Answers needed on Minister Bongo’s security clearance despite active Hawks investigation

The DA notes with concern media reports that newly appointed Minister of State Security, Bongani Bongo, is being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) for his alleged involvement in fraud and corruption while he served as the head of legal services in the Department of Human Settlements of Mpumalanga in 2012.
We will be submitting parliamentary questions to ascertain if Bongo was properly vetted by the State Security Agency (SSA) prior to being appointed, and how the SSA failed to detect (or ignored) this active investigation.
Bongo’s meteoric rise from ANC backbencher to State Security minister in President Jacob Zuma’s latest cabinet reshuffle on 17 October set off alarm bells. The DA is now even more concerned knowing that our intelligence service is now headed by someone under active investigation by the Hawks.
Jacob Zuma has a history of appointing dubious characters to head the intelligence services, none more so than Bongo’s predecessor, David Mahlobo, and SSA Director-General, Arthur Fraser. The former was exposed as associating with self-confessed criminal and rhino horn smuggler, Guan Jiang Guang, by the Al Jazeera news channel in November 2016. The latter was re-appointed as spy boss despite his involvement in the ‘Principal Agent Network’, a covert project run by the NIA between 2007 and 2010 which was tainted by allegations of misspending and prompted investigations into fraud and corruption by the SSA, the then-Inspector General of Intelligence and others.
If Minister Bongo has indeed obtained this clearance despite the ongoing investigation, it would mean President Zuma has sanctioned an unlawful breach of State Security procedure for the sake of appointing his Minister.
Alternatively, if Minister Bongo has not yet obtained the requisite security clearance for his new position, it must be determined whether he has been given access to classified state information since his appointment in contravention of intelligence laws.
We can no longer allow our intelligence services to be mired in endless controversy.

DA to report Guptas’ Bank of Baroda accounts to Indian Reserve Bank

The DA will write to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Urjit Patel, in terms of Section 36 of the Banking Regulation Act of India to report the Guptas’ accounts with the Bank of Baroda.
Section 36 states that the Reserve Bank of India has the power to “caution or prohibit banking companies or any banking company in particular against entering into any particular transaction”.
Recent evidence produced at Parliament’s Inquiry into State Capture at State-Owned Entities, findings in the Public Protector’s “State of Capture” Report, and the Bank of Baroda’s own attempts to close the Guptas’ accounts, after citing the reputational risk of being associated with the Guptas’ companies, is enough reason for the RBI to prohibit any further transactions between Baroda and the Guptas.
The DA is of the belief that the Gupta family could be using their accounts with the Bank of Baroda to funnel South African public money out of the country.
The Guptas are at the centre of State Capture and have allegedly used their close ties to President Jacob Zuma to raid our state coffers for their own personal financial benefit.
The DA will, therefore, request that the Reserve Bank of India urgently prohibit the Bank of Baroda from entering into any further transactions with the Guptas, as the money the Gupta family is transferring into their Bank of Baroda accounts was possibly obtained through illegal means.

DA concerned about mining safety at Mponeng mine

The DA is concerned by news of yet another underground incident at the Mponeng mine in Carltonville. The latest incident, in which two miners were killed, follows two more fatalities at the same mine two weeks ago.
We trust government health and safety inspectors are investigating why such a cluster of accidents occurred, with a view to establishing what has gone wrong and whether the accidents could have been prevented.
Yesterday’s incident was the third at the mine in just over a month. South African mines are some of the deepest in the world and although they have become much safer in the last few years, there is no room for complacency.
The DA extends its condolences to the families and colleagues of the deceased miners. We ask people to remember that it is the everyday heroism of South African miners that built and sustains our economy.

Fees Commission a delaying tactic by the ANC

The leaked Fees Commission Report indicates that a cost-free learning model at higher education institutions is not possible. It is clear that this commission was a waste of time and most likely a delaying tactic by the ANC government, at a great cost to the taxpayer.
This is an old trick used by the failing ANC as it is easier to move deadlines and change the conversation rather than addressing the root of the problem.
This money could have been better spent on poor students who continue to feel excluded from accessing quality higher education.
DASO is an organisation which represents all students, and our mandate demands that no student is left behind. It is therefore on this basis that we reject the leaked report.
President Zuma’s government is detached from the everyday struggles of poor students and would rather play politics than find solutions to the student’s welfare.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) and DASO support a full funding model which will allow free education for the poor and free cost of study subsidy at varying levels of the missing middle. Our model will see funding allocated within certain income brackets per family per annum.
As an example, families earning per annum between:

