Against all odds, DA-led governments show that real progress is possible

Ahead of the President’s State of the Nation (SONA) address this coming Thursday, I today met with the Premier of the Western Cape, Alan Winde, the Mayor of Cape Town, Dan Plato, and the Mayor of Tshwane, Stevens Mokgalapa to consider the state of DA-led governments across the country. The Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, was unable to attend in person, however did make substantial inputs on behalf of the people of Johannesburg.

The focus of this meeting was to share each government’s most recent achievements, table recent plans, and consider and compare challenges faced by each.

Across the board, DA-led governments unanimously agree that the biggest challenge facing the country today is its self-made economic crisis – a situation that has only deteriorated further since the 8 May election.

We cannot begin to imagine a strong, vibrant and prosperous South Africa while unemployment has just hit a record high of 38%, with 9.9 million people without a job, most of these young people.

Economic growth has contracted by 3.2% during the first months of this year – the biggest decline in a decade – and the rand remains extremely volatile as the ANC continues its assault on the independence of the Reserve Bank.

Despite opulent “investment summits” and similar such ploys, net investment has declined in the first quarter of 2019 for the fifth consecutive quarter, this time by 4.5%.

The reality is that on all indicators, we are headed in the wrong direction at record speeds. Without a stable, growing economy that creates jobs, opportunity and wealth, we cannot adequately redress the wrongs of the past, provide quality services to all citizens, and build One South Africa for All.

Despite this depressed economic and governance environment, DA-led governments are a step ahead – spearheading innovative plans and policies which are fast yielding positive results for the citizens living under these governments.

The DA has a vision for cities where city-led economic growth occupies the future of South Africa. Beyond suppling citizens with energy, water and basic services, our cities need to be at the centre of sustainable development because they are directly accountable to the people, and best placed to make decisions around infrastructure investment.

Our cities must become resilient and geared for a rapidly-changing world. We cannot fall behind, and we must change how we work so that we can ensure that cities are attractive to global technology companies and become cities of the future.

This is also why we continue to push for the localisation of policing and transport. This will allow local and provincial governments to plan better and be more responsive to the needs of citizens.

Our nation can only succeed with capable governments, and DA-led governments are well ahead on all governance indicators: job opportunities created, investment attracted, services delivered, title deeds delivered, and corruption eradicated.

As confirmed by data from, among others, the President’s Office, the Rating Agencies and Independent Governance Indicators, it continues to be decisively shown that the DA governs best, both locally and provincially. Of the top 20 municipalities in South Africa, 14 were DA-led governments.

Western Cape

  1. Jobs/opportunity

The DA has now governed the Western Cape for 10 years, and the people of this province can today see the fruits of DA governance in the long term. The Western Cape’s expanded unemployment rate is by far the lowest in the country at a massive 14 percentage points lower than the national average. As many as 508 000 new jobs were created in a province where employment grew by almost 25% over the past decade.

The Premier’s Advancement of Youth Programme (PAY) provides 750 matriculants with jobs and training each year. Since its inception, PAY has provided over 4 000 internship opportunities. Over and above the PAY project, we have spent more than half a billion Rand on internship, bursary and other skills programmes that have benefited over 13 000 young people.

Ensuring that as many young people matriculate as possible is critical. The Western Cape’s retention rate from Grades 10 – 12 is the highest in the country, at around 63% for the 2018 matric results. No other province managed to achieve a retention rate of over 50%.

The Western Cape has thus become the province of opportunity and its governance model could be implemented across the country, creating millions of job opportunities for South Africans.

  1. Safety/crime

The safety of citizens remains a top priority for DA-led governments. While the fight for the localisation of policing powers continues, 150 police stations are inspected or observed on an annual basis, which is more than any other province across the country.

The Western Cape is also the only province to have established a Commission of Inquiry into policing and we have promulgated a Community Safety Act to create a Police Ombudsman office. The Ombudsman is tasked with investigate policing inefficiency and the breakdown in relationships between communities and the SAPS.

