DA disgusted by Ramaphosa’s latest attempt to aid and abet Bonnie and Clyde

Note to Editors: Please find attached English soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP, DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration.

Following months of relentless pressure by the Democratic Alliance (DA), we have now received information that President Cyril Ramaphosa intends to place the Director-General of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Dr Dovhani Mamphiswana, “on precautionary suspension with full pay.” The DA rejects with contempt this latest transparent attempt to protect Mamphiswana’s income stream, who is a known ANC cadre.

Instead of safeguarding taxpayer money by immediately firing Mamphiswana and instituting criminal procedures, Ramaphosa intends to continue funneling taxpayer funds into the pocket of an ANC cadre who has turned South Africa’s premier public ethics watchdog into a cesspit of corruption.

Ramaphosa’s latest attempt to protect Mamphiswana’s R2 million annual salary comes after he has sat on his hands since February, when advocate Smanga Sethene from the Office of the State Attorney first recommended that Ramaphosa must immediately suspend Mamphiswana.

The President failed to act, and also failed to fire Mamphiswana even after Sethene’s investigative report confirmed on 8 July that the Director-General had illegally influenced the appointment of his mistress and the mother of his child, Boitumelo Mogwe, to the position of Chief Director for Professional Ethics in the PSC.

Sethene’s investigation confirmed that the ANC’s very own Bonnie and Clyde pair of bandits had conspired to commit “premeditated deceit, dishonesty, fraud and corruption calculated to deceive…the citizens of the Republic of South Africa,” and that they both violated the Public Finance Management Act as well as the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act. On the basis of these findings, the DA has already laid criminal charges against both Mamphiswana and Mogwe.

While the DA acted decisively against what advocate Sethene calls “nepotism par excellence,” Ramaphosa has tried to deflect the findings against the corrupt pair by bizarrely instituting a second investigation. Now that his strategy is cracking under DA pressure, the President is trying to place Mamphiswana on suspension with full pay to make it look like he has taken action.

The DA calls on South Africans to see through this ruse. There is overwhelming evidence that the ANC’s own Bonnie and Clyde committed crimes against the people of South Africa. They must not receive another cent in taxpayer money, be fired immediately, be held criminally liable, and the state must recoup all money illegally paid to these bandits.

The DA reiterates our warning that if Ramaphosa continues to try and deflect and evade his responsibility, we will obtain legal advice to hold the President legally accountable for breaching his constitutional duty to promote and sustain a high standard of professional ethics in the public service.

Three years later and still no justice and accountability for deadly FNB stadium stampede

The South African soccer fraternity this week commemorates three years since the deadly FNB Stadium stampede which claimed the lives of two people and left many others injured, on July 29, 2017.

The South African Football Association’s (SAFA) President, Danny Jordaan promised a full investigation into the incident, but three years after the investigations was supposedly launched, there is still no justice and accountability, and the truth about what happened on that day is still relatively unknown.

From the onset, the Democratic Alliance (DA) called for the establishment of a commission of inquiry, because we were of the view that, the South African public have the right to know the truth about what happened and most importantly the families of the victims deserve closure.

In a reply to our request for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the deaths resulting from the stampede at the FNB Stadium, Sports, Art and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa said that a commission of inquiry would “not be necessary.” Minister Mthethwa said that President Cyril Ramaphosa had taken a view that “there is an unprecedented proliferation which has resulted in too many commissions of inquiry being established.”

The mere fact that three years after the incident, families and loved ones of the victims are still left with so many questions concerning the incident, is a major indictment on the Minister, and justifies our repeated calls for a commission of inquiry to be established.

Not only would the establishment of a commission have given the families closure, but it would have led to accountability and most importantly it would have also given us invaluable lessons to draw from, to avoid or prevent the occurrence of such incidents in the future.

The DA again calls on Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture to request an update into the investigations that were carried by the relevant authorities into the matter. The DA believes that it is unethical for a probe into how two innocent people died to be seemingly muffled without any explanation.

DA requests that Home Affairs ensures that South Africans living and working abroad have an extension stamp applied to their expiring passports

Many South Africans living abroad are losing the right to work, receive healthcare and remain legally resident in foreign countries because the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is simply unable to process their passports and other crucial documents in a timely manner.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is aware that the DHA has directed that passport renewal applications for citizens living abroad are to resume as of 27 July 2020 since the closure of that service in late March.

