Dodging ANC minister, Lynne Brown, cannot hide behind sub judice

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s outrageous about turn regarding her appearance before Parliament’s extraordinary Public Enterprises Committee meeting tomorrow, is a damning indictment on her waning credibility as a Minister and is yet another example of the all too common practice of ANC ministers dodging accountability.
Yesterday the committee was informed that the Minister will no longer appear before Parliament to account for the shocking reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom CEO, as the Department believes that the matter is sub judice.
However, Parliament’s legal opinion stated that the sub judice rule does not necessarily apply to this extraordinary sitting, so long as the committee does not delve into the rationality of Brian Molefe’s appointment.
Parliament can and must still play a vital oversight role alongside court processes.
There are still many important questions regarding governance failures, the processes that allowed for Molefe’s early retirement and the decisions around the R30 million pay-out for which we, and all South Africans, deserve answers.
Parliament can investigate these despite the current court challenge.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Minister Brown is hiding behind the sub judice rule to avoid being held accountable for the catastrophic redeployment of Molefe and her apparent failure at the helm of her department.
It is unacceptable that Parliament is letting her do so. Parliament has the power to summon the Minister and must exercise this power on behalf of all South Africans.
The DA Deputy Chief Whip, Mike Waters MP, raised the attempted cancellation and was given the assurance by ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu MP, as well as ANC Deputy Chief Whip, Dorries Dlakude MP, that they would engage on the matter but the meeting would continue as scheduled.
Under Lynne Brown’s watch, good governance practices have completely collapsed at Eskom and corruption has been allowed to fester with impunity.
The recent revelations that Brown allegedly mislead Parliament when she failed to disclose if there had been contracts of engagement between Eskom and Trillian, a company owned by the Guptas, is perfect evidence of this.
The DA will, therefore, refer these allegations to the Public Protector for investigation and will also ensure that the Trillion matter forms part of the broader investigation by Parliament into Eskom.
It now appears that the Minister has ties to the Gupta’s and is seemingly blocking Molefe’s removal as Eskom CEO.
It is time for Parliament to perform proper oversight and hold the Minister and the board accountable for the mess at Eskom, as the President has shown his unwillingness to do so because his priorities lie with the self-interest, not with the people of South Africa.

New Communications Minister must review entire DTT programme

The new Minister of Communications, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo’s, recent announcement that she would revert to the pre-2015 policy on signal encryption must be followed up with an extensive public discussion to review all aspects of the stalled Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) programme to deliver digital terrestrial television (DTT) throughout South Africa.
The DA has written to the Minister requesting that she convene a two-day public hearing during which all relevant ICT sector stakeholders can contribute ideas on how to rapidly rescue the programme that has been bogged down by ill-informed political interference, legal challenges, broadcasters squabbling to influence policy in their favour, insufficient funding and a corrupt procurement process.
In the 15 years since the government decided to opt for set-top boxes (STBS) as a means to ensure poorer people could use these decoders on their existing analogue TV sets to receive digital broadcasting signals, technology has rapidly changed, overtaking some of the original ideas included in the programme.
The programme was, from inception, underfunded as there was scant appreciation of the costs of all the steps needed to make the migration a success. South Africa is more economically stressed than it was in 2002, so many of the ambitions of those early ideas cannot be fulfilled.
The ICT sector is desperate to switch off the analogue broadcasting signals that prevent them extending wireless broadband services throughout South Africa. This is the time to include its stakeholders in a dialogue in developing and fast-tracking the analogue switchoff in a way that affordably includes all South Africans in a connected society.
The DA also looks forward to receiving the Minister’s reply to a Parliamentary question we submitted in April on her plans to escalate the BDM programme, and hope she will accede to our request for in inclusive discussion and resolution of the BDM programme’s challenges.

