You can’t have it both ways Mr Premier

Mark Steele, MPL

DA KZN Chief Whip

KZN Premier, Senzo Mchunu’s ‘I Do Right’ campaign is well-intentioned but has at its heart one huge fatal flaw.  The more he commits the province of KwaZulu-Natal to ‘put measures in place to eradicate fraud and corruption’ the more people will look at the bigger picture of the abject failure of the ANC to hold their political leadership accountable and the entire credibility of the campaign will be undermined.

In the very same newspaper that the Premier is punting his anti-corruption campaign there appears a report from Parliament in which the ANC’s Mathole Motshekga declares wonderfully that the President bears no responsibility for over-spending at Nkandla and so, by some magical sleight of hand suddenly doesn’t have to comply with the Public Protector’s finding that he must pay back the portion of the Nkandla costs which represents personal enrichment.

It’s very simple Mr Premier.  You can’t have it both ways.  Either your party backs Jacob Zuma to the hilt or you fight corruption – but you can’t do both simultaneously.

In the courts of public opinion fighting corruption means holding political leaders accountable.  The more the ANC denies this connection the more its credibility will suffer.

The President must already be uncomfortably aware that his senior lieutenants are doing the electoral arithmetic.  While he brings in the votes they will be loyal, but once the support for the ANC drops below 50% in any of the key battleground metros then he will become an expendable liability in the 2016 local government elections.

Schools should encourage diversity

Mbali Ntuli, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

With a new year soon upon us, many parents have applied to schools of their choice in the hope of educating their children to secure their futures. Yet every year there are those who are faced with a letter of rejection.

The autonomy of our schools is crucial.  It is a large factor in the success of many of our schools.  This includes the right to set their own admissions policy amongst others. But when that autonomy is used to gate keep or reserve spaces for certain types of students it becomes a problem.

The law is very clear about the schools denying access to a learner based on discriminations set out in our Constitution. The National Education Act says specifically of admissions that ‘The admission policy of a public school and the administration of admissions by an education department must not unfairly discriminate in any way against an applicant for admission.’

It is therefore disconcerting that some schools seem to routinely deny admissions to pupils – who in some cases live less than a kilometre from the school to which they have applied – seemingly on the grounds of race, religion and other spurious claims.

I am currently dealing with many frustrated parents who have been denied the ability to enrol their children into schools most convenient for them on such grounds. Whilst, in these cases, there will be a follow up with the department of Education it is worth reminding ourselves of the inherent advantages of diversity in our schools.

Study after study shows that children brought up or schooled in diverse environments whether socially, class, race or religious and others, display a far better understanding of the world. They are able with relative ease to navigate the many nuanced complexities of a society with a history such as ours.

It is therefore the duty of parents, school governing bodies and school authorities to actively strive to provide a holistic and diverse school environment for our learners.

Our country sorely needs more tolerance and empathy towards one another. We will only be stronger once we are able to honestly say we understand each other. Schools, due to the ability and scope they have to shape young lives and instil values are our nation’s biggest hope in fostering a generation of citizens that will lead this country forward, united.


Accountable to the Residents

Mergan Chetty, MP

DA Member of Parliament

Ahmed A. Khan asserts that many football lovers are in support of the sponsorship of Maritzburg United, (August, 28). Khan values this over the thousands of ratepayers that are angered by the Msunduzi Municipality’s decision to hand out their service delivery allocated funds to a football club.

The view that I seem upset at who owns the football club is not only immaterial but preposterous! Regardless of ownership, the core function of any municipality is not to sponsor a professional football club but to provide inter alia well maintained sports facilities for its residents. In this instance the municipality has failed its citizens miserably! Nelson Mandela Bay has lured Chippa United by a whopping R35million for three years.

The service delivery protests in Nelson Mandela Bay add value to my perspective. Poverty and unemployment is rife in our city and instead of addressing these realistic challenges the municipality sponsors football under a cloud of secrecy.

Recently, the High Court correctly ruled that it is the municipality’s responsibility to provide housing for a group of land invaders; could the R36 million not assist to alleviate the serious housing crisis?  While professional football is looked after ratepayers are milked through overvalued properties- it’s these funds that runs the city! Khan seems unmoved by this as a ratepayer! Good governance of the municipality is essential- that’s my perspective!

Land invasions

Mergan K Chetty, MP

Democratic Alliance NCOP member

The recent land invasions in Woodlands, can be serious if not managed with sensitivity. Having attended some concerned residents’ meetings, the absence or failure of Msunduzi council to take responsibility is worrying. At a meeting of residents held outside their community hall in Woodlands on  August 22,  various concerns came to mind,  why were the residents not allowed to use their hall, why should the residents have to consider raising funds to engage a private security company to implement the initial court order, and, why was the municipality only making a decision on August 23, as informed by the ward councillor, to discuss its strategic plan to ensure that the court order was implemented to prevent new dwellings being built?

