DA heads to court to get kids back into school full time

Yesterday, the DA submitted papers to the Gauteng High Court to get an immediate order to allow all schoolchildren to attend school full time.

Over 80% of SA schools – those serving poor communities – are still operating on a rotational basis, whereby each child only attends school half the time, on alternate days or weeks. This is to satisfy government’s 1m (primary schools) and 1.5m (high schools) social distancing regulations in what would otherwise be crowded classrooms.

The argument in favour of opening schools fully is clear and compelling. The enormous harm done to poor children by denying them 50% of their school days – to their ability to learn, access food, earn a living one day, and generally thrive – far overshadows any potential benefit. In fact, it is not clear there is any benefit at all. (Not to mention the harm done to poor parents in increased childcare costs and stress.)

This argument was already made last year by the government’s own Ministerial Advisory Committee and by the South African Paediatric Association.

Denying poor children access to education and food is a gross violation of their constitutional rights to basic education, to basic nutrition, for their best interest to be paramount in all matters concerning them, and to equality.

Therefore, the DA fully expected all schoolchildren to be able to attend school full time from the start of this school year. When this turned out not to be the case, we started a campaign to make it happen.

A letter to the president went unanswered, as did various press statements.  Hence our court action, which elicited a prompt response from the Department of Basic Education that they are waiting for cabinet to announce on this.

One wonders what is keeping cabinet from pushing the green button to reinstate poor children’s fundamental rights. We are already over two weeks into the school term for inland provinces. Over 10 million children are affected, meaning over 5 million actual school days of learning are being irrecoverably lost every weekday.

Any rate, either government revokes the social distancing regulations very soon to allow poor kids back to school full time, or they see the DA in court.

This sad matter brings to mind a quote I read recently by Thomas Sowell: “Politicians can solve almost any problem – usually by creating a bigger problem. But, so long as the voters are aware of the problem that the politicians have solved, and unaware of the bigger problems they have created, political “solutions” are a political success”.

South African voters need to get better at identifying the bigger problems being created by government’s “solutions”. These bigger problems are why SA is slipping backwards on almost every measure of human wellbeing, be it employment, education, or the environment.

(Don’t be fooled by the “improved” matric results. They ignore the 341 403 who should have written matric but who dropped out of school altogether sometime in the past two years.)

Meantime, the DA will keep trying to highlight these bigger problems. In this particular matter, of schoolchildren returning to school, we will probably enjoy the support of most voters.

But this is not the case for many of the issues we drive, because the problem being “solved” by government is usually more visible, emotive, measurable and/or immediate than the bigger problem being created (or harm being perpetrated) in the process.

In his brilliant little book, Economics in One Lesson, Henry Hazlitt summed it up perfectly: “The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”

Many of our government’s Covid regulations have been downright irrational. Others have focused too sharply on the immediate risks to some groups and failed to weigh up the consequences/harms for all groups.

Huge and growing unemployment is the very worst consequence for all groups. Less measurable is the harm to children of having to wear masks all day long in the classroom, in public areas, and even in the schoolyard while playing. This is just wrong, and if this regulation is not dropped very soon, we will take it on.

But first, let’s get them back into school full time.

2022: A year for building

I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022 and hope you are feeling cautiously optimistic about it, as I am. To be sure, South Africa starts the year with a collapsed economy, widespread suffering from loss of livelihoods, and a largely unaccountable government. Huge challenges.

Yet the pandemic is drawing to an end, EWC has been defeated, coalition governments run our major cities and many councils across the country, cadre deployment has been exposed, the full Zondo Report is now imminent, and the ANC is on its last legs. These hold the possibility to build our lives, our economy, our democracy, our future.

Pandemic

As I argue in this press statement, it is time to go back to normal living, with all the certainty that brings to families, investors, entrepreneurs, tourists, students and schoolchildren. This is a first and necessary step to building our economy.

Expropriation without compensation

The historic defeat in December of the ANC’s Expropriation Without Compensation Bill brings certainty around secure property rights, another important step to building our economy.

Coalition governments

The DA is now tasked with delivering services to over twenty million South Africans. Our coalition governments have survived the first 50 days and I look forward to reporting achievements in their first 100 days in office. These governments are an opportunity to enable job creation, relieve poverty, and inspire hope.

Cadre deployment minutes

Last week, the DA finally obtained the ANC’s cadre deployment minutes, hard evidence of how cadre deployment hollows out the state and enables corruption and state capture. The first step to recovery is accurate diagnosis.

Zondo report

The release of the full Zondo report at the end of February is a massive opportunity to hold the corrupt accountable, strengthen our public service, and firewall our democratic institutions against state capture.

