Mantashe is spanner in the works of President’s energy promises

While the Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcements in his State of the Nation (SONA) address last night regarding the energy sector, it is worrying that Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe does not seem to be on board.

Shortly after Ramaphosa announced during SONA that Independent Power Producers will be able to sell electricity to financially viable municipalities, Mantashe contradicted him in media interviews afterward by saying he is unwilling to commit to opening Bid Window 5. This essentially makes the president’s promise an empty one.

A limited number of IPPs have received licences to provide electricity to the grid, following the opening of four and half bid windows so far. The Integrated Resource Plan calls for more renewables to be added on an annual basis, but Mantashe has to open the next bid window, which will be the fifth one.

He has not done so, and judging by his statements last night he does not intend to do so anytime soon.

Mantashe has also continuously delayed the signing of section 34 notices, and has been slow to act on the amendment of schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act.

Every day of delay of these urgent reforms is another day of rolling blackouts and another day of severe damage to the South African economy.

Minister Mantashe needs to come clean on what his immediate steps will be to implement the President’s promises without any further delays. We will hold him to account, as well as calling on the President to act against Mantashe if he continues to be the spanner in the works.

DA is rebuilding, refocusing and reconnecting with the people of South Africa

Over the past two days, the Democratic Alliance’s Federal Executive (FedEx) convened for its first sitting since the election of the party’s new Interim Federal Leader and Interim Federal Chairperson. The FedEx discussed and decided upon matters of importance to the party and the nation and this press statement serves to communicate such.

The FedEx began by congratulating John Steenhuisen and Ivan Meyer on their election as Interim Federal Leader and Interim Federal Chairperson respectively. The FedEx was unanimous in giving its full support to and confidence in the leadership, and fully endorsed the new direction in which the party will head towards the 2021 Local Government Elections and beyond.

In their remarks to the meeting, the new Interim Leadership provided the FedEx with the following key principles upon which the DA must embrace in its new direction.

Firstly, it is vital that the party goes back to the basics, guided by the Interim Federal Leader’s insistence on the “ABCs” of politics – Activism, Branches and Campaigning. To reaffirm the DA at the rational centre of our political spectrum will require us to make the hard yards and avoid shortcuts at all costs. This is the only way to re-establish “clear blue water” between the DA and other political parties and their respective offers to the electorate.

Secondly, it was laid down that members of FedEx and the party as a whole should, even during moments of debate and disagreement, always maintain a culture of respect, openness and transparency. Now is the time for greater discipline in our unity of purpose. Now is a time for big ideas and big principles – not big personalities.

Thirdly, there was a firm commitment made to rebuild, refocus and reconnect with the people of South Africa. This will be a collective effort and it is all hands on deck – from the Federal Leaders to branch members.

And lastly, the recent report released by the Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu, highlighted the DA governance difference, with 70% of Departments in the Western Cape receiving clean audits. This means that public money is being used carefully for service delivery and development, and not stolen. FedEx particularly congratulated Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, the Western Cape MEC for Health, as being the only Health MEC in the country to receive a clean audit.

The FedEx held extensive engagement on a wide range of issues as follows:

The Economy

The South African economy remains the single biggest threat to a shared, prosperous future for all. Runaway unemployment rates, the collapse of SOEs, and growing inequality signal that the status quo remains Recent pronouncements made by the national government are yielding little to no tangible change to the economy and to the lives of South Africans – in particular the poor and unemployed. Our job is to work hard to provide hope and opportunity to the over 10 million unemployed South Africans.

A decade ago our national debt sat at 30% of GDP. Today it is almost 60% of GDP, and Treasury expects this to climb to 80% by 2028.The country is fast running out of money and we are staring down the barrel of economic and fiscal collapse.

