The following statement was delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a media briefing in Johannesburg, following a two-day sitting of the party’s Federal Executive. Maimane was joined by Federal Executive Chairperson, James Selfe.
The Federal Executive (FedEx) of the Democratic Alliance met over the last two days to discuss matters of importance to the party and our national programme ahead of the 2019 general election.
In terms of the DA Constitution, the FedEx must meet regularly and whenever the Leader or the Chairperson of the Federal Council so determines. The body is mandated, inter alia, to control and direct the activities of the Party.
Victory in the Zuma Criminal Charges Matter
We celebrate the victory in the nine-year battle to have the criminal charges against Jacob Zuma reinstated. The charges were illegally and irrationally dropped just before the 2009 election to clear the way for Zuma to be elected President without the cloud of criminal charges over his head.
We challenged that decision and took it on review. For 9 years Jacob Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) did everything possible, both legal and illegal, to delay the inevitable. Finally, late in 2017, they conceded that they had no case, which led to the announcement made yesterday.
While this victory must be celebrated, we must point out that none of the various National Directors of Public Prosecution who served through the Zuma Presidency acted with the requisite independence and moral courage required of that office. They served Jacob Zuma as their political masters, and when he was gone, they found the spine to act against him.
We cannot rest until we have a truly independent National Director of Prosecutions, and a truly independent NPA. That is why I asked President Ramaphosa on Tuesday whether he would support a greater role for Parliament in a more transparent and credible appointment process for the NDPP.
In the meantime, we look forward to the commencement of the Zuma criminal trial without any further delay. We will vigorously oppose any further delay tactics by Zuma or the state.
Also, we are convinced that the deal referred to by President Ramaphosa this week, which guarantees that the state will pay for Jacob Zuma’s legal defence, cannot have been reached lawfully. Our legal team has written to the President to request a copy of this agreement. We will not hesitate to challenge it if we believe it is illegitimate. It simply cannot be acceptable for the public to keep footing the bill for Zuma’s “delay at all costs” legal strategy – especially as Zuma is fighting this legal battle in his personal capacity.
If Jacob Zuma wants to abuse legal process to avoid prison, he should be prepared to pay for it himself.
Acceleration of Land Reform and Redistribution within current Constitutional framework
The Democratic Alliance firmly supports land redistribution and land restitution, and has a proud record of delivering on this constitutional imperative where we are in government. No other government in South Africa has done more to drive urban title reform than DA-led governments. We have turned more than 75 000 recipients of state-subsidised housing into real home owners, for the first time.
Our position is clear, we must increase the speed of land reform and land redistribution to address the wrongs of the past, and this must be done within the current constitutional framework. The Federal Executive reiterated its complete and unwavering opposition to the proposal to amend the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation, as well as any proposal to nationalise all land.
We do not support the ANC’s model of permanent tenancy and reliance on the state. We are the party of individual property ownership. We want people to have a real stake in the economy, and to be able to build assets. We seek absolute and legally enforceable security of tenure for residents of communal land, and where this land is not owned in trust, secure title.
These reckless proposals have been made by the ANC and the EFF working together, and have been adopted as official policy of the ANC – supported in a parliamentary motion to that effect. They have done so without any further detail or plan, resulting in justified anxiety about the future.
This abrogation of private property rights would fundamentally undermine our economy and lead to much greater poverty and unemployment, as has been the case in every other context across the world where this mad policy has been attempted.
We have a duty to inform South Africans as to what is really at stake, and to mobilise them to defeat this motion and its reckless proposers. We will not shy away from that duty, no matter the objections of those well-meaning persons who seem willing to perpetually trust the ANC, despite the weight of evidence to the contrary.
All property owners – and all those who aspire to one day be property owners – should support the DA.
We reiterate our call for the more than 4300 state owned farms, and more than 1.9 million hectares of unused state-owned land, to be distributed to emerging black farmers immediately.
Registration Weekend Success
The Federal Executive received an operational report on the party’s performance in last weekend’s voter registration weekend. We were greatly encouraged by the number of DA supporters that came out on the weekend to register to vote for the DA in the 2019 election.
The DA had near universal coverage at the 22 000+ voting stations across the country, which reflected we are on track for election 2019.
In next year’s election, we will have universal coverage at every voting station to ensure that the elections are free and fair, and that the Electoral Commission is held to account.
A particular success over the registration weekend was that 490 000 voters visited check.da.org.za to confirm their registration details. We will continue to register South Africans going forward as we progress to Election 2019. In terms of our performance, we had very strong showings in Gauteng, Western Cape, Northern Cape and North West. We are still disaggregating the results by municipality and other specific voter targets.
DA’s upcoming Federal Congress
The Democratic Alliance is preparing for our Federal Congress, to be held on 7 and 8 April, in Tshwane. This will be the biggest Congress in the DA’s history, with over 2000 delegates from across the country converging on Tshwane to elect the Party’s Federal Leadership and to discuss a policy agenda that will form the basis of the DA’s Election 2019 Manifesto.
An array of resolutions will be considered by Congress, with a strong focus on tackling endemic poverty and rampant unemployment. Congress will consider, deliberate and vote on resolutions pertaining to the economy, healthcare, crime, housing, social grants, education, as well as on national tragedies such as Marikana and Esidimeni.
The Presiding Officer of Federal Congress, Anchen Dreyer MP, will hold a press conference tomorrow, 18 March 2018, to announce nominations and to set out further details. Dreyer will be joined by DA Executive Director of Communications, Siviwe Gwarube, and DA Director of Communications, Mabine Seabe.
