DA submits PAIA application for new Vuwani service delivery plan

The DA has filed a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) application at the Department of Cooperative Governance for all documents that informed the decision that Vuwani will in the interim receive basic services from Vhembe District Municipality, instead of the LIM 345 local municipality.
We support all efforts to bring services to Vuwani, but it appears that Minister Des van Rooyen and President Jacob Zuma have circumvented the law and the constitution in making this decision.
The decision was taken after President Jacob Zuma , Vha Venda King Toni Mphephu Ramabulana and other stakeholders held multilateral engagements to ease the increased tension in the area. President Zuma then refused to address the residents of Vuwani, as he dodged accountability.
However, in terms of Schedule 4 A and 5 B of the Constitution and the roles and responsibilities of the three spheres of government, Minister van Rooyen cannot simply make an announcement that basic services to Vuwani will now be delivered by Vhembe District. This would require a stringent due process, and would necessitate major redesign of Vhembe District’s capacity and a very large injection of money.
Not only did Minister van Rooyen disregard The Constitution by being a law unto himself in making this announcemnet, his unprocedural actions may spark future violence and prolong the shutdown and instability in the area, because Vhembe is not ready to start delivering on his unlawful promise.
If a local municipality is incapable of delivering basic services, the only constitutional option is for the provincial executive to intervene by placing LIM 345 under a Section 139(2) administration or a Section 154 intervention requesting provincial or national assistance.
Vhembe District municipality received a disclaimer from the Auditor General in the previous financial year for maladministration, mismanagement and almost half a billion rand in irregular, fruitless and wasteful and unauthorised expenditure and we are concerned that the added responsibilities will compound the financial irregularities.
We urge the department to provide the documents that informed this decision and ensure that the Constitution and other regulations are respected before decisions are imposed on the residents of Vuwani without following due process.

Motsoaledi confirms that Gauteng kept Esidimeni details from National Government: A mortal failure of cooperative governance

In response to a DA parliamentary question Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi admitted that the Gauteng Department of Health failed to inform the National Health Department of their intentions to move mental health patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to alternative facilities.
According to the response, Minister Motsloaledi only learned about the Gauteng Department of Health’s plans when “section 27, on behalf of South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SAGAD), wrote to the national Department of Health, threatening to take the Gauteng department of Health to court”.
Minister Motsoaledi’s admission should now move him to support the DA’s call for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Life Esidimeni tragedy.
It has been almost three months since DA Leader Mmusi Maimane wrote to President Jacob Zuma to launch a Judicial Commission of Inquiry in terms of Section 84 (2) (f) of the Constitution, and yet President Zuma has done nothing to start implementing any accountability measures for Esidimeni.
The Life Esidimeni victims deserve justice and Motsoaledi should use his position in government to motivate for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry. Motsoaledi must press the President for a full-scale Judicial Commission of Inquiry, as further details of gross negligence, misconduct and misleading actions emerge.
There are still too many unanswered questions, and the DA believes that the Gauteng government must be held to account for their reckless decision that cost more than 100 mental health patients their lives.

Baleka Mbete should publically apologise for funeral comments

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, should issue a public apology for comments made on 6 May at the funeral of the school pupils who were so tragically killed in a minibus taxi accident in Mpumalanga.
Mbete’s shameless politicking at the funeral of children is simply indefensible. Furthermore, doing so in the name of Parliament is opportunistic and reprehensible. As the NA Speaker and representative of Parliament, Mbete speaks on behalf of a multi-party institution, not just the ANC. As the Chairperson of the ANC, Mbete may speak her mind, but when she represents Parliament she is held to a far higher standard.
Mbete should be condemned for encouraging children to not speak out about “challenges at home”. In a country that experiences high levels of abuse against women and children, specifically, it is irresponsible for leaders to tell children to “not go outside and [complain]” but instead to “get inside the house and [resolve matters as a family]”.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Mbete would encourage people to not speak out at a time when South Africans are finding their voices and saying ‘enough’ to this government. These organic protests are not just “noise” as Mbete calls them.
The DA disagrees with Mbete and refuses to denigrate those who choose to exercise their democratic rights. South Africans should be encouraged to speak out. Children should not be told to stay silent. The price of silence in South Africa will be more abuse of power, corruption, unbridled state capture and selling out our children’s futures.

