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DA responds to Africa Check's request to Twitter

Staff Reporter

The Democratic Alliance has replied to a report by non-partisan website Africa Check assessing the party's Twitter posts on its delivery record.

In the run up to the May 7th elections, the DA has been posting a series of tweets under the @DA_News Twitter account. (Gallo)

The Democratic Alliance says it really does deliver. The party's director of communications, Gavin Davis, has a written a response to an assessment by non-partisan website Africa Check to establish whether the claims on the DA's twitter account were factually accurate.

In the run up to the May 7th elections, the party has been posting a series of tweets under the @DA_News Twitter account to showcase the party's service delivery record. Earlier this week, Africa Check ran a report evaluating the claims. 

The full response from Davis:
As part of its social media strategy, the @DA_News Twitter account uses the #DAdelivers hashtag to showcase the DA’s delivery record in government. These tweets draw on the work of various research units in the party, publicly available information and feedback from DA-led governments.

In its recent report on the #DAdelivers campaign, Africa Check asks the question: “Does the Democratic Alliance really deliver?” Despite setting up the question, Africa Check stops short of providing a conclusive answer.

This is unfortunate because Africa Check’s assessment finds that the DA does in fact deliver – even if it does not always agree with the precise numbers or interpretation used.

What follows is the DA’s response to the Africa Check report. Our assessment of the twelve tweets analysed is that:

One tweet (10) slightly overstated the DA’s performance as it was based on outdated information. This will be rectified going forward.

Four of the tweets (1, 2, 8 and 12) understated the DA’s performance. This will be rectified going forward.

Africa Check could not independently verify the claims made by the Western Cape government and City of Cape Town in tweets 6, 7 and 9 (and thus could not dispute them either).

Two of the tweets disputed by Africa Check (3 and 4) are open to interpretation.

Africa Check did not dispute the claims made in tweets 5 and 11.

The intention of this response is to shed further light on the DA’s claims in the interests of accuracy and fairness. Like Africa Check, the DA takes accuracy very seriously and we will gladly rectify any mistakes pointed out to us.

Tweet 1: “In the 2nd half of 2012/13, the WC Provincial Govt. created 60,000 work opportunities via the Expanded Public Works Projects”.

In our response to initial questions from Africa Check, we acknowledged that the numbers did in fact refer to the figures as by the end of the second quarter of 2012/13 (i.e. the first and second quarters added together). So, this should have read: “In the first half of 2012/13…” We will rectify this typographical error going forward.

As Africa Check acknowledges, the DA actually understated its own performance in reference to these figures, since 68,044 work opportunities were created in the first half of that year.

The DA now has in its possession the numbers for the full year from the Department of Public Works. It shows that 109 482 EPWP work opportunities were created in the Western Cape in the 2012/13 financial year.

Tweet 2: “@DA_News municipalities have created 31,000 job opportunities in the past year.”

This was first mentioned in a press statement by DA National Spokesperson Mmusi Maimane in March 2013. It was based on an internal analysis by the DA’s monitoring and evaluation unit for the financial year 2012/13.

Africa Check looks at the EPWP second quarterly report for 2012/13 to conclude that 25,595 work opportunities were created in that six month period (as opposed to 31,000 for the entire year).

The National Department of Public Works’ full year report for the period 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013 shows that DA-run municipalities in fact created 45,321 EPWP opportunities in that year. Cape Town alone created 33,101 such work opportunities.

The full EPWP report can be viewed here. A full list of DA municipalities and the work opportunities created in each is available here.

Again, this #DAdelivers tweet understated the DA’s performance. This will be rectified going forward.

Tweet 3: “W Cape has best service delivery record in SA: 99.1% of households have access to piped water, 93.4% electricity and 96.9% have toilet facilities.”

The Africa Check report confirms the Census 2011 figures on access to piped water, electricity and toilets and that, on two out of three of these measures, the Western Cape delivery is the best in the country.

When it comes to access to sanitation, the Western Cape is in second place behind Gauteng overall, although this does not take into account the quality of sanitation. For example, the Western Cape has the highest access to flush toilets at 85%, compared with Gauteng in second place at 83%.

We stand by the claim that the 2011 census shows that, overall, the Western Cape has the best record when it comes to delivery of basic services.

