DA calls for debate of national importance on financial crisis at Eskom

Following the swearing in of South Africa’s 6th Parliament and election of a new Speaker, the DA will write to the new Speaker requesting a debate of national importance on the unfolding financial crisis at Eskom. This follows media reports that contractors working at Kusile Power Station have submitted claims totaling R36 billion to the financially crippled Eskom.

The South African taxpayer, already burdened with rising electricity costs and flatlining economy, cannot be expected to keep pouring billions of rands into the Eskom blackhole, even as evidence continues to mount on the entity’s terminal decline.

That South Africans are being asked to pay for years of mismanagement at Eskom and poor project management of Eskom’s build programme, is testament to the depth of the national governance crisis engineered by the ANC government.

It is outrageous that the architects of state capture, some of whom were directly involved in the collapse of Eskom, will be sworn in as ‘honorable’ members of the 6th Parliament. Instead of facing consequences for bringing the country to close to financial ruin, they are being rewarded and protected by the ANC.

The DA is urging our law enforcement agencies to ensure that all those who are implicated in the industrial scale corruption that took place at Eskom, and elsewhere in government, are given an opportunity to have their day in court.

The recent directive to license independent power producers (IPPs) was a step in the right direction and we urge the new government to stand its ground and not be bullied by Unions who are intent on saving an underperforming Eskom.

The 6th Parliament has an obligation to ensure that it works to resolve the challenges that have kept Eskom in the red and threatened to send the country on a financial ruin. The DA stands ready and willing to play its role to bring normalcy in the country’s energy sector.

New Dawn, Same Darkness

The following remarks we delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a presentation of the Party’s 2018 Government Review in Parliament today. Maimane was joined by DA Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen MP

It must be made clear up front that Andile Mngxitama’s recent remarks are a violation of human rights and tantamount to hate speech. On Human Rights Day, and every other day.

Section 16(2)(c) of the Constitution makes it clear that “advocacy of hatred that is based on race, ethnicity, gender or religion, and that constitutes incitement to cause harm” is fundamentally a human rights violation.

Hate speech must always be spoken out against. Mngxitama’s comments cheapen people rights to human dignity which is a fundamental tenant of what liberal democracy depends on.

This guarantee exists because we are human beings. It does not exist because we belong to a group or because we are any one individual.

This is what the DA is fighting for and why South Africa needs reform. While President Ramaphosa may have tinkered, he has not reformed – it is easy to appoint new boards; electoral reform, less so.

In a year that was billed to be one of fundamental reform, the ANC has continued to fail South Africa. In government, all of the crises that existed at the end of the Zuma presidency have worsened in the first year of the Ramaphosa presidency. In parliament, the ANC has reverted to their default position of complete deference to the new President, rather than holding him and his government accountable.

In contrast, the DA has not allowed our work in Parliament and in government to be clouded by ‘Ramaphoria’. We have continued to hold the government robustly to account, and to deliver better services and cleaner government where we govern.

President Cyril Ramaphosa

President Ramaphosa is coming to the end of his first year in office. He came to office promising tough action on corruption, and to get the economy growing to create jobs. On both fronts, progress has been elusive.

Former President Jacob Zuma may no longer be in power, but he remains out of prison. The public continues to pay for Zuma’s defence costs, despite this likely-illegal arrangement being within Ramaphosa’s direct power to end immediately.

There have also been no further arrests or charges against anyone implicated in state capture, despite there being a surfeit of evidence of serious crimes having been committed. Indeed, the NPA announced its decision not to prosecute Ace Magashule for the Estina Dairy theft, just a week before the appointment of a new NDPP. We hope she will reconsider this decision soon.

State capture continues to be presented as an aberration of the Zuma Presidency, rather than a system of corruption that is the modus operandi of the ANC as a whole. The policy of cadre deployment, picking civil servants for political loyalty over merit, combined with the elevation of the party and its interests over the state, has opened the way for massive endemic corruption. State capture is not a Zuma phenomenon, it is the way the ANC works.

As if to prove this point for us, Ramaphosa confirmed in Parliament that he received a R500 000 donation for his ANC campaign from Bosasa, a company already implicated in widespread ANC corruption, and that his son has a ‘commercial relationship’ with that company. Neither Ramaphosa, his son, or Bosasa, have been willing to reveal further details of this relationship, but the DA will not let up until we get to the truth.

Ramaphosa’s Cabinet remains bloated and filled with delinquent Ministers, and his government has presided over the worst economic recession that South Africa has experienced since the global financial crisis.

Over the past year, it has become clear that the government has no plan on how to fix the economy, beyond talk-shops, conferences and photo-op summits. “Investments” announced were simply the re-announcement of old investments, unemployment has gone up and access to jobs is still manipulated to the benefit of connected ANC insiders, often including demanding sex or cash for jobs.

