Unemployment stats reveals the painful realities of the young and the unemployed

StasSA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) on Tuesday revealed that youth unemployment stood at a shocking 58.1%, with an expanded rate of 69.5%. This means that more than half of South Africans aged 15 to 24 face joblessness.

South Africa’s economic crisis has deteriorated to the extent that young people, the ones who should be at the forefront of innovation and economic opportunities, languish due to unemployment.

The report estimates that there is around 3.3 million young people who are without jobs in South Africa, more alarming is that unemployment among those aged 25 to 34 is more than double that of people aged 45 to 54.

A number of these young people have attained an education, attended internship programmes, volunteered for work, and have put together good résumés, only to find themselves facing insurmountable unemployment challenges, for which Government has no answer.

The ANC Government is incapable of creating an economic environment that is conducive for job creation. Instead, Government senselessly squanders public money on bailing out failing parastatals instead of adequately equipping young people with skills and fixing the economy. This affirms that young people still find themselves fighting for their dignity, livelihoods and survival. It is evident that we are being forced into a dark abyss of injustice. Young people are in a continuous state of hopelessness and have stripped off their dignity.

The DAY believes a better life for young people means sustainable opportunities.

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

The youth must refuse to continue being subjected to a life of poverty and shame.

Where the DA governs, job creation takes centre stage – our governments continue to ensure that:

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

The DA has and continues to fight tirelessly where we are in opposition to put forward alternative plans to alleviate joblessness and poverty. Our duty is to take this responsibility, own it and see this dream realised together. The DA Youth will follow the President’s State of the Nation closely.

The Incapable State of our Nation

This is the real state of our nation, delivered by the DA Leader, John Steenhuisen, following weeks touring South Africa, visiting communities, engaging and interacting with South Africans, and listening to their daily challenges and struggles.

Citizens of South Africa

Every morning, as I approach my office in the Marks Building at Parliament, my view down the corridor is dominated by a large portrait of our party’s founding member and first lady of liberalism, Helen Suzman.

She’s the first person I see at work in the morning and the last person I see before I leave. And I’d like to think that, in some small way, her constant presence there reminds us of what we can achieve with the right attitude and the right values.

Much has been written about Helen Suzman’s tenacity and courage in Parliament, where National Party members went out of their way to bully and silence her.

We all know her story – how she refused to be bullied, and how she kept on plugging away with question after question until she got the answers she wanted, and the National Party government was exposed.

Helen Suzman was a hugely impressive individual. When she stood up in the National Assembly, she was standing up for all those who had no voice there. For many she was a direct line to a government that didn’t even want to know they existed.

But arguably her single most impressive characteristic was her burning desire to always know the unfiltered truth. Not the biased news report. Not the hearsay or the rumour. Not the spin.

She was only interested in the truth of the first-hand account.

She saw the propaganda delivered week-in and week-out from the podium of the National Assembly for what it was, and she was having none of it.

Her famous motto was “go see for yourself”. And by tirelessly visiting prisons, townships and funerals, by meeting with banned individuals and by writing and answering thousands of letters, she got to a truth that no one else in Parliament would ever admit to.

Fast-forward many decades later, and it seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Our Parliament has once again become a place of fairy tales and spin – where the ruling party will do all it can to present a sugar-coated version of the past, present and future, and hide the ugly truth from the people.

Tomorrow in Parliament you will hear from President Ramaphosa his account of the State of the Nation. And it will be a master class in spin.

If you’ve never witnessed one of his SONA speeches, you may be forgiven for going into this one with naïve expectations. But I sat there and listened to him in 2018, I sat there and listened to him last year, and I know exactly what is coming.

This won’t be our President playing with a straight bat to the nation in a time of great crisis. This won’t be the president taking us into his confidence and spelling out the true extent of our challenges and the tough decisions and sacrifices we will need to make.

No, it will be an hour of downplaying the bad and inventing the good. Of cherry-picking stats to show we’ve somehow turned a corner, and of whimsical dreams of a South Africa he knows in his heart he has no hope of achieving.

Last year it was high-tech cities and speeding bullet trains. What will it be this year? Already he is talking about building a Cape to Cairo highway, while he can’t even get the road to Mthatha fixed.

All this while our economic doomsday clock ticks ever closer to midnight.

I assure you, what he will present on Thursday evening, amid all the pomp and ceremony of red carpets and designer dresses, will not reflect the real state of our nation.

