DA condemns forced contraception of female medical students

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

The DA condemns the Department of Health’s intention to forcefully implant contraceptives into 12 female medical students destined for pharmaceutical and ultra-sonography studies at India’s Manipal University.

Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo made the announcement at a recent farewell dinner for the students where he demonstrated where the contraceptive would be implanted; saying it would prevent pregnancies for a period of three years. It seems that the female students’ scholarships were contingent on them accepting the implants.

According to South Africa’s Bill of Rights, every person is afforded the right to make their own choices in decisions concerning reproduction and has complete control over what happens to their bodies. Dhlomo – with the support of premier Senzo Mchunu – has  decided that that these students should not be afforded such rights and this cannot go unchallenged.

The Premier and the MEC does not have the right to dictate to young women how to manage their bodies.

The DA agrees that the girls should use contraceptives if they do not want to fall pregnant. But the state cannot force people to accept an invasive medical procedure like this.

I have therefore written to Dhlomo to seek clarity on this initiative. Have the women been forced into this? And if so, the MEC is in contravention of the Bill of Rights. He needs to explain himself.

5 Days before ESKOM cuts electricity to 3 Free State municipalities

James Letuka MPL

Free State Provincial Legislature

Following reports, ESKOM remains adamant that it would suspend electricity supply to three Free State municipalities on Monday, 04 August 2014.

Electricity supply will be suspended to the Ngwathe, Dihlabeng and Maluti-a-Phofung municipalities for a collective debt exceeding R450 million, unless payments are made.

Free State municipalities owe ESKOM in excess of R1 billion.

The DA wrote to COGTA MEC, Olly Mlamleli, two weeks ago requesting her to intervene in the looming crisis. Our letter was received, but MEC Mlamleli has failed to respond.

The MEC for Finance, Elzabe Rockman, has also been part of the negotiations with ESKOM to prevent the suspension of electricity supply.

It appears that these negotiations have had no positive impact. ESKOM maintains that unless payments are made, the entity would proceed with the disconnection of electricity supply.

The suspension of electricity supply will have a catastrophic impact on the lives of people. Residents who pay their municipal electricity bills or buy electricity will also be affected. It is really unfair that those who pay will also be forced into darkness all because municipalities can’t manage their finances appropriately.

Free State municipalities failed to collect more than R5.4 billion in household debt from residents last year. This is causes an added burden on municipalities to meet their financial obligations and negatively effects their capacity to deliver services.

More importantly, dumping three municipalities into darkness will further contribute to the economic decline of the province and result in massive job losses as companies are forced to close down shop.

We can no longer allow for the Free State provincial government to hind behind negotiations. The people of the Ngwathe, Dihlabeng and Maluti-a-Phofung municipalities deserve to know what will be done to avert the crisis.

It is time for MEC Rockman and MEC Mlamleli to play open cards with the people of the Free State.

Budget vote speech: Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)

Bosman Grobler MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)

Note: The following speech was delivered in the Mpumalanga Legislature today by the DA’s Provincial Spokesperson on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) during the budget vote debate on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA).

Hon Speaker

Hon Members

It is common cause the local government is the coal face of service delivery in the lives of ordinary South Africans. It is here where the perceptions of citizens regarding government delivery is formed and it is at local level that residents get angry most often at the ANC’s slacked attitude towards improving conditions within communities.

Over the past few years our province has witnessed an escalation of service delivery protests (some violent) as a result of governments delivery failure. It is most telling Hon Speaker, that while many ANC members will today stand before this house singing the praises of the MEC and the ANC government, when many of these very members raised concern during the committee deliberations about how municipal delivery failures was making it extremely difficult for the ANC to canvass votes in communities, which is evident Hon Speaker by the over 61000 voters who have abandoned the ANC since 2009.

Hon Speaker, no matter how we look at it, municipal governance in our province is in a state of crisis. Across the province, once flourishing towns are deteriorating to the point of collapse.

The examples of poor performance in local government is ample. Just to name a few:

  • Three municipalities in Mpumalanga are amongst Eskom’s top 7 debtors. Lekwa municipality owes Eskom R140 million, Thaba Chweu owes R185 million and Emalahleni owes a whopping R300 million. This fact alone points to the extent to which the ANC government section 139 interventions have failed. All three these municipalities have been or are under administration.
  • Despite being under administration three times, Thaba Chweu municipality remains financially unviable, infrastructure is collapsing and the municipality is unable to deliver the most basic of services.
  • The ability to deliver clean potable water is set to become a massive humanitarian crisis in this province and urgent action is required. There is not one municipality in Mpumalanga, including the ANC’s so-called flag-ship municipality in Steve Tshwete, which has a clean record of delivering a continuous flow of clean, safe and potable water to residents. Lekwa municipality is currently facing a massive water crisis and the water nightmare of Msukaligwa, Emalahleni, Albert Luthuli and Bushbuckridge has been widely reported and documented.
  • The inability of municipalities to bring about a better life for residents is exacerbated by the repeated appointment of incompetent and unsuitably qualified officials. It is a disgrace that throughout all municipalities in Mpumalanga only two Municipal Managers and three CFO’s comply with the National treasury minimum competency guidelines. Hon Speaker it is time the ANC realises that our municipalities are not an employment agency for ANC comrades.