The Invisible Minister Zulu

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Small Business Development, Toby Chance MP, during the Budget Vote on Small Business Development.
Madam Speaker,
Before I continue, let me congratulate and welcome our new Deputy Minister, Honourable November, to her position. We wish you well in your important endeavours.
It is now abundantly clear, three years after the Department of Small Business Development was formed, that it is invisible to 97% of businesses in South Africa.
Let me repeat that. The Department of Small Business Development is invisible to 97% of businesses in South Africa.
How can I so confidently make that assertion?
Well, consider these facts.
When you run a business, you go to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to register it, SARS to get a tax and VAT number, the Department of Labour to register for the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and to join a sector bargaining council. You approach your local municipality to get the required permits to operate, or any number of provincial boards to obtain further licences.
If you need some finance, chances are you will go to friends and family first, followed by your bank or a local money lender if you are operating in the informal sector.
To find customers, you will set up shop and advertise or knock on the doors of government or business to give you orders.
Where is the Department of Small Business Development in all this? It’s nowhere to be seen!
If you want a grant, a loan or advice on how to run your business, you may be lucky to stumble on an office of the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) or Small Enterprise Finance Agency (Sefa), both agencies of the Department.
But once there you have to wade through a mass of bureaucracy even to get an interview. Seda’s pre-consultation document checklist lists no fewer than 16 documents required to qualify.
As a small business, you apply to DTI to get a BEE rating, not Minister Zulu’s Department. Incredibly, neither Seda nor Sefa are BEE accredited which means businesses using their services do not get BEE points! It seems the Department is living in a different universe to the rest of us.
To further emphasise this point, the 2017 Enterprise and Supplier Handbook does not once mention the Department of Small Business Development. The new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) Fund set up by big business is by-passing the Department and dealing directly with Treasury. And the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report, released this week, offers a dismal account of the Department’s role in stimulating small business.
So to continue my tradition in budget speeches, I hereby declare that hitherto, and with deference to Marvel Comics, Minister Zulu shall be re-named, the Invisible Minister!
According to varying estimates, including Stats SA, the DTI and SARS, there are up to 3 million businesses operating in South Africa. Of these, 95% are Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs), the Department’s target market.
What positive impact is the invisible Minister Zulu and her department having on these businesses?
By the Department’s own reckoning, it supported around 80 000 businesses in the last financial year.
That’s 3% of all the businesses in South Africa. Yes, just 3%. Now you see what I mean when I say, invisible!
Through the National Gazelles Programme, the National Informal Business Support Programme, the Seda Enterprise Incubation Programme, the Cooperative Incentive Scheme, Sefa’s direct and indirect loan schemes and the Department’s other programmes, it is barely visible to the massive majority of businesses.
The department is too internally focused. It’s conducting its third strategic review in as many years. Its top management is staffed by more acting than permanent positions. This year it failed to spend 7% of its budget, and now Minister Zulu wants more money. To become more visible, Minister? Treasury flatly refused.
So what, actually, is the point of the Department of Small Business Development? What is its purpose? How should we make it visible?
The Department’s mandate is to create a conducive business environment for SMMEs, as well as cooperatives. This means all, not just the tiny handful it’s supporting directly.
To make it visible, the DA would provide leadership to the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem in South Africa, which is sorely missing. This would start by leading Cabinet along a path of regulatory and labour reform to stimulate investment, growth and job creation.
It would mean cracking the nut of local economic development and directing resources there, where it matters most.
We would equip potential entrepreneurs with the attitudes, skills and resources to start and grow new businesses, then support them through extensive mentorship and market development programmes.
As renowned entrepreneur, Vusi Thembekwayo, said in a recent eTV interview, real transformation begins in the mind, not in government handouts.
It requires a change in mind-set, from one of dependency and limited horizons to one of growth, ambition and excellence. This begins in school and early childhood and is nurtured in the first years of employment.
Research has shown that getting onto the jobs ladder and acquiring skills is the most important determinant of continuing in employment later on in life. It also increases the chances of someone starting a successful new business.
To maximise this opportunity we would channel resources and effort to cultivate a culture of entrepreneurship for the millions with little hope of finding employment.
We would radically reform the section 12J tax incentive to make it more attractive for angel investors to invest in start-up businesses, particularly in townships.
And we would embark on a skills and learnership revolution, to capacitate people with the will to start a business but without the knowhow to do so.
We would invest in infrastructure and support, such as Wi-Fi, free web hosting and places to do business, to overcome the disadvantages so many of our citizens face when starting and running a business.
Unfortunately, the ANC in the Portfolio Committee has also shown its colours and short-sightedness, by declaring the DA’s private member’s bill on Red Tape undesirable.
It has thus thrown away the first opportunity it had to make the Department visible to all businesses, not just the pathetically small 3% it reached last year.
The invisible Minister Zulu is now the champion of diverting 30% of public procurement towards SMEs. While we agree that building public and private sector supply chains around small businesses makes sense to grow the economy, government must not repeat the errors of BEE which has favoured only a small, connected elite.
Until the department unshackles itself from its misguided obsession with state-led development, South Africa’s economy will continue to stagnate.
Only a credible growth strategy will stave off a further ratings downgrade for South Africa. This growth strategy must put small business development at the heart of government policy, not at the fringes where it has minimal impact.
Under the invisible Minister Zulu’s leadership, there is precious little sign government or her department will deliver on its crucial mandate.
Only the DA has the vision, programmes and capacity to unlock the potential of our businesses and entrepreneurs to accelerate growth from its miserable 1% today to the 5% needed to defeat unemployment and provide sustainable livelihoods for millions of our desperate people.

