Premier confirms that provinces were not consulted on nuclear deal

By Andrew Louw MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader:

The DA’s concerns that national government has been entertaining the nuclear deal without following due processes has been confirmed by Northern Cape Premier Sylvia Lucas.

In response to a question posed to the premier during a recent House Sitting at the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, Lucas firmly stated that provincial government doesn’t take kindly to the fact that the nuclear issue has been brought to them as passive recipients.

This serves to highlight the fact that Energy Minister, Tina Joemat-Petterrson, who hails from the Northern Cape, has been pushing her own agenda with talks of the nuclear build project. This is in spite of the fact that the nuclear deal is set to directly affect a number of provinces which have been earmarked for the establishment of nuclear power stations.

The consequences of the nuclear deal are even more for the Northern Cape, which houses the only nuclear waste disposal facility in the entire country.

Given the ramifications of the nuclear deal on all the people of this country, it is astounding that Joemat-Pettersson and national government have chosen to marginalize inputs from provincial government on this precarious deal.

According to Lucas, she has out of her own engaged in a discussion with the National Minister whereby it was established that the nuclear deal was at a very initial stage. Lucas further said that, pending international agreements, she would insist that there be consultation with the province on this matter going forward.

A lack of consultation on the nuclear deal previously came to light  when the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Nature Conservation conceded that it also had no knowledge hereof. This is in spite of the fact that the provincial department is mandated with the responsibility of providing inputs for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s) on all developments that have an impact on the Northern Cape environment.

The DA welcomes the assurance given by Lucas that she will not allow national government to impose any nuclear related projects on the province without proper processes, such as involvement of provincial government, being followed.

In this heated political climate, where it has become clear that there is division within the ANC and Cabinet on the matter of the nuclear deal, it takes a lot for a Premier to take ownership of her province.

An instruction from the top, cannot force the Northern Cape government to buckle into building nuclear power plants. And we are relieved that Premier Sylvia Lucas seems to agree with us on this.

Gauteng premier’s head in the sand on national energy blackout

By Ashor Sarupen MPL, DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Finance:

In response to my oral question regarding Gauteng’s disaster management preparedness for a national energy blackout, Premier David Makhura today revealed that he would rather take cheap political shots than deal with the issue – for which Gauteng has no plan.

The issue of a major system constraint (terminology by Eskom for an energy blackout) was raised at the Disaster Management National Advisory Forum as far back as August 2013.

However, the premier stated that this meeting was pleased with Eskom’s progress since 2008 and completely ignored the fact that Eskom has been plunged back into crisis with load shedding a fact of life for South Africans.

The premier made reference to his previous response, which made reference to his unfunded plan to install solar panels on government building rooftops, a project yet to see planning – let alone implementation, which will not be able to meet the energy needs of Gauteng.

The previous response also made reference to clinics having generators, but more than 200 clinics don’t have generators, which would only be able to provide power for a few hours, not the two weeks needed to restore power in the case of a blackout.

Unlike the Western Cape Provincial Government, who has produced plans to ensure continuity of public services and mitigation of the effects of an energy blackout, Gauteng has no recovery plan.

Instead, Premier Makhura and his ANC colleagues chose to laugh off the seriousness of the issue.

A DA Government in Gauteng would have tasked disaster management to produce a plan with the aim of mitigating the human cost, ensuring continuity of health care services, the maintenance of law and order in the province, along with a communication plan so that every resident is kept up to date.

The citizens of Gauteng deserve a government that takes disaster management and disaster risk reduction seriously.

Nuclear deal: provincial govt. must protect Northern Cape environment

By Ismail Obaray MPL DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Environment:

Talk of the possible establishment of nuclear power stations in the province is of great concern to the DA considering that the Northern Cape Department of Environment and Conservation recently conceded that it had no knowledge hereof. This is in spite of the fact that the provincial department is mandated with the responsibility of providing inputs for Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s) on all developments that have an impact on the Northern Cape environment.

During the Environment Department’s first quarter performance presentation at the legislature recently, the department admitted that, with regards to the nuclear deal, “all we know is what we read.”

This has set of major alarm bells, as it means that there has not been consultation with the Northern Cape on this matter.

