DA calls for SIU probe after emerging Black farmers blow the lid on corrupt land reform practices

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to President Cyril Ramaphosa to request that he authorises an urgent probe by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) into allegations that a group of successful emerging Black farmers in Mpumalanga have been harassed and face eviction from farms by corrupt officials in the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), simply because they refused to pay bribes.

These emerging farmers have endured many years of harassment inflicted by these officials who are in influential and decision-making roles at the department’s Mpumalanga office.

The DA has been working alongside these farmers and have evidence of the relentless tug-of-war they have been subjected to by these corrupt officials within the DALRRD. We will submit this evidence to the President in order to support our request for the SIU to investigate and for these farmers to get justice.

Previous attempts by the farmers for the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, to intervene failed because she did not give the farmers’ request for intervention the required thought and care.

They also wrote to the Rural Development and Land Reform Director-General, Mdu Shabane, who unjustly referred them back to the very same provincial offices central to their disgruntlement.

If Minister Didiza was serious about helping the farmers she would have set up an independent panel to ensure that these claims are investigated without fear or favour. Her failure to do that amount to failure to put an end to ANC’s corruption and patronage that has been blocking land reform in South Africa for many years.

This scandal is yet another example of the corruption and exploitation by dishonest politicians and elites which continues to hinder emerging farmers from owning the land they have successfully farmed for years.

We hope President Ramaphosa will take heed of our call and authorise an SIU investigation immediately so that truth can be uncovered, and corruption exposed. As requested before, he must also make all previous SIU reports on land reform public. It is the only way to get to the bottom of corruption in this department.

The fact that Black emerging farmers have been subjected to this kind of abuse proves that the ANC is the obstacle to land reform, not the Constitution. The ANC does not support emerging Black farmers’ right to own the land but simply wants to keep these farmers in their control so that they can attend to their narrow and selfish interests.

While millions suffered under brutal ANC lockdown, nearly 60% of government employees went on paid leave

At precisely the moment that South Africans needed a capable state more desperately than ever to deliver everything from TERS unemployment payments to SASSA grants and emergency procurement of protective equipment, the ANC government decided to send nearly 60% of all public servants on paid leave. This shocking fact was revealed in response to a parliamentary question posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) to the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu. According to Mchunu’s reply, 648 313 out of the 1 169 580 people employed by national and provincial government departments decided to take time off from work during lockdown level 3 between 1 June and 17 August 2020.

Half of all absentees – 327 836 – went on paid vacation during the most acute economic crisis this country has witnessed in at least a generation. A staggering 213 291 government officials also took fully paid sick leave during this period, equal to 18% of the entire government workforce. Another 72 911 public servants used the lockdown to take special paid leave to catch up on their studies and examinations as the private economy imploded due to the destructive lockdown.

Are South Africans supposed to simply believe the outlandish claim that nearly a quarter of the entire government workforce suddenly became ill or had exams scheduled right when the country needed true public servants more than ever?

If ever there was indisputable evidence that the ANC government’s cadre deployment and patronage politics are rapidly collapsing South Africa’s public service, it is this: while at least 2.2 million people in the productive private sector lost all they had during one of the world’s most brutal lockdowns, the government could not even be bothered to ensure that its fully-paid employees showed up for work.

The callousness of a government robbing South Africans of effective service delivery during an unprecedented economic emergency caused by the policies of that same government, simply beggars belief.

The latest revelations by the DA comes after we earlier exposed the fact that the government spent R11 billion on salaries for 84 337 public servants to not work during the lockdown. Adding up the 84 337 officials who, according to Mchunu, “had their workloads reduced significantly” to the 648 313 who went on paid leave during lockdown level 3 means that up to 732 644 – or 63% of the entire national and provincial government workforce – could not be bothered to show up for work in the midst of a national crisis.

While millions of South Africans were forced into a struggle for survival because President Cyril Ramaphosa stood on high and demanded that citizens sacrifice all they had in the name of his disastrous lockdown, the ANC’s incapable state seized the opportunity to go on paid vacation.

