Minister De Lille wants proof? Here it is

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken note of the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia De Lille’s challenge to “those who have evidence against (her)” to “bring it on”.

We have taken up the Minister’s challenge and produce the following damning findings against her:

  • She has ducked and dived responsibility for the now infamous Beitbridge Border ‘washing line’ with a price tag of more than R40 million. A Special Investigative Unit (SIU) report established that the Minister erred when she issued an emergency directive on the fence to the Director-General of the Department of Public Works and (DPWI) on 16 March 2020.
  • The report found that these instructions “placed an enormous project and compliance risk on the Department”.
  • A National Treasury report found that “it would seem the Minister had a contract, supplier or contractor in mind” when she instructed that a variation order be issued to seemingly ensure that a specific contractor, Magwa Construction was appointed.
  • In reaching its conclusions on the Beitbridge border fence, Treasury warned that “[in] terms of separation of powers, the Executive Authority, must not interfere in administrative functions.”
  • Recently, in papers filed with the North Gauteng Division of the High Court, Minister De Lille herself admitted to identifying a service provider for “special” media services in her department.
  • The Minister’s former Legal Advisor was tasked by the Minister with attempting to mediate a dispute between the Independent Development Trust (IDT) and a contractor while the two entities were involved in litigation. Following legal advice, the former CEO of the IDT, Coceko Pakade, informed the Minister’s Legal Advisor in writing that they were “concerned about a process of mediation being initiated with persons … that have engaged in fraud, fronting and other illegal activities”.
  • Further evidence of ministerial interference relates to a R10 million payment to a service provider who approached the Minister directly for her assistance in March 2020.  Correspondence between the Minister’s Community Liaison Officer and departmental officials indicate that pressure was placed on the staff of the Regional Office to effect the payment – once again an overreach from the Executive Authority.

These findings prove the Minister’s ongoing political meddling and bullying in her department. It shows that Minister De Lille is a constitutional delinquent, has operated outside of her mandate, and has conducted herself in a manner that is at odds with her oath of office. She must be fired.

#Jetgate: President Ramaphosa now also implicated

President Cyril Ramaphosa only gave the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, permission to travel to Zimbabwe after she had already returned to South Africa. This was revealed in the Minister’s report into the ANC’s abuse of an air force jet to travel to Harare on party political business.

The President only approved Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s request to travel to Zimbabwe on 10 September, a full day after the delegation returned.

This means that Mapisa-Nqakula and her entourage left the country illegally without approval from the President and in violation of the Executive Ethics Code which governs Executive travel. The DA will submit this information as supplementary evidence in our complaint against the Minister with Parliament’s Ethics Committee.

Furthermore, and perhaps more astonishing is the fact that the President made an approval to an illegality because he issued approval for a trip which had already taken place without his permission.

It is clear that it is not only the Minister and the ANC, but now also the President who has a case to answer for.
Other irregularities that have been exposed in the report include:

  • The Minister only sought the President’s approval for the trip a day before she left South Africa. This is in contravention of the Ministerial Handbook which requires approval two weeks in advance.
  • According to Section 80(3) of the Defence Act, the Minister may only authorise the usage of military aircraft for any person who is not an employee of the State after consulting with the Minister of Finance. Nowhere in her two reports to the President, did the Minister of Defense even mention Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni. Not only has the Minister and the ANC delegation contravened Covid-19 lockdown regulation by not obtaining permission to travel from Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, she also broke the law.
  • Minister Mapisa-Nqakula also abandoned her post, as the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was also only designated as the Acting Minster of Defence and Military Veterans after the fact.
  • There is still no indication whether the ANC-delegation obtained permission from the Minister of Transport to travel to Zimbabwe as per the level 2 lockdown regulations.

President Ramaphosa’s decision to protect Minister Mapisa-Nqakula in her illegalities regarding the ill-fated Zimbabwe trip, makes him complicit in her actions, as well as the illegal actions of those delegates that represented his party.

As Minister Mapisa-Nqakula must be held accountable for her crimes, so too must the President be held accountable for his action in this matter. Very recently he has expressed outrage at corrupt officials robbing State coffers during a time that left South Africans particularly vulnerable. By sanctioning this illegal trip after the fact, his own action has now proven how hypocritical that outrage was – nothing more than performance art.

The President had the perfect opportunity to take a strong stance against corruption by firing Mapisa-Nqakula. He wasted that opportunity and instead put his stamp of approval on it.

Opinion | Why are we being kept in the dark on dealing with load shedding and where is the urgency, Mr President?

Where are the bold steps that were promised in December 2019? Why is the ANC blocking municipalities from purchasing directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs), and the opening of the grid? Why did Minister Gwede Mantashe not raise the limit for exemptions from licensing of generation from 1MW to 10MW? Where is the negotiation with existing IPPs to take up excess supply? And why, in the name of all that is good, have we not opened REIPPP Bid Window 5 yet?

