Not another cent of taxpayers’ money must be spent at Nkandla

The Democratic Alliance (DA) rejects any new or further upgrades to the President’s Nkandla home, regardless of how they are described or categorised by national government. We maintain that not another cent of taxpayers’ money must be spent for the benefit of one man.
The President must at once reject any plans by government to use public funds to renovate, refurbish, or upgrade any property at his Nkandla homestead – which has already benefitted from upgrades to the value of R250 million rand of public money.
Reports this morning indicate that the Department of Public Works has already begun the process which will see millions of rands of public money spent to refurbish the property, repair shoddy workmanship, and to address security concerns.
As things stand, corruption charges pertaining to the previous Nkandla upgrades have yet to be instituted – 1131 days after I laid such charges in terms of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act 12 of 2004. Until such time as these charges have been investigated, and those found guilty of wrongdoing are held to account, any talk of further upgrades is outrageous.
It is shameful that a man who has single-handedly plunged our country into “junk status” should live in a palace of luxury, built and maintained with the people’s money. If Jacob Zuma wants refurbishments and upgrades, he must pay for it out of his own pocket.
The Presidency was quick out of the blocks this morning to defend Zuma and “muddy the waters” by claiming in a statement that “there are no renovations of the private houses at the President’s residence at Nkandla currently and no government department has indicated any proposal for renovations.”
This response is simply inadequate. The President must reject any and all future upgrades at Nkandla that uses public money – no matter how they are described or categorised. The South African people cannot be burdened with paying for any more upgrades, refurbishments or extensions at Zuma’s palace of corruption.
Indeed, the last bout of upgrades at Nkandla infamously saw the Constitutional Court ruling that Jacob Zuma had failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution, and he was ordered to personally pay back a portion of the expenses.
In addition to this, while President Zuma was forced to personally pay back R7.8 million, the Income Tax Act defined fringe benefit tax plus penalties and interest that President Zuma is liable to pay is estimated at R63.9 million.
The DA has since requested that Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, investigate whether SARS have dragged their feet with regards to raising the tax, penalties and interest that are payable by President Zuma on Nkandla.
The DA will continue in our efforts to remove Jacob Zuma from office, so that the assault on our country, our Constitution, and the public’s money is stopped, once and for all.

Mbalula has the power to bar Ntlemeza from entering the Hawks HQ on Monday

The DA will write to the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, urging him to exercise the power that he has in terms of section 17DA of the South African Police Services (SAPS) Act to suspend former Hawks head, Berning Ntlemeza, from the SAPS.
This suspension is imperative if Ntlemeza goes ahead and lodges an appeal against the High Court order that determined the setting aside of his appointment with immediate effect.
When Mbalula fired Ntlemeza last week as Head of the Hawks, he was simply enacting the North Gauteng High Court order. If Ntlemeza’s appeal has the effect of suspending that order, then Mbalula need not sit idly by. In terms of the SAPS Act, Ntlemeza can still be removed by Mbalula through a suspension from the SAPS.
Mbalula can provisionally suspend Ntlemeza pending an inquiry into his fitness to hold office in terms of section 17DA(2) of the SAPS Act.
Therefore, Mbalula has the power to keep Ntlemeza away from the Hawks regardless of the fact that he is appealing.
Having been previously found by the North Gauteng High Court to have acted in bad faith, that he was dishonest and acted without integrity, the DA have long held that Ntlemeza is not beyond reproach and cannot be given the huge responsibility to lead our country’s crime fighting unit.
The Hawks requires stability amongst its senior leadership which Ntlemeza is a threat to. Mbalula should accordingly not allow Ntlemeza to enter the Hawks building on Monday.

