DA Welcomes Deputy President’s Comments on Secrecy Bill

Alf Lees MP

DA Member of the NCOP

The DA welcomes remarks by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe that he would support the proposal that President Jacob Zuma should send the Protection of State Information Bill to the Constitutional Court for a decision on its constitutionality before signing it into law. This is another indication that the ANC is slowly bowing to pressure from the opposition and the public around this controversial bill.

In an address to journalists in Cape Town last night, the Deputy President said that he would not hesitate to say to the President to send it to the Constitutional Court before assenting to it. This follows the significant concessions made by the ANC in deliberations in the Ad Hoc Committee on the Protection of State Information Bill in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) yesterday. We do, however, want further amendments to be made before the Bill goes back to the National Assembly and from there to the President. These include: the removal of provincial archives from the provisions of the Bill, amendments to the “opt-in” clause and the removal of all minimum sentences.

The DA will initiate this Section 79 process if the Bill does not emerge from the legislative process in conformity with the constitution. We will then petition the President by pointing out the constitutional shortcomings and asking him to send the Bill back to the National Assembly in terms of section 79 (1). If after that process there are still problem areas, the President can refer it to the Constitutional Court in terms of section 79 (4).

The DA, along with other opposition parties, will continue to drive this issue in the NCOP and the National Assembly until we have a bill which is in line with the Constitution.

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Zuma Portrait – Fransman Must Apologise for Hateful Statements

Minister Theuns Botha

DA Western Cape Leader

The Democratic Alliance calls on ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman to apologise for hateful statements made about Ayanda Mabulu, the artist who painted the latest Zuma portrait.

Should Mr Fransman fail to do so, we will consider further action through either the Human Rights Commission or the Equality Court.

Writing in the Cape Times, Mr Fransman called Mr Mabulu a “house slave” for doing the “dirty work of his master”.

This latest racist tirade by Marius Fransman is not only hateful toward Mr Mabulu, but also shows total disregard for the right to freedom of expression.

Given South Africa’s hurtful and discriminatory past, Mr Fransman needs to realise that he cannot spew hate and vitriol wherever he goes in this province.

Mr Mabulu is a free-thinking man who is going about the business of being an artist.

Mr Fransman, on the other hand, is intent on racially insulting anyone who doesn’t share the narrow racial nationalist thinking of the ANC.

We have a responsibility to protect the artistic community’s right to freedom of expression. We trust that Mr Fransman will see the error in his ways and apologise, or face further action.

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Corruption Has Turned Mpumalanga Into A Criminal State

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The following address was delivered by Anthony Benadie to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, during the COPE tabled motion on escalating incidents of corruption.

Corruption makes the poor poorer. The motion before us today bears testimony to the corruption crisis that is increasingly facing this province.

In fact, all too often, Mpumalanga is synonymously associated with questionable conduct, dodgy transactions or outright corruption.

In the recent past, the Public Service Commission has ordered the review of appointments in the Premier’s office, the Public Protector has announced investigations into questionable land deals in Mpumalanga, the North Gauteng High Court has interdicted the Department of Public Works from implementing the outcomes of a downright corrupt tender process in Pilgrim’s Rest, and just last week the Johannesburg High Court ordered the MTPA to immediately make available documents relating to a highly questionable agreement entered into with COMAIR.

Honourable Speaker, the practice of government paying exceptionally inflated prices for services or goods, that could otherwise be rendered or delivered at lower rates, has become the norm of the day.

It is not unusual for government to be paying millions of rand more for land than its market value, or paying a middleman like EduSolutions a 23% administration or management fee – while at the same time, government’s agreement with EduSolution has resulted in our learners receiving less, and EduSolutions receiving more. In fact, if it were not for the agreement with Edusolutions, government would’ve been able to deliver 40 additional computers to schools, instead, ended up paying for over 200 computers, yet only receiving 175.

How is it possible that the construction of a school could escalate to the extent that it costs government 178% more than the budgeted amount, or that the construction of an archive building could escalate by over R30 million?

Honourable Speaker, time permitting, I could cite examples in every single department where the practice of paying inflated prices to well-connected service providers has become so entrenched, that it forms part of daily business.

And, Honourable Speaker, one dare not speak out. The practice of victimizing whistle-blowers has become as entrenched as corruption itself. Every day, I am faced by government officials who are desperate to expose corruption, but who fear that speaking out against such practice could literally cost them their lives.

In fact, Mpumalanga under the leadership of premier David Mabuza amplifies the criminal state. The ANC has lost its moral high ground, and has become the breeding ground for the greedy – our government has become a safe haven for the corrupt.

The ANC’s lack of political will and its failure to deal with these individuals robs the people of our province of the opportunity to a better life. Our province and its people can no longer afford to be subjected to the gluttony of the corrupt.