But that is not the end of the sheer arrogance and entitlement of Ramaphosa’s government officials. After getting comfortable during their taxpayer-funded lockdown vacations, many of these same government cadres are still not back at work. Instead, many have now embarked on a strike for higher wages, despite the fact that government employees already received salary hikes of 66% after inflation over the past decade. As a result, South Africa now already spends over half of all tax revenue just to pay the salaries of public servants.

In addition to submitting follow-up question on the outrageous absentee rates, the DA looks forward to challenging Minister Mchunu and his fat cat union allies, including NEHAWU, during a parliamentary committee meeting on Friday, 16 October. The meeting was called after NEHAWU submitted a list of demands to Parliament, which calls for the very same public officials who couldn’t even be bothered to show up for work during a national crisis to be granted yet another above-inflation salary increase. Unlike public sector unions and their ANC allies, the DA will use Friday’s committee meeting to demonstrate that we will not sit idly by while a rapidly failing and incapable state seeks to commit fiscal treason against our country.

ANC is protecting Ramaphosa from accounting to Parliament on #Jetgate

The President’s call for a Joint Sitting of Parliament next week Thursday, is a clear, last-minute attempt on Ramaphosa’s part to avoid questions and accountability on the recent diplomatic trip to Zimbabwe by an ANC delegation.

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) had, for over the past month, an oral question session with the President scheduled for Thursday, 15 October.

It seems that only once the President and the ANC had seen the published question paper with a question from the Democratic Alliance (DA) on #Jetgate, the Presidency and Parliament colluded to stall the oral question session.

The Presiding Officers of Parliament accepted the President’s call for a Joint Sitting while ignoring the clear conflict the Joint Sitting would have on the Parliament programme.

When I asked the Chief Whip of the NCOP during a Whippery meeting on Friday of the new date for the oral question session with the President, there was no definitive answer. Despite the DA suggesting other reasonable days and times of the same week for the Joint Sitting, the ANC would not accept any of them.

It is clear that the ANC are closing ranks to prevent the truth of #Jetgate from coming out as both the Ramaphosa and Magashule factions are implicated in this quagmire.

It is further obvious that Ramaphosa does not wish to be confronted with another scandal of his administration in an oral question session. One is reminded of the time he lied to Parliament two years ago about his son’s involvement with Bosasa.

The Joint Sitting is nothing less than a way to prevent the President from accountability, and allow him to grandstand on plans to supposedly save the South African economy that was broken by no one except the ANC national government from their disastrous, illogical lockdown.

The DA will therefore be writing to the President’s office to request a copy of his schedule for next week to ascertain whether if Ramaphosa is really too busy to have both a Joint Sitting and oral question session within the same week.

The truth will come out, whether the ANC and Ramaphosa like it or not.

DA to lay criminal charges against Malema and Paulsen for inciting violence

Tomorrow the Democratic Alliance (DA) will lay criminal charges against the EFF leader, Julius Malema, and EFF Member of Parliament, Nazier Paulsen, for social media post that incite violence.

On Wednesday Malema tweeted: “Magwala a chechele morago! (Cowards move to the back) Fighters attack!” and as a follow-up, over the weekend, he tweeted a picture of a machine gun.

His tweets were in response to a protests by farmers in Senekal in the Frees State last week.

Echoing Malema’s brazen incitement of violence, Western Cape EFF MP posted a picture with a machine gun captioned “Get ready!”.

These inflammatory utterances are a serious offence, especially by members of Parliament who are bound by an Oath of Office.

In what constitutional democracy in the world will elected public representatives be allowed to openly and.publicly incite racial warfare? The DA will not allow it to happen here. This kind of rhetoric has no place in our country

We call on the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to act against Malema and Paulsen and ensure that their war talk, and incitement to commit violence is investigated criminally.

