DA welcomes initiative to allow EC matrics to write exams in isiXhosa

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes reports that the Department of Education is piloting a programme in the Eastern Cape that allows matric learners there to complete their examinations in isiXhosa.

The DA has always supported mother tongue education. If successfully executed this should be hugely beneficial to the isiXhosa matrics in the province and bodes well for the development of all 11 official South African languages into business and sciences languages.

The benefits of mother tongue education are proven and all children in South Africa should be given this option. Mother tongue education would go a long way in eradicating the gaps that still exist in education in the country today.

We call on the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to provide more detail of the intended programme before the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Basic Education. Should this pilot be successful, it should be implemented across all nine provinces and piloted for different grades.

Minister Didiza still refuses to provide list of Covid-19 beneficiaries

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, is still refusing to account to Parliament on which farmers received aid from the Covid-19 fund.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) believes that this information, which we requested almost four months ago, is of the utmost importance. With this information, the DA would be able to conduct valuable oversight on whether the money reached those it intended to benefit.

The DA did not ask for this information on a whim. We asked it in response to an ever-increasing amount of complaints from farmers about the vouchers the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) issued.

There have been numerous complaints of farmers not able to redeem vouchers because government is not settling the bills. There are complaints that the vouchers issued can only be redeemed at certain companies – this often means that farmers don’t receive their money’s worth due to inflated prices or that these companies don’t sell what the farmers need. And then there are of course those people that are trying to sell their vouchers as they are not farmers and should not have received vouchers in the first place.

We ask the Minister once again to answer our original question posted to her on 29 May:

(3) whether she will furnish Mrs A Steyn with a list of all successful applications of farmers; if not, why not, if so, on what date;
 
(4) what (a) amount did each farmer receive in each district, (b) is the name of each farmer who received the Covid-19 financial support and (c) are the contact details of each farmer?

The Minister must stop ducking and diving and follow Parliamentary process. If she fails to provide the information, as she promised to do during an oral Parliamentary question session on 18 August 2020, the DA will write to the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Deputy-president David Mabuza, to intervene.

It is the DA’s job to provide oversight. The Minister knows this. Her refusal to answer what should have been an easy question does not bode well, and inevitably raises questions of Covid corruption at DALRRD.

Minister Patricia de Lille should voluntarily step aside rather than wait to be fired

The statement issued by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Development (DPWI), Patricia de Lille, in response to allegations against her was not only misleading but follows a familiar script of always trying to cast herself as the victim to dodge accountability.

If de Lille believes in “due process” as she claims, she should voluntarily step aside and devote her time to “clearing her name” rather than wait to be fired from her Cabinet position.

De Lille should understand that restraints on ministerial powers is governed by law and cannot deliberately be infringed upon based on a flimsy excuse of “intervening”. In reaching its conclusions on the Beitbridge border fence, Treasury stated that “[in] terms of separation of powers, the Executive Authority, must not interfere in administrative functions.”

The Minister has a multitude of allegations against her ranging from unlawfully intervening in procurement process, intervening to secure payment for private contractors, issuing unlawful instructions to staff members in the Department and breaching the Principles of Public Administration and Financial Management Delegations (Cabinet Memorandum 56 of 2013).

These serious allegations are not consistent with de Lille’s claims that she is a corruption crusader in a Department riddled with maladministration. Instead, her actions have bred chaos and led to a breakdown of trust between the Department’s Executive and the administrative staff.

Instead of painting a picture of feigned innocence, Minister de Lille must fall on her sword and voluntarily step aside as she has clearly shown that she is incapable of being entrusted with a position of public authority.

Cele confirms that farmers’ lives don’t matter

The moment the Democratic Alliance (DA) launched its 16 Point Plan in June, aimed at forcing a razor focus on farm attacks and murders, the ANC suddenly flipped its compassion switch. Overnight it began to take an interest – via Premiers and various Ministers – in the tortures and general horrors of South African farm attacks. They began to speak out against these atrocities.

We almost believed them. One of the focus areas on our 16-point plan was to have farm attacks and murders declared to be Priority Crimes. This would guarantee the additional resources in terms of equipment and personnel to truly make a difference and bring down the daily attacks, and twice weekly murders on our farms and small holdings.

In Parliament on the 18th August, the Minister of Police said in answer to a DA question (Q 311) related to our call to make farm attacks and murders National Priority Crimes that, “the Murder and Robbery unit and the Hawks will respond to… all attacks on farms and small holdings”. When pushed, he added that he had read out the list, and that attacks on farms and small holdings were on the list of Priority Crimes. That they were already a priority.

In typical Cele fashion, he promptly contradicted himself just one month later, when speaking in KwaZulu-Natal. At an imbizo there, he said that farm attacks and murders would not be classified as priority crimes.

