DA welcomes Eskom, SIU summons to recover stolen state capture funds

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the move by Eskom and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to issue summons in a bid to recover the more than R3.8 billion in stolen funds from the State-Owned Enterprise’s (SOE) former executives, non-executive directors and the Gupta-family.

The DA has long called for SIU reports regarding the looting at the power utility to be made public, and for money stolen to be recovered and the guilty parties to face the full extent of the law. That an attempt is made to finally get back some of the billions stolen, is most certainly a step in the right direction.

In a statement Eskom said of the 12 accused, “All of the former executives and board members breached their fiduciary duty of care and good faith to Eskom, and acted in a concerted state-capture effort, with the Gupta brothers, Mosebenzi Zwane and Salim Aziz Essa to illegally divert funds from Eskom.”

The fact is that the Guptas and their cronies happily bled South Africa dry, and their heinous actions contributed directly to the economic regression the country has suffered, in part due to unreliable power generation.

For too long a blind eye has been turned to the corrupt dealings at Eskom with its resources being treated as a personal piggy bank by those seeking to capture the SOE for nefarious purposes.

With new evidence of corruption being brought to light every day, these summons should serve as a warning to looters and capturers that though the wheels of justice sometimes turn slowly, and despite the many rocks thrown in its path, the wheels do turn. The DA will never stop fighting for the corrupt to be brought to justice, and it’s encouraging to see we are not alone in this fight.

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DA welcomes reopening of Covid-19 relief fund applications and calls for improved transparency 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is pleased by the announcement by the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, that his Department will open a second wave of applications to the Covid-19 Relief Fund for Arts and Sports and that plans are in place to make payments to beneficiaries.

According to the Minister, the relief is set at R2 200 per month, from September to November 2020.

This is a welcome development, one that the DA has been calling for, and one which will allow those who were unsuccessful or missed the deadline in the previous round a new and hopefully fair opportunity to access much-needed funding.

During the initial applications process, the DA received complaints from several applicants who initially qualified for relief aid from the Fund but has yet to receive a cent. They were unhappy with the way in which the Department handled the application process. Many spoke to the lack of transparency and clarity on the criteria used to decide the amounts paid out and who it is paid out to.

We certainly hope that this time around the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture will have learnt from the mistakes and the application process will not be hampered by delayed payments, and a lack of transparency.

The DA further welcomes the injection by the Solidarity Fund of R7 million towards food vouchers for athletes, artists, freelancers, and other eligible practitioners.

We call for clarity on how the Department plans to work together with provinces to develop a list of deserving beneficiaries to receive vouchers and for Minister Mthethwa to ensure that these vouchers are used for the benefit of the men and women in the sports and arts sector, and not as a handout to connected ANC cronies.

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Magashule family contracts – Ramaphosa’s integrity at stake

I have written a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa requesting him to act regarding the allocation of Covid-19 tenders to the sons of ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule as part of his public commitment to act against malfeasance relating to Covid-19 contracts.

Two sons of the ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule received contracts to supply Covid-19 related products to the Free State Provincial Government. Motheko Projects, whose director is Tshepiso Magashule, provided liquid soap and masks to the value of R2.290.000.00 while Marvel Deeds, whose director is Thato Magashule, provided hand sanitizers to the value of R427.221.00.

While the Free State Provincial Government and Mr Magashule indicate that there is nothing wrong with the allocation of these contracts, the DA is of the opinion that Mr Magahsule holds extensive influence over officials who allocate tenders in the Free State.

The ANC continues to implement a policy of Democratic Centralism (Cadre Policy) that conflates the party and state regarding the employment of government officials through redeployment committees. As former Free State Provincial Secretary and current Secretary-General of the ANC, Ace Magashule is in a position to exert extensive influence over the deployment and continued employment of any senior officials and politicians in an ANC-run province such as the Free State.