I already had a fairly good idea of what this was, but inspired and challenged by the woman in the portrait looking down the corridor outside my office, I decided to go and see for myself.

Over the past two weeks I have travelled to every province and spoken to hundreds of people in dozens of communities to get their views on where we stand as a nation. I have been to metros, to townships and to villages. I have met with residents, business owners and farmers.

And all these people I spoke to have two things in common:

One, they are all, in one way or another, victims of this government. Victims of its failure to deliver services, victims of load-shedding, victims of unemployment and victims of the daily crime that government cannot protect them from.

And two, they don’t dwell in their victimhood. All the people I spoke to were resilient and resourceful. They were hustling to get by in the face of indescribable obstacles.

They were surviving despite this government.

I saw people living in the worst possible conditions, but still planting beautiful gardens outside their shacks.

I met with tight-knit communities who look out for each other and share the little they have, because they know their government has long since turned its back on them.

I spoke to a business owner in Kempton Park who is determined to save the jobs of all his employees, despite government threatening to close him down or fine him if he doesn’t fire half the women in his employ for the sake of “gender parity” and a mindless box-ticking exercise.

The people of this country are not the problem.

There is so much extraordinary potential in ordinary South Africans, and they want nothing more than to unlock this potential. They don’t want to remain trapped in serfdom and dependent on hand-outs from the state.

Despite the ANC government’s apparent pride in the size of its social grants programme, this is not a source of pride at all. In fact, 17 million grants each month is a shameful statistic.

People don’t want this. They want dignity, independence and the freedom to choose.

South Africans survive despite what amounts to a daily onslaught from their own government.

Now imagine what we could unleash if we had a government that didn’t kick its people to the kerb day after day. Imagine a government that stood with the people.

Perhaps, instead of “thuma mina” our president should have chosen as his motto: “ndihamba nawe”. Because isn’t that what we need? A government that walks with us.

We know the threat that Eskom, Expropriation Without Compensation and the nationalisation of the health industry hold for our battered economy. I don’t need to spell out the extent of our economic collapse.

Fellow South Africans, we all know the big picture of the crisis we’re in – the massive unemployment, the spiralling national debt, the non-existent growth and the disappearing investment.

But it is where this collapse of government and state touches the lives of individual South Africans that you see the sheer scale of our crisis.

Over the past two weeks I have heard first-hand accounts of how the failure of local and national government has caused untold suffering for people from all walks of life.

These people will not get a mention in the president’s SONA speech.

You will not hear about a community of 2,000 people on the outskirts of Upington that has not one single water tap between them, and have lived like this for the past eight years.

You will not hear of the small businesses that line Mangaung’s Moshoeshoe Street which are now being forced, one by one, to close their doors because the Metro government there has let the street fall into complete disrepair.

You will not hear of the people of Uitenhage who have to wait months and months for someone to come and fix their leaking water pipes, while thousands of litres of precious water run down the streets and form dams in the neighbourhood, in the middle of a drought.

You will not hear of the farmers in Limpopo who had to step up and do government’s job in containing the foot and mouth disease outbreak there, at great personal cost and sacrifice.

You will not hear about the terrible overcrowding in places like Gauteng’s Tembisa Hospital which lead to the deaths of ten babies recently, while not far away the Kempton Park Hospital has stood empty and abandoned for two decades.

Stories like these won’t feature in President Ramaphosa’s summary of where we stand as a country. Because the truth simply doesn’t fit the narrative.

Instead you are bound to hear a laundry list of carefully selected stats, badly disguised PR about government programmes, and plenty of vague forecasts about when and where our missing investments will start to return.

Everything we ever dreamt of will be just around the next bend. You will be asked to give it a little more time – our turnaround is so close you can almost touch it. As it always is, year after year.

But there is something else I suspect you will also hear plenty of. Judging by his recent remarks, I expect President Ramaphosa will use his SONA speech to reiterate his call for the building of a capable state. In fact, I dare you to count the number of times he uses this phrase on the night.

This elusive “capable state” has become somewhat of a mantra for him in recent weeks. And although it has been pointed out to him that this has been a core DA principle for the past two decades, he has continued to bandy it about as though the ANC had just thought of it.

From his January 8 statement speech to his weekly newsletter, the capable state has been his go-to theme of late.

