We need a cabinet for South Africa, not for the ANC

The only way to build South Africa is to deliver a better life for all, especially for those 30 million living in deep poverty. As Theodore Roosevelt put it: This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.

President Ramaphosa’s new cabinet is not going to do that. It’s mostly a bunch of recycled, incompetent, corrupt ministers pursuing a better life for cadres, with zero accountability.

We need a cabinet comprised of ministers whose integrity, commitment to reform, and track record are beyond reproach; a cabinet to restore the investor confidence devastated by a week of visible, unrestrained looting and a decade of less visible but equally unrestrained looting, both brought to us by the ANC; a cabinet that is seized by the need to put South Africa on a path of economic growth that creates jobs for the millions of unskilled, unemployed people who are heavily dependent on the failing state.

South Africa is a nation traumatized by a week of anarchy, a year of lockdown, a decade of state capture and centuries of oppression. People needed to see a cabinet clean-out that made it clear to outgoing and incoming ministers that anything less than honest delivery to all with an obsessive focus on job-creating economic growth is unacceptable.

Instead, Ramaphosa’s appointment decisions were driven foremost by his desire to unite the warring factions of the ANC. He is yet to accept that he can either save the ANC or South Africa. His strategy is a losing formula: save the ANC to save SA.

Reform unlikely

The key lesson from the crisis which catalyzed Ramaphosa’s reshuffle, is that South Africa’s capacity for solving problems lies in the private sector, not in the incapable state which fumbled the response to the insurrection. Reform that enables a market-driven economy is our only route to job-creating growth. Yet reform is unlikely.

New finance minister Enoch Godongwana has shown himself to be in favour of a large role for the state in the economy. His leaked ANC discussion document speaks of the “hegemony of the developmental state” and proposes the ultimate investment repellent: forced investment of private pension funds into failing state-owned companies.

If there remains any doubt that Ramaphosa is not serious about reform, then his retention of arch socialists Ebrahim Patel as Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition and Pravin Gordhan as Minister of Public Enterprises should clear that up.

Godongwana also has a dark cloud of suspicion hanging over him for his part in the 2012 Canyon Springs scandal involving R100 million of clothing industry worker’s pension money. Even if he has paid the money back – and we are yet to see any proof of this – the questions around his integrity and judgement remain.

Nor would a president committed to accountability and obsessed with economic growth retain Gwede Mantashe as energy minister. Mantashe has resolutely and unapologetically obstructed renewable power production at the expense of job-creating economic growth and driven a 20-year R218 billion dirty powership deal in irrational response to the need to fill a short-term supply gap.

Mantashe is also tainted by corruption, having accepted bribes from Bosasa in the form of home security upgrades.

As state security minister with an annual budget of some R4 billion, Ayanda Dlodlo failed to foresee the insurrection, even though messages of incitement were posted all over social media. Nevertheless, she has been redeployed as minister of public service administration despite signing the illegal public sector wage agreement that sent South Africa over the fiscal cliff back in 2018 when she held the same position.

Increased safety unlikely

Police minister Bheki Cele kept his job despite failing so badly at it that 337 people died, thousands lost their livelihoods, and billions of rands of value was destroyed during a week where the police were either unwilling or unable to protect people and property while Cele himself was nowhere to be seen.

It’s a job he should not have had in the first place since he, too, is stained by corruption. In July 2011, then-Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Cele guilty of improper conduct and maladministration for his role in driving the corrupt R1.7 billion lease agreement deal for the Durban and Pretoria police headquarters.

Cele’s incompetence, too, is well-proven. For example, despite Ramaphosa’s promise to women in his seminal speech on gender-based violence in September 2019 that the DNA testing backlog will be addressed, it has now grown to over 300 000 cases.

Increased accountability unlikely

Having himself failed to implement the urgent recommendations of the 2018 high level panel report into the captured and incapacitated State Security Agency, Ramaphosa has seen fit to consolidate the intelligence services in the presidency, effectively appointing himself to head it. This trend of consolidating power in the presidency is concerning, not least because there is no parliamentary portfolio committee overseeing the presidency despite the DA calling for it for over a decade now.

But accountability is clearly not a priority, otherwise Ramaphosa could not justify appointing the compromised Zizi Kodwa as deputy minister in the presidency responsible for state security. At the Zondo Commission in June, Kodwa was exposed as having received R2 million in kickbacks, some of which he used to purchase an R890 000 Jeep.

So much for the ANC’s step-aside rule for those implicated in corruption. As the mostly absent David Mabuza retained his position as deputy president, it seems even attendance isn’t a core requirement for ministers.

But perhaps the most vivid proof of Ramaphosa’s utter disregard for the democratic principles of accountability and transparency is his promotion of Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to head the legislature, one of the three arms of state and the constitutional centre of executive oversight. This, after her failure as minister of defence led to the deaths of 337 people and the loss of thousands of livelihoods.

And that failure comes on the back of many others. Under her watch, the SANDF purchased the unregistered interferon drug from Cuba and blundered the investigations into the death of Collins Khosa at the hands of SANDF soldiers. She is notorious for fusing party and state, having smuggled her son’s girlfriend into South Africa onboard an Air Force jet and overseen the ANC’s jaunt to Zimbabwe also onboard an Air Force jet and in violation of lockdown regulations. All comrades are compromised but some are more compromised than others.

Ramaphosa’s reshuffle delivers the nation nothing more than the illusion of action and accountability.

