DA debates the impact of the minimum wage

he following speeches were delivered today in the Gauteng Legislature by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development, Janet Semple MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Economic Development, Ina Cilliers MPL, during the debate on the impact of the implementation of the minimum wage.

Janet Semple MPL

“Blanket minimum wage will strangle employment”

  • The implementation of R20 as an absolute minimum wage may for some be a welcome relief, but for many – especially the unemployed whom had no say in the matter, it is not the panacea that the ANC has promised.
  • Sadly, one of the knock on affects that the introduction of a flat minimum wage does is to create a race to the bottom. Instead of establishing the minimum wage as a basis from which business can start, it sometimes ends up as a target of employers to achieve to reduce labour costs
  • In a country with both a skill and employment shortage, a blanket minimum wage cannot work. If we are truly committed to lifting our people out of the clutches of unemployment, then we should be more flexible with our work for pay scaling.

The full speech can be accessed here.


Ina Cilliers MPL

“Individual worth the key to inclusive job creation”

  • The ANC is under the misconception that the laws of economics stop applying because you choose to ignore them.
  • In its rush to ram a minimum wage through parliament, the ANC has abandoned fact and evidence-based policy-making, pandering instead to populist sentiments and using the economy and the vast, coercive power of the state to manage its internal politics with the unions – at the expense of the people of South Africa.
  • We would implement innovative policy tools to ensure that we expand individual freedom so that job-seekers willing to work at a rate of their choosing are given a legal mechanism to do so.

The full speech can be accessed here.

R17.4 million wasted on blowing MEC Maile’s trumpet

by Janet Semple MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development

Gauteng Department of Economic Development MEC Lebogang Maile’s vanity has seen his department blow an additional R13.4 million on deviations in the 2017/18 financial year, all of which has been spent on advertising.

According to the department’s fourth quarterly report, an additional R4 million was spent on advertising – over and above this item’s R14 million budget.

Total over-expenditure on advertising for the 2017/18 financial year amounted to R17.4 million.

Despite austerity measures and directives from both National and Provincial Treasuries to curb unnecessary expenditure, MEC Maile’s narcissism has gobbled up funds that could have been better spent on job creation and youth empowerment programmes.

When questioned in the Gauteng Legislature by the DA, MEC Maile denied that the department had over spent on advertising, yet the fourth quarterly report and written replies to DA questions tell a different story.

Millions have been spent to “promote” the department, yet the MEC could not substantiate what return on investment this excessive spend has brought the department.

While thousands of Gauteng residents remain unemployed and economically inactive, MEC Maile has seen fit to waste public money on what can only be described as a narcissistic campaign.

It is highly probable that this excessive advertising spend was to boost MEC Maile’s profile ahead of the Gauteng ANC’s elective congress.

Despite this, Maile’s attempt to ascend to the second highest position in the party failed.

This is not the only thing Maile has failed at. Prudent financial controls in the department have failed.

Given the high rate of unemployment across Gauteng, a DA provincial government in 2019 will get to work to create an environment conducive to job creation and economic growth.

Under a DA government, vanity projects will be the first thing scrapped and the funds re-directed to citizen-based economic inclusion initiatives.

ANC-led Gauteng government fails to support farming cooperatives

by Janet Semple MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development

The ANC-led Gauteng administration is not doing enough to support small scale farming co-operatives despite having mechanisms meant to provide funding and necessary support to these initiatives.

During a Democratic Alliance oversight inspection of the Bright Future Agricultural Co-operative Limited in Soshanguve South in Tshwane yesterday, we were amazed to discover that this co-operative has been flourishing without any assistance from the government.

The Bright Future Agricultural Co-operative is primarily farming okra and spinach. They use the okra to manufacture their own coffee called ‘Okriasco coffee’. They supply their spinach to supermarkets around the area and sell their coffee locally.

The co-operative is unable to keep up with the demand for coffee due to a lack of resources and funding.

Despite being recognised by different government institutions for their hard work, this co-operative has been denied funding by most of these institutions.

The founder of this co-operative, which is run by four women and one man, Phindi Zwane, won the 2017 Township Entrepreneur Awards under the category of the Women Entrepreneur of the Year.

However, having leased the land from the City of Tshwane for 15 years, they are facing numerous challenges ranging from lack of funding, stolen borehole pipes and equipment and no fence around the plot. They also have not been visited this year by the allocated extension officer from the Gauteng Department of Agriculture.

They are also in need of greenhouses so that they can plant okra throughout the year as it is a seasonal crop.