However, given the already massive backlog of applications, and that renewals abroad already take 6 to 12 months as well as new uncertainties around processing times due to the lockdown in South Africa, this is of little immediate assistance to those citizens.

It is for this reason that my colleague in Parliament, DA Shadow Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Adrian Roos MP, has written to the Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to request that the passports of those working and living abroad, in need of urgent renewal, are stamped to remain valid for a period to cover the long waiting times of 6 to 12 months.

The issue of the inefficiency and lack of timeliness in processing passports for those living, working and travelling abroad is not new, it is a decade old problem that both the DHA and their colleagues at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation have shown minimal interest in rectifying.

Government simply cannot blame the Covid-19 pandemic for these delays, as it has only worsened an already dire situation of poor service delivery. It is completely unacceptable that citizens abroad are left in a practical position of statelessness for an undisclosed number of months.

The DA will continue to sound the alarm on the inefficiencies of Home Affairs in protecting the interests of South African citizens abroad.

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

Housing Budget receives second largest cut

The ANC in Parliament yesterday voted to cut more than R2.26 billion from the Department of Human Settlements’ (DHS) annual budget.

The ANC were supported by Patricia De Lille’s Good Party, the IFP, ATM, NFP and Al Jama-ah.

The Human Settlements Department, which exists specifically to help poor outh Africans, received the second largest budget cut of all Government Departments.

Of the R2.26 billion erased from the Housing Department’s budget, R1.7 billion was cut from the Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) and R1.1 billion was cut from the Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG).

HSDG is used by Provinces, and some accredited Municipalities, to build formal houses that are awarded with title deeds.

USDG is used by densely populated Municipalities to ensure that our country’s poorest residents, living in informal settlements, have access to services like taps and toilets.

The Title Deeds Restoration Grant, which was identified as a priority programme by the Department during 2018/19 – but has sadly seen little progress since – was reduced by R377 million. These funds were internally re-allocated to the Emergency Housing Programme – which has seen precious few emergency informal settlement upgrades take place since the start of the Covid crisis over 4 months ago, despite the Minister’s promises to the contrary.

This is a sad state of affairs.

How can a government that takes billions of Rands away from the formal housing programme and then allocates them to failed ANC vanity programmes such as e-Tolls, which yesterday received R2.5 billion, claim to be pro-poor?

The truth is, they are anti-poor.

The DA will continue to fight for  South Africa’s poorest citizens at every turn.

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

Eskom tariff hikes: DA reiterates call for A-G to annually audit all NERSA pricing and regulatory account determinations

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has noted the High Court ruling in favour of Eskom against the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), allowing the power utility to hike electricity tariffs by more than 10%.

While the DA respects the Court’s decision, it is unfortunate that these tariff hikes come at a time when our country is in a middle of an economic meltdown that has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic which has affected the livelihoods of thousands of households across South Africa.

This tariff hike is Eskom’s bid to recoup the loss that resulted through an error made by NERSA in calculating tariffs for the power utility, an error which has cost Eskom billions in revenue. NERSA’s ongoing “mistakes” will cost the South African public dearly as South Africans can barely afford electricity prices as it is.

The DA reiterates our call on the Auditor-General of South Africa to audit all NERSA’s pricing and regulatory account determinations on an annual basis, in order to prevent another “mistake” at the expense of South Africa’s long-suffering consumers.

Now, South Africans will not only have to pay more in tariffs because the years of corruption and mismanagement at the power utility has increased the cost of doing business for Eskom – South Africans will now also have to bear the brunt of NERSA’s costly miscalculations and its legal battles.

The economy is in free fall due to the extended Covid-19 lockdown and years of state abuse. Unemployment numbers are soaring, and businesses of all sizes are closing their doors permanently. The DA is concerned about the impact another electricity tariff hike would have on the millions of poor South Africans, who are already feeling the pinch of an ailing economy.

These events strengthen our call for Independent Electricity Management Operator, as proposed by the DA’s private member’s IEMO Bill. This would level the playing field by creating an independent grid operator, which would be at liberty to purchase from all generation sources (including Eskom and independent power producers) at market related rates. NERSA needs to immediately put in place checks and balances to ensure that the tariff calculation process is transparent, fair and able to be reviewed during the process, to avoid having their determinations taken on review through the courts years later.