It seems to this Minister, that farmers’ lives just don’t matter, that farm workers’ lives just don’t matter, and that the lives of their families – their parents, spouses and children – just don’t matter.

It is interesting to note that he didn’t hesitate, for example, to declare Cash-in-Transit heists to be Priority Crimes. He took charge and suddenly, massive resources went towards ensuring that money being transported in trucks was given protection. A Summit was held, Cash-in-Transit heists were discussed by all the key roll-players, and solutions were determined.

His about face in relation to declaring rural attacks to be priority crimes has the DA asking; does a van full of cash really mean more to him than the lives of the men and women who grow our food? Does the DA have to tell him that one can’t eat money? That the agricultural sector, with 1 million jobs, is the very backbone of our country? A Strategic Resource? And that our farmers and farm workers barely sleep as they wait for the next hail of bullets, or a silent mass attack with slashing pangas and metal bars?

For a while now the ANC has pretended that rural lives matter. It has pretended that our farmers and farm workers matter. But that was a lie. Cele has shattered that fragile hope. At his KZN imbizo his arrogant dismissal of the voiced fears of farmers who have suffered attacks over and over again has infuriated the community. That attitude, added to his reversal of a statement that gave us so much hope, claiming now that these attacks will not be declared to be Priority Crimes, has left our rural communities in despair.

Now we know the truth. To the ANC the daily blinding and beating and crippling of farmers and farm workers is not a priority. Their being slaughtered is unimportant. Certainly, far less important than a van full of cash.

If you are in a position to help fund our Court Watching Briefs Unit which closely monitors every farm attack court case to ensure attackers end up behind bars, please make a donation here.

Ons weet nou die waarheid: Cele glo boere se lewens maak nie saak nie

Die oomblik toe die Demokratiese Alliansie (DA) ons 16-punt-plan in Junie bekend gestel het om plaasmoorde en -aanvalle te bekamp, het die ANC skielik begin omgee oor die lewens van boere en plaaswerkerks. ANC-premiers en -ministers het oornag hul griewe gelug oor wreedaardige marteling en gewelddadige plaasaanvalle. Hulle het begin praat oor dié gruweldade.

Ons het hulle amper geglo. Een van die kernpunte van ons plan was om plaasaanvalle en -moorde tot prioriteitsmisdade te verklaar. Dit sou addisionele hulpbronne soos toerusting en personeel beskikbaar stel om ’n daadwerklike verskil te maak om die aanvalle en moorde drasties te laat afneem.

Op 18 Augustus het die Minister van Polisie, Bheki Cele, tydens ’n vraag-en-antwoord-sessie in die Parlement op ’n DA-vraag (vraag 311) reageer wat verband hou met ons oproep op die regering om plaasmoorde en -aanvalle as prioriteitsmidade te verklaar. Hy het die volgende gesê: “Die Moord- en Roofeenheid en die Valke sal op alle aanvalle op plase en kleinhoewe reageer.” Toe hy verder gepols is, het hy die lys uitgelees en bevestig dat hierdie aanvalle reeds op die lys van prioriteitsmisdade is.

Oudergewoonte het Cele homself net ’n maand later weerspreek tydens ’n bosberaad in KwaZulu-Natal gister. Hy het dit duidelik gemaak dat plaasmoorde en -aanvalle nie prioriteitsmisdade is nie.

Dit is duidelik dat die Minister nie dink dat boere se lewens saakmaak nie, en ook nie die lewens van plaaswerkers nie. Die lewens van hulle families – ouers, kinders, gades – maak eenvoudig nie saak nie.

Dis opvallend dat hy nie geskroom het om byvoorbeeld, transitorooftogte as ’n prioriteitsmidaad te verklaar nie. Hy het leiding geneem en skielik is baie hulpbronne opsy gesit sodat trokke wat geld vervoer, die beste moontlike beskerming kry. ’n Bosberaad is gehou, transitorooftogte is deur alle sleutel-rolspelers bespreek en oplossings is gevind.

Sy ommekeer oor landelike moorde en aanvalle, laat die DA wonder: Is ’n trok vol geld vir Cele meer werd as die lewens van die mans en vroue wat ons van kos voorsien? Moet die DA hom herinner dat ons nie geld kan eet nie?

Moet ons hom herinner dat die landboubedryf 1 miljoen werke verskaf? Is dit nodig dat ons weer vir hom vertel van die boere en plaaswerkers wat skaars slaap omdat hulle in angs wag vir die volgende stroom koeëls wat rondvlieg, of om met ’n pikgraaf en stukke metaal aangeval te word?

Die ANC gee nou al vir ’n rukkie voor hulle gee om oor die lewens van landelike gemeenskappe. Dit was ’n blatante leuen en Cele het die laaste bietie hoop versplinter.

