Mpumalanga-plaasaanval: DA veroordeel moord op ma en seun

Die DA veroordeel die moord op Anna-Marie Botha en haar seun, Ruan Britz, Saterdag tydens ’n plaasaanval naby Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, ten sterkste. Botha en haar seun is tydens ’n rooftog op die Valley Farm buite Nelspruit vermoor.

Die oortreders is steeds op vrye voet, maar die SAPD het bevestig dat ’n saak van moord en roof geopen is. Die DA se hofmoniteringstak in Mpumalanga, sal hierdie saak fyn dophou om te verseker dat die oortreders van hierdie gruwelike misdaad aan die pen ry. Die DA het reeds in elke provinsie in die land hofmoniteringsgroepe opgestel. Ons is bekommerd oor die drastiese toename in plaasaanvalle in die land die afgelope maand.

Die sinlose moord op mevrou Botha en haar seun beklemtoon weer eens die dringende behoefte om sigbare polisiëring in landelike gebiede te verskerp. Hierdie gemeenskappe het ’n verhoogde risiko vir ’n geweldsmisdaad en loop gereeld deur. Daarom herhaal die DA ons beroep dat gespesialiseerde eenhede vir landelike veiligheid ontplooi word en dat die SAPD dringend die implementering van sy landelike veiligheidsplan op nasionale vlak prioritiseer.

Ons innige meegevoel aan mev. Botha en Ruan se familie en geliefdes, sowel as die breër Nelspruit-gemeenskap.

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DA condemns murder of mother and son on Mpumalanga farm 

The DA strongly condemns the murder of Anna-Marie Botha and her son, Ruan Britz, during a farm attack in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga on Saturday. Botha and her son were murdered during robbery at the Valley Farm outside Nelspruit.

The perpetrators are still at large, however, SAPS has confirmed that a case of murder and robbery has been opened. The DA’s Mpumalanga Court Watching Briefs will keep a close eye on this case in order to ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to book. The DA has established court watching briefs in every province in the country. The incidence of farm attacks across the country has increased dramatically in the past month.

The senseless killing of Mrs Botha and her son once again highlights the urgent need for strengthened and visible policing in our rural and farming communities. These communities are at constant risk of violent crimes and brutality.

The DA therefore reiterates our call on the police to introduce specialised rural safety units in these communities and for SAPS to urgently prioritise the implementation of its rural safety plan nationally.

We send our heartfelt condolences to their family and loved ones as well as the wider Nelspruit farming community.

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DA calls on De Lille to stop wasting State resources on appealing costly arbitration outcomes 

The DA calls on Minister Patricia De Lille to respect the decision of the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council and reinstate 65 contract employees of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) in accordance with arbitration awards. 

In December 2019, 85 contract workers of the Department took annual leave and on their return in January 2020, 63 were advised that their contracts had not been renewed. Some of these workers had been on renewed fixed-term contracts for as long as 15 years.  Most had been there for over 2 years with a minimum of 2 renewals.

The workers took the DPWI to the Bargaining Council and last month, the Council issued an arbitration award in favour of the workers. The award stipulates that the contracts of the 63 workers be reinstated with effect from the renewal of the 22 whose contracts were renewed, “without the loss of benefits”.

This follows on two other arbitration awards made against the Department in 2020 – one in August and one in December.  In both cases, the applicants are required to be reinstated from the date of the expiration of the previous contract and that their salaries and benefits be paid retrospectively. Just these two costs amount to more than R2 million.

The DA is extremely concerned that the Department is, not only wasting substantial amounts of money in defending cases that it should not have been faced with in the first place, but is also delaying implementing the provisions of the awards and is considering appealing these decisions.

The 2019 Guide on Governance Practice for Executive Authorities and Heads of Departments is extremely clear that “an arbitration award issued by a commissioner is final and binding and it may be enforced as if it were an order of the Labour Court”.  Furthermore, it stipulates that if required to pay an amount to the aggrieved party, “the amount earns interest from the date of the award”.  Any delays on the part of the DPWI to implement the awards could certainly be extremely costly and wasteful. 