Entrepreneurs such as these deserve to be supported as they are examples of the dedication and hard work needed for success.

They play an important role in poverty alleviation and job creation as they have employed 18 local seasonal workers mostly youth and women.

The DA believes that if the government prioritises such businesses, it will help to boost local township economies and assist local people to create employment opportunities.

The DA will write to the MEC for Economic Development and Agriculture and Rural Development, Lebogang Maile, to ascertain why this co-operative has been denied any assistance from the government.

Come 2019, when the DA governs Gauteng we will bring change which ensures that we provide all the necessary support to such entrepreneurs in order to create job opportunities and boost township economies.

Listeriosis outbreak causes pig farmers to shed jobs

by Janet Semple MPL – DA Constituency Head of Boksburg North

It is concerning that very little financial support is being given to small-scale and emerging pig farmers in Gauteng.

During the recent outbreak of Listeriosis, Gauteng small-scale farmers were forced to sell their pigs to abattoirs at a lower price.

This was revealed to me by the Gauteng MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development, Lebogang Maile in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

Small-scale and emerging farmers do not have the financial resources at their disposal to insure their livestock against a drop in market value.

In addition, commercial farmers have also been affected by the Listeriosis outbreak and they have been forced to reduce the working hours of their staff from seven days to five days.

According to MEC Maile, two piggeries were also forced to close and 12 people who were employed by small-scale farmers lost their jobs because of the Listeriosis outbreak.

While the department has indicated that the affected farmers will receive piggery feeds this month, it will not do much to mitigate loss incurred.

We are calling on the department to put measures in place to assist small-scale and emerging farmers, financially during such outbreaks that is likely to impact on the value of livestock.

The DA will be following up with the MEC to find out if the affected farmers have received the piggery feed.

Brian Hlongwa must be held accountable for his actions

By Janet Semple MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development


Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in the Gauteng Legislature during the DA/EFF motion debate on ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa’s fitness to hold office.

Madam Speaker,

Honourable Brian Hlongwa, in interviews with the media, has stated that the allegations against him are not new and that they repeatedly become a talking point in this House.

Honourable Member Hlongwa is quite right, they are not new – and they do come up as a repeated issue in this House.

But this is not because, as the Member has claimed, that it is being done to tarnish the ANC, the ANC does that job quite well all on its own – it happens because there is an unresolved R1.2 billion case of corruption hanging over his head.

Imagine if no one pursued the Nkandla issue?

The dogged determination of the opposition and civil society ensured that former President Jacob Zuma was held to account for the excessive abuse of public money to establish his luxurious KwaZulu-Natal palace.

Perhaps Zuma sought inspiration from Member Hlongwa who purchased a palatial home in Bryanston with R7.2 million of the people’s money?

Honourable Hlongwa can claim the title, “architect of state capture”, because his underhanded dealings with Gupta-linked Regiments Capital supersedes their capture of the state under the watch of Jacob Zuma.

Gauteng’s healthcare system is collapsing under the weight of the debts it owes to suppliers and medical negligence claims as a result of the inadequate supply of equipment and deteriorating infrastructure.

Imagine if that missing R1.2 billion could be ploughed back into the coffers of the department?

Residents of this province would be afforded a much higher standard of public healthcare and it is likely that 30 day payments to suppliers would be within reach.

Even the deaths of 144 mentally ill patients, who were moved from Life Esidimeni in a cost-cutting exercise due to budgetary constraints, could have been avoided.

However, the “architect” still sits smugly in this house, knowing that he has the protection of the ANC.

This “Honourable Member” should do the honourable thing and recuse himself from the position he holds, as his continued tenure taints this House.

If you do not believe me, watch the polls next year and see how the voters of Gauteng endorse you by voting for someone else.

But I am not here to give lessons on public relations.

I am here, taking up our mandate for clean and transparent governance by the people who elected us as DA officials – even on behalf of those who didn’t.

Premier Makhura, do not tread the same path you did with former Member Mahlangu. Rid us of this fraudster.

But I suppose this is perhaps too much to ask of you, as we all know that the ranks of the ANC close tighter the more grandiose the alleged crime.

Despite your best wishes to woo people under your spell it is evident that the so-called “clean Gauteng ANC” is not so clean after all.

Gauteng Economic Development bloat should be cut to stimulate growth

Speech by Janet Semple MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development

The total budget of the Department of Economic Development grew from R1,4 billion to R1.5 billion in the 2018/2019 financial year – an increase of 6,8%.

The bulk of this budget was transferred to the Department’s entities with the largest share of R443 million going to the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA) followed by just over R300 million going to the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP).

