DA questions Reshoketswe Bopape’s appointment at Transnet 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) questions the appointment of Reshoketswe “Shokkie” Bopape as interim company secretary of Transnet SOC.

Bopape was formerly company secretary of Alexkor SOC for a period of over two years. During her tenure at the State Diamond Mining company Alexkor’s administrator, Lloyd McPatie, said the company was trading recklessly and was unable to meet its financial obligations.

He further recommended that the Johannesburg office of Alexkor be closed and retrenchments of staff be effected. A telephone call to the Johannesburg head office today rang fruitlessly and was unanswered –  indicative perhaps, of the closure of the office and the retrenchment of staff.

The announcement of Bopape’s cadre deployment from one bankrupt and corrupt state- owned entity to Transnet – billed as having a vision to become Africa’s world champion in transport and logistics solutions – is of concern given her track record at Alexkor and the importance of her new role at the beleaguered behemoth.

Clearly the more things change, the more they stay the same despite Minister Pravin Gordhan’s protestations to the contrary.

The DA will be enquiring about Bopape’s tenure at Alexkor, the conditions of her retrenchment, details of the package, current salary and her suitability for her new role.

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DA appoints Siviwe Gwarube as its new National Spokesperson

The DA is proud to announce the appointment of Siviwe Gwarube as its new National Spokesperson, following a decision taken yesterday at a meeting of our Federal Executive.

I have worked closely with Siviwe in recent years, both as member of our Parliamentary caucus and on our Covid and Lockdown response team, and I have full confidence in her abilities to fulfil this important role for our party. She brings a wealth of political experience as well as a level-headed maturity to this key position.

Siviwe is no stranger to important responsibilities, having previously served as the Head of Ministry for the Western Cape Minister of Health, after which she was appointed the DA’s Executive Director of Communications. More recently she was our spokesperson on the Covid-19 response. She has performed with distinction in all these roles.

In addition to her duties as National Spokesperson, she will continue to serve on the DA’s shadow cabinet as our Shadow Minister of Health – a role in which she has excelled to date. She will also serve as a co-opted member on the party’s Federal Executive.

I would like to thank our two outgoing spokespersons, Refiloe Nt’sekhe and Solly Malatsi, for their professional and committed service in these roles since 2015 and 2018 respectively. They have both done an excellent job for the DA, and I have no doubt that Siviwe is up to the task of filling their considerable shoes.

DA supports City’s action against EFF to pay for Brackenfell damages

The DA wholeheartedly supports the intent of the City of Cape Town of recovering the cost of damages to municipal property during the EFF protest in Brackenfell last week, through civil action.

It is high time that the EFF understands that their actions have consequences and that, where the DA governs, they will be held accountable for their violent behaviour.

The EFF had no business in Brackenfell on Friday. Their protest against “racism” was nothing more than a vile act of political opportunism.

While we commend the efforts of SAPS, the Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies to control the situation and limit the violence and damage to property, the EFF failed to meet the City’s conditions for this protest.

While we absolutely respect anyone’s right to protest, it can never be at the expense of the rights of children or the property of the municipality and others.

The DA will also take legal steps to rectify issues in the Gatherings Act that we believe could better empower the SAPS to impose criminal accountability for not complying with the conditions of this act or of a specific gathering.

In the meantime, we support the City in its efforts to recover the cost of damages directly from the EFF. The EFF must pay for all damage, including the fire engine that was torched, traffic lights and roads that were damaged, a field that was set alight as well as damage to private property.

The EFF must stop thinking that they are above the law. The EFF cannot any longer disguise unlawful threats, violence, undermining state security and personal attacks in the name of “politics.” The EFF has no right to police society backed by threats of very real violence and attacks.

We will not allow these fascists to run a reign of terror here in this province or anywhere else in the country.

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Global tech giant Google declares R2.2bn investment into Cape Town & the Western Cape at presidential investment summit

Last week’s presidential investment summit saw the announcement of five substantial investments into Cape Town and Western Cape, with large corporates including Google (R2.2bn), Amdec (R2bn), Capita (R500m), Lactalis (R100m) and Teraco (R4.4bn into South Africa with R3bn invested into the Cape) collectively committing R7.8 billion into the Province.

