DA Dismayed At Decay of Botshabelo Heritage Site

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition.

The Botshabelo heritage site outside Middelburg has been neglected to such an extent that only a drastic intervention can save it from complete collapse. Once a jewel of Mpumalanga’s heritage tourism attractions, the famed “Place of Safety” has become a place of heartbreak and despair.

As part of the DA’s Blue Wave community outreach initiative, I yesterday visited the site where Lutheran missionaries created a safe haven for refugees in the late 19th century, and where I, like so many other young Bapedi and Ndebele children during the apartheid years, attended school.

The shock I experienced as I was confronted with the absolute decay of this living museum was indescribable. The mission church was locked, but broken windows allowed easy access to priceless antiquities inside; Fort Merensky is overgrown with grass and undergrowth, with the purpose-built houses for tourists are in an alarming state of disrepair.

Upon speaking to locals selling Ndebele crafts, I was told that days and weeks go by without a single tourist arriving, when just a short few years ago, tourists flocked in by their thousands to visit and stay over at this attraction.

Government has a duty to both the people of Botshabelo and the rest of the province to preserve an important part of Mpumalanga’s history. Its failure to do so leaves the DA no option but to call for a public private partnership in its management.

Mpumalanga cannot afford to lose its heritage because of a dysfunctional tourism management strategy.

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DA Calls On Premier to Take Lead in Youth Wage Subsidy Fight

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape has sent the acting Premier, Grizelda Cjiekella, a letter, calling on her to follow in the footsteps of Premier Helen Zille, who has already implemented two versions of a youth wage subsidy in the Western Cape, and Premier Zweli Mkhize, who is said to be getting ready to implement the youth wage subsidy in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Like elsewhere in the country, youth unemployment in the Northern Cape is a ticking time bomb. This said, if we are to fight for the unemployed, we need a government that will demonstrate absolute dedication to the cause of upliftment through the creation of opportunity. In this regard, the DA fully supports the implementation of the Youth Wage Subsidy, as outlined by National Treasury.

The treasury has budgeted R5 billion for the Youth Wage Subsidy, which is now stagnating in the budget despite record levels of youth unemployment. This is despite evidence that unemployment was literally halved in Singapore between 2003 and 2007, in part due to the implementation of a youth wage subsidy. Several middle-income countries have also adopted wage subsidy programmes including Korea, Mexico, the Slovak Republic, Chile and Turkey. The latter two have deliberately targeted young workers in their programmes.

In the meantime, the DA run-government of the Western Cape already has two working examples of how a wage subsidy can be implemented. In this regard, the Western Cape government has launched two programmes, similar to a Youth Wage Subsidy. These are the Work and Skills Programme and the Premier’s Advancement of Youth Programme.

The Work and Skills Programme recruits young people, who are placed with a “host employer” for a year, with a minimum of 12 weeks dedicated to skills development. They are each assigned a mentor for the 12-month period where they are paid a stipend of R1000 a month, which employers are encouraged to top up, and they learn practical skills. While working, they can apply for permanent positions that become available at the host employer. Since 2009, 2500 young people have benefitted from this programme and a further 750 will benefit next year. Furthermore, most of those on the programme go on to permanent employment.

Regarding the Premier’s Advancement of Youth Programme, young people from disadvantaged areas who are unable to go to university, are employed in provincial government. They are provided with an income and are also given the skills and experience needed to get a permanent job.

Meanwhile, in Kwa-Zulu Natal Premier Zweli Mkhize, is also standing out from the crowd. He has indicated that the province is getting ready to implement the youth wage subsidy. He was recently quoted in the Business Day as saying that, “We have

long expressed support for the youth wage subsidy initially announced by the Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan two years ago, with an allocation of about R5 billion in the February budget estimates.”

Clearly Mr Mkhize is taking a stand for job creation for the youth. Our acting Northern Cape Premier, Grizelda Cjiekella, can do the same. We have thus sent her a letter, calling on her to be fearless in leading this province. We want Cjiekella to do what is right, not simply to do what appeases Cosatu. Cosatu is opposed to the Youth Wage Subsidy because they know it will make it difficult to unionise these workers. This said, COSATU’s primary objective is to increase union membership, not to increase the number of employed people. That is why they are fighting against an excellent proposal that is clearly in the national interest.

The DA is of the firm view that all in all, the Youth Wage Subsidy would deal a destructive first blow to the wall that still divides South Africa’s economy between the employed and the unemployed. This said, the Youth Wage Subsidy is by no means the be-all and end-all solution to youth unemployment. It will, however, let hundreds of thousands of people into the economy for the first time, and it will kick-start growth and development.