Compare this to the performance of the DA. Nothing shows the difference between the DA and the ANC better than our performance on job creation and combating corruption. Investment inflows, economic growth and ultimately new job creation has been higher in DA governments than in the rest of the country. In 2018, a full 50% of new jobs created in South Africa were created in the Western Cape. DA governed Midvaal has the lowest unemployment rate in Gauteng.

In Johannesburg, Mayor Herman Mashaba has continued his crusade against corruption. Nationally, the DA has continued to be the only organisation committed to seeing Jacob Zuma help accountable for his crimes. We have laid 10 different charges against SOE executives, board members, corporates and government officials implicated in state capture. We were one of the main driving forces behind the Eskom Inquiry into state capture, requested the Financial Services Conduct Authority investigate financial flows from state capture and wrote to the Reserve Bank of India and the Parliamentary Ethics Committee to probe the capture of the state.

We’ve also taken strong action against malfeasance in our own ranks when we’ve become aware of it, no matter how difficult. And we have resisted the ANC-EFF coalition of corruption in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and in Tshwane.


Of the 15 debates that shaped the national agenda in Parliament this year, all confirmed an inconvenient truth: there is no “good” ANC or “bad” ANC, only the ANC. The outcomes of the debates on the recession recovery, fuel price increase and VBS Bank Heist continue to serve as the eulogy of the organization.

A final resting call where Parliament’s lights switched off while the Eskom inquiry report was being debated and the Constitutional Review Committee’s (CRC’s) report’s final words that the bedrock of people’s property rights are up for grabs. While the DA exposed how deep State Capture runs in the national power utility and voted against this dangerous Constitutional amendment, much of South Africa remains in darkness while the people’s Bill of Rights is being walked all over.

As unfair a burden placed by the government on ordinary South Africans has been the VAT increase, ballooning bailouts and spiraling cost of fuel. One might have hoped the recession recovery debate might have offered more responsible alternatives but is was not long until the House found itself processing how R2 billion was looted from VBS bank by the ANC and EFF.

Nothing has changed – the ANC acts only for connected insiders and poor and vulnerable outsiders come stone last. The DA’s laying of criminal charges against Minister Mkhize and former North West Premier, Supra Mahumapelo, for their involvement in the VBS scandal is only the beginning of our fight for the victims of this national sin.

Speaking up for the voiceless against an unchangeable ANC requires more than actionless debates – it demands the use of law as a tool to drive change. But rather than guiding South Africa’s true north, Parliament’s law-making function has regressed to the back of the national agenda where of almost 50 Bills introduced, the fiscal framework required as few as 10.

If any of these Bills should currently find themselves as South African priority number one, it is the DA’s “cheaper energy bill” which seeks to separate Eskom into separate electricity generation and transmission units, allowing Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to fairly compete with Eskom for power provision. This competition will reduce the leviathan monopoly Eskom has on electricity prices, make electricity cheaper and more secure and ultimately steer our country clear of the heart of darkness.

The DA’s Small Enterprises Ombud Services Bill should have found itself topping the national priority alongside our “cheaper energy bill”, offering an efficient mechanism to solve the late payments crisis with small businesses. Instead the ANC abused its majority to recklessly rush through the National Minimum Wage Bill which will lead to an expected loss of 750 000 jobs.

Where the ANC’s debate and legislatives processes failed the people of South Africa, Parliament had a lifeline to keep the Executive in check through oral and written questions. President Ramaphosa answered a total of 24 questions during four oral questions sessions in the NA and 6 questions during one appearance in the NCOP while Deputy President Mabuza answered 36 questions through six sessions in the NA and 18 questions on three occasions in the NCOP this year.

However, the Deputy President is meant be in the House one session per term and for all intents and purposes, Deputy President Mabuza has been an “absentee Deputy President” in the Fourth Parliamentary term. It is unlikely that he will resurface until late February or early March next year – an unaccountability that President Ramaphosa has allowed to happen.

The DA remains the last standing custodian for democracy and accountability in Parliament where we asked more than half of the 3 655 written questions asked in the NA at an average of 73 questions per opportunity or 23 questions per DA MP and 83.5% of the total 266 questions in the NCOP at an average of over 6 questions per opportunity or 17 questions per DA MP. The ANC submitted a paltry 1% in the NA and less than 3% in the NCOP, content with indifference as long as it limps along on the county’s inside lane.

The Communications (34%), Finance (34%), Water and Sanitation (32%), Social Development (28%) and Health Departments (28%) answered the least questions in the NCOP. It remains an offense to the democratic process that the worst performing ANC government departments have also been the least accountable.

Another season of debates that make a noise but no difference, out-of-touch legislation and unanswered questions in the sphere of government designed to hold the executive to account has come and gone. South Africa is nowhere closer to bringing change that builds One South Africa for all.

