SANDF confirms border operations are under-resourced

Today’s announcement by the head of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) that the army does not have the resources to secure our borders is of great concern.

General Solly Shoke today admitted at a press conference in Pretoria that the SANDF does not have the resources or adequate equipment to secure the country’s borders, admitting that our porous borders are not under our military’s control.

The issue of border security is not just about the number of soldiers deployed at the border but about the broader resource problem which they face.

The DA has long held that the ANC government is incapable of dealing decisively with illegal immigration and General Shoke has confirmed this today.

This critical shortcoming means that little is being done about cross-border crime and illegal immigration, and General Shoke’s apparent lack of urgency in addressing this problem is unacceptable.

President Ramaphosa, as Commander-in-Chief of the SANDF, together with his Cabinet and generals, must present a plan of action detailing the steps that are being taken to strengthen the army’s capacity to protect the people of South Africa. We call upon the ANC government to urgently make a public statement on our porous borders.

While billions of rands continue to be wasted on zombie state-owned enterprises, we must rethink our priorities and ensure investment into the SANDF so that we can secure our borders. We cannot afford further delays, and we cannot afford to leave our borders unguarded.

The DA will continue to work tirelessly on the security of our national borders, to protect our nation, to combat illegal immigration and to put an end to cross-border crime.

Eskom must make terms of Chinese Development Bank loan public

Whilst the DA welcomes the R33 billion loan Eskom has secured from the Chinese Development Bank, it will not bring long-term financial stability to the power utility. This loan is just a small band-aid for the loss-making utility, buying it breathing space but nothing more.

The DA has for years called on the ANC government to privatise the energy sector, as this will bring the liquidity, expertise and competition into this space.

In order to address the ANC’s obvious lack of political will to transform Eskom, the DA is currently in the process of introducing a Private Members Bill which is focussed on breaking up Eskom into two separate entities: a transmission public entity, which will manage the grid and transmission lines, and a generating entity which will be privatised. This will not only improve the performance and efficiency in the energy sector but it can also contribute to job creation for the 9.5 million unemployed South Africans.

With a R2.3 billion loss posted for the 2017/2018 financial year and revenue stagnant, where will Eskom get the revenue to pay back its loans? Finance costs have ballooned from R19.5 billion to R25.9 billion, a 32% increase from 2016/17 to 2017/18. Gross finance costs were R41.5 billion. This is unsustainable.

A loan of this magnitude, with more to come, must be as transparent as possible. This is especially important given that the taxpayer will most probably have to foot the bill when it is time to make repayments, with future electricity tariff hikes expected.

It is, for this reason, the DA will write to the Chairperson of the Eskom Board, Jabu Mabuza, to request that Eskom make the terms of this loan public in the interest of openness and transparency.

Eskom must provide clarity on the following:

  • What are the repayment terms for this loan?
  • What was the interest rate agreed upon?
  • What guarantees have been provided to the Bank for this loan?

The reality is that the loan from the Chinese Development Bank will not fix the massive challenges at the power utility. Eskom is bloated, inefficient and stagnant –an overhaul of the entire utility is required.

ANC government still failing to eradicate pit toilets

Today, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, and DA KZN Spokesperson on Education, Dr Rishigen Viranna MPL, visited Mzwandile High School, Gagisa Primary School (now called KwaMlamuli Combined Primary School), and Huba High School in Richmond to discuss sanitation backlogs and the hazards of pit toilets.

The visits to these schools are a part of a series of such oversight visits.

Many learners across South Africa are forced to use pit toilets as they have not been provided with adequate alternatives by the ANC government.

It is unacceptable that after 24 years of democracy, many learners are forced to use these hazardous toilets. Not only are they unsanitary and undignified, they are life threatening.

Children have died in pit latrines, yet there still appears to be no plan by the government to prevent these deaths by building adequate and safe toilets.

