Animals Deserve Protection

 

A recent report of animal cruelty in the Kuruman area is shocking. Notwithstanding the existing legal framework for animal protection, the DA acknowledges that the field of animal protection is a contested one.

Humans have a special responsibility to ensure that cruelty against animals is prevented. The Democratic Alliance believes that each living creature has intrinsic value and is a sentient being. While the DA acknowledges that animals can be used in service of humans, legislation and regulations must ensure that animals are not abused or exploited.

Despite longstanding animal protection in South Africa, there is more that must be done to improve the enforcement of laws and alignment across the government. The DA welcomes the integral role that the NSPCA plays, as well as the variety of other animal welfare and animal rights organizations that operate in our communities. The partnership between state and civil society group needs to be maintained and strengthened, with increased funding for groups that operate in this field.

The DA’s 2009 policy document on environmental affairs indicates that under a DA government, animal protection would move to the newly created Ministry of Natural Resources and Heritage, and would enjoy its own empowered inspectorate.

Other policy initiatives on animal protection would include:

– The creation of an Ombudsman for Animal Protection

– The employment of at least one state attorney in each province to represent the interests of animals

– Increased capacity for working committees at provincial and national levels for all stakeholders who work with animals including farmers, wildlife managers, veterinarians, scientists and animal protection organizations.

We believe there needs to be a pragmatic and ongoing approach to law reform with regard to animal protection, focusing on the further strengthening of laws and the increasing of penalties in line with further realizing the intrinsic value and sentience of animals.

Karen de Kock, MPL

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440% performance bonus bonanza for Senqu senior municipal officials

Dacre Haddon (MPL)

Shadow MEC for Local Government

Six senior officials in the Senqu Municipality awarded themselves a 2011 performance bonus bonanza amounting to1.6 % of the operating budget for the towns of Barkley East and Lady Grey. Two of these officials received over R500 000 each. The percentage increase in bonuses from 2010 of R453 773 against R2,004 million in 2011 is an increase of over 440 % year on year.

Such self enrichment is the culture that is robbing the citizens of this province and the country especially the poor of much needed services.

I have taken this matter up with the MEC for Local Government and Traditional Affairs, Mlibo Qoboshiyane, and have requested a full investigation by his department.

Furthermore I will discuss these bonuses at the next meeting of the Portfolio Committee of Local Government and Traditional Affairs.

One must recognise and reward outstanding work achievement with performance bonuses but these bonuses must be realistic, costed gestures.

The operating budget of Senqu Municipality for 2011 was a relative small amount of R121 million.

The bonus of the Director, Technical Services, was an increase of 496 %, going from R102 288 in 2010 to a whopping R507 991 in 2011.

The Municipal Manager received the lowest bonus increase of 344 % from a payout of R168 883 in 2010 to R581 185 in 2011.

Others who received generous bonuses were the Director of Financial Services, of R445 584 up from R154 572 the previous year while the Directors of Corporate and Support Services and the Director of Integrated Planning Municipal Economics (IPME) received bonuses of R 257 440 and R24 731 respectively.

The biggest winner was the Director of Community and Social Services whose bonus increased by 674%, from R27 850 to R187 798.

The annual salaries of these officials range from R705 538 to R1,046 million.

The bonuses bonanza is just the tip of the iceberg in this municipality. Allegations of gross maladministration of funds have been received by the DA from the public.

With a world-wide financial crisis, an employment crisis in this country and failing service delivery throughout the province, communities must not allow such financial greed by those voted into power.

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UMLAZI UNREST – KWAZULU-NATAL CANNOT AFFORD TO BE DRAGGED BACK TO THE DARK DAYS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE

STATEMENT BY SIZWE MCHUNU, MPP

LEADER OF THE DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE IN KWAZULU-NATAL

The DA condemns the recent political violence in uMlazi’s T-section in the strongest possible terms.