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Opinion | Ramaphosa’s empty rhetoric is wearing thin

The ANC needs to abandon cadre deployment, state-led development and its relationship with unions to ensure the country’s economy survives the Covid-19 pandemic

Only a man deeply out of touch with reality could sprout such empty platitudes as were contained in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s newsletter this week even as his government holds its boot to the neck of South Africa’s economy and education system while evidence mounts of ANC “covidpreneurs” looting Covid-19 relief funds.

With no hint of shame or irony, his piece concludes: “We will do what we must to build an economy that is resilient and dynamic, that creates work and opportunity, and that meets the needs of all our people.”

This, just days after putting the demands of teacher unions ahead of the constitutional rights of children to education and setting the police on small business owners peacefully demonstrating for the right to operate. The only “strong commitment to a social compact” in evidence is the patronage arrangements between his party and the vested interests that keep it in power.

Let’s be clear: without real commitment to the public good over the ANC’s special interest groups, and real action on structural reform, this newsletter is dishonest and deceitful.

The ANC’s economic recovery document proposes ever more state control over South Africa’s “development”. This will only plunge us deeper into debt, poverty, unemployment and inequality. The ANC’s solution to all the problems brought on by the economic meddling of our incapable state is even more meddling.

This is even as the government reluctantly accepts generous assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the form of a low-interest R70 billion Covid-19 loan. The irony should not be lost on anyone that market-driven economies are effectively coming to the rescue of our increasingly socialist state.

If Ramaphosa wants to rebuild credibility, the best place to start now would be to follow through on commitments made to the IMF. This means stabilising our debt by holding the line on the public sector wage bill, refusing endless bailouts to failing state-owned enterprises and real action on other such reforms.

Unless South Africa embraces the three fundamental principles of the rule of law, a market-driven economy and the separation of party and state, nothing Ramaphosa says is going to arrest our inexorable decline.

His assurances suggest all that’s needed is a consensus-driven plan of action. “In the coming weeks, we will work with our social partners to finalise an economic recovery programme that brings together the best of all the various proposals.”

It is not clear who these social partners are, but it is crystal clear what needs to be done. Forget about oxymoronic “well-crafted public employment schemes” and just take the boot off private sector job creation by freeing up the energy and labour markets, auctioning spectrum, and walking away from investment-killing policies such as NHI, EWC, prescribed assets, SA Reserve Bank nationalisation and BEE. Until this happens, there will be no investment, growth and job creation at a scale needed to make real inroads into debt, poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Ramaphosa rightly points out that SA is faced with “a health, social and economic crisis of massive proportions”, but is at pains to blame this on the pandemic, when in reality, the virus has only served to accelerate and accentuate existing realities.

This has brought into sharp relief the difference between what a capable and incapable government can do to promote the well-being of citizens. The DA-run Western Cape government quickly reprioritised funds and used the lockdown to build sufficient capacity to accommodate all those requiring treatment. By contrast, the ANC-run provinces have not managed to produce a single functioning field hospital bed. Any functional capacity added there has been contributed by the private sector.

Actions speak louder than words, Mr President. This fundamental failure to deliver on even the most basic requirements to save lives says more about the ANC than any speech or newsletter ever could.

Cadre deployment

The root of the problem is the party’s decades-old policy of cadre deployment in which appointments and promotions in all entities of the state – including the civil service – are based on political loyalty rather than performance. This has hollowed out the state’s ability to deliver, requiring it to build and fund patronage networks instead, opening up avenues for corruption. It also incapacitated those entities intended by the Constitution to check and balance power.

Which is why Ramaphosa’s soothing April assurances that Covid corruption would not be tolerated have become July’s Covid feeding frenzy.

And this is the point. Fixing our health, social and economic crises is not so much about the various “plans under discussion” as about fixing the underlying systems that code failure into our society. First amongst these is cadre deployment, the central tenet on which the ANC house of cards is now built. An incapable state is the inevitable consequence of cadre deployment.

Until the ANC abandons cadre deployment, state-led development and its cosy relationship with unions, Ramaphosa’s calming reassurances are simply empty promises by a spectator president trying to lull people into a false sense that hope is just a plan, compact and commission away.

