Slegs ‘n stabiele en groeiende ekonomie bied hoop en vertroue vir die toekoms

The following speech was delivered in Parliament’s debate of the 2019 State of the Nation Address.

Agbare Speaker

Agbare Voorsitter van die NRVP

Agbare President

Lede van Parlement

Mede Suid-Afrikaners

Die President het in sy rede verwys na sy droom vir ‘n nuwe era. Agbare President, daardie droom kan net verwesenlik word indien die ANC drasties van koers verander, andersins herhinner dit my net aan ‘n ou bekende liedjie wat sê: “Dreams are good friends!”

Die werklikheid van die hier-en-nou is egter dat:

Ongeveer 10 miljoen Suid-Afrikaners soggens wakker word met die wete dat hul nie geld of kos het vir hulself of hul gesinne nie; waarskynlik ook nie die vooruitsig het om ‘n werk te kry nie, maar steeds moet voortbeur om ‘n wetsgetroue, verantwoordelike landsburger te wees;

Ons jong mense wat wel die geleenthede het om hulself te kwalifiseer met kennis en vaardighede, geen sekerheid het dat hul wel ‘n werk gaan kry nie en baie van hul die land verlaat;

Die kwesbare persone in ons land wat op toelaes leef nie meer weet wat die begrip ‘bo die broodlyn’ beteken nie;

Die wat wel ‘n werk het, daagliks armer word en hul bekommer oor die veiligheid van hul pensioenfondse indien hul een het;

Vakbondleiers die minderheid van werkers in ons land verteenwoordig maar hulle meestal veg vir hul eie politieke voordele;

Dié wat kapitaal het om te belê, gevolglik na geleenthede buite SA kyk.

Hon. Speaker, the ANC’s strive for a developmental state through ‘The New Growth Path’ (2011) would have created 5 million jobs in 2020.

The policy statement on developmental local government aimed to build capacity to enhance service delivery in local communities. However, the NCOP witnessed various interventions in local governments due to a lack of capacity or political motivations.

In 2017, President Ramaphosa’s ‘New deal for jobs, growth and transformation’ set a target of 3% growth in 2018 and 5% in 2023. Costs would have also been cut through a reformed Eskom as well as greater use of renewable energies.

Efficient use of the public purse and structural systems are however prerequisites for these policies to successfully contribute to economic growth.  Our State-Owned Enterprises, central to development and growth, however distinguished themselves in weak management, poor governance and unsustainable bailouts, with the result of widespread state capture and the direct impact on our economy.

Agbare Speaker, slegs ‘n stabiele groeiende ekonomie wat werksgeleenthede en welvaart skep, gerugsteun deur bekwame regeringsvlakke, kan hoop bied vir die toekoms.

In die Weskaap waar die DA sedert 2009 regeer, kan ons nieteenstaande oorkoepelende negatiewe ekonomiese omstandighede bewys lewer dat ons innoverende beleide en planne, gebaseer op ‘n mark-gerigte ekonomie, ‘n positiewe invloed uitoefen op ons inwoners.  ‘n Paar voorbeelde hiervan is dat die Weskaap:

  • ‘n 14% laer werkloosheidsyfer as die res van die land het, met 508 000 nuwe werksgeleenthede wat geskep is, wat dui op ongeveer ‘n vier-malige groei oor die afgelope dekade.
  • ‘n 72% suksessyfer in landbougrond hervormingsprojekte teenoor ‘n 10% suksessyfer in die res van die land. Sedert 2009 is 500 miljoen rand spandeer op die ondersteuning van 357 grondhervormingsprojekte- R80M word op ‘n jaarlikse basis vanaf die privaat sektor bekom.
  • Die Wes-Kaap gee die toon aan met die skep van energie-sekerheid. Sonkrag installasies het toegeneem vanaf 18 MW tot meer as 110 MW, hoofsaaklik deur besighede. Agtien (18) van die twee en twintig (22) munisipaliteite maak voorsiening dat energie teen vergoeding teruggevoer kan word in die kragnetwerk.
  • ‘n Retensie syfer van 63% vir graad 10 – 12 is bereik met die 2018 matrikulante, teenoor die minder as 50% syfer in die res van die land.

Not only did the DA-led Western Cape make strides in cutting unnecessary regulations for businesses, we introduced the Premier’s Advancement of Youth Programme (PAY), providing 750 matriculants with jobs and training every year.  Furthermore, we rapidly increased the delivery of basic services to above 96%.

In die Wes-Kaap word daar jaarliks inspeksies op 150 polisiestasies uitgevoer.  ‘n Kommissie van Ondersoek is ingestel, wat gelei het tot die promulgasie van die Wes-Kaapse Gemeenskapsveiligheidswet wat die instel van die kantoor van die Polisie Ombudsman moontlik gemaak het.

