Minister Dlamini-Zuma lied to the nation and must be fired.

It appears that Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma lied to South Africans in her justification for the continued ban on the sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products. If this is indeed the case, then President Ramaphosa surely has no choice but to fire her from his cabinet.

On 29 April, in a televised briefing of the regulations for Level 4 of the lockdown, Minister Dlamini Zuma claimed that government’s decision to prohibit the sale of tobacco products was partly based on “more than 2,000” public submissions supporting such a ban. These alleged submissions formed part of 70,000 public submissions made to government at the time.

In this briefing the minister said: “Even in the public comments, there was quite a lot of opposition. More than 2,000 people opposed it.” She went on to say that government “took that into consideration, debated the matter, looked at it, and decided that we must continue as we are when it comes to cigarettes, tobacco and related products, and that we should not open up the sale of these products.”

But her responding papers to a court challenge by the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA) paints an entirely different picture. This 4,000 page response – clearly meant to “spam” the court – included all the public submissions she could find to support her actions. Plus, it seems, many that had nothing to do with cigarettes or tobacco at all. And the actual opposition to cigarette sales turns out to be a mere fraction of what she had claimed.

According to FITA, the applicants in the case, there weren’t more than 2,000 submissions attached as evidence. Instead there were only 1,535 submissions and of these, 47.2% had nothing to do with cigarettes or smoking, 23.3% were in favour of smoking and only 29.6% supported the ban. This amounts to just 454 submissions. Clearly the minister was lying to South Africans in order to further her own pre-determined agenda.

The question is, when the minister said on live television that government “took that into consideration, debated the matter, looked at it”, was she implicating the rest of the National Command Council in this lie, or did she herself deceive her cabinet colleagues? Either way, this conduct renders her wholly unfit to occupy the position of a cabinet minister, and particularly one with such sweeping powers under the Disaster Management Act.

Of course it should be immaterial whether 2,000 or 454 people wrote in to support the ban. This has never been the basis for the formulation of any other lockdown regulations. And, had the president himself not assured South Africans mere days earlier that cigarettes would go back on sale under Level 4, the submissions opposing the ban would most likely have dwarfed any support.

But the fact that Minister Dlamini Zuma took the decision to make up a number of alleged supporting submissions and then lie to the people of South Africa in her briefing should be grounds for immediate suspension from her position. If the president wants to salvage some credibility for government’s response to this crisis, he cannot allow her to evade accountability on this.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Khoza should retract Eskom write-off comments

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on Public Investment Corporation (PIC) Chairman Dr. Reuel Khoza to retract completely or clarify his comments in an eNCA interview today, that the PIC has submitted a proposal to turn R90 billion of Eskom debt into equity.

Firstly, we do not believe there is any such “proposal”, at least in any formal sense that is anything more serious than idle chatter. Secondly, if there were such a proposal, it would be patently unacceptable and possibly illegal.

Dr. Khoza’s comments are irresponsible, and inject uncertainty into the markets and fear among pensioners. His comments should urgently be retracted in full or clarified.

The idea of converting R90 billion in PIC-held Eskom debt into an “equity” stake is just a euphemism for writing off this debt. The PIC would have no hope of recouping the money, since the government cannot afford to buy this equity from them, and Eskom is not making any money to pay the PIC a return on investment.

Such a decision would also likely be in contravention of the obligations placed on the PIC by the PIC Act of 2004 and the PIC’s investment mandate from the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF). Part of that mandate is to ensure that it “provides sustainable longer term financial returns to clients in line with set benchmarks”. There is nothing sustainable about any investment in Eskom.

It is not the job of the GEPF or the PIC to subsidise the government’s mismanagement of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

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Level 3 regulations are irrational and lack scientific basis

The release of government’s Level 3 regulations today by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma confirms our view that our government is no longer focused on fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, their focus has shifted to undermining the hard-fought freedoms of all South Africans.

