Let us turn Tshwane blue like a flood of Jacaranda blooms

The following speech was delivered by DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen  at the Tshwane Mayoral Candidate Launch in Tshwane

See the attached photos here, here

Good morning, fellow Democrats.

What a pleasure and honour it is to address you today as we kick off the Mayoral campaign of our incumbent Mayor, Randall Williams, here in the beautiful City of Tshwane.

I love this city, not only because it is our nation’s capital, not only because it is so breathtakingly beautiful when the Jacarandas come out in bloom, not only because it is home to the best provincial rugby team on the planet – and I say that as a Sharks supporter. I love this city because of its amazing people.

Every time I visit here I am struck by the down-to-earth hospitality and open-heartedness of the people of Tshwane. They always make you feel welcome and they always make you look forward to coming back. And these good people of Tshwane deserve a city that works.

Five years ago we said we were ready to bring the DA difference to Tshwane. And that convinced enough of you to go out and put your cross next to the DA for us to overtake the ANC here in the city and become the biggest party in the metro. That was an unbelievable result – something that would have been unheard of just a few years earlier.

But unfortunately our majority here was so slender and the financial mess we inherited so large that our coalition government was always going to be the target of a hostile take-over by an ANC that just cannot accept electoral defeat. And that eventually happened in March last year, when the council here was unlawfully dissolved and the City placed under provincial administration.

What followed was eight months of chaos in which service delivery was virtually collapsed and the city’s coffers bled dry once more. All our efforts to bring good, clean, stable governance to this metro were swiftly undone by these unelected administrators, and when the Supreme Court of Appeal finally threw them out in October of last year, we were back to square one and the City was broke again.

This was an incredibly frustrating chapter for the people of Tshwane and for the government tasked with fixing this mess.

But the good news is that the man next to me here, Mayor Randall Williams, is not the kind of guy to throw up his hands in frustration. He’s the kind of guy who rolls up his sleeves and gets on with it.

He may have inherited the most daunting of tasks here in Tshwane, but ten months into his term of office he has already made massive strides in turning this city around.

He has a vision for the metro that is big and bold – a vision that cannot be deterred by setbacks. He is convinced that Tshwane has already taken the first steps towards its recovery, and that big things await this city.

And that is why I am grateful that he is the man to spearhead our efforts to bring five more years of DA governance to this metro.

Mayor Randall Williams is undoubtedly the right man for the job.

But, democrats, there was a big lesson for us in this last election cycle. And that lesson has to do with what it takes to truly fulfil your vision as a government.

Yes, it takes the right people – committed, hard-working and fit-for-purpose.

Yes, it takes the right policies and the right approach to freeing up the economy to enable job creation.

Yes, it takes honesty and integrity, and a deep respect for public money and the rule of law.

And the DA has all those things by the bucketful. But what it also takes is a solid, uninterrupted  period of governance. A block of time in the driving seat where no one else is also pulling at the steering wheel or yanking up the brake.

And that is where we fell short here after 2016. We had our plans dashed by those who don’t share our vision for the city and who don’t share our respect for public money.

After a good start in 2016, all our work was halted and reversed when the metro went into administration, and Mayor Randall Williams had to start all over again in 2020.

And this didn’t only happen here in Tshwane. Just down the road in Johannesburg the precarious hold we had on our position in government there put us at the mercy of the EFF – a party that shares neither our vision for the city nor our values as a party.

Without a strong enough mandate we were put in a position where we were asked to compromise our principles and give into their demands in order to remain in government.

Down in Nelson Mandela Bay we suffered a similar fate. Holding the tiniest majority in the council, we were always going to be vulnerable to an attack from those ousted from government in the election.

And when this happened – when the coalition of corruption targeted one of our councillors and effected their council coup – the city of NMB was handed back to the very people who had previously looted it dry, and the metro’s recovery was set back two years again.

We know they will try to do so again – in NMB, in Johannesburg and right here in Tshwane. Our task is to fortify our position in government against such efforts to derail our project.

We need to secure a mandate that is strong enough to give us this uninterrupted time at the wheel. We need to convince enough voters to not only take their responsibility in this democracy seriously, but also to use their vote in a way that will make a realistic difference.

This means backing a party that not only has a proven track record of delivery, but also one that is big enough to take on and displace the ANC. Fragmenting the opposition by voting for dozens of smaller parties may be your democratic right, but all this does is strengthen the ANC’s position.

But not only that, it also strengthens the position of the EFF, who would love nothing more than to see their biggest competitor weakened by a splintered vote.

That is why our task in these elections over the next seven weeks – and particularly here in the closely-contested metros – is of such critical importance.

Not only must we spread the message that the DA – and only the DA – gets things done in government, we must also spread the message that our country’s only hope for a better future depends on voters uniting behind the DA.

And that is our project in a nutshell: to unite South Africans around a shared set of values and a shared vision of a South Africa that works.

We are the only party doing this, and the reason no one else is doing it is because it is hard.

In a country with our divided history, it is far easier to play on people’s fears and anger and frustrations. It is far easier to say to voters: You must choose us because we look like you, we speak like you and we care about the narrow set of things you might care about.