He has promised, in his own words, that government will “end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage”.

The irony, of course, is that the entire philosophy of the ANC-in-government is the very antithesis of the capable state.

Ever since they officially adopted the policy of cadre deployment back in 1997 – a process the president himself was once in charge of – the capability of the state has been slowly eroded to the point where today it is hard to find a single ANC-run department, local government or parastatal that is not in a constant state of crisis or looting.

The ANC’s deep ideological desire to control every single part of the state – and thereby control the lives of all citizens – is so baked into its DNA that it will never be able to walk away from cadre deployment.

And so the president’s words on building a capable state are entirely meaningless. If you need any proof of this, consider what took place not even one week after his solemn commitment to merit-based appointments.

  • The head of the Public Service Commission appointed his mistress as a senior government official;
  • Health Minister Zweli Mkhize appointed his niece as his Chief of Staff, despite a massive cloud of corruption hanging over her head;
  • Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu appointed the thoroughly compromised Mo Shaik and Menzi Simelane as her special advisors;
  • And the ANC decided to appoint an immunologist and former university vice-chancellor as the Chair of the embattled Eskom board.

This all happened within a week of the president promising us that the days of nepotism, patronage and unqualified appointments are a thing of the past in the ANC.

Hollow, meaningless words.

We’ve seen what cadre deployment has done to Eskom. We’ve seen what it has done to SAA. We’ve seen what it has done to PRASA, Denel, Transnet, SABC and every other state-owned enterprise.

But if you really want to see the devastation caused by this practice, you need to visit the towns and villages that seldom make the national news cycle. Because here the destruction of the state and its inability to deliver is on full display, 24 hours a day.

What I saw these past two weeks across the breadth of South Africa is the real state of our nation, and the true legacy of this ANC government: The Incapable State.

Every single local government I visited has been paralyzed by bad policy and worse appointments, to the point where it can no longer deliver the very basics.

I saw a ruling party trapped in a nightmarish Groundhog Day – a reality from which they cannot escape. And so they simply repeat, in the same perfunctory manner, the same ineffective steps over and over again until the municipality eventually fails and is placed under administration and run by remote control.

Rinse. Repeat. Rinse. Repeat.

And the man who is meant to lead them out of this nightmare – the darling of the media and last hope of the once-proud ANC – is himself stuck in his own quicksand of warring factions and crippling indecisiveness.

The incapable head of an incapable state.

Hoping for this to change by itself won’t get us anywhere, because the ANC will simply carry on along this downward spiral until there is nothing left to save and nothing left to lose.

We, the citizens of this country, need to administer the shake-up that is required.

For this, we need to reimagine our entire political landscape. I wrote in my newsletter last week that South Africa needs a reset, in the same way that the country got a reset back in 1990 with the unbanning of political parties and the negotiation of our new democracy.

We need to break out of the old way of thinking that has dominated our political discourse these past two-and-a-half decades. And by “we” I mean everyone who wants to save the country from the disaster we’re heading towards, ANC included.

We need to forget about the old dogmas of conflicting ideology – that’s the wrong conversation entirely. The Berlin Wall has long fallen, Brezhnev is not in the Kremlin and the Cold War is over.

Our problems require pragmatic solutions, and none of this is rocket science.

For starters, we must immediately consign the practice of cadre deployment to the dustbin of history. If the president wants a capable state, he must put his money where his mouth is and build one.

But cadre deployment is but one symptom of a state that doesn’t know where it is required to act, and where the best course of action is to simply step out of the way.

If we want to unleash the power of the people, then we have to let them be part of the solution. Let the private sector do what it can, so that the state can focus on doing what it must.

We don’t need one monolithic state-run energy company. Let us sell off Eksom’s coal-fired stations to settle its debts, but let them still manage the grid. Let us open up the market to full competition. Let households, companies, mines and municipalities generate and sell power.

Then let us do the same in the education sector. The state is clearly struggling to provide quality education for all, and particularly in disadvantaged communities. Let us welcome the help of all who can assist.

For starters, we should be strengthening, not weakening, the roles of parents and school governing bodies. These are the most important and committed allies we have.

Let’s also encourage the entrance of private schools in all communities and let’s properly explore charter schools as a way of involving the private sector in education.

But most importantly we need to ensure that our teachers are properly trained, monitored and incentivised, and that will mean clipping the wings of the unions.