The DA wants to make sure that everyone understands the significant job creation and economic growth potential that the Youth Wage Subsidy holds and why its implementation is being blocked. The DA only hopes that Cjiekella will see the light before our unemployed youth drown in despair.

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JOBS ARE HIGHEST PRIORITY IN MERAFONG

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

Job training and opportunity is the highest priority for young people in deprived areas of Merafong in the far west of Gauteng.

This is my conclusion after visiting and staying overnight in Kokosi township, which is a mixed area of shacks and established houses.

It’s a forgotten area that President Jacob Zuma should include on his list as reason not to sleep peacefully at night, as he reportedly said at the ANC’s Policy Conference.

Unemployment amongst youth is extremely high as local mines and agriculture don’t provide enough jobs.

There are few sport or recreation facilities to occupy their time, so it is no surprise that drug and alcohol abuse is high.

People dream of getting an RDP house, but realistically this is unlikely to be on sufficiently wide a scale to satisfy everyone. And when they get a house they will have a problem paying for services.

The housing allocation process is widely believed to be corrupt, which gives rise to much bitterness.

It was heart-warming to see home improvements in Kokosi amongst those who have income, but sadly there are many who will remain in shacks for the rest of their lives.

Food gardens would assist in improving nutrition as well as giving purposeful activity.

Arranging title deeds would also assist in giving security of tenure that would assist economic activity.

I spoke with young people who wanted further education and training that would lead to a job, but complained that council bursaries were only given to ANC members.

It’s a very sad situation that would be alleviated by the youth wage subsidy that has been unconscionably delayed by the internal politics of the ANC alliance.

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DA Cleaning Up ANC’s Mess in Skhila Township

Mmusi Maimane

DA National Spokesperson

Earlier this morning I visited Skhila township just outside Lydenburg in Mashishing municipality. I visited as part of a DA delegation including DA Leader in Mpumalanga, Anthony Benadie.

We went to Skhila to clean up the area and talk to the residents about their service delivery concerns. Most people were concerned with refuse removal services, high unemployment, water and electricity provision.

We spent several hours cleaning the area both by hand and with machinery. It is clear that there are no regular refuse removal services. This means that the community has had to create refuse dumps for themselves in close proximity to their living space. This means people are exposed to decomposing refuse on a daily basis. It is unsanitary and unsafe, especially for children.

We cleaned up the refuse dumps and will be moving the refuse to the town dump site.

It is shameful that some of our people continue to live in such conditions. What is worse is that since the ANC-run Mashishing municipality does not provide regular refuse removal services, it is likely that the community will simply have to fill the dumps again.

Today showcases how failed governments and a lack of service delivery actively undermine people’s living standards. Mashishing’s inability to keep the Skhila township clean means that children have to live in unsanitary and dangerous conditions.

The DA in the Skhila municipality will be monitoring the situation closely and will demand that the Mayor extend refuse removal services to Skhila township.

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DA CALLS FOR FORENSIC AUDIT INTO AFFAIRS OF NCPL

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape is calling for a forensic audit to be conducted into the affairs of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature (NCPL) and we will submit a written request, to this effect, to the acting Speaker, Juanita Beukes.

It seems that the NCPL is a tin of worms just waiting to explode. Corruption has become a norm and we can only surmise that there has been, and very likely still exists, an underground network of officials who are enabling such corruption to take place.

The DA is of the firm view that all steps must be taken to air out the NCPL’s dirty laundry. The extent of the corruption within the legislature must be ascertained once and for all and every single one of those involved, regardless of colour, creed or political affiliation, should be brought to book. Only then will the legislature be able to move forward in restoring its damaged integrity and in building itself up to become the institution that it was intended to be.

An institution of as high accord as the legislature should at all times be of a high standing and compliant with the law. The legislature is, after all, the core oversight body of government. And if it can’t even keep watch over its own internal affairs, how on earth will it succeed in serving as the watch dog of government? The answer is simple – it won’t.

It’s time for all parties concerned to eat humble pie and to come together to fight corruption within the legislature. This said, we hope and trust that the acting Speaker will share our viewpoint and back our request for a forensic audit. This is critical if the NCPL is to serve the people, instead of serving the whims of greedy individuals who continue to rob the poorest of the poor.

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Why are Doctors and Nurses Bullied?

