DA announces Federal Congress Leadership Candidates

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today announced the names of candidates nominated to stand for election to Party Leadership roles at the DA elective Federal Congress on 31 October 2020 and 1 November 2020.

In just 18 days, DA Federal Congress delegates will participate in a democratic internal election to select the leadership of the DA; successful candidates will subsequently take the Party forward.

Preparation for DA Federal Congress 2020 is proceeding full steam ahead, and the hard work being carried out to prepare for a successful virtual Federal Congress is progressing to plan.

Nominations for the candidates standing for election opened on 7 September 2020 and closed on Saturday 10 October 2020.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, the DA had to reimagine the format of our Federal Congress and chose to proceed virtually, with delegates attending congress from their homes and also from a variety of venues being made available nationwide. This approach ensures that the Congress is extremely accessible to all delegates, from all communities.

In terms of the clause 6.1.4 of the DA Federal Constitution, “The Federal Congress elects the Leader, the Federal Chairperson and the [3] Deputy Federal Chairpersons.”

Furthermore, alongside Federal Congress, the members of the DA Federal Council will vote for the Chairperson and two Deputy Chairpersons of Federal Council, as well as the Federal Finance Chairperson, in terms of clause 6.2.4.1 of the Federal Constitution.

As the DA Federal Congress Presiding Officers, we have the pleasure of announcing the following candidates who have been nominated respectively:

Federal Finance Chairperson (Uncontested):

George, Dion

Deputy Chairpersons of Federal Council (Uncontested)

Masango, James

Walters, Thomas

Chairperson of Federal Council:

Moriarty, Mike

Zille, Helen

Deputy Federal Chairpersons [3]:

Bredell, Anton

Lotriet, Annelie

Nt’sekhe Refiloe

Smalle, Jacques

Federal Chairperson (Uncontested):

Meyer, Ivan

Federal Leader:

Ntuli, Mbali

Steenhuisen, John

The DA looks forward to a robust and successful Federal Congress as we demonstrate a clear commitment to internal democracy in our Party, despite the limitations of the current pandemic.

DA calls for independent investigation into CSA, as board tables whitewashed forensic report

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for the establishment of an independent committee to investigate the ongoing challenges within Cricket South Africa (CSA). This comes as the CSA board finally released its long-overdue forensic report into the organization’s administration following sustained pressure from the DA and Parliament’s Portfolio Committee of Sports, Arts and Culture.

Following our initial reading of the report, the DA is of the view that the allegations in the report was not compiled or investigated independently.

The report’s findings focus almost solely on the alleged misconduct of Thabang Moroe, but fail to finger those who may have been in cahoots with the former CSA CEO. The report also does not contain any recommendations on turning around the mismanagement and malfeasance within the cricket association.

The report effectively attempts to scapegoat one person for the crisis within CSA. The financial crisis, administrative challenges and poor leadership at CSA cannot be laid solely at the feet of one man.

All board members and executives, past and present, who were involved in CSA’s maladministration should be investigated. It is for this reason that the DA calls for an independent investigation into the administration of CSA dating from 2016 to present.

We will not accept this whitewashed report which essentially absolves the CSA board and other senior executives from any wrongdoing related to the past six years of decline in CSA’s administration.

DA’s Economic Structural Reform Tracker shows that South Africa is currently on a 73% deficit on economic reform progress

The following statement was delivered during a press conference on the launch of the DA’s Economic Structural Reform Tracker.

  • Please find attached a soundbite by Geordin Hill-Lewis MP.

Today marks exactly 508 days since President Cyril Ramaphosa delivered his Presidential inauguration speech at the Union Buildings in which he called for an economic compact to drive growth and economic opportunity. Since then, however, the economy has continued its downward trajectory, with the unemployment rate reaching an unprecedented all-time high.

When Covid-19 hit our shores early this year, it delivered the final blow to an economy that was already in deep crisis due to years of policy inertia and entrenched structural problems. The 51% annualised quarter-on-quarter GDP contraction of the economy, announced by StatsSA, was a wake-up call to the undeniable fact that we can no longer afford to delay the implementation of the much-needed economic structural reforms.

The economic devastation brought about by the Covid-19 hard lockdown, has forced the government’s hand. A programme of economic structural reform has become imperative, not to grow the economy, but to save it from destruction.

