DA seeks meeting with Mantashe over IPP red tape

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites from Kevin Mileham MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Manatshe, to request a meeting to discuss the administrative red tape that is still making it difficult for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to increase their investment in the sector and supply more power to the national grid.

Yesterday, accompanied by my colleague Jan de Villiers MP, who is the DA constituency Head in Touwsrivier, we conducted an oversight visit to the Touwsrivier CPV Solar Project run by the Pele Energy Group (PEG). The visit forms part of the DA’s ongoing industry consultation exercise with players in the Independent Power Producer (IPP) sector following the gazetting of s34 determinations to enable electricity procurement from IPPs.

Our meeting with PEG executives revealed that, while they welcome the announcement made by Minister Mantashe to procure 11 813 MW of electricity and storage from IPPs, the process to approve applications submitted in response to Request for Proposals is still taking an inordinate amount of time. The delays are forcing most industry players to postpone further investments in their operations, in the process limiting the amount of electricity they can supply to the grid.

The DA is concerned that the lethargic approach by government in addressing the administrative drag on the operational environment of IPPs, is having a corresponding negative impact on job creation in the sector. President Ramaphosa’s avowed commitment to create new jobs in the renewable energy sector will remain a pipe dream unless his government takes steps to improve the policy environment for the IPP sector.

Even as PEG executives expressed their appreciation of the announcement made that government will soon initiate procurement bidding windows, including opening Bid Window 5 of the renewable energy IPP programme, the absence of specific timelines of when this will be implemented creates uncertainty and affects the IPPs ability to do forward planning. With the announcement made by Eskom that load shedding will continue until 2022, the lack of urgency in fast tracking integration of IPPs with the energy infrastructure will hamper the ability of the country’s economy to make a quick recovery.

The DA remains committed to playing its part in ensuring that the regulatory and policy environment offers renewable energy companies the necessary incentives to invest, create jobs and improve South Africa’s power supply. This commitment will inform our engagement with Minister Mantashe on the challenges facing the IPP sector.

Click here to read more about the DA’s plan to drive the cost of electricity down, introduce competition into the energy sector, and diversify the country’s energy sources to introduce more renewables, as well as our record of action on the electricity crisis over the last 8 years.

Patel remains silent on NLC corruption while Ramaphosa signs SIU proclamation

On the 6th of November 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa, signed a proclamation which authorised the Special Investigate Unit (SIU) to investigate alleged corruption and malfeasance at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) (See here).

It is clear that this has manifested as a result of the immense pressure placed on government by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Parliament, civil society and the media.

However, what is stark is Minister Patel’s continued silence on alleged corruption in his own backyard.

The DA has called on him several times to fire the NLC and its board and place the organisation under administration, considering the volume of evidence in the public domain, but on each occasion he has refused to do so.

In his most recent correspondence to the DA, he argued that there weren’t sufficient grounds for him to do so (See here).

However, we laid out several provisions within the National Lotteries Act as well as the Public Finance Management Act that allowed him to take the appropriate action against this rogue institution (See here).

While the DA welcomes President Ramaphosa’s SIU proclamation, we are left wondering why Minister Patel has allowed for large scale looting at the NLC to continue unabated?

Therefore, it is quite clear that Minister Patel is quite satisfied continuing in his role as “Caretaker of corruption” instead of “Crusader against it”.

The DA will not rest until these” Lottery Looters” are put behind bars and money meant for the most vulnerable South Africans is recouped and accounted for.

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

DA welcomes the resignation of Hangwani Mulaudzi

Whilst the Democratic Alliance (DA) is awaiting confirmation from Dr Godfrey Lebeya regarding the resignation of Hawks Spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi, we welcome Mr Mulaudzi’s resignation as we believe there is sufficient prima facie evidence in the public domain to suggest that an urgent investigation be done regarding his alleged involvement in the misappropriation of National Lotteries Commission (NLC) funds.

A non-profit organisation (NPO) that was named after Mr Mulaudzi allegedly received R3 million for the building of a sports centre in Mashamba in Limpopo from the NLC, which if true, is a clear conflict of interest as the Hawks were already probing other matters of alleged corruption pertaining to the disbursement of NLC funds.

Funds intended for the sports centre were allegedly spent on items unrelated to the actual project itself such as the purchasing of mini-bus taxis and kickbacks paid to NLC officials.

As already stated in October, the DA has been privy to an internal Department of Social Development document which shows that Mr Muluadzi suspiciously changed the name of his NPO from the Hangwani Mulaudzi Foundation to the Bono Foundation in August 2020.

Moreover, the internal document revealed that Mr Mulaudzi’s foundation failed to submit annual reports and compliance documents since 2018, which simply makes the donation of funds from the NLC more sinister.

