Reject Eskom’s proposed R 27.3 billion tariff increases

February 4, 2020

Eskom is currently in the process of challenging the electricity tariff increases previously approved by NERSA for 2019 to 2022, and now wants consumers to pay 10-15% more for electricity, followed by tariff increases of 50% over the next few years.

This, despite the fact that South Africans experienced over 418 hours of load-shedding in 2019 alone.

The DA’s main points of objection are:

  • Consumers simply cannot afford Eskom’s proposed tariff increases;
  • The utility has been entirely unable to demonstrate that they can operate prudently and efficiently, with gross financial mismanagement and procurement processes that have not been competitive enough; and,
  • Eskom has demonstrated that it is wholly incapable of managing South Africa’s electricity supply. To allow an increase in the rate of their tariffs would only reward them for their failures.

The DA has therefore called on NERSA to reject this application, and to protect consumers from Eskom’s incompetence.

With over R400 billion of debt, the ANC must accept that Eskom can no longer be saved and that the lunacy surrounding Eskom bailouts, in any form, needs to end now.

South African consumers cannot afford further tariff increases on electricity. It is unconscionable that Eskom would ask citizens to pour more money into the blackhole of an entirely defunct SOE.

STRAIGHT TALK – February is the month to fight EWC

February 1, 2020

The ANC is trying to sneak expropriation without compensation (EWC) through as a benign tool of transformation. Make no mistake, it’s a potent weapon in a kleptocracy’s arsenal to subjugate and steal from the people of South Africa.

Yesterday in parliament the opposition successfully compelled the government to extend the closing date for objections to its Section 25 Amendment Bill (to enable EWC) from 31 Jan 2020 to 29 Feb 2020.

This means we can unite and fight EWC for a month or suffer its consequences for decades.

The only way a successful society can operate is on the basis of secure private property rights and the rule of law. Anyone who cannot see that these core values are now at stake is frankly naïve.

The EWC bill proposes cutting out the courts by transferring decision-making control around which property can be expropriated, and at what price, from the judiciary to the state. At the stroke of a minister’s pen, our title deeds could become worthless.

Amending the Constitution and legislation to give the state unchecked power to grab land and other property is a very, very bad idea.

We all need to grasp the depth and scale of the risk and act swiftly. Zimbabwe’s story could be South Africa’s too if we don’t act en masse during the month of February. Hindsight is the best source of insight: we either learn from Zimbabwe’s path, or we follow it.

The state can be legally compelled to act in the national interest if society expresses its interest loudly enough in a public participation process.

So, there are four actions I urge you to take during the month of February: 1) write an objection and email it to section25@parliament.gov.za; 2) sign the DA’s petition against EWC; 3) put pressure on your bank or home loan provider to object to EWC; and 4) get others in your community to do the same.

The ANC claims the purpose of EWC is to enable and accelerate land reform. But the real objective is to bring all land under state custodianship and control, to be used as a patronage tool to shore up its power and secure its access to public resources. Only the very naïve could believe otherwise.

Consider the case of David Rakgase, a poor, 78-year old, black Limpopo farmer who has had to take the state to court to compel it to sell him the land he has leased and farmed for over two decades.

He won, and the state abandoned its appeal in favour of contravening the court’s judgement by offering to sell it to him at 9 times the price instructed by the court.

EWC will undermine confidence in title deeds and investment. Far from being pro-poor, EWC will be profoundly anti-poor as agricultural investment dwindles, land becomes unproductive, food shortages set in, and unemployment soars yet higher.

EWC will not help the poor any more than BEE, employment equity or rigid labour legislation have. Inequality and unemployment have never been higher.

And that’s just the start of it. There’s plenty of scope for creep. After all, land is just one form of property and further changes will only need to be legislative rather than Constitutional, meaning that only a parliamentary majority of 51% will be required.

It’s already clear that scope-creep is the ANC’s modus operandi. By their own admission, the original proposed amendment (published for public comment on 6 December 2019) giving the courts control to decide on compensation was just a ruse. They’d always intended to bypass the courts.

In driving EWC, the ANC has sought to scapegoat first the Constitution and now the courts for its own abject failure to execute an effective land reform programme over the past quarter century.

