DA asks Public Protector to clip Bheki Cele’s wings following his SAPS helicopter joyride

Today, the Democratic Alliance submitted a complaint with the Office of the Public Protector against Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, for his flagrant disregard of taxpayer funds, when he used an official SAPS helicopter to transport him to the ANC’s manifesto launch at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in KZN this weekend.

Cele continues to burn through taxpayer Rands for his personal benefit, something that is in direct contravention of the Executive Members’ Ethics Code (“Ethics Code”). This is the second time in quick succession that Cele has abused taxpayer funds. Just last year, hundreds of thousands of Rands were spent on his personal assistant to travel with him to the Rugby World Cup Final in France– despite it being a privately funded trip. The Public Protector is already investigating this matter as well.

Minister Cele’s flagrant disregard of the Ethics Code and abuses of power are indicative of the state that we find our policing in. With forever increasing crime rates, SAPS members around the country are pleading for more resources to combat crime – yet here we have a Minister using vital state resources as his own personal taxi.

Cele not only acted in a manner that is unbecoming of a Minister, but used his position to unduly benefit himself and abuse resources – clear violations in terms of the Ethics Code. As such, the DA has requested the Public Protector’s Office to investigate and make a ruling as follows:

1. That the use of the SAPS helicopter was for private/party use and not in accordance with executing his functions as Minister

2. That Bheki Cele be ordered to pay back to SAPS all amounts that were incurred as a result of the personal use of the helicopter, including fuel, rental time, airport taxes and any other amounts incurred as a result.

A Minister of Police has only executive oversight powers and is not responsible for any “on the ground operation”, despite what Cele said in various interviews. It is clear that he was at the stadium in his capacity as an ANC member, and any use of state resources is strictly prohibited.

Bheki Cele’s tyrannical rule over SAPS must come to and end. With President Ramaphosa protecting Cele at every turn in order to prevent any further exodus of ANC voters, especially in KZN, the only way to remove Cele would be to remove the ANC from power all together. Its time that a DA government steps in and re-energises a completely decimated SAPS.

Cele must be billed for abusing SAPS helicopter

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, should be billed in his personal capacity for chartering a South African Police Service (SAPS) helicopter to the ANC’s manifesto launch at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. Cele’s helicopter stunt was a gross abuse of state resources and he should be made to pay for every flight minute that the helicopter was in the air.

In addition, the DA is calling for a full SAPS internal investigation to review the decision making process that authorized the use of the helicopter by Cele. All the SAPS officers – across the chain of command, who signed off on this irregular use of a police asset, should be subjected to a disciplinary process.

In typical Cele fashion, the disgraced Police Minister has once again shown his disdain for the South African public by using state resources for an ANC party event. State resources, inclusive of SAPS assets, should never be used for party political events. By commandeering a helicopter from the SAPS Air wing Unit, Cele displayed an arrogant sense of entitlement that has become the hallmark of ANC politicians across the government system. He would rather divert SAPS’s crime fighting resources for his personal use than protect South Africans who are being terrorized by a crime wave that has become a national crisis.

It is clear that the ANC and its deployees in Government are so used to the high life of living without loadshedding, protected day and night by VIP protection, transported by blue light brigades and totally out of touch with the daily struggle of South Africans, that they have long since forgotten the line between State and Party.

Across the length and breath of our country, murders, rapists, hijackers, and robbers continue to terrorize South Africans who are told that the SAPS do not have the resources to combat these crimes. Yet the man who should be fired for the disastrous state of the Police Service, uses these limited resources as an Uber to get to the stadium in time for the ANC Manifesto launch.

The DA will use every tool at our disposal to ensure that Cele is held personally liable for the flight costs incurred through todays helicopter flight. For far too long taxpayers have been taken for a ride and this time, the DA will ensure that they get every cent of their money back.

Human Settlements White Paper highlights problems with housing provision

The DA welcomes the emphasis the Draft White Paper for Human Settlements seem to place on public-private partnerships and a whole-of-society approach to solving the country’s housing problems. We would, however, caution the Minister that no partnership with the private sector would absolve the government from playing an enabling role in ensuring affordable housing stock and spatial development.

