We must continue to fight for liberal democracy across the globe

Note to Editors: The following statement follows the meeting of the 199th Liberal International Executive Committee (ExCom). The 13h30 press conference will no longer take place. 
Over the weekend, under the banner of Liberal International, liberal political parties, from across the globe have gathered in Johannesburg for the 199th Liberal International Executive Committee (ExCom) meeting. This body came to Johannesburg at the invitation of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and its Federal Leader, Honourable Mmusi Maimane MP.
This gathering is represented by 108 delegates from 32 different countries are present for the ExCom meeting, among them are former ministers, parliamentarians, mayors, and party presidents. On the whole,  Liberal International represents 97 liberal and democratic political parties and affiliates from across the globe.
This meeting is significant, and takes place in a political environment where in the past decade the global political landscape has slipped dramatically towards populism and even extremism fuelled, in part, by growing intra-state inequality, diminishing opportunities, and a sense of democratic deficit.
Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 US Presidential Election illustrates what can happen when a large contingent of a population feel excluded from the economy and from political institutions.
Without a growing and inclusive economy, and without independent political institutions that work, radical and regressive political bodies are fuelled by the frustration and discontent of citizens and are able to mobilise people based on their differences, rather than shared values.
This means that those of us at the moderate centre of politics need to work harder to reach all citizens who want a better future, with our message and universal values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity. Moreover, we need to work hard to ensure that populist politics – whether on the left or the right – does not prevail.
The rise of divisive nationalism that has re-emerged globally over the last few years threatens the hard fought progress the world has made over the last half a century. Progress towards universal human rights, international trade and cooperation, non-racialism and non-sexism. It is this progress which we must fight to protect.
We cannot allow the politics of “us” and “them” to divide us further along the lines of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex and gender.
Rather, we must strengthen the centre, in order for democratic societies based on the values of fairness, equality, and tolerance, to thrive and to be leaders in the world.
Adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration on Better Governance
At the centre of the ExCom meeting is the adoption of the Johannesburg Declaration on Better Governance – a practical benchmark to which liberals around the world can refer and one of the key themes enshrined in the Liberal Manifesto 2017 adopted in.Andorra.
Only liberal democracy can make sure that individuals and their freedoms are properly protected but we must not allow the abuse of our freedoms by those who oppose those very freedoms. With strong democracies that are able to defend themselves, we will actively protect our liberal values and democratic institutions against those who want to undermine and destroy them.
As a form of government, democracy makes it possible to hold those in power accountable for what they do. Accountability, in turn, is a key for a better government, and so are transparency and a sufficient decentralization of decision-making, which guarantee more direct participation and control of government by citizens.
Many people in the world suffer from a dismal level of professional governance in their respective countries and poor governance is often associated with corruption which is one of the most destructive elements in community life.
At all levels of government from the local to the global, we must strengthen our efforts to fight corruption, fraud and organized crime, and to generally improve the quality of governance through the implementation of our liberal principles of accountability, transparency, separation of powers, decentralization of decision-making, respect for the rule of law and an active civil society.
Liberal International Secretary-General Designate
It is a pleasure to announce that Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament and Shadow Minister of Energy, Gordon Mackay, is the incoming Secretary-General of Liberal International. It is the first time that someone from an African country will serve in this position. He takes over from Emil Kirjas who has held the post for 10 years
This appointment is both historic and symbolic given the DA’s longstanding relationship with Liberal International. The DA is the second-oldest Liberal International member party from Africa, joining in at the Tel Aviv congress in 1984, only the Senegalese PDS, which joined in 1980, has been a member for longer.
Gordon comes into this position with a wealth of experience and a strong commitment to liberal politics and the role it plays in bringing about positive change to people’s lives.
Prior to his election to Parliament in 2014, Gordon worked for the Office of Emergency Programmes of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York and in Afghanistan where he was responsible for disaster and conflict risk analysis.
He speaks 3 languages, English, Afrikaans and German. He has recently started studying French with 50 hours of French under his belt.
Gordon holds a Master’s Degree in International Studies from the University of London and BA Honours Degree in Economics (cum laude). He is the recipient of various scholarships and academic prizes and has published in the area of labour economics and making financial markets work for the poor.
We wish him well on this new journey and believe that Liberal International will be enriched by his progressive and dynamic leadership.
President of Liberal International, Dr  Juli Minoves, who referred to the greatness of South Africa in a speech at the United Nations when the country rejoined the organisation in 1994, said: “We are proud to count the DA as a member of or global liberal family. In government, the DA is demonstrating the universal appeal of liberal values and that there is wide appeal for a credible alternative for South Africa.
The large presence of our global network is an unambiguous signal of the confidence we have in the DA’s opportunity to form a national government in 2019.
I commend the work of the Honourable Mmusi Maimane and welcome our new secretary-general, Gordon Mackay MP.”
 As Liberal International members, we walk away from this weekend with a new sense of direction and commitment to liberal democracy. It has been a festival of ideas marked by robust engagement and an awakening of our liberal values.
I close with a quote from John Locke, who profoundly stated “Being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.”