Chemical SETA has been without a CEO for 6 years

In response to a DA parliamentary question, the Minister of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Blade Nzimande, revealed that the Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA), has been without a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the past six years.
The DA will now write to Minister Nzimande to enquire why the appointment of a new CEO has taken six years to fill and to demand that the vacancy is filled urgently.
According to their website “CHIETA contributes to sustainable development through facilitating the provision of skills for growth in the chemical industries sector”.
However, in the absence of a CEO to provide clear direction and leadership, the CHIETA will, before long, follow the trajectory of the Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority (CATHSSETA), the Safety and Security Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), and the Wholesale and Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA), which are all currently under administration following serious allegations of corruption.
The DA has long held that, although SETA’s play an important role in providing much-needed skills, in recent years it has become a financial drain in the public sector, with millions wasted on irregular and fruitless expenditure.
The DHET must prioritise fixing the issues at SETA’s to prevent a complete collapse of the skills development sector.
Our youth, especially the lost generation, need skills in order to participate in the economy, and in the absence of an effective model to provide skills for jobs, SETA’s must simply work.

Competition Commission agrees to DA request to probe Aspen in SA

The DA welcomes the Competition Commission’s (CC) decision to take up the DA’s request to investigate the alleged anti-competitive conduct of Aspen Pharmacare, on its preliminary investigation into the pharmaceutical sector.
Media reports last week both locally and internationally, detailed how staff at Aspen Pharmacare allegedly conspired to dispose of life-saving cancer medicine in order to boost their price across Europe.
The DA is concerned that the same practices may have been employed here in South Africa and therefore believe it is important that any possible anti-competitive behaviour, which would push up the price of medication for our people, must be fully investigated.
If these allegations are true and seriously ill patients have been exploited for financial gains, those responsible must be held accountable.
The DA believes that this preliminary investigation is the first step in combatting the unethical practice of exploiting sick patients.

Controversial Professor Chris Malikane accompanies Malusi Gigaba to the United States

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, appeared to have distance himself from his economic advisor, Professor Chris Malikane, who’s mad ideas on the economy had shaken investor confidence, ahead of an international investor roadshow in the United States.
The minister was forced into damage control mode reassuring investors that it was not government policy to nationalize banks and publically slapped down Professor Chris Malikane like a schoolboy in a way that suggested his days were numbered.
However, nothing could be further from the truth because it has now emerged that Professor Chris Malikane accompanied the minister on the international investor roadshow in the United States.
This morning the minister’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, posted pictures on social media of the minister and his economic advisor engaged in a convivial conversation at the International Monetary Fund in the United States. [here, here and here]
The minister’s “roadshow message”, released by National Treasury, includes a commitment to “inclusive growth, prudent fiscal discipline and sound economic policies”.
But Professor Chris Malikane’s presence sends exactly the opposite message and will be a major red flag to international financial institutions, international investors and rating agencies in the United States.
In the end, the fact that the minister invited Professor Chris Malikane to accompany him on the international roadshow raises serious questions, not only about his judgment, but also about whether he can be trusted to act in the best interests of South Africa
 

Transport Minister must explain 51% increase in Easter road deaths

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport, Ms Dikeledi Magadzi, to request that she urgently summon the new Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, to explain, in detail, why there has been an alarming 51% increase in road deaths despite millions spent on numerous road safety campaigns.
The Minister must also detail exactly what campaigns were set up to try curb road deaths, how much these campaigns cost and further, why they have been so terribly unsuccessful.
Minister Maswanganyi today announced that 235 people died, over just five days, on roads in South Africa over this year’s Easter break. This means that 79 more people died this year than the 156 people that died over the same period last year.
The fact of the matter is that every year, the Department of Transport through the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), persists with the same approach in an attempt to bring down road deaths. It is the very definition of insanity to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome.
By their own admission, matched by independent studies, the RTMC admitted to the portfolio committee that the biggest issues contributing to deaths on our roads are moving violations, faulty brakes and smooth tyres yet their campaign addresses absolutely none of this.
The RTMC needs to follow international best practice because stopping vehicles to check for licenses on its own does not contribute to road safety as the statistics clearly indicate.
South Africans should be empowered with information on road safety by effective campaigns which will have a better chance of decreasing the unacceptably high number of people lost on our roads over the Easter holiday specifically, and throughout the year generally.
The DA will continue to push for the Department of Transport to account for their inability to implement more effective road safety campaigns, which would go a long way to reduce this unacceptably high loss of life.

