DA requests formal summons of Mokonyane after bunking today

The DA will request the Water and Sanitation Portfolio Committee to formally summon Water and Sanitation Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane, and the Water and Sanitation Director General (DG), Dan Mashitisho, after a committee meeting was cancelled because they failed to show up.
The Committee Chairperson, Mlungisi Johnson, can formally issue the summons on behalf of the Committee, with the committee’s backing.
Should the Minister and DG ignore the summons, they will be “liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or to both the fine and the imprisonment” in accordance with the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.
Today’s Committee meeting was vitally important as the very serious governance issues at the Mhlathuze Water Board were to be discussed.
In November 2016, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled Minister Mokonyane’s decision to extend the Board’s term beyond 28 February 2015 was unlawful, invalid and set it aside.
Yet while the Minister complied with the ruling and dissolved the board in 2016, according to the Board’s annual report, the Board was paid a lucrative R3 million in 2015 and over R3 million in 2016 despite being unlawful.
It is no coincidence that Ms Dudu Myeni – of SAA infamy – chaired this Board, whose term was extended unlawfully.
This is a flagrant abuse of public money and the DA believes that the former board members should pay back every cent because, as per the Court ruling, their role at the time was invalid in law.
Moreover, the Court also held that the Board’s decision to pursue disciplinary action against Sibusiso Makhanya, the suspended Board CEO, was invalid and set it aside.
It is shocking that while the water authority is still in the process of constituting a new board, the acting CEO is the accounting authority while the water authority does not currently have a Board. The acting CEO effectively has carte blanche, unsupervised.
It is absolutely imperative that the new Board swiftly deal with the issue of the suspended CEO and that they ensure that Dudu Myeni does not feature in the process.
Mokonyane clearly has no respect for Parliament’s oversight role and must now be forced to do her job and account to the Committee for the failures at the Mhlathuze Water Board.

DA requests a snap debate on the recession and mass unemployment in SA

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba’s, response to the shock news that the economy had entered into a recession was pathetic and suggests government has no concrete plan to pull the economy out of recession and deal with mass unemployment in South Africa.
We are now in deep economic trouble with the economy slipping into recession after GDP in the first quarter of 2017 contracted by -0.7%, following a contraction of -0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2016, and a staggering 9.3 million people now do not have jobs, or have given up looking for jobs, in South Africa.
What is so disturbing is the fact that the recession is, to a large extent self-inflicted by, to quote Deputy-President Cyril Ramaphosa, “a government that is at war with itself”, which has railroaded any chance of implementing the structural reforms necessary to boost economic growth and create jobs in South Africa.
We would have expected the minister to roll out a concrete plan to pull the economy out of recession. However, all the minister could do was whimper that he would be “seeking a meeting with business leaders as soon as possible to discuss ways of working together to achieve inclusive economic growth”, which is rather like fiddling with the deck chairs on the Titanic.
What we need is concrete action, not more meetings, and that is why I have today submitted a request, to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, in terms of National Assembly Rule No. 130, for a debate of urgent national public importance on government’s response to the recession and mass unemployment in South Africa.
We cannot, and we will not, sit back when a staggering 9.3 million people do not have jobs, or have given up looking for jobs, in South Africa.

DA reports Minister Dlodlo to Ethics Committee for French Open and Gupta Dubai trips

The DA have thoroughly interrogated the 2015 Register of Members’ Interests and found that Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, failed to declare her 2015 trip to Dubai as well as her stay at the luxurious Oberoi Hotel when she was still Deputy Minister of Public Service and Administration.
Further allegations emerged yesterday by former ANC MP, Vytjie Mentor, that Dlodlo accepted an offer from a French Nuclear company for a first class flight to watch the French Open tennis tournament, an extended stay at a luxury hotel and a possible shopping spree in 2009.
These expenses were not declared in either the 2009 or 2010 Register of Members’ Interests.
The DA will, therefore, refer Minister Dlodlo to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests for this failure to disclose these expenses.
Documents show her stay in Dubai was arranged by Gupta-owned Sahara Computers and the cost of her stay (including spa massages, room service, accommodation and car hire) was paid by Fana Hlongwane, who was implicated in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report and the arms deal, and has claimed to be “like an uncle” to President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane.
In terms of the Parliamentary Code of Conduct, the following should be disclosed by MPs:

  • Section 9.11 on Travel requires a brief description of the journey, the particulars of the sponsor and the estimated value of travel, accommodation and subsistence and travel allowances; and
  • Section 9.3.8 on foreign travel requires that Member’s declare any business visits unrelated to the Member’s role as a public representative, and official and formal visits paid for by an organ of State or the Member’s party.