It is imperative that a proper and thorough investigation takes place into the alleged misappropriation of funds from the NLC.

Claims such as this cannot remain untested. If Mr Mulaudzi truly believes that this is nothing but a smear campaign against him, he would have no problem giving his complete cooperation to an investigation into the matter.

The DA reiterates that it is not in Parliament to pussyfoot around dishonest government officials.

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

DA condemns EFF threats at Brackenfell High

The DA condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing threatening attempts by the EFF to bend society to its will by interfering where it has absolutely no business to be.

Following the burning and trashing of stores because of what the they consider offensive advertising, and seeking to tell Chief Executive Officers how to run their businesses, the EFF now thinks it has the right to control how citizens run private functions.

The latest outrage is the EFF protest, outside a school, over a private party held by some of the school’s matriculants – an event that had nothing to do with the school. To add to the absurdity, the EFF is demanding that the principal be fired.

The background to the matter is this: Brackenfell High School, like many other schools across South Africa, cancelled its matric dance due to Covid-19 restrictions.

As a result, matric learners countrywide organised private parties among their friendship circle as a substitute for a matric farewell. The Western Cape Education Department strongly encouraged such private functions to observe the Covid-19 regulatory environment.

One such party was organised by a group of 42 learners and their parents from Brackenfell High School out of a matric class of 254.

This party had absolutely nothing to do with the school. It was fully funded and organised by the parents and pupils involved.

Private events have absolutely nothing to do with any political party, and it was an outrage that the EFF believed they could arrive to protest outside the school and threaten parents and learners during the matric exam period (or at any other time).

It is also unfortunate that some community members responded in kind. Violent confrontations will do nothing to advance rational analysis, which is more needed in South Africa today than ever before.

If we are to prevent people taking the law into their own hands, the Police must do their job properly. It was the job of SAPS to prevent and disperse the EFF unlawfully gathering outside a school and seeking to infringe on the rights of private citizens.

The Nazi’s had the brown shirts that went around terrorising minorities. South Africa has the red shirts.

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

UIF: Minister Nxesi must chart a way forward

Written replies to a number of parliamentary questions posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) reveal that the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is in a seemingly precarious state. The Covid-19 TERS scheme has been plagued by fraud. The future of the TERS benefit hangs in the balance. The UIF’s investment portfolio is shrinking.

The Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, needs to come out of hiding, engage with the public and urgently chart a way forward for the beleaguered organisation.

One of the Minister’s replies indicates that between 1 April and 30 September 2020, the UIF paid R120 million in fraudulent claims to individuals who were not entitled to the TERS benefit. This amount includes R88 million to individuals receiving a State old-age grant, R30 million to people with invalid identity numbers, R441 000 to dead people and R129 000 to prisoners. It excludes over R41 million paid to 9 000 government officials who received their full salaries during the lockdown and who were not entitled to the TERS benefit.

This widespread fraud, enabled by poor financial controls at the UIF, is still under investigation by the Auditor-General. As a precautionary measure, five senior officials from the UIF were placed on suspension at the beginning of September at a combined monthly cost of R450 551.39 according to a written reply.

The officials are Tebogo Maruping (Unemployment insurance Commissioner), Fezeka Puzi (UIF Chief Financial officer), Judith Kumbi (Chief Director Operations), Maria Ramashaba (Director: Supply Chain Management) and Nompumemlelo Mconywa (Chief Director: Labour Activation Programme).

Yet while members of the UIF’s top brass are sitting at home on full pay, tens of thousands of workers – many of them in the tourism and hospitality sectors – face financial ruin as we enter the festive season. This is because the National Corona Command Council (NCCC) has apparently unilaterally decided not to extend the TERS benefit. This, despite the fact that the national State of Disaster for Covid-19 has been extended to 15 November and that many workers are not able to work for full pay under Level 1 of lockdown.

Many workers rely on the TERS benefit to make ends meet. It is sickening that government employees illegally creamed off the TERS scheme and that ordinary workers will suffer as a consequence. It also seems unjust that senior officials suspended from the UIF are sitting pretty at home on full pay while so many workers are penniless and hopeless.

We know that the UIF has disbursed around R51 billion in TERS payments so far and that if it honours all valid claims currently in the system it will be liable for another R10 billion.

Another written reply to a DA question suggests that the UIF was sitting on a total investment portfolio of R114 billion as at 31 March, with R60 billion in liquid assets and R54 billion in illiquid assets.

It is not clear whether the UIF will be financially sustainable in the long term given the expected increase in unemployed South Africans (more than 2 million of whom lost their jobs in the second quarter) applying for ordinary UIF benefits.

As a matter of urgency, Minister Nxesi must communicate with the public on the future of the TERS benefit, the long-term financial sustainability of the UIF and what consequences there will be for government officials (and UIF officials in particular) who have been party to defrauding the UIF.