Our sole focus must be to open up, diversify and grow the economy. The DA will drive this agenda through the National Assembly by pursuing the following five pieces of crucial legislation:

  1. The Cheaper Electricity Bill to provide the legislative framework to lower the cost of electricity and boost the reliability of supply – both of which are critical to the performance of our economy. This will split Eskom into two, allowing Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to come on board and provide electricity to our much-strained grid;
  2. The Public Finance Management Amendment Bill to extend Parliament’s oversight capacity in relation to the granting or refusal of government guarantees, indemnities and securities;
  3. The Labour Relations Amendment Bill to protect the public from violence and intimidation during strike action, as well as from malicious destruction of private property. It also seeks to allow non-striking workers the freedom to go to work without intimidation or threats;
  4. The Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill that will slash red tape and over-burdensome bureaucracy, making it easier for SMMES and businesses to create new jobs; and
  5. The Small Enterprises Ombud Service Bill to address the problem of delayed payments and bullying by big business through the establishment of an Ombud Service to create a level playing field between small businesses, big businesses and government.

In terms of South African Airways (SAA), FedEx endorsed the position to put SAA under business rescue in order to mitigate any further loss of revenue and to ensure that the entity is a going concern. SAA is losing an estimated R52 million per day and is a ticking timebomb. The only sustainable solution is to seek part or full privatisation of the beleaguered SOE and we call on President Ramaphosa to take a firm stance against his union friends in favour of economic stability..

Our nation’s growing inequality strengthens the DA’s view that redress is a non-negotiable in SA, however redress is not best advance through race-based interventions. Undeniably, the majority of the poor are black, but if we fail to look at disadvantage holistically we will not build a prosperous country for all, and we will not achieve meaningful and lasting redress.

It is crucial that we set out clear markers of disadvantage and this will be a central aspect at the party’s Policy Conference in April next year.

National Drought Crisis

Our country is in the midst of a crippling drought crisis which requires immediate intervention by all spheres of government. Currently there are one million farms at risk, jeopardizing trade, national food security, and hundreds of thousands of jobs. Since January 2018, 31 000 jobs have been shed in provinces affected by the drought. It is time for government to take ownership of drought management or face being an accomplice to the collapse of province’s rural economy and to large scale job losses.

Earlier this month, Parliament was informed by national government that R1.3 billion is needed to contain the effects of the ongoing drought crisis and its impact on the agricultural sector.

FedEx welcomes the Western Cape government’s decision to provide R50 million in additional funding for drought relief in the province. We call on all other provinces to follow suit by invoking Section 25 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) to set aside funds for drought relief.

In addition to extra funding, the DA proposes the following three immediate interventions:

  1. A declaration of a national drought state of disaster to mitigate the effects of the ongoing national drought crisis;
  2. The creation of a temporary jobs fund to assist with the paying of wages of some of the worst-hit farms. A temporary jobs fund will not only help prevent further job losses, but it will help free up much-needed funds to provide for livestock feed, water infrastructure, borehole drilling, desilting of dams and covering any replanting costs.
  3. The establishment of an inter-departmental task team between the National Treasury, Department of Water and Sanitation, Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to develop a strategy for the completion of big-budget water infrastructure projects. Government’s chronic inability to manage big-budget capital projects has largely contributed to the ongoing water crisis.

City of Johannesburg

The DA thanks Mayor Mashaba for the work he has done in leading a complex multiparty government and his role in bringing real change to the country’s economic hub. FedEx endorsed the nomination of Councillor Funzi Ngobeni as our candidate for Mayor. The vote for the new Mayor will take place at a Council meeting scheduled for Thursday, 28 November 2019.

We have noted that the EFF will field a mayoral candidate and we assume the ANC will do the same. We are confident that we have the support of our formal coalition partners, and we will work together to ensure that Joburg does not fall back into the hands of coalition of corruption, as is the case in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Head of Policy & Policy Conference

Considering the party’s Policy Conference scheduled for 4 & 5 April next year, FedEx considered the appointment of a Head of Policy. It is critical that a Head of Policy is appointed as soon as practically possible in order to get the ball rolling as it relates to the Policy Conference.

The position of Head of Policy will be employed as a staff member and tasked with implementing political decisions and direction as it pertains to policy.

Despite this appointment being an HR process, and not a political process, FedEx considered both the job description and the individual who has been identified to fill this role.