The Magashule family have a poor track record regarding Free State tenders that include the following:

  • R300,000,000.00 grass cutting tenders in the Free State involved ME Construction owned by Ezekiel Magashule, a younger brother of Ace Magashule; Botlokwa Holdings owned by Thoko Malembe, the daughter of Ace Magashule; Juda in Zion Trading owned by Katleho Mochela, the daughter of Ngwathe (Parys) Mayor Joey Mochela and MDBS Trading, which is owned by Sibusiso and Duduza Ntombela, the sons of Premier Sisi Ntombela;
  • The daughter of Magashule, Thoko Alice Malembe, obtained property (with a filling station) worth R9,000,000.00 through Magashule’s alleged improper and unlawful influence with the Free State Development Corporation (FDC). There is video footage of a visit by Mr Magashule with employees of the FDC to the filling station before his daughters beneficiation. This filling station is now derelict and all former employees remain without employment;
  • At the Vogelfontein Housing Development in Dihlabeng Municipality, Thoko Malembe was allegedly a thirty percent partner in Unital Holdings, which was responsible for the development to the value of R150,000,000.00 and which is currently incomplete. It is alleged that Ace Magashule was directly involved in influencing the allocation of this lucrative contract.

The links between the Magashule and the controversial Gupta family are well known. The Gupta-linked Estina company is currently under investigation by various agencies regarding hundreds of millions of Rands irregularly spent on the Vrede Dairy Project. Such links include Magashule’s sons Tshepiso and Thato who both benefited from the Gupta’s largesse, with Tshepiso being employed and accommodated by the Guptas.

The above examples indicate that the latest allocation of lucrative government contracts to family members of Ace Magashule is not a once off occurrence. As former Premier of the Free State and current ANC Secretary-General, Magashule holds substantial influence over both politicians and senior government officials in the province.

The political integrity of President Ramaphosa will depend on his willingness to act against his most senior ANC party leader.

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Tobacco and alcohol ban must be lifted yesterday

Please click here for a soundbite by Dean Macpherson MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes and agrees with comments by SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) President, Dr Glenda Gray and Professor Charles Parry, Director of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drugs Research Unit at the SAMRC , that South Africa should be more “nimble” in its approach to the banning of alcohol.

In a polite way, Dr Gray is saying that there is no longer any use for the ban and that we must “look at livelihoods” as she put it.

Dr Gray has further stated that there has not been the excessive pressure on hospitals which is what we told the second ban was needed to avoid.

For a Government that has proudly proclaimed that it is “led by science”, throughout this national lockdown, President Ramaphosa has seemingly gone out of his way to prove the very opposite.

From allowing taxis to load up to 100%, to closing down schools, science has been the very last thing the government has worried about. However, what they have obsessed about it capitulating to powerful unions, lobby groups and internal ANC factional forces.

This second ban on alcohol has had terrible consequences for farmers, farm workers and down-stream businesses in the industry. People are losing everything because this government is not being led by science.

The ban on tobacco products has only led to cigarette smugglers becoming obscenely rich which criminalising South Africans for buying cigarettes.

It has also had a devastating effect on our economy and national revenue which has lost billions of Rands in taxes and duties, which we will never be able to recover.

The DA believes that the time for these illogical and unscientific bans to continue must come to an end immediately. President Ramaphosa must put his foot down, show leadership and unban alcohol and tobacco without further delay.

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DA calls on Mboweni to instruct full disclosure of PPE procurement

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to put his money where his mouth is and issue a formal Treasury Instruction that would require the eight Provincial Treasuries which have not done so, to publish all Covid-19 procurement details in full. 

Minister Mboweni has already called on Provincial Treasuries and health departments to follow the Western Cape’s lead and publish this information. But he should go further, and issue a formal Treasury Instruction, in terms of Section 76 of the Public Finance Management Act, requiring them to do so within set time frames.

Only the Western Cape government has decided to proactively publish the details of all Covid-19 related expenditure in regular transparent reports. 

Click here to view the Western Cape Procurement Disclosure Report.

Treasury Instruction No. 5 of 2020/21 issued in April 2020, exempted Provincial Treasuries from competitive bidding processes on procurement of PPE equipment, which is normal in a legitimate emergency, but crucially did not require special reporting transparency. This was a serious misstep that has opened the way for major corruption under “emergency procurement” regulations. 