These regulations once again are illogical, irrational and lack any scientific basis. South Africans have long lost their confidence in our government’s ability to manage the lockdown in a manner that had originally attracted the full support of all political parties and South Africans:

The DA has particular concerns about the following regulations that were announced:

  • Whilst we have no objection to the re-opening of churches for the reasons advanced by government, they have failed to explain why other businesses and institutions (like restaurants) cannot operate with the same levels of safety;
  • We do not believe that the continued ban on the sale of cigarettes is justifiable after the reasons offered by Minister Dlamini-Zuma in her court papers. Cigarettes should be sold which will bring an end to the booming illicit trade which is costing us billions of rands and harming millions of consumers;
  • Although Government has removed the curfew from the Level 4 regulations, they continue to restrict the times at which people may exercise, from 6am to 6pm. There is simply no rational argument why anyone cannot exercise at any time, and how doing so, will contribute to the spread of the virus;
  • It also makes no sense whatsoever, why a single parent must endure lengthy court applications and apply for a permit to transport their child, when ordinary South Africans are allowed to visit a liquor store from 9am to 5pm, from Monday to Thursday. This provision is a huge and costly inconvenience for single parents and it is our view that this should be removed entirely from the regulations;
  • The continued restriction on hair salons and personal care services is disappointing and will have a massive impact on the thousands of small businesses in this sector, many of whom are being forced to operate illegally “underground” or have already closed their small businesses permanently. There is no justifiable reason why government finds it acceptable to allow dozens of commuters to travel on planes and taxis, yet a salon cannot operate with five persons with the same levels of safety and sanitation protocols;
  • The sale of liquor for only four days in the week will not contribute in any way whatsoever towards the mitigation of the spread of the virus. In fact, it is likely to have the opposite effect as this provision will promote massive queues at liquor stores on Thursdays.

The DA rejects the heavy-handed authoritarian manner in which government is handling the lockdown regulations and we will continue to use every means necessary, including the courts, to fight for our hard-won freedoms that remain secured in our Constitution.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

DA rejects SANDF’s premature exoneration of soldiers involved in Collins Khosa death

The Democratic Alliance (DA) rejects the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) decision to exonerate the soldiers who were allegedly involved in the death of an Alexandra resident, Collins Khosa.

We are extremely disappointed by this decision and how the SANDF has handled the matter. It would appear that they rushed through the process without following just and proper processes.

The North Gauteng High Court recently ordered that the implicated soldiers be suspended and that the Ministers of Defence, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, ensure that an investigation is conducted into the treatment of Mr Khosa by members of the SANDF.

It is questionable how the SANDF arrived at their decision, as it has emerged that the investigation relied solely on statements made by the soldiers, and did not take into account the testimonies of Mr Khosa’s relatives who were witnesses to his tragic death. Accounts stating that soldiers entered Mr Khosa’s property, forcefully dragged him out to the street and assaulted him was not factored into the outcome of this internal investigation.

It is therefore hard to reconcile how the SANDF arrived at their decision to exonerate the soldiers involved when they only relied on one side of the story.

SANDF’s actions illustrate a complete disregard, not only for the courts, but also for the Khosa family and the South African public who are seeking justice for Mr Khosa’ untimely death. SANDF has now sent a message that they are willing to protect their own at all costs, even at the expense of a civilian’s life.

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and the SANDF leadership have essentially justified the excessive use of force and emboldened the military to continue with their horrific treatment of the South African public. They should hang their heads in shame.

The DA has lodged a complaint with the Military Ombudsman, General (Ret) Vusi Masondo, to request an independent investigation into Mr Khosa’s death. We trust that the outcome of this investigation will be independent and transparent, unlike the sham that was the military’s internal investigation.

We would like to remind SANDF and Minister Mapisa-Nqakula that this is not a war and South Africans are not the enemy. We live in a constitutional democracy and the excessive use of force by the military on civilians are therefore unjustifiable.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

DA demands answers as IPID allegedly pulls investigators from task team probing top police officials

Lockdown regulations

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to acting Independent Police Investigate Directorate (IPID) executive director, Patrick Setshedi, demanding urgent clarity on allegations that the police watchdog has pulled two investigators from a special task team probing corruption allegations against high ranking police officials, including the former police commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane.

The investigators were reportedly also told to hand their dockets on these investigations over to the IPID head office. In March top IPID investigator, Mandla Mahlangu, who was investigating the same case was shot dead.

If these latest allegations are indeed true, it is a damning indictment on the credibility of IPID.

This development smacks of an attempt by IPID to cover up the very same corruption it is constitutionally mandated to investigate. It is exactly this kind of meddling and interference in the affairs of the IPID that has lead to the disintegration of this critical watchdog.