Mzwandile High School is newly-built and does not yet have furniture and textbooks. However, at KwaMlamuli Combined Primary School, we saw how learners are subjected to the indignity and peril of using pit toilets. The classrooms there are also overcrowded, with over 60 learners in a single class.

The Department of Basic Education estimates that it will cost about R7.8 billion to eradicate pit toilets at schools across the country. This funding was available, however this is almost the same amount that the school infrastructure budget was recently cut by in the February 2018 budget.

The ANC government clearly cannot be trusted with our learners’ future when they are failing to meet the basic requirements of keeping children physically safe at schools.

The fact that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) failed to meet its own Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative targets for yet another year proves that the ANC is not serious about making schools safe.

Last year, the DBE failed to connect a single school, out of 620, to electricity. The department yesterday confirmed that, this year, only 70 schools out of 344 were provided with water, while 45 out of 257 were provided with sanitation.

In an economy that has contracted by 2.2%, it is vital that our children get a quality education in a safe and conducive environment that allows them to reach their potential and gives them the best chance of getting a job and contributing to building a better South Africa for all.

Under a DA government, learners will never be afraid to use a toilet. The DA will equip them with quality education and a conducive learning environment that will ensure that they have access to much-needed job opportunities and the bright futures they deserve.

Government must fulfil its mandate of providing scholar transport to all learners that need it

Please find pictures attached here, here and here.

Today, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi MP, accompanied by DA Member of the Basic Education Portfolio Committee, Sonja Boshoff MP, Provincial Spokesperson on Education, Jane Sithole MPL, and Provincial Spokesperson on Public Works, Roads and Transport, Bosman Grobler MPL, walked with learners to Lugebhuta High School in Schoemansdal, in Mpumalanga’s Nkomazi Local Municipality, to highlight their daily struggle of getting to school.

The lack of effective scholar transport in this country is an indictment of the ANC government. The fact that in 24 years of democracy, there are learners who are walking long distances just to get an education, is an injustice.

Learners walking these distances are unable to concentrate in class as they are often left exhausted.

The learners that the DA visited today, have to wake up as early as 05:00 and walk 7.8km to get to school on an empty stomach.

The route they take crosses a dangerous stream, which is life-threatening when it rains. The alternative route is 9km long and includes an extremely busy provincial road. Learners from Legebhuta High School often fall prey to criminals and their lives are endangered daily. Simply put, these learners’ ability to access an education is being inhibited.

The standard of safety across schools in South Africa is grossly unequal and conditions at many schools, especially those in rural areas, are appalling. The National Government seems to have no plan to turn the situation around. The DA has repeatedly called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to prioritise safety at schools, yet no action has been taken.

Children need to be in safe environments at all times and denying them scholar transport equates to denying them safety. We therefore urge the National Treasury to stop cutting provincial budgets as this compromises our children’s access to education and safety. We also call on provincial governments to ensure they are allocating enough money to education. This includes scholar transport as our responsibility to keep our children safe is not limited to the classroom.

A DA-led government would not allow provincial governments to endanger children by failing to provide scholar transport to children who walk long distances to school. The ANC must prove that it takes children’s safety seriously by ensuring all children that need scholar transport have access to it.

Ramaphosa’s ‘Patronage Cabinet’ costing South Africa millions of Rands

Today, together with my colleagues, DA Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen MP and DA Shadow Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Yusuf Cassim MP, we presented information on the full cost to the taxpayer of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bloated cabinet.

Since assuming office, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised to address government excesses including giving due consideration to downsizing his Cabinet.

It is clear, however, from some Parliamentary replies we have received that he has not taken any steps to address some of the opulent costs that come with his Cabinet. He had failed to address the same issue when he was Leader of Government Business in his previous capacity as Deputy President.

South Africa’s sluggish economy and growing budget deficit calls for restraint in government spending. The ANC government, however, appears far removed from this reality and continues to spend recklessly for the comfort and extravagant lifestyles of members of the Executive.

South Africans are currently bearing the full cost of a 1 % VAT increase, but the government’s profligacy still goes unchecked.

