SABC phone tapping: Inspector General of Intelligence must investigate after Judge denies authorisation

The DA will write to the Inspection General of Intelligence, Dr Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe, to request that he conduct an investigation into the allegations made by South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists during the hearings into the SABC that their communications were monitored and intercepted by the State Security Agency (SSA).
A reply to a Parliamentary Question revealed that Judge Yvonne Mokgoro “has not to the best of her recollection authorised the State Security Agency to intercept the communications of any individuals said to be working for the South African Broadcasting Corporation” in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial years and since 1 April 2016.
The allegations of communications interception are also reflected in the final report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the inquiry into the fitness of the SABC Board adopted by Parliament.
If Judge Mokgoro did not authorise the alleged tapping, it is possible that it was done without authorisation, which is a criminal offense and must be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
The tapping of phones is in violation of section 14 of the Constitution that states, “Everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have the privacy of their communications infringed.”
If it is found that the SSA did unlawfully monitor and intercept the communications of SABC employees, they must be held to account.
Press freedom is a cornerstone of our democracy and we simply cannot have a situation where journalists are working in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
The DA is deeply concerned at this allegedly irregular use of state resources and believes that Dr Dintwe’s report, once completed, must come before the Minister of Intelligence and Parliament as a whole, not only the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, and that disciplinary action should be taken where applicable.

Zuma promotes Muthambi in defiance of Parliament

President Jacob Zuma’s announcement that he has promoted Faith Muthambi to the position of co-Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Communication is in defiance of Parliament.
Last month, political parties in the National Assembly, including the ANC, adopted the hard-hitting report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC inquiry.
The report found that Muthambi had “displayed incompetence” in carrying out her responsibilities as Shareholder Representative at the SABC and that the President should “seriously reconsider” the desirability of her retaining the Communications portfolio.
President Zuma’s promotion of Muthambi does not in any way demonstrate that he has considered the serious findings against Muthambi and is, in fact, a vote of confidence in her abilities as a Minister.
By ignoring the findings and recommendations of the SABC inquiry report, the President Zuma is therefore in active defiance Parliament.
As such, the DA will be submitting parliamentary questions to President Zuma requesting his reasons for ignoring the recommendations of a report of Parliament and why Muthambi has not been fired.
We will also write to the Leader of Government Business to ask him to intervene in this matter based on the damning findings against Muthambi in the Parliamentary report.
The President’s claim during Oral Questions to the President this month that he had heard that Muthambi plans to take the SABC inquiry report on review, and therefore cannot take any action against her, does not hold any water. Muthambi has not filed any papers to start a process of judicial review, and in fact, does not have legal grounds to do so. The findings and recommendations of the report, therefore, remain in force.
President Zuma has for too long undermined the authority of Parliament, in protecting himself and members of his Cabinet against accountability. The DA will ensure that this is brought to an end.

President Jacob Zuma’s handling of the finance ministers’ recall is a monumental shambles that is damaging the economy in SA

Roughly twenty-four hours ago President Jacob Zuma announced he had instructed the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, together with the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas, to cancel their international investor roadshow and return immediately to South Africa.
The fact is that this bizarre instruction, cancelling the international investor roadshow without any explanation, is turning into a monumental shambles and is damaging the economy in South Africa.
The bizarre instruction, which was issued in the middle of an international investor roadshow designed to boost international investor confidence, must have severely compromised international investor confidence in the world’s financial capitals, and has triggered speculation that the finance minister is about to be fired, which would be a disaster for South Africa.
However, since issuing the bizarre instruction without any explanation there has been absolute “radio silence”, which proves that President Jacob Zuma has learned nothing from his reckless and disastrous handling of “9/12” and that either he does not care or he does not understand the consequences of his decisions for the economy in South Africa.
If President Jacob Zuma issued the instruction to cancel the international investor roadshow for a reason other than a cabinet reshuffle, including the fact that the trip may not have been authorised, then why does he simply not tell South Africa?