The main reason for IPID’s current state of chaos has been the political interference by the Minister and his powers over the watchdog body.

The DA believes that Minister Cele’s power over IPID compromises its independence and we will therefore table a Private Members Bill (PMB) to amend the IPID Act so as to provide Parliamentary oversight over the nomination process of the Executive Director of the watchdog.

Currently, the IPID Act gives the Police Minister the power to “nominate a suitably qualified person” which Parliament’s police committee must either “confirm or reject”. The DA is of the view that this process is insufficient because it gives too much power to the Minister and reduces the role of the police committee to a mere tick-box exercise while opening the directorate up to undue political influence.

We believe that our PMB will be critical in restoring stability at IPID and getting it back to the work of independently investigating and detecting systematic corruption and procurement irregularities in the SAPS.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

DA calls for Early Childhood Development Centres to open under Level 3 Lockdown

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on the Department of Social Development (DSD) to reopen Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres under the risk-adjusted level 3 lockdown, if these centres can fulfill and abide by a minimum list of Covid-19 health and safety protocols.

We suggest the following base protocols for ECD centres to abide by in order to open their doors:

  • Work desks are distanced according to the 1m guideline;
  • Mandatory cloth masks or face shields for ECD practitioners;
  • Children: infants not to wear masks. Toddlers over 2 years to wear masks or Perspex full-face shields;
  • ECD centres to be professionally sanitized before receiving any children;
  • Surfaces and equipment to be sanitized regularly;
  • Dedicated area to wash hands;
  • Limit of children per class depend on floor area per square meter of the centre;
  • Hands sanitized and temperature monitored when entering school premises and classrooms;
  • Children to be dropped at the entrance where ECD practitioners will collect them, and collection will take place at the entrance;
  • The temperature of the child must be taken in the presence of the parent or guardian on arrival. Should the child present with high temperature, child cannot be allowed entry and it is the parent/guardian’s responsibility to find alternative care;
  • On arrival, all staff and children must be screened daily; and
  • Centres should make provision for a sick bay or a designated area away from the other children until collected by responsible adult.

A full breakdown of protocols can be accessed here.

These protocols are to be read in concurrence with provisions in the Disaster Management Act, Covid-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures, and ECD Standard Operating Procedure as outlined by DSD.

The DA is of the believe that with the move of the lockdown to level 3, the gradual reopening of the economy, and parents returning to their places of work, ECD centres will became increasingly essential.

For many young children, ECD centres are their only safe havens when their parents return to work. Without these centres some parents might find it difficult to find safe and suitable supervision for their young children, especially when schools reopen for older siblings.

In addition to this, many vulnerable children receive the majority of their nutrition from their ECD centre. While the Western Cape Government has issued a provincial directive to ensure that meals were still provided to vulnerable children while adhering to lockdown regulations, there are many more children country wide who do not have sufficient food during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The sector is also currently under immense pressure due to the ongoing lockdown. 80% of ECD centres face the risk of immanent closure if the sector is not reopened soon. The majority of ECD centre employees and owners are women, many of whom are the sole breadwinners of their families and are struggling desperately to make their own ends meet, as parents are finding it difficult to pay fees that the ECD centres rely on stay afloat and pay their staff. They have been left out in the cold with no intervention to get back on their feet.

The only way to keep the ECD sector afloat and to ensure that children have continued access to fundamental formative development – is to reopen the sector.

However, similar to the reopening of schools, careful preparation on the part of the DSD and the ECD sector is required to determine the state of readiness to reopen ECD centres. The reopening of the sector cannot come at the expense of human life and the safety and well-being of our children which will remain the top priority. Children, staff and practitioners with health concerns should remain at home and interactive programmes should be made available online where possible. The continued learning and development of the child is the primary responsibility of the parent or caregiver.

The final decision to send a child to an ECD centre will ultimately remain with parents or the court appointed guardian or caregiver.

The reopening of the sector is not without its complexities. The DA therefore calls consultations between the Department, the ECD sector, parents and communities in order to ensure that all the relevant stakeholders are heard.

DA to ask the CIPC to review the business rescue process at SAA

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) requesting that it reviews the fiduciary validity of the business rescue process at South African Airways (SAA), in terms of Chapter 6 of the Companies Act 2008 (Act 71 of 2008).

