ELECTION NEWS - The opposition DA was engaged in a fascinating game of “what if” on Monday, imagining what they would do if they happened to win elections in May, or came to power through coalitions.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane stood at the Union Buildings in Tshwane, the seat of government, and listed 10 major things they would focus on for their first 100 days after Maimane were hypothetically sworn in as the president.
He said the DA had “a plan, and we are ready to implement our plan”.
These are their immediate proposed interventions:
- Table the Jobs Act, Fiscal Responsibility Bill and ISMO Bill;
- Immediately place SAA under business rescue;
- Begin the rollout of a Voluntary Civil Service Year;
- Introduce specialist Teacher Training Colleges and a National Education Inspectorate to ensure that teaching and other standards are met;
- Increase the child grant to the food poverty line of R547 per month;
- Begin to implement a 6-point Small Business Development Plan;
- Cut Cabinet to 15 Ministries;
- Initiate key interventions to professionalise the police force, including the provincial control of police;
- Deploy SANDF troops to our borders; and
- Decentralise control of ports, harbours and Metrorail services and their budgets to metro councils.
“The DA is open to working alongside – and forming governments with – all political parties across the country who share common values of a market-based economy that creates jobs, a lean and capable state that delivers services for all, zero tolerance for corruption, and the upholding of the Constitution that guarantees its people their rights, including the right to own property.”
Maimane then extrapolated on each of their 10 points, which you can read in full below, in his own words:
Legislative Reform: The Jobs Act, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill and the ISMO Bill
In order to resuscitate our ailing economy and get it to growth levels nearer to our peers on the continent and across the developing world, a DA-led government would introduce three pieces of key legislation:
Unemployment is the single biggest threat to our country’s future. With almost 10 million people unemployed, a DA-led government would place job creation at the centre of our first 100 days in office. We will introduce the “Jobs Act”, a piece of legislation which will offer tax incentives for people to come and open businesses that create jobs.
The Act makes provision for special incentives to local and foreign investors who meet a minimum employment requirement. These incentives include repatriating international investment profits, easing forex controls for investors, creating medium-sized business access to a specialist DTI arbitration team to assist with costs, and to make hiring and firing employees easier through a labour market flexibility exemption clause.
Fiscal Responsibility Bill
South Africa’s financial situation is dire. Our projected debt-to-GDP ratio over the next three years stands at over 60% by 2021/22. This means that almost two thirds of the value of everything South Africa produces in a year is needed to pay back the debt the ANC government has piled up. With more spending on debt, more bailouts for beleaguered SOEs, and a dwindling taxbase, there is an urgent need for reform.
A DA-led national government will stabilise our national debt by tabling and passing the Fiscal Responsibility Bill which introduces fiscal spending rules that mitigate against the debt-to-GDP ratio spiralling out of control by implementing a debt ceiling set at 60% of debt-to-GDP. Under our model, the Finance Minister will be required to report to Parliament for compliance with the new fiscal spending rules and prohibit government guarantees to SOEs from increasing as a percentage of GDP.
Eskom’s monopoly on the generation and distribution of electricity in South Africa is a ticking time-bomb, with rolling power cuts threatening our economy, our jobs, and our livelihood.
The first step towards opening up the market and enabling private sector investment and increased efficiency is the passing of the Independent Systems and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill.
In our first 100 days, we would table this ISMO Bill that will add secure energy supply and make it much more affordable for all citizens. The Bill will see Eskom split into a generation entity that can be privatised, and transmission entity to be operated by the state. This will enable Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to connect to the grid, and open up competition in the energy market.
Fiscal risks – immediately place SAA under business rescue
No matter which way its spun, the truth is SAA is bankrupt and its governance model is broken. The airline has stumbled along for decades, amassed hundreds of billions in state guaranteed debt and faces a continued management crisis with very little to show for this mess.