Our Court Watching Briefs Unit monitored 3 269 cases in 40 courts across the province in 2017/18. In many instances the work of this unit successfully prevents cases being dropped from the roll and helps achieve convictions on the basis of evidence.

The province is currently pursuing an intergovernmental dispute with the national Minister of Police in a bid to compel the national government to provide additional policing resources to the province.

  1. Service delivery

The delivery of basic services is a governance blueprint of the Western Cape, and the numbers show. 99% of the province has access to piped water, 97% to electricity and 98% to waste removal. Almost three quarters of this water, one third of the electricity and two thirds of the basic sewage and sanitation is free. In addition, 14 of the top 20 municipalities with the highest household access to sanitation are in the Western Cape.

The Western Cape has the highest life expectancy in the country, thanks to an effective public healthcare system, which provides health services to the 75.3% of the province’s 6.5 million population who are uninsured.

The province leads the rest of the country in implementing land reform with a 72% success rate of all land reform projects supported by the Western Cape Government. Innovative solutions like the government’s share equity schemes and Commodity Approach continue to highlight how property ownership ultimately leads to economic empowerment.

  1. Corruption/clean governance

In terms of clean, corruption-free governance, again the Western Cape is streaks ahead. When the DA assumed office in the 2009, not a single Western Cape municipality other than the Cape Town metro received a clean audit from the Auditor General. This figure has climbed to an impressive 83% clean audits under a DA-led government in 2018/19 across all entities and departments – the highest in the country.

  1. Energy Security

The Western Cape leads when it comes to achieving greater energy security.  The province has enabled an increase in Rooftop PV installations from 18MW to more than 110MW, mostly by businesses. A total of 22 municipalities have put in place the necessary systems to accept Rooftop PV power into their grids, and 18 of these municipalities have approved tariffs in place so consumers can be compensated for electricity they feed back into the grid. According to the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), only 34 municipalities allowed Small Scale Embedded Generation (SSEG) programmes – 18 of these in the Western Cape.

The Western Cape remains the gold standard for clean, corruption-free, governance which creates opportunity and delivers basic services to all.

City of Cape Town

  1. Jobs/opportunity

The national expanded unemployment rate – people who do not have work or have given up looking for work – now sits at 38% while in the City of Cape Town this rate is almost 15 percentage points lower at 23.4%.

  1. Safety/crime

Mayor Plato has capacitated safety and security by allocating as much as a R535 million capital budget to the Safety and Security Directorate to acquire vehicles and equipment as well as make improvements to facilities across departments for the 2019/20 financial year in the City of Cape Town. The City intends to recruit and deploy almost 200 more staff members for the Metro Police, Law Enforcement and Traffic Services Departments with this increased budget.

  1. Service delivery

The City will soon appear in court to have the 1MW energy ceiling lifted to 10MW for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) within municipalities, which will make the City more energy resilient and help the ratings agencies see the possibility of releasing extra power into the system. We fully support this fight for cheaper energy and have tabled the ‘Cheaper Energy Bill’ in Parliament to drive the push towards legally reforming energy supply and generation in South Africa.

A gateway to knowledge has opened to the residents of Dunoon as the Dunoon Library was launched in April with two City SmartCape sections, free online and Wi-Fi access, a collection of over 15 000 library items, print and digital media, reading programme, study nooks, community meeting facilities and music listening pods providing learning, development, recreation and entertainment to the local community.

The Mayor has also launched a City-wide Clean-up Campaign with R115 million allocated to cleaning operations made up of R56 million for informal settlements, R14 million to EPWP worker recruitment, R20 million on the Area Cleaning Division in the City’s Solid Waste Management Directorate and R25 million to Recreation and Parks Department’s grass cutting and maintenance.

Thursday’s SONA provides the President with an ideal opportunity to announce the release of the five national government-owned mega properties at Culemborg, Ysterplaat, Wingfield, Youngsfield and Denel to the people of Cape Town. This transfer alone could be used for as many as 100 000 housing units, which would meet almost half of the affordable housing needs in the City.

  1. Corruption/clean governance

It comes a well-earned achievement that the City of Cape Town has been recognised as the most trusted metro in South Africa. The South African Customer Satisfaction Index (SA-csi) confirmed this after studying South Africans’ trust and satisfaction in metros last month.