National Treasury, and Minister Mboweni, must take some of the responsibility for the wide-scale looting of Covid-19 emergency funds by senior ANC figures and connected cronies. 

The Minister also did not reply to the DA’s proposal of a Special Inspector General for Covid Expenditure, which we proposed in May. This Special Inspector General would have had powers to interdict and stop corruption in real time, and would have stopped a lot of the disgraceful theft that is now being exposed after the fact. 

With both of these opportunities missed, Minister Mboweni now has an obligation to stop corruption by compelling Provincial Treasuries to publish their PPE procurement details in full.

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The DA calls for R150m arts and sports relief funding to be audited and for process to re-open

Please find an attached soundbite in English and Zulu, by Tsepo Mhlongo MP, DA Shadow Minister of Sports, Arts & Culture

For the sake of transparency and accountability, the Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for the R150 million relief funding issued to the Department of Sports Arts and Culture, which was meant to mitigate the effects Covid-19 on the sector to be audited.

This follows numerous allegations of corruption and mismanagement of the funds and the accusation that the department was not transparent about the funding process.

The relief fund application process has been laden with uncertainties and poor communication form the department.

Throughout the entire lockdown period, the DA has always had misgivings regarding the payments made by the department’s Covid-19 relief fund to artists and athletes. We have continuously demanded clarity on the criteria used to decide the amounts paid out and who it is paid out to.

Thousands of South Africans athletes and artists whose applications for relief funding has been rejected are rightfully questioning why some people benefited while they haven’t

We reiterate our call to Minister of Sports, Arts, and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, for the re-opening of the application process to the relief fund. This will provide those who were unsuccessful or missed the previous deadline a new and fair opportunity to access this much-needed funding

The second phase must be a substantial, 15-day period that allows artists and sportspeople a fair opportunity to access aid.

The distribution of relief funding must not to be ensnared in unnecessary red tape. Artists and sportspeople are suffering and the Department must step up and ensure that the money that was allocated for this relief is distributed in a fair, transparent and timeous manner.

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Patricia de Lille allegedly up to her old tricks: DA calls for an investigation

Allegations about political meddling are once again, and unsurprisingly, dogging Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille with the surfacing of a letter in which she purportedly instructed suspended Director-General (DG) of Public Works and Infrastructure, Advocate Sam Vukela to appoint a specified company for work within the Department.

Responses from her camp both affirm and deny the allegations – in one respect claiming a fightback from opposition forces within the department. While at the same time, confirming that she had been involved in the procurement process.

The reasons provided for her meddling may sound plausible to the uninitiated. But this is not Minister De Lille’s first rodeo. She cannot claim that she did not see her request as a contravention of Supply Chain and Procurement mechanisms.

She has suspended the Director-General, Adv Vukela for his alleged contraventions of these processes. She knows the law. She understands her role.

I will be writing to the Auditor-General and National Treasury to request a thorough investigation into this matter.

Having never cleared her name around the infamous, highly unethical SMS that she sent to a Counillor to influence the appointment of the City Manager during her tenure as Mayor of Cape Town, Minister De Lille has another opportunity to silence her detractors by providing all the necessary evidence to assist in the investigation.

We hope that she will use this opportunity wisely.

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DA calls on Defence Minister to show leadership and intervene in military veterans struggling to access benefits  

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Minister of  Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to request that she shows leadership and immediately address the lack of resources available to assist military veterans trying and failing to access possible benefits from the Department.

The reasons for the delays are due to the fact that the Military Veterans Appeals Board, which is mandated to review appeals lodged by military veterans on rejected applications for benefits, was not allocated a budget to perform duties during its term.

The Minister appointed the Board on 15 June 2015, and their term of office expired at the end of June this year.

 The failure by the Department of Military Veterans to provide the Board with adequate resources prevented them to satisfactorily process the appeals lodged by the military veterans. Some of these benefits include housing, compensation, educational support, facilitation of employment placement, medical support and social relief. We therefore strongly condemn the failure by the department to allocate budget to the Military Veterans Appeals Board.

