DA welcomes appointment of new Head Ranger at Kruger Park but remains concerned over proposed ‘Ranger Rotation Policy’ 

The DA welcomes the appointment of Cathy Dreyer as the new Head Ranger of the Kruger National Park. Dreyer, who has worked for SAN Parks for almost two decades, will bring a wealth of experience to her new role and we wish her well. Her appointment will also make her the Park’s first female Head Ranger. 

The DA, however, remains concerned over the proposed move to “rotate” certain rangers within the Park. This includes renowned ranger, Don English, who has played a hugely significant role in combating poaching in the Park. The statement issued last week by SAN Parks does little to clear up the many outstanding questions regarding the rationale behind the rotation of rangers. Simply stating that the rotation policy will help to “share the workload” is not an adequate reason for moving experienced rangers away from key hotspots. It is vitally important that the public are made aware of the results of the current consultations with rangers on the proposed rotation policy as soon as possible. SAN Parks will need to explain how constantly moving rangers around will assist anti-poaching efforts. 

Under the ANC government the rhino population of Kruger Park has decreased by 70% over the past ten years. More must be done to properly address the rampant ongoing poaching of rhino and the illegal trade in horn which is connected to international and local organised crime syndicates. Minister Barbara Creecy has indicated her commitment and willingness to combat rhino poaching and the initial lockdowns provided some respite last year with a drop in reported cases. 

This year will, however, provide a more accurate indication of the ability of the Department of the Environment, Forestry and Fisheries to deal with rhino poaching and the DA will be following developments closely. If the Department fails South Africa’s rhinos will continue to move closer and closer towards extinction.  

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA calls for Mthethwa’s removal after allegedly ignoring Treasury to appoint Administrator for Heritage Council

A soundbite can be found here.

The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to remove the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa from his Cabinet after he reportedly disregarded due process by appointing an Administrator to look after the affairs the National Heritage Council (NHC). 

It is alleged that the Minister removed the NHC’s board after the majority of members voted against a report which implicated CEO Sonwabile Mancotywa in misconduct with regards to procurement. Mancotywa also resigned soon after. 

The Minister’s move to appoint an Administrator following the removal of the board and the resignation of the CEO has now raised eyebrows as it may have violated Section 49 of Public Finance Management Act which states that only the Director-General of National Treasury can appoint an Administrator. 

While the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture sought direction from Treasury on the process to appoint an Administrator, Minister Mthethwa still decided ignore due process by appointing Louisa Mabe, the current Chairperson of the Robben Island Museum, as the Administrator. 

The DA calls on Mabe to step down as her appointment appears to have been irregular. 

Not only did Mthethwa bypass National Treasury to seemingly have the NHC in his pocket, but he also disregarded the prescripts of the law. This is a serious offence and the President must therefore do the right thing and fire Mthethwa.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status

DA calls for Sascoc’s plans for a possible return of fans to be deliberated by Parliament

The DA note reports that the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is said to have presented government with a plan to allow for the safe return of sports fans to stadiums. We call on Minister Nathi Mthethwa to bring this plan to Parliament and present it to the portfolio committee of Sports, Arts and Culture for their scrutiny.

 The plan comes amid the growing number of calls by a variety of sporting bodies for fans to be allowed back into stadiums, and is said to have been drafted by a committee set up by Sascoc comprising stakeholders from a variety of sporting codes.

Fans in stadiums play an important role in sports: they bring revenue to clubs, which then enables them to meet their own commitments. Others in the sports value chain, such as stadium vendors and suppliers have all also incurred huge financial losses. The closure of stadiums has caused irreparable damages to both lives and livelihoods. 

However, many fans will naturally be concerned about the safety of attending matches in stadiums. Any plan for reopening of stadiums must include comprehensive measures to mitigate the risks of spreading Covid – without placing unreasonable restrictions on people’s ability to earn their livelihood in the sports value chain.

By bringing Sascoc’s plan to Parliament for scrutiny, the Minister will have an opportunity to do what no other Minister has done during the past year of Disaster Management rule: allow Parliamentary oversight over the plans of the Executive. He will also be taking an important step toward striking a healthy balance between saving lives as well as livelihoods. 