It’s far easier to play the politics of blame and scapegoating and to turn people against each other.

It’s far easier to make promises of free things that you know you’ll never have to honour.

That’s why so many parties do all of these things.

But it is much harder to say: Help us build a country for all, regardless of our race or language or religion. Help us put in the hard work to overcome obstacles and overcome our differences.

Over the course of the next two months, many parties will appeal to your sense of identity. They will try to split you off and say: You must vote for your kind.

But surely that cannot be the South Africa we want to build – a South Africa of division and mistrust. We want one united South Africa working towards the same prosperous, safe, inclusive future. And there’s only one party that can make that happen: the Democratic Alliance.

So I ask you: Make that your focus for the next seven weeks. Because if we want that future for our country, we have to start by building that future here in our cities and towns.

Spread the word that these local government elections are the best opportunity we’ll ever have to kick-start this process of change.

With the ANC in turmoil and missing from 93 municipalities in the elections, and with the rest of the parties either slow off the mark or rendered invisible over the past 18 months, the DA has the prime lane in this race.

Let us make it count.

But of course the first step in this race is making sure you are eligible to vote where you live. There are still millions of voters who have either not yet registered as this is their first election, or who are incorrectly registered because they may have moved since the last election.

It is critical that as many of these voters as possible get themselves registered correctly before the voter’s roll is closed after this coming registration weekend.

I know our DA staff have been working tirelessly for many months assisting voters to check their registration status and helping them to register, but the final push has to come from citizens themselves this weekend.

Don’t get caught out on election day. Don’t end up with voter’s remorse when it turns out you’re not on the roll in your ward. Spend a little time this weekend to ensure that you can exercise your democratic right on the 1st of November.

And then go out and use your vote in the best possible way.

You all know what happens in this beautiful city when the Jacaranda blooms turn the streets here into a spectacular show of violet.

Well that is what we need to replicate at the ballot box. We need to let a wave of blue wash over this city and usher in five years of DA excellence under Mayor Randall Williams.

Five uninterrupted years, where he and his government have the freedom to implement their vision and unlock the true potential of this incredible city.

Thank you.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

So staan sake nou in die DA se saak teen die OVK in die Konstitusionele Hof

Vind asseblief aangeheg ’n klankgreep van Cilliers Brink LP.

Die DA se saak teen die OVK in die Konstitusionele Hof is een stap nader aan finaliteit met die uitruil van pleitstukke tussen die onderskeie partye.

Ons hofstukke maak dit duidelik dat die OVK regtens geen diskresie het om kandidatelyste weer oop te stel nie – ’n besluit wat ons vermoed geneem is om die ANC te bevoordeel.

Daar is oorgenoeg tekens dat die ANC besig is om ineen te stort, insluitend die party se onvermoë om ’n registrasie-veldtog van stapel te stuur, salarisse te betaal en kandidatelyste op tyd in te dien.

Die rol van die OVK is nie om hierdie probleme vir die ANC te probeer oplos nie. Die verkiesingstydlyn, insluitend die sperdatum vir die indiening van kandidate, behoort nie te verander na gelang van die ANC se behoeftes nie.

Deur hof toe te gaan om ANC-magsmisbruik te stuit staan die DA op vir die oppergesag van die gereg. Ons dring daarop aan dat dieselfde stel reëls vir alle partye moet geld, insluitend die ANC.

Ons demokrasie kan net werk as die regering, staatsinstellings en die samelewing in die geheel die wet gehoorsaam, en as instellings soos die OVK – wat veronderstel is om onafhanklik te wees – wetlike bepalings onpartydig vertolk.

Vir die DA is die feite van hierdie saak voor die hand liggend. Die ANC het die sperdatum vir indiening van kandidate misgeloop. En volgens regspraak in soortgelyke sake het die party geen tweede kanse nie.

Die volgende stap in die proses sal wees vir die Konstitusionele Hof om óf ’n verhoor vas te stel óf die saak op die hofstukke te besleg.

Ons hoop dat die hof sal bevestig dat die proses vir die indiening van kandidate gesluit het en dat die OVK nie die reëls kan buig om die ANC te pas nie

The DA gets things done. Exhibit A – Cape Town

National elections get most of the attention, but it is at local government level where the foundations for a prosperous future are built. A good local government can go a long way to protect citizens from a failing state. A very good local government can buck the trend entirely and move a city forward in a country sliding backward. Nowhere is this more evident than in Cape Town, the best-run metro in South Africa.

Record of delivery

In a country regressing under the weight of ANC failure, here is a city that is working, building a secure future for all who live there. The DA has run Cape Town for fifteen years now – the first five in coalition and the last ten with an outright majority. In so doing, we’ve produced a track record of consistent delivery that we can put forward to voters as proof of our offer to get things done for them. No other party on the ballot paper can do this.

Good governance

Sustained delivery is only possible on a foundation of clean and effective governance. DA-run Cape Town has achieved 15 consecutive unqualified annual audits due to a strong anti-corruption stance – the only metro in SA that has achieved this. All suppliers are paid withing 30 days and those who fail to deliver to residents are blacklisted from doing business with the City.