This document sets out the current state of the Cabinet and proposes immediate steps which President Ramaphosa has failed to enact.

Ministerial Salaries and Size of the Cabinet

The bloated Cabinet of former President Jacob Zuma continues to live on through the current administration. This Cabinet is by far one of the biggest in the world, with 35 ministers, far bigger than the United States at 15 ministers, Kenya with 18 ministers and the United Kingdom with 21 ministers.

This year alone our 35 ministers and 37 deputy ministers will earn R163.5 million and over R510.5 million over the medium-term.

Ministers’ Private Offices

The Ministerial Handbook currently recommends that Ministers’ and Deputy Ministers’ Offices be limited to 10 and 6 respectively. However, in practice Ministers have not be adhering to this as evidenced by the former Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi, who had 26 people in her office.

The current Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo, made a call on Wednesday that ministers should stick to ten people for their private offices. However, under her tenure at Home Affairs between October 2017 and February 2018 she had 17 people in her own private office.

Earlier this year, the DA laid a complaint with the Public Service Commission over the private office of the then-Minister Muthambi who allegedly hired friends and family to her bloated office that totalled 26. Minister Dlodlo has not replied to Parliamentary questions, but based on her predecessor and her own record she likely has a bloated office as well.

Some Departments such as the Department of Defence will spend R76.5 million in 2018/19 and R244.3 million over the medium-term. Private offices also divert funds from other important functions in departments as evidenced in the Department of Women where this year’s budget for Minister Bathabile Dlamini is nearly 20% (R16.1 million) of the total Administration component (R78.7 million) of the Department. In total this year all private offices will cost a whopping R1.09 billion and R3.485 billion over the medium-term.

Ministerial Houses

The Department of Public Works has a specific division called the “Prestige Portfolio” that manages the accommodation for the Presidency, ministers, deputy ministers and other VIPs. The Department spent over R188 million on acquiring just 33 properties in Pretoria and Cape Town at a staggering average of R5.7 million per residence. It was revealed last year that an additional R48 million will be spent on acquiring six additional residences at an average of R8 million per residence in the 2017/18 financial year.

The total of R236 million spent on acquiring 39 ministerial houses could have been spent on building nearly 2 000 RDP houses.

Prestige Accommodation and State Functions funds allocations for activities relating to the residences of parliamentarians, ministers, deputy ministers, the Deputy President and the President is set to cost R87.5 million in 2018/9 and R298.4 million over the medium-term.

Ministerial Vehicles

The current Chapter 5 of Ministerial Handbook allows for a maximum of 70% of inclusive annual remuneration package of minister and their deputies for official vehicles chosen (R1.75 million for ministers and R1.44 million for deputies in 2018/19). Where the DA governs in the Western Cape, ministerial vehicles are capped at 40% of the inclusive remuneration package of provincial ministers.

A set of Parliamentary question replies last year revealed that ministers were living the high life with Faith Muthambi, the then-Minister of Communication spending R2.9 million on cars and the current Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Thabang Makwetla, spending R2.4 million on cars.

If the National Handbook provisions are considered with the current bloated Cabinet in mind and accepting that two official vehicles are allowed (in Cape Town and Pretoria), ministers and deputy ministers are permitted to spend as much as R3.5 million and R2.9 million, respectively. Thus, the National Handbook provisions allow for a total spend of R229 million on luxury cars.

Subsistence and Travel Allowance

This year the taxpayer is set to spend R296.9 million on Travel and Subsistence for Ministries and R934 million over the medium-term. Ministries are set to spend R5.7 million on “entertainment” over the medium-term and R1.8 million in this year.

Not only current ministers, their deputies, MECs, Presiding Officers and their deputies in Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures, but also former ministers, deputy ministers and their spouses still benefit.

Chapter 10 of the Ministerial Handbook describes their travel privileges that include:

  • 48 single domestic flights in business class per annum for former ministers and 24 for their spouses;
  • 36 single domestic flights in business class per annum for former deputy ministers and 18 for their spouses; and
  • 12 single domestic flights in business class per annum to widows/widowers of former ministers or deputy ministers.

