NEHAWU strike: NCOP visit to Eden District postponed

By Denis Joseph MPP, Deputy Chief Whip in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament:

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) follow up visit to the Eden District, ‘taking parliament to the people,’ has been postponed to early in 2016.

The NCOP steering committee chose to postpone the visit, which comes after an initial visit that took place in April 2015. This follows the labour dispute between the management of parliament and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU). The dispute is negatively impacting on the state of readiness of the NCOP.

The Executive Authority of the National Assembly and the NCOP is challenged to such an extent that the risk has become too high. As such, the visit to municipalities in the Eden District cannot effectively conduct follow up visits and public hearings.

Despite the challenges, the Western Cape Provincial Parliament remains committed to the exercise of taking parliament to the people. The three spheres of government must continue its collaboration, in the interest of all citizens.

Media enquiries:

Denis Joseph MPP – 084 703 9266

Deputy Chief Whip of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament

Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament.

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NCOP adopts DA motion on drought relief

By Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The below motion was tabled by Roy Jankielsohn (MPL) and adopted by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during its sitting in Cape Town today.

03 November 2015

Release: Immediate

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance I hereby wish to move without notice that Council notes-

  • That the severe drought facing our country has the potential to impact negatively on food security and political stability;
  • That food security was one of the major reasons for the so called Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt, which emphasizes the role of food security in securing political stability;
  • That, besides ensuring food security, the agricultural sector in the country play an important role in ensuring social and economic stability through their income generation and job creation in rural communities;
  • That Council calls on government to support the agricultural community through drought relief and by ensuring that policy and legislative proposals do not cause additional stress on a sector that is already vulnerable and facing an exodus of skills and expertise that have taken many generations to create;
  • That Council recognizes the contributions of subsistence, emerging and commercial farmers who continue to produce food for our nation.

I so move.

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NCOP Debate – Rural Women deserve equal opportunities

By Veliswa Mvenya (MPL), Shadow MEC for Social Development:

This speech was delivered by Veliswa Mvenya MPL, in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in Cape Town today during the debate on International Day of Rural Women:

Honourable Chairperson, Honourable Members, Honourable Ministers present and members of the public. It gives me great pleasure to be given an opportunity to speak on behalf of my women from my home. I was born and bred in the deep rural area of Ngqamakhwe in the Eastern Cape. I was a rural girl and now I am a rural woman.

I still spend my weekends with my family in Ngqamakhwe, so I know exactly what is going on there. As a rural girl, I used to fetch water from the river to cook and bath. Today, I see other rural women fetching water from the river and I can see many of them suffering on hot and rainy days.

I am one of the fortunate women in South Africa who does not have to do this anymore because I can afford to buy water tanks.

In King Williams Town, there is a project that is only four kilometres away from our provincial legislature; it is called Sophakama Sonke Women Coop. It is funded by Social Development. Eight years ago, it applied for an irrigation scheme as they are involved in crop farming. The money was misused by the officials of the department and a subsequent investigation was conducted with no consequences for those implicated.

Women walk uphill for about two kilometres to fetch water from a river in order to fill tanks to irrigate their crops. The Department including ANC MEC [Nancy Sihlwayi] are aware but as long as it is not affecting them or their kids who live in urban areas they are not concerned. Like many in the ANC in the Eastern Cape and the rest of the country, they simply do not care. Yet the ANC states that they develop and care for rural women. Organising women’s events and feeding rural women to win votes does not mean anything as far as making a difference by developing them and giving them an opportunity to get out of poverty.

I used to take food to the fields for my mother when working there with her bare hands for our household food security. Those fields are no longer producing food because the ANC through government promised to provide tractors for rural people but only a few people benefit and those are councillors and chiefs. When tractors are off-loaded, we celebrate in front of TV cameras but when the cameras leave so do the tractors. This contributes to the high level of poverty because we depend on agriculture for food security in rural areas. The people who suffer most are our women.

A rural woman takes care of her husband, the kids, the in-laws and the community at large. With the high rate of unemployment, she is the one who suffers the most because she is the one who is removed by the municipality as a street vendor who has not been informed about upholding by-laws.

She does not even understand the word ‘by-law’, but is removed and the fruit that supports the above mentioned people is scattered in the streets by those who were raised and educated with the same hard-earned money. There is no fairness in our society.

It is even worse when that same woman educates her child [in mud schools] and there are no job opportunities for them, they have to suffer like their parents. In rural areas, a child is born and raised with social grants, bears their own kids, who in turn depend on social grants. This has become their cycle of life and the ANC in government has done little to bring about the change that is desperately needed by our rural women.