Several warnings have been issued by bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and rating agencies that unless South Africa embarks on an urgent programme, the country’s economic crisis will only worsen. A draft Economic Recovery Action Plan, worked out by President Cyril Ramaphosa and NEDLAC, has been touted as a blue print to ‘fast track urgent structural reforms” and stimulate economic growth.

The DA has taken the first step to hold the President accountable to this commitment by introducing an Economic Reform Tracker. The tracker’s primary purpose will be to act as a progress assessment tool for economic reforms. In times past, the government’s approach to reform has been replete with numerous plans and rhetoric with zero implementation. The reform tracker is a tool that shines the spotlight on the implementation deficit that has so far characterised the government’s approach to reform.

The Economic Structural Reform Tracker can be accessed online at: https://www.da.org.za/economic-structural-reform-tracker

The tracker will use a 5 key score weighting system, with 1 representing the lowest score on economic structural reform and 5 representing the highest score, where a structural reform policy has been adopted and its impact measured.

Using this weighting system, the tracker will measure progress on economic structural reform on 5 thematic areas, namely, Public Finance Reform, Energy Sector Reform, State-Owned Enterprise Reform, Reducing Corruption, Labour Market Reform and Sectoral Reforms.

Using this tracker’s methodology, the DA’s initial assessment has shown that out of the 15 reform areas being tracked, 73% of these are still yet to move beyond the rhetoric or conceptualisation stage. This means that the plethora of commitments by various government functionaries to pursue a sustained programme of economic reform has not been met with a corresponding plan of action.

1. PUBLIC FINANCE: Reform Progress: 20%

National debt stabilisation

The process to stabilise national debt should be guided by a clear plan that lays out a clear roadmap of how it will be achieved. National Treasury and the Minister of Finance have, on several occasions, raised alarm on how South Africa’s public finances have become “dangerously overstretched”. However, they have fallen short of committing to specific intervention to addressing this fiscal challenge.

DA action plan: The DA has initiated a Parliamentary process to introduce a Private Members Bill, in terms of Section 73(2) of the Constitution, titled the Fiscal Responsibility Bill [B_2020]. The Fiscal Responsibility Bill (FRB) will ensure that debt levels and debt service costs are kept under control by setting legislative limits on how much the government can borrow each year.

Rationalisation of the Public Sector Wage bill

In the February 2020 budget, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, committed to cut R160 billion over the next three years from the public sector wage bill to rationalise government expenditure. However, this has been contested ever since by Public Sector Unions which argue that government should honour it previously agreed to wage agreement.

DA action plan: The DA still stands by its position that:

  • Government should grant inflation-linked increases for all frontline service delivery heroes, while freezing the salaries of all managers and administrators and reducing the 29 000 millionaire managers in the public service by a third.
  • Enforcing reductions and a hiring freeze on all managerial positions (non-OSD levels 11 to 16) until the number of managers is reduced by a third.
  • Freezing the wages of the 33.7% of public servants not covered by the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) (including the likes of highly paid head office managers and supervisors).

2. ENERGY SECTOR REFORM: Reform progress: 40%

Independent Power Producers (IPPs)

It is encouraging that the government has gazetted s34 determinations which will allow the procurement of 11 813 MW of electricity and storage from independent power producers (IPPs). The s34 determination will enable the procurement of 6 800 MW of solar and wind generation, 3 000 MW of gas generation, 1 500 MW of coal generation and 513 MW of storage. It creates an implementing framework for the Integrated Resource Plan, adopted a year ago.

It is now critical that the IPP Office works to speedily issue the necessary requests for proposals and open the next bid window for renewables.

DA action plan: The DA will use the oversight avenues at our disposal to ensure that the Energy Department begins the process to immediately sign permissions for Independent Power Producers to provide additional power to the grid via qualifying municipalities, in terms of Section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act.

Eskom Reform

While Eskom’s CEO has initiated a process to facilitate the unbundling of the entity, in June 2020 he told Parliament that Eskom may miss its target to split into three separate units by 2022 due to legal processes. The recently published NEDLAC Economic Recovery Action Plan seeks to achieve energy security through:

  • Fast track the implementation of self-generation projects above 1 MW through shortening approvals and NERSA licences;
  • Ensure new and affordable generation capacity by accelerating the implementation of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), including the release of RFPs for the next bid window of the Independent Power Producer Programme (IPPP) by January 2021.

