Over the past three days, the Federal Council of the Democratic Alliance (DA) – the party’s highest decision making body between Federal Congress - convened in Cape Town for its first sitting of 2018. The agenda comprised of a number of pressing matters concerning the country and the Party. This press briefing serves to communicate the outcomes of the weekend’s sitting.
Since Federal Council last sat in October 2017, much has changed in South Africa’s political landscape. The election of Cyril Ramaphosa as President of the ANC has turned the mood of the nation, and has provided the basis for a true battle of ideas about the future of the country in the 2019 National Elections.
However, the manner in which Jacob Zuma is holding both the country and the ANC to ransom by refusing to leave shows how powerful he still is, and shows how deep rooted the network of corruption that he built runs.
As South Africans, we expect our leaders to put the interests of our country ahead of any party political or personal interests. And we expect this without fail. Cyril Ramaphosa’s remarks in Cape Town yesterday have shown South Africans what is most important to the new ANC President – unity within the ANC. For Ramaphosa, just like Zuma, it’s the ANC first and South Africa second.
A dignified and smooth leadership transition – as Ramaphosa calls it – is not in the best interests of South Africa. The immediate removal and criminal prosecution of Jacob Zuma and all his corrupt cronies within the ANC is what is in the best interests of the country. Swift and decisive action is what we need, not a Ramaphosa-Zuma talkshop.
Likewise, an amnesty deal for Jacob Zuma, shielding him from accountability for his crimes, is not in the best interests of South Africa. This should not even be discussed. Ramaphosa would be in breach of the Constitution – particularly the requirements for the NPA to act without fear or favour. We reject any form of an amnesty deal for Zuma as an insult to all South Africans.
There can be no special deals for Zuma. No legal fees paid by the state, no extra security, no protection from prosecution as a state witness. Nothing. He must face the full consequences of his actions. If he wants extra protection, there is no place as secure as maximum security prison. We will push on with the 783 counts of corruption that were erroneously dropped by the NPA almost a decade ago.
The DA will only accept one outcome from today’s special sitting of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) – if in fact there is a decision. That is, the removal of Jacob Zuma and his cronies, and their immediate prosecution.
Jacob Zuma’s removal and prosecution will mark only the first step in getting our country back on track. The reality is that while Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma, and their respective factions in the ANC, are fighting each other, the lives of ordinary South Africans remain unchanged.
The levels of poverty and unemployment are perilously high, and constantly on the rise. Our education system remains dysfunctional, and our economy remains stagnant. Federal Council discussed and debated the state of the nation and we are more resolute than ever to move into a political space where we can debate ideas and policies, rather than personalities. The battle is now about who can create work and grow the economy, who can fix our education system, and who can create a safe and corruption-free country.
Our mission does not change based on the internal manoeuvring within the ANC. Our mission is to bring total change and a real new beginning to our beautiful land.
The DA remains the only party with the values and policies that can turn SA into a modern, prosperous nation. This is the fight we will continue, and this is the fight we will win.
The report on the Vrede Dairy Farm project by Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, is absolutely disgraceful. There are manifold omissions in the report, and failures to investigate even that which is in the public domain.
There is no effort shown to probe the true corruption at the heart of the Vrede scam, and to hold those responsible accountable. Ace Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane get off unscathed in what was a scheme that they conceived, planned and executed - along with the Guptas - to defraud the public of hundreds of millions of rand. After four years, Adv. Mkhwebane simply cannot blame lack of capacity for this embarrassment of a report.
We do not believe that we can let this stand. We were the original complainants in the Vrede matter. We have met with the Public Protector, and have visited the beneficiaries often to keep them posted on progress. We had expected some form of real justice for them, but this report has bitterly disappointed us and them. We must correct this.
Therefore, after consultation with our legal team, the DA has decided to take the Public Protector’s report on judicial review. Our lawyers are currently drafting papers, and we hope to launch this application later this week. Further details of such will be communicated in due course.
Five new policy documents integral to our vision for South Africa were tabled for discussion at this weekend’s Federal Council – on Higher Education, Safety and Security, Immigration, Human Settlements, and Social Assistance. These follow the policy documents tabled at Federal Council last year, on our plan to put an end to endemic corruption in government, and our plan to ensure that we create opportunity and jobs for the millions of South Africans locked out of the economy.
The DA’s Higher Education policy paper continues from our proposed three-tier model of funding all students, and focuses on fixing the country's struggling universities and colleges. We foresee many different types of universities, some specialised in research and some working with companies to get students into workplaces to learn and work. The DA believes in adequately funding universities and fixing TVET Colleges whilst improving management and rooting out corruption from both. Ultimately, we will create world class universities in all of our provinces that will offer all current and many new relevant courses so that young people can get jobs.
Our Safety and Security policy paper pledges to radically overhaul the South African Police Service (SAPS) into a professional, modern, police service, which is passionate about serving and protecting communities, and combatting all crime - especially violent crimes. The DA is committed to seeing violent crime rooted out of our communities and will stand with woman, children, people in townships, rural communities and every South African who has been targeted by crime. We will work to train and develop police officers, increase the number of specialist offers and detectives, and improve service at police stations, and for all community policing forums.
Xenophobia needs to be tackled head on, illegal immigration must be prevented and the skills shortage must be addressed in South Africa. The DA’s Immigration policy paper therefore pledges to enforce the law, end the unchecked flow of illegal immigrants into our country, and attract highly skilled immigrants into our country. Our Immigration policy will be based upon having a ‘High Wall and a Large Gate’ to grow our economy, the region and Africa as a whole. We believe that we are a society embedded in an international community and will manage our relationships in that community to the benefit of South Africans and in pursuit of a fair and just world.
