing for pictures at the Tshwane home of Jabu Baloyi, who was killed when taxi drivers took a stand on fighting drugs in the city, it is shocking to learn that you stood here and said nothing on securing our borders to prevent more South Africans from dying like Jabu.

In September 2019 we lost nine (9) South Africans when there were xenophobic attacks in our country, at the time your silence was deafening and yet you stood here and chose to say nothing. 

While we wait for your government to finalise the Border Management Authority Bill we expected you to guide us on how you currently plan to secure our borders.

Mr President in your speech you were silent about the fact that on the 2nd of February 2020, a police officer was murdered in Diepsloot by an undocumented foreigner. Crimes committed by undocumented persons are very hard to solve as the perpetrators are almost impossible to trace.

How many murders must go unsolved for your government to realise this is an important matter, that needs urgent attention. Where is the urgency? We cannot be comfortable in this House. Mr. President you cannot be comfortable. 
The DA has a plan to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration.

We believe that it is important to:

1. Assist, support and care for legitimate refugees and asylum seekers; and
2. Attract foreign nationals with scarce skills to South Africa to help us grow our economy and create jobs;

And the DA will secure our borders and stop illegal immigration by:

1. Arresting, detaining and deporting those who repeatedly enter the country illegally;
2. Ensure undocumented immigrants are regularised or assisted in leaving the country if they do not meet the criteria for remaining in the country;
3. Strengthening our border posts. Through proper control and order, we can create corruption-free and effective border security and control;
4. Eradicating the corruption and inefficiency endemic to Home Affairs.
 
I am shocked that you kept mum about long queues at the Department of Home Affairs Offices, its network that is always offline, and allegations that citizens of our country are expected to pay bribes to skip the queues.

If last week’s SONA speech is anything to go by you further demonstrated that you do not care about women of this country when you failed to articulate government’s plan on fighting fraudulent marriages which mostly affects women of this country.

On Gender Based Violence you said “We implemented an emergency action plan and prioritised R1.6 billion to support this plan until the end of the current financial year. There has been progress in several areas”. What progress? What areas? 

Amahle Thabethe from Springs has been missing from the 6th April 2019.

In September Precious Ramabulana was raped and killed in her room.

Belinda from Standerton together with her daughter has been missing since the 28th of January.

While the family members continue to search for their loved ones we will leave no stone unturned searching for your backbone, Mr. President, to take bold decisions on important matters affecting our country.

Your 5-point emergency plan has failed. it has also failed to address shortage of SAPS officials and insufficient resources.

I have conducted oversights at Govan Bethal, Standerton and Sakhile SAPS and our oversight revealed that while the population is growing the government has failed to increase the number of SAPS officials and there is a shortage of vehicles and where they have vehicles their vehicles have 300 000+ kilometres on the clock. 

Though SAPS have adults and minor rape kits they are not provided with buccal swaps which causes delays investigating sexual offences.

Strengthening municipalities that the President is talking about is long overdue iDA iyona  ehamba phambili, eMidvaal sithole ukuhlolwa kwamabhuku ezimali okuhlanzekile iminyaka esithupha ilandelana. 

Kanti ke naseLekwa siqeda ukususa esikhundleni uSodolophu no Somlomo ngezinsolo zokukhwabanisa nokungalethi izinsiza zabahlali baseLekwa, bekuyisiqalo lesi baningi abalandelayo.

Siyathemba kusasa angeke nibabuyisele ngoba Loko kuyokhimbisa ngikusobala ukuthi anibakhathaleli abahlali baseLekwa.

Ngiyabonga Somlomo 

The incapable talking-head of an incapable stat

Honourable Speaker,
 
Over the past few weeks, I have been encouraged to see the President promoting the DA’s
long-held view on building a capable state. 
 
As someone who deliberately chose to build his multimillion Rand mansion in the DA-run City of Cape Town, he was obviously mightily impressed by the quality of service delivery in
this city.
 
So, inspired by our success, the President started talking about the DA’s capable state. 
 
However, he quickly realised that he could never actually build a capable state like we have, because that would mean choosing the country over the corruption of his own party.
 
Per slot van rekening beteken die bou van ‘n bekwame staat juis dat korrupsie en kader ontplooiing uitgeroei moet word, en dat individuele landsburgers bemagtig moet word in plaas van ‘n allesoorheersende staat. 
 
Om te verwag dat die ANC dít sal doen, is soos om ‘n jakkals aan te stel om ‘n ogie te hou oor die hoenderhok.
 
Dit is die rede waarom ons sit met ‘n President wat blykbaar glo dat deur bloot die woorde “bekwame staat” te sê, sy woorde outomaties waar word.
 
This year’s State of the Nation Address was a grotesque example of just how out-of-touch this President truly is. 
 
On the day of SONA, Eskom desperately scrambled to keep the lights on at all costs to enable the annual presidential delusion about a capable state, smart cities and bullet trains.  
 
