DA wants credible impact assessments on new ICT laws

The DA welcomes the undertaking given by the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services’ (DTPS) Director General, Mr Robert Nkuna, to consider assessing the financial and economic impact of new radical legislation, currently being drafted, on South Africa’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector.
The DTPS is drafting various bills arising from the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper gazetted last September. Public hearings and Socio-Economic Impact Assessments (SEIA) on the bills will be conducted, firstly on the Digital Development Fund Bill, the Economic Regulator and Tribunal Bill and the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill.
At yesterday’s meeting of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services, the DA criticised the value of the SEIA done on the White Paper’s controversial proposals and asked Mr Nkuna to undertake properly researched financial impact assessments of the proposed legislation on the entire ICT sector.
He agreed to consider the DA’s request.
No financial impact assessment was done on the White Paper’s far-reaching and controversial proposal to establish a national Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN) by, in effect, expropriating the business operations of the mobile network operators.
This plan to incorporate the business of private sector operators into the WOAN has been widely criticised as unconstitutional, a major deterrent to further investment in mobile communications infrastructure and operations, and creating an anti-competitive wholesale monopoly.
On 12 October 2016, the DA submitted a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) application to the department for any impact assessment done in support of the White Paper. It was ignored. At the end of November, the DA submitted an appeal to the DTPS. This was also ignored.
In response to a DA parliamentary question, submitted in February 2017, enquiring why no impact assessment had been done, the DTPS replied that a SEIA had been done. This was appended to the reply and the document suddenly appeared on the department’s website. It is little more than a checklist of wishful thinking on the assumed, nice-to-haves of the policy. There is no hard evidence of the economic impact of the policy.
If Minister’ of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Dr Siyabonga Cwele, wants to legislate the radical economic transformation of South Africa’s vibrant and technically advanced ICT sector he best be armed with credible research that informs him of the future ICT environment his laws will create.

DA recommends the appointment of Justice Leona Theron to Constitutional Court bench

In terms of his obligation under section 174(4) of the Constitution, President Jacob Zuma wrote to me requesting my views and input on who ought to fill the vacant seat on the Constitutional Court bench following Justice Johann van der Westhuizen’s retirement in January last year.
After a thorough selection process as per section 174(4)(a) of the Constitution, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) presented to the President a list of four candidates, of which the President must appoint one to the Constitutional Court. The four candidates are: Judge Leona Valerie Theron, Judge Stevan Arnold Majiedt, Judge Malcolm John David Wallis and, Judge Narandandram Jody Kollapen.
I have today responded in writing to his request, indicating our full support for the appointment of Madame Justice Leona Valerie Theron as our preferred candidate. The full response can be accessed here.
When considering candidates for judicial appointment, the concept of judicial independence is of utmost importance and is central to our assessment of any one candidate. To us, it is essential that appointees to the bench in South Africa observe, and demonstrate, a genuine strict independence from the Executive, from party politics, from corporate interests, from organised religion, and all other external interests.
In light of this, we believe Madame Justice Theron is the most suitable candidate. She offers significant experience, obvious legal expertise and heft, and demonstrable independence of thought and opinion. Furthermore, her appointment to the bench of the Constitutional Court will add to the gender diversity of the highest Court. We therefore have no hesitation in supporting her appointment.
Justice Theron holds BA, LLB and LLM degrees. She was admitted as an advocate in 1990 and has served various organisations, distinguishing herself as an outstanding lawyer committed to human rights. She has held academic positions at tertiary institutions and has attended the University of Georgetown in Washington DC, USA, to further her academic qualifications. She also worked at the International Labour Organisation.
She was appointed as a judge of the High Court in KwaZulu Natal in the Durban and Coast Local Division in October 1999 after acting in that position from April 1999.  She was elevated to the Supreme Court of Appeal in December 2010 in which court she presently serves. She has also acted in the Constitutional Court from February 2015 to May 2015 and therefore has relevant experience in that particular court.
During the approximately eleven years she served at the High Court and the approximate five years at the Supreme Court of Appeal, she has displayed her independence as a judge and has delivered various judgments showing her ability to take leadership in human rights issues and matters relating to women.
Judge Leona Theron will bring experience, independence and gender diversity to the Constitutional Court, and in light of the above, we are of the view that her appointment would best serve the requirements of section 174(2) of the Constitution.

