DA condemns Fikile Mbalula’s comments encouraging police brutality and impunity

The DA strongly condemns comments made by Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, at the Pretoria West Police Academy today. Addressing the police’s specialised Tactical Response Team, Mbalula both encouraged police brutality and assured those in attendance that he would help them avoid the repercussions.
Mbalula is quoted as saying: “We must squeeze them. When they’ve got balls‚ we must crush them.” He is also encouraged impunity by saying: “Even if you do not have a warrant of arrest‚ slap them. Break the law progressively and let me worry about court cases.”
It is deeply concerning and irresponsible for the minister tasked with overseeing the South African Police Service (SAPS) to encourage impunity, especially when addressing SAPS personnel in his official capacity.
Mbalula is the latest Police Minister to encourage violent conduct and follows in the footsteps of his disgraced predecessors, Susan Shabangu and Bheki Cele, both of whom promoted violence during their tenure.
His comments are even more disgraceful considering the findings contained in StatsSA’s Victims of Crime Survey, released earlier this week, which pointed to a distinct distrust of the SAPS by victims of crime.
The DA calls on Mbalula to apologise for his inappropriate, juvenile comments and demand that he takes a strong line against police brutality.

Gigaba raids public purse for SAA

We are disappointed, but not surprised, that the Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, and the entire Executive resorted to once again raiding the National Revenue Fund of at least R3 billion to settle part of South African Airway’s (SAA) debt.
This brings the SAA bailout for the year to R5.2 billion.
Whilst the latest lifeboat will keep the wolves at bay, it will not deal decisively with the funding crisis at SAA, as the airline is currently incurring R350 million in losses every month.
Today’s post Cabinet statement  was dead silent on the airline and mentioned no solutions to the crisis.
With this surprise announcement by Gigaba, he must urgently come clean on how Cabinet proposes to deal decisively with SAA’s funding crisis and what eleventh hour agreements were reached with the banks to roll over their loans to the airline including:
• The total amount transferred to the airline in terms of Section 16 of the PFMA;
• The amounts loaned by each bank;
• When each loan matures;
• Each loan’s interest rate and the interest rates before tomorrow;
• Whether the banks assessed a higher risk of the extended or new loans; and
• What additional conditions were imposed by each bank.
Given the continued uncertainty over the airline’s ability to repay the loans, the banks would have required onerous conditions to be met by the airline and the ANC government.
Malusi Gigaba must take full responsibility for getting himself and South Africa into this mess by failing to be transparent and decisive over the issues plaguing the airline. This is further evidence of what the DA said only yesterday, when we wrote to the office of the Public Protector to request an investigation into Gigaba and Dudu Myeni’s breach of section 195 of the Constitution.
Further ratings downgrades and an increased borrowing cost for SAA, the ANC government and State-Owned Entities are inevitable.
This massive and wasteful bailout will take even more money away from rescuing the economy for the 9.3 million unemployed South Africans.

MDDA Acting CEO Donald Liphoko fired

The DA has been reliably informed that the Acting CEO of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), Donald Liphoko, has been fired from the agency.
This follows allegations by the MDDA board that Mr Liphoko had been guilty of misconduct.
There were also allegations from Mr Liphoko that he was intimidated during his time at the agency, where he was not only locked out of his office but also illegally suspended from his position.
In recent weeks it has become evident that the MDDA is in a total state of dysfunction. This is why the DA supports the call for a Parliamentary Inquiry into the MDDA.
Some of the DA’s major concerns about the current state of the MDDA were confirmed by the release of its annual report, these include:

  • The agency’s deficit of R12.923 million;
  • Irregular expenditure currently stands at R6.715 million;
  • An Auditor General investigation found that, “[t]he accounting office did not have sufficient monitoring and oversight controls in place to ensure credible performance reporting and compliance with relevant laws and regulations”; and
  • “The senior management responsible did not exercise adequate control disciplines over performance reporting and compliance [with financial and performance management]. Performance reporting did not always agree to the supporting evidence provided and compliance to legislation was not always monitored”.

There are clearly deep-rooted problems at the MDDA. And the bickering between Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, and her Deputy, Thandi Mahambehlala, has clearly resulted to this matter deteriorating even further.
It is therefore of absolute importance that the Parliament performs its oversight and investigate the operational problems at the MDDA.
The DA will simply not allow for the MDDA to turn into another SABC. Poor leadership and financial mismanagement must immediately be rooted out.