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA granted debate of national importance on SAPS DNA crisis

The DA is pleased that our request for a debate of national importance regarding the ongoing DNA crisis at the South African Police Service (SAPS) has been granted by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) Forensics Division has, through mismanagement and leadership instability, failed to adequately resource and support the National Forensic Science Laboratories (NFSL) to ensure that DNA case exhibits are timeously processed.

The ongoing lack of basic consumables and the lack of maintenance of highly sensitive equipment, stretching back more than two years, has led to shocking delays in processing DNA samples linked to thousands of murders and rapes across the country. This has led to a backlog of more than 200 000 DNA case exhibits at the NFSL.

While the DA has been raising concerns relating to contract mismanagement and the increasing backlog for more than a year, the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, has failed to grasp the serious implications of the situation. In fact, it has been alleged that he halted agreements with Forensic Data Analysis (FDA) to keep the critically important track and trace system running at our National Forensic Science Laboratories (NFSL), twice.

South Africa is drowning in wave after wave of violent crimes. The onslaught of injustices against our people are recorded in the media on a daily basis. And instead of stemming the tide, SAPS are perpetuating the criminality through sheer ineptitude. No wonder mistrust in the police is at a high.

This debate is an important victory in the fight to bring more transparency and accountability to bear on this critical link in our criminal justice value chain.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA calls for urgent interim support for millions of Covid-19 R350 grant recipients 

The DA calls on the minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, to come up with a temporary plan to support Covid-19 relief grant recipients.

6 million grant recipients did not receive their R350 grant for the month of March. The solution SASSA provided is that recipients would receive double at the end of April. This solution does not consider the fact that these recipients rely on the grant each month as it is their only form of subsistence.

In a statement by SASSA’s spokesperson, Sandy Godlwana, it was stated that the reason for this delay is due to SASSA’s transition into their new financial year. According to Godlwana, this meant that various tasks had to be completed before the payment could be released.

SASSA knew when the change in their financial year would take place well before the transition date. A contingency plan should have been devised and extra resources allocated to make provisions for additional tasks that needed to be completed during this time. This could have prevented such delays and supported desperate recipients through these tough times.

This is yet another instance of SASSA and the Department of Social Development failing our country’s most vulnerable citizens. The DA finds it simply unacceptable.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Mkhondo: DA calls for urgent and transparent SAPS investigation 

The DA urges all South Africans to show restraint and not attend protest action on Monday 19 April 2021 when the farmers implicated in the death of two brothers appear in the local magistrate court in Mkhondo.

We also call on the South African Police Service (SAPS) National Commissioner General Khehla Sitole to urgently send extra officers to the police in the Mkhondo area near Piet Retief to ensure that they have enough officers on the ground to safeguard everyone, should the anticipated unrest transpire.

General Sitole must also send reinforcements to ensure a speedy and in-depth investigation into the incident that led to the death of two people and the injury of three others. It is of utmost importance that the investigation is fully transparent as contradicting reports of what happened are rife.

The DA finds it very worrying that increasing news reports indicate the local SAPS fabricated parts of the violent incident of 9 April, and this is inflaming tensions in the local community and fostering mistrust in the police.

The generally accepted facts seem to be that an altercation broke out between two groups of men and that two men were killed and three seriously injured. Rumours and conflicting versions of events lays the blame at each of the groups’ feet, and it is vital that cool heads prevail, and that the investigation is beyond reproach.

General Sitole must launch an investigation into the allegations that the local SAPS spread lies about the incident. Greater attention should be given to concerns from rural communities that speak out against local officers. General Sitole needs to visit Mkhondo and engage with the community and officers alike.

Trust between SAPS and the communities it’s meant to serve can only be rebuilt once the police take local concerns seriously.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Gwede Mantashe confirms that the ANC corruptly uses cadre deployment to influence government appointments. You can help the DA end this evil practice

Please find attached a soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP

Although he carefully cloaked his testimony in front of the State Capture Commission in the language of denial, former ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe yesterday confirmed the warnings about cadre deployment that the DA has issued for more than a quarter of a century. It is time to accept that cadre deployment – which gives the ANC the power to influence civil service appointments that are supposed to be non-political in nature – is a fundamental cause of corruption and state capture.