But as soon as the president was comfortably back at his generator-powered mansion, the rest of the country was immediately plunged right back into darkness. 
 
If the honourable President stepped outside his bubble for a moment, he would see an urgent message from the real-world: the incapable ANC state is collapsing all around us.
 
So, beyond hollow rhetoric, what is the President actually doing about our collapsing state?

Honourable Speaker, let’s see what kind of example he is setting.
 
• Mr President, why haven’t you fired your health minister, who appointed his niece
as chief of staff despite a cloud of corruption hanging over her? 
 
En tog verwag U dat Suid-Afrikaners hierdie minister moet vertrou met hul lewens,
sowel as met honderde miljarde Rande, as deel van U waansinnige plan om
gesondheidsorg te nasionaliseer.
 
• Mr President, what have you done about your water and sanitation minister, who
appointed the disgraced Menzi Simelane and Mo Schaik as special advisers? 
 
Their only experience with sanitation came when they flushed hundreds of millions of taxpayer Rands down the toilet.
 
• Mr President, when are you firing your communications minister for abusing
taxpayer funds to pay for her wedding anniversary celebrations in New York and
Geneva? 
 
• Mr President, what is a Hazenile addict still doing in the ministry of energy when he refuses to free citizens from the tyranny Eskom?
 
When the citizens of this country look around them, they see every single day that the honourable President is nothing more than the incapable talking-head of an incapable state.
 
As die President werklik ‘n duit omgegee het oor die bou van ‘n bekwame staat soos in sy nuwe DA-beheerde tuisdorp, sou hy onmiddellik tot aksie oorgaan om ons staatsdiens te red van finale ineenstorting. 
 
Instead of insulting South Africans by calling them “negative,” he would do his job and give them reasons to be positive.
 
To prevent fiscal implosion, his government would grow a backbone and cut the wage bill.
 
To save basic services like education, health and social protection, the state would hang “for sale” signs on state-owned looting enterprises.
 
And if there was any real interest in building a truly capable state, the government would support the DA’s Professional Public Service Bill to root out cadre deployment and ensure that public servants are appointed on the basis of skill and merit. 
 
But the President and his incapable state does none of this, because it would require them to choose country over party. 
 
There’s at least one bit of good news though, honourable President. The DA remains
absolutely committed to bring the same capable state that convinced you to move to Cape Town, to the whole of South Africa. 
 
Until that day comes and with apologies to Shakespeare: 
“The capable state struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by a hollow man, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing.”

Overhaul our education system that is contributing heavily to youth unemployment and poverty, to save the future of our nation

Somlomo

Malungu Abekekileyo

Bantu Base Mzantsi Afrika

Ndiyanibulisa ngale Ntshona langa

Molweni

Mr President, I stand here today having travelled across the country and interacted with the realities of our students and management in at, at least, 16 TVET and University campuses.

I did so in order to grasp the real issues on the ground rather than listening to glossy presentations in air-conditioned boardrooms.

Growing up in rural Tsolo, I managed to acquire a better education and escape poverty ONLY through the charity of scholarships, which allowed me to access some of the best educational institutes. I, however, remain an outlier of success to the many I completed grade 1 with, enxu JSS emahlubini kuTsolo.

That’s the only reason why I am able to stand on this very podium today.

We know all too well from history that a government controls and keeps its people in the shackles of poverty by giving them a POOR QUALITY education which entrenches dependency.

This is why over 10,4 million South Africans are unemployed of which 58% are young people and many qualified graduates remain unemployable due to being subjected to poor quality education.

I stand here today on behalf of the millions of young South Africans who were not as lucky as I was and have been left behind by your government Mr President, who watched with the hope of finding answers to many of their challenges through your SONA speech, but there were none.

I stand here on behalf of;

– Mr Shedzi an engineering lecturer from eNkangala TVET college in Mpumalnga forced to accept learners produced by our broken basic education system, into an NCV course with no prospects of succeeding.

– Ms Hendricks at False Bay college transferring skills to students through an outdated Nated Curriculum of the 1970s and enrol some in over-saturated courses that are not relevant for industry, the job market nor entrepreneurship.

– The thousands of TVET college students who receive below-average allowances compared to university students yet they reside at the same accommodation, they commute on the same transport and purchase food at the same retailers.

– The 192 000 students who are unable to register due to historic debts that could permanently put their future on a halt.

– Contributing to this whole mess is a corrupt NSFAS that has completely failed at managing the funds of poor students, As we speak 126 Northern Cape Rural TVET students that still await 2018 allowances.

– Bonele a blind student at Nelson Mandela University – and other students living with disabilities – who have to wait for over a year to get their allowances or assistive devices from the corrupt NSFAS.

– Walter Sisulu University students and similar institutions with unmaintained residences that get flooded, campus buildings falling apart, highly unhygienic facilities and no access to reliable WIFI. Yet we want to loosely talk about 4IR!

