DA Welcomes WC Police Commissioner

By Mireille Wenger MPP, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Community Safety, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Community Safety in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament:

Following reports that Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula has been appointed as the new Police Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Western Cape, the DA in the Western Cape wishes the new commissioner well in this important post.

The new Commissioner will have his work cut out for him and we look forward to engaging with him once he is in office. In my capacity as the Chairperson of the Standing Committee in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, I have written to General Jula to wish him well and to highlight key policing concerns and needs in the Western Cape.

As the 2014/15 crime statistics revealed, the Western Cape is hard hit by crime and violence and gang related violence, with 3186 murders being reported in the province between April 2014 and March 2015.

To combat this gruesome reality, it is critical that Commissioner Jula devote his attention to the following issues that challenge policing in the Western Cape:

  • Gang-related violence;
  • The high murder rate;
  • Vacancies and the shortage of police officers, especially visible policing, detectives as well as the low recruitment rate of reservists;
  • Insufficient police resources, including the faulty call scanners at the 10111 contact centre;
  • Police brutality, and;
  • Fostering good community police relations.

We believe that safety is everyone’s responsibility and we therefore hope that Commissioner Jula will partner and expand police engagement with communities and community safety structures such as Community Policing Forums, Neighbourhood Watches, National and Provincial Government Departments, Non-Governmental Organisations, Faith-Based Organisations, Business Organisations, Local Ward Councillors, Victim Support Members, Municipal Managers and members of the community.

That being said, policing remains a national competency, with the National Police Commissioner at the helm. We trust that General Jula will lead the Western Cape SAPS to make a real impact on reducing crime and violence, and to protect the law-abiding people of the Western Cape.

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Kannaland disaster – Donson must be accountable

By Masizole Mnqasela MPP, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Local Government, Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Local Government in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament:

The troubles at the Icosa-led Kannaland Municipality run deeper than the R12m debt that it owes to Eskom.

The municipality is failing to establish a growth-enabling environment. Revenue generated from economic growth will enable the municipality to pay its dues, such as the Eskom debt. The Executive Mayor, Jeffrey Donson, has regrettably damaged relationships with the local agricultural sector and business community in general. There is a chronic breakdown of trust between business and the Municipality. This is the number one indicator to the challenge in job creation in the area.

The majority-poor population in Kannaland are the victims of this mistrust between the municipality and the private sector. They are in need of the jobs that could otherwise be created.

Mayor Donson chooses to blame the R12m Eskom debt on the poor residents of Kannaland. Despite the fact that the indigent make use of prepaid electricity meters. They too pay electricity and in fact, they constitute the majority of those who pay up front.

This has been confirmed by the Democratic Alliance Constituency Head in the Kannaland region, Zelda Jongbloed MP, who says “the vast majority of people in Kannaland, use pre-paid electricity meters.”

The responsibility for the R12m Eskom debt simply rests on the municipality, for which the Mayor is accountable. This raises serious questions on how the Icosa-led Kannaland Municipality is spending the people’s money. This explains why Mayor Donson avoids accountability.

In addition, Mayor Donson has suggested that the DA has been inciting the people of Kannaland not to pay their electricity bills. This is absurd. The Democratic Alliance is a constitutional party and does not endorse lawless behaviour.

This municipality has failed to adhere to the provisions set-out in Section 152 of the Constitution, which clearly stipulates the fundamental duties, and responsibilities of a local municipality. Kannaland Municipality has also failed to adhere to the provisions of the Local Government Municipal Property Rates Act 12 of 2007.

In a bid to hide his inability to govern, Mayor Donson has ignored numerous calls made to him by the Standing Committee on Local Government in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP). He is ducking accountability for the poor governance that the people of Kannaland are subjected to.

On July 21-24 in 2015, the Western Cape Provincial Parliament and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) went on a service delivery Oversight Tour in Kannaland. Public hearings were held as part of the statutory mandates of parliament, to ensure that quality and responsive governance is taking place on the ground.

Despite sufficient notice being given regarding this visit to Kannaland Municipality, Mayor Donson absconded from the deliberations. The Mayor does not deem the Western Cape Parliament and the National Parliament as partners in promoting Intergovernmental Relations.

