SAA Business Recuse Practitioners must provide full public disclosure on decision to proceed with the business rescue process 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the South African Airways (SAA) Business Rescue Practitioners, Siviwe Dongwana and Les Matuson, to request that they provide a full public disclosure of all records of decisions that informed their latest notice to creditors informing them that all conditions of the business rescue process have been met and the plan has come into operation.

The latest notice by the BRPs raises a lot of questions on the circumstances informing their decision to proceed with the Business Rescue process. Particularly, has government availed the requisite funds to bankroll the bailout for SAA? If so, it will be grossly negligent for the BRPs to leave out this important detail of the rescue process. If not for how long will the business rescue plan remain valid whilst it awaits the pleasure of Pravin Gordhan, the Minister of Public Enterprises, to provide the R10,4 billion in funding upon which the whole business rescue plan depends.

We have made it clear before that, as the DA, we will oppose taxpayer money being used for bailing out SAA. The South African taxpayer has shouldered this vanity project for far too long with detrimental effect to the fiscus. SAA must be liquidated as soon as possible.

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Mr President, will you ignore the Brand family farm attack, too?

The Democratic Alliance (DA) strongly condemns the farm attack on the Brand family on their smallholding in the Northern Cape.

Danie (83) and Breggie (79) Brand, retired farmers, as well as their visiting daughter Elzabie (50), were allegedly attacked on Sunday on their farm at Magogong-plots in Hartswater, Northern Cape. It was only the following day, after repeated calls, that their house was visited, and the alarm raised.

One of their two stolen vehicles was found abandoned at Majaneng Village, Taung, and road checks saw the police chase and apprehend the second vehicle with three occupants, a female and two men. A fourth suspect was apprehended this morning at 11:00. Early this morning the daughter’s body was found, but her parents have not yet been located at the time of writing, although helicopters (one from the SAPS) are currently searching.

The DA extends our deepest condolences to the family of the deceased and the surrounding community, who are reeling in shock at this evil crime.

This is exactly the sort of attack the DA has been insisting the Government take seriously, despite the President claiming that no farmers are being killed in South Africa.

A month ago we launched a 16-point plan to focus on rural attacks on farms and small holdings, which have seen the terrible murders of farmers, farm workers, their wives, parents and children, as well as visitors to farms.

The DA yesterday launched its #StopFarmAttacks petition websites which may be accessed here: stopplaasaanvalle.co.za or stopfarmattacks.co.za. The websites contain an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa urging him to apologize for his past denial of farm murders in South Africa and calling on him to take urgent action in response to farm attacks. We urge all South Africans to visit these websites and co-sign the open letter to President Ramaphosa, calling on him to address the plight of farmers and farming communities.

At the same time, we can confirm that the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, acceded to the DA’s request for a Debate of National Importance on the scourge of farm attacks and murders across the nation; we have launched a national Watching Brief team to stand by the sides of victims as they go through the Police and Court processes; and reported all vicious social media posts celebrating these heinous murders, to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

Farm attacks and murders must be taken as seriously as gender-based violence (GBV), and highly trained specialized units must patrol and prevent these attacks before they occur.

Farmers, farm workers, and their families, who work 24/7 to put food on our tables, also have the right to live and work in safety.

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DA to study lists of NLC grant beneficiaries

On 28 July 2020, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, tabled the following National Lotteries Commission’s (NLC) lists of grant beneficiaries (See attached):

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes this step by the Minister and his acknowledgement that “… the NLC accounts must be open and transparent and that the public is entitled to know the beneficiaries of the monies that the NLC manages on behalf of the people”.

However, if it was not for the robust action taken by the DA in Parliament and the efforts of the media to shine a spotlight into the parlous state of affairs at the NLC – this may not have materialised.

Over the next few days we will take the time to study the lists received by the NLC to ensure that no beneficiaries and the amounts disbursed to them have been redacted or omitted in any way.

The DA still remains resolute in its belief that the NLC has a committed a crime by having withheld this information from the public domain for such a long period of time.

The NLC’s conduct in this matter has reinforced the impression that it is beset by a crisis of leadership.

Therefore, the DA reiterates its call on Minister Patel to fire the chairperson, commissioner and the NLC’s entire board with immediate effect.

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IMF loan requires extra accountability and transparency measures

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) approval of a US$4.3 billion loan to South Africa is a watershed moment for our country. This is the first time since before 1994 that we have had to resort to IMF borrowing, and is a profound signal of the frailty of our economy following years of mismanagement, bad policy and corruption.

The loan comes amidst growing evidence of a pervasive corrupt feeding frenzy by ANC ‘covidpreneurs’ who are stealing Covid-19 relief funds.