But it is also not enough for political parties to complain about the problem. We need solutions – which is why the DA has already gazetted our intention to publish the End Cadre Deployment Bill.

During his testimony yesterday, a visibly uncomfortable Mantashe attempted to dismiss a cadre deployment memorandum which had apparently been issued by the ANC in June 2020, and which the DA had earlier submitted to the Commission as part of our request for cadre deployment to be interrogated, as “fake.” However, in his subsequent testimony, Mantashe inadvertently confirmed the contents of the memorandum, which instructed ANC “comrades” that no appointment of a Director-General, boards of state-owned enterprises, board chairpersons or CEOs should be “taken to cabinet without passing through the deployment committee first.”

In another instance, Mantashe confirmed that he had personal experience of how the cadre deployment committee interfered with the appointment process. In one case, he says he submitted “five names” on a “long list” of candidates to the committee. But the ANC’s cadre deployment committee disapproved of the gender composition of the list, with Mantashe then admitting that he took the committee’s response as a “directive” to revise the list. Although he may be too ideologically blinded to see it, this single example already amounts to smoking gun evidence that the ANC uses cadre deployment to exercise unconstitutional influence over government appointments.

The DA hopes that the Commission will continue to delve into the role of cadre deployment in facilitating state capture. In the wake of Mantashe’s revelations, it is now even more urgent that ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa is compelled to answer the questions we have submitted to the Commission on Ramaphosa’s role as the chairperson of the deployment committee between 2013 and 2017.

Mantashe has confirmed that the committee interferes in government appointments. Now we need to know how Ramaphosa aided and abetted this unconstitutional process.

The DA has also put a solution on the table. Our intention to introduce the End Cadre Deployment Bill (formally called the Public Administration Laws General Amendment Bill) to Parliament has officially been published in the government gazette for public comment. We invite South Africans to read and comment on the Bill by going to the following link.

All comments on the Bill must be emailed to speaker@parliament.gov.za and copied to leon.schreiberei@gmail.com before the end of April.

The End Cadre Deployment Bill will make it illegal for any person who holds office in a political party to be employed as a professional civil servant in the state, and directs the Public Service Commission (PSC) to enforce the requirement that all appointments be based strictly on merit. The Bill makes it a criminal offence to appoint a civil servant on the basis of political loyalty rather than demonstrated merit.

The DA’s End Cadre Deployment Bill will bring an end to the violations that Mantashe’s testimony has confirmed. Brick by brick, the Bill will rebuild the separation between party and state that the ANC has completely erased through their evil policy of cadre deployment.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA one step closer to justice for South Africans unfairly stripped of their citizenship

The DA will be one step closer to justice for South Africans who were unfairly stripped of their citizenship when the Gauteng Division of the High Court hears our case against the Department of Home Affairs on 10 May 2021.

Since 1995 South African citizens have been effectively stripped of their citizenship, often without any knowledge that this has occurred, due to Section 6(1)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995 stating that a citizen shall cease to be a South African citizen if he or she by some voluntary and formal act, other than marriage, acquires the citizenship or nationality of a country other than South Africa.

Currently, the only recourse that South Africans have to avoid this when applying for an additional citizenship, is to apply to the Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, to allow them to retain their South African citizenship. If a citizen does not apply for retention of citizenship and proceeds with the application for the citizenship of another country, then they are deprived of their South African citizenship. This is the case even if the citizen does not know the relevant arcane section of the Citizenship Act.

However, this service remains closed even under lockdown level 1 despite the DA informing the Minister that citizens will be denied their constitutional right to citizenship and requesting that the service be urgently reopened.

The Department has failed to answer a written parliamentary question submitted by the DA regarding the medical, scientific, or Covid-19-risk related reasons these services remain closed.

The DA submitted its heads of argument to the High Court in late 2020, arguing that:

  • Section 6(1)(a) of the Act is inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid;
  • All persons who had lost their South African citizenship in terms of Section 6(1)(a) of the Act on or after 6 October 1995 are South African citizens; and
  • That all persons referred to above may apply to the Minister in terms of Section 15 of the Act for the appropriate certificate of citizenship.