Where the DA governs our people have the dignity of home ownership

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Tarnia Baker MP, during the Budget Vote on Human Settlements.
In South Africa, a “home” is often nothing more than a basic shack made from whatever materials are available, with no running water, proper sanitation or electricity.
This is the harsh reality for the almost 2 million households living in informal settlements across the country, a number which has increased by over 600% since 1994 under the current ANC government.
In addition to this, despite the government having already provided more than 4 million housing opportunities, the housing backlog has increased from 1.5 million in 1994 to over 2 million today.
There is no denying that human settlements provision in South Africa is a complex issue and is completely unsustainable in its current form.
There needs to be a serious discussion held around what we call the “housing backlog” vs the “housing demand”, what is acceptable as “adequate housing” as envisioned in our Constitution, and most importantly, who is truly eligible for a “free” house from government.
In 2014 Minister Lindiwe Sisulu boldly declared that the Department of Human Settlements would create 1.5 million new housing opportunities by 2019. Roughly calculated, that amounts to 375 000 units per year!
Given the fact that the number of units being produced has been steadily decreasing, this is nothing more than a pipe dream. At its peak in 1998/99, the government delivered 235 000 units per annum but by 2013/14 this number had decreased to less than 110 000. It is currently sitting at about 120 000 units per year, which is far below what the Minister promised to do. It is clear that under the ANC, progress has stalled.
Conversely, the cost of housing has continued to escalate at an unprecedented rate, with the Human Settlements budget being the fastest grower, even more than social grants.
The cost of subsidised units has risen from R12 500 per unit in 1994 to approximately R170 000 per unit currently.
Does this mean that we are now building houses of an excellent superior quality? I’m afraid this is not always the case, too many occupied developments lack the basic essential services and are in need of rectification.
A few years ago, the government came up with the Breaking New Ground Policy.
The idea was to have a bigger sized house, 40 square meters, with two bedrooms, shower, toilet, living area and kitchen. Perfect! But the ANC do not deliver on their promises.
This policy also envisioned that municipalities would be the primary implementing agents, this was the first problem. You see, the responsibility to approve projects, allocate budgets as well as the hiring and management of contractors lies with the provincial housing department. So who’s going to do what?
Secondly, as the vast majority of the country’s 257 municipalities do not have the capacity, financial or human, this is an extremely big ask of local government. If the provincial governments can’t get this right, how on earth can we expect local government to produce the goods. Case in point is the Mpumalanga Human Settlements Department which by December 2016 had spent 99.2% of its almost R2 billion budget but only achieved 50% of its targets. With a backlog of 197 156 units, it will take 28 years to eradicate this backlog.
You see, municipalities would also have to prove themselves first before they could be accredited.
Now given the fact that the ANC have lost so many local government municipalities as well as the country’s four major metros to the DA, do you honestly think that the Minister is going to hand over this jewel to the opposition who can actually deliver?
It is well known that housing is used as a carrot to dangle in front of voters each election year. And when residents feel frustrated by these broken promises, violent protests erupt in the post-election year, just as we have seen in the south of Johannesburg last week.
The Gauteng ANC chairperson, Paul Mashatile, in response to the protests grandly stated that “all those who applied for houses since 1994 will be prioritised from now on”. Really?! While the DA strongly condemns all violent and destructive protests, we have to ask, why do our people have to go on the rampage first, before they are heard? Why did it have to take 23 years for these communities to be prioritised?
Yes, my fellow democrats, it is time for us to have some uncomfortable conversations about the true reality of life in South Africa. It is time for us to move out of our comfort zones and face the monsters of corruption and mismanagement head on.
Where the DA governs, we work tirelessly to ensure we govern well.
Like the project planned for Belhar in the City of Cape Town which will provide 3 000 mixed use units including rental stock, bonded properties and most importantly, student accommodation, given its close proximity to the University of the Western Cape and other colleges.
This is all because we want a city and a country led by a government which will embrace the rapid pace of urbanisation by planning for the future.
We want a government led by leaders who truly care for our people, like the city of Tshwane Mayor Solly Msimanga who is selling the mayoral mansion and is going to use the proceeds thereof to boost the allocation for building homes for the poor.
We want a government which uplifts our people by improving their quality of life, just like in the city of Johannesburg where Mayor Herman Mashaba has prioritised R546 million to electrify incomplete houses and a further R41 million to electrify five informal settlements.
Yes South Africa, it is time for us to stand tall and firm, to put our proverbial foot down and scream out, enough is enough! The time for change is now. Let us be bold fellow democrats and do what we know in our hearts and our consciences is the right thing for our country and vote the uncaring and ineffectual ANC out of government.
I thank you.

Every title deed delayed, is dignity denied

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Human Settlements, Solly Malatsi MP, during the Budget Vote on Human Settlements.
I would like to begin by welcoming the fact that In Nelson Mandela Bay, the DA will be able to ensure that 12 000 indigent people will be able to access basic services this year. This is the progress and change South Africans voted for.
Perhaps it is important to kick-off our response in this budget debate by tracing the origins of the mandate that the Department of Human Settlements has.
So that we can robustly assess whether the Department is doing enough to fulfil its constitutionally enshrined role.
Section 26 of the Constitution states that:

  1. Everyone has the right to access to adequate housing.
  2. The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right.