It is essential that the National Treasury is completely transparent about the disbursement and use of this loan as well as all Covid-19 relief funds.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to:

  • Publish detailed monthly reports on the disbursement of Covid relief funds, how they are being spent, which companies are beneficiaries and who the directors of those companies are
  • Appear regularly before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance to table these reports and face rigorous scrutiny and oversight from MPs
  • Appoint a Special Inspector General for Covid-19 expenditure, with powers to interdict corruption before it happens, as the DA proposed in May. (access proposal here)

The IMF, in its statement last night, called on the government to ‘manage the IMF’s emergency financial assistance with full transparency and accountability’. This is a clear indication that ANC corruption is now an issue of international concern and embarrassment.

This corruption is a powerful reminder of why the ANC government must now rely on the IMF and why we will need a full-scale IMF bailout in the coming years unless there is major economic reform and real action on corruption.

The IMF’s executive board’s statement last night issued stark warnings to South Africa. Their statement stands in contrast to the non-committal waffle released by the National Treasury

The DA is committed to ensuring that the ANC is held accountable for the mismanagement and theft of public funds, and that our economy emerges from the current crisis and begins the long road to recovery, growth and job creation.

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DA prevents Stellenbosch University’s illegal attempt to hide information about alleged impropriety during Afrikaans abolition court case

 Please find attached English soundbite from Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has scored an important initial victory in our quest for transparency and justice regarding the events that took place during the court case over the abolition of Afrikaans teaching at Stellenbosch University (SU). Yesterday, the DA was informed by SU’s lawyers that the university would not oppose the Party’s court challenge regarding the university’s illegal refusal to make publicly available information of critical public importance.

The SU has hereby effectively conceded that their earlier refusal of a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was illegal, and that they would have suffered an embarrassing defeat in an open court. As further proof that the SU knew their behaviour was indefensible, the university management also agreed to pay certain parts of the DA’s costs in this matter.

This concession follows after the DA launched a legal application at the Western Cape High Court on 10 July. The DA’s court action came after the registrar of the SU, Dr Ronel Retief, refused a PAIA request that was submitted by the DA’s constituency head for Stellenbosch and SU alumnus, Dr Leon Schreiber. The aim of the application was to obtain the evidence considered by an investigation into allegations that the SU rector, Professor Wim de Villiers, had improper personal contact with retired Judge Edwin Cameron during the Constitutional Court case about the abolition of Afrikaans as a primary and equal language of instruction at the university.

According to allegations made in the public domain, De Villiers is alleged to have had secret discussions with Cameron during the court proceedings – including at least one secret in-person meeting at OR Tambo International Airport. Cameron later authored the court ruling that effectively slit the throat of Afrikaans teaching at SU.

It is scandalous that it took a court application by the DA to convince a public university to share information of such critical public importance. But questions linger. Why did the SU management refuse the PAIA application in the first place knowing that it would be illegal? When the DA pointed out that the refusal of the PAIA request would be illegal, why did the SU’s ombudsperson, Advocate Rina Meyer, refuse to consider the DA’s appeal? Does this kind of behaviour not constitute gross, dishonest and deliberate mismanagement? These are questions that members of the Maties community and the public need to interrogate.

The university’s desperation to hide the evidence has also led to renewed questions about the conduct of De Villiers and Cameron during a court case that robbed thousands of Afrikaans students of their right to mother tongue education. Thanks to the DA’s firm conduct in this case, the court will now confirm the SU’s indirect admission of guilt no 13 August, where after all relevant evidence about De Villiers’ conduct must be made available to the DA.

Given the SU’s suspicious behaviour to date, the DA and the public will be excused if we are somewhat sceptical about the sudden turnaround made by the SU. We trust that the full, unredacted record of evidence against De Villiers will be made available, and that the SU does not intend to merely pay lip service to the provisions of PAIA. Based on what the evidence shows, we will also consider further steps.

What is already clear though, is that the SU’s conduct during its feverish quest to abolish Afrikaans tuition as an equal language of instruction alongside English leaves much to be desired. This latest case of illegal secrecy appears to be only the latest in a series of incidents where De Villiers and his management team were only too eager to disregard their constitutional duties to protect their own positions. The DA will not allow the constitutional rights of access to information and mother tongue education to be further trampled by the university management’s contemptible and secretive behaviour.

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DA submits questions to Mkhize on all Covid-19 health contracts in the provinces 

Please find attached an English soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP, DA Shadow Minister of Health. 

Today, I will request that the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, makes public all companies and their board of directors that have been awarded any contracts by the provincial departments of health across all nine provinces. This follows the dubious R2 billion Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) contracts that have been awarded to various companies, many of which politically connected or without any demonstrable history of supplying the services that are being rendered, by the Gauteng Department of Health.