  • R0 – R200,000 will receive free full cost of study funding for qualifying students
  • R200,000 – R350,000 will receive 66% of the full cost of study funded
  • R350,000 – R500,00 will receive 33% of the full cost of study funded

In the immediate term, DASO will reject any rampant fee increments for the poor and missing middle. Fee increases by tertiary institutions to plug a funding shortfall will only serve to exclude poor students and set them up to fail. Yet tertiary institutions need financial assistance from the ANC government who have caused this crisis due to chronic underfunding of the sector.
NSFAS has been perennially grossly underfunded and this has meant that more students who qualify for funding are excluded. It, therefore, does not make sense to continue raising fees for students who are evidently struggling to pay the prevailing fees struggle.
DASO will continue with its programme of engaging with students at every university campus to ensure that their voices are heard and an acceptable solution is found to the funding crisis. We are organising students across the country to mobilise against the ANC government which will never solve the fees crisis.
The ANC has forgotten the students who deserve a better future. DASO will not forget nor will we stop fighting for the rights of students to ensure they have what they need to achieve their dreams and a better life.

Minister Dlamini must be fired for SAPO SASSA failure to reach agreement

The DA is not surprised that SASSA and the South African Post Office (SAPO) has failed to come to an agreement for SAPO to take over the distribution of social grants, on which 17 million South Africans are reliant.
This deadlock is a damning indictment on Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini’s, utter failure to put the needs of vulnerable South Africans first.
Minister Dlamini is clearly blocking SASSA’s efforts to find a suitable service provider because she wants the illegal CPS contract to continue, in all likelihood, for her own benefit.
Her disgraceful behaviour is a breach of her oath of office and President Jacob Zuma must do the right thing and either suspend or fire the Minister to ensure that she is no longer an obstacle to finding a suitable alternative for grant distribution.
Dodging Dlamini has lost touch with the people who she is mandated to serve. She now only serves her own interest and must be removed for the good of our people.

Cape Town working to transform Kalkfontein informal settlement

As part of the Upgrading of Informal Settlements Programme (UISP), the City of Cape Town will be upgrading the Kalkfontein informal settlement, which includes the provision of toilets, taps, and electricity connections for each of the 833 serviced sites. In addition, each household will receive either a title deed or tenure certificate once the upgrade has been completed.
When a title deed is transferred to residents, it empowers them to pursue economic opportunities by giving them an asset they can leverage to access the formal economy. The sense of ownership provided by title creates a framework where residents feel better able and motivated to improve their space.

We are taking proactive measures to improve the lives of those on the housing database by providing a higher level of basic services to residents as they wait for their opportunity for formal housing, as well as formalising residents’ ownership of the land on which they live.
– Councillor Anda Ntsede Ntsodo

Read the full article here

ANC blocks DA’s proposal that Committee subpoena the Fees Commission report

This morning, the ANC used its majority on the Higher Education and Training Portfolio Committee to block the DA’s proposal to summons the President to release the Fees Commission report I had requested in a letter to the Chairperson, Connie September, last week.
Instead, the majority of the Committee decided to write to the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Hlengiwe Mkhize, to ask that she request the President to make the report available. Politely, no doubt.
Some Committee members claimed to not know of any provision that would allow the President or his representative to be summoned to do anything at all. The Constitution, however, provides that any Committee may summons any individual to appear before it, or to produce any document.
This move shows the ANC continues to believe that Parliament is part of the hierarchy of control embedded in Government itself, rather than a separate and independent body to which the President and public representatives are fully answerable.
The report needs to be made public as soon as possible as students are anxious about next year’s fees, and universities are desperately trying to plan their budgets for 2018.
It is unfair that the President continues to make students, who need access to education, wait to know whether they can afford to further their studies or not. The DA will continue to push for the report’s immediate release in the best interest of our students.

