DA calls for lifting of lockdown regulations to restore private property rights

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for the urgent lifting of Alert Level 1 lockdown regulations that make it close to impossible for property owners to obtain eviction orders.

While restrictions on the movement of people have long ago been lifted, the corresponding rights of property owners have not been restored.

To protect their land and buildings against illegal occupation property owners have to overcome extraordinary legal hurdles, creating an open season for land grabs.

Regulation 73(2) empowers a court to stay all eviction proceedings for the duration of the national state of disaster, which at present is an indefinite period.

Most concerning are the factors that a court has to consider in deciding whether or not to stay eviction proceedings.

This includes the duty on parties applying for an eviction order to take reasonable steps to provide alternative accommodation for evicted persons in terms of Regulation 73(2)(i).

By this sleight of hand, the government has effectively transferred its own constitutional duty to ordinary property owners without offering any additional support.

The Minister of Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs should amend these regulations so to bring them within reasonable and justifiable constitutional limits.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

ANC meeting: a battle of the factions where SA stands to lose

Please click here for a soundbite by the DA Leader John Steenhuisen MP.

Following the meeting between former President Jacob Zuma and the ANC’s top leadership yesterday, it has become obvious that the factional battles in the ANC continue to cost South Africa dearly.

The meeting, which was meant to convince Mr Zuma to appear before the Zondo Commission, was an utter failure which confirms that the RET faction of the ANC has the upper hand and will allow him to disregard the constitution and the rule of law.

It is evident that Mr Zuma has every intention to disregard the Constitutional Court and the Zondo Commission, and that his party, the ANC, is all too happy to facilitate his indifference for the Constitution and the rule of law.

The ANC is treating its former President with kid gloves. They have demonstrated that there will be no real consequences for the disregard of the law from an organizational point of view. The governing party has a duty and an obligation to draw the line and distance itself from someone who defies the very constitution that he took an oath to uphold. But they continue to choose party factional battles over the country.

This is now an opportunity for the reformers within the ANC to come out of hiding in the defence of constitutionalism, the rule of law and the people of South Africa.

Unless those with the interests of the country at heart, speak out and assert themselves, South Africa will hurtle back towards the Zuma-era where the selfish interests of the ANC’s factional cliques will continue to ravage our country.

Now is the time for the reformers to be bold and brave. Should they fail to do so, they will be continue to be complicit in the hallowing out of our constitutional institutions as has been done by the very ANC over the past decade.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Sustained DA pressure forces Stellenbosch University to review its anti-Afrikaans language policy

Sustained pressure by the DA over the past year – including through court actions and public campaigns – has today resulted in an announcement by Stellenbosch University (SU) that it will immediately review its controversial language policy.

 This decisive victory for the DA in defence of mother-tongue education comes amid a storm that erupted after reports that the current language policy banned students from speaking Afrikaans – even in their hostels and on campus. The DA will visit the campus on Thursday to ensure that this discriminatory practice comes to an end.

Today’s announcement is an admission by the university that the DA is correct about the fact that the 2016 language policy is a massive failure, because it removed the right of Afrikaans students to receive education in their mother-tongue.

The early revision of the language policy now provides a final opportunity for the university to implement a fairer language policy. The DA will now build further on the pressure we have already generated by launching a full-scale campaign to place English and Afrikaans students on equal footing at Stellenbosch. We ask the public to join hands with us in this quest to give expression to the right to mother-tongue education contained in our Constitution.

The DA looks forward to submitting constructive proposals to the university to ensure that the mistakes of the 2016 language policy are not repeated, and to ensure that both Afrikaans and English students are fully included.
Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

 

 

Lack of action by Dr Dolittle on Immigration and porous borders results in another humanitarian crisis

Please find attached a soundbite in English and Afrikaans by Adrian Roos MP

Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, must put down his popcorn, get off his couch and provide leadership to secure our borders and take charge of issues of refugees and asylum seekers.

The Minister has been standing back and doing as little as possible, while stakeholders such as the City of Cape Town, UNHCR and others have been forced to scramble to fill in the leadership void.

We now face a humanitarian crisis at refugee centres in Cape Town where Home Affairs are conducting drawn-out processes to repatriate or reintegrate refugee groupings. This weekend at the Paint City site in Belville, sanitation and ablution facilities were removed by the UNHCR, who had stepped in on a temporary emergency basis after the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) previous unilateral withdrawal of sanitation. Now the UNHCR contract for sanitation has also come to an end at the DPWI shelter being provided to refugees at Paint City. A DPWI spokesperson has referred the latest withdrawal of sanitation to Home Affairs when questioned.

This is not the first time a humanitarian crisis has developed as a result of failure to deliver on Home Affairs to deliver on their mandate of managing refugees under the Refugee Act.