The buck stops with voters

Yet for all that, there is hope. Accountability and reform are options as long as elections are free and fair. If the ANC rejects accountability and reform, as indeed it has, then voters can reject the ANC using the most powerful democratic tool of all: the vote. South Africans are going to have to stop relying on Ramaphosa and start relying on their vote to make South Africa a good place for all of us to live in.

Easier to rebuild warehouses than trust – no accountability without consequences

Celebrated investor, Warren Buffett, once remarked, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”

We need to start doing things differently here in South Africa. There must be consequences for violence, corruption and governing failures.

The damage done to infrastructure during the week of violence and looting unleashed by Zuma’s faction of the ANC is vast. But it pales in comparison to the damage done to people’s trust in the rule of law and other institutions needed to ensure peace and wellbeing. And it’s going to be harder to rebuild. But rebuild it we must, if we are to ensure public safety and achieve the economic growth needed to tackle the tinderbox of poverty and inequality that so fanned the flames of insurrection.

As the preamble to the 2030 Global Sustainable Development Agenda puts it: There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development.

To rebuild trust in the rule of law and our security system after these riots, we need full transparency about what went wrong and full accountability for actions and inaction, coupled with an honest assessment of the country’s problems. Residents in KZN and Gauteng deserve the whole truth of why their lives and livelihoods were torn apart. And we all need reassurance that this kind of anarchy won’t happen again.

The DA has called for a Parliamentary Enquiry that is chaired by members of the opposition and broadcast on national television. The intelligence reports that Dlodlo claims to have handed to Cele and that Cele denies having received from Dlodlo must be made public. If the three ministers of the security cluster (Police Minister Bheki Cele, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo, and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula) are found to have failed in their constitutional duty to protect the public, they must be removed.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Parliament needs to be able to undertake its constitutional duty of executive oversight without fear or favour. When Parliament works, South Africa works. Parliament cannot continue to be a toothless lapdog for the governing party.

South Africans must not accept the usual ANC-style enquiry run by ANC cronies under a veil of ANC secrecy with the purpose of covering up ANC governance failure to resolve an ANC-caused crisis. This cannot be the fox guarding the henhouse. It cannot be another Seriti Commission where the tax payers fork out millions to be kept in the dark and told lies. And it cannot be a replacement for the actual prosecution of the instigators and perpetrators of the violence and looting.

We must also not allow the ANC and EFF to foment racial division and use racial scapegoating to divert attention from the very real governance failures that lead to such loss of lives and livelihoods and confidence in the social contract.

People in positions of power must face consequences for their failures. It has been five weeks since President Ramaphosa received the damning SIU report implicating Health Minister Zweli Mkhize in the Health Department’s R150 million Digital Vibes scam, yet still he has not acted against Mkhize, who remains on fully paid “special” leave, nor has he published the report. And Mkhize clearly feels no compulsion to resign.

I have called on President Ramaphosa to clean up his cabinet by replacing useless or obstructive ministers and by working with people outside of his own party who want the best for the country. The president needs to look beyond his own party to find the support he needs to reform our economy.

On Saturday, I said in an interview that President Ramaphosa has been badly let down by his security cluster and that it is time to axe Minister Mkhize and to bring in people with capacity. I said the DA wants to be part of the solution in South Africa and we stand ready to offer our expertise and support to help rebuild South Africa.

I did not say, as SABC news falsely claimed, that I am ready to serve in Ramaphosa’s cabinet. South Africa needs a strong opposition and a credible alternative to the ANC. I have no interest in taking Patricia De Lille’s if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them approach to cabinet.

It is possible to be part of the solution while still occupying the opposition benches. If Ramaphosa brings his long-promised economic reform agenda to Parliament, the DA will provide the votes needed to pass these reforms, votes he will not get from many within his own party.

Our Olympic medalists and Springbok heroes can only do so much to unite South Africa and buoy the national spirit. Now the president and parliament need to go for gold through consequence management, reform and good governance.

Otherwise, there must be consequences at the ballot box.

The Spies Who Don’t Love Us

Outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned. When he wrote these lyrics for the musical Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda could have been describing the state of South Africa’s security system in the week after 9 July when members of the ANC’s radical economic transformation faction unleashed their plan to shut down KZN.

SAPS failed utterly to protect people and property. Police presence was almost non-existent in the first few days. Citizens were left to fend for themselves or watch property and jobs go up in flame. When resources were finally mustered, there were not enough officers, not enough leadership, not enough equipment and not enough coordination.

Our security services either didn’t know or didn’t care.

The people of South Africa have a right to know what went wrong and who is responsible for this catastrophic failure of intelligence. It comes down to three simple questions: Who knew about it? When did they know? What did they do about it?

Did police minister Bheki Cele receive intelligence reports as claimed by state security minister Ayanda Dlodlo and denied by him? If so, when did he receive them and what did he do about it? Did President Ramaphosa and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula receive the reports? If so, when, and what did they do about it?

When he addressed the nation a week later, on Friday 16 July, President Ramaphosa called it “a deliberate, coordinated attack on our democracy”. What evidence led him to that conclusion? Why did Mapisa-Nqakula directly contradict him?We need to know.

The DA has requested a copy of these alleged intelligence reports, in accordance with the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). We believe they should be released to the public. The Presidency is reluctant to share them, claiming secrecy to be in the public interest.