2019 Elections

It defies reason to award the ANC with a stronger mandate because nothing will change. Next year’s national election is about South Africa’s future, not the ANC’s.

The DA is currently rolling out an extensive registration campaign, because the only way to truly change the country for the better is if South Africans register and show their dissatisfaction with the direction of the country by voting against the ANC.

South Africans must unite to prevent an ANC-EFF two thirds majority in next year’s election. That result would be dangerous for our country. The ANC and the EFF have shown in 2018 that they will work together to protect corruption, for example in Nelson Mandela Metro, and to divide the country and undermine private property rights by trying to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.

The DA will continue to create fair access to real and long-term jobs, fight corruption to ensure that all public money is spent on the people, overhaul the South African Police Service to become and honest and professional organisation that actually serves and protects South Africans, secure our borders and stop illegal immigration and speed up the delivery of basic services. If this offer resonates, the last weekend of next month is the final opportunity to register to vote for this change in the 2019 national election.

If 2018 began with the great hope of a new dawn, it ends with the growing realisation by more and more South Africans that it is the government itself that needs changing, not just the President.

Change that will builds one South Africa for all starts with registering to vote for it.

Give South Africa its power back by implementing the DA’s plan, Minister Gordhan

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, requesting an urgent meeting on the electricity crisis in South Africa.

It is now time for the ANC government and Minister Gordhan to put politics aside and seriously consider the DA’s plan to ensure the country no longer has to endure the crippling effects of power blackouts.

The ANC government’s legacy of State Capture at Eskom has essentially cut our power and the time has come to cut Eskom’s monopoly over our power and ultimately the ANC’s power in next year’s elections.

The shortage of coal at several power stations, and the resultant effect of power blackouts, proves that Eskom’s monopoly on power production and supply needs to be broken up.

The Independent System and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill introduced by the DA seeks to achieve exactly this and save citizens money by ensuring that they have more options with regards to purchasing electricity.

Our ISMO Bill proposes that Eskom is divided into two entities: one to generate power and the other dedicated to power transmission. The power-generating division will compete with its independent counterparts on an equal footing, ensuring efficiency, stability and competitive prices.

Gordhan must now act in the best interest of South Africans and tackle the electricity crisis head-on. That the power utility is looking to spend R1 billion in the interim is an indictment on Eskom’s leadership. A long-term solution is desperately needed. The DA has a plan to ensure that we turn around Eskom in order to deal- decisively and permanently- with the entity’s problems.

The DA will also write to the Chairperson of the Eskom Board, Jabu Mabuza, asking him to submit supplementary affidavits to the DA’s charges against those who have been implicated in the coal catastrophe our country is currently facing.

The public can no longer be made to pay for the ANC’s failures. Minister Gordhan must now prove that he is committed to ending the crisis at Eskom and prioritising South Africans by meeting with the DA to discuss the ISMO Bill.

DA to table Bill to end Eskom monopoly and lower electricity prices for all South Africans

The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a Press Conference in Parliament today. Maimane was joined by the DA Team One South Africa Spokesperson on State Capture, Natasha MazzoneA legal summary of the DA’s ISMO Bill can be found here

The year 2018 has been characterised by a sustained financial attack on the pockets of all South Africans by the failing ANC government. With increases in petrol tax, VAT, sugar tax, personal income tax, and “sin taxes” – more and more money is being taken away from hard-working South Africans to pay for the ANC’s corruption and inefficiency.

Another costly expense for South Africans has been the increase in electricity prices with Eskom wanting a further 15% increase after the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) granted Eskom a 4.41% price increase for 2019/20 and approved a 5.23% average price increase that came into effect at the beginning of April this year. Over the past decade, Eskom’s electricity prices have increased by about 356%, while inflation over the same period was 74%, which means that electricity prices have increased four times faster than inflation over the past 10 years.

This is due to a wide range of factors, with the most systemic cause being a complete lack of competition in the energy sector. Government has a monopoly which breeds inefficiency, rampant corruption and maladministration. This cannot continue any longer.

Moreover, it is not just South African families who are affected by this. Affordable, uninterrupted and reliable electricity access is a bare essential requirement for businesses to operate – especially SMMEs – which are the creators of much-needed jobs for the almost 10 million unemployed South Africans.

Shortly after the economy went into recession, I announced the DA’s plan to get the economy growing. Part of this 7-step “Agenda for Reform” is a plan to end Eskom’s monopoly by splitting Eskom into separate power production and distribution businesses, while at the same time allowing cities to purchase directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Today, we formally introduce and unpack the DA’s Private Members Bill, namely The Independent System and Market Operator Bill – the “ISMO Bill”. We believe the ISMO Bill is a key component in our plan to revive our economy, fast-track growth, and open up access to new jobs.

