The DA is growing future leaders

“If you build it, they will come.”

Every year since 2007, the DA enrolls twenty or so of South Africa’s best and brightest young people into our Young Leaders Programme (YLP). This is an intense year-long leadership development programme that turns young people with potential into young people with the political skills and knowledge they need to effectively lead and serve the party and the country.

It’s been highly successful so far, having attracted a diverse range of youngsters and produced such remarkable alumni as current Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, DA Chief Whip in the National Assembly Siviwe Gwarube, DA Head of Policy Gwen Ngwenya, DA National Spokespersons Solly Malatsi and Cilliers Brink, and uMngeni Mayor Chris Pappas – to name but a few.

The programme has run for 15 years, and the early cohorts are really coming into their own. Not a moment too soon. Now more than ever South Africa needs young people to step up to the plate and lead. Not least because young people in leadership add the dynamism and energy needed to attract the younger electorate and get them politically engaged to come out and vote for the future they want. But also because South Africa’s political system needs the youth skill set and long-term outlook. The current average age of parliamentarians is 60, while that of South Africa is 27.

While many fixate on the need for black leaders, the DA fixates on the need for good leaders. Individuals who make it onto the programme each year are those who have already demonstrated a high level of emotional intelligence, true desire to be involved in politics and public service, initiative, confidence, the ability to argue and reason well, a leadership track record, alignment to the DA’s values, and authentic commitment to our vision of building an open, opportunity society for all.

Those who graduate a year later have honed these attributes and acquired a thorough understanding of the DA’s principles and policies and in-depth knowledge of South African politics, political system and current affairs.

So it should come as no surprise that YLP alumni occupy the full gamut of leadership positions in the DA and South Africa, including as provincial ministers (MECs Reagen Allen, Daylin Mitchel, Mireille Wenger, Tertius Simmers), national shadow ministers (Cilliers Brink, Solly Malatsi, Zakhele Mbhele, Luyolo Mphiti, Emma Powell, Andrew Whitfield), DA provincial leaders (Solly Msimanga in Gauteng), members of mayoral councils (MMCs Zahid Badroodien in Cape Town, Motsamai Mokete in Midvaal, Lwando Nkamisa and Carli van Wyk in Stellenbosch), deputy chair of the DA’s federal council (Ashor Sarupen), heads of provincial ministries (Odette Slabbert), heads of DA departments (Aimee Franklin), councillors (Khathutshelo Rasilingwane in Ekurhuleni and others), chiefs of staff, provincial spokespersons and others, too many to mention.

This deep leadership pool has built the resilience that has seen our party through its many challenges and that will see us go from strength to strength in the years ahead.

Over the past decades and centuries, South Africans have prospered or suffered at the hands of good or bad leadership. Indeed, history shows that everything rises and falls on leadership. As South Africa approaches its moonshot election in 2024 – the country’s once-off chance to replace bad leadership with good while there is still something left to save – the need for a wide array of capable, solid leaders is as strong as ever. The DA’s Young Leaders Programme has been working toward this moment for fifteen years and it’s been a brilliant investment.

PS. Applications for the DA Young Leaders Programme are now open, and close on 31 August 2022. Click here to apply.

South Africans can fix South Africa with a government that empowers them

Help people to help themselves. Empower individuals and communities to solve their own problems and build their own lives. Work with people rather than against them. Unlock private sector investment by cutting red tape. Be open for business. Devolve power where possible. Collaborate, cooperate, support, empower. This is the DA’s approach to government.
 
The ANC’s approach of jealously guarding power and ruling from on high has broken South Africa. Don’t allow them to blame foreigners or the Constitution. And don’t fall for their quick-fix solutions that give them even more power, such as NHI, stronger employment equity legislation, more sector masterplans, SARB nationalization, and expropriation – all of which are being trotted out now in an effort to hold the party together and shore up its dwindling support. That way lies more ruin.
 
South Africa needs fixing, and fast, before lawlessness and instability spread further. This country is fixable with a government that empowers everyone to get stuck in. Realistically, decentralised control is the only way forward. We must unleash the creativity and resources, incentives and ingenuity of all the people of South Africa.
 
Harnessing people power
 
DA-run Western Cape and Cape Town are pursuing a decentralised approach to build resilient communities, a healthy economy, and a safe society. Some recent examples.
 
Education MEC David Maynier met with the CEO of Spark Schools this week about the provision of low-fee, quality education by the private sector in the Western Cape, to see how the province can support this initiative. The province welcomes the private sector’s contribution.
 
The province’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism this week revealed that the province has received R103 billion in Foreign Direct Investment into its technology sector in the past decade. It has successfully positioned itself as “Africa’s Tech Capital” by partnering with Wesgro and GreenCape to attract private investment rather than by over-regulating this growth sector.
 
Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis this week published an article answering the most common questions about installing private solar generation in the City. DA-run Cape Town is doing everything possible to enable businesses and households to generate their own electricity and earn money by feeding excess power into the grid. The DA has long urged the minister of energy and NERSA to cut red tape and allow independent power suppliers to get on the grid and to devolve power to competent municipalities to buy, produce and sell energy directly.
 
The City is harnessing people power by rewarding residents who report illegal dumping, and by increasing budget support (to over R7 million) to equip neighbourhood watches in support of residents who give of their time freely to make their communities safer.
 
The murder rate in the Cape Town suburb of Kraaifontein has been nearly halved, thanks to an all-hands-on-deck approach whereby the City and Province’s joint LEAP initiative (Law Enforcement Advancement Programme) has partnered with SAPS, neighbourhood watches, the community policing forum, and churches in the area to bring down crime. Just this week another 100 graduates were deployed to the LEAP programme, bringing the total to 1100 LEAP officers.
 
Devolution
 
The Province and City are pushing for devolution of policing to competent provinces and metros, as the best way to restore law and order. They have amply shown that they will do a better job of keeping people safe than the national government does. Devolution of policing is fully within the scope of the Constitution and experience around the world shows that policing is done better when it is brought closer to communities.
 
