De Lille’s border fence not even a washing line anymore: Defence Minister must urgently prioritise our borders

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to prioritise border security as a matter of urgency.

On an oversight inspection with the Joint Standing Committee on Defence and the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans to the Zimbabwean and Mozambican border posts, we saw the precarious state of the border fences for ourselves. (See pictures here, here, here, here, here and here.)

The infamous ‘washing line’ that was constructed this year to serve as our border with Zimbabwe, has been damaged to such an extent that I stopped counting at 100 illegal passages as we drove to Beitbridge.

Everywhere illegal border crossings are rife because our border fences are simply not up to the task of keeping illegal immigrants from jumping it. From poorly constructed wire fences that are falling down to gaps in fences that should have been fixed ages ago.

The DA therefor urges the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI), the Department of Defence and Military Veterans and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to convene an urgent meeting to implement viable long-term and short-term solutions to once again safeguard South Africa’s borders.

DPWI would do well to construct border fences similar to those at the Komatiepoort official transit point.

DIRCO must also urgently meet with its counterparts in Zimbabwe and Mozambique to broker bilateral agreements that will ensure the neighbouring countries also take responsibility for the maintenance of their side of the border fence. The porous nature of the borders should be a serious concern to all nations involved.

By curbing unnecessary spending and prioritising equipment and personnel to the borders, the Defence Minister will certainly address at least some of the issues at the borders. The members of the South African Defence Force (SANDF) urgently require vehicles and equipment adapted for the various terrains around the borders. The vehicles need to be specialized and the off-the-shelf soft-shell vehicles that SANDF are forced to use currently, are not up to the task and put the soldiers’ lives in potential danger.

In order to maintain the borders’ integrity, the soldiers need to be equipped with the correct technology, including armoured personnel carriers (APCs), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), modern sensors and night vision equipment. They also need quality basic equipment, like high quality army boots and equipment that will give them ready access to clean water. SANDF also needs the ability to do regular maintenance without unnecessary red tape encumbering the process.

The number of SANDF units guarding the border needs to be increased to a minimum of 22, as the 15 units currently trying to enforce border security is woefully inadequate to perform such a monumental and essential task.

SANDF is also in desperate need for air support at the borders – something that should not be too difficult to finance as the Minister has shown with her own Uber-trip to Zimbabwe recently there is always money in the budget for the air force if you have the political will.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

DA asks global human rights agencies to place pressure on government to address farm murders

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to ten of the top human rights agencies in the world, asking that they bring pressure on the ANC government which continues to ignore the plight of South Africans in rural areas. We have asked that pressure be brought from every possible angle until such time that the extraordinary danger rural citizens are in, is addressed with increased equipment, manpower and intelligence.

In the wake of a weekend with more farm attacks, which saw farm workers tied up and threatened, farmers and their families terrorised and shot at, and a visitor to a farm shot and killed, it must be crystal clear that there is a concerted effort to hound anyone on the land, off the land. The horrific tortures of those who live in our rural areas to grow the very food we eat, must be highlighted to the rest of the world. For too long the ANC narrative that no farmers are being killed in South Africa has unfortunately been accepted globally.

The time has come to put out an appeal internationally as the situation is becoming increasingly violent. The letter is focussed on the human rights of our rural communities who are at such terrible risk. We have written to the following organisations:

  1. Amnesty International
  2. Human Rights Watch
  3. Centre for Human Rights
  4. Civil Rights Defenders
  5. Human Rights Without Frontiers
  6. African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
  7. African Court on Human and People’s Rights
  8. International Federation for Human Rights
  9. Human Rights Foundation
  10. Freedom House

Not only will these organisations be asked to pressure the government to act, but we will also request that up-to-date research into the motives behind these attacks be undertaken.  The fact that on more and more of these occasions little or nothing is being stolen after the residents are brutally attacked and murdered, speaks to as yet unexplained motives.

We will also ask these global experts of possible litigation measures which would put pressure on the South African government to force them to focus on these issues, and possible solutions.