It goes without saying that the only way to keep the cost of electricity down for consumers is to introduce competition in the electricity market. Our ISMO Bill aims to achieve this by legislating the creation of an entity that is:

  • financially sound;
  • has efficient systems management;
  • acts as an electricity trader;
  • guides electricity supply and transmission planning;
  • is responsible for the integrated power system; and
  • will dispatch within this integrated system.

The Bill envisages the establishment of an independent body owned by the state tasked with buying electricity from electricity generators. The operator will function as a wholesaler of electricity that sells electricity to distributors and customers at a wholesale tariff. ISMO will function independently to electricity generation businesses to ensure fairness between generators, encouraging competition and innovation.

ISMO’s functions and capabilities include:

  • buying power from generators including IPPs through a power purchase agreement;
  • its operating cost being factored into the wholesale tariff in line with the Regulator’s approval;
  • ensuring that the new electricity produced by generators is incorporated into the national electricity grid and circulated to consumers; and
  • when required, assisting with planning as requested by the Minister of Energy.

A crucial objective of the Bill will be to allow metropolitan municipalities with a proven history of good financial governance and electricity reticulation management to trade with electricity generators directly, buying electricity straight from the source. In the spirit of accountability, the processes involved with such procurement will be required to be transparent, and any agreement concluded will be required to be the result of a competitive bidding process. Metropolitan municipalities that have shown themselves to be capable of good governance will be allowed to manage their energy requirements without being dictated to by national or provincial government.

This is a major boost for consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs in South Africa’s major cities, which aligns with the DA’s “city-led growth” agenda. The DA will now refer the Bill to Parliamentary Legal Services and issue a call for public comment to be published in the Government Gazette. Thereafter, ISMO will be tabled in the National Assembly.

The failed ANC government appears to be unwilling to take the tough decisions to fix the current state of Eskom, and electricity generation and distribution in our country. As far back as 1998, in democratic South Africa’s first energy policy, the 1998 Energy White Paper, government agreed that ‘Eskom will be restructured into separate generation and transmission companies.

This was followed by a Bill to this effect introduced by the ANC in 2012, stalled, withdrawn and then finally binned by the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC). As recently as last week, Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni’s, Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) made it clear that ‘Eskom’s weak financial position remains a risk that could lead to a call on guarantees.’

The truth is South Africa does not have another 20 years of Parliamentary withdrawals, post-election delays, and reformulations for ISMO to be passed. Eskom is a zombie State Owned Entity that is so financially precarious that it could pull our entire economy down with it.

Eskom’s most recent coal shortage crisis is so severe that last month’s indication from the utility was that four stations had less than 10 days of coal supply remaining. Corruption, mismanagement of coal contracts and a decision not to invest in coal-plus mines threaten the coal supply of multiple power stations that will ultimately lead to more load shedding and another devastating blow to South Africa’s economy.

The power utility’s plans to take on R212 billion more debt over the next four years from R388 billion to an unprecedented R600 billion while owed over R20 billion by almost 100 municipalities is grossly irresponsible.

Which is why today I have also submitted a Notice of Internal Appeal to Eskom in terms of section 75 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act for not granting my request for access to the terms and conditions of the R33 billion loan from the China Development Bank within the 30-day PAIA period. If Eskom fails to honour the further 10-day deadline set by this Notice of Internal Appeal, the DA will not hesitate to take the necessary legal action and approach the courts for relief.

The DA’s agenda for reform is in pursuit of a lean and capable state that builds an enabling environment to attract investment in a transparent, market-driven and competitive economy.

Changing failing SOEs like Eskom is the most critical intervention required to create fair access to real and long-term jobs and rapidly speed up the delivery of basic services in South Africa.

The DA’s ISMO Bill is one such intervention that is woven into the fabric of our agenda for change to build One South Africa for All, whereby more economic power lies in the hands of South Africans, not a corrupt and failing ANC government.

“Technical team” on high fuel prices misses deadline by almost 100 days and counting

On 5 July this year President Ramaphosa set up another “technical team” tasked with finding solutions to the persistent petrol price hikes that have hurt the pockets of South Africans since the beginning of the year. Over the past ten months, the price of petrol has increased seven times.

While this “technical team” was given two weeks to present solutions to mitigate these fuel increases, the Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, has confirmed to the DA that no significant progress has been made – with an “initial report” still more than a month away.

The Minister said that “The initial report was expected at the end of September 2018, however, more work is still required before the report is finalised. It is anticipated that the work would be completed by the end of November 2018.”

This “technical team” has missed its deadline by almost 100 days and counting. While this failing ANC government dithers, South Africans are financially suffocating. To make matters worse, there was no relief announced in yesterday’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) for consumers – with fuel taxes set to increase each year over the medium term.