Our success in the Free State begins with good leadership

The following speech was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the party’s Free State Provincial Congress.
Delegates, Members, activists, staff,
Good morning, Molweni, Goeiemôre, Bagaetso.
It is great to be here in the Free State Province this morning, a province at the very heart of our nation – both geographically and politically.
Not too far from here, at Waaihoek Wesleyan Church in Manguang, the ANC was formed some 105 years ago. And today, 105 years on, the ANC is all but dead. And this is no more apparent in this province as it is anywhere else in the country.
The Free State Province represents a systemic failure of governance. The province has the highest unemployment rate in the country, unprecedented levels of poverty, and is a captured state run by the Guptas and their lackey, Ace Magashule.
It was here that the ANC was founded, and it is here where it is finished
Fellow Democrats, it is now up to us to usher in a new beginning.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am told our new Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, wants to take the DA to court for calling her a spy. It has taken her exactly a year to come to this decision. We welcome any opportunity to speak about her background and her ability to perform her job.
But we have other legal business with the Public Protector that predates this decision of hers by many months. We are still awaiting her report on the Estina Dairy Farm in Vrede, which was due more than six months ago.
In March this year, she stood in the Free State Legislature and told us that the investigation was complete and that the report would be released in April. Of course April came and went, and she promised us a new deadline. In July we were again told it would be out within days. It is now almost November.
I have it on good authority that the report has been lying on the desk of the Public Protector for months. It is also highly suspicious that all communication on this matter between her office and the DA in the Free State ended the moment the Gupta email leaks story broke which connected the Vrede farm money with the Gupta wedding. I can only assume this hard evidence has set the cat among the proverbial pigeons in her report.
The victims of this crime – the 80 farmers from the local community who were meant to benefit from the project but have been left stranded – cannot wait any longer for justice. And so I will be writing to the Public Protector on Monday to demand the release of the report within seven days, failing which we will seek a declarator from the court compelling her to do so.
I will also give the Chair of SCOPA, Themba Godi, one more opportunity to schedule a public hearing for the victims of this crime. If he again refuses, I will bring them to Parliament myself so that they can tell their story to the committee and demand answers.
Corruption is not a victimless crime. These are real people whose dreams have been crushed and whose lives have been put on hold, all because the friends of Zuma and Magashule saw a chance to steal more money. They will not get away with it.
Fellow Democrats,
If you were still in any doubt about the gravity of our country’s situation, then Wednesday’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement by the captured Minister Gigaba would have cleared that up. On our current trajectory we are heading for disaster, and our project to bring change cannot come a moment too soon.
Instead of reassuring us that our economy can be saved through fiscal discipline, strong action on our failing SOEs and an unambiguous rejection of the nuclear plan, Minister Gigaba left us with the message that he simply has no plan.
The numbers he gave us confirm what we already knew – that our country is headed for bankruptcy under this ANC government. He confirmed that our tax collection shortfall has rocketed to over R50bn. He confirmed that our gross national debt will shoot up to 60% of GDP by 2020. And by 2019, when President Zuma leaves office, our cost of servicing this debt will be three times what it was when he became president.
Minister Gigaba could only offer us unsustainable stop-gap measures to temporarily stave off disaster. But by dipping into our contingency funds and by selling off shares in our only viable state-owned enterprise to prop up failures like SAA, he is just speeding up the collapse. He is acting like someone who pawns his appliances to feed a harmful lifestyle.
That is why our task has just become so much more urgent. No one else is going provide an alternative. No one else – not inside the ANC or anywhere else – is going to steer our country away from the edge. It will fall to us with the help of our coalition partners. We are the bulwark against a complete economic and social collapse.
I don’t mean to alarm you more than you already are, but I cannot stress enough the importance of everything we do over the next 18 months. And that includes your business here today when you elect new provincial leadership. These decisions could have a major impact on our electoral performance, and you cannot afford to compromise at all.
If anyone has an idea of the dire path our country is on, it is you here in the Free State. Because this province, under the awful leadership of Ace Magashule, has become a scaled-down version of the Zuma administration. Same corrupt captors in the Guptas, same method of looting the state, same complete financial mismanagement and same seemingly untouchable Big Men at the helm.
We’ve known this all along, though. We knew, from the beginning, that Magashule and his then sidekick, Mosebenzi Zwane, were Gupta men through and through. We knew that the Vrede Dairy Project was nothing but a cash machine for this government and their Gupta friends. And all of this has now been confirmed in the hundreds of thousands of Gupta emails leaked to the media, including the Gupta links with Magashule’s son.
The result of this runaway corruption can be seen in every single aspect of government delivery here in this province. No department has escaped the damage.
Free State Health has all but collapsed, and doctors are leaving the province in droves. Free State Education has an R800 million overdraught. The province has a backlog of unregistered title deeds of over 63,000.  Collectively, Free State municipalities owe Eskom almost R5 billion.
The Free State also has the highest official unemployment rate in the country of 34.4% using the narrow definition, or 40.5% if you include those who have given up looking for work. This is a shameful statistic.
