Minister Dlodlo must not become Minister of Propaganda

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP, during the Budget Vote on Communications.
Honourable Chairperson
I would like to begin my speech by again welcoming Minister Ayanda Dlodlo to the Communications Ministry.
I have said this before, and I will say it again: we want Minister Dlodlo to succeed in this portfolio.
And in particular, Chairperson, we want her to succeed in restoring good governance and public and industry confidence in her Department, something that was completely destroyed by her predecessor, Faith Muthambi.
It is a tragedy, that Muthambi has not been held accountable for a tenure that was nothing short of catastrophic, especially for the SABC.
I would like to remind this House that the 60-day deadline for the laying of criminal charges as set in the report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC Inquiry expires on 5 June 2017. That is in 10 days.
It was a recommendation in this report, adopted by most parties in the National Assembly, including the ANC, for Parliament to lay criminal charges against persons who misled or provided false information during the inquiry.
Minister Muthambi was indeed one of those people who misled the inquiry and as such, must be held accountable in terms of the Powers and Privileges Act and the Executive Ethics Code.
Honourable Chairperson, over the next two years, while the ANC is still in power, Minister Dlodlo has the opportunity to be the antithesis of Muthambi, or risk her legacy being that of Minister Dololo.
Over the next two years, the DA would like to see her bring much-needed stability; legislative and policy certainty; root out corruption and the deliver quality communications, educational and entertainment services to South Africa’s people.
The DA will be there, of course, at every step, to hold the Minister accountable, to ensure that she does not fail the people of this country.
I would like to devote the rest of my speech to assist her in this task.
The DA is not a party that is only about pointing out problems, but also, providing solutions.
As a first step, I think it will be very important for the Minister to be open and honest about where the problems are, and what the solutions will be.
She has done so, thus far, but I will caution her not to fall into the trap of shrouding the Department of Communications and its entities in secrecy – quite ironic – as her predecessor did.
Keep South Africa informed at all times about the work of government, and do so without being the Minister of Propaganda.
Let the people be the ultimate judge.
The role of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) is not to disseminate propaganda, but to inform. It is also, not to send out media advisories on behalf of obscure pro-Zuma WhatsApp groups.
Honourable Chairperson, the Department of Communications is allocated a budget of R1.3 billion for the 2017/18 financial year.
By the admission of the Minister’s own officials, this amount is too little, and under severe economic pressure, the Department runs risk of running out of money before the year is done.
It was, therefore, quite alarming to hear that the Department intends to purchase new cars for the Minister and her Deputy.
I, again, urge the Minister to reject these purchases, and set the example of austerity for the rest of government.
Do not become yet another Minister Wabenzi.
Chairperson, the Minister’s biggest task is maintaining much-needed oversight over the Department’s entities, without unduly interfering.
It is imperative that the relationship between the Ministry and its entities is codified in a publicly available Shareholder Compact, so it can be subjected to constant scrutiny.
The biggest problems are obviously at the SABC.
We are pleased that the interim Board is steadfastly implementing the recommendations of the SABC Inquiry Report.
The DA commends the interim Board for the stellar work they have done so far.
It is our worry, however, that the interim Board appears to be moving rather slowly in instituting disciplinary proceedings against staff implicated in the causing the rot at the SABC, such as CFO, James Aguma and the former Company Secretary, Theresa Geldenhuys.
It is unfathomable why these two are not on suspension, and Ms Geldenhuys is said to be assisting in the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) forensic investigation. That is like asking the fox to guard the henhouse.
Both should be suspended immediately and subjected to disciplinary proceedings.
Together with the SABC Board, we would like also to see the Minister set up a panel of experts to investigate innovative means to increase the SABC’s funding.
At R173 million, the funding provided by government to the SABC, is obviously quite insufficient. The solution to this, however, is not additional license fees for mobile devices.
The DA will stand firmly in opposition to any further taxation to the already overburdened taxpayer.
Chairperson, I have had complaints from musicians that “payola” is still very much in existence at SABC radio stations. Music played on the public broadcaster’s radio stations should be chosen on merit, not based on who has the biggest bribe.
I will be submitting a formal request to the Department of Communications for a full-scale inquiry into payola at the SABC for all staff implicated in this, to be brought to book.
Restoring staff morale at the SABC is of utmost importance.
It was heart-breaking to hear talented staffers at the SABC recounting gut-wrenching accounts of being hounded and terrorised by Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his enforces because they refused not dance to his beat.
It is a disgrace that to date, SAPS’s investigations of the attacks and threats against the SABC 8 has not been finalised.
I would like to strongly suggest that the Minister personally request an update from the Police Ministry about this investigation.
How is it that our journalists are terrorised in their homes, and one shot in the face, and not a single person has been arrested?
With regards to the other, equally important entities in this portfolio, at then Film and Publication Board (FPB), it is imperative that the issues relating to its top leadership are resolved and a new CEO, COO and CFO appointed urgently.
It must never happen again, that the entities in this Portfolio table badly drafted, unconstitutional legislation in Parliament.
The FPB Amendment Bill is a legal quagmire that has taken the Committee over a year to finalise, and it will take longer still, because that is how bad it is.
The ongoing litigation between Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and the Minister of Telecommunications regarding spectrum auctioning must be resolved.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with ICASA seeking to auction off its spectrum, in order to increase wireless access in South Africa and boost the rollout of faster LTE broadband in order to boost economic growth and job creation.
Finally, Chairperson, I would like to thank you, my colleagues on the Portfolio Committee on Communications, from across the political spectrum under the Chairperson Humphrey Maxegwana.
I think this a greatly improved Committee from previous ones.
Although we have very heated debates, and we disagree often, I believe most of us are committed to fixing the problems in this Portfolio.
I look forward to vigorously maintaining oversight over the Department of Communications with you.