Parliament to push ahead with removal of Public Protector proceedings

The DA notes that our request for Parliament to initiate proceedings to remove the Public Protector, Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in terms of Section 194 of the Constitution, has been tabled and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services for consideration.
We now call on the Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, and the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), Lesetja Kganyago, to appear before the committee to detail their objections to the Public Protector’s deeply flawed ABSA/Bankorp report.
An affidavit filed by Gigaba, in the North Gauteng High Court this week, describes the report as “manifestly lacking in logic” and notes that Mkhwebane “reached conclusions of fact and law without any proper appreciation and sound analysis of the documents that were before her.” Kganyago previously noted, in the SARB court application to have the report’s recommendations set aside, that “[t]he only explanation that the Public Protector has offered for her clearly unlawful conduct exposes her own lack of competency.”
The DA contends that the conduct of Adv. Mkhwebane over the past ten months has demonstrated that she is not fit to occupy the important position of Public Protector. Her conduct includes but is certainly not limited to:

  • Grossly over-reaching her powers by recommending that the Constitution be amended to alter the mandate of the SARB;
  • Grossly over-reaching her powers by dictating to Parliament how and when legislation should be amended;
  • Showing a poor understanding both of the law as well as her own powers in relation thereto; and
  • Sacrificing her independence and impartiality by consulting with the Presidency and the State Security Agency on remedial action to be recommended in her report

Indeed, the North Gauteng High Court found, on 15 August 2017, that the Public protector had “unconstitutionally and irrationally” intruded on Parliament’s exclusive authority and that she had gone about crafting her recommendations in the ABSA/Bankorp report in a “procedurally unfair” manner.
The DA was the only party that opposed Mkhwebane’s appointment as Public Protector. We hope that this time around the ANC and other opposition parties will listen carefully to our reasons for having her removed.

Strength and prayers to Xolani Gwala

The DA extends its thoughts and prayers to Xolani Gwala, following the announcement that he has been diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.
We commend Mr Gwala for his courage in informing the nation about his battle.
He has South Africa and our support in the battle ahead.
We look forward to him being back on the airwaves keeping South Africa informed and entertained.
We say to Mr Gwala – the nation behind you. You can and will conquer this.

State Capture: The fight for accountability continues

The Democratic Alliance notes with interest the judgement handed down in the North Gauteng High Court this morning.
We elected to take a legal route in order to compel President Jacob Zuma to comply with Public Protector’s remedial action as outlined in the Constitutional Court judgment in the Nkandla matter.
On a number of occasions, including before the National Assembly, President Zuma has stated that he will establish a Commission of Inquiry. To date, he has not done so.
President Zuma has a long history of delaying processes, especially in cases of accountability.
This matter has not been dismissed but has in fact been held back pending the outcome of the President’s review application, which will be heard at the end of October, where we will also be in court to continue this fight for accountability.
We will study the judgement in full and continue this fight until all individuals and organisations implicated in State Capture are held accountable.

BOKAMOSO | Does South Africa need SAA?

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not a country should own an airline. Many countries do so for national pride. Like many, I am proud of SAA as a national carrier. It is one of the oldest airlines in the world still operating. But it is simply wrong that poor South Africans are subsidizing rich people’s flights. The answer is to retain the SAA brand and lease it to private companies who can own and manage the airline. That way, it could soon be making a positive contribution to our tax revenue. The DA’s position is that SAA must be stabilized, professionalized, and sold off as soon as practically possible.
Perhaps this will be the week our government is finally forced to concede that SAA has reached the end of the road – or shall we say runway – as a state-owned entity. Loans of R6.9 billion are due tomorrow, 30 September. National Treasury has yet to reveal where this enormous amount of money will come from. And this is only the most immediate, not the greatest, of our SAA-inspired headaches. Treasury has already conceded that the airline will need another R13 billion in cash injections over the next two years – and that’s under an optimistic scenario in which the airline “turns around”.
SAA has become a bottomless pit into which government continues to pour precious public resources that should be spent on lifting 30 million South Africans out of poverty. It is hard to believe that any government hoping to be re-elected would take money from the poor to subsidize travel for the rich.
For almost two decades, the airline has relied on government bailouts and guarantees for its survival. The cumulative total of bailouts since 1999 is R14.4 billion, and National Treasury is currently trying to source another R10 billion for the airline in the next 24 hours. Government has already extended R19.1 billion in guarantees – meaning that nearly R35 billion of ordinary South Africans’ hard-earned money has been dedicated to keeping SAA in ‘business’. By 2019, that number will have risen to around R50 billion – an amount which could have given a million South Africans a decent home for the first time in their lives – think how life changing that would have been.
Over the past five years, under the control of Board Chairperson Dudu Myeni, SAA has made a cumulative loss of R15.7 billion rand. Yes, R15 700 000 000. It is important for South Africans to realise that government continues to retain and protect Myeni in her position, not in spite of this cash haemorrhage, but because of it. With politically affiliated Myeni at the helm, SAA is simply a massive straw through which the political elite can suck our fiscus dry. It is no more than a mechanism for large scale theft. The fact that SAA aeroplanes still fly is simply a necessary requirement to give the looting an outward show of legitimacy.
The reality is that SAA is insolvent and bankrupt. Its fortunes will not change if we continue down the current tried, tested and failed path. It could be a profitable company but it will never be so while it is beleaguered with political interference and corruption. SAA should be put into business rescue immediately. Myeni must be removed entirely. The board must comprise only independent individuals with suitable aviation and business experience. Once SAA is returned to a healthy financial position, it should be sold off. This ought to include an employee share scheme, making a portion of shares available to SAA employees in order to empower them and give them a real stake in the company’s future successes.
Unlike Eskom, SAA is not a strategic asset. South Africa does not need a national carrier any more than it needs a national supermarket or a national car wash enterprise. And it plays no role in the developmental agenda of government – on the contrary, over the last two decades it has cost our country dearly and delivered no tangible benefits to ordinary South Africans. Yet national government is hell-bent on hanging onto it – for the opportunities it opens up for corruption.
The Public Investment Corporation, which administers the pensions of teachers, nurses, police officers and other public servants, has confirmed that they were approached by Treasury for a R6 billion bailout for SAA. That our government would even consider risking the pension funds of public servants is deplorable.
Section 195 of the Constitution stipulates that: “Public Administration must be governed by the democratic values and principles enshrined in the Constitution, including … Efficient, economic and effective use of resources … The above principles apply to … Public Enterprises.” The management of SAA has become the very antithesis of the requirements set out in the Constitution. Malusi Gigaba and Dudu Myeni, in their respective official capacities, have breached the Constitution by allowing such a staggering waste of public resources at SAA.
This week, Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) suspended Eskom and Transnet, to put pressure on government for its flagrant looting of state owned enterprises. We must all join BLSA in rejecting and condemning government corruption, and the best way to do this is at the ballot box.