These fuel price increases are not only the result of international markets and global trends – as the ANC government claims – but are also in large part due to the weakening rand that is directly related to the mismanagement of the economy by the ANC government. Approximately one third – or R5.30 – of the cost of petrol per litre goes directly to government via the General Fuel Levy and the Road Accident Fund Levy.

The DA’s solution to this is straightforward: cut the fuel taxes by at least R1 in the short term with a view to review these levies on an ongoing basis; stop bailing out the bankrupt Road Accident Fund and ensure it runs efficiently; cut the bloated Cabinet; reject the proposed fuel levy increases in yesterday’s MTBPS; and tighten government’s belt to halt wasteful spending. In the long term, with prudent economic policy direction and sound fiscal discipline, a strengthening rand will aid the decrease in fuel costs.

The lax approach to providing any respite to ordinary South Africans appears to be the approach of this ANC government under Cyril Ramaphosa. Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni’s MTBPS yesterday delivered no hope for the poor and jobless. When it comes to the cost of living for ordinary South Africans, Mboweni decided to:

  • Commit more precious public money to bailing out bankrupt SOEs such as SAA and Eskom, instead of selling them off;
  • Cut funds to basic services – including health and education;
  • Reaffirm the continuation of E-tolls for Gauteng residents; and
  • Increase the fuel levy on already sky-high fuel prices;

With corruption and waste by ANC national departments and SOEs totalling over R100 billion, South Africa is being taxed to death to pay for the failing ANC governments repetitive sins. We cannot continue along this path any longer.

It is time for the change that creates One South Africa For All, where public money is spend on creating jobs and delivering basic services to all.

Failing ANC’s R100 billion irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure could fund job-seekers

The total balance of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure by ANC national departments and state entities has increased to R100.9 billion.

This is a staggering sum of money. To put it in perspective, the R100.9 billion that was wasted would be enough to provide a jobseeker grant of R875 a month to every single unemployed person. Or a once-off cash grant of R10 500 for each unemployed person in the country. That is not to say the money could or should be used for these purposes. But it does put in perspective the scale of the loss, to consider how this sum could have improved the lives of all 10 million unemployed people.

The R4.1 billion that was lost to fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2017/8 is enough to fund the salaries of over 22 000 police officers or 21 000 nurses.

It should be a national scandal that wanton waste on this scale has been allowed to take place by this failed ANC government.

Earlier this month, the DA analysed the annual reports of national departments and selected entities that had been tabled in Parliament. This revealed irregular expenditure of R72.6 billion and fruitless and wasteful expenditure of another R3 billion. However, serial mismanagement offenders SAA, SA Express and Denel had not tabled their reports at the time. The DA cautioned that the total was likely to increase substantially.

Prasa has now tabled their annual report, and the financial results are truly shocking:

  • Irregular expenditure: R24.2 billion
  • Fruitless and wasteful expenditure: R1 billion
  • Net loss for the year: R925 million

The Auditor-General (A-G) issued the entity with a qualified audit opinion, due to the large amount of dodgy spending, and the unclear accounting of passenger fares. Despite spending all this money, the entity achieved only 21% of its performance targets.

Prasa also joins the list of departments and entities that the A-G has expressed serious uncertainty over their ability to remain a going concern. There are now eight entities and one department at risk of financial collapse, in addition to the commercially insolvent SABC.

There is no excuse for this massive maladministration, particularly in fruitless and wasteful spending – this money is spent with absolutely no gain for the public. The ANC continues to pour vast sums of money down the drain at State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

Prasa’s results are a slap in the face to all those commuters who queue for hours attempting to catch trains that never arrive. With fuel prices sky-rocketing and 9.6 million unemployed, the neglect of the train system that provides vital links to jobs clearly shows that the ANC does not care about the daily struggles of South Africans.

The DA has shown that whenever we take over failing ANC governments, we clean up the administration and improve service delivery. South Africans have an opportunity in 2019 to choose a party that stands for One South Africa for All – not just the cronies of the ANC elite.

‘Dodging Dlamini’ is a threat to society’s most vulnerable and must be fired

The Constitutional Court ruling that former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, must pay 20% of the legal costs incurred relating to the social grants crisis shows that Dlamini cannot be trusted with championing the rights of the most vulnerable in society.

President Ramaphosa can no longer ignore this fact and would fire her immediately if he has any care for the millions of people she has already and will continue to endanger.

The Constitutional Court went so far as to say that Dlamini’s behaviour was “reckless and grossly negligent” and that a copy of the judgment should be sent to the National Director of Public Prosecutions to determine if Dodging Dlamini can be prosecuted for perjury if indeed she lied to the court.