Both these agencies have a responsibility for delivering on the Department’s mandate of creating decent employment and sustainable economic growth.

However, the reality is that the Economic Development Portfolio Committee is unable to effectively maintain oversight of any of the Department’s agencies as their targets have been removed from the Annual Performance Plan without prior consultation.

What we do know is that the Department has committed to create 12 554 jobs and we will be keeping a close eye on this target.

I do believe that there are many hard working and committed officials working at the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP).

However, the top management structure is still in disarray.

A permanent CEO has still not been appointed. There are allegations of corruption and maladministration which have been referred by the Premier to the Special Investigation Unit.

The forensic report on the Department and the conduct of the acting CEO has been referred to MEC Maile.

Strangely, this forensic report seems to have bypassed the GEP board and gone straight to MEC Maile.

This seems highly irregular in terms of the PFMA Section 49 (2) (a)which stipulates that the CEO should report to the Board, as the “Board is the accounting authority for that entity”.

Just last week the Premier revoked the unfair dismissal of 5 shop stewards at GEP. It seems MEC Maile’s chickens are coming home to roost. The MEC has been running this entity as his personal fiefdom.

It is shocking to note that the top 35 officials at the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency earn almost 50% of the total salary bill at that agency.

These managers earn more in the year than the MEC.

I would suggest that it is really time to review whether these bloated entities and others in the Economic Development portfolio are really adding value or do they just exist for patronage purposes?

Perhaps the time has come to wind down the entities over time and redeploy the capable and committed staff to other departments.

The enormous salary bill could then be used for the real purpose of promoting SMMEs and giving small businesses and co-ops the start-up they need.

The DA suggests that MEC Maile follow the WESGRO model used in the Western Cape if he really wants to promote inclusive growth and investment potential in Gauteng.

Wesgro operates on an agency basis and responds to market demands and not a political agenda. Because the board is mostly made up of private individuals it is able gain the trust of business and investors. It is mean and lean and able to act with spontaneity and operational efficiency – it is not a top-heavy structure for political appointees.

This the change the DA will bring to running Provincial departments when we take over this Province in 2019.

Narcissistic MEC Maile blows excess R4 million on advertising

by Janet Semple MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development

The Gauteng Department of Economic Development has blown R4.1 million over and above its budget of R14.1 million for advertising in the 2017/18 financial year.

This was revealed in the department’s fourth quarterly report submitted to the Gauteng Legislature’s Economic Development portfolio committee.

Across the province there are billboards adorned with the face of Gauteng Economic Development MEC, Lebogang Maile in what can only be described as a vanity project.

The department provided no evidence of return on investment as to how the inflated advertising spend increased the efficiency of the department nor how it has benefitted the people of Gauteng.

Calls for austerity by both national and provincial Treasuries have been ignored by MEC Maile who spends public funds on frivolous projects.

Emerging entrepreneurs, new entrants to the agricultural sector and SMMEs across the province could have benefitted significantly from these funds.

With slowing GDP growth and a sluggish economic climate, it is imperative that departments stick to their allocated budget and divert unspent funds to projects that will alleviate the crippling rate of unemployment in the province.

This is particularly true of a department whose core mandate is to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

This unnecessary over-spend will be questioned. MEC Maile must explain how his narcissism has helped the people of Gauteng.

MEC Maile dishing out R29 million favour to Pule Mabe’s company

by Janet Semple MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development

According to a report in the Mail & Guardian, Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile has dished out a whopping R29 million deal to his ANC comrade Pule Mabe.

This deal was deemed unlawful by the Provincial Treasury.

The contract was for the delivery of three-wheeler vehicles to be given to waste pickers to collect recyclable goods.

Despite forking out R29 million in advance for the vehicles, the department has not yet received a single vehicle.

The company with which the deal was struck, Enviro Mobi, has now challenged the department’s decision to terminate the contract and is seeking an additional R9.7 million.

MEC Maile has been the centre of much controversy during his tenure as the political head of the department.

He has been accused of shielding Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) Acting CEO, Leah Manenzhe who has been accused of intimidating staff and defying the findings of an elusive forensic investigation.

Maile has also interfered with disciplinary hearings of two Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development staff, the CEO and the CCO, by insisting that they receive warning letters instead of going through disciplinary hearings.

The Department regularly fails to meet targets and it is now clear that it is simply an instrument of enrichment and nepotism for the MEC’s friends.

The R29 million contract must be investigated as public money has been siphoned off to Maile’s ANC cronies.