– Precious Ramabulane, a former Capricorn TVET college student in Limpopo who was raped and stabbed 52 times at an unsafe off-campus accommodation and many other victims of violence on and off our campuses. I still can’t explain the feeling after having visited the house Precious was staying Before she was brutally murdered.

– I stand here on behalf of the 134 000 unemployed graduates sitting at home because the department of higher education and SETAs have failed to produce their certificates to go try look for work since 2008.

Madam Speaker, Mr President these are some of the key issues putting the future of our brothers and sisters on hold.

If you don’t act now Sir, we will continue to produce graduates with outdated skills, through over-saturated courses,  with poor quality skills, unable to compete in the job market nor can solve our problems and become entrepreneurs. You will continue to leave thousands in debt, with no skills to show for it, let alone a certificate or academic record in hand.

I, however, stand here bearing solutions not just to tell you all the problems; Here are some of the immediate action steps you should have announced; in line with DA’s higher education policy that can help strengthen our education system.

1. The Ministry must review the outdated curriculum and ensure that there is engagement with industry, business and academics ensuring that our curriculum is relevant for the 21st Century and future world of work.

2. Completely overhaul NSFAS, reimagine how it operates, and procure qualified IT technician to build a seamless ICT infrastructure to merge data from institutions and NSFAS for timeous distribution of allowances to avoid fraud and corruption that has taken place.

3. Mr President, make an honest commitment towards freeing students from historical debt for both universities and TVETs incl the Missing Middle

4. While we welcome the announcement of the R64 billion in student accommodation (tell us your plan on the how and when) your government plans to take away R750 million from the current infrastructure grant to maintain existing buildings for TVETs and HDIs. Trim the fat from corruption and allocate more money to maintain the already existing infrastructure. Furthermore, engage the departments of public works and human settlements for unused buildings for the purposes of student accommodation and lecture rooms.

5. Working together with the South African Police Services as well as the departments of social development and higher education must put together a safety plan to end student deaths and the scourge of gender-based violence.

6. The State Information Technology agency must urgently work with CSIR, DHET and Umalusi to develop a seamless ICT process in producing certificates in real-time.

7. Ensure that local governments are capable and well run to help give the necessary support to students through services like the DA-led City of Cape integrated transport system, the Nelson Mandela Bay turning problem buildings into student accommodation and the Tshwane metro police patrolling at campuses during peak times.

In conclusion, we as leaders simply cannot keep on coming here to debate with people who have no idea on what’s happening on the ground. Young people are impatient with slogans that keep changing with no proper plan of action nor timelines.

Kudala uthunyiwe Mongameli, susibalisela’ngo khawuleza, khawude wenze ngoku!

I urge you, Mr President, to stop the dreaming, and act on these now and not in 2030!

I thank you!

SA needs quality healthcare, not flawed NHI

Speaker;

The President’s latest SONA has confirmed that he has chosen the politics of his party over fixing the challenges of the country.

His address was stitched together by slogans; based on information that is out of touch and delivered for no one else besides the ANC internal audience.

Once again, the people of South Africa became a distant consideration for him.

The President spoke about the enthusiasm for the proposed National Health Insurance Bill without giving the full context of the South African reality.

Having been to some of the most forgotten parts of this country in the past months, the demand for quality healthcare has been made clear by abantu bethu.

With every public hearing; in whichever town, South Africans told of horror experiences with the health system.

This is because, for the past 25 years, the health system has been shoddily patched up and carried by healthcare workers.

This public participation process has also revealed the lie which has been told to people who are desperate for change.

It became evident that many had been sold a dream that the failures of the ANC government will be immediately rectified by the NHI Bill.

Yet we know that this is not true.

Omama base Free State described the helplessness of waiting for an ambulance until the next day while a loved one is dying in their arms;

They spoke of the fear of needing life-saving ARVs and being told ayikho uze ubuye ngenye imini ngemali phofu abangayaziyo izokuvela phi;

Otata abadala base Vryburg articulated the limitation of facilities that have outdated infrastructure that cannot accommodate those who use it.

This immediately reminded me of the overcrowding that led to the death of 10 babies at Tembisa Hospital in a few weeks;

And the scar that will forever remind us that this government allowed for hundreds of mentally ill patients to die in the most undignified manner;
Many are victims of the nation-wide oncology crisis that has women from ezilalini bebhubha kabuhlungu yi-cervical cancer kuba kungekho ncedo.

The waiting period in Limpopo is close to a year from diagnosis to treatment.

There are cancer patients in this country who have been placed on a death waiting list while the ANC government izingomba isifuba ngokuzisa iinkonzo ebantwini.

The Chairperson of the Health Portfolio Committee, Dr Dhlomo, would know this well, as this was the case during his tenure as the KZN MEC for Health.

We should never be mistaken.

The people of South Africa know what they want.

They want dignity and a quality health system.

What is most tragic though is how the governing party is using the NHI Bill to mask its governance failures, promising an overnight transformation of the health system, when they know this is false.