Given this damning judgment, President Cyril Ramaphosa must fire Dlamini immediately from her position as Minister of Women in the Presidency. This appointment should not have happened in the first place given that she manufactured the social grants crisis, so she could benefit through the planned extension of the illegal CPS contract.

The ANC government protected and rewarded Dlamini for her role in the grants crisis, instead of holding her accountable. She was ultimately responsible for risking the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans who she should have protected, and her recklessness cannot be allowed to continue.

The ANC has protected its failing members for too long. South Africans can bring an end to this in the elections next year by voting for the DA.

Jacques Smalle is the DA’s Premier Candidate for Limpopo

 The following remarks were delivered today by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, at the announcement of the DA’s Premier Candidate for Limpopo in Masodi Village, Mokopane. Maimane was joined by DA Limpopo Provincial Chairperson, Geoffrey Tshibvumo.

I am delighted to be in Masodi Village today to announce Jacques Smalle as the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Premier Candidate for the 2019 Election.

Eight years ago, the Ratunku Primary School was meant to be built for the children of Masodi, some of whom are with us today. You can see why it is now referred to as the ‘invisible school’ because all that has come of this promise is the abandoned space we find ourselves in. There is still no school today, as the young children of this village are left behind by the ANC government

The effect of this ANC government’s empty promise is that the only existing primary school in the village is crammed with over 1 500 learners where 64 pupils squeeze into a classroom, and 4 children use the same desk. Young children have no choice but to walk 7km to schools in other villages, crossing a river and road en route.

At least 7 children have lost their lives on this long and dangerous walk to school. Thabang Matjiu is one of the lucky few who survived with injuries after being hit by a car walking home from school.

Thabang is here today with his mother, father and grandmother. Thabang, I would like to commend you and your family for being here and assure you that we will seek accountability and answers from government as to this complete failure by the ANC government.

The Limpopo Department of Basic Education (DBE) continues to fail in delivering quality school infrastructure. The national DBE conceded in June that it did not achieve any of its Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) goals. As few as 22 of 115 selected schools through South Africa were built. And although there is a more than R5 billion school infrastructure backlog in Limpopo, this year’s infrastructure development programme was allocated R300 million less than four years ago.

But much like this ‘invisible school’, even when the Limpopo DBE did set aside as much as R200 million of this programme to build new schools and administration blocks, these projects were abandoned and have still not been finished. Limpopo Education MEC, Ishmael Kgetjepe, continues to protect the political architects of these invisible schools over learners like Thabang who suffer with the consequences.

These learners are growing up in a world where just over a quarter of the entire province do not have jobs. Worse yet, when accounting for those who have also given up searching for jobs, this harrowing number spikes to a staggering 37.4%. The people of Limpopo need real change, and the DA is ready to bring that change. Change that creates work, cuts corruption, fights crime, speeds up service delivery to all, and ultimately betters the lives of all.

Of grave concern here in Limpopo is also the Makhado Project negotiated between South African coal exploration, development and mining company, MC Mining, and a Chinese construction enterprise, China Railway International Group. This almost R150 billion deal to develop a 4 600-megawatt coal-fired plant in the Makhado-Musina Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Limpopo has been signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

As with the R33 billion loan that the President signed from the Chinese Development Bank (CDB) to Eskom, the terms of reference of this deal have been cloaked in secrecy. The electricity and jobs created will only benefit the new Chinese-controlled industrial park, akin to a country within our country.

While I continue to fight the Eskom-China loan in Parliament, Jacques is probing the Chinese SEZ deal to get answers from government as to the impact it will have on the people of Limpopo. Jacques has a passion for this province and its people. He was born and raised in Limpopo’s Vhembe district and is a proud Tshivenda speaker.

His career in politics spans more than two decades from two terms as a Councillor, a Member of the Provincial Legislature and a Member of Parliament in various capacities.

When the province was placed under administration, it was his dogged fight that more than tripled norms and standards for quintile 1 to 3 schools from a meagre R320 to R1 060 per learner which made it possible for schools to become more independent. So when he offers to focus on funding incomplete infrastructure projects in the province such as Ratunku Primary School before starting on new infrastructure projects to ensure that we use resources effectively, you know that he will fight tooth and nail to realise this.

Jacques has been an entrepreneur from a young age, successfully running multiple businesses from a bakery, butchery and supermarket to an avocado and nut farm. His commitment to a civilian service programme that would provide young school leavers an opportunity to receive industry of their choosing and a programme partnering school leavers is reflection of the fundamental importance he places in investing in the future of young South Africans.

His cross-sector experience leaves him well placed to deliver on his offer to ensure that locals are the first to benefit in all SEZ developments by ensuring transparency on all Terms of Reference (TOR) and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU).