ANC on last legs

ANC support dropped below 50% in the November 2021 local government election. This is a massive turning point for the country, showing that most voters now realise SA is better off without the ANC. The ANC knows it too. They won’t go down without a fight (and the burning of Parliament may well be one of these – the DA will push for the full truth), but they will go down.

Conclusion

South Africa is down but not defeated. The DA will work hard this year to find solutions, fight corruption, run successful coalition governments, and build an alternative offer that people can trust ahead of the national election in 2024. Hope is on the horizon.

Defeat of the populist EWC bill another sign SA is fighting back

This has been a historic week for South Africa as the ANC’s attempt to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation was defeated in Parliament.

The DA and many other political parties and civil society groups fought hard for this outcome. It ends three and a half years of uncertainty around secure property rights, which experience the world over shows are an essential pre-condition for economic growth and prosperity.

This bill was a populist move to scapegoat the Constitution and distract from the real impediments to land reform, which are inadequate legislation, lack of budget, lack of political will, lack of capacity, tenure insecurity, lack of support for emerging farmers, corruption, and capture by politically connected elites, as identified in Former President Kgalema Motlanthe’s High Level Panel Report of 2017.

We can and must achieve meaningful land reform in South Africa. But it requires recognizing and overcoming these real obstacles. It is to this that we must now turn our focus. We will certainly never achieve it by changing our Constitution and destroying our economy.

The DA is committed to building an inclusive society. We believe the outcome of the equally historic local government election in November provides a pathway out of ANC dominance and towards a national coalition government able to start tackling these and other impediments to building a South Africa that truly is a country for all.

These bright rays of hope come at the end of another exceptionally tough year for South Africans, during which broad unemployment has grown to a record 46.6% while the economy has contacted by 1.5% in the past three months.

While the pandemic, including the recent travel bans, has dealt a major blow, our pain is mostly ANC-inflicted, and much of it could have been avoided had the DA been in national government.

From as early as April last year, the DA warned against lockdown as a response to the pandemic, arguing it would do more harm than good. Instead, we proposed more targeted interventions and decentralised decision-making, and pushed early and hard for vaccines. Our position has been entirely vindicated, with President Ramaphosa finally admitting last month that lockdowns are irrational and unaffordable.

We have also consistently fought for the economic reforms that could pull millions out of poverty and into jobs.

Our objectives in 2022 and over the next 1000 days until the 2024 election are threefold.

Where we are in government, deliver on our manifesto pledges and turn the places we govern into shining examples of good governance. (On that note, I can report that the DA-run Western Cape’s was the only provincial health department to achieve a clean audit this year.)

In opposition, continue to challenge harmful policies such as EWC, expose and fight corruption, and champion reform.

Internally, strengthen our branch network so that we can best hold our local public representatives accountable, train and capacitate activists, and attract talented, committed individuals to the party as we work towards the 2024 national election.

For now, on behalf of the DA, I wish everyone in this beautiful country a healthy and peaceful festive season.

How to fix the jobs crisis

Yesterday, Statistics SA released unemployment data for July to September 2021. The results are devastating and tragic. But not unexpected. And not inevitable.

660 000 jobs lost. South Africa’s narrow unemployment rate has hit a record high of 34.9%.

But the broad unemployment rate, which includes those who have given up looking for a job, more accurately depicts the real situation on the ground. It is at a high of 46.6% amongst all ages (15-64) and 77.4% amongst young people (15-24). These numbers show the real level of hopelessness, desperation, suffering, disempowerment, deprivation. The real level to which lives and dreams are being ruined.

Devastating and tragic, yes. Surprising, no. Because our current set of policies – the rules by which our economy is forced to operate – code failure into our economic system.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Here is what we need do to fix this jobs and humanitarian crisis.

  • Arrest the instigators of the July riots, to prevent and deter any further anarchy, and to reassure investors. The rule of law is essential for economic growth and job creation. This is why I asked him, during parliamentary questions to the President last weeks: “Four and a half months later, with no high profile arrests and no further word on the so-called instigators, can you honestly say to the people of KZN that your government has done its best for them?”
  • Run an extensive vaccine education campaign and enable widespread access by taking vaccines to where people are – main streets, shopping centres, taxi ranks and so forth. And by taking people to where vaccines are – the City of Cape Town, for example, is currently offering free MyCiTi transport to the CTICC mass vaccination centre.
  • Make it clear right now that there will be no further lockdown restrictions in the coming months.
  • Relentlessly root out corruption by firing corrupt public servants, capacitating the NPA, and re-introducing the Scorpions.
  • Restructure SA’s R2 trillion budget away from managerial salaries and waste and towards service delivery infrastructure and social support to the poor. This will stimulate demand while also providing some immediate relief.
  • Appoint public servants based solely on their ability to serve the public.
  • Invest heavily in water, electricity and transport infrastructure.
  • Enable a reliable, affordable, clean supply of energy by opening the energy market. Allow competent metros and municipalities to generate their own power or buy direct from independent producers.
  • Enable cheap, safe, reliable public transport by harnessing the power of capable metros and private companies to solve SA’s public transport problems.
  • Enable cheap data by removing obstacles to digital migration and spectrum auction.
  • Enable small business creation and success by opening up the labour market. Collective bargaining agreements should only apply to those who sign up to them.
  • Remove unnecessary red tape and make South Africa an easy place to do business.
  • Make it easy and attractive for scarce skills and capital to enter and stay in South Africa.
  • Enable high- and medium-density housing close to economic opportunities.
  • Scrap investment-killing policies such as EWC, BEE, NHI, the Mining Charter, localization.
  • Properly train, incentivise and independently evaluate school principals and teachers.