Minister Mokonyane should be criminally charged

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Water and Sanitation, Leon Basson MP, during the Budget Vote on Water and Sanitation.
Chairperson,
President Zuma led South Africa into junk status and his Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, led Water and Sanitation and the Water Trading Entity into a financial quagmire where it now owes the Reserve Bank, contractors and the Water Boards almost R5 billion.
The Water Trading Entity is technically bankrupt and does not have the ability to collect money owed to them.
It is apparent that Minister Nomvula ‘Mama Action’ Mokonyane has taken zero action to get the finances right.
Minister, while you have made it your number one priority to protect the President, the Department of Water and Sanitation is collapsing under your leadership and infrastructure projects are delayed for years whilst others are stopped or simply unfunded.
This is a direct result of poor management and political interference.
Chairperson, the downgrading to junk status will have a devastating effect on projects like the Lesotho Highlands scheme that could cost South Africa billions more due to higher borrowing costs and further government guarantees on these loans.
It is shocking to note that the budget for water infrastructure development decreased by over R500 million from R12.7 billion in the 2016/17 financial year to R12.2 billion in this financial year.
Funding pressures of R2 billion and unpaid contractors of R1.5 billion will leave the Department with only R8.7 billion for infrastructure development this year.
This while South Africans are struggling without water and with sewerage flowing in our streets, rivers and dams.
What happened to the Blue and Green Drop reports for the 2015/16 financial year?
Nothing – they were not done!
Water infrastructure is under pressure and water specialists agree that the current situation is even worse than the last Green Drop report of 2014, which indicated that 84% of sewer plants are in critical risk, high risk or medium risk.
This implies that 4200 million litres of untreated or inadequately treated sewer is illegally discharged into 82% of our rivers every day.
South Africans should not be subjected to this any longer and whilst the Water Act empowers the Minister to act on behalf of the nation, it also mandates the Minister to protect and preserve the country’s precious water resources – something she is failing at.
Furthermore, protecting and preserving South Africa’s water resources is a constitutional mandate.
Minister Mokonyane can, and should, be criminally charged for allowing the pollution of our rivers, streams and ground water.
Chairperson, let’s look at the Minister’s track record with Water and Sanitation:
• The Department underspent more than R3 billion in the last 3 financial years;
• The Department had two Director Generals in 3 years;
• The Lesotho Highlands project was delayed by 6 years;
• The Clanwilliam Dam project was stopped by the Minister. Her decision to remove the Dam Construction Unit from site, to create a tender that will delay the project between 3 to 4 years, could cost rate payers as much as R1 billion more; and
• The employee cost of the Dam Construction Unit is costing rate payers R2.5 million per month, amounting to R23 million to date, and these employees are not currently working.
Under a DA government, we will focus on the following turnaround strategies to change the critical situation within Water and Sanitation:
• We will appoint accountable management who will not politically interfere in the day to day running of the Department;
• We will protect our water resources and implement the DA’s “use it or lose it”-principle by facilitating assistance from Water Boards to underperforming Municipal Water Infrastructure;
• We will monitor pollution of our rivers and water streams by appointing more Blue Scorpions that will enforce the DA’s “polluter must pay” principle;
• We will institute a rapid response unit to provide project management interventions and to assist municipalities that do not possess the requisite technical skills;
• We will analyse the feasibility of developing and introducing legislation which allows for the National Treasury to provide emergency financial aid to municipalities, and recover the funds from the Municipal Equitable Share;
• We will create opportunities for private sector partnerships with government, in funding, managing, upgrading, maintaining and creating new infrastructure. This will assist in funding the needed R800 billion over the next 10 years; and
• We will build additional smaller dams in catchment areas and downstream existing dams to prevent access water flowing to the ocean.
Minister, you are requested to start implementing the DA’s turnaround strategy plan to prevent a full scale collapse of South Africa’s water infrastructure.
Chairperson, prior to the 2016 elections, Minister Mokonyane visited the community of Jericho in Madibeng and had a big party in a big tent, promising water to the community in exchange for votes.
Unfortunately, Chairperson, nothing came of this promise!
Every day, the community of Jericho has to walk a dangerous route through bushes to the Sandsloot river and dig for water that the community has to share with cattle.
Minister, this is a disgrace!