Tydens sy KZN-toespraak het hy boere se vrese arrogant verwerp en die gemeenskap oor-en-oor verneder. Sy houding, en die ommekeer van plaasmoorde en -aanvalle as prioriteitsmisdade, laat landelike gemeenskap in wanhoop.

Ons weet nou wat die waarheid is. Die daaglikse aanvalle en moorde op boere en plaaswerkers is nie vir die ANC ’n prioriteit nie. Die slagting is nie vir hulle belangrik nie. Altans, baie minder belangrik as ’n trok vol geld.

Cabinet should decide to let SAA go

The process of finding money for the SAA vanity project of the ANC is unfolding as expected. President Cyril Ramaphosa has apparently taken the side of Pravin Gordhan and the Department of Public Enterprises over Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and National Treasury. Apparently, Cabinet will formally be asked, this week, to agree to extra budget cuts on top of the just approved Covid-19 cuts in order to make R10.4 billion available for the next SAA bailout.

It is astounding that there can be any consideration of budget cuts – which will inevitably impact on front line services such as health, education and policing – when SA had to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to borrow money in order to cope with the economic meltdown caused by the irrational Covid-19 lockdown. The IMF has made this loan available to SA at a very low interest rate and the money is certainly not intended to be used to bailout the bankrupt and mismanaged SAA.

The announcement by the SAA business rescue practitioners (BRPs) that the government, including National Treasury, had provided yet another letter of commitment to provide the R10.4 billion required by the SAA business rescue plan was, according to our information, clearly misleading. There was apparently no commitment on the part of National Treasury nor Minister Mboweni to cut budgets, or “reprioritise” in the words of the Department of Public Enterprises, in order to fund the umpteenth SAA bailout.

It seems clear that the reason that Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, the BRPs, refused to make the letter from “the Government” public was because it does not stipulate that Minister Mboweni and National Treasury had agreed to move money from other budgeted expenditure in order to make R10.4 billion available to SAA. The sorry SAA saga is unfolding much as the Democratic Alliance (DA) predicted. We believe that Minister Gordhan and the SAA BRPs were being obtuse and misled South Africans that National Treasury had agreed to a R10.4 billion State funded bailout for SAA.

I repeat my challenge to the BRPs and Gordhan; I dare them to produce the letter that was sent by “Government” to the BRPs on Friday, 18 September 2020, if they dispute this view. It is vital for all South Africans, and SAA employees in particular, to be able to assess what the real picture of bailout funding for the airline really is.

The last chance to stop the madness of yet another SAA taxpayer/IMF bailout at the expense of frontline services now seems to be in the hands of the Cabinet as President Ramaphosa has once again shown that he is too weak to make the hard decisions that are required. We call on the Cabinet to refuse to accept further budget cuts and to instruct Gordhan to do the right thing by letting SAA go to the wall if there are no serious investors ready to take over and provide the R10.4 billion required to “rescue” the airline.

Still no reply to DAs questions on Agriculture Covid relief funding

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will submit follow-up parliamentary questions to the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, regarding previous written and oral questions which sought the breakdown of the successful beneficiaries of the R1.3 billion Covid-19 support fund for agriculture.

Though the Minister glibly remarked when pressed that she would provide the DA with the answer to our parliamentary question “if we really wanted it”, we have yet to receive any information from her.

When do the Minister intend to provide the information? She must have access to it, as she so easily provided it to The Speaker of the National Assembly, The NCOP Chairperson, the Chairpersons of the Portfolio Committee and Select Committee without them even asking for it.

Should the Minister fail to provide the necessary information on 19 October 2020, 10 days after our submission of questions on 9 October as per the National Assembly Rules (Chapter 10, paragraph 117), the DA will submit a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

The DA previously wrote to the Chairperson of the Agricultural, Land Reform and Rural Development portfolio committee, Zwelivelile Mandela, to ask that this matter is placed on the agenda as a matter of urgency. This has not happened, and the Chairperson has not responded to the DA’s reasonable request in any way.

By ignoring the DA’s parliamentary question, originally submitted on 29 May 2020, in this manner, Minister Didiza shows her disdain for the working of Parliament. It definitely strengthens the suspicion that the Minister is trying to cover up corruption in this way. Who ended up benefitting from the R1.3 billion Covid-19 support fund for agriculture? The Minister’s actions make it seem like it might have been ANC officials and cronies.

Minister Motsoaledi must answer why advert for CEO position was changed to suit  Fosi’s candidacy 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken note of the latest revision of qualifications for applications for the position of CEO at Government Printing Works (GPW), this followed the latest publication of an advert for the position.