These international organisations have been identified because they are globally recognised as principled, professional, and non-partisan organisations. These organisations will hopefully create a snowball effect of global public awareness and in the process put pressure on both the South African government as well as domestic human rights organisations to pay attention to the issue of rural tortures, abuse, rapes and murders.

Farmers and farm workers are a National Strategic Asset and must be supported and protected as such.  As it has become apparent that the ANC government has no intention of taking these attacks seriously, we have taken the hitherto unprecedented step of asking every single one of these international entities for help.

If you are in a position to help fund our Court Watching Briefs Unit which closely monitors every farm attack court case to ensure attackers end up behind bars, please make a donation here.

DA calls on DBE to introduce Employment Initiative when schools are open – not during holidays

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Basic Education Employment Initiative programme by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) which seeks to provide temporary employment to 319 061 people across the country to help teachers with curriculum coverage and learner homework assistance as well as upkeep of the school premises and infrastructure maintenance.

The DA views this as a positive initiative as it will assist teachers and learners and also help with the upkeep of school premises which the majority of our schools are in desperate need of. This employment initiative comes at a time of record unemployment and could potentially provide reprieve for those in need of jobs and skills.

While this programme is a great initiative, the DA would like to caution the DBE on the inception of the programme.

The programme is set to commence in December 2020, during South Africa’s festive season when schools are on holiday with no learning and teaching taking place.

When asked by the DA about the date of inception at a Portfolio Committee meeting this week, the Department justified the December start by saying it will be for “induction and socializing.”

Candidates for this initiative will be better utilised when schools are open.

We, therefore, urge the Department to commence the project mid-January – the week when the teachers and principals are back at school preparing for the return of learners.

The programme allocation stands at R4.47 billion and will last for four months. This means that if the programme starts in December, over R1.1 billion will be paid out despite many of the personnel not actually rendering any service to the Department or schools unless the intention of this programme is fiscal dumping.

We would discourage this act given the budget cuts that the DBE has experienced and the dire need of these services in our schools.

We hope that the Department will heed to the DA’s call for the initiative to commence in January and to be extended beyond four months as provinces are required to identify the candidates, conduct extensive vetting and screening of employees which could be time consuming. And to stop such a project abruptly will make it impossible to evaluate its success.

Opinion: The ANC’s dirty track record of diplomatic injustice

By letting Shepherd Bushiri, who stands accused of money laundering and at least two rapes, flee SA, the ANC is also denying justice to his victims

Exactly how self-proclaimed prophet and wanted criminal Shepherd Bushiri and his wife managed to skip bail and flee the country is yet to be fully revealed, but one thing we know by now is that we cannot simply trust the ANC’s official explanation. Their track record when it comes to diplomatic bungles such as this is woefully inept, and almost always dishonest.

Indignant responses and threats of legal action to news reports that implicate various government departments in aiding and abetting the Bushiris are simply not good enough. Only the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth will do. And if it is found that the Bushiris were, indeed, assisted by officials from home affairs, the department of international relations and co-operation, or the police to evade justice and flee to Malawi, then the heads that must roll have to include the ministers of the implicated departments.

This incident has brought international shame to our country. In newspaper headlines across the globe we’ve had to read how this flamboyant, money-laundering charlatan made a mockery of our justice system, our border control and our entire government. And now he taunts us from Malawi, like a thief who crossed a river knowing he can’t be pursued.

But it’s not just the global embarrassment that should worry us. This diplomatic failure goes far beyond that, because by letting a man slip away who stands accused of not only R100m worth of money laundering, but also at least two rape charges, we are denying justice to his victims. And here the ANC has a terrible track record that spans administrations and presidents.

These incidents paint a picture of a government that neither can nor will hold criminals to account. A government that has very little control over fugitives crossing our borders

When the ANC government, back in June of 2015, decided to help the wanted war criminal Omar al-Bashir skip the country back to the safety of Sudan, despite both a local court order and an international warrant for his arrest, it made its position crystal clear: justice for millions of Sudanese victims matters less than the “Big Men of Africa” boys club.