The White Paper aligns with the DA’s own position paper on housing and urban development, A Firm Foundation, on a number of issues, including the focus on improving socio-economic circumstances through property ownership and the identification of challenges to housing provision.

The White Paper captures the extent to which “current housing policies and legislation is lacking in its endeavor to provide sustainable human settlements”.

According to the 2022 Census, 88% of South Africans reside in formal dwellings, 8% in informal dwellings, and 8% in traditional dwellings. Unfortunately, people with lower incomes are having increasing difficulty in accessing the property market due to the current stringent lending regulations, as well as the increased cost of living, rising interest rates, and below-inflation salary increases leading to less disposable income. Almost a quarter of South Africans have to rely on social grants as their main source of income.

The ANC government’s provision of housing has been in steep decline from 235 635 units built in 1998/99 to only 69 513 in 2019/20, while sites decreased from 117 845 in 2006/07 to 51 166 in 2019/20. This is largely due to the ANC’s legislative shortcomings that have brought about economic decline. This coupled with the impact of land invasions on housing provision has continued to make the issue complex.

A big focus of the DA’s position paper is the curbing of illegal land grabs, which not only slows the provision of services to settlements and disenfranchises people that have patiently awaited development, but also puts the land grabbers in danger in cases where the occupied land is unsuitable for human settlement and service provision.

The White Paper aligns with the DA position in that adequate housing provision should be measured against security of tenure; availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure; affordability; habitability; accessibility; location; and cultural adequacy, and not just provision of housing units. The DA-run Western Cape’s Better Living Challenge already empowers residents by providing training, innovative solutions, and access to affordable and environmentally friendly products for home improvement.

The City of Cape Town designs spatial solutions around the zoning of plots and not the number of dwellings on it, in an effort to better provide adequate services to sites. Land is zoned for two or more dwellings and a small to medium home-based enterprise or a third dwelling, because the DA believes that housing, the economy, and livelihoods are intrinsically linked.

One of our concerns with the White Paper is its focus on expropriating land and buildings owned by the private sector where it is deemed underutilised and is well located for the development of human settlements. Given the ANC government’s natural tendency to corruption, it is concerning that expropriation is not more rigorously examined. And while the release of government land for the purpose of human settlement is included in the Paper, it should be noted that the ANC government’s commitment has already been tested in this regard and found wanting.

The City of Cape Town has repeatedly pushed for the release of Acacia Park and the Ysterplaat, Wingfield and Youngsfield military bases, and despite an undertaking from national government in 2019, this promise has yet to be fulfilled. The release of this land would have a significant impact on the City’s ability to provide between 43 524 and 234 303 affordable housing options, and yet the ANC government refuses to relinquish it.

White Papers, policy and legislation changes, and the promises of alternative funding models means nothing without the political will to affect real change and put the needs of the people first. The ANC government has proven that it has no interest in doing that.

CadreGate: DA to launch contempt of court application against ANC

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) announced additional and follow-up action we are taking as part of our ongoing campaign against African National Congress (ANC) cadre deployment corruption.

Using the precedent created in our recent victory in the Constitutional Court, the DA will launch a contempt of court application against the ANC to obtain copies of the emails and WhatsApps relevant to the period when the President, Cyril Ramaphosa, served as chairman of the ANC’s cadre deployment committee during the height of state capture between 2013 and 2018. We will also today file our application for leave to appeal the North Gauteng High Court judgement handed down on Tuesday.

The ANC failed to include Ramaphosa’s own emails and WhatsApps in the material it handed over to the DA, despite the fact that Ramaphosa was chairman of this committee during this period and was one of the recipients of the emails and WhatsApp messages in question. He ultimately bears responsibility for its operations but fails to depose to an affidavit confirming he has no documents or information for this period.