City of Johannesburg

  1. Jobs/opportunity

The Mashaba administration’s commitment to reclaiming the Inner City and unlocking the City’s jobs potential continues to be seen through the City’s Inner-City Revitalisation Programme, where 154 properties have been released to the private sector for mixed use development since October 2017.

Further to this, the City continues to prioritise support for SMMEs and entrepreneurs. To this end, three Opportunity Centres have been opened where youth, SMMEs and other job-seekers can be connected to support services and other opportunities such as artisan training and skills development. Following the successful launch of Opportunity Centres in the Inner City, Diepsloot and Roodepoort, three more will be launched this month in Alexandra, Soweto and Randburg.

Between the first quarters of 2018 and 2019, the South African economy shed 86 000 jobs. However, 7 000 new jobs were created in the City of Johannesburg during the same period.

  1. Safety/crime

1 500 additional Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) officers were recruited in 2016/17, have been inducted, and are set to be deployed by October this year. In November last year 171 traffic wardens who were former EPWP employees previously trained to perform traffic duties, also joined the JMPD.

  1. Service delivery

The City’s Diphetogo initiative is ensuring that basic services reach those who need it most by increasing the electricity, roads, water, housing and transport capital expenditure budget from 58% in 2016/17 to 70% in the City’s latest budget. The budget for electrifying informal settlements has almost tripled from R260 million for the 2016/17 medium term budget, to R750 million over the next three years, while in this current financial year, City Power has finished refurbishing the Roosevelt, Sebenza, Wilropark, Nancefield, Heriotdale, Mondeor, Mulbarton, Pennyville and Waterval substations.

The DA-led government inherited an infrastructure backlog of R170 billion, meaning that before any new projects could begin, the backlog needed to be eradicated. Despite this, almost 70km of gravel roads have been tarred to date, and R1.1 billion is budgeted over the next 3 years to continue this work. Additionally, R1.1 billion has been allocated to the resurfacing, rehabilitating and reconstructing roads over the medium term. Similarly, 45km of sewer pipelines have been replaced, along with 65km of water pipes, which has ensured that there were 2000 fewer leaks and bursts in that financial year.

  1. Corruption/clean governance

When the DA took office, we inherited an administration fraught with fraud and corruption. The Group Forensics and Investigation Services (GFIS) uncovered over 5 300 corruption and maladministration cases dealing with transactions nearing R24 billion in the last financial year, and Operation Buya Mthetho has ensured over 8 000 arrests by law enforcement officials and a recovery of R1.5 billion in lost revenue since the beginning of last year.

City of Tshwane

  1. Jobs/opportunity

From day one, the DA-led government earmarked investment into the capital city as a strategic priority. To date, R4.3 billion in investment has followed, with 43 950 new jobs created since the DA assumed office in the Capital City. To clean out corruption, the City adopted a lottery system for EPWP work opportunities, ensuring fair access for the almost 23 200 beneficiaries of the EPWP programme.

As with the City of Johannesburg, economic growth is fast rising in the City of Tshwane. Between the first quarters of 2018 and 2019 a net increase of 68 000 new jobs were created in the Capital City.

  1. Safety/crime

Mayor Mokgalapa’s team is tackling the fight against cable theft and City property vandalism head-on through an in-house Asset Protection Unit for the Tshwane Metro Police Department.

  1. Service delivery

Services are being delivered to residents, with 73 new emergency vehicles including firefighters and ambulances and 9 new service delivery trucks being regionally distributed. As many as 1 000 more Wi-Fi connection points will be added in the next three years.

The DA-led coalition government sold the Mayoral Mansion for R5.1 million in November 2017 after previously being used for residential purposes. The proceeds made from the sale were set aside to build 40 houses for previously disadvantaged individuals.

  1. Corruption/clean governance

The City has zero tolerance for corruption and has implemented the Public Protector’s recommendations on political appointments with the policy approved by Council in April. The Mayor has similarly tasked the City Manager to speed up the move to e-Procurement so that corruption is eliminated over the adjudication of tenders, and the Supply Chain Management Division has been overhauled and further professionalised.