When it comes to healthcare, the idea that the state must be everything to everyone through the NHI is a terrible idea. We don’t need to destroy private healthcare in order to strengthen public healthcare.

The DA’s Sizani Healthcare Plan is full of practical solutions to our country’s massive healthcare challenges and won’t require additional funding or tax increases.

And again, by simply doing the basics right – by appointing capable people to run hospitals and health departments and by spending tax revenue on doctor and nursing posts rather than failed SOEs – we can fix healthcare without the NHI.

Safety and security is another area in which government must learn to let go of its tight national grip and start devolving power to the provinces and metros. Let those who are closest to the issues on the ground be responsible for the safety of the communities there, in line with international best practice.

And finally, government must accept that the best role it can play in creating jobs is that of a facilitator. Beyond creating an enabling environment, it should get out of the way and let businesses do most of the heavy lifting.

Government must learn to be a true supportive partner to the private sector. This means reforming and liberalising our labour legislation, and it can start by exempting small and medium businesses from all labour legislation other than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

These are just some of the ways in which we can start to turn the country around. And I know the President has people on his executive who have been telling him the exact same thing.

If he’d had the courage to act on a good idea when his Finance Minister presented it to him, we would’ve already taken the first steps towards our recovery.

We have to let go of the ideas of the past and embrace the ideas of the future. And that means recognising the goals and the values that we might share across the aisle, rather than the old battle lines that have always divided us.

If we do so, we will find that we have far more in common than we perhaps thought we did.

What we refer to as the DA’s vision for South Africa – that of an open opportunity society for all – is in fact a vision that many people outside of the DA share. Once you start unpacking this vision and describing to people what it looks like in real terms, you find that it resonates far and wide.

This vision speaks of a society where one set of rules binds everyone equally – where a connected elite doesn’t get to play by its own rules.

It speaks of a society in which equal opportunity is more important than equal outcome. A society where individuals are so much more than mere representatives of their race or culture or gender.

A society where every person has the freedom to pursue their own dreams and create for themselves a life of meaning and value.

But no one can realise these freedoms if their basic needs aren’t met. And so, in our vision for South Africa, every man, woman and child has access to enough food to nourish them and keep them free from hunger.

Every family has a decent home, and this home has piped water, sanitation and electricity.

Every person can access quality healthcare within a reasonable distance of their home, and people feel safe and secure in their neighbourhoods.

All children receive the benefit of early childhood development before going on to attend a school where they receive quality basic schooling, free from the disruption of unions. Each of them will then have access to some form of post-school qualification or skills development.

This is a South Africa where every person stands equal before the law, and where everyone is free to worship whom they want to worship, love whom they want to love and speak the language of their choice.

It is a South Africa where all these opportunities enabled by the state has made it possible for people to live their own lives with dignity and independence. But for those who still need it, there is a social safety net to ensure that no one suffers the brutal effects of extreme poverty.

This vision is our entire project in the DA. Our dream is to help build a South Africa of opportunity for all – a country where every individual has the freedom to choose their own path in life.

And this is perhaps what struck me most during my tour across the nation: The lack of choice. The lack of freedom for people to decide where and how to live their lives.

I saw people whose lives had been limited not only by the immense obstacles in their path, but also by a government whose controlling, paternalistic attitude has removed all choice for them. A government that says: We know what’s best for you. We’ll look after you.

We often tell our children to dream big, because one day they can be whatever they choose. But for so many of our children growing up in rural villages and sprawling townships across South Africa, those dreams don’t mean much.

Their freedom of choice and their freedom to dream have been stolen from them.

That’s not what I want for my children, and neither should anyone else. Our children’s dreams should remain as wide and vast as the skies of our beautiful country. And it is up to us to ensure that they do.

That will require a new beginning here – a blank page on which all those who share this vision can sketch out a new way forward together, free from the ideological anchors of the past that continue to drag us back.

I believe this is possible. We can have the things we dream of.

We can have schools where our children receive the kind of education that sets them up for life.

We can have functional and safe cities – free from gangs and drugs – with world-class public transport networks.

We can have an economy that is attractive to investors once more – an economy that grows and creates jobs.

All of this is possible, but not with this current government.

That is where we need to make the change. That is where we need to hit the reset button and organise ourselves in a new way around common values and a common vision for South Africa.

