Redressing economic injustice and inequity is a moral imperative

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Trade and Industry, Geordin Hill-Lewis MP, during the Budget Vote on Trade and Industry.
Chairperson,
Honourable Members,
Colleagues,
We meet at an uneasy time for our country.
There is a very real sense that our miraculous project of building one, united nation, with one, shared future is slowly coming apart at the seams.
Our crisis is impacting the daily life of our people. Life is getting materially harder for everyone.
Those who have work worry daily about the flagging economy and what it means for the security of their jobs and their family’s livelihoods.
Those 9 million South Africans without work know that as the economy gets worse, so do their chances of ever finding a job.
As a father of a young daughter myself, I can only imagine the pain and anxiety of not being able to support your own family.
The profound sadness of our current situation is: there is absolutely no good reason that we should be where we are today.
But in this truth lie also the seeds of hope: For just as quickly as we have been brought to our knees as a country, we can just as quickly rise to our feet again.
We must act quickly to restore the hope of our 1994 dream. Now is not the time to give up on South Africa. And we who truly love South Africa must prepare to work together to defend her.
The political tectonic plates are shifting beneath our feet.
And that means the DA are now preparing to be in government in 2019.
We will govern because we see South Africa for what it can be, and what it will be.
Our potential is vast, our human capital and talent is exceptional, our good-will towards one another as fellow South Africans is undiminished, and our natural endowments remain enormous.
In government, we will position the economy to compete on a global scale and not just compete, but win.
We are optimists about our economy.
We can grow much, much faster than we are now. We can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
We can compete in the global tech and knowledge economy – our entrepreneurs and graduates are among the best in the world.
There is no reason why investors should be leaving South Africa, like General Motors did this week. Bottom line: No one leaves a growing, prosperous economy.
Under a DA-led government, investors will know that they will get a fair, predictable and open business environment. They will have certainty of policy and transparency of regulation.
They will have a tax system that will require them to pay their fair share to be a part of our incredible country, but that will also reward innovation and entrepreneurialism.
We want businesses investing and growing, because when business is healthy, jobs are being created. We understand that simple formula, and we understand how to make it happen.
We will give black South Africans a real stake in our miracle.
Redressing the economic injustice and inequity of the past is not just “nice to have”, it is a moral imperative.
Truly being one nation, with one future, requires that we all genuinely care about and work to truly empower black South Africans with access to capital and assets.
At the same time, Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) that simply enriches a small group of well-connected cronies is so harmful to this project – because it breeds resentment among black and white South Africans alike.
This Trade and Industry Minister has folded to the pressure of the powerful lobbyists in the Department and close to the President, led by Jimmy Manyi, that says that BEE must constantly be tweaked to make it more concentrated in the hands of a few, well-connected cronies.
This is evidenced by the bizarre move to limit the ability of companies to offer shares to the black employees that work in the business. If ever there was a perversion of BEE that was it.
You should never have given Manyi’s personal lobby group – the Black Business Council – R7 million of public money, Minister, for them to punt their divisive and regressive vision of BEE cronyism. You should never do that again. You should have the courage of your convictions and do what you know is right.
The DA-led government in 2019 will face down the corrupt elite that want to use BEE as a scheme for legalised corruption. We want BEE that creates jobs and gives workers a stake in the economy, not a BEE that turns a few friends of the President into instant billionaires.
And we will make this simple commitment to black South Africans: Workers, the people who actually make a business run, should be able to share in the profits and decision making of their business.
We will make BEE truly broad based, so that ordinary workers can become part owners and have a stake in our country’s shared success.
Thirdly, we will get all of government working together to achieve growth and job creation.
In truth, whatever the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) says these days is largely ignored by other departments.
The DTI has a renewable energy strategy which is completely undermined and killed by Eskom. The result is the closure or withdrawal of many renewables companies. The same with local procurement, and steel, and a raft of other designations, and leveraging the massive economic power of the state enterprises.
The DTI can’t work because government isn’t working together.
In a normal democracy, Cabinet and the President would bang heads and unite the government behind an overriding focus on growth and jobs. Not so under this government.
In a DA-led government, we will get government working in unison to grow the economy and create jobs.
We will work in complete partnership with labour and business, and we will deliver the hope of a job for the unemployed.
To the public servants of the Department of Trade and Industry: thank you for fighting for what is right and ethical despite the current toxic environment in government. Don’t give up! Your integrity and professionalism will always be welcome in a DA-led government.
Make no mistake, a new government is coming.
All of us must pull together now and save the dream of South Africa as One nation, with One future.