Mayor Donson considers Kannaland as an Island. We cannot allow it to continue. As parliament, we have a duty to contribute to a dignified and lifestyle for all communitites. Kannaland is no exception. We will not abdicate our responsibility towards the poor and marginalised. We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that we bring stability to the economy of Kannaland.

The people of Kannaland deserve a municipal-government that will establish a job-creating environment and turn the tide towards good governance. People in this area should have access to job opportunities, like in all other Municipalities, rather than being subjected to a government that ignores their cries. Kannaland will finally be free from the chains of deprivation, stagnation and poverty. A government that cares is all that the people of Kannaland needs.

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Western Cape Government to assess impact of fires on agriculture sector

By Alan Winde, Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities:

The Western Cape Government hopes on Monday (25 January 2016) to start an impact assessment of the recent fires on the agriculture sector.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said teams from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture aimed to visit affected farms on Monday.

“If the fire is under control and the smoke has subsided, the officials will be able to access the farms to conduct surveys. This will give us an idea of the damage to agriculture land and infrastructure.”

Minister Winde yesterday visited the Joint Operations Centre, based at Delvera off the R44, where he received a comprehensive briefing on the fires.

“The fires, and the drought, are putting pressure on our agriculture sector, particularly on the wine-producing regions. It is taking focus and manpower away from harvesting.

“This is going to have a major cost to our economy. The agriculture sector, with its backward link to agri-procesing, is one of our key growth sectors.”

Minister Winde yesterday also appealed to residents to assist authorities with their investigation into alleged arson attacks.

It is alleged that arson has caused some of the recent fires.

Minister Winde further commended the firefighters for their effort in bringing the blazes under control.

“Our firefighters are true heroes and we salute these brave men and women. I’d also like to thank the public for their support. It was encouraging to see several companies and residents arriving at Delvera with donations for the firefighting teams.”

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Elsenburg: the youth is the Future of Agriculture in the Western Cape

By Beverley Schäfer MPP, Standing Committee Chairperson for Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, Western Cape Provincial Parliament:

Ms Joyene Isaacs – HOD

Officials from the Department of Agriculture

The Management and Staff of Elsenburg College

Students,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

A welcome to all of you here today, at the opening of the 2016 Academic Year at Elsenberg College.

While 2016 brings a number of great economic and climatic challenges to the forefront, it also brings a wealth of opportunities.

You may wonder why I come across as an eternal optimist, even though I must admit, I actually am.

But, I really do believe that 2016 is the year of the student!  All of you sitting before me here today, will be the very young people that, in the near future, will lead our agricultural sector and take agriculture to a new level.

We know in this Province, that one of the best investments this government can make, is in our youth. The Western Cape has allocated R56.9 million to the Structured Agricultural Education and Training programme for the 2015/16 financial year.

The future of agriculture must be protected and sustained and it is through places of learning such as Elsenberg, that we can continue to grow this agricultural economy, create competitive and innovative farming practices through new ideas, and bring passion and pride back to the agricultural sector.

Project Khulisa – our project to reduce poverty in the Western Cape, has identified Agri-processing as a high-potential sector. Agri-processing holds particular potential to increase employment in rural areas. If it receives the dedicated attention and support, it could add up to 100 000 jobs and generate R26 billion for the economy under a high-growth scenario.

But we cannot achieve this, without the much needed water resources and infrastructure, and we certainly, cannot achieve this without you.

We need the necessary training and skills that you will receive here at this college, together with a mind-set of innovation, to ensure that Agri-processing in the Western Cape remains competitive to current global markets.

We have taken the language tensions and transformation issues at Elsenburg very seriously. A full team, of both management and the College Council, is engaged in finding sustainable solutions to overcome these issues in the interest of the future of agriculture and of our country.

To date, the following steps have been undertaken:

-The College Council instituted a task team to engage with students and key stakeholders to facilitate the development of a new language policy;

-As undertaken by Management, several engagements have already been held with the Student Representative Council, House Committee as well as the entire student population;

-Independent mediators have been appointed to facilitate the transformation process, diversity management training and conflict resolution has been implemented involving students, lecturers and administrative personnel.

