Basic Health Care denied to residents in Ga Pila, Mogalakwena

Not one analgesic, which assists with pain, fever or inflammation was available at the Sterkwater Clinic in Ga-Pila Village, Mogalakwena.

On an oversight visit to the clinic, the DA has established that the clinic cannot provide the most basic medicinal care to residents in the area.

Apart from being unable to assist with pain medications, the clinic was also desperately short of antibiotics and had no cough mixture available, at a time when a change of season and winter colds and flu become prevalent. Despite constantly ordering the basic supplies, the clinic does not get supplies ordered or are short delivered.

Seriously understaffed, the clinic is under pressure from the surrounding farming communities who often come to the clinic because the mobile clinics servicing the farms do not arrive or when they are due. Most of the patients from the farms require regular medication for HIV/Aids and TB, which is available at the clinic, but the farm workers are frustrated by the costs of travel and time lost from work.

Any ill or injured patient at the clinic requiring emergency relocation to a hospital, is likely to have to wait between 6 and 8 hours for an ambulance to arrive. The shortage of ambulances in the area has resulted in emergency services being logged according to time of call. Well equipped with emergency supplies and resuscitation equipment, the nursing staff cannot assist with medication for pain or fever in the interim.

The staff kitchen at the facility is in a serious state of disrepair and the grounds are overgrown. The washing machine which is used to sterilize and clean dirty and contaminated linen does not work most of the time, so linen is washed by hand.

The DA has written to both the MEC of Health, Phophi Ramathuba, and asked formal questions to the health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, to assist and assess the neglect of primary health care in the area.

All South Africans are constitutionally entitled to proper primary health care.

The DA Health policy puts primary health care and properly equipped emergency services at the fore and is designed to ensure that every citizen regardless of their situation is protected and assisted.

We will not sit back while the poor and vulnerable suffer without the most basic health care.

Deputy Chairperson of FedCo was elected not appointed

The Democratic Alliance (DA) wishes to dismiss a Sunday Times report that states that Natasha Mazzone was appointed as one of two Deputy Chairpersons of Federal Council (FedCo). Ms Mazzone was elected by the Federal Council, the Party’s highest decision-making body.

Confusion around this matter may arise from only one Deputy Chairperson being announced by the Federal Congress.

The facts are as follows:

During the Federal Congress which took place on 7 & 8 April 2018 Congress resolved to amend section of the Federal Constitution to the effect that two members would serve as Deputy Chairpersons of the FedCo. In terms of another section of the Federal Constitution these office bears must be elected during the Federal Congress.

FedCo on 6 April 2018 resolved that voting in this election would take place on Sunday 8 April 2018, subject to the approval by Congress of the creation of two Deputy Chairpersons. This meant that two Deputy Chairpersons of FedCo would be elected if Congress adopted that amendment to the Federal Constitution.

In order to seek clarity, the matter was taken to the Federal Legal Commission (FLC), a party structure of the Party with the power and authority to inter alia interpret the Federal Constitution, and decide on the legality or otherwise of any meeting, action, election or resolution by any Party structure. FLC resolved that “the position of a second Deputy Chairperson of the Federal Council is to be filled by way of the result of the vote that took place on 8 April 2018 during Federal Congress.”

It is important to note that the purported decision to task FedCo with the election of a second Deputy Chairperson at its next meeting was at no stage framed as an enabling amendment of section in as far as it determines that the Deputy Chairperson “must” be elected during the meeting of Congress.

KPMG must come clean

The DA welcomes the announcement by KPMG Chairperson Wiseman Nkhulu of a broad scale review of all KPMG’s work in the past 18 months. This is particularly necessary given the revelation yesterday that two partners, Sipho Malaba and Dumi Tshuma, had resigned when faced with disciplinary charges.

According to an earlier statement, the two partners faced charges relating to a failure to comply with the firm’s policies and procedures relating to the disclosure of financial interests.

As Malaba and Tshuma were intimately involved in the audit of VBS Mutual Bank, I will be writing to Mr. Nkhulu tomorrow to request that he reveal whether either former partner had any financial relationship with VBS Mutual Bank, or any of its investors, the nature of that relationship, and whether any unlawful benefit accrued to either of them.

I have already communicated a request to the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA), requesting that they extend their ongoing investigation into KPMG to include the role they played at VBS. The CEO of the IRBA, Bernhard Agulhas, has responded that this will, indeed form part of their investigation.