A working tourism industry will keep South Africans working

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Tourism, James Vos MP, during the Budget Vote on Tourism.
Chairperson
It fills me with pride to see so many of our tourism role-players join us in the gallery today. Thanks to you, South Africa’s tourism sector is a vibrant and growing one.
Before I continue, I need to make special mention of one of our guests here today. Her name is Alushca Ritchie and she was elected as the President of the World Federation of Tourist Guides Associations. Congratulations, Aluscha.
On that note, I would like to announce that I am also currently completing my course in Tour Guiding and will soon join your ranks as we promote our country, its unique cultural and natural heritage – whilst at the same time impressing on visitors the significance of the places they are visiting.
Tour guides influence the economy directly and indirectly by introducing a positive picture of our country. Sadly, the importance of tour guides in the bigger picture of our economy is often overlooked.
To keep this industry well regulated, reliable and professional, attempts are made worldwide to train and register guides to equip them for their important task.
However, we also need to deal with the reality of illegal tourist guiding. I look forward to working with the industry to find ways to deal with these issues.
The tourism industry, unfortunately, continues to face a major threat because of the country’s visa regulations. This has already impacted negatively on all our key source markets.
The tourism industry is still reeling from these ill-conceived visa regulations with reports informing of an R7.5 billion revenue loss and a decrease of about 600 000 tourists.
To make matters worse, roughly 13 000 people en route to South Africa in 2016 were turned away at foreign airports because they were not in possession of the relevant documentation.
Although the government announced some concessions with regards to the visa regulations, this is too little too late. The solution lies in measures that will streamline tourism facilitation to our country such as the introduction of electronic visas and the scrapping of the birth certificate requirement.
The financial cost of introducing these measures will be much lower than the economic cost of scaring off tourists, trade and investment.
It is clear that domestic tourism is coming under pressure because of a worsening economy. Linked to this is the reality that local tourism is just too expensive for many South Africans.
My oversight visits to small towns have shown that many resorts have become dysfunctional. This is regrettable. These resorts, built with taxpayers’ money, are a huge liability for these municipalities.
Why did government not implement the budget resort concept, despite commissioning a study into this model, which resulted in the government announcing in May 2013 that it would, in partnership with the Industrial Development Corporation and private sector, convert underused state properties into tourist facilities?
We heard today that the utilisation of underutilised state and municipal owned assets for tourism purposes will now be considered.
We concur with this statement since the DA originally proposed this and call on the Department of Tourism to develop strategies that will identify all resorts and parks needful of assistance with the aim of boosting domestic tourism by implementing partnerships with the private sector to convert these facilities into affordable “budget” holiday destinations.
Price attractions for high-volume, not for low-volume, and watch the surrounding economy thrive too.
Much has been said about transformation, but no concrete and viable solutions have been offered as far as the tourism industry is concerned.
Referring to input from some previous speakers, I did not hear anything about how they intend to boost the demand for tourism, in other words how they intend to increase the supply of tourists, so that entrepreneurs and business actually have a market for their goods and services.
So it seems that some of the proposals mentioned here today assume that there will be a constant supply of tourists, both domestic and international, and thus seeks to transform one side of the market without thinking about the other side. Therefore, a balanced approach is required to achieve growth in tourism numbers and growth in participants.
To this end, the DA believes that transformation should enhance workforce capabilities to ensure that our people have the right skills and training to benefit from industry growth.
This means creating and supporting more Tourism-preneurs through initiatives like the Tourism Incentive Programme, which empowers small-to-medium enterprises.
The DA acknowledges that transformation and inclusive growth requires an innovative approach that expands into new segments of the tourism landscape. In this regard, we recognise the potential of stimulating local economies through developing Township Tourism as a means to evolve cultural experiences.
We believe that homestays and township trips offer a great economic opportunity for areas that are not adequately explored.
The Maboneng Township Arts Experience is a public arts intervention that works with homeowners from different townships around South Africa to create their residences into art galleries. Together with gallery-home owners, they create festivals and permanent art homes called Township Art Galleries. There is currently one in Alexandra and another in Langa.
These are amazing projects that showcase the benefits of Township tourism by evolving unique cultural experiences. We believe that these projects will play a key role in transforming the tourism sector.
Another submission we are making today is the issue of the exorbitant aviation taxes.
Research done in this regard clearly shows the inability of many South Africans to travel by air is as a result of the excessive costs involved. Transformation in this instance means making travel more affordable and accessible to more people.
The International Air Transport Association predicts that by 2034, an estimated 7.3 billion airline passengers will be taking to the skies which is more than double the 3.5 billion of 2015.
In order to cope with this demand, airlines and countries need to have forward-thinking policies that will make provision for cost-efficient infrastructure and support business growth.
Therefore, we call on the Department of Tourism to establish a strategic aviation committee to investigate how aviation taxes can be reduced in order to stimulate tourism growth. The fuel levy and other taxes need to be evaluated in terms of direct benefit to aviation and the opportunity costs associated with it.
Thus, one way to achieve this objective is to reduce aviation taxes as a way of lowering the cost of air travel so that more South Africans can travel at an affordable rate.
While on the subject of aviation, here in the Western Cape we’re making it our mission to make it easier to travel here through more direct flights to our region, and this has yielded fantastic results for holidaymakers and business travellers.
In a very short time, we secured six new routes and eight route expansions, resulting in over half a million more two-way direct seats coming into Cape Town. Since July last year, this additional capacity has generated roughly R3 billion additional tourism spend for the Western Cape. We are also forging ahead with lobby efforts to secure a direct route between the United States and Cape Town.
As things stand now, the tourism economy in the Western Cape is worth R17 billion annually and creates roughly 200 000 job opportunities. It goes without saying that these successes should not be limited to one province only.
Considering all of the aforementioned, it would make sense for the Department of Tourism to implement similar strategies across the country.
For this Department to reach its goals, more must be done to hold crosscutting Ministries to account.
We cannot have a situation which recently occurred whereby Home Affairs issues visa regulations without considering the tourism impact; we cannot have tourist facilities closing down because the road access is not properly maintained; we cannot afford to have bad media because of a breakdown in law and order or the safety of our tourists are threatened; nor can we have unscrupulous operators charging what they like at our parks, restaurants and accommodation.
South Africa has a wonderful diversity of people, landscape and wildlife and with many World Heritage Sites to our credit, our country has the potential to become a sought after and affordable destination of choice for travel and trade.
Given the job losses in the mining and manufacturing sectors, we need the tourism industry to keep South Africans working.

President Jacob Zuma is guilty of the pre-meditated murder of the economy in South Africa

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier MP, during the Budget Vote on National Treasury.
Madam Speaker,
The Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, was at a fashion show, rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous, when the call came informing him that he had got the top job and would be the next Finance Minister.
It was not long before the new Minister and his sidekick, Mayihlome Tshwete, swooped down, rather like Batman and Robin, on National Treasury.
The Minister, to his credit, passed the first big test of any South African Finance Minister – he lasted the weekend.
This was the culmination of a shameful midnight Cabinet reshuffle. President Jacob Zuma had:

  • Recalled the former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, from an international investor roadshow on the basis of a bizarre “intelligence report” claiming he was part of a plot to mobilise people to overthrow the state; and
  • Then promptly fired him to, can you believe it, “improve efficiency and effectiveness”.