Which is why Cape Town has been voted the most trusted metro in the country for seven years in a row in the Consulta Citizen Satisfaction Index. Its 98.9% average payment collection rate for municipal bills is evidence of the trust residents have in the City’s service delivery and governance.

Resilient

In July 2020, the Ratings Afrika Sustainability Survey rated Cape Town the only metro that could be considered sustainable, with the capacity to absorb the financial shocks associated with the pandemic. Walking the talk in tough times, the City cut R460 million from staff-related expenditure in 2021/22 and is the only metro to publish covid-related procurement online, in line with its commitment to transparency and accountability.

Pro-poor

The City has a pro-poor delivery record, with 40% of households receiving free basic water and sanitation services, double the national averages of 21.8% and 18.7% respectively, with Gauteng at 15.6% and 17.4% (StatsSA). Likewise, 27% of city-supplied households receive free basic electricity against a national average of 16.7%, with Gauteng at 15.4%.

Building buffer

Going forward, three key DA offers to Cape Town residents is to fight crime, end load shedding and create jobs. The City is already delivering on each of these fronts, with plans for much more in future, so as to protect residents from national government delivery failures.

Fighting crime

Law Enforcement has tripled the arrest rate since 2016, following a 55% increase in the safety and security budget in the past five years, and the R3bn Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) to put more boots on the ground.

Together with communities, the City and provincial government have been building Cape Town’s neighbourhood watch (NW) network for 15 years, including training, accrediting and equipping them to serve as “force multipliers” together with SAPS, Metro Police, Law Enforcement, and private security in a seamless functional system. Cape Town is the only metro, in the only province, empowered by legislation to accredit, equip and train NWs. The City and Province are together supporting 197 accredited NWs in the metro, totaling 8000 trained members.

To keep school children safe, the City has a Walking Bus programme in 75 areas, with over 2000 parents and volunteers from the community ensuring learners travel safely to 222 schools. It has also deployed over 50 dedicated School Resource Officers to improve safety at high-risk schools.

The City has doubled the number of surveillance cameras in Cape Town since 2016, from 433 to 835 CCTV cameras, with a record 15 390 incidents captured and 267 arrests in 2020/21. Since 2016, Metro Police have made almost 7000 drug arrests and confiscated 113 460 drug units, while traffic services have made over 13 694 drunk driving arrests and impounded 22 114 taxis for various offences.

Cape Town received ‘role model city’ status from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. It is South Africa’s leading City for firefighting services, with 32 fire stations, over 1210 firefighting and operational staff, and a 350-strong fleet bringing 95% of all wildfires under control within the first hour of reporting.

Ending load shedding

Cape Town is the only metro able to protect residents and businesses from Eskom’s load shedding. It does this through the city owned and operated Steenbras hydroelectric pumped storage scheme.

During periods of peak demand, water from the upper dam is channeled through the turbine generator to create electricity. This water is then pumped back up to the upper dam at night using low-cost surplus national generating capacity.

The spare electricity generated is used to make up for supply shortfalls from Eskom, reducing load shedding by one stage or avoiding it altogether. This innovation mitigates both the economic impact and inconvenience of load shedding and saves on the cost of buying electricity at peak rates.

Cape Town is also leading the charge to diversify energy supply and is the most energy efficient city in South Africa, with energy-efficient lamps in all traffic lights and 34% of streetlights.

Creating jobs

Cape Town has the lowest broad unemployment rate of all metros, consistently over 10 percentage points lower than Gauteng and 14 percentage points below the national average.

Despite a net outflow of foreign direct investment from South Africa, Cape Town is one of the world’s fastest-growing regions for foreign direct investment, according to the African Tech Ecosystems of the Future 2021/22 report. This is due to its good investment incentives policy and reliable service delivery.

Cape Town is ranked the top financial centre in sub-Saharan Africa and is the tech start-up capital of Africa, with about 50 000 people employed in this sector, more than Lagos and Nairobi combined. It was named World’s leading Festival and Events City in the World Travel Awards in 2018 and 2020. The Air Access initiative secured 22 new international air travel routes and 26 route expansions, doubling the international seat capacity of Cape Town International Airport prior to the pandemic.

Conclusion

Local government is the coalface of delivery. The effect of solid DA delivery in Cape Town has been to form a protective barrier for Cape Town residents, securing their future in South Africa.

Mayoral candidate, Geordin Hill-Lewis, has the vision and the drive to take Cape Town from good to great.

It is three days to go until registration weekend. Please make sure you are registered in the ward where you live to vote DA in the local election on 1 November. Because only the DA can prove that we get things done. Only the DA can secure your future in South Africa. Only the DA offers both effective government and strong opposition. Only the DA has a record of action, and a promise of more.

Cape Town must redefine the frontiers of local government

The following speech was delivered at the Cape Town Press Club by Geordin Hill-Lewis, DA City of Cape Town Mayoral Candidate.

Good afternoon, 

It is a great honour for me to speak today at this storied Cape Town institution.

Thank you for the invitation. 