We also call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to publicly condemn the EFF, and for Parliament to investigate and take necessary action against them.

For too long Julius Malema and his thugs have gotten away with this kind of behaviour. In the abscence of accoutability for the actions and utterances, they feel increasingly emboldened to say and do what they want.

South Africans are sick of it.

It is time that Julius Malema and his gang of thugs face accountability for their actions and utterances. It is time that the Minister of Police and the President of the country makes their voices heard. The DA will not rest until this happens.

I will lay charges tomorrow at the Cape Town police station and release the details of this in the morning.

DA calls on Scopa to investigate Minister Nzimande’ s alleged interference on the 2.5 billion NSFAS laptop tender

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to do a probe into the allegations of misconduct in NSFAS laptop tender and for National Treasury to launch a forensic investigation into the procurement of the laptops that cost R2.5 billion.

On Friday, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) presented alarming allegations to Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education, science and technology and the select committee on education and technology, sports, arts and culture. (see here)

Among Nehawu’s allegations are the following:

  1. The NSFAS Board was dissolved after the entity was placed under administration for the purpose of creating a critical vacancies list in order to legitimize nepotism form the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande, the NSFAS administrator, Dr Randall Carolissen, and advisors.
  2. The Administrator has allegedly misled both Parliament and the public about NSFAS’ performance by changing the strategic indicators and replacing them with his Terms of Reference, and victimized, target, suspended and dismissed officials in order to cover the tracks.

The poor ICT system has been ripping at the seams for years. The current system is simply unable to cope with the influx of new students every year and the chasms in communication between universities, TVET colleges and NSFAS cause more students to fall through the cracks every year.

The flawed verification processes resulting in non-payment to thousands of students for months, or even years is another huge headache at NSFAS. This critical oversight has led to students being left homeless and going hungry while waiting for their funds to come through. Many students have also failed to complete their studies due to NSFAS’ failure.

Seven months after the initial Covid-19 lockdown was announced and six months after the first extension of the national state of disaster, hundreds of students have still not received the promised assistance from the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology in the form of mobile devices to enable them to continue their studies from home. Instead of doing all he can to keep his promises, the Minister’s involvement in trying to flout the procurement process has resulted in the cancellation of the tender by the NSFAS administrator.

All the allegations are reflective of a collapsed entity. The DA calls on the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) to review the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) business processes to expedite the appointment of senior executives (CEO, CFO and Board) in light of more allegations of wrongdoing at the institution.

The DA did not receive a satisfactory response to our parliamentary questions regarding this on 28 May 2020 and have yet to receive a response to our questions submitted on 25 August 2020.

We will write to the Director-General of DHET to release the report on the tender to Scopa.

NSFAS desperately needs stability to ensure the future of all students who depend on the entity to ensure their futures. For many of South Africa’s poorest young people NSFAS is the only way to fund their higher education and it is an utter disgrace that the ongoing corruption and mismanagement at the entity might derail this.

DG admits Sisulu’s Housing Department failed on Covid response

This week, the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements and Water and Sanitation received a briefing on the Auditor General’s First Special Report on the financial management of Government’s Covid-19 initiatives. Human Settlements Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, was joined in the meeting by not one but three Director General’s (DG) – all of whom are “Acting”.

During the meeting, DG Mbulelo Tshangana admitted to the over-all failure of the Human Settlements Command Centre (HSCC) to effectively coordinate the Department’s response to the crisis, acknowledging that national housing standards and policy had been widely flouted in the provision of emergency housing.

The HSCC was established by Minister Sisulu in March to oversee an urgent national de-densification programme, for which hundreds of millions of rands were re-allocated.

The DG further admitted that many senior officials employed in Provincial and Municipal Housing Departments were not even aware of the existence of such norms and standards, as evidenced by numerous emergency housing tenders awarded during the crisis.