This government knows that as the Bill stands, it will not improve the quality of healthcare for all South Africans;

It will not invest meaningfully in infrastructure and for better clinics and hospitals;

It will not ensure the filling of critical vacancies of nurses and doctors;

Or fix the tendering system that often leads to critical medication stockouts.

This Bill, misdiagnoses the problem and inevitably does not supply the solution.

South Africa needs universal healthcare. But does not need the flawed NHI Bill.

It is a poor and unaffordable funding model; that will empower the politically connected; create another SOE and still fail the millions who have been short-changed by this government.

In South Africa most people have access to healthcare but it is shockingly poor.

We cannot expect South Africans to wait any longer for the change they deserve.

At the same time, to place 58 million South Africans on a single NHI system without the investment needed will only lead to complete collapse of healthcare.

It is possible to improve the health system while reforming how it funded.

It is possible to clean up the rot and recover the R22 billion lost to corruption annually.

It is possible to choose South Africans over politics.

That is why the DA has brought solutions to the table.

We have tabled the Sizani Universal Healthcare Plan which -if implemented- would address both the question of healthcare funding and quality of care.

This plan would ensure that we afford every South African access to quality healthcare regardless of their economic status.

Unlike the NHI, we would be able to guarantee quality access because of the massive emphasis on investment to improve outcomes.

Mr President, if you truly care about the plight of millions who rely our health system – both public and private- lead your party back to the drawing board on this Bill.

Bring to the table opposition members, civil society, healthcare professionals and abona bantu basebenzisa iinkonzo zempilo to craft a plan on how we would improve healthcare; regulate the private healthcare sector to improve health outcomes and ultimately rescue an already ailing system.

As South Africa stumbles from one crisis to the next, we dare not fail their healthcare needs.

We can no longer afford your refusal and inability to make tough but necessary decisions.

Mr President, on Thursday when you respond to this debate, you will have an opportunity to choose South Africa over the factional battles at Luthuli House.

Choose to see our people – not as voting fodder – but as those who deserve better than empty slogans and stillborn plans.

Eskom is dead. Give power to the people!

Speaker, Mr. President, fellow South Africans,

This debate takes place in the midst of a national electricity crisis, to which few in government will admit.

We sit in darkness for hours every day, despite ongoing promises from the President – the man who in 2014 was tasked to turnaround ESKOM and end loadshedding. It is tragic today to go back and read that News24 headline from December 2014: “Ramaphosa to oversee ESKOM, SAA turnaround.” Mr. President, the only turn these entities took under your watch, was from the emergency room to the funeral parlour.

Our mining sector – once the backbone of our economy – is floundering, because, among other things, it cannot get enough electricity. 5 years after that headline placing ESKOM and SAA under Mr. Ramaphosa, another headline from December 2019 – laid bare the truth: “SA mines shut operations because of ESKOM.”

Yet the ANC clings to Eskom and pretends it can be saved. South Africans know otherwise. ESKOM is dead. It is beyond redemption. And it is time that this government acknowledges this.

It is in this condition for one reason, and one reason only: the mismanagement, lack of planning and sheer corruption of the ANC and its cadres and cronies. Just as every viable state-owned entity has been hollowed out, plundered, and broken, so our nation’s entire electricity supply has been destroyed. 

While ANC government leaders live with generators, permanent security, and state housing, the people of this country go through hardship and pain as the lights go off every day. They walk on dark streets at the mercy of violent crime; rape, robbery, and murder. They cannot study. They cannot cook. Their businesses cannot operate. Their lives and livelihoods are literally being stolen.  

We had hoped that in this critical hour, President Ramaphosa would seize the opportunity last week to take ownership of the problem, deal decisively with ESKOM, and provide South Africa a path to a powered future. But the incapable state and its incapable President never take bold action. 

SONA was the last chance for the ANC to do the right thing and announce the immediate splitting and privatizing of ESKOM. What we got instead, were small changes, small concessions, small retreats – too little, too late – if they come to be at all. 

While bold action was lacking, the Democratic Alliance does welcome some of the commitments the president made about energy transformation. The question he must answer is: When? When will all this take place? Because all the president and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy will say is “soon”. 

The Democratic Alliance has long called on Minister Mantashe to sign the section 34 determinations which are gathering dust on his desk. The City of Cape Town is going ahead with a court action to force the issue, because he still hasn’t actually done anything, despite a lot of talks. 

We have repeatedly asked him to immediately open bid window 5 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme. But whenever anyone speaks about renewable energy, in any context, Minister Mantashe accuses them of being a lobbyist. 

And just minutes after the President announced last Thursday that Bid Window 5 would open “soon”, Minister Mantashe backtracked on this commitment, saying “I’m not a fundamentalist about bid window 5” and that “we must be systematic and ensure that it is sustainable”. Given that the first four bid windows are regarded as best practices worldwide, it is surprising that the minister thinks the next needs more tweaking.

Encourage and incentivize residential self-generation. More and more South Africans are prepared to become self-reliant with regard to electricity generation. Instead of making things more difficult, let’s ease up on the regulatory environment and allow them to do so.