The DA has yesterday, issued a letter of demand to the ANC for it to fully comply with the Constitutional Court’s order with a deadline of tomorrow. If they do not adhere to the demand, we will seek an urgent contempt of court ruling that includes prison time aimed specifically at its Secretary-General, Fikile Mbalula, who acted on behalf of the ANC in this matter.

We will use the precedent created in the Jacob Zuma case, when he was sent to prison for similarly being in contempt of a Constitutional Court order. Finally, we will pursue criminal charges against ANC officials involved in the destruction of information as part of a blatant coverup campaign to try and wipe Ramaphosa’s fingerprints off of the cadre deployment records.

In our legal letter sent to the ANC yesterday, the DA points out that the ANC failed to comply with the court order in a number of respects:

  1. The ANC extensively redacted the documents despite not being entitled to do so by the court order;
  2. They have provided no information for as five-year period during which President Cyril Ramaphosa was the Cadre Deployment Committee Chairperson. The ANC also failed to mention this in their court papers;
  3. They failed to provide a list of all decisions taken by the cadre deployment committee, as ordered by the court;
  4. They impermissibly restricted communication disseminated during the year 2020;
  5. They furnished illegible documents;
  6. They destroyed documents whilst the matter was pending before the court;
  7. They failed to adequately explain the steps taken to locate the information, including all information from President Ramaphosa himself as Chairperson of the committee and thus recipient of any and all information and documents pertaining to it;
  8. They failed to provide minutes that were not formally adopted, even though the court order obliges the party to hand over all relevant information.

The ANC also failed to provide any information for the period between 2013 and 2018, despite the court ordering that it must include this period when Ramaphosa was cadre chairman. As we point out in our letter that the PAIA request “is not limited to minutes of committee meetings but extends to all information on the processes and decisions of the committee during the period 2013-2021…”.

It is not credible for the ANC to claim that there exists no documentary or digital trace at all of any communications on the committee’s processes during this five-year period.” It makes no mention of the steps it has taken to source documents or information from the members of the committee or recipients of cadre emails.

The failure to hand over the relevant information also flies in the face of Ramaphosa’s own testimony before the State Capture Commission, when he said: “I think those who are in charge will just take notes and just record a decision and it is then communicated.” The DA and the public are entitled to access these “notes” and “decisions” in terms of the court order.

Finally, the criminal charges the DA will lay against the ANC stem from the admission, made under oath, by ANC official Thapelo Masilela that he destroyed a number of the records that were the subject of the PAIA request after the Court order had been granted, while the ANC’s applications for leave to appeal were still pending.

This conduct constitutes an offence in terms of section 90(1) of PAIA which provides that:

“(1) A person who with intent to deny a right of access in terms of this Act—

(a) destroys, damages or alters a record;
(b) conceals a records; or
(c) falsifies a record or makes a false record, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years.”

The DA will not relent in our battle against ANC cadre deployment corruption until we have outlawed and abolished this scourge from the face of South Africa. Our campaign now moves into its next phase, as we move to hold ANC leaders – including Ramaphosa and Mbalula – personally accountable for their roles in the system that caused state capture and collapsed service delivery.

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DA requests an independent investigation into SA Aquatics, water polo

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Veronica van Dyk MP

Swimming South Africa’s abrupt withdrawal of the water polo teams, despite being Africa’s top contenders in the World Aquatics Championships this month, and qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, highlights systemic issues within SA Aquatics.

The DA has received complaints emphasizing maladministration and insufficient support from Swimming SA. The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has, regrettably, absolved itself of any responsibility for water polo.

The DA intends to formally address the Minister of Sports, Zizi Kodwa, urging an independent investigation into South African Aquatics, especially in light of the recent water polo setback caused by SSA, which denies players the opportunity to compete at the Paris Olympic Games.

The DA proposes that an independent representative from World Aquatics oversee the investigation. SSA’s President, Alan Fritz, CEO Shaun Adriaanse (whose tenure surpasses twenty years), and the SSA Board must provide explanations regarding the support and services they offer to SA’s aquatic disciplines, particularly water polo, encompassing aspects such as training and funding to ensure the development of world-class athletes.