Tans bedreig die toename in misdaad, veral geweldsmisdade en die gepaardgaande ontoereikende hulpbronne van die polisie – die algemene veiligheid van alle inwoners, skole, besighede, toeriste. Suid Afrika word tans beskou as een van die 20 onveiligste  lande in die wereld.

Om jou beste te probeer is soms nie genoeg nie; wat moet gedoen word is wat nodig is – aldus die dispuut wat deur die Weskaap verklaar is, is om polisiëring ook as ‘n provinsiale funksie in te stel. ‘n Professionele en gemoderniseerde polisie mag op provinsiale vlak is essensieel.

Agbare President, alle Suid-Afrikaners het tans ‘n grondige begrip van wat Churchill bedoel het deur te sê: ‘I no longer listen to what people say, I just watch what they do. Behavior never lies.’

Actions speak louder than words.

A plan for our shared tomorrow

The following speech was delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, during the joint sitting for the debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament. 

Madam Speaker

Honourable President

Honourable Members

At the very moment a child will be born in South Africa. This child is born in a modern, hi-tech hospital – most likely the same hospital where her parents met her several months ago for the first time on a 3D scan.

They will soon take her home to a safe community where she and her family will be protected by private security. Later she will attend a good school where she will have access to a wide range of subjects that will prepare her for a fast-changing future.

Her path through school, then university and finally into a career stretches out ahead of her. Yes, she will have to work hard at every step of the way, but all the opportunities she needs in life will be there for her to take if she so chooses.

At the same time, another child is also born in South Africa. She is born in a clinic on the outskirts of a small town. Neither of her parents has a steady job. She will live in a poverty-stricken community gripped by fear and crime, with little option of escaping.

She will have no choice but to go to the nearest school, even though most of the children there don’t reach matric, and most of the teachers are regularly absent.

There is no path laid out for her to a future with a degree, a career and security. If she’s lucky enough to finish school, she might be lucky enough to get a job. Any job.

This, Honourable Members, is the reality of our country.

We live in two separate worlds, determined by the circumstances of our birth.

When we speak about inequality, it’s not merely an issue of income or wealth. It’s an inequality of opportunity. An inequality of dreams and possibilities.

We are a country of insiders and outsiders, and right now we’re making no headway in breaking down the walls between these two groups.

The image we were treated to by the President on Thursday evening of a future South Africa with hi-tech cities, high-speed trains and classrooms where children are taught to code and analyse data and no child goes hungry. While these may be experienced by some, the majority are left out and left behind.

Honourable Members,

Three stats released this past month paint the true state of our nation. The first was our record-high broad unemployment rate, which now stands at 38%.

The second was the contraction of our economy by 3.2% this first quarter – the highest in 10 years.

And the third was that our net investment has now fallen for the fifth consecutive quarter.

Read together, these numbers paint a picture of a country in deep, deep trouble. We no longer attract investment, which means we can’t grow the economy, which means that every month more and more South Africans join the ranks of the unemployed.

This is a crisis for us, but I believe we can turn it around if we act now.

Fellow South Africans,

Our priority should be to fix what is broken and build a South Africa where all can be guaranteed an equality of opportunity – be it in the classroom, on the sports field, or in the workplace. The DA is the party of equal shots, not equal outcomes.

To meet these urgent challenges we don’t need dreams. We need money, we need the right people and, most importantly, we need a plan.

And in order to do that, we don’t need to build new smart cities, Honourable President. We need to make our current cities smart.

We must broaden access and connect all young people to the information and the opportunities that still remain available to only a few.

And one place to start, Honourable President, is with our long-overdue spectrum allocation. The longer we delay this, the wider the technology and communications gap becomes, and the longer data prices will not fall.

Instead of a new bullet train, Honourable President, let us rather fix and protect the trains we already have – the trains that are meant to take thousands of ordinary South Africans to jobs and back home every day.

Let us put all our efforts into building a country where black children and white children, city children and rural children, all have quality education and equality of opportunity.

Without bold intervention, challenges don’t simply disappear, as history has repeatedly shown us.

Honourable members

By the end of the 19th Century, cities like New York and London were facing a crisis that seemed to have no solution. As these cities grew and developed, the tens of thousands of horses needed to transport people around had left the streets knee-deep in manure.

New York had to employ an army of workers to clear the streets every day. In London, The Times newspaper reported back in 1894 that every street in the city would be buried under nine feet of manure within 50 years if nothing changed.

Of course, this didn’t happen. And the reason for this is that a bold new solution, driven by new technology, had made the horse-drawn carriage obsolete.

Henry Ford’s new and affordable motorcar had replaced horses in the cities, the manure problem went away, and the course of history was changed forever.

Honourable Members, if we are to overcome our challenges here in South Africa, it will also require innovative and solutions – not doing more of the same.

But all President Ramaphosa could give us on Thursday was, to use another Henry Ford analogy, a faster horse.