Young South Africans are key to Mayor Mokgalapa’s governance agenda which is why it is worth noting during Youth Month that a Youth and Stakeholder Unit has been located back to his private office to assist with necessary interventions. To this end the City hosted a youth summit followed by youth entrepreneur summit on 14 June to mark Youth Month, with all procurement for June targeted at youth companies.

Conclusion

As DA Leader, I recognise there is still much more to do in, for example, delivering a digital platform for citizens to recreate a digitally-accessible government that provides education and healthcare for all. But we continue to show that, where the DA is in government, jobs are created, crime is tackled, corruption is cut, services are delivered, and good governance is guaranteed.

We live in a bleak economic time amid deep political uncertainty where Reserve Bank independence, healthcare and property rights are consistently under threat. President Ramaphosa will find himself in a tough position when he delivers the State of the Nation Address (SONA) this coming Thursday.

As I have said many times before, the DA will continue to work with the President as long as he acts in the best interest of the people of South Africa. Creating an enabling environment for job creation, winning the war on crime, acting decisively against corruption, delivering basic services and professionalising the state should be first on his SONA agenda.

It has never been more important that the DA-led Western Cape province, City of Cape Town, City of Johannesburg and City of Tshwane provide a beacon of confidence and certainty against these economic and political headwinds. The feedback we have heard from these DA governments shows the “DA difference”.

As long as more than a quarter of South Africans continue to experience life and opportunity under a DA government with a credible track record of delivery, citizens will continue to have reason to believe that change is still possible.

Let’s break down the barriers that keep young people locked out of jobs and quality education

Today we observe Youth Day – the 43rd anniversary of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings – whereby tens of thousands of young South Africans stood up in protest against a system that discriminated against them and disregarded their legitimate role in society. Their protest on that day was against exclusion and neglect, and for that 176 children paid with their lives as they were gunned down by the police.

43 years later, and young people are still forced to fight a system that excludes them and locks them out of opportunities. While back then it was language used to discriminate and exclude, today it’s the rank failure of government to provide quality education, training, and job opportunities for our young people.

Our young people are still not truly free, and their prospects for a bright and successful future dwindle with each passing day. Four out of five children in grade 4 cannot comprehend what they read thanks to our education system, which is consistently ranked among the worst in the world.

This disadvantage follows many young people for the rest of their lives as today two-thirds of South Africans under the age of 24 cannot find work, and many of them eventually give up looking. Since 2008, at least 563 young people have joined the ranks of the unemployed each day.

We cannot simply point fingers at government. Instead, we must seek solutions to this national crisis. We must collaborate in Parliament, in government, in business, in labour, and in civil society, to fix this exclusionary system and empower our young people.

There are immediate solutions to break down the barriers that keep young people locked out of opportunities. These are:

  • Passing our “Jobs Bill”, which focuses on two key areas critical to our economic recovery: Foreign Investment and SMMEs. The Bill provides for special tax incentives and property allowances for foreign companies that meet certain socio-economic empowerment goals, as well as a wide range of incentives for foreign companies to invest in SA. This will bring thousands of job opportunities to our shores.
  • Rolling out a national Job Centres project where unemployed people access the internet, search a centralised jobs database, get help in compiling their CV, print out documents and even complete short courses in fields like digital training, entrepreneurship, project management and many more.
  • Introducing a Voluntary National Civilian Service year to provide work experience for the approximately 78 443 unemployed matriculants (from the class of 2016 alone) to enter into work-based training in the community healthcare, basic education or SAPS fields. These young people will gain valuable work experience while earning a small stipend;
  • Preparing our young people for the future by ensuring that coding is made compulsory at schools, introduce them fully to the internet of things while we ensure that the cost of data is affordable;
  • A “cradle-to-career” plan that includes improving our early childhood development centres, fixing our failing basic education system and expanding access to tertiary education, with a truly progressive funding model where the poor are subsidised but those who can afford to pay do so; and
  • Reducing SADTUs power to ensure that teachers are better held accountable for the outcomes in their classrooms. This will allow teachers to be properly assessed, trained, monitored and incentivised.

