DA urges South Africans to make their voices heard on the selection of a new Auditor General

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on all South Africans to make their voices heard and participate in the ongoing public participation process to select the new Auditor General (AG).

Members of the public can send their submissions anonymously to the DA at enocentn@da.org.za.

The AG’s office plays a very significant role in our democracy as it assesses whether taxpayer’s money is being spent appropriately by the government and other public institutions. It is therefore important that the individual who is selected to lead this organisation is independent, impartial and qualified to hold the government accountable on public spending.

The eight individuals have been shortlisted from the pool of applicants who submitted their names for consideration include:

  • Dr Moses Gasela
  • Mr Shabeer Khan
  • Prof Tankiso Moloi
  • Ms Tsakani Maluleke
  • Mr Zakariya Hoosain
  • Mr Michael Sass
  • Ms Rachel Kalidass
  • Mr Edmond Shoko-Lekhuleni

Mr Thembekile Kimi Makwetu, who is the incumbent AG and is scheduled to leave his post in November when his term expires, has carried his responsibilities with fierce independence and integrity. The DA thanks him for his stellar public service.

The successful applicant, who will succeed Mr Makwetu, has big shoes to fill. Their success in this role will depend on how well they will propagate this legacy of excellence that Mr Makwetu has created and continue to defend the independence of the AG’s office.

South Africa is currently in the grip of a looting frenzy of Covid-19 funds by ANC aligned individuals. This is in addition to the billions of rands that continue to be wasted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure over the years, as uncovered by the AG. As a result of this abuse of state resources, the AG’s office has become an integral role player in exposing graft that would otherwise have been swept under the carpet.

The DA stands ready to fully participate in a thorough and comprehensive process to select a new AG who is committed to prudent financial management as advocated for by the Public Audit Act and the PFMA. We urge all South Africans to make their submissions to help us in this process.

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

DA objects to ANC-sponsored NYDA board recommendations

The Democratic Alliance (DA) objects to the final list of candidates who have been recommended by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities to serve on the board of the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).

We are of the view that the majority of the candidates are politically compromised and have been installed by the ANC members of the Committee in yet another classic case of ANC cadre deployment.

While the DA supported the inclusion of Lukhona Mguni, we objected to the rest of the recommendations as we do not believe that the board is inclusive and representative in terms of Section 4 of the NYDA Act, nor do we believe that the board will work independently and in the best interest of South Africa’s youth.

The DA will not sit by and watch as Parliament passively enables the NYDA board to be turned into a graduation school filled with ANC cadres. It is for this reason that we will once again raise our objection to these candidates when the report on the board appointment process is tabled before the Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Committee later today.

We are also in the process of exploring all the available legal avenues to challenge these recommendations.

These board recommendations is yet another example of how the ANC continues to brazenly install its cadres at public entities in order to facilitate the capture and looting of the public purse.

From the onset of the appointment process, the DA advocated for the NYDA board to be free of political influence and patronage, as the Agency can no longer only exist for the benefit of ANC card carriers and those who are closely linked to the political elite.

Young South Africans are simply being excluded from funding opportunities and programmes offered by the NYDA. And instead, the Agency continues to be a bloated bureaucracy run by ANCYL acolytes; installed as the arbiters of patronage; and abused by those in power to maintain their luxury lifestyles.

President Ramaphosa cannot afford to remain quiet regarding Zimbabwean atrocities

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa and Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders to prevent, on a major scale, the erosion of human rights in Zimbabwe and any further decline in reputation and investment risk to the entire region.

The DA has deep concerns over recent alleged human rights violations in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa has failed the test for tolerance for the opposition and respect for the rule of law.

The propagated rumours of destructive forces within our neighbouring country taking bribes, and the subsequent announcement of the curfew and restriction on movement came as little surprise. When armed forces flexed muscle around Bulawayo and Harare it was clear that not only were the cities going to be eerily quiet, but the voices of the opposition were going to be oppressed.

The silence from President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as President of both South Africa and the African Union (AU), on this matter is of great concern as he has a duty to send a clear and stern warning to the Zimbabwean government to exercise restraint and to remind it the international community is watching.