We don’t need a faster horse, Mr President, we need a bold plan to steer us towards the South Africa of the future. A plan that responds to the three most important global drivers of the future, which are climate, technology, and disease management.

Fellow South Africans, the future is upon us

We must ask ourselves what kind of planet will our children inherit, will they be prepared with the right skills to step into this future, and can we ensure that our population remains healthy and resilient? These are the questions our plan needs to address.

Today we have floods in KZN and droughts in the Western Cape. This is the future we must plan for, and so before we build smart cities, we should build sustainable cities.

Elsewhere in the world countries are using smart technology to keep their people healthy and safe. Solutions like smartphone screening to detect cervical cancer. This should be part of our plan too.

I hear everyone speaking of the fourth industrial revolution these days, but I’m not sure they always know what this is. Giving our children tablets at school is not the fourth industrial revolution, but preparing them for jobs that don’t even exist yet is.

The overwhelming majority of all new jobs will not come from mining or retail, or even manufacturing. They will come from fields such as data mining, digital design, coding and a host of technology-driven micro-enterprises.

We need a plan that modernizes our economy for the future. Because if we don’t, we will meet the same fate as the Kodaks and Nokias – and soon, the Multichoices – of the world.

These companies seemed to hold invincible monopolies, but they failed to keep up with the changing world. They failed to modernise, and they got left behind.

Today hardly anyone uses a Nokia phone. Children don’t even know about Kodak. That’s how fast you become irrelevant.

We must have a vision of our place in the future. We must think big, and we must know where we are going.

Our vision is One South Africa for All in which each child has access to quality education, a modernized economy that puts at least a job in every home, access to healthcare and basic services for all, and where citizens live in safe communities free from crime and corruption.

A South Africa that is reconciled, prosperous, and a beacon of hope for developing countries across the world.

But that’s only one part of it. The other part – the more important part – is how we get there.

Doing what’s best for the country inevitably means the President will have to make decisions that will be met with resistance within his own party. That is why his SONA was devoid of any meaningful reform, because it would mean:

Standing up to powerful unions and alliance partners.

Upsetting the network of patronage that has been so good to so many cadres for so long.

Rethinking policy that hasn’t worked in decades.

And stepping out of a mind-set and an ideology that belongs in a different time.

None of this is easy, which is why it hasn’t happened. And so instead of real, tough reforms, we are stuck with yet more vague promises of a “faster horse”.

While our nation is in deep crisis, I believe we can turn it around if we act now. We can begin building a modernized African country comprised of strong individuals who are able to compete with the world’s best.

They say the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is right now.

The same goes for the reforms needed in our country and in our economy. We could have used these reforms twenty years ago, but since that didn’t happen, we need to implement them right now.

We need to plant the trees for our children’s future, knowing that we might not sit under those trees ourselves.

Today, propose seven reforms that will enable us to become the modern, inclusive country we all dream of.

The first reform is to our SOEs, and particularly to Eskom.

The last thing we should be doing now is committing ourselves to a decade or more of bailouts for Eskom. We must immediately split Eskom into two entities and open the market to more independent power producers – particularly solar power in our sun-rich nation.

Solar power is to the energy sector what Uber became to the transport industry, and we cannot afford to be left surprised and left behind.

We must allow well-functioning municipalities to buy directly from IPPs. Eskom requires us to move away from being coal dependent to other technologies.

While we’re splitting Eskom, we must also sell off SAA. It is a luxury we neither need nor can afford.

The second reform is to our education.

Let us introduce charter schools across South Africa, and particularly in our poor and rural communities. These are partnership schools between the private sector and public sector where children have access to schools less than 5km from home that have the best teachers, infrastructure and technology.

Not only will this clip the wings of the powerful and destructive union SADTU, it will also offer parents real choice. We can’t have our children bundled into taxis and sent far from home just to receive a decent education.

Yes, teaching our young children to code and analyse data will be crucial in preparing them for the future. But how can we do so in schools where ten-year-old children cannot even read for meaning? That’s where we must start.

The third reform is to our healthcare.

Forget about the NHI, Mr. President. It cannot work, it’s own pilot projects have shown this. Please stop it now before we waste further resources and time on an unrealistic pipe dream for which we simply don’t have the money.

You will find, in the DA’s Our Health Plan, a range of solutions that will make quality healthcare available to all South Africans without destroying our national budget. Solutions that provide access to free primary healthcare for all that can be rolled out quicker, cheaper and more fairly.

Let us also invest in smart healthcare technology, as this is the future of disease management and prevention.

The fourth reform is to our labour legislation.

If we want to make South Africa an investment destination once more, then we have no choice but to relax our labour laws.

Our current rigid legislation has not only driven investment away, it has also created two classes of citizen – the employed and the unemployed – and has made it near impossible for people enter the economy and find work.