Federalism is a core DA value. It is defined as the devolution of power between different spheres of government (national, provincial, local) to the lowest effective level, to ensure decisions are made close as possible to the people, communities and businesses they affect. In line with this value, the City has also embarked on a feasibility study to have power over passenger rail devolved to it, so that it can build an integrated, quality public transport system for residents.
 
Creating jobs, growing the economy, ending poverty
 
Similarly, if we’re going to create jobs, grow the economy and end poverty, economic decision-making power needs to be decentralised to individuals and businesses in what the DA calls a social market economy.
 
Current overregulation at the hands of such socialists as trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, mining and energy minister Gwede Mantashe, and labour minister Thulas Nxesi is killing investment, stifling job creation, and fueling poverty and instability.
 
Overregulation in the form of the Mining Charter has deterred investment in mining and given rise to the phenomenon of Zama Zamas (illegal miners who operate under dangerous conditions and outside the tax system). Overregulation in the form of local content requirements, BEE, employment equity and other regulations has similarly crippled our electricity sector. The recent temporary lifting of restrictions on local content requirements and chicken imports, to ease the electricity and the cost of living crises respectively, are both tacit admissions that these restrictions harm society.
 
Less red tape and more decentralised economic decision-making leads to more investment, more jobs, and more tax revenue to be spent by government on growing equality of opportunity and providing strong safety nets and trampolines for the vulnerable. It’s a virtuous circle that a DA-led national government will embrace. We believe government’s role in the economy is to create the enabling environment and be a referee (in ensuring open and competitive markets and protecting the environment) rather than a player.
 
Power to the people
 
The DA is working to prevent the centralization of power and thereby to put more power in the hands of ordinary South Africans. We have gone to court to have the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment declared illegal and unconstitutional in a bid to prevent the party from controlling all levers of political and economic power.

While the minister of small business development is about to gazette yet another socialist ANC Masterplan, the DA is calling for the scrapping of rigid labour legislation, collective bargaining and BEE requirements for small businesses so that entrepreneurs can be freed up to create jobs on a massive scale.
 
We are fighting NHI (National Health Insurance) because the solution to our dysfunctional health system is to fix and capacitate our clinics and hospitals, train more doctors and nurses, and harness the private sector, not to centralise more power in our incapable bloated bureaucracy. It is outrageous that government has approved R30 million towards employing 44 personnel for the NHI Scheme, which has not been passed through parliament, and plans to allocate more resources next year to fund an NHI staff of 120 people. Yet hospitals battle extreme shortages and patients suffer in horrific conditions.
 
The DA is also opposing the controversial BELA Bill which will rob school governing bodies of the power to determine their own language and admissions policies, and hand that power over to ANC cadres.
 
And we strongly oppose nationalizing the Reserve Bank, an anti-growth plan that President Ramaphosa appeared to support last weekend. It would give government power to unduly influence the country’s money supply and banking sector. The Reserve Bank needs to be left in independent, technocratic hands so that it can be free to take necessary, often unpopular decisions in the country’s best long-term interest.

Conclusion
 
Rather than fall for xenophobic scapegoating and populist short-cuts that give the ANC more power and lead to more ruin, South Africans need to take back their power so that together we can do the real hard work of fixing and building for all. The DA cares deeply about South Africa. We are committed to decentralizing control because we believe in the people of this country and their ability to fix South Africa together if given the chance.
 
PS. Applications for the DA Young Leaders Programme are now open, and close on 31 August 2022. Click here to apply.

Power to the people

Fifteen years into the electricity crisis and 24 years after energy experts and the DA first warned government about looming power shortages, President Ramaphosa on Sunday announced an energy crisis plan that finally makes sense.

The plan is to open the electricity sector to independent power producers of all sizes and to fix Eskom by bringing back skilled engineers and holding malfeasance accountable. The DA and energy experts have been calling for this approach all along, and Andre De Ruyter has been calling for it since he became Eskom CEO.

Crucially, the plan vindicates each one of the DA’s four core principles for organizing society. The ANC-created energy crisis illustrates why each of these principles is an essential prerequisite for a successful South Africa.

Commitment to the rule of law

Eskom will not be fixed until corruption and sabotage are dealt with decisively and those who break the law are held accountable. Looters must be forced to pay back the money and saboteurs jailed for the destruction they have wreaked on society. Eskom has accumulated R400 billion of debt because corruption has been allowed to flourish unchecked. The utility was forced to resort to Stage 6 loadshedding because saboteurs knew they could get away with breaking the law in pursuit of their selfish interests.

The rule of law advances the common good and protects the weak against the mighty, preventing the abuse of power and empowering ordinary people. It promotes order, stability, fairness and economic growth. At the heart of the rule of law is the principle of accountability, which requires openness and transparency. This is why the DA has initiated a process for a parliamentary ad hoc committee to oversee President Ramaphosa’s new National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) established to drive his energy crisis plan.

The president has located the NECOM in the Office of the Presidency, the only ministry without a dedicated parliamentary oversight committee. The DA yesterday unveiled our 10-point action plan to improve parliament’s ability to hold the executive accountable, with a dedicated committee to oversee the Presidency being one of them. Even Chief Justice Zondo pointed out this omission in his report.

The president has centralized more and more power in his office, to the point that he has effectively outsourced power to a parallel cabinet that bypasses parliamentary accountability. His motivation may be that his own cabinet is simply incapable of solving South Africa’s energy and other problems. But nonetheless the centralization of power in the presidency is an extremely concerning trend that must be reversed. South Africa needs decentralized decision-making that brings power closer to people. Which brings us to the DA’s second core principle.

Commitment to a social market economy

A social market economy refers to an economy in which individuals, households and businesses rather than the government hold the decision-making power over what to purchase, where to invest, and how much to produce. Government has an important role to play in improving access to markets by championing open and competitive markets. The ANC has instead chosen to guard Eskom’s monopoly fiercely with a barricade of bureaucratic red tape because the utility has been their prime source of patronage and procurement corruption.