The letter that SAA’s Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) sent to creditors yesterday all but confirms that the business rescue process at SAA has become politically contaminated and cannot be allowed to continue.

SAA’s BRPs have succumbed to political pressure from the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and are now making decisions based on the Minister’s inane and vain desire for a new state funded airline.

In a 360 degree turn from their previous position that the airline should be liquidated, the BRPs are now of the view that:
“…there is still a reasonable prospect of rescuing SAA, subject to the receipt of unequivocal commitment thereto and the requisite funding, and that will be set out in the business rescue plan to be published in due course.”

This change in course follows a spirited political campaign by Gordhan to discredit the business rescue process and resurrect the folly of failure by calling for the establishment of a new state airline. That the BRPs are now singing from the same hymn book as Gordhan clearly shows that the minister has hijacked the process.

Even more alarming is the request by the BRPs for new funding to facilitate their salvage process, this despite postponing the publication of a business rescue plan for SAA twice.

Political interference in a business rescue process goes against the letter and spirit of the Companies Act. The CIPC has an obligation to ensure that a bad precedent on business rescue is not set with SAA, failure to which there could be far reaching long-term consequences for prudent corporate governance in South Africa.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Opinion | While commentators hurl childish insults, the DA fights to protect the future of their children

The Financial Mail last week ran no less than three simultaneous attack pieces against the DA. The articles by Justice Malala, Chris Roper, and Paul Ash were apparently supposed to critique the party’s role during the lockdown crisis. While reasoned criticism is always necessary, the three gentlemen unfortunately could not let the opportunity slide to indulge in some good old-fashioned DA-bashing – the national sport of armchair critics everywhere who remain, for now, cosily insulated from the lockdown’s true effects.

Any honest assessment of the DA’s role during this crisis would obviously start with the most basic fact – which has gone almost entirely unacknowledged by the armchair commentariat – that the DA is the only political party that foresaw, and pushed back against, the collapse that would follow in the wake of an extended hard lockdown.

On 9 April, only two weeks after the lockdown started, the DA warned that extending the hard lockdown beyond the initial three-week deadline would “create an economic disaster.” The party was roundly lambasted in the media for sounding this timely warning when Malala was still tweeting “Amandla!” about the government’s conduct during the lockdown, and Roper was merrily mocking any criticism of the government’s ban on the sale of cooked food.

Of course, we now know that the DA was entirely correct to warn that the authoritarian instincts revealed by the hot food ban was merely the precursor to things like the subsequent ban on eCommerce, feeding the hungry, exercising during the day, or buying t-shirts and open-toed shoes, as well as the wave of murderous brutality meted out by security forces to innocent civilians like Collins Khosa.

Amandla? Not quite.

What has also become patently clear during the nearly six weeks that have passed since the hard lockdown was initially supposed to end, is that it has indeed precipitated a needless ANC-created “economic disaster.”

When the DA initially fought for a Smart Lockdown because the party feared that the government had no plan in place to quickly end the hard lockdown by rapidly ramping up testing and healthcare capacity, the warning was shouted down by commentators too busy doodling superhero cartoons of Cyril Ramaphosa.

When the DA warned that brutalising citizens will hasten rather than slow the spread of the virus, and that our incapable state has no ability to support the millions of livelihoods that would be devastated because of the brutal lockdown, commentators who happily continued to receive their salaries dismissed the thought, instead pondering the fate of Carole Baskin.

And more recently, when the DA launched a raft of court cases against the ANC lockdown crisis out of deep concern for the potentially irreparable damage being done both to civil liberties and to the very economic viability of our country, the likes of Roper dismissed it as part of supposed “petty politicking.”

While these three commentators may refuse to speak for them, the facts fortunately do speak for themselves. Just about two months into hard lockdown, we can now see on the horizon the first glimpses of the true cost that will come from childishly dismissing the DA’s warnings.

Between 3 and 7 million people will lose their jobs as a result of the extended hard lockdown, likely pushing South Africa’s unemployment rate above 50%. ANC apparatchiks are openly discussing their desire for the “National Command Council” to permanently run the country, while also permanently banning the sale of certain products – presumably to prolong the flow of billons into the illicit tobacco trade. And anyone who still thinks that the likes of Bheki Cele, Lindiwe Zulu and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will easily surrender the total power they have now grown accustomed to, is downright delusional.