An activist’s prayer

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Tarnia Baker MP, during the Budget Vote on Water and Sanitation.
“We cannot merely pray to you, O God,
To root out prejudice,
For You have already given us eyes
With which to see the good in all people
If we would only use them rightly.
We cannot merely pray to You O God, to end despair,
For You have already given us the power
To clear away slums and to give hope
If we would only use our power justly.”
Powerful words by the world-renowned Rabbi Jack Riemer.
It is in this spirit that I stand before you today and call on all South Africans to ensure that we hold those on whom we bestow power accountable.
It is no coincidence that so many religions use water as a symbol of cleansing and purity.
In South Africa we lose more than R7 billion worth of water a year – water literally flowing down the drain because of ageing infrastructure and water theft.
That is why Mayor Solly Msimanga of Tshwane has allocated R13 million for the restoration of water infrastructure.
I suggest to you, Honourable Chair, that the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) has no idea just how valuable a resource water actually is, especially considering that South Africa is a water scarce country.
In 2003, the Strategic Framework for Water Services was approved by Cabinet with the target for the complete eradication of the bucket system of sanitation set for 2006, and a budget of R1.2 billion was allocated for the Free State alone.
Fast forward to 2017 and the goal has still not been met. It is ludicrous to think that the minister now stands before the National Treasury, begging bowl in hand, looking for a further R1.5 billion!
Minister, let us stop talking about concluding the long overdue Bucket Eradication Programme and just do it.
I urge you, Minister, to take a take firm stance against the scourge of corruption in our country and no longer allow companies to mine in one of our protected water catchment areas, like Mabola in Mpumalanga, particularly when names like “Gupta” appear on the Board of Directors and Zuma appears on the board of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) partner company.
Just do the right thing, Minister, and revoke that Water Use License granted to Atha Africa.
I will commend the Minister for one thing she has actually done and that is to advertise for the replacement of the Umhlatuze Water Board and its Chairperson, Miss Dudu Myeni.
Unfortunately, this was only after the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled in December 2016 that the Minister had acted unlawfully by extending the contract of the Chair and Board, which expired in February 2015.
Basically, this means that the Minister broke the law.
It is for this reason that we have written to the Public Protector and asked her to investigate the Minister’s actions and hold her accountable for the court costs, including the appeal which she lodged, as well as the R1.4 million paid to Miss Myeni during her unlawful occupation of the position of Chairperson from February 2015 to date.
Another thing you can actually do, Minister, is to hold our municipalities accountable for the R3.6 billion owed to the various Waterboards.
This debt severely impacts on the provision of essential water services these Boards can deliver.
However, not all is doom and gloom, as there are some municipalities which do govern well, like the DA run Midvaal municipality which does not owe Rand Water anything, or Eskom for that matter. Well done Mayor Baloyi.
It is generally accepted that in life there are some things which are beyond our control, like the weather. However, we can control our state of preparedness to deal with natural disasters when they do occur. In South Africa, provision is made for monetary and other forms of assistance, on the declaration of a disaster, so as to minimise its effects.
But when the Minister first refused to admit that there was a drought crisis and later resisted declaring a national disaster, she robbed the people of South Africa of the support and assistance they could receive and added to the suffering of millions, leaving hundreds of towns to just dry up.
The drought intervention measures by the Department were so haphazard, the cost of which cannot be accurately counted or accounted for. It is for this reason we have written to the Auditor-General asking for an investigation into this drought expenditure, and I’m happy to report that this investigation is also underway.
Fellow South Africans, I understand that the ravages of the apartheid era cannot be reversed overnight, I appreciate the fact that millions more South Africans now have access to water, a right previously denied to them, but as a result of the high unemployment rate in our country, the number of people actively contributing to the national fiscus is limited.
As a result, we have to ensure that we get excellent value for money from every cent spent on service delivery. So, when the DWS overspends its budget by R18 million and yet only achieves 43% of its targets, we should be seriously concerned.
The Portfolio Committee spent many hours interrogating the Department’s budget. The more we probed, the bleaker it looked.
The final conclusion, Chairperson, is that the finances of the national Department of Water and Sanitation are deeper, darker and messier than any of its abandoned pit latrines, and just like the Bucket Eradication Programme, can only be rescued by a competent DA-led government.
I thank you.