From this, we can deduce that establishing sustainable human settlements takes more than merely building houses.
It also requires the identification of suitable land to accommodate the provision of basic services.
It requires difficult negotiations with communities who often do not want to relocate to make way for housing developments.
It requires the appointment of contractors with the capacity to deliver projects on time.
It requires a credible housing database to ensure that the right people are beneficiaries.
It requires fostering social integration to redress the legacy of apartheid’s spatial planning.
It requires a delicate balancing act between competing priorities and optimising limited resources.
Every decision has to be thoroughly considered and carefully implemented. There are no easy solutions and shortcuts to success.
From the onset, we acknowledge that the ANC has done fairly well to provide shelter to over 4 million South Africans. However, much more could have been done but progress has stalled under Jacob Zuma. And much more can be done to extend homeownership to more South Africans.
In an era where rhetoric, sloganeering and all sorts of populist tantrums masquerade as socio-political activism, it is almost impossible to have a rational debate about important issues with the ANC. More so when such issues affect human dignity such as the “…the right to have adequate housing.
And as politicians, we carry a massive responsibility to enrich public debates on these issues.
Yet some amongst us pollute such debates with reckless statements encouraging land invasions.
While others expediently use the allocation of housing opportunities to victimise opposition supporters.
Meanwhile, poor South Africans watch in despair wondering whether governement genuinely cares about their rights as much as it claims to do.
Honourable Members, one of the key factors that derail efforts to tackle the demand for housing is that the industry is highly politicised.
From the tendering process to the allocation of job opportunities in housing projects.
Tenderpreneurs are milking the state with inflated costs while some politicians are interfering in the appointment of local labour. Even housing lists are corrupted as your proximity to the top of the list is too often determined by your proximity to those higher up in the ANC.
And until such time that we adequately address these, we will continue to have incomplete housing projects and agitated communities blocking housing developments.
This is why where the DA governs, bid adjudication committee meetings are open to the public to showcase transparency from the onset. The DA have also conducted audits of the housing lists.
An open and fair process of appointing contractors for housing projects enhances their credibility amongst community members.
We don’t claim to have perfect governments where we govern. However, we try our best to do the right thing at all times.
Which is why the development of an updated and credible housing database is essential for the fair allocation of housing opportunities on our governments.
Honourable Members, it is impossible for any government in the current economic climate to provide housing opportunities for all those who deserve them.
This is why the upgrading of informal settlements and provision of basic services to backyard dwellers are such important interventions to instil dignity to millions of South Africans while they are waiting for their housing opportunity.
As the DA we are proud that the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements continues to be one of the top performing provincial departments with regards to the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme.
One of this Department’s courageous targets for the current term is to “provide title deeds for all 563 000 new subsidised housing units and eradicate the backlog of the historic 900 000 title deeds.
Yet, when one analyses current delivery trends by ANC provincial governments to this end, it shows that we are nowhere near reaching these targets.
The worst performers in this regard are the Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal Departments of Human Settlements, led by the ANC, who are dismally failing to deliver title deeds.
All the while thousands of residents in these provinces have to endure the frustrating lengthy wait for title deeds to affirm their ownership.
It makes no sense whatsoever why beneficiaries have to wait for such long periods to get their title deeds once they have been handed their houses.
In the age of ground-breaking developments in technology and innovation, we should move towards an era where beneficiaries can receive their title deeds as soon as they have been handed the keys to their properties.
Because every title deed delayed, is dignity denied.
This is why where the DA governs we prioritise the speedy transfer of title deeds to empower our people with the much-needed security of tenure.
It is for this reason that DA governments in Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay, and the Western Cape have adopted the prompt issuing of title deeds a priority project.
In Johannesburg, Mayor Herman Mashaba is currently seized with the smooth transfer of 3 900 title deeds.
In Tshwane, Mayor Solly Msimanga has undertaken to transfer 6 000 title deeds over the next few weeks.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, Mayor Athol Trollip has already embarked on a mission to expedite the allocation of title deeds. Just last week the handover of 19 00 title deeds was announced.
In the Western Cape, the Department of Human Settlements, under MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela, has to date issued 75 300 title deeds to beneficiaries.
In all these instances it is clear that where there is political will, there is always a way to fast-track the handover of title deeds.
The problem with tackling the ever-rising demand for housing is not a shortage of funding. It’s the lack of political will from the Executive.
With a budget of R33 billion for the current financial year, the Department arguably has sufficient resources to deliver its mandate.
Otherwise, we wouldn’t be having ANC governments in Limpopo and Gauteng failing to spend their Urban Settlements Development Grant allocations.
Honourable Minister, you have a massive responsibility to ensure that millions of poor South Africans realise their “right to adequate housing”.
So, whatever happens between now and December, as you pursue your party political ambitions, please don’t check out as the Minister of Human Settlements.
Honourable Members, as a young man, I am sickened by the ongoing violence and abuse inflicted on women by fellow men.
It is high time that as men we take a stand against those who violate women’s rights in the homes, at their workplaces and in their communities.
These men live amongst us. They are our homeboys. They are our neighbours. They are our colleagues. They roam in our social circles. So it is incumbent on us, to take on these misogynists in all spaces to prevent violence against women.
I thank you.