Meanwhile, it becomes clearer by the day that, unlike in almost all other countries that implemented some version of a lockdown, South Africa’s coronavirus caseload is rapidly increasing even after almost two months of hard lockdown. This pattern is consistent with the warning that the irrational, brutal and unworkable hard lockdown will only serve to undermine public trust and compliance, fuelling the spread of the virus.

This is the reality of what lies ahead as a result of the refusal to honestly engage with the substance of the DA’s warnings: a devastating socio-economic collapse, a continuous assault on civil liberties, and a spike in the number of coronavirus cases.

Just imagine how different things could have been if more people had joined the fight against the devastation of the lockdown crisis with the same vigour that the likes of Malala, Roper and Ash demonstrate during their obsessive and childish tirades against the DA.

But hey, at least they can all proudly tell their children one day that they hurled kindergarten insults at John Steenhuisen and Helen Zille while South Africa crumbled around them.

In fact, aside from ignoring even the most basic facts about the DA’s fight to save lives and livelihoods from the lockdown crisis, the second striking aspect of the FM’s tripartite attack on the DA is precisely that they all seemed so endlessly obsessed with the personalities of the DA’s leaders.

Rather than judging the DA’s contribution on the basis of the actions taken by the party under their leadership, including the early fight for a Smart Lockdown, the efforts to keep the public informed during the innovative Coronacast broadcasts, the various court actions, and the victory against the ban on feeding the hungry, all three authors revealed a rather peculiar personal obsession with Steenhuisen and Zille.

Ash’s piece, for example, is nothing but an insult-laced diatribe against Steenhuisen’s interview with the SABC’s Flo Letoaba, who outrageously suggested that the leader of the opposition in a constitutional democracy does not have a legitimate right to criticise the ANC lockdown crisis. Nothing demonstrates the arrogance of this particular armchair critic more than his dismissal of Steenhuisen’s criticism of the military curfew, the ban on eCommerce, and the irrational restriction of the exercise window to three hours per day with the word: “Sob.”

One wonders if Ash would be quite so arrogantly dismissive if it was his child who was assaulted by the military for breaking the curfew, if his business went under because of the eCommerce ban, or if his family got a criminal record for walking on the beach. He would do well to take a look at some of the horror stories shared under the Twitter hashtag #JohnSpeaksForMe, where over 30 000 people voiced their support for the DA’s fight to protect lives and livelihoods from the ANC lockdown crisis.

Not to be outdone however, Malala added to the FM’s facile-fest with an outright hit piece on Zille, topped off with a few oh-so-satisfying little jabs at Steenhuisen. The gist of Malala’s rant is that Zille came out of retirement “to oust” the former leader and run the party.

Here too, facts are sacrificed in the name of a juicy bit of DA-bashing. Even a cursory glance at her history would reveal that Zille worked tirelessly to help grow a coterie of young leaders within the party and, when the time came, duly stepped aside as party leader.

But alarmed by the damning findings of a review report commissioned by the former leader into the 2019 election, Zille exercised her democratic right to run for the position of federal council chair. It is an election that she won not because of some grand conspiracy, but because the members of the DA wanted the person who had run a united party, who had managed a seven-party coalition in Cape Town, and who had turned the Western Cape into the best-run administration in South Africa, to bring administrative stability to the party. If he were interested in the truth, Malala would also have realised that it is within this capacity that Zille now oversees the various legal actions against the lockdown crisis.

Finally, Roper indulged in the best of both worlds by throwing an outright tantrum about both Steenhuisen and Zille. Like a toddler who just discovered that he can reach all the way inside his own diaper, Roper flung every last bit of excrement he could get hold of at his blue bogeyman.

First, he breathlessly complains that Steenhuisen dared to conduct a frank interview on the Coronacast broadcast with medical practitioners who hold dissenting views on the hard lockdown. Then he falls flat on his face trying to poke fun at the fact that the DA’s website was overwhelmed by the sheer number of donations from members of the public who want to help fund legal action against the lockdown crisis. And when this doesn’t quite stick, Roper flings a handful of race-bait, saying that “the DA made sure that all five participants [on Coronacast] were white.”