The Latin phrase “Quis custodiet, ipsos custodes?” means “Who will guard the guardians?” It is particularly apt when referring to the audit profession. KPMG needs to come clean in order to ensure that trust is restored in auditors and that we can get to the bottom of the problems at VBS.

DA congratulates Team SA for making history at Commonwealth Games

The DA would like to applaud all the South African athletes who participated at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. They have truly made their country proud.

Team SA brought no less than 37 medals home, with the likes of Caster Semenya, Luvo Manyonga and Chad Le Clos outshining their international competitors in their respective codes.

Akani Simbine brought home our first-ever gold medal in the 100m event, while Martin Erasmus clinched the country’s first wrestling gold medal in 60 years.

Our athletes continue to fly our flag high and are consistently raising the bar in the global sports fraternity, despite receiving little institutional support here at home.

We reiterate our call to the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) to prioritise and provide greater support for our athletes, instill a sense of competitiveness and ensure good governance in sporting structures to encourage more athletes to work towards competing in international competitions.

The DA is committed to transformation in sports and will continue fighting to ensure SASCOC is inclusive, well-run and sports focused.

Sport brings tangible changes to peoples’ lives and plays a vital role in our national project of social cohesion. It must therefore be given the attention it deserves and the DA will ensure that this is realised.

BOKAMOSO | The DA’s Diversity Difference

Last weekend, the Democratic Alliance (DA) held the biggest and most diverse Federal Congress in the party’s history, as some 2000 delegates from every corner of the country met in Tshwane to debate and adopt policy resolutions and constitutional amendments, and to elect a leadership team to carry our vision into 2019 and beyond. 

I was filled with immense pride witnessing our movement at its best, the Blue Machine marching together under the banner of “One South Africa For All”.

Our Congress showed the nation what we are all about – a group of diverse South Africans building a values-based, non-racial organisation. Without chair-throwing and physical violence, we demonstrated that we are still the only political party in South Africa that can build a united and prosperous nation for all who call it home.

At the centre of debate at Congress was the so-called “Diversity Clause”, a proposed amendment to our party’s Federal Constitution. As DA Leader, I proposed this amendment to put into words that which we have always lived. It is important to record in our founding documents those values which inspire us and which underpin our project. The DA is the most diverse party in South Africa, and it’s one of our greatest strengths. This ought to be reflected in every aspect of the organisation – most importantly our Federal Constitution.

We debated, deliberated and finally decided to adopt it into our Federal Constitution.

The clause reads as follows:

“South Africa is a richly diverse society. Though our people come from different origins, worship in different ways and have different cultures and customs, we are all unique individuals.

Diversity is one of South Africa’s greatest assets. The party celebrates diversity, and recognises the right of each individual to be who they want to be, free from domination by others.

The party solemnly subscribes to the preamble to the Constitution of South Africa which recognises the injustices of the past, and affirms that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

The party will continue to take active steps to promote and advance diversity in its own ranks.”

In the section of our constitution on our party’s principles, we specifically rejected racial quotas as anathema to our vision for South Africa. We cannot be trapped by the crude ascriptive categorisation that the apartheid government used to define us.

The adoption of these amendments was a unifying moment for our party, as thousands of delegates came to mutual agreement that we embrace diversity, and we are the most diverse party, and we also reject quotas.

The adoption of this clause was a commitment to continue to take active steps to promote and advance diversity within the party.

The DA is already taking active steps to remove the obstacles to greater diversity, and to expand opportunities, particularly for young black candidates and activists.

Firstly, the DA’s Young Leaders Programme (YLP) is a political leadership learning and development programme for South Africans between the ages of 18 and 35 who align themselves with the DA’s values of Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity. The programme is an intensive, yearlong, part-time political leadership development course that strives to give passionate young leaders the opportunity to develop their interest in politics. Now in it’s eleventh year, already this programme has yielded significant positive results for the party. Many of our young MPs, MPLs, councillors and professional staff members have come through the programme. 

Secondly, each public representative in the DA has to set targets to recruit new activists to promote diversity in their branches or constituency structures. These targets are monitored by provincial, regional and constituency leadership and provincial leaders are responsible to me for the achievement of those targets. This is intended to bolster the pipeline of excellent candidates coming through the party’s branch structures and to counteract gatekeeping. Likewise, provincial leaders are themselves responsible for identifying excellent new candidates and mentoring them through the party selection process. They are obliged to report on progress at every meeting of our Federal Executive. What distinguishes this approach, particularly as it is applied in the DA, is an emphasis on accountability, and an aversion to manipulating outcomes to achieve an exact replica of the demographic make-up of the country. This is ‘demography as destiny’ and is inimical to the DA’s philosophy. Morevoer, targets set for our internal structures are not box-ticking exercises. They are genuine attempts to improve and expand the opportunities available for new activists and candidates to succeed in the organisation.