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

Minister Mkhize must testify before Zondo about alleged PRASA kickbacks for ANC

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls for the Zondo Commission of Inquiry to summon the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to testify to allegations that he, in his capacity as former treasurer-general of the ANC, facilitated payments to the ANC from a beneficiary of the R3.5 billion PRASA contract where trains unsuitable for South Africa’s railways were purchased.

According to an investigation by Scorpio and Daily Maverick, former Passenger Rail Agency of SA (PRASA) boss Lucky Montana has claimed that Minister Mkhize nominated which bank accounts Maria Gomes, a beneficiary of the contract for the trains that were too big for our railways, had to pay money into for the benefit of the ANC. This apparently happened on a number occasions when the Minister visited Gomes’ home with Montana.

While Montana insists that he received assurances that these payments by Gomes and Swifambo director, Auswell Mashaba, were simply donations to the ANC and not kickbacks from the corrupt locomotive deal, it is imperative that these allegations be investigated thoroughly, especially since there seems to be financial records that indicate the opposite.

That South Africa is being bled dry is no longer a shock to anybody.

The extent of brazen involvement by Ministers and senior politicians within the ANC is however very upsetting. The economic crisis, the rampant hunger and hopelessness, the rising joblessness and growing crime rates can all be directly linked to State capture and the rotten core of the ANC that is increasingly being exposed.

After Covid corruption became so obvious that President Cyril Ramaphosa could no longer ignore it, he claimed to have drawn a “line in the sand” regarding corruption. If the President wants to be taken seriously at all, he must also ensure in this case that the necessary investigation is launched into the large-scale corruption in which his current Minister of Health was allegedly involved.

Unless the corrupt are held to account and suffer the consequences of their actions, South Africa will continue to sink beneath the tsunami of crime and the once-proud rainbow nation will be nothing more than an Atlantean-legend.

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

On Wednesday vote in a clear DA majority to beat the ANC

After 7 months of electoral suspension due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Democratic Alliance calls on voters across the country to come out in their numbers and vote DA in a series of important by-elections to be held across the country on Wednesday 11 November.

At least four by-elections will be held in every province this coming Wednesday, with the fate of 12 municipalities hanging in the balance. Now that the DA has renewed leadership which has brought about stability, unity, and policy-led focus, I would like to call on voters across the country to vote DA to bring in clean, capable, and efficient blue governments across South Africa.

It is absolutely crucial that residents in communities across the country vote on Wednesday to help bring about the change our country so desperately needs. We can only do this by voting in a party with a proven track record in government and the necessary networks and support systems to formulate sound governments.

If you make a plan now, and prepare in advance to get to the polls in your Ward on Wednesday, you will be ready to participate and play your part in this crucial local democratic moment.

I want to urge residents not to vote for independent candidates or smaller parties as this will only splinter and divide municipal councils across the country and usher in political instability which will paralyse services.

Only the DA is large enough, and strong enough to topple ANC-led governments and replace them with world-class administrations under the DA’s banner. Only a clear DA majority in your municipality can give the DA the mandate to change your life for the better now.

On Wednesday, come out and vote DA. Let’s move your ward, your municipality, and our country forward together!

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

The terrible list of farm murders in the Free State continues to grow

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is heartbroken to hear of the death of a young cattle farmer in the Free State. Teboho Machakela (37) was shot in the head during a robbery on his farm in the Odendaalsrus area on 19 August 2020. After being in a coma for six weeks, he recovered well enough to eventually be sent home. He sadly died on Monday, 2 November 2020. We send our condolences to his family and loved ones.

Teboho joins a long list of farmers and farm workers who have died in the line of duty in the province. According to information, yet to be confirmed, there were more than 10 farm attacks in the Free State since 1 October 2020 resulting in the deaths of 4 people. In addition to this, David Leslie died on 18 October 2020 after the brutal attack on his farm in the Eeram area near Harrismith on 1 September 2020. He had been in a coma in hospital following the attack.

Just two days ago we heard of the brutal murder of Pieter Hills (56), and the attack on his son, Eddie, which has left Eddie in a critical condition in hospital. This attack took place in the farm house of the Zwartpan farm near Hennenman.

On 25 October 2020, Dave Wessels (65), died after he was attacked in his bed on his smallholding, Avondster near Viljoenskroon. Aside from being a farmer trading in sheep and cattle, he was also a decorated military veteran.

The young farm worker, Brendin Horner (22) was brutally assaulted and strangled on the farm De Rots near Paul Roux on 1 October 2020. His death resulted in an outpouring of outrage across the country and focussed attention on the lack of safety and security in farming and rural communities.

The Free State has lost these five farmers in the space of five weeks. All of them engaged in productive farm activities producing food for our country.

