DA welcomes Parliament’s about-turn on Zondo Commission report following pressure  

Please find an attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP 

The DA has noted the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa- Nqakula’s about- turn on the process which should be followed in dealing with the findings of the Zondo Commission Report in Parliament.

This u-turn is the result of unrelenting pressure from the Democratic Alliance (DA) for Parliament to begin its work of processing the various volumes of the Zondo Commission report, especially the aspects which deal with sitting members of Parliament and the institution’s failure to exercise oversight over the Executive during State Capture.

The DA managed to obtain a legal opinion which was sent to the Speaker almost two months ago confirming that Parliament is empowered to and should begin the work of processing the Zondo Commission report.

This is a massive departure from the Speaker’s argument that Parliament should wait until the President tables his Implementation Plan. Her and the ANC’s vehement objection to Parliament getting to work is well documented.

The reality is that Mapisa-Nqakula has been stalling this process in the National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC) while sitting on a legal opinion drafted by Parliament’s own Legal Services for several weeks.

Nonetheless, we welcome the confirmation that the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests has been requested to investigate possible contraventions of the Code of Ethical Conduct. The members which are clearly named in the legal opinion include current Chair of Chairs, Cedrick Frolick for his alleged involvement in the Bosasa matter and Ms Winnie Ngwenya. This is an important step for transparency and accountability.

The Ethics Committee should move swiftly. Much of the information and documentation they would need is publically available.

We must not relent until those who have looted our country for years are brought to book. Parliament can no longer afford to simply be a by-stander in issues affecting South Africans. Corruption is not a victimless crime, it robs the people of this country.

We will continue to make sure that the parliamentary process continues in earnest.

Eskom’s R800 million per month diesel bill is unsustainable, DA reiterates call for Eskom to be declared a State of Disaster

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Kevin Mileham MP

The announcement by Eskom Chief Operations Officer Jan Oberholzer that the power utility has burned through 40 million litres of diesel so far this month, and that diesel shortages may result in further, more extensive loadshedding highlights the urgent need for government to heed the DA’s call for Eskom to be declared a State of Disaster.

At a time when diesel is in short supply in South Africa and refining capacity is at an all-time low, 40 million litres represents more than R800 million that could have been utilised to add new generation to the grid. Instead, it is being used to prop up Eskom, which is increasingly unable to keep the lights on.

The latest information from Eskom indicates that the power utility has 1 904MW offline for planned maintenance and a further 17 255MW offline from unplanned outages.  This represents approximately 37% of Eskoms’s total installed capacity.

Last week, the DA submitted a request to cabinet for Eskom to be declared a state of disaster, in order to:

  • Fast track the licencing and application process for new generation;
  • Prioritize budgets to focus on new generation capacity; and
  • Make it easier for citizens, businesses and municipalities to generate their own electricity and procure directly from independent power producers.

South Africa needs to unite behind a vision of hope for our electricity sector, if we are to rescue our economy.

The DA reiterates its call for politics to be set aside and the whole of society – Eskom, IPPs, engineering bodies, civil society and the public at large – engaged in ensuring a reliable and consistent supply of electricity that meets demand. Loadshedding is job shedding. It is past time to put an end to it!

DA to demand DIRCO account to Parliament for trying to give R350 million to Cuba

Please find attached a soundbite by Ashor Sarupen MP.

The DA has today written to the Chairperson of the Appropriations Committee, Hon. Sfiso Buthelezi MP, to summons the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to appear before the committee to explain why, based on information exposed in court filings, it intends to donate R350 million to Cuba.

This amount is far more than the R50 million that has already caused in uproar in civil society, and is a slap in the face of South Africans facing rising prices, food insecurity, and in Kwa-Zulu Natal, citizens are struggling to recover from the recent flooding while very little funding has been released for recovery.