The Minister is empowered to demand that these details are publicized by the provinces. It is important that any contract that has been awarded by the provincial departments is made public and the following information is easily accessible: company name; history of work done with the state or any other entity in the field; board of directors and the status of the contract.

The DA will write to Minister Mkhize and submitting Parliamentary questions requesting this information as a matter of urgency. Once this information is made public, we will do our due diligence to ensure that politically connected individuals have not been the chief beneficiaries of these contracts and that, in fact, these services are being provided in the provinces. In addition, this is the kind of information that the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) should be considering in looking into corruption relating to all Covid-19 funds as per the President’s proclamation.

We cannot simply allow the systemic looting of public money in the middle of this pandemic to go unchallenged. We also cannot wait until crucial resources are squandered before action is taken. Retrospective investigations do little to provide the people of South Africa with the relief they require. Corruption is not a victimless crime. Money stolen takes away from services designed for the benefit of the public.

Minister Mkhize is on the record having committed to fighting corruption that will rear its head in the health response to this crisis. We expect him to move with speed in making this information public as soon as possible. The DA remains committed to ensuring that every cent is channelled towards fighting this virus and not to the pockets of the greedy and politically connected few.

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Lack of regulations plunges schools further into disarray

Minister Angie Motshekga has failed to publish regulations on the ill-conceived announcement on Thursday that schools will close for four weeks.

Thus the Department of Basic Education (DBE) has once again plunged the education system into disarray. While SADTU and its junior wing, COSAS, mutter ominously about how they intend to make sure private schools are also closed, and that schools are kept closed for longer than four weeks, the legal status of the instruction by the President that public schools should be closed has not been clarified.

This stands in stark contrast to the re-implementation of the liquor ban on 12 July 2020, when the regulations were published an hour after the President’s announcement.

While the Democratic Alliance (DA) does not support the closure of schools as an effective strategy to prevent the spread of Covid-19, we are clear that once this announcement had been made, the regulations which give it a formal framework needed to be urgently published. The word of the President is not law, and technically schools should not have closed today as there is no legal requirement for them to do so.

Without these regulations, schools are in limbo. They do not have certainty as to when, for how long, and for which Grades, the schools should be closed. The uncertainty can only add to the general anxiety already plaguing the sector. This, combined with the ominous flexing of muscles by SADTU, means that the sector as a whole is being treated in a cavalier and unprofessional manner. This will have a domino effect on the quality of education available to learners as well as the job security of parents who cannot return to work.

This is exactly the kind of mess that unfolds when the Cabinet bases its decisions on the whims of unions and not on the advice of scientists and experts.

The DBE’s failure to publish comprehensive and rational regulations is a slap in the face of the millions of children, parents and teachers who have now been seriously affected by schools closing. The continued stringing along of schools, teachers and learners is indicative of the arrogance displayed by the ANC government since the start of the lockdown.

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DA launches #StopFarmAttacks website and calls on South Africa to sign open letter

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today launched its #StopFarmAttacks websites which can be accessed here: stopplaasaanvalle.co.za or stopfarmattacks.co.za.

The website contains an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa urging him to apologize for his untrue and hurtful remarks in a 2018 interview, when he denied that farm murders were taking place in South Africa, and calling on him to take urgent action regarding the perpetual fear and danger our rural men and women live and work in as they grow the very food we eat.

The DA urges all South Africans to visit these websites and co-sign our open letter to President Ramaphosa, calling on him to address the plight of these brave men and women.

Once we have collected your signatures, the DA will submit them to Parliament and demand action from the ANC government.

It cannot be that the Government and Parliament continue to turn a blind eye to the plight of farmers, farmworkers, their parents, wives, and children who suffer cruel, senseless and often deadly torture at the hands of criminals.

Recently an 80-year old woman was attacked on her farm in Zastron and left for dead across the border in Lesotho. She had to listen as her attackers made plans to kill her. One of her attackers was allegedly one of the 19 000 prisoners released in Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola’s bid to stop the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

Despite the Minister and President’s repeated assurances that only low-risk offenders would be released, clearly not enough was done to keep violent criminals off our streets.

Farm attacks are one of the symptoms of a sick Government. Corruption, greed and hunger for power have replaced the mandate of service. ANC politicians seem to forget that they are put in positions of power and influence to primarily take care of the needs of the citizens of this country. Had this been done, there would have been no need for cheap politicking, and trying to deny real problems for fear of upsetting their very lucrative apple cart.

Had the Government honoured the original restitution promises, invested in the economy and infrastructure, and built on the good work done in the years after the first democratic election in 1994, South Africa would have been a very different place today. There would have been less inequality and fewer citizens would walk the streets without a job or hope. If all the money looted by the ANC had instead been invested in the country, South Africa might well have been today very close to the utopia everyone envisaged in 1994.