Dlodlo must explain capture of GCIS to drive factional agenda

The Minister of Communications, Ayaynda Dlodlo, must publicly explain why government communications are now being used to do PR for obscure seemingly pro-Zuma organisations.
On Thursday, the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) issued a statement on behalf of the Black Empowerment Foundation (BEF) announcing that the BEF had laid criminal charges against Citibank for its role in the “corrupt and collusive actions” relating to the foreign-exchange fixing scandal currently being investigated by the Competition Commission.
Dlodlo must explain:

  • whether the BEF requested that its media advisory be distributed by GCIS;
  • who authorised the distribution of the media advisory; and
  • on what basis the authorisation was given

The GCIS should by no means be communicating on any actions besides those taken by the government.
According to the Daily Maverick, “The “Black Empowerment Foundation” is also reportedly the name of a WhatsApp group administered by President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward Zuma. […] Its members allegedly include new Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo”.
If these allegations are true, it will be a severe indictment on Minister Dlodlo and leave no other impression than, that she has been placed in her position to continue the work Faith Muthambi, of turning the GCIS into a pro-ANC propaganda machine.
The state’s communications organs cannot be used as the mouthpiece of private organisations or individuals as such acts border on propaganda.
This latest stunt is an utter abuse of state resources.
The DA will not sit back quietly as the Zuma-administration tries to pull the wool over South Africa’s eyes. Minister Dlodlo must account for this absolute misuse of the state’s communications.

BOKAMOSO | Our future is coalition governments

En masse, Venezuelan citizens have taken to the streets in the capital city Caracas and other towns this week, mobilising against extraordinarily tough times under an increasingly authoritarian government. Protesters are propelled by the sheer devastation of their lives: basic foodstuffs and medicines are in short supply; the economy is in crisis with triple-digit inflation; the government has turned on its people. Marches are said to be over a million-strong. The streets of Venezuela reflect an age-old wisdom: there is strength in unity. We South Africans should not wait for any further damage to be inflicted on our country; we must unite at once, to defend our freedom.Join the Freedom Movement.
Join the Freedom Movement here!
The capture of SA’s treasury three weeks ago by the Zupta mafia is a disruptive event that has put the issues of accountability and power abuse centre stage. We must use it to charter our way to a robust democracy free of ANC domination. South Africa’s future lies in coalition governments and we must seize this moment to set aside party political differences and coalesce around shared values of freedom, non-racialism and capable, accountable government. The DA is willing to work with anyone or any group that seeks to defend the constitution and safeguard our state from capture. We are committed to building a nation of opportunity and fairness in partnership with all who hold these values. The DA’s twin aims now are to build a coalition in society, and to grow the DA so that we can lead a coalition government after the 2019 national elections.
This catalytic event must spur civil society to embrace its role in holding government to account. The ANC has failed to hold Jacob Zuma to account; we must not fail to hold the ANC to account. If we unite and demand accountability, South Africa will emerge from these difficult times a stronger country, able to fight our real enemies of poverty, unemployment and inequality. We must use this moment not only to rid ourselves of the Zupta mafia, but to fully restore the independence of our democratic institutions and to kick-start inclusive economic growth that starts moving us forward again. The incredible unity we have seen amongst South Africans from all walks of life in the past three weeks is cause for great hope, even while we have genuine reason to worry for the future. Solidarity is a powerful bulwark against a hostile state.
Yesterday, representatives of political formations, civil society, workers, religious organisations, and academia announced the beginning of the Freedom Movement, a movement that seeks to facilitate this growing unity amongst South Africans. It has been endorsed by some opposition parties, as well as union federation Fedusa and Solidarity. We welcome anyone who wants to end state capture. Importantly, we have the blessing and support of Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, who provides a firm moral beacon at a time when we need it most.
The immediate aim of the Freedom Movement is to remove President Jacob Zuma from office. To this end, we want to help facilitate a large-scale peaceful protest outside Parliament when the Motion of No Confidence is debated in early May. The exact date of the debate and vote is yet to be set, pending the outcome of a Constitutional Court application by various opposition parties for a secret ballot, in order to allow ANC Members of Parliament to vote without fear of retribution.
We seek a highly visible show of moral support to those ANC MPs who may be torn between a hard-wired loyalty to their party coupled with a sense of self-preservation, on the one hand, and their genuine desire to do what is best for the country, on the other. The message is: you are not alone; you have South Africa’s support. Only together can we restore the relevance of Parliament as an institution of accountability.
The first action of the Freedom Movement will be to gather together as many South Africans as possible at Freedom Park on Freedom Day, Thursday 27 April 2017, in a visible show of unity. We must show ourselves and the world that we are one people with one future. We will not relinquish the political freedom for which so many sacrificed so much. We will not let a rogue president and parasitic private interests block our pursuit of economic freedom for all. We will stay the course to freedom and we have the stamina for the struggle. We are strong, because we are together. We call on all South Africans to join our Freedom Movement because united, we stand and the Zupta mafia falls.