Clearly, Minister Dlodlo has a lot to answer for.
The flood of revelations contained in the Gupta emails are further proof of the family’s unbridled influence over countless ANC public representatives.
Yet more allegations of another lavish trip accepted by Dlodlo, which she failed to declare, must now raise serious questions.
What is of great importance is that Minister Dlodlo confirmed yesterday that the Gupta-owned company did indeed organise her stay and that Hlongwane paid for it.  This admission is therefore the first official legitimisation of all of the Gupta emails and the shocking extent of State Capture that they reveal.
These emails also provide concrete proof that the ANC has sold our country for the benefit of a few politically connected individuals, at the expense of 55 million South Africans.
The DA will also continue to investigate any possible links which the newly appointed Communications Minister may have to the Guptas, as we cannot afford yet another captured individual to have free reign over the communication ministry.

Prasa: Transport Minister must commit to continue all investigations into billions wasted

The DA will write to the new Minister of Transport, Joe Maswanganyi, to seek a formal commitment that all current investigations under way into billions spent irregularly by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), will continue.
At the end of last year, it was revealed that 142 Prasa contracts, worth a staggering R24 billion, are being investigated for possible corruption.
This is an astounding amount and must be fully investigated so that those responsible can be identified and held to account.
Under the previous Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, the Prasa Board was dissolved in what may have been an attempt to put a stop to the ongoing investigations.
The Board certainly does have much to answer for and it is of the utmost importance that the possible suspension of the Board does not impact the continuation of the investigations.
That is why we will seek a formal commitment from Minister Maswanganyi that all investigations will continue despite his intention to suspend the Board.
The DA has it on good authority that some reasons given for the removal of the Board indicate that the situation at the entity has worsened, specifically that:
• Fruitless and wasteful expenditure has doubled from R2.3 million in the first quarter of 2016/17 to R4.6 million in the second quarter;
• Irregular expenditure which stands at R15 billion is increasing; and
• Prasa has only reached 41% of planned targets, according to the third quarter performance report for 2016/17.
Should these investigations be stopped, it would be very suspicious indeed and may indicate that there is much to hide.
The DA will continue to fight for and ensure that implicated government officials, as well as ANC-cronies, are held accountable for any abuse of state resources.

DA calls for boycott of all Gupta-media

The Department of Communication spent close to R1 million on a single Gupta-media breakfast briefing in May last year, a reply to DA parliamentary questions has revealed.
In the response, the Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo confirms that the Department spent R988 689.84 on a single business breakfast briefing held on 26 May 2016 organised by Gupta-owned newspaper, The New Age.
It is not a secret the Gupta-owned TNA, is propped up by the millions it receives from government departments and state-owned companies that sponsor its breakfast briefings, buy in bulk copies of its newspaper, and spend disproportionally on adverts in the newspaper.
Recent examples include:
• The Free State Provincial Government last year, spent more than R4 million on TNA, as revealed by the Nielsen report released earlier this year;
• Last year, the SABC spent almost R1 million on subscriptions to TNA; and
• In 2015, the Communications Department spent R10 million on advertising in the same paper.
Over the last few months, it has become patently clear that not only TNA, but also ANN7, are nothing more than Gupta and pro-Zuma propaganda mouthpieces, surviving on the hard-earned rands of South Africa’s taxpayers. It is no longer conscionable to fund this propaganda.
We call on South Africans to see all Gupta-media for what it is: Gupta mouthpieces defending the capture of our state.
We also call on South Africans to discern the fake Gupta news from real news and caution South Africans that consuming Gupta Media risks falling prey to propaganda.
As the “Gupta Media” continues to spew fake news aimed at defending one family, our captured ANC government props them up. This is direct patronage back to the Guptas in the symbiotic relationship they share with the ANC government.
Since the Gupta email scandal began last Sunday, ANN7 and TNA has done everything to deflect and distract the public from the truth. They have attacked everyone who has spoken out against the Gupta capture of the ANC.
We cannot allow the Guptas’ propaganda to bring the credibility of our media into question. Hardworking and dedicated journalist and staff at both Gupta media houses are being abused by the corrupted political agendas of the ANC and the Guptas. The DA stands in solidarity with these journalists and staff who report with integrity, but are under enormous political pressure.
It is time to stop giving the New Age and ANN7 the time of day, and see them for what they are: The Guptas’ own Closed Circuit Television. It is time to stop all funding of ANN7 and The New Age, to put a stop to the Guptas propaganda campaign.