Attacks on farmers and farmworkers in the Free State are out of control, with more than 50 having occurred in the province this year alone. This echoes the crime stats released this month, which confirmed that murders have increased across all communities throughout the country. Surely it is time to reintroduce specialised rural safety units within SAPS.
This province is a time bomb, and we’re going to have to bring change very soon.
I know some people in South Africa are still holding out hope that this change will come from within the ANC. I understand how hard it must be for people who have grown up in the shadow of the party their entire life to accept the party’s demise and look elsewhere for solutions. These people cling to the hope that clearing out a few bad apples – the Zumas and the Gigabas and the Magashules – will set us back on course again.
I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. Because even if the party could find it within itself to get rid of these people, it would change neither the culture of the organisation nor its outcomes. Because no matter who you place at the head, the web of patronage and the culture of corruption has become so pervasive it infects everything they do.
While we’re all busy pouring over Minister Gigaba’s mini budget speech this week, I went and had a look at the mini budget speeches of the previous few years. And two things stand out as quite remarkable. One is that all three consecutive speeches were delivered by three different Finance Ministers. And the other is that if you cover up the names and dates, the same key message gets repeated year after year: “We did worse than we expected”.
In October 2015, Minister Nhlanhla Nene lamented that “growth is considerably lower in our economy than we projected”.
In October 2016, Minister Pravin Gordhan informed us that he’d had to again revise growth expectation for our economy “somewhat lower than the February estimates”.
And on Wednesday, Minister Gigaba told us that we’ve missed our tax collection target by R50 billion “due to lower than expected economic growth this year”.
The problem is not the personnel. The problem is the organisation. And that is why they are doomed.
My fellow Democrats,
Instead of gloating over the demise of our opponents, I want to use this as a very serious warning for our own party. Because everything that has befallen the ANC, could easily happen to us too.
The ANC’s woes come down to a “perfect storm” of issues – three major obstacles which, together, have had a calamitous effect on their party. The first is that they allowed corrupt and self-serving individuals to rise to the top of the party – Jacob Zuma, followed by the likes of Minister Gigaba.
The second is that they lost their ideological way and now find themselves adrift. No one knows if they’re nationalising or selling off assets. Should they bail out SAA or cut it loose? Will they go ahead with the nuclear build or abandon it? They have no direction.
And the third is that they allowed the organisation to die by letting a culture of patronage and crony politics dominate. This is now at such an advanced stage that it cannot be undone without completely rebuilding the party.
It’s a spectacular collapse, but if any of you think this is unique to the ruling party, then I want to wake you from this dream. The DA is not immune to this kind of organisational rot – not by a long shot. If we don’t constantly take stock of where we are, where we want to go and how we need to get there, we could easily find ourselves in the very same position.
We must guard against the very things that are tearing the ANC apart.
We must guard against politics of ego. Ours is not a party built on personality cults. Here in the DA no one is too important to get stuck in and do the ground work. We all campaign, we all go door to door, we all make ourselves visible in the community and we all contribute wherever we can. We’re 18 months away from the most important elections any of us have ever contested. We can rest afterwards.
We must guard against politics of patronage. If you have ambitions to use your position to dispense favours, jobs and contracts, then you are in the wrong party altogether. Ours is a party of service and selflessness. Our loyalty is to the people and the Constitution.
We must guard against the creep of nationalist language and ideas. No one in the DA speaks for or represents a particular racial group or culture, and we certainly don’t mobilise along these lines. Our vision of a free and open society is built on non-racialism, tolerance and embracing a diversity of ideas.
If we lose focus on any of these issues, we will be in trouble. It’s a slippery slope along which we will not easily recover.
When you cast your votes today to elect new leadership here in the Free State, I want you to remember who we are and what we stand for. And I want you to ensure that the people chosen to spearhead our project in this province are able to keep us on the right path.
I know we still have much work to do in the Free State, but we’re certainly heading in the right direction. The recent by-election results in ward 12 in Mangaung were hugely encouraging, where we grew from just 4.5% in 2016 to 18.5%. We now need to repeat this performance throughout the province, and what better place to start than next month’s municipal-wide by-election in Metsimaholo.
The budget vote debacle and subsequent dissolution of the Metsimaholo Municipality taught us some valuable lessons about coalition politics and trust. We need to ensure that we do not step into the same trap the second time round.
But more importantly, we must first run a successful by-election campaign there. Because the better we do ourselves and the less we need to rely on others, the easier it will be to continue our work for the people of Sasolburg, Deneysville, Kragbron and Oranjeville.
We have exactly one month left in which we need to reach every single one of Metsimaholo’s 79,000 voters. They need to know us, and they need to know what we will bring to government in the municipality. It will require a huge effort, but I assure you it will be worth all the blood, sweat and tears.
My fellow Democrats,
The people of the Free State need to see change here soon. And we, the DA, are that change. We must offer a complete break from the disaster that is Jacob Zuma’s ANC, and the disaster that is Ace Magashule’s ANC. And this begins with the people we choose to lead our organisation.
So cast your votes today with this in mind. And when you are done, then we will all stand behind the elected leaders and do whatever it takes to bring change to the people of the Free State.
Thank you.