Following the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, a lack of debriefing, plans, or strategy and communication with players and stakeholders raised concerns. Letters expressing concerns since October 2021 to the Director of Coaching, Convener of the Water Polo Technical Committee, and SSA Executive remain unanswered. Communication from the federation is notably deficient.

Additional concerns arise regarding the absence of a structured coach selection process and a performance program with criteria. SSA announces positions, including National Director of Coaching, Head of Selection, Coaches for national teams, and Managers of national teams, without the water polo community’s input or knowledge. Some coaches discovered their appointments through social media, mirroring how players learned about their exclusion from the French Olympics.

The cancellation of the Intercontinental Tour in 2021 due to administrative disorganization resulted in player unavailability. Seven weeks before the FINA World Championships, crucial information such as team selection, coaching and management staff confirmation, budget, itinerary, performance measures, and team preparations were unavailable. Team announcements occurred merely 20 days before the World Championships, offering no team preparation. The lack of structure and planning at senior levels, alongside deficiencies in team and management selection processes, necessitate scrutiny.

Water polo lacks influence in its affairs, and ANC cadre deployment in sports appears to contribute to poor leadership, a lack of accountability, and a disregard for transparency in decision-making. SSA and SASCOC have grossly failed SA’s water polo teams.

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Health Minister’s assurances to unemployed doctors prove to be baseless

Earlier this month, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, made promises that 800 unemployed doctors would have jobs by April. The Minister’s assurances were apparently based on discussions with National Treasury that funds would be availed in the National Budget. The Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, delivered the National Budget yesterday and made no mention of filling vacancies within the Department of Health. This proves our belief that the Minister of Health’s assurances were politicking and baseless.

It speaks to an uncaring ANC government that the Minister of Health is willing to make baseless assurances, while medical personnel remain unemployed, and our health care system is on its knees.

While vacancy rates remain massive, the ANC also continues to sell their National Health Insurance (NHI) pipedream. The DA has been unequivocal that we in principle support universal health care, the NHI is however not the answer to the many problems plaguing the public health sector, including, corruption and maladministration; failure to maintain and upgrade health facilities; persistent vacancies; broken and outdated equipment; surgery backlogs; and medicine stockouts.

Despite President Cyril Ramaphosa “looking for his pen” to sign the NHI Bill, no new funds have been allocated. In fact, the provincial national health insurance grant has been lowered from R695 billion in the past year to R456 billion in the next year. Further, NHI grants have been shifted to public health oncology services.

In addition to unfilled vacancies, another emerging issue is that medical personnel overtime is set to face drastic cuts from 1 April. This will cause further staff shortages, particularly during night shifts, weekends, and public holidays. Cuts to overtime will also entail pay cuts to personnel.

Aside from promises, government has yet to provide concrete measures to mend the broken public health care system or implement their NHI. It is nothing but ANC electioneering ploys meant to pull wool over the eyes of the public. They have demonstrated that they are unfit to govern, and it is long overdue that the ANC is removed from office.

We have that opportunity on May 29th, and it is time for a sensible government to rescue South Africa from its failing health care system. We will deliver quality healthcare for all South Africans, by leveraging the strengths of the private sector in partnership with the public sector; as well as governance reforms to address corruption, quality of care and infrastructure maintenance.

South Africans must choose feasible plans and not baseless promises.

Bheki Cele cripples Hawks watchdog while blaming Chief Justice

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP

In a special report published earlier this week, it was revealed that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, has failed for nearly two years to appoint a Hawks watchdog. In terms of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Act the Minister must appoint a retired Judge to lead the oversight of the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations (DPCI), also known as the Hawks.

The Office of the DPCI judge is integral to the proper functioning of the Hawks. It stands as a first line of defence against malign external influences and political interference with the Hawks’ crucial mandate to investigate national priority offences and allegations of corruption.