President Ramaphosa has lost a great opportunity to show true statesmanship. It is therefore important internally, regionally and internationally that he makes an urgent, public statement condemning the human rights abuses and oppression of peaceful protest.

Zimbabwe has seen its fair share of trouble. It just about managed to survive the Mugabe-era of transitional justice that led to the collapse of the economy, harmed food security and put the quality of life of the average Zimbabwean into steep decline. The country might not survive President Mnangagwa using the cover of the Covid-19 pandemic as an opportunity to increase his power without fear of being called out by any of his peers.

Zimbabwe, and the whole SADC region, cannot afford for President Ramaphosa to sit on the sidelines as he is prone to do in South Africa with the likes of Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. As AU chair he has an obligation to ensure stability in the entire region and cannot turn a blind eye when people are suffering gross injustices.

The DA urges Presidents Ramaphosa and Mnangagwa to engage with SADC partners, and that:

  1. All leaders of the SADC region must condemn all forms of human rights abuses;
  2. SADC should call for a cessation of all human rights abuses on individuals and political parties as well as the unfair restriction of their rights. This should be monitored by a SADC task team;
  3. SADC leaders should assist the Zimbabwean government to negotiate a mediation agreement until the next elections; and
  4. South Africa should institute measurables and sanctions against Zimbabwe unless certain terms are reached and abided by.

The DA on its part will partner with all parties in the various SADC countries that have democracy, human rights and prosperity in their manifesto to be more productive and active in the region.

As AU Chair and president of a SADC country, President Ramaphosa cannot turn a blind eye to the atrocities plaguing our neighbouring citizens once again. This situation requires urgent intervention, as is the President’s mandate. The longer the President remains a spectator, the worse the situation will be, and those atrocities will be added to his tally.

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

DA calls on Minister Motshekga and 8 rogue MECs to present immediately and concise plans on school nutrition schemes

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the eight rouge Education MECs and the Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga to immediately present clear and concise plans to the North Gauteng High Court on the implementation of the National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP) within their provinces.

The Minister’s plan should include the steps taken to ensure a daily nutritious meal for learners; a clear instruction note to provincial MECs to present their respective plans to the court; and how budget shortfalls will be addressed.

We are appalled by the fact that Education MECs have undermined the integrity of the court and shown disdain to poor and vulnerable learners by failing to adhere to a court order to present their progress in reintroducing NSNP at schools across the country.

Since the start of the extended lockdown, the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) supported the total reopening of the NSNP to ensure that learners do not experience secondary trauma of hunger and malnutrition. We commend the WCED and Western Cape Education Minister, Debbie Schäfer, for their continued commitment to the children of the province and we express our thanks to schools that have gone the extra mile to ensure that the school feeding scheme is continuing.

Minister Motshekga’s indecisiveness on the NSNP is a failure to acknowledge the real plight that school going children experience on a daily basis. It is shocking that the Minister and the eight provincial education MECs are willing to subject millions of children to hunger by keeping the NSNP closed during the lockdown. Civil society had to fill the gap left by Departments of Basic Education (DBE) and Social Development’s (DSD) disinterest to have proper plans in place.

Clearly the announcement that from 22 June 2020 all learners were to receive food was a farce and is just another indication that there is a gap between what the Government announce and what they actually deliver.

We urge the eight rogue MECs to immediately present their plans to the courts, in order to end the suffering of millions of children across the country. The DA will closely monitor these plans going forward and will not waiver in holding the DBE and provincial Education departments to account.

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

Minister Zulu must ensure uninterrupted payment of temporary disability grants

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister of Social Development Lindiwe Zulu to urgently amend regulations regarding temporary disability grants. The regulations make provisions for temporary disability grants that have lapsed between February and June 2020 to be paid out until October. Grants that have lapsed from July onwards have however not been covered in her regulations and are therefore currently not being paid out by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA).

To many people with disabilities these grants are vital to their very survival. It’s their means to procure food for themselves and their families. It’s how they ensure the roof over their heads. And this oversight by the Minister’s regulations puts their lives and well-being at risk.