The truth is that, had the President been serious about improving efficiency and effectiveness, he would have fired Bathabile Dlamini and Faith Mthambi who, together, could barely run a bath.
The Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, condemned the Cabinet reshuffle, saying it was “unacceptable”.
Even, ANC Secretary General, Gwede Mantashe, condemned the Cabinet reshuffle, saying he was “very uncomfortable”.
But, the Minister defended the Cabinet reshuffle by condemning those who had condemned the Cabinet reshuffle.
He dismissed them as “a mixed bag of so-called ANC stalwarts and disillusioned ex-ANC leaders who were ill-disciplined”.
The fact is President Jacob Zuma’s midnight Cabinet reshuffle had nothing to do with improving efficiency and effectiveness and everything to do with the capture of National Treasury for his most important clients, the Guptas.
And the President had the perfect man for the job in his new Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, because in his own words, “I don’t ask questions, I simply comply with instructions.”
Things have been in absolute shambles since the Minister took over, as he somersaulted between “radical economic transformation” and “inclusive economic growth”, and between attacking orthodox and right-wing economists at National Treasury and supporting the skilled and experienced team at National Treasury.
However, things went from bad to worse when the Minister appointed Professor Chris Malikane, who seems to have been trained at the “Hugo Chavez School of Economics”, and who has some mad ideas on the economy, including nationalising the banks, mines and insurance companies, as his economic advisor at National Treasury.
Of course, when you have a Minister, who in his own words simply complies with instructions, who advises him is an important issue.
Things began to spin out of control as the Minister told his economic advisor to “keep quiet”, but the economic advisor told the Minister he would not “shut up”.
The Minister was forced into damage control mode, sending his economic advisor to the equivalent of the “re-education camp” to be “rehabilitated”.
Now, I have said before that the Minister was “Des van Rooyen in a designer suit”.
But, I was wrong.
Because, at least Des van Rooyen has a Master’s degree in finance, even if half his assignments were done by the Parliamentary Budget Office.
Whatever the case, the Minister has lost control and the message is now one part Bloomberg, one part ANN7, and one part The Real Housewives of New York.
The National Treasury’s legislative mandate, and the R30.79 billion budget for the 2017/18 financial year, are directed at ensuring transparency, accountability and sound fiscal controls in the management of our public finances.
But the question is: how long can this last?
Because, like all politicians accumulating power, the Minister has concealed his real political agenda, which he revealed, in an unguarded moment, during his maiden press conference, and which included:

  • A strong commitment to implementing “radical economic transformation”; and
  • An attack on National Treasury, which he believes is dominated by big business, international investors and orthodox economists.

The fact is, and let us not be naïve about this, the Minister has been appointed to “defang” National Treasury.
And he will do it with charm and cunning, and he will do it patiently and slowly:

  • By exerting political control and reducing the institutional independence of National Treasury;
  • By diluting the legislative mandate to reduce the institutional strength of National Treasury;
  • By controlling the procurement process;
  • By controlling the Public Investment Corporation; and
  • Most importantly, by approving the nuclear build programme.

If you look carefully, the work is already underway “below the line” with

  • The Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, “power-grabbing” the budget prioritisation process from National Treasury; and
  • The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Michael Masuta, “power-grabbing” control of the Financial Intelligence Centre from National Treasury.

The truth is that National Treasury is in danger of being “defanged” and reduced to a bunch of bookkeepers under the new Minister and his boss, President Jacob Zuma.
We cannot afford to surrender to the mafia state and so we are going to have to fight to maintain the institutional independence and institutional strength of National Treasury.
What this means is that the Finance Committee is going to require a reset from legislative mode to oversight mode and carefully scrutinise procurement, public investments, contingent liabilities and fiscal risks, including most importantly the nuclear build programme.
The fact is that, in the end, President Jacob Zuma must have known that the midnight Cabinet reshuffle would push the economy off the cliff.
We are now in deep trouble with the midnight Cabinet reshuffle and radical economic transformation delivering:

  • stagnant economic growth;
  • declining per capita incomes;
  • a collapse in investment;
  • a spike in disinvestment;
  • massive unemployment;
  • staggering national debt;
  • “zombie” state-owned enterprises;
  • junk status; and
  • ultimately, a loss of hope for the millions of South Africans who do not have jobs, or who have given up looking for jobs, and who live without dignity, without independence, and without freedom, in South Africa.

That is why it is not an exaggeration to say that President Jacob Zuma’s midnight Cabinet reshuffle, and his policy of radical economic transformation, amounts to the pre-meditated murder of the economy in South Africa.
So, if you do not have a job, or you have given up looking for a job, you need to know this: You do not have a job because the ANC-government has systematically mismanaged the economy; and

  • You do not have a job because the ANC-government has systematically mismanaged the economy; and
  • You will never get a job as long as the ANC-government is in power in South Africa.

That is why you will have a choice, in the 2019 National Election, between a strong know-how economy, which creates jobs for all, led by the DA, or a weak know-who economy, which creates jobs for the few.
We say: bring it on.