Our statistics remain meaningless unless they are used for policy making

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister in the Presidency, Yusuf Cassim MP, during the Budget Vote on Statistics South Africa.
Honourable Chairperson,
The aim of Statistics South Africa (StasSA) is to provide relevant and accurate statistics in line with internationally approved practice to inform users of the dynamics of the economy and society.
According to the Statistics Act, the purpose of official statistics is to assist organs of state, business, other organisations and the public in planning, decision-making, and monitoring or assessment of policies.
We are living in a global information society where the amount of information and its flow to society is increasing. Statistics plays a major role in shaping and providing scientific information that is useful in almost every aspect of human life.
Modern decision making, whether done by a national government, potential investors or an international agency, is increasingly relying on statistical methods to improve the quality of information and decision making.
The established United Nations “High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda” in its report entitled “A New Global Partnership: Eradicate Poverty and Transform Economies through Sustainable Development,” sets out inter alia a universal agenda to eradicate extreme poverty globally by 2030, and deliver on the promise of sustainable development.
The report called “for a data revolution for sustainable development, with a new international initiative to improve the quality of statistics and information available to people and governments”.
Increasing appreciation of the role, power and importance of statistics should lead to a higher priority attached to statistical capacity development.
Honourable Chairperson, we can take heart from the excellent work done in maintaining confidence in the statistics produced by StatsSA. Given the importance of quality statistics, we dare not become complacent.
Quality statistics require innovation and greater technological utility in reinforcing the prerequisites and eight dimensions of quality. We must keep-pace with the digital revolution and StatsSA requires the proper resources, and in particular the relevant skills to do so.
StatsSA has experienced a significant budget shortfall. Budget cuts have particularly compromised its ability to fill, attract and retain necessary skills. Its staff compliment has been reduced with a significant decrease of funded posts in the current financial year.
Given the importance of quality statistics to the fortunes of government, as I will outline below, we believe this to be penny wise but pound foolish.
If anything, StatsSA must have access to the best skills in the market to embody a modern, cutting edge utility. The integrity of statistics relies on the ability to invest in the digital revolution. Data revolution should be at the centre of the work of government.
Quality statistics has a variety of uses including improving investor confidence. Of equal importance, quality statistics are indispensable to evidence-based policy-making.
In simple terms, evidence-based policy-making is a means by which policies and programmes intended to improve lives are based on clearly defined, time-bound, and measurable milestones. This allows timely modification, consolidation or change of policy as the case may require, thus ensuring urgent responses to challenges.
It is in this context that statistics become part and parcel of ‘evidence-based’ policy-making, statistics understood here to mean more than a routine collection and storage of numbers, but rather as credible and scientifically derived evidence intended to evaluate the impact of policy-making.
Honourable Chairperson, whilst there is reason for optimism insofar as the quality of our statistics is concerned, its use as part of evidence-based policy-making remains elusive.
Our government has a plan, the National Development Plan (NDP). It has quality statistics at its disposal. Yet our governments still make decisions on shaky ideological grounds, in the interest of arbitrating patronage and without proper evaluation against the NDP.
Often the ideology of the relevant Minister and/or special interests dictate the direction of a department. If a Minister doesn’t agree ideologically with the NDP, they simply skirts it.
If Ministers stand in the way of a Gupta mining acquisition, the pursuit of a Nuclear Deal or the looting of Treasury, they are shuffled so brazenly, some of them still look dizzy.
Our statistics will remain meaningless until and unless they are embedded in the key priorities of government and become part of planning tools used by the three spheres of government in directing resources and informing the amendment of efforts towards achieving the goals set by the NDP in the manner prescribed by the NDP.
Honourable Chairperson, we can build a prosperous South Africa. Central to this effort is the role of StatsSA and the credence afforded to its findings.
How we produce and use information will determine our fortunes. Ignoring this would be folly. We must change the way we think about information and government.
I am confident that in doing so, the lofty goals set out in the NDP are within our grasp.

The independence of StatsSA should never be compromised by any political interference

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister in the Presidency, Sejamothopo Motau MP, during the Budget Vote on Statistics South Africa.
Honourable Chairperson,
Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), charged with collecting independent and official statistics, including the National census of the population, is vital. Without it, we would have no idea how many people need social grants, how many live in informal settlements or how many people have to walk to work. We would not be able to objectively measure the impact of policy and where government needs to improve for the benefit of the people.
StatsSA has expressed deep concern about significant budget cuts that could impact negatively on the performance of the institution due to the potential loss of specialist skills and an inability to replace these scarce skills.
During a recent briefing of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, Statistician-General, Dr Pali Lehohla, made an impassioned plea to the committee, to give serious attention to this potential threat to the institution’s well-earned local and international respect for the quality and integrity of its work.
Honourable Members, StatsSA’s apparent preoccupation with the potential loss of competent, experienced staff particularly among highly skilled statisticians and IT specialists, should be taken seriously by this Parliament.
It was thus, somewhat, disappointing to realise that the institution had not provided relevant personnel data by the time Budget 2017 Estimates of National Expenditure was published. This is an unfortunate failure on the part of an organisation that should be meticulous about handling data.
Under Personnel Information on page 225 of the Budget 2017 book, Note 1 indicates that, “The department did not provide the relevant personnel data.” However, an amount of R1.3 billion is given as the “cost” of employment for 2017/18.
According to the Department’s third quarterly report for 2016/17, StatsSA had a personnel establishment of 3 511 posts, of which 3 167 were filled.
Furthermore, the Department’s Annual report indicates that the organisation had 3 572 posts at the end of March 2016 with only 3197 being filled. This number had been revised down from a complement of 4 136.
Honourable Members, StatsSA has worked very hard over many years to be recognised as a reputable institution. South Africa is rightly proud of this reputation and it must be jealously guarded by all of us.
It is in this context that the DA was apprehensive that StatsSA had been moved from the executive authority of the Minister of Finance to that of the Minister of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency.
The DA’s apprehension has been enhanced by a recent newspaper report, as indicated in my speech on the Vote 8 yesterday, that a significant government policy shift could be on the cards as The Presidency would be involved in determining budget priorities for the coming fiscal year.
The DA has made the point before but it is worth repeating: The independence of StatsSA should never be compromised by any interference in its work from The Presidency.
The credibility of the data it produces and propagates, demands untarnished institutional independence.
South Africa cannot afford any manipulation of national statistics by anyone.
The 2017/18 budget for StatsSA is R2.1 billion. This is R392 million less than last financial year’s R2.5 billion budget.
There were significant budget decreases for Programme 1 (Administration), from R744.7 million in 2016/17 to R687.5 million in 2017/18 and Programme 7 (Survey Operations) from R528 million in 2016/17 to R 191.4 in 2017/18.
The budget for Survey Operations was much higher during the past fiscal year due to an allocation of R409 million for a census and community survey that was completed during the financial year.
During the medium term, focus should remain on the legislative reform project that is currently in progress. An amount of R88 million has been budgeted for this purpose during this financial year.
The revision of the statistics legislation (Statistics Act [No.6 of 1999]) should be fast-tracked to enhance the capabilities of StatsSA to properly fulfil its mandate to coordinate statistical production among organs of state, the private sector and any other institution. This should plug identified shortcomings in the law to facilitate proper planning, decision making and the monitoring and evaluation of policies and projects.
As is the case with the portfolio committee’s oversight work regarding the departments of Public Service and Administration and Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, StatsSA is also negatively affected by this ill-considered arrangement.
The DA therefore again urges the government to not only prioritise StatsSA funding but also to safeguard the institution’s autonomy and independence from political interference.