While the DA understands that nuclear power is a national competency, this doesn’t excuse the provincial administration from being sidelined in a deal that has major ramifications for the people of the Northern Cape.

The DA will pose a question to Premier Lucas, pertaining to the proposed nuclear power deal, at Tuesday’s scheduled question time session in Kuruman.

We need a commitment from the Premier that, for the sake of this province and its people, she and her cabinet members will take ownership of the Northern Cape environment and that they will put the wellbeing of this province and its people first.

An instruction from the top cannot force the Northern Cape government to buckle into building nuclear power plants without procedure being followed.

We also request that the Premier tables facts on the financial cost and environmental cost of the nuclear build, and if necessary Premier Lucas should set up an engagement with Energy Minister, Tina Joemat Pettersson, to acquire first-hand information on the nuclear deal.

BCM izinyoka-report must be regarded with urgency

By Cllrs Terence Fritz and Dillon Webb:

The Democratic Alliance is grateful for the urgency shown by newly appointed Buffalo City mayor Alfred Mtsi regarding the growing problem of illegal electricity connections (izinyoka) in the city that has killed 29 people in the last three years.

Our population is constantly growing resulting in the crisis to worsen.  People want access to electricity and many are going the illegal and dangerous route to acquire it.  Two weeks ago another two young children lost their lives due to izinyoka.  This as a serious problem that needs urgent intervention.

We believe that every South African deserves a fair society where they have access to electricity to give them the freedom to create the opportunity for a better life.

During last week’s (subs:  Thursday, 6 Aug) meeting of the Infrastructure Planning and Services Portfolio Committee chairperson Mteteleli Sam acknowledged izinyoka – described by some as ‘’a commercial crime’’ and an “’economic sabotage”’.   He claimed that with new land invasions taking place in the metro, the more likeliness it is for izinyoka to spread and we are shooting a moving target.

The committee was informed that BCM mayor Alfred Mtsi had already asked for a full report, including a 10-point plan on how to overcome this crisis.

The DA commends the portfolio head of engineering for being pro-active on the matter and trust that the process of presenting the report to the committee, mayoral committee, and then to council for approval will be done speedily.

At the same meeting a report regarding BCMM looking to renewable energy to curb our electricity problems was put on the table; however, the fruits of this will probably be seen in the long term.

Gauteng has no national blackout contingency plan

By Mike Moriarty MPL, DA Chief Whip in the Gauteng Legislature

and Ashor Sarupen, DA Gauteng spokesperson on IT:

Gauteng Premier David Makhura today admitted that his government had no contingency plan to provide emergency services in the event of a national electricity blackout.

It is estimated that the impact of a national blackout would be catastrophic and that it would take 2-3 weeks to restore supply to normality.

During this time there would be a virtual total breakdown of all services such as health, education, traffic management, and emergency services such as fire and ambulances.

Moreover, water supply will fail and fuel supplies would completely dry up – with a devastating effect on supply of all goods and services.

Indeed, there is a risk of widespread panic and lawlessness.

In his response to DA questions for oral reply, the premier said that while the threat of a national energy shutdown would be disastrous, the Gauteng Provincial Government only had some contingency capabilities, which would fall far short.

Indeed, it was clear that the Premier had not considered the prospect of a national blackout in any way.

Additionally, the Premier does not see his government as being responsible to coordinate all disaster recovery efforts, irrespective of whether the service providers were local, provincial or national.

It is imperative during disaster recovery that emergency services continue, that law and order is maintained, and that government is on hand and available to deal with any situation that may arise.

The premier stated that emergency services had backup generator capacity, but could not say how much fuel reserves were on hand.

He said they are “waiting” for municipalities to submit plans, which he has requested. In other words, these do not yet exist.

He could also not provide an answer over the capabilities of the police, fobbing it off as a national government competency.

While the provincial government is planning to supplement the grid through the installation of rooftop solar panels, retro-fitted gas boilers and re-commissioning the Rooiwal, Pretoria West and Kelvin power stations, these plans are for the medium to long term and serve only to mitigate the possibility of a blackout – but is not a plan to recover from such a disaster once it actually happens.

The fact is that the premier has a responsibility to the people of Gauteng, and he has to coordinate with all municipalities and government departments to produce an effective contingency plan to ensure that Gauteng does not descend into chaos.