This revelatory briefing follows on from a spate of embarrassing Covid-19 related scandals in which Sisulu’s Department has been embroiled in recent weeks. Notwithstanding, was this week’s revelation that corruption embroiled tendreprenuer, Edwin Sodi is alleged to hold a 50% share in the company recently awarded the R75 million Duncan Village Temporary de-densification tender by the Housing Development Agency.

The AG’s report, which analyzed 17 projects across 8 Provinces, made a number of scathing observations of Sisulu’s Department, including:

  1. The Human Settlements Command Centre (HSCC) did not ensure that Provincial and Local Government were deliberate in ensuring that residents in informal settlements are resettled in areas where social distancing can be observed.
  2. The speed at which the implementation of the (dedensification) initiative progressed did not seem to have taken the requisite urgency into account.
  3. Coordination processes did not ensure that plans for projects that are meant to respond to an emergency were in line with the overall plan that was designed.
  1. In some instances, contrary to the housing code, the occupants of the completed TRU’s were families whose names did not appear on the approved list per the Housing Subsidies System.
  1. The sector may have been spending funds on beneficiaries who did not meet the criteria for occupying a temporary shelter.
  1. TRU’s were occupied, prior to the official handover, by people who were not the intended beneficiaries.
  1. It remains a concern that most of the spending yet to occur is likely to be subjected to the same control environment.
  1. The HSCC, should collaborate with the National Treasury in tracking the expenditure reported by provincial and local government on a regular basis to ensure that funds earmarked for identified projects are spent for the intended purposes.
  1. The HSCC, as a MinMec structure, should be strengthened to ensure the overall responsiveness of this initiative to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the litany of damning AG outcomes, Sisulu’s Department was unable to give the National Portfolio Committee any evidence of effective consequence management for what appears to be patent fruitless and wasteful expenditure, irregular supply-chain management processes, and the alleged manipulation of beneficiary lists.

The Democratic Alliance condemns the derelict conduct of the HSCC in failing to adequately address South Africa’s housing crisis at its most critical juncture.

We further call on the Minister to produce evidence of the remedial and legal actions she has taken to deal decisively with her Department’s chaotic response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mpumalanga is a province crying out for the DA Difference

The following remarks were delivered today by the DA Leader, John Steenhuisen MP, at the DA Mpumalanga Virtual Provincial Congress.

My fellow Democrats

It is my pleasure and honour to address your provincial congress today. To reaffirm with you our values as a party, as well as our crucial mission to save our country from the destructive path we’re currently on.

That job is entirely in our hands. The DA is the only significant party talking about the reforms needed to right this listing ship.

We are the only party with a policy offer that is able to turn things around.

We’re the only party that proudly subscribes to the liberal values needed to restore dignity to millions of impoverished, abandoned South Africans.

We’re the only party that can point to a proud track record in government, at municipal, metro and provincial level.

And we’re the only party with the size, reach and momentum to effect change.

There is no one else. This is our task, and our responsibility.

And yes, that is a heavy burden to bear, and we still have a mountain to climb if we are to succeed in this mission. But whenever I find myself in a room full of DA people, I am always reassured that we are up to the task.

There is nothing wrong with our country that cannot be fixed with what is right with the DA.

I said the same thing to our colleagues down in the Eastern Cape a couple of weeks ago. It is a source of immense pride and reassurance to see the DA structures in action like this, because it confirms who and what we are.

It confirms that we are a party of true democrats.

It confirms that we put the people of South Africa first in everything we do.

And it confirms that all our contestations and battles of ideas leave us stronger and more united than before. Where other parties fracture along bitter factional lines, and resort to chaos and violence, the DA always acts like a party of democrats.

We treat each other with respect, and we also respect the rules that govern our processes and structures. We abide by democratic outcomes, and we immediately get back to work, fighting for a better South Africa for all who live in it.

The fact that our highly competent provincial leadership here – leader, deputy leader and chairperson – are all standing unopposed at this congress is also a great reassurance. It gives us much needed stability and continuity as we enter these twelve months leading up to the local government elections.