It is also not lost on me that I am standing before the Cape Town Press Club – one of the oldest such institutions committed to press freedom in Africa – as perhaps the youngest mayoral candidate in Cape Town’s history.

So what motivated a millennial with a funny-sounding name, who grew-up in Edgemead, to run for mayor?

The short answer is that, during lockdown, I came to the realisation that the DA will need to do much more than ever before if we are to secure Cape Town’s future against the disintegration of the national government.

Capetonians have trusted the DA with their votes for the past fifteen years. And in this – the moment of our city’s greatest need – we dare not let them down.

From crime to unemployment and the collapse of infrastructure, there is no shortage of reasons for South Africans to be extremely concerned about the future of their families and their communities.

But where others see only decline, my lockdown reflections also revealed that this particular moment in our political history is ripe with unprecedented potential to put South Africa’s constitutional democracy on a far more sustainable path.

That path is the road to the devolution of power away from the national government to competent local authorities.

It is by seizing the opportunities provided by the collapse of national government services that we can secure Cape Town’s future and enable our home town to take its rightful place among the great cities of the world.

But to turn this vision into reality, Cape Town needs to be bolder and more audacious than we’ve ever been, by doing more than we’ve ever done.

So, what exactly does it mean when I say that the DA in Cape Town is ready to do more than ever before?

I see two categories of challenges where we have no choice but to be much bolder to secure Cape Town’s future.

The first category includes areas of delivery over which the city already has significant say.

This is the category generally referred to as “basic services” – things like providing functional sewerage systems, removing refuse, and repairing potholes and streetlights. 

These services are critical to empowering all residents to live a life of dignity, and providing them is the primary mandate of local government in South Africa.

Providing quality basic services is, of course, premised on running a clean government that does not steal the resources meant to deliver those services.

On all of these fronts, Cape Town towers head and shoulders above the rest, with years of clean audits and reams of statistics to it up. 

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to cite just four of these:

  • 99.2% of Capetonians have their refuse removed at least once a week;
  • Access to electricity has improved from 91.7% to 93.5% since 2012;
  • 91.8% of residents have access to sanitation; and
  • Cape Town spends R2.9 billion a year on free basic services to the poorest residents, excluding the amount spent on housing construction.

 On these and most other metrics, Cape Town does better than anywhere else in the country.

 And yet, despite all of this, there often appears to be a contradiction when we talk about basic service delivery in Cape Town.

 On the one hand, we know it to be an incontestable fact that Cape Town does the basics better than any other big city in South Africa.

 But on the other hand, we also know intuitively – just from living in this city – that there are still far too many Capetonians who do not live dignified lives.

 So how do we explain this apparent disjuncture between Cape Town’s proven delivery record and the intuition of so many of us that things ought to be much better still?

The answer lies in the standard we measure Cape Town against.

 I’m sure that each one of us in this room would agree that Cape Town has the potential to become a city of truly global renown.

 Our Mother City has always been more diverse, cosmopolitan and globally-integrated than any other part of South Africa.

Feeling connected to the world is part of Cape Town’s DNA.

It is this global outlook, and the intrinsic desire to fulfil our city’s true potential, that inspires my vision for Cape Town to take its rightful place among the great cities of the world.  

In this context, can we really be satisfied with delivering the best services in the country, when the rest of South Africa is in such steep decline?

 For me, the answer is a resounding no!

I firmly believe that we should not only measure Cape Town against the dreadful standards of South Africa!

For the Mother City to fulfil its true potential, we must measure ourselves against global rather than only domestic standards. 

This insight – that Capetonians regard their home not only as a South African city but also as a worldcity – resolves the apparent contradiction about basic services.

 Both of the following statements are thus true:

 Cape Town already delivers far better basic services to the poor and vulnerable than any other big city in South Africa.

 And we must still do much more to catch up with the global standard we rightly measure ourselves against.

 In reality, there is thus no contradiction between acknowledging that Cape Town already delivers better basic services to all residents than any other South African city, while striving to do the basics even better still.

 And it is possible to do the basics better.

 We can and we must reduce the infrastructure backlog in Cape Town by increasing investment in basic services.

 Over time, this expanded investment will improve the sewerage network, the conditions of our roads and streetlights, enhance refuse removal, and help us combat illegal dumping.

 But reprioritising the budget to spend more on infrastructure upgrades will not be enough on its own.

 We also need to improve the efficiency of our spending on basic services by reviewing contract management in Cape Town.

We must review the City’s contract management system, so that service delivery is never interrupted anywhere in Cape Town due to the expiry of contracts or non-performance by contractors.

But, in the year 2021, the DA in Cape Town also has a secret weapon up our sleeves that no other world city that developed during the previous century had at its disposal.

That secret weapon is modern digital technology.

Despite all of the empty talk about the fourth industrial revolution by the national government, the truth is that South Africa has fallen far behind the rest of the world when it comes to using technology to solve public policy problems.

South African governments remain trapped in the analogue age.

 But there is a potential upside to this backlog: given how far behind we are from the digital frontier, we can make tremendous gains in a relatively short period by embracing digital solutions.

And what better place to begin taking South African governance into the digital age than right here in Cape Town – the tech capital of Africa.