I truly believe there are enough people across the whole political spectrum who genuinely care about the future of our country, who share the same values and who want the same things.

Let us now do whatever it takes to find each other.

Thank you.

DA welcomes National Lotteries Commission COO voluntary leave following DA pressure

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has reliably learnt that the Chief Operating Officer of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC), Philemon Letwaba has taken voluntary leave with immediate effect until 1 March 2020.

This comes after the NLC has finally relented from pressure from the DA and the public that an independent forensic audit must be conducted into the crisis hit commission over dodgy payments to friends and family, including the wife of the COO.

To date, Trade & Industry Minister, Ebrahim Patel has remained steadfast in his silence while allegation after allegation of corruption has been unearthed by GroundUp and journalist Raymond Joseph. This includes the threats of lawsuits and criminal charges against journalists by the NLC for uncovering their underhandedness.

The voluntary leave of the COO is a step in the right direction but it is merely a cosmetic one unless the Minister is prepared to get his hands dirty and tackle the rouge Board at the NLC.

That is why on the 23rd of January 2020, I wrote to the Minister to ask him to fire the Board and place the NLC under administration due to their failure to act against the COO and get to the bottom of the rot. Unfortunately, the Minister has continued to ignore my request, let alone respond to my letter. The big question is, what is the Minister so afraid of when it comes to fighting alleged corruption in the NLC?

The DA again reiterates it’s call for Minister Patel to stop hiding in the shadows and show some leadership by firing the Board and placing the NLC under administration.

Trade unions shooting themselves in the foot by blocking SAA retrenchments

It is ironic that the trade unions, National Union of Metalworkers (NUM) and the South African Cabin Crew Association (SACCA), are going to court to try to stop the South African Airways (SAA) Business Rescue Practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, from retrenching staff.

There is general consensus that SAA is overstaffed by at least 30% and with passengers abandoning SAA in droves the overstaffing is probably much, much higher. There is absolutely no way that SAA can be rescued, if at all, without massive staff retrenchments. Clearly NUM and the SACCA are oblivious to the fact that they are pulling the trigger of a gun directly pointing at their foot. Their action will only add to the woes of SAA and will in all likelihood be a major factor that will drive SAA into liquidation and the loss of all jobs at the airline.

If the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, are serious about the business rescue process for SAA, they will desist from any more taxpayer bailouts for the airline. Sadly, taxpayers will have to foot the bill for the very unwise, in fact simply foolish, government guarantees issued to prop up the completely bankrupt and looted SAA.

No doubt the trade unions, NUM and SACCA, are labouring under the impression that the taxpayer bailout honeypot will just continue to pour money into SAA to pay the bloated staff compliment. Given the absurd comments from President Cyril Ramaphosa criticising the SAA Business Rescue Practitioners for their move to cancel unprofitable routes it is not surprising that the trade unions are under the impression that, unlike countless children who go to bed hungry every night, the ANC government will not abandon them and will continue to pay billions of Rands of taxpayer money into the SAA black hole to ensure that they retain their highly paid redundant jobs.

DA to seek meeting with US Trade Representative over South Africa’s special preference exclusion

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will seek a meeting with the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in Africa following its decision to revoke South Africa’s inclusion as a Least Developed Country (LDC) or Developing Country after it reviewed its trade policy with regards to the thresholds for determining whether countervailable subsidies are de minimis and whether import volumes are negligible for the US.

The USTR argues that this became necessary as the previous policy was done in 1998 and that the data it had relied on had now become ‘obsolete’ and needed to be reviewed inline with advances individual countries have made with respect to development and trade.

What the DA wants to understand is a section in the notice of the USTR that seeks to motivate for South Africa’s exclusion which reads, “The U.S. Trade Representative also took into account G20 membership. The G20 was established in September 1999, and so was not considered in the 1998 rule. The G20 is a preeminent forum for international economic cooperation, which brings together major economies and representatives of large international institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Given the global economic significance of the G20, and the collective economic weight of its membership (which accounts for large shares of global economic output and trade), G20 membership indicates that a country is developed. Thus, Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and South Africa are ineligible for the 2 percent de minimis standard, notwithstanding that, based on the most recent World Bank data, each country has a per capita GNI below $12,375.”

This section justifies South Africa’s exclusion on the single basis of being in the G20, despite us not being above the Gross National Income (GNI) of $12,375 which is used to exclude other countries due to the development of their economies. It is akin to classifying someone as ‘fit’ based on them belonging to a gym.