This is how we can code our economy for success. For rapid job-creating growth. We need to tackle each of these challenges, even if it’s hard. This is the kind, compassionate, inclusive way forward.

Straight Talk: Clarity on coalitions

The DA leadership is energetically engaged in coalition negotiations with parties that share our core governing principles. Our objective is to form, wherever possible in the 66 councils where no party won a clear majority, stable and functional DA-led coalitions able to fulfil our manifesto promises.

In the run up to the 2021 Local Government Elections, I set out the DA’s position on coalitions and this has not changed.

  • We are willing to consider a coalition with any parties that share our core principles, which are a commitment to the rule of law, nonracialism, a social market economy, and a capable state. (Commitment to a capable state requires adherence to the principle of separation of party and state and therefore a fulsome rejection of cadre deployment.)
  • We are not under any circumstances willing to go into coalition with the EFF or with the ANC in its current form, because their governing principles are diametrically opposed to ours. Therefore any coalition with them would be unstable and dysfunctional.
  • We would rather be a principled, effective opposition than be part of local governments where we are unable to apply our values and fulfil our manifesto promises.

Some in the commentariat believe the DA should go into coalition with the ANC to keep the EFF out. Yet, the ANC is not forced to go into coalition with the EFF instead. It has the option of forming a minority government, which would have DA support in council for all decisions that it takes in the public interest.

An ANC-DA coalition is not in SA’s best interest.

Having dropped well below 50% nationally in this election, there is now a realistic prospect that the ANC will lose its majority in 2024. This opens up the possibility of a reformist national coalition government after 2024 that could get our economy growing again.

For this to happen though, voters need a crisp choice between ANC-EFF coalitions of corruption on the one hand (packed with corrupt, lawless, socialist, deployed cadres) and DA-led coalitions of clean government on the other (packed with honest, law-abiding, market-oriented, capable public officials).

The DA has also won some strategic municipalities outright – Cape Town, Midvaal in Gauteng, Kouga in the Eastern Cape, and uMngeni in KZN. Our objective over the next three years will be to turn the places we govern – whether outright or in coalition – into shining examples of what is possible when people embrace our core governing principles.

Our relentless focus will be to improve the living conditions of the poorest residents, roll back poverty, spread opportunity, deliver quality basic services, end load-shedding, secure water supplies, grow the local economy, and inspire hope for South Africa’s future.

By 2024, the difference in service delivery between ANC- and DA-run governments will be stark and compelling. It will enable us to consolidate support around our core principles. This is the best shot we have at saving South Africa from its current death spiral.

Five days till we vote. Five years to live with the consequences.

South Africans are tired and worn out by the unemployment, corruption, mismanagement, and general state failure to deliver on its role. This election can get South Africa back on track and stop the free-fall.

With better government, South Africa can be everything we want and need it to be. That change must start with local government, the coalface of delivery. All across the country, now is the time to elect local leaders that will work hard for you, be on your side, and secure your future.

The DA offers you a safe pair of hands.

Only the DA has a track record proving that life gets better for all people where we govern. Where the DA governs, jobs are highest, and unemployment is lowest. We spend public money on the public. We don’t steal or waste your money. We get clean audits every year as evidence of clean government. We are the only party with open tender processes where we govern, so everyone can see how we award tenders.

Where the DA governs, we hire competent people on merit. People who can get things done for you. We don’t appoint people for political favours.