While it is normal for temporary disability grants to be reviewed under ordinary circumstances, the exceptional circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown necessitates the continuous payment of these grants until all services are again run as close to normal as possible. In her regulations, the Minister clearly thinks that it will not be before October.

The current situation is especially worrying as it recently came to light that there are only 10 SASSA-contracted assessment doctors in the entire Western Cape.

The people affected are some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our community and they cannot go without grant payments for four months. The Minister must act with urgency and amend the regulations to ensure the continued payment of temporary disability grants that have lapsed in July, August, September, and October.

This is one way Minister Zulu can prove that she does indeed take her mandate seriously and will not leave those under her care to suffer needlessly.

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

DA to lay criminal charges against KZN Health MEC for blocking oversight inspections in the province 

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

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will today be laying criminal charges against the KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC, Ms Nomagugu Simelane- Zulu for blocking members of parliament from conducting oversight inspections in the province’s health facilities.

Yesterday I undertook to visit Stanger Hospital and the adjacent field hospital which is being built in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This oversight inspection was meant to be followed by another to the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in the province which has been plagued with challenges over the past 5 months.

While Members of Parliament are empowered to conduct unannounced oversight inspections at any public institution, because of the pressure placed on the system by the pandemic, we wrote to MEC Simelane- Zulu and her Head of Department last week alerting them to the inspection as a matter of courtesy.

Upon arrival at Stanger Hospital, my colleague who serves in the Health Portfolio Committee in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature and I were blocked by security and later the police were called to attempt to forcibly remove us from outside the premises where we waited patiently for the hospital management.

Despite numerous calls to the MEC and HOD explaining the provisions of the Constitution, the rules of Parliament and the importance of oversight work, this was met with antagonism and misplaced arrogance which is underscored by a misunderstanding of the law.

The hospital management was honest in stating that they were instructed to refuse us entry into the facility. This is despite MEC Simelane – Zulu’s assertion that they were not aware of the oversight visit, a fact which is neither here nor there.

This MEC has effectively barred all oversight inspections in the province unless they have been authorized by her, a fundamentally illegal protocol which facility management follows due to fear of victimisation. Clearly the MEC does not understand the constitutional provision of separation of powers.

This morning, charges will be laid against the MEC. In addition, I will be writing to the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to bring this to his attention. He needs to be aware that there clearly is a problem in the province if it would illicit such unwarranted behavior from the MEC.

Anyone who responds to calls for accountability in such an abhorrent manner clearly is hiding the true extent of the problem. Furthermore, the Leader of Government Business, Deputy President David Mabuza needs to sanction the MEC without any delay. We cannot be in the throes of a global pandemic and still deal with members of the executive who wholly misunderstand the constitution. I will be making this case to the Deputy President today.

The province has over 85 000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and close to 1000 fatalities. For the past 5 months, field hospitals such as the Gen Justice Ginzenga Mapanza field hospital visited yesterday, are still under construction. As the province has been dubbed as the next to have high numbers and fatalities, it is important to ensure that the health system is ready.

It has emerged on social media that a patient in a Pietermaritzburg Hospital died under appalling conditions. It is unclear why this patient was seemingly left in an outside area. These are exactly the issues that we need to get to the bottom of.

Members of the legislature have long raised the alarm about the state of healthcare in the province but are blocked from exposing the rot.

The MEC is not above the Constitution. The DA will conduct these oversight inspections in many of the hotspot areas. It is our constitutional obligation to ensure that South Africans are being given an adequate health service.

We will not be deterred by any attempt to shield ineptitude and subpar healthcare.

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

Opinion | Time for the political commentariat to give the DA a fair shake

South Africa’s political commentators are almost universal in decrying the failures of the ANC-led national government, especially when it comes to Covid-19 corruption. But when will they acknowledge the successes of the DA-led Western Cape and City of Cape Town?

“There are only nine meals between mankind and anarchy,” said journalist Alfred Henry Lewis in a March 1906 issue of American Cosmopolitan magazine. South Africans are hungry and getting hungrier. We need to be realistic about what works, and then pursue it.

In a Daily Maverick opinion piece on 2 August 2020, Wits professors Mills Soko and Mzukisi Qobo lament the governing ANC’s failures “to build a meritocratic, competent, professional and corruption-free public service”.