ANC kom nie belofte na om gemeenskapsmedia en diversiteit te bevorder nie

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Communications, Veronica van Dyk MP, during the Budget Vote on Communications.
Honourable Chair, Members of this House
Our Government needs to stop investing in corruption.
Corruption, maladministration and wasteful expenditure can be traced back to almost every single Communications entity.
On 17 June 2015, due to the inapt action by the Department, our country failed to meet the analogue switch off date as was set by the International Telecommunications Union.
During a Committee meeting this month, we were informed that we might once again miss the 2018 deadline.
It seems as though in the ANC government deadlines are delivery dates for failure.
Vertragings in die uitrol van digitale migrasie het `n groot impak op spektrum-beskikbaarheid. Dit benadeel die uitsaaibedryf ernstig, veral met betrekking tot gemeenskapmedia.
`n Moratorium op die lisensieëring van gemeenskapsradio’s in September 2015, kan nie gelig word nie as gevelog van die feit dat daar nie voldoende spektrum is nie.
Die DA sien dat die ANC nie by hul belofte nakom om gemeenskapsmedia en diversiteit te bevorder nie.
It should come as no surprise to us, but there is also a delay in the finalisation of the media transformation and diversity policy.
According to ICASA, the White Paper on Audio -Visual and Digital Content will take another 4 years to complete. The DA knows this will have a further impact on DTT migration. Yet again, the ANC does not keep its promises.
The largest budget increase in the Department is seen in Programme 4: Entity Oversight which increased by R94.3 million. However, no amount of money thrown at this problem will rectify the widespread maladministration at entities.
There is also an increase of R33.1 million for Communication and Branding which seems rather excessive in a country where citizens are literally starving.
Ons sit met ‘n entiteit soos Brand SA wat poog om Suid-Afrika te promoveer, terwyl die ANC-President sukkel om te tel hoeveel skade hy berokken. Rommelstatus danksy `n rommelregering.
Meer geld word spandeer aan die versterking van bestaande gemeenskapmedia, in plaas daarvan om nuwe geleenthede te skep.
Die DA versoek dat die befondsingsmodel van gemeenskapsmedia ernstig hersien word.
Belastingbetalers betaal ongeveer R21 miljoen aan Brand SA om landshoofde in die Verenigde State, China en die Verenigde Koninkryk te akkommodeer met die oogmerk om die land se reputasie te bestuur en te bemark – basies ‘n duplisering van Toerisme Suid-Afrika se pligte.
Beide entiteite het elk kantore in die drie lande. Parlementêre vrae het uitgewys dat doelwitte in die Verenigde Koninkryk en die VSA nie bereik is nie, dit wil sê doelwitte vir 2 uit die 3 lande was onsukselvol.
In hierdie moeilike ekonomiese tyd waarin ons mense hulself bevind, is landshoofde werklik`n prioriteit?
In 2014 the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) had a vacancy rate of 50% and until recently the status remained unchanged; the chair of the board even appointed herself as acting CEO, and lied about it in a committee meeting.
We have nothing to show for all these increases, except a Department and entities, like the SABC, that are riddled with corruption that they have failed to serve the people in South Africa.
Die DA vra vandag, wat doen entiteite om geld te bespaar?
Muthambi, Motsoeneng … Zuma! Hoekom raak die ANC nie ordentlik van sy probleemkinders ontslae nie? Watter vertroue boesem entiteite werklik in by die publiek? Daar is net geen gevolge vir wanprestasie in hierdie regering nie.
Corruption is killing opportunities. The ANC is killing opportunities. Just ask the 9 million people in SA that cannot find a job.
We need to stop rewarding institutional failures. We need to stop investing in corruption. Come 2019 the South African public will have the opportunity to vote for change and vote against corruption and the failure of the system.
I urge every citizen to make their vote count.
Ons land verdien beter as die ANC.