Local government is all about service delivery. As per our manifesto, if you elect a DA local government, these are some of the things we’ll get done for you:

  • Ensure every community gets access to reliable, clean, running water and decent sanitation.
  • Bring regular waste collection and rubbish disposal to every community.
  • Work to free residents from Eskom load-shedding and enhance access to reliable, affordable, and sustainably electricity.
  • Invest in well-maintained roads, cleaning and upgrading of public parks and spaces, cut grass and maintain pavements.
  • Invest in sports & recreation facilities and libraries.
  • Work to integrate public transport and introduce a smart ticket across buses and taxis in our metros.
  • Bring down unemployment and grow jobs.
  • Build reliable metro police services where these are affordable, and launch specialized local policing units, like gang and drug units.
  • Install crime information systems, more CCTV, body cameras for police officers, and gunfire detection systems.
  • Release unused government land for housing development.
  • Ensure more people own their own homes through diversifying housing options and issuing title deeds.
  • Use fair and transparent processes to identify beneficiaries for housing opportunities.
  • Upgrade informal settlements where viable.
  • Help the homeless off the streets, with socioeconomic assistance.
  • Take legal action against illegal land invasions.
  • Work with NGOs to combat alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Introduce by-laws to prevent the pollution of our natural environment.
  • Introduce e-government services, to transact with your municipality online.
  • Keep staff costs down, to spend more on service delivery.

The DA is the only party with a trustworthy record of service delivery, job-creating policies, and corruption-free government. We run the top-rated metro in the country, the five top-rated municipalities in the country and the top-rated municipalities in the Western Cape (many), Gauteng (Midvaal) and the Eastern Cape (Kouga).

We are the only party that gets the basics done. And when you have a municipality that masters the basics, you can move to the next level. You can start to generate your own electricity and end reliance on Eskom. Only the DA can do this. Only the DA can protect you from a failing national government.

We can bring the DA difference to your town if we unite to win. The DA is the only party that can beat the ANC and we are the last bulwark against the rise of the EFF. A strong DA stops the EFF becoming the opposition. A strong EFF makes the ANC more radical, racial and populist in their bid to shore up support. This is why the ANC is supporting expropriation without compensation.

A vote for the DA packs the most punch against the ANC and EFF. That’s why, if you aren’t going to vote for them, the ANC and EFF want you to vote anything but DA. If you want to beat the ANC and keep the EFF out of official opposition, voting DA will give you maximum leverage for your vote. A vote for smaller parties or independents splits the DA vote, not the ANC or EFF vote. Therefore, the most sensible and powerful use of your vote is to consolidate the DA vote.

If you look at the best-run municipalities in SA, they all have a DA majority in council. Coalitions tend to slow down service delivery, and introduce the risk of interrupted delivery, as in Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane since 2016.

Another reason not to split the vote is to maximise the chances of beating the ANC in your ward. Ward councillors are at the coalface of delivery and are your first point of contact. Here, splitting the vote by voting for smaller parties or independents is particularly beneficial to the ANC, because the ward councillor is determined by a first-past-the-post system. The candidate with the most votes wins – no matter how low a percentage of votes they got.

A great example is the outcome of Metsimaholo Municipality’s re-election in November 2017. The ANC won just 34% of the vote but 76% of wards – 16 out of the 21 wards. That’s what happens when you split the opposition.

So, if you want the biggest chance of a local government and ward councillor that get things done, then you need to vote DA. Only the DA can secure your future. Voting for smaller parties at a time like this is simply playing with fire.

You have five more days to think about this, and five years to live with the consequences.

Vote smart. Vote with your head and your heart. Vote DA to get things done.

The DA is your best protection against the failing ANC

News24’s recently released Out of Order Index finds that the top 5 best-run municipalities in South Africa are all run by the DA. Twelve of the top 20 best-run municipalities are DA-run, including DA-run Midvaal as the best-performing municipality in Gauteng and DA-run Kouga as the best-performing municipality in the Eastern Cape, while 14 of the top 20 best-run municipalities are in DA-run Western Cape.

DA outperformance is even more striking when one considers that the DA runs fewer than 10% of all municipalities in South Africa.

The Out of Order index finds that local service delivery is collapsing under ANC mismanagement, with 107 municipalities classified as dysfunctional. This number comprises the 64 municipalities classified by CoGTA in August as being delinquent or under administration and a further 43 rated by the index as facing imminent collapse.

Importantly, the study suggests that this crisis on the frontline of delivery is likely to deepen.

This reveals a stark choice facing voters. After 1 November, they can either enjoy service delivery under the DA or suffer collapsing delivery under the ANC. A reliable or patchy water and electricity supply. Well-maintained or potholed roads. A thriving or dying local economy.

The DA is the only party that can protect citizens from the worst consequences of an ANC collapsing under the weight of cadre deployment, political instability and financial mismanagement.

DA-run local governments protect citizens not just by getting the basics right and spending public money on the public, but in many cases by taking over responsibility or augmenting delivery where the national ANC government is failing in its responsibility.

DA governments already go above and beyond their mandate in many types of delivery. And citizens in DA-run areas will benefit from a lot more of this in the next five years.