As a province we cannot afford to be dragged back to the dark days of political hostility that marked the mid 1980’s. The DA urges residents of this community to exercise calm and tolerance. KwaZulu-Natal is unique in its cultural and political diversity. It is essential that individuals remain respectful of these differences and allow others their own political space.

The DA also calls on the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies to ensure that law and order prevails in uMlazi and ultimately in KwaZulu-Natal.

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GAUTENG TOLLS COULD INCREASE TO PAY FOR SANRAL EXPENSES

According to reports the South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) is projecting their toll income will increase by 70% in the next two years. The public have reason to be concerned that toll fees will be hiked every year to cover other cash needs of SANRAL.

It also seems SANRAL has not taken the fuel price into account.

Although SANRAL based its projections on previous experience the fuel price will be at its highest when the toll roads are introduced.

High fuel prices, which are unlikely to come down, will definitely reduce traffic volumes and therefore reduce the number of drivers making use of the toll roads.

A further aspect not taken into consideration is the delay in the implementation of the toll roads due to possible legal action against the e-tolling system.

How will Sanral recover costs from lower than expected traffic volumes and a further delay in implementation? One cannot only speculate, but one thing is for sure, taxpayers will ultimately pay.

Fred Nel, MPL

DA Gauteng Deputy Transport spokesman

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DA Northern Cape: Non Performing Ubuntu Municipality Bulldozing Performance Payouts

The Democratic Alliance is concerned that ANC members of Victoria West’s Ubuntu municipal council are going try and bulldoze through a move to pay performance bonuses worth almost R250 000 to undeserving officials at a council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

This comes after key documentation, specifically the annual report and the adjustment budget, were withheld from the opposition, while at the same time the chief whip tried to persuade the opposition to put their stamp of approval on the said documentation. The opposition, however, sensed something was out of place and quite by chance discovered a summary of performance bonuses to be paid out to section 57 officials. This includes a bonus of R103 550 for the municipal manager, plus a bonus of R70 365 for the director of corporate services and a bonus of R74 586 for the director of infrastructure and technology services. This is in spite of the fact that the municipality received a disclaimer of opinion in the 2010/ 2011 financial year, never mind that the adjustment saw the municipality’s R5 million deficit grown by R8 million, to give the municipality an overall shortfall of R13 million.

As far as the DA is concerned, this is completely unacceptable. We condemn the squandering of public money on the payment of bonuses to officials who have clearly not been performing as they should. This is seen in the fact that, on a local government level, there is no money to fix potholes, upgrade bulk water and electricity infrastructure, improve refuse removal, upgrade sanitation in rural communities, and so the list goes on. This said, the DA reiterates our call for performance assessments to be taken more seriously. Only then will the awarding of bonuses, or the lack thereof, be according to the performance of municipalities and their financial state, and not according to the whims of high flying MM’s.

The DA has attempted to make contact with MEC Kenneth Mmoeimang to warn him of what is expected to go down at Ubuntu municipality tomorrow. If the matter goes to a vote, the ANC will push through the wrongful bonuses with five votes to four. The council meeting must be stopped before taxpayers have to bear the brunt of even more wasteful and irregular expenditure. The DA calls on Mmoeimang to urgently intervene in this matter.

Issued by Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Leader

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DA PROGRAMME OF ACTION IN GAUTENG LEGISLATURE

Following the official opening of Gauteng Legislature last week, the Democratic Alliance is proud to announce our 10 point programme of action for this year.

This includes issues where we support the Gauteng Provincial Government, as in pushing for a more adequate budget allocation from national treasury, issues where we push for extra measures as in the upgrading of informal settlements, and measures that we oppose, such as blue light brigades and excessive spending on vehicles, travel and accommodation.

The DA will propose two private members bills in the Legislature, following the lead of the Western Cape.

The Business Interests Bill will compel all provincial government employees to declare their business interests every year so as to prevent favouritism and corruption in the award of tenders.

We will also introduce a Crime Oversight Bill that will assist in holding police to account, including a Police Ombudsman that can deal with complaints like police brutality.