Our task is to write Africa’s new chapter

The following speech was delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at this evening’s Liberal International (LI) Executive Committee Meeting, where he presented this year’s “Africa Freedom Award” to Zambian Opposition Leader, Hakainde Hichilema.
It is with great honour and pride that I get to present my friend, political ally and fellow liberal, Hakainde Hichilema – Leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND) in Zambia – with the 2017 African Freedom Award. This award acknowledges individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the cause of freedom in Africa.
I can think of no person more deserving of recognition for their efforts to bring freedom and an open society to their country in the face of extreme intimidation, harassment and violence. Most would have been defeated, but Mr Hichilema is not most people. He is a man of strong character and steadfast principle, and he is a treasure to the people of Zambia.
He is also a shining example of what I consider to be the next generation of African leaders – men and women who must redefine democracy on this continent and raise the leadership bar infinitely higher. A crop of leaders who must carry the responsibility of writing Africa’s new chapter.
These days you often hear people berating others for repeating negative stereotypes of African nations and their leaders. We are told that Africa needs to have its good stories told, and that we cannot perpetuate the narrative of a failed continent with corrupt leaders and a bleak outlook.
But if we want good stories to be told, then we must create them. We need to craft a new vision for Africa – one that rises above and beyond our various post-colonial eras. A vision for Africa in which Big Man Politics and all the power and excess that goes along with it are left behind in history. A vision in which African nations have been liberated from their liberators, and finally fulfil their potential.
History has taught us that failed liberation movements will not self-correct. The solution has to come from outside these movements. It is going to be up to us, the people in this room, to build a viable alternative.
Perhaps it is because we are seeing the collapse of such a failed post-liberation government here in South Africa as we speak, that I find it easy to imagine this vision of a strong, growing and inclusive Africa. The change we are going through in this country – painful and uncertain as it may be – has opened our eyes to the possibility of a better future.
Like many of the nations represented here in this room, our country has been brought to its knees by the corrupt and the greedy. What started out for us as an era of hope and rebuilding 23 years ago has turned into a systematic campaign of plunder by what remains of the very party that spearheaded the struggle for liberation.
But thanks to the fighting spirit of our people – from opposition parties to civil society, from business to ordinary citizens – the ANC government has been put on notice. They know their time is fast running out, and this current term could very well be their last in office.
So I know it can be done, even if it appears hopeless at times. I know that rebirth is part of any functioning democracy. And I know that the fight being fought by my friend, Hakainde Hichilema, will bring the same change to the people of Zambia.
And so I’d like to say to him: Stay strong, stay focused on your goal and don’t let the Big Men and their bullying break your spirit. You are doing important work, and you will prevail.
And you must prevail, because our vision for Africa requires many allies on the continent.
Our vision for Africa requires that we trade among ourselves. Not to the exclusion of other markets, but certainly to a far greater degree than we currently do. We have enormous untapped markets right across our borders, and this regional trade holds the key to our growth and prosperity as a continent.
It is then perhaps worth exploring the establishment of an African version of the ASEAN intergovernmental body of Asian nations. If we had the power of a regional negotiating block we could stand up to the superpower economies and really help uplift each other.
Our vision for Africa also requires states with strong democratic institutions. We have seen, too often on this continent, what happens when the institutions of democracy are deliberately hollowed out to make them ineffectual in holding governments to account.