I have full confidence in Jane Sithole, Trudie Grové Morgan and Bosman Grobler to continue serving the DA with distinction in these respective roles.

I am proud to be part of your provincial congress because I know these things – I know we’re all in it for the right reasons, and we can trust each other to do the right thing.

My only regret is that I cannot be there in person, in Mpumalanga – the place where the sun rises.

As much as I admire the way in which we have adapted to these strange digital times and conduct our business online without skipping a beat, there is nothing like a trip to one of South Africa’s most spectacular provinces.

Anyone who has ever driven through the lowveld, the bushveld and the farmlands of Mpumalanga will attest to its unique beauty. The place leaves an unforgettable impression, and people find themselves returning again and again.

But despite everything this great province has to offer, it is still on its knees thanks to a selfish, corrupt and incompetent government. And throughout the province this failure of government is on full and permanent display.

There are 17 municipalities in Mpumalanga, and all of them are in a state of collapse. Sewage spills and potholes are so common in the towns here that people barely bat an eye anymore.

I am told in municipalities like Lekwa they speak of Lekwa-shedding and not loadshedding, because their lack of electricity has little to do with Eskom’s generation woes and everything to do with the municipality’s inability to pay its bills.

All the municipalities here receive qualified audits from the Auditor General, and not a day goes by without a service delivery protest in some part of the province.

And, of course, this is a province with a large farming community, which means the spectre of farm attacks always looms large in people’s lives. Without a clear, workable rural safety plan, people living on farms here are at the mercy of these ruthless criminals. They deserve far better.

But the biggest challenge – and failure – in this province was revealed with the latest employment figures from Stats SA. Over 45% of working age people here don’t have jobs.

And even that terrible statistic doesn’t paint the whole picture. Along with that you have to take into account that Mpumalanga has, by some distance, the widest gap between its “narrow” and its “expanded” unemployment figures – a staggering 32 percentage points.

What this means is that the vast majority of those 45% of unemployed people have lost all hope of ever finding work. They have given up looking. The government’s statisticians call them discouraged jobseekers, but that euphemism doesn’t fully describe their desperate situation.

They are the true victims of the legacy of this ANC government. They have been robbed of all hope for a better future.

Fellow Democrats, you and I know it doesn’t have to be like this. With the right interventions – and a single-minded focus on only that which expands growth and opportunity – we can help restore hope.

I’m not saying this will be easy, and I’m not saying life is perfect where the DA has been given a mandate to make these interventions. But where the DA governs there is an undeniable difference.

Consider the expanded definition of unemployment. Where it stands at over 45% here in Mpumalanga, in the Western Cape it is almost 20 percentage points lower at just over 27%.

But more importantly, look at the difference between this expanded definition and the government’s “official” number, which excludes these so-called discouraged jobseekers. Here in Mpumalanga it is over 32 percentage points. In the Western Cape it is under 10 percentage points, and it was even less before lockdown.

What this means is that not only are people almost twice as likely to have work where the DA governs, but also that those without work are far more likely to believe that they will find employment again, and so they continue looking.

Of all the indicators of government success, which include service delivery, education outcome, healthcare access and many more, it is this measure of economic inclusion that is the most important.

And this is where we have put miles of clear blue water between the DA and the ANC. This is why people move to DA-run cities and provinces in great numbers. They know where they will have the best chance of making a life for themselves and their families.

That, fellow Democrats, is why our mission is so critical. We cannot be content with little islands of DA excellence in a sea of ANC misrule. Our commitment is to all the people of South Africa.

That is why we cannot support the idea of Western Cape independence, because we will never turn our backs on our fellow South Africans and leave them at the mercy of the ANC.

I look at this incredible province of Mpumalanga, and although we are still a long way from establishing a DA-led government here, I know it is a road we must walk one step at a time.

A few short decades ago we were a long way away from this goal in the Western Cape too, and look how that turned out.