Third, the party also invests in current public representatives by running a Political Development Programme (PDP), which gives MPs, MPLs, and Councillors intensive training and personal development tools in order to excel in their various roles. This programme is mirrored by one which caters for the party’s professional staff.

Perhaps most importantly, since 2015, we have seen the establishment over 550 new branches – the vast majority in areas where the DA has had little or no presence in the past. For example, the DA in the Eastern Cape grew from 139 active branches in 2015, to 347 in 2018. Similarly, the DA in Limpopo grew from 87 branches in 2015 to an impressive 238 branches in 2018. This growth has the natural effect of diversifying the party, and its impact will become apparent in the coming years.

The DA is growing, diversifying, and remains the only party that is uniting South Africans across racial, cultural, religious and gender lines. We envision a society that is truly diverse, and must continue our work in building One South Africa For All, despite what the naysayers have to say.

Our nation’s history is one of competing nationalisms. The sooner the DA breaks this legacy, the better it will be for our country. We must not relent in our fight to build a nation where in acknowledging our past injustices, we become a nation that belongs to all who live in it – black and white.

New PRASA interim Board needs to tackle corruption

While the DA cautiously welcomes the appointment of a new interim Board and CEO at PRASA by the Minister of Transport, Blade Nzimande, we are concerned that the uncertainty brought by temporary appointments will do little to solve the challenges facing PRASA.

Even so, the announcement by Nzimande comes on the back of unrelenting pressure by the DA, through parliamentary questions, laying of criminal charges against officials and oversights, which revealed shocking corporate governance deficiencies and the horrendous state of South Africa’s rail network.

Restoring sanity at PRASA will require that the new board prioritise the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the 2015 Public Protector “Derailed” report, which revealed massive corruption at the entity between 2012 and 2015.

It has become urgent, now more than ever, that, besides appointing a capable, qualified, full-time board and executives at PRASA, the government must:

• hold everyone implicated in the 2015 ‘Derailed’ report to account.
• implement an emergency safety plan that includes a dedicated Police Service in the form of Railway Police to take over security operations, as the current private security company is not fully equipped to combat crime and vandalism.
• order an urgent update on the progress made in upgrading the current signal system to avoid use of the manual system which has led to derailments, compromising commuter safety.
• ensure that PRASA cede control of Metrorail services and the allocated budget to Metro councils for an efficient and safe integrated transportation system for commuters.

The DA remains committed to the vision of a well-run, corruption free and accountable rail transportation system that puts the safety of South Africans first.

Giving people land with no support does not equate to successful land reform

In the light of today’s grossly misleading media reports regarding land reform, the DA will be laying a complaint with the Press Ombudsman against the Mail & Guardian in accordance with the Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African print and online media, Section 2.2 of the Code which states that “News shall be presented in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure…”

The DA would like to set the record straight. It is fundamentally flawed to argue that the DA-run Western Cape Government’s success in land reform is solely due to funding sourced from the National Budget.

The reality is that the Western Cape Government’s support for farmers has been crucial to their success. The DA does not believe that simply giving people land and leaving them to fend for themselves equates to successful land reform.

This is part of the failure of National Government, whereas where the DA governs we have ensured and emphasised better support for agriculture projects.

The DA has a proven track record in making grants available to black emerging farmers to support them and ensure that their land ownership is sustainable and profitable.

According to an extensive land reform audit conducted in March 2014 by the Western Cape Government, a total of 62% of Land Reform projects are successful, with a target for the next 5 years being 70%.  A follow-up audit is being conducted and will be completed around October 2018.

The ANC government has increasingly opted for state custodianship under their land reform project.  As further proof that this idea is incompatible with successful land reform, the High Level Panel Report confirms that the ANC’s land reform has shifted from Constitutional imperatives, such as equitable access to land, towards state ownership that echoes apartheid-style notions of custodianship.

The DA vehemently rejects this notion and fundamentally believes that it is only through ownership that black people can truly emancipate themselves. We remain the only party that also emphasises urban land reform where beneficiaries of state subsidised housing have full ownership title to those homes.

As such, the DA has created 91 000 home owners already, and are distributing more title deeds every day where we are in government.

The ANC is using expropriation without compensation to disguise their failures in land reform. The High level panel report states that: “…increasing evidence of corruption by officials, the diversion of the land reform budget to elites, lack of political will, and lack of training and capacity have proved more serious stumbling blocks to land reform.”