As no less that former president Kgalema Motlanthe pointed out in his High-Level Panel Report to Parliament, Section 25 in its current formulation in no way impedes meaningful land reform. Rather, corruption, mismanagement, lack of funding and lack of political will are the real impediments.

In other words, the ANC government itself is the obstacle, and this latest amendment proposes to vest even more power in it.

The DA-run Western Cape has a 72% success rate in agricultural land reform projects compared to an estimated 10% success rate nationally. Our urban land reform record is consistently strong, with DA governments having given out well over 100 000 title deeds in urban areas.

The DA is unequivocally opposed to amending the Constitution and we will use every mechanism at our disposal to fight it, just as we are fighting prescribed assets and the nationalisation of the Reserve Bank and healthcare.

Indeed, it would be a grave mistake to view EWC in isolation. This move is exactly in line with the ANC’s overall strategy of achieving state control over every aspect of our lives so that their feeding frenzy can continue.

Nationalising the Reserve Bank and healthcare and hanging onto failing state-owned enterprises whatever the cost to the nation, including forcing pension funds to “invest” in them, are all part of the same broad agenda of theft.

These lead not to transformation but to economic ruin. The fastest, indeed only, way to transform our society is to throw open the doors to individual ownership, enterprise and entrepreneurship by embracing the values on which these depend: the rule of law including respect for the Constitution and private property rights; a market-driven economy; and a capable state that delivers to all.

These are the DA’s values and vision and our offer to South Africa.

Warm regards

John Steenhuisen

DA Leader

Eskom cannot be fixed – independent power production is the future

January 31, 2020

The ANC government and its utility Eskom, are unable to meet our nation’s energy needs, and there is no plan to fix this. The DA firmly holds that Eskom’s constant limping from light into darkness cannot continue.

Eskom continues to suffer financial catastrophe, being billions in debt. It blows through bailout cash, and it has proved for years that it cannot recover massive consumer debt owed to it.

Eskom remains operationally weak, and its infrastructure continues to fail and to not meet demand. Its power generation mix is archaic, and has no way to move to cleaner more affordable energy.

These are signs of an entity which cannot be saved. We maintain that it is in a death spiral, and for so long as the ANC government continues to pretend Eskom can be saved, it is dragging South Africa with it down this spiral.

It is deeply concerning that while rolling blackouts continue, transparency and disclosure at Eskom remain elusive – contracts, short, medium and long-term operational and restructuring plans, and importantly a solution to the financial crunch it is experiencing, are kept secret and not disclosed to Parliament for oversight.

The DA has previously requested that the Chairman of the Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises, Khaya Magaxa, convene an urgent meeting on these issues at Eskom, but to no avail.

The DA has also asked the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, for a meeting to address the electricity crisis and help the nation find solutions, and are awaiting a response thereto. We are absolutely committed to work to find solutions.

In the interim, Eskom demands more price hikes, requests additional funding to the tune of billions, and then promptly announces more looming loadshedding. To what end for our nation?

It is high time for alternatives, including breaking-up Eskom, immediately freeing-up space for all independent power producers, investigating aspects of privatisation and allowing South Africans to make their own electricity generation choices in their own businesses and homes.

The DA difference in Kouga

January 29, 2020

The DA-led Kouga Municipality continues to lead the way in innovation and service delivery!

We have once again made sure that public money is spent on delivering services to the people and is not lost on irregular, unauthorised, wasteful and fruitless expenditure.

We took over a fleet of vehicles that was completely dysfunctional in 2016 and have managed to turn that around in just three years.

 

 

STRAIGHT TALK: My vision for South Africa and the DA

January 28, 2020

This is my first weekly newsletter as leader of the Democratic Alliance. I have assumed this position at a perilous time, when our country is slipping backwards and faces the real prospect of becoming a failed state.

So I’d like to use this opportunity to set out my agenda for the DA, essentially to answer the question:

What are the most effective things the DA can do to help fix South Africa and get the country back onto a path to prosperity?

As I see it, there are two overriding imperatives.

First, where we already govern, we must do so to the very best of our ability, prioritizing delivery to the poorest communities. Doing so will have consequences that extend far beyond the lives of those we serve and the borders of our municipalities and the Western Cape.

If DA-run areas are fixing, building, working, growing, innovating and thriving, it will reignite trust in the DA and hope in SA. This is essential, because I believe the party has a central role to play in fixing South Africa.