Die ANC is ʼn praat sonder daad politieke party

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Small Business Development, Henro Kruger MP, during the Budget Vote on Small Business Development.
Huis Voorsitter,
Die ANC is ʼn praat sonder daad politieke party.
Ja, praat sonder daad.
Die Komitee Voorsitter, Agbare Ruth Bengu, het op 3 Mei 2017, die mandaat van die Departement van Kleinsake-ontwikkeling aan die komitee meegedeel. Volgens haar is die mandaat van die Departement soos volg:

  1. Toegang vir almal tot die ekonomie en welvaart van Suid-Afrika.
  2. Verantwoordelik vir 90% van die skepping van 11 miljoen volhoubare werksgeleenthede wat teen 2030 geskep moet word.
  3. Die vermindering van hoë regulatoriese nakoming wat op kleinsake van toepassing is.

Dit is baie duidelik die ANC tot dusver gefaal het in hierdie mandaat.
Die ANC praat sonder daad.
Gun my asseblief die geleentheid om die afgelope 3 jaar se vordering in hierdie verband uit te lig.
88% van alle nuwe korporasies wat gestig word met die hulp van die Departement en sy agentskappe, die Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) en Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA), faal tragies, ten koste van miljoene rande vir die rekening van die belastingbetaler.
Voorsitter, die vermoede bestaan dat min van hierdie lede word ooit opgevolg of opgespoor. Op ʼn vraag aan Minister Lindiwe Zulu deur Agbare Toby Chance, in verband met huidige bydrae van korporasies tot die nasionale bruto produk, was die antwoord 0.12% – weglaatbaar klein, maar tog verkies die ANC om aanhoudend hieroor te praat, duidelik sonder daad.
SEDA en SEFA, kleinsake se hoop tot ontwikkeling en finansiering, beplan onderskeidelik nie naastenby genoeg aktiwiteite vir die 2017/2018 finansiële jaar om enigsins vordering te maak nie.
SEDA beplan om bykans R757 miljoen te spandeer op kleinsake ontwikkeling gedurende die 2017/18 finansiële jaar, wat gelyk is aan ʼn baie klein munisipaliteit se begroting.
SEFA aan die anderkant beplan om deur middel van hulle ingryping 59 000 werksgeleenthede te skep. Duidelik, Agbare Voorsitter, is daar nie ʼn daadwerklike politiese wil om genoegsame werksgeleenthede teen 2030 te skep nie.
Die ANC praat sonder daad.
Voorsitter, die derde mandaat van die Departement, volgens die Komitee Voorsitter, is die vermindering van die regulatoriese rompslomp wat kleinsake ondervind. Net meer as ʼn week gelede, het die komitee die geleentheid gehad om ʼn wetsontwerp, wat rompslomp sal verminder, goed te keer. Helaas, die ANC het ʼn politiese besluit geneem om nie hierdie weg te volg nie.
Die ANC is inderdaad praat sonder daad.
Die “Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill” sou vir die ANC regering ʼn geleentheid gebied het, om te bewys dat hulle ernstig is om werk te skep, armoede te verminder en inklusiewe toegang vir almal tot die ekonomie te verseker. Met die afkeuring van die wetsontwerp het die ANC ʼn geleentheid om die speelvelde vir kleinsake meer gelyk te maak verhoed, en as ware verseker dat hindernisse soos rompslomp voort sal gaan om ekonomiese groei en werkskepping te rem.
Navorsing het bewys dat rompslomp tot 10% wegvreet in die daaglikse omset van kruideniersware winkels se omset. Tot soveel as R30 per kop word aan rompslomp gespandeer vir ʼn troue, en dit kos die restaurant eienaar 5% ekstra om vir jou ʼn ete op te dis by jou gunsteling uiteet plek.
Elke sent wat rompslomp besigheid ekstra kos, as gevolg van ʼn regering wat nie omgee nie, maak die entrepreneur ontsettend seer. Hierdie onnodige uitgawes vir kleinsake kan eerder tot werkskepping aangewend word.
Die DA is die enigste party met wetsontwerp wat toegespit is om ʼn vriendelike omgewing vir kleinsake ondernemings en korporasies te skep, wat die sukses van kleinsake sal vergemaklik. In die Wes-Kaap, waar die DA regeer, het ‘n soortgelyke beleid reeds 85% van 6 000 rompslomp sake opgelos.
Die President en die Ministers praat gereeld oor die vermindering van rompslomp, maar dit is alles praat sonder daad.
Voorsitter, 2019 is om die draai, dan sal die DA deur middel van goed deurdinkte regverdige beginsels ʼn omgewing vir die kleinsake gemeenskap skep wat geleenthede vir almal sal beteken en tot die welvaart van alle Suid Afrikaners sal lei.
Die DA voeg die daad wat hy praat.