DA welcomes long-overdue regulations allowing Zondo Commission to share information with law-enforcement agencies

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the long-overdue amendments to regulations which now allows the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture to share information, records or documents directly with any state law-enforcement agency in South Africa.

The ball is now in the court of the Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to access the information and testimonies before the Commission, and to act against those who have been implicated in the grand scale looting of the state.

The Zondo Commission began its work in August 2018 in order to provide South Africans with answers on how state capture corrupted and devastated the state machinery. However, there have been no arrests or prosecutions of implicated persons based on information revealed in testimonies because the Commission was until now prohibited from sharing information obtained in the course of their work.

Not a single one of the testimonies brought against high-ranking officials and politicians has a docket or has been referred to the NPA for criminal prosecution despite the hard-hitting evidence available in the public domain.

The DA, therefore, believes that these amendments gazetted by the President on Tuesday is a step in the right direction and we trust that it will jolt the Hawks and the NPA into action to investigate and prosecute those who aided and abetted in selling our country out to the highest bidder.

Instead of having their day in court, those responsible for looting of our state coffers have been awarded lucrative government positions by Luthuli House. We hope that the amended regulations will open the flood gates for all those implicated to be held accountable for the crimes they committed at the expense of the South African people.

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

DA files application for High Court order declaring President’s school closure announcement unlawful and unconstitutional

Please find attached English soundbite by Prof Belinda Bozzoli MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today filed an affidavit with the North Gauteng Division of the High Court to seek an order declaring the President’s announcement last week on the closure of schools as unlawful, unconstitutional and not binding.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that public schools would close for the duration of four weeks has not yet been published in the Government Gazette. The DA is therefore of the view that the announcement has no legal effect and that schools should therefore technically not have closed as there is no legal requirement for them to do so.

The truth is that the word of the President is not law, the law is the law.

Gazetted regulations contain carefully described powers, rights and obligations. They also clearly specify which regulations or directions they repeal or amend. In contrast, an announcement, such as the President’s is not aimed at describing rights, obligations and powers – it is usually a political document aimed at justifying a position or influencing public opinion.

South Africa is a Constitutional Democracy and not an authoritarian state. The Executive is, therefore, not permitted to legislate by decree without properly exercising statutory powers through publication in the Gazette – as this ultimately undermines the rule of law.

Should the Court take a view that President Ramaphosa’s announcement reflects a decision by either Cabinet or himself to close schools and that this decision is binding – the DA has sought an order declaring the President’s announcement unlawful and asked that it be set aside. This is because neither the President nor Cabinet, have the legal powers to close schools.

The Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, cannot claim that the decision to close schools was hers either because the press release in which she welcomed the announcement, expressly described the decision as one by Cabinet.

The DA maintains that the closure of schools was a rash and politically motivated decision. It was not a decision taken in the best interest of the academic progress of learners.

The closure of schools is by far the least effective strategy to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and will have devastating consequences for years to come.

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

IMF Letter: DA has a proactive debt ceiling proposal ready to go

Following the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) warning that South Africa should have ‘specific (structural) reform commitments’ by October’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), the Democratic Alliance (DA) will closely monitor the commitments made by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in his Letter of Intent (LOI) to the IMF. 

On one crucial commitment in the Letter, the DA has already tabled a Bill before parliament that is “ready to go”. The DA’s Fiscal Responsibility Bill introduces a legal debt ceiling for the first time in South Africa. We look forward to the Minister’s support for our Bill. 

Our Bill places a cap on how much new borrowing the government can do each year, and requires the permission of Parliament to exceed that cap. A fuller explanation can be found here

In his LOI Minister Mboweni committed South Africa to: 

  • reversing the upward trajectory of the public debt-to GDP ratio by considering introducing a debt ceiling; 
  • reduction of the public wage bill; 
  • rationalisation of support to SOEs; and
  • implementation of economic structural reforms

The IMF’s warning on the urgent need for structural reform gives Minister Mboweni a date with destiny in his October MTBPS in which he has to make firm commitments to remove impediments to growth and fiscal sustainability. 

Turning South Africa’s economy around is a national effort which requires a non-partisan approach from the Treasury under Mboweni. The DA has made a series of proactive economic proposals to help ignite our economy, which proposals should now be seriously considered for implementation.

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