Wesgro’s Investment Promotion Unit, assisted by the InvestSA One Stop Shop, facilitated the Amdec and Teraco deals, with CapeBPO (formerly known as BPeSA) facilitating the Capita investment.

The investments bode well for local and international investor confidence, further positioning the Cape as a place with an abundance of investment opportunities.

Acknowledging the calibre of the investors, Salman Kajie, head of the InvestSA One Stop Shop Western Cape, explained that the corporates who have declared these investments are pioneers in their fields and are not distracted by short-term factors.

Kajie went on to explain, “despite economic headwinds, political uncertainty and a national state of disaster caused by the global pandemic, these investors have evaluated and understand the long-term gains realised by investing in our province. Furthermore, by putting down roots in Cape Town and the Western Cape, they see the opportunities to capitalise on growth on the wider African continent.”

“Not only do these investments boost our local economy, but they will go contribute to much-needed job creation in the Western Cape,” commented Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier. “Maintaining our position as a leading investment destination, retaining investor confidence and attracting new investments remain key as we rebuild our economy following a challenging year. These declarations are compelling proof to the local and global investment market that we are open for business!”

Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, said: “Boasting world-class infrastructure, sound governance, a skilled workforce, coupled with political will – the Mother City offers investors a plethora of investment opportunities in thriving industries like Agri-business, Manufacturing, Tech, Creative Industries, Real Estate, Maritime Manufacturing, Business Process Outsourcing to name but a few. The City of Cape Town is ready to partner with the public & private sector to help attract & land investments that will drive demand & make sense.”

Wegro CEO, Tim Harris, concluded: “It is very encouraging to see that big corporate players from three of our key source markets (UK, USA and France) are realising the abundance of opportunities on offer in Cape Town and the Western Cape. South Africa’s agriculture sector had a solid start to the year with first-quarter gross value‑added growing by 28% quarter-on-quarter. Similarly, our BPO sector is recognised as a leading offshore destination – offering world class skills at an affordable price. The fact that global tech giants such as Google are looking to make a considerable investment in the province, further solidifies our position as Africa’s Tech Capital. We welcome these investments and the confidence boost it provides.”

DA calls on Mkhize to brief Parliament on rising Covid-19 cases in the Eastern Cape

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to urgently brief Parliament on the situation that is unfolding in the Eastern Cape, specifically in the Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) area. I will be writing to the Chairperson m of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, to urgently place this matter on the committee’s agenda for this coming Wednesday.

The NMB Municipality has seen a rapid rise in Covid-19 cases which are a great cause for concern. The problem seems to be multi-pronged. There are cases rising due to behavioral patterns from the people of this area which are spreading the virus at pace. However, there is also no healthcare system capacity to deal with these cases and the hospital admissions flowing from them. Eastern Cape hospitals are said to be beyond capacity and healthcare workers once again placed on the front lines of this pandemic without the necessary support.

The DA calls on Minister Mkhize to address the following:

  • The contingency plans to deal with a possible second wave of the virus in the NMB area and the province at large;
  • What systems have been put in place to capacitate healthcare facilities to deal with rising numbers of cases;
  • How many additional healthcare workers would be allocated to the province to help deal with this crisis;
  • What management support is being provided to the province to deal with its inherent system weaknesses in the provincial department of health;
  • What measures are being put in place to create awareness in communities as we head towards the holiday season not only in the Eastern Cape but across the country.

South Africa can ill-afford to have a full-blown second wave which would force any kind of shutdown of the economy. The reality is that we are in deep economic trouble and people are literally going hungry due to the loss of employment and broken social assistance systems. We need to get ahead of the curve and ensure the Department of Health is prepared to deal with this crisis in the Eastern Cape.

We know that the Eastern Cape has deep rooted issues which span from poor political and administrative leadership to inadequate health infrastructure. We cannot allow what happened a couple of months ago to happen again when we should have learnt crucial lessons about how to fix what is broken in the province.