DA action plan: The DA will review the six-weekly/two-months implementation reports of the Presidential Working Committee (PWC) set up to track progress on the implementation of the NEDLAC economic recovery plan.

Incentivising power generation by private citizens

Immediate steps should be taken to provide income tax incentives to individuals to enable them to generate electricity at their private residences for their own consumption. Despite the continuing energy crisis, the government still does not have a national policy on power generation by private individuals at household level.

DA action plan: The DA proposed an Emergency Solar Rebate (ESR) that would offer tax rebates for solar systems installed at residential properties. The Emergency Solar Rebate would be available for three years only, designed to alleviate our current energy crisis, and would work as follows:

  • 100% tax deduction for the cost of installed solar equipment, up to a maximum of R75 000.
  • The purchaser would fund the cost of installation upfront, and would claim the cost against their taxable income at time of submitting their ordinary annual returns.

3. STATE OWNED ENTERPRISE REFORM: Reform progress: 20%

Transparency and accountability in SOE management

SOEs must become more transparent in order to minimise the opportunity for corruption. A major reason for the corruption is the lack of clear and transparent procurement of contracts and tenders for politically connected parties which have hampered service delivery.

DA action plan: The Public Finance Management Amendment Bill, introduced by the DA, was tabled in Parliament in July 2020. Its proposals will go a long way in promoting transparency in financial reporting by SOEs. The bill aims to “provide for additional measures in instances where the executive authority fails to table an annual report and financial statements of a department or a public entity, and the audit report on those statements, in the National Assembly or the relevant legislature”. The bill also proposes that the annual report, financial statements, and the audit report on such statements referred to in section 65 of the Public Finance Management Act be tabled within 60 days after a written explanation has been tabled.

Public-private partnerships

Government must accelerate the process of restructuring ownership. This requires the government to look at the partial or full privatisation of a number of SOEs by bringing in private equity partners and disinvesting from non-core SOEs urgently. Privatisation which can stimulate a more dynamic industrial infrastructure; provide SOEs with the fiscal discipline of the marketplace; and bring in vital cash injections, skills, systems and expertise.

South African Airways (SAA) liquidation or sell

The government-sponsored business rescue process at SAA is one clear example which shows that the ANC led government is not concerned about rising levels of public expenditure, debt and budget deficits. Despite Treasury warnings that the fiscus will not be able to shoulder another bailout for the airline, a R10,5 billion bailout has been approved. The DA has consistently held the position that SAA should either be liquidated or sold to private investors. There is no prospect of the re-imagined airline ever being able to turn a profit in 3 years as suggested by the BRPs. The global airline industry is in deep crisis due to Covid-19 and it will take a while before a return to profits is achieved.

DA Action Plan: The DA will oppose an Appropriation Bill that may be drawn up to fund the SAA bailout. We will encourage South Africans to make submissions to Parliament to oppose the abuse of their taxpayer money to fund a defunct business entity such as SAA.

4. REDUCING CORRUPTION: Reform progress: 20%

Consequence management in Public Finance Management

Wasteful and fruitless expenditure has remained a perennial problem in successive Auditor General reports. When corruption is unearthed, whether at national, provincial or local government level, rarely is anyone ever held accountable. Consequence management in Public Finance has remained weak and any attempts to address this have not been deterrent enough, as the scourge of corruption has continued to increase. It remains to be seen whether the recently amended Public Audit Act, which empowers the Auditor General to recover monies lost through financial mismanagement and corruption through a referral of fraud and irregularities to relevant agencies for investigation, will lead to a reduction in mismanagement of public funds.

State procurement reform

The Covid-19 procurement scandal has brought into sharp focus questions about what needs to be done to insulate the state procurement system against corruption. At the centre of this problem is the issue of lack of transparency around tender processes. ‘Pre-qualifying criteria’ often misused in requests for tender to arrive at a predetermined winning bidder are a site of massive abuse and should probably be scrapped. In addition, there should be a clear legal prohibition on family members of politicians or civil servants doing business with the state. It is imperative that the draft Public Procurement Bill is passed into law as it will enable effective, efficient and transparent procurement of goods and services while insulating the system from corruption.