On the face of it, this seems somewhat unfair and shortsighted.

Coupled with the threat of losing our Generalised System of Preference (GSP) over the Copyright Amendment Bill and the distinct possibility that the US Congress will not renew the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), South Africa is heading towards a perfect trade storm with the United States which will cost us Billions of Rands and thousands of jobs.

South Africa is not without fault when it comes to its treatment of its trading partners but the DA also believes that the exclusion of South Africa based on its G20 membership is unfair and we will make that point should we be granted a meeting with the US Trade Representative.

Jobs bloodbath: President needs to announce action plan in SONA

The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) for the 4th quarter of 2019, released today, show that South Africa remains knee-deep in a jobs bloodbath, with an official unemployment rate of 29.1%.

The QLFS revealed that between Quarter 3 and Quarter 4 of 2019, the number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 62 000 and those who were not active in the labour market for other reasons other than discouragement increased by 45 000 resulting in a net increase of 107 000 in the number of those who were not economically active. The proportion of those in long-term unemployment increased from 59,9% in Q4:2009 to 73,3% in Q4:2019.

This means that an ever-growing number of South Africans will not be able to afford to put bread on the table, or clothe and care for their families. They are excluded from the economy, consigned to a life of hardship and indignity because of the ANC’s failure to put in place measures that will help grow the economy and create jobs.

Every day almost 1700 adults join the labour market but fewer than 500 of them can find work. Young people aged between 15 and 34 are the hardest hit. Between 2008 and 2019 the population of young people grew by 2.2 million but the number employed declined by more than 500 000.

President Cyril Ramaphosa urgently needs to announce a comprehensive action plan to address the unemployment crisis – and youth unemployment in particular – when he delivers his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday night.

The President should use the opportunity to announce a thoroughgoing programme of labour reform that would include legal exemptions for small and new firms from collective bargaining agreements to which they are not party.

He should also prioritise the expansion of the employment tax incentive to include more young workers for a longer period.

Above all, the President needs to explain clearly how the ANC intends to reverse our economic decline and start growing the economy at a rate that will lead to job creation.

This means a plan to fix the mess at Eskom in order to ensure proper energy supply, and watertight assurances on the sanctity of property rights as the threat of expropriation without compensation looms.

Without those two things, the economy will continue to implode and job losses will continue to mount like corpses in a slaughterhouse.

Humiliating SSA robberies only the tip of the iceberg

Following a recent humiliating robbery in which sensitive documents and an undisclosed amount of money were reportedly stolen from the State Security Agency (SSA) offices in Pretoria – sources have reliably informed the Democratic Alliance (DA) that there have been many more break-ins at the SSA than had previously been reported.

The information brought to the DA’s attention points to more break-ins, fraud, theft, and looting, specifically under the State Capture years. These incidents have largely gone unreported, hidden under a murky veil of secrecy.

The DA has therefore submitted a number of parliamentary questions to the Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo, in order to examine the extent to which the security of our country has been compromised and what security measures have been put in place. Some of these questions include:

  1. The number of instances of theft and fraud at the SSA over the past 10 years;
  2. The estimated accumulated value of these instances;
  3. Whether these cases were reported to the police and the Inspector-General of Intelligence;
  4. How many arrests and prosecutions there have been; and
  5. How much has been recovered?

The DA will also raise these questions in the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence meeting tomorrow, as these allegations simply cannot go unaddressed.

The SSA has been severely weakened by the fact that it has for years been used as a tool for political point-scoring and unrestrained looting. It is therefore important for Minister Dlodlo to be transparent in her responses the public has a right you know the truth.

The SSA has got a long way to go both domestically and internationally to salvage its damaged reputation, and these alleged incidents of theft, are more bed publicity that the SSA cannot afford.

The DA will not sit by idly and watch as our national security continues to be white-anted –  it is important that people who work in such a crucial state institution are properly vetted and that they put the country ahead of party-political and factional battles.

One year later and IPID still without a permanent Head

This week marks exactly one year since the Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) has been without a permanent Head.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, appointed Victor Senna as the Acting Head of IPID on 10 February 2019 and promised in July last year that a permanent Head would be appointed by September 2019.