The Minister of Health must appear before the Portfolio Committee on Health this week and urgently answer these critical questions. As members of Parliament, we need to ensure that no lives are lost unnecessarily in the province. Failure to hold the Minister of Health and his department to account would be a dereliction of our constitutional obligations.

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6 days left for public comment on proposal to increase SABC license fees

Please find attached soundbite from Phumzile Van Damme MP.

Tomorrow the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies is due present its proposal to extend the payment of television (TV) license fees to include streaming services. The Democratic Alliance (DA) encourages members of the public to make their voices heard by submitting their views on the proposal. It is only through participatory democracy, where everyone has a say, that our democracy will thrive.

The Proposal is contained in the Draft White Paper on Audio and Audio-visual Content Services Policy Framework: A New Vision for South Africa 2020 open for public until 16h00, 30 November 2020. Comment can be submitted to:

In writing:
The Acting- Director -General, Department of Communications and Digital
Technologies
Block A3, IParioll Office Park, 1166 Park Street, Hatfield, Pretoria
Private Bag X860, Pretoria, 0001

or

By email: aacs@dtps.gov.za

In terms of the Broadcasting Act, the public is required to pay a TV license fee for viewing “broadcasting services” which includes subscription services like DSTV. The purchase of a TV, regardless of whether one watches the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on it or not requires the payment of a license fee for any “broadcasting services.”

In the “traditional” sense a “broadcasting service” is limited to content viewed on a TV set.

Given the emergence of streaming services like Netflix, Apple +, Showmax, Amazon Prime and others, the White Paper broadens definition of a “broadcasting service” to include online broadcasting services.

By implication, that would require the payment of a license fee for the viewing any “broadcasting services” which would include a streaming services, regardless of the device on which it is viewed.

The DA is unequivocally opposed to any efforts that would require any additional payment of TV license fees. The public has already had to suffer the consequences of the billions in bailouts to the SABC has received via the public purse.

Not a cent more should the public have to pay to keep the SABC afloat.

The SABC must find creative ways to self-sustain, and break even without requiring the public to fork out any more money.

The DA notes that the SABC has promised to take cognizance of public outcry about the proposed license fee and will make its own submission to the Department regarding the proposal. We trust that it will present a plan that will mean that the public broadcaster will to stay afloat and break even without bailouts or making the public pay even more money to sustain it.

Other than this proposal, the Portfolio Committee will discuss various proposals made in the White Paper, some of which the DA agrees with, and others it is opposed to.

The Bad:

  • A Code of Conduct for streaming services, with disciplinary measures if it is not adhered to. Given that most streaming are international companies and not on South African soil this is pie-in-the-sky and unworkable. This could put government on a collision course with streaming services and barren harvest litigation it will not win, leading to more wasteful expenditure.
  • The establishment of a team that would be able to blacklist, block, require banks to halt transfers of payments of subscribers of international streaming services. This China-esque “censorship bureau” stands in stark violation to the right of all South Africans to a free-flow of information, and would not meet the constitutional standard of the limitation of this right by government.

The Good:

  • Amendment to the Broadcasting Act clearly stipulating that the SABC must be free from political interference vis-à-vis the role of the Minister of Communication’s role in the SABC;
  • Government funding of the SABC’s so-called “unfunded mandate,” – the airing of national importance for free and at great cost to the SABC;
  • The establishment of a free-to-air dedicated Parliamentary channel so that not only those with DSTV, but the greater public can view proceedings in what is the “People’s Parliament”;
  • The overhaul of the SABC’s funding model to ensure it has adequate funding to self-sustain;
  • Greater vigilance of political advertisement to prevent the spread of disinformation and fake news;
  • Repeal of the “Must Carry,” regulation which meant that the SABC is required to provide its own content for free to subscription broadcasters, like DSTV. The repealing of “Must Carry” will mean that the SABC can sell its content and bolster its revenue.

The DA remains committed to supporting initiatives that will mean the SABC can self-sustain and break even. This, however, not at further cost to the public. Innovation, out-of-the-box thinking is needed.