Of great concern is that some of those who have been forced to endure arbitration to have themselves reinstated, hold pivotal positions within the DPWI. One such person is a Deputy Director General responsible for the Immovable Asset Register.  

The Department has consistently reflected an under-expenditure and lack of capacity in terms of its human resources and this is having a negative impact on the ability of the DPWI to meet its performance objectives and deliver services, especially within the Property Management Trading Entity.  And yet, valuable resources are being used to defend and appeal labour matters that have little likelihood of success.

The DA urges the Minister to pursue a recruitment strategy that allows the incumbents to apply for their jobs in order to ensure that the current leadership and staffing crisis is addressed.  

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Defence Minister should be suspended without pay following allegations of pampered lifestyle on public funds

The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to institute an urgent Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into allegations that the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, wasted millions of taxpayers’ money on chartered flights and luxury accommodation, and to suspend her without compensation pending the outcome of this investigation.

A dossier of evidence has been submitted to the Joint Standing Committee on Defence detailing at least five instances where doubt can be cast over the Minister’s actions. This is in addition to evidence that had been submitted to the committee on a previous occasion that alleged Minister Mapisa-Nqakula had “extorted” more than R5 million from a South African National Defence Force (SANDF) service provider.

The Sunday Independent has reported that the Minister allegedly spent:

  • R4 million on a chartered flight from the Waterkloof Airforce Base in Pretoria to Cairo in Egypt in April 2019;
  • R400 000 on a five-day stay in the Marriott Essex House, a luxury hotel overlooking Central Park in New York, USA, in September 2019;
  • R350 000 in November 2019 for a six-day stay at the Hotel Du Collectionneur Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, for her and three departmental attachés. And an Avis transport bill of nearly R150 000; and
  • R2.5 million to charter an aircraft to Angola, Guinea, Ghana and Togo, which bizarrely included a flight from Lanseria International Airport to Cape Town International Airport and one from Waterkloof Airport Base to Lanseria International Airport, which was in driving distance.

How long will President Ramaphosa allow his close connection with Charles Nqakula, the husband of the Defence Minister and one of his senior advisors, to influence his dismissal of mounting evidence of malfeasance against her?

Minister Mapisa-Nqakula is clearly not suited for her post. Whether its corruption, incompetence or wilful ignorance, she has proven time and again that she cannot handle her duties as Minister, especially not in a Department as important as Defence. She is frivolous with a dwindling defence budget and cannot be trusted with the safety and security of the country.

Rumours of an imminent cabinet reshuffle abound, and it would be the perfect opportunity for the President to get rid of this dead weight Minister once and for all.

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DA congratulates ‘My Octopus Teacher’ creators on Oscar win 

The DA extends its congratulations to the creators of the South African documentary My Octopus Teacher for winning the Academy Award in the Best Documentary Feature category. 

The Netflix-documentary follows Cape Town-based filmmaker, Craig Foster, as he builds a connection with an octopus. The film also gives a fascinating glimpse into marine life.

This was a great achievement for the creators and the South African film industry, as we have once again highlighted our talents and capabilities in this field.  

We congratulate the creators on making the nation proud with this wonderful achievement. 

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Mantashe must come clean about Powerships

Recent revelations about the involvement of former special advisor to ex-State Security Ministers David Mahlobo and Bongani Bongo, Thabo George Mokoena, in the Karpowerships bid for the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP) calls into question once again the legitimacy of this as a solution to South Africa’s electricity crisis. George Mokoena, not to be confused with Thabo Shadrack Mokoena, the Director General of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy – the implementing department of the RMIPPPP, is according to reports a 20% shareholder in Powergroup SA, which is Karpowership’s BEE partner.

The DA calls on Minister of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe to come clean about the real basis of the Karpowership bid, and why the RMIPPPP was set up from the start to favour this solution. We demand that the records of the bid adjudication be made public, as well as the minutes of any deliberations in which the various bidders were evaluated. While we acknowledge the urgent need to secure a consistent and viable electricity supply for our country, this cannot come at the expense of our environment or our values as a country.