‘Dodging’ Dlamini bunks Parliament again

Social Development Minister, Bathabile ‘Dodging’ Dlamini, has failed yet again to show up to a meeting of a Parliamentary committee.
The Select Committee on Social Services, which was meant to be briefed on the Department’s Budget Vote and Annual Performance Plan, was cancelled earlier today as neither the Minister or her Deputy, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, bothered to show up.
The DA’s Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango, said that “this follows a trend of ‘Dodging’ Dlamini’s old antics of avoiding vital parliamentary meetings and therefore accountability. Dlamini has previously missed a critical portfolio meeting on 25 January to attend an ANC Legotla in Addis Ababa, and a SCOPA meeting on 28 February, when she was meant to update Parliament on the South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA’s) and the Department of Social Development’s progress in putting in place the distribution of social grants.”
According to DA member of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), Thandi Mpambo-Sibhukwana, “the select committee, was forced to sit and wait for the Minister to show up and the cancellation of the meeting was a waste of precious funds as money had been spent on ensuring other members of the committee were present.”
It appears that while the Constitutional Court had to rescue the Minister from the social grant crisis earlier this year, by extending the contract with Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), it is likely that Dlamini has returned to neglecting her portfolio and instead campaigning for the ANC succession race.
This does not bode well for Dlamini keeping to the Constitutional Court’s order, ensuring that a new and valid service provider is found before the current extension comes to an end next year. So much as a day with her off the ball could spell disaster in solving the social grant crisis which Dlamini herself created.
Dlamini’s disdain for the 17 million South Africans who rely on social grants to get by is again on display for all to see. It is high time that she is fired and the needs of the people are put above the interests of the few.

Motshekga should ban Hlaudi from politicking at schools

Tomorrow, the disgraced former SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, is scheduled to visit Eqinisweni Secondary School in Ivory Park, Tembisa.
According to the media invitation, Motsoeneng aims to “keep the youth of South Africa motivated to study and focus in prioritizing education and self-discipline.” He will also, apparently, “provide tips and strategies for studying”.
One wonders what study tips Motsoeneng can offer when he himself failed to obtain a matric, and was found by the Public Protector to have lied when he claimed that he had a matric qualification.
He has also not hidden his disdain for schooling, claiming that “too much education is dangerous…it’s like overdosing on your medicine”.
Motsoeneng is hardly a role model for any young person to emulate. Besides lying about this matric, he was found guilty of artificially inflating his SABC salary, purging and intimidating SABC staff members and running the public broadcaster into the ground.
More serious is the political nature of the event, which seems to be part of Motsoeneng’s ongoing political campaign following his suspension from his position at the SABC.
As Motsoeneng said last month: “You may say you don’t want Hlaudi, it’s fine. But Hlaudi is going to lead you on another platform …People are calling me to politics.” The ANCYL in the Free State announced its intention to nominate him as a Member of Parliament, and Motsoeneng himself has stated that he will “take any leadership position in government.
Section 33A of the South African Schools Act is quite clear that political activities during school time are prohibited. I have therefore written to Minister Angie Motshekga to request that she prevents Motsoeneng from conducting his political campaign in schools.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s toxic influence was felt at our public broadcaster for far too long. We cannot allow him to extend his tentacles into our public schools.