Dear Mr President,

Your letter “From the Desk of the President” of 28 September rightfully acknowledges the impact load shedding – or let’s call it what it really is: rolling blackouts – has on the lives of every South African.

From the economy, which according to some estimates loses R1-billion per day for every stage of load shedding, to the hospitals, which cannot perform surgeries or keep ventilators operating, to schools, which cannot teach and pupils who cannot learn. These are just a few of the real-world impacts of the failure of the state-owned electricity utility, Eskom.

To the government’s credit, there have been some positive developments of late. A request for proposals (RFP) was at long last issued for the Risk Mitigation Power Procurement Programme on 20 August 2020 – eight long months after the rolling blackouts peaked at Stage 6 in December 2019.

Do you remember your commitment at the time? You undertook to fill the short-term electricity supply gap by prioritising power producers who could come online within three to six months of approval. Did you forget to send that message to your Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe?

Concurrence was granted by the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) on 25 May 2020. He delayed issuing the RFP, and when he did eventually do so in August, the timeframe specified that producers must be online by June 2022. Hardly “three to six months”, I am sure you will agree. It’s also not the “technology agnostic” solution you promised back then: this RFP seems designed to fit a small number of producers (possibly only one), at high cost to the South African consumer and economy.

And, yes, at long last the minister has gazetted the ministerial determination for procurement of electricity generation in terms of the Integrated Resource Plan. Again, we have to ask: what took so long? Nersa – fully aware of the electricity crisis facing the country – wasted seven months to concur with a determination made by the minister in February, a determination that was wholly in line with the Integrated Resource Plan approved by Nersa and Cabinet a few months before in October 2019.

What’s lacking, Mr President, is any sense of urgency. It’s not as if this has sneaked up on us. You and your government have been promising great things at Eskom for years now – in fact, ever since load shedding first occurred in 2007. In September 2015, addressing the National Council of Provinces, you said: “In another 18 months to two years, you will forget the challenges that we had with relation to power and energy and Eskom ever happened.” That aged well, didn’t it?

So how can we trust your promises now? Where are the bold steps that were promised in December last year? Why is the ANC blocking municipalities from purchasing directly from IPPs, and the opening of the grid? Why did Mantashe not raise the limit for exemptions from licensing of generation from 1MW to 10MW? Where is the negotiation with existing power producers to take up excess supply? And why, in the name of all that is good, have we not opened REIPPP Bid Window 5 yet?

Earlier this year, the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy rejected a private members’ bill to create an independent transmission system operator – something that is a global best practice, and which energy experts and investors unanimously agree South Africa desperately needs.

They did this purely on the basis of politics, without interacting with the provisions of the bill to see if they could be improved, or if there was room to reach a compromise. In fact (as has become common), the words used in the committee were “We reject this with the contempt it deserves!” Contempt, Mr President? Surely we should be exploring any and all options to resolve our electricity crisis? Or is your grip on the ANC so tenuous that the ideologues and the nationalists walk all over progressive thought?

Lastly, Mr President, I want to leave you with this thought: In your missive, you say that “the crucial first step in this reform process was the release of the Integrated Resource Plan last year. The Integrated Resource Plan updates the national energy forecast and provides a roadmap for our energy sector for the next decade.”

To a degree this is true, but the Integrated Resource Plan only addresses electricity. Our broader energy roadmap is the Integrated Energy Plan, which according to the National Energy Act 34 of 2008 is supposed to be updated annually. The last one the ANC government actually produced was in 2003, although a draft from 2016 seems to have disappeared. But I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised, as Mantashe doesn’t know the difference between the Integrated Resource Plan and the Integrated Energy Plan.

The choice is yours, Mr President. Work with all South Africans for a better tomorrow, or continue kowtowing to vested interest groups inside your own party who want little more than to create new opportunities to pillage and plunder our country of what little economic resources are left. Whichever you choose, time is running out rapidly.

Mkhwebane shows her last Ace in the Poker game she has played with South Africa

The Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has again proven that she is not fit for office and that she is in fact politically compromised.

Mkhwebane on Wednesday released a report in which she once again exonerates ANC secretary-general, Ace Magashule, this time for failing to reply honestly and adequately to questions posed by the DA in the Free State Provincial Legislature during his time as Premier.

Previously, she published a whitewashed report into the Vrede Dairy Project which failed to make any findings against Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane.

While the Public Protector swears high and low that she is not politically compromised her continuously turning a blind eye to the transgressions and wrongdoing of Ace Magashule is telling.

If Mkhwebane is truly independent as she claims, she would freely subject herself to any process which seek to hold her to account. But instead, she chooses to discredit these legitimate processes.

Recently, Mkhwebane launched an urgent application with the Western Cape Division of the High Court in order to interdict Parliament’s inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

The DA views this application by the Public Protector as frivolous and a complete waste of taxpayer money.

She is attempting to frustrate a legitimate and legally sound parliamentary process to hold her to account in order to seemingly continue to do the bidding of Ace Magashule and his fellow rogues.