DA going above and beyond on electricity

The City of Cape Town already protects its citizens from one level of load-shedding through its Steenbras Dam energy storage station.

Now its focus is on buying energy and energy storage capability from independent producers, to end loadshedding altogether. For every 100 megawatts of energy the City can buy from independent suppliers, its citizens are protected from another level of load-shedding. The City has taken national government to court for this right of local governments to buy electricity directly from independent power producers (IPPs).

There is no reason for load-shedding other than politics. Local and foreign investors are lined up and ready to supply the South African market with cheaper and cleaner energy. The solutions to load-shedding are readily available, but national government does not want citizens to access these and is fiercely protecting its Eskom monopoly.

But DA Cape Town mayoral candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis has made it clear he is not going to stand back and wait for national government to allow the City to solve its energy problem.

Likewise, through its Energy Resilience Project, the DA is putting in place measures to enable six DA-run municipalities to purchase electricity directly from IPPs. These municipalities are Stellenbosch, Drakenstein, Mossel Bay, Overstrand, Saldanha Bay and Swartland. Once the model has been perfected with these six “pilots”, we will roll it out to all DA-run governments.

DA going above and beyond on water

The DA protected Western Cape citizens from Day Zero, despite national government failure to fulfil its mandate of increased bulk water supply, by sourcing additional supply from aquifers and desalination and by driving an effective water saving campaign.

Cape Town’s New Water Programme (NWP) aims to deliver an additional 300 million litres per day by 2030. The City is also targeting a 55 billion litre annual reduction of water losses by ramping up the clearing of invasive alien vegetation in water catchment areas. Clearing efforts are set to increase from the current 1250 to 9000 hectares per year in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

DA going above and beyond on local safety

The City of Cape Town provides the most extensive safety and security programme of any local authority in South Africa, to compensate for SAPS failure.  This includes specialised units such as a metals theft unit, an anti-gang unit, a water unit, a K9 unit, an anti-land invasion unit, and a law enforcement unit which has tripled the arrest rate since 2016.

DA will go above and beyond on passenger rail

Metrorail has all but collapsed in Cape Town. This has hit the poorest communities hardest. Today, only 36% of residents still have access to a working train station in the neighbourhood where they live. Nearly two thirds of Capetonians have lost access to passenger trains.

There is no way national government will ever restore Cape Town’s train service to full capacity, never mind upgrade it. DA mayoral candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis will fight to take control over Cape Town’s trains, so that we can fix the trains and build a truly modern, affordable, integrated public transport system.

Conclusion

This fight for devolution of power is in line with the DA’s commitment to the principle of federalism, which holds that power should reside at that level of government closest to the people, which is able to deliver.

Being bold about fighting for more powers to fix problems that national is unwilling or unable to fix is the only way to secure your city’s future. The DA is the only party that does this, and it can only do this with a DA majority. Voters cannot expect this level of protection with a hung municipality or a weak coalition government.

On 1 November, vote DA to protect your community from a failing ANC, because only the DA gets things done.

DA is SA’s most pro-poor party

The DA is South Africa’s most pro-poor party. We do best at providing those living in poverty with the things they need most, such as jobs, piped water, sanitation, electricity, education, school-feeding programmes, ECD support, healthcare, safety, and financially sustainable government.

This claim is based on objective measures from third party sources which have no incentive whatsoever to favour the DA: StatsSA, the Department of Basic Education, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Ratings Afrika, the Auditor General, the CoGTA report on the state of local government (Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), court rulings.

Jobs. The DA strongly supports social grants for the poor. But we believe that there is nothing more pro-poor than lifting people out of grants and into income. Where the DA governs, job numbers are highest and unemployment is lowest. At 29.1%, the Western Cape has the lowest broad unemployment rate in South, 17.3 percentage points lower than the average for the other eight provinces, according to the most recent Stats SA Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released in August 2021. Midvaal, where the DA has enjoyed a full majority for an uninterrupted period of 19 years, has the lowest unemployment of any municipality in Gauteng.

Midvaal is also a “shining light of service delivery”. This should come as no surprise, because service delivery and job creation go hand in hand. Businesses, especially smaller operators, like poorer households, rely heavily on government services.

Piped water. According to Stats SA, 43.5% of Western Cape households receive free basic water, which is roughly double the national average of 21.8% of households. (Source: Stats SA non-financial census of municipalities published 31 March 2021 code P9115.)

Sanitation. According to Stats SA, 47.9% of Western Cape households receive free basic sewerage and sanitation services, which is more than double the national average of 18.7% of households. (Source: Stats SA non-financial census of municipalities published 31 March 2021 code P9115.)

Electricity. According to Stats SA, 27% of Western Cape households receive free basic electricity, which is far higher than the national average of 16.7% of households. (Source: Stats SA non-financial census of municipalities published 31 March 2021 code P9115.)