Basic service delivery in South Africa is ripe for digital disruption, starting with the way in which residents interact with our municipality.

 While Cape Town’s C3 fault reporting system was state-of-the-art when it was launched nearly fifteen years ago, it has become outdated in the fast-moving digital age.

 That is why I have pledged to upgrade the fault reporting system in Cape Town to become a mobile-first application that will allow anyone with a smartphone to log complaints directly with the municipality on a modern, user-friendly app.

And when I say anyone should be able to use this app, I mean it: we have already seen a trend towards zero-rating data use on government services, and I intend to negotiate with mobile providers to do the same for our revamped service delivery app.

The DA in Cape Town is also ready to take public participation and local democracy online, by empowering anyone with a cell phone to participate in the City’s planning and budgeting processes.

In one fell swoop, the creation of a modern, mobile-first digital communications channel between residents and the City will empower millions of Capetonians – who previously had to spend valuable money and time on travelling and standing in queues – to instantly report faults and have a say in municipal decisions that affect their communities.

Speaking of queues: it is time to eliminate those as far as possible.

Cape Town’s economy loses thousands of hours every week to people who needlessly stand in queues to make appointments or to do routine things like renew a license.

In fact, an entire cottage industry has emerged of people you can pay to go and stand in line for you at the local municipal office.

This is completely unacceptable in the year 2021.

That is why I am determined to digitise all routine processes like license renewals and appointment bookings.

While it may not be possible to entirely eliminate queues, we can significantly reduce them by embracing modern technology.

 And why stop there?

Once we’ve cultivated a culture of partnering with Cape Town’s technology sector to find new digital solutions to old analogue problems, we will be able to turn our gaze to using technology to solve other problems.

 For example: we are still building houses and roads in Cape Town using essentially the same methods and materials we used a hundred years ago.

By embracing modern methods, we may just find exciting new solutions to these age-old challenges as well.

Doing the basics better also means doing more to create jobs for the people of Cape Town.

As is the case with basic services, we all know that Cape Town already does more than any other city to empower entrepreneurs.

But in a country with an unemployment rate of nearly 35 percent and where four out of every five young people cannot find work, we must now do even more than ever before to protect Cape Town by attracting investors, empowering entrepreneurs, and getting this city working like never before.

Given all the talent and resources at our disposal, we need to do much more to ensure that Cape Town overtakes cities like Nairobi and Kigali on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.

 The Index indicates that it currently takes 88 days and thousands of Rands to obtain a construction permit, 37 days to have building plans approved, 14 days for a business owner to get a rates clearance certificate when registering property, and up to 97 days to establish a new electricity connection.

 The persistence of this type of red tape in the year 2021 is just as outdated and unacceptable as the sight of people queuing to renew their driver’s licences.

That is why I have already pledged to turn Cape Town into the most entrepreneur-friendly city on the entire African continent.

Even more important than cutting red tape wherever it ensnares private initiative is the need to create a new culture in the city administration that empowers and helps entrepreneurs rather than merely enforcing compliance.

This same commitment to embracing the private sector must carry over into our approach to housing.

Cape Town must redefine the frontiers of local government  DA is the only party that believes in empowering poor South Africans to own their own homes.

That is why I want to see cranes going up all over vacant pieces of state-owned land in Cape Town.

 Our Mother City must become one big construction site where we build a future of shared prosperity.

This is something I know about, having previously been a partner in a small property start-up that tried to build more homes for Capetonians.

I have first-hand experience of the red tape and hurdles involved in actually getting even a small project off the ground in Cape Town.

But when we talk about the role of the private sector in alleviating the housing shortage in our city, we shouldn’t only think of formal companies.

Innovative micro-developers in places like Delft who convert their properties into rental units for people who live in backyards are just as much part of the private sector solution.

It is time for us to embrace these private entrepreneurs by empowering micro-developers and forcing the national government to release the massive plots of land it owns, so that the private sector can build thousands more homes for Capetonians.

I’d now like to turn to the second category of issues where we will do much more than ever before to secure Cape Town’s future.

 This category relates to all of those areas where the national government has miserably failed the people of Cape Town.

Under the current administrative framework, the national government is responsible for providing Cape Town with a reliable supply of electricity, safe and reliable public transport, and effective policing.

It is hard to overstate just how catastrophically it has failed to provide any of these things to the people of Cape Town.

But I would go even further. 

The evidence shows that the national government has actively and consistently undermined the efforts of DA-led Cape Town to provide these crucial services.

When DA-led Cape Town expanded the electricity network to thousands of poor households, the national government plunged them right back into darkness through load shedding.

When DA-led Cape Town worked together with the Western Cape to introduce LEAP safety officers and monitor the failures of SAPS, the national government punished the people of the Cape Flats with the lowest police-to-citizen ratio in the country.

And when DA-led Cape Town introduced the MyCiti bus service to give citizens more options for safe and reliable public transport, the national government promptly took away those options by collapsing Metrorail.

It is time for us to recognise that the national government cannot and does not want to provide reliable electricity, public transport and policing services to the people of Cape Town.