We need a country where social grants will be used as a safety net, where a child born in any rural area can get opportunities to take their families out of poverty so as to relieve the street vendor mother who will be able to see the rewards of sending her kids to school under those difficult circumstances. If that cannot happen, then this freedom is freedom that they cannot use.

When government formulated a policy on rural development and even changed the Agriculture Department to the Rural Development Department, I celebrated hoping that our rural lives would be transformed. Seemingly, the concept is not understood, if there are farmers in the Eastern Cape who two weeks ago took the Eastern Cape Department of Roads to court because of how bad the roads are – which has made farming impossible.

Honourable Chair.

Why in 2015, do we still find our rural people in queues at 1 am outside the banks to withdraw their SASSA grants?

Banks are inaccessible during social grant payment days. Why is government not developing rural shops so that there are more ATMs? Why is government not creating a system for more affordable groceries with no delivery costs to make it easier for women with enormous responsibilities to do other things that can benefit their families? The ANC government has proven they cannot help our rural people by doing what was bestowed upon them to do. I strongly suggest, you allow the DA to show you that we are a caring government with the solutions to create jobs, provide a better life for all and to get our most vulnerable out of poverty.

Rural development does not only involve projects or coops but it involves equalising the lifestyle of rural women with that of urban women.

Working taps with clean water, tractors for crop farming, more shops in rural areas, adequate health care, education of a higher standard and access to more job opportunities should have been a priority when we became a democracy.

Sadly, under the ANC all we have seen is a select few benefitting whilst the rest of our people remain poor.

The ANC has proven that they have only given a better life for some and not for all.

There is no fairness, no freedom and no opportunity in rural areas.

Honourable Chairperson.

Rural women are only recognised when the ANC have to campaign for votes.

But what they do not realise is when you strike a rural women, you strike the heartbeat of the nation. Your time is running out and if you continue to desperately cling on to power, through your corruption, cadre deployment and bad management, you continue to fail our rural communities.

I hope this debate is not just to heckle competition/opponents but that we take the plight of rural women seriously in order to improve their lives.

Rural women like all South African women have the potential to contribute to the growth of our country’s economy.

They collect water for drinking and bathing. They farm chickens to sell and they sell the milk from cows.

With the little money they make, they clothe and feed our children. This is all to make sure that the next generation survives.

Women and especially rural women are the backbone of our nation.

The Democratic Alliance supports the efforts that are made to develop rural women and when we are in government in provinces like the Eastern Cape and soon in South Africa we will prioritise this.
I thank you

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ANC KZN Legislature appoints Hate Speech Umzinyahti Mayor to NCOP

By Mergan Chetty MP, DA NCOP Member for COGTA:

Today the ANC in KwaZulu Natal appointed the former disgraced Councillor James Mthethwa, to the NCOP.

Mr Mthethwa, resigned as Umzinyathi mayor due to hate speech against the LGBTI Community. During an event at the  Umzinyathi Community Work Training project in Dundee he made assertions blaming “gay people for spreading HIV and Aids and [that they] must be stopped”.

The standard ANC practice of redeployment without disciplinary action by the ANC is a slap in the face to the LGBTI community, South Africa at large and our Constitution.

By simply redeploying Mr Mthethwa, the ANC has shown that they do not take humans rights of every South African’s seriously and that they put their comrades above the denunciation of violence and hatred towards members of our society.

The DA finds it intolerable that the ANC would appoint a man to represent South Africans, yet he has directly violated the South African Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

It is only the DA that has stood in solidary with the LGBTI community in today’s KZN Legislature sitting whilst all other parties supported the ANC nomination of former disgraced and homophobic mayor Mr Mthethwa.

We have previously reported Mr Mthethwa to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). The ANC has also, previously rejected a motion I made in the NCOP stating that his remarks were hate speech.

The ANC has once again given Mr Mthethwa a position to mislead South Africans and promote ignorance and violence within our society.

We urge the ANC to do the morally correct thing and recall him where he would be unable to do further harm to South Africans.

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Letter to the Editor – NCOP visits highlight dire situation in KZN municipalities

By George Mari, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on COGTA:

RECENT visits by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to certain northern KZN municipalities again highlighted the failure to deliver basic services to communities, with water delivery in particular in a state of crisis.

To add to the problem, the Kwa Dukuza/Lower Tugela Water Scheme and the pipeline from Tugela to Hazelmere Dam remain incomplete.  The DA has long suggested alternate water harvesting solutions, including desalination plants along the coast. This would supply water to big water users like farmers and mining.

 

The delegation also noted other ongoing municipal challenges such as ongoing inability by officials to budget properly, a lack of capacity and skills, burgeoning debt as a result of poor debt collection, historical debt which is still burdening municipalities and unfunded mandates.