The previous advert which has since been removed had different requirements to the current one now being advertised (see here and here). The DA calls on the department to give reasons for the sudden shift that favors the current Acting GPW CEO Alinah Fosi.

It is patently clear that Fosi is now guaranteed the job of CEO GPW, because the minimum requirements which were specified in the previous advert have been have now been tailored to suit her experience.

The DA calls for the process to be thoroughly reviewed in order to ensure that it is open and transparent. We will not support such a flawed recruitment process, that is shrouded in secrecy, and designed to impose an individual that lacks the requisite competency for the position of CEO.

Apart from questions surrounding her qualifications for the CEO position, Ms Fosi also has been at the center of a series of allegations that have not be adequately addressed ranging from:

  • Using taxpayer money to pay for business class tickets to travel with friends to France for a “workshop”;
  • Intimidating GPW employees;
  • Alleged assaulting of a junior employee;
  • Unnecessarily hosting a workshop worth approximately R500 000 at a Bela-Bela hotel; to
  • Overseeing the appointment of suppliers for this workshop without following due procurement processes.

The question we have to ask ourselves is, why is the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi insistent on shortlisting a person of such a reputation to a position as important as the GPW CEO.

The GPW provides key and important services to the South African Government, including but not limited to , the printing of smart ID cards, passports and visas. The questions surrounding Fosi’s leadership at GPW will result in further deterioration of this critical service provider.

There can be no justifiable argument that the department can give on why it changed the job requirements to favor Fosi, other than that it is intent on appointing her so that ANC allies can benefit financially from key Government Printing Works projects worth billions.

We will not allow someone with all these kind of allegations hanging over her head to be the CEO of such an entity. Surely there must be a suitable candidate with both the necessary qualification and credentials that the Department can shortlist for this position, aligned with the first advertisement  that was distributed.

#Jetgate: DA to PAIA report on ANC’s abuse of airforce jet

The Democratic Alliance will be submitting an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to President Cyril Ramaphosa, in a bid to compel him to release the report into the ANC’s abuse of an air force jet.

This follows reports that Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has given feedback to the ANC study group on the use of the air force jet for the party’s visit to Zimbabwe. It has become common in the ANC to play both the judge and the jury in an unashamed attempt to escape accountability.

The DA has previously requested President Ramaphosa to immediately release the report on the ANC delegation who used the air force jet to visit their counterparts in Zimbabwe but this has not happened. It is unacceptable that the Minister reports back to the ANC about the ANC’s failures and South Africans are left in the dark.

This report is already gathering dust on President Ramaphosa’s desk. It must be made public.

We cannot allow a situation where a report, potentially detailing a flagrant abuse of scarce state resources is viewed and decided upon by President Ramaphosa alone, whose track record in holding his ANC comrades accountable for corruption is depressing.

The ANC cannot legitimately investigate itself, the President must hand over this report so that checks and balances that are available in our democratic system can properly scrutinise it and hold those found guilty accountable.

South Africans have once again witnessed the ANC’s complete disregard for the rule of law and the separation of power when the party travelled in an airforce jet to Zimbabwe to meet with Zanu-PF during lockdown. Click here to co-sign our letter to President Ramaphosa demanding justice.

DA calls for report on statues to be tabled in Parliamentary committee

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on sports, arts and culture, Beauty Dlulane, to request that Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture Nathi Mthethwa give account to the committee on the whole debacle surrounding the moving of certain statues, symbols and monuments to “theme parks”.

The final report of the task team that was established in 2016 to investigate public sentiment regarding statues in South Africa after the Paul Kruger and Jan van Riebeeck statues were damaged in 2015, must also be made public for proper scrutiny.

The DA finds it highly irregular that task team members have yet to lay eyes on the final report. We are also worried that due process was not followed regarding public participation.

The DA calls for clarity on the following:

  • Where was the initial call to participate published or announced?
  • How many people gave commentary on the removal of the statues?
  • Where will the funding for the removal of the statues and the construction of the heritage parks for cultural nation building come from? The Sports, Arts and Culture budget is already under severe strain with most museums and heritage sites battling to survive, maintain and upgrade themselves.
  • The task team’s mandate ended in 2019. Who will conduct the audits of which statues, symbols and monuments are “too offensive” for public consumption?
  • Will the task team’s mandate be extended?
  • Will a new task team have to be established, and at what cost; and lastly
  • Who decided on the term “theme parks” in the first place?

The government is quick to build heritage sites in the hopes of celebrating South African history, but just as quick to forget about them when it comes to maintaining the sites and paying the bills.

The Department of Sports, Arts and Culture and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure have a notoriously bad working relationship that ultimately leads to poor development and upkeep of these sites.

The moving of certain statues at this point seems like nothing more than an effort to divert attention from the atrocities of the country’s most recent history, including rampant Covid corruption.