DA protests against draconian BELA Bill, demands Lesufi denounce Bill

Please find attached English soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP, and Afrikaans soundbite by Desiree van der Walt MP, as well as pictures here, here, here, here and here.

Today, the DA protested against the draconian Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill and handed a memorandum to the office of the Gauteng MEC of Education, Panyaza Lesufi.

The DA has numerous concerns with the BELA Bill, as outlined in our formal submissions to the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education.

The Bill, and the ‘Lesufi clauses’ in particular, seeks to disempower school governing bodies (SGBs) by removing their power to ultimately decide their schools’ language and admissions policies. It further fails to address the effective regulation of blended and online learning; fails to engage properly with the home schooling sector to determine accountability measures to ensure quality education; and fails to take into account the financial, human resources and infrastructure impacts of compulsory grade R education.

The DA demands that:

  • Lesufi publicly retract his support for the BELA Bill;
  • Lesufi must put pressure on the Department of Basic Education, and the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to withdraw the Bill from Parliament;
  • Lesufi must publicly denounce and distances himself from the BELA Bill, in particular clauses 4 and clause 5 which aims to take power away from parents on language and admission policies;
  • Lesufi must publicly retract and apologise for his attack on single medium- and mother tongue education;
  • Lesufi must publicly retract and apologises for his attack, racialisation, and stigmatisation of especially Afrikaans as an indigenous language;
  • Lesufi must publicly retract his attack on Afrikaans as a language, which is spoken as a first language by 77% of the coloured population; and
  • Lesufi must recognise democratic processes and hear the voices of millions of South Africans who are opposed to this Bill.

The DA will do everything in our power to ensure that children are empowered through empowering their SGBs. All children deserve quality education. It is time Lesufi, Minister Motshekga and her Department focused on addressing the serious concerns plaguing the basic education sector instead of trying to centralise power and bully schools and SGBs that want the best for their children and communities.

The Department must address the following serious concerns:

  • The sector is facing high learner drop-out rates;
  • Infrastructure is dilapidated with too many mud and asbestos buildings and pit toilets remaining; and
  • Poor quality teaching due to the unions’ strangle hold.

We call on the public to submit their concerns in writing to Llewellyn Brown, the secretary of the parliamentary portfolio committee via email to belabill02@parliament.gov.za or online at https://forms.gle/MoC6AdbdQyYPk3Y49 or via WhatsApp: +27 60 550 9848 by no later than 15 August 2022 at 16:00.

FUEL PRICE INCREASE: DA presents Fuel Price Deregulation Bill to Parliament

Please find attached a soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP.

Today, in the wake of another massive fuel price increase, the DA has handed in our Fuel Price Deregulation Bill to Parliament for processing by Parliament’s Legal Services. This groundbreaking bill will seek to amend the Petroleum Products Act, which gives government the power to prescribe the price of petroleum products.

We intend to publish our ‘Notice of Intention to Introduce’ in the Government Gazette later this week, within which the public will be invited to provide comment on the stated aims of our Bill.

Now the ball is firmly in the ANC government’s court and it has the chance to do the right thing. The success or failure of regulating the fuel price, now rests with the ANC in Parliament.

Given that South Africans will wake up to another hefty fuel price increase that will take the fuel price well beyond R25 a litre on Wednesday, the primary objective of the Bill is to deregulate the fuel sector to increase competition in fuel price setting at both the wholesale and retail level, which will result in lower petrol prices for consumers, as retailers compete to win customers based on price levels.

The Bill does this primarily through the removal of Section 2 of the Petroleum Products Act. The Bill also amends section 2(1)(d) to allow for businesses to implement creative methods of trading which may result in reduced petroleum prices.

We are taking the possibility of collusion and the abuse of dominant market positions seriously. The Competition Commission will be tasked with keeping a close eye on the fuel price market. Should any anti-competitive practices be determined, swift investigation and remedial action will follow.

Most consumers spending a significant part of their salaries on ever-increasing transport, and the frequent fuel price increases are leaving many with little to spend on the equally expensive basic food basket. South Africa’s high fuel prices are a consequence of government mandated fuel price controls that have killed competition and failed to deliver efficient cost-reflective prices.

The tragedy of high fuel prices is that their knock-on effects will hit the poorest the hardest at a time when they are already struggling under the consequences of 46% unemployment, loadshedding, soaring global inflation driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a State increasingly unable to deliver on even its most basic mandate.

The regulated fuel price system is rigged against the South African consumer. The average fuel price is composed of at least seven levies that combine to make our fuel one of the most expensive in the region when compared to countries such as Botswana, who happen to get most of their fuel supplies from South Africa.

Independent estimates indicate that costs and profits at the wholesale, transport, and retail levels account for about 20% of the fuel price. This is unsustainable if South Africa is to have a competitive fuel market and fuel price system that protects consumers from exorbitant increases.

Magashule’s Free State Operation Hlasela flagship project sinks

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Roy Jankielsohn, see pictures here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here

What was hailed as the Operation Hlasela flagship project by former Free State Premier Ace Magashule, has finally sunk.

An oversight visit to the approximately R150 million Diyatalawa Agri-Village project between Harrismith and Kestell in the Free State province has exposed the final destruction of the project. Residents at the village have reverted to trying to survive on what could be scavenged for scrap metal. All the dairy and beef cattle bought by government over many years have been sold or eaten and the orchards are abandoned and dead. A bare skeleton of a once fully equipped dairy parlour remains, and the shed is empty of the farming equipment and vehicles it once housed.

