In an opinion piece published in the Daily Maverick a few weeks ago, Zahir Amien and Phillip Dexter of the ANC make a number of claims about the Democratic Alliance-led Western Cape which are devoid of fact, and dripping with the ANC propaganda the party has become synonymous with in our province.
This response serves to test their claims, and take an objective look at the alternative style of governance the ANC has put forward to the Western Cape voter.
The piece, entitled: Political and Social Cohesion in the Western Cape: The True Cost of the DA’s Failure to Govern, cites no economic indicators, is devoid of tangible research and fact, and makes frequent use of generalised ANC campaign rhetoric which is often untrue.
First, Amien and Dexter refer to “the failure to capitalise on strategies put in place in tourism” further claiming that “10 years of DA government in the Western Cape has meant no transformation and no net increase in jobs”. This is factually incorrect. The latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey released by Stats SA confirms that the Western Cape has South Africa’s lowest expanded unemployment rate of 22.5 percent, with the least discouraged and economically inactive citizens in the country. Gauteng, the purported economic powerhouse of our country, came in second to the Western Cape a full 11.1 percentage points behind our province at 33.6 percent.
Through the Western Cape’s Project Khulisa, tourism has been prioritised as a strategic sector able to create much needed employment for Western Cape residents. As a result of this approach, launched in 2015, tourism has become a burgeoning industry and big business for our province. Between the fourth quarter of 2016 and the fourth quarter of 2017, tourism in the Western Cape grew by 7.5 percent bringing R6.6 billion rand into the provincial economy. This sector alone has created 26 758 jobs since 2013.
Since its inception in 2015, Cape Town Air Access has brought in 750 000 more inbound flight seats to Cape Town, increasing the growth of international terminal passengers by 20 percent. This year alone, an additional 150 000 more inbound flight seats will be secured for Cape Town, further cementing the Western Cape’s title as one of the most visited destinations on the Africa continent.
A recent presentation to my Standing Committee by AirBnb revealed that the company had grown by 86 percent in the Western Cape just in 2017, and Cape Town now accounts for 25 percent of the company’s revenue on the entire African continent. Tourism has created an immense market for artisanal goods, services and innovative hospitality offerings which, most importantly, are accessible to unskilled and previously disadvantaged Western Cape residents. This is why we have used tourism to empower those most vulnerable in our society, fostering an industry which both creates jobs and stimulates social transformation. This goes far beyond what the ANC even hoped to achieve when they were in government here.
Amien and Dexter then claim a “decline in investment and services” in the Western Cape. Again, this is not true. Stats SA’s Non-financial Census of Municipalities Report revealed that Western Cape municipalities receive the highest proportion of consumer units that benefit from the free basic water policy at 76.4 percent. The Western Cape’s closest competitor, the Eastern Cape, sits at 41.8 percent.
The Western Cape also achieved the highest proportion of beneficiaries from the free basic sewerage and sanitation policy at 67.9 percent, followed by the Eastern Cape at 39.2 percent. Western Cape municipalities also scored highest in South Africa in the proportion of consumer units that benefited from the free basic electricity policy.
The Auditor General’s recent report on Municipal Audit Outcomes also confirmed that the Western Cape has 80 percent clean audits from municipalities, the highest in South Africa.
Regarding investment, the City of Cape Town was ranked 21st for its Foreign Direct Investment strategy by the Financial Times’ Global Cities of the Future Index last year, the only city in Africa to make the list. This is in stark contrast to South Africa’s junk status downgrade and the recent contraction of our national economy by 2.2 percentage points. In the Western Cape, key investment in the renewable energy sector, as well as in information technology, mean the Western Cape is now home to more than 60 percent of South Africa’s information and communications technology start-ups, and 65 percent of South Africa’s new renewable energy component manufacturing is now based in Cape Town.
The province is also miles ahead of South Africa in terms of renewable energy readiness., with 85 percent of Western Cape municipalities having the necessary legislation in place for independent solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generation, with plans to permit the sale of excess clean energy by commercial entities back into the national grid.
Between November 2013 and June 2017, the Western Cape had generated 2554 gigawatt hours of clean electricity, offsetting 2.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions in line with South Africa’s allegiance to the Paris Agreement. As a result, the price of renewable energy has dropped from R3.50 to 60c per Kw, creating an affordable, clean, and sustainable green energy alternative for our residents. This is particularly important considering that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “New Dawn” just slapped South Africa with load-shedding as of last week.
The next claim refers to the “perilous state of land ownership by the historically disadvantaged people”. Amien and Dexter continue to say that “40 percent of the population, the majority of whom are historically disadvantaged people, own no wealth at all.” The key words here are own and ownership. If the ANC is so worried about previously disadvantaged people lacking access to wealth through land ownership, why are they currently pushing for land to be expropriated and owned solely by the State? In fact, Amien and Dexter unknowingly reinforce the DA’s policy on land, which is that the right to private ownership of land is the only way to amassing generational wealth for previously disadvantaged South Africans. Perhaps the authors should relay their views to their own party leadership which seeks to revoke land ownership from each and every South African altogether.