We must fight to keep these institutions robust and independent. Our judiciaries, our media, our Parliaments, our electoral commissions, our prosecuting authorities, our investigative units – these are the fortified walls that keep democracies intact. We must ensure that they remain strong.
Our vision for Africa also includes the freedom to move across borders, but within the framework of legal criteria. Regional migration is necessary to stimulate development – it allows skills to follow opportunities, which is essential for economic growth. But this needs to be done in a fair and consistent manner, and anyone entering another country must do so legally and subject themselves to the rule of law.
Our vision for Africa sees a continent where economies have transformed to keep pace with a fast-changing world. Population growth in Africa can either be a threat or an opportunity, depending on whether we are able to move enough people out of poverty and into the middle class. We will only unlock these opportunities through modernising our economies.
And finally, our vision for Africa is a continent that truly belongs to all her people. We must reject all forms of nationalism, whether it be tribal, ethnic or racial nationalism. The societies we want to build on this continent are tolerant and caring. We celebrate our diversities and there must never be room for populists who mobilise along race and ethnicity.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have full confidence that we will achieve this vision within our lifetime. And I know that it will be possible largely thanks to the work done by the members of Liberal International across the globe. Without Liberal International, there would be no liberalism in Africa.
For this reason it gives me great pleasure to offer up one of our finest young MPs to serve as the first Secretary General of Liberal International. In Gordon Mackay you will find a new generation of politician – a progressive thinker with a work ethic to really add value to the organisation.
As our Shadow Minister and spokesperson on Energy, he has played a crucial role in holding our government at bay as it tries to loot the state through a costly and unnecessary nuclear power procurement.
Gordon understands the enormous challenges we face on this continent. Poverty, spiralling unemployment and massive inequality make African nations a vastly different place from the developed West. And while only liberalism is equipped to deal with these challenges, he also understands that the concept of liberalism needs to be made relevant here in Africa.
Our liberalism cannot be a rigid ideological dogma, but must take into account the legacy of a continent still defined by colonial borders. This idea of liberalism was perhaps best described by renowned author and anti-apartheid activist, Alan Paton, when he said:
”By liberalism I don’t mean the creed of any party or any century. I mean a generosity of spirit, a tolerance of others, an attempt to comprehend otherness, a commitment to the rule of law, a high ideal of the worth and dignity of man, a repugnance of authoritarianism and a love of freedom.”
More importantly, it is our task to change the public discourse away from the dogma of the left which is anti-growth, anti-development and anti-freedom. We need to make a new, stronger case for liberalism in our context, with big ideas that capture the public imagination and lead the public debate.
As the first Secretary General to come from Africa, Gordon Mackay will bring this same vision to Liberal International. I have full confidence in his ability to help strengthen liberalism globally, as well as here in Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The winds of change are sweeping across this continent. A new generation of leader is emerging – men and women who understand what it means to serve the people. Men and women who empathise with the plight of the poor and the excluded. Men and women for whom power and wealth are not important.
These men and women have already started writing Africa’s new chapter, and I am excited at the prospect of working with them. Together we will turn this continent into a place of hope, opportunity and freedom.
I am proud to call one of these men, Hakainde Hichilema, my friend. And it gives me great pleasure to present him with the 2017 African Freedom Award.