Give us a chance to show you the kind of SA we can build together

Note to Editors: The following remarks were  delivered by the DA Leader during a public meeting in Qwa-Qwa, Free State. The Leader is on a two-day visit to the the Free State as part of the National #Change19 Tour. The Leader is joined by DA Free State Provincial Leader, Patricia Kopane
My fellow South Africans
If you don’t like something, then change it.
If you don’t like the path our country is on, then switch to a different path.
If you don’t like what your government is doing for you, then change governments.
I know I don’t like what’s happening to our country. I don’t like to see millions of young people without work. I don’t like to see millions of families trying to get by on a single social grant.
I don’t like to see pit toilets 23 years into our democracy. I don’t like to see dangerous illegal electricity connections. I don’t like to see communities go without water, or sewage leaking into streets.
I don’t like to see corruption, whether this is the president selling the country to the Guptas, or whether it is the local ANC councillor making sure only ANC members get Public Works jobs or are moved up the housing list.
I don’t like any of these things, which is why the DA is working hard to change them.
We are building a South Africa where the people have a real say in their future. We are building a South Africa where everyone has the opportunity to live a life they value.
But this isn’t something we can do on our own. By taking this message across the country to communities like yours, we hope to convince enough people that change is possible. That you don’t have to be satisfied with the way things are.
Because this change can only come from you. Only when you decide that enough is enough can we replace this ANC government with a government that will move us forward.
I don’t need to tell you that life can be better. You know this.
You know that sending your children to school hungry, or going to bed hungry, is not the life you were promised.
You know that pit toilets and sewage running down your streets is not the life you were promised.
You know that having to give up on your dreams because you can’t find work is not the life you were promised.
You know that there must be a much better option. I’m here to tell you that the only way you will achieve the things you want is if you are prepared to make the change.
In last year’s municipal elections, enough people decided to make this change for us to be able to put together coalition governments and cooperation agreements in three new metros.
That means three of our biggest cities decided that they’d had enough of the ANC’s empty promises, and they were prepared to give the DA and our coalition partners a chance. And already these new governments are making a difference in their lives.
If we can do that in Johannesburg and Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay, then we can do it here in Qwa-Qwa too.
But we can’t do it if you still believe that the ANC can change. We can’t do it if you’re still waiting for the ANC to get better – to kick out Jacob Zuma – and to put someone else in his place.
Because this will make no difference to a party for which corruption is the only way to operate. Changing leaders at the top will only give corruption a new face and a new name. The only way to get rid of corruption and put the people first is through a new government.
All I am asking is that you give us one chance. Don’t give away your vote for life. Just lend it to us so we can show you that we can bring change to Qwa-Qwa.
If we then disappoint you, take your vote back. But first give us that chance to show you the kind of South Africa we can build together.
Ke a leboga. I thank you.
 

The only people who can bring change to Matjhabeng are you, the voters

The following remarks were  delivered by the DA Leader during a public meeting in Matjhabeng, Free State. The Leader is on a two-day visit to the the Free State as part of the National #Change19 Tour. The Leader is joined by DA Free State Provincial Leader, 
My fellow South Africans
It’s great to wake up in the Free State and to drive through this wonderful province. It sits in the heart of our country in more ways than one – not only geographically, but also as the bread basket of our nation.
If we are to prosper as a nation and unlock our full potential, then it is crucial that the Free State succeeds. And the power to make this happen lies in your hands.
I come to your community as part of what I call my Change19 Tour. In the course of the year I plan to take the DA’s vision for a better South Africa to communities across the country.
I think we can all agree we need to change. Our country is heading the wrong way and soon it may be too late to turn around. We have stopped making progress as a nation. We are no longer marching towards economic freedom for all.
Communities like yours here in Matjhabeng are fast being forgotten by a government that promised to take you forward, but has no intention of honouring that promise.
And here in the Free State you suffer under the double threat of a national ANC government under Jacob Zuma and a provincial ANC government under Ace Magashule.
Because these two men are the same. The promises they make to their rich friends, the Guptas, mean far more than the promises they make to you before elections.
There has been a lot of talk recently about whether the ANC will kick Jacob Zuma out and replace him with someone else. I assure you, this will make no difference at all to the ANC. The culture of corruption – of stealing money that was meant for communities like yours – is part of the ANC now. It cannot be corrected.
Replacing Zuma with someone else will just increase your suffering. Similarly, replacing Ace Magashule with another ANC leader here in the Free State won’t change the way it governs for you. It will only change the name of the person handing out the contracts and tenders to friends and family.
When I talk about change on this tour, I mean total change. I mean a whole new way of looking at South Africa.
I’m talking about a South Africa that has entered its second struggle era – this time the struggle for economic freedom for all. The struggle to escape the economic oppression of ANC rule.
I’m talking about a South Africa in which all of us have a say in how this country of ours must be rebuilt – what it should look like and how we can all benefit from it.
I’m talking about a South Africa built on tolerance and respect for each other.
I’m talking about a South Africa where violence against women is not tolerated. Where we stand up, as one, against anyone who thinks they have the right to treat women as their possession.
I’m talking about a South Africa that is no longer the rape and murder capital of the world; where children don’t disappear every day, and where our streets and our neighbourhoods belong to the people who live there once more.
A South Africa where the leaders set the examples for others to follow. Where law and order starts at the top.
I’m talking about a South Africa that works. That creates jobs in every town and every city, and that invests in educating and training our youth to fill these jobs.
I’m talking about a South Africa free from the ANC. We have to start thinking and talking about our future without the ANC. Because only then can we start to move forward.
My fellow South Africans
If we want to build this South Africa – if we want to turn communities like Matjhabeng into places of hope, where the youth can find jobs instead of turning to crime and drugs – then we are going to have to do it together.
It’s no use to see ourselves as only DA, only ANC or only EFF, and everyone else as our enemies. We need to start thinking beyond these divides. We need to start seeing those who want to build the same South Africa as we do as our allies.
A new government that rescues our country from the ANC will have to be built on coalitions and cooperation. This is how we are busy turning metros like Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay around, and this is how we will turn South Africa around.
We need to think differently and we need to vote differently. And the only people who can make this happen are you, the voters. You have the power to shape your future.
Please think carefully and choose wisely.
Ke a leboga. I thank you.
 