They point to the large-scale theft of Covid-19 relief funds as the latest manifestation of the “widespread mismanagement, dysfunction and corruption that have hobbled state institutions in South Africa”, warning: “This culture of wanton criminality and impunity will have dire consequences for future generations.”

Soko and Zobo have correctly diagnosed South Africa’s malady as rooted in the ANC’s failures. But if those “dire consequences for future generations” are to be averted, it is equally important to prescribe effective treatment. This is where they, along with so many other political thought leaders, demonstrate a collective failure of imagination.

They could point to the DA-run Western Cape province as a shining example of “meritocratic, competent, professional and corruption-free public service” and suggest the DA be given an opportunity to implement this more widely.

Premier Alan Winde’s government has executed a world-class Covid-19 response, building adequate prevention and treatment capacity in an open, honest manner. Not only would other provinces and municipalities benefit from such a government, but it would also send a strong message to the ANC that corruption and mismanagement are unacceptable to voters, and fatal to political parties.

They could point to the DA-run Cape Town, which has just been rated the only South African city with the capacity to successfully weather the Covid-19 storm. Ratings Afrika said Cape Town was the only metro in SA to show significant improvement in the past five years.

But instead, they promote the twin notions that the ANC is South Africa’s only hope and that the party is capable of self-correction. This is misleading and damaging. To suggest that the ANC is SA’s only hope is to risk creating a self-fulfilling prophecy, where voters feel compelled to continue returning the ANC to power. Accountability is a keystone of democracy. Have they given up on the ideal of a democratic SA?

It is naïve to imagine the ANC will self-correct unless forced to do so by voters. Patronage has become the party’s lifeblood. It cannot retain political support without it. Decades of cadre deployment have given rise to a predator state incapable of self-correction.

Covid-19 corruption appears to have taken many by surprise. It should serve as a reality check. It was entirely predictable for those not in denial, just as the reality of a meritocratic, competent, professional and corruption-free public service is on full display in DA-run Western Cape for those willing to look.

And yet we have Ismail Lagardien lamenting that the ANC has “left us to hopelessness”. Why punt hopelessness rather than the obvious solution, when the Western Cape government stands as a shining beacon of hope, backed by a party committed to the Constitution, to liberal economic reform and to building a capable state?

What the DA has achieved, building on only 1.7% of the national vote in 1994, and still achieves in opposition and in government, is extraordinary. Internal contestation is an open battle of ideas, not a closed fight to the death over access to state resources. When we go wrong, we admit such, make the necessary changes, and keep going – and growing.

Imagine the wake-up call for the ANC were municipalities to fall en masse to the DA in 2021. Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president in 2017 was down to the wire. What tipped the balance in his favour was the very real threat of the ANC dropping below 50% in the 2019 national election after a strong DA showing in the 2016 municipal elections.

Justice Malala recognises that an ANC victory in 2024 “will propel SA into becoming a country with no hope”.  Yet his suggested remedy is that “we need more Herman Mashabas, Mluleki Georges and Julius Malemas – but with more stamina and new ideas”. Huh?

South Africa does not need new ideas. We need to embrace principles that have stood the test of time in building societal wellbeing: the rule of law, market economics, and the separation of party and state. We need to go back to basics and fix the fundamentals: open our energy and labour markets, fix our schools and hospitals, auction spectrum for cheaper data.

We certainly don’t need more Malemas. His populist prescription for South Africa – revolutionary nationalisation of the economy and private property – have collapsed Zimbabwe and Venezuela, eviscerating their economies and immiserating their societies.

The EFF remains united because it is not a political party in the democratic sense of the word, but rather Malema’s fiefdom, run by his gauleiters for their own material benefit: Access to resources and the security of office. Their VBS looting says everything one needs to know about how the poor would fare if there were more Malemas.

Herman Mashaba is about to learn the hard way how difficult it is to build a party with a regional foothold, let alone one able to offer an alternative national government. He sacrificed core principles to retain the mayoralty in Johannesburg and adopted racial nationalism to scapegoat his failure to lead his own caucus.