They actively work against the people of this city at every opportunity they get.

Our city therefore finds itself before a stark choice.

We can either take the conservative road that does not challenge the national government’s monopoly over electricity generation, public transport and policing, in which case Cape Town will inevitably follow the same path of decline that has been so well-trodden in other parts of the country.

Or we can stand up and boldly challenge Pretoria, effectively forcing the devolution of these crucial powers so that we can protect Cape Town against the collapse of the national government.

For me, the answer is clear: since the national government refuses to do these things for us, we must now do more of them ourselves.

If we want a thriving future for Cape Town, where every citizen has the opportunity to live a dignified life they value, we must expand the frontiers of local government power by ending load shedding, fighting for control over Metrorail, and introducing hundreds of additional law enforcement officers.

I firmly believe that, 27 years into our democracy, the boundaries of local government power have not been properly tested yet.

Where there are grey areas, we will relentlessly push the boundaries so that we can generate our ownelectricity, run our own railways, and keep our own communities safe.

But we have also seen signs that the national government is starting to capitulate, because – deep down – they know that they have completely failed to provide electricity, public transport and safety, and they have no ability to turn the ship around.

The amendment of electricity generation regulations, the plea for private investors to save our ports, and the creep towards allowing private concessions to run passenger rail are all early indications that the national government will eventually admit that decentralisation is the future.

I am absolutely convinced that the devolution of functions like electricity generation, public transport, and policing to well-run local governments will be the next frontier in South Africa’s democratic development.

And I want Cape Town to lead the march to that new frontier.

This means that, while DA-led Cape Town will always be open to working constructively with other spheres of government, we will not ask permission to secure the future of this beautiful city.

Devolutionary powers will not be given, they will have to be taken.

Where we suffer setbacks in the battles ahead, as we will, we will come back harder on our way to permanent solutions.

Where others see only decline and spend their days only complaining, I see the opportunity of a lifetime to turn Cape Town into the great world city it deserves to be.

With a relentless focus on getting even more done, we will turn this into the best place to live – and the best place to visit – in the entire southern hemisphere.

But I make no bones about it: the challenge before us is a big one.

Not only must we do the basics better than ever before so that Cape Town can catch up with the global standard when it comes to services like refuse removal, pothole repairs, and water and electricity reticulation, but we must also begin to fix that which the national government has broken.

 But I simply do not believe that the framers ever intended South Africa’s Constitution to create a straitjacket where well-run local governments are held hostage by obvious and sustained failures by the national government.

 By relentlessly expanding the frontiers of local government power, I believe that we will win the battle to protect the people of Cape Town from the collapse of the national government.

With apologies to Jannie Steytler, I know that South Africa will one day be governed according to the principles of federalism and devolution of power, because it is the only way this country can be governed.

 By voting for the DA in the upcoming local government election, Capetonians will make sure that our city leads the way towards this exciting new frontier, where well-run municipalities like Cape Town are no longer held hostage by the failures of the national government.

So, go ahead and mark the 1st of November on your calendars, because that is the day when the DA and the people of Cape Town will usher in a new phase in our country’s democratic development. Where we make even more progress towards every resident living a life of dignity, and where Cape Town takes its rightful place among the truly great cities of the world.

Thank you.

DA calls on DBE to review matric exam roster to avoid Election Day clash 

The DA calls on Angie Motshekga, the Minister of Basic Education, and her department to review the matric examination timetable in order to accommodate the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE).

This is after it came to light that the start of the National Senior Certificate exams will fall on 1 November, Election Day.

This clash gives rise to several challenges for both matric learners, exam writing centres as well as the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). The first concern is that some matric pupils, who are eligible to vote, may be unable to do so due to writing their matric exams. Secondly, if the start of the examinations is not postponed, the IEC, which often use school halls as voting stations on Election Day, may face challenges in this regard. And lastly, given that Election Day is declared as a public holiday, this creates further difficulties around teachers and invigilators exercising their democratic right to vote.

The DA, therefore, strongly encourages the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to alter the matric exam schedule to accommodate both matric students and the elections. This will ensure that both the exams and the voting process proceed without a hitch.

Since the beginning of the academic year, the class of 2021 has had to overcome difficult uphill battles due to Covid-19’s devastating impact. We must take all possible precautions to guarantee that there are few disturbances at the final hurdle.

By altering the exam schedule, matriculants will avoid any possible disruptions and those who are eligible to vote will not be forced to choose between writing final examinations and exercising their democratic right to vote.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA’s first Cape Town posters go up with a promise to unlock the city’s potential

Please find attached soundbite from the Leader of the Democratic Alliance John Steenhuisen and a soundbite from the DA Cape Town Mayoral Candidate Geordin Hill-Lewis. 

Pictures from the poster event are attached here, here and here.

Today the Democratic Alliance (DA’s) first election posters went up in the Cape Town Metro, in the Lower Main Road, Observatory.

Our message on these posters – “Cape Town works. Let’s do more” – speaks to the DA’s broader election message of a record of delivery and a promise of more. It confirms what the people of Cape Town already know – that the DA gets things done – and asks them to entrust the DA to step this up another gear over the next five years.