The DA wants an open, competitive energy market where everyone is allowed to buy and sell, because this drives supply up and prices down. Opening the energy market to private producers will bring online a diversity of supply, making South Africa’s energy system more flexible (giving it the ability to adapt quickly to change) and therefore more resilient (giving it the ability to recover quickly from adversity), and more sustainable both from a financial and environmental point of view.

A market economy is all about empowerment. Empowering organisations, households and municipalities to generate and sell electricity provides people with more electrical power and also with more financial power, because it grows the economy and jobs.

The energy crisis plan should have gone further and specifically removed all constraints on competent municipalities and metros from generating, buying and selling power. Nevertheless, DA governments haven’t sat around waiting for permission to do what is best for their residents, which is to purchase lowest-cost power where they can, to drive electricity prices down and supply up. Many are already making real progress towards energy security.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis announced this week that the City will pay cash for excess electricity sold back to the grid by commercial and industrial generators. This is a first in South Africa and will soon be rolled out to households too. DA-run Stellenbosch already gets over 5 MW of electricity from private and municipal solar panels and are eager for commercial and industrial generators to feed as much energy as they can back to the grid. DA-led Ekurhuleni has signed up over 40 independent producers. Other DA governments are following in these footsteps.

A market economy rather than a centrally controlled economy is all the more important in South Africa’s context of an incapable state, where government from the cabinet down simply lacks the capacity to solve problems, and where technical know-how resides mainly in the private sector. This brings us to the DA’s third core organizing principle for society.

Commitment to building a capable state

The plan to bring back skilled engineers who were pushed out of Eskom, and the formation of NECOM to drive the plan, reflects the importance of a capable state. The DA has long called for public appointments based on merit alone. Ability to deliver to the public must be the only consideration so that the poor, who are most reliant on the state, get the best possible service delivery at the lowest possible prices.

Building a capable state requires commitment to the principle of the separation of party and state. The Zondo Commission laid bare that the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment caused the state capture, corruption and hollowing out of capacity that sent Eskom into a death spiral taking South Africa’s economy with it. The DA is fighting in court to have cadre deployment declared unconstitutional and illegal, as per Chief Justice Zondo’s conclusion. It is shameful that President Ramaphosa has decided to use taxpayer money to defend this policy in court.

Commitment to nonracialism

The crisis plan shows that when the rubber hits the road, the ability of public servants to deliver is far more important than their race. Draining Eskom of highly skilled white engineers may have done wonders to grow the ANC’s patronage system, but it came at the expense of access to reliable, low-cost electricity for all, jobs for the unemployed, and a healthy growing fiscus. Real social transformation is about the latter.

The president’s plan should have gone further and waived all preferential procurement requirements for the energy sector, which add cost and complexity and greatly delay processes that are urgent. They may enrich a small, connected elite, but again this is at the expense of real transformation that requires low-cost energy and economic growth and access to opportunities for all.

The DA agrees absolutely on the need for social transformation. SA’s high and racialized inequality is appalling and unacceptable. But short cuts like replacing engineers with cadres and tenders for pals is not the way to do it. President Ramaphosa’s R55 billion for 700 black industrialists has done nothing to pull 35 million South Africans out of deep poverty and comes at their expense. Real social transformation is set out in the Bill of Rights not in the BEE codes.

Timing

Why did energy shortages and Eskom debt have to reach crisis proportions before this plan was announced? It was introduced with great reluctance and only because South Africa’s energy system has been destroyed to the point where it is now hurting the ANC’s prospects for re-election.

South Africa cannot afford to reach crisis point before we learn the lessons and bring the necessary change. Judge John Hlophe was finally suspended by the Judicial Service Commission this week, having done immeasurable harm to the Western Cape judiciary for twelve years. We don’t have the luxury of responding so slowly to matters that harm society.

The DA cares deeply about South Africa and we are committed to bringing real change that empowers all South Africans. We strive to implement our core principles where we govern, and we are striving to show that multi-party coalitions built around these core principles can bring the progress South Africa so needs. Today we are announcing a multi-party government for Nelson Mandela Bay, and in 2024 we hope to do the same for South Africa.

Mpho Phalatse’s multi-party coalition in Johannesburg is showing what is possible from 2024

Ironically, there is reason for optimism in this time of stress and implosion, where everything seems to be falling apart.

South Africa is on the cusp of a breakthrough. A window of opportunity is opening up which has never opened before and may never open again. The general election of 2024 could be the only ever where the DA has a meaningful chance of leading the national government.

ANC national support is tracking well below 50% and is unlikely ever to breach that mark again. Meanwhile DA support is well above where it was last year and growing steadily, making a DA-led multi-party national government likely in 2024. This is not wishful thinking. This was exactly the outcome in each of the three Gauteng metros – Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni – after the 2021 local government election.

Coalitions are inherently less stable and decision-making inevitably slower. But with skilled and principled leadership they bring the potential for repair and progress. Cape Town owes its remarkable turnaround to Helen Zille’s skillful leadership after the local government elections of 2006 when as mayor she held together a seven-party coalition that achieved meaningful progress for residents.

But for a real idea of how South Africa’s politics could unfold Johannesburg is a case in point.

DA mayor of Johannesburg, Mpho Phalatse, has one of the toughest jobs in the country. She has to hold together a coalition of nine diverse parties and repair a city whose infrastructure has been destroyed almost beyond repair. Her coalition inherited depleted coffers, broken systems and a bureaucracy loaded with incapable ANC cadres.

If it can be done in Johannesburg, it can be done in South Africa. And indeed, this 9-party coalition has held for eight months now, a considerable achievement in itself. It passed a R77,3 billion budget for 2022/23 which took effect on 1 July. With so much bulk infrastructure needing to be repaired or outright replaced, change will be slow and sometimes invisible. But Phalatse’s Multi-Party Government has started to show meaningful progress on multiple fronts.