If the DA is successful, we will overturn the effects of the unfair stripping of citizenship. Nobody should be stripped of their citizenship unwittingly and the DA and DA Abroad will fight for the constitutional rights of all South Africans, at home and abroad.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Halting of vaccine rollout spells disaster for healthcare workers and most vulnerable 

 Please find attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

The DA is opposed to the decision and subsequent announcement made by the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to halt the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine to the remaining healthcare workers who are yet to be vaccinated two months into the trial phase.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) is said to be investigating adverse effects that can be attributed to the use of the J&J vaccine. This investigation needs to be concluded speedily in order for South Africa to resume and significantly ramp up the rollout of this life-saving vaccine which has been an unmitigated disaster thus far.

The statistical significance of 6 people out of close to 7 million who have had adverse effects in the United States pales in comparison to the devastating impact a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections could have. Leading academics and experts – who must absolutely lead the decision-making on this – have not been in support of government’s decision in this regard.

It then begs the question why such a drastic step has been taken.

Is it simply because government is shielding its own poor performance on the vaccine rollout so far?

In addition, this kind of ‘stop-start’ approach could be incredibly damaging to the public perception of vaccination when the risks seem almost negligible statistically and scientifically.

It makes little sense to copy countries like the United States where the context is very different. The United States has the luxury of being able to temporarily suspend administration of the J&J vaccine because they have already vaccinated millions of their citizens and have various vaccines in circulation. Halting the administering of one vaccine does not impact them as much as it could impact South Africa, since we currently only have tiny quantities of this single vaccine available to us.

The South African government has failed spectacularly thus far to procure a variety of vaccines in bulk, to reach the 1.2 million healthcare workers targeted, to produce a general rollout plan, and to move beyond the trial phase of the vaccine rollout.

The rollout has been criminally slow.

The only rational approach to vaccine administration is a cost-benefit analysis of the risks South Africa faces. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on our country – costing thousands of lives and millions of livelihoods. The risk of adverse effects is negligible when compared to the risks associated with a possible 3rd wave of C0vid-19 infections.

We call on the Minister and SAHPRA to conclude these deliberations and assure South Africans that this is not merely a scapegoating exercise to shield government from accountability.

We need to get to the business of saving lives and livelihoods by launching a real vaccine rollout programme.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Ramaphosa and ANC must condemn Zuma’s attack on judiciary 

The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC to condemn former President Jacob Zuma’s latest attack on the integrity of the judiciary in a letter sent to the Chief Justice yesterday. Zuma is playing a dangerous game by undermining the highest court in our land and the failure of President Ramaphosa and the ANC to condemn their former leader’s actions is tantamount to an implied approval of his latest attack on the judiciary.

Last week, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng provided the former president with an opportunity to file an affidavit to outline what Zuma believed would be an appropriate sentence should he be found guilty of contempt of court. Given that Zuma has chosen to not participate in any of the court proceedings since their inception, this opportunity was a generous courtesy offered by the Constitutional Court not typically offered to an ordinary accused.

Instead of accepting this offer, Zuma chose to reply with a letter rather than an affidavit claiming that he did not wish to validate the “sham” of the court proceedings and that the Court was determined to send him to prison.

Zuma has evaded justice for far too long. It is disgraceful that the ANC have not only encouraged this type of behaviour but have failed to condemn Zuma’s latest attack on the judiciary. It is even more shocking that Ramaphosa was heard telling Zuma, in a leaked ANC top 6 video, that he views him as “my leader and as my elder in the ANC”. As President of the country, Ramaphosa in particular, needs to step up and condemn these attacks on the judiciary. Even if the ANC remains silent, he, as the leader of the country, should speak up when someone as prominent as a former president undermines the judiciary.

Zuma further criticised the lawfulness of the State Capture Commission, reasserted his claims of judicial bias and arrogantly challenged the Court to imprison him. He also lied in claiming that he had only been offered 3 days to respond, when he was in fact given 5 days to file an affidavit he had no legal right to make in the first place.

It is time our president found a better, more ethical leader than Zuma. The DA calls on President Ramaphosa to condemn Zuma’s blatant attack on the judiciary. Any failure to censure the former ANC president should be viewed as tacit approval of Zuma’s disgraceful actions.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.