Aside from these attacks which led to the deaths of the victims, there have been numerous incidents in which the victims were kidnapped and tortured. As well as thousands of livestock being stolen every month.

We simply cannot go on like this.

Minister Bheki Cele makes many promises, but the reality is that the SAPS is utterly under-resourced, under trained, de-motivated, and in some cases colluding with the thieves and attackers.

The DA calls upon senior government leaders to acknowledge that we have a massive problem. Together, we need to do the hard work to root out corruption, recruit committed and upright citizens, properly resource, fund and train the police service. SAPS also needs to engage the DA’s rural safety plan and implement certain aspects thereof in order to address and improve the safety of our farming community.

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.

NSFAS Laptop scandal: Nehawu dodges accountability – again

Following their explosive presentation before the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology in October regarding the alleged misconduct related to a R2.5 billion National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) laptop tender, Nehawu appears to now have backtracked as they have missed their last two scheduled appearances before Parliament pertaining to these allegations.

Nehawu was expected to appear before the Committee today to brief Parliament on these allegations, but failed to appear.

In their previous interaction with the Committee, the union alleged the interference of a Special Advisor of Minister Blade Nzimande in the procurement process. The DA finds it suspicious that Nehawu has now for the second time pulled out of this meeting, soon after their “negotiations” with the Minister about NSFAS employer/employee relations.

Could it be that the Minister’s meetings with Nehawu was simply a smokescreen to coerce the union into protecting those implicated in corruption and fraud at NSFAS? If this is the case, Nehawu has sold out thousands of students who were meant to benefit from this laptop project, as well as the countless others who have been excluded from tertiary education opportunities due to the ongoing governance failures at NSFAS.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will push for the Portfolio Committee to establish an inquiry into the state of affairs at NSFAS as well as to investigate these allegations of misconduct in the NSFAS laptop tender. If the inquiry is established, it should prioritise the following:

  • Ask that the Auditor-General finalise the audit outcomes and brief the inquiry on the financial status of NSFAS;
  • Subpoena the Ministerial Task Team tasked to review the NSFAS business processes;
  • Subpoena Minister Nzimande;
  • Subpoena Nehawu to account on the laptop scandal and other allegations;
  • Subpoena the Director-General of the department to give a detailed report on the tender;
  • Subpoena the NSFAS Administrator and executive leadership; and
  • Invite NSFAS employees or members of the public that have any information or evidence on alleged fraud, corruption and maladministration.

It is becoming clear that many of the challenges at NSFAS is a result of political interference, which must be rooted out. As the Parliamentary Committee responsible for oversight of NSFAS, we cannot drag our feet and have a responsibility towards millions of students to get to the bottom of this malfeasance and provide a solid way to stabilize the entity.

We need to get NSFAS back to a functional, efficient and effective provider of financial aid to poor students, but for that to happen, we need to get to the bottom of these allegations.

Lastly, those who are found to be in involved in fraud and corruption must be charged and investigated, and face the full might of the law.

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

DA condemns xenophobic ANC MK Vets’ economic terrorism

The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemns the xenophobic violence perpetrated against immigrant-owned businesses in Durban by the ANC MKMVA this week, and calls on the ANC to take action against these “vigilante veterans” in its ranks.

We also urge the South African Police Services (SAPS) to provide protection to these small businesses in light of the MKVA’s intimidation.

This malicious campaign to shut down these small enterprises is nothing short of economic terrorism, and these appalling acts have no place in our constitutional democracy.

The DA supports effective enforcement of reasonable legal requirements for immigrant-owned businesses, however any alleged non-compliance to these requirements, whether related to tax or municipal trading regulations, can never be an excuse for vandalism, xenophobia and intimidation.

It is erroneous zero-sum thinking from the ANC MKMVA to posit that, in the small business ecosystem, some must lose or shrink in order for others to win or grow, as well as being a false and limited perspective which only sees a finite pie to be shared, rather than realising the prospects for increasing the size of the pie to the benefit of all.

Furthermore, there has been a demonstrable positive effect for consumers from the participation of immigrant-owned micro-retailers in the form of greater affordability of goods owing to their cost-saving practices, and greater access and convenience  due to the proliferation of these micro-retail outlets, especially in township and informal settlement communities.

Various studies have shown that the competitive advantage enjoyed by immigrant-owned retail micro-enterprises is based on them leveraging bulk-buying for price discounts and economies of scale, as well as sharing debt through peer-to-peer micro-financing. In addition, immigrant spaza shop owners have been found to invest larger capital outlays on average in their micro-enterprises.

The DA would therefore support a policy approach that promotes and encourages partnerships and sharing of best practice between immigrants and South Africans in the micro-retail sector, instead of simply shutting immigrants out of economic sectors, as the recently proposed Gauteng Township Economic Development Bill seeks to do.

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