The DA has long been associated with good governance. The Western Cape is a well-run province by any standard and I am confident of further improvements, such as from Premier Alan Winde’s safety plan.

Yet we have seen a decline in the quality of services delivered by some DA governments over the past few years. While I am DA leader, good governance will be a non-negotiable top priority.

To this end, we are working to ensure that every single DA-run government has the most capable and committed leadership available to us. Good governance starts with good, values-driven leadership at all levels of the party, by individuals who place service to others over self-promotion.

I’ve taken action to replace the dysfunctional Mayor of George and will take similarly swift action against any other DA mayors or public representatives who act against the interests of the people they were elected to serve or who fail to perform to the high level expected of them.

The DA is in talks with all signatories to coalition agreements with the party, including UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, because together we have enough seats in council to take back Nelson Mandela Bay Metro from the ANC and reinstate good governance there.

The UDM enabled the ANC to get into government there in the first place, so it is not an easy conversation to have. But, to my mind, the need to return NMB metro to good governance for the sake of those who live there should be uppermost.

The second overriding imperative for the DA is to build a new majority in South Africa. Ours is an incredibly diverse nation, yet I firmly believe most of us share the same core values of a non-racial society that upholds the Constitution and the rule of law; an economy that is market-driven; and a state that delivers to all rather than to a connected few.

It is these values that will put South Africa on a path to prosperity.

At first glance these values may seem obvious to you, but in fact they imply some sweeping reforms that will cause short-term pain before they produce long-term gain.

True non-racialism, for example, requires that we reject race-based policies in favour of policies that treat people first and foremost as individuals, rather than primarily as members of a group.

A market-driven economy requires a far lower degree of state intervention in our economy than we currently see in South Africa today.

And a state that delivers to all requires government to stand up to those vested interests (unions etc) that currently benefit from the status quo, a system which favours incumbent employees and large firms while placing high barriers to new entrants to the economy.

The challenge is to get all those who share these values to work together, since we are all located in different parties, including in the ANC.

We’re also located in different mindsets and many of us differ strongly on other issues despite our shared core values. Yet South Africa’s current catastrophic situation requires us to muster the same sense of urgency and the same sense of “common cause” as in 2016 when the country united, albeit temporarily, against state capture. The DA has a central role to play in this.

Our nation stands at a fork in the road. One way is the path of populism and short-cuts and appealing-sounding socialist solutions. It seems attractive to many at first glance.

But ultimately it will collapse our economy and immiserate our society, locking people into dependence on a corrupt, incapable state.

The process is already underway, with policies such as property expropriation without compensation, national health insurance, asset prescription and nationalising of the Reserve Bank already on the table.

The other path puts power back in the hands of people and communities. It leads to a free society, in which individuals have the freedom and opportunities to make their own living and their own choices.

This path leads to enterprise and innovation and growth. It has tremendous power to transform our society, to reverse apartheid patterns of deprivation and inequality.

Not through the intervention of the state into every aspect of our lives, but through the aggregated efforts of millions of free people operating in an enabling environment. It is the path to prosperity and the DA under my leadership will strive to build a new majority who will choose this path.

Warm regards,

John Steenhuisen

Threat of land expropriation without compensation is escalating

January 27, 2020

On 13 December 2019, while businesses were wrapping up for the year, the ANC-government published an official legal notice to signal its intention to change the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.

This will put your home, business or land at risk.

The sub-committee in charge has given the public until just 31 January to submit written submissions.

Please visit www.protectpropertyrights.co.za and lodge a formal objection.

Stand up for your property rights, and encourage everyone you know to stand up for theirs.

We don’t have to change the Constitution, undermine your right to own property, and sink South Africa’s economy to provide legal and thorough land reform.

The Constitution, as it stands, is not a barrier to land reform.

The corrupt and incompetent ANC government is the real barrier to land reform. Don’t put your property rights in their hands.

Please urgently submit your objection, and we will make sure that it is taken to Parliament and heard!

Kind regards

John Steenhuisen

DA Leader

Kouga Mayor thanks all festive season roleplayers

January 25, 2020

A lot of hard work happened behind the scenes to ensure a safe and relaxing festive season for all.