What the DA has achieved, building on only 1.7% of the national vote in 1994, and still achieves in opposition and in government, is extraordinary. Internal contestation is an open battle of ideas, not a closed fight to the death over access to state resources. When we go wrong, we admit such, make the necessary changes, and keep going – and growing.

Malala offers no evidence for his assertion that the DA is “haemorrhaging support”. This is not borne out in our own polling which has our national support up significantly from our poor showing in 2019 when Ramaphoria was still the order of the day.

Though this is no thanks to opinion formers, who cannot bring themselves to acknowledge the outstanding performance of the DA during this pandemic. In opposition, we have led from the beginning, warning against hard lockdowns and offering practical alternative strategies for suppressing the pandemic. In government, we have shown the difference a capable government makes to people’s lives.

Peter Bruce seems to have finally  shed the last of his Ramaphoria, but is yet to acknowledge that the DA’s performance before and during this pandemic stands in sharp contrast. Possibly, he is still absorbed by personality-based politics when what South Africa needs is principle-based politics.

In his tome of an article decrying Ramaphosa’s ANC, Richard Poplak’s what-is-to-be-done conclusion calls on “the kindness of individual South Africans, the charity of corporates, the scrutiny of the media and the activism of civil society” to save the country, because “any further talk about the Ramaphosa presidency and its promise needs to be binned with yesterday’s PPE”. Poplak is never lost for words, yet he cannot bring himself to acknowledge that “fearless, resolute and intelligent action” has been demonstrated in the Western Cape.

South Africa is in an extremely precarious situation. The last thing we need now is opposition to the main opposition. Our political commentators need to realise that they are part of the problem and that the DA is part of the solution.

Opinion | Open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa: It’s time to fire Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu

Dear Mr President

The Covid-19 pandemic caught the entire globe by surprise, and despite this, South Africans willingly joined the fight back in March.

The pandemic has had severe effects on the populations of the world – economic collapse, hunger, and poverty have been exacerbated in countries already struggling with internal issues such as inequality, high unemployment rates, corruption, mismanagement, looting and last but not least, a lack of political will. This is the nub of my letter to you.

By the time you announced the lockdown, signs of crippling poverty, hunger, and unemployment had already been hogging headlines. Millions of people were food insecure even before the announcement of the initial Covid-19 lockdown of 21 days. Back then, one of the few things that South Africans were allowed to do, was leave their homes to access their Sassa grants.

It therefore never made sense, Mr President, for Sassa offices to be completely closed during the lockdown when it is an agency of Government that is critical in implementing the Disaster Management Act (DMA).

The Democratic Alliance (DA) called for Sassa offices to be prioritized for personal protective equipment (PPE) and be opened immediately when cries could be heard from disability grant applicants, from mothers who had just given birth, from those who had just turned 60 and had hopes of staving off hunger by applying for the Old Age Grant, these sectors of society were devastated.

We appealed to Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu, but sadly these appeals fell on deaf ears.

I was one of those South Africans and public representatives who heaved a sigh of relief when you made the announcement to aid the many millions of unemployed via the special Covid-19 Social Relief of Distress (SRD) grant of R350.

This money, along with the desperately needed food parcels, would go a long way in relieving hunger for many families in distress.

However, applications for the grant were to be submitted through online platforms, and therefore applicants would need access to a phone/gadget, airtime, know how, etc.

South Africa is a country where unemployment has hit the rural, remote part of the country hard – which is where the Sassa offices come in handy for the poor and vulnerable, and where access to the necessary technology to apply for the grants are not a given.

In a bid to circumvent these challenges, Minister Lindiwe Zulu announced that volunteers from government agencies such as the National Development Agency (NDA) and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) would be deployed in rural areas to help those who could not apply. These volunteers were to be trained and given gadgets to help applicants access the unemployment grant. To this day, I have not heard of a single volunteer who has helped SRD grant applicants access the grant.

What in fact happened was that Sassa offices, with already trained staff who were earning their salaries and who could be equipped with protective gear, were closed and desperate potential beneficiaries were not able to take advantage of Government’s otherwise welcome intervention. Armed with this reality, the DA again called for the Sassa offices to be opened – to no avail.