The DA will not shy away from standing up to the Public Protector

The DA notes the statement by the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, that she will be pursuing legal action against the party, for reportedly calling her “a spy”.
The statement comes a mere two days after the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, at the behest of the ANC, backtracked on instituting a formal inquiry into her fitness for office.
The DA will not shy away from this, or any further legal action, to ensure that the Public Protector’s office is above politicking and not subject to the political interference that seems to have characterised her tenure.

SAPS forensic science lab damage in Amanzimtoti is catastrophic

Today’s DA oversight visit at a South African Police Service (SAPS) forensic science laboratory in Amanzimtoti revealed that not only was the laboratory flooded during the recent super storm in Durban but has in fact been flooded a further three times.
In fact the laboratory section that is housed in one of four buildings spread about eThekwini is now closed and the 120 staff will be moved to the three other national laboratories in Gauteng, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape for the foreseeable future.  The costs of transporting and housing the staff, as well as moving the thousands of case specimens related predominantly to drugs and rapes, promises to run into the millions.
The DA have therefore submitted Parliamentary Questions to Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, asking for a firm start and projected completion date of the building of the Provincial Forensic Laboratory in Pinetown. We have also asked what the exact backlog is in terms of crime-related samples in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and South Africa.
We were shocked to find that:

  • The land purchased eight years ago for the new KZN laboratory lies idle with no bricks laid;
  • The laboratory staff are spread through four different buildings in the area, rented by Public Works and evidence from almost all KZN crimes is examined here;
  • The evidence related to 456 drug cases have been washed out to sea, losing thousands of Detective man-hours of work;
  • The hired buildings where the laboratory staff work are entirely unfit for use and there is zero security in the buildings;
  • The experts unit that examines biological, chemistry, explosive, questioned documents, scientific analysis and deal with ballistics is housed in a building where the testing of firearms for ballistics has resulted in bullets travelling straight through walls and endangering the lives of other staff; and
  • The Forensic unit of KZN has just 262 of the 500 it should have.

The outcomes from the Public Works decision to house and keep the laboratory in the building to be flooded four times has had a catastrophic effect on our fight against crime.
The DA will not sit back and watch as the forensic output regresses to the 2013 levels when the DNA and drug analysis backlogs increased by 322% from the previous year.
This only compounds the Health Department’s catastrophic Forensic Chemistry Labs where there is evidence of blood samples related to blood alcohol drunken driving cases being poured down drains, unprocessed toxicology samples and blood alcohol unprocessed post-mortem samples lying untouched for years on end.
These delays by the Police and Health Departments’ labs have a severe impact on our criminal justice system and on victims of crime.
The failure to provide timely and professional analysis of blood samples, rape kits, ballistics and all other evidence results causes delays in the investigation and prosecution of crimes and could result in criminals walking off scot free due to a lack of evidence. Unnatural causes of death can mostly only be investigated once results from the lab have been provided and until this happens, families are left without closure.
It is imperative that evidence from forensic labs is provided professionally and timeously.
Crimes simply cannot be properly investigated and criminals cannot be convicted with evidence. This is hard come by and represents thousands of detective hours.

BOKAMOSO | MTBPS: Tomorrow doesn’t have to look like this.