Having begun the policy process some months ago before her resignation, Gwen Ngwenya, has been identified to fill this role. Gwen brings with her enormous experience and talent as it pertains to policy. The process to appoint her is fully underway.

Conclusion

The time for excuses, taking voters for granted and being unclear about who we are and what we are about is over. We are working hard to rebuild, refocus and reconnect with the people of South Africa. The project we are engaged in is too important to fail because South Africa is running out of both time and money. The DA is ready to build a united and prosperous South Africa for all.

DA congratulates Boks on a historic win, a win which transcends the sports field

The Democratic Alliance (DA) sends our heartfelt congratulations to the Springboks on a historic victory against England today to clinch the 2019 Rugby World Cup trophy in Japan.

The Boks outplayed the English and beat them 32-12.

The Boks, lifted the William Webb-Ellis trophy for a record matching 3rd time, a remarkable feat only previously achieved by New Zealand.

This World Cup win comes at a time when South Africa is at the edge of the precipice —a nation reeling from deep divisions and in desperate need of a renewed sense of togetherness.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup has been a highly anticipated event for South Africans and we thank the team for once again reminding the nation that we are indeed #StrongerTogether and of our shared commitment to building a united and diverse South Africa.

The Boks have reinvigorated and revived our collective pride for our young nation and have shown us what can be achieved when we all pull together to attain a common goal.

The DA would like to send commiserations to the runners-up England, who displayed great professionalism and athleticism and competed in a manner that their whole nation can be proud of.

Congratulation once again to the Boks, this victory truly transcends the rugby fields and is an important tool that we can use towards building South Africa to what we all know she can be – a beautiful nation united in diversity.

The nation is beaming without pride and we look forward to the return of the team as we are sure that they will return home to a hero’s welcome!

DA welcomes long overdue release of the Integrated Resource Plan

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the eventual and long overdue approval of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) by Cabinet. We do, however, call for the immediate review thereof because it is already outdated as it is based on dated assumptions and data. Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is mandated to promulgate a new IRP every two years. The last one was in 2010, and the newly approved version has been in draft since 2016.

We will write to Minister Mantashe in this regard, and will also request that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy provide a time frame for the ongoing and regular review of the IRP.

The IRP is South Africa’s blueprint for how electricity will be generated and sourced. It is meant to provide a framework for a just energy transition, including the use of renewable sources of supply, and the management of the national grid.

Cabinet’s approval of the IRP follows Eskom’s implementation of stage 2 rolling blackouts on Tuesday which plunged the country into darkness – impacting economic activity and matric exams.

It is clearer than ever that Eskom’s monopolistic hold on South Africa’s electricity sector is hampering the country’s progress due to its inefficiencies. Energy security in South Africa requires a diverse mix of supply and the bringing on board of Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

We need to reduce our reliance on coal as our primary source of power and improve our carbon emissions control. It is for this reason that we need to urgently open a new bid window for IPPs (and more specifically renewable IPP’s) in order to ensure a more diverse, clean, competitive and efficient energy sector. We also need to address demand management through smart grid technologies and the roll-out of the national solar water heater programme, which has ground to an ignoble halt and is far behind its targeted schedule.

South Africa must pursue a “least cost” option for electricity supply if there is to be any hope of placing our economy on a stable footing.

Renewable energy is the future and SA cannot be left behind.

The country needs a diverse energy mix. This is the only way our economy stands any chance of recovery.

Rolling Blackouts: If Eskom can’t be honest with the public, they must account to Parliament 

After announcing that Eskom will implement stage 1 rolling blackouts today and not anticipating any further blackouts, the utility suddenly announced this morning that due to a major setback at Medupi, stage 2 blackouts would be implemented from midday.

Clearly, Eskom’s press briefing on Thursday evening was a publicity stunt to save face in the midst of an electricity meltdown.

The floundering, confusion and dishonesty can no longer continue. The public needs clear answers from Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, on the state of affairs at the beleaguered power utility.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, Khaya Magaxa, to request that Eskom’s entire executive, board and Minister Gordhan is summonsed to appear before the committee for their evident inability to deal with this crisis.