In the DA run Western Cape, the Provincial Handbook states members should to fly economy class unlike their national counterparts.

Currently spouses are included for international travel which is a huge cost to the taxpayer and is not necessary (air tickets/hotel fees/daily allowance). It has now emerged that a staggering R873 366.68 was blown on international travel for the Minister of Finance’s spouse, Norma Gigaba, who accompanied him on investor roadshows to China, the United Kingdom and the United States.

While national ministers like the then-Minister of Police, Nathi Mthetwa, spent R734 448 on accommodation at five-star hotels in Cape Town and Durban in 2011, the Western Cape Handbook states that ministers must, as a rule, avoid staying in five-star hotels.

VIP protection services/Static and Mobile Security

Ministers are provided with VIP security services in the Police’s budget programme including security at their ministerial residences. The total budget for VIP protection over the medium-term stands at a staggering R4.84 billion (includes protection for the President, ministers and other VIPs) and R1.5 billion in 2018/19.

Static and Mobile Security provides for the protection of local VIP residences that include ministerial residences, foreign dignitaries and the places in which all dignitaries, including persons related to the President and the Deputy President, are present. Static and Mobile Security is set to cost R3.411 billion over the medium-term and R1.062 billion in 2018/19.


The DA’s Plan for a cutting the costs of the Cabinet

The bloated Cabinet has simply become a waste of taxpayers’ money and will only worsen the poor state of public finances. The section below sets out proposals in order to contain and reduce the huge expenditure of the current Cabinet.

Cut the size of the Cabinet

Simply put the country’s current Cabinet is not fit for purpose and needs to be cut. We don’t not have to look abroad for a more frugal cabinet: previous presidents had smaller Cabinets as outlined below.

Former President’s Cabinet sizes:

  • Nelson Mandela – total Cabinet size: 50 (28 ministers)
  • Thabo Mbeki – total Cabinet size: 50 (28 ministers)
  • Kgalema Motlanthe – total Cabinet size: 47 (28 ministers)
  • Jacob Zuma/Cyril Ramaphosa – total Cabinet size: 73 (35 ministers)

The table below sets out the various savings scenarios if the salaries of this year was applied to the smaller Cabinet sizes. Thus, if for example Ramaphosa used the same Cabinet size as Mbeki he would save R52.5 million in 2018/19 and R163.7 million over the medium-term.


2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 MTEF
Savings Mandela model            52,451,304      54,549,356      56,731,330    163,731,990
Savings Mbeki model            52,451,304      54,549,356      56,731,330    163,731,990
Savings Motlanthe model            54,508,211      56,688,539      58,956,081    170,152,830


Review the National Ministerial Handbook

The National Handbook is extraordinarily lenient in some respects, allowing for excessive expenditure. Ministers have therefore used the Handbook as an excuse for exorbitant expenditure, which cannot be justified, given the levels of inequality we live with.

The Handbook was set for an update but has not been updated since 2007, while millions are waisted. The Department of Public Service and Administration already stated in 2014 that they are reviewing the Handbook with little to show.

If the President is serious about helping National Treasury reign in the runaway budget deficit, he will have to cut executive spending by finalising a stricter and more frugal Ministerial Handbook, as well as cutting the overall size of the Cabinet.

The Western Cape Ministerial Handbook already provides for a model of more austere spending and we call for an immediate review of the current National Ministerial Handbook to rein in spending and provide clear measures to enforce compliance.

Submit the Executive to Lifestyle Audits

President Ramaphosa stated during the debate on his State of the Nation Address that he wants lifestyle audits for the Executive. While this is welcome, no action has been taken to date.


South Africa’s sluggish economy and growing budget deficit calls for restraint in government spending. The ANC government, however, appears far removed from this reality and continues to spend recklessly for the comfort and extravagant lifestyles of members of the Executive.