The Minister was clearly just blowing hot air, as it has now been 7 months since his promise and IPID is still stuck with an Acting Head.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is of the view that the current arrangement at IPID is far from ideal and a sense of stability and continuity should be restored at the Directorate.

Without strong leadership, IPID will not be able to achieve its mandate, which is to provide significant investigative breakthroughs in detecting systematic corruption and procurement irregularities in the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The lack of permanent leadership is a large contributing factor to IPID’s inability to function effectively. This is made clear by IPID’s Annual Report for 2018/19 which outlines that during the period of April 2018 – March 2019 only 23.1% of the total number of cases reported to them were completed. This very large case backlog undermines IPID’s ability to be an effective watchdog in holding our police accountable, and it hampers efforts to create an honest and professional police service.

Furthermore, allegations emerged late last year that the Directorate has for years been closing cases without proper investigation in an attempt to allegedly manipulate IPID’s performance against its targets.

Clearly, all is not well at IPID and the DA will once more agitate for the placement of a committed, independent and decisive leader for the Directorate, who will get the watchdog back to conducting its business in an ethical and transparent manner.

South Africans deserve an honest and professional police service, which in part requires the oversight and investigation of police wrongdoing to be effective.

30th Anniversary of Madiba’s release an opportunity for SA to reset and prosper

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite by John Steenhuisen MP.

Today 30 years ago, South Africa’s “reset” button was pressed and a new era ushered in as the nation’s icon, Nelson Mandela, walked out of the Victor Verster Prison after having spent 27 years of his life behind bars as a result of the apartheid government’s unjust laws.

We honour Madiba for his bravery, commitment and love for humanity. We remember his courageous fight for a fair, just and prosperous society and his brave stance against an evil system that tore our nation apart.

In his first address on the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall, we got a glimpse of the true servant leader he was – calling for peace, freedom for all and an urgent need for the shaping of a new South Africa. He gave renewed hope, making a clarion call to South Africans from all walks of life to work together to build a new South Africa and to ensure that the dreams and aspirations of our people become a reality.

The man alongside him that day, holding his microphone as he delivered his landmark speech, was Cyril Ramaphosa. Today, 30 years later, President Ramaphosa holds the highest office in the land, and as such he holds the dreams and aspirations of millions in South Africa. There is no better time than right now for him to use this year’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday to press the “reset” button by announcing bold actions to address the country’s most pressing issues.

Like Madiba, President Cyril Ramaphosa must come out strongly against those who seek to take our country backwards, whether be it trade unions who advocate for labour laws that discourage investment and job creation, the likes of Ace Magashule who are determined to maintain the Eskom monopoly rather than diversifying the energy sector to keep the lights on, or those who seek to reverse the gains of democracy through dangerous policies like the NHI which will collapse our healthcare sector.

This week’s SONA presents an opportunity for President Ramaphosa to support the call to build a new majority in South Africa – a new alliance of those who put country before party and are bound by a common vision for South Africa. This will require courage, a clear vision and concrete action steps, and not just words and more talk.

Tomorrow morning I will deliver the Alternative State of the Nation Address, reflecting on the real state of our nation as I have seen it during my tour across the country over the past two weeks. We have to be honest and forthright about the scale of our challenges and the steps we must take to build our country into the nation Madiba would be proud of.

DA to PAIA full details of SAPO CEO’s suspension

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to request the full details behind the suspension of the South African Post Office (SAPO) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Lindiwe Kwele, after a mere four months in office. Kwele’s suspension is accompanied by that of the SAPO Head of Supply Chain Management, Mothusi Motjale.

The SAPO has provided no further details on why these individuals have been temporarily removed from their offices, with their statement only referring to an independent investigation into “unspecified matters”.

The reasons for these suspensions are in the greater public interest and full transparency is required; “unspecified reasons” is no explanation at all. The public, which has continually funded the cash-crunched SAPO since 2014 with multi-billion Rand bailouts over the past six years – none of which have delivered the promised turnaround to profit – has a right to know the true state of this organisation.

Given the SAPO’s critical role in distributing social grants to needy recipients, this is not the time for cloak and dagger activities; full transparency is required. With billions of their hard-earned taxes propping up this cash-hungry state-owned entity (SOE), South Africans deserve to know why the SAPO CEO was suspended, what the nature of the irregularities are, and if there are links between Kwele and Motjale’s suspensions and any allegations leveled against them.