The  reality is that nepotism and corruption have been at heart of the slow land reform process while the ANC elite have directly benefited. The lack of training and capacity at the land claims commission has also hamstrung the rate of finalisation of claims.

At the present rate of finalisation, being 560 claims a year, it will take 35 years for all old order claims to be resolved. There are currently 7000 unsettled and more than 19 000 unfinished claims lodged before 1998.

Only if the ANC confronts the failures of their land reform programmes and learns from the best practice demonstrated through agricultural support in the Western Cape can land reform be accelerated.

DA requests urgent probe into KPMG over VBS audit irregularities

The DA has written to the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) to request an urgent investigation into allegations that KPMG failed to raise the alarm over alleged fraudulent transactions at VBS Mutual Bank.

It is being reported that KPMG failed to report irregularities pertaining to R900 million in deposits at VBS which could not be traced. The SARB has also uncovered a number of potential “fraudulent transaction” not raised by either KPMG or PwC.

The DA has been concerned about business practices at VBS for some time – and these allegations of fraudulent activity could have serious consequences for the more than 20 municipalities which have investments with the bank.

We therefore urge the IRBA to institute a probe into KPMG and PwC urgently to get to the bottom of these accusations.

When an auditing firm fails to conduct its business diligently and independently it does not only tarnish the profession, but it puts the entire financial sector at risk and in this case, it could jeopardise the financial security of municipalities.

Urgent action is needed as the possible collapse of VBS could potentially threaten the day-to-day operations of the municipalities and ultimately disrupt service delivery to the people.

DA calls on Minister Motshekga to support our call for essential services in education

The DA will submit a request to the Essential Services Committee (ESC) next week and ask the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, and her department to support our call to establish an essential service level for school staff.

The Department of Basic Education responded to a DA Parliamentary Question, saying that it would support the declaration of a minimum service level agreement for teachers by the ESC to ensure children are not left unsupervised during school hours.

Adult supervision plays a crucial role in ensuring our learners are safe at school. Having no teachers present at school and in class can lead to terrible outcomes, such as when a fight broke out between learners at Eldorado Park Secondary after teachers had left to attend an unplanned strike.

When five-year-old Lumka Mketwa from the Eastern Cape died in a pit toilet, the teacher wasn’t in class due to SGB elections being held. Her death could have been avoided had there been teacher supervision.

The DA believes that there must be a requirement for enough teachers to be present to supervise learners, and to provide guidance in emergency situations.

We consulted with the ESC in October last year on the issue so that they could advise us on the proper procedure for making a request for them to perform a study on the issue, and make a declaration regarding a minimum level of service. The ESC is responsible for making such declarations, not the government.

We included the declaration of key educational posts as essential services in our list of demands for school safety in a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, which any South African can sign at National and provincial departments, and state entities, must work together to safeguard learners.

The safety of our children must always come first, and Minister Motshekga can help to ensure that children are protected from any harm by endorsing our request to the ESC.

Natasha Mazzone elected Deputy Chair of Federal Council

During the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Congress which took place on 7 & 8 April 2018 Congress resolved to amend section of the Federal Constitution to the effect that two members would serve as deputy chairs of the Federal Council (FedCo). In terms of another section of the Federal Constitution these office bears must be elected during the Federal Congress.

FedCo on 6 April 2018 resolved that voting in this election would take place on Sunday 8 April 2018, subject to the approval by Congress of the creation of two Deputy Chairpersons. This meant that two Deputy Chairpersons of FedCo would be elected if Congress adopted that amendment to the Federal Constitution.

In order to seek clarity, the matter was taken to the Federal Legal Commission (FLC), which resolved that “the position of a second Deputy Chairperson of the Federal Council is to be filled by way of the result of the vote that took place on 8 April 2018 during Federal Congress.”

Therefore, I wish to congratulate Ms Natasha Mazzone MP on her election as a Deputy Chairperson of Federal Council.

Ms Mazzone brings with her a wealth of experience that will add deeply to the work of the 155-member FedCo, the Party’s highest decision-making body between Congresses.

Ms Mazzone first started serving in the Party’s leadership structures over twenty years ago, when she was elected Chairperson of the then Democratic Party’s (DP’s) University of Pretoria Youth Branch in 1997. In May 2009, she was elected as a Member of Parliament. She’s been serving as the DA’s Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises since February 2012, a role in which she has been at the forefront of the fight against State Capture, exercising her duties with exemplary courage.