Education. The Western Cape is consistently the top performing province on key education indicators: matric pass rates (80% for the 2020 NSC examinations, despite the severe disruptions caused by the pandemic), Bachelor passes (44%), Mathematics passes (71%), and Mathematical Literacy passes (83%), with learner retention from grade 10 to matric being the highest in the country, at 67%. According to the HSRC’s TIMSS 2019 results for grade 9, the Western Cape scored 13% higher than the SA average for maths and 18% higher for science. The SACMEQ 4 report indicated an advanced reading score of 72.7% for the Western Cape, which is double the national average of 36.1%. The Western Cape was also well ahead of the 2nd ranked province, Gauteng, at 54%.

School-feeding programmes. During the hard lockdown last year, the Western Cape was the only province to continue its school nutrition programme. The other eight provinces had to be forced by a court order to resume the programme.

ECD subsidies. During the hard lockdown last year, the Western Cape was also the only province to continue paying subsidies to Early Childhood Development centres. The other eight provinces once again had to be forced by a court order to resume the payments. The Western Cape also has the highest percentage of children in subsidised ECDs in the country.

Healthcare. At 91.5%, the Western Cape has the highest percentage of households living within 30 minutes of their nearest health facility, according to Stats SA’s General Household Survey 2016.

Safety. The Western Cape is the only province to have taken significant steps to boost SAPS’ failing law enforcement efforts. Policing is a national government mandate, but the Western Cape has added an additional 1100 law enforcement officers to the most high-risk areas of the province (Gugulethu, Kraaifontein, Mfuleni, Harare, Delft, Mitchells Plain) in a bid to keep people safe. (LEAP)

Good governance. Good governance is more critical, the poorer people are. Corruption, cadre deployment and inefficiency hit the poor hardest, as they are most reliant on public services and delivery, being unable to afford private sector alternatives.

One need only compare the R15 million Enoch Mgijima bench “stadium” built by the ANC-run Enoch Mgijima Municipality in the Eastern Cape with the R13 million Saldanha stadium, or the two new stadia built by DA-run Hessequa Municipality for under R10 million each, to see the difference that good governance makes to delivery.

According to CoGTA’s 2021 report on the state of local government, only 16 out of 257 municipalities (6%) are functional, and almost all of these are DA-run. For the 2019/20 financial year, the Auditor General awarded clean audits to 18 of the Western Cape’s 30 municipalities, and they were all governed by the DA. Five of the seven municipalities that sustained their clean audit status over four years are DA-governed. And according to Ratings Afrika, the top five best-run municipalities in SA are all DA-governed.

South Africans across the wealth spectrum are feeling insecure about the future in the context of state failure and collapsing service delivery under the ANC. The difference is that the poor have no buffer of protection, whereas the middle classes can in many instances rely on private service provision to fill the gaping voids.

Only the DA can claim this track record of superior delivery to the poor. Of course, there is room for improvement. DA governments can and will continue to make steady inroads into tackling the roots of poverty and the unequal access to opportunity that drives inequality.

At the same time, it should be acknowledged that with a dysfunctional national government, unacceptable levels of poverty, unemployment and inequality will persist in every municipality and province in the country, no matter the quality of service delivery to the poor in individual municipalities and provinces. So the point is necessarily one of comparison.

The best way to protect the poor from collapsing service delivery is to vote DA on 1 November. Because, more than any other party in South Africa, the DA gets things done for the poor.

8 reasons to vote DA for clean running water and decent sanitation

DA-run municipalities are taking 8 steps to provide a reliable supply of clean running water and decent sanitation to residents and businesses. These are things we are ALREADY doing – not empty promises for the future. Through these 8 steps, we protect communities as best as possible from the failing national Department of Water and Sanitation, whose responsibility it is to ensure bulk water supply.

1. Keeping water loss to a minimum by fixing leaks, responding rapidly to burst pipes, and regularly maintaining and replacing municipal water infrastructure

When the DA coalition came into government in drought-stricken Nelson Mandela Bay in January 2021, they tripled the rate of water leak repair from 304 per week then to 900 per week now. Between January and August 2021, 17 259 water leaks were repaired. This has helped to keep the taps running.

The water loss percentage in DA-run Drakenstein and Witzenberg municipalities is 17%, less than half the national average of 37%. In contrast, ANC-run Emfuleni Municipality loses 40-50% of its water to leaks, illegal connections and aging infrastructure before it even gets to residents.

Between 2016 and 2019, the DA-led Johannesburg replaced 325km of water and sewer pipes, which reduced water leaks from 29% to 19%.

