4 April 2018
Today’s quarterly briefing is a first for the DA in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. We believe that our media in this Province, and in the country at large, play a vital role in our democracy. Thus, we are holding this press conference to reach out to the media in the interests of transparency and good governance.
With the conclusion of the first quarter at the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, the Democratic Alliance is pleased to announce that we are on track with our programme. This programme aims to ensure that government is held accountable and that the lives of our residents are improved through sound decision-making, and constructive criticism in our relevant standing committees.
We are especially pleased to have passed the 2018/19 Provincial Budget of R63,675 billion. This is a pro-poor budget, with the aim of creating increased public value, and we believe that it will be a catalyst for improving the lives of all our residents. With the largest chunk of the DA-led Western Cape Government’s budget allocated to Health, Education, Transport and Public Works, Social Development, and Human Settlements, it is clear that funding for essential services which cater for our most vulnerable, are accounted for. These figures, along with a breakdown of spending per Department, can be found on the pie chart behind me and in the annexure attached.
Bearing in mind that over the MTEF period, this province will have to absorb another round of austerity measures probably in the value of R1,5 billion. Specifically, for this financial year, the impact will be a cut of R147 million off the Provincial Equitable Share (PES), and an additional R183 million cut in the conditional grant. This is a combined R350 million communitive impact on this province. This is an unfortunate cut, as it could have built more schools, clinics, and public infrastructure. It must be noted that the DA-led Western Cape is the only province adhering to National Government’s instruction to tighten our belts, while sustaining excellent service delivery. We prize our ability to adapt and innovate in order to sustain our brand of clean and efficient governance, which understandably draws some 100 000 relocations to our province from the rest of the country on an annual basis.
It is indeed quite hypocritical of the ANC to criticise our budget allocations, and brush off our track record of clean audits when other ANC-led provinces continue to overspend without consequence. Our government has yet again achieved a clean audit, a necessity considering the country’s dwindling public finances, while the ANC’s National Department of Water and Sanitation, for example, is in debt of close to R3 billion. The Western Cape government bears testament to the fact that the DA can spend budgets leanly, and wisely.
Issues of ANC conduct
As the DA, we take the conduct of Members of Provincial Parliament extremely seriously, ensuring that not only our own members, but also members of the opposition act in a manner that is without reproach and in line with the Code of Conduct and Powers and Privileges Act. In saying this, we are of the view that the ANC’s Cameron Dugmore did not act honourably when he, while in Hermanus on Tuesday, 27 March 2018, sent the now infamous text to ANC Provincial Secretary Faiez Jacobs. Instead of helping defuse the violent protests in Hermanus during last week, Mr. Dugmore sent a text, with a clear message that they are set on making this Province ungovernable.
The public was surprised by the ANC’s behaviour during last week’s Council sitting in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, yet the ANC in the Western Cape Legislature exhibits the very same behaviour in a constant attempt to destabilise the Western Cape and render the province ungovernable. The media continues to fail to report on such behaviour, which is quite commonplace in our province. Mr Pierre Uys, for example, in his role as the Chief Whip of the ANC is to assist the smooth running of the legislature. His actions, however, demonstrate the exact opposite. His behaviour in the 2015 State of the Province Address, which saw the Premier unable to deliver her speech, his refusal to appear in front of Scopa, and his ongoing obstruction in trying to finalise the investigation into allegations of fraud against Sharon Davids, are an indication of a consistent pattern of obstruction that typifies ANC behaviour in this legislature.
In the Western Cape Provincial Parliament alone, the ANC has made numerous attempts to sabotage parliamentary sittings and committee meetings, the latest being in the Conduct Committee. Here, the ANC took baseless and unnecessary issue with a technicality relating to the appointment of the new committee chairperson, halting proceedings and requiring legal intervention. This is yet another example of the ANC’s misconduct which has become commonplace in this house and, despite what the ANC may purport, is deliberately obstructionist and seeks to destabilise oversight capacity and public service. I would encourage the media to pick up on such misconduct, in the interests of the public, as it often goes by unreported.
Mr Dugmore will be charged by Parliament’s Conduct Committee. Following this press briefing, the Overberg’s DA Constituency Head, Masizole Mnqasela will be issuing a statement calling on the ANC to reprimand Cameron Dugmore for this offence, and to explain the intent behind #TextGate.
In addition to this, if you missed Mayor Patricia de Lille’s address to Council on 28 March 2018, then you might not be aware that the City, over a six-day period in March, had sixty-five (65) land invasions and associated protest incidents. This indicates that there is a clear plan by the opposition and certain sectors in our society to threaten service roll out to law-abiding citizens.