43 years on from the Soweto Uprisings, millions of young South Africans remain excluded, marginalised and without hope. Our fight is to ensure that young people have a prosperous future in South Africa, and I will not stop until this fight is won.

It cannot be business as usual for the 6th Parliament while the Eskom threat continues to loom large

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received a letter from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Thandi Modise, in which she declined our request for a debate of national importance on Eskom’s financial crisis.

It cannot be business as usual for this 6th Parliament while the debt-ridden Eskom, continues to be engulfed in corruption and mismanagement, posing the biggest single threat to our country’s economy.

South Africans are already burdened with rising electricity costs and a flatlining economy, and is now expected to pay for years of state capture, corruption and poor management that have led to Eskom being over R400 billion in debt.

Eskom has kept our economy down on its knees – with unacceptably high levels of unemployment and job losses due to episodes of rolling blackouts, we cannot let the Eskom threat to our economy continue unabated.

The utility is the single biggest threat to our economy, therefore, Parliament must use its mandate to perform oversight and debate the true extent of rot at the entity.

The DA has long called for Eskom’s anticompetitive throttlehold on electricity production and distribution to be broken. We have a plan to stabilise and secure South Africa’s power supply and that is contained in our Cheaper Energy Bill, which seeks to break Eskom into two separate entities – a generation and distribution entity.

This would reduce the cost of electricity, bring about much-needed competition and ensure that South Africa will shed a big chunk of Eskom’s debt.

There is no straightforward or easy way of dealing with the Eskom crisis, however a debate on solutions that will rescue the power utility cannot wait for a time of our convenience or else it will be too late.

The youth’s struggle for a better life continues – jobs and quality education to the front

The following speech was delivered by DA Youth Leader, Luyolo Mphithi, at the Party’s Youth Day commemoration at the Hector Pieterson Memorial in Soweto, Johannesburg.

Young people,

Fellow South Africans,

Youth Day is no longer just a day of remembrance.

Today symbolises the blood gushing struggles of young people who fell fighting hard to realise a better South Africa, and the continued struggles we face as young people of today.

Heroes of the youth struggle such as Hector Pieterson lived in an era where the youth were willing to pay the ultimate price in the struggle for freedom and quality education.

These young heroes and heroines had one main objective, to realise a better South Africa for us – the youth of today. However, their sacrifices will ultimately be in vein if millions of young South Africans remain locked in the shackles of unemployment and joblessness.

Young people, their struggle is now ours.

Today we still find ourselves fighting for our dignity, livelihood and survival. This is not what the likes of Tsietsi Mashinini, Hastings Ndlovu, Khotso Seatlholo and of course, the young Hector Pieterson fought for.

May all their courageous souls rest in peace.

These young souls in our history fought because our today rested in their courage. It is now our duty to ensure that their innocent blood does not continue to gush down over waste lands.

We need to take on their courage and continue to fight for a better life, which among other things, means quality education and jobs.

At 52.8%, South Africa has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. It is evident that we are being forced into a dark corner of injustice. Our lives are currently overflowing with hopelessness and our dignity is being stripped from our backs.

We must refuse to continue being subjected into a life of poverty and shame. A better life for us means young people are employed.

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

Where the DA governs, job creation takes centre stage.

Our governments continue to ensure that:

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

The DA has and continues to fight tirelessly where we are in opposition to put forward alternative plans to alleviate joblessness and poverty.

We are also set to table our “Jobs Bill” in Parliament which seeks to create an enabling environment for accelerated job creation in South Africa because the youth of this country deserve better. We deserve jobs.

Young people, for jobs to be created and dignity to be realised, we must continue to take the front row until we are free.

Our duty is to take this responsibility, own it and see this dream realised together.

Today I take courage from the words of Tat’ Nelson Mandela when he said, “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

I call upon each and every one of you to heed these words, continue the courage of Hector Pieterson and let your greatness blossom.

Let their blood not gush out in vain.

Let their hopes for this country manifest with our dignity restored.