Parliament is in the midst of interrogating the budget ahead of a full vote later this month, and the DA intends to ask the department before the Appropriations Committee why it has chosen to donate such a large sum of money when South Africa is struggling financially, when government debt is through the roof, and when public services are failing. The DA further intends to ask why the department would not rather elect to surrender these funds to disaster relief efforts in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The Appropriations Committee is the only committee in parliament with the power to amend the budget, and the DA will further lobby parties represented on the committee to reject this allocation and amend the budget to strip DIRCO of this allocation if it proceeds to defend the indefensible – giving R350 million based on extinct cold war politics rather than taking care of struggling citizens at home.

The DA will be announcing further action steps in relation to this matter in the coming days.

DA visits Nyanga Police Station in light of dramatic drop in violent crime

Please find relevant photos here, here and here, and a soundbite here.

Today, the DA met with station management and key role players at the Nyanga Police Station to gain a further understanding of how crime statistics have improved and what resources the South African Police Service (SAPS) needs to continue fighting crime and making the community safer.

Sadly, we have learned today that this police station is 22 officers short of their fixed establishment and that a new fixed establishment will be announced soon, but they do however anticipate a further decrease, which means a further decrease in the police-to-citizen ratio.

These are challenges that our local police officers cannot afford. We cannot build safer communities if national government doesn’t urgently come to the table with adequate resources to address the shortcomings.

However, what the DA-led Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town is doing to supplement SAPS is showing encouraging results.

For years, Nyanga was considered the murder capital of South Africa until the most recent crime statistics demonstrated a 24% drop in the murder rate in this area. We have also seen a 40.5% reduction in crime in Kraaifontein, a 21% drop in Khayelitsha and 14% in Harare.

These successes in Nyanga and other crime hotspots across the city can be attributed to the work of the DA-led Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town’s LEAP programme, their support to Neighbourhood Watches, as well as their working relationship with the SAPS.

The Nyanga success story proves that there is a solution to the issue of safety on the table that can be replicated and rolled out across South Africa, making it safer for all citizens.

The evidence also overwhelmingly shows that policing competencies must be devolved to competent local and provincial governments, who have the political will and capabilities to ensure that we build on these successes and do even more to make our communities safer.

We are extremely proud of the work our DA governments are doing in the Western Cape and the City of Cape Town, and we look forward to seeing further successes in this regard, but we can do much more if we are given the authority to run a provincial police competency.

Medical professionals whose contracts have been terminated must be exempted from their ‘Zuma year’ 

Please find an attached soundbite by Haseena Ismail MP

According to reports 2 748 community healthcare workers, 631 nurses and 91 doctors who were performing community service had their contracts terminated before they have completed it due to the Department of Health’s budgetary constraints.

These doctors and nurses will be unable to find jobs since they are legislated to undergo at least a year of community service before practising medicine or nursing.

The termination of these contracts will undoubtedly have a negative impact on our healthcare system, considering the scarcity of medical practitioners across the country.

Despite the fact that South Africa has less than 1 doctor per 1000 patients, there are currently roughly 21 000 specialised medical staff vacancies throughout all nine provinces. Terminating these community service contracts will not help us raise the number of qualified medical staff working in South African hospitals; instead, it would just delay the admission of experienced health professionals, putting a strain on our health system.

The DA therefore calls for any community service doctors and nurses whose contracts have been unceremoniously terminated, to be exempted from their community service duty requirements. This will ensure that the Department of Health’s budgetary constraints and administrative mistakes do not suffocate essential medical skills that are desperately needed at both private and public hospitals across all provinces.

The DA also calls for the Health Department to work with the private sector to allow community service doctors and nurses to fulfil their community service duty in private facilities.

Added to this, the DA will write to the Portfolio Committee Chairperson on Health, Kenneth Jacobs to call on Minister Joe Phaahla and the Department to appear before the committee to give answers to the following:

  1. details on how many community service doctors and nurses are on the Department’s data system in the past 5 years;
  2. details on how many have still not been paid, and how many have actually left the system and the country;
  3. details on how many doctors and nurses have left the country in the last 5 years; and
  4. what solutions they can propose to ensure they are placed.

We cannot afford for medical professionals to be unable to find jobs, obtain their qualifications, and be stuck at home with essential medical capabilities that the health sector desperately needs.