The absence of the Mayor, Speaker and more crucially the MEC for Housing, Hon. Ravi Pillay at this sensitive meetings was conspicuous. One recalls their collective presence during a one night stint as seasoned election campaigners regarding their support for the drag racing event in the northern areas. Housing is now also within the municipality’s competency and Council must provide housing for the homeless. Their silence is indeed deafening. Municipal officials have stated that they do not have sufficient manpower and that overtime is a financial constraint, yet the council in its infinite wisdom agreed to guarantee R36 million for an individual’s soccer team whilst claiming lack of funding as an excuse when faced with the challenges of their core business, service delivery!!!

Factions within the ANC impacts on service delivery in Local Municipalities

Mergan Chetty, MP

DA member of the National Council of Provinces

Many issues that were raised and discussed during the 4th Parliament, and contained in the Legacy Report to the 5th Parliament have yet to be resolved. Amongst these, include matters that are crucial to the functioning of municipalities, which are at the fore front of service delivery.

The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Operation Clean Audit, embarked on the over ambitious goal to have all 283 municipalities and provincial departments to achieve clean audits by 2014, has not only failed, but failed dismally.

The former Minister of COGTA, Lechesa Tsenoli, owes Parliament an explanation and the residents of Madibeng, an apology as to why his report to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), regarding the intervention of the Madibeng Local Municipality, was misleading. The North West MEC for COGTA, Manketse Tlhape, requested that Section 139 (1) (b) be invoked, in view of allegations that ranged from the failure to implement recommendations against senior managers, misconduct, maladministration, fraud and misappropriation of Municipal funds.

Unfortunately, the Minister in his report to the Select Committee for COGTA, presented a contradicting synopsis indicating that the Municipality was heading towards a positive direction and that the Municipal officials and political leadership were working together with the Ministerial Task Team, to turn the Municipality around from its downward spiral.

At the NCOP Plenary on Thursday, 31 July 2014, the DA cautioned Parliament from acceding to the Ministers request, and is on record stating “The DA cautions this House, that before it makes its decision to support the termination intervention, that first and foremost there are two contradicting requests. The North West MEC for COGTA, wants to invoke Section 139 (1) (b) and the Minister does not. The DA wants to remind this House that we serve at the will of our Provinces, and are accountable to our Provinces and not to Luthuli House.”

Quoting from the 4th Parliament, “Interventions are usually made far too late, when a municipality is about to collapse. It takes considerable effort to put a municipality on a stable footing. Yet if the intervention had been made earlier, when the first signs of a failure emerge, it could have reversed the harm to service delivery, be less costly, and be more effective.”

The House was reminded that this was not the first attempt at intervention in Madibeng, but the third since 2009. Sadly, the former Premier of the North West Province, and current Chair of the NCOP Thandi Modise’s silence on this matter, was deafening.

One of the key challenges that emerged from the Legacy Report is that “it is not always clear why Provinces intervene in some municipalities with problems and not in others. It sometimes seems that political and other criteria weigh unduly on decisions to intervene.Interventions, it is argued, are sometimes used to settle political scores.”

The inconsistent manner in which the contradicting reports from both the Minister and MEC, adds substance to the reality of this challenge highlighted in the report.

The DA feels vindicated in that this past Friday, 8 August 2014, at a Council meeting in Madibeng, the ANC requested that the Mayor and Speaker tender their resignation letters and for these to be served before Council. The current Mayor, Councillor Mangoathe, only deployed recently due to the service delivery failures resigned and was rather unashamedly redeployed as the Speaker. This very act has become synonymous with the ANC, in that rather than punish cadres for failing; they are redeployed to other departments or spheres of government, whilst the citizens of the country continue to pay for their incompetence.

In yet another twist, the newly appointed Councillor Mothibe, who was sworn in at that very meeting, was elected as the new Mayor. This further indicates that the political leadership in the North West has very little faith in its current cadres serving as councillors, and that it had to redeploy someone from outside. This confirming the MEC’s concerns that the current political leadership in council was unco-operative. This is indeed a stark contradiction from what the Minister had declared in his report

We call upon the newly deployed Minister, Pravin Gordhan to prove to South Africa that he has the courage of his convictions and to act and ensure that clean governance will be a priority and that he will punish corruption. The finances of Madibeng are in disarray, we therefore implore the Minister to give serious consideration to invoking Section 139 (1)(c), and dissolving the Madibeng Local Municipality. ( 748 word count )

Let’s Never Forget

Jane Sithole MPL

DA Provincial Spokesperson on Women, Youth, Children and People with disabilities

Note: The following Debate was delivered in the Mpumalanga Legislature today by Jane Sithole MPL the DA’s Provincial Spokesperson on Women, Youth, Children and People with disabilities during the debate on Women’s Day.