But in fact it is very much in the public interest to know the answers to these fundamental questions. One can understand the need for secrecy before a potential attack on the country. But this insurrection has happened, and the damage is done. We need to stop it happening again. That means holding accountable those elected officials mandated to protect the nation, arresting the instigators, and fixing the state security services.

The only people whose interests secrecy now serves is those trying to dodge accountability. And this is the only logical explanation for their refusal to publish the reports.

Undue secrecy that stifles oversight and accountability was one of the main problems with the State Security Agency identified by Dr Sydney Mufamadi’s High Level Panel in their 2018 report. Very little is known, even by parliamentarians and the Auditor General, about how the R4 billion plus SSA budget is spent. Unsurprising then, that the report claims the SSA has become a “cash cow” for many inside and outside the agency.

Another central problem identified by the panel is politicisation and ANC factionalism within the intelligence community – an inevitable result of cadre deployment of political cronies rather than appointment of independent professionals into the public service.

Almost three weeks later, with over 300 lives and R50 billion lost, 150 000 jobs at risk, 40 000 business affected, 139 schools damaged, a million rounds of ammunition stolen, and investor confidence shattered, not a single high-profile person has been arrested for instigating the insurrection. Most likely, this is because some of those tasked to identify the instigators are themselves instigators. There can be no doubt that the SSA is still packed with RET supporters.

The SSA was created in October 2009 just six months after Zuma became president and was swiftly repurposed into a political weapon, a VIP protection unit, and cash cow for him and others, as exposed in detail by Jacques Pauw’s in his book, My President’s Keepers. Yet nothing has been done with this evidence.

The Mufamadi report recommended a complete overhaul of the agency to enable the building of a professional intelligence capability. Yet President Ramaphosa failed to implement the report’s recommendations, and only called for a commission after the full scale of the abuse was exposed at the Zondo Commission earlier this year.

I have for years called in vain for specialised, rigorous oversight of the country’s intelligence services. Nothing has been done, for example, about the complaint I lodged against Arthur Fraser with the Inspector General of Intelligence.

We need to radically overhaul not just the spy services themselves but how oversight is done. The intelligence minister must account to Parliament. The opposition needs to see audited financial statements and budgets, as well as intelligence reports. This is international best practice. Even the CIA and FBI report in open committee in congress.

It is completely unconstitutional and unacceptable that the SSA serves some in the party, rather than all in the country. Ramaphosa’s obsession with ANC unity has prevented him taking the action necessary to clean up the spy services, starting with appointing new leadership that is professional and committed to the constitutional mandate of protecting the country.

His long game is becoming an endgame for South Africa, with less and less left to save. ANC unity is the problem, not the solution. His failure to professionalise the intelligence agency ultimately constitutes as much of an attack on our constitutional order as the insurrection itself. In fact, the insurrection is a symptom of this failure.

The DA stands ready to support Ramaphosa and give him the majority he needs in Parliament to fix our intelligence service and its oversight and rid it of Zuma acolytes once and for all.

Lessons from the looting spree

The orgy of mass destruction that began in KZN on Friday 9 July has done immeasurable harm to the communities and organisations affected and to the country at large.

I spent most of last week in affected areas seeing for myself and speaking to people on the ground. I don’t think I would have quite believed the extent of senseless destruction had I not been there. It is genuinely hard to describe in words.

History turns on moments such as these. This coordinated looting spree has the potential to greatly accelerate South Africa’s descent to a failed state. It has dealt a body blow to confidence in our state and in our economy.

The first “no” is the easiest “no”. The state’s failure to anticipate and act swiftly to quell this insurrection before it properly got going means there is now a heightened risk of recurrence.

This will scare away more skills and investment and our tiny tax base will shrink still further, with terrible consequences for our ability to provide social services and relief to those millions of vulnerable households who need these now more than ever.

But there is also the real possibility that this devastation will convince people of the changes we need to make if we are to build our society into one which really does deliver a better life for all.

Sometimes hard evidence succeeds where reasoning fails.

The mayhem last week is painful proof of the DA’s long-held view that the rule of law, a capable state and a social market economy are essential prerequisites for a successful South Africa. South Africa needs a government that is deeply committed to each of these fundamental, interdependent principles.

The rule of law

The rule of law is a precondition for safety, stability and order and therefore an indispensable characteristic of a functional society. Where people feel emboldened to rebel against the rule of law, as they did in KZN and Gauteng last week, wellbeing, investment and productivity give way to suffering, anarchy and destruction.

A capable state

The rule of law requires enforcement by a capable state. It is no coincidence that the state intelligence and police services failed utterly to protect people and property before and during the uprising. And no one will be surprised if the state fails to arrest, charge and imprison the perpetrators for their actions.

The institutions of our state have been severely weakened by years of cadre deployment, the ANC’s policy of basing public service appointments on political loyalty. Cadre deployment is directly responsible for the incompetent, corrupt and captured state that let citizens down so badly last week.

The DA has spoken out against this unconstitutional policy since its formal adoption by the ANC in 1997 and consistently called for public appointments to be based on merit (ability to get the job done, which requires skills, experience, commitment) rather than on considerations of political loyalty, identity or patronage.

Inherent in the concept of the rule of law is a culture of accountability. But it is only possible to instill this in society when institutions of state, such as the National Prosecuting Authority and the whole criminal justice system have the necessary capacity.

A capable state, acting in unison with a social market economy, is also an essential precondition for tackling the dangerously, unacceptably high unemployment, poverty and inequality that exacerbated the chaos. This imperative has never been more urgent than it is now.