Hamba Kahle, Uncle Kathy

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA), I wish to express my deepest and most sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of struggle hero, freedom fighter, and one of the fathers of our nation, Ahmed Kathrada, who passed away peacefully this morning aged 87.
Uncle Kathy, as he was affectionately known, embodied a profound sense of compassion, and an unwavering commitment to true justice. As leader at the forefront of the struggle for liberation, Kathrada relentlessly fought for the freedoms we all cherish today.
I fondly recall the many times I engaged with Uncle Kathy – most notably the conversation we had when he was bestowed with the Freedom of the City of Johannesburg. He told me of the years on Robben Island where he – along with the likes of Mandela, Sisulu and Tambo – never heard or saw the presence of children. He shared with me that for him freedom meant hearing the voices of children, indicating his sincere compassion, as well as his commitment to the future of our beautiful country.
Kathrada’s political work began in 1941, at the early age of 12 when he joined the Young Communist League of South Africa. His involvement included organising the Campaign of Defiance against Unjust laws of 1952, which targeted the Pass Laws, Stock Limitation Regulations, the Group Areas Act, the Separate Representation of Voters Act, the Suppression of Communism Act and the Bantu Authorities Act – which all unfairly limited the rights of Africans.
In July 1963, Kathrada – along with Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Billy Nair, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Denis Goldberg – was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment for acts of treason in the now infamous Rivonia Trail. This was Kathrada’s 18th arrest on political grounds, an indication of his unwavering commitment to challenging and defeating an unjust system.
Uncle Kathy spent 26 years in prison – 18 of which was on Robben Island – for his resistance to Apartheid. He was released from prison on 15 October 1989, at the age of 60.
In 1994, Kathrada was elected as a member of parliament for the ANC, and served as Parliamentary Counsellor to President Nelson Mandela until 1999.
In the words of Uncle Kathy, “Hatred, revenge, bitterness – these are negative emotions. The person harbouring those emotions suffers more.” My hope and dream is for a South Africa in which we give life and meaning to the legacy of our fallen hero, Ahmed Kathrada, by building a nation that truly bridges the divides which have for so long separated us from living united in our diversity.
Hamba kahle Uncle Kathy. May your unwavering commitment to justice and reconciliation live on in all of us.

Ahmed Kathrada is in our thoughts and prayers

The DA is holding struggle stalwart and national icon, Ahmed Kathrada, in our thoughts and prayers, following reports that his condition has deteriorated.
Indeed the whole nation will be doing the same and we trust that the medical team is doing all they can to ensure that he recovers.
Uncle Kathy is a symbol of freedom and hope in South Africa. His immense contribution to our country’s freedom will always be remembered.
Our thoughts are with him and his loved ones at this difficult time.

SAA losses climb higher to R4.5 billion for 2016/17

The latest information provided to the Standing Committee on Finance (SCOF) by the South African Airways (SAA) board reveals a staggering loss of R4.5 billion for 2016/17.
This new figure of R4.5 billion is significantly higher than the R3.5 billion revealed ten days ago and the R1.7 billion estimated in September 2016.
This is an increase of R1 billion in the space of ten days and an increase of R2.8 billion in the space of 6 months.
With a full month of figures left to be reported on, this figure of R 4.5 billion could experience yet another significant increase.
The DA will interrogate these volatile numbers fully when SAA appears before the SCOF on Wednesday, 29 March 2017, as it is simply inconceivable that SAA losses have increased by a staggering R1 billion in a matter of weeks.

President Jacob Zuma must explain the bizarre recall of Pravin Gordhan

The fact that President Jacob Zuma has instructed the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, together with the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas, to cancel their international investor roadshow and return to the country immediately is a major setback for the economy in South Africa.
The instruction to cancel the international investor roadshow without explanation is so bizarre that it appears, at best, calculated to humiliate the minister or, at worst, to suggest that the minister is about to be fired in a cabinet reshuffle.
Whatever the case the instruction to cancel the international investor roadshow could not have come at a worse time as the minister battles to restore investor confidence among international investors in one of the financial capitals of the world.
The fact is that President Jacob Zuma must provide a public explanation for the fact that he has instructed the Minister of Finance, together with the Deputy Minister of Finance, to cancel their international investor roadshow and immediately return to South Africa.