SAPS fails 7 500 more women and children than they did last year

It was revealed in Parliament today that over the past six months, almost 7 500 more women and children were victims of crime, compared to the same time last year.
This came to light in the Second Quarterly Performance Report that was presented by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to the Police Portfolio Committee.
This is the deeply tragic human cost of an ineffective SAPS.
The report showed that crimes against women increased by 12.1% between April and June and 2.9% between July and September, compared to the same time last year. This means that in the first six months since Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, was appointed, 5 500 more women were victims of crime, compared to the same period last year.
The report also showed that crimes against children went up by 14.5% between April and June and 7.5% between July and September, compared to the same time last year.
This means that 1 900 more children were victims of crime, compared to the same period last year. Put simply, every day 10 more children were victims of crime between April and September this year, than the same time last year.
However, the same report shows that VIPs were provided with 100% protection, that no incidences of crime against these elite were recorded while they were under SAPS protection.
While these VIPs were protected, over 100 000 ordinary women and children did not receive the same level of service.
It is unacceptable that those entrusted with our safety and security seem to be so efficient at protecting the elite but fail so miserably at protecting the country’s most vulnerable.
Mbalula is responsible for providing our women and children with the same kind of protection that he and his friends in the ANC themselves enjoy.

Minister Dlamini in for a grilling from the DA in Parliament today

Please find attached IsiZulu and English soundbites by the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP.
Today, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, will be answering questions in Parliament and she must brace herself for a grilling from the DA.
The DA will not shy away from asking the Minister tough questions, as she has time and again proven that she simply does not care about the people of this country.
The DA will ask the Minister about the full details of the offer SASSA made to the South African Post Office for paying out of social grants and whether the Department of Social Development (DSD) has a strategy in place to address the lack of infrastructure development for rural offices of the DSD and SASSA?
The Minister has made a habit of playing the victim whenever she has to account to Parliament. She is not the victim here, the millions of South Africans she continues to fail are.
Minister Dlamini is once again trying to put our people’s grants in danger, because as we believe, just so the dodgy CPS contract can continue to distribute grants, for Dlamini’s own gain.
The DA will not stand for this and Dodging Dlamini must tell the nation why she is failing the people of our country.

Public Protector agrees to meet DA on a number of pressing issues

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is pleased that the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has acceded to a request for a formal meeting to discuss a number of pressing matters linked to her office, and the performance of her constitutional mandate to investigate misconduct by government departments and entities and to protect the public’s interest. The meeting has been set down for Monday, 13 November 2017.
DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, will be raising the followings matters, among others:

  • Why she has not yet released the report into the Vrede Dairy Farm, which has been sitting on her desk for almost six months.
  • Whether she has ever met with any members of the Gupta family, in any capacity whatsoever, and if so, what circumstances necessitated such a meeting;
  • The latest developments with regards to the new “preliminary investigation” into State Capture, which was announced on 15 June 2017. The investigation aims to determine the merits of several allegations of corruption and unlawful enrichment emanating from the infamous “Gupta Leaks”;
  • The progress on a number of ongoing investigations following complaints by the DA over the past 12 months. These include the following:

o   Investigation into Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Des Van Rooyen, for allegedly misleading Parliament and the public regarding his visit to the Gupta’s family home in Saxonwold;
o   Investigation into former acting Eskom CEO, Mr Matshela Koko, for allegedly awarding a R1 billion contract to his step-daughter while at Eskom;
o   Investigation into the R30 million pension payout to former Eskom CEO Brain Molefe, allegedly authorised by Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown;
o   Investigation into Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown, for allegedly misleading Parliament when she failed to disclose if there had been any contracts of engagement between Eskom and Gupta-linked company Trillian Capital Partners;
o   Investigation into former Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba and the naturalisation of, and issuing of visas to, members of the Gupta family;
o   Investigation into Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, and former Acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane for the misuse of state resources in providing VIP protection to Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; and
o   Investigation into the alleged breach of the Ethics Code and the Power, Privileges and Immunities Act by Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, for willfully misleading Parliament by failing to disclose his personal interests pertaining to the Guptas;
o   Clarity regarding the allegation that she concealed submissions received from Black First Land First about her investigation into the apartheid-era bailout of Bankorp by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB); and
o   What her plan of action is regarding those who are actually pulling the strings when it comes to State Capture – including President Zuma, several of his cabinet ministers, and the Gupta family. To date, the real architects and technicians of State Capture have escaped unscathed, while board members, senior executives, and government officials have been used as scapegoats.
We look forward to engaging the Public Protector on the above matters and trust that she will make available all necessary information.
The role of the Public Protector is integral to the proper functioning of our democracy, and now more than ever, we desperately need a Public Protector who is wholly committed to fighting for the people of South Africa – by tackling State Capture and corruption in all its forms.