A social market economy

Last week laid bare not only the incapacity of the state to deliver on its most basic responsibilities, but also the incredible capacity that resides amongst private citizens to make the right decisions and get things done. It was private citizens who protected people, jobs and workplaces. With no established systems, budget or leadership, private citizens performed the state’s most basic role of providing protection and stability.

The contrast between a capable, motivated private citizenry and an incapable, demotivated state has never been more starkly on display. Can anyone now still support the ANC’s ideology of a command economy, controlled at the centre by the state?

This should deal a death blow to the ANC’s many attempts to centralise economic control in national government, including its attack on private security companies, private gun ownership for self-protection, metro police services, private medical aids, and independent power producers.

The more economic decision-making and control is decentralised to private individuals and organisations – where the capacity and incentives reside – the more jobs and tax revenue will be created to provide a lifeline to the millions of citizens suffering in abject poverty.

Without a healthy, growing economy that only the private sector can deliver, all talk of a basic income grant is merely hollow rhetoric and empty promises. If we are serious about a basic income grant – and we should be – then we need to be equally committed to a market-driven economy.

Conclusion

This has been a hinge of history moment. If ever there was a need for South Africans to come together around these operating principles and to back a reform agenda, it is now. The DA will continue to fight for, operate by, and govern according to these principles. A vote for the DA in the upcoming local government election will be a vote for the rule of law, a capable state, and a social market economy.

Government must be held accountable for all lives lost due to vaccine delays.

The DA has called for a full parliamentary inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid-19 vaccine programme. And we’ve called for budgeted funds to be released to allow for vaccinations to proceed at full pace seven days a week.

A full 15 months into the pandemic less than 1% of South Africans have been fully vaccinated. That’s fewer than 500 000 people out of a population of 60 million who are fully protected. A further 2.7% have received a first dose and await a second.

We are lagging far behind not just our upper-middle-income peer countries but also lower-middle-income and many poor countries including Zimbabwe and Namibia.

Thousands of South Africans are dying avoidable deaths and yet our vaccination programme is only running five days a week because we “can’t afford to pay overtime”.

Vaccine delays cost lives. Every South African should be outraged at government’s approach to vaccines, which has been secretive, slow, disorganized and deadly.

Thousands of mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grannies and grandpas are gone today who should still be alive. Thousands of high-risk patients who should have been vaccinated in March with the AstraZeneca vaccines we had are instead fighting for their lives, some of them in chairs while they wait for hospital beds to come available. Thousands more will die avoidable deaths in the coming weeks as the third wave crisis gathers fatal momentum.

This unfolding human tragedy is self-inflicted. The Ramaphosa administration is entirely to blame. Yes, we’ve had setbacks. But setbacks happen. They should be planned for and buffered against.

South Africa should have placed early bulk vaccine orders with a wide variety of suppliers, to ensure sufficient supply. We should have chosen to use the one million AstraZeneca vaccines we received in February to protect the high-risk group as per scientific and WHO advice, rather than sell them. We should have planned our vaccine rollout programme months in advance of delivery. We should be vaccinating at full speed seven days a week. The private sector and competent provinces should have been allowed to procure their own vaccines.

Instead, the Ramaphosa administration has botched the vaccine programme from beginning to end. They twice failed to pay the Covax deposits timeously. They failed to contact vaccine suppliers last year when peer countries were getting in the queue. They failed to respond to suppliers when suppliers contacted them. They failed to roll out the AstraZeneca vaccines that were the only ones available to us back in March. They failed to plan an efficient rollout. They’ve failed to release budget for a seven-day per week programme. They’ve failed to communicate clearly. And they’ve failed to admit to any of their failures.

The only logical explanation is that they just don’t value South African lives. The only things they have consistently delivered on are excuses, corruption, and a resolute determination to keep full centralized control over the process even as they sleep at the wheel.

Notwithstanding these vaccine failures, had government built healthcare capacity and released sufficient budget, we would have been able to accommodate all those in need of medical assistance.

But they didn’t. The current shambolic situation in Gauteng has prompted one scientist to ask if there is anyone in the Gauteng department of health. Covid facilities that cost South Africans millions are non-operational because of staff shortages.

The 1000-bed Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg is still inexplicably closed over two months after a fire broke out there. Politicians can wheel out excuses, but where there’s a will there’s a way. The 850-bed CTICC Hospital of Hope in Cape Town started admitting patients just one month after work on the site began.

The DA-run Western Cape is the only province which has successfully built healthcare capacity to be able to accommodate all in need.

And so now South Africa faces the prospect of economic restrictions, which have already been shown to do more harm than good. But they’ll be implemented anyway because they give the illusion that government is doing something.

And so thousands of families will go hungry as thousands of businesses and jobs disappear. All of this avoidable suffering.

Of course, none of the individuals tasked with rolling out an efficient vaccine programme and none of those deciding which parts of the economy to shut down face losing their own lives or livelihoods.

They remain on full salary no matter what, and most of them have probably been vaccinated. None of them will need to face their hungry families and explain why they can’t put food on the table. Even Zweli Mkhize who benefitted from the Digital Vibes scam is assured a full salary at the end of the month.

There must be consequences.

The government must be held accountable for all lives lost avoidably due to vaccine delays. The local government election on 27 October 2021 is your chance to punish the ANC and to vote for the DA, the only party with a proven track record of getting things done in government to save lives.

The DA gets things done for young people.