ANC’s land reform policies benefit traditional elites, not rural communities

Chairperson,
Honourable Members,
Molweni!
The Constitution provides, in Section 25 (6), that a person or community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled to tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress.
Section 25 (9) provides that Parliament must enact the legislation.
Chapter 6 of the National Development Plan which advocates for an Integrated and Inclusive Rural Economy, states:
“[T]here will be integrated rural areas, where residents will be economically active, have food security, access to basic services, health care and quality education. Achieving this vision, will require leadership on land reform and communal tenure security … among other things … to implement these interventions”.
A critical and relevant vision indeed and one that the DA agrees with wholeheartedly.
What the commissioners who wrote it did not, perhaps, realise was that there was, and still is, NO leadership or political will in the ANC to implement this plan.
Six years down the line, the plan is held up by delays in legislation, insufficient budgets, beaurocratic bungling, corruption and ineffective government officials.
In June 2016, King Goodwill Zwelithini announced plans for those residing on Ingonyama Trust land to be awarded title deeds. The Chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board later explained that the task would take many years to conclude and would require funds from national government to implement.
Strangely enough, there is no provision in their budget to kick-start this initiative. The people are still waiting!
The ANC’s policies on communal land have, like their economic policies, benefitted a narrow political elite, at the expense of rural South Africans.
In her July 2014 article titled “Communal land, Property rights and Traditional leaders” Annika Classens states that the present ANC government has rejected the post 1994 rights-based approach to land reform in favour of outsourcing power and control over more than 17 million South Africans to Traditional Leaders in a context where power relations are notoriously unequal.
These unequal power relations have resulted in rural residents being taken advantage of and deals made on their land by corrupt and unscrupulous traditional leaders who see opportunities for self-enrichment.
Often, unelected and illegitimate traditional elites have acted unilaterally, authorising mining activities on communal land, without consulting their communities.
So why does the ANC insist on denying rural communities their land rights?
A decisive and efficient DA government will fast track communal tenure legislation and start off by securing tenure rights to the dispossessed rural dwellers in the former TBVC territories.
In a DA-led national government, rural residents will be economically active as the asset they live on will legally belong to them and not the government.
We will be forever grateful to the many individuals who made untold sacrifices to free our beloved country from the shackles of apartheid.
We will never forget them. It is now time to hand over the baton to a new order, to a swifter, more inclusive and forward-looking leaders who can restart progress in South Africa again.
The DA is the only party that truly believes the rural poor must own their land in line with our values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity for all!

Land Reform budget aims to limit land ownership in order to expand the role of the state

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Thomas Walters MP, during the Budget Vote on Rural Development and Land Reform.
Honourable Chairperson,
This Budget Vote debate is presenting a choice in our history that needs to be unpacked for any discussion on Land Reform to be genuinely meaningful.
How we deal with this choice can deeply affect the lives of South Africans in the years to come.
What we do in this Parliament is the difference between a dream coming true or not; of real people having futures or not; a family going hungry or not.
It is not a game and real lives are involved!
It is our duty as the official opposition party and also a governing party over areas housing 16 million people to strongly challenge assumptions and highlight the choice between alternatives that are being made.
We also do so looking at this moment and its choices through the prism of a set of core values.
The Democratic Alliance has at the core of its belief system the individual.
Before you are part of a class, race, colour or ethnicity, you are an individual.
For us it therefore stands to reason that unless what we do changes the lives of individuals, anything else is mere layers of obfuscation standing in the way of change. Advancing individuals in non-destructive tandem with one another is synonymous with progress!
We further believe that unless each individual in South Africa can point at enhanced opportunity, receive fair treatment in their daily lives and can claim the freedom to pursue dreams, government is failing. Our optimistic values are summarised as Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity!
All of this, of course, must be done in a contextually intelligent manner which takes into account our particular history and what shapes the lives of individuals, especially the forgotten rural poor.
In short, Honourable Chair, we make our choices and judge this budget and its concomitant legislation based on the extent to which it advances these values.
This budget is meant to support a flurry of legislation coming to us, that also provides further context to what we are doing, that can briefly be summarised as follows:
It aims to limit land ownership in order to expand the role of the state.
The upcoming Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill is essentially aimed at dumping a lot of land on the market, in the belief that that will advance access to land.
It aims to secure a privileged position for the state as an operator, price setter, purchaser and distributor of land.
The new draft regulations for the valuation of land aim at setting a standardised land pricing system towards this objective.
All of this is superficially founded on a belief that the state is the vehicle of change in society and our budgets are also being led by these assumptions.
Honourable Chair,
These assumptions are not born out by the facts and we believe the underlying problems are simply being sidestepped.
The same ANC Government who wants more power and more control have shown that it is the very reason why land reform is failing and we cannot have more of the same:
More than R80 billion has largely been wasted in a commercial rural land market estimated at a size of R192 billion.
Billions and billions were lost in wasteful expenditure each year by the ANC government that could have been spent on land reform, fiscal dumping without meeting targets and of course, the ANC’s perennial bed-partner, corruption.
The government blames the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, but the truth is that acquisition is so mismanaged that it often takes years to process sales.
A massive failure rate of creating successful farming ventures exists.
In 2011 this government had a 90% failure rate in its land reform ventures.
It improved in this term to, what the ANC is proud of, a 73% failure rate when recap funding was used to support the failing projects, of course not inherently dealing with the problem but simply throwing money at what are essentially becoming state supported farms.
The ANC did nothing to ensure title deeds, or at least proper long term tenure, is secured for occupants of state or communal land.
This prevents the rural poor from accessing opportunities in the market place and making these desperately poor, forgotten areas prosper and attract investment.
The same applies to beneficiaries of land reform that are in truth exploited labour on inefficient state owned farms.
A state interested in advancing the poor and having individuals advance themselves, would not have underfunded, delayed and politically abused land claims as the recent Constitutional Court finding in this regard underscores.
Ask land claimants who have been waiting for their claims to be resolved since the late 1990s.
Today, beneficiaries (without ownership of land) are still reliant on support by strategic partners chosen by a government more interested in helping its cronies advance themselves, than interested in supporting beneficiaries achieve their dreams. Ask the beneficiaries of Nirwanda farm in the Hex River Valley how they benefitted from their Strategic Partner, a close, and should I say safe ally and funder of the ruling party.
It is now clear that the ANC prefers to keep the poor from owning property, stealing their futures and sustaining the colonial and Apartheid practice of keeping the poor dependent on government.
It uses poverty and state largesse as mechanisms to maintain a voting bloc for itself.
We cannot therefore accept that somehow the very state that has shown itself as the single biggest enemy of the poor is the vehicle of change.
Now government is intending to introduce legislation and regulations that will destroy the value of land, potentially ruin our financial sector and drive away internal and external investment, again destroying hopes and dreams.
It tries to provide political cover by stoking racial division, stereotyping commercial farmers as the obstacle and creating lightning conductors from their failure even if it does not exist.
There is a real choice that can be made because successful land reform is happening.
The Democratic Alliance challenges ANC governments to emulate our successes in Share Equity schemes (with between 60% and 80% success rates), based on win-win partnerships.
It should follow the DA Metros example of vastly accelerated provision of title deeds to the poor!
We believe the poor should own land! That is the choice we need to make!