DA unveils true state of disaster in KZN following recent floods

Please find attached soundbite by Francois Rodgers MPL. The following statement and document on the “true state of disaster in KZN”, was presented earlier today at a press briefing by DA KZN Leader, Francois Rodgers, DA KZN Chairperson, Dean Macpherson, DA KZN Deputy Chairperson, Sithembiso Ngema, DA eThekwini Caucus Leader, Councillor Nicole Graham and DA eThekwini Chief Whip, Councillor Thabani Mthethwa. The document outlines the real state of our province following the devastating floods and the poor government intervention to assist desperate residents. View document here.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has today released an eight-page document revealing the true state of the province and eThekwini municipality following the devastating floods in April 2022.

It is very clear that officials and politicians are hiding the real crisis that is worsening every day.

More than one month after the flood, thousands of residents and communities across the city are still without water and have no idea when it will be fully restored. Electricity outages continue to plague households, despite the metro being exempt from load shedding.

When the President told the city, in the aftermath of the floods, that that R1 billion in relief funding would be made available, he knew at the time that this was not true.

This has become apparent after the KZN government admitted that this amount would have to be found through the reprioritisation of the provincial budget over the next three years.

When a National State of Disaster was declared in KZN, this should have ordinarily allowed access to funding from the contingency reserve fund. It appears that this has not happened. So where is the money and what was the purpose of the State of Disaster being declared?

It has also become very clear that national departments are unable or unwilling to assist in terms of funding for our province, as detailed in our document. This will have terrible consequences for KZN.

Whatever money is being spent, is solely being done within existing provincial and municipal budgets. It is also not being audited in “real time” as per the President’s promised.

KZN and eThekwini in particular, are facing a leadership crisis. There is no coordination that the DA can see. It is also unclear where the province’s disaster relief effort are being co-ordinated from or who is politically responsible for it.

eThekwini Mayor, Mxolisi Kaunda, has been largely absent throughout the disaster. So much so that the Deputy Mayor and opposition Executive Committee Councillors – that constitute a majority – had to force the Mayor to call an EXCO meeting after 16 days without one. You cannot lead a city from your basement and in hiding.

The DA has compiled a list of what needs to be done urgently;

• Parliament’s newly-established Ad hoc committee needs to urgently convene in KZN to meet with provincial government and the eThekwini Executive Committee to get a handle of what is and is not happening.

• National Treasury needs to advise departments, the province and city exactly how much funding will be set aside and when it will be available.

• The eThekwini EXCO need to take charge of the deteriorating situation in the city and meet on a regular basis to direct disaster efforts and;

• KZN’s government needs to lobby National Government for the release of contingency reserve funds to ensure that rebuilding our province can begin.

The DA believes that unless a concerted effort, across all spheres of government, is urgently enacted and funding from the contingency reserve is made available through the state of disaster, the province and city are going to face long term secondary disasters.

The time for action was four weeks ago. We cannot wait a day longer for a real action plan to be implemented.

DA calls for audit of Cuba-loan

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Willem Faber MP.

The DA will write to the Auditor-General of South Africa (AG), Tsakani Maluleke, to request an urgent audit of the ANC government’s loan to Cuba.

In answer to a written parliamentary question from the DA, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that a total of R147 631 000 has been loaned to Cuba since 2018, in a deal a deal set up by former President Jacob Zuma in 2010 after his state visit to the country. Of the more than R147 million loaned to Cuba, more than R63 million has been paid back.

But the DA has serious concerns regarding this loan – not least of which is the fact that it is fiscally very irresponsible for South Africa to loan money to any country. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and our economy is in tatters after the severe mismanagement of the Covid-pandemic and years of State capture, looting and corruption by the governing party and almost all connected with them. The ANC government’s justification of this loan, as well as its intention to spend a further R50 million in aid to Cuba, is reprehensible.

More than a thousand children have died due to malnutrition in South Africa in 2021/22, and instead of addressing food security and poverty here, the ANC government is giving away money we don’t have.

The DA will ask the AG to also investigate whether the Cuba-loan agreement and the R50 million “donation” – which the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, have since stated would be given as food – could possibly be a money-laundering scheme where the money lands back with the ANC. The ANC government has proven that there is no scheme to foul to feed their greed.