ANC has failed to develop sport in poor communities

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Sports and Recreation, Tsepo Mhlongo MP, during the Budget Sport and Recreation.
Thank you very much Chairperson.
Honourable Members.
Asikulumeni ngezomdlalo.
The purpose of the Sport and Recreation vote, and I quote “is to transform the delivery of sport and recreation by ensuring equitable access, development and excellence at all levels of participation, thereby improving social cohesion, nation building and the quality of life of all South Africans.”
The sports arena should be a place of unity and compassion, not one of division. The true essence of our great rainbow nation should be on display at every possible opportunity, not only at the national level, but at all levels.
Sport gives people hope, it allows people to look up to role models, to believe in success stories, in brighter futures and it is a place where we are all equal and every single one of us can be a champion. This is a notion that should be encouraged as far and wide as possible.
We should ensure that our focus is on making the sports arena a safe environment for our children to develop, to grow and to dream big. The fact of the matter is that sport plays a crucial role in creating hope through unity, reducing poverty and crime through employment opportunities, emotional development and through the establishment of role models.
Now, more than ever, sport must be allowed to fulfil its purpose!
Unfortunately Minister, your predecessor Razzmatazz was more interested in twitter likes and star studded photos than sports development. As a result the basics have been forgotten.
Do you want to live in a free and fair South Africa with equitable access to sports facilities for all?
As long as we have underperforming provinces that do not adequately budget for sport we cannot hope to achieve this access to sports facilities. We cannot hope to create the sports arenas our children deserve.
Only two out of 9 provinces made full use of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) allocation, one of which is the DA-governed Western Cape, whilst the other 7 did not make use of 15% of their allocations. And it should come as no surprise that the two worst performing provinces, in relation to the use of the MIG, are the Free State and the North West, both of which are run by members of the so-called “premier league”.
Minister, how can we hope to achieve transformation in sport if our school sport system is failing the kids?
When I grew up, there was a sports day every Wednesday at the school; what has happened to this culture? What has happened to the focus on the development of school sport as the grassroots stage?
Teachers, especially in disadvantaged communities, are unable to promote and encourage sport ebantwaneni bethu, due to a lack of resources.
By not adequately facilitating school sport we are denying children the right to dream big and be champion.
Wathintha abafazi wathintha imbokodo
Sporting codes are currently not adhering to the Commission for Gender Equality and we continue to see imbalances in the participation of women vs men in different sports.
Minister, we are concerned that not enough is being done to address this.
Minister, the total Budget for the Department estimated at just over R 1 billion, for the first time since the 2013/14 financial year, it is imperative that the funds are spent on actually developing sport and not on fancy award ceremonies and other such extravagances.
The R 8.5 million decrease in the allocation to the Community Support subprogramme is concerning as this subprogramme is responsible for delivering sports promotion programmes by focusing on increasing the number of participants in sport and recreation, with an emphasis on disadvantaged communities. Clearly our priorities are not right – we should be placing greater focus on disadvantaged communities and encouraging participation.
A further concern is the miniscule increase of R0.3 million that Programme 5: Sport Support received. This programme receives funding in order to support school sport programmes and improve access to sport facilities for development.
Money that is destined to improve the access to sport must be used for that purpose, it cannot be that funds are being misused, thereby denying our people, and especially our children, the opportunity to benefit from sport.
It is disingenuous that the department would splurge money on lavish events when the bare minimum in poor communities for developing sport have not been met. Clearly our priorities are out of order.
Minister, the budget for the Sport and Recreation Facility Management subprogramme being reduced by R 3.6 million this year, this is in spite of the fact that we do not know how many facilities we have in South Africa. Minister there is no comprehensive Asset Register of sports facilities.
To highlight the question around sports facilities I would like to draw your attention to the fact that there have been no sport facilities built for the poor, by the Gauteng government over the last four years. No rugby, no cricket, no swimming facilities were built, thus denying people access to sport.
I find this lack of development truly shocking, especially given the ANC’s rhetoric on grassroots sporting development, and their continued outcry over the lack of transformation. Minister, how can you transform sport without creating equitable access?
It is the young people in poor communities who are the most affected by the lack of access to sport as their development is stymied and they are often left to be influenced by drugs and crime.
Finally, let me make an important observation on the political leadership of the Department: We had Minister of Twitter Razzmatazz, manje we have uMinister of Nkandla. At least the swimmers will be happy with the new Minister Nxesi – he knows a lot about pools!
The DA will hold the Minister and the department accountable and we will push for the support that sport needs in order fulfil its purpose, creating hope through unity!
When the DA-led national government comes into power in 2019, we will ensure that children in poor communities have equal access to sporting opportunities.