Before the DA-led council in Tshwane was illegally dissolved and placed under administration by the ANC-run Gauteng Provincial Government, we installed over 600km of new water pipes. Since the DA took back government in November 2020, after winning the court case against the Gauteng Provincial Government, we have repaired over 20 000 water leaks.

City of Cape Town has reduced pipe bursts from 60 per 100km in 2010 to 27 per 100km in 2021, a 55% improvement.

2. Investing in wastewater and sewage treatment infrastructure

Where the DA is in government, we ensure our communities are not exposed to raw sewage and that there is no untreated wastewater contaminating the natural or built environment. We ensure that wastewater treatment works are well-managed and well-maintained, and that they are fully compliant. We invest in plant assets to ensure long-term sustainability of the sewerage system.

SA’s municipal sewerage system is collapsing in most ANC municipalities. The deteriorating state of municipal wastewater and sewage treatment management in SA is one of the largest contributing factors to the numerous pollution problems experienced in most parts of the country, and a major contributor to environmental and human health problems.

3. Connecting more households to water and sewerage networks

Before it was put under illegal administration, the DA-led government in Tshwane connected over 12 000 households to water and sewerage networks.

In the two years that the DA ran Nelson Mandela Bay before it was displaced in a council coup, we reduced the number of bucket toilets by roughly 60%, from about 16 000 to about 6 000.

At 98.8% of households, Cape Town has for years provided the highest level of access to piped water in South Africa (on property or less than 200m away). And 95.5% of households have access to adequate sanitation, with over 33 800 toilets installed in informal settlements in the past eight years. Cape Town is also the first municipality in South Africa to provide a dedicated janitorial service for toilets in informal settlements.

4. Supplying poor households with free basic water and sanitation

40% of households in Cape Town receive basic water and sanitation services free of charge, which is well over double the Gauteng averages of 15.6% for water and 17.6% for sanitation. (Data from StatsSA.)

5. Testing water quality regularly

Where we are in government, we conduct regular testing of water quality, to ensure that municipal water is safe to drink and to prepare food.

The City of Cape Town conducts ongoing water quality sampling at 120 inland points and 99 coastal points in the metro to ensure stringent SANS241 drinking-water quality, publishing comprehensive Inland and Coastal Water Quality reports to promote transparency of results. It achieves “Excellent” compliance status with prescribed national water quality standards.

6. Managing water demand and reducing consumption in water-stressed areas

DA governments are extremely successful at managing water demand using a combination of awareness campaigns, pre-paid water meters and incentives. We use pressure management to reduce water consumption and encourage solutions such as the use of low-flow, waterless or grey water toilet systems. Our interventions to beat Day Zero during the severe 3-year Western Cape drought (2015-2017) are widely considered to be international best practice, so we are well-placed to keep the taps running in other water-stressed parts of South Africa.

7. Augmenting water supply

DA-led Nelson Mandela Bay is sinking groundwater boreholes to add 15 million litres per day by July 2022. They have a plan to ensure that groundwater supplies are used sustainably.

DA-led Hessequa Municipality built the country’s first reverse osmosis solar powered desalination plant in the town of Witsand, with a capacity to produce an average of 140 kilolitres of freshwater per day.
Cape Town’s New Water Programme (NWP) will deliver around 300 million litres per day by 2030 through groundwater abstraction, desalination and water reuse.

8. Clearing invasive alien vegetation from water catchment areas, dams, lakes and rivers.

DA-run Cape Town is targeting a 55 billion litre annual reduction of water losses by ramping up alien vegetation clearing. The City’s R50 million investment in the next two years will be matched by private donations and is set to increase clearing to 9 000 hectares per year from the current 1 250 hectares per year, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.

Conclusion

The DA builds water delivery capability by basing public appointments on merit, the ability to deliver to residents, rather than on considerations of political loyalty and patronage. This, coupled with sound financial management and good governance, as reflected in our consistent delivery of clean audits, makes for local water departments that get things done for residents.

Water crises in municipalities across SA reflect national government failure at its most basic level. Water is essential to life, health and economic activity. The DA can protect your community from national failure because we get the basics right at the local level, the coalface of basic service delivery. For best results, residents need to give us an uninterrupted five years of outright DA administration.

On 1 November, vote DA for reliable clean running water, because the DA gets things done.

10 reasons to vote DA to keep your lights on and affordable

Voting DA is your best guarantee of an uninterrupted supply of electricity at the lowest cost possible. DA-run municipalities are taking 10 steps to ensure a reliable, cheapest-possible supply of electricity to residents and businesses.

1.Purchasing electricity directly from independent power producers (IPPs) to protect residents and businesses from Eskom load shedding.