The Speaker must immediately table report on those who lied to the SABC Inquiry

The DA will today write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, urging her to promptly table a report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit detailing any witnesses who gave contradictory or misleading evidence during the SABC Inquiry.
We have been reliably informed that the report was finalised on 5 June and that a copy has been handed to the Speaker’s Office.
The report was one of the key recommendations of the SABC Inquiry Report and Legal Services were tasked with “identify[ing] the persons who misled the inquiry or provided false information or false testimony with the aim of criminal charges being laid.”
The Speaker is obliged to table this report before the House, via the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC), and should do so at the earliest convenience.
Individuals who gave evidence during the SABC Inquiry and who are suspected of having misled Parliament include former Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, and the former chairpersons of the SABC Board, Ellen Tshabalala, Dr Ben Ngubane, and Prof Mbulaheni Maguvhe.
For too long errand members of the Executive and persons mismanaging our state-owned enterprises have evaded accountability by failing to report to Parliament or, when finally forced to do so, obfuscating and lying. Those who have misled Parliament should, in the interest of accountability, be exposed and made to face the consequences of their actions.

Zuma’s ANC dumps our economy into recession

Today Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) has announced that South Africa’s economy is officially in recession, with GDP growth for Quarter 1 of 2017 down 0.7%, which follows a 0.3% contraction in Quarter 4 of 2016.
It is the ANC that has led us to this point of economic collapse, where we have a “junk” economy in recession, and where 9.3 million South Africans are without work – the highest unemployment rate in over 14 years. It is a toxic combination of policy uncertainty and grand corruption which has led us to this point. Indeed, the ANC has allowed the state to be captured for the benefit of a small group of connected individuals, while the majority of South Africans are left in poverty and without hope.
This recession – the second in 8 years – follows the recent decision by two international ratings agencies to downgrade our sovereign rating to “junk status”. Moreover, just last week, our country’s unemployment hit a 14 year high, with 9.3 million South Africans without a job. The official unemployment rate has gone up to 27.7 % – this is the highest level since March 2003.
The sectors hardest hit were the trade, catering and accommodation industry, which decreased by -5.9%, and manufacturing, which decreased by -3.7%. Without growth in these vital sectors, the gap between the “haves and the “have not’s” will continue to grow, and the poor will be without opportunity to better their lives.
The high growth sectors of our economy – such as manufacturing and tourism – ought to be stimulated with an array of policy interventions to facilitate growth. The government has failed dismally in this regard.
What South Africa now requires is leadership that understands our economy and what it requires to grow, and appreciates that without a strong and thriving economy we will never address the injustices of our past.
Our economy is now in tatters as a direct result of an ANC government which is corrupt to the core and has no plan for our economy. We will never achieve a united, non-racial and prosperous nation without a growing economy which creates jobs, opportunity and wealth for all.
The only hope for our country, for our economy and for 9.3 million South Africans is to remove the ANC from government in 2019.

DA order on Molefe granted

The DA appeared in the North Gauteng High Court this morning to seek to have an agreement forged between ourselves, Mr Molefe, Eskom and the EFF made an order of court.
In terms of this agreement:

  • Mr Molefe will not report for work to Eskom;
  • Eskom will not expect him to be at work;
  • The DA will indefinitely postpone its application to interdict Mr Molefe from taking up employment at Eskom, pending the outcome of the Labour court action initiated by Mr Molefe;
  • The DA will seek to intervene in the Labour Court Matter; and
  • Should Mr Molefe be successful in the Labour Court, the DA will set down our application to interdict Mr Molefe’s continued employment at Eskom.

We are not sure when the proceedings at Labour Court will begin but are preparing papers to apply to intervene as we are clearly an interested party.

Bathabile Dlamini must explain why she fails to re-open Kempton Park SASSA office

The Kempton Park community has been without a South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) office for the last five years. Yet, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, keeps dodging questions about when and where the new SASSA office will be opened.
I will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in Parliament to request that the Minister be called before the committee to explain when she intends to open the much needed SASSA office.
The office was initially closed on 28 February 2012, since then, the Department has been dragging its feet in opening a new office.

