Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone has published a list that should be the South African Government’s New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully someone in power will pick up the list and tick their way through it!
Mazzone said: “Usually a new year starts with lots of excitement, plans, and projections but Covid-19 and the ensuing worldwide pandemic have forced governments around the world to reassess and reprioritize in the interests of the lives and livelihoods of citizens.” She said with SA being under pressure to fight off the pandemic, resuscitate the “flatlining economy” and tackle crime and gender-based violence (GBV), a “whole of government” approach is needed to address the new normal, uplift communities and create jobs.
To help the government along, the DA has compiled the following list of critical areas that the government needs to prioritise for each department in order to start turning things around.
These are some of the key areas that the SA government needs to intervene in, according to the DA:
Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development
- Serious attention should be given to the scourge of attacks on farms and rural communities;
- The proposed amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution should be scrapped entirely; and
- Corruption in land reform should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
- Improve infrastructure in schools especially with regards to access to clean water and sanitation to create a safe environment conducive to learning.
- Mass vaccination rollout for teachers and learners.
- Strict implementation of Covid-19 school protocols to ensure the safe opening and operations of schools.
Communications and Digital Technologies
- The government’s proposal to broaden the definition of a “broadcasting service” to include online broadcasting services must be dropped.
- The spectrum to communications network operators must be auctioned and subsequently released and the digital migration process to free spectrum used by analogue broadcasting must be completed.
- The SA Post Office (SAPO) leadership instability must be resolved.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)
- Municipalities must be allowed to upskill outside cadre deployment and racial quotas to keep the lights on and the water flowing.
- Introduce legislation to deal with broken municipalities that are unable or unwilling to pay their bills.
- Ensuring accountability for the R20 billion Covid-19 fund to municipalities by auditing and revealing how each municipality spend every cent of its stimulus package.
Defence and Military Veterans
- SANDF must urgently reprioritize defence expenditure towards the effective resourcing of a smaller and more vibrant SANDF, which will require less personnel and a smaller leadership structure.
- It must urgently reduce wasteful and irregular defence expenditure, with harsh punitive actions to transgressors, with leadership accountability forming a part of this.
- Improve and rebuild our defence and secret service intelligence, which is currently of an embarrassingly poor quality.
- Transfer the three underutilised military hospitals to the provincial health departments and reduce the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) to a strategic ad military base auxiliary service.
Employment and Labour
- The Minister must explain how the employment/job-creation side of the portfolio has been institutionalised in the Department’s structures and programmes.
- The Minister should announce a programme of labour market reforms to kick-start the post-pandemic recovery.
- A strategy needs to be implemented to support the CCMA, who’s budget has been cut at the worst possible time.
Environment, Forestry and Fisheries
- South Africa’s landfills are growing at an alarming pace. Government must urgently seek to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills.
- Government must work towards effective emissions reduction measures.
- The newly established Climate Change Coordinating Commission must begin in earnest to ensure that there is a smooth transition to new technologies that are necessitated by the impacts of climate change.
- The drought crisis plaguing many parts of the country must be given urgent priority by government.
- The South African fishing industry is in crisis, and long-awaited amendments to the allocations process are still outstanding.
- Present a Main Budget Review that restores fiscal credibility.
- Cut back on the public sector wage bill.
- Prioritise the funding of basic service delivery.
- Redirect the SAA bailout towards vaccine procurement.
- Allow individuals to leverage their pension assets as collateral for responsible debt to alleviate prevailing economic pressure.
- A streamlined implementation of a detailed vaccine roll-out plan from a national level is urgently needed. This includes a successful procurement plan, acquisition, and equitable distribution of the vaccine.
- Provincial readiness for the provinces to ensure successful roll out of the vaccine.
- Wholesale improvement of the healthcare system across the country.
- Design legislation that would look at provide universal healthcare in South Africa without enabling the flawed NHI which the DA does not support.