All of the above has made the lives of these communities even harder as they struggle to exist on a daily basis amid shocking levels of poverty.

 

It is time that the KZN government took heed of how its actions affect the people of this province.

It is also time for KZN’s people to ensure that these same individuals are held to account for their lack of action when it comes to service delivery within municipalities.

Their opportunity to do so will come during next year’s local government elections.

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NCOP adopts DA motion on FS farm attacks

By George Michalakis, DA Free State Permanent Delegate to the National Council of Provinces:

The multi-party National Council of Provinces (NCOP) unanimously adopted a motion without notice I tabled at today’s sitting on farm murders that have taken place in the Free State.

The adoption of the motion is encouraging since the NCOP, one of the two houses of Parliament, for the first time unanimously calls on the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, to report on the prevalence of targeted farm attacks in the SAPS annual report and that farm attacks be categorised as a priority crime.

The motion also calls for the establishment of specialised rural safety units within the SAPS to ensure the safety and security of our rural communities.

The DA has long called for the establishment of such a specialised unit and for the re-inclusion of farm murders in the annual report.

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Gauteng Legislature prevents DA from participating in NCOP debates

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

The Office of the Speaker of the Gauteng Legislature is deliberately attempting to prevent DA delegates from participating in debates at the National Council of Provinces.

On 30 July, NCOP Chairperson Thandi Modise invited provincial delegates to attend NCOP plenaries on 4 and 6 August, and to participate in debates on International Mandela Day and the Reports of the NCOP Provincial Week.

Click here to view the letter.

However, the invitation was only sent to the DA on Sunday morning, and came to the attention of our personnel this morning.

The DA has already written to the Deputy Speaker, Mr Uhuru Moiloa, and expressed our protest over what we believe is a deliberate attempt at sabotaging the DA’s participation in debates of much consequence.

Two weeks ago NCOP delegates were taken on a sanitised tour of the West Rand to inspect service delivery projects that had little to do with its mandate of advancing the developmental agenda of municipalities.

Had it not been for the DA’s efforts to add more site visits to the programme, delegates would have seen very little evidence of municipalities on the brink of collapse.

The DA has long held the view that a great divide exists between the ANC of today, and what it was during the presidency of Nelson Mandela.

The repeated attacks on the judiciary, the media and the Public Protector, as well as the state capture of institutions to protect the President at all costs are clear signs that the ANC will do anything and everything to strengthen its grip on power.

Shutting down opposition parties from carrying out their constitutional mandate of oversight and robust debate, is further testimony of this hegemonic behaviour.

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Mpumalanga’s governance is NOT the best in South Africa, as claimed by NCOP member

By Farhad Essack MP, NCOP Member:

The ANC deployees in the NCOP delegation from Mpumalanga, led by the ANC’s Simphiwe Mthimunye, have lauded the Mpumalanga provincial government for its projects and praised it for its governance, while the people of this province live in a very different reality.

Mr Mthimunye claimed that the Mpumalanga provincial government was the best in the country, during a press briefing on the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) visit to the province just last week.

This statement is completely false; as all reports indicate the DA-run Western Cape has the best governance model, and is effectively the best in the country with the highest quality of life. Even the Presidency’s own monitoring model confirms this.

Mr Mthimunye’s comments are also in complete contrast to those expressed by the ANC provincial executive committee on Tuesday (28 July 2015) when they said, “The state of governance and political leadership leaves much to be desired.”

Clearly Mr Mthimunye used the NCOP visit to advance his own political agenda, instead of interacting with communities regarding the Mpumalanga government’s service delivery failures. While people on the ground in province are left without hope and opportunities, the ANC is peddling fibs about its delivery record.

If Mr Mthimunye was here to do proper oversight, such a statement would not have been made. The delegation should have noted that:

  • Majority of local municipalities are in financial turmoil, with performance and management at its worst since 2007/2008.
  • Only 44% of Municipal Infrastructure Grant projects achieve their targets and
  • There is a lack of adequate political and administrative leadership in our municipalities.

Clearly Mr Mthimunye’s misleading comments inspired Premier David Mabuza to follow suit, when he said (at the same NCOP briefing) that, “As a country, we need to use our money correctly by avoiding wastages”.

The Hon. Premier must be suffering from a mild case of amnesia, as Mpumalanga municipalities have a combined unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to R3.3 Billion as of the 2013/2014 financial year end. This all happened under his watch.

It is high time that this government is accountable to the people, and not just Luthuli House.