Few are as well qualified as Jacques to champion the DA’s call for Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity throughout Limpopo. As of now, he will champion the DA’s charge for change and mission to unseat the incapable ANC government in the province.

Jacques will lead a team dedicating to eradicating corruption and will call for a commission of inquiry into the VBS Mutual Bank investment scandal before Limpopo municipalities lose another R1.1 billion to service delivery projects in the province.

His team will target its spending on completing incomplete infrastructure projects and clearing the infrastructure backlog for rural township schools. With 37.4% of Limpopo without a job or having given up hope of every finding a job, Jacques will make it a priority to support emerging businesses and equip SMME owners with the relevant business knowledge and skills to grow and create more opportunity.

In a province where so many have been left behind, Limpopo needs a leader willing and able to fight for one Limpopo with one future for all. I pledge the support of the DA’s national leadership to Jacques in his campaign to bring this change to Limpopo.

Because it is only the DA that can bring change for Thabang, his family and the rest of Limpopo to ensure we never again find ourselves gathered around an ‘invisible school’ remembering children who have lost their lives because of ANC government neglect. We believe in a better future for all in Limpopo and Jacques is the DA’s custodian of this belief in the province.

Nqaba Bhanga will spearhead the DA’s project to bring change to the people of the Eastern Cape

The following remarks were delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the announcement of the DA’s Premier Candidate for the Eastern Cape. Maimane was joined by DA Eastern Cape Provincial Spokesperson, Mlindi Nhanha.

It is with great pleasure that I announce to you the DA’s candidate for Premier of the Eastern Cape for the 2019 election, Nqaba Bhanga. For the past year, Nqaba has excelled in his role as Provincial Leader in the Eastern Cape, and it was an easy decision to ratify his nomination as Premier candidate.

Nqaba, along with an experienced team, will spend the next months taking the DA’s message of a prosperous, inclusive South Africa built on a foundation of Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity, to all four corners of this province. He will speak to thousands of people young and old, black and white, in cities, towns and rural areas, about what they want from a government, and what the DA can offer them.

As we have seen in recent elections, and particularly in the 2016 local government elections, what happens in the Eastern Cape is of major significance in the country as a whole. The ramifications of what happened in Nelson Mandela Bay – where the ANC was unseated by a DA-led coalition in 2016 – continue to reverberate throughout our country, and the recent attempt by the ANC/EFF alliance to steal back the city is testament to the high stakes involved here.

Spearheading the DA’s battle for this crucial province, Nqaba will carry on his shoulders the responsibility of building on this recent growth and offering the people of this province a realistic alternative to the ANC government. I will also ask Nqaba to continue the battle we have been fighting on behalf of the community of farmers in Gwatyu, to ensure that those who have been living on and working this land can finally see it transferred to them.

Having worked closely with Nqaba during his time as Provincial Leader here, I have full confidence in his abilities to deliver these results.

Nqaba might not have started out with the DA, but it soon became clear to him that there is only one party that can deliver the kind of South Africa our people deserve. He has made the same political transition that so many voters have made too. He moved to the DA from Cope in 2014 after having met Athol Trollip the previous year where they spoke at length about the urgent need for change in the province, and particularly in Nelson Mandela Bay. In May of 2017, at the DA’s provincial congress in East London, he was elected Provincial Leader.

Politics and leadership have always been part of Nqaba’s life. As a teenager at Port Elizabeth’s KwaZakhele High School, he was elected regional chair of COSAS. He would go on to become an ANC youth leader as well as SRC President at what was then known as Port Elizabeth Technikon, which is today part of Nelson Mandela University. It was there that he qualified in public administration and, later, obtained a post-graduate qualification in maritime studies.

Nqaba later served as the national secretary general of the South African Student Congress (SASCO), before becoming the youth leader of the breakaway Congress of the People (COPE). He would go on to become a COPE Member of Parliament before his encounter with Athol Trollip convinced him to switch to the DA.

Nqaba is a son of the Eastern Cape, born in KwaZakhele, Port Elizabeth, on 28 August 1977. At 41 years of age, Nqaba is part of a new generation of DA leaders who bring with them the energy and the vision to rebuild our country after decades of misrule under the ANC. This province and its people mean everything to him, and he has proven himself over and over as a humble and committed servant of the people.

This energy and vision is already visible throughout the province, and particularly on university and college campuses, where DASO has made massive inroads into territory previously closely guarded by SASCO and the ANC.

In fact, the intellectual heartland of the ANC, Fort Hare University, today has a DA-led SRC. The significance of this is huge when contemplating the future of this province. Along with Fort Hare, DASO has also recently won the SRC of the TVET Port Elizabeth campus, as well as showing considerable growth on the various campuses of Walter Sisulu University.