They say numbers speak louder than words. This is certainly true of Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s mid-term budget speech this week. The numbers were practically screaming, telling us we’re fast running out of money. And our rand responded accordingly, dropping about 3% against the dollar. Our national financial situation is bleak and the outlook bleaker still – unless we make some bold, brave changes.
South Africa’s children deserve so much more than the legacy we are creating for them to suffer or sort out. Our government is delivering a textbook case on how to set the next generation up for failure: give them the worst education in the world, and then bequeath them a large, expensive debt burden and a stagnant economy mired in capture and corruption.
Ironically, the ANC is handing over to the next government what the National Party handed to them: a high debt, low growth economy and a population ill-equipped to turn the situation around.
Despite recent tax hikes to the tune of an additional R28 billion boost, we’re expecting a revenue shortfall of R50.8 billion this fiscal year. Yet there are no plans to cut spending or even to overspend more efficiently. And no credible plans to boost economic growth, which is now projected to be just 0.7% for 2017, against expected average global growth of 3.6% (and 8.5% for Ethiopia).
On the contrary, the plan is to keep propping up (“recapitalising”) failing state owned enterprises with new loan guarantees (over and above the R300 billion they’ve already needed) and bailouts. SAA has already received R5.2 billion since June and we’re set to fork out another R8.5 billion to keep it and the SA Post Office going, partly by selling our profitable Telkom shares. A bit like selling the family cow to buy more whiskey. Eskom has a R350 billion government guarantee and is a poster child for governance failures, corruption and operational inefficiency.
So our budget deficit – the amount by which spending exceeds revenue – will be 4.3% of GDP, significantly more than the projected 3.1%. And to plug the gap, we’re planning to borrow another R680 billion rand over the next three years.
South Africa’s debt is the highest it has ever been. As a ratio of GDP, it has doubled since 2009, from mid-20s to almost 50% now. It is set to breach 55% by 2020 and 60% by 2022. This means we’ll owe more than half of what we produce every year to lenders. We are drowning in debt. It is costing us around R500 million rand per day.
Debt service costs have been our fastest growing item of spending, and will be 15% of our budget within three years, meaning for every R1 we have to spend, the first 15c will go to paying off debt. As confidence in our economy continues to fall, it will cost more and more to service debt, leaving less and less to spend on digging ourselves out of an ever-deepening hole.
Almost half of all spending by government is on wages and interest. This is extremely unproductive and unsustainable. It’s one thing to borrow to invest in things which could create growth and jobs for the future, such as a top quality education system or enabling infrastructure. Quite another to borrow money to fund a bloated, inept, patronage-driven state.
This approach to public finances is not just foolish, it’s also completely unfair on our children. South Africa has so much potential. So what are the bold, brave changes we need to make, to build a brighter future for our kids?
In Gigaba’s own words: “Restoring confidence is the cheapest form of stimulus we can inject”. Business and investor confidence has been annihilated by state capture and corruption. Gigaba is at the very heart of this problem, having played a central role in creating the mess he reported on this week.
His party is ideologically confused with no clear vision for our economy and no credibility. It is dying, if not already dead. The cheapest form of stimulus we can inject is to eject them entirely – completely sever their grip on our state.
Our country needs a fresh start; a social compact between the people and a new multiparty government, based on a shared commitment to combat corruption and build a capable, citizen-focused state.
This government must be prepared to take the bitter pills that can remedy our situation. We have to rein in our public sector wage bill and bring public sector salaries in line with comparable private sector jobs. We have to dramatically improve efficiency of delivery and procurement processes.
We need to invest heavily in the fight against corruption, including by adopting new Blockchain technology to make public finances management more transparent and less corruptible. We need to establish a powerful, independent, well-resourced corruption-busting unit, with strong investigative and prosecutorial capabilities.
We have to stabilize and sell off non-strategic, loss-making SOEs such as SAA and improve efficiency at the rest, by employing fit for purpose managers and directors and holding them to account.
We need to reject outright any further investment in nuclear, split Eskom into separate power production and distribution entities, and promote independent, decentralized power production from a diversity of sources.
We need to invest in quality education and training, and we have to build a system and culture of on-the-job skilling through apprenticeships, internships and national service.
We need to relentlessly promote small businesses and make it easier for entrepreneurs to access credit and support. They need a more flexible labour market that enables rather than deters job creation.
We must bring data costs down.
We need land reform that gives real ownership in the form of title deeds, rather than uncertain tenancy.
We need stable, coherent mining policies that are rooted in real-world considerations such as the need to be globally competitive.
Once the economy is growing and investment is coming back in, we can reduce the tax burden on the middle class that has been so overburdened recently, and who are really struggling to make ends meet. This will improve revenue collection and further boost growth.
We need all these things and more. But if there is one silver bullet, it is to eject the moribund ANC and give South Africa a new beginning. There is simply no other way to restore hope for our children’s future.

