DA calls for sacking of VBS politicians and fast-tracked prosecutions

Calling for the removal of your comrades is one thing, but actually removing them is quite something else. Moreover, some VBS-linked politicians in Limpopo seem to be making a comeback in the ANC.

Under Letsie’s watch Merafong lost R50 million of the municipality’s money in the collapse of VBS. Under Maneli’s watch the West Rand District lost R77 million.

Both municipalities now face severe cashflow constraints as well as the collapse of basic service delivery.

Yet Letsie held on to her mayoral chain, while Maneli was promoted to Parliament in 2019. He is now the chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on communication.

Mayors of municipalities that deposited funds in VBS can hardly plead ignorance of the law or the financial decisions of municipal officials.

As far back as October 2016 the DA MP Kevin Mileham uncovered the first unlawful deposits in VBS, at which point National Treasury confirmed that the Municipal Finance Management Act does not allow for deposit of municipal funds in mutual banks. Find a copy of the answer here.

But Merafong proceeded to make further VBS deposits beyond this point, and both it and the West Rand District made no attempts to recoup money from the bank until the bank had already started to collapse.

The DA renews our call for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to fast-track the prosecutions of VBS-linked municipal officials and politicians. These are low hanging fruit.

As we have said before: section 173 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, which criminalises financial misconduct short of fraud and corruption, is a powerful weapon in the armoury of the NPA that has hardly been used.

Maybe if VBS crooks had been prosecuted back in 2019, other crooks in Gauteng and elsewhere would have been deterred from looting Covid relief funds

DA launches petition to open up the Tourism Sector

In the last few weeks the various sectors within the tourism, hospitality and restaurant industries have been peacefully demonstrating against government’s lockdown regulations which is economically crippling these sectors.

Many previously flourishing businesses have been decimated and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost.

The minister of no tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has even acknowledged that numerous jobs have and will be lost within these sectors. This is a huge indictment on and an admission of failure by this government and minister Kubayi-Ngubane in particular.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) encourages continued pressure by these sectors against this authoritarian job-killing government which is causing a daily loss of R748 million for the industry.

Today we are launching a petition that calls on government to allow South Africans to travel to any province that they may wish and be permitted to stay at any holiday resort, lodge or any other type of accommodation whilst also being permitted to enjoy all activities on offer at any of the tourism and hospitality facilities.

South Africans are encouraged to sign and distribute this petition as widely as possible.

The petition will then be officially handed to parliament when the DA will request that the demands are adhered to, thus saving livelihoods as well as lives.

The petition can be accessed here: http://www.opentourismnow.co.za

President Ramaphosa must sanction Minister De Lille for gross negligence 

The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, has repeatedly failed to take responsibility to ensure prudent management of public funds regarding the controversial Beitbridge “washing line”.

As such, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will ask President Cyril Ramaphosa, as part of consequence management for impropriety by members of his Cabinet on Covid-19 procurement, to sanction Minister De Lille for gross negligence in the exercise of her responsibilities.

The Minister revealed that a report regarding an investigation into the repair and replacement of the Beitbridge border fence, according to her, cleared her of any impropriety and found no evidence that she benefited from this project.

This is the same project that cost the taxpayers more than R37 million and resulted in a poorly constructed fence that would serve as little deterrent to anyone wishing to cross the border illegally.

Furthermore, in Parliamentary Questions asked in May this year, De Lille dodged responsibility by saying her “role was limited to issuing a directive for the emergency securing of the South African border”.

She then contradicted herself in the very same question by acknowledging that she “received regular updates on the construction until completion”. If this was the case, why did she not react to the red flags sooner?

Minister De Lille said in a statement regarding the report, “At all times, the cost of the project communicated to me was in the region of R37.1 million. It was only much later that officials informed me of the additional cost of just over R3.2 million for the Principal Agent for professional services and project management which led to the actual total projected spend being just over R40.4 million.”

What the report does not seem to do, is absolve the Minister of her responsibility.

What Minister De Lille seems yet to realise is that the buck stops with her. It is her job to ensure that projects undertaken by her Department are free of graft and corruption. It is her job to scrutinise the projects undertaken by her Department – especially one as important as the restoration of the Beitbridge border fence.

The DA has raised several questions around the project on numerous occasions, either through parliamentary questions or portfolio committee meetings.