Within our 100 days, a DA-led government would immediately place SAA under business rescue. This would stabilise the airline and cushion the financial risk it continues to weigh on government spending and the economy. This would be done with a view to sell off the airline in the long term, creating competition in this sector.
Work Opportunity for Young People – Voluntary National Civilian Service
There are simply not enough voluntary programme or internship opportunities to absorb young secondary school graduates who decide not to pursue tertiary education. The government can play an important function in providing young South Africans with work experience and an opportunity to serve their country through a Voluntary National Civilian Service Year, gaining transferable skills and experience to meet labour force demands.
Every matriculant who does not qualify for tertiary education will be offered this programme and paid a stipend for the opportunity to serve their country or community in return for valuable work experience. This experience will be in strategic public sector areas such as the police, education and healthcare and the programme will serve as a platform for further opportunities in young peoples’ chosen sector.
Three streams the programme will pilot are an education stream for teacher’s assistants, a healthcare stream aimed at providing public hospitals and clinics with administrative assistants, a police academy stream where participants join police academies across the country and members of local law enforcement on daily patrols. The education stream is designed for underserved schools in administrative, sports coaching, cultural and extra supervisory roles, healthcare stream participants would be registered on community health worker programmes and the police academy would function to better understand the role in the community and become trained as a certified police officer.
Access to Opportunity – Introduce specialist Teacher Training Colleges and a National Education Inspectorate to ensure that teaching and other education standards are met
Basic Education is the great equaliser in society, and access to quality education opens up opportunity for a better life. Research continues to show that the quality of teaching and management of teachers in South Africa serves as the biggest threat to a child’s success at school. It is not good enough that 1 in 5 educators are not considered qualified enough to teach and that over 8 million children attend broken schools where the quality of teaching is unacceptable.
Within the first 100 days, a DA-led national government will improve teaching quality and performance in the country by introducing specialist Teacher Training Colleges and the National Education Evaluation Inspectorate (NEEI).
The specialist Teacher Training Colleges will be for primary school teachers in all provinces and the NEEI will be a Chapter 9 institution that assesses the quality of teaching at schools amongst other factors and will include a rewards programme to improve teaching and set benchmarks for quality educating.
Early Childhood Development – Increase the child grant to the food poverty line of R547 per month
The first 1000 days of a child’s life has become known as ‘the brain’s window of opportunity.’ The period runs from when a baby is born until two years of age when more decent nutrition is an imperative. Today, 53 children under the age of five die every day from preventable causes, including malnutrition.
Within our first 100 days, we would pass a Special Appropriations Bill that would increase the child grant to the food poverty line of R547 per month as at April 2018 prices. This would go a long way in ensuring mothers can feed their children.
Revitalising Small Businesses to Create Jobs
In June last year, the Small Business Project and Institute published that although Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) constitute as much as 98.5% of all formal business in South Africa, there are just 250 000 SMEs employing no more than 200 people each across the country. In a country where one in four adults and one in two young South Africans do not have a job and have given up looking for a job, we require wholescale reform to allow these job-creators to thrive.
Our plan for Small Business Development puts small businesses at the vanguard of our economic agenda for change. Empowering the ownership and operations of South African small business owners to employ others is a crucial step to reaching full employment and securing a job in every home.
Within our first 100 days, we would implement an overtly pro-small business policy approach by:
- Lowering the cost of doing business by exempting small businesses from certain labour and BEE regulations;
- Improving cash flow of small businesses by implementing a short-term grace period on small business tax penalties;
- Providing funding and related assistance for small business;
- Providing targeted support for micro-entrepreneurs in the informal economy; and
- Focusing on inspiring entrepreneurial mindsets and increasing support and incentives for co-operatives and businesses owned by young people.
This will stimulate foreign direct investment and partnerships, give the “little guy” more of a voice over big businesses, speed up business registration, simplify investment regulations and application processes for informal trading, and encourage entrepreneurship as a career choice.