That is why our task here over the next twelve months is so important.  We have to go out there in every single community and convince them, voter by voter, to turn their backs on the racial nationalism and patronage politics of the ANC.

We have to convince them that the only way to lift people out of poverty is through meaningful and inclusive economic growth, and that this can only be done with growth-friendly policies.

We have to convince them that only a party with absolutely zero tolerance for corruption can ever put the people first, and that the only measure of this is real action, not empty words.

And we have to convince them that the only South Africa worth fighting for is a non-racial South Africa, where people are truly seen as individuals with unique hopes and dreams, as opposed to mere representatives of their race or gender.

That is our task, and we dare not waver over the next 12 months. There is far too much riding on it.

We may still be an election cycle or two away from replacing governments here in Mpumalanga with DA-led governments, but the only way we’ll get there is by doing the hard yards now. By slowly painting wards, and then municipalities and then the whole province blue.

And when that happens, this province will finally realise its massive potential.

Imagine a Mpumalanga where everything works – where the roads are no longer filled with potholes and communities have uninterrupted water and electricity.

Imagine the possibilities that will open up in tourism, agriculture, mining and energy under a government that doesn’t steal and that truly welcomes investment.

Imagine how different life would be here when that unemployment number is halved and people no longer have to leave to ensure a decent life for their families.

That is the Mpumalanga you must keep in your mind over the next twelve months. That is the vision you must share with voters.

So let us conduct our business here this weekend with the respect and the decorum that only the DA can achieve.

Let us contest and debate passionately, but then abide by the outcome of our democratic processes.

And let us then go out there, armed with the four things that set us apart from every other party in South Africa: our principles, our policies, our track record and, above all, our committed people.

Let us use these four arrows in our quiver to present the DA Difference as the only viable option for the future of South Africa.

I wish you all the best for your congress.

Thank you.

South Africans must unite against farm attacks

Young farm manager Brendin Horner’s brutal torture and murder may come to mark a tipping point for South Africa. It could strengthen radical groupings on the left and right, further polarizing and racialising our society, risking a rural civil war of sorts. Or it could strengthen the centre, spurring South Africans from all communities to come together against this attack on our farming community and food security and more broadly against lawlessness.

The EFF has been quick to use this issue to incite violence. On Wednesday, Malema tweeted “Magwala a chechele morago! (Cowards move to the back) Fighters attack!” in response to Tuesday’s incident of violence outside the Senekal Magistrate’s Court where the two men accused of Horner’s murder appeared. EFF MP Nazier Paulsen posted a picture of a machine gun captioned “Get ready!” Racial hatred and division are the lifeblood of their political support.

This reckless, irresponsible opportunism must meet a united front against violence, criminality and racism. South Africa’s society is growing evermore fragile and volatile. Those in the centre need to stand together behind a powerful set of principles: the rule of law, equality before the law, non-violence, and nonracialism. Only with these principles and a plan to enforce them will we overcome the forces tearing our country apart.

There is absolutely no justification for farm attacks, no matter the race of victim or perpetrator. This brutality is a sickness and a crime against our humanity. These crimes cannot continue to be committed with impunity. It is only when people demand and see accountability that criminality and violence will decline. There is also no justification for the destruction of public property as we saw in Senekal this week, no matter the race of the perpetrator. All must be equal before the law, and the law must be able to run its course.

This moment calls for strong, uniting leadership. President Ramaphosa needs to break his silence and condemn farm attacks. He should unequivocally retract his infamous 2018 denial of farm murders. When EFF members attend the second hearing of Horner’s attackers next week as Malema has called on them to do, these “fighters” as he calls them will be looking for a fight with those whose anger and frustration is at boiling point. President Ramaphosa should call for peace to prevail and make it clear that violence will not be tolerated.

His government has a constitutional duty to promote tolerance and the protection of all citizens. He should replace Police Minister Bheki Cele who has failed to take decisive action and refused to classify farm attacks as priority crimes even though it is today four times more dangerous to be on a farm than in other areas of SA. Instead Cele has aggravated the situation, most recently this morning by attempting to blame farmers themselves for farm attacks.