We have asked:

  • What are the specifications regarding the repair and replacement of the Beitbridge border fence? Was is designed by an engineer and did an engineer sign off on the project? The Minister assured us that an engineer had indeed signed off on the project.
  • Were the product and equipment used in the repair and replacement of the border fence off-the-shelf from a supplier, or were they specifically engineered? The Minister replied that the products were off-the-shelf, which raised questions regarding the prices for the procurement of the supplies already established in 2016 and which were already exorbitant back then.

In all answers and in committee the Minister keeps saying the normal procurement procedures and processes were amended due to the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic and the proclamation of the state of disaster. However, her staff already initiated the repair and replacement project in January of this year.

The Minister is getting caught in a web of her own making and must face the consequences of her own mismanagement. The DA will not stop fighting to root out all rot in Government, including De Lille’s part in it.

The Public Protector’s Vrede Dairy Project Constitutional Court application is a delaying tactic

Please find attached an English and an Afrikaans soundbite by Dr Roy Jankielsohn MPL.

It is clear that the Public Protector (PP), Busisiwe Mkhwebane, is blatantly attempting to delay holding senior politicians involved in the controversial Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy Project to account. Her application on 8 July 2020 to the Constitutional Court to overturn the Supreme Court of Appeal’s denial of her application to appeal the outcome of the High Court is outrageous.

The following timeline indicates how the PP is abusing the courts to deny justice to the 80 impoverished beneficiaries of the Vrede Dairy Project, and delay accountability for the politicians who were involved in the channelling of money to the Gupta family who are central to allegations of state capture:

  • After the release of a blatantly inadequate report regarding requests between 2013 and 2016 by the DA for investigations into the Vrede Dairy Project, the DA took this under judicial review in the High Court. On 20 May 2019, Judge Tolmay of the Gauteng High Court declared the PP’s initial Vrede Dairy Project investigation report be “set aside and declared unlawful, unconstitutional and invalid”;
  • The PP then attempted to obtain permission to appeal this judgement which was denied by the High Court on 15 December 2019;
  • An application to appeal the decision of the High Court was subsequently also dismissed by Justices Wallis and Schippers of the Supreme Court of Appeals on 21 June 2020 with the reasons that there was “no reasonable prospect of success in an appeal and there is no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard”;
  • In a deliberate attempt to delay the release of a report, she has now submitted an appeal application to the Constitutional Court on 3 July 2020.

The tactics of constant denials by the political architects of the Vrede Dairy Project are assisted by the PP’s tactics of legal delays. Meanwhile, the desperate and impoverished beneficiaries of this project have been side-lined for seven years without any justice.

In her judgment, Judge Tolmay, citing a previous ruling of the court, indicated further that “The Public Protector must not only discover the truth but must also inspire confidence that the truth has been discovered”. The truth regarding the Vrede Dairy Project cannot ignore the crucial role of various senior politicians in the Free State province who for questionable reasons sacrificed the hopes and aspirations for a better life of 80 impoverished beneficiaries.

The involvement of politicians that the PP is delaying adjudicating on is clear when the following are taken into account:

  • The agreement between Estina and the Free State Provincial Government was initiated, crafted and signed in the office of former Free State Premier Ace Magashule under false pretexts;
  • The Free State Provincial Government under former Premier Ace Magashule continued to appropriate funds to this project in spite of a National Treasury Report that exposed financial maladministration and the withdrawal of funding by the National Department of Agriculture for this same reason;
  • The Premier and various MEC’s ignored the National Treasury Report recommendation that indicated that disciplinary action should be taken against the former head of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development;
  • The former MEC for Agriculture Mosebenzi Zwane was an architect of this project and allegedly attempted to cover up the alleged allocation of R30 million from the project to the Gupta wedding at Sun City and the illegal landing of an aircraft at Waterkloof Air Force Base bringing guests to the same wedding;
  • After cancelling the contract between Estina and the Provincial Government on 12 August 2014, a further R106 million was paid to Estina in subsequent financial years;
  • The former Premier Ace Magashule admitted that a guest house was bought with government funds and transferred into the name of Estina’s manager on the project;
  • The former Premier and MEC’s were aware of malfeasance at the project and not only ignored this, but failed to report it to the necessary law enforcement agencies for investigation which is itself a criminal offence;
  • After extensive references to beneficiaries in the Free State legislature by various MEC’s, they were never included in this project which eliminated the very reason for its existence as a legitimate agricultural project.