And let the greatness of South Africa blossom.

Phambili ngemisebenzi phambili.

Rise young people rise.

BOKAMOSO | Shaping the DA to shape the future

Mark my words, the DA has a central role to play in securing a prosperous future for South Africa. No amount of hype around a “new dawn” can obscure the reality on the ground, which is that South Africa is sliding backwards. That reality is reflected in four stark facts about our economy that have come to light in the past month.

First, broad unemployment (which includes those who have given up looking for work) is now at a record-high of 9.9 million people, equating to 38% of our workforce. In the first quarter of 2019, unemployment grew in every province except the DA-run Western Cape, where it fell.

Second, our economy contracted by 3.2% (annualized) in the first three months of this year, the biggest quarterly contraction in a decade. And it is unlikely to grow substantially anytime soon because: third, net investment (as measured by gross fixed capital formation) declined in the first quarter of 2019 for the fifth consecutive quarter, by 4.5%.

And fourth, the recent resignations of the CEOs of Eskom and SAA suggest that the government is simply not prepared to take the necessary steps to fix our state-owned entities.

These outcomes put us in the perilous situation of rising impoverishment and discontent. They will persist until we South Africans reform our economy. We need to fundamentally change the way we do things and that means facing down the various special interest groups that benefit from the status quo.

This will be very difficult for Ramaphosa’s government to achieve because they rely on these groups for political support.

Thus the DA must succeed in its mission of uniting South Africans around the principles required for a successful state: the rule of law, non-racialism, and a market-driven economy coupled with a capable state that generates opportunities for all.

We need to succeed soon, because we South Africans are still grappling with our 20th century challenges even as 21st century challenges of technology and climate change hurtle towards us.

Our objective is to occupy the centre of South Africa’s political landscape. We are not a party for the right or for the left. Nor do we aspire to represent the interests of any specific groups. Our objective is to promote the national interest.

The DA has experienced rapid growth since 1994, and especially since 2016, when the number of people we govern for (through provincial, metro or municipal governments) almost tripled from around 6 million to around 15 million people. We are a different, more diverse and much larger animal now than the party we were a few years ago.

These changes have brought on challenges associated with increased complexity. We have therefore initiated a comprehensive party-wide review, to assess what changes we need to make to our structures, systems and policies going forward in order to keep growing support for our mission.

Our future is about doing the basics right: building trust amongst South Africans through activism, branches and campaigning, and through good governance. Overall, our governments are in great shape to continue to deliver. But we are now more focused than ever to demonstrate the DA difference in government, and to create thriving market-based economies where we govern.

So we’ll be strengthening our Governance Unit to give it the clout it needs to provide the requisite support to our provincial, metro and municipal governments so they can deliver the best possible service to citizens.

And we’ll be working actively to build national support for economic reform. In 2018, we postponed a summit on growth and redress in order to focus on our 2019 election campaign. That summit is now firmly on the agenda.

Please join us as we shape the future of our nation.

Disgraced former Minister Bathablie Dlamini has another criminal case to answer for

In her resignation letter on Tuesday, former Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, claimed that she was aware of wives of ANC members who were allegedly involved in dubious relationships with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS).

In the letter she stated that “[those] that made profit through CPS by their wives are known but because they are respected by the organisation nothing is being said to them.” In terms of Section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act any person who holds a position of authority and suspects or knows of another person who have committed corruption should report the offence to the police. Failure to do so is an offence.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is of the view that Dlamini, a person of authority due to being the political head of a National Department, in this instance the Department of Social Development, had knowledge of corrupt activities related to the ANC and CPS and is therefore complicit in these crimes.

Her silence on this crime is a crime in itself and she must be held fully accountable for her actions. Dlamini was ultimately tasked with protecting and serving the poor and vulnerable within our society and this makes her silence on this alleged corruption despicable.

On 3 October 2018, the DA laid perjury charges against Dlamini following the Constitutional Court judgment requesting the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to consider whether she should be prosecuted for lying under oath during her testimony at the Judge Bernard Ngoepe Inquiry into the social grants crisis. We will be writing to the National Police Commissioner, General Khehla John Sitole, in  the next 14 days requesting an update on these charges.