We would promote sports tourism in a manner that creates jobs

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Sports and Recreation, Darren Bergman MP, during the Budget Sport and Recreation.
Chairperson,
Year on year, speech after speech, we speak about the same thing. We all want transformation. We all want to ensure that the citizens of our country can partake in any sport from a school and community perspective.
However, if we were to take a snap shot today and compare it to a picture of where we were three years ago, when we started out on this journey together – we would find that nothing has changed.
We are still wishing and hoping for the same things, with an ever-decreasing budget and the hopes of seeing the impact of our input diminishing too.
Our last Minister’s flair for the dramatic resulted in him attempting to take away the Rugby World Cup in what he felt was punishment to the South African Rugby Union (SARU), but it would have in fact been punishment to the thousands of rugby fans across the country.
So focused was Minister Fikile Mbalula on pomp and ceremony that we chased a Commonwealth dream that put financial burden on all three spheres of government.
The Commonwealth Games was an event that we never should have chased, knowing the budgetary constraints in which this country finds itself and the infrastructure we would have needed, to please the games committee.
It was embarrassing to see us lose the opportunity in such a thoughtless manner.
Thankfully the new Minister seems to possess a far more positive view on the Rugby World Cup and the committee seems to be coming around to the efficacy of responsible sports tourism.
I have made input on an international stage calling for South Africa to use some of the African Renaissance Fund to create an African sports tournament. These are the types of events that we should be chasing and hosting because they require less cost and generate more turnover and better returns not only in income, but in jobs and diplomacy.
It is time the headings in our budget reflect more accurately what we are trying to achieve.
We should return to generally accepted accounting terms. In one of our first committee meetings, I warned that when it came to broad term budgets we opened ourselves to broad term allocations.
Now more than ever the budgets need to align to specific long term goals in building better relationships with sporting codes; ensuring better infrastructure in schools and communities.
I hope the new broom will sweep away the left-overs of the glitter and pom-poms that were the legacy of the last Minister and look more at building sports from its foundation to its leaves.
We as the Sports Committee should worry less about attending the national games and focus more on supporting schools, clubs and provincial leagues to increase interest, attendance and of course participation. It is internationally accepted that big stars draw young kids into the games.
We need to look after our heroes and help them inspire more participation from a young level.
Our budget alone will not achieve this. It is important that we bring in at least Basic Education and Health to share ideas and innovation in increasing participation from a school level and decreasing health issues starting at a young age.
Our oversight visits have been productive most of the time. We always seem to uncover an issue or two that shows the breakdown in funding between provinces and the municipalities, or municipalities and the communities. This leads me to the premise that most of our meetings should be on the field and not in the board room.
Crossing the length and breadth of this country, we have met principles and MECs. We have met sporting codes and promoters. Without fail, I have seen people given little but make a lot and I have seen people given a lot but not ever having enough.
It proves to me that with the right people in charge, opportunities are created.
The Department of Sports and Recreation, through its provincial counterparts, should be ensuring that money ring-fenced for sports and recreation is used for that specific purpose. Teachers, coaches, and officials should be enthused and motivated through innovative funding and staffing methods that create skills, growth and competitiveness.
Finally the elephant in the room. Transformation.
No one seems to differ on the fact that we want to see teams that are fully transformed in race and gender parity. We just have different views on how to get there and who we should be monitoring to get us there.
If you rely on the unions to make the transformation and never accept any responsibility as government then you will always find excuses and make everyone else the scapegoat.
It is time we meet the sporting federations by resourcing schools, clubs and communities through Division of Revenue Act grants and Municipal Infrastructure Grant and creating and supplying talent pools to be taken through the sporting system.
We need to find accommodation between the recommendations and findings from the Eminent Persons Group and our own committee oversight evidence to ensure that transformation is fast tracked in a manner that is sustainable.
Historically it has been two sporting events that have united this country to unprecedented levels. We must never try divide this country with the only committee that has brought us together.
In a DA-led South Africa we would ensure a better working relationship between Health, Education and ourselves. We would promote sports tourism in a responsible manner that builds jobs, creates careers and grows tourism.
We would ensure that the talent in our country if found. Whether you are from the most rural areas or the most prestigious school – you will be found, you will be taken care of and you will be able to realise your dream.
Sportsmen and women that represent our country will be appreciated and treated as ambassadors and we will make sure that recreational activities are easy and safe to access and most importantly enjoyed together by all.
For in a DA-governed country we won’t divide or talk on race – we will talk and deliver on growth and opportunities. Let sports lead the way in uniting South Africa.