Hon Speaker, Hon MEC

Running an efficient and effective municipality is not rocket science. It is about getting the basics right: Visionary and responsible political leadership,

the appointment of the right person for the job, sound financial management and outcomes driven delivery targets coupled with the political will to put

the interests of residents first. And it can be done, the DA has proven this everywhere where we govern.

But the truth is Hon Speaker, under the ANC the situation will not improve. The reason for this is ARROGANCE. Despite all the evidence indicative of an

imminent governance crisis, the ANC is obsessed to stand here and say: “We have a good story to tell”; “Look at the progress we have made”., all the

while burying their heads in the sands to the realities that surround us.

Hon Speaker, the best advice I can give the ANC, is by means of the old saying: “A new broom sweeps clean”.

The MEC has an opportunity to use her newly bestowed mandate to turn our ailing municipalities around. Through executing your department’s mandate

of supporting and guiding municipalities, you must ensure that people employed in the administration of municipalities are competent, willing and able to

do the jobs they have been appointed to do.

Hon Speaker, it is the lives of our provinces people that must come first. A renewed commitment to that better life to which we all yearn must come first,

and not the selfish interest of individuals, the ANC or any other tender seeking fat cats.

We can and must make local government in Mpumalanga work.

I thank you.

Thandi Modise must allow NSPCA to conduct farm investigation

Chris Hattingh MPL

DA Leader in North West

Thandi Modise must immediately call the employees on her farm to order to allow the NSPCA and the SAPS to conduct their ongoing investigations on her farm outside Potchefstroom.

Reports indicate this morning that Modise’s farm manager, Neo Moepi, physically threatened NSPCA investigators and forcibly removed them from the farm.

Ms Modise and her farm manager are not above the law. They must allow the criminal investigation to continue. Mr Moepi must also be charged for his illegal threats against the NSPCA. The DA welcomes the steps the NSPCA has taken in this regard to lay charges against Mr Moepi.

It is clear that there have been consistent attempts by Ms Modise and her employees to undermine these investigations from the start. Mr Moepi does not want the NSPCA to get the full picture of what is going on at the farm.

The immediate burning of carcasses on the farm by farmworkers after the story first broke also indicates a desire to hide as much as possible.

The bottom line is that Ms Modise criminally mistreated her animals and should be held accountable for that as the law requires. Just because she is a powerful politician does not put her above the law.

Lenasia land sale arrests: MEC must do more to prevent future incidents

Mervyn Cirota MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Housing

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the arrest of two more people involved in the illegal sale of land in Lenasia.

While this is a step in the right direction, it is imperative that the MEC for Housing in Gauteng implement stronger measures to prevent these incidents from taking place in the future.

I will be writing to the MEC of Housing to establish:

  1. If his department has plans in place to ensure that such incidents do not take place again. If not, why not
  2. What are the time-frames on implementing this strategy

Corruption and illegal activity linked to housing in Gauteng is becoming all too common. In the process, deserving people are denied access to a better opportunities and a dignified life.

All structures of government must work to ensure that resources intended for our most vulnerable citizens are not exploited through such circumstances.

How Many More Need To Die

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Note: The following members statement was tabled by Anthony Benadie today in the Mpumalanga Legislature.

Hon. Speaker, I rise to deliver a statement on behalf of the Democratic Alliance, with regards to the ongoing road carnage on the R40.

Last week, in the space of 24 hours, two accidents claimed the lives of 12 people, and in the past years, numerous other motorists have passed away due to accidents occurring on the intersection of the R40 and Plaston Road. Such occurrences should be of grave concern to this house.

Just last week, this house united in expressing our condolences to the accident victims which was coupled by a massive public outcry for immediate action to be taken by government to address this dangerous situation.

In response, Safety and Security MEC Hon Shongwe made a public commitment in this house, that speed bumps and a traffic light will be installed on the intersection by Monday the 28th of July 2014.

Today is the 29th of July and there are still no visible measures in place to curb the accidents on this dangerous intersection. How many more people need to die on this road before this administration takes action.