Operation Hlasela Mafutha – Cut Cabinet to 15 Ministries
For government to be more responsive, transparent, accountable and efficient to the needs and services of the people it serves, the shape and function of government must change from the top down. Government needs to be reconfigured into a lean and cost-effective Executive designed to tackle South Africa’s major challenges and maximise service delivery through reducing unproductive public sector spending and dismantling the ANC government patronage network.
Reducing the size of government to 15 Ministries will save almost R5 billion a year, without sacrificing capacity needed to effectively run government. While essential government departments and entities will not be cut, unnecessary ministries which were principally created for patronage will be scrapped.
Within our first 100 days, a DA-led nation government will cut cabinet to the following 15 ministries: Employment and Enterprise; Economic Infrastructure; Finance; Basic Education; Further Education, Skills and Innovation; Health and Social Development; Integrated Planning and Service Delivery; Police; Local and Provincial Government; Home Affairs; Agriculture and Land Reform; Justice and Correctional Services; Environment; Foreign Affairs; and Defence. These ministries will direct government spending towards the right balance of priorities which will eliminate corruption and lead to economic growth.
Safety and Security – Honest and Professional Police
In communities all across South Africa, people live in constant fear of crime. This is in large parts due to The South African Police Service (SAPS) being chronically under-trained, under-staffed, under resourced and under-equipped – all while crime intelligence remains largely ineffective as it is located far away from communities. These systemic problems mean that the SAPS is incapable of fighting crime, whether syndicates and organised crime, or petty crime committed by individuals. Moreover, SAPS does not have a strong or skilled enough investigative ability to secure high detection and conviction rates.
We would completely overhaul SAPS, curb corruption, hire people with a passion for policing and retraining police officers to make the police force honest, professional and one that serves and protects.
The DA will ensure that our police force is honest and professional by, among other things, implementing mandatory lifestyle audits for senior police management; only hiring passionate police and ensuring new recruits go through extensive training; implementing a new promotions policy; and replicating the DA-led Western Cape’s independent Office of Police Ombud.
We will also increase mental health support for SAPS, create specialised anti-crime units and officer level positions, sexual offences, missing persons and rural safety, institute a semi-independent and effective drug-busting force within the SAPS and allocate a ring-fenced budget to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
Lastly, provinces that can show that they are capable for duty will become responsible for policing in that province which will be achieved through key amendments which give provincial commissioners and station commanders more powers and functions to address crimes at a local level.
Secure our borders – deploy more SANDF troops to our borders
Government is currently failing at its mandate to uphold law and order in country, which is most dangerously experienced through unlawful and insecure migration on South African borders. Our porous borders have become compounded by an archaic and corrupt Home Affairs Department that has collapsed our immigration system leading to violence and instability.
Within our first 100 days, we will secure our borders by increasing the number of SANDF companies that defend our borders from 15 to 22 companies. We will ensure that they are adequately trained and resourced, that every person entering the country is legal and documented, and that assistance, support and care is provided for legitimate refugees and asylum seekers.
Decentralise control of ports, harbours and Metrorail services and their budgets to metro councils
Work opportunities can only be fairly accessed if citizens can freely and affordably access them. South Africa’s divided spatial planning has meant that many outsiders remain locked out of opportunities on the inside of the economy.
A DA-led national government will immediately move to devolve the operation and infrastructure of Metrorail, ports and harbour services in well-operating metros. In line with our focus on city-led economic growth, this will allow cities to tailor these services to best suit their citizens. Operators will be contracted and must meet service standards or face penalties and cancellation of contracts with the model allowing for integrated transport services.
During the first 100 days in National Government, the DA will reform legislation, mitigate fiscal risks, launch a voluntary civil service, upskill teachers, increase the child grant, create an enabling environment for small businesses to thrive, debloat the size of Cabinet, professionalise the police, deploy troops to secure our borders and integrate our transport system to create fair access to jobs.
Only the DA can manage the real problems South Africa faces. The DA’s governance track record speaks for itself. Where we govern, we govern well, get stuff done and have a solid agenda with workable solutions.