On Youth Day, we grown-ups owe it to the children of South Africa – past, present and future – to take honest stock of the way this country treats young people. We need to ask ourselves if this is the best we can do, or if there are things we can do to build a better future for them.

So here are the facts.

No country for poor young people.

Nearly three million of our children experience hunger regularly, while 600 000 children experience hunger every day or almost every day. For every single one of these children, hunger is a personal disaster, stunting their joy of childhood and prospects for adulthood. For their parents, it is humiliating defeat. For our country, it is a stain on our national conscience.

This hunger crisis exploded when government glibly shut down whole industries and stole billions in Covid relief funding. But the raw deal that children get didn’t start and won’t end with the pandemic.

Schools in poor communities are so deficient that only one in five school children in South Africa leaves foundation phase able to read for meaning. Only one in three entering grade 1 will pass matric and only one in 25 will receive a post school qualification.

The single biggest reason for these bad outcomes is that the ANC puts the interests of SADTU ahead of the needs of poor schoolchildren, in return for SADTU’s political support. The “Cash-for-jobs” report compiled by Professor John Volmink in 2016 revealed that through the process of cadre deployment, SADTU has captured and corrupted six of South Africa’s nine provincial education departments.

Three out of every four young people aged 15 to 24 and over half of those aged 25 to 34 who want a job can’t find one. Poor, young people are shut out of opportunities, most living bleak existences in metros and municipalities where crumbling infrastructure and growing debt point to a future that is bleaker still.

The single biggest reason for disparities in unemployment levels between youth and other age groups is that the ANC puts the interests of unions over the needs of young people, in return for political support. By setting up artificial barriers to entry into the labour market, labour law protects the employed at the expense of new entrants and the unemployed.

Let’s face it. We grown-ups are failing our children. On empty stomachs, they must struggle through bad schools only to face a hostile labour market and a bleak future. Their fate is surely our call to action.

The DA difference.

There is one province that has their back and is working hard to build a better future for poor young people. This is the DA-run Western Cape.

During lockdown and school closures last year, the province defied a national government directive to terminate school-feeding programmes. It introduced and funded an Emergency School Nutrition Programme that delivered 1.6 million meals to school children across the province. Other provinces were eventually forced by a court order to follow suit.

The Western Cape was also the only province to continue providing a full subsidy to funded Early Childhood Development centres throughout the lockdown.

The DA gets things done to tackle hunger and poverty.

National government’s decision to close schools in response to the pandemic dealt a particularly devastating blow to children from poor families because they could not make full use of available online resources. The DA and the Western Cape government have consistently lobbied for schools to reopen based on sound scientific evidence that children are at low risk for severe Covid-19 infection and are low-risk spreaders to adults and are in fact safer at school because of safety protocols in place there.

The provincial government procured masks and sanitizer for every school in the province. It was the only province to publish details of all personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement and expenditure.

The DA gets thing done for poor young people. Efficiently and transparently.

The DA-run Western Cape government keeps more children in school (from each cohort of kids who entered grade 1 twelve years previously) till the end of matric than any other province. By law, children only have to attend school to the end of Grade 9. The province has consistently achieved retention rates (grade 10 to 12) of over 60%, which is 10 percentage points above the national average.

It also consistently achieves the top matric results in the country for each of these cohorts. Other provinces have higher drop-out rates during grades 10-12 for low-performing kids, which artificially boosts their matric results, which are generally reported only as a percentage of kids who wrote matric.

The Western Cape is the only province in South Africa to have implemented a Schools Evaluator. It is independent and properly resourced to accurately assess schools, to ensure better results at more schools in the province. Reports are published online for all to see.

The province has lead innovation in education by establishing Collaboration Schools – 15 in all so far – in which schools serving disadvantaged communities are partnered with non-profit organisations.

It leads in connectivity, having connected 85% of public schools in the province (1297 out of 1523) to broadband.

The DA is challenging in court the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment which has enabled capture and corruption of much of SA’s education system by SADTU.

The DA gets things done for school children.

And finally, when Western Cape youth seek out jobs, they have a better chance of finding one. Unemployment in the province is 17.5 percentage points lower than the average for the other eight provinces. This is because DA governments work hard to create an enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

The DA gets things done for young jobseekers.

Their fate our call to action.

What can you do to help build a better future for South Africa’s children? There are so many ways that people can make a difference. I’d argue that the most powerful step you can take is to vote DA in the upcoming local government election on 27 October 2021. Because unlike the ANC, the DA gets things done for young people.

Midvaal’s clear blue water

Nothing could better underscore the importance of voting – and voting DA – in the upcoming local government elections than yesterday’s news that dairy group Clover has decided to close South Africa’s biggest cheese factory, in the North West town of Lichtenburg.

This decision comes on the back of large financial losses due to poor or non-existent service delivery by Ditsobotla Local Municipality. The frequent water and electricity supply disruptions and crumbling municipal infrastructure including the practically impassable road leading to the factory means it is no longer feasible for Clover to operate there.

Clover is consolidating its production activities in its Durban factory, a move which will cost Clover R1.5 billion. This is a massive vote of no confidence in Ditsobotla municipality and a massive blow to the community. Some 330 breadwinners will lose their jobs. Other smaller businesses in the municipality will suffer a drop in demand for goods and services.

On the other side of the spectrum lies Midvaal Municipality, the only local government in Gauteng that the DA runs with a full mandate.  A decade of solid delivery under the capable leadership of DA mayor Bongani Baloyi has attracted investment to the area and boosted local economic activity, giving rise to its reputation as the fastest-growing municipality in Gauteng.