Dysfunctional Home Affairs compromises jobs

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Hannif Hoosen MP, during the Budget Vote on Home Affairs.
I would like to start by congratulating the Honourable Minister on her recent appointment.
I am encouraged by the attitude from the new Minister, especially her regular attendance at the portfolio committee meetings, which is certainly a positive change compared to her predecessor.
Chairperson,
This department must be given credit for some of the good work that has been done. The rollout of 6 million smart ID cards in four years and the quick turnaround times with passport applications are impressive achievements.
Most people have forgotten that it used to take several weeks to get a passport. It is now possible that you could receive one in a week.
While there is little doubt that we are making progress, there is still much more to achieve.
We must not forget that today more than 9 million South Africans are without a decent job and have little hope for the future.
This department has a critical role to play in turning that around.
With the ease of travel, billions of people are looking for new opportunities to work, live and play. Countries all over the world are working hard to be at the forefront of this opportunity and make it more attractive, for those with skills and capital to enter their shores.
If we want to grow our economy and reduce unemployment, we too must exploit these opportunities, through our immigration system.
But Honourable Chairperson, our immigration system is broken.
There are many people who enter our country legally every year and play by the rules, but there are also many who have no respect for our rules.
Most businesses respect our laws and pay their workers a proper wage, but they also forced to watch others exploit these rules as they pay undocumented immigrants low wages.
For far too long we have heard of stories about people who simply walk across our borders.
Nobody in Home Affairs can tell you how many million undocumented immigrants are living in our country.
We need an immigration system that is fair, effective and one that contributes to growing our economy and creating jobs.
We need a system where everyone contributes and one that treats people with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
I want to present the DA’s plan to turn this around and appeal to the Minister to give careful consideration to these proposals.
The first thing we must do, is fix our borders. We must fix our fence.
If we don’t, we will never solve the problem of the high number of undocumented immigrants in the country.
Businesses who break the rules and employ undocumented immigrants must be dealt with harshly. They destroy our economy.
Tracking down and deporting an unknown number of undocumented immigrants will cost us far too much. It costs millions each year for deportation and this is no longer sustainable.
This is why, we are calling on the Minister to find innovative ways to regularise undocumented immigrants. Let us allow them to come forward and regularise themselves and play by the rules. This will save us millions that can re-directed towards more sustainable programmes.
While most countries are rolling out the red carpet, we are rolling out the red tape.
We have to make it easier for those who are willing to play by the rules to enter, live, work and play in our beautiful country.
We have to make it more difficult for those who cross our borders illegally and don’t play by the rules.
And we must fix our fence.
Through our immigration programme, we CAN make a meaningful contribution towards the NDPs aim of finding work for the 9 million unemployed South Africans,
We can achieve this objective by creating a user friendly and attractive visa regime.
If we make it easier for people to invest in SA, we will contribute to that objective.
But sadly, Immigration Affairs is still the worst funded programme in Home Affairs and as a result, we are not taking job creation seriously.
We all know, that our country is experiencing a period of slow growth and declining foreign investments.
If we want to address the crisis of 9 million unemployed South Africans, then home affairs must simplify our visa regime to attract foreign investment, so that it is easier for companies to set up shop here, which will lead to job creation.
But we are doing the opposite.
In 2014, the former Home Affairs Minister and the current Finance Minister introduced disastrous new immigration regulations and increased the minimum amount for a business visa to R5 million.
The DA warned him then that this decision would have a devastating effect and would create an additional barrier to foreign investors to enter the South African Market.
But he did not take this seriously and continued to argue for a higher entry-level investment.
Honourable Chairperson, the evidence is now before us that we were correct.
In the whole of 2016, not a single business visa was approved by Home Affairs for new start-up businesses. By comparison, a country like Mauritius has attracted scores of new foreign owned businesses.
It is clear from this that the Department is not succeeding in making South Africa an attractive destination for investment.
We need a different approach if we want to achieve different outcomes.
We therefore call on the new Minister today, to introduce a sliding scale where both large and small investors can be attracted to our shores.
We must make provisions for a small business visa.
We know that there are thousands of foreigners operating small businesses illegally in South Africa, because our visa regime makes it impossible for them to operate legally.
If we create an environment for small business to thrive, it will have a direct impact on job creation and regularise the millions of undocumented immigrants who are already in the country.
There is an opportunity here that we are not exploring.
But not all undocumented foreigners are entrepreneurs.
Many of them work illegally in the country without proper permits, because of our inability to protect our borders.
You no longer need to jump a fence, there is no fence.
We must fix that fence.
For too long we invested poorly in the number of Immigration Officers, whose job it is to seek out and deport illegal immigrants.
We have fewer than 800 immigration officers in the entire country but a city like London has almost 3600.
The DA has repeatedly called for a greater investment in this department for several years now.
More immigration officers will result in fewer undocumented immigrants and this would increase demand for unskilled labour in South Africa.
I invite the new Minister to offer a commitment to address these weaknesses.
Honourable Chairperson, a few days ago, the ANC attempted to use its declining majority to force through the Border Management Authority Bill (BMA) in the house.
To their huge embarrassment, it failed to achieve the required numbers.
We can hardly afford to fill the vacancies in Home affairs and yet we are experimenting with faulty ideas that make absolutely no sense.
The introduction of the BMA will double the number of staff in Home Affairs yet Treasury has put a moratorium on new appointments. Because we simply cannot afford it.
What is required is a more effective use of our current resources, a reduction in unnecessary spending in the department, and an increased investment in Immigration Affairs.
The estimated cost of the BMA is almost R22bn, something that we cannot afford at this time in our country. Let’s rather focus on fixing our fence.
Honourable Chairperson,
Recently, a culture of mediocrity is creeping in at front line offices across the country. More South African’s are becoming increasingly frustrated with the unprofessional service from some staff and security guards.
While the majority are hard working professionals, a hand full of staff continue to give this department a bad reputation.
The people of South Africa are our customers and we need to start treating them with the respect that they deserve.
As I conclude, I recognise that we have made some good progress, but there have been some poor decisions and poor spending patterns.
But this won’t be for too long. More and more South Africans are becoming increasingly annoyed with the state of governance, mediocrity and corruption in our country.
It is only a matter of time till South Africa ushers in a new government. This one is already on its way out. South Africans and the world are already preparing for life after the ANC.
And when that happens we will make sure that everything we do will be in the best interest of our shared futures and the people of our country.