DA action plan: The Public Procurement Bill introduced by national Treasury, while designed to promote transparency and accountability in the public procurement process, has some grey areas which could affect its effectiveness in stamping out corruption. The DA will not support the Bill in its current form because:

  • The proposed office of the Public Procurement Regulator is not independent in the true sense of the word. Its location within national Treasury could render it incapable of exercising its authority without fear or favour.
  • Section 95(2)(b) allows for undue interference in local government by Provincial treasuries as it empowers the latter to determine whether a local government procurement is urgent or not.

5. LABOUR MARKET REFORM: Reform progress: 20%

Removing barriers to employment creation

In the South African context, sectoral minimum wages are key to save and create more jobs. Sectoral Minimum Wages are important to ensure the rights of working South Africans are protected and to guard against the abuse of the most vulnerable members of our society. The government has however chosen to push for erroneous labour legislation that shuts millions of South Africans out of the labour market. The recently introduced Employment Equity (EE) Amendment Bill will empower the Minister of Employment and Labour to set numerical EE targets for any national economic sector. This confers upon the Minister a degree of coercive racial control that is completely incompatible with the principles of a market-based economy.

DA action plan: The DA will be opposing the EE Amendment Bill in its entirety. Instead, we will propose the establishment of an independent panel – that cannot be unduly influenced by politicians, big business or big labour unions – mandated to set minimum wages for each sector, taking into consideration all relevant factors, including the need to create jobs. This approach would allow, in some sectors, the setting of a minimum wage higher than that proposed, while protecting the vulnerable in our economy.

Improving youth access to the labour market

South Africa’s 29,1% unemployment rate disproportionately affects the youth more than any other working demographic in the country. Stats SA indicates that there 20.6 million people between 15 and 34, of whom 34.1% are categorised as NEET — neither employed nor in any form of educational institution or training facility. The recently revised National Youth Policy does not offer any new ideas of how to overcome the unemployment scourge. It simply regurgitates the proposals that were contained in the previous version. It is a reflection of the policy lethargy that currently exists in government on the key question of how to build an inclusive economy that creates opportunities for the youth.

DA action plan: There are simply not enough voluntary programme or internship opportunities to absorb young secondary school graduates who decide not to pursue tertiary education. The government can play an important function in providing young South Africans with work experience and an opportunity to serve their country through a Voluntary National Civilian Service Year, gaining transferable skills and experience to meet labour force demands. Every matriculant who does not qualify for tertiary education will be offered this programme and paid a stipend for the opportunity to serve their country or community in return for valuable work experience. This experience will be in strategic public sector areas such as the police, education and healthcare and the programme will serve as a platform for further opportunities in young peoples’ chosen sector.

6. SECTORAL REFORMS: Reform progress: 20%

Auctioning spectrum

Auctioning digital spectrum to individual Electronic Communication Network Services (iECNS) license holders would raise R5 billion. Successive Ministers in the Communication portfolio have either failed to facilitate the auction of digital spectrum or have been the stumbling block in expediting the process. The recently published NEDLAC economic recovery plan has provided new impetus digital spectrum auction. It has committed to releasing high demand spectrum to iECNS by December 2020.

DA Action Plan: The DA will review the six-weekly/two-months implementation reports of the Presidential Working Committee (PWC) set up to track progress on the implementation of the NEDLAC economic recovery plan.

Ease of doing business

The Ease of doing business index ranks countries against each other based on how the regulatory environment is conducive to business operation stronger protections of property rights. Economies with a high rank (1 to 20) have simpler and more friendly regulations for businesses. South Africa is ranked 84 among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. The rank of South Africa deteriorated to 84 in 2019 from 82 in 2018.

South Africa’s last highest ranking was in 2008 when it stood at 32 on the ranking list. Since then, the country’s regression on the ease of doing business has been met with a corresponding decline in the economy. The Ease of Doing Business Report indicates that South Africa implemented one single reform in 2019 and only four in the past five years.

Individual rankings have slipped to even lower levels than before. For example:

  1. Starting a Business 2019 – 134 to 2020 – 139
  2. Paying Taxes 2019 – 46 to 2020 – 54
  3. Registering Property 2019 – 106 to 2020 – 108
  4. Trading Across Borders 2019 – 143 to 2020 – 145
  5. Dealing with Construction Permits 2019 – 96 to 2020 – 98

Through a working group collaboration with the World Bank, the Department of Trade and Industry has set itself targets to improve South Africa’s ranking on the ease of doing business.