As Phalatse has repeatedly said, the changes will not happen overnight, but there is a deliberate programme of service delivery for all residents across the City, not just some. And the Multi-Party Government expects to be held accountable for the commitments they’ve made, starting with fixing the basics.

For example, 105 newly refurbished Metrobuses hit the road last week. A full refurbishment of the existing Metrobus fleet of 420 buses is planned and budgeted for, which will extend its useful life by 6 or 7 years, a more cost-effective option that replacement. Safe and reliable public transport is life-changing for those who live far from economic and personal opportunities.

Less visible but as important was the recent completion of the massive new 15-megalitres concrete Lenasia Reservoir, delivered in budget and on time, one of many infrastructure-upgrade projects that the Multi-Party Government is undertaking to ensure reliable access to clean water for all 6-million residents. The coalition has budgeted R930-million for capital investment for water supply and sewer infrastructure.

In the same vein, the Multi-Party Government convened an Energy Indaba in May to map the quickest route to a sustainable energy supply, and is taking advice from the City of Cape Town, which is further down this path to energy security.

The coalition is committed to building a solid relationship with SAPS and the Gauteng Provincial Government to fight crime.  Immediate interventions via the Johannesburg Metro Police Department include increased patrolling of crime hotspots, pursuing better compliance with liquor regulations, stop and search operations, building land-use inspections, as well as attending to persistent service delivery issues in the community.

Dr Phalatse’s Multi-Party Government is determined to turn Johannesburg into “a business friendly city” and is prioritising tourism as a key economic driver. It has established the Johannesburg Tourism Company as a municipal-owned entity where it was previously a directorate under the Department of Economic Development, to better support the tourism industry as a destination management organisation and pursue the City’s MICE strategy (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions). The South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) have welcomed what the new organisational structures means for Destination Joburg.

The coalition has implemented strict cost containment measures and tightened financial control measures and supply chain management, to sustain financial sustainability and improve its credit rating over time. It is committed to maintain stable debt ratios and generate surpluses, as this will attract investment by lowering the risk to investors and stakeholders.

A lot of work is needed to turn Johannesburg around and it is going to be a long, bumpy road. But the work has begun. The repair and rebuild of Joburg, is underway. Johannesburg’s 6 million residents can expect to see and feel marked differences in service delivery over time.

The point is, it is being directed by a nine-party coalition that is making slow but meaningful progress, showing South Africans that a post-ANC future is possible in 2024. That’s why the outcome of last year’s local government election was such a hinge of history moment. And it’s why now is no time to lose hope.

DA’s response to the electricity crisis

Let’s be clear about what has caused Stage 6 load-shedding. A small group of illegally striking workers is putting their own interests ahead of those of the nation by blocking work at Eskom until their demands for higher salaries are met.

Their actions are destroying jobs and businesses, scaring away investment, making communities more dangerous, causing huge inconvenience for people, destroying private appliances and public infrastructure, and impacting service delivery.

This unlawful strike action is especially unconscionable since Eskom has 41 000 employees yet needs fewer than 16 000 for the amount of power it currently generates, according to global norms. And these 41 000 workers already earn an average salary of around R700 000 per year excluding benefits, yet the call is for above inflation increases even as their actions plunge even more people into unemployment.

But make no mistake. This is just the straw breaking the camel’s back. The real problem is insufficient power supply due to failure to build new supply capacity, lack of maintenance, over-regulation of the energy sector, and lack of strategic planning, all at the hands of deployed cadres and socialist ideologues.

This has rendered South Africa’s electricity system terribly vulnerable. The threats feed off each other. The less supply we have, the easier it is for specific interest groups to use sabotage to get what they want. The more sabotage, the less supply we have.

DA’s plan to end load-shedding

It is incredibly frustrating being in opposition and seeing the country plunged into darkness and despair, knowing that solutions exist, knowing the situation calls for urgent action, knowing the human suffering and economic damage is avoidable.

The frustration is all the greater because the DA has been pointing out root-cause problems, issuing warnings, and offering solutions for many years now, most importantly calling for an open energy market and an end to cadre deployment. Crises like this don’t appear unheralded.

More recently we have put a plan on the table that charts South Africa’s quickest route out of the crisis and to reliable, cheaper, cleaner electricity.

Replace energy minister Gwede Mantashe with an individual who grasps the urgent need to open the energy market and act firmly against saboteurs.

Declare a state of disaster in the electricity sector and thereby suspend all bureaucratic obstacles blocking businesses, organisations, municipalities and households from producing, buying and/or selling energy.

We need to make it easy and attractive for independent power producers to bring new power to the grid at scale and in the shortest possible time. It is inconceivable that in this crisis, the state is blocking them from doing so with cumbersome, irrational regulations.

For example, government’s localization requirement for renewable energy projects demands that 30% of all inputs are sourced locally. When your house is burning and someone is offering to put out the fire, it makes no sense to delay action with a list of petty, irrational demands, like insisting that 30% of the water must come from a specific dam.

The social value of decentralizing our energy market cannot be overstated. It’s not just that private power production is currently our only route out of load-shedding. Decentralising and diversifying our energy sources also builds resilience and flexibility into the system, leaving us less vulnerable to future breakdowns or sabotage. Nature generates energy in this decentralized way and so should we.

The state of disaster should also be used to waive BEE requirements, so that Eskom can follow the most cost-efficient procurement processes to keep electricity prices as low as possible and processes as streamlined as possible.

Arrest, prosecute and fire those Eskom employees who break the law. The unreasonable demands of Eskom employees for even higher salaries should not prevail over the needs of the country and economy at large.

Far from tolerating unlawful behaviour and entertaining unreasonable demands, the state should be enabling a drastic reduction of Eskom’s wage bill, with serious consequences for those who seek to sabotage the system. It is deeply unfair to expect over 30 million South Africans living below the poverty line to sponsor inflated salaries for Eskom staff while enduring blackouts and joblessness.