Unsurprisingly, Sedibeng Breweries, South African distributors for Heineken chose to establish its national office there, bringing with it new opportunities for job creation and small business. Other major organisations operating there are Ferrero Roche, New Hope, BSI Steel, South 32, Paramount Trailers and the Oprah Winfrey School. You will not find any of them closing or moving because of poor municipal service delivery.

Midvaal is rated one of the top five best-run municipalities out of 278 municipalities in the country, by independent ratings agency Ratings Africa. It is also the best-performing municipality in Gauteng, and the only one that can boast seven consecutive years of clean audits, meaning public money is reliably spent on the public.

This tale of two municipalities shows the clear blue water between DA- and ANC-run governments. It also makes clear the relationship between local government performance and the area’s ability to attract and retain investment.

More investment means more jobs, more economic activity, and more revenue that can be spent on things that improve people’s lives, such as electrifying informal settlements and building community sports facilities. DA-run Midvaal Municipality does these things and much more.

Local government is the coalface of service delivery and is therefore especially important to vulnerable communities. It is also the essential foundation on which our country’s economy is built. Businesses like Clover vote with their feet. No business will risk investing in a municipality that can’t guarantee delivery of the most basic services required to run a business profitably – water, electricity, roads, sanitation, refuse collection.

It should therefore come as no surprise that the broad unemployment level in DA-run Western Cape province, where most DA-run municipalities are located, is 17.5 percentage points lower than the average for the other eight provinces. This is according to Statistics SA’s recently released figures for the first quarter of 2021, which show unemployment at 27.9% in the Western Cape and at 45.4% in the rest of South Africa.

The DA is the only party with a proven track record of delivery. If we want to revive the dying economies of our towns and cities, we have to install DA governments in municipalities and metros across the country. The upcoming local government elections on 27 October 2021 is a crucial opportunity for voters to do this.

Yesterday, the DA was first out of the blocks with its voter registration campaign, fixing DA registration posters to street poles in Nelson Mandela Bay. DA registration posters will be going up across the country from this week, calling on all South Africans who will be 18 years or older by 27 October to use the registration weekend of 17 and 18 July to make sure they registered to vote DA.

If we want South Africa to work, we need to fix it. There is no more powerful action step you can take to fix your town or city than to vote DA on 27 October 2021, because the DA gets things done.

Kouga, a South African success story

No matter how bad things are in many parts of South Africa, the story of Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape shows us that things can turn around swiftly with the right leadership.

Kouga is home to some 200 000 people living in Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, St Francis Bay and the surrounding areas. When they gave the DA an outright majority in the 2016 local government elections, we inherited an indebted municipality collapsing under years of ANC neglect and corruption. To make matters worse, it was also the start of a prolonged drought.

Five years on, Kouga is a place of hope and progress, where the promise of “a better life for all” is real for people. The difference between 2016 and 2021 is striking. Consider the progress made in the following delivery areas.

Housing: The ANC-run council had neither built nor facilitated the building of a single house in Kouga since 2007. Since 2016, the DA-run council has completed 611 houses and another 3025 are in the pipeline while a further 2790 are being held up by land and infrastructure issues. This is against a backlog of about 15 000 houses needed, meaning that real progress is being made.

Fleet: In 2016, only 4% of Kouga’s vehicle fleet was operational. Today, 96% of the municipality’s vehicles are on the road every day to service communities, and 57 new vehicles have been added to the fleet.

Roads: From 2011 to 2016, the ANC-run municipality spent an average of R3.5 million per year on road maintenance. The DA-run municipality has tripled that delivery rate, spending on average over R10 million per year on repairing and upgrading roads in the past five years.

Public amenities: In 2016, public amenities were in a state of disrepair with little to no maintenance happening. Since 2016, the DA council has undertaken a massive maintenance drive and upgraded community halls, ablution facilities, sports facilities, parks, and campsites.

Investment: By 2016, investment in Kouga had all but dried up and local businesses did not want to take on contracts for the municipality because of its reputation for non-payment. Kouga is now an investment hub. A brand-new hospital is being built in Jeffreys Bay, while R4 billion has been invested in two housing developments, and several large companies have set up in Kouga.

But the municipality isn’t just content with getting these basics right. It is actively innovating, to take Kouga from good to great.

The municipality won gold at the Eco-Logic awards last year for the first plastic road in Africa, built in Jeffreys Bay using recycled plastic (equivalent to 1.8 million plastic bags per kilometre of road). This revolutionary new approach to tarring could increase the lifespan of roads while reducing maintenance costs and plastic pollution. If ever there was hard proof that the DA goes the extra mile, this is it.

Kouga has its sights on becoming the country’s leading Bioeconomy Zone. An SA subsidiary of Hive Energy is set to develop a waste-to-energy plant, a solar plant, and a biochar plant that turns invasive alien vegetation biomass into “green charcoal” which has several environmentally friendly applications. The first biochar units have been manufactured to kickstart the project.

The council has built a new state-of-the-art waste water treatment works and is upgrading its three other waste water treatments works, one of the many ways this municipality is fighting off Day Zero during a devastating drought which has brought the Kouga Dam level to below 5% this week.

Day Zero may be just weeks away but if it happens, Kouga residents will know their municipality pulled out all the stops to avoid it. It is aggressively pursuing water security by every means possible, including through groundwater supply and water conservation and demand management initiatives.