Let’s relook at our tax structure and introduce tax incentives for people who create new jobs and setup a Jobs and Justice Fund so we can invest in research for economies of the future.

And let’s also relook the national minimum wage in its current form. We should be talking about sector specific minimum wages, as well as a possible op-out clause for young work-seekers.

The fifth reform is the building of a capable state.

If the shocking revelations at the Zondo Commission have confirmed one thing, it is that cadre deployment and monopoly politics are a one-way ticket to state capture.

Whether these deployments are to government, to SOEs or to Chapter Nine Institutions, the interests of the party always get put before the interests of the people.

Mr. President, you should lead by example and stop delaying and frustrating the Public Protector’s investigation in your Bosasa dealings.

Let the Public Protector do her work, and once the report is finalized, appear before a Parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee so that the matter can be dealt with in an open and transparent manner.

You spoke of trimming the size of the cabinet, Honourable President, but then you undid this by keeping on all the deputy ministers and, in some cases, doubling up on them.

It is entirely possible to cut the number of ministries even further to just 15, and to do away with deputy ministers.

The sixth reform is extending property ownership to millions of dispossessed South Africans.

Let us speed up the delivery of title deeds – both urban and rural – so that all South Africans can benefit from the freedom of owning their property. This will create certainty in the agricultural sector, providing more job opportunities for our people.

Both black and white South Africans must be able to access the benefit of owning private property as an economic asset that allows the transfer of wealth from one generation to another. Let’s give shares to South Africans so that they can hand over a future which was disrupted by our painful past.

And the seventh reform is to devolve the power over our police services to provincial governments.

If we want to keep South Africans safe in their homes and on their streets, we need to turn SAPS into a well-resourced, well-trained and highly professional crime fighting unit.

But more urgently, we need to put the police service in the hands of the government that is best-placed to respond to the needs of the community. And by this I mean the provincial government.

We must also do the same with our passenger rail services. Hand them over to provincial governments so that we can ensure that hard-working South Africans have a safe and reliable commute to work and back home.

These seven reforms will pull our country back from the brink and give us a foundation from which we can contemplate any future we can dream of.

Honourable Members

Ten years from now I want to see a South Africa that looks completely different from what we see today.

DA governments are already forging ahead, and have begun innovating, modernizing and growing the cities, towns and province we govern.

That’s why where we govern, you’ll find unemployment at the lowest in the country due to our obsessive focus on city-led economic growth and innovation in sectors such as agro-processing and tourism.

Today the Cape Town-Stellenbosch tech ecosystem is the most productive in Africa, employing over 40 000 people – more than Lagos and Nairobi combined – and rightly earning the title of ‘Africa’s tech hub.’

In terms of renewal energy, more than 8 in 10 municipalities in the Western Cape already have laws in place to allow for independent solar energy generation and most of them are ready to sell clean energy back into the grid.

This is what city led economic development looks like and why we continue to take the ANC government to Court over the right to diversify energy and buy directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

In terms of education, the DA-run Western Cape’s investment in the future of eLearning has seen over R1.4 billion invested over the past 5 years – delivering 1 160 refreshed computer labs, 28 870 devices for learners, 11 000 resources on our online portal.

To date, 70% of all teachers are trained in eTraining and over 80% of schools are connected to free internet. The Western Cape’s retention rate from Grades 10 – 12 is the highest in the country, at around 63% for the 2018 matric results. No other province managed to achieve a retention rate of over 50%.

In healthcare, the Western Cape is only province to have digitised patient records in public healthcare, spanning 54 hospitals, 300 primary healthcare facilities, and 13 million patient records. The province also is home to the eco-friendly Khayelitsha Hospital, which provides free access to healthcare for tens of thousands of poor South Africans.

The DA has already begun working. It’s now time Mr. Ramaphosa joins our efforts and collaborates with us at all spheres of government to build the country we all deserve.

Today I appeal to you to join with us in our plan.

Allow our governments to keep the lights on

Execute the plan for us to have trains that work

Devolve the power of police to a provincial competency so we can effectively fight crime

Free up small business to create work for our people

Sell off our beleaguered SOEs

And modernize and de-unionize our children’s basic education system

We have a plan, so help us with this plan, Mr. President.

If you’re prepared to do that, you will have an ally in me and in the DA.

But if you can’t or won’t, then I’m afraid you’ll need to make way for a DA government that can and will create a better South Africa for All.

DA committed to holding the President to account for Bosasa dealings, including possible money laundering

Today’s headline in the Business Day, DA denies raising laundering issue, is misleading and seeks to distort the truth as it pertains to the Public Protector’s investigation into the President Ramaphosa’s relationship with Bosasa (now African Global Operations). At no stage has the DA distanced itself from this investigation or the contents thereof. Rather, we have been explicitly clear in our call for the matter to be finalised, and for Parliament to establish an Ad Hoc Committee to consider the report and its findings – as it did with the Nkandla report.