The 10 point programme is as follows:

1. We support efforts to get a more adequate budget allocation for Gauteng that matches our population, and recognises our assistance in various ways to neighbouring provinces, most critically in providing specialist health services. Gauteng residents and businesses pay 39% of all tax, but provincial government receives only 18% of total allocation – this is too lop-sided.

2. We will promote a Business Interests Bill so that all public servants declare their interests as occurs in the Western Cape.

3. We will promote a Crime Oversight Bill as is proposed in the Western Cape. This will assist in holding police to account, and includes a Police Ombudsman to deal with complaints.

4. We will promote a “no frills” ministerial handbook to limit excessive spending on cars, travel and accommodation by this provincial government.

5. We will oppose the use of blue lights for politicians who endanger other road users by rushing to meetings. They should get up earlier or plan their diaries like everyone else.

6. We will propose emergency housing assistance after fires in squatter camps as occurs in the Western Cape, where victims get building materials and Home Affairs assistance to replace ID documents. Present policies are inadequate and inhuman as people who have lost everything are largely left to fend for themselves.

7. We will campaign for people who have been forgotten by this provincial government. These are mostly people living with poor services in informal settlements. Our view is that more can be done with housing money to upgrade informal settlements, including land title, electricity, water and sanitation.

8. We will oppose the national health department take-over of academic hospitals as proposed in the National Health Insurance green paper.

9. We will oppose the Public Administration Management Bill that creates a single public service as this will remove crucial powers of this province in appointing personnel.

10. We will campaign for the creation of job zones in deprived areas, with special exemptions to attract businesses to create jobs on a vast scale.

The DA on Gauteng has a positive agenda to support good government programmes, oppose bad government measures, and promote alternatives that will improve the lives of people in this province.

Statement by Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

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TEACHER UNIONS LACK CAPACITY TO TRAIN EDUCATORS ON NEW CAPS SYLLABUS

TOM STOKES, MPP

DA KZN SPOKESPERSON ON EDUCATION

THE National Department of Basic Education has again presented South Africans with an education policy – the new Curriculum and Assessment Policy statement (CAPs) – which has not been well thought through from concept to implementation.

The problem lies with the handing over of the training of educators to teacher unions, who are simply not geared to the task. While it is both necessary and beneficial to use existing educators as part of the roll-out in terms of training, there appears to be a lack of administrative capacity within unions to fulfil this crucial mandate. The concerns expressed by the KwaZulu-Natal School Governing Body Association, after courses scheduled to take place last week were cancelled, are completely justifiable. The reality is that despite the new syllabus having been introduced at the start of the current academic year, training of teachers has not yet taken place in many of our province’s schools. This begs the question – to what extent are our schools going to implement the new CAPs syllabus when educators are not at the stage where they can teach the syllabus?

Equally important is the fact that funds for new textbooks have not been allocated within KZN. Using prices from a large supplier, new books for seven subjects in grade 10 would cost over R1 000. Quite clearly the vast majority of schools with limited funds will not have the extra R50 000 to R100 000 to do this. This means that learners will either have to share books or do without in certain subjects – an unacceptable solution.

The DA calls on KZN Education MEC, Senzo Mchunu, to issue a clear road map for teachers and principals on when and where training will take place and how the funding of textbooks is to be managed given the already tight budgets our schools are faced with.

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The province will not experience drastic changes

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The DA welcomes a number of interventions promised by the premier, Mr David Mabuza during his State of the Province Address (SOPA), but remains concerned that the lack of measurable plans of action may cripple such efforts.

The Mpumalanga Economic Growth and Development Path, Mpumalanga Infrastructure Development Plan and Human Development Strategy interventions to foster economic growth, create jobs and develop the infrastructure of the province sound like good ideas, but the reality is that these plans lack substance. While highlighting the problems these plans seek to address, the premier gave no indications or targets or timeframes for their implementation or execution.

The DA welcomes the fact that premier Mabuza finally acknowledges the problems in health care, education, water provision and the poor state of local governance, and sincerely hopes that his response would bear fruit.