All this investment and innovation comes at a cost, and yet Kouga’s finances are in a much healthier state now than five years ago when the DA council took over. In 2016, Kouga was heavily indebted. Today, this debt has been paid off yet cash on hand is almost double what it was back then.

Kouga is a wonderful South African success story that needs to be replicated in municipalities across the country. What are the keys to its success?

First is meritocracy. People and service providers are appointed based on their ability to get the job done for the benefit of the public, rather than on political connections for the benefit of the party. This is why the people of Kouga are at the centre of everything council does.

Second is accountability. Before 2016, corruption was rife and went unchecked. Since 2016, the approach has been one of zero tolerance for corruption, driven by an anti-corruption unit which has seen two officials suspended for fraudulently issuing drivers licenses.

Third is decentralization. By collaborating with community groups and the business sector, they’ve managed to get much more done than would have been possible working in isolation. The trick to getting stuff done in government is to understand that government is not so much about doing stuff as about enabling stuff to get done. South Africans are super entrepreneurial and innovative. They just need a government that’s working for them rather than against them.

The story of Kouga shows that the first step to building a successful South Africa is to vote DA. In the local government elections on 27 October 2021, a vote for the DA will be a vote for success because the DA gets things done.

A reason to hope.

A shallow dive into the recent news cycle will deepen one’s sense of despair. But there is reason to hope and reason to act on that hope.

The third wave is hitting Gauteng, Free State and Northern Cape and appears to be just weeks away in other provinces. Fourteen months under a state of disaster with varying levels of lockdown and yet South Africa faces the third wave unprotected and vulnerable with not enough beds and oxygen and less than 1% of the population fully protected against serious Covid. (Recall that it takes 2-4 weeks to develop full immunity once vaccinated.)

To make matters worse, our vaccine rollout continues to be held back by a shortage of vaccines, a failure for which president Ramaphosa must ultimately take full responsibility.

To cover for this failure, the National Coronavirus Command Council is considering moving SA to “an adjusted lockdown level 2”. If the NCCC announces irrational blanket bans, it will deal a deathblow to thousands of businesses and jobs teetering on the edge.

Meantime Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is distracted by shocking revelations of Covid corruption that implicate him in his department’s allocation of a sham R150 million contract to his close friend and former associate’s company Digital Vibes.

It is a chilling portent of what is to come if the Health Professions Council of South Africa gets its way. Last week, it told Parliament that the current reserves of the medical schemes must be transferred to the NHI which should be the only health funding mechanism.

Consider the implication for health outcomes if one individual, the Minister of Health, gets full control of SA’s R450 billion health services procurement budget.

Citizen safety also seems more fragile than ever after the horrific incident in Zandspruit where nine young people were stripped naked and burnt to death in an open field by a vigilante group fed up with local crime and policing failures.

Yet rather than taking measures to make South Africans safer, government’s solution to policing failures has been to cut the budget for visible policing and to release the Firearms Control Amendment Bill which proposes a ban on firearm ownership for self-defence. At the same time, it has increased VIP protection for the political elite.

Our power-hungry national government can’t deliver on its basic responsibilities but is amassing more power than ever before.

Understandably, this barrage of bad news leaves one feeling helpless and hopeless.

But there is a South African success story that the media seems strangely reluctant to tell.

The DA in government shows that a successful South Africa is possible. This claim is not the facile promise of a party in opposition. It is the real track record of a party that runs 27 governments across four provinces in South Africa.

Consider how the recent news cycle would have differed had the DA been in national government.

The DA-run Western Cape Government is confident it has prepared enough beds, oxygen & staff to ensure no person is denied access to life-saving medical treatment at a third wave peak. This removes the need for all but the most low-cost, effective interventions to push out and flatten the wave (masks, handwashing, social distancing and limiting indoor gatherings), meaning both lives and jobs are saved.

Unlike its national counterpart, the Western Cape Department of Health spends the entire health budget on delivering health services to citizens and can therefore focus on this objective without the distraction of corruption scandals. As proof, it received a clean audit for the second year in a row – the only health department in the country to do so.

The province has everything in place for a rapid, efficient vaccine rollout, and is constrained only by a shortage of supply from national government.

While the rest of the country lives in evermore fear, the Western Cape Government is making residents feel safer through their Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP), which is on track to meet its target of deploying 1000 officers in high-crime areas of Cape Town by October 2021.

The DA gets things done. Which is why the best-run province, the best-run metro and the top five best-run municipalities in South Africa are all governed by the DA, according to independent audits and rankings.

The fastest route to a successful South Africa is to bring this DA difference to more towns and communities across the country. A thorough analysis of by-election trends shows the DA is growing in wards representing both black and white voters.

However, it is concerning that smaller ethnic and race-based parties are splintering the opposition in specific areas, making it harder for the DA to achieve the crucial objective of beating the ANC. These parties are effectively the “opposition to the opposition” and could end up doing far more harm than good, no matter their true intentions.

Therefore it makes sense for everyone to get behind the DA, to give maximum momentum to the project of replacing the ANC with a credible alternative government.

And I’m happy to report momentum is already on our side for the upcoming municipal elections. Our hugely successful and vibrant virtual rally launch showed that we are ready and eager to contest the local government elections on 27 October. Join us and support us. Together, we can grow this South African success story.