DA calls for calm and unity in Coligny after bail decision

The DA has confirmed that violence has once again erupted in Coligny following the news that the court granted bail to the two men arrested for the alleged killing of Matlhomola Moshoeu (16) in Coligny. A residential house has been set alight, and there is mass protest action on the streets of Coligny.
The DA urges the community of Coligny to remain calm and to refrain from violence. We understand that the death of Moshoeu has deeply hurt the community, but violence will never be the solution to solve our problems. We feel the pain of losing a child.
We ask the community not to take the law into their own hands and to allow the courts to dispense justice.
If the two men are found guilty of the killing of Moshoeu, they must face the full might of the law. The alleged circumstances around the death of this young child are horrifying.
But we cannot allow our society to divide along racial lines, in expressing anger for this crime. We must come together to solve our problems. We reject the hateful comments of Premier Supra Mahumapelo yesterday who tried to divide the people of the North West on racial lines. Mahumapelo must refrain from this type of politicking.
The DA will continue to closely monitor the situation in Coligny. We expect that the SAPS will properly prevent violence in the area, and will use commensurate measures to avoid damage and destruction.
As South Africans, we must condemn all actions and attitudes that divide us as a nation.

DA to report ANC MP to Ethics Committee for failure to declare consultancy agreement

The DA will be reporting ANC MP Mnyamezeli Booi to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests for failing to declare remuneration he received in terms of a consultancy agreement entered into with Lurco Coal (Pty) Ltd in November 2015.
In terms of this agreement, Booi was appointed as a “consultant” by Lurco Coal, to “consult with and advise the company, on a non-exclusive basis”; however, this is not reflected in his 2016 Register of Members’ Interests.
By not declaring this agreement, Booi has completely disregarded the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interest for Assembly and Permanent Council Members.
Clause 4.1.1 of the Code of Ethical Conduct requires members to abide by the principles, rules and obligations of the Code, while clause 7.1. forbids members to undertake remunerated employment outside of Parliament without obtaining the requisite permission in terms of clauses 7.2 and 7.3. Furthermore, clause 9.3.4 of the Code, specifically outlines that “consultancies” are considered interests that must be disclosed.
The failure to declare the consulting contract and any subsequent payments he received from Lurco Coal is, therefore, in contravention of clauses 4.1, 7.1 and 9.3.4 of the Code of Ethical Conduct.
The DA is also concerned what the effects of this consulting may have been. The DA will be submitting further questions about any contracts or tenders that Lurco Coal may have had with government or state-owned enterprises. The public should know whether any exist and whether they were obtained through Booi’s intervention.
Members of Parliament are public representatives and should be held to account, it is, therefore, imperative that the Ethics Committee investigate this matter in order to ensure that Booi is held accountable for failing to disclose his interests.

DA submits PAIA application for Zuma energy adviser’s R149m Eskom contract

The DA will today submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to gain access to tender documents which resulted in President Jacob Zuma’s energy adviser, Silas Zimu, receiving a R149 million contract from Eskom.
The DA is deeply concerned at media reports today that seven months after Silas Zimu’s appointment as Zuma’s adviser on energy, Cape Gate Marepha, a company at which he is a nonexecutive director, was awarded a contract to supply Eskom with wiring.
It is shocking that either Zimu, as a political adviser to the President, failed to declare his interests, or that President Zuma thought it acceptable to keep an advisor who simultaneously profits from public spending in the energy sector.
The DA will therefore also put in parliamentary questions to President Zuma on his knowledge of Zimu’s business interests, specifically which interests were declared to the President and which were not.
The DA believes that Eskom must answer about Zimu’s direct conflict of interests and must do so by supplying the full documentary record of the tender decision. We will especially be interested to see to what extent Zimu’s association with the President was documented.
Ultimately this is a further damning issue that Eskom must come clean on.  Recent scandals include Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and the alleged awarding of tenders worth R1 billion to Impulse International, a company of which his step-daughter is a Director.
The reputation of Eskom is under the most enormous cloud, causing investment uncertainty. Instead of growing jobs, SOEs like Eskom are frightening investment away.
Eskom is fast building on its reputation from national load-shedder, to national job-shedder.