Declare power stations and their immediate surroundings security zones. Deploy adequate law enforcement and arrest and prosecute trespassers.

Where the DA governs

A DA national government will act urgently and firmly to end load-shedding in the shortest possible time. We will not allow narrow interests to prevail over the common good. Meantime, DA governments are doing what they can to protect citizens from load-shedding.

In May, DA Mayor of Johannesburg Dr Mpho Phalatse convened a major energy indaba to start the process of bringing on board independent power producers. And on 1 July, her multi-party coalition’s budget for the 2022/23 financial year kicked in, beginning the rollout of a R1.6 billion capital investment to upgrade and stabilise the City’s power network to avert the possibility of further breakdowns caused by Eskom’s load-shedding.

Ekurhuleni’s DA-led multi-party coalition earlier this year appointed 47 private power producers to build and sell electricity direct to the city from 2024 onwards. To finance the replacement and expansion of backbone infrastructure at a rate of at least 10km of cables per year, the City has committed to a 40% increase in capital expenditure in the next financial year and an average 12% thereafter.

The DA-run City of Cape Town is using its Steenbras Hydro Electric System to protect City residents from two stages of load-shedding. It is also pushing as hard as it can to end the City’s reliance on Eskom. (The City also last week kicked off its feasibility study on taking over the management of passenger rail from National Government.)

The DA-run Western Cape Department of Health has installed back-up generators in most hospitals, sparing them from rolling blackouts. This means that quality healthcare can continue without interruption. Many lives literally rely on this.

In 2024, a DA-led national government will act urgently and firmly to end load-shedding within two years. We care deeply, and are determined to build a resilient, prosperous South Africa.

An era of clean, capable government is on the horizon

If you’re feeling hopeless about South Africa’s future, here’s some good news showing that the DA is a proven alternative for South African voters, and we are fighting hard for a real new dawn.

Clean government

Last week, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke released the annual municipal audit outcomes. She reported that 73% of municipalities in DA-run Western Cape received clean audits (22 out of 30), while the eight ANC-run provinces averaged just 8% (19 out of 227). DA-run Midvaal in Gauteng received its eighth consecutive clean audit.

Practically, a clean audit means public money is spent on the public, so things work, so people feel confident to invest in the future, so jobs are created.

Yesterday, StatsSA released the 2021 General Household Survey confirming that DA-run Western Cape scores highest on almost all service delivery metrics:

  • 99.4% of households having access to piped or tap water
  • Less than 4.9% of households reporting water interruptions (the national average is 30.8%)
  • 94.5% of households with access to improved sanitation in the country
  • 94.8% of households of households with access to flush toilets
  • the WC having the highest proportion of households that get refuse removal at least once a week
  • 95.1% of households connected to the mains electricity supply
  • the WC having the highest proportion of children in pre-school and grade R
  • 71.2% of WC households deriving their income from salaries (the highest in the country – speaks to the relatively high number of people employed in the province compared to other provinces)

Where things work, people work. So it is no coincidence that the unemployment rate (including those who’ve given up looking for work) is 16.5 percentage points lower in DA-run Western Cape (29%) than the average for South Africa (45.5%), according to StatsSA’s QLFS 2022Q1.

Clean government translates into jobs and a higher quality of life. Where the DA governs, life is far more likely to be easier and get better.

Pro-poor government

The DA-run Western Cape also comes out tops by far on delivery to indigent households, being  households that qualify and are registered for poverty relief in the form of a basket of free basic services. According to StatsSA’s Non-Financial Census of Municipalities 2019:

  • Overall service delivery to indigent households is 96.8% for Western Cape against a national average of 53.1%
  • Water: 97.4% compared to SA average of 74.4%
  • Electricity: 97.9% compared to SA average of 63.2%
  • Solid waste management: 96.6% compared with SA average of 68.8%

Capable government

The DA difference springs from merit-based public appointments. Ability to serve the public is the sole criterion that DA governments use for selecting public officials. This tends to build a clean, capable state that delivers to all.

By contrast, the ANC’s policy of deploying politically loyal cadres systemically destroys the public service, producing a corrupt, incapable, captured state that enriches those in the ANC’s patronage network at the expense of the rest.

I cannot emphasize this enough: the difference between merit-based appointment versus cadre deployment is between keeping the taps running during the Cape Town drought and the taps running dry during the NMB drought; between safe roads in good condition and dangerous potholed roads; between keeping the lights on and being regularly load-shed; between affordable rail transport and a collapsed rail system; between having a job and being unemployed.

This week, the DA released a mini documentary showing how ANC cadre deployment is the root cause of corruption and state capture.

DA vindicated

Also this week, the DA’s decades-long fight against cadre deployment was fully vindicated when Chief Justice Zondo released the final instalment of his State Capture Report, confirming that cadre deployment was the mechanism whereby ANC cronies captured the state.

The report states: “it is unlawful and unconstitutional for a President of this country or any other government official to take into account recommendations of the ANC Deployment Committee.”

The Zondo Report personally implicates President Ramaphosa as being deeply complicit in state capture. “It must be noted that President Ramaphosa was the Chairperson of the Deployment Committee for a period of five years, between December 2012 and December 2017, and that many of these appointments (and indeed the worst excess of State Capture) occurred during this period.”

DA action

The DA has fought cadre deployment relentlessly. By exposing it at every opportunity, by making critical submissions to the Zondo Commission, through our End Cadre Deployment Bill in parliament, and through our ongoing court challenge to outlaw this destructive policy, we are rewriting the history of South Africa.

We are also pursuing every avenue to hold President Ramaphosa to account for his alleged actions in the 2020 theft at his Phala Phala game farm and for the central role he played in state capture. We do so to uphold the principle of equality before the law and to defend South Africa. The entire ANC, from the head down, is a criminal syndicate that must go.