Do you remember the stories they spun immediately after letting Al-Bashir go? How they apparently didn’t know where he was, and that they’d thought he’d perhaps gone shopping. Embarrassing stories that everyone knew were lies told to shield a man indicted for war crimes and genocide in a conflict that cost 400,000 people their lives and displaced millions more.

When the ANC government chose to let Grace Mugabe fly back to Harare despite a warrant for her arrest on charges of assault back in 2017, they broadcast to the world where their allegiance lies. They chose the rich and powerful wife of an African dictator over the woman she’d viciously beaten with the plug of an electrical extension cord in a Sandton hotel room.

Despite clear evidence of this assault and a warrant issued for her arrest the ANC, through then international relations and co-operation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, decided to grant Mugabe diplomatic immunity and let her leave the country. This immunity was later annulled in court, but by then it was too late. Again the ANC had made its position clear: justice for her assault victim was less important than favours for fellow cadres of the continent’s failed liberation movements.

And in 2016, the ANC let arguably the biggest crooks in the history of our democracy — if you exclude the ANC government itself — the Gupta brothers, load up their belongings and fly out to Dubai from Lanseria International Airport. By then it had been established without doubt that they had pulled off the biggest state capture heist our country had ever seen with the help of then president Jacob Zuma and a host of loyal ministers and officials. Their guilt was not up for debate.

Three years earlier, the ANC government had let the same Gupta family fly hundreds of wedding guests in to Waterkloof Air Force Base — a scandal and crime for which a couple of lowly officials were made to take the fall. In their years of cosying up to the ANC government and looting the state, the Guptas caused untold damage to our country. The list of their victims includes every single South African. But again, the victims mattered less than the big men with ANC friends.

These incidents paint a picture of a government that neither can nor will hold criminals to account. A government that has very little control over fugitives crossing our borders, and even less inclination to stop them from doing so. And a government that will then expect you to swallow, hook line and sinker, the most transparent untruths and spin absolving them from wrongdoing.

When we speak of accountability in government, it cannot mean finding and punishing a scapegoat to create the illusion of justice. And it certainly cannot mean repercussions only for those found to be criminally implicated. It must also include those who simply didn’t do their jobs.

In the case of the Bushiri escape, the list of those who clearly didn’t do their jobs is long and stretches all the way to the top of government departments. That is where the accountability buck should stop.

DA asks Cele and Lamola for updates on charges laid against Malema and co 

Please find the parliamentary questions attached here, here and here.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, regarding various charges laid against members of the EFF.

The DA has laid charges ranging from hate speech to incitement to violence against various EFF members throughout the year after they made incendiary statements on various social media platforms. The parliamentary questions will ensure transparency regarding the investigation and prosecution of all the charges laid against EFF leader Julius Malema and his cronies and that the wheels of justice continue turning, however slowly.

Unless they are held to account for their criminal behaviour, the danger that South Africans will become used to and eventually immune to the EFF’s vicious antics aimed at disruption, destruction and intimidation, looms large.

The EFF’s actions continue to rubbish their claims that they are fighting for the poor, the vulnerable and the disenfranchised.

Through their violence and destruction, they continually put lives and livelihoods in danger. Their destruction of infrastructure during protests has a direct influence on the poorest in the country.

Through their racist and violent remarks, they perpetuate the notion that there are more that separate South Africans than there are that unites us in the hopes of garnering votes.

What the EFF is really doing is a highly effective parlour trick. While South Africans are watching the increasing vandalism and race baiting, the EFF leaders are distracting people from their terrible track records of corruption, poor governance and empty promises.

The EFF is a one-trick pony and it’s time that poor pony retires.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

DA calls on Minister Gordhan to release details of potential SAA private investors

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to reveal the details of the private equity partners that have apparently expressed interest in investing in the defunct South African Airways (SAA).