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DA Welcomes Agriculture Minister’s Comments

Thomas Walters MPL

Spokesperson on Agriculture and Environment

The DA in Gauteng welcomes comments made by the Minister of Land Reform and Rural Development, Gugile Nkwinti, that government has “wasted a pile” of money in the manner that it strove for land-reform targets. He made these comments at an annual meeting of the South African Sugar Association.

The minister’s comments indicate a brave admission that the narrow pursuit of land ownership targets did not adequately take into consideration that modern agriculture is a complex modern business. This is especially true in a largely resource poor country (in agricultural terms) such as South Africa where production units are big, economies of scale are important and significant technical and scientific knowledge is increasingly important to remain competitive.

Government policy thus far has resulted in huge amounts of land that needs to be recapitalised with very little contribution being made to the growth of the industry by beneficiaries of land-reform.

In Gauteng the DA hopes that these comments are indicative of a new turning point.

The DA in the Western Cape have shown that treating agricultural ventures as businesses, with shares in it that can be used to transfer ownership to land-reform beneficiaries without destroying accumulated expertise or market positions, is a win-win for everyone concerned. It is comparable to the tested model of companies registered on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange that freely trade shares in ownership, but also have the actual operations of such companies put in the hands of executives with the best expertise.

The MEC for Agriculture and Social Development in Gauteng, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, will be well advised to look at what the DA is doing in the Western Cape. A turning point in agriculture can be achieved where land-reform represents not only the successful transformation of ownership, but also the injection of much needed investment into an industry with high growth potential and enormous possibilities in creating jobs.

Rather than an ideological battle cry, land-reform can be the canvass for a new story of reconciliation and shared success in South Africa.

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Go For Full AMD Treatment Now

Thomas Walters MPL

Spokesperson on Agriculture and Environment

The DA in Gauteng notes with great concern Water Affairs Minister Edna Molewa’s announcement that the projected costs of treating Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) has essentially more than doubled from R924 million to R2.2 billion.

This treatment is short-term in nature and consists of thinning out AMD rather than the long-term solution of proper water purification and industrial and human use of the water.

Gauteng and surrounding provinces are now faced with a situation where even the short-term costs are becoming prohibitive. This is indeed very ominous and urgent reconsideration and action is more important than ever before.

The DA in Gauteng calls on the premier of Gauteng to demand the following rapid actions by national government:

1) Immediate consideration must be given to implementing the long-term solution of full purification of water given the fact that the costs of short-term treatment is rapidly escalating. This will save the people of Gauteng the costs of unnecessary prevarication by government and go straight to what logically needs to be implemented in the long-run anyway. Solutions in this regard have been presented to government and a public call for suggestions may unlock additional suggestions.

2) A full investigation must be done regarding the huge changes in projected costs that happened from one year to the next and that any future costs associated with delayed project management be immediately acted upon.

3) That liability for the costs of AMD be settled as a matter of urgency to minimize the cost from public funds. The polluter must pay as per legislation.

The tale of AMD in Gauteng has been a story of official deafness, minimal action and ineptitude – all at the cost of the health, economic wellbeing and environmental heritage of the people of Gauteng.

It is unconscionable to simply hope that residents will not notice the constant delays, side-stepping and lack of action.

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MEC Must Intervene In Tshwane Emergency Services

Fred Nel MPL

Spokesperson on Local Government

Gauteng Local Government and Housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe must launch a full scale investigation into the troubles of the Tshwane Emergency Services without delay.

Reports this morning on 702 Talk Radio indicated that the Tshwane Fire Chief has once again received death threats over his criticism of communication equipment issued to the department. The City of Tshwane Municipality refuses to investigate the threats as they view it as a “personal matter”.

Whistle blowers in South Africa clearly do not receive the protection they deserve. The fact that the Tshwane municipality is willing to throw its fire chief to the wolves, after airing legitimate operational concerns, is absolutely shocking.

The MEC has no choice but to intervene given the fact that the Head of Emergency Services Joan de Beer has been the subject of various internal disciplinary enquiries and that the failing communication equipment was procured through the controversial Tetra tender. The Tetra tender is also one of the main subjects of the SIU’s investigation into the Tshwane metro.

We cannot afford to have one of the major emergency services of the province plagued by faulty communication equipment and internal managerial chaos. The effects of this can be disastrous, placing people’s lives at risk if the emergency services cannot function optimally.

In the context of the Provincial Disaster Management Centre’s reliance on local emergency services, it is crucial that these services operate at optimal levels. The provincial centre only has sufficient budget to fund its day to day operations which makes it dependent on local emergency services. The kind of strife experienced by the Tshwane Emergency Services affects its ability to respond effectively to potential disasters.

A failure by the MEC to act in this very important matter, in the absence of action by the Tshwane Municipality, could further exacerbate the potential for chaos in the Tshwane Emergency Services. Lives are at stake, the MEC has no choice.