During the review court case, the PP cited a lack of resources to carry out the necessary investigations as reasons why the initial investigation was not able to address all the issues. The PP appears to have plenty of time and resources to seek legal recourse that aims to justify why she should not adequately do her work, instead of using this time and resources to actually do her job.

The DA will continue to take the necessary legal action to ensure that justice prevails regarding the Vrede Dairy Project, and oppose all legal attempts by the PP to prevent this from taking place.

Exclusive: DA reveals how ANC paid cadres and state employees R11 billion not to work, while the lockdown destroyed the private economy

Note to Editors: Please find attached an English soundbite by Dr. Leon Schreiber MP.

While the best available estimates show that over 3 million people in the private sector have already lost their jobs and that a fifth of private sector employees did not receive a salary in June as a result of the ANC lockdown crisis, the DA can exclusively reveal that at least 84 337 cadres and public servants were paid their full salaries during the lockdown to do nothing.

According to National Treasury, the average salary in the public service is R393 000 per annum, or R32 750 per month. This means that, over the past four months of the lockdown crisis, the ANC has spent over R11 billion in taxpayer money to pay the salaries of at least 84 000 state employees who “had their workloads reduced significantly.”

In response to a parliamentary question posed by the DA, Minister of Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu, bluntly stated that “during the national lockdown, all public servants will continue to receive their full salaries” even if they are not doing any work.

Mchunu also provided a breakdown per government department of the over 84 000 employees who “had their workloads reduced significantly” during levels 4 and 5 of the lockdown.

To understand the full scale of the ANC’s determination to keep feeding its public sector patronage network, consider that the R11 billion wasted over the past four months on state employees who were not working is equivalent to 15.7% of the $4.3 billion that the government was recently forced to borrow from the IMF.

While the national government and all ANC-controlled provinces happily wasted precious public funds to pay workers for not working, and while millions of private sector employees lost all they had, only the DA-led Western Cape immediately put in place systems to ensure that almost all public servants continued earning their salaries throughout the lockdown.

The DA salutes the Western Cape Government for once again proving that is a responsible custodian of taxpayer money.

The DA will be writing to Mchunu to find out why the government did not require “non-essential” public servants to claim from the UIF-TERS system in the same way that it forced private employees to surrender their salaries.

If the government was confident that TERS would adequately compensate workers for lost income, why did it refuse to make non-essential cadres give up their salaries and also claim from TERS like private sector workers?

It is nothing short of a national scandal that the ANC willfully destroyed the livelihoods of at least three million private sector workers, but at the same made sure that state employees who were not doing any work at all continued to receive full pay and benefits.

Women deserve more than lip service this Women’s Day

Note to Editors: Please find attached a video by Dr Nomafrench Mbombo MP, DA Women’s Network Leader.

It’s that time of year again where South African women will be inundated with messages of how strong we are. We will be told how we are revered, treasured, beloved. “Wathint’ Abafazi, Wathint’ Imbokodo / You Strike A Woman, You Strike A Rock” will surely be quoted in many speeches, will adorn social media posts and used as an empty rallying cry.

Reality is that being a woman in South Africa is the most frightful thing and the truth is that the only reason women are regarded as rocks, is because we are so repeatedly struck.

We are struck by our partners, by our fathers, uncles, cousins, neighbours, friends, co-workers and strangers in the street.

If you are a female in South Africa, you are lucky if the men in your life are decent. If they do not subject you to sexual harassment, never mind sexual assault or rape. You are lucky if the only close encounters you’ve had was a dodgy individual calling you a nasty name or telling you to smile more.

Most of the female population in South Africa is not so lucky.

Many women in South Africa have lived through multiple incidents of sexual harassment. We’ve had to pick up the pieces of our lives after sexual assault, and we’ve had to tease the pieces of our souls back to life after rape.

This Women’s Day we demand the implementation the decisions taken at the Summit on Gender-Based Violence, particularly the one about establishing a multi-sectoral, coordinating structure to respond to GBV and femicide; to allocate the necessary and adequate resources required and to develop a national GBV and femicide strategy.

It will take the whole of society to end violence against women and children. We do not need more empty words from ANC politicians. We do not pay their lies any attention anymore. They are not worth the paper they are written on.

To this end DAWN has developed a comprehensive Gender-Based Violence and Femicide strategy. This is the time to act and DAWN will hold this government accountable.