Flowing out of last year’s protest actions, it was agreed that the best course of action going forward will be:

  •          In the short term, lectures will be duplicated so that they take place in both English and Afrikaans, this gives students the choice to learn in the language in which they feel most comfortable. A full programme was implemented to ensure that lost learning time was made up, as well as a programme of tutorial classes was introduced.
  •          In the medium term, a new language policy is being developed. This process is already underway, and forms part of the broader transformation imperative being implemented to encourage inclusive and quality education.
  •          We also welcome the partnership with the University of Stellenbosch for innovative ways to tackle the language issues.

We are pleased that all parties have come together to find solutions, and have agreed to go forward in a constructive manner. We are eager to address the language and transformation issues at Elsenburg, and are dedicated to pursuing this jointly with all stakeholders involved.

It is important to note, that Elsenburg delivers a world-class education in one of our key economic sectors and it is important that we work together to maintain this high standard.

We have the best interests of all the students at heart, and we will continue to develop creative solutions in line with our broader transformation imperative.

To all the students here today, we must take you forward with us -to ensure that your years of learning are quality years of acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills as the future of agriculture in South Africa is in your hands.

Institutions of learning are places where bonds should be formed, and we trust the students of this College will, in good faith, do their utmost to be part of building a stronger democracy in our country.

I thank you.

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DA steps in to clear Kwazakhele roads

By Ngqura Constituency Office:

A picture of the Ward 19 clean up can be found here.

Caption: DA Ngqura Constituency Leader, Nqaba Bhanga MP, and various DA activists remove rubble from a street outside Ward 19 Councillor, Koko Jacob’s home.

Yesterday, the DA’s Ngqura Constituency office, led by Consituency Leader, Nqaba Bhanga MP, took to the streets of Ward 19 in Kwazakhele to clear hazardous debris.

This debris has been obstructing and causing danger to passing cars for close on two years.

ANC Ward 19 Councillor, Koko Jacobs, has for too long failed to do the necessary work to ensure that service delivery is rolled out effectively in this forgotten community.

Change is coming to Nelson Mandela Bay this year and with it a new era of world-class service delivery and job creation.

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Lekwa municipality face consequences after ignoring DA proposal

By James Masango MPL, DA Spokesperson on CoGTA:

Planned power cuts in Lekwa municipality by Eskom could have been avoided, only if the ring fencing of ratepayers’ monthly electricity payments which was adopted in council on 29 January 2015 was implemented.

Last year, when Eskom announced that it would cut bulk electricity supply to 20 municipalities in the country which owed the cash-strapped utility R3.68 billion in unpaid power bills, the DA had already put forward a proposal to the council in Lekwa to ring fence ratepayers’ electricity payments. This concept was successfully adopted.

In May last year, the municipality signed an agreement with Eskom to make monthly payments in order to service its debt. But the municipality defaulted on the agreement since October 2015.

According to Eskom the municipality owes the utility over R206 million which has been outstanding and escalating since 2011. The utility has given the municipality until 4 March 2016 to make written submissions indicating why it should not disconnect their electricity supply on 11 April 2016.

The proposed ring fencing of ratepayers’ monthly electricity payments was meant to avoid the money being used to fund the operational budget of the municipality, and instead pay Eskom.

It is unacceptable that the municipality has ignored to execute a council resolution. This is once again a clear indication that the ANC led government does not put the interest of the people first.

The municipality’s leadership has proved that it is incapable to deal with its finances resulting in poor to no service deliver to the community of Lekwa.

According to the Accountant General, as of March 2015, Mpumalanga municipalities were in arrears to Eskom (outstanding debt) to the amount of R 1.847 billion.

MEC for CoGTA, Refilwe Mtshweni must place the municipality under administration with immediate effect.

The people of Lekwa and Mpumalanga at large must realise that they have the opportunity to elect a government that delivers better services, cuts corruption and creates jobs. It is crucial for them to know that they have the power to bring about change in their communities.

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Health MEC Malakoane’s “baby murderers” comment arrogant & irresponsible

By Mariette Pittaway, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

It is widely reported that Health MEC, Dr Benny Malakoane, yesterday accused medical doctors and medical professional staff at the Bongani Hospital in Welkom of being the “biggest bunch of baby murderers in the province.”

This comment coming from the political head of the Free State Provincial Department of Health is extremely arrogant and grossly irresponsible.