Public representatives and ordinary South Africans came to the rescue by applying on behalf of the unemployed – as the system allowed this. Why did Minister Zulu not open the Sassa offices?

Almost three weeks after the announcement of the grant, only 10 applicants received their grant. To date, there are still vulnerable South Africans who have not received this grant because of supposed “systems glitches”, lack of proper communications to the applicants about how the system works, Sassa call centres simply not functioning and again, the sad and tragic lack of political will.

Minister Zulu and the CEO of Sassa, Busisiwe Memela-Khambula, have given long-winded explanations of why people have not received the grant, yet no solutions to how they can receive it to put food on the table for their families.

The government food parcel saga has been widely reported on. The Minister seems to have no way or will of ensuring that public representatives and officials do what they are supposed to do other than stealing food parcels meant to support the poor and vulnerable.

We urged the Minister and her Department to launch an investigation into the brazen theft of food parcels by the politically connected, and again these calls were met with arrogance and ignored.

Instead of investigating the looting and supporting efforts by good Samaritans to feed the poor, the Minister instead thought it wise to block food distribution by NGOs that have been doing this work for years, with her now-infamous draft regulations. With one stroke of her pen, the Minister halted the entire country’s efforts to assist the poor, as people were harassed by SAPS, had their permits confiscated, were loaded in police vans, and had their food taken away.

This is all due to a Minister who was preaching partnership among all stakeholders to deal with what was, and still is, a food insecurity crisis. It is for these reasons, Mr President, that I strongly believe that there is a lack of political will on the part of the Minister to address the plight of the poor – something I find deeply concerning.

I am reminded of the Minister’s selfish comment that she made in the early days of the lockdown, when she said, “stay at home if you can, I am finding it hard to stay at home! Virus, leave us alone, we have a life to live”. The poor and vulnerable that the Minister has the honour to serve, were nowhere in her mind then, and they don’t seem to be now, which just means that she has no interest in serving these persons.

It would take the DA and NGOs turning to the courts for the Minister, who asked South Africans to partner with Government in feeding the poor, to allow these same South Africans and NGOs to distribute food to the millions of desperate people. According to the Department of Social Development’s (DSD) own presentations, more and more South Africans are joining the ranks of the food insecure and this situation is set to get worse as the lockdown continues and even after it is lifted.

There has not, according to presentations to the portfolio committee on Social Development, been any concrete plans to address the food insecurity matter, other than inviting South Africans to partner with the Department.

Then there was the challenge with the Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres that left these centres in the dark as to their reopening and left hundreds of thousands of mothers worried about where they will leave their children as more sections of the economy started to reopen.

The Minister would only have her first meeting with the sector on 26 May to create work streams that would work on how to move forward in the sector. Again, the sector had to approach the courts for it to have any chance of knowing where it was headed.

For many centres, the reopening of the sector came too late, as many had to close their doors permanently. All because the Minister seemingly had no desire to listen to their pleas.

The above and many other matters are indicative of a Minister who is obsessed with power, is out of touch with the challenges facing the people she has been mandated to serve, will do anything to show that the buck stops with her – no matter how that affects the poor and vulnerable, about who the Constitution is very clear – they have a right to food, and children have a right to education.

Surely a Minister who took pride in her mandate and whose Department has a very unfortunate history of being run by the courts, would do everything in her power to ensure she changes this precedent.

In the spirit of protecting the poor and the vulnerable from their rights being further violated and giving them access to services and resources budgeted for, and saving government money lost through cost orders, I ask you, Mr President, to relieve Minister Lindiwe Zulu from her duty as Minister of Social Development immediately and find a Minister who will bring some dignity and fortitude to this vital Department by ensuring that those it’s mandated to protect and serve are being taken care of.

Minister De Lille’s Advisor, Melissa Whitehead, allegedly closely involved in Beitbridge Border Fence debacle

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal that the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Patricia De Lille appointed Melissa Whitehead as an Advisor. This came to light in a reply to a parliamentary question from the DA.