SA Government must defend democracy in Africa and help #FreeHH

The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane MP, at a press briefing in Pretoria outside the Zambian High Commission to South Africa.
Yesterday, on Africa Day, I intended to visit Lusaka to attend the treason trial of my good friend, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, the Leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND) in Zambia.
Mr Hichilema was violently arrested over six weeks ago and faces charges of treason – a crime punishable by death in Zambia – for allegedly attempting to block a motorcade in which Zambian President Edgar Lungu was a part of.
The violent nature of his arrest, and the inhumane treatment that Hichilema has received in detention, confirms the political motives behind these charges. I have no doubt these charges were manufactured by the Zambian government to intimidate those who are opposed to its oppressive rule, which is an abuse of power and a serious disregard of the rule of law. From my previous engagements with Mr Hichilema, he painted a very grim picture of the state of democracy in Zambia under the current Lungu administration. The government is hell-bent on reversing the gains of democracy in Zambia, and has moved swiftly over the past months to capture the state and its institutions, stifle political debate, limit free speech and the media, and violate basic human rights.
The Zambian government clearly feels threatened by Mr Hichilema and his party, the UPND, who have been working tirelessly in their attempts to stop the decay of democracy in Zambia. As the sister party of the Democratic Alliance (DA), they too are committed to the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. Mr Hichilema is also a founding member of the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC), a body of opposition parties from across Southern Africa who are committed to securing democracy across the region, and which I am the current Chairman of.
It is for these reasons I decided to attend the trial of Mr Hichilema, in order to show solidarity with him and with the project of building and deepening democracy that we are engaged in across the continent. In respecting the Zambian government’s wishes, I honoured their call to refrain from visiting Mr Hichilema in prison, as the government claims there exists a court order preventing such visitation by members of the public. It should be noted that the Lungu administration even blocked Zambia’s founding father, President Kenneth Kaunda, from visiting Mr Hichilema in prison. It is a truly tragic collapse of a once stable democracy.
Moreover, my office notified the Zambian High Commission to South Africa. The visit was entirely legal and in line with the required prescripts. At no point were we informed that we would not be welcome.
I therefore did not anticipate the events which unfolded yesterday evening when I landed at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka. On arrival, members of the Zambian Police boarded the aircraft and aggressively confronted me and the delegation I was travelling with. I was not allowed off the aircraft and was told I was not welcome in Zambia. When I demanded reasons for being refused entry, I was told that the authorities are not required to furnish me with a reason. I have still yet to receive any reasons as to why I was restricted entry. In the altercation, my private cellphone was confiscated, along with other mobile devices. Within an hour of arrival, I was deported back to South Africa.
It is important to add that a member of the South African diplomatic team from the SA High Commission in Zambia was waiting for us on arrival, as was a delegation of Zambian MPs and the Chief Whip of the Opposition. They too were not allowed to speak to us, despite their best efforts.
It is an indictment on the Zambian government that a Leader of the Opposition from a neighbouring African state cannot pass freely into the country – especially on Africa Day – a day where unity on the continent ought to be fostered and celebrated.
The Republic of Zambia is a regional partner of the Republic of South Africa and their treatment today of our country’s Leader of the Opposition flies in the face of these relations. However, this matter does not stop here.
We have been in touch with the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, and we have asked that they seek in writing a full explanation and reasons from the Zambian government for denying lawful access to the country, and for the belligerent treatment I received. We have been greatly encouraged by the feedback we have received from DIRCO thus far.
Moreover, it is now time that President Jacob Zuma and the South African government speaks out against the anti-democratic practices occurring in Zambia. South Africa ought to be the leader on the continent in protecting and promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We call on President Zuma to show his concern and speak out against such actions by fellow leaders on the continent.
The DA will continue to advocate for the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. We will ensure this specific matter is raised in the relevant forums across the continent, including the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) of which Zambia is a member.
We stand by Mr Hichilema in his trial today, and we once again call on the Zambian government to withdraw these unfounded charges against Mr Hichilema.

DA extends Ramadan wishes to the Muslim community

On the commencement of the month of Ramadaan, we wish the Muslim Community of South Africa and all Muslims around the world a blessed month.
At this time of self-sacrifice where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, our support is with you.
The DA recognises the caring, sharing and giving, which marks this period for all Muslims.
It is a time of community, family, sharing food and breaking fast together, and we wish our Muslim brothers and sisters well during this time.
On behalf of the DA, I wish all Muslims a spiritually fulfilling month.
Our prayers, support and best wishes are with all of you.
Ramadan Mubarak.