The facts as to the President’s alleged wrongdoings are straightforward and have not changed. It is my contention that on 6 November 2018, President Ramaphosa misled Parliament about a R500 000 “donation” his campaign received from Bosasa CEO, Gavin Watson, and the clear conflict of interest that exists between him, his son, Andile Ramaphosa and Bosasa. This as his son subsequently secured lucrative contracts with Bosasa to the tune of at least R2 million.

While the focus of my complaint was on the President’s misleading of the House and his conflict of interest with Bosasa, the manner in which the “donation” was allegedly paid – not directly but through attorneys trust accounts – raised the suspicion of financial irregularities and possible money laundering.

In my initial complaint (attached here) to the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, on 23 November 2018, it was raised as follows:

“The nature of the payment, passing through several intermediaries, does not accord with a straightforward donation and raises the suspicion of money laundering. The alleged donor is further widely reported to have received billions of Rands in state tenders, often in irregular fashion.” (Emphasis added)

Therefore, from the very outset, the suspicion of money laundering was raised with the Public Protector.

In April 2019, when I met with Adv. Mkhwebane to ascertain as to why her investigation was taking  much longer than expected, she confirmed that while she has initially hoped the investigation would be finalized by February 2019, it became apparent during the process of investigating the matter that the nature and extent of the relationship between the Ramaphosa’s and Bosasa ran much deeper than initially thought.

The Public Protector decided to significantly widen the ambit of the investigation to include other issues uncovered during the investigation – including possible financial irregularities – which she is legally entitled to do. This is public knowledge.

We eagerly await the release of the final report, and for this to be considered by Parliament. An Ad Hoc Committee must be established without delay, and I have already written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, in this regard. This will leave no room for further speculation and allow the public and Parliament to hold President Ramaphosa to account for his actions.

DA requests report into prison officials giving inmates weapons to be tabled before committee

The DA welcomes the investigation into two videos which show inmates of the Durban Westville correctional facility openly doing drugs and being given weapons by officials. We trust that the implicated officials have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

Once the report is finalised, it must be tabled before the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services to be thoroughly interrogated.

However, it is likely that this is not an isolated incident.

Corruption should have no place in our society yet, it is rife within the entire prison system and the prevalence of gangsterism is well known. Gangsters are well organised and bribe officials which undermine good order within prisons.

Unless this root cause is dealt with, we cannot hope to root out the symptoms of this corruption.

The new Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, cannot hope that the systemic problems in correctional services will disappear as if his appointment will sweep the issues up. For starters, he can ensure that there is strict access control and searches conducted not only on inmates but on prison officials as well.

In 2001 then President, Thabo Mbeki, appointed a judicial commission of inquiry, chaired by Judge Jali, to investigate the allegations of corruption, nepotism and maladministration within the Department of Correctional Services.

The final and extensive report was released in 2006 and numerous officials were held to account. However, since then there seems to have been little headway made into ensuring that the prison system is free of corruption.

The problems within the system are known and it is not difficult to identify what must be done to ensure prisons are places of rehabilitation, not places were criminal activity thrives.

Electoral Court ruling adjudicates on the role and authority of the IEC

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Electoral Court setting aside the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC) decision on the DA’s statement that Minister Patricia De Lille was “fired” from the Party.

In April, the IEC ruled that the DA’s comment was “false” and issued a directive that the Party not only “cease and desist” from making such comments, but that the DA apologises.

The Electoral Court found that the IEC had no power or authority to adjudicate this matter nor did it have the power to issue remedial action. Further to this, the judgement found that the statement was permissible in terms of free speech and therefore did not have any bearing on the outcome of the election itself.

The Electoral Court ruling now sets an important precedent for the future conduct of the IEC.

Throughout the election period, the IEC conducted itself in an inconsistent and lethargic manner when dealing with complaints brought to its attention, despite prima facie evidence of violations of the Code of Conduct by political parties.

The IEC’s primary mandate is to ensure free and fair elections. It is therefore essential that the Commission at all times ensures that it conducts its business without fear or favour and is careful not to allow itself to be used as a political football or to be perceived to be partial.

The judgement can be obtained here.

SONA was more recycled rhetoric, lacking plans to bring about the urgent change we need

This evening, President Cyril Ramaphosa was presented with an opportunity to mark a divisive break from the past and charter a new way forward for our nation – a future of rapid economic growth, job creation, accelerated service delivery, quality education, and the eradication of corruption and crime.

The reality is that committing to a litany of “10-year goals” means very little to people who desperately need immediate change. The ANC has had 25 years to bring about change, and while the President is dreaming, the majority of South Africans are living a nightmare.

It is disappointing that the State of the Nation Address (SONA) was nothing more than an acknowledgement of the systemic problems the country faces – without announcing urgent and immediate reform measures that our nation and her people are crying out for. We need a plan for tomorrow.