Nqaba Bhanga elected as DA Eastern Cape Leader

Nqaba Bhanga has been elected as Eastern Cape Leader of the Democratic Alliance, at today’s Provincial Congress in East London.
While the election was a close one, a clear winner emerged by a majority of votes.
The vote and the vote count proceeded without a single query, objection or contest, and that is testament to the DA commitment to free and fair elections.
The new DA Eastern Cape Leadership is charged with continuing to create positive change in the Eastern Cape and working to continue growing the DA to provide opportunities to more and more people in this province.
The DA is indebted to the outgoing DA Eastern Cape Leadership, and especially Athol Trollip, as he now focuses on bringing increasing change to Nelson Mandela Bay.
The full complement of newly-elected DA Eastern Cape leadership is:
Provincial Leader: Nqaba Bhanga
2 Deputy Provincial Leaders: Bobby Stevenson and Terence Fritz
Provincial Chairperson: Andrew Whitfield
3 Deputy Provincial Chairpersons: Yusuf Cassim, Kobus Botha and Marshall Von Buchenroder
The DA congratulates the successful candidates.

Today we elect new leaders. Tomorrow we get to work.

Note to Editors: The following remarks were delivered by the Democratic Alliance Leader on day two of the Eastern Cape Provincial Congress at the East London ICC.
Fellow Democrats,
It gives me great pleasure to address you at this hugely significant Provincial Congress.
It is fitting that the first of our Provincial Congresses is held here in the Eastern Cape. This province – and specifically Nelson Mandela Bay Metro – set the stage for last year’s municipal elections.
From the hills of Pondoland to the beaches of the Bay, this province was always the ANC’s. It was their heartland and their stronghold.
But the Eastern Cape is equally important for the DA. It is not only our foot in the door in a province where nobody gave us a chance until very recently, it is also our biggest opportunity to show the country what we can do in government.
And if we wanted a challenge, we certainly got one.
Mayor Trollip and his team inherited a metro in critical condition. From housing lists, to the rollout of services, to corruption and unemployment, Nelson Mandela Bay was handed over in a terrible state.
It is now our job to fix it – to build a metro that can offer a better life for all the people who live there.
Our job is to waste no time in undoing the damage caused by decades of corrupt, uncaring government in Nelson Mandela Bay.
Our job is to turn the metro into a place of growth – where investors see opportunities, where tourists see a world-class destination and where the people of the city can find work.
If we get it right, we can spread our success from here, and in Kouga where we also won and are turning that town around too. We can spread it northwards, and westwards, to the entire Eastern Cape and beyond.
Eight months into the job, it feels like Athol Trollip and his team have been at it for years
The result is an incredible list of achievements in a very short space of time.
For years NMB was the only city without a Metro Police force. Well, now they have one! The DA-led government there has recruited 100 new officers to fight crime and drugs on the city streets.
We’ve already improved the lives of the poorest residents of the city. There is a long way to go, but already 30km of gravel roads have been tarred, and a hundred million rand has been budgeted for more road improvements.
We’ve launched a brand new anti-corruption hotline that has already led to 38 investigations.
Mayor Trollip’s administration has vowed to root out corruption in the city, and he has already frozen suspicious contracts, launched forensic investigations into others and opened Mayoral and Committee meetings to the public and the media.
Something I am very proud of: we have already found, processed and handed over more than 500 title deeds to poor residents, so that they can finally own their homes. That means so much to me! While the rest of the country is talking about empowering poor, mainly black South Africans – we are the only ones actually doing it. We are putting real assets in the hands of the people.
Why, I ask, has the government built houses for people but never allowed them to own those homes by giving them title? It is insulting. It says we cannot trust someone with their own home. We are putting that right.
Nationally, DA government have already handed over more than 75 000 title deeds, and we are just getting started. I am sure we will hit 100 000 soon.
Talk is cheap. Lots of people can shout and scream about “radical economic what what”, as President Zuma calls it. But if you want to see real empowerment happening in the lives of real South Africans, look at what the DA is doing. That is real empowerment!
But we have not stopped there. Hundreds of Bay residents have already graduated from basic skills development programmes.
We are trying to help them get into the job market. It is hard work, and there is much, much more to do. But we are committed to giving people the best chance possible of getting a job.