Zambian Police forcefully prevent DA Leader Maimane entering Zambia on Africa Day

DA Leader Mmusi Maimane, a Constitutional Office Bearer of South Africa, has this evening been forcefully prevented from entering the Republic of Zambia, by Zambian Police who boarded his arriving SAA flight upon touchdown.
The DA Leader was arriving in Zambia, on Africa Day, to attend and observe the treason trial of Zambian Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema tomorrow at the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court. Mr Maimane was en route there to show support to Mr Hichilema who is being unduly persecuted by his government, and to show the DA’s commitment to a human-rights based foreign policy.
Mr Maimane had strongly denounced the trumped up charges against Hichilema, and had condemned the ANC government for not yet taking a stand against his treason charges.
Upon arrival Zambian Police boarded the aircraft, aggressively confronted Maimane, and have taken his private cell phone from his possession.
We have taken this matter up urgently with the Ministry of International Relations, and we expect that they will dispatch South African Diplomats to Kenneth Kaunda airport immediately.
The South Africa government has the right and the duty to issue a demarche, or diplomatic order, and we expect that they will do so.
It is a deeply shameful day for the Republic of Zambia, when a Leader of the Opposition from South Africa cannot pass freely into the country – especially on Africa Day. But we will not be deterred.
The Republic of Zambia is a regional partner of the Republic of South Africa and their treatment today of our country’s Leader of the Opposition flies in the face of these relations on Africa Day.
DA Leader Maimane will address the media on his return to South Africa. It is unclear at this stage at what time he will return.
A press briefing will be announced imminently.
This will not deter the DA from our objectives of fostering a culture of democracy and human rights in South Africa and in the region.
The DA is committed to seeing improved protections of human rights for all. Until every person has the same protections in terms of the law, we will not be free on the African continent.

136 malnutrition-related child deaths every month

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Karen Jooste MP, during the Budget Vote on Social Development.    
Chairperson
Cash transfers today is considered a powerful developmental tool.
Its benefits include reducing immediate poverty, increasing the health and educational outcomes of children, stimulating the local economy, empowering women and reducing inequality.
Currently 95% of the Social Development budget is allocated to social grants. This translates to R176 billion being allocated to 18 million grant beneficiaries by 2020.
The financial value of grants have been increased by 8.2 % over the medium term.
Maar, wat beteken dit werklik vir mense wat afhanklik is van maatskaplike toelaes? Alhoewel die geld meer is, kan mense ongelukkig minder daarmee koop.
Die rede hiervoor is die swak ekonomie, die hoë werkloosheidsyfer en inflasie op kos.
The PACSA food basket costs R2 053 a month. It increased, in the last year, by R130.
This is a typical basket of food that a poor household will try to buy each month. It will keep family members alive, but it is not nutritionally complete.
The PACSA Minimum Nutritional Basket for the same family, costs R4 452. In other words, poor families are underspending on food by 54%!
So verbeel jouself ‘n bord kos en dan elke keer as jy wil eet, haal eers helfte daarvan af.
Dit is wat met arm gesinne op die oomblik gebeur. Wat meer is, die kos wat oorbly, is hoofsaaklik stysel.
Dit is nie omdat ma’s nie weet wat gesonde kos is nie, dit is doodeenvoudig omdat daar nie genoeg geld in die huis is om gesonde kos te koop nie.
This has a devastating humanitarian impact.
Earlier this month it was revealed in a parliamentary question that 46 294 children below the age of 5 have been admitted to hospital in the last three years due to severe acute malnutrition.
4 902 of these children died.
In other words, 136 children died every month in the last three years. Why? Because we expect mothers to feed their children with R380 a month.
Toe ek verlede jaar die Minister gevra het hoekom die kindertoelaag net R380 is, het sy geantwoord dit is omdat dit al geld is wat beskikbaar is.
Honourable Chairperson, that is a lie.
How can it be that there is not enough money to increase the child grant, but there is enough money for the Minister to fly overseas, to stay at the Oyster box hotel and drive a luxury car?
It is estimated that 30% of South African children are effected by malnutrition and a shocking 20% are stunted.
Ons weet ook dat as kinders in die eerste twee jaar van hulle lewe blootgestel word aan wanvoeding, die ontwikkelingsskade permanent is.
Hierdie kinders sal waarskynlik meer gereeld siek wees, sukkel op skool en uiteindelik, as volwassesnes, baie minder verdien.
The Democratic Alliance has identified savings in the budget and will propose an increase in the child grant, with a specific focus on the 0 – 2 year age group, this year because in a South Africa where the DA governs nationally, every mother will have more money to feed her child properly.
This budget, with a child grant of R380 is not a developmental tool, it limits the future benefits of cash transfers and does not protect our children against vulnerability.
South Africans should not be fooled when the Minister promises the universalisation of the child grant, the old age grant and a higher child support grant to orphans.
These promises are just political rhetoric, it is not included in the budget.
And every time there is a deduction from their grant, people should remember that that is a direct result of this Minister’s inability to read a contract.
When the DA comes into power in 2019, our children will be fed, not just our fat-cat Ministers.