The DA stands firmly for every South African being allowed this freedom from ESKOM, and we won’t relent. In this regard, Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act can be amended by the stroke of a pen. Go back to what parliament approved in the first place when the Act was originally adopted. 

When South Africa went to stage 6 load-shedding in December, the minister should have immediately sought to purchase excess power from the existing IPPs, who are constrained to only sell limited quantities to the grid, as determined by their licences and power purchase agreements. Currently, any excess power generated by IPPs goes to waste. The South African Wind Energy Association estimates that about 500MW is immediately available, at a cost of around 40 cents per KWh, and more could be forthcoming as new projects come online.

The Minerals Council of South Africa estimates that up to 1.7 GW of electricity could be produced for own use by mines in the next 4 years, something they have been begging for years. That simple move would encourage investment in our mining sector.

We can’t be talking about nuclear plants or Grand Inga when South Africa’s financial situation is so dire. We also can’t be looking five and ten years down the line. We need to look at how we can make ourselves less reliant on an archaic monopoly like ESKOM, and more energy secure right now!

Mr. President, open up the electricity market now! The private sector can deliver better, cheaper and more efficiently than ESKOM. The DA’s Independent Electricity Management Operator Bill is currently before parliament. This would create a separate, independent market operator to purchase electricity from all producers and make our electricity generation sector more competitive. We call on all parties in this House to support this.

We know that Minister Mantashe has been called a tiger in the bedroom, but he appears more like a grumpy old tomcat curled up next to his coal fireplace when it comes to his constitutional obligations. He is slow to act, reluctant to change the status quo, and absolutely unwilling to upset the unions who are his real masters. Just like the unions are ruling the roost at SAA, it seems the same is true at Eskom. But that’s what the ANC gets for being in bed with COSATU.

Most importantly, Mr. President, we cannot and must not throw pensioners’ life savings into ESKOM. This is just theft from the poor and the elderly to fund ESKOM corruption.

And, Mr. President, if Minister Mantashe is not willing to act NOW on your commitments regarding electricity generation, replace him with someone who will.

Our darkest days will not just be load-shedding if you do not act.

Make this a good day to be South African

The following speech was delivered today during the State of the Nation Address debate.

Madam Speaker

Deputy President

Honorable President

Members of the house

The year is 2020, it is a new decade, a new year and still, South Africa remains in the grips of an economic crisis. A crisis of ethics in our government. A Parliament in crisis based on ideology trumping a culture of pragmatism and a crisis in safety as we as South Africans live in constant fear for our lives. Today Mr President, is not a good day to be South African.

Last Thursday I argued, point after point, for my right and the right of every South Africa to listen to the President’s SONA speech. I lived in hope that firm and decisive actions steps would be announced to relieve us from the continued crisis that we as South Africans face on a daily basis. Yet again, my hopes were shot down in a dramatic display of the inability of the governing party to put the needs of South Africa above the internal wrangling and division of a political party. I watched as Parliament was treated with contempt as those who do not have the ability to argue a debate attempted a coup of the evening by using Stalingrad tactics to bully their way into significance. It is not a good day to be South African.

As I sat in my chair, the irony was not lost on me that this was not the first time Judge Zondo had seen many member of Parliament. He has seen far too many “honourable” members in his commission, appearing for a variety of reasons, non of them earning the title “Honourable”. The irony was not lost on me that the President looked over to our benches and viewed us as the enemy, because we I sat, I had the bird’s eye view of every person who wishes the President harm, and it certainly was not us. I looked across at Members who are so resolute in the power that they yield within one party, they do not think twice about making outrageous statements on the steps of court, or join fellow members appearing on corruption charges to show their support. What we need to realise is that that this is not only a show for the benefit of the President, this is a blatant slap in the face of every South African who believes in justice and the rule of law. This is not a good day to be South African.

Madam Speaker, South Africans are so used to be slapped in the face, that I think as a nation, we have become completely punch drunk. If it wasn’t for our humour and our dogged determination to succeed, we would be in complete dire straits. While I think that it is really funny and genius in it’s creation, I don’t think that we as South Africans can be proud of the fact that a television advert teases of government using a game called Mzansipoli, where you can beat the game that’s been playing you. South Africans should feel like their government is playing them, but lets be honest, what else can they think. We now depend on Apps on our phone to tell us when the electricity will be on, and how can we forget when in December of 2019, the county had to hold its collective breath as we entered the unchartered territory of stage 6 black outs.

I read tweet after tweet, facebook post after facebook post, as South Africans used humour to lift their spirits. I noted how many postings of the lyrics to the song “The Sound of Silence” were posted. The song starts with the line “hello darkness my old friend”. And so of course, it was apt, and we all giggled, but the song goes on:

“And in the naked light I saw

Ten thousand people, maybe more

People talking without speaking

People hearing without listening

People writing songs that voices never share

And no one dared

Disturb the sound of silence”

It is not a good day to be South African.