In response to a question by the DA Chief Whip, Natasha Mazzone MP, in Parliament yesterday, the Deputy President, David Mabuza, indicated that the government is engaging with the private sector to ensure that SAA is no longer dependent on taxpayer funded bailouts.

This comes after Minister Gordhan, stated earlier this month that government discussions with private equity partners had reached an advanced stage.

If there are indeed interested parties, then the government has an obligation to make public the details of any agreements that may be entered into. Especially in light of the immoral R10.5 billion in public money that has gone into this vanity project.

The Deputy President effectively confirmed yesterday that the so-called “new” SAA is simply going to be a smaller version of the “old” SAA.

According to Deputy President Mabuza, the “new” SAA will have yet the umpteenth “new” set of SAA board members appointed in the next few days by Minister Gordhan. This “new” ANC-appointed SAA board will then appoint the next “new” set of politically connected, ANC cadres as SAA executives.

It will be a replay of what has been done over and over again and that has cost taxpayers over R30 billion, and counting, in bailouts.

Any persons who accepts an appointment to the “new” SAA board or “new” SAA executive will likely only do so as an exercise in self-enrichment as there can be no rational thinking person, outside the ANC, who still believes that:

  • The “new” SAA stands any chance of escaping ANC political interference and malfeasance; and that,
  • It is morally justifiable for the ANC to spend another R14 billion on SAA, as indicated by Minister Gordhan in Parliament in November. Money taken from essential services such as police, education, health and other desperately needed services.

Even if private equity investments are on board, it will take a miracle for any ANC connected board or executive to turn SAA around without political interference and inevitable mismanagement. The defunct airline will likely continue to be an albatross around taxpayers necks.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

Northern Cape farmers finally receive part of R35m drought funding after 9 month wait 

Finally, after the pressure from the industry and the Democratic Alliance (DA), both at national and provincial level, the Northern Cape Department: Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform has released part of the R35 million drought grant fund that has been withheld since February this year amidst a severe drought plaguing the area.

The Northern Cape is still grappling with the worst drought in 100 years. The poor co-ordination of support towards the farmers has worsened the situation in many areas. On 30 September 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the United Nations (UN) summit on biodiversity where he called for climate friendly agriculture to be implemented. While the DA supports the President’s sentiment, it must be followed through with actions on the ground and in this regard the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) have failed utterly.

According to the Early Warning Committee’s June 2020 report, there are indications of four areas that are especially affected by the current drought. Van Wyksvlei, Springbok, Loeriesfontein and Kenhardt have received well below their long-term averages of rainfall in the past four years.

Area Long Term Average (mm) 2017 2018 2019 2020
Springbok 135 mm 64 mm 67 mm 48 mm 7 mm
Loeriesfontein 220 mm 81 mm 109 mm 78 mm 27 mm
Kenhardt 155 mm 107 mm 97 mm 43 mm 4 mm
Van Wyksvlei 190 mm 147 mm 101 mm 57 mm 100 mm

According to the report, R413.1 million over a three-month period would be required to allow for earlier recovery post the drought.

Unless government steps in, the report has estimated an annual loss of R495 million for the next six years and if the entire farming and value-added economy is considered, the loss could skyrocket to R1.061 billion annually over the next six years.

The report further states that these communities could experience 6 267 jobs losses per annum over the next six years without the necessary intervention.

If cabinet clusters of the portfolio of DALRRD, National Treasury, CoGTA and the provincial MEC responsible for Agriculture and Environmental Affairs were not operating in silos, surely they could have made an effort to consider this report and implement at least part of it to reduce the negative impact of the drought and stimulate the economy to prevent the blood bath of future job losses and potential food insecurity.