John Cupido MPL

DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Health

Yesterday (subs: Monday, 25 June 2012) several doctors of the Port Elizabeth Hospital Complex held a press conference regardless of threats of disciplinary action by the EC DoH, to voice their grave concerns over their working conditions and excessive critical medical vacancies (“Rebel doctors’ hospital rescue plan”, The Herald, 26 June). To date, the MEC and Department have shown no interest in resolving the serious concerns raised by the doctors, but have instead tried their best to bully them into silence.

In any organisation, when staff are willing to put their jobs on the line to complain about working and service delivery conditions one cannot deny that things may have hit rock bottom. Being part of the medical fraternity is usually as a result of a calling of sorts, so it is fully understandable as to why the doctors concerned have “defied” the DoH by making these issues public as part of their oath to the community to give quality treatment and health care. They should be lauded for putting people first.

With the department having a vacancy rate of over 44%, equating to over 27 000 critical clinical staff vacancies, of which over 16 000 are for Professional Nurses, the situation at the PE Hospital Complex has been a long time coming, and is a clear indicator of what is happening in the rest of the Eastern Cape.

The departmental spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, will undoubtedly allude to the cash crisis that has hit the department two months into the financial year, resulting in the Office of the Premier and the Provincial Treasury taking over the Human Resources and Supply Chain Management functions respectively.

They admit to the cash crisis, yet, not more than a month ago, the ANC-led full House of the Provincial Legislature, with the exception of the Democratic Alliance (DA) supported a decreased annual EC DoH budget of R15.1billion. The DA refuses to support a severely inadequate budget, and our warnings of subsequent systematic departmental failures are sadly becoming realised every day.

The current budget needs to be completely reworked and boosted by at least R3 billion just to see this financial year through. A further R6 billion will be needed to fill the severe critical medical staff vacancies to ensure that there are enough clinical staff to treat the sick in this province.

If that is ever granted, a further R6 billion will be needed to even start working down the infrastructure backlog of R19.2 billion, ignored by the political powers-that-be.

It is unrealistic to expect that the ANC will put the care of patients first and double the EC DoH’s budget to R30 billion, so it has clearly become realistic to expect things to become far, far worse medically in the Eastern Cape.

It is imperative that the Portfolio Committee on Health immediately meets with the doctors and other staff of the PE Hospital Complex to investigate, and make strong, time-based demands to rectify the concerns raised, and hold the MEC and department to account for not having their priorities straight in putting the people first in health care service delivery here in the Eastern Cape.

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Ronald Lamola Must Be Held Accountable For Events in Thaba Chweu

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Service delivery in the Thaba Chweu municipality have been brought to a complete standstill as a direct consequence of the recent inflammatory statements made by the deputy president of the ANC Youth League, Ronald Lamola.

This morning members of the ANC Youth League blockaded the entrances to the Thaba Chweu Municipality’s buildings in Lydenburg and Mashishing, ostensibly because of their unhappiness with the ANC’s choice of mayor to replace the late Cllr Moses Marobela, who passed away recently.

Youth League members closed the doors of both buildings until (according to them) Monday, and told employees that “the youth league will govern the office”. This unnecessary and criminal closure will only affect ordinary citizens, who are once again subjected to the ongoing faction fighting in the ruling ANC.

Lamola should personally be held accountable for any damages that may arise from this unlawful closure, as this is a direct ramification of his calls to reduce Mpumalanga into a state of complete anarchy.

Charges of intimidation have already been laid against Lamola, and the DA today received confirmation that it had been referred to the KwaMhlanga police (with new case number, 347/06/2012) for investigation.

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DA WELCOMES ANC E-TOLL RETHINK

Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Roads and Transport

Reports that the Gauteng ANC is rethinking e-tolls are encouraging. However what is missing from their thinking is that the tax on fuel must be ring-fenced. They advance the suggestion as a “temporary” solution but if it can work temporarily it can work permanently.

The Democratic Alliance is also concerned about their long term suggestion that secondary roads should be tolled, as this would require far more capital outlay than the entire Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and will merely compound the problem.

Of further concern is their idea that businesses be taxed on a once off basis. This is extremely risky as it opens the door to fleecing private business to cover government inadequacies on an ongoing basis, which would cause businesses to close and jobs to be lost.

The dogged persistence of Cabinet to push ahead with unpopular e-tolling is illogical unless there are benefits for some influential cadres from the toll collection company, its affiliates or its subsidiaries.

If the ANC is serious about abandoning e-tolls then government must stop the e-toll collection contract and withdraw from the expensive constitutional court challenge which is being fought with taxpayers money.

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