We’ll listen again when you’ve actioned even one of the legions of promises over the years. We’ll listen again when courts do not blame victims and the rapists and assaulters get their deserved justice. We’ll listen again when boys are taught to not rape, rather than girls being taught what not to wear and how to protect themselves. We’ll listen again when your words become actions.

The DA-led Western Cape government is leading by example. They have appointed a GBVF Officer who will conduct watching briefs for the cases that are not properly investigated and the ones that are thrown out of court due to lack of evidence.

Since June the province became the first in SA to also appoint a Children’s Commissioner who is monitoring, researching, investigating, lobbying and reporting on children and their best interest.

It’s time that we hold government to account and not be fooled by their sweet words. Our women deserve better.

DA backs Western Cape Government on lifting the alcohol ban and opening the economy

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the statement by Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde on his Government’s resolution to allow for the sale of alcohol and the safe reopening of all businesses.

This is because the Western Cape Government from the very onset of this pandemic immediately set to work in building healthcare capacity to ensure that they would meet the demands of people requiring medical intervention.

The DA commends them on being able to do so with room to spare. Many lives have been saved due to the early and rapid response by the Western Cape Government.

According to Premier Winde, data indicates that the Western Cape has passed its peak with hospital admissions falling. This is good news indeed and something we celebrate.

It is very clear that we now to urgently turn out focus to the economic disaster that is playing itself out across the country.

That is why it is critical that the alcohol ban is lifted which is having devastating effects on jobs and the economy in the Western Cape and across the country.

Farmers, farm workers and retailers are suffering due to this illogical ban by the National Government.

In fact, South African Medical Research Council President, Dr. Glenda Gray has already stated that there is sufficient hospital space to allow for the lifting of the alcohol ban which correlates Premier Winde’s data.

The DA also supports the Western Cape Government’s view that if it is safe for businesses to open, then they should be allowed to do so.

From restaurants being able to sell alcohol to tourism related sectors, we must give every business owner the fighting chance to stay open and protect the employment of their workers.

As Premier Winde has outlined, tens of thousands of jobs have been lost and even more are under threat if immediate action is not taken to lift the alcohol ban and open up the economy. The Western Cape can do so in a safe and responsible way which allows people the opportunity to rebuild their lives after suffering incredible financial hardships due to the lockdown.

This would also be consistent with the so-called “risk adjusted approach’” touted by President Ramaphosa which was supposed to allow districts and provinces to move down levels of the lockdown as the situation improved in those areas.

The DA is fully behind Premier Winde and his Government’s efforts and we trust that the National Government will put politics aside and allow South Africans to get back to work urgently.

Minister Mkhize’s comments are regrettable and a missed opportunity

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP, DA Shadow Minister of Health.

I have noted the comments made by the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, regarding my oversight visit to the North West province. These comments are regrettable and quite frankly a missed opportunity for the Minister. He could have used this to shed light on the plans of the North West province to deal with the rising infections of Covid-19. More specifically, he could have given feedback on the status of the building of the Job Shimankane Tabana (JST) field hospital.

Clarity on the oversight in Rustenburg:

As part of the nationwide oversight visits in all nine provinces to assess the readiness of the health system to deal with the Covid-19 peak, I, together with my colleagues in the provincial legislature visited the Job Shimankane Tabana Provincial Hospital. Next to the hospital is an open site which has been ear-marked by the province to build a 300- bed field hospital, in addition to the one that was donated to the province, the Maseve Mine Field Hospital.

I expressed disappointment and confusion on social media about the state of the Job Shimankane Tabana field hospital which is still rubble when work on it began in May. The North West Department of Health has, subsequent to the visit, also confirmed that a field hospital for Rustenburg is in the pipeline. The contention here remains: how come the North West Department of Health is yet to complete the field hospital which has been coming for months? What has the past five months been for, if not to prepare the health system for the impending peak?

Be that as it may, it seems, despite my attempts to clarify my line of questioning and the location of the site visit, my tweet seeking answers was ambiguous. It implied that the field hospital in question was the Maseve Hospital when in fact, I was referring to the JST site on which a field hospital is to be built. It implied that Minister Mkhize’s response about the status of field hospitals across the country included the Job Shimankane Tabana field hospital when it only referred to the Maseve Hospital.

I regret that it wasn’t clearer.