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CANCER MACHINES STILL NOT WORKING AT STEVE BIKO HOSPITAL

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

Three out of four radiation machines used to treat cancer are still not working at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria.

This is despite assurances that all suppliers have been paid and that the machines would be fixed,

Patients are told to get private care if they can afford it, otherwise their treatment at this hospital is delayed.

More than 300 patients are waiting for radiation therapy. This list has grown because of various equipment problems at the hospital since November last year when radiation machines started to fail because of lack of maintenance.

In February, all four radiation machines failed.

It’s totally unacceptable that patients’ lives are put at risk because of continuing problems with broken machinery.

The Gauteng Health Department must tell the truth about its financial situation and what it is going to do about the cancer care crisis in Gauteng.

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DA Welcomes The Arrest Of 5 Department Of Health Officials

Desiree van der Walt

DA Limpopo Health spokesperson

The arrest, yesterday, of five Limpopo government officials is welcome by the Democratic Alliance. With these all officials coming from the Department of Health explains why this department is in such a mess.

This points out to the urgent need to regulate the manner in which government employees do business with the same departments which employ them. Some two years ago the Auditor-General found Limpopo to be leading when it came to government employees doing business with their own departments. This makes the system to be susceptible to corruption.

Yesterday’s arrest should be signalling the beginning of a deeper and sustained probe.

Government employees are there to render services to people and not use their positions to enrich themselves.

The DA will be monitoring the court proceedings against these officials with keen interest and we hope that other similar probes will be started sooner.

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Critical Patients Turned Away Due to Broken Equipment

Desiree van der Walt MPL

DA Limpopo Health spokesperson

Patients are being turned away because the radiation theatre in Letaba hospital has all but totally collapsed. This is not withstanding the fact that a machine was purchased for this hospital from overseas but it cannot be serviced here. My unannounced oversight visit to this hospital in Mopani district on Wednesday revealed a shocking state of affairs at hospital.

A question which needs to be asked is how an agreement was reached to purchase this machine without there being a proper agreement to service it. This puts the people who use this hospital at great peril.

The patients who have fractures cannot be scanned to get their X-Ray readings and without these they cannot be operated. The nurses now have to resort to transporting the patients to another hospital, which is about 20 kilometres away.

To put this in context, it means a patient that is urgently in need of an operation, must be transported away from Letaba hospital to the other hospital. They are escorted by the nurses, whose is already critical at this hospital. This also endangers the lives of the patients.

Another source of concern was the fact that the ventilation machines were not maintained. This exposes the patients, particularly those at I.C.U to germs and extreme temperatures.

The Democratic Alliance will be writing to the MEC of Health, Dr. Norman Mabasa to ask him to urgently intervene to help with the conditions at the hospital.

A properly working health care system is a constitutionally enshrined right. The situation at Letaba Hospital requires immediate attention.

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DA Wants Report on Copper Theft

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape will submit a parliamentary question to the MEC of Transport, Safety and Liaison requesting a detailed report on the state of copper theft in the province, as well as the impact of SAPS’s attempt to crack down on copper theft in the Northern Cape via Operation Thibela.

This comes after the South African Chamber of Commerce (Sacci) reported a substantial increase in copper theft levels across the country over the third quarter, with its copper theft barometer recording a R1,8 million increase in July.

The DA is deeply concerned by Sacci’s remarks that, while the implementation of the Second-hand Goods Act had the immediate effect of deterring organized crime syndicates from committing copper theft owing to improved enforcement methods required by legislation, crime syndicates have become more sophisticated in identifying materials for theft and evading detection. In other words, while the number of copper theft incidents may have fallen, the quantity of stolen copper per incident has increased.

The DA appreciates SAPS’s attempt at prioritizing copper theft in the province through Operation Thibela, which is aimed at closing the market for stolen and illegal items, especially non-ferrous metals, by ensuring compliance to the second-hand goods legislation. We do not, however, believe that this is enough to combat copper theft. The DA thus wants a detailed analysis of copper theft in the Northern Cape since January this year, including the quantity and value of what was stolen. This will allow us to assess the actual impact of Operation Thibela.

At the same time, the DA once again proposes the establishment of a Copperheads unit. Such a unit was established in the DA run city of Cape Town and since its inception, this taskforce has arrested between 200 and 300 people a year, bringing about significant reductions in financial losses resulting from copper theft. There is no reason why this success cannot be replicated in the Northern Cape.

Copper theft comes at a great cost to the public purse as it impacts on service delivery and hurts the economy, which in turn affects economic growth, productivity and job creation. Already burdened by high unemployment rates, the Northern Cape cannot handle any more strain on our provincial economy. We sincerely hope that MEC Mabilo will recognize this fact and do all in his power to make copper theft a provincial priority.

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