As we watch the ANC implode around their factional battles and their grab for power, we must remind ourselves of this vision of a South Africa united in its diversity. And we must then elect leaders who are committed to this vision.
It is the sole focus of the DA, and it is far too important to have to take a backseat to sideshows and distractions.
Our project cannot afford to be derailed. Too many people are counting on us to make it work.
And our cause is certainly not helped by public discussions and arguments on topics such as  colonialism.
We live in a time of heightened racial tension, the embers of which are regularly reignited by those who stand to benefit from mistrust and division. But we don’t have to buy into it, and we don’t have to fan the flames.
The DA is a party that unites people. Our core vision – that South Africa belongs to all who live in it – is shared by the vast majority of South Africans. Outside the bubble of social media, our people are not nearly as divided as some would have you believe.
The extreme views frequently expressed on Twitter are not shared by ordinary South Africans. And I certainly don’t share these views.
I don’t believe that there is a widespread campaign to shut down or delegitimise some citizens as less worthy than others.  Sure, some fringe racists believe that. But in the whole, South Africans reject hate and division and just want what is best for their families.
I think it is incredibly damaging – both to us as a party and to our society as a whole – to persist with this narrative.
Putting forward these arguments only serves to place us in opposite corners, and then expects us to defend our corners from those who are different from us. It turns us into opponents, and that is not how we must engage the issue of race in this country.
We must appeal to the best of our humanity, not regress into our racial corners.
We can’t stand united as a nation when we create a contest between black and white, a narrative of domination of one by another.
These aren’t the ideals we must pursue. While others turn South Africa into a bitter contest between majorities and minorities, we will build a party and a South Africa for all, black and white, rich and poor, urban and rural, business and labour.
Our discussion must always begin with: Let me hear from your world.
My job, as Leader of the Democratic Alliance, is to defend, protect and promote our core project of building a united and prosperous South Africa under a new government. And I intend to do my job without fear or favour.
I will not remain silent if anyone within our party steers us away from our task.
The choice is simple: we can either pretend we’re under attack from each other and defend our races, or we can focus on saving our country from the ANC. Only one of these choices will lead us forward.
As we gather here today to elect new leaders – in the province that gave us so many of our country’s struggle stalwarts – we’d do well to reflect on what that struggle was all about.
It was about building a country that belongs to all of us.
It was about building a Constitutional state, capable of protecting and caring for all.
It was about righting the wrongs of our painful history.
It was about building a reconciled society, diverse but united.
These were our goals that we agreed on in 1994, and they remain our goals today.
We must recognise when we’re losing focus of these goals – when we get it wrong and say things that hurt relationships and reopen old wounds.
Our opportunity is now. The crisis in the ANC has opened the door just wide enough for us.
This week Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said that the ANC had reached rock bottom.
Let me say this to the ANC today: You’re falling, but you aren’t at rock bottom yet.
You’ll know you’ve hit rock bottom in December, when you elect another Zuma who will change nothing. And you’ll know you’ve hit rock bottom when the voters kick you out of government in 2019.
Friends, Democrats,
Now is our opportunity to step up and lead.
Now is our opportunity to present our vision and our plan to voters.
Now is our chance to show that coalition politics can work in South Africa, and that parties can unite around key issues to govern for the people.
It gives us the opportunity to prove that we won’t tolerate corruption – whether this is from the ANC or from a less-than-ethical coalition partner.
If this means taking a hard line on an ally, then so be it. We have a vision to achieve, and we will not be derailed.
Fellow Democrats,
Everything we do, every decision we make in this time, must help us transition from opposition party to party of national government.
It must guide your work from now on. Whoever is elected today, let me make it clear what the DA expects from you: unity of purpose, hard work, devotion to the task of growing our party and winning the support of our fellow citizens.
Today we elect new leaders. Tomorrow we get to work.

BOKAMOSO | DA’s Country Recovery Plan for 2019: Rapid poverty alleviation is possible, and we must achieve it