The past three uninterrupted terms of DA government in the Cape Town Metro have afforded us the opportunity to implement the DA’s long-term vision of a city that works for its residents, but we know there is potential to do even more.

We know where our opportunities and our challenges lie, and we’re not afraid to get stuck in and do the hard work. Cape Town may already stand head and shoulders above all other metros, but this is not good enough yet. We will do even better over the next term.

Our candidate for Mayor in the City of Cape Town, Geordin Hill-Lewis has already taken his vision for Cape Town to many different communities over the past two weeks and the reception has been extremely positive. There is a genuine belief that Cape Town’s best is yet to come, and that Geordin has the vision and the drive to take the metro to greater heights.

What today’s poster flighting also says is that the DA is ready to contest these elections, unlike almost every other significant party in the country, and particularly the ANC. While they have been fighting to get the elections postponed, struggling to finalise their lists amid the usual violence that accompanies this and battling to pay their staff salaries for months, the DA has already hit the campaign trail across the country.

Our preparations started over a year ago when we began our candidate selection process, and we are proud to have submitted a candidate in every ward in South Africa for the first time in these elections. Unsurprisingly, this was all completed well ahead of the cut-off time and our deposits paid on time, leaving us free to focus on our campaign.

One of the most important parts of this process takes place this coming weekend as South Africans get to register themselves correctly to vote in their wards on November 1. DA staff and public representatives have already spent many months assisting voters with this, and this registration weekend presents the final opportunity to ensure that you appear on the voter’s roll in the ward where you live.

I urge every South African over the age of 18 to check their registration status ahead of the weekend and to then ensure that they are eligible to express their democratic choice in seven weeks’ time. There is only one chance every five years to use the power of the vote to determine the future for your town or city, and it is critical that this choice is expressed by as many citizens as possible.

Once correctly registered, we invite voters to get to know their mayoral candidates as well as their ward candidates. Hear what they have to say about the DA’s vision and ask them questions. There is nothing more powerful in a democracy than an informed and engaged citizen.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Sisulu’s Spin Doctors fall flat

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has this morning dispatched two spokespersons to provide “rights of reply” to the DA’s claims that her advisor claimed more than R1.76 million on travel and accommodation since May 2019.

This, in addition to the contractual salary allowance of R142k that Mr Mphumzi Mdekazi and other advisors were entitled to claim in exchange for 15 days of work each month. These contracts, in our possession, were indeed signed off directly by the Minister.

Instead of sticking to the facts, Sisulu’s henchmen sought to muddy the waters, accusing the DA of harbouring “personal grudges” against the Minister.

One of these spokespersons went on to cite “litigation by Minister Sisulu against Hon. Powell” as the source of the DA’s exposé. One can only assume that by “litigation”, this spokesperson is referring to a request by the Minister to Hon. Powell to issue an apology for previous media statements relating to her Ministerial conduct and Departmental performance. This was of course refused and no direct correspondence nor summons have since been forthcoming. Referring to a letter as “litigation” is indeed quite a stretch, and the DA will not be silenced or intimated by these public threats.

The second spokesperson – who was also unable to dispute the factual correctness of Minister Senzo Mchunu’s written reply – is an ex Sunday Times journalist whose dodgy reporting earlier this year resulted in the paper being requested by the Press Ombudsman to issue a written apology to the DA. He was later employed by Minister Sisulu as an official “spokesperson”.

Both spin doctors fell spectacularly flat when quizzed by two prominent news channels on the facts and ultimately admitted that this aide did indeed claim the amounts as stated in the Parliamentary questions reply recieved from Minister Mchunu.

Finally – the narrative being peddled by the desperate Minister’s spokespersons, that the DA somehow has a personal axe to grind, could not be further from the truth.

The only axe the DA has to grind is with the endemic levels of greed and corruption which plague this Nation under the kleptocratic leadership of the ANC.

Until such time as the public service is rid of unqualified cadres and their hyper inflated salaries and expense accounts, the DA will continue to expose each and every last one of them.

Minister Sisulu would do well to take note.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA requests transparency from Minister Lamola regarding Justice Department hack

The DA has written to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, regarding the hacking of the IT systems at the Department of Justice late last week.

While the Department of Justice spokesperson Steve Mahlangu claimed that there was no indication that any data had been compromised, a security expert, Anna Collard, told the media that the Department’s data could be in danger due to the nature of ransomware.

The DA is also aware of allegations that the Department’s IT service provider has not been paid for two months, thus putting sensitive personal and banking data at risk.

The justice system in South Africa is utterly reliant on a functioning IT system and with the Covid-19 lockdowns already significantly slowing down the wheels of justice in many cases, the country simply cannot afford this further vulnerability in the criminal justice system.

The DA also finds it unacceptable that Minister Lamola and his Department would allow this important IT system to become so vulnerable to compromise.

This vulnerability will also affect the recording and transcription machines utilized in courts and will have a severe impact on the enforcement of justice.