Farm attacks must be classified as priority crimes, so that more resources, manpower and expertise can be dedicated to fighting them. Farming is already an incredibly high-risk vocation in South Africa, not just because farming is so heavily dependent on the weather, but also because of the threat of expropriation of farms. The constant fear felt by farmers and farmworkers is becoming unbearable. Make no mistake, this coordinated attack on our farming community is also an attack on our food security.

The DA has called for a debate of national importance in Parliament and a joint ministerial summit on rural safety. Government can no longer turn a blind eye to this escalating crisis. We need to see a massive increase in research and statistics on this issue. Crime intelligence and investigative capacity must be boosted in rural areas.

Fully outfitted, dedicated rural policing units must be reestablished. Farm patrols must be supported and court watching briefs must be allocated to closely track court investigations and court proceedings to ensure attackers end up behind bars.

More broadly, the DA will continue to drive the issue of land ownership and financial support for emerging farmers and we will continue to fight expropriation without compensation. These are two areas of policy failure putting immense pressure on South Africa’s farming community.

There is uncertainty about the motives behind farm attacks but there can be no uncertainty amongst law-abiding South Africans that enough is enough. Let us unite behind the rule of law, equality before the law, non-violence and nonracialism. The vast majority of South Africans are tolerant, peace-loving and law-abiding. We cannot let our society be sabotaged by the radical, violent few. We must stand together and demand accountability.

Preparations for historic DA virtual Federal Congress on 31 October are full steam ahead, and Presiding Officers named

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can announce that planning and preparations for our virtual Federal Elective Congress on 31 October 2020 are proceeding full steam ahead.

A Federal Congress of the DA is always a significant moment for the Party, electing leaders to take the Party forward for the next three years. This includes the election of the DA Federal Leader who will lead the Party and serve as leader of the opposition in South Africa.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdown forced the DA to reimagine the format of our Federal Congress. Accordingly, the Party chose to progress virtually, with delegates attending congress from their homes and also from selected DA venues nationwide. This approach ensures that the Congress is equally accessible to all delegates, from all communities.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the DA is ensuring that the democratic process goes on, that our internal democracy works and that our approximate 2 000 delegates will be able to cast their votes.

The DA today announces that Greg Krumbock MP and Desiree van der Walt MP have been appointed the Presiding Officers of Federal Congress 2020. Both are veteran electoral officers of the DA, having presided over dozens of Elective Congress events, and whose experience ensures a free and fair Elective Congresses.

Furthermore, an independent auditor has been appointed to verify the elective process and ensure the integrity of the Federal Congress.

The DA looks forward to a robust and successful Federal Congress as we remain committed to internal democracy and accountability.

Further communications and announcements about DA Federal Congress 2020 will be communicated in the days ahead.

DA welcomes Zondo Commission decisions to summons Zuma

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision by the Zondo Commission of Inquiry to issue a summons for former President Jacob Zuma to testify in order for him to account for his role in State Capture allegations.

Zuma has often spoken of how he wants to have his day in court, however, he has sought to delay and frustrate almost every opportunity for him to answer to allegations which implicate him before the Zondo Commission.

South Africa has, quite frankly, become tired of Zuma and his Stalingrad tactics.

The DA supports the Commission’s decision to summons the former President as we believe that it is in the interest of justice and accountability for him to submit himself to the processes of this Commission which was established in order to provide South Africans with the truth about the years of looting and corruption under the Zuma-administration.

Zuma has over the past number of months sought to delegitimize the work of the Commission and the character of Judge Raymond Zondo.

These unmerited attacks on the Commission are merely smokescreens to distract from revelations of one of the biggest acts of thievery our country has every seen.

The DA commends the Commission for using its powers to force Zuma to appear before it, so that accountability and justice will not be delayed.