Victims of Crime Survey shows urgent need for professional police

While the DA welcomes the Stats SA Victims of Crime Survey’s indication that households and individuals experienced a steady decrease in crime over the last four years, the following worrying trends highlight the urgent need for the professionalisation of the police:
• Only half of housebreaking victims reported the crime to the police;
• Almost 40% of victims choose to report it to somebody else, nearly 1% of which to the local gang;
• Almost one third of respondents don’t report housebreakings because the police cannot or will not do anything about it;
• Only about 40% of households that experienced housebreakings were satisfied with police actions;
• Nearly one third of households reported that they experienced police response times taking up to as long as one hour; and
• Almost one quarter of households reported that they never see police on duty in uniform in their neighbourhood.
This trend sadly follows on the previous Victims of Crime Survey that showed an 81% failure rate in making arrests in reported housebreakings and that 97% of housebreakings did not end in a conviction.
These concerning findings clearly show that the people of South Africa have completely lost trust in the custodians of their safety.
Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, must prioritise resourcing the police, stop wasting time on pointless social media campaigns and get serious about what victims of crime really need. A professional and trusted police service.

Parliament must do the right thing and fire Busisiwe Mkhwebane

The affidavit filed by Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, shows exactly why the DA has asked Parliament to initiate proceedings for the removal of the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
We, therefore, believe the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Dr Mathole Motshekga, should schedule a meeting at the earliest possible convenience to ensure that the process begins.
It has been over two weeks since we have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, requesting exactly this and South Africa can no longer be subjected to a Public Protector who has proved repeatedly that she clearly has no grasp of her mandate.
Among other things, the Minister states that she has failed to respond to his request for documents, and he makes the point that, in compiling her report on the Bankorp/ABSA “life-boat”, Mkhwebane:

  • made use of only selected documents before her and failed to consider other relevant documents, such as three reports on the matter by CIEX and the final report of the Heath Commission;
  • misrepresented having considered interviews which she did not conduct personally (as they were done by her predecessor) and for which she can’t produce any transcript or minutes;
  • failed to demonstrate why she believes that large amounts of the money are in fact recoverable

Mkhwebane has also failed to exercise impartiality in her role as Public Protector. This is an inexcusable shortcoming for someone who holds such an important post.
Papers filed by Barclays Africa allege that Mkhwebane went out of her way to hide the fact that she received submissions from Black First Land First. She also failed to provide full records of her investigation to the South African Reserve Bank and ABSA. This is unacceptable conduct as her office should be transparent.
Her report on the irregular handling of the Bapo ba Mogale community’s trust money is also being challenged, and in this matter too it seems that the Public Protector was not being cooperative in providing a full record of her decision-making.
Citizens cannot feel secure if they do not have trust in their Public Protector and Mkhwebane has clearly let down the people she has been appointed to serve. It is time for her to step down and Parliament has the power to ensure this happens.

DA to meet with Pick N Pay after 'food credit' announcement

Today, Pick n Pay has agreed to a meeting request by the Democratic Alliance after the recent announcement that it will start granting credit to enable consumers to buy food through its ‘Smart-shopper’ in-store program.
The meeting follows public concern raised over whether the most vulnerable consumers will be protected from a potential debt burden and only offered credit they can afford.
While other retailers offer similar options to customers, these are normally aimed at the higher end of the credit market while Pick N Pay is a retailer that focuses on consumers across various income groups.
The DA advocates for a credit market that is strong, healthy and gives credit to consumers in a responsible and legal manner according to the provisions in the National Credit Act.
South Africa has a debt problem which has left most consumers unable to service their debts and it is important to understand how Pick N Pay will roll out its new credit product.
The DA remains committed to ensuring consumers are protected by the National Credit Act while being able to actively participate in the credit market and the economy.