As at June 2020, of the 463 complaints that were received by the Appeals Board from the military veterans since it’s inception in June 2015 only 160 that have been completed and 303 are still pending due to challenges of the Board’s unfunded mandate. This means that around 303 applicants are possibly starving, homeless and don’t have access to health care facilities due to failure by the Department of Military Veterans to recognize the importance of the Appeals Board.

It is the DA’s view that Minister Mapisa-Nqakula did not take the matter of Military Veterans seriously. And has to answer why she didn’t intervene when the Board was not getting a budget for a period of five years, and secondly, how she appointed the Board and failed to follow up on whether they were conducting their duties?

Under the Minister’s watch, the Appeals Board had no tools of the trade such as landlines to make calls in office and other monetary resources to process appeals. Her failure to ensure that the Board was equipped to perform its duties led to serious consequences whereby 303 complaints from the military veterans were not expedited. It is further noted that the Minister appointed the Appeals Board on the 15 June 2015 into office but only had the first meeting with the board on September 2019 and this confirms that the Minister does not take the needs of military veterans seriously.

The DA trusts that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans will show leadership and ensure that the term of the new Appeals Board will be properly funded and supported by the department.

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Farm Attacks: The line is drawn in the sand

The annual crime statistic released on Friday show that another 49 farmers were slaughtered last year – four every month – while reliable reports tell us that another 26 farmers and farm workers have been murdered in the first half of this year during some 141 attacks.

Farmers, farm workers, their families and their visitors, of all races, are at enormous threat. In the last 10 years 612 of them have been murdered, and there have been 2818 attacks on farms – leaving many maimed, crippled or blinded.

The farmers of South Africa have been patient. But they have also been lied to over and over again.

While the South African Police Service (SAPS) have created plan after plan, farmers – black and white – , farm workers – black and white – , their wives, children and parents are today twice as likely to be murdered than a police officer is and four times more likely to be murdered than the average South African.

It seems to only be in the most isolated of our rural areas, where attackers have the time to hone their craft, to boil their oil and heat the irons and to sharpen their machetes.

Anyone who gives these brutal attacks any thought at all realises that the main difference between killing someone in town, or someone on a farm is the isolation.

The attackers have far more time, taking hours or even days, to torture the farm owners or workers, sometimes in the belief that there is a safe, or second safe filled with firearms and jewels.

Other times they kill the family and then take nothing at all, like they did last month in the Northern Cape. The Brand family died for nothing at all.

Of course, the Criminal Justice System’s focus today is on the high-profile corruption cases – chasing the increasingly elusive Covid-19 millions, or the VBS looters. To date there has been little time, personnel, equipment or political will to focus on the slaughter of the people who grow our food. The farming community has to date been patently irrelevant to the ANC-government.

As this ridiculous, country-killing lockdown continues, so the attacks and the levels of violence have escalated dramatically.

Complex rural safety mechanisms had been established, but we’re all shut down by Bheki Cele at the advent of Covid-19.

Volunteer farmers with a zero budget work all day, and patrol all night and report back to the police from areas the police don’t have the manpower or vehicles to patrol.

But the Minister of Police saw fit to shut them down, so the murders and rapes increased, and the looting of entire crops escalated. Because he didn’t look further ahead than his own nose.

Indeed, while the ANC had their noses in the looting trough, behind them the people who feed our nation were living in terror. They are under siege.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is pleased that our 16-point programme is bearing fruit, that the SAPS are stepping up to do the job they are expected to do for all South Africans, and that slowly but surely, ANC members are at last beginning to understand that no South African deserves to die by torture.

But it is now time for our President to also acknowledge the perpetual fear and danger that our rural communities live and work in. I therefore again call on all South Africans to visit the DA’s websites at stopplaasaanvalle.co.za or stopfarmattacks.co.za and co-sign our open letter to President Ramaphosa, calling on him to address their plight.

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President Ramaphosa must immediately account in Parliament for the ANC’s Covid feeding frenzy

Please find attached soundbite from John Steenhuisen MP.