CoCT to provide a staggering R1,2 billion rates rebates

In line with our commitment to supporting the most vulnerable in society and alleviating poverty, the City of Cape Town has provided rates rebates of more than R93,8 million to 27 989 senior citizens and people with disabilities during the 2016/17 financial year.
The City has also waived R5,5 million in rates for 2 172 indigent residents. The total rates forgone in the form of rebates, exemptions and reductions amounted to over R1,2 billion in the period ending on 30 June 2017.

The rebates forgone for the past financial year underlines our commitment to building a caring and inclusive city, while also maintaining prudent financial management.
– Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town Patricia de Lille

Rates rebates and exemptions ensure that rates are affordable to residents that are most in need. All residents deserve to access opportunities regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.

DA remembers OR Tambo’s legacy

Today the DA joins fellow South Africans in commemorating 100 years since the birth of one South Africa’s greatest sons Oliver Reginald Tambo.
Tambo was a principled leader whose ideas to create a democratic and equal society for all South Africans are still held in high esteem.
We are still optimistic that his idea of a prosperous and non-racial South Africa will be fulfilled.
Oliver Tambo was prepared to die for the cause of the emancipation of Black South Africans and building a country where everyone is equal under the law.
Tambo showed a great deal of determination and resilience at the helm of the ANC leadership during the most difficult periods of the liberation struggle.
It is clear that the current ANC does not uphold the ideals of Oliver Tambo. They have abandoned that dream in favour of self-enrichment at the expense of the people of South Africa
That is why South Africa needs a new beginning, where we can all work towards freedom, fairness and opportunity for all, to learn from Tambo’s wisdom and adopt his spirit of ethical and servant leadership.

ANC Tshwane hurls racist slurs at school

The ANC in Tshwane resorted to the lowest form of racism during a sitting of the Tshwane Council this afternoon by hurling racist insults at learners from a local school who were attending the sitting.
The Grade 10 learners, who the ANC labelled “Voortrekkers” once introduced, were in the Chamber in order to get a deeper understanding of the City’s administration and politics but instead receiving end of the ANC’s vitriol.
It is clear that the ANC does not have the interests of South Africa and the youth in mind and will stoop to racism to advance their argument.
The ANC will be punished at the polls in 2019, when the people of South Africa reject their lies and looting, and vote for a new beginning under a DA-led coalition government.

SAP must also disclose evidence to SA authorities

We note German software giant, SAP’s decision to report it’s Gupta linked accounts to prosecutors at the US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission after an internal investigation uncovered “indications of misconduct in issues relating to the management of Gupta-related third parties”.
In September this year, the DA laid charges of money laundering and corruption against the South African subsidiary of the software firm, after it emerged that R100 million in kickbacks allegedly changed hands between SAP and a Gupta-linked company, CAD House, for state business.
The preliminary findings of SAP’s internal investigation have not yet revealed any evidence that payments were made to the South African government, Eskom or Transnet officials has been discovered. However, four executives have been placed on administrative leave with three under disciplinary action.
SAP have voluntarily disclosed this information to US authorities and it must now do the same thing in South Africa, and volunteer this information to the South African Police Services (SAPS).
Following SAP’s admission today, the police have an obligation to investigate fully and to leave no stone unturned.
The South African government and its entities,  under the ANC, have been plundered for the financial gain of the connected few for far too long. It is high time that those who have been involved in selling our country to the highest bidder are brought to book. SAP must hand over any and all information that may have bearing on the investigation, following our charges,  so that we can make sure that those involved are held accountable to the full extent of the law.