Any future bailouts to the SABC are completely out of the question, particularly as millions of South Africans join the unemployment queue due to the economic fallout of Covid-19 and poor governance. Any government funding must be directed towards the creation economic and job opportunities for the greater public and not to sustain the bottomless pit that is State Owned Entities

Communications Minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, must decide. Will see join the populist train to score political points, or will she support tough and unpopular decisions that will mean that down the line, the SABC does not come cap in hand for another bailout or completely collapse with all SABC staff losing their jobs. The DA urges her to support the restructuring of the SABC staffing model, a requirement from National Treasury when the SABC was given its last bailout to ensure the SABC’s survival and ability to self-sustain. The DA will not celebrate SABC staff losing their jobs, it is heartbreaking to see any person lose their source of income. But to protect the SABC as the country’s public broadcaster and make sure it does not require a bailout down the line, or have to shut shop because it won’t get one, sadly, tough and unpopular decisions must be made.

It is imperative that the SABC survives to deliver quality news and content in all 11 official languages, but it must do so without a reliance on government bailouts or the increase of licensing fees.

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DA legal opinion finds that the process to appoint NLC chairperson would be unlawful

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to both the Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel and the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, Duma Nkosi, to argue that the process to appoint a new National Lotteries Commission (NLC) board chairperson was unlawful.

This followed the tabling of Chief Parliamentary Legal Advisor Adv Zuraya Adhikarie’s legal opinion at the portfolio committee meeting on 19 November.

She advised that “the Committee should consider requesting the CVs of all nominated candidates so that the committee may proceed in terms of its own process as required by the Act”. This was informed by the fact that several provisions within the Lotteries Act of 1997 were contravened by Minister Patel.

Subsequent to her legal opinion being tabled, the DA exercised its right to seek a legal opinion of its own which found that “…the shortlist must be set aside by the PC and it must do shortlisting from scratch. The Minister did not have the authority to shortlist and Parliament would fail in its duty if it now simply endorses that shortlist and supplements it, given that Prof Madonsela withdrew as a candidate”.

Therefore, we argue that the process of appointing a new Chairperson of the NLC should be restarted from the beginning to ensure that there are no unresolved questions in terms of legality, process and procedure.

Failure to do so may lead to drawn out litigation between the DTIC and unsuccessful candidates, civil society organisations and political parties respectively.

It is of the utmost importance that a fit for purpose chairperson is sought and ultimately appointed in order to turn around this failing institution that has been mired in corruption scandals and maladministration.

This is our collective opportunity to do things the right way, to prevent the selection process from being called into question and not to allow for the credibility of this institution to be diminished further.

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SSA and SASCOC fail swimmers after abuse allegations

A previous version of this statement incorrectly stated that SASCOC President Barry Hendricks knew of the allegations of sexual abuse at SSA and hired an independent investigator earlier this year to investigate the claims. It was in fact SSA President Alan Fritz. The statement has been updated to reflect this.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling for an urgent investigation into an international report that executives at Swim South Africa (SSA), some of who serve on the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) board, have failed to report allegations of sexual abuse of minors to the South African Police Service (SAPS) as required by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007.

The Guardian reported that a police investigation was only launched after the Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA) alerted authorities that sexual abuses allegedly reported to Alan Fritz, President of SSA and SASCOC board member, and Ron Andrews, SSA executive committee member, were never reported to SAPS.

Section 54 of the Sexual Offences act states that “(1) (a) A person who has knowledge that a sexual offence has been committed against a child must report such knowledge immediately to a police official. (b) A person who fails to report such knowledge as contemplated in paragraph (a), is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or to both a fine and such imprisonment.”

According to the article, Fritz hired an independent investigator earlier this year to investigate the claims of sexual abuse at SSA. He was reportedly given the report of the findings in September but has yet to share it with the sexual abuse victims. The DA believes that it is imperative that this report be made public and that an investigation is launched into how SASCOC and SSA have handled allegations and investigations into sexual abuse at large, and sexual abuse of minors in particular, at these federations.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is rampant in South Africa, and sporting institutions should be safe spaces for women and children where they shouldn’t have to constantly look over their shoulders. It is shocking that these abuses did not only take place, but that when they were reported, something which takes tremendous courage, the victims were failed when the abuse was not reported to SAPS as the law dictates thereby allowing for potential abuse to continue.