The intention of these oversight visits is to carry out our constitutional obligation of holding the Executive to account and ensuring that Government delivers against its plans for the people of South Africa. There are several facilities which I will be visiting across the provinces and I will continue asking the difficult questions.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Ramaphosa’s Zimbabwe envoys are compromised, they should be withdrawn

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to withdraw his appointment of Baleka Mbete and Sydney Mufamadi as Special envoys to Zimbabwe because of their political bias towards the ZANU-PF-led regime in Zimbabwe.

Failure to withdraw these two individuals will render the mission a farce and an attempt by President Ramaphosa to cover up the human rights abuses that Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has been committing against defenseless Zimbabweans.

If the President refuses to withdraw these ‘envoys’, we call on the Zimbabwean people to reject this poor attempt to whitewash their abuse and suffering at the hands of Mnangagwa’s military government.

While attending ZANU-PF’s extraordinary congress in December 2017, Mbete, who was representing the ANC, heaped praise on ZANU-PF for the military coup that removed Mugabe, adding that: “You achieved a good transition peacefully. I find no bitterness or hatred about your predecessor Mugabe. That is political maturity. As ANC we are here to say we are proud to be associated with ZANU-PF and we wish you good luck comrades”.

Her counterpart, Sydney Mufamadi, refused to meet with opposition leaders in Zimbabwe in 2007 when he was sent by then-president Thabo Mbeki in response to the country’s escalating political crisis, choosing instead to focus his attention on the then-president Robert Mugabe.

In fact, both Mbeki and Mufamadi insisted that the opposition leaders recognise Mugabe as the legitimate leader of Zimbabwe before political talks could begin.

Under this cloud of political bias, Ramaphosa’s ‘envoys’ cannot claim to be acting on behalf of the South African government. They are ANC functionaries who have been sent by Ramaphosa to express solidarity with Mnangagwa’s murderous government.

Mnangagwa’s government has used the cover of Covid-19 to unleash an unprecedented attack on individual freedoms by arresting journalists like Hopewell Chinono, whose only crime was exposing corruption, and using force to stop citizens from exercising their right to protest.

What Zimbabweans do not need at the moment is Ramaphosa using the ANC’s solidarity with ZANU-PF to engineer an international cover-up of Zimbabwe’s escalating political and economic crisis. ‘Quiet diplomacy’ should never be allowed to turn into ‘Cover-up Diplomacy’.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

The ANC’s Covid looting has to be the final straw

What do Bilal Erdoğan, Isabel dos Santos and María Gabriela Chávez have in common? Well, two things. One is that they are all incredibly wealthy, and the other is that they are all children of current or former presidents (of Turkey, Angola and Venezuela). And these two things are very much connected.

It’s a pretty accurate rule of thumb: where the children, wives and husbands of world leaders do exceptionally well in business it generally doesn’t take much scratching to unearth a rot of corruption. Our very own Duduzane Zuma did not amass his fortune at that tender age thanks to his extraordinary business acumen.

In countries where government corruption is endemic, the ruling elites loot because they can. Years of deliberate dismantling of investigation and prosecution bodies – and in some cases the judiciary – make it possible for them to get away with it.

But they also loot because many of them don’t actually believe it’s all that wrong. Among these ruling elite there is often a genuinely-held view that access to wealth through the state is one of the spoils of war. If you’ve clawed your way onto an upper rung of the ruling ladder, you’re somehow entitled to the perks of the position.

These are predator governments. They prey directly on the people they’re meant to serve, because the money they hoard carries a substantial opportunity cost for communities who depend on government services and social assistance for their survival. Very often this cost is the lives of the nation’s poorest citizens. Corruption is not, as former President Zuma once tried to argue, a “victimless crime”.

It’s easy to spot such predator governments, because after a short while in power all shame evaporates and all pretence is abandoned. The idea of being caught out and exposed is no longer a deterrent, and the only handbrake on the looting is whatever remains of the country’s rule of law.

This is when we see politicians unashamedly living it up far beyond the means of their supposed income. It’s when we see factional battles waged for access to these riches, which often include political assassinations. And it’s when we see a relentless feeding frenzy for the Holy Grail: government tenders and contracts.

Sound familiar? Unless you’ve been living under a rock for a couple of decades, you will clearly recognise the ANC government in all of this. Across all three spheres of government it has become synonymous with corruption, tender fraud and BEE-enabled price-gouging on a massive scale.