The reality check given by the national department of health that no health facility complies with its expectations comes as no news, and the DA can only breathe a sigh of relief that the executive has finally taken its head out of the sand over the state of the province’s health facilities. However, we remain deeply concern over the increase in the HIV/Aids prevalence rate, but welcome the commitment to increase the number of patients receiving treatment.

We are highly concerned over the announcement of the land earmarked for the main university campus’ location. This was done without any consultation, nor any form of public scrutiny or oversight, and the public has no idea where it is to be situated. We reiterate our call to open the debate around the location and composition of the university.

The DA is relieved that premier Mabuza has acknowledged the dysfunctionality of local government as well as water provision, but the lack of a tough stance against cadre deployment shows that nothing will change. While water provision in the province is in crisis, the premier’s announcement that the administration would improve bulk water supply and reticulation says nothing about attracting the necessary skills to do so. Furthermore, the fact that the Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency will be assisting with the funding and implementation boggles the mind, as that agency has neither the necessary skills nor expertise to deal with the matter.

In conclusion, the DA has found premier Mabuza’s SOPA a compilation of announcements that lack the detail of how they will be implemented. We will, however, closely monitor the administration and establish whether these will be implemented.

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DA welcomes speedy arrest after Dullstroom murder

The DA wishes to congratulate the South African Police Service for the speedy arrest of the suspected killers of Ms Johanna (Jo) Moore of Dullstroom, after her horrific death on Wednesday night.

The two men were arrested following the murder, after one was apprehended in a tavern sometime after Moore’s body was found, where he allegedly confessed to the murder and led police to his accomplice.

While the DA absolutely condemns the savagery of Moore’s death, we acknowledge and appreciate the efforts displayed to find and apprehend the killers of one of Dullstroom’s most beloved citizens. It is actions such as these that show the commitment that the SAPS have to their jobs of making South Africa a safer place for all who live in it.

Anthony Benadie MPL

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DA Northern Cape : New Mental Hospital – taxpayers are not cash cows

While the Democratic Alliance is pleased that construction on the long overdue mental hospital has finally resumed, we are sick and tired of a lack of transparency regarding the whole saga and remain adamant that those responsible for the related financial wastage must pay, and not the taxpayer.

There can be no denying that the Northern Cape is desperately in need of a new mental hospital. Up until now, the province’s lack of seriousness about mental health has been marked by government’s inability to integrate mental health into the primary health care system; the little that is being done to lure mental health professionals to the province and train adequate numbers of health professionals on psychological services; as well as little to no collaboration between departments when it comes to mental health. We thus hope that by resuming construction on this hospital, the province will turn over a new leaf with regards to prioritizing mental health and we will watch closely to see whether the new 24 month deadline is actually met.

This said, we remain concerned about the costs involved to complete the hospital. The required budget seems uncertain and now appears to have jumped into the billions. According to the Auditor General’s report of August 2011, the cost of the project had escalated from R290 million to R354,4 million by 2010 and the report stated that a further estimated R53 million was still needed to finish the project. During a visit to the province by the National Council of Province’s committee on finance in January this year, however, it came to light that a further R650 million would be required to complete the facility after R420 million had already been spent. The big question then is who is going to foot this bill? It was the past succession of MEC’s and HOD’s who failed to act decisively on this matter, and cost the province millions, so why should taxpayers have to fork out more money? It is the DA’s view that all decision makers should be made to take responsibility by having them stand as surety.

In order to ensure that the true extent of the infrastructural bungle that is the mental hospital does not get covered up, the DA intends to pass a motion in the House that the Auditor General’s damning report on Infrastructure, as well as the as yet unseen report by Gobodo Consulting, get presented to the portfolio committee, and debated.

Transparency and accountability must prevail. The DA is sick and tired of MEC’s pretending that everything is ok, when clearly it is not. We are not cash cows and should not have to fork out money for MEC’s who did not do their job!

Issued by Karen de Kock, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson for Health

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