Under the leadership of DD Mabuza, factionalism is now the norm, with in-fighting more prevalent at local government level, leading to service delivery being compromised even more – the people of Mpumalanga who struggle every day to get ahead are the ones who suffer the most.

The province is in dire need of strong leadership. Not leadership who is accused of being an Apartheid spy; or who spies on journalists illegally; Leadership that does not give tenders to businesses who contributed to his personal “Kancane Kancane” programme is what we need.

The DA in the Western Cape has systematically implemented good governance practices to ensure an efficient and professional public service in the places where we govern. We have learnt from this process that excellence in service delivery can only be achieved when the right management practices are in place, through performance monitoring and banning politicians and employees doing business with the Province.

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NCOP North West Provincial Week: a waste of taxpayer money

By Herman Groenewald (MP), Democratic Alliance member to the National Council of Provinces:

During the NCOP provincial week in the North West (21 – 24 July 2015), the ANC once again proved how they will use taxpayer money and state resources for their own political gain.

We were particularly unsettled by the visits to Kgetlengriver and Moses Kotane areas in North West.

These scheduled visits and meetings were cancelled without reason, denying us our oversight responsibilities to these communities.

Kgetlengriver River in particular is on National Treasury’s list of the 64 worst-performing municipalities in South Africa. Moreover, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) uncovered extensive financial irregularities and unauthorized expenditure totaling R16 million which was recorded during the last audit round.

At a community meeting in Koster, the ANC intentionally tried to hijack the meeting. The ANC Women’s League who arrived wearing party colours, continued singing which delayed the meeting. The mayor Kim Medupe used the opportunity to address the community for more than an hour with political rhetoric.

Food parcels were also handed out to all attendees, a common ANC practice in order to buy votes during election time. The MEC for Local Government, Collin Maine was present at this meeting where residents could put their grievances before the NCOP.

No real problems or concerns were addressed as the ANC misled the community by solely making political speeches.

The oversight visits did not address any problems, making it appear as the North West Province and Local Government are run efficiently with good governance. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

North West with 6.7% of South Africa’s population has a broad unemployment rate of 43.2% compared to the national rate of 36.1%. More residents live in informal dwellings (22.6%) than anywhere in South Africa. In 2011, 8 municipalities were placed under administration. We have also seen a decline in its financial performance management and accountability herein.

During the NCOP Provincial week, issues of great concern that are came up are:

  • Local government concerns include raw sewage running in the streets in Koster.
  • Where street lights and high mast lights are kept on for weeks in Reagile, Cedrela, Derby and Redirile.
  • The approval by the Kgetleng River municipality for a new vehicle for the mayor to the amount of R700 000 – while the current official vehicle will also be repaired for her use.
  • The lack of proper budget planning where Kgetleng River spends the budgeted amount and not the actual income amount. This leads to huge deficits in the budget.
  • Water leaks where clean, fresh water are going to waste in Reagile.
  • A multi-million rand project for the library in Pela, Madikwe that is built, but is not opened yet due to electricity and water supply problems.
  • The water purifying system in the Madikwe area. The system receives water from a local dam that is currently only 14% full. The area around the project is not fenced and poses risks to the community.

The Democratic Alliance will use every Parliamentary mechanism in the NCOP to hold municipalities and the provincial government accountable for a failure to provide services and for misleading the communities on the state of the Province. The DA will not be a bystander when statutory bodies are not performing to address the needs and challenges in the communities they should serve.

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KwaDukuza municipality needs more money

By George Mari, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on COGTA:

A National Council of Province’s (NCOP) visit to KwaDukuza this week has revealed a municipality which is being financially stretched, leading to poor infrastructure maintenance and projects not being completed.

Following eight years of unqualified audits the municipality has had its budget substantially slashed with the result that it is now struggling to deal with the basics.

Worst hit is the area of water, with poor infrastructure maintenance leading to high losses.  A large indigent community has also impacted heavily on revenue collected through the rates base, with the municipality’s government debt now sitting at R5 million.

The trip also included a site visit to a local housing development – Rocky Park.  This project has come to a standstill due to the budget having dried up in spite of the fact that it is already at roof level.

Sadly, the development is now being vandalised.  Meanwhile, service providers are threatening legal action and the local community is up in arms over delays.

The DA will raise this matter at the next meeting of the KZN Human Settlements portfolio committee.  We want to know where the money allocated to this project has gone.

We will also raise the issue of KwaDukuza’s now limited budget with KZN COGTA MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube. With the municipality already having spent its Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), additional funding must be allocated to ensure the ongoing repair and maintenance of ageing infrastructure.

Failure to do so would be extremely short-sighted and will ultimately cost KZN taxpayers even more.

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