In terms of Rule 167 of the Rules of the National Assembly, a committee has the power to “summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, or to produce documents”.

The DA is of the view that Eskom has not been forthcoming, especially after it seemingly misled South Africans when it refuted the DA’s revelation that it had issued a warning to municipalities that power cuts were on the cards for the months of September and October.

Until Mr. Jabu Mabuza can categorically tell the truth, we suggest that he says nothing at all until such time he accounts to Parliament.

South Africa cannot afford to leap from blackout to blackout without any political and board accountability. These rolling blackouts will no doubt have consequences on productivity and job security.

In the midst of this crisis, President Cyril Ramaphosa has remained completely silent. Confirming that his government does not have a plan to keep the lights on. Unlike the ANC, the DA has a plan.

Our Cheaper Electricity Bill, will stabilize and secure South Africa’s power supply and seeks to break Eskom into two separate entities – a generation and distribution entity. It will bring on board Independent Power Producers, which will result in a stable, cheaper and efficient energy supply.

In the coming days, the DA will hand over our plan at the Union Buildings as we believe that energy security in South Africa requires cooperation across the political divide.

Let’s break down the barriers that keep young people locked out of jobs and quality education

Today we observe Youth Day – the 43rd anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings – whereby tens of thousands of young South Africans stood up in protest against a system that discriminated against them and disregarded their legitimate role in society. Their protest on that day was against exclusion and neglect, and for that 176 children paid with their lives as they were gunned down by the police.

43 years later, and young people are still forced to fight a system that excludes them and locks them out of opportunities. While back then it was language used to discriminate and exclude, today it’s the rank failure of government to provide quality education, training, and job opportunities for our young people.

Our young people are still not truly free, and their prospects for a bright and successful future dwindle with each passing day. Four out of five children in grade 4 cannot comprehend what they read thanks to our education system, which is consistently ranked among the worst in the world.

This disadvantage follows many young people for the rest of their lives as today two-thirds of South Africans under the age of 24 cannot find work, and many of them eventually give up looking. Since 2008, at least 563 young people have joined the ranks of the unemployed each day.

We cannot simply point fingers at government. Instead, we must seek solutions to this national crisis. We must collaborate in Parliament, in government, in business, in labour, and in civil society, to fix this exclusionary system and empower our young people.

There are immediate solutions to break down the barriers that keep young people locked out of opportunities. These are:

  • Passing our “Jobs Bill”, which focuses on two key areas critical to our economic recovery: Foreign Investment and SMMEs. The Bill provides for special tax incentives and property allowances for foreign companies that meet certain socio-economic empowerment goals, as well as a wide range of incentives for foreign companies to invest in SA. This will bring thousands of job opportunities to our shores.
  • Rolling out a national Job Centres project where unemployed people access the internet, search a centralised jobs database, get help in compiling their CV, print out documents and even complete short courses in fields like digital training, entrepreneurship, project management and many more.
  • Introducing a Voluntary National Civilian Service year to provide work experience for the approximately 78 443 unemployed matriculants (from the class of 2016 alone) to enter into work-based training in the community healthcare, basic education or SAPS fields. These young people will gain valuable work experience while earning a small stipend;
  • Preparing our young people for the future by ensuring that coding is made compulsory at schools, introduce them fully to the internet of things while we ensure that the cost of data is affordable;
  • A “cradle-to-career” plan that includes improving our early childhood development centres, fixing our failing basic education system and expanding access to tertiary education, with a truly progressive funding model where the poor are subsidised but those who can afford to pay do so; and
  • Reducing SADTUs power to ensure that teachers are better held accountable for the outcomes in their classrooms. This will allow teachers to be properly assessed, trained, monitored and incentivised.

43 years on from the Soweto Uprisings, millions of young South Africans remain excluded, marginalised and without hope. Our fight is to ensure that young people have a prosperous future in South Africa, and I will not stop until this fight is won.