Two months after the Border Management Authority (BMA) came into effect there is still no project plan with funding and deadlines despite this function being in place for the full term of the Minister to date. The lack of action from Home Affairs to put forward a plan for the expected December/January traffic led to a humanitarian crisis at the borders where NATJOINTS had to step into the leadership void to resolve the crisis with the BMA a passive spectator.

It required the Democratic Alliance (DA) to call out corruption on the Beitbridge Border Project where the Minister claimed that he was not involved and never expressed a concern on infrastructure directly related to his responsibility. The UNHCR has also now filled the void to deal with refugee appeals that Home Affairs has let build-up by not adequately resourcing it.

A pattern in developing of Minister Motsoaledi doing little and other stakeholders coming to the rescue. The only conclusion is that the Minister is not interested in securing our borders and dealing with issues of genuine refugees and asylum seekers and for some purpose wants the problems to continue. This has to stop.

The mandate of Home Affairs is crystal clear. In December 2014 Cabinet directed that Home Affairs should assume responsibility for coordinating all border law enforcement entities in South Africa. The mandate to implement the BMA is under Home Affairs. The 1951 Refugee Convention places a responsibility on National Government to protect legitimate refugees and asylum seekers. The Refugees Act is under Home Affairs as the responsible National Government Department.

Furthermore, the ‘National Action Plan to combat xenophobia, racism, and discrimination’ passed by Cabinet in March 2019 states that “to effectively combat xenophobia, the government and police need to publicly acknowledge attacks on foreign nationals and their property as xenophobic and take decisive action.” The lack of action on the initial claims of xenophobic violence, which came directly after this National Action plan was passed, has morphed into a humanitarian crisis.

The DA long ago called for a stop to finger pointing and called for a Joint Parliamentary Committee meeting on the matter which in October 2019 called on Minister Motsoaledi to facilitate an Intergovernmental engagement on roles, responsibilities and funding when dealing with claims of xenophobia and violence against foireign nationals. To date, the Home Affairs Minister has done little to nothing.

If Home Affairs and National Government want to place their responsibility on to Provinces or City governments then they must do so formally and allocate the necessary budget. The City of Cape Town has paid over R5 million to date at the Wingfield site in Goodwood, Cape Town. The City has called on Home Affairs to urgently conclude repatriation and reintegration processes without delay at both this site and at Paint City.

The DA has written to the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs to urgently intervene in the humanitarian crisis at Paint City and Wingfield by directing the Minister to implement the recommendation of October 2019 and convene an urgent Intergovernmental engagement to define roles and budget.

The DA will continue to fight to protect our borders and an immigration system that swiftly deals with undocumented immigrants while protecting legitimate asylum seekers who are fleeing genuine oppression.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Parliament refuses to prioritise meeting on artist relief funds

The Democratic Alliance (DA) laments the fact that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture, Beauty Dlulane, has refused to prioritise a meeting with Minister Nathi Mthethwa, the National Arts Council (NAC) and relevant role players in the sector to discuss the debacle surrounding the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP) relief funding.

The DA wrote to the Chairperson to request an urgent meeting for the NAC and the Minister to account for what amounts to contract break in administering the R300 million received from PESP, and was advised that “The committee, at this point has a full programme as adopted at the beginning of the term. The matter of the briefing by the NAC, I commit it will be prioritised in the 2nd term”.

Should the lot of an entire industry not be of the utmost concern? The situation at hand must be investigated immediately and cannot wait until the second term to come before the committee.

But instead hoping that this travesty would fade into the background as an inevitable new dilemma unfolds from the ranks of the ANC government, seems to be how this situation, as many others, is being dealt with.

Those that make their living in the arts and culture sector of South Africa have been poorly supported from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. They have had to scrape by and have struggled to survive. Many are drowning in debt and have already lost their homes as well as their jobs. They don’t have food to eat and cannot support their families. And now the NAC is trying to break contracts for projects that have already commenced. Yet their struggles do not seem important enough to convene an urgent meeting to hold those perpetuating the misery to account. This is simply sickening.

Each and every contract that the NAC has signed with artists and companies need to be investigated and scrutinized. The NAC cannot be allowed to break legally binding contracts and get away with it. Those in the arts and culture sectors should not have to continue to suffer at the hands of a seemingly corrupt and callous Council.

Artists have, and will continue to speak out against the Minister and the NAC on every platform available to them should this situation persist. And the DA will stand with them.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Didiza misses deadline – DA to report the Cloete farm issue to the Human Rights Commission 

Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, has missed the deadline to publish the report into an investigation that was supposedly conducted by her Department on the circumstances that led to the issuance of an eviction order against Mr Ivan Cloete, on his Colenso farm in Darling. Didiza had made an undertaking to release the report by the end of February 2021.