The unrestrained spending is an insult to ordinary South Africans, of whom 9.5 million are unemployed and struggling to survive in this tough economic environment.

Government cannot honestly expect South Africans to tighten their belts when it is doing the exact opposite.


Ramaphosa turns his back on Tembisa fire: Abathumeki!

It is dreadfully uncaring and highly hypocritical of President Cyril Ramaphosa to have turned his back on today’s Tembisa fire, as he sped away in his bullet-proof convoy while houses burnt down.

While Ramaphosa was in the area to make more empty promises about services, the clearest sign of a failing ANC government revealed itself right behind him in the form of a shack fire.

The DA calls on Ramaphosa to apologise to this community and to give them detailed timelines on when their community will receive services without delay.

Instead of making their community into a campaign platform, he ought to have dealt with their serious service backlog that keeps the community in oppressive poverty.

DA Councillors in Ekurhuleni will begin efforts to help these residents with donations of food, clothing and building materials.

While Mr Ramaphosa may turn his back, DA members will step in to help.

ANC should focus on post-settlement support to facilitate self-sufficiency for black farmers

This statement follows an oversight visit to Diyatalawa located between Harrismith and Kerstell by the DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Annette Steyn MP, Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature, Dr Roy Jankielson and DA Member in the Free State Provincial Legislature, Leona Kleynhans MPL.

Please see attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Ms Steyn. For pictures click here, here, here and here.

On our oversight visit to the failed Diyatalawa farming project near Harrismith today, the DA was disappointed that the project which had an enthusiastic start has now become static without the farm not being optimally used.

Diyatalawa was once primed as one of the pilot sites for the 2009 Free State Comprehensive Rural Development Programme where millions have been ploughed in since its inception. This project is now plagued by inactivity, infighting and low morale from the beneficiaries as they don’t have the necessary agricultural support to become enterprising farmers. The dairy and milking parlour are not in use and the cattle belong to the people living there, and there are very few cows belonging to the project.

Based on our interactions with the beneficiaries the project does receive support but it is not focused on their needs. It was also evident that training and extention support is not provided in order for the farm to become self-sufficient.

The DA also found farmers that are currently leasing land by agreement to plough, plant and harvest the crops due to a lack of grain production machinery. While it is commendable that the land is being utilised in some cases, the government still needs to capacitate emerging farmers to become self-sufficient in this regard.

The fact is the ANC government is focused on ensuring that cronies line their pockets through projects such as the Vrede Dairy Farm disguised as projects meant to assist emerging black farmers.

This is also supported by a report by the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) which found, in the eastern Free State “only a few politically connected farmers in that part of the country are major beneficiaries of state support”.

Beyond the fact the DA supports transfer of ownership to beneficiaries, the DA has continued to focus on post-settlement support to facilitate self-sufficiency in the long term which contributed to a 62% success rate in the Western Cape compared to the national governments failure rate of over 90%.

As much as land reform is justified, it is self-defeating for the government to dump people on land without sufficient support.

The DA maintains that it is the government’s duty to see to it that they create self-sufficient farmers through the provision of post-settlement support.

Mantashe misses with first shot

Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe, has missed a great opportunity. At industry stakeholder talks over the weekend, he indicated that the widely criticized Mining Charter 3 will be the basis of the negotiation of a new charter with industry.
There was hope that he would start discussions using Mining Charter 2 as a baseline. That would have sent a strong signal to investors that the ANC government was ready to get its mining house in order and investment into South African mines would start flowing again.
In taking the position that he has, Mantashe has shown that mining policy is just business as usual. Business as usual means the continuation of tightening restrictions on mining operations in pursuit of the government’s programme of racial transformation within the industry.
Unfortunately, the manner in which this programme has been implemented has been at a huge cost to business and one of the reasons that South Africa is seen as such an unfavourable place for mining investment. This has led to a shrinking industry which has lost more than 70 000 jobs in five years.
Mantashe went into the issue in the right way, pledging to have a new charter operational in three months. That would be an important step in tackling one of the uncertain areas of government policy. However, starting negotiations around the unrealistic, punitive, and in some cases, illegal provisions of Charter 3, will send exactly the wrong signal to the industry.
I was part of a delegation to the talks from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources. This was a welcome move towards openness in an important national conversation.
During the weekend Mantashe made some encouraging statements about a fresh start for the industry. Now he needs to make sure his deeds match his words.