The DA in this House and in this Province will not allow the ANC, EFF or any other person to attempt to make our province ungovernable in a desperate attempt to win back votes. We believe in the rule of law, and that the law must now take its course.
Bills & Parliamentary Processes
It has been a tumultuous start to the year with the State of the Nation Address’ postponement to allow for the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as the new State President. These developments shuffled our own State of the Province Address. This, again, is commonplace under the ANC which continues to pause the vital work of parliaments and legislatures for its own interests.
We are deeply concerned by the ANC’s proposal of a three-month-long recess period at the National Assembly. As with the State of the Nation Address which was postponed due to ANC internal factional battles, the parliamentary programme must now also be delayed, so that they can sort out their dysfunctional Provinces.
This has a direct effect on us, as we will be unable to conclude processes pertaining to Bills which may be before this House. The ANC continues to negate Parliament’s role to hold the executive to account in order to focus on party politics. This is a slap in the face to the South African people who deserve a competent government throughout the year and not one which serves at its own convenience.
There is a severe backlog of legislation which needs to be processed and approved via the necessary legislative channels at the NA and the NCOP in order to make our country work. It is absolutely deplorable that the ANC can even consider suspending parliament’s operation to sort out its own political incompetence. The State, and the legislation upon which we rely to govern, cannot be continually left in limbo while the ANC dithers internally. We cannot allow them to keep changing the legislative goalposts on a regular basis at their own request.
As legislators, we have to ensure that when Bills are before our committees, they are dealt with speedily, but within due process. This year alone we have 24 Bills in the pipeline. Attached to this document, you will find a list in brief of this proposed legislation. As a summary, I can inform you that the Western Cape Housing Development Amendment Bill and the Western Cape Local Government Laws Rationalisation Bill, 2017 have been adopted and are currently before the Premier to be assented.
It is frustrating to note that the Plant Improvement Bill and Plant Breeders’ Rights Bill have been recalled by the NCOP for further amendment. This is, quite frankly, a waste of the legislature’s time as work such as public hearings and committee meetings, which has already been undertaken, is completely negated while draft legislation is recalled and changed. This is further motivation not to support a parliamentary recess when proposed legislation is already piling up at the NA and NCOP.
A Bill which we are closely monitoring is the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill, 2015. This Bill was presented to the Standing Committee on Local Government, and as of 10 April 2018, we will commence with the Public Hearing process so that residents of this Province are given an opportunity to make both written and oral submissions. It is at this point where I would like to call on residents to actively take part in this process.
We are monitoring this process closely, as we have identified various shortcomings in this Bill. We want the first citizens of this country to be fully recognized. More details will emerge during and after the public hearing process has been concluded.
One of the biggest concerns we had, was the potential for the water crisis to curtail our programme, incapacitating us from fulfilling our first quarter duties. For this reason, quite a number of committee meetings were rescheduled and will take place in the second quarter.
You will have seen the numerous adjustments to parliamentary operation where we have implemented various water saving mechanisms at Provincial Parliament to mitigate the water shortage under the Water Scarcity Business Continuity Plan. Part of this plan is permitting all non-essential staff to work from home, reducing the strain on supply in the building, and the possible relocation of Provincial Parliament itself. We have already identified a building in Worcester for this purpose should the drought render Provincial Parliament’s current site inoperational.
I also commend all the chairpersons of the various committees who asked pertinent questions about what their respective departments are doing to mitigate the current water crisis. I would like to remind the media that up until February this year, the ANC denounced that there was a water crisis in this province and actively campaigned against the counter strategy. To this day, the ANC in the Western Cape still maintains that the drought is fabricated.
At this point, I would like to commend all residents in the Province for their unwavering commitment to saving water and reducing consumption. We are not out of the woods yet, and our continued call is that each and every resident of the Western Cape, especially those living in the City of Cape Town, continue to use only 50 litres of water per person per day.
In conclusion, as mentioned above, part of this quarterly briefing is to ensure that we remain as transparent and available to the media in the Western Cape and around the country. We believe that the media has a vital role to play in our democracy, by not only holding governments to account, but also the various Provincial Legislatures and political parties for their utterances, behaviour and interaction with society as a whole.
I’m therefore pleased to say that despite the various setbacks, the first quarter of 2018 has been a success for us.
As the DA in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, we will continue to hold our own DA-led government accountable, to ensure that the residents receive all the basic services as prescribed by the Constitution and that wherever a need might arise, it is addressed.