Through its Energy Resilience Project, the DA is putting in place measures to enable six DA-run municipalities to purchase electricity directly from IPPs. This will protect them from load shedding and ultimately end their reliance on Eskom altogether. These municipalities are Stellenbosch, Drakenstein, Mossel Bay, Overstrand, Saldanha Bay and Swartland. Once the model has been perfected with these six “pilots”, we will roll it out to all DA-run governments.

The DA fought hard for five years for this right to purchase power directly from IPPs. Independent producers are incentivised through competition to keep their prices as low as possible, their supply as reliable as possible, and their power as clean as possible. Eskom’s monopoly, on the other hand, has fostered the complacency and failure that has put the utility into its current death spiral.

2.Paying Eskom on time for bulk supply, so that Eskom never cuts supply due to non-payment by the municipality

Municipalities purchase electricity in bulk from Eskom and then sell it on to local residents and businesses. Many ANC-run municipalities keep selling electricity to residents and businesses, but stop paying for it. Eskom eventually responds by cutting off bulk supply to the municipality, plunging even paying households and businesses into darkness, and denying poor households their constitutional right to free basic electricity.

This never happens in DA-run municipalities because DA councils always pay Eskom on time. There has literally never been a single incidence where power has been cut to a DA municipality because of failure to pay Eskom. Where we inherit large debt, such as in Modimolle-Mookgophong Municipality in Limpopo and Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, we take immediate  steps to remedy this.

The situation of non-paying ANC municipalities has become so bad that the matter was challenged in court, with a Concourt ruling this week finally setting a legal precedent that no paying end users may be denied access to electricity due to non-payment by municipalities.

3.Storing low-cost, off-peak energy to avoid load shedding and reduce costs

DA-run Cape Town manages to avoid at least one stage of load shedding compared to the rest of the country through its well-maintained pumped-storage hydropower station at the Steenbras Dam. This city-owned power station can generate electricity during peak periods to make up for supply shortfall from Eskom. During periods of peak demand, water from the upper dam is channeled through turbine generators to the lower dam, to generate electricity. The water is then pumped back up to the upper dam at night using low-cost surplus national generating capacity. This innovation reduces the economic impact of load shedding and saves on the cost of buying electricity at peak rates.

DA-led Drakenstein’s Leliefontein pump-as-turbine station, the first of its kind in SA, uses low-cost, off-the-shelf equipment to generate clean power, using potential energy in their existing infrastructure. The same equipment is used to pump water and to generate electricity by reversing the flow through the pumps.

4.Maximising municipal energy efficiency to minimise costs to residents and businesses

DA municipalities are the most energy efficient, with the highest proportion of municipal facilities, streetlights, and traffic lights using LED bulbs and low-energy appliances. DA-run George Municipality has installed a 300kW solar plant on top of covered parking bays that powers the main municipal building. DA-run Hessequa has the country’s first solar-powered desalination plant.

Cape Town is the most energy efficient city in SA, with over 231 GWH of electricity saved in 10 years, enough to power 35 clinics for 10 years and avoiding 230 000 tons of carbon emissions. The City has retro-fitted energy-efficient lamps in all traffic lights and 34% of streetlights to date. City buildings have over 563 kWp of rooftop solar PV systems installed.

5.Assisting residents and businesses to go off grid and sell their excess power to the grid

Cape Town is incentivising solar PV users to feed power back into the grid, with on of SA’s highest feed-in tariffs.

6.Investing in infrastructure

DA-run governments lead in investing in the bulk electrical infrastructure needed to ensure uninterrupted supply.

7.Supplying poor households with free basic electricity

In Cape Town, 27% of City-supplied households get 60kWh of free basic electricity monthly. This is almost double the Gauteng average of 15.4% and the national average of 16.7%.

8.Addressing cable theft

DA-run Cape Town refuses to simply accept the failure of SAPS, and so has a dedicated Metal Theft Unit to protect infrastructure including electrical lines. It also supports the removal of illegal electrical connections. On Sunday night, the DA’s mayoral candidate for Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis, went on patrol with the unit and witnessed it catching three suspects red-handed stealing electrical cable.

9.Connecting more households to the grid

The DA leads in connecting households to the grid. For example, since the DA won the Eastern Cape municipality of Kouga in 2016, 1 791 households there have received access to electricity for the first time. DA-run Cape Town supplies the highest level of access to electricity in SA. 98% of City-supplied informal settlements have access to electricity where it is possible to connect.

10.Rapid resolution of electricity faults for residents and businesses

DA governments lead in the rapid resolution of electricity faults. DA-run Cape Town fixes 80% of electricity faults in under 3.5 hours and 99.9% within national Quality of Service timeframes. DA-run Swartland Municipality attends to 84% of electricity faults within 1.5 hours, almost 3 times more than the NERSA requirement of 30%.

Conclusion

The DA gets things done to ensure reliable, affordable electricity. Take your power back by voting DA on 1 November.