The DA will write to Gauteng Treasury MEC, Barbara Creecy to determine the status of recovering these funds and what action will be taken against those who entered into this unlawful contract.

GEP still without a CEO two years later

The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) has been without a CEO for almost two years now.

This information was revealed by the MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile while replying to my questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, today.

According to the MEC, the post had been advertised through the board, but to date they have still not appointed a CEO.
Furthermore, the MEC could not provide reasons why the position has not yet been filled.

The acting CEO, Leah Manenzhe has been accused of intimidation and abuse of power.In addition, one assistant manager who was facing disciplinary action entered into a mutual separation agreement with the GEP.

This was after a cost benefit analysis was completed and determined that a lengthy litigation process was not viable.
These leadership and governance issues at yet another state entity is deeply concerning.

The DA believes GEP plays a key role in providing necessary support and guidance to small business owners, which in turn leads to the creation of job opportunities for the unemployed in our province. Hence, without a CEO, GEP cannot function properly and will be unable to fulfil its core mandate.

The DA demands that the GEP CEO position be filled as a matter of urgency.

Gauteng economy under the ANC grinding to a halt

Democratic Alliance speech by
Janet Semple MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development

Hon Premier,

The Democratic Alliance shares your “dream of a provincial economy where the needs, aspirations and energies of the majority of the people constitute the creative force for change and transformative growth”.

Where we differ is how to reach that dream. Every year we hear the same old bright ideas rehashed like the Township Stock Exchange, the revitalization of the township economies, the development of cooperatives, and the use of public procurement budgets to stimulate local production. Exciting the first time but now starting to wear a bit thin.

The Township Stock Exchange has been in the pipeline for several years now but it just never seems to get off the ground. The partnership with the private sector is desirable but maybe the Premier would like to enlighten us as to who the private partners are and what exactly is the hold up?

The revitalization of the township economy is essential but when one tries to drill down as to where the revitalization is taking place, and who and how many people are actually benefitting from “the use from public procurement budgets to stimulate local production” it is difficult to get concrete facts. Once again perhaps the Premier would enlighten us.
The Premier rightly highlights the need to develop cooperatives. The Democratic Alliance believes cooperatives have an important role to play in ensuring the economy of Gauteng grows. It is therefore alarming that the Department of Economic Development only managed to provide financial support to 15 cooperatives out of a target of 70 in its Enterprise Development programme by the third quarter of this financial year.

Hon Premier,

We support your call for clean governance, building a culture of integrity and fighting corruption. You talked about the “many forensic investigations (are) instituted by departments, but there are no consequences on the part of wrong doers’.

I hope whoever handles your Twitter account made you aware of the tweet in which you were mentioned about the permanent appointment of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller CEO, a post that has been vacant for some years now?

Amongst other things, it is alleged that a recent forensic investigation finding on matters of maladministration, abuse of power and corruption against the Acting CEO have been swept under the carpet. The Acting CEO is one of the few shortlisted candidates who appeared before the selection panel yesterday.

If the Hon Premier really has the interests of the public at heart and is serious about fighting corruption these allegations need to be investigated and the forensic audit findings made public.


The SOPA was almost silent on agriculture in Gauteng, and yet, president Ramaphosa reiterated that we are again going to implement the NDP.

Chapter 6 of this plan directs the creation of 969 500 jobs in Agriculture by 2030. This includes primary jobs for 83 000 subsistence farmers, 240 000 small scale farmers, 10 000 jobs in labour extensive field crops and 40 000 jobs in labour extensive livestock production.

The plan was clearly written before the advent of digital disruption, and the GDARD will have to take note of the new world of agtech and how it will disrupt the entire farm to fork chain.

The industry is recruiting technical managers, agricultural economists, schedulers, biotechnologists, research scientists and software engineers, not manual labourers.
Venture capitalists in the Ag-tech space have realised that feeding the world is not the only or even the best reason to invest in agriculture- there is a real potential to make a decent living so long as the free market mechanism is not sabotaged by collusion and corruption and as long as private property rights- including land, assets and intellectual property, is protected.

Without protected individual property rights, there will be no rehabilitation of any dreams, wounded or otherwise.

Passing mention was also made of the risks of climate change and the need to secure the supply of both water and energy. Gauteng as the industrial hub of the country also has the worst air and water pollution. Serious intervention needs to be made here Premier before it is too late.

We are aware of the new coal mines that have opened in the Bronkhorstspruit area with the necessary EIAs. The polluted water enters directly into the Bronkhorstpruit Dam which affects some of the best agricultural land in the Province. This would also have a detrimental effect on jobs in the area