SABC Interim Board must hit the ground running to restore stability

The DA welcomes the appointment of the SABC Interim Board by the President, and it will have to hit the ground running if it is to restore credibility and good governance at the public broadcaster.
Given that the Broadcasting Act stipulates that the interim board may only be appointed for a period of 6 months, it will do well to urgently focus on and effectively address the systemic issues that caused a complete collapse of good governance at the SABC.
The first order of business must be to deal decisively with the former acting-COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng. Specifically, and according to the Western Cape High court ruling, the interim board must within two weeks deliver a letter setting out the disciplinary charges against him, appoint a new chairperson to oversee the disciplinary proceedings and complete the process within two months.
The recommendations of the SABC inquiry report, adopted by most parties in the National Assembly, must be implemented. These include:

  • Illegal amendments to the Memorandum of Incorporation must be identified and rectified, seeing as this document gave excessive power to Minister Faith Muthambi to further her political agenda.
  • The Auditor General must immediately be approached to address all its findings relating to the R5.1 billlion in irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and to take the necessary steps against any officials who are responsible for or allowed such wasteful expenditure. It is crucial that financial stability be restored in the SABC;
  • All questionable contracts, such as the ANN 7 agreement, which were discussed in the report by the SABC Ad Hoc Committee must be investigated, and if found to be unsound, terminated;
  • All vital and currently vacant positions, including the top three executive positions (GCEO, COO, CFO) must be filled by qualified and experienced professionals who haven’t been captured, to ensure a sound human resource environment;
  • The allegations that the State Security Agency has been spying on employees and intercepting communication must be urgently investigated to ensure that no employee is intimidated in the workplace;
  • The remedial action set out in the 2014 Public Protector’s report “When Government and Ethics Fail” must be implemented; and
  • All editorial policies which may have a negative effect on the SABC must be reviewed.

The Interim Board has a daunting task ahead of them. It is a tall task which will require steeled backbones, dedication, focus, fierce independence and withstanding any attempts of pressure to favour ANC-linked individuals.
We believed that by focusing on the points the DA have listed, the interim Board will begin steering the SABC in the right direction in ensuring that the SABC gets back to fulfilling in its mandate of providing quality entertainment and information the South African public.
We wish the SABC interim board well in the unenviable task ahead of them, we will do our role in keeping it accountable to the South African public.

Over 8 000 police vehicles out of service

The DA will submit follow-up questions after a reply to a Parliamentary Question by the DA’s Vusumzi Magwebu MP has revealed that over 8000 police vehicles are currently in repair shops.
More than 2 000 vehicles in Gauteng and over 1 500 vehicles in the Eastern Cape are currently out of service and some police stations have only four vehicles to serve eight sectors.
According to another NCOP reply, there are 48 247 police vehicles nationally. This means that a shocking 16.6% of all police vehicles are currently out of service and waiting for repairs and maintenance. Because of this, there is currently only one vehicle for every 5 South African Police Services (SAPS) members.
A report received by the Gauteng legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Community Safety on Thursday furthermore revealed that there are serious challenges at the auxiliary garage, where police vehicles languish for up to three months. The report also noted a relationship between policing performance and resourcing in all eight sampled police stations.
It is all too common for police members to lack the basic equipment they need to carry out their mandate of keeping South Africans safe.
Without vehicles, the police are not able to respond timeously to crimes taking place and therefore, the under equipping of the SAPS directly threatens the safety of ordinary citizens.
The DA will establish the true extent of the crisis with follow-up questions and find out what the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, and the SAPS command is doing about it.
It is unacceptable for the police to be incapacitated because of something as simple as a failure to accurately keep track of vehicle repairs, collect vehicles on time and run functioning vehicle repair shops.
The DA cannot stand by while crime thrives as a result of not giving police members the equipment they need to make South Africa a safer place for all.

DA to ask Public Protector to investigate Eskom CEO’s billion rand deals to stepdaughter

The DA will be writing to the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, requesting that she launches an investigation into Eskom CEO Matshela Koko for allegedly awarding tenders worth R1 billion to Impulse International, a company of which his step-daughter is a Director.
Impulse International was awarded 8 contracts by Eskom’s Generation unit during Koko’s tenure as the unit’s Group Executive.
Koko’s reported actions could show that he is compromised and unfit to be the head of Eskom. By claiming that he was not aware that his daughter was involved with Impulse International, Koko inadvertently admits that he failed in his role as the Chief Accounting officer to conduct due diligence on the company profile of a potential Eskom service provider.
This potentially means that Eskom violated State Procurement guidelines set out by Treasury to guide the acquisition of services by State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) under Koko’s stewardship.
The DA believes that this latest expose could be one of the reasons why Eskom board has been reluctant to release the Denton report.
The DA will ensure that the rot at Eskom is laid bare and all those implicated held accountable. It can never be acceptable that, while Eskom is struggling to raise capital for some of its power generation projects needed to grow our economy, its managers could be busy siphoning cash to benefit family members.