Conclusion

With ANC support having fallen below 50% in 2021, the era of extractive, incompetent, corrupt government is drawing to a close. The DA has shown South Africa that we have what it takes to build an honest, skilled state that delivers to all the people of South Africa. Progress is faster where we govern outright, but we have shown we can manage complex coalitions that make steady, if slower progress. A real new dawn is on the horizon.

Our historic opportunity to dismantle cadre deployment

Things are falling apart in South Africa because twenty five years ago, a very damaging piece of code got into the ANC’s operating system, inevitably infecting and destroying almost every institution of state.

Ultimately fatal

The Zondo reports and the ANC deployment committee minutes have confirmed what the DA has been saying for decades. That by erasing the separation between party and state, the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment is the foundation of state capture, grand corruption, institutional breakdown, and service delivery collapse.

The policy says that public sector appointments should be based on loyalty to the party rather than on ability to deliver to the public. This has undermined the capacity of state institutions to deliver on their mandate. By enabling the ANC to control most levers of power, it has also undermined the principle of separation of powers, the essential prerequisite for a functional democracy.

Formally adopted by the ANC at their 1997 Mafikeng conference, cadre deployment tied the party into an ultimately fatal parasitic relationship with the South African state.

Full effects

With cadre deployment in its endgame, its full effects are now bombarding South Africa from every angle, creating a perfect storm of human suffering.

It is the root cause of SAPS’s inability to enforce law and order, which has led to 6083 murders in the first three months of this year, 306 of children under the age of 17, an increase of 22% in the murder rate compared with the same period last year.

It is the root cause of municipal collapse, as reported by Ratings Afrika, this week. According to its Municipal Financial Sustainability Index, most municipalities in South Africa are on the verge of collapse financially – except in the DA-run Western Cape.

It is the root cause of state capture and the grand corruption it enabled that saw R1.5 trillion stolen from the public purse.

The root cause of the load-shedding and soaring electricity prices and collapsed rail system that are crippling our economy.

The root cause of the factionalism, the fierce internal competition for access to state resources, that saw ANC politics spill onto the streets of KZN in July last year, destroying hundreds of lives, thousands of jobs, and billions of rands of property.

And of our broken education system that has so stunted the life prospects of millions of South African children, with six out of nine provincial departments of education having been captured by SADTU, the ANC-affiliated teacher’s union.

To save South Africa we need to jettison the policy or the parasite, preferably both.

Evidence

With all the evidence that has been exposed by the Zondo Commission and the DA, we now have a historic opportunity to fundamentally uproot it.

Thanks to sustained DA pressure, the minutes since 2018 of the ANC’s Deployment Committee were made public, giving South Africans insight into the mechanism by which cadre deployment destroys the state.

The DA is still in court to obtain the minutes from 2013 to 2018, when then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was chairperson of the Deployment Committee, the period when the worst state capture appointments were made – such as of Brian Molefe to head up Eskom and Tom Moyane SARS.

But the good news is that there is now widespread agreement in the media and in civil society at large that cadre deployment is the root of the problem and needs to go.

The DA is taking two major action steps this week that could bring it to a decisive end.

End Cadre Deployment Bill

Today, Leon Schreiber is presenting the DA’s End Cadre Deployment Bill to parliament’s committee on public service and administration. The bill would: make it illegal for politicians to work in the civil service; enhance the independence and powers of the Public Service Commission; and make it a crime for anyone to appoint a public servant on the basis of political considerations other than merit. It would also give the PSC power to enforce merit-based appointments and take remedial action against anyone not following its directives. So it is a very comprehensive reform bill.

Despite President Ramaphosa’s repeated defense of cadre deployment and his request to DC Justice Zondo not to rule that it be scrapped, the first Zondo report makes it clear that an independent, empowered PSC is necessary, concluding:

  • 418. When regard is had to all of the above, it is quite clear that the appointment of members of Boards of Directors of SOEs as well as senior executives such as CEOs and CFOs can no longer be left solely in the hands of politicians because in the main they have failed dismally to give these SOEs members of Boards and CEOs and CFOs who have integrity and who have what it would take to lead these institutions successfully. They are all going down one by one and, quite often, they depend on bail outs.
  • 419. It is therefore necessary that a body be established which will be tasked with the identification, recruitment and selection of the right kind of people who will be considered for appointment as members of Boards of SOEs and those who will be appointed as CEOs and CFOs at these SOEs.

Coming soon

On Friday, the DA will announce another unprecedented and historic intervention to force the government and the ANC to scrap cadre deployment and ensure it never sneaks in again going forward.

The DA will continue to lead the fight against cadre deployment and for a capable, honest state able to deliver on its constitutional mandate, with institutions that check and balance power, and thereby prevent the abuse of political power that has infiltrated our body politic, from the President down.

Replace failed BBBEE with DA’s Economic Justice policy

On Monday, in his weekly newsletter, President Ramaphosa came out guns blazing for BBBEE, the ANC’s approach to redressing the injustices of South Africa’s Apartheid and colonial past, saying it is “a must for growth”.

This is not just a president living in fantasyland. This is a president actively deceiving a nation. And he knows it. But he does it anyway, because BBBEE is the glue that keeps his faction-riven party from falling apart.

A radically different approach

After 19 years, it’s time to admit that BBBEE has failed and needs replacing with the DA’s Economic Justice policy, or something similar.

The DA’s Economic Justice policy differs from BBBEE in three important respects.

First, it targets the poor black majority for redress, rather than a small, connected elite. It does so by directly addressing the key drivers of inequality of opportunity rather than relying on “trickle down redress”.

Second, it prioritises cost and competence in government procurement where BBBEE allocates state contracts at inflated tender prices to companies often unable to deliver.

Third, it promotes rather than undermines economic growth by attracting rather than deterring investment.