Even though it was entirely predictable, the feeding frenzy over Covid19-related tenders among ANC-connected individuals is a filthy stain on our country in this time of crisis. I will be writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly today to request a snap debate on the matter, in which President Ramaphosa himself will have to come and answer for the behaviour of his party’s members and set out exactly how he intends to act against each and every implicated individual.

He must do so, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because he promised the nation four months ago that any such corruption would be met with strong action. On 23 March, the president stood on national television and solemnly vowed to South Africans that profiteering from the Covid19 pandemic would not be tolerated, and that anyone who did so would face serious consequences. In his televised address he said:

“I want to make it clear that we expect all South Africans to act in the interest of the South African nation and not in their own selfish interests. We will therefore act very strongly against any attempts at corruption and profiteering from this crisis.

I have directed that special units of the National Prosecuting Authority be put together to act immediately and arrest those against who we find evidence of corruption. We will work with the judiciary to expedite cases against implicated persons and make sure the guilty go to jail.”

But despite this grand rhetoric, our recent news has been awash with family members of the highest-ranking ANC politicians creaming profits off Covid19 tenders. At the rate at which these stories are breaking, it is possible that we have just seen the tip of the iceberg so far, but already we know of the following:

  • President’s Ramaphosa’s son, Andile Ramaphosa, landed a R6 million contract to modify taxis in Gauteng to comply with Covid19 regulations.
  • President Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko’s husband, Thandisizwe Diko, landed a R125 million contract to supply PPE.
  • ANC secretary-General Ace Magashule’s sons, Tshepiso Magashule and Thato Magashule, landed Covid19 procurement contracts in the Free State to the value of R2.7 million.
  • Former cabinet minister Minister Nomvula Mokonyane daughter, Katleho Mokonyane, landed a R3 million PPE contract despite her company only being six months old at the time.

If this is what we know of the involvement of the families of high-profile ANC members, one can only imagine what the picture looks like further down the line in ANC-run provinces and municipalities where tender corruption has become the very reason to run for public office. They now desperately try to cleanse the party’s image through Twitter hashtags, but these are stains that cannot be scrubbed clean.

The ANC has shown, again and again, that it simply cannot help itself. Where there is government-controlled money you will find cadres elbowing each other out of the way to grab what they can. And so the lure of billions or Rands of emergency Covid19 spending was always going to be too hard to resist, despite the president’s solemn promises in March. The rest of the world has to deal only with the coronavirus pandemic, but South Africa has to simultaneously deal with its very own epidemic of ANC corruption.

And while this looting of Covid19 funds is especially egregious, consider the recent histories of some of the implicated individuals listed above:

  • The same Andile Ramaphosa who now landed a multi-million Rand Covid19 tender still has the massive Bosasa question mark hanging over his head, where he started receiving monthly payments from the corruption-tainted company the moment his father became president (and received his very own mysterious Bosasa payment).
  • The same Tshepiso and Thato Magashule who now profited from Covid19 tenders were also heavily involved in their father’s shady dealings with the Guptas in the Free State during the State Capture saga, for which neither father nor sons have yet accounted.
  • The same Katleho Mokonyane, daughter of the disgraced Nomvula Mokonyane, used to work with Bosasa’s Gavin Watson and was, along with her mother, a beneficiary of the corrupt company’s bribes to secure political influence.

This kind of corruption is baked into the ANC’s DNA. Access to tenders and subsequent price gouging are regarded as their deserved spoils of war. Compare this to the DA-run Western Cape, where all Covid19 procurement is now published online in a monthly report to ensure 100% transparency. The difference between the DA in government and the ANC in government could not possibly be more pronounced. It is the Capable State vs the Predator State.

South Africa will not make progress as long as the rot of ANC corruption continues to infect every aspect of government and service delivery. We will not make progress as long as we have a president who can only talk, but is incapable of any meaningful action.

However, he now has an opportunity to prove me wrong. I look forward to the president’s honest account in Parliament of his party’s looting, and his detailed plan of action to deal with all those involved.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court