The ball is now in SAPS’ court to deal with the former Minister and investigate her without fear or favour. For far too long, Bathabile Dlamini, protected by Jacob Zuma and her allies, got away with evading accountability and the DA will ensure that she finally gets their day in court.

DA welcomes Speaker’s decision to refer Public Protector’s removal to Justice committee for discussion

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received a letter from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Thandi Modise, confirming that our request to institute removal proceedings against the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, will be referred to the portfolio committee  on Justice and Correctional Services for consideration.

This request should be one of the first items on the committee’s agenda once it had been constituted and a chairperson elected.

Our initial complaint followed on a North Gauteng High Court judgment that set aside Mkhwebane’s report into the Vrede Dairy Farm, finding it unconstitutional and invalid.

Our complaint also alleged that:

  • She jumped to the defence of former President Jacob Zuma by laying criminal charges against former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, for releasing the transcript of her interview with him;
  • She admitted to stepping outside of her mandate by recommending changing the Constitution regarding the mandate of the South African Reserve Bank; and
  • She first consulted former President Zuma’s legal advisors and discussed further recommendations not included in her initial report into the ABSA/Bankorp bailout.

Since then, media reports have brought to light more questionable judgments, including reports this morning that Mkhwebane gave everyone involved in the R 39 million Nelson Mandela memorial service corruption allegations as “free pass”, including former first lady Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma.

The DA also took note of a press release by the Public Servants Association (PSA) this week, alleging that the Mkhwebane’s office was making use of the State Security Agency (SSA) to victimize and harass PSA shop stewards.

The DA will write to the Speaker requesting that this additional information also be referred to the portfolio committee, and that the committee should hear evidence from the PSA on the potential abuse of her office by Mkhwebane.

We have long stated that Mkhwebane is not the right person to serve as the head of such a critical Chapter 9 body.

It is for this reason the DA has submitted another request to the Speaker of the National Assembly in terms of Section 194 of the Constitution, to have the Public Protector removed.  She has demonstrated an appallingly poor understanding of both the law as well as of her own powers and has proven that she is not able to act independently.

However, for as long as Adv. Mkhwebane occupies the office of the Public Protector, we will call on her to do her job. Therefore this process must not prejudice the DA-initiated investigation against President Ramaphosa.

The DA strives to create a society in which the public is adequately protected from state abuses by Chapter 9 institutions and other role players. It is in the best interest of all that Mkhwebane be removed from office.

DA Shadow Cabinet will set the alternative for a better SA

Today the DA’s Shadow Cabinet for the 6th Parliament officially met for the first time since its appointment. The purpose of the meeting was for the DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, to outline his vision, his objectives and guidelines for the work of the Shadow Cabinet ahead of it’s work in the 6th Parliament.

Guided by the vision of building a moderate, nonracial centre that builds One South Africa for All, the Shadow Cabinet has been tasked with:

  1. Putting forward strong, credible policy alternatives;
  2. Holding the Executive accountable, but equally supporting the Executive when it works in the interests of the people;
  3. Jobs, opportunities and the economy must take centre focus; and
  4. Taking the work we do in Parliament to communities.

The Shadow Cabinet has been tasked to focus on the DA’s Agenda for Reform noting the need for urgent economic reform. The Shadow Cabinet has been tasked to use Parliament to table our Jobs Bill and Cheaper Energy Bill, focus on city-led economic growth, fight for labour legislation reform, oppose any changes to the Reserve Bank independence and mandate, propose alternatives to the current State Owned Entity (SOE) ownership framework, propose alternatives to the current Mining Charter, and oppose threats to the economy and fiscus such as NHI and expropriation of property and land without compensation.

The Shadow Cabinet will sit every fortnight to discuss the upcoming legislative agenda; to deliberate on new policies, debates, and motions; and to table any other matters of national importance.

Shadow Cabinet noted the statement by the Presidency on the Public Protector’s investigation against President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Bosasa scandal, this is nothing more than a delay tactic to frustrate the investigation and release of the final report. We eagerly wait for the final report which must be tabled with the Speaker of Parliament. It is high time that Presidents’ who mislead Parliament are held to account to the fullest might of the law.