Women’s day in South Africa marks the remarkable demonstration that took place in 1956.  On that day women of all races and backgrounds marched in protest against apartheid pass laws, women across South Africa moved in solidarity and signed the petition in this regard.

This ground breaking protest represented women’s bravery, courage and strength and I stand before you today in honour of those women who have inspired, who have paved the way and given hope to so many of us.

Women like, Rahima Moosa, Sophie Williams, Helen Joseph, Lilian Ngoyi to name a few gave me and other women the confidence to be who I am.  To be comfortable in my own skin and to be who I want to be without having to explain myself to anyone.  And the sacrifices they made gave me the freedom to choose my affiliation, my association, my organisation, my DA, my future.

The violence that women face on a daily basis remind us of how risky it is to be born a girl.  In particular we must not forget the girl children of Nigeria, who are still in the hands of Boko Haram, to this day it is still unclear what Nigerian government is doing to help bring back our girls.

And we spare a thought for the massive number of women in our rural areas who are victims of economic and social crises that they had no part in creating.  Our’s should be to enhance the freedom of other women and not stifle it for our own selfish reasons or political gain.

Women and children are at the receiving end of the ongoing struggle between Israel and Palestine, families in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip are torn apart as they watch their loved ones vanish one by one.  We can’t look away, screams for help plaque our TV screens every moment, and we continue to pray for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Hon Speaker, like Helen Suzman once said “it takes nothing to stand with the crowd but it takes everything to stand alone”.

Kannete, mo reyago gona e sale kgole, tsela ye e tloba boima, nako yenngwe re be nagane le go tlogela, ba tlilo leka go re fetsa maatla le gona go re nyamisha, e fela Sepedi se re “mmago ngwana o swara thipa ka bogaleng” and we are going to do exactly that.

We will never forget those 60 minutes of silence outside the Union Buildings in 1956 and we should remind ourselves of how much more still need to be done.

Hon. Speaker, all South Africans have a role to play. We have a responsibility to honour the sacrifices of our heroines over the years.

Let us never forget.

Letter to the Editor – MEC’s sticky situation

Ann Mc Donnell, MPL

Democratic Alliance

The appointment of MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu as KwaZulu-Natal’s political head of both Conservation and Economic Development and Tourism portfolio’s is likely to present a major challenge for him.

In light of the fact that all Economic development and Tourism takes place within the environment, this joint responsibility may yet prove to be a slippery slope for the MEC.  Different interests will demand to be served and regrettably, it is usually the environment – without an obvious profit motive – that is the loser.

A case in point is the proposed Fuleni open cast mine which, at just 70 metres from the southern boundary of the Umfolozi wilderness area, raises serious questions around the protection of our natural heritage.  Yet the coal that is mined is destined for export to India and China.

Certainly this is a sticky situation for the MEC who will want to keep both conservationists and investors happy.

The Fuleni mine is a concern to the DA and we will call for answers around the Environmental Impact Study (EIA).  We want to know whether the outcome of the Study (Record of Decision) has been issued and if so, whether this was done by a national or provincial entity.  We will also ask for clarity regarding the handling of the public participation process and will insist that all records and outcomes be made public.

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal is committed to ensuring that decisions made around both the Economic Development and Conservation portfolios are made with the best interests of KwaZulu-Natal, its people and wilderness heritage as priority.

How to avoid Pharaohs

Jack Bloom MPL

Caucus Leader

I recently visited the famous pyramids of Giza in Egypt.

The largest one was built around 2500 BCE by Egyptian Pharaoh Khufu. It’s a stupendous structure, with more than two million precisely laid heavy stones.

My guide said that it took 100 000 workers 20 years to build, and 50 000 of them died during the construction. He joked that the smaller pyramids were built by kinder pharaohs who didn’t want so many to die. His figures are exaggerations fed to tourists, but many must have died from accidents.

Archaeologists estimate that between 10 000 and 30 000 workers built the Khufu pyramid, most of whom were not slaves. Since Pharaoh was revered as a god, they were probably quite willing participants. They were mostly peasants who were free to work in the season when the Nile flooded their fields.

They worked for a few months at a time, joining about 5000 permanent skilled workers who were paid a salary. Every Pharoah built either a personal burial pyramid or an elaborate tomb. Virtually all have been robbed.

They also built various other vast monuments to their glory, including statues. Percy Bysshe Shelley describes the futility of it all in a famous poem inspired by a colossal wrecked statue of Ramesses II.