MEC Malakoane must immediately withdraw his accusation towards the medical staff at Bongani Hospital and unreservedly apologise to them in person, followed by tendering his immediate resignation.

It is the entrenched and structural financial and administrative mismanagement within the department that results in regular medicine stock-outs, poorly equipped medical facilities and severe staff shortages of doctors and specialists that contribute to avoidable deaths.

If there is any person who should accept responsibility for avoidable deaths in public hospitals in the Free State, it should be MEC Malakoane himself, followed shortly by Premier Magashule, at whose pleasure MEC Malakoane continues to serve despite his disastrous tenure at the department.

Free State medical professional staff across all disciplines continue to work hard, delivering the best medical care they can, with the limited resources they have.

MEC Malakoane’s politicisation of management structures through the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment at all medical facilities in the Free State have created a toxic environment that is not conducive to the delivery of quality and equitable healthcare. As a result of this policy 177 medical doctors and 28 medical specialists left the employment of the department last year.

In true Malakoane form, he can never accept responsibility for his own failures, always blaming someone or something else.

MEC Malakoane has in the past also accused medical professionals who dare to speak out or make recommendations of how to improve overall performance in the public health sector in the province of racism or having political agendas against his leadership.

It is a sad situation that the people of the Free State find themselves in, but it is a situation they can easily start to turn around this year by voting for the DA.

Where the DA governs, our hospitals and clinics are well equipped, well-staffed, and well stocked, delivering ‘private quality-like’ healthcare to all those who need it, in state of the art medical facilities. The DA can bring this ethos of quality and equitable public healthcare services to the people of the Free State.

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DA KZN Education MPL to visit Austerville Primary tomorrow morning

Today, Friday, 22 January, DA KZN Education Spokesperson, Mbali Ntuli, MPL will visit Austerville Primary.

This follows almost a week of protest action by parents and community members due to the allegedly irregular awarding of a principal’s post.

 

The DA has been aware of this issue since last year, with Cllr Aubrey Snyman and DA activists having been at the forefront of the matter at a local level.

Despite their numerous interactions with various KZN education department officials there is still no clarity on the way forward.

 

Given this dead end situation, the DA at a provincial and legislative level will now take up the matter, starting with tomorrow morning’s visit.

Date                            22 January 2016

Time                            7:30 am

Venue                         Austerville Primary, Silvertree road

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Press release – Know where your children are

By Safiyia Stanfley, MPL, Provincial DAWN chairperson:

DAWN is shocked by the tragic suffocation of five young cousins from Kakamas. We commiserate with the family on the loss of their children.

The death of a child is a very heavy burden for a parent to bear.

We hope that the horrific event serves as a wake-up call to parents to be vigilant and to be aware of their children’s whereabouts. An accident can happen in an instant. Young children should not be left unsupervised while playing, especially not when playing around dangerous objects.

We take note of the fact that SAPS has opened an inquest into the matter. We call for a thorough investigation and believe that, if any negligence can be proved, criminal charges should be pursued against the relevant parties.

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Scholar Transport: Learners are once again stranded

By Jane Sithole MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:

More than a week into the 2016 school year, learners from Nokuthula Primary School in Mkhondo municipality are still without transport to get them to school.

Last year, the provincial Department of Public Works Roads and Transport (PWRT) withdrew its scholar transport programme to the area leaving nearly 200 learners stranded.

For over six months, concerned parents along with the School Governing Body (SGB) and the school principal have been trying unsuccessfully to compel the department of Education to intervene.

The actions of the department of PWRT under the leadership of MEC Dumisile Nhlengethwa coupled with the continued silence of Education MEC, Reginah Mhaule on this matter is actively denying the children of Nokuthula Primary School their constitutional right to quality education.

With the country’s ailing economy, it has become even more important for the government to ensure that no learner is left behind by the schooling system.

Quality education will ensure that our children have better access to opportunities for higher learning and gainful employment.

The Department of PWRT and the Department of Education must provide answers to the Nokuthula Primary School learners on why they have been abandoned, why the departments have remained silent on the matter and what plans are in place to ensure these learners return to school and catch up on all the work missed.  Both departments must provide the parents, learners and the school with a plan to combat the problems facing the scholar transport system.

The DA will continue to fight for quality education for all learners in every school. Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their potential through access to quality education which also requires a reliable transport mode to school.

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