It is not difficult to plan and coordinate. It is not difficult to get cooperation to anticipate disaster and develop protocols to respond adequately. It is the very least that the people of Gauteng can expect.

Simply hoping that Eskom would keep the lights on will no longer suffice.

FS ESKOM Crisis: ANC engaging in psychological terrorism

By James Letuka, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The ANC-led governments of various Free State municipalities, the ANC-led provincial government under Ace Magashule, and the national Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Browne, Minister of COGTA, Pravin Gordhan and Finance Minister, Nhalanhla Nene, as well as the ANC appointed executive management of ESKOM, are all engaging in psychological terrorism against residents of the Free State. All these different government role-players are responsible for causing the impending ESKOM crisis and then they have the audacity to fail to communicate effectively the extent of the problem to the people of the province.

ESKOM has served notice that it would proceed with unethical scheduled punitive blackouts against the residents of the Ngawathe and Maluti-a-Phofung Local Municipalities unless the ANC-led councils table payment plans that would be acceptable to ESKOM.

Should ESKOM proceed with its punitive scheduled blackouts in the Free State, it would be tantamount to economic terrorism. The impact on people’s lives would be devastating and local economies would be dealt a deathblow, resulting in closures and job losses.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene even went so far as to withhold the equitable share of Free State municipalities to force them to enter into payment agreements with ESKOM. This had a negative impact on already struggling municipalities to deliver even the most basic of services.

Premier Ace Magashule, the MEC for COGTA, Olly Mlamleli, the MEC for Finance, Elzabe Rockman, have not uttered a single word of reassurance to the people of the Free State on what the provincial government is doing to resolve the ESKOM impasse. The DA has repeatedly asked for a credible intervention in local government to deal with the dire financial situation of Free State Municipalities, but Ace Magashule says his government has only good stories to tell.

The Speaker of the Free State Provincial Legislature, Mamiki Qabathe, has failed to respond to our request to schedule an urgent debate of public importance in a bid to find solutions to the ESKOM crisis for more than a month now. We can assume that the Speaker has no intention of even considering our request.

It is illegal, unconstitutional and unethical for ESKOM to proceed with the disconnection of electricity supply to paying consumers. The reason why ESKOM is collectively owed almost R1,7 billion by Free State Municipalities is not the fault of paying residents. The blame lies squarely at the feet of the various ANC administrations in the province as a result of their persistent financial mismanagement.

There is one common denominator in all the problems that negatively affect the lives of our people in the Free State and that is the ANC.

It is the ANC that brought us to this juncture. It is the ANC at local government, the ANC at provincial government, the ANC at national government and the ANC managed ESKOM.

The only solution to the ANC is a vote for the DA. We call on all Free State residents to use the power of their votes next year and vote for the only party, the DA, that can bring the Free State back on track.

ESKOM set to disconnect FS municipalities while Speaker Qabathe dallies on debate of public importance

By James Letuka, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

ESKOM is set to proceed with its plan of punitive blackouts in the Ngwathe and Maluti-a-Phofung local municipalities.

The DA  maintains that ESKOM’s scheduled punitive blackouts of eight hours during weekdays and six hours on weekends is unacceptable and unethical.

On the 29th of April 2015, I formally wrote to the Speaker of the Free State Provincial Legislature, Mamiki Qabathe, requesting her to schedule an urgent debate of public importance for the next sitting so that we can debate the collective ESKOM municipal debt in the province of almost R1,7 billion and the consequences that this debt has on the lives of our people. During a sitting on the 21 May 2015, the DA raised this matter in the legislature, to which Speaker Qabathe responded by obfuscating on matter.

It would appear that Speaker Qabathe has no interest to consider our request and that in itself is a clear indication that she doesn’t care about the adverse impact ESKOM’s punitive blackouts would have on the quality of life of our people and the already stunted economic outlook of the Free State.

I will again write to Speaker Qabathe to remind her of our urgent request.

Meanwhile, like Speaker Qabathe, COGTA MEC Olly Mlamleli also couldn’t care less about this impending crisis. We have repeatedly called on her to intervene in dysfunctional municipalities to no avail, she disregards our constructive engagement with the same contempt that she disregards the plight of the poor.