Energy Department has demonstrated its ineptitude and thinly veiled venality

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Energy, Gordon Mackay MP, during the Budget Vote on Energy.
Ngiyabonga Sihlalo,
The Year that Was
What a year it has been since we last met to debate the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) annual R8 billion budget.
More so than in any previous year, the DoE has outdone itself in demonstrating its ineptitude and its thinly veiled venality.
The news headlines have been awash with the manifold scandals rocking the Energy sector. Not a day goes by without some new disclosure about Eskom, PetroSA, the Strategic Fuel Fund, the Central Energy Fund or the scandalous aspects of the intended nuclear deal.
Not only are the Department’s failures manifold, they are also becoming legendary.
For this is the Department that has gifted citizens the biggest loss by any state owned entity (SOE) in the history of our country. Standing at approximately R16.2 billion, the impairment liability of PetroSA is currently unfunded and will remain so as PetroSA’s precarious financial situation shows little sign of improving.
This is also the Department that oversaw the illegal sale of South Africa’s entire strategic fuel stock at rock bottom prices and then lied about it to the nation calling it a stock rotation. Little did South Africans know that crude oil stocks do not require stock rotation like finished petroleum products such as diesel or petrol.
This is the Department that has led the nation by the nose, claiming all the while that the nuclear procurement process was legally sanctioned, only to be told by the courts in no uncertain terms that the process has been patently illegal and designed to exclude meaningful public participation.
This is also the Department whose previous Minister last year delivered what can only be described as the kookiest speech ever inflicted upon this House, when she made incoherent comments about bad cheap wine, juvenile delinquents, EFF leader Julius Malema being unable to be a mother (a rather obvious observation one would think) and something about a cow licking a fire.
Suffice to say none of these colourful metaphors assisted in providing any clarity on the array of critical Energy issues afflicting the nation.
Then of course, Chair, we have also lived through President Zuma’s ‘Night of the Long Knives’ cabinet purge, where upon, the insistence of either the owners of the Saxonwold Shebeen or the President of a former Soviet Socialist Republic, Minister Tina Joemat- Pettersson was unceremoniously sacked and replaced.
The reason: she was not proving to be the pliable nuclear-deal hand-maiden that the President had hoped she would be.
While we in the DA wish the new Minister Kubayi every success in her new role as Energy Minister and trust that she will live up to her constitutional mandate to act in the best interests of our people, her participation in the ‘white-wash’ that was the Nkandla Ad Hoc Committee does little to inspire our confidence.
In fact, Chair, all the Minister’s participation on the Committee demonstrated is the Minister’s ability to take instruction from Number One, her ignorance of the most basic laws and her rather meticulous manicurist capacities.
The Minister has however, to her credit, made some promising noises about greater transparency and accountability and has made undertakings to ensure greater public participation in Energy policy decisions.
These pronouncements are welcomed by the DA and we wait with baited breath, Chair, to see if the Minister is in fact a woman of her word.
Crisis in the Energy Sector
Chair, as already alluded to, the Energy Sector is in crisis.
Dominated as this sector is by the State, this crisis is in no small part a direct reflection of the broader ANC failure of governance afflicting the nation.
Just as various state institutions have been captured by venal private interests via the governing party, so too has much of the Energy sector been captured to enrich the few at the expense of the majority.
Policy failure has also meant that the Energy sector’s overall contribution to GDP is woefully inadequate and well below the benchmarks and norms of comparable nations.
At a time when South Africa is in desperate need of economic growth to address our innumerable social problems, the Department’s policy planning unit continues to dither and delay.
This dithering is so severe, Chair, that I put it to you it constitutes a crime against our people.
If we are lucky Chair, the Department’s policy planning unit may deliver the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) by the end of this year.
However, considering that both are unfavourable to nuclear, they may not survive the cabinet process.
These two critical documents which form the very foundation of the Energy sector in our country and which are required to provide much needed investor certainty have been delayed by more than 7 years.
Despite these serious delays, Chair, the Deputy Director General for Policy Planning, Mr Ompi Aphane, a dapper Malusi-Gigaba-esque individual, has remained in his position for over 4 years, his lack-lustre performance condoned by various ANC Ministers at a very real cost to our people.
The Department’s dysfunctional performance is also reflected in the various SoEs for which it bares responsibility.
PetroSA
Referred to most recently, Chair, by new Minister Kubayi as the DoE’s problem child, an epic understatement, PetroSA has become a joke that just isn’t funny anymore.
What is hilarious though, Chair, was the PetroSA board’s most recent presentation to the Portfolio Committee of its supposed turnaround strategy.
Presented in an 8 page PowerPoint document, yes Chair, I kid you not, 8 pages of PowerPoint of which 4 were merely company collateral, are what PetroSA board members think constitutes a turnaround strategy for a R16.2 billion loss making entity.
Simply put, Chair, the turnaround strategy failed to address the 2 critical problems facing PetroSA namely, that if it has no feed stock it cannot continue to operate.
And, if it ceases operation, then the ever expanding impairment liability falls due and needs to be repaid by the State as guarantor within 30 days.
Let me be plain, the minute PetroSA stops production at its refinery, Mr Gigaba is going to be forced to pull out the nation’s cheque book and fork out close on R20 billion. Not only is that R20 billion that the state doesn’t have, it is also yet another log to be added to the fire that has consumed the nation’s sovereign credit rating.
Chair, perhaps even more alarming than the complete lack of any strategic reflection in this so-called turnaround strategy – the document didn’t even contain the most basic SWOT analysis – is the fact that the directors of PetroSA were paid R17.3 million in bonuses in the last financial year, which would be funny chair, if hundreds of South Africans were not about to lose their jobs and livelihoods because of the blatant mismanagement and self-enrichment of PetroSA’s directors and board.
Action Step: DA Calls for Parliamentary Inquiry into PetroSA