The youth’s struggle for a better life continues – jobs and quality education to the front

The following speech was delivered by DA Youth Leader, Luyolo Mphithi, at the Party’s Youth Day commemoration at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, Johannesburg.

Young people,

Fellow South Africans,

Youth Day is no longer just a day of remembrance.

Today symbolises the blood gushing struggles of young people who fell fighting hard to realise a better South Africa, and the continued struggles we face as young people of today.

Heroes of the youth struggle such as Hector Pieterson lived in an era where the youth were willing to pay the ultimate price in the struggle for freedom and quality education.

These young heroes and heroines had one main objective, to realise a better South Africa for us – the youth of today. However, their sacrifices will ultimately be in vein if millions of young South Africans remain locked in the shackles of unemployment and joblessness.

Young people, their struggle is now ours.

Today we still find ourselves fighting for our dignity, livelihood and survival. This is not what the likes of Tsietsi Mashinini, Hastings Ndlovu, Khotso Seatlholo and of course, the young Hector Pieterson fought for.

May all their courageous souls rest in peace.

These young souls in our history fought because our today rested in their courage. It is now our duty to ensure that their innocent blood does not continue to gush down over waste lands.

We need to take on their courage and continue to fight for a better life, which among other things, means quality education and jobs.

At 52.8%, South Africa has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. It is evident that we are being forced into a dark corner of injustice. Our lives are currently overflowing with hopelessness and our dignity is being stripped from our backs.

We must refuse to continue being subjected into a life of poverty and shame. A better life for us means young people are employed.

Government, both local and national, must ensure that job creation and youth empowerment is at the forefront of their agenda. Like in DA-led governments, a clear plan to rescue this country and create much needed jobs are needed.

Where the DA governs, job creation takes centre stage.

Our governments continue to ensure that:

  • Young people are equipped with the necessary entrepreneurial skills to build businesses and employ more young people.
  • Youth cafés are providing the youth with much needed career guidance, access to skills and personal development.
  • Economic and social development opportunities are also provided to fight unemployment.

The DA has and continues to fight tirelessly where we are in opposition to put forward alternative plans to alleviate joblessness and poverty.

We are also set to table our “Jobs Bill” in Parliament which seeks to create an enabling environment for accelerated job creation in South Africa because the youth of this country deserve better. We deserve jobs.

Young people, for jobs to be created and dignity to be realised, we must continue to take the front row until we are free.

Our duty is to take this responsibility, own it and see this dream realised together.

Today I take courage from the words of Tat’ Nelson Mandela when he said, “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

I call upon each and every one of you to heed these words, continue the courage of Hector Pieterson and let your greatness blossom.

Let their blood not gush out in vain.

Let their hopes for this country manifest with our dignity restored.

And let the greatness of South Africa blossom.

Phambili ngemisebenzi phambili.

Rise young people rise.

Mooted inauguration arrangements a waste of public money

The DA is statement issued yesterday by the Presidency announcing that the inauguration of the President elect of South Africa will take place at Loftus Versfeld stadium under the theme “Together celebrating 25 years of freedom: Renewal and Growth for a better South Africa”. This is a complete violation of the separation between party and state. By using an ANC aligned theme, the Presidency is unlawfully and prematurely declaring an ANC ‘victory’ before the elections have been held.

The ANC’s willful violation of the electoral code of conduct portrays the panic that has set in within the organisation, as a result of evidence that clearly shows that South Africans are opting for real change away from the failing ANC.

This also explains why the ANC has resorted to a ‘scorched earth’ election campaign strategy to ferment chaos in areas such as Alexander, Cape Town, Caledon and parts of Tshwane in order to hide its failures in government.

In addition to prematurely announcing inauguration arrangements, the desperate ANC government also sent a request to local municipalities asking them to provide transport to ‘delegates’ that will attend the Presidential inauguration (see letter attached). Should this request be actioned, it will be an abuse of state resources at a time when state finances are in a precarious state due to years of ANC corruption and mismanagement.