Steep cuts to Metro Delivery Budgets
As a result of economic mismanagement, bad policy and corruption at the national government level, South Africa now faces an extremely difficult fiscal space. This has even necessitated unacceptable rises in VAT and fuel levies, which forces the poor to carry the burden for this corruption and mismanagement.
Another consequence of this is that frontline service delivery budgets are being cut. We have already seen how 2000 SAPS personnel will be cut, with real consequences for crime fighting. We have no doubt that this will extend to health services too, only exacerbating the already-untenable working conditions that our nation’s excellent nurses and doctors work in. In addition to this, conditional grant transfers to Metros will also be slashed. DA-led metros have been informed of steep cuts to allocations for housing, for example, which will profound consequences on the delivery of housing to the poor.
The City of Johannesburg, for example, has suffered a rand value decrease of R700 million in funding from National Government, with national grants down 12%, and Urban Settlement Development Grants down by 5%. This will severely hamper the city’s ability to deliver services to all residents.
We are establishing if this is replicated across ANC government metros as well, or if this is the politicisation of the budget process, which would be illegal and would be fought by DA-led governments.
Voters must be aware that this if the consequence of a national government unwilling to make the tough decisions to right size the national budget, and too easily giving in to populists demands that cripple the budget and undermine the ability of the state to deliver the basics that it should be delivering first.
On this note, Federal Executive notes and celebrates the Western Cape governance report which confirmed that unemployment remained steady in the province, despite the ravaging drought that has hit job-creating sectors such as agriculture the hardest. Despite this, new jobs were created, including in the “green economy”. The Western Cape still boasts the lowest provincial unemployment rate in the country, which is due to good governance, and sound economic policy.
Save Nelson Mandela Bay
The EFF has moved a motion of no confidence in Mayor Athol Trollip in Nelson Mandela Bay. If the motion succeeds, which is not guaranteed, the EFF will have handed the Metro back to the same corrupt ANC that brought that Metro to its knees.
Voters rejected the ANC in NMB because the City had been so stripped through corruption and maladministration that it could barely deliver any basic services. This plunder is well recorded in Crispian Olver’s book, How to Steal A City.
In 18 months, the DA-led coalition in NMB has turned the City around. We have made progress in basic service delivery, in righting the finances of the Metro, and in delivering a Metro Police department to fight crime.
This good progress will be halted if the EFF returns the Metro to the corrupt ANC.
We will mobilise public support to Save Nelson Mandela Bay, and have launched a petition for the public to sign. We encourage all public to sign our petition here. (https://nmbprogress.co.za/)
We also encourage the public to contact EFF councillors in Nelson Mandela Bay and make it clear to them that voters rejected the corrupt ANC in NMB, and don’t want them back.
The EFF must know that voters, even their own voters, will punish them severely for returning the Metro to the corrupt ANC, just as it is slowly emerging from the legacy of twenty years of corruption.
Campaign against VAT hike
Our campaign against the 1 percent VAT hike announced by then Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba is in full swing. We maintain that this was an unnecessary increase that will disproportionately hurt the poor and jobless, and the DA has consistently opposed it since it was announced. We have held that one cannot tax a country into prosperity.
In addition, we have argued and submitted a full plan on how the ANC government can avoid any type of tax by cutting expenditure, reducing the size of the cabinet and clamping down on corruption in earnest. These submissions were rejected and instead, poor South Africans are made to pay for the ANC’s mismanagement of the economy. It must be said that this VAT increase is in addition to the increased transport levies – fuel and RAF – which are an additional burden to poor South Africans trying to make ends meet.
The DA will continue to oppose this VAT increase in Parliament. However, the budget process is fundamentally broken. The Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill, which gives legal effect to the VAT increase and other taxes will only be considered and debated in the portfolio committee after the 1st of April when the increase comes into effect. This undermines the principle of public participation which the People’s Parliament should uphold, particularly when this increase has such dire effects to ordinary South Africans.
We will fight the passing of this bill which- if we are successful- could mean that the VAT increase is reversed. We urge all South Africans to continue signing our petition and to come out in their numbers when the public participation process starts. Lastly, we reiterate our call for current Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, to reverse this VAT increase as his first order of business.
#SafeSchools Campaign launch
The future of our country depends on the education of the next generation, and at present our government is failing our young people on number of fronts. But the most appalling of these is the scourge of sexual and physical violence in our schools which has reached crisis levels. Our children are sent to school to be educated, but end up being victims of violence often from the very people who are meant to protect them.
As a result, the DA will be launching a #SafeSchools Campaign this coming Tuesday, in Tshwane. which seeks to bring the plight of learners to the forefront of the government agenda.
We are of the view that problems of gross misconduct by teachers, and learner violence, can only be solved by through a collaborative effort by the national Police, Basic Education, Social Development and Justice departments, together with provincial departments of education. DA MPs and MPLs responsible for such portfolios will be visiting schools across the country to bring national attention to this scourge which is not just robbing our children of their right to education, but to their dignity and physical safety.
We will be urging Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga to support our call for inter-ministerial intervention to the crisis. This will culminate in a national letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa, which citizens can sign, outlining the DA’s six demands for Basic Education which seeks to ensure safer schools which become hubs of learning and equip our young people to reach their full potential
Our children deserve to go to school and not be afraid. It is high time that we prioritize #SafeSchools and providing a safe learning environment for our children.
The fight for an alternative, post-ANC South Africa is in full swing. We are forging ahead in creating a shared future for all South Africans.
Between now and 2019, we will use every opportunity in government, every single day, to win the trust of voters, and to show South Africans that there is another choice; a better choice, and that choice is the Democratic Alliance.