While our economy remains in ICU, the President expects his recycled rhetoric, sprinkled with one or two minor changes, to lead to fundamental reform and take us on a path of rapid economic growth that creates a job in every home. This was not a SONA for the 10-million jobless South Africans,the majority of whom are young people.

The truth is, the President said very little about government’s actual plans. It was devoid of policy certainty that could steer our economy towards a path of growth and prosperity.

However, it is what he failed to say that is even more noteworthy. The SONA was silent on the introduction of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to secure cheaper and more sustainable electricity supply.

The SONA was silent on South African Airways (SAA) which continues to divert public money away from service delivery and towards a financial black hole. There was no mention of a plan to review the role of State-Owned Entities (SOEs), which remains one of the biggest threats to economic recovery and growth.

The SONA was silent on how government plans to reduce a bloated state and the public sector wage bill, which costs South Africans over R400 billion per year and is simply unsustainable in the medium and long term.

The SONA was silent on rural safety units and the localisation of police and crime intelligence. Putting a few more cops on the street will barely scratch the surface of our country’s endemic crime problem.

The SONA was silent on basic education reform where the interests of learners are placed ahead of the interests of SADTU. There was no mention of the implementation of teacher competency tests and principal performance agreements that SADTU has been blocking for half a decade.

Lastly, the SONA was largely silent on corruption – mentioning it only twice in a 6300-word speech. One of the greatest inhibitors of creating a capable state that can deliver on its objectives is corruption. The President is clearly unable to tackle corruption within his party and within government.

The DA’s fight going forward is for the 10 million unemployed South Africans – to put a job in every home and bring about real change that will build One South Africa for All.

Parly Committee Chairperson candidates: ANC factional fault lines made clear

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken note of the African National Congress (ANC) announcement of their candidates for chairpersons of portfolio committees.

The ANC’s candidates for some of the committees are frankly shocking and shows a complete disregard for the people of South Africa. Supra Mahumapelo, a Gupta acolyte who was basically chased out of the North West province has now been slated for the Tourism committee. Faith Muthambi, who helped to run the SABC into the ground is now about to be put in charge of oversight over municipalities. Other strong Zupta allies alleged to have played instrumental roles in the capturing of the state, such as Mosebenzi Zwane and Bongani Bongo, are now in prime position to help capture Parliament.

It is clear that the Ramaphosa’s attempts a forging a new dawn are being hampered by the ANC’s factional fault lines – with Ramaphosa on one side and Ace Magashule on the other. The Magashule faction won this fight, and will do all it can to undermine all attempts at building a better South Africa for all.

The portfolio committees play a crucial role within Parliament, and are key to holding government departments and ministers to account. It is here where financial statements, performance plans, and annual reports are interrogated and where government department heads and the boards of state-owned entities are called to account for their actions.

Without rigorous and vigilant portfolio committees, Parliament’s work is hamstrung. The 6th Parliament can not afford to fall into the same rubber-stamp role as the 4th and 5th Parliaments, which were rightly criticised by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture as failing in their constitutional duty of holding the executive to account.

The DA will therefore carefully consider putting forward alternative candidates to head up portfolio committees, in order to fight this attempt at once again capturing Parliament.

The members of the 6th Parliament have an unique opportunity to change the direction in which South Africa moves in going forward. Committee chairpersons play an important role in this regard, and the DA will work hard to make sure we have credible candidates in place who will not hesitate to speak truth to power and do what is necessary.

SONA must focus on jobs, the economy, and safety for all

Tomorrow President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the State of the Nation Address (SONA) following the 2019 national and provincial elections just 6 weeks ago. Despite the current fractious position we find ourselves in, there remains a collective sense of expectation that just maybe this SONA will mark a break from the past and charter a new way forward for our nation.

Make no mistake, our country is at the precipice and ready for change. Racial, linguistic and nationalist tensions are worryingly high, the economy is a friend to very few, and the overwhelming majority of South Africans live in fear for their lives and livelihoods. Things are fast approaching boiling point, and the time is ripe for social and economic reform.

As Leader of the Official Opposition, I have been steadfast in my approach towards the President. The DA will not be opposition for opposition’s sake. Mr Ramaphosa will have my full support when he acts in the best interests of South Africa. Similarly, he will face the full might of the official opposition when he acts to the contrary.

Tomorrow the President has a unique opportunity to restore confidence in the country by providing policy certainty that steers our economy towards a path of growth and prosperity. A future in which citizens feel safe, corruption is seriously dealt with, and services such as healthcare and education are delivered in a fair manner to all South Africans.

It is our view that in order to do so, he must make bold, uncompromising decisions despite how unpopular they may be within certain factions of his party. The future of South Africa hangs in the balance, and President Ramaphosa must now show the nation that he indeed is fit to lead.

It is within this context that we today set out the DA’s expectations for the State of the Nation Address.