Parliament’s legal opinion confirms Zondo Commission report must be processed; contradicting Mapisa-Nqakula

Note to editors: Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

A legal opinion which was sent to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, almost two months ago confirms that Parliament is empowered to and should begin the work of processing the Zondo Commission report. This is a massive departure from the Speaker’s argument that Parliament should wait until the President tables his implementation plan before beginning the work of holding those who have damning findings against them accountable.

Mapisa-Nqakula has been stalling this process in the National Assembly Programming Committee (NAPC) while sitting on a legal opinion drafted by Parliament’s own legal services for several weeks.

Two weeks ago, I wrote to the Speaker to make the argument that she should make this legal opinion public and Parliament should not delay in processing these reports. (See letter here).

Therefore, obtaining this legal opinion has been an important step in holding Parliament’s feet to the fire in dealing with the findings of the Zondo Commission report. We have long held that President Ramaphosa’s submission to Parliament will only pertain to consequence management of the executive and not delve into the work of Parliament. This is important for the doctrine of separation of powers.

Secondly, as the reports have clearly demonstrated, Parliament needs to set up its own processes of how it will deal with not only the implicated individuals, but also how it will strengthen its oversight functions going forward. This is not the domain of the President but that of Parliament. The argument to wait for the President can only be seen as delaying tactic and not in the interests of transparency and accountability.

Now that we have obtained this legal opinion and it states clearly what ought to be done by Parliament’s oversight bodies, we will ensure that this work begins immediately. We cannot sit idly while there are MPs, members of the executive and even presiding officers who are alleged to have facilitated state capture are not dealt with by Parliament.

The fight against corruption can only be won with an effective Parliament that takes its oversight role seriously.

SASSA must issue urgent stay of discontinuation of Post Office pay points for grants

Note to editors: Please find attached a soundbite in English by Bridget Masango MP.

The DA calls on the Minister for Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) CEO, Busisiwe Memela-Khambula, to issue an urgent stay of discontinuation of South African Post Office (SAPO) pay points for two months, while they engage with smaller retailers in rural communities to facilitate grant payments.

The DA has been inundated by messages from panicked and stressed grant recipients who fear they might not receive their grants this month as many of the big retailers on SASSA’s list have no footprint in their towns. SASSA must urgently reach out smaller retailers and ensure that recipients can also access their grants – especially in rural areas.

SASSA and the Department of Social Development (DSD) must also launch a targeted communication drive to remote and rural areas where many people might not have ready access to mainstream media, and the distribution of second-hand information cause chaos and panic.

Minister Zulu must also account to the parliamentary portfolio committee on social development regarding the reasons for these drastic, insensitive decisions and their implications on the DSD budget and the poor and vulnerable whose lives have been heavily inconvenienced.

Poor and vulnerable South Africans are routinely sent from pillar to post to gain access to their grants without which they are unable to provide for their families. In South Africa’s increasingly hostile economic environment, it is inhumane to spring the closure of familiar pay points on grant recipients who already worry every month that they won’t make ends meet.

DA congratulates newly elected interim Youth Leaders

Phetogo Rally

The DA wishes to congratulate our newly elected interim Youth Leaders.

They were elected at the DA’s completely virtual voting-only federal congress, and will lead the DA Youth until our elective congress next year. Codes were sent to all 145 delegates with a link to cast their vote.

The following positions were elected:

  • Interim DAY Federal Leader: Nicholas Nyati
  • DAY Interim Federal Chairperson: Ndipiwe Olay
  • Interim DAY Federal Deputy Chairperson: Administration: Robin Atson
  • Interim DAY Federal Deputy Chairperson: Recruitment: Kamogelo Makola
  • Interim DAY Federal Deputy Chairperson: Media and Publicity: Lindokuhle Sixabayi
  • Interim DAY Federal Deputy Chairperson: Training and Development: Chadwin Petersen

The DA wishes the new interim leadership well in their task ahead, and trusts that they will do a sterling job. We are proudly invested in empowering youth leadership and look forward to these young leaders’ bright futures.