Mbalula must suspend Phahlane today

In light of the damning answering affidavit by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), the DA reiterates our call for Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, to be immediately suspended given the multiple disturbing allegations that he has interfered in the investigation against him.
Reports today and the affidavit specifically states that “There is a high probability that Phahlane is using his office and authority to undermine the investigation.” Phahlane has also already made contact with two of the potential witnesses against him, and has also gained access to a case file listing intended witnesses.
The fact that he has the names and details of these witnesses combined with his prior use of intimidation and refusal to co-operate with the IPID investigation is more than enough grounds for the Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, to immediately suspend him.
These allegations are extremely serious.
It is clear that Phahlane will continue to do everything in his power to frustrate the IPID investigation, which must be allowed to continue so that IPID can come to a conclusion as soon as possible.
It is high time that the South African Police Services (SAPS) be led by someone who is fit and proper so that our police service can focus on their mandate of bringing down the unacceptably high crime rate in the country.
Phahlane is simply not beyond reproach and needs to go. Mbalula needs to do the right thing and suspend Phahlane today.

Tegeta Exploration & Resources will be the first big test of Malusi Gigaba’s political backbone

Note to Editors: Please find correspondence between National Treasury and Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd relevant to the report discovered as a result of a request for access to information, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000), submitted by DA Shadow Minister of Finance David Maynier MP here.
The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba’s, first big test is going to be his handling of National Treasury’s final report on the review of coal contracts entered into by Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd and Eskom.
The draft report reportedly finds inter alia that there was no evidence that the advance payment was used for its mining operations and recommends that the R659 million be converted to a loan with interest payable by Tegeta Exploration and Resources (Pty) Ltd.
The controversy surrounding the report is not new and exploded last year when Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd threatened to apply for an urgent interdict to prevent National Treasury handing me a copy of the report, which I had requested in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000).
In a letter, dated 23 June 2016, Tegeta Exploration & Resources accused National Treasury of trying to defame their business as follows: “…your efforts to obtain our feedback on the request of Mr Maynier must be seen as an unwarranted attempt to obtain approval to publish your report to a political party with the motive of defaming our business with facts not tested or commented on.”
And Tegeta Exploration & Resources went on to threaten National Treasury as follows: “We will consider obtaining further legal advice in launching an urgent application to interdict you from releasing the report until it has been subjected to scrutiny of all parties concerned.”
Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd and Eskom clearly have something to hide and have worked hard to frustrate and delay the review conducted by National Treasury.
This matter has gone on for too long and it is now imperative that the report be completed, made public and that action be taken against Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd and Eskom.
I have, despite numerous requests for access to the report, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, (No. 2 of 2000), been unable to obtain a copy of the report from National Treasury.
The reply is always the same: “Your request has been assessed and it has been established that the report is not yet finalised. Some technical information was received from Eskom and this necessitated the appointment of experts to assist in reviewing it. The report will be released once the experts have completed the review process.”
However, I have not given up and on 05 April 2017 I submitted a further request for access to the report, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000), to National Treasury.
The handling of the final report will be the first test of the minister’s willingness to stand up to his political master, Jacob Zuma, and his most important clients, the Guptas, who control Tegeta Exploration & Resources (Pty) Ltd.