DA Action Plan: The DA will use its presence on the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, together with the reports from Presidential Working Committee (PWC), to monitor the progress of policy reforms actions on starting a business, paying taxes, registering properties, cross border trade and infrastructure permits.

Mining regulation

South Africa’s mining industry shrank during the commodities boom of the early 2000s largely due to investor forbidding mining laws. The National Development Plan called this “an opportunity lost” and called for mining laws that were ‘predictable, competitive and stable’. Even with this realisation, the industry still remains highly regulated punctuated by persistent regulatory and policy uncertainty.

Proposed amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act will stifle investment in the sector as it places onerous requirements on labour relations and empowerment which could hinder employment creation. In addition, the proposed guidelines for the resettlement of communities surrounding mines ignores the rights of actual communities located in the vicinity of mining operations.

The Mining Charter still remains an area of contestation between government and industry players. Even if it only relates to existing mining rights, the ‘once empowered always empowered’ clause means that if an application is made to renew a mining right, an existing economic empowerment strategy will have to be restructured to align with the new levels. Minerals Council of South Africa is fighting this proposed clause, arguing that a renewed mining right should not require new or additional expectations.

DA Action Plan: DA MPs on the Mineral Resources and Energy committee will oppose the proposed job killing amendments to the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act. The DA will instead propose progressive amendment to the Act that recognise the need to balance an investor friendly labour regime with employment creation. The DA opposes the ‘once empowered, always empowered’ clause in the Mining Charter and strongly believes that it should be removed completely. We will petition and have direct engagements with the Minister to ensure that this clause is not only removed but the Charter inspires confidence among mining investors.

DA calls for establishment of parliamentary Ad Hoc Committee to investigate rampant criminality in SAPS

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to request that she uses the power at her disposal in terms of Rule 253(1) (b) of the Rules of the National Assembly to establish an Ad Hoc Committee of the National Assembly to investigate criminality and corruption at the South African Police Services (SAPS).

This is in light of yet another scandal involving the police, this time the SAPS Deputy National Commissioner, Bonang Mgwenya, who was arrested in connection with alleged R200 million tender fraud related to the 2017 procurement of police emergency warning equipment.

In addition to this arrest, the SAPS has for years been plagued by what appears to be systemic corruption and criminality.  Recent examples include:

  • Reports that one of the officers involved in the killing of 16 year old Nathaniel Julie has three previous criminal convictions, including assault, assault to cause grievous bodily harm, and malicious damage to property;
  • Several instances of corruption and bribery during the national lockdown;
  • Serious allegations of SAPS corruption leading to the death of top cop Charl Kinnear;
  • Media reports indicated at least R56 million was illegally siphoned off the police budget in just one matter involving eight high ranking SAPS members who were arrested in pre-dawn raid in June 2020; and
  • The fact that nearly a hundred officials have been doing business with SAPS between 2014 -2019 – despite it being illegal. The 20 most lucrative contracts amount to nearly R6.8 million.

These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg, and there is no doubt a long list of fraud, corruption, and other cases of wrongdoing that is yet to be uncovered. What is clear, however, is that we need a dedicated Ad Hoc Committee in Parliament investigating the corruption and criminality within the police ranks. The Portfolio Committee on Police is already dealing with a large number of items in its schedule, and does not have the time and capacity to exclusively deal with the issue of criminality within SAPS.

The DA resolution to establish the Committee, will include the power to:

  • Summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, or to produce documents;
  • Receive petitions, representations or submissions from interested persons or institutions;
  • Permit oral evidence on petitions, representations, submissions, and any other matter before the Committee; and
  • Conduct public hearings.

The criminality and corruption within SAPS has been made worse by the fact that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is severely under-capacitated and underfunded to fully investigate and refer cases for criminal prosecution. The police watchdog had previously been left without a permanent head for more than a year and is beset with capacity challenges.  That is an indictment on the Police Minister, and points to a lack of political will to seriously tackle corruption within the police service.