Higher Education, Science and Technology
- In line with the pandemic, there must be full digitisation of campuses so that no student is left behind.
- Upgrading of the TVET sector curriculums to suit the needs of the economy. This entails a detailed plan from government outlining new and upgraded courses and how they will implement them.
- Eradication of corruption, theft, and fraud at NSFAS and a faster turnaround time on NSFAS funding response to students.
- Bridging the gap of academic backlog of the first-year class of 2020 into tertiary institutions.
- Eradicating certificate backlogs for previous students to enter the job market.
- Streamline front-office service.
- Capacitate and implement the central adjudication hub.
- Get the issuing of e-visas fully operational.
- Table a detailed report on the Bushiri escape.
- Implementation and operationalisation of a clear plan to reduce border congestion under new conditions posed by the pandemic.
- Urgently address the close to 1 million title deeds backlog across the provinces and local housing departments and restore the ‘Title Deeds Restoration Grant’ which is set to be abolished in 2021.
- Re-direct additional funds to the Human Settlements Department, as this Department received the second largest budget cut of R2.26 billion in 2020. The Human Settlements Department which exists specifically to help the poorest South Africans should not experience large budgetary cuts in order to help fund government vanity projects such as the R10.5 billion SAA bailout.
- To use the R600 million allocated to the Affordable Housing Rental Relief Scheme, none of which have been used to date to benefit all tenants occupying affordable rental housing in both the subsidised and unsubsidised rental sectors.
International Relations and Cooperation
- Curb abuse of taxpayer money by diplomats by holding them responsible for damages they incurred to properties rented by the South African government.
Mineral Resources and Energy
- Provide timeline for the urgent reopening of REIPPP bid windows.
- Release the long overdue Integrated Energy Plan and the Gas Utilization Master Plan.
- Scrap the Mining Charter and all other laws that disincentivize investment and job creation in mining.
- Produce solutions to the uncertainty of our mineral rights system and to the problem of illegal mining.
- An Urgent increase in funding to expedite outstanding contracts to tackle the DNA case exhibits backlog.
- Minister Cele must urgently announce a further firearm amnesty due to police station closures as a result of Covid-19 hampering handover of firearms and renewal of licenses.
- The Ministry must fully implement the recommendations of the white paper on policing 2016, a key recommendation among which is the demilitarisation of the SAPS.
- Beef up rural safety efforts with additional resources and drastically improved crime intelligence.
- The Minister must bring the DNA Amendment Bill to Parliament to ensure that DNA samples can be collected from all convicted schedule 8 offenders (the backlog is estimated at 48 000 offenders whose DNA has not been added to the national DNA database).
- Scrap problematic aspects of the SAPS Amendment Bill that seeks to centralise policing.
- Stop bailouts to SOEs like SAA.
Public Service and Administration
- Outlaw cadre deployment; and
- Cut the public sector wage bill.
Public Works and Infrastructure
- President Ramaphosa must fire Minister Patricia de Lille over Beitbridge border fence corruption.
- Proper consultation on Expropriation Bill must be undertaken as some areas remain too vague and open to interpretation around the clauses relating to the expropriation without compensation and the inputs from the public participation exercise must be considered prior to finalising the process.
- Prioritise the Public Works Bill
Small Business Development
- Businesses must have fair, transparent, and easy to understand access to Covid-19 relief funds.
- Reduce the red tape pertaining to the starting of small businesses.
- Merge SEFA and SEDA into a single entity.
- Employ a permanent Director-General for the Department of Small Business Development.
- Capacitate SASSA in order to ensure all grant backlogs are eradicated and all grants do not lapse, leaving beneficiaries with no safety net and stripped of their human dignity.
- The employment of more social workers to address a wide range of social development issues including GBV support services.
- Ensure that NPO Service Level Agreements, including full subsidy payments as outlined in the SLAs, are honoured in all nine provinces as NPOs play an integral role in humanitarian, educational and social relief in the lives of millions of South Africans. This includes and impacts old age homes, early childhood development (ECD) centres, and feeding kitchens.