The special report revealed that Cele has frustrated the independent body at every turn, from refusing to properly finance and staff the Office of the DPCI Judge, to refusing to extend the term of the previous DPCI Judge.

During a Police Portfolio Committee meeting held yesterday, Minister Cele said that the ball was in the court of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and the Chief Justice, who he blames for failing to meet with him to chart a way forward. Cele refused to take any responsibility for the delays in appointing the DPCI Judge in spite of this being his direct mandate in terms of the South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995.

The DA will now write to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police to request that the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and the Minister of Police appear before the Committee so that we can get to the bottom of the matter. Minister Cele is accountable to Parliament and to the people and he must come clean as to why he refuses to fill such a vital position.

While violent and organised crime spirals out of control, President Ramaphosa continues to cling to his failed Minister of Police. The vacancy of the DPCI Judge is a clear indication that the ANC government is not serious about fighting corruption and crime. Only a DA government can rescue South Africa and her citizens by building a safer country for all.

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DA wins access to scoring sheets for fishing rights allocation process

In an effort to ensure transparency in the fishing sector, the DA applied in 2023 for the scoring sheets for the long-delayed Fishing Rights Allocation Process (FRAP) via a Promotion of Access to Information Application (PAIA). This request has now been granted.

The awarding of rights in terms of the FRAP process has long been shrouded in mystery with many traditional fishing communities concerned that they were given a raw deal during the application process. Many of those who were unsuccessful and then chose to appeal were not given access to the forms submitted by successful applicants and therefore found it difficult to launch successful appeals.

The scoring sheets are being provided to the DA as they become available after some mandatory redactions. The DA will be going through these sheets to identify inconsistencies and will also make them available to anyone from the industry who requires access.

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The DA welcomes the resolution of the National Assembly confirming the impeachment of Judge John Hlophe

More than 15 years later, the DA’s position that Hlophe lacks the integrity to be a judge, has been affirmed by the National Assembly which has adopted a resolution supporting the Judicial Services Commission’s finding that Hlophe should be removed as a judge.

In a last-minute attempt to prevent the adoption of this resolution, Hlophe unsuccessfully approached the Courts to prevent the National Assembly from exercising its Constitutional duties to hold public figures to account, including judges, who are not above the law.

This is a historic moment in our democratic history, where, for the first time, a judge will be impeached. The National Assembly, in terms of Section 177 of the Constitution, has adopted a resolution confirming the finding that Hlophe improperly attempted to influence Constitutional Court Justices in matters involving corruption charges against then-President Jacob Zuma. Hlophe’s actions posed a serious risk to the impartiality and independence of the South African judiciary.

While the DA welcomes the finality of this matter, we remain concerned that the process to remove Hlophe took over 15 years after the 2008 misconduct complaint was lodged. The process was protracted and complex, with extensive investigations, hearings, and deliberations by the JSC. We also saw political interference and legal technicalities delaying the process. The process could and should have been dealt with more expeditiously.

We may have waited 15 years for this moment, but the impeachment of Judge Hlophe, or any judge, has profound implications for judicial integrity in South Africa. It underscores the importance of upholding the highest ethical standards, the rule of law, and the Constitution among judicial officers. It also sends a clear message that no one, regardless of their position or influence, is above the law. Moreover, it reaffirms the principle of judicial independence as a cornerstone of democracy and boldly underlines the principle of the Rule of Law.

The DA has once again been vindicated by the removal of Hlophe after years of the ANC government dragging its feet on his removal.

ANC’s Bailout Budget: Only the DA’s plan can rescue SA

The Minister of Finance’s annual Budget is another indication of a panicking ANC Government that has no plan to accelerate economic growth, resolve relentless blackouts, stabilise debt, reign in runaway expenditure, support vulnerable South Africans and combat corruption.

The DA notes the Minister’s announcement of Government’s support for private-public partnerships to rebuild South Africa’s crumbling infrastructure. Yet, there is a notable absence of a coherent plan to fast track this initiative. The DA has already made proposals to implement such a model.