Deeply under-resourced SAPS has spent R12.2m on Mdluli and counting

Please find attached soundbites in English and IsiZulu by DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP.
The DA can confirm today that former Head of Crime Intelligence, Richard Mdluli, has received a further R4,2 million from the deeply under-resourced South African Police Service (SAPS) for doing nothing for close to a decade after an agreement reached with former Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, earlier this year.
This was revealed in the reply to the question posed by the DA’s Adv. Hendrick Schmidt, and follows on a reply received last year that revealed that SAPS had already spent R8.3 million on Mdluli over the past 7 years.
The DA submitted a complaint to the Public Service Commission in 2017. Their report, finalised earlier this year, found that “it is clear that the disciplinary process has been delayed for a period of 7 years” and SAPS’ handling of the matter demonstrated “indecisiveness and inefficiency”, impacting on the use of state resources.
It is no surprise that the ANC government would find it perfectly acceptable to spend even more money on Mdluli. The ANC has normalised awarding comfortable settlements to ill-equipped and compromised individuals.
If new Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, is serious about steering SAPS leadership in the right direction, he must ensure that individuals at the helm of SAPS leadership are capable of carrying out their mandate effectively and can ensure that the cries of ordinary South Africans who grapple daily with the high levels of crime in their communities are being heard.
This exorbitant amount of money could be better channelled towards pressing issues such as acquiring more police vehicles which can significantly improve response time to incidents of crime. These persistent systemic weaknesses within the SAPS require urgent financial support and decisive leadership.
Even more shocking is that the payment of R4 228 519 made to Mr Mdluli excludes his normal pension benefits and gratuity payable by the Government Pensions Administration Agency. The DA will submit further questions to determine the full amount that Mdluli will receive as the public deserves to know how much it has cost us to get rid of him.
It is an insult to ordinary South Africans that Mdluli was awarded with a comfortable settlement after contributing absolutely nothing to public safety and to the combatting of crime in this country. South Africans deserve to have safe streets and safe homes and this can only be realised by dedicated police who are committed to fighting crime and upholding the rule of law.

ANC’s R7 billion budget cut devastating for schools

Former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s Budget contains a plan to cut basic education funding by about R7 billion over the next three financial years. These funds are being cut from government schools and will cause the further collapse of school infrastructure, affect the number of teachers and weaken our ability to improve maths and science performance, which are vital subjects.
There is already a huge school infrastructure backlog across the country and many learners will be unable to access higher education if their school infrastructure is left to degenerate.
A reply to a DA Parliamentary Question revealed that, by December 2016, more than 1000 schools countrywide had been built with inappropriate materials, 66 lacked sanitation and over 4600 had pit latrines. A further 81 schools had no water supply and 571 had no electricity connection.
Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) projects are only expected to be completed in 2021 and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has missed all its ASIDI targets in the past year. Out of a targeted 620 schools, none were connected to electricity and this is just one example of how badly the DBE is failing at addressing poor infrastructure.
The DBE has enough money to meet its ASIDI targets, yet it is simply not being spent. The mismanagement of funds continues to hinder progress in improving schools infrastructure.
Cutting essential education funding is unnecessary as the DA has provided a full budget breakdown of how the budget could be balanced without impacting basic education, but this was ignored by the ANC government.
We are firmly opposed to the R7 billion budget cut and will continue to fight the collapse of the neglect of school infrastructure. Our children deserve to have access to environments that are conducive to learning, not have the money to ensure this cut.