Having always maintained the position that the victimisation of Cloete was an infringement on his rights as a famer, the DA will be reporting his unfair treatment by the Department to the South Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). After bungling its own processes and shunting Cloete from one farm to another, the Department took the unprecedented step to try and drive Cloete completely out of farming by threatening him with an eviction order.

By its own admission, the Department may have violated a lease agreement it had with Mr Cloete under the land reform programme. In a radio interview last month, the Deputy Minister of DALRRD, Mcebisi Skwatsha, admitted that the Department may have flouted the 30 year lease agreement it has with Mr Cloete through administrative bundling.

The question that arises is why the Department proceeded to invite fresh new applications on a farm in which it already had an active lease agreement in place. By violating the terms of the lease agreement it had with Mr Cloete, the process that the Department pursued to allocate the farm to new occupants became procedurally and administratively flawed, rendering it unenforceable.

When Mr Cloete was moved from the Gelukwaarts farm in Porteville, a meeting between Departmental officials and Skwatsha, held at the Deputy Minister’s offices, resolved that the allocation of the Colenso farm to Mr Cloete be based on “settling of a dispute”. The resolution further added that the allocation was to be made without the need for a selection process as per the allocation process. The Department’s sudden U-turn and attempt to opt-out of a dispute settlement with Mr Cloete, with regards to the Colenso farm, borders on illegality and makes a mockery to equitable land reform.

The delay in issuing a report on the Cloete matter is evidence of a Department that has tied itself in knots and is unable to admit that it erred in trying to evict Cloete from the Colenso farm. The DA looks forward to a timely conclusion of the SAHRC investigation so that Mr Cloete can continue with his farming activities without further interference.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA to lodge human rights complaint against SAPS and NFSL over DNA backlog

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be lodging a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the National Forensic Science Laboratory (NFSL) over the increasing backlogs in DNA testing at the NFSL.

The failure of the SAPS Forensic Division to process DNA samples within a reasonable period of time is denying access to justice to thousands of South Africans and allowing violent rapists and murderers to be released back onto our streets to rape and murder with impunity.

A central cause of this chronic dysfunction is a collapse of the contract management process within the Forensic Division whereby contracts are lapsing and taking months to be renewed or awarded. SAPS Forensic Division is clearly still haunted by the corruption scandals stretching back years to when Khomotso Phahlane was still head of the division. It has now become clear that Minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, have together failed to restore the integrity of the Forensic Division and purge it of the ghost of Phahlane. They must therefore be held accountable for their role in this crisis.

It was revealed in the Portfolio Committee on Police this week that the dysfunctional contract management led to no case exhibits being processed in January and February and that the information system used by the NFSL is offline. It was also revealed that the consequence of these failures is that the DNA case exhibit backlog has exploded to more than 172 000 samples – at the current trajectory the DA believes it could hit the 200 000 mark within the next five weeks. The continued backlog in testing these DNA samples is a blatant failure to ensure access to justice for the thousands of victims of crime in South Africa.

The DA first started raising the alarm on this issue in 2019 when the case exhibits backlog was less than 100,000. In November last year the figure reached over 117,000 and SAPS presented an unrealistic turnaround plan which has failed to deliver any tangible outcomes in its first four months.

We believe that this gross failure to keep the NFSL operating smoothly is a human rights violation on the part of the SAPS as victims suffer the indignity of waiting for justice while living in perpetual fear. We believe that it is therefore critical for the SAHRC to investigate this matter with urgency.

It is the DA’s view that, in light of the above, the following fundamental rights of victims of crimes are being violated:
– The right to human dignity;
– The right to just administrative action; and
– The right to access to courts.

We reiterate our call to the National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, and the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to engage with private laboratories to address the backlog. The continued increase in unprocessed DNA case exhibits is holding up the wheels of justice and this situation must not be allowed to continue.

We now turn to the Human Rights Commission hoping that they will act swiftly and investigate this matter so that consequences may be brought to bear on those responsible. This, we believe, will go some way in restoring the dignity of victims of crime which has been trampled on by the SAPS’ continued failures.

Where is the moratorium on farm evictions, Minister Didiza?

Since the Democratic Alliance (DA) took a stand against the unlawful eviction of Mr Ivan Cloete from the Colenso farm in Darling, a number of farmers across the country have made contact with the DA requesting assistance from pending evictions by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD). The DA has since advised each of the affected farmers not to vacate their farms and to continue with their farming operations as usual.

Minister of the DALRRD, Thoko Didiza, needs to level with affected farmers and explain to them why:

  • She has failed to issue a moratorium on farm evictions pending the conclusion of investigations into why the evictions were issued in the first place;
  • Evictions have been issued against productive farmers if no alternative resettlement is available; and
  • New applicants for land are being allocated occupied farms instead of unoccupied state land as promised in her 700 000 hectare programme?