To date, only two sporting federations in South Africa, rugby and gymnastics, have adopted safeguarding policies to protect members against sexual abuse and allow for proper reporting channels should abuse occur. It is simply atrocious that in this day and age, and in a country where GBV is rife, that sporting federations do not have safeguarding measures in place. By failing to have these policies, federations are willfully and callously putting their members at risk.

It would also be prudent for the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, to address these issues head on in terms of section Article 13 (5) (i) of the National Sport and Recreation Act 110 of 1998 which states that the minister can “intervene in any dispute, alleged mismanagement, or any other related matter that is likely to bring a sport or recreational activity into disrepute”. Allegations that the sexual abuse of minors are not being reported to SAPS certainly falls into this category.

SASCOC cannot wait any longer to present a strategic plan to implement safeguarding policies for all sports in South Africa. These policies must be available in layman’s terms on all their websites. It must provide a timeline and should be held to account for failure to implement.

SASCOC and SSA cannot be allowed to continue to fail victims of sexual abuse. Their failure to act decisively is not just morally reprehensible, it also puts the victims at risk of re-traumatization.

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DA asks NPA for update on charges against KZN Premier’s illegal lockdown gathering

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to request an urgent update on the progress made regarding charges we laid against the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikalala, for an apparently illegal gathering on Freedom Day at the start of the extended Covid-19 lockdown.

The Premier contravened lockdown regulations on 27 April 2020 by holding a gathering at Clairwood Hospital where he pulled personnel from their duties to listen to his speech. While the Premier and his dignitaries – detailed in the programme – sat in the shade, the hospital personnel stood for hours in the blazing sun. The Premier has tried to claim that his presence at the hospital was due to routine work from the Provincial Command Council, but this does not explain the stage and sound equipment that were rented for him to make a speech or the need to pull personnel from their highly imported work to gather under the hot sun to hear him speak.

This gathering was in direct contravention of the Disaster Management Act 2002 in terms of section 27(2) regulation 11 B. (1)(a) (ii) which states that “every gathering, as defined in regulation 1 is hereby prohibited, except for a funeral as provided for in subregulation (8)”.

The DA opened the case against Premier Zikalala on 27 April, the same day the contravention took place. That was seven months ago and there has been, and still is, radio silence on the part of the NPA regarding his prosecution. This while scores of people were arrested and humiliated in the beginning of the lockdown for contravening illogical regulations with one mother being arrested for chasing her toddler who dashed across the beach, for the infraction of standing on the sand.

According to the investigating officer, Brigadier Mngcwabe, the NPA has promised a decision since July on whether the Premier would be charged or not. Yet not a peep on their decision has been forthcoming.

While ordinary South Africans, those without ANC connections, were persecuted without rationality or mercy, we have to ask whether or not the delay in relation to this case against the Premier shows the NPA actually prosecutes without fear or favour.

We have to ask whether or not there is a different set of laws for the powerful and powerfully connected, and another set for the rest of us. All men, it appears, are not equal before the law in South Africa. Men like Zikalala will get away with holding potential super spreader illegal events at a hospital no less, while citizens were arrested for legally buying groceries.

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DA calls on DBE to provide update on the source of Matric exam leak

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to provide a progress update on the investigation into the leaked Mathematics Matric exam paper. In particular, regarding the source of the leak.

 

It is vital that we know where this leak originated from to prevent this from happening again. It will also give assurance to both parents and learners that the DBE is on top of this situation.

 

Preliminary investigations have revealed that further provinces, including Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, North West, Western Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, have also been affected by the leak, in addition to the leaks initially reported in Gauteng and Limpopo.

 

This leak has cast a massive cloud over the integrity of the Matric exam process and to ensure that the rest of the exams are beyond reproach we need to know how this leak originated to prevent similar leaks in the future.

 

The Class of 2020 has already had an incredibly challenging academic year, and this leak has no doubt lead to further anxiety for Matrics on how it will impact the rest of the examination going forward.


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