BBBEE has failed

According to the government’s website, “the fundamental objective of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, No. 53 of 2003, is to enhance the economic participation of black people in the South African economy”.

On Tuesday, the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey revealed that the official broad unemployment rate amongst black South Africans in Q1 of 2022 is 50%, up from 36% in Q1 of 2008.

This equates to a doubling of the number of unemployed black South Africans from 5,7 million to 11,3 million during the past 14 years. (2008 is the earliest year that StatsSA gives employment data for.)

The fact is, after 19 years of so-called “broad-based” BEE, inequality and black poverty are at record highs and there are more black people locked out of the economy than ever before.

Of course, the black unemployment rate and the black poverty rate are not the only measures of black economic participation. But they are surely the most important.

BBBEE has so obviously failed in its fundamental objective of achieving broad economic inclusion for the black majority.

Profound harm

Worse still, it has profoundly harmed this group.

Nineteen years down the line, it is now clear that BBBEE has enriched a small number of politically connected individuals – of all races – at the expense of the black majority.

It has done so by giving connected individuals/companies preferential access to lucrative government contracts at inflated tender prices, and without sufficient regard for whether these individuals/companies are able to deliver.

This actively and disproportionately harms the poor black majority who most suffer the consequences of inefficient and ineffective state spending, since they are most dependent on the state.

The DA is resolute that cost and competence must take priority in government procurement. Over-priced and unfulfilled or badly delivered contracts hurt the poor black majority because that is the group most reliant on government services.

BBBEE, operating in tandem with cadre deployment, is the mechanism whereby R1.5 trillion was lost to state capture and R14 billion to covid-related PPE theft, and whereby R238 000 was paid for a wooden mop, as Eskom reported last year. Inflated tender prices are not the exception; they are the norm.

Hence, not only has economic disadvantage been perpetuated for the black majority, but the gap has widened.

BBBEE has also harmed the black majority by deterring investment.

A must for growth?

The only thing that grows an economy is investment in productive enterprises. BBBEE is a major obstacle to this, not only because compliance is difficult and costly, but because it has engendered a corrupt, patronage-driven, incapable state.

In 2016, the EU Chamber of Commerce in South Africa indicated BBBEE legislation as its top legislative impediment, and top three challenge overall to doing business in South Africa.

The DA’s Economic Justice policy, on the other hand, bases preferential government procurement on the globally recognised Sustainable Development Goals model, choosing competent companies that make a positive socioeconomic contribution to the poor black majority.

This model promotes investment, because investors, shareholders, and analysts look for companies with strong SDG awareness and commitments. Rather than being deterred by the BBBEE model, investors are attracted by the SDG model.

Broad-based transformation requires growth

As President Ramaphosa correctly pointed out in his newsletter on Monday: Economic transformation and economic growth are intertwined. There cannot be one without the other.

Growth is essential for two things:

  • Job creation on a massive scale to bring millions of black people into the South African economy; and
  • Growing access to opportunities (education, health, housing, transport, electricity, safety, communication, grants, title deeds) for the poor black majority by spending growing tax revenues disproportionately on this group. These are the opportunities which enable people to participate in the economy.

Whereas BBBEE is anti-growth and exclusive, the DA’s Economic Justice policy is pro-growth and inclusive.

Conclusion

South Africa desperately needs a radically different approach to redress and inclusion. We can win the fight against our deeply unequal, unjust past. But the only way to do it is to ensure economic opportunities are available to all, not just the elite. The DA’s Economic Justice policy does that. Our approach to broad-based transformation will succeed where BBBEE has failed.

Time to say no to SA’s exorbitant petrol price.

On Wednesday, the government is planning to increase the price of petrol by around R3.80 per litre, to an outrageous R25 per litre. As we did with the R22 million flagpole plan, South Africans need to put our national foot down and say a firm NO.

It’s high time to heed the Chinese proverb that says the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second best time is now. The best time to push back against South Africa’s inexorable petrol price hikes would have been a decade ago, when it began its swift climb from R11 per litre. The second best time is now.

A petrol price increase will take food prices up with it because the price of food includes the cost of transporting it to shops, and all our food is transported by road now that South Africa’s rail system has collapsed.

As it is, millions of South Africans are already going hungry, and things are about to get a lot worse. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s covid lockdowns and the impact of climate change are reducing the supply and increasing the cost of food and fertilizer globally.

Russia’s blockade of the Ukrainian port of Odessa is trapping 25 million tonnes of grain, equivalent to the annual consumption of all the world’s least developed countries. Many countries have put export blocks on grain to protect their own supply.

At the same time, South Africa faces multiple domestic crises, where 46% unemployment, stage 4 load-shedding, floods in KZN, drought in the Eastern Cape and collapsing service delivery are already making it hard for millions of households to put food on the table.

State-owned Foskor, which has historically produced 80% of SA’s fertilizer needs locally is only managing to produce 20% now, due to the same cadre-deployment-induced mismanagement that has blighted other state-owned companies.

This week, Tiger Brands, South Africa’s largest food manufacturer warned that prices for some basic food categories such as bread, maize meal and baking flour will rise by 15-20% in the coming six months.

All in all, government’s plan for a massive petrol price hike next week is terribly timed. It will push millions more into poverty and hunger, risking violent riots as seen in Sri Lanka recently in response to exorbitant fuel price hikes there.

South Africans cannot afford this price hike and shouldn’t accept it. A full one third of the price of petrol goes to government as taxes and levies. Petrol in Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia and Kenya is on average about R5 cheaper per litre, because their governments don’t tax it as much. The South African government can do something to lower the fuel price in South Africa, it just chooses not to.

The DA has put a plan on the table to slash fuel prices and we’ve successfully requested a debate of urgent public importance in the National Assembly to get the ball rolling. There are three elements to the plan.