If Home Affairs fails, our country fails

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Archibold Figlan MP, during the Budget Vote on Home Affairs.
Honourable Chairperson,
This department is one of the most important in our government. It touches the hearts and minds of every single South African and is often used as an indication of just how well our government works. If Home Affairs fails, our country fails.
For this reason, everything we do in this department must bring change to the lives of our people and make a positive contribution to the development of all South Africans and the country as a whole.
The smart ID rollout programme, as my colleague has already mentioned, has made some sterling progress, but the rate of delivery is still too slow. At the current rollout rate, it is likely to take more than ten years to ensure that we convert from the old ID book to the new smart ID card. We must, therefore, implement new measures to achieve this target sooner than planned. We welcome the introduction of banks in assisting with this rollout but there are still too few banks that can entertain applications.
The long queues at Home Affairs offices are also a massive problem for people who are unable to spend an entire day away from work, just to apply for an ID document.
Many offices around the country stop accepting people from 15:30. We appeal to the Minister to take careful note of the declining quality standards at many offices countrywide. In particular, the Edenvale Office in Johannesburg, the Bellville office in Cape Town, and the Umgeni Road office in Durban are the main culprits.
Honourable speaker, for many years now, we have raised the concern around the registration of new-born children. Thousands of children who live in our country are still not properly registered and years later when they attempt to register, it becomes very difficult to prove that they are South African citizens.
Many parents do not take this responsibility seriously. Only 75% of the children born in our country are registered within 30 days. This is a scary statistic. We must do more to ensure that every single child that is born in this country, is properly registered. It does not help that registration facilities at hospitals are inoperable and under staffed. This exacerbates the problem and must receive urgent attention from the Minister.
Honourable Chairperson, another area of concern is the massive backlog that we have in the permanent resident application process.
Recently, the Director-General announced that about 4 600 applications are no longer on the system. What has happened to those applications? Why have they simply disappeared and what steps are being taken to inform every applicant to re-apply?
Many applicants have already been waiting for many years for the adjudication process to be completed, and now we hear that their applications have somehow been deleted. I invite the Honourable Minister to inform this house of the details in this regard, in her final reply.
Honourable Chairperson, in conclusion, I wish to extend our appreciation to all the staff and senior management officials in the department for their contribution.
We must recognise that hundreds of home affairs officials work tirelessly to keep this department operational but that so much more could be done to support and improve the delivery of services to the people of our country.