The BEE shareholding is highly questionable, because there is little local benefit (such as jobs or capital investment) to leasing these powerships for a 20 year period, and appears to be little more than fronting in order to line the pockets of the connected few. In comparison, other RMIPPPP projects are investing significantly in infrastructure and local manufacturing, and will result in economic development and job creation.

The Karpowerships solution has been touted as a “no regret” option by the Department, however in the Portfolio Committee meeting last week, they were at a loss to explain how importing Liquified Natural Gas to fuel these ships, subject to international market pricing and exchange rate fluctuations, would ease the electricity tariff burden on cash-strapped consumers. The Department suggested that the proposed 20 year contracts were necessary to amortize the capital costs, but again, could not explain what these costs would be given that the ships themselves are leased.

We have seen the damage that politically connected contracts have done at Medupi and Khusile. South Africa cannot afford to be locked into a long-term deal with Tenderpreneurs.

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DA escalates fight for a review of the flawed Section 25 oral submission process 

On 25 March 2021, the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, objecting to the failure by the Chairperson of the committee, Dr Mathole Motshekga, to protect the integrity and procedural fairness of the oral submission process from the disruptive actions of other members on the committee.

Speaker Modise’s silence and failure to respond to our submissions has left us with no choice but to approach the National Assembly rules committee for a review of the Section 25 Ad-hoc Committee’s oral submission process.

The EFF’s rowdy behaviour during oral submissions and the failure by the chairperson, Dr Mathole Motsekga, to act may have potentially violated the Constitution and parliamentary rules on public participation. As such, the rules committee should make a determination of whether the oral submission process can be viewed as procedurally fair.

In March, the Ad-hoc committee had invited oral submissions from organisations and individuals that had previously indicated in their written submissions their intention to make oral presentations. The purpose of the oral submissions was to obtain exhaustive public input on the Bill, especially from the important constituency of civil society representatives.

Instead of giving these civil society representatives an opportunity to freely express their views on the Bill, Dr Matshekga allowed members from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to heckle and hurl expletives at them. At one point, EFF MPs Floyd Shivambu and Mbuyiseni Ndlozi launched an unprovoked attack on AfriForum Deputy CEO Ernst Roets. They labelled him a ‘racist’, ‘racist fool’, ‘racist boy’ and ‘f****** racist’. Dr Motshekga failed to protect Mr Roets from these unwarranted attacks and instead tried to place the blame on him by saying he must take the ‘meeting seriously’.

Objections by DA members to the EFF’s uncouth language and abuse of Mr Roets were dismissed by the Chairperson as irrelevant.

Dr Motshekga’s contamination of the oral submission process violated section 4.1.5 of Parliament’s Code of Ethical Conduct which enjoins all members to ‘maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity of Parliament and thereby engender the respect and confidence that society needs to have in Parliament as a representative institution’. Dr Motshekga’s conduct did not inspire confidence in the integrity of Parliament or its place in society as a representative institution.

The Constitution is also very clear on the principle that Parliament must ‘receive…representations or submissions from any interested persons or institutions’ and that the ‘national assembly [should] facilitate public involvement in the legislative processes of the Assembly and its committees’. By allowing heckling and the use of derogatory language against participants to a duly constituted parliamentary committee, Dr Motshekga may have violated the participant’s right to a fair hearing.

As such, we want to put it on record that we do not endorse nor support the procedurally flawed manner by which Dr Motshekga held the oral submission process. It was a clear violation of standing principles and constitutional requirements for public participation. We therefore place the burden of whether to allow this flawed oral submission process to stand in the hands of the National Assembly rules committee.

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Nkoana-Mashabane should account to Parliament after government fails to meet 60% of GBV targets 

The DA notes the Commission for Gender Equality’s (CGE) damning report that more than 60% of government’s targets in its Emergency Response Action Plan (ERAP) to deal with gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) has not been reached.

The fact that out of 81 targets, only 17 were met and 12 partially achieved, leaving 51 (63.75%) targets unmet is shameful. The DA raised questions regarding the effectiveness of ERAP when it was first presented in 2019, as well as in subsequent committee meetings with the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and the Deputy Director-General (DG) Shoki Tshabalala, who leads the Department’s response to GBVF.