This request to Limpopo municipalities is not only inappropriate but shows that ANC will rather appropriate public funds for ‘feel good’ activities rather than improve the delivery of services to some of the most underserved communities in the Province. Some of these are literally bankrupt from continued looting from ANC loyalists and can no longer serve the people of those areas. To now redirect stretched funds for a rent-a-crowd activities is quite frankly criminal. This will yet another burden on so-called “zombie” municipalities, who are unable to provide even the most basic levels of service and will cost ratepayers throughout the country tens of millions of rand.

This money could have been better spent on improving crumbling healthcare infrastructure, under-resourced schools and our poor road network. That the ANC sees no urgency in investing public money in these critical service delivery areas, show how they have become disconnected to the daily struggles of ordinary South Africans.

The DA is encouraging all South Africans vote for change and resist the ANC’s full on assault on our democracy and abuse of state resources to preserve a political system that only benefits a connected few.

Ramaphosa confirms that Alex Shutdown criminality and anarchy is an ANC campaign

The powerless president of the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, this afternoon endorsed the ANC-fuelled #AlexTotalShutdown, confirming that the scenes of anarchy in Alex, Hammanskraal and the looming anarchy in Midvaal have been coordinated and created by Luthuli House with the blessing of Ramphosa.

Ramaphosa can no longer distance himself from ANC thugs who burn tyres, block roads and destroy public property. Ramaphosa cannot isolate himself from thugs who violently disrupted the Sandton launch of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s Gangster State.

Ramaphosa is the criminal ANC, and the criminal ANC is Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa’s so-called “principled allies” include David Mabuza, Ace Magashule, Nomvula Mokonyane, Malusi Gigaba and Jacob Zuma. There is no New Dawn.

Today, the Leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mmusi Maimane, called for an urgent meeting with the National Police Commissioner, Khehla Sitole, to establish what plans are in place to put an end to the ANC-fuelled anarchy and to restore law and order in our communities. Fikile Mbalula and Ramaphosa must be the first to be questioned about the ANC’s campaign of anarchy.

It is convenient that Ramaphosa manufactures a sense of urgency in objectively well-governed DA governments but is nowhere to be found in corrupt and collapsed ANC municipalities like Emfuleni, Makhanda, Ekurhuleni, Mogale City and Kimberley. The DA will today write to Rhamaposa listing all the municipalities he should now visit, given the precedent he has set with Alexandra. These are bankrupt, broken and dysfunctional towns and cities that oppress citizens through ANC mismanagement and corruption.

The ANC-fuelled anarchy has targeted DA-led governments, where the people have seen and experienced the accelerated delivery of services.

Ramaphosa’s endorsement of thuggery makes him no different to the thugs who burn tyres and intimidate communities in the name of the ANC programme of anarchy. Ramphosa has shown his true colours, as a man devoid of integrity and is someone who the late President Nelson Mandela would never associate with.

On 8 May, the people have two choices – Ramaphosa the lying Bosasa beneficiary, or Maimane a man of integrity who always puts the people first.

DA rejects Public Protector report exonerating NDZ VIP protection

The Democratic Alliance (DA) rejects the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report exonerating Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s VIP protection in 2017, despite the fact that she held no official position that would justify such protection.

In April 2017, the DA referred what can only be described as an abuse of state resources to the Public Protector. The report reads that Mkhwebane “could not find any reason to conclude that Dr Dlamini-Zuma was improperly accorded VIP Protection Services by the Minister of Police”.

The DA maintains that the decision to award Dlamini-Zuma VIP protection was a political decision in the run up to the ANC’s elective conference in December 2017, by a Police Minister who had every reason to be in Dlamini-Zuma’s favour.

It now appears that the ANC has influence over the office of the Public Protector. It is unconscionable that the Mkhwebane can in anyway exonerate this wasteful spending of tax-payers money.

Whilst our communities are trapped in a vicious cycle of brutal, violent crime, the ANC government is spending R1.5 billion on VIP protection for politicians.

The DA is the only party that can build one South Africa for All, where all South Africans are afforded a safe environment by an honest and professional police service.