Whitehead was the Executive Director: Transport Development Authority at the City of Cape Town under the Mayorship of Minister De Lille. A report by Bowman Gilfillan implicated Whitehead in irregularly influencing procurement processes around a MyCiti Bus project, found that she allegedly interfered in the appointment of staff and recommended that she be criminally charged. Whitehead resigned from the City of Cape Town while her disciplinary processes were still underway.

The DA has been reliably informed that Whitehead was one of the Minister’s staff members who were involved in a number of discussions around the R37 million Beitbridge border fence upgrade project. These discussions included site visits, instructions for variation orders and decisions regarding the scope, costing and specifications of the fence.

This means that despite her initial denial of having any hand in the upgrade of what can only be described as a “washing line”, members of the Minister’s staff seem to have been closely involved in the project.

The DA will be requesting a copy of reports from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), Auditor-General (AG) and National Treasury regarding Minister de Lille’s role in the procurement processes for border fence upgrade.

When evidence of the “washing line” meant to protect South Africa’s borders first appeared, Minister De Lille was quick to blame her Department. When questioned by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), she stated categorically that she had questioned the cost of the fence. She further added that it was at her behest that the AG had been tasked with investigating the matter.

The Minister appears to have been caught in her own tall tales. She has claimed to be both unaware of the procurement processes involved in the border fence project and be the one to request an investigation from the AG.

Yet, the suspended Director-General (DG) of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), Advocate Sam Vukela, wrote to the head of the SIU, Advocate Andy Mothibi, on 21 June 2020 to complain about an existing report regarding the project.

From the letter, it appears that both the DG and the Minister were unaware of the investigation that led to the report and were unhappy that the SIU were “interfering” in the Department without their consent. It seems that someone else in her Department saw trouble brewing and asked for an investigation. If the Minister had nothing to hide, she would have applauded the initiative of her staff, instead of taking issue with the investigation.

Minister De Lille has been happy to hang officials of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure out to dry on her very expensive washing line. She must be careful, though. Her own hands seem rather dirty, and there appears to be much more dirty laundry waiting to be aired.

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

DA seeks urgent answers over SANDF medical supply donations to Cuban government

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Department of Defense and Military Veterans to clarify the South African Defense Force (SANDF) donations of “medical material supplies” to the Cuban government.

The ANC government has yet again used millions in public money to seemingly benefit the Cuban government. At the beginning of South Africa’s Covid-19 emergency relief efforts, it came to light that the government would fork out almost half a billion on Cuban doctors to assist in local efforts. Now, it has emerged that the ANC government has donated essential health consumables in the middle of a national health emergency to the very same government.

It makes no sense that the South African government would make this donation to the Cuban government, when it cannot even provide the bare necessities to local health workers during this crisis.

Over the past four months, we have heard shocking reports of frontline health professionals downing tools in protest of the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) at health facilities, doctors and nurses having to reuse PPE at public health facilities, healthcare professionals taking PPE home to clean them and the poor quality of essential health consumables available to doctors and nurses across the country.

Yet, despite these inefficiencies within our local health system, the government deems it appropriate to make these donations worth millions. It is for this reason that the DA is calling for transparency, the public must know the following details:

  • Why has the government made a donation of medical supplies to the Cuban government considering the challenges with medical supplies in South Africa?
  • Did the government take the lack of adequate medical supplies in South African health facilities into account when this donation was made?
  • Was the government satisfied that South Africa had appropriate and sufficient medical supplies by the time the donation was made?
  • How much did the donation cost the government and where was the money sourced from?

While the DA believes that South Africa has a responsibility to assist those nations in need during this unprecedented time, it cannot be at the expense of those doctors, nurses and health workers who risk their lives every day to keep South Africans safe and to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, the DA has also noted a Facebook post by the Cuban embassy in which confirms that the ANC Secretary-General, Ace Magashule, was present when the SANDF handed over of these questionable donations.

Not only is the DA disturbed by the presence of an ANC office-bearer, with no official role in Government or the military at this handover, we are also concerned that the ANC may have used military and state resources to make donations to the Cuban government.

It is for this reason that the DA calls on the Office of the Public Protector to investigate what this brazen attempt by the ANC to blur party and state lines. The Public Protector has a responsibility to investigate these allegations without fear or favour.

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