Tweet 4: “The City of Cape Town delivers more to poor residents than any other city in the country.”

Africa Check agrees that the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs ranked Cape Town number one in the country for providing basic services to households.

Africa Check argues that the report does not specifically refer to poor residents. However, since high income households – by definition – have access to basic services, it can be assumed that poor households benefit most from living in a metro that has the best rate of basic service delivery in the country. We therefore stand by this claim.

Tweet 5: “The [South African] gap between the ‘haves’ & the ‘have nots’ is smallest in the City of Cape Town. It has the highest level of equality in SA.”

Africa Check confirms that, according to the United Nations World Cities Report of 2011/12, Cape Town is in fact the least unequal of the major South African cities.  Of the South African cities analysed, Cape Town had the lowest Gini coefficient at 0.67 while East London and Johannesburg had the highest Gini coefficients at 0.75.

Tweet 6: “Of the R18 billion spent on service delivery in the City of Cape Town, R11 billion is spent on poor communities”.

This claim was made in a speech by Cape Town Mayor, Patricia de Lille in September 2012 , in which she said: “…of the R18 billion City budget spent on direct service delivery, just under R11 billion is spent on poor people.”

According to the City of Cape Town, the numbers were calculated following an analysis of expenditure patterns by ward. Africa Check has been unable to verify the accuracy of the claim. If Africa Check does find that the statistic is inaccurate, the DA will rectify its communication accordingly.

Tweet 7: “80% of the R2 billion spent by the Western Cape on tenders during 2012/13 was paid to #BEEbusinesses”.

As noted by Africa Check, the claim above is based on figures provided by the Western Cape Provincial Treasury. Africa Check does not dispute its accuracy.

Tweet 8: “65% of Western Cape Govt’s senior management are previously disadvantaged South Africans”.

Provincial government employment is not static. The latest available employment equity figures provided by the Western Cape Provincial Government state that 77% of senior employees in the Western Cape Government fall within the designated “black group”.

It therefore appears that the DA understated the percentage of disadvantaged South Africans in senior management in the Western Cape. We shall ensure that the latest statistic is used going forward.

Tweet 9: “76% of the Western Cape government’s budget is redistributed to poor communities”.

Africa Check argues that the report provided to substantiate this claim does not present the full picture because only five departments (health, education, human settlements, social development and cultural affairs and sport) were analysed.

As Western Cape Premier Helen Zille noted in the press release that accompanied the original report, these are the five “big-spending” provincial departments in the Western Cape government with a collective expenditure of R24.7 billion in that financial year. We believe this sample is more than adequate and stand by the claim. If Africa Check can present evidence to the contrary, then we will rectify our communication going forward.

Tweet 10: “8 of the top 10 South African municipalities in the Municipal IQ’s Productivity Index are governed by @DA_News”.

This tweet was based on a report by Municipal IQ (see link) which showed that, In 2011, 8 out of the top ten local municipalities in South Africa were governed by the DA.

As Africa Check points out, in 2012 and 2013, the DA was in government in 7 out of the top 10 local municipalities in the country. This figure is still high enough to support the broader point that DA municipalities deliver. Nevertheless, we will ensure that we use the latest statistic in our communication going forward.

Tweet 11: “In its first four years in government, the DA-governed City of Cape Town tripled the number of houses delivered per year”.

According to Africa Check, the average number of housing opportunities delivered by the ANC in their last three years in government in the City of Cape Town was 3,287. If we use figures from the 2007/08 City of Cape Town Annual Report to assess the ANC’s housing delivery in the City of Cape Town between 2003/4 and 2005/6, its average housing delivery is even lower – at only 2,745 per year.

By 2008/09, the City of Cape Town under DA government delivered 9,576 housing opportunities. In 2009/10 (after the DA’s “first four years of government”), the City of Cape Town delivered 8,950 housing opportunities.

In other words, the evidence supports the claim that the DA more than tripled the average annual housing delivery in its first four years in government in Cape Town.

Tweet 12: “The W Cape Govt spends R33.6 mil on its Premier’s Advancement of Youth Project & its youth wage subsidy programme every year”.

As Africa Check points out, the figure for the 2013/14 financial year is R36.5 million, not R33.6 million. The DA will rectify this understatement in its communication going forward.

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