Jobs and the Economy

The only way to create jobs, sustainably lift millions out of poverty, and give people the hope of a future of shared prosperity is an economy growing at much higher levels. Developing economies across the world have demonstrated that when sustained growth is achieved, more jobs are created, salaries and wages increase, and the quality of life is objectively better.

The key impediments to growth are the supply and cost of electricity, labour legislation reform, fundamental policy uncertainty, uncertainty around the protection of property rights, and low levels of investment – both domestic and foreign.

1. Electricity cost and supply

President Ramaphosa needs to announce government’s intention to allow major cities to procure electricity from any capable supplier, establishing a competitive market for power generation that lowers costs – especially for the manufacturing sector. This would in turn create much needed power for the under-resourced national grid, staving off the need for rolling power cuts. Secondly, the President should proceed with the breaking up of Eskom into separate entities, one for generation and the other for supply. This is the most sustainable way of protecting the grid while allowing new producers to come on board.

This should be coupled with a decision to not allow any more bailouts for Eskom. Our country cannot be coal dependent for much longer, and there ought to be a concerted effort to pursue alternative, cleaner energy sources including wind, solar and gas.

  1. Labour Legislation Reform

To mitigate the protracted strikes, the President should implement the DA’s strike ballot proposals. This includes:

  • Making it a requirement for ballots to be held before there is a strike action by unions – a key initiative to ensuring all strike action stems from a democratic decision of workers;
  • Holding labour unions accountable for any damage to public or private property as a result of strike action; and
  • Holding labour unions financially accountable to pay damages to individuals who have successfully brought cases of intimidation and/or assault against trade union members during strike action.

In addition to this, an independent committee tasked with reviewing our rigid labour legislation regime and its impact on investment, growth and job creation should be established.

Our labour policy is some of the most archaic in the world and the main inhibitor to job creation. This labour legislation review would need to include reforming the National Minimum Wage with Sectoral Minimum Wage as the ideal alternative.

We need to explore the option of allowing people to exempt themselves from minimum wage legislation which will allow higher access to work for those unemployed South Africans.

  1. Policy uncertainty

One of the primary inhibitors of inclusive economic growth is the guess game many local and foreign investors have to play when it comes to government policy. There exists very little certainty as to government’s “rules of the game”, with doublespeak occurring on a regular basis.

Providing policy certainty is the “cheapest” stimulus that Ramaphosa could announce as it requires no money and would have a profoundly positive effect on business sentiment and confidence.

This begins with the President at once stopping speculation about the role and nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and end the self-defeating discussion on the expropriation of private property without compensation.

There is also uncertainty in the mining sector causing the near-collapse of the industry, which remains a vital export earner and employer in the economy. The dispute over empowerment requirements must be resolved in favour of investment and growth because a greater empowerment share of an ever-shrinking industry is pointless and does not serve anyone’s interests.

In trade, there is a genuine threat that South Africa will suffer as an innocent victim in a trade war between the trade “superpowers.” This is an opportunity to speak with moral authority and make the case for more open global trade based on mutually agreed rules. We should show leadership in this by working to complete the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) urgently.

Such announcements would send a clear signal that South Africa is open for business, which would in turn grow our economy and create much needed jobs.

  1. Public investment

In order to invest in infrastructure, we have to cut costs elsewhere as the public purse has run dry. This requires a fundamental spending review focused on the public wage bill, which is clearly unsustainably inflated in favour of very expensive “head office costs” – with not enough allocated to frontline delivery staff like nurses, doctors, teachers, police officers, social workers, and border patrols.

The President should announce a salary freeze on all nonessential public sector posts, with a view to drastically cutting middle management and redirecting that money to funding much needed infrastructure projects across the country.

5. Additional measures

There is an urgent need for SOE reform across the board and the President needs to announce his intention and table a solid plan for full SOE reform of all SOEs.

A moratorium on bailouts to SAA should be announced, and the airline placed in business rescue before the end of June 2019. This would demonstrate that government will not waste another cent on badly run, corrupt SOEs.

The Carbon Tax should be scrapped immediately. It is nothing but a tax on manufacturing, when we should be looking to lower the costs of doing business for manufacturing companies by all means possible. The cost of this tax will be borne disproportionately by ordinary consumers through higher electricity charges and manufacturing businesses and will have no major benefit in reducing carbon emissions, since the greatest emitter is Eskom.

Safety

In recent months there has been an unprecedented spike in violent crimes affecting rural and gang-ridden communities. This follows promises made by President Ramaphosa before the elections to bring about rural safety and security in South Africa.

It is high time the President acts and reintroduces rural safety units at once.

South Africans deserve safer communities and an honest and professional police service that actually serves them. However, provinces remain severely under-resourced, under-trained, under-equipped and under-staffed. President Ramaphosa should therefore also announce his intention to devolve the South African Police Service (SAPS) powers to capable provinces so that the SAPS can ensure more efficient and effective planning and responsiveness closer to the ground.