While some people still reside in the 50 houses built for the beneficiary families, and a school and crèche are still functional, the hopes and dreams of an agricultural livelihood outside of poverty are shattered. The few crops planted for them by the government sponsored Mokgolokoeng Farmer Production Support Unit cannot sustain those left, and current input costs such as fuel will make further planting of crops unsustainable.

Former President Jacob Zuma launched the Comprehensive Rural Development Project (CRDP) in 2009 and Diyatalawa was identified as one of the pilot sites for the project due to the extreme poverty of people living there. The CRDP was government’s socialist response to poverty and food insecurity, land redistribution, and the creation of business opportunities for rural women, youth and people with disabilities. Zuma visited Diyatalawa in 2011 and the project was meant to be part of the obviously failed Siyahlola Presidential Monitoring Programme.

Like most other agricultural projects in the Free State, this project has been used, similar to the Vrede Dairy Project, as a financial extraction vehicle to inflate prices and loot at the expense of the beneficiaries. This included the construction of infrastructure that included a small guard house and gate at the cost of R600 000, cattle that were paid for with the sickly animals delivered and an apple orchard on which R10 million was spent with both the expenditure and production being fruitless.

The DA in the Free State legislature exposed the failure of collectivist projects as poor business models and vehicles for corruption over many years. It is only now that money is tight and the effects of corruption on poor people is eventually becoming a focus of public interest that the Free State Department of Agriculture have started to acknowledge the failure of the ideologically-based communist models.

The DA in the Free State believe that the only land reform models that will work are share equity schemes in existing viable enterprises or investment and training in family-based agricultural production units.

National Police Commissioner should take command of SAPS operations at Eskom

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

National Police Commissioner, General Masemola, should actively take operational command of SAPS operations to restore law and order at Eskom power stations. Acts of intimidation have reportedly not deescalated but have continued to fester, which has contributed to Eskom retaining stage 6 loadshedding.

The assurance that General Masemola gave the DA on Tuesday, on the activation of NATJOINTS to deal with illegal disruption at Eskom power stations, appears to be at odds with continued acts of intimidation that have led to an extension of Stage 6 loadshedding,

Responding to a DA letter sent to him on Monday, General Masemola, assured us “NATJOINTS has already been activated and ESKOM is receiving the required support.” With the security situation at Eskom power stations not showing any signs of improvement, General Masemola must now take charge and lead the execution of the SAPS tactical response plan.

The first priority should be to declare the power stations, and their immediate surrounding areas, as security zones. Any unauthorised individual who breaches this zone should be arrested for criminal trespassing.

Labour unions, NUM and NUMSA, must not be allowed to hold the country hostage through a criminal interference with the proper functioning of vital power generation plants. Eskom workers who want to work must be allowed to do so without fear of intimidation.

The DA believes that the actions recommended above should be a precursor to declaring a state of disaster around Eskom which would allow for suitably monitored additional interventions to secure and augment the utility’s generation capacity.

President Ramaphosa must provide concrete plans for implementation of electricity emergency plan

Exactly 50 days since the DA asked Cabinet to promulgate an Electricity Emergency Response Plan (EERP), anchored on a State of Disaster declaration on Eskom in the electricity sector, we welcome news that Cabinet is giving due to consideration to “…options that would give the government the emergency powers to suspend red tape to get more power onto the grid urgently”.

While we are encouraged by the decision taken by Cabinet to take the DA’s call for an electricity emergency plan forward, the State of Disaster on Eskom and the electricity sector should only be for a limited time and ring-fenced around electricity generation, storage, transmission and distribution.

The DA now calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the nation on the specific details and associated timelines contained in his Cabinet’s proposed electricity emergency interventions. A timeous release of these interventions would provide an opportunity to all stakeholders across the country to make informed input and participate in their expeditious implementation, as well as allowing Parliament to hold the executive accountable for making sure that it happens.

With ministerial indifference and lack of action having contributed towards the worsening loadshedding crisis, the DA holds the view that Ministers Gwede Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan should not play any role in the implementation of any emergency response to the electricity crisis, and indeed that the President should fire them for non-performance in terms of their Ministerial Performance Agreements.

Mantashe’s obstructive and combative attitude against sound advice to open up the grid to Independent Power Producers has put South Africa on the backfoot in renewable energy generation when compared to other emerging economies and left South Africa lacking in generation capacity in the midst of this generation crisis. His counterpart, Pravin Gordhan, has been missing in action while Eskom struggled with red tape restrictions, labour issues, a rapidly failing power generation fleet and acts of sabotage at its power stations.

While the DA cautiously welcomes the revelation that the project management unit in the Presidency is leading discussions on the emergency response to the electricity crisis, it is critical that Ramaphosa plays open cards on any decisions taken by this unit.

South Africa is in the middle of an electricity crisis. Unless urgent steps are taken to remove existing red tape for IPPs, there is a high probability that South Africa could face another decade of continuous loadshedding.
The country is in desperate need of lowest-cost, source-agnostic generation capacity while existing plants are secured operationally. The private sector is pivotal to ensuring this and avenues of access must be accelerated.