  • In 2015 the Minister stated in a Parliamentary reply that, “[the] South African Social Security Agency has initiated a procurement process to acquire office accommodation through the Department of Public Works at the beginning of this financial year. It was envisaged that this office would have been reopened in the third quarter of 2014/2015 financial year. However due to non – responses of suitable bidders, this has since not materialised as envisaged.”

 

  • In May of 2016 the Minister stated, “SASSA, Gauteng Region, through The National Department of Public Works (NDPW), is in the process of acquiring permanent office accommodation for the Kempton Park area. The submission of bidding documents has since closed. Three (3) weeks ago SASSA was requested to view a possible facility, which was The Trust Bank Building, same is considered suitable. The NDPW has indicated its commitment to accelerate and finalise the entire process of acquisition in a speedy manner.”

 

  • In February 2017 she stated, “The Agency has submitted its request to the National Department of Public Works (NDPW) to facilitate the process of acquiring permanent office accommodation for the Kempton Park area. The Department of Public Works reported that a lack of responses from potential service providers initially delayed the process. However, the Department of Public Works has reported that the procurement process is now at an advanced stage as the submission for entering into a lease agreement with the recommended service provider has been routed to the Director General for approval / disapproval. SASSA now awaits feedback from the Department.”

None of the aforementioned written replies (here, here and here) indicate a timeline against which the department will hold itself accountable for opening a SASSA office. It is clear that the Department is simply dragging its feet at the expense of the most vulnerable as there is plenty of office space available in the Kempton Park CBD.
SASSA ought to be at the forefront to assist the most vulnerable in our society. Officials must be able to support those who need pensions, child support grants, disability grants or foster care grants. The DA will continue to monitor the progress in establishing a new SASSA office in Kempton Park, to meet this urgent need.

DA investigating possibility of criminality of Deputy Finance Minister Buthelezi’s PRASA deal

The DA will be laying criminal charges against Deputy Finance Minister, Sfiso Buthelezi, in light of reports today that while he was Chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) Board, he was a part-beneficiary of R150 million worth of contracts from PRASA.
This appears to be blatant corruption, and we believe that criminal charges may be brought in this matter. In terms of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act, Buthelezi may be guilty of some if not all of the following:
• The general offence of corruption, according to section 3 of the Act;
• An offence in respect of contracts, according to section 12 of the Act;
• An offence in respect of tenders, according to section 13 of the Act; and
• An offence relating to private interests in public contracts, according to section 17 of the Act.
The DA will also write to the Transport Committee Chairperson, Dikeledi Magadzi, to request that the Hawks appear before Parliament to update the Committee on the progress of all the current investigations into PRASA. There are numerous criminal investigations outstanding, and it is high-time that the Hawks update Parliament.
On the back of the Public Protector’s 2015 ‘Derailed’ report that uncovered enormous governance and delivery failures at PRASA and the Auditor General’s report that confirmed widespread corruption in PRASA, the Hawks opened investigations into 39 reported corruption cases and 100 contracts in line with the report’s recommendations.
The DA believes that the Hawks must now provide a comprehensive update on each of the cases they have been investigating as well as to provide a timeline as to when these investigations will be completed, in the interest of holding those responsible for corruption to account.
As emerged today, Inala Shipping, a firm entirely owned by Deputy Minister Buthelezi’s brother, was instructed by PRASA’s controversial locomotives supplier, Swifambo Rail Leasing, to co-ordinate the logistics and shipping for the importing of the trains. In 2014 and 2015, Inala Shipping then instructed Sebenza Forwarding and Shipping, a firm in which Buthelezi holds a beneficial interest, to deal with the customs clearing section of the locomotives importing. Essentially, PRASA contracted Buthelezi’s brother to a value of R150 million, and his brother sub-contracted multi-million rand portions to Buthelezi himself, while he was Chairperson of PRASA – this clearly indicates massive corruption.
It is deeply concerning that prior to Buthelezi’s December 2014 resignation as the Chairperson of the PRASA Board, at the same time as PRASA’s first locomotives were delivered, these deals and contracts had been wrapped up. Therefore, while he held his position as PRASA Chairman, he was a shareholder and director in firms that had an immediate interest in PRASA-linked contracts.
The DA is anticipating bringing criminal charges against Buthelezi soon, to ensure that he is held to account, and we will push for an update on PRASA investigations until we get to the bottom of the decay at PRASA.