Taking into account the several incidents of crime committed by members of the police as well as the lack of political will under Minister Cele, Parliament needs to be given space to fully exercise its oversight responsibility in a focused and dedicated manner. We firmly believe that the formation of this Ad Hoc Committee will be a turning point in the fight against corrupt criminal cops.

Pravin Gordhan again evades accounting to SCOPA for the SAA funding debacle

The Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, has again evaded accounting to Parliament over the source of the R10.4 billion required by the South African Airways (SAA) Business Rescue Practitioners for the Business Rescue Plan that they have devised for the airline. This R10.4 billion is over and above the R16.4 billion already budgeted for in the 2020 budget.

Minister Gordhan and the SAA Business Rescue Practitioners, Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, were summoned to appear before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) today but at the eleventh hour, with a mere 24 hours to go, the Minister sent a letter to the SCOPA Chairperson to request yet another delay until the week beginning on 26 October 2020 that he claims will be after the funding required for the SAA business rescue plan has been secured. It appears that the SCOPA Chairperson has agreed to this delay.

The week of the 26th of October is the week immediately following the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement due to be made by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, on 21 October 2020. What this means is that by the time Minister Gordhan and the SAA Business Rescue Practitioners finally appear before SCOPA, if indeed they do actually deign to appear and actually answer questions, the funding will no doubt have been included in the Adjustments Budget.

For the past five months, Minister Gordhan has obfuscated about the source of the of the R10.4 billion required to keep the defunct airline afloat. He has failed to answer questions in committee and simply ignored requests for detailed written replies to questions.

This obfuscation has clearly been an attempt by the Minister to evade accountability on the government’s morally bankrupt decision to hand out billions to a vanity project in the face of increasing joblessness and poverty across the country.

Conflict of interest as Hawks’ Spokesperson receives R3 million from the NLC

In July 2020, the Limpopo Mirror reported that the Hangwani Mulaudzi Foundation which was founded in 2017 by Hawks Spokesperson, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi, received R3 million from the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) to establish a sports centre for the community of Mashamba in Limpopo.

The publication stated “that the sport centre, which would comprise a block of toilets, an office and a change room facility, a borehole with running taps, and fencing, would be handed to the community in three months’ time”.

The DA has also seen an internal NLC document which confirms the name of the beneficiary , the amount disbursed and the date of payment to this organisation.

While the DA is supportive of initiatives that aim to develop our rural towns and villages, one has to question the fact that a senior member of the Hawks has received such funding from the NLC.

This is because the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) has recently handed over evidence related to Denzhe Primary Care scandal to the Hawks to investigate.

There is no doubt that this is a clear conflict of interest which has the potential to derail the entire investigation into large-scale looting at the NLC.

Therefore, the DA will be submitting parliamentary questions to both Ministers Ebrahim Patel and Bheki Cele to ascertain whether or not they were aware of the disbursement of funds at the time and whether or not they deem it to be a conflict of interest.

State of disaster and lockdown must end now

The DA calls on Ramaphosa’s cabinet to resist the urge to once again extend the state of disaster, which is otherwise due to end on Thursday 15 October. South Africa’s prolonged lockdown must end immediately and completely. Indeed, both should have ended five months ago. SA’ epidemiological models massively exaggerated the size of the covid risk.

The World Health Organisation has now echoed what the DA has been saying for months: that lockdowns are net harmful and unjustifiable. WHO has appealed to world leaders to stop locking down their countries and their economies.

The state of disaster undermines democracy, oversight, and policy certainty. Extending it will be no more than a continuation of the government’s attempt to use bad science to promote a climate of fear that gives false legitimacy to the ANC’s growing authoritarianism. It has massively enabled the theft of state resources, which is why the ANC government has been so reluctant to end it.

Of course, the real disaster is the state of our economy, which was already in an ANC-induced crisis before the pandemic hit. But it was dealt a deathblow by the ANC’s irrational, unscientific, unethical lockdown with its senseless, arbitrary regulations ineffectively targeting a single risk, a risk which is nowhere near as dangerous to our country as many other risks.

The WHO’s statement supports the DA’s position that this prolonged lockdown has been unjustifiable and that the economic devastation it caused could and should have been avoided.