From here, his meltdown becomes nearly impossible to follow, as Roper first concedes that the DA’s “court action is something we can probably all agree would be a good thing,” but then asks “why reduce it to roast chicken and t-shirts” – only a few short sentences after he himself reduced the court action to roast chicken and t-shirts. It all culminates with Roper becoming the latest in a long list of commentators to gleefully predict, on the basis of his own conjecture, that “the DA’s slide into irrelevance will continue.” Sob.

Among the many underlying truths revealed by the lockdown crisis is that many commentators steadfastly refuse to engage with the DA in a forthright way. This remains the case even when the basic facts bear out that the DA is the only party that has consistently fought to protect civil liberties and uphold the Constitution, and to protect lives and livelihoods from both the coronavirus and the lockdown crisis.

While Malala, Roper and Ash continue to hurl their childish wisecracks at the DA, we will continue to do our utmost best to ensure that, when this is all over, there will be a constitutional democracy and an economic future left for their children.

DA welcomes the appointment of Mr Abel Sithole as the new PIC CEO

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the appointment of Mr Abel Sithole as the new Public Investment Corporation CEO. Mr Sithole’s extensive experience, spanning insurance and retirement fund industries, will prove invaluable in efforts to stabilise the PIC and ensure a return of sound corporate governance.

Mr Sithole already has urgent issues to attend to on his first day at work. The first and most urgent task will be to implement the recommendations of the Mphati Commission into the affairs of the Commission. 

One of the Commission’s recommendations was that the report be forwarded to the NPA and all relevant authorities so that necessary steps can be taken against those who were found to have acted inappropiately.

Without delay, Mr Sithole needs to launch a full-scale review of all existing deals between the PIC and Sekunjalo Investment Holdings in order to recoup any money that was invested in Sekunjalo companies. The Commission Report painted a scathing picture of the unholy alliance between Survé’s Sekunjalo Holdings and the former PIC CEO, Dan Matjila. 

More importantly, Mr Sithole’s performance will be measured by how well he protects the PIC from the ANC government’s repeated attempts to raid the fund and subsidise its poor handling of the economy.

The DA stands ready to work with Mr Sithole in ensuring that the PIC sticks to its original mandate of  creating value for government employees, who are its major shareholders.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Minister Sisulu evades questions on political interference and conflict of interest at Amatola Water Board

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu and her Acting Director-General, both avoided answering questions posed to them by the Democratic Alliance (DA) about a potential conflict of interest in the appointment of Outsourced Risk and Compliance Assessment (ORCA) and Open Water Advanced Risk Solutions (OWARS) to perform an investigation into the financial affairs of the Amatola Water Board. The companies have also been tasked with conducting lifestyle audits into the previous and current executive management of the Amatola Board, including the CEO and Exco Team.

The DA referred these allegations to SCOPA last week Friday for discussion and for the Minister to account to Parliament for the apparent conflict of interest and possible political interference in tender processes at Amatole. Following Minister Sisulu’s inability to answer attempts to hold her to account on Tuesday, the DA has again requested a follow-up SCOPA meeting with the Minister in order to ensure that she doesn’t run around these questions again.

As revealed by DA last week, the alleged conflict of interest is that the director of OWARS, Reavell Rhodes N’Kondo, shares a company interest with Lungile Bomela, the director of Empowering Water Solutions (EWS). EWS is at the centre of allegations that Minister Sisulu apparently favoured them for certain tenders at Amatola, including sand water extraction technology. Both  N’Kondo and Bomela are directors of ELF Foundation,  a nonprofit company from the province of the Free State.

Instead of answering the DA’s questions on the seemingly clear conflict of interest and her apparent political interference – she referred to Section 45.2 of the Water Service Act which determines that the Minister may appoint a person to investigate the affairs or financial position of a water board.

What this means is that Minister Sisulu has personally appointed, as she admits in her reference to Section 45.2 of the Water Service Act, a firm whose director has a known shared interest with the company at the centre of allegations it is meant to investigate, and which further has links to a person who is seen by many as the key pin in the allegations leveled against the Minister.

Add this to allegations about Minister Sisulu’s ambitions to become President and the can is indeed full of worms.

Given her much vaulted comments about clean governance it would have been refreshing if she had answered the DA’s question directly about the potential conflict of interest, instead of avoiding the issue, thus leading to even more questions being asked. Such as, what is her real intention in trying to muddy the waters at Amatola, and whether there is indeed an attempt by persons in her office to direct state resources to some project aimed at her personal ambitions?

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court