He writes of an inscription: “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings, Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Throughout history rulers have built edifices to match their outsize arrogance and ego. If the people were not sufficiently overawed by their god-like status, they had the brute force to subdue them.

In the modern era, both fascist and communist dictators embarked on monumental projects at the peoples’ expense.

Giant statues of communist titans like Stalin and Lenin have now been toppled, some stored in parks where visitors can meditate on their folly. Despite their egalitarian propaganda, communist rulers ensured their own comfort, living in luxury mansions and holiday homes.

It is very much more difficult to get away with this sort of thing in a democracy. Hence the outrage at more than R200 million of public money spent on President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead.

Contrast this with Uruguayan President José Mujica, who gives away most of his salary, lives in a small, one-bedroom flat and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle.

Well-paid political leaders don’t have to live in modest circumstances, but should not abuse the public purse for their own comforts.

Egypt today is under military rule, having tasted people power that toppled a corrupt autocratic regime.

We are lucky that politicians in our country are kept in check by institutions like the Public Protector and the Auditor-General. The ultimate accountability is through elections, where voters can throw out modern-day pharaohs by a simple cross on a ballot paper.

Why leadership matters

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

When I was studying at Wits University in the late 1970s, lecturers would sneer at the “Great Man” view of history.

They were mostly Marxists and talked about vast impersonal forces that determined events.

Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea were the rising economic tigers in the 1970s, but my sociology lecturers saw hope in “Euro-Marxism”.

They were not critical of Mao Zedong, who was actually a mass murderer who enormously hindered China’s economic progress.

And Lenin, also a mass murderer, was studied seriously as a model for revolutionary change.

Leftist revolutionaries were given a free pass, in contrast to the worst accusations thrown at Western “imperialist” powers.

I suspect that leftist academics still cannot comprehend why Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher are heroes in Eastern European countries that suffered under Soviet imperialism.

Many university dons are so far removed from ordinary people that their policy prescriptions are dangerous.

American writer William Buckley once said that he would “rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”

I am similarly wary of fashionable intellectual fads that are disastrous when implemented.

A notorious example is Outcome Based Education (OBE), which caused incredible damage to our education system.

Common sense is unfortunately not so common, and a healthy scepticism is necessary when grand schemes are talked about.

It is noteworthy that Hendrik Verwoerd, the author of apartheid “separate development”, was formerly a sociology professor.

Politics is fascinating because individuals do matter, and sometimes quirky unanticipated events can change things dramatically.

I saw how Tony Leon took a political party that the pundits had written off, and transformed it into a powerful opposition force.

Helen Zille led a fragile seven party coalition as mayor of Cape Town that could have toppled without superb and sustained leadership skill.

DA governance of Cape Town formed the base for the DA victory in the Western Cape, which was aided by vicious ANC in-fighting.

There was nothing inevitable about this; it was hard work, and personalities played a large role.

South Africa’s transition to a negotiated non-racial settlement is a case study of the importance of good leadership on all sides.

There were lots of occasions when it could have gone seriously awry.

What if Nelson Mandela had emerged from jail with bitter anger, bent on revenge instead of reconciliation?

Or if De Klerk had decided that military force could continue to secure white domination?

The 1994 elections were a cliff-hanger, with the IFP included on the ballot by a sticker put on at the last minute.

Jacob Zuma’s rise to the presidency was not inevitable either. It could have been derailed at many points, but he fought back skilfully.

The future is simply not predictable, which is scary on the one hand, but encouraging on the other.

It means that free choice and the power of possibility can overcome all manner of dire prognostications.

There are tipping points and catalysts that can dramatically change our political landscape.

Truly great leadership recognizes this and seizes the moment for the higher good.

Compromising Op-eds

Tom Stokes, MPP

Democratic Alliance

The efforts of ANC Provincial Chair Senzo Mchunu, and now MEC Ravi Pillay to stop the hemorrhaging of Indian and Coloured voters from the ANC to the DA are pathetic. At the centre of their psychosis is an inability to deracialize their political thinking and at the same time try to make Indians and Coloureds “feel at home in the ANC”.

The truth of the matter, borne out in almost every Provincial Legislature debate, is that the ANC thinks race, talks race and acts race.   Its members cannot understand that the DA has moved the debate beyond yesterday’s preoccupation with past divisions, and that our citizens are joining the DA not because they “feel at home” but because they become the home.

The simple arithmetic speaks against all the ANC fabrications that the DA is a White dominated party. In a country where the total White population is under 10%, and where the DA holds 25% of the vote, even the most disadvantaged school learner can work out that most DA members are from different population groups.

It is a pity that both Mchunu and Pillay have compromised their integrity by expounding blatant falsehoods about the DA for quick political gains.