The main things South Africa’s lockdown has achieved is a catastrophic increase in poverty, unemployment and inequality, with poor people and young people paying the highest price for what has largely been an ineffective policy. Three million jobs have been lost. Schoolchildren have lost around 40% of their school days this year. Hunger is widespread, a long-term consequence of which will be childhood stunting. All with terrible consequences for public mental and physical health.

Level 1 lockdown continues to harm South Africa. It continues to damage certain sectors of the economy, particularly tourism and the alcohol industry, and it continues to interrupt education, with no benefits to society. This charade must end now.

Specifically, the DA calls on government to:

  • Lift all restrictions on international travel. The tourism industry is being unnecessarily damaged as a result of these.
  • Lift all restrictions on the trade of alcohol.
  • Lift the curfew, which is an unnecessary invasion of civil liberties including an unnecessary restriction of people’s freedom of movement.
  • Allow schooling to return to normal operations.

The ANC government has brought SA to the precipice of economic ruin, to avoid a single risk which is small relative to the myriad other risks we as a nation faces. This government remains the biggest risk to the country’s wellbeing.  Nothing which gives them more power should be supported.

Ramaphosa’s words on farm murders ring hollow, we need to see action

746 day ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the world via an interview in New York, that no farmers were being killed in South Africa. Yet in the year he made that claim, there were 394 attacks and 56 murders. In 2019, there were 419 attacks and 56 murders. And in 2020 there have been some 200 attacks, and over 50 murders to date.

In June, the Democratic Alliance (DA) launched an awareness campaign and asked the President not only to retract that statement, but additionally to apologise to the men and women in our rural areas who are living in fear while still working 24/7 to feed our country.

Only now, today, because the flood of fury and anger has finally broken its banks, has President Ramaphosa been moved to respond. He referred to the murder of young Brendin Horner – who was horribly tortured to death. But failed to also include the hundreds of others who have been murdered since he claimed there were no farmers being murdered in our country.

He then said Brendin’s killing “should anger and upset every one of us”.  What country does the President live in? It can’t possibly be the one we live in – where farm murders are glorified? Where farmers are vilified on a daily basis?

Mr President, you are quite correct that the majority of victims of violent crimes are black and poor, but surely someone has told you that it is four times more dangerous to be on a farm than in any other area of South Africa?

We are already 26 years into our democracy, and only now does the President notice that we have a huge task to bring an end to murder, assault, robbery and rape? Is it that he has only recently noticed – despite our speaking out about these farm attacks for over 20 years? Did it take our concerted campaign that we began in June, to finally bring this to his attention?

Or did the fulminating signs of a potential civil war in response to these tortures and murders finally catch the President’s attention?

The President’s newsletter today is a case of too little, too late. Had he ever shown the slightest care for our farmers, farm workers, or their families – they may not today be so terribly at risk that they are leaving our country in droves. They are moving into the welcoming arms of many other countries – Malawi, Zambia, the USA, the UK and much of Europe – growing food for them, and no longer for us. Since 1994 we have dropped from 120 000 commercial farmers to 38 000.

And this weak newsletter with its hollow words is all the President can offer.

Those of us without bodyguards know what is going on. The whole country knew what a powder keg Senekal was. Yet somehow the President and the South African Police Service (SAPS) didn’t notice until it was too late. Instead, in the face of murder after murder after murder, Ramaphosa spouts homilies.

South Africans do not need a lecture from the President. They want solutions. They want certainty that their President will ensure that these murders are declared Priority and Hate Crimes. They want to see funding go to the rural police stations so that farmers may actually sleep at night rather than patrol. They need the President’s promise that there will be investigations when farmers report that police are in on the stock theft syndicates.

Instead, the President tells farming communities that private security must work with the SAPS. Sir, they already do.

The President should dismiss whoever it is advising him, and spend a few days speaking with those who live and work in terror on the ground.

Ramaphosa should retract his 2018 statement, apologise, and listen to our farmers – and in case his advisor hasn’t told him, our farmers are white, black, coloured and Indian.  And all of them are in terrible danger and need equal protection from the police.

DA lays incitement charges against EFF’s Malema and Paulsen 

Please find the attached soundbite  and video by Natasha Mazzone MP, Chief Whip of the Official Opposition. Pictures can be found here, here , here and here

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today laid criminal charges at the Cape Town Central Police station against the EFF leader, Julius Malema, and EFF Member of Parliament, Nazier Paulsen, over social media posts that incite violence.