All South Africans are united in a new struggle

Note to the Editors: The follwing remarks were delivered by the DA Leader at the Party’s Workers’ Day Rally at the Bluedowns Stadium in Cape Town. The Leader was joined by the Western Cape Acting Provincial Leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela.
Fellow South Africans,
Today, we join with millions of people around the world to celebrate International Workers’ Day.
Today, workers across the globe celebrate the victory of their hard-won fight for fair labour practices and employment standards.
This public holiday was proclaimed in 1994 at the dawn of our democracy, to celebrate our freedom from an oppressive regime; to celebrate the power of the people.
Twenty-three years later, it’s time to take back our power from a government that no longer works for us.
Because today it doesn’t feel like there is much to celebrate. We’re free to work, but nine million of our sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters have no jobs.
Millions more of us stand to lose our jobs if Jacob Zuma has his way.
He’s turned our government into a crime syndicate. He’s turned our National Treasury into his personal piggy bank. He’s sold our sovereignty to the Gupta family.
Today, we must unite and take it back!
And so I was very pleased to hear former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, tell CNN that we need a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, as prescribed in the Public Protector’s Report.
Earlier Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa made the same call for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry. He too knows what Jacob Zuma is doing is wrong.
He said last Monday: the truth will set the ANC free. I suspect many of his comrades agree with him.
It seems it’s only Jacob Zuma who is still trying to block this inquiry through the courts. He’s just doing what all thieves do: trying to evade the law.
But we will not let him get away with it. We look forward to the court judgment on this and we look forward to a truly independent inquiry into state capture.
The truth has a way of finding its way to the light. And our country needs the truth.
Fellow South Africans,
Today our struggle is not about right versus left; it’s about right versus wrong.
Jacob Zuma’s lying, stealing, cheating government is wrong. It is no longer playing by the fair rules of the game, and it is taking South Africa in the wrong direction.
It is crippling our economy and hurting our ability to create work for millions.
And it is trying to divide us along lines of race, like the Apartheid government did.
It is trying to divide us because it knows that divided, we are powerless to stop their looting.
Jacob Zuma has plunged our country into crisis and our families into desperation. Right now, we South Africans can’t afford to get through the month.
Jacob Zuma talks about radical economic transformation, but what he means is radical re-enrichment of a small elite, including his friends, the Guptas.
Our economy doesn’t need Jacob Zuma’s radical transformation. It needs a complete modernisation, because our old economic practices simply aren’t working.
We need those without capital to be able to enter the capital market. Which is why we’re calling for a Jobs and Justice Fund to support new micro-enterprises.
We need to place small businesses at the centre of our economy and support them through a capable state, because they must spearhead our job-creation project.
We need to create a safe and predictable investment climate – not one in which the cabinet gets reshuffled in the dead of night.
We need to look at ways to create sustainable wealth. We can start by offering those who work on mines shares in these mines, and we can do the same for employees of our state-owned enterprises.
And if we truly want to modernise our economy, we cannot remain stuck in the era of industrialisation. We must focus on the information sector, and we must equip our youth to thrive in such an economy.
This is the kind of economy we must build together – one that delivers freedom for all, and not just for Jacob Zuma’s friends and family.
At this critical moment in SA’s history, we must unite in a new struggle for the future.
Unite behind the Constitution. Unite against corruption. Unite for a growing economy that creates jobs. Unite against criminals and drug lords taking over our streets and destroying our children.
Fellow South Africans,
It is time to come together from all corners of South Africa.
It’s time to work together to take back our country and get back to what is right.
It’s time to put South Africa first. It’s time to have a government that works for everyone.
And when you have a government that works for everyone, you get an economy in which everyone works.
When the government works for everyone, young people leave school equipped with the skills they need to get ahead in life.
When the government works for everyone, it builds the water, electricity, transport and communications infrastructure necessary for businesses to grow and thrive.
It puts it best, brightest, most capable and experienced people into its cabinet.
It engages with the people and makes decisions in an open, transparent way, in broad daylight.
It doesn’t fire competent, dedicated finance ministers in the middle of the night.
When the government works for everyone, the economy grows and we all win.
Fellow South Africans,
Our economy may be struggling, but we, the people, are not the problem.
I spoke recently with businessmen from a automotive company, and I was so proud to hear that they consider South African workers among the best in the world.
The people here are not the problem. It is our government that is making it very hard for our people to succeed. That’s where our problem lies.
It is time for us to work together so that we can get South Africa working again.
If we unite and work together, we will all be winners.
If we work together, we can easily overcome what is wrong, and build what is right.
That is why the DA was proud to join the Freedom Movement, and to invite other political parties and civil society to join with us.
We want to unite with all those who love South Africa. Because there is strength in unity. Unity doesn’t mean we’re the same. It means we’re together, united in our diversity.
Together we can free ourselves of the Zuptas and their crime syndicate.
But we can also do so much more beyond that. Together, we can build a new political order.
A new order that rejects the old order with its corruption and looting and power abuse.
A new order that rejects what is wrong and embraces what is right.
A new order that can fight our real enemies: poverty, unemployment and inequality.
A new order that gets South Africa working again.
A new order for the people, by the people.
Power to the people!