There is an undeniable swing towards the DA among young people of the Eastern Cape, and this bodes well for the future of the province. It means that young people here are thinking critically about their choices. It means they no longer accept the historic allegiances of their parents as a given, and they are taking control of their future.

This is the kind of momentum that Nqaba will look to build on as the DA positions itself as the next government of this province and, indeed, the country.

But he will know that there is no time to waste. If ever there was a province that bears the scars of years of corruption and neglect, it is the Eastern Cape. Mud schools, bucket toilets, dry taps and a health system that borders on dysfunctional paint a picture of a failed province that has been bled dry by the corruption of the failed ANC.

The Eastern Cape has the highest unemployment rate in the country, at 35,6%. If you include those who have given up looking for work, a staggering 46% of the province’s people are unemployed. That is 1 in every 2 people. It is a shameful crisis that only a new, DA-led government in this province can start to fix.

Education in the Eastern Cape is wrecking the futures of the province’s young people, delivering a standard of education that leaves most young people unable to find any work. The lowest matric pass rate in the country, the highest drop-out rate in the country, the lowest university entrance pass rate in the country – on every measure, the Eastern Cape is right at the bottom. If there is one thing Nqaba will have to focus on obsessively as Premier, it is the complete systemic collapse of public education in the province.

For many young people, the Eastern Cape has become a place to leave in order to survive. The sheer number of people – and particularly young people – who vote every year with their feet to seek their future elsewhere is testament to the failure of the ANC government here to offer them hope.

Having failed in education, healthcare, basic service delivery, crime prevention and job creation, the ANC’s only remaining tactic is to change the names of towns throughout the province in the hope that this will sway voters, and distract from the looting that is taking place in these very towns. But people aren’t naïve anymore. They know this isn’t real change. They know you can’t eat a new town name. They want the kind of change that brings jobs and restores hope.

They want the kind of change that the DA-led coalition government managed to bring about in Nelson Mandela Bay in just two short years. Since Athol Trollip’s administration rescued NMB from the ANC in 2016, the metro went from R2 billion in debt to a R165 million surplus. During this time they eradicated 60% of the province’s bucket toilets, tripled the number of EPWP jobs, introduced a highly effective Metro Police service and terminated corrupt contracts to the value of R650 million.

Under a DA-led government, Nelson Mandela Bay went from the second-least trusted metro to the second-most trusted metro, after Cape Town, according to the South African Customer Satisfaction Index. If that’s what the DA can do in just two years in NMB, imagine what they can do for this province.

I have full confidence in Nqaba Bhanga to not only deliver this message of change to the people of this great province, but also to run the Eastern Cape as a Premier who cares, who understands the challenges our people face here and who can lead a dynamic DA team that will bring total change here.


Failing ANC government’s pit toilet plan means some children will still have unsafe sanitation for 12 years

President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, announced to much fanfare today that the government will eradicate pit toilets at schools by 2030. This means that learners must now wait another 12 years to access dignified sanitation.

This is what the failing ANC government considers an “urgent” plan and means that a child who starts Grade 1 now, could go their entire school career without having access to a safe toilet at school.

This is yet another one of the ANC’s empty promises. The reality is that the ruling party has had 24 years to ensure that school children have access to safe and dignified sanitation. They have failed.

It was announced today that currently, 3 898 schools rely on pit latrines. However, this is now the fourth set of different figures in the last six months.

In March, the total number of schools with pit toilets was 8 679; in April, 5 779; and in May, data from a ‘rapid’ sanitation audit on which the new “urgent” plan is based indicated that the figure was 4 108.

On Monday, the North West Department of Education told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education that the figure for the North West was 154. The rapid audit, however,  said this figure was 192.

The Government seems to have no idea which figures are correct. Moreover, it is unclear why a rapid audit was needed in the first place, as the government is meant to continuously monitor school infrastructure, including the number of schools with pit toilets.

This speaks to the far greater problem. Even when funding is available, the ANC is incapable of delivering safe schools to South African learners. This is largely due to the financial mismanagement and corruption at provincial level, which leave learners bearing the brunt.

A further 3 040 schools have pit toilets that have been replaced, but not demolished. This is exactly the situation which lead to the tragic death of an Eastern Cape learner, Lumka Mkethwa, in March. The President himself admitted that it took the deaths of at least two children for the government to care enough to make a national action plan to eradicate pit latrines.

If the ANC was genuine in its commitment to providing for the basic rights of learners, it would not have cut the school infrastructure budget and would stop the shocking mismanagement of education in provinces like the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Without a safe and quality basic education, our children have little hope of reaching their full potential, getting a job and creating a better future for themselves.

South African learners deserve better than a government which is full of empty promises. Where we govern, the DA is committed to ensuring that every child has access to dignifies sanitation. We remain committed to the safety of learners and not the enrichment of government officials.