“While most people were enjoying their holiday, Kouga Municipality’s Joint Coordinating Committee was working extra very hard to make Jeffreys Bay and surroundings a safe area for all,” said Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks.

“A big thank you to our Municipal Manager, Charl du Plessis, and this amazing group of stakeholders who looked after the safety of our citizens and tourists over the summer holiday.

“They met at 08:00 every morning, even on Saturdays and Sundays.

“Their efforts were seen and we are very grateful to each and every one of them for helping to ensure a pleasant holiday experience to all.”

The Mayor also thanked all residents and visitors for supporting local businesses and restaurants.

“We look forward to welcoming everyone back again soon to Kouga, the Events Capital of South Africa.”

Funding opportunities for SMME’s in Kouga

January 23, 2020

Kouga co-ops and SMMEs have been invited to submit funding proposals for consideration by the Sarah Baartman District Municipality (SBDM).

According to an email from SBDM to Kouga Municipality’s Local Economic Development (LED) and Tourism unit, funding of between R70 000 and R200 000 could be availed to successful applicants.

“There is a template that must be completed and returned, together with a motivation no longer than one page,” said Kouga LED and Tourism Portfolio Councillor Frances Baxter.

“Applicants may also submit additional documentation to support their application, as well as business plans if any has been developed for the project or programme.”

She said the template was available from Xolile Wagosa at the municipality’s LED and Tourism unit. He can be contacted on 067 107 9154 or xwagosa@kouga.gov.za.

The office is situated at Kouga Municipality’s offices at 16 Woltemade Street, Jeffreys Bay.

The deadline for submissions is 3pm on Friday, 24 January.

“We apologise for the short notice. This is, however, unavoidable as Kouga received short notice from the district municipality.

We would, however, like to encourage all co-ops and SMMEs to make use of this opportunity,” she said.

Do you want to be a leader in the Democratic Alliance

January 19, 2020

Applications for the Eastern Cape DA Leadership Programme are still open, and close next week FRIDAY, 31 JANUARY 2020.

We are looking for young South African leaders between the ages of 18 and 35, who are already making a difference where they are.

Find more information below if you are passionate about South Africa and care about your community.

Successful holiday season in Kouga

January 13, 2020

Compliments have been pouring in for the DA led Kouga Municipality in the wake of a successful festive season.

Many property agencies reported a record year for rentals, with the demand for holiday accommodation stretching over a longer period than usual.

While the overall visitor tally is still to be finalised, Kouga Executive Mayor Horatio Hendricks said the municipality was pleased with the number of tourists who spent their holiday in the region, bringing much-needed support to local businesses.

Photo: Joey Nel

“We have some of the best beaches in South Africa and they were packed with holiday-makers day after day,” he said. “It was also great to see residents and visitors keeping themselves fit and healthy, be it by jogging, cycling, swimming or surfing.

“Our region was further spared from devastating fires and floods while there were minimal interruptions in the electricity supply, save load shedding, and water provision despite the drought.

“Our cleansing teams were often up at the crack of dawn and operated in the dead of night to make sure that when residents awoke, they arrived at pristine clean areas.”

Plenty of fun activities took place across the region, including the first-ever laser shows to mark the Opening of the Season and New Year.

Sport events such as the USN Touch Rugby, St Francis Sport Summer Series, the Marina Mile, Caltex Holiday Run and Pam Golding Quadrathlon also drew scores of participants.

Other event highlights included the Flash Float, which attracted more than 3 500 “floaters”, a Glow-in-the-Dark Colour Run, a variety of music shows and markets, as well as food and wine festivals.

Safety and security

Teamwork helped to keep locals and visitors safe in Kouga this past festive season.

Hendricks said compliments had been pouring in for Kouga’s lifeguards, who kept a close eye on bathers while the NSRI’s pink buoys helped to save the lives of two teenage boys at Jeffreys Bay who got caught in a rip current.

A Joint Operations Centre (JOC) had been established to coordinate the efforts of all roleplayers. “The JOC met every morning, including Saturdays and Sundays, for roleplayers to report back on what has been happening in their sectors, identify problem areas and roll out solutions,” said Hendricks.

Additional safety measures included regular beach patrols by foot or quad bike, while all-terrain and 4×4 vehicles were used where permission could be obtained from the Department of Environmental Affairs.

Look-out points were also erected at high-risk areas to improve visible policing.