 

 

Ramaphosa’s vaccine strategy: Empty promises, deceit, deflection

There are signs that South Africa may be heading into a third wave. Infections are on the rise.

Had President Ramaphosa acted on vaccines with a sense of urgency when other countries were getting into the queue in early 2020, we’d be approaching this third wave with our high-risk group vaccinated.

Instead, we’re heading in unprotected and “phenomenally vulnerable”, with stricter lockdown levels looming. And all Ramaphosa can offer the nation is empty promises and blame-shifting to hide his poor performance.

In his address on 11 January 2021, Ramaphosa reassured the nation we would reach herd immunity by year-end, saying: “South Africa’s vaccine strategy is well underway.”

Yet four months later, not a single vaccine has been administered in South Africa outside of trials and the target for herd immunity has now been shifted out to February 2022.

Our peer countries are far ahead of us. While Chile has managed to vaccinate over a third of its population and Israel over half, South Africa has only managed to vaccinate 0,7% – and this within trials run by trial scientists.

In terms of vaccines administered, South Africa is coming 33rd in Africa, behind the likes of such failing states as Sudan, Sierra Leone, Angola, Somalia, Gambia and Zimbabwe.

Our unforgivably slow progress means it is extremely unlikely we will get significant numbers of high-risk individuals vaccinated before the third wave is fully established.

Let’s be clear. The Ramaphosa administration is directly to blame for many of the recent and future Covid deaths. They have failed dismally to protect South Africans.

Instead of vaccines in arms or sincere apologies, Ramaphosa has produced meaningless reassurances and deceitful excuses that deflect blame for his monumental, unforgivable vaccine failure.

Vacuous commitments

The government’s new target of vaccinating 40 million people by end February 2022 is not realistically achievable and Ramaphosa knows it. When I challenged him on this in Parliament last week, he exposed his target for the lie it is.

Only 380 000 South Africans have been vaccinated so far. To reach the target of 40 million people vaccinated by end February 2022, we’ll have to administer 380 000 doses every two days without missing a single day. This is a higher rate than top performers Israel or Chile have managed.

Consider that on Sunday, not a single dose was delivered.

Consider that his government has still not published a detailed, implementable rollout plan.

Ramaphosa’s assurance of herd immunity by Feb 2022 is as insincere as his reassurance was back in 2015 when he said: “In another 18 months to two years, you will forget the challenges that we had with relation to power and energy and Eskom ever happened.”

He has simply lost all credibility, at a time when public trust in government is critical to a speedy vaccine rollout.

Deceit and deflection

In his newsletter this week, Ramaphosa attempts to shift blame to richer countries, accusing them of practicing “vaccine apartheid” by vaccinating their own populations first rather than sharing their vaccines with other countries.

With one catchy phrase he attempts to erase the evidence of his own failure to get into the queue for vaccines back in early 2020 when other countries were doing so. Recall that his administration:

  • twice failed to pay the Covax deposits on time.
  • delayed initiating discussions with manufacturers and cancelled the meeting when Johnson & Johnson reached out to them in August 2020.
  • was unresponsive for months and months when Pfizer tried to initiate discussions.
  • squandered the opportunityto protect 500 000 high-risk individuals by selling 1 million AstraZeneca vaccines to other African counties against the advice of the World Health Organisation and leading scientists. (Their reason for selling them was that the AZ vaccine is not effective against the dominant SA variant. Yet they are now going ahead with purchasing Sinopharm and Sputnik vaccines, neither of which have shown efficacy against the dominant SA variant.)

If anyone is practicing “vaccine apartheid” it is Ramaphosa himself, who has failed to provide lifesaving vaccines to millions of high-risk South Africans, just as the Mbeki government failed to provide lifesaving ARVs.

Is Ramaphosa planning to share the 60 million doses we have secured with poorer countries? If not, his accusation smacks of cynical hypocrisy.

His focus now on getting the World Trade Organisation to waive intellectual property (IP) rights for the production of Covid vaccines is another red herring intended to deflect blame for his poor performance. A waiver will make no difference to South Africa’s ability to save lives in the third wave or to reach herd immunity.

No company will invest for a once-in-a-generation windfall, and with a glut in supply imminent. Especially not in a country as hostile to investors as is South Africa.

The main challenge facing South Africa is no longer vaccine supply, but a speedy vaccine rollout to high-risk individuals. We need the public and private health sectors working together, with doctors, pharmacies, clinics and mass vaccination centres running at full speed. This is where Ramaphosa should be focusing his attention.

Instead, when he isn’t focused on internal ANC matters, he’s focused on red herrings such as “vaccine apartheid” and IP waivers that will make no material difference to the urgent matter at hand of getting jabs to high-risk individuals. Because his government simply cannot deliver.

His appearance before the Zondo Commission has laid bare that he is deeply complicit in the hollowing out of our state, through the policies of cadre deployment and BEE, to a point where it is completely unable to deliver on the most basic of its responsibilities, a speedy vaccine rollout to save lives and jobs.

DA-run Western Cape

The DA-run Western Cape is on track for an efficient vaccine rollout and is only constrained by the supply of doses from national government. The DA difference in the Western Cape is that appointments and tenders are based on ability to deliver to people. This is the only way to build a caring, capable, professional state.

Conclusion

Ramaphosa’s vaccine strategy of delivering empty promises, deceit and deflection is indeed well underway. If South Africans want a caring, honest, capable government that delivers on its commitments, they can begin by voting the DA into local government in the upcoming municipal elections on 27 October 2021.