Corruption

For the past two decades, corruption has seeped into every organ of the state. From the Arms Deal to Nkandla, rooting out corruption requires bold leadership from the very front.

For the past seven months, President Ramaphosa has been embroiled in a corruption scandal relating to Bosasa, a company that has questionable ties to the ANC for over 20 years. The President – and his son, Andile – have allegedly benefitted to the tune of millions from a company well known for bribing government officials. This is now subject to a Public Protector investigation following a complaint I laid.

I have today written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, calling for the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on the Public Protector’s imminent Bosasa report to interrogate the Bosasa scandal – which includes President Ramaphosa’s dealings.

If the President is truly serious about rooting out corruption, he should have no qualms in publicly supporting my call and subjecting himself to the Ad Hoc committee.

Service Delivery

It is high time the President takes a decisive stand against the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) which continues to hold South Africa and its children to ransom. The union has fought against all accountability for teachers, placing the interests of millions of children second to the interests of union bosses.  The implementation of teacher competency tests and principal performance agreements that SADTU has been blocking for half a decade would be a welcome show of independence from the unions by President Ramaphosa, and he should introduce these tomorrow.

To add to the list of dangerous policies that needs to be scrapped must surely be the National Health Insurance (NHI) which is unsustainable and unfeasible. The President needs to announce that that the NHI will be scrapped.

Conclusion

The question that should be on the President’s mind as he addresses the nation tomorrow is where the country is going and how we are going to get there. If his answers to these questions are in the best interests of the people of South Africa, he will have my full support going forward.

Mr Ramaphosa needs to be bold, brave and uncompromising. He ought to place the nation’s interests ahead of the ANCs interest. Only then will we begin to move our country forward.

Zondo Commission needs to probe whether former Minister Brown lied to Parliament about Trillian contracts

The DA welcomes the judgement handed down by the High Court in Pretoria which ordered Trillian Capital, a Gupta company, to payback R600 million of the R1,7 billion that it generated in ‘consultancy fees’ on Eskom contracts.

The court judgement is a victory against corruption and an indictment on former Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynn Brown, who has been exposed for misleading Parliament.

In a 2017 reply to a DA question, Brown denied the existence of the contracts or that any monies had been paid to Trillian by Eskom. Brown should now be called to appear before to the Zondo Commission to answer fully for this deliberate attempt to cover up this billion rand heist. She must also account for any knowledge of the Gupta-lead and ANC condoned widespread looting of the state-owned entity, that contributed to crippling Eskom and which has since brought our economy to the precipice as a result of rolling blackouts.

The former Minister has claimed that she has nothing to hide. She should, therefore, have no problem in presenting herself before the Zondo Commission to account for Eskom’s failure during her tenure as Minister.

This judgement sends a clear message to everyone who benefited from the Gupta criminal enterprise, that all public funds obtained through clandestine means will be recovered.

The DA has fought long and hard to ensure that the extent of state capture at Eskom was exposed and we will continue to fight to ensure that those responsible are held to account and that the people’s stolen money is recouped.

Zindzi Mandela’s divisive comments are basis for her to be recalled

The Democratic Alliance believes that Zindzi Mandela’s divisive comments are strong enough basis for her to be recalled as ambassador. According to the code of conduct, an Ambassador may not communicate any view without the express permission of the Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Naledi Pandor. As an Ambassador your private views are limited by the obligation to uphold and further the best interest of South Africa. Therefore, the recent tweets from the official Twitter account of South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark were either endorsed by the Minister, or were in contravention of the code of conduct, which is grounds for recall.

Moreover, the claim by the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, that they are unable to contact South Africa’s Ambassador to Denmark, Zindzi Mandela, because “she is travelling” is highly problematic. It is an offence for an Ambassador to leave the country of accreditation without departmental approval and a further offence to be uncontactable for days at a time. This is grounds for immediate recall.

If it is confirmed that Ambassador Mandela was the author of the divisive tweets and that she did not receive approval to express these views or to travel, she must be recalled immediately.

In the meantime, the DA has sent urgent questions to Minister Pando asking whether the views of Ambassador Mandela are also the views of the South African government.

The Democratic Alliance recognises that the reconciliation project in South Africa has stalled over the last decade. The progress we had made since 1994 has halted, leading to many South Africans feeling they don’t have a stake in democratic South Africa.

This climate allows divisive and damaging politics to take root, as people retreat into their racial and cultural laagers. This “us vs them” mentality divides us and undermines the difficult but possible vision of building One South Africa for All.

Ambassador Mandela’s comments on Twitter are unfortunate as they seek to place blame on sections of the population for the complete failure of the government to grow our economy and achieve meaningful redress.

The DA believes in the right of all South Africans to own land and property in their own right. This must be coupled with a land reform policy that redresses the wrongs of the past.