Recently, I have been attending to the issue of Mr Vuyani Zigana who was evicted off of the Nooitgedacht farm in Kokstad. Minister Didiza was informed of Mr Zigana’s case in June 2020, after which she ordered the DALRRD to launch an investigation into the eviction.

Despite the outcome of a DALRRD-sponsored report implicating departmental officials in the unfair treatment of Mr Zigana in the allocation of the Nooitgedacht farm, the harassment of the farmer has continued. The report’s recommendations continue to be blatantly ignored and the priority, it seems, is to drive Mr Zigana off his land at all costs.

Instead of harassing Mr Zigana, the department should instead be implementing the recommendations of the investigation it sponsored by taking disciplinary action against DALRRD officials who were implicated in inappropriate action in the allocation of the Nooitgedacht farm. Mr Zigana cannot be victimised for the department’s own incompetence and failure to adhere to its own administrative processes.

The unfair targeting of farmers through dubious eviction orders is so widespread that on the 4th of March, during an oversight visit to Kokstad, I came across six farmers who are at various stages of potentially being evicted from their farms. Notwithstanding the legality of these eviction orders, what is curious is that no effort is being made to provide any alternative locations for the would-be evicted farmers. For a department whose brief is to ensure the growth of the agricultural sector and the sustainability of jobs related thereto, the zeal by which it is prepared to destroy productive farming enterprises is shocking.

In Mpumalanga, despite making representations to the Minister on their behalf, a group of successful emerging Black farmers are still facing eviction orders from officials in the DALRRD’s Mpumalanga offices. The DA has been working alongside these farmers and we have evidence of the relentless tug-of-war they have been subjected to by corrupt officials.

Minister Didiza cannot continue burying her head in the sand while rogue officials in her department wreak havoc across the country through nefarious eviction orders. It is high time she put an end to this chaos and protect farmers from a marauding gang of officials overstepping their powers. The DA calls for an immediate moratorium to be placed on all farm evictions.

NLC tries to block answers on R7 million Carol Bouwer grant

The Democratic Alliance can reveal through answers to a Parliamentary question, that the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) tried to hide answers to the now infamous R7 million grant to well-known media personality, Carol Bouwer.

The grant was made to her NPO “Venalor”, however it is still not known what the grant was for or how it was used.

In an answer to my question, the NLC attempted to hide behind the SIU investigation into the scandal-ridden organisation and stated that only the SIU could determine if the NLC could answer the question and be accountable to Parliament. Of course the logic of this is laughable at best and sinister at worst.

We are still none the wiser as to why Ms Bouwer’s organisation received this money and I will eagerly await the intervention of Minister Patel who has now assured me he will get the answers from the commission.

For far too long, the NLC has protected and defend corruption and maladministration with impunity, despite our repeated requests for over a year for the board to be dissolved.

That is why the DA has called for a debate of National Importance so Parliament can take charge of this crisis that the Executive refuse to act on.

The DA will not rest until money distributed to individuals like Carol Bouwer are accounted for and their projects properly assessed, as well as ensuring that the charitable caucuses they represent are uplifting those they claim are beneficiaries.

Lindsay Dentlinger: DA to report ANC and EFF to SAHRC for race baiting

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will lay a complaint against the ANC and the EFF with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for race baiting.

This follows a now debunked video that made the rounds on social media suggesting that the eNCA reporter Lindsay Dentlinger racially discriminated against Members of Parliament when asking them to put on their masks.

The ANC launched an anti-racism campaign as well as a protest led by ANC deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, effectively calling Dentlinger a racist without reviewing the evidence. The party further fueled tensions by claiming the channel had a “history of mistreating black people”.

The EFF likewise called for a total boycott of the news channel, labelling them as a propaganda arm of “white monopoly capital” – a narrative the EFF constantly perpetuates when it suits them to score political points.

It has now emerged that parts of the video came from much older interviews – some of which were conducted before the pandemic or before wearing masks were mandated. This explains fully why some MPs were not wearing masks during some interviews, while others were asked to do so. Earlier clips were used selectively in the montage to purport that white MPs were not asked to wear masks while black MPs were.

The ANC and EFF however pounced on this opportunity and used the video as a ploy to further exploit racial tensions among South Africans, effectively race baiting in order to rile up particular audiences. This is very dangerous especially when these assumptions are made without any verified evidence.

Both the ANC and EFF have intentionally fed into this narrative to stir up tensions and play a very dangerous game – a game they have been playing for years without shame.

The DA unequivocally believes that racism and discrimination should be condemned without fear or favour. However, the race baiting by the ANC and EFF has no place within South Africa’s democratic society.

Political parties – especially – have a duty and responsibility to work towards racial cohesion. We need to work towards healing the racial divides still present in society and not add to it, like the ANC and EFF have been doing here.