- Increased support (strengthening) to the family unit – especially as families grapple with Covid-19 and lockdown challenges (such as grief, unemployment in the home, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and general uncertainty in youth.)
- Implement the 2019 -2024 National Drug Master Plan to address the issue of substance abuse wreaking havoc in the country.
- Increase child support grant to lower the poverty line of R670.
Sports, Arts and Culture
- The Department must prioritise the outstanding relief/stimulus funding to sportsmen and women, as well as the arts sector. The Department also needs to give feedback on the dispersion of the funds to ensure proper monitoring and oversight.
- All outstanding BRRR reports must be tabled for all entities.
- The Department needs to prioritise sport development on school level to ensure transformation takes place based on merits.
- SASCOC and Cricket SA issues need to be resolved without political interference.
- The Star Grading for places of accommodation must be made free of charge to support tourism establishments.
- Most other economic interventions in other departments will also boost tourism:
- Lowering Business Rates and Taxes;
- Removing the Alcohol Ban; and
- Removing the Beach Ban
Trade and Industry
- Set in motion policy changes and legislation for it to be easier to do business in SA, in line with the President’s economic reforms.
- Reform the National Credit Act to deal with historical credit issues for consumers and to allow for fintech based credit lending.
- Overhaul the administered pricing regime through ports and rail to make movement of goods (exporting) cheaper and more efficient.
- The current NLC board must be fired, and the organisation placed under administration until the SIU has completed its investigation into the alleged corruption there.
- Minister Patel must pursue a trade deal with China that addresses the skewed trading relationship we currently experience with them.
- Extend the grace period for license disk renewal to 31 August 2021 to avoid the long queues South Africans are currently forced to endure that could increase the rapid spread of Covid-19.
- Move the Transport Department into the 21st Century by creating an online platform for vehicle registrations in South Africa.
- Immediately scrap the e-tolls system in Gauteng, as it serves as an unfair burden on Gauteng motorists.
- To scrap plans to implement the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) which is scheduled to take effect in July 2021. This Act serves merely as another way to force motorists to pay for e-tolls. The DA remains opposed to this Amendment Act which will turn ordinary motorists into criminals.
Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities
- The Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Command Centre must put measures in place to ensure a call centre is available in emergencies.
- Support to NPOs/NGOs working in the GBVF field must be actioned immediately.
- The National Council for GBVF must be set up to ensure the implementation and the monitoring and evaluation of the National Strategic Plan on gender-based violence.
- The delay in the planned NYDA board selection will likely impact the governance of the NYDA therefore Parliament must act quickly in finalising this.
- NYDA must ensure the continuation of the relief fund for small medium businesses.
- Stipends for internships and learnerships must be rolled out to counter the increasing unemployment rate through support for entry-level youth to work from home where feasible.
- NYDA must work to increase 4G broadband cellular network penetration. Whilst we are currently in the second wave the need to access technology will become even more important.
Commission for Gender Equality (CGE)
- The CGE must strengthen its monitoring and evaluation on the safety plan for GBV victims.
- They must ensure that legal clinics are open to women during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Initiate research on the impact Covid-19 has on GBVF and increase awareness on the effects.
Persons with Disabilities
- The Department should prioritize the introduction of a Disability Rights Bill and the filling of vacancies in the disability unit.
- The Department must develop an effective monitoring and evaluation strategy which will enable it to monitor the provision of assistive devices e.g. wheelchairs, walking aids and hearing aids to persons with disabilities by the Department of Health.
“South Africans have suffered for many years under the greed, poor governance, and callousness of the ANC government, but this ship can still be turned around if the government is willing to seriously root out corruption at every level and put its citizens first,” said Mazzone. “Adopting some of these strategies will lighten their load and improve the lived experience of many South Africans.”