To combat this claim, the ANC’s National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform spent a combined R69 billion on land reform and redistribution by 2014, with a dismal nine percent success rate. R69 billion could have bought 58 percent of South Africa’s productive agricultural land at market value, but this money, which represents any hope black South Africans have of getting their land back, has gone down the drain.
Amien and Dexter further claim that “opportunities for the development of homes and habitat for working people in the city have been turned down by the DA”. What the ANC fails to tell the Western Cape voter is that national government refuses to hand over massive state-owned plots in our province situated at Culemborg, Ysterplaat, Wingfield, Youngsfield, and Denel which the Premier Helen Zille has already earmarked for social housing projects. This was reiterated by Premier Zille’s 2018 State of the Province Address: “Our plea to the national government is as follows – release these game changing properties and the requisite funding – and we will apply the Better Living Model on a scale as yet unwitnessed in South Africa. It will transform access to affordable housing, and transform the legacy of our apartheid urban form.”
The ANC continually lambastes the Western Cape to build social housing on small tracts of land within Cape Town while hogging close to 1 200 hectares of prime land in and around the City. According to the Premier’s estimates, this land could yield 100 000 subsidised social housing units. If the ANC were so concerned about the shortage of social housing for the people of the Western Cape, it would make the necessary land available for our social housing projects. But we know that it’s easier for the ANC to sit on the stockpile of land it owns, and use the plight of the landless to score votes. The ANC may wax lyrical about how much they care about the people, but the reality is that they care more about the vitality of their “revolutionary movement” than the actual needs of South Africans today.
The cherry on top of Amien And Dexter’s write up on social housing is the following: “Most tragic of all, District Six, stands vacant instead of being used to build affordable and social housing.” Might I remind the authors that District Six has, since 1994, been claimed as the flagship land redistribution project in the Western Cape by the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. The mandate for this project rested, and still rests with national government. When the National Minister was summoned to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament’s Standing Committee on Human Settlements on June 5 to explain this project’s delay, she didn’t pitch, to the ire of District Six land claimants in attendance. Perhaps Amien and Dexter should join the DA in holding the ANC government to account for their failure to address this project for 24 years running.
In stark contrast to the ANC’s land failures, the DA-led Western Cape has a 62 percent land reform success rate because our government commits to providing the necessary support to land beneficiaries to sustainably turn their land into wealth. With regards to agricultural land in particular, the Cape Agency for Sustainable Integrated Development in Rural Areas (Casidra) provides free agricultural expertise, equipment, and skills to emerging black farmers on behalf of the Western Cape government to ensure their success as land owners and emerging farmers. We have also handed over 91 000 title deeds in our province since 2009 as part of our commitment to affording land ownership to our people. This is how you ensure the ownership of wealth Amien and Dexter repeatedly refer to.
The ANC in the Western Cape always cites relevance when we highlight the plight of other provinces, but the reality is that the Western Cape voter uses governance in other provinces to determine a DA alternative. So let’s have a look.
In the Northern Cape, R1,8 billion has been spent on a psychiatric hospital which has now been under construction for more than a decade. The relevant MEC for health was conveniently, and silently redeployed to the transport portfolio.
In the Free State, a supposed dairy farm owned by the Guptas syphoned off R220 million meant to benefit poor farmers, and the restoration of the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s house into a museum was fast hijacked by corruption. The site still lays in tatters.
The entire North West province was just placed under administration.
Kwazulu-Natal has one public oncologist and is facing a public healthcare crisis over and above its Cogta MEC who just awarded a R7,7 million communications tender to her husband’s company.
The Eastern Cape has some of South Africa’s worst infrastructure where a young girl tragically drowned in a pit toilet recently, and in Gauteng at least 144 psychiatric patients died in 2016 after the Gauteng department of health moved 1 700 mentally ill people from Life Esidimeni homes into ill-equipped NGOs and state facilities.
These examples are merely the tip of the iceberg of the severe corruption and maladministration in our ANC-run provinces.
But the biggest insult to the Western Cape voter is the ANC’s redeployment of Ebrahim Rasool as elections head and potential premier candidate. Rasool was fired as premier after serving in the position for just six months following rumours that he indirectly used public funds to pay two Independent Media journalists to write stories favourable to him, while rubbishing his opponents in the Western Cape. The money was reportedly handed to the journalists in brown envelopes. Quite ironic considering Rasool was recently published in the Daily Maverick speaking on the dangers of populism. Following his stint as South African ambassador to Washington DC, a common move by the ANC to sweep its most corrupt under the diplomatic rug, Rasool is now back to woo the Western Cape voter. This is a serious insult to the people of the Western Cape, and surely to ANC voters in the province.
The Western Cape will be hotly contested in next year’s general elections, and while the DA is aware of, and is actively adapting to, our country’s changing political landscape and the changing needs of our people, the ANC remains the sluggish, corruption fuelled vehicle of incompetence it always was.
If Amien and Dexter want to present an ANC manifesto to the Western Cape, they need to prove to our residents that their party is competent to carry it out. One look at the state of the rest of our country is proof enough that an ANC alternative in our province, as recently mentioned by president Ramaphosa, will cause a complete collapse in governance. Bring on 2019. DM
Beverley Schäfer is MPP, Standing Committee Chairperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture, Western Cape Provincial Parliament.