The ANC has little regard for the problems facing the Free State. It is time that residents of the Free State take back the power of their votes and use it wisely in next year’s elections. The time for change has come.

Where the DA governs we do not get threats from ESKOM that it would implement punitive blackouts because we pay our accounts on time and National Treasury doesn’t withhold our municipalities’ equitable share because a DA government manages public finances appropriately.

DA Mpumalanga marched in Secunda against Eskom’s power cuts

By James Masango MP, DA Mpumalanga Leader and Political Head of Govan Mbeki:

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Mpumalanga led a march to Govan Mbeki municipal offices, in Secunda against the municipality’s failure to prevent Eskom from cutting power to the municipality.

Led by DA provincial leader James Masango, he DA marched to the municipal offices in Secunda to hand over a memorandum to the Municipal Manager Mmela Mahlangu, demanding that the MM and Mayor meet urgently with Eskom to set a robust repayment plan, to keep the lights on.

This comes after Eskom announced that it will cut bulk electricity to 20 municipalities as a result of the huge municipal debts.

This will be grossly unfair to all the people of Govan Mbeki municipality who have paid their accounts and are up to date with payments.

To date we have not heard of any arrangements made by this municipality to avoid bulk electricity cuts.

Eskom did announce that 10 municipalities have made arrangements to pay their outstanding accounts, and Govan Mbeki is not one of them.

In the memorandum, the DA demanded that:

  • That the Municipal Manager and Mayor meet urgently with Eskom to set a robust repayment plan, to keep the lights on; and
  • For the Mayor to launch an investigation into the financial affairs of the municipality.

Leadership must prevail and action should be taken immediately to prevent this. We cannot afford to drag the economy of this municipality and that of the Province down and hamper the lives of our people even further due to the municipality’s incompetence.

A motion was tabled by DA councillor NC van Huyssteen at a council meeting recently requesting the municipality to engage Eskom as a matter of urgency. (Click here to see motion)

The DA has given the municipality 14 days to respond to our demands.

DA to march in Secunda against Eskom’s power cuts

media advisory:

On Saturday, 16 May 2015, DA Mpumalanga Leader James Masango MP will lead a march to Govan Mbeki municipal offices, in Secunda against the municipality’s failure to prevent Eskom from cutting power to the municipality.

The DA will hand over a Memorandum to the Municipal Manager and Mayor demanding:

  • That the Municipal Manager and Mayor meet urgently with Eskom to set a robust repayment plan, to keep the lights on; and
  • For the Mayor to launch an investigation into the financial affairs of the municipality.

Members of the media are invited to attend.

Date: 16 May 2015

Event Time: 09:00

Event Location: Govan Mbeki local municipal offices (Secunda) at the Lillian Ngoyi (Casper Breedt) parking area.

Four days with no electricity for Inkwanca residents

By Kobus Botha (MPL), Midlands constituency leader:

Approximately 1 000 households, government institutions, farmers and businesses have been without electricity for four days after a transformer exploded in Molteno on Monday morning.

The Inkwanca municipality has become completely paralysed and has failed to act.  We need to get out the cadres and replace them with competent officials.

As the days pass, nothing seems to materialise from the municipal leadership despite assurances by acting municipal manager Themba Mnguni that the situation was being handled and power would be restored by Tuesday afternoon.

On Monday, Ward 3 DA councillor Lindy Haggard alerted ANC mayor Luleka Gubhula and the acting municipal manager about the outage.

Since then she has been managing the anger and fears of the local community by providing sms updates and via public meetings.  She also sourced a ten-ton truck that would enable municipal officials to transport the blown and new transformer.

When I contacted Cooperative Governance MEC Fikile Xasa and ANC MPL Mninawa Nyusile, the chairperson of the portfolio committee on Corporate Governance in the legislature, neither were aware of the outage.

The lack of political and administrative will by the ANC to react with speed to this crisis is symptomatic of an uncaring government.

The ANC-principals have assured me that they will resolve the situation.

In the meantime, residents have threatened to call for a toyi-toyi to vent their anger at the lack of responsiveness by the ANC.

The greatest challenge facing the Inkwanca ANC leadership is the decline in locals trust in local government’s ability to render effective and efficient basic services.

The DA will keep up the pressure to ensure that services are restored.