Instead we have a Government always on the offense, on the back foot, because its legacy has become indefensible.

We ask South Africans to co-sign our letter to the President.

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MEC Lesufi spreads blatant fake news over Western Cape schools

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken note of a statement issued by the Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi on Saturday in which he expressed his “disappointment” over the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) “decision to defy the President” sighting “a circular indicating that all schools will only break for a week, instead of a month as indicated by the President”.

MEC Lesufi’s statement is blatant fake news and misinformation. The facts are that on Friday, 24 July 2020, the WCED Head of Department (HoD) issued a letter, not a circular, to principals in the province to provide guidance on how to manage schools in the coming weeks in light of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) not yet having issued directions in this regard.

Furthermore, the letter also indicated that all Western Cape schools would break for the week of 27-31 July 2020. The letter did not in any way, as MEC Lesufi had suggested, insinuate that schools in the province would break for the week and open the following week.

Lesufi’s statement on Saturday was not only patently false, it was also hypocritical because on the very same day the Gauteng Education Department’s HoD issued an almost identical letter to principals, to the one circulated by the WCED HoD on Friday.

Download the Western Cape and Gauteng circulars.

The MEC’s statement was therefore nothing more than an attempt to grandstand and score cheap political points on the issue of the closure of schools. Lesufi’s statement is indicative of how the ANC has used schools and learners as a political football during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just this weekend reports emerged that the decision to close schools was due to pressure from unions. This reaffirms the DA’s position that President Cyril Ramaphosa would rather please unions at the expense of learning and teaching at our schools and underscores the ANC’s indifference to the fate of South Africa’s children.

The fact is that schools were closed despite empirical evidence from scientist saying that “learners are better at school than in communities and homes where [most of] the infections are actually taking place.”

To this end, the DA will approach the court to challenge this decision, on the basis that it is more politically rather than scientifically motivated and not in the best interests of South Africa’s 14 million schoolchildren.

The cost to closing schools is profound and will be borne by children and families for many years.

The DA has always maintained that the closure of schools is by far the least effective strategy to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The effect of closing schools disproportionately disadvantages our children and gamble with their future.

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What Minister Zulu should say in her Executive statement regarding the R350 grant on Thursday

The Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, will deliver her Executive statement regarding the special Covid-19 relief of distress grant of R350 before Parliament on Thursday, 30 July 2020.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) called for the Minister to give account of her Department’s abysmal handling of the payment of these grants on 9 June 2020 and is happy at the opportunity to hold the Minister to account.

Minister Zulu should make the most of this opportunity, and use the Executive Statement to say the only two things that will really make a difference:

1. The Minister should resign with immediate effect

The Minister’s poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has directly affected the lives of millions of South Africans. Her decisions left millions without a means to support themselves and their families for months.

Her decisions left old people, those with disabilities, mothers and their young children, and people desperate for an outcome queuing in the freezing cold and rain for days outside under capacitated SASSA offices. Her decisions blocked food distribution to those in the direst of circumstances in a bid to centralise and consolidate power. It took the intervention of the courts for reason to prevail.

This Minister has time and again proven through her actions that she does not care about helping those who fall under her mandate. This position is clearly just a steppingstone in her career.

What the Minister fails to realise – or maybe she doesn’t care – is that she’s in fact stepping on the most vulnerable in society in her bid for power.

Minister Zulu’s callous actions has proven her incapable of any position in Cabinet. The purpose of Parliament has always been to serve. Not to be served. Unless, in her case, it’s to be served with a notice of dismissal.

2. The Minister should apologize

History will not remember Minister Zulu kindly. She and her Department most certainly will have blood on their hands before the clock eventually strikes on the last of the Covid-19 infections. Her actions will surely rival the devastation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Due to her hubris whole families are going to bed with empty stomachs night after night; and awaking with no hope in sight every morning. Can the Minister even imagine how hopeless a loving parent must feel facing their crying child?

Many South Africans already had the odds stacked against them. And instead of trying to alleviate their stress, the Minister made it more difficult for them. She dangled the false hope of R350 – put just out of reach for many because of the continued failings of her Department.

By rights, the Minister should apologize in person to each and every one of the millions of hungry people whose suffering her actions perpetuated. She should look them in the eyes and be forced to face the consequences of her actions. But until such time, a public, heartfelt apology would not go amiss.

There is nothing the Minister could possibly say that would excuse her actions, and the only way to end the suffering would be to put a competent Minister in charge of such a vital Department.

So, please Minister, do the honourable thing for once. Fall on your sword and apologize.

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