The DA reiterates its previous calls that farmers affected by drought in the parts of Northern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Eastern Cape require coordinated support and communication. Their debts are rising and becoming unbearable. National Treasury has been largely absent from providing support when required in agriculture. In the past, the Land Bank would host drought relief funds that would be channeled through the Bank in the form of cheaper loans. But for Land Bank to provide these drought relief funds; the drought in these areas must first be declared as States of Disaster. The reality is that the Land Bank failing our farmers now is a reflection of the shareholder that is in chaos, choosing to support a defunct airline at the expense of food security and job losses. The downgrade of the Land Bank by Moody’s could worsen food insecurity to South Africa’s most vulnerable citizens.

The DA make another call on CoGTA Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to reinstate the classification of the drought as a State of Disaster that the Head of the National Disaster Management Centre, Dr Mmaphaka Tau, revoked on 16 July 2020, and to gazette all these areas that are still affected by drought in all parts of the country.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

ANC opts for their beach towels and flip flops instead appointing a new NLC Chairperson

Please find attached a soundbite by Mat Cuthbert MP.

Unsurprisingly, ANC members of the portfolio committee of trade, industry and competition have decided to opt for their beach towels and flip flops instead appointing a new NLC Chairperson.

At yesterday’s committee meeting they argued strongly in favour of delaying the appointment of a new National Lotteries Commission (NLC) chairperson until next year.

This comes after both Parliament and the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) legal opinions found that the process followed by Minister Patel to shortlist candidates for the position of NLC Chairperson would have been unlawful and required the committee to start afresh.

It is clear that the DA’s insistence that this process be completed by the end of this year has created a difficult set of choices for ANC MPs.

During the meeting, ANC MPs were extremely vocal in their objection to the suggestion that they should forego their beach holiday to do the job that they are paid over a million Rand a year for.

The DA believes that there is more than adequate time up until Christmas for us to conduct this process in a fair and transparent manner.

Considering the largescale looting and maladministration that has taken place at the NLC over the last 10 years it is critical that a new individual capable of turning this failing institution is urgently required.

Therefore, the DA will be writing to ANC’s member of the portfolio committee to ask them to put their jobs ahead of their pending vacation plans.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

Less than 2 days for public to submit comment on SAPS Amendment Bill

Tomorrow is the final day for the public to comment on the draft South African Police Service (SAPS) Amendment Bill. The Democratic Alliance (DA) encourages the public to submit their objections and comments in writing to or by post for the attention Dr PC Jacobs at Civilian Secretariat for Police, Private Bag X922, Pretoria, before the end of day tomorrow. We call on NGOs and businesses to also make their voices heard and submit their views.

The DA is of the view that this Bill is an ill-disguised attempt by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to enforce his own power and would serve to suppress the powers of the provincial and local police structures as mandated by the Constitution by creating a “single police service” which would strip provincial and local governments of their decision-making and planning powers.

What this Bill in essence does is centralise SAPS into one unyielding powerhouse that would be unable to provide adaptable solutions to the local communities it’s meant to serve. The SAPS Amendment Bill will ensure that local police stations are left with even less resources than presently available and communities might never receive the resources needed to address their unique needs.

As crimes is an ever increasing reality for all in South Africa, the DA believes that power should be put in the hands of local and provincial SAPS structures that are in touch with the specific needs of the communities they serve and is best suited to address these varying needs. We will therefore fight this amendment bill with every means necessary.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.

DA welcomes appointment of independent panel to review removal of Public Protector

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes Thandi Modise, the Speaker of the National Assembly’s decision to appoint an independent review panel, which will determine whether there is a prima facie case for Parliament to proceed with the process of removing the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

This has been months in the making, thanks to the unrelenting pressure from the DA. We hope that the panel will waste no time in beginning its work as these proceedings are a matter of national importance.

The DA is pleased that Parliament is now another step closer to holding Mkhwebane to account, despite numerous attempts by her to delay, frustrate and invalidate a legitimate parliamentary process to remove her.

In the interest of accountability and respect of State institutions, the Office of the Public Protector must and should continue to be the vanguard that protects the interests of the vulnerable, something which is a rare sight under Mkhwebane’s leadership.

Get to know newly elected DA leader, John Steenhuisen, and invest in the 2021 Local Government Election campaign. Click here.