These charges follow tweets by Malema this past week which state “Magwala a chechele morago! (Cowards move to the back) Fighters attack!” and a picture of a machine gun. His initial tweet was followed by a post by Paulsen which included a picture of him with a machine gun captioned “Get ready!”.

The DA strongly condemns this reckless attempt by the EFF leadership to further violence at this increasingly delicate time in South Africa’s democratic dispensation.

We have already seen numerous posts over the weekend of EFF followers posting pictures of guns and firing shots in videos in support of Malema’s utterances.

The EFF is showing its true colours. Malema and his thugs have no regard for the rule of law, their only contribution to the South African political landscape has been chaos, violence and a clear attempt to destroy democratic institutions.

The DA has already referred both Malema and Paulsen to Parliament’s Ethics Committee to request an investigation for these inflammatory utterances which are a serious offense of their Oath of Office.

The South African Police Services (SAPS) can no longer sit on its hands and ignore Malema’s violence. Especially in light of the swift action and vigor in which the police pursued the alleged instigator of the violence at Senekal.

The ball is now in Parliament and the police’s court to hold Malema and his band of quasi revolutionaries to account for their brazen incitement of violence. For too long the EFF has gotten away with this kind of behaviour, which has made them increasingly emboldened to say and do what they want.

#Jetgate: DA asks Treasury to clarify ANC‘s undervalued payment

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to National Treasury to ascertain whether the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, was consulted by the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula in terms of the Defence Act before she and the ANC went on a trip to Zimbabwe aboard a South African Air Force (SAAF) jet to meet with ZANU-PF.

We also sought to determine if Treasury was involved and approved Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s calculations of total costs invoiced to the ANC for the flight.

The Defence Act is clear, Section 80(3)(a)(i) states that, the Minister of Defence must first consult the Minister of Finance before allowing conveyance of any person who is not an officer or employee of the State on board a SAAF aircraft.

However, there is no reference in any of the two reports submitted by Minister Mapisa-Nqakula to President Cyril Ramaphosa of any consultation with the Finance Minister. If, as we suspect, Minister Mboweni was not consulted, then the use of the SAAF jet by the ANC delegation results in irregular, wasteful and unauthorised expenses.

The DA wants to know what steps Treasury will take against Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and the ANC’s blatant and unauthorised abuse of State resources.

Additionally, as far as the costs are concerned, the DA wants to know if Treasury was consulted by Minister Mapisa-Nqakula to determine a reasonable amount the ANC must pay back for abusing State resources.

The DA is not convinced that the R105 545, 48 calculated by the Minister is sufficient. We have found this amount to be disproportionate as it excludes other expenses.

For an example:

  • The R86 000 per hour confirmed by the Minister of Defence to the President excludes the costs related to the landing rights and parking of the Falcon 900 for nearly 24 hours, the costs related to onboard food and drinks, as well as the costs related to the pilots and onboard staff.
  • We are of the view that the direct costs for this junket must include: R86 000 x 2.7 hours = R232 000 + onboard entertainment + landing rights + parking on the airport + costs related to the pilots and onboard staff.
  • In addition to this, the official passenger list indicated the Minister plus 6 members of the ANC’s NEC were on board, which correlates with the 7 people she indicated in her letter to her Zimbabwean counterpart on 7 September 2020 when she requested a visit to Harare.

We are of the view that Minister Mapisa-Nqakula grossly under-calculated the total cost and we hope that the Minister of Finance will be able to provide us with a much clearer picture on how these determinations were made and whether he supports such calculations.

The ANC should pay back all the money for the flight, and not just a small percentage calculated by a Minister who has already proven that she would put her party before her country.

As the DA, we are committed to accountability and unlike President Cyril Ramaphosa, we will not accept a report that is riddled with discrepancies at face value.

So desperate is the President Ramaphosa and the ANC to hide the truth of this abuse, that they disregarded Parliament’s programme to prevent Ramaphosa from accounting on #Jetgate.

The President’s call for a Joint Sitting of Parliament on Thursday, is a last-minute attempt to avoid questions and accountability on this highly problematic trip.

President Ramaphosa cannot avoid accountability in a scandal he is very much part of. The truth must come out.