1. Scrap the General Fuel Levy

The General Fuel Levy of R3.93 per litre is little more than a corruption tax. Road users are effectively reimbursing National Treasury for taxpayer funds lost to corruption and wasteful expenditure. By cutting wasteful expenditure on luxuries like catering and entertainment, VIP protection and vehicles, and by uprooting state capture corruption that has cost South Africa at least R1.5 trillion so far, the General Fuel Levy of R3.93 per litre can be scrapped entirely.

2. Give exemptions to the RAF Levy:

Through a SARS tax rebate, government should exempt those who already pay for comprehensive third party insurance from the RAF levy. This includes bus, taxi and transport companies, and private commuters. This would free up the RAF from claims for those drivers and save those drivers another R2.18 per litre, who would get this back as a tax rebate from SARS.

3. De-regulate the Fuel Price:

The cost of fuel can be further reduced by deregulating the fuel sector to spur competition between sellers, as per the DA’s pending Private Member’s Bill.
The forces of market competition among fuel sellers, in a market for 11 Billion litres of fuel a year, would naturally drive down prices as they compete for business. Like any other consumer good, it is only reasonable that the same market competition determines the final price at the pump.
To this end, the DA has a Private Members Bill going before Parliament soon to de-regulate the Fuel Price. We call on all Parties to support this.

The DA will pursue every available avenue to prevent the upcoming rise in fuel prices and to slash fuel prices going forward. We will fight this fight on behalf of every South African battling to make ends meet, because we care about their plight.

Progress in Ekurhuleni shows multiparty coalitions can work

Multi-party coalitions are the future. As we head into our toughest winter yet since the dawn of our democracy, it is becoming ever clearer that there will be no progress or prosperity while the ANC governs South Africa. Unemployment is at a record high 46% including those who have given up looking for work; prices of essential goods are set to skyrocket with no plan to shield the poor; and our electricity grid is on the brink of total collapse.

With South Africa’s political landscape as fragmented as it is, a multi-party national governing coalition is the only way to reverse our current relentless slide to state failure. That’s why so much rests on the multi-party coalitions running the three Gauteng metros – Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

They are test centres ahead of the 2024 general election. If they can show real progress over the next two years towards building capable, honest, pro-poor, service-delivery-driven governments, they will build public confidence in the ability of a multi-party national government to take South Africa forward in 2024.

So it is great to be able to report that, despite being a minority government, the multi-party coalition that has run Ekurhuleni since December last year has held, passed an adjustment budget for the remainder of the financial year, and is making meaningful progress on multiple fronts.

The coalition consists of the DA, Action SA, Freedom Front Plus, Inkatha Freedom Party, African Christian Democratic Party, Congress of the People, and Patriotic Alliance. Working together, these 7 parties are turning the ship. The clearest evidence of this came last month when the City’s credit rating was raised two notches from negative to stable.

This was after the coalition adjusted its medium term budget for greater efficiency and established systems to strengthen Ekurhuleni’s financial position and root out the scourge of fraud and corruption in the metro.

But the coalition cannot take all the credit for this. Ekurhuleni is lucky to have had an experienced and diligent City Manager since 2016, Dr Imogen Mashazi, who was re-appointed last month for another five years.

Together with Dr Mashazi, the coalition is taking a pro-poor, back-to-basics approach, focusing on the things that matter most to residents: reliable electricity and water, public transport, waste management, housing, safety and financial stability.

This has already made some positive impact on the lives of residents and laid the foundation for much more to come. The City faces massive infrastructure maintenance backlogs, but just the first few months in office has shown that Ekurhuleni citizens can expect steady, meaningful, measurable progress over the coming years.

Electricity: The coalition is confident of ensuring a reliable and expanded electricity supply well before the end of this political term. It recently appointed 47 Private Power Producers to build and sell electricity direct to the city from 2024 onwards. To finance the replacement and expansion of backbone infrastructure at a rate of at least 10km of cables per year, the City has committed to a 40% increase in capital expenditure in the next financial year and an average 12% thereafter.

Water: By June 2023, nine additional water towers and reservoirs will have been constructed, in addition to the nine projects being completed by the end of this financial year. This is to counter the metro’s all-too-frequent water outages caused by drops in pressure in supply from Rand Water due to Eskom outages. Last month, Ekurhuleni won six Green Drop awards for excellence in wastewater treatment plant operation. This year, the City is on track to replace 8000 water meters and replace or upgrade sewer pipes across the city.

Stormwater drainage: During its first 100 days, the coalition cleared and maintained 2100 stormwater drains and are on track to well exceed performance of prior financial years.

Potholes: In its first 100 days, the City patched 29 000m² of road and has reallocated savings from the salary bill to try to get on top of massive inherited backlogs.

Public transport: The Harambee Bus Rapid Transport Network running from Thembisa via Kempton Park to OR Tambo International Airport will be fully operational, and three public transport facilities will be refurbished, in the coming financial year.

Waste management: The City is rehabilitating infested waterbodies, targeting the protection of wetlands, reopening two inoperative landfill sites, introducing waste separation at source at all municipal buildings, and dealing with illegal dumping around the city. Maintenance activities such as grass cutting have increased significantly, and clean-ups have started in the CBD to entice businesses back, with many other waste initiatives underway.

Safety: In January this year, the City launched Operation Buya Mthetho in which the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EPMD) will work with other law enforcement agencies to address the many crimes plaguing the City. In the next financial year, the EMPD will deploy an additional 480 municipal police officers to improve policy visibility and by-law compliance.

Financial stability: Cash on hand has improved to a 21-day reserve from just a 14-days reserve and the metro is working to meet National Treasury’s 30-day minimum requirements. Spending on non-service-delivery areas has been reigned in to reverse the depleted state in which the coalition found the city’s finances. And audit systems have been put in place to build an honest administration.

While Ekurhuleni’s multi-party coalition is fully aware of the challenges and the mammoth task ahead, the 7 parties are working together to build a capable, honest administration that can take the metro forward. In doing so, they are showing the nation that a multi-party national governing coalition is a realistic and hopeful option for South Africa post 2024.