The DA therefore calls on the Minister to take South Africa into his confidence regarding the full nature of the IT systems breach, as well as his plans to ensure that it never happens again. Compromised technology should not be added to an already ailing criminal justice system.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Give us an end-date for all lockdowns and the State of Disaster

Please find attached soundbite by DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes President Ramaphosa’s announcement of a move to Lockdown Level 2. And while we welcome this easing of restrictions, we call on him to go further and commit to an end date for all lockdown restrictions as well as the State of Disaster.

The only possible reason for any further restrictions would be to allow everyone over the age of 18 the chance to get vaccinated. And since the 18–35-year-old group have had access to the vaccine since 20 August, this deadline must now be well within our sight. At the very latest, this should happen by mid-November, which would give this age cohort a full 12 weeks to get both jabs.

This deadline needs to be announced now so that businesses affected by lockdown restrictions can plan accordingly. It is not something that can be decided and announced at the last minute, as this would put even more businesses and jobs in jeopardy. If business owners know that there will be no more restrictions and curfews on the 15th of November, they can try to make plans to bridge their business over the period until then.

If President Ramaphosa does not think this is what needs to happen, he must give his and his government’s reasons why not. South Africans have made extraordinary sacrifices in order to comply with restrictions and regulations that are seldom explained or justified. The president needs to take citizens into his confidence and let them know precisely why these sacrifices must continue.

Specifically, he must set out the criteria his cabinet requires to be met for the State of Disaster to be lifted so that everyone can know whether these are rational and fair decisions. I asked him this very question – whether there are specific conditions which must be satisfied before the State of Disaster can be lifted and, if so, what they are – almost four weeks ago on 17 August in a written parliamentary question and I am yet to receive his reply.

That is not good enough, particularly when government’s decisions around lockdowns and economic restrictions already have so little credibility. It is also not good enough for the president to say “as soon as everyone has been vaccinated” when speaking of our return to normality, as we will never get to a point where everyone has had the jab.

Furthermore, until such time as all restrictions are finally lifted, it is crucial that we start applying a regional model for these restrictions based on the healthcare capacity of the region. Infection trends and vaccination rates differ greatly across different parts of the country and there is no single, neat wave that applies to the entire country, or even entire provinces.

Coupled with this, some areas have sufficient hospital capacity to no longer warrant restrictions. It is extremely selfish to subject South Africans to more unnecessary economic hardship when the local conditions do not justify this.

Citizens cannot be held to ransom by the whims of a group of people obsessed with central command and control of the economy – people who have never run a business themselves, never created a single job and whose own jobs and salaries are never at stake no matter how badly they get their Covid response wrong.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

More heads must roll over R118 m. New York land debacle

The DA notes the dismissal of the Director-General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Kgabo Mohoai, following the fruitless and wasteful expenditure for the New York Pilot Project scandal. The DA now demands that the CFO, Caiphus Ramashau, and other senior officials who were closely linked to the New York Pilot Project scandal, face the same fate as Mohoai, and is dismissed.

At the centre of this debacle is the highly controversial R118 million irregular expenditure on the New York Pilot Project. It has been 5 years since the DIRCO squandered these millions in public money on a dilapidated building for the South African Diplomatic Missions in Manhattan, New York City.

We further demand the recall of the then minister of DIRCO, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and Ambassador Jerry Matjila for their role in the scandal where a piece of land was bought for new offices that did not exist.
Mohoai has been used as a sacrificial scapegoat, only to protect other senior officials and politicians who are closely connected to the political elite in the ANC.

The outcome of the investigation was leaked to the media two weeks ago, and when Minister Naledi Pandor was confronted in the Portfolio Committee, she misled the committee by saying the matter was not finalised. This after I read out the article stating that Mohoai was found “guilty of gross negligence, gross dereliction of duty and breach of legal obligation and grossly irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure” in the notorious land “deal”. The very same verdict was released by Minister Pandor on Friday.

During his investigation, Mohoai stated, that he was acting on instructions from the then Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, that the original “deal” was approved by his predecessor, Jerry Matjila, prior to his appointment as ambassador to New York and that the then Minister, Nkoana-Mashabane, and CFO, Caiphus Ramashau, motivated for the deal to go ahead.

The DA consequently demands that President Cyril Ramaphosa suspends Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, under whose watch this New York Pilot Project and its shenanigans were initiated as she failed to exercise her executive oversight. We also demand that Ambassador Matjila, who was the Director-General during that period, should be recalled.

The outcome of the investigation reinforces the DA’s opinion that the intentions of the Minister suspending Director-General Mohoai was a mere smokescreen to protect other senior officials closely linked with senior politicians.
And, in a twist of fate, the current Portfolio Committee chair, Hon T. Mahambahahle, was removed and replaced by the ANC’s disgraced former North West Premier, Supra Mahumaphelo. Clearly, the pressure that the DA has been placing in exposing the corruption of the New York scandal, has resulted in high ranking politicians making drastic decisions to protect themselves.

The DA will be writing to President Ramaphosa, demanding the recall and suspension of Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and Ambassador Matjila.

After the recent riots, South Africa cannot afford any further embarrassment due to this scandal. If the President is serious about rooting out corruption, then he must place the interest of South Africa ahead of his corrupt comrades.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.