The DA further notes there appears to be no further direct bailouts to SOEs and no additional funds are allocated to the doomed NHI.

This is where the good news ends.

Government has further adjusted its growth forecast downward to 0.6%, significantly impacting revenue collection and the funds available for service delivery – revenue is R56 billion lower than expected this time last year.

Load-shedding and the crisis in our logistics sector has also impacted revenue generation significantly. Revenue generated from the mining sector decreased by 39.2% while revenue generated from manufacturing sector decreased by nearly 6%.

The lower-than-expected growth and revenue shortfall has prompted Government to launch its raid on the South African Reserve Bank.

On the face of it, it appears that Government intends to drain the Gold and Foreign Contingency Reserve Account of R150 billion in the first instance. The DA has already indicated that we strongly oppose this desperate bailout measure.

This frantic response to South Africa’s self-inflicted fiscal constraints fundamentally misunderstands the role of central bank reserves in maintaining monetary stability and investor confidence. Liquidating reserves for short-term gain will increase inflationary pressures, undermine the credibility of monetary policy, and signal fiscal irresponsibility to international markets.

Resorting to the GFECRA as a fiscal stopgap will diminish South Africa’s standing among global investors and suggest to policymakers the erroneous notion that fiscal discipline can be forsaken for expedient solutions.

This will in no uncertain terms lead to runaway profligacy and further fiscal problems.

Despite a marginally reduced debt-to-GDP stabilization ratio, South Africa’s debt burden remains excessively high and unsustainable. The daily cost of servicing this debt now exceeds R1 billion and it is the largest expenditure item in the national budget by over R60 billion. This figure would have been significantly higher had the government not resorted to seek relief through the South African Reserve Bank to bail itself out.

Although Government claims to be making progress on resolving relentless blackouts, the return of high level load-shedding ensures that the lights remain off, and Government commitment to unbundling Eskom is not moving fast enough while the entity continues to generate enormous losses.

In the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) the Minister eluded to introducing a fiscal anchor in this year’s budget as a mechanism to achieve consolidation. The Minister has reneged on this promise. Fortunately, the DA has already introduced a Responsible Spending Bill that seeks to achieve this exact outcome.

We further note with concern that Treasury continues to work with Transnet to offload the entities’ debt onto the sovereign balance sheet. This situation is not dissimilar to Eskom as the entity reflects an inability to repay its debt and needs to borrow even more to remain barely operational. A better solution would be to accelerate Transnet’s privatisation.

Despite the President’s commitment to restructure the size of the State, this is not reflected in the numbers. The public sector wage bill continues to balloon unsustainably an additional R251 billion has been budgeted to cover an increase in the public sector wage bill due to a two-year deal agreed on last year. while expected budget cuts of R58 billion, also announced in the MTBPS, were reversed.

We note the extension of the Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant to next year. There is a notable absence of any policy decision or funding solution over the medium term. The DA has proposed evolving the SRD into a job-seekers grant.

This Budget is a confirmation that the ANC only cares for its own survival and not about the plight of battling South African households who are unable to put enough food on their tables. There was no mention of the so-called food security plan of action, announced last year, to protect consumers from the burden of skyrocketing food prices.

The Minister could very easily have expanded the zero-VAT rated basket of food to bring immediate relief to South African households. He could also have reduced the taxes and levies on fuel which would have provided further relief.

Government is clearly disinterested in having South Africa removed from the FATF greylist. The R628 million allocated to the Department of Justice to implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and State Capture Report’s recommendations is woefully insufficient and there is no reason why additional funds could not have been allocated to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Special Investigative Unit (SIU), and Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) in this regard.

This Budget speech does not offer bold action and fails to address the urgent economic crisis facing South Africa. The DA’s Alternative Budget set out a rescue plan for our economy. The Minister missed an opportunity to set us on the path to a sustainable economic recovery.

On the 29th of May South Africans have the opportunity to replace this utterly dysfunctional, incompetent government that does not care.