But Madam Speaker, it can in fact be a very good day to be South African, and in the face of all the crisis I see, I am more determined than ever to make tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that a good day to be South African. This is my home, my heart and my pride. I will live and strive for Freedom, I believe in South Africa, I believe in our future and I believe that our South African flame will guide us through this very dark period of our history. Mr President, I hope that you will use this South African flame to guide you and I hope, that you Sir, will break the Sound of Silence,

STATE OF THE NATION DEBATE/ Mlindi Nhanha

Honourable Speaker/Chairperson Honourable Members,

Fellow South Africans,

In 1969, I was born in the Eastern Cape city of Port Elizabeth, but in 1978 my family moved to Mdantsane (a township outside East London). My father was the first in his family to obtain a Form 1 certificate – if you are old enough, you would know how important it was to have grade 8 at the time. I lived with my parents, six siblings, my grandmother and two other relatives.

In both our stays in Port Elizabeth and Mdantsane, the 12 of us stayed in a four-roomed house like an RDP house (but of course they were of better quality).

In the evenings, the lounge and kitchen would double up as extra bedrooms. During the holidays and weekends, I  could not sleep past 6am as I was sleeping next to the kitchen door and would be blocking early morning traffic. But what was more painful to my parents was not owning the house they lived in. Instead, they had a 99-year lease.

In 1983 we were on the move again as my father got transferred to Alice. It was in Alice where my father’s dream of owning property became a reality. He bought a three- bedroom house with two outside rooms, a lounge, a dining room and a kitchen.

By our standards this was to us, a mansion, given the four- roomed houses we used to occupy.

Whilst my siblings and I were excited and marveling about the extent of our new home, my father was a
proud and relieved man that he finally could own a property his children could call home.

In case some of you are too young to remember, in November 1959, the Democratic Alliance’s earliest predecessor, the Progressive Party was formed by a group of progressives who left the United Party after the latter in its congress earlier that year passed resolutions that would deny natives civil liberties – amongst those was the right to own land. 

To this day the DA has stood firm in the resolve of its founding fathers. We remain opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment that will give the state sweeping powers to expropriate land without compensation and turn property ownership to long-term leases just like my late father’s.

STATE OF THE NATION DEBATE / Angel Khanyile

Fellow South Africans

Honourable Members,

Speaker,

Mr President, Last week I sat in this house and listened to you when you said absolutely nothing.

However, I noticed that for the very first time you were not shocked and you eventually woke up and stopped dreaming.

I was surprised that you said absolutely nothing about the inability of Home Affairs to secure our border. Remember that this is a very important matter as we all know that due to influx of undocumented foreigners your government is unable to provide basic services. Minister Motsoaledi, when he was still Minister of Health, alluded to the fact that hospitals are failing to provide health services because of the undocumented foreigner accessing health services while they are not budgeted for.

You said nothing about this important department. Do you know why? Because everything is falling apart, and when things fall apart the ANC turns a blind eye and continue as if it is business as usual. While you were amongst the first people posing for pictures at the Tshwane home of Jabu Baloyi, who was killed when taxi drivers took a stand on fighting drugs in the city, it is shocking to learn that you stood here and said nothing on securing our borders to prevent more South Africans from dying like Jabu.

In September 2019 we lost 9 South Africans when there were xenophobic attacks in our country, at the time your silence was deafening and yet you stood here and chose to say nothing.

While we wait for your government to finalise the Border Management Authority Bill we expected you to guide us on how you currently plan to secure our border.

Mr President in your speech you were silent about the fact that on the 2nd February 2020 a police officer was murdered in Diepsloot by an undocumented foreigner. Crimes committed by undocumented persons are very hard to solve as the perpetrators are almost impossible to trace.

How many murders must go unsolved for your government to realise this is an important matter that needs urgent attention.

The DA has a plan to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration. We believe that it is important to:

1. Assist, support and care for legitimate refugees and asylum seekers;
2. Attract foreign nationals with scarce skills to South Africa to help us grow
our economy and create jobs;

And the DA will secure our borders and stop illegal immigration by:

1. Arresting, detaining and deporting those who repeatedly enter our country
illegally;
2. Ensure undocumented immigrants are regularised or assisted in leaving the
country if they do not meet the criteria for remaining in the country;
3. Strengthening our border posts. Through proper control and order, we can
create corruption-free and effective border security and control;
4. Eradicating the corruption and inefficiency endemic to Home Affairs.

I am shocked that you kept mum about long queues at the Department of Home affairs offices, its network that is always offline, and allegations that citizens of our country are expected to pay bribes to skip the queues.

If last week’s SONA speech is anything to go by you further made it obvious that you do not care about women of this country when you failed to articulate government’s plan on fighting fraudulent marriages which mostly affects women of this country.

On Gender Based Violence you said “We implemented an emergency action plan and prioritised R1.6 billion to support this plan until the end of the current financial year. There has been progress in several areas”. What progress? What areas?