As such, the DA calls on MEC Shongwe to act immediately and fulfil the promises he made to this house. There is already strong traffic officer presence on the road and the setting up of a task team cannot be the only measure the of action by the department. The people of Mpumalanga don’t have time for talk shops and drawn out bureaucratic processes they need action.

The MEC has made a commitment, and he must now put his money where his mouth is.

I thank you.

Latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey: Eastern Cape Agriculture Hardest Hit

Bobby Stevenson MPL

Shadow MEC for Finance

The Quarterly Labour Force Survey was released by Statistics South Africa today.

The agricultural sector of our economy is particularly hard hit, with a 17, 8 % decline in those employed in agriculture in the Eastern Cape, according to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey, released by StatsSA today.

Year on year there were 15 000 less people employed in agriculture. This points to the failure of state-led economic growth initiatives in this critical sector.

Although the number of employed people in the Eastern Cape has increased over the last year, by 72 000, the horrific unemployment rate in the Eastern Cape continued to creep up due to new entrants onto the job market.

When one compares the quarter April-June 2013 with April-June 2014, the unemployment rate in the Eastern Cape has gone up from 30,2% to 30,4%.  The increase from the first quarter of 2014 compared to the second quarter of 2014 is one percent.  The expanded rate of unemployment is now 44,4 % in the Eastern Cape, an increase of 0,2 % compared with the first quarter of this year.

In the light of the declining economy the province needs to pull out all stops to cut down on consumption expenditure and ensure that the resources we have are invested in creating a climate for economic growth.

The excessively high R429 million, spend on provincial travel and accommodation needs to be cut.

Cutting red tape, improving the efficiency of the civil service and ensuring value for money on infrastructural spending are some of the easy steps that the province can take to improve the climate for job creation.

Ministerial committee lying about school funding in Limpopo

Jacques Smalle MPL

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

The inter-ministerial committee being lead by Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, mislead the nation when they stated that 90% of schools in Limpopo received all the funding they needed to meet their norms and standards.

In a telephonic survey conducted by the DA this morning, it was confirmed that more than 30 schools across the province did not get their full norms and standards funding for this second quarter.

According to our survey, schools in rural areas are mostly being affected by this.

In Sekhukhune, learners are forced to pay between R30 and R135 per month to refill the gas cylinder used to cook food for lunches. This is due to the education department’s failure to pay the school.

At other schools, learners are paying R10 a month in order for the school to buy floor polish and toilet paper. These schools are formally regarded as no-fee schools, but have institute monthly contributions from pupils to cover the basics.

It is unacceptable for the committee to claim that they have successfully implemented an innovative procurement strategy for learning and teaching support materials.

The DA challenges this committee to establish a forensic audit to probe the financial affairs in supposedly no-fee schools.

We further demand the committee to provide the DA with a comprehensive report outlining all their plans to accelerate the process of paying all the schools’ funding on time.

STATS SA: Free State unemployment remains highest in SA

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature

The Free State retains its top spot on the unemployment index as figures released by STATS SA today show.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey the official unemployment rate in the Free State went up from 34.7% to 35%. Unemployment according to the expanded definition dropped marginally from 41.5% to 41.2%. According to the expanded definition, out of a total working population of 1 855 million people, approximately 523 000 people can’t find jobs.

There is an encouraging show of marginal employment growth during the second quarter. The province did manage to create 22 000 jobs, mostly in the agricultural, mining, manufacturing, and trade sectors, but this growth was not sufficient to lower the overall unemployment rate.

The DA calls again on the Free State provincial government to adopt a ‘Free State First’ policy to assist Free State companies in becoming successful and profitable so that more jobs can be created.

The province’s current economic outlook is reason for concern as a deteriorating infrastructure and the ability of Free State municipalities to keep the lights on and the taps running will negatively affect economic growth and further exacerbate the terrible unemployment rate.

DA to conduct survey of Gauteng sanitation

Mervyn Cirota MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Housing

Gauteng Human Settlements MEC Jacob Mamabolo this morning all but admitted having a poor grasp of the state of sanitation in the province’s informal settlements.

In his oral response to my question over which informal settlements are currently experiencing serious sanitation issues, such as the lack of running water, ablution facilities and sewage spills, the MEC could only respond by giving the amount of informal settlements in the province.

When asked about departmental programmes and budget allocations to remedy these issues, the MEC could provide no answer except to refer me to the department’s annual performance plan.

It is of serious concern that the MEC does not realise the extent of the sanitation crisis in Gauteng, and the associated health risks that people are exposed to.

The DA will take up the mantle the MEC has dropped, and conduct our own survey of the state of sanitation in the province; providing the MEC with the evidence he so desperately needs.

We also invite the public to report their sanitation issues to mcirota@gpl.gov.za

The DA will intensify its efforts to bring people a life of dignity and improved service delivery.