Chair, as the DA we will not stand by idly.
I have today written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee requesting that he use his powers to call for an immediate and thorough Parliament inquiry into the directors and board of PetroSA.
The urgency of the issue cannot be over stated, the very real possibility of collapse of PetroSA was highlighted in recent media reports on internal discussions indicating PetroSA’s intention to seek business rescue. Immediate action must therefore be taken by this Parliament as a matter of urgency lest we be found wanting.
A failure to act at this critical juncture will only hasten the demise of PetroSA and will add to the very significant debt burden already faced by the State, with the attendant impact on our sovereign credit rating.
Let me be clear, Chair, we are putting the Portfolio Committee Chairman Majola on notice, the DA awaits his immediate response and should the Chair fail to adequately apply his mind, the DA will take his decision on review to the courts.
The time for dithering on this matter is over.
The Strategic Fuel Fund
Chair, on the 2nd of May this year, Minister Kubayi for the first time confirmed what has long been suspected – that the supposed stock rotation of the nation’s strategic fuel stocks was in fact a sale and not a rotation as stated in this House by the Minister’s predecessor.
10 million barrels have been sold at bargain basement prices, at least $10 per barrel below the spot price at the time, without the required concurrence of National Treasury or any detail to the procurement and tender processes followed.
This is money taken from the poorest of the poor and is an absolute disgrace for a government that claims to be the champion of the dispossessed.
The sale of the crude at well below its market value and replacement value means that South Africa has no discernible path to replenishing its strategic fuel stocks.
The reason for the apparent sale are unknown and as the Central Energy Fund, the SFF’s parent company, admitted it only became aware of the sale when it identified unaccounted funds in its own bank accounts.
As the situation now stands, South Africa currently retains approximately 300 000 barrels of its former strategic fuel stock, against a daily demand of approximately 650 000 barrels.
Most of the remaining crude stocks are however unrecoverable and are of no use in the event of a global oil market shock.
Action Step: DA to Seek Investigation into whether the DoE Wilfully Misled Parliament
Chair, the matter was referred to the Auditor General for investigation by the former Minister. The Portfolio Committee awaits this report, but it must be noted that the new Minister’s admission stands in stark contradiction to repeated comments made by the Department to the public, in the media and in Committee, in which it maintained that the sale was in fact a rotation.
The DA is of the opinion that the Department has wilfully mislead Parliament and is currently reviewing all minutes and transcripts in order to formulate allegations in order to have them investigated by the Public Service Commission and the Office of the Speaker.
Action Step: DA to Seek Legal Advice on Declaratory Order to Have Sale Declared Illegal
The DA is of the firm belief that the sale of the nation’s fuels stocks was conducted in violation of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) as well as applicable procurement regulation requiring concurrence from National Treasury. The DA has briefed its legal counsel and will be taking advice on the potential success of a declaratory order declaring the sale illegal.
Nuclear Deal
Regarding the nuclear deal, the court has ruled the process undertaken by the Department to be illegal and has set it aside. The finding of the Court is a victory for the people of South Africa.
The Court has been unequivocal in its requirements that:
1. The procurement process be defined before the actual commencement of nuclear procurement; and
2. That credible public participation form a part of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (NERSA’s) approval of any Ministerial determination to procure nuclear.
The Minister has said she will not appeal the court’s ruling.
Action Step: DA to Seek Time Frames on Nuclear Procurement Regulations and Court Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for All Nuclear Documents
Therefore, I have today written to the Minister asking her to clarify when exactly the people of our country can expect to see the proposed procurement regulations relating to nuclear procurement.
The DA will also in the coming weeks launch a court based PAIA application to obtain all government and National Treasury studies on the feasibility and costs associated with the nuclear deal in order to make this information publically available as a precursor to any public participation process.
The DA also puts the Minister on notice that our legal counsel have been briefed and are ready to interdict any deviation from the court’s rulings.
The Minister should further note that her statements in this House in response to oral questions as regards the issuing of the Request For Proposal (RFP) would seem to suggest that Minister has not quite understood the court’s ruling and I strongly suggest that the issuance of the RFP be held off until after the procurement regulations and IRP are finalised. Failure to do so Minister, would leave you and your Department vulnerable to further legal action.
The DA restates its absolute commitment to all Parliamentary and legal recourse to ensure that this disastrous and corrupt deal never sees the light of day.
Renewables and Independent Power Producers (IPP’s)
While the new Minister can rightly claim that much of the crisis engulfing the energy sector is not of her making, the Minister’s failure to compel Eskom to sign the remaining 37 outstanding IPP’s to the grid is damaging the fledgling sector and endangering R200 million worth of investment and thousands of jobs.
Your failure to act, Minister, is having very real consequences on the lives of ordinary and especially poor South Africans. That is to say nothing of the damage you are doing to investor confidence.
Might I remind you, Minister, that a robust renewables sector has the opportunity to play a leading role in assisting South Africa from exiting junk status.
Investors have shown a distinct appetite for investment in renewables and every day you dither, the appetite diminishes, and while that may be pleasing to your government which sees renewables as direct competition to nuclear, it is not pleasing to the vast majority of South Africans who are being denied a livelihood in the sector.
Word of Thanks
In closing, Chair, I would like to express my gratitude to our Committee Chairman, Slovo Majola, and my colleagues on this Committee. While we often disagree on critical issues, I can honestly say that the work of the Committee is conducted professionally and in a bi-partisan manner. Our Chair’s democratic instincts are a credit to the institution of Parliament.
I thank you.