We have also noted today’s announcement stating that Deputy President David Mabuza has been appointed Leader of Government Business (LOGB). This is an important position, which is responsible for among other things, ensuring that Members of the Executive, including the President, account to Parliament. The DA Leader will in the coming weeks, write to the LOGB to schedule a meeting so as to outline the Party’s approach to the Executive.

We are on track to effectively start our work as the Official Opposition, contribute to making our nation prosper and help build One South Africa for All.

 

Cost containment regulations should be extended to all levels of government

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the new regulations gazetted by Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, in an attempt to contain costs at municipalities.

The Minister should not limit these measures to local government only. Stricter cost containment measures should be extended to all spheres of government and state-owned entities, and there should be real consequences for failure to abide by them.

With many new Ministers and Deputy Ministers, there will be a slew of expensive new car orders, office revamps and home renovations. These should be stopped now.

Ten years ago, the DA implemented cost cutting measures in our governments, by writing a new and more austere Cabinet Handbook, by limiting the cost of vehicles and extending their use.

Reversing the pattern of inefficient consumption spending by national and provincial government will not be easy. That is why an extensive expenditure review needs to be conducted. This will improve expenditure efficiency and will help ensure that tax money is spent on improving the lives of South Africans through service delivery, social and capital investment.

The DA will write to the Minister of Finance to request that cost containment measures are extended to all spheres of Government, and that an extensive expenditure review is conducted.

The DA will also write to the Presidency to request a progress report on the updated ministerial handbook. The ministerial handbook is a guide for ministerial expenditure. Unfortunately, the current ministerial handbook allows for public money to be abused.

President Ramaphosa should send Copyright Amendment Bill back to Parliament to avoid a jobs bloodbath

The Democratic Alliance has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting that he send the Copyright Amendment Bill back to the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry for amendments and further consideration. Should the President sign the Bill in its current form, it will lead to a jobs bloodbath and will cost the economy approximately R12 billion in exports to the United States.

While the Bill has sat on the President’s desk for more than three months, creating uncertainty in the creative industry, the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) is currently lobbying the US government to reconsider South Africa’s preferential trade access, thereby threatening billions of rand in exports as well as jobs.

The latest fallout with IIPA vindicates the DA’s objection to the Bill. In the fifth Parliament, the DA even petitioned the President to send it back to Parliament.

IIPA’s review application is asking the U.S. Government to consider South Africa’s eligibility as a Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) beneficiary developing country over what it claims are the Bill’s failure to:

  • provide “adequate and effective protection” of American copyrighted works and sound recordings;
  • provide “equitable and reasonable access” to the South Africa market for American producers and distributors of creative materials.

Should such an application be considered and granted by the United States, it would have devastating consequences for our battered economy with 16% of total exports at risk of being wiped out.

At a time when unemployment is on the rise, with a staggering 10 million South Africans already unemployed, and an economy which is struggling to get out of a ‘flat growth trap’, the country cannot afford to lose access to an important market such as America.

The DA believes there are 5 main problems with the Bill that need to be rectified by the portfolio committee:

  • The introduction of ‘fair use’ which gives individuals the right to use copyrighted work ‘fairly’, in essence to circumvent copyright protections and republish them without consent
  • The Bill will undermine our commitment to international treaties such as the Berne Convention and the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of International of International Property Rights.
  • No Socio-economic Assessment Study (SEAS) was conducted by the DTI into the economic and trade related impact that the Bill may have, as is required by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation for all new Bills.
  • Local content producers and education contributors will be severely prejudiced due to their works not being protected in South Africa and aboard. This could have devastating consequences for schools and universities.
  • Insufficient public consultation on the final version of the Bill which contains clauses that were changed without input from stakeholders

If President Ramaphosa is committed to growing the economy, creating jobs and attracting investment as he claims, he has a responsibility to protect our preferential trade access by doing the right thing and sending the Copyright Bill back to the committee for reconsideration.