Amahle Thabethe from Springs has been missing from the 6th April 2019 to date.

On the first day of 16 days of activism for not violence against women and children campaign, Precious Ramabulana was raped and killed in her room.

Belinda from Standerton together with her daughter has been missing since the 28th Jan.

While the family members continue to search for their loved ones we will leave no stone unturned searching for your backbone, Mr. President, to take bold decisions on important matters affecting our country.

Your 5-point emergency plan has failed, and it has failed to address shortage of SAPS officials, insufficient resources.

I have conducted oversights at Govan Mbeki, Standerton and Sakhile SAPS and our oversight has revealed that while the population is growing the government has failed to increase the number of SAPS officials and there is a shortage of vehicles, where they have vehicles their vehicles have 300 000+ kilometres on the clock.

Though SAPS have adults and minor rape kits they are not provided with buccal swaps which causes delays investigating sexual offences.

Strengthening municipalities that the President is talking about is long overdue according to the Think-tank Good Governance Africa’s annual Government Performance Index omasipala abaphethwe iDA ibona abahamba phambili, eMidvaal sithole ukuhlolwa kwamabhuku ezimali okuhlanzekile iminyaka esithupha ilandelana. Kanti ke naseLekwa siqeda ukususa esikhundleni uSodolophu no Somlomo ngezinsolo zokukhwabanisa nokungalethi izinsiza zabahlali baseLekwa, bekuyisiqalo lesi baningi abalandelayo.

Ngiyabonga Somlomo

STATE OF THE NATION DEBATE / Zakhele Mbhele

If any small business owners were watching and listening to President Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, hoping to hear the announcement of bold measures and reforms that would foster a more enabling environment for them and their enterprises, they would have been sorely disappointed. Following the tough economic year that was 2019, many small businesses have been struggling to stay afloat. If they weren’t suffocating in a stagnant economic climate, they were being strangled by the impact of fuel price increases or being kicked in the gut by load shedding.

A 2019 study by financial services company Retail Company showed that business was good for only 10% of SMEs, while the other 90% were buckling in the challenging conditions of a low-growth economy, unreliable utilities, and rising operating costs. These figures represent a grave looming threat given that collectively SMEs keep close to 11 million people employed, accounting for approximately 65% of all formal jobs.

When they’re not being subjected to service disruptions and late payments, they are held back by red tape and compliance regulations and facing shrinking demand as households and other businesses tighten their belts. These are thousands of hardworking South Africans – tradespeople, coffee shop, and restaurant owners, local grocers, spaza shop and shisanyama outlets – who get up every day to serve their communities and support their families. They deserve our admiration and more support.

Instead of announcing SME exemption from sectoral wage determinations and the more stringent labour law requirements or introducing much-needed tax exemptions to ease their cash flow burden, the President’s SONA contained a handful of small business-related promises that lacked innovation and hardly packed a punch. Without diminishing or negating the potential value that these could bring if effectively implemented, they do not represent a hope for small businesses that things might turn a corner for the better anytime soon.

The announcement that the National Youth Development Agency and the Department of Small Business Development will provide grant funding and business support to 1 000 young entrepreneurs in the next 100 days is laudable but is it anything new? Does it represent additional money to help young small business owners or would that have happened without the President’s announcement anyway? Hopefully, the President will provide clarity in his reply to this SONA debate.

The President also announced that the government plans to designate 1 000 locally produced products that must be procured from SMMEs, presumably by government departments and state-owned enterprises. While this is a noble sentiment, the implementation is likely to run into major obstacles for at least two reasons.

Firstly, it risks undermining the imperative for an objective and unbiased approach that should underlie procurement processes to ensure cost-effectiveness and valuefor-money. Lest we forget, it was the manipulation of state procurement processes for pre-determined ends that created the state capture monster that has ravaged our public finances and crippled state-owned enterprises and municipalities alike.

Which brings us to the second risk factor to these small business-boosting measures: the legacy of state capture means that the government will be hugely constrained to meet these commitments when budgets are increasingly going to shrink. Against the backdrop of declining economic growth, an increasing public debt-to-GDP ratio and tax revenue targets repeatedly being missed, the government is still struggling with a bloated public sector wage bill, deteriorating public infrastructure and the bottomless black holes that have been some of our bailoutguzzling state-owned enterprises.

Since 2014, Eskom has benefited from over R150 billion in bailouts and has had a government guarantee of R350 billion since 2012. SAA has had over R18 billion in bailouts since 2014 and a government guarantee of over R19 billion. And what do we have to show for all these billions? A power utility that can’t meet the country’s energy demand, hobbling an already strained economy, and an airline that is canceling flights and will soon have to start selling its routes. There isn’t even time to get into the SABC, Post Office and other SOEs.

These figures are not only a devastating indictment of mismanagement and maladministration under ANC misgovernance but also represent a tragic opportunity loss of what could have been achieved if those monies were used effectively, especially in aid of small business. Unless this government fundamentally shifts gear to position small business as the spearhead of growth and development, our future, Mr. President, will be one of doubt and despair.