The next decade must be Africa’s decade, given the urgent challenge of a rapidly growing unemployed youth population, among others. The World Economic Forum on Africa, which concludes today in Durban, brought regional and global leaders from government, business and civil society together to agree priorities that will help Africa achieve inclusive and sustained growth. It is extraordinary that two of the speakers addressing delegates, Presidents Jacob Zuma and Robert Mugabe, are corrupt leaders who have wrought destruction on their country’s economies, with a populist agenda that ultimately serves a narrow elite at the expense of the broader citizenry.
The answer to South Africa’s current predicament is not a Government of National Unity, just as it did not prove to be the answer to Zimbabwe’s problem when one was thrust on its population in 2007. Rather, the answer is to hold the ANC accountable for its failures by firing it and opening up the space for a new government. I am confident that South Africans will deliver this outcome in the next national election in 2019.
When a DA-led coalition comes into national government in 2019, our top priority will be to lift millions of South Africans out of poverty. And the best way to fight poverty rapidly and sustainably is also a no-brainer. We have to give South Africa’s poor a real stake in a growing economy. We have to open up job and ownership opportunities to the millions of South Africans who are right now trapped in poverty and unable to find a way out.
Only entrepreneurs – in both small and big businesses – can create the millions of jobs we need. The state’s role must be to give these entrepreneurs the best possible chance to succeed. The recipe for entrepreneurial success has five key ingredients: capital, infrastructure, productive labour, a coherent policy environment and a supportive government. The DA’s Country Recovery Plan for 2019 is to provide these five ingredients as quickly and efficiently as possible. Additionally, it is to broaden ownership of the country’s economic assets in such a way that attracts rather than deters investment.
We have to do everything in our power to encourage investment in the SA economy. This includes negotiating free trade agreements with large markets, starting with Nigeria; turning our foreign embassies into trade and investment centres; facilitating skilled immigration; promoting innovation through increased spending on research via a Jobs & Justice Fund; helping small businesses to access credit; and transferring title deeds to township residents to give people a real stake in the economy.
Our cities are key to creating new jobs and there is much that can be done to make them more attractive to investors, entrepreneurs and workers. Our cities will lead in the development of infrastructure. We will give them control of ports and economic development zones in their areas; resource them to provide better public transport; and give them a far greater role in housing development.
We will resolutely focus on growing a skilled workforce. We’re aiming for a million internships or apprenticeships nationwide, incentivised through a reformed BBBEE system that rewards businesses for establishing these. In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2016-17, South Africa ranks stone last, 138th out of 138 countries, for the quality of our maths and science education. This has to change very quickly after 2019, with our focus on managing the performance of teachers and principals through training, support, monitoring and incentives.
As we are doing in the Western Cape and in the DA-led metros, we will specifically promote industries that create the most jobs, such as tourism, agro-processing, mining and manufacturing. Policy will be stable, rational and supportive. To boost tourism, for example, we will aim to make high-income countries visa-free or “visas on arrival”. In mining we will scrap investment-killing policies and promote inclusion and productivity through employee share ownership schemes. Our overarching question to business will be: how can we help you to create jobs and spread wealth?
Small businesses (SMMEs) provide 80% of total employment in China, while only around 60% in South Africa. We will look to boost this figure by making the labour market more flexible for small businesses, and by making it much easier to start a business and access capital and markets.
While the ANC’s “radical economic transformation” (or “radical economic whatwhat”, as President Zuma recently called it) is nothing more than empty, populist sloganeering, the DA’s Country Recovery Plan will rapidly transform the lives and futures of all South Africans. As you can read in their recent State of the City Addresses for Johannesburg and Tshwane respectively, Mayors Herman Mashaba and Solly Msimanga are already well on their way to changing lives in these cities. In 2019, that change will go national, and the DA will be leading it.

DA welcomes High Court ruling forcing Zuma to supply reasons for disastrous reshuffle

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is elated by the order of the North Gauteng High Court today that President Jacob Zuma must provide the reasons and record of decision to axe Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas, on 31 March 2017.
This is a victory not only for the DA but for all South Africans who deserve to know on what basis the President made this disastrous decision.
Last week, the DA filed an urgent application to force President Zuma to supply his record of decision after he claimed that the DA and South Africa were not entitled to the reasons behind his disastrous decision.
Now that the High Court has confirmed that President Zuma must supply his record of decision within five days of today’s ruling, our earlier application to review the rationality of his decision can proceed.
The record of decision should also contain the now infamous ‘intelligence report’ which South Africa and the court can fully interrogate.
It is high time that those in power and especially the President, are held accountable for their actions and decisions based on self-interest and personal gain rather than the best interests of our country.
The fact is that President Zuma ought to have rationally foreseen the consequences of this reshuffle on our country and the 9 million unemployed people, who are likely to increase given the recent downgrades to junk status his decision precipitated.
The DA will continue to pursue all possible avenues to ensure this because South Africa deserves leaders that put the people first.