The DA’s Human Settlements policy paper pledges to quickly give people who qualify for government housing the ability to get a decent home. In order to create sustainable housing opportunities through inclusive urbanisation, we will give people ownership of the land they live on by giving them title deeds, create a single national housing list to cut down on corruption and launch a national housing audit to verify that only the real owners live in Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) housing.
The DA understands the need to provide more options in terms of access to affordable housing and that people need to be given greater control and choice in terms of housing. We therefore pledge to greatly enhance the choices people have.
Finally, our Social Assistance policy paper pledges to enable every parent to feed their family. The DA will thus increase the Child Support Grant (CSG) to cover the nutritional needs of all children, resolve the current foster care grant crisis, increase capacity and funding for Magistrate’s Courts that have many cases related to social grants and maintenance, increase the number and quality of social workers and prioritise early childhood development. The creative use of the social assistance system will not only provide help from the government, but will also grow and transform the economy, bringing real change and creating a prosperous South Africa. We can defeat extreme poverty and give our children a better chance in life.
Federal Council also deliberated and discussed our Economic policy document. This policy will focus on fast-tracking internships for young people, and economic growth that is focused on small businesses, the mining sector, the agriculture sector, and financial services sector. The policy looks at how best to review the current approach to redress in our economy, and the establishment of a fund for the purpose of (a) funding SMMEs and (b) investing in basic education. This is key to ensuring jobs and opportunity are created for those still locked outside of the economy.
While these documents are not final DA policy, they form part of the formulation, adoption, and eventual implementation of bold policy options that will bring total change and a real new beginning for our nation. These policy proposals will go for further discussion with all party structures, as feedback and input from South Africans is critical to our policy process.
We have fresh ideas, a bold offer, and the ability to implement such policies in government come 2019.
Mayor of Cape Town
Federal Council discussed the matter of the imminent vote of no confidence in the Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille. While the situation is unprecedented and painful to all in the DA, the time has come for a fresh leadership team in the City to take that caucus forward and restore the faith of the public in what has been the crown jewel of DA governments until recently. The new leadership of the City will have to unite that caucus and focus on delivering excellent services and answering the many concerns of the public, so that we can deliver an even better result in the Metro and in the Province in 2019.
The public has our commitment that we will do what is right and what is in the best interests of the voters, no matter how tough it is. Unlike our opponents, we will not sweep under the carpet difficult or embarrassing issues, and we will act to uphold integrity and the faith of the public. This is the standard we hold the ANC to, and we hold ourselves to, and it is amply demonstrated in this matter.
Federal Council noted and welcomed the efforts of all residents of Cape Town in pushing Day Zero back almost a month, to 11 May 2018. We thank all those doing their part in the collective effort to Defeat Day Zero.
Our task is not yet done, but if we continue to lower consumption, we will Defeat Day Zero in its entirety. As I outlined last week, the augmentation projects earmarked by the City of Cape Town to provide additional water are all on track with the first projects coming online later this month.
It is no secret that Cape Town is facing one of the greatest and most unprecedented droughts in over a century. However, it is not just Cape Town that is feeling the heat. There are large parts of the Southern and Eastern Cape experiencing much lower than expected rainfall – with consumption flat lining or rising.
I wish to clarify the role of national government in dealing with what is now a serious threat to millions of South Africans.
The responsibility for bulk supply and storage of water is 100% the responsibility of National Government, as per Section 3 of the National Water Act. This is the law, whether the Minister of Water and Sanitation likes it or not.
The National Department of Water and Sanitation – under the leadership of Minister Nomvula Mokonyane - is crippled by cadre deployment, financial mismanagement, inefficiency and corruption.
Worse yet, the Department has the worst levels of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the country and clearly has a conflict of interest in the Western Cape, where they are in opposition. With an annual budget of R12.2 billion for infrastructure development, it is unconscionable that the Department has spent a total of only R5 million in the Western Cape in the past 3 years.
Despite Minister Mokonyane playing politics with the lives of our people, we are making considerable progress in our efforts to Defeat Day Zero in Cape Town. It is high time Minister Mokonyane takes a leaf from all other South Africans and Capetonians’ book and do absolutely everything possible to help us avoid droughts in any other cities. After all, it is both her legal and political duty to do so.
The highest decision making body of the DA, Federal Congress, will meet on the weekend of 7 and 8 April 2018 in the Capital City, Tshwane.
The Federal Congress occurs at least once every 3 years, as per the DA’s Constitution. It is the supreme policy-making and governing body of the party. This year we will welcome thousands of delegates to the congress, as we map out the “Road to 2019”.
This year, all positions within the top tier of the party will be open for contestation. The nominations will open this month and close in March 2018, a month before the Federal Congress is held. The positions that are open for contestation are:
- Federal Leader;
- National Chairperson;
- Three Deputy National Chairpersons;
- Chairperson of the Federal Council;
- Deputy Chairperson of Federal Council; and
- The Federal Chairperson of Finance.
- The open, competitive, and transparent nature of the elective process is something that we pride ourselves on, and this year promises to be as completive and robust as always.
We wish all those contesting for any positions at the Federal Congress the very best of luck.
The DA has an incredible challenge in the lead up to next year’s National Elections, and our structures are alive to the hard task ahead of us. Our dream for South Africa is attainable, honourable, and worth every battle we have to fight along the way. We are not doing what we do for the sake of governing; we are working to build a better country for all its people.