STATE OF THE NATION DEBATE / Geordin Hill-Lewis

Madame Speaker,

There is a very strange thing happening in our politics.

Four times now the President has come to promise urgent reform and pledge leadership.

Three times now the Finance Minister has pleaded for reform in budget speeches, and I’m sure that is what he’ll do again next week.

The President promises major reform, the Treasury supports major reform, the Official Opposition supports major reform, the country wants major reform.

So here is the very curious thing: where is the major reform?

We have been promised it. But we do not have it.

Let’s track progress on reform for a moment:

In 2018 he said “Next month we will launch the Youth Employment Service…to create a million paid internships in three years.”

Now just months from that deadline, it has created 32 248 internships. At this rate it will reach its target in 88 years time, the year 2108.

In 2018 he said “We need to see mining as a sunrise industry, rather than a sunset industry.”

But his mining minister published a new Bill that was, if possible, even more uncertain and confusing than the Bill it replaced.

In 2018, he said “We will reduce the regulatory barriers for small business. I am going to make sure the regulatory barriers are reduced.”

Not a single regulation has been removed for small business.

VAT has gone up though. Petrol taxes have gone up. And many small businesses have closed.

In 2019, he said we would go from 82nd to the top 50 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business rankings.

Well, we have dropped down another 2 places, we are now at number 84.

In 2019 he said “our highest priority” would be visa reform.

It took 10 months after that statement for the Minister of Home Affairs to issue a simple writ to cancel the disastrous birth certificate requirement.

10 months to sign a letter for the government’s “highest priority”.

In 2019 he said “Security of energy supply is an absolute imperative. We need to take bold decisions and decisive action.”

There has been none of either.

In June 2019 he committed to a “lower debt trajectory”. In October his Finance Minister announced a much higher debt trajectory.

And now to 2020, he promises a sovereign wealth fund, and a state bank.

He knows there is no money to capitalise either of those. They simply will not happen in any meaningful way.

All of this begs the question: what is the point of the SONA if it is just a list of emphatic promises that most emphatically will not be delivered?

The truth is this: we have a President in the grip of paralysis, and a government that is non-functional.

This government cannot decide even the most basic of questions or resolve even the simplest of problems.

All while the country edges closer to disaster.

So, he was wrong to say that we face a stark choice.

He faces a stark choice, not us.

He can achieve immortality. He can go down in history as the man who saved South Africa from economic collapse.

Or he will be remembered as the President who failed to lead in a time of national crisis.

Sadly, I think he told us his choice when he made a case for more “consensus building” and “social compact”.

The question is – consensus among whom?

There is already a broad consensus. Not since 1994 has there been this much agreement on what needs to be done.

So who are these enemies of the obvious and the urgent?

The truth is, he means “ANC consensus”.

There are still many state capture looters in his own party that are fighting him and fighting his reform agenda.

They brandish the language of the loony left, but they are rapacious, corrupt and hell-bent on winning back control of state resources. And they sit on both sides of this House.

Why, sir, are you interested in building consensus with these enemies of growth?

Why make any social compact with them?

The only compacting that needs to happen is the crushing of their corrupt careers.

You see, Mr President, my great fear and my firm suspicion is that when you say “consensus”, what you mean is “concession”.

And every concession you make to the enemies of growth will only be met with a fresh demand.

So you will go on conciliating until you have given up everything.

What then will have been the point of your Presidency?

To have won a mandate for reform, only to concede everything in the name of consensus.

Your latest appeasement is your rumoured support for a Cosatu plan to use R250 billion of civil servants’ hard-earned pension savings to bail out Eskom.

This is a disgrace, and you should have ruled it out explicitly. But you didn’t.

You said you would mobilise funding “without putting pensions at risk”.

What you mean is that you will take their pension money, and then “guarantee” the value of the pension later.

But every civil servant should know now – that guarantee is not worth the paper it’s written on. If government can’t pay its Eskom debts now, it will not be able to pay for all your pensions later.

Cosatu has actually admitted this. They have said upfront that workers should not expect a financial return from this bailout. They should be happy with a “social return”.

Civil servants work hard and save hard for their retirement. That money is theirs. It came from their pay cheques. It doesn’t belong to Cosatu, and it cannot be commandeered to pay for the ANC’s mismanagement and corruption.

Mr President, your support for this shows that the enemies of growth are on the march, and to be frank, your presidency looks in retreat.

They are winning because you are not even fighting.

In your absence, we’ll keep making the case for what we know South Africa needs.

We still believe in South Africa and in the vision of a country united in shared prosperity. We know we could be booming.

If you want to build a consensus that really matters – one that can fix what is wrong with our country – you need to look beyond your own party.

There are enough people in this House who are committed to the reforms we need. They’re just not all on your benches.

If you reach out, you can build this majority.

Put your country first, Mr President.