South Africans must face the reality that the ANC will not succeed in addressing land reform

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Member of the Portfolio Committee of Rural Development and Land Reform, Ken Roberston MP, during the Budget Vote on Rural Development and Land Reform.
Today I will paint a picture of millions of South Africans who look at land as the only remaining answer to addressing long-term indignities and economic isolation.
One of the hardest realities for millions of South Africans to face is the realisation that the ANC government will not succeed in addressing land reform issues despite having the necessary legislation in place to do it.
To give examples:
The thousands of land claims that were submitted between the 2014 to 2018 claim extension period, have been put on hold because the extension was deemed unconstitutional.
Somhlolo Trust in Mpumalanga, is restituted land with going business concerns, but the beneficiaries have not received one cent. They have also not received title deeds and have no say regarding the finances on this property.
Can you imagine the feeling of utter frustration?
In the Eastern Cape, near Tsitsikama, was a thriving commercial hydroponic tomato farm called Cornucopia that was mostly under tunnel, but now has completely collapsed. This farm was purchased for a workers trust consisting of the employees of the farm. Now, the farm stands desolate. The 18 tunnels which provided for the hydroponics, stands weather-beaten and empty.
We cannot point fingers at the beneficiaries because government involvement and mentorship required to assist emerging farmers was non-existent and the Liphuma langa Development Trust was set on the inevitable course of failure.
It is these blunders that currently disadvantage our rural communities.
Honourable Chair,
Had we addressed mentorship shortfalls on land reform and given the beneficiaries ownership of their land through unconditional title deeds, emerging farmers or beneficiaries would be so much closer to participating in the economy.
I will ask the question? If state mentorship is stagnant and non-effective and those who have the knowledge and experience are being ostracised, who exactly is going to mentor emerging farmers and beneficiaries of land reform?
When the DA is in national government, we will allocate additional funding for the purposes of research and development and that will fast track the finalisation of claims.
We will ensure that the policy is effectively implemented.
We will increase the budget for mentorship programs so to drastically improve the chances of success for emerging farmers.
We will approach existing stakeholders to assist and offer business models that speak to the development of poor South Africans.
The DA is the only party that truly wants the poor to own their own property and that will ensure that the poor and destitute will have access to prosperous participation in the economy.

Minister Masutha will only act out of political expediency

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Adv Werner Horn MP, during the Budget Vote on Justice and Constitutional Development.
Honourable Chairperson,
Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman, more than two hundred years ago first used the now often quoted phrase that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men – and obviously good women – to do nothing”.
We believe, however, as has already been illustrated by the Honourable Breytenbach, that the last three years have shown convincingly that evil can also triumph if one only choose to do what is expedient and for the rest to try and do as little as possible.
Chair, despite all of the protestations of ANC colleagues, there is no denying that bar Legal Aid South Africa, the performance of the department and all other institutions provided for in vote 21 is deeply suspect.
Hopefully the South African Human Rights Commission will be re-invigorated by the wholesale change in personnel it underwent recently, but its failure to act on timely warnings about the plight of those killed in what is now known as the Esidimeni tragedy will remain an ugly scar on its reputation.
Before returning to the failures of the ministry allow me at this point, Chair, to briefly turn to another Chapter 9 institution and confirm that our fear remains that we will be proven correct in our assessment that the standards set by Advocate Madonsela in respect of an unwavering commitment to our constitution and effective handling of complaints of maladministration and corruption, specifically in respect of the so-called high profile cases, will not be maintained in the next six years. Although in all fairness no evidence is yet available to assess this, as no findings in respect of high profile cases has been released since the incumbent took office seven months ago.
Chair, but let’s return to the failures of the Minister and his deputy.
Anyone not yet convinced about the inability of this duo to ensure the proper administration of justice, should consider this:
Apart from the occasional energy displayed when jumping to the defence of the President, the last three years can be described not only by the word “failure” but also the word “delay”.
From the delay in the tabling of legal aid regulations, to the delay, or maybe it should be “the failure” to table the regulations enabling the implementation of the Maintenance Amendment Act” passed nearly two years ago with a big hoo-ha that government was to get tough on maintenance defaulters and blacklist them;
To the delay in processing of the Cyber Security Bill before tabling, while the number of convictions for cybercrimes are sliding backwards in the face of a massive worldwide increase in cybercrimes;
To an inordinate delay in the appointment of the solicitor-general, which Minister you promised would happen “very soon” in your 2015 budget speech, and which if kept could surely have eased some of the ills still faced by the state legal services despite money being thrown at this problem as if the minister himself is able to print it;
To a delay and resultant snowballing of costs in every build project this department is undertaking;
All of which, Chairperson, once again, underscores the assessment that unless it is politically expedient for this Minister and his deputy to act with focus and speed, nothing more than a snail’s pace can be expected of them.
Yet, and ironically, we have again today heard a lot about transformation of a radical kind that is going to happen in respect of the legal system.
This is ironic because, Honourable Members, of the way the study which should have been the launch pad of this radical transformation into the socio-economic impact of the decisions of our highest courts has been dealt with by this ministry.
This impact assessment, first announced in 2012, has been with the Minister since last year. But, when asked for an explanation on why this report has not been tabled yet, all sorts of vagaries are proffered. From saying that the report is not final yet to an answer that cabinet is still processing it, it is clear there is no urgency to table it.
Chair, radical transformation will not be launched from this pad as it in all likelihood has found that our courts have played a positive and enabling, dare we say “radical” role, in respect of the realisation of socio-economic rights and is not to blame for the failures of government to deliver.
What would have been funny if not so sad is that the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department attempted to bury this report under the target that, in response to it, a policy on the future court administration model of our High Courts must be finalised, the latter of course being another of those issues the Minister is approaching with his special mixture of obfuscation and tardiness.
Chair, after three years the proverbial jury is out and it is clear: this Department and its entities are led nowhere very slowly.