The big stories easily spring to mind: the Arms Deal, State Capture, Nkandla, Bosasa. But it’s the thousands of little stories of procurement looting – euphemistically called “tenderpreneurship” – across every ANC-run province and municipality that has really bled our country dry. If there’s a scam out there, the ANC has either invented it or perfected it.

And now, in a new low, the ANC has added pandemic looting to its corruption resume. In recent weeks we learnt how emergency PPE procurement became a free-for-all for the families of high-ranking ANC members. Because that’s how it’s done, with one degree of separation. It’s always a husband, wife, son or daughter who scores the windfall. And thanks to the “emergency” nature of this government spending there was no requirement for competitive pricing, which cadres duly exploited with massively inflated prices.

The cost of this looting couldn’t be higher. Inflated prices means less PPE and other equipment, and so hospitals are constantly running out, forcing healthcare workers to wash and re-use disposable equipment and even fashion their own protective gear from everyday items like rubbish bags. Sub-standard equipment supplied by get-rich-quick cadres with no history in this kind of work also poses a life-threatening danger to healthcare workers.

This looting involves hundreds of people and scores of brand new companies established only months ago to get in on the action. But predictably it is the names of close family members of top ANC politicians that always float to the top of the cesspool, many of whom are already embroiled in earlier corruption sagas.

The two sons of Ace Magashule, who were also central characters in the Gupta looting of the Free State, have suddenly become PPE suppliers. The daughter of Nomvula Mokonyane, who also benefitted from her mother’s many Bosasa bribes, is now also a PPE supplier. Even the son of President Ramaphosa, who famously ended up on the Bosasa payroll the moment his father became president, has landed himself some business modifying Gauteng taxis to make them Covid compliant.

It is brazen and shameless, and evidently a large portion of the ANC think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. Ramaphosa faced massive pushback in the NEC when he suggested they relook the rules around families of politicians doing business with the state, and there was no shortage of ANC defenders for Magashule’s sons and Mokonyane’s daughter.

When then ANC spokesperson, Smuts Ngonyama, said back in 2004, “I did not join the struggle to be poor,” he was speaking for the party.

The latest attempt by the president to placate an increasingly outraged public – yet another toothless “inter-ministerial committee” to investigate its own Covid corruption – must be seen for what it is: window dressing.

No previous inter-ministerial committee has ever found its own ANC cadres guilty of anything. Not when it was investigating Nkandla. Not when it was investigating the Gupta landing at Waterkloof. And this will be no different. It simply creates the illusion of action. History has taught us that the looting of the state will continue, and it will go unpunished.

But while this endless corruption by the ANC and their network of cronies feels like it has infected our entire country, there is in fact a part of South Africa that has been bucking this trend with remarkable results. The DA government in the Western Cape has long prided itself on achieving clean audits from the Auditor General, but it’s not always that easy to show the direct link between clean governance and better service delivery.

The Covid crisis, however, has shone a spotlight on this. While other provinces turned emergency procurement into a feeding frenzy for connected cadres, the Western Cape government published all the recipients of its Covid procurement tenders on a public portal, because it has nothing to hide.

While other provinces now have to scramble to explain the actions of wealthy tenderpreneurs who occasionally moonlight as government officials, the Western Cape government conducted lifestyle audits of its cabinet members, all of whom passed the test.

And while all other provinces now have a dire shortage of hospital beds, a critical lack of PPE, and hospital patients fighting each other over precious oxygen supply, the Western Cape reached its peak with room to spare in its hospitals, which included four fully equipped field hospitals.

The difference between the Western Cape’s Covid response and the rest of the country is the cost of corruption. It is costing the lives of South African citizens, and we have to end it. There is no working around corruption if we want to save our country. It has to be cut out entirely.

We need to stop justifying it. There is never a legitimate level of tenderpreneurship. There is no such thing as “earned reward for the struggle”. Public service should be its own reward, and if the salary is not enough then it probably isn’t the right line of work.

We need to stop ignoring it. Just because it is relentless and exhausting doesn’t mean we can ever stop fighting it. If our country is worth fighting for, then we have to draw the line in the sand – even if it means drawing the same line every day.

And we need to stop accepting that corruption is part and parcel of our country’s future. It may be baked into the DNA of the ANC, but it doesn’t have to become baked into the DNA of South Africa. If the Western Cape’s Covid response has taught us one thing, it is that clean, transparent government is entirely possible. You just need to vote for it.