The fact is, government does not have strong structures, processes and systems in place to ensure monitoring and evaluation, oversight, consequence management, or accountability.

The DA is concluding our national oversight tour to Thuthuzela Care Centres and can confirm that the experience of those fighting the scourge of GBVF in our communities reflect government’s absence highlighted by the CGE report. Although the care centres try their utmost, they struggle with resources and capacitation of specialist staff, thereby perpetuating the suffering of GBV victims.

We will write to the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee of women, youth and persons with disabilities, Nonhlanhla Ndaba, to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the CGE report, as well as write to the Minister for an explanation of her Department’s dismal failure to implement ERAP targets.

The DA will also submit parliamentary questions to National Treasury regarding ERAP’s R1.6 billion budget and how it has been spent.

Government’s failure to brief key Departments involved and to appoint project leaders within each Department and the fact that there was no monitoring or evaluation plan, meant the ERAP was destined to fail.

It is reprehensible that the CGE struggled to get necessary information from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and key departments in conducting its report. SAPS continues to be the weakest link in the fight against GBVF.

SAPS have failed to meet vital targets, including:

  • Reducing the backlog for GBV-related forensic cases;
  • Prioritising complaints related to GBV so they are dealt with within 7 days;
  • Finalising 80% of domestic violence related cases within 3 days; and
  • Conducting training on the guidelines of management of survivors of sexual violence at all police stations.

SAPS have partially met its target to ensure that backlogged cases are prioritised, but it must do better.

The massive scale of failure of government to implement ERAP targets prove that it is simply paying lip service to fighting the GBVF pandemic. Like most government promises, they will forever remain a testament to the ANC government’s only lasting legacy – a wasteland of weak political will to better the lives of those it’s meant to serve. It is no wonder that GBVF continues to thrive in South Africa.

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Mthethwa’s decision on CSA a devastating blow to South African cricket

The DA has taken note of the decision by Minister Nathi Mthethwa to invoke his powers in terms of Section 13(5) of the Sports Act to officially strip Cricket South Africa (CSA) if its national recognition.

This decision will be devastating for South African cricket as the future of the game in our country now hangs in the balance.

This move by Mthethwa follows the CSA Members’ Council voting against amending the Memorandum of Incorporation intending to introduce a more independent governance structure that would have strengthened CSA’s governance.

We have also taken note of the Minister’s reported letter in which he supposedly lays the blame for this crisis at the door of the Members’ Council and SASCOC.

While Members’ Council and SASCOC did indeed play a role in the instability, the Minister and his political meddling in the affairs of CSA also contributed to the tug-of-war.

The DA calls on the Minister to appear before the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture as a matter of urgency to account for his decision to involve Section 13 and to pave the way forward on South Africa’s future in international cricket.

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DA calls for Denel to be placed under business rescue

The DA calls for Denel to be placed under business rescue as it is becoming apparent that the entity is facing imminent collapse.

This follows recent reports that its Denel Dynamics division is again not able to pay staff salaries.

The only rational way forward is to place the state-owned enterprise (SOE) under business rescue as bailouts and government guarantees will not be an answer to save the arms manufacturer.

The situation is dire:

  • The entity is broke and their financials are in disarray. Denel Dynamics has reportedly asked their staff to work relentlessly on contracts that were secured so that they may be paid on a future date.
  • Denel Dynamics are however, according to internal communications, not able to pay salaries for April.
  • Denel’s vehicle manufacturing division has come to a complete standstill and they also do not have the capital to finance tenders and contracts that are in the pipeline or to sustain itself.

It is for these reasons we believe there is no way forward other than for the entity to be placed under business rescue. If there isn’t an urgent intervention, the entire entity will collapse. It is important that business rescuers take over the running of the arms manufacturer and that they formulate a credible business rescue plan to get things in order at the entity.

Unlike the sham of a business rescue plan that we see playing out at the South African Airways (SAA), we want the process to be independent without any undue influence from the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, or from his department. It should be a process that follows the letter of the law and it shouldn’t be governed by the ANC’s factionalism or ideological beliefs, but in terms of the rules that govern business rescue processes.

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