Treasury allowing broke ANC municipalities to steal from the poor

National Treasury must be held to account for the lax controls that allowed municipalities to misappropriate R9 billion in grant funding that was meant to help poor households.

This money was given to municipalities to roll out free basic electricity (FBE) to indigent households in the 2019/20 financial year, but according to the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI) basket case municipalities spent the money on other things.

The PARI report makes particular reference to Dihlabeng Local Municipality in the Free State which, despite having a large percentage of households registered as indigents, has not been extending the FBE allowance to any of them.

It’s not enough for National Treasury and the Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, to bemoan how badly the finances of most municipalities are being managed. It’s their job in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act to:

  • Ensure that proper controls are put in place so that when municipalities misappropriate grant funding, a red light flashes on the desktop of the Finance Minister;
  • And then to step in to prevent these basket case municipalities from misspending any more of the grant money.

This is made plain by section 5(2)(b) of the MFMA, which enjoins National Treasury to “promote good budget and fiscal management by municipalities, and for this purpose monitor the implementation of municipal budgets, including their expenditure….” 

The DA will be submitting parliamentary questions to Minister Mboweni requesting that he clarifies:

  • Whether National Treasury supports the diversion of funds from the poor for use elsewhere?
  • Whether National Treasury’s public finance management and monitoring systems are failing to adequately monitor municipal expenditure, now that R9 billion for the poor is found to have been diverted?
  • Whether National Treasury will be taking action against municipalities that have diverted funds meant to assist the poor and indigent?

The DA is concerned that local government, especially municipalities under ANC control, will soon go the way of state-owned entities – unable to function without national government bailouts above and beyond their equitable share.

National Treasury, which was traditionally been one of the only government bulwarks against profligacy and corruption, has an essential tole to prevent this from happening. So it must ensure that its unit for monitoring municipal finances is beefed up urgently.

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

Avian flu: DA calls on Minister Didiza to strengthen South Africa’s biosecurity

Please find an attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP

As the continued outbreak of avian flu on poultry farms across the country shows no sign of a slowdown, the DA calls on Minister Thoko Didiza to prioritise biosecurity. This is to curtail the spread of avian flu to further poultry farms.

Thus far, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) reported the outbreak on four farms in Gauteng and one in the North West province. At the end of last week, another outbreak was reported in the Western Cape on a farm in Worcester.

According to reports from Asia and Europe, these new viruses are more lethal to poultry birds and are spread easily by wild birds. Countries like Poland started reporting the outbreak as far back as January and have lost over 5 million birds to date. Asia and Europe have been experiencing the H5Nx High Pathogenicity Avian Influenza (HPAI) with the genetic origins identified as H5N1 HPAI that originated from China in 1996. These H5N1 virus outbreaks have been widely reported and it was just a matter of time that it would reach the Southern Hemisphere.

The DA has long been calling for improved biosecurity to ensure minimal adverse diseases impact on farms post the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in Limpopo. However, as alarm bells went off internationally, the DALRRD failed to take the necessary surveillance measures to protect our vulnerable farms from animal diseases.

The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, has allocated R495 million towards biosecurity in 2021. Minister Didiza must now prioritise adequate measures to ensure that South Africa’s biosecurity system is resourced so that it can provide an appropriate level of protection to the poultry industry. This should include:

  • Research on H5N1 and providing mitigation strategies;
  • Monitoring measures of small interface between the wild aquatic birds and commercial poultry birds;
  • Continuous proactive monitoring of both wild birds and animal diseases which can provide an early warning sign; and
  • The interaction between poultry birds and wild waterfowl or any other migratory birds.

We call the Minister to ensure budgets are utilized effectively by her department to conduct research, conduct inspections on farms and wetlands areas, and provide a constant alert to farmers about potential diseases. A responsible government would take care that these measures and shall not wait for the outbreak of diseases to happen.

Well before the outbreak of the H5N1, the DA asked Minister Didiza to provide an outline of prevailing animal diseases in all provinces and the mitigation thereof. We are yet to receive an answer.

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

DA to lead debate on DNA crisis in Parliament tomorrow

Tomorrow the DA’s urgent Debate of National Importance on the ongoing DNA backlog crisis at the South African Police Service (SAPS) will be held in Parliament.

We urge all citizens to follow the debate at 14:00 tomorrow.

For years the DA has been raising the alarm about the escalating crisis with DNA sample testing at the National Forensic Science Laboratories (NFSL). The backlog in DNA case exhibits at the NFSL now stands at more than 200 000.

The DA has previously asked Police Minister Bheki Cele and National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole to investigate partnerships with private laboratories to address the backlog. These calls have fallen on deaf ears. As such, we have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene where the Minister has failed and have lodged a human rights complaint against SAPS over these backlogs.

The persistent lack of basic consumables and 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. These backlogs have effectively robbed thousands of victims of violent crimes of the justice they deserve.

This debate comes at a time when Minister Cele and the National Police Commissioner are openly fighting with one another while ordinary South Africans are drowning in wave after wave of violent crimes.

Minister Cele and the National Police Commissioner must accept responsibility for the crisis which has occurred on their watch and explain why murderers and rapists have been given a license to commit violent crimes with impunity.

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

Is Bheki Cele trying to enforce cadre deployment at SAPS?

The DA can reveal that the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, is trying to enforce his will on the National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, in the appointment of senior managers in key positions within the South African Police Service (SAPS).

In a letter the DA has seen, Minister Cele berates General Sitole for not submitting the new candidates they had agreed upon in a 15 April 2021 meeting and not reversing the appointments.

While regulations do allow for approval of appointments by the Minister, this letter seems to be about more than ticking bureaucratic boxes. It’s rather an indication that there is truth to news reports that the Minister and the Commissioner have fallen out. Minister Cele seems to now be using his authority to undermine General Sitole to the detriment of SAPS in what seems to be a blatant attempt at cadre deployment.

The DA will write to Minister Cele for clarification regarding this situation, and to get an indication of how he intends to resolve it.

SAPS cannot afford petty squabbles between its top leadership. Already, it is facing ever-rising challenges of evidence processing, equipment maintenance and corruption within its ranks. If South African communities are ever to see effective policing again, only officers with the necessary experience and training can be appointed in appropriate positions. Cadre deployment will continue to rot away institutions until nothing is left.

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

Denel’s collapse now threatening SANDF’s defence capabilities 

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Kobus Marais MP

The DA has written to the Chairperson of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence, Cyril Xaba, to request that the committee investigates SANDF’s internal preparedness to threats in light of Denel’s decay.

We have seen a letter in which the Chief Director of SANDF’s Force Development And Support, Major General Setete Malakoane, requests guidelines from the Chief of the South African Airforce (SAAF), Lieutenant General Mzayifani Buthelezi, in regards to the SAAF approving payment to Denel in light of the challenges faced by the SOE.

The letter clearly outlines SADF’s concerns and states that:

  • Denel’s current financial situation has created a loss of capabilities” which “has impacted the operation of SAAF and led to most of aircraft systems being unavailable.”
  • The inadequate supply of spares by Denel for maintenance has resulted in the unserviceability of equipment.
  • Denel’s decay has also impacted on a lack of ammunition and combat readiness of SANDF.

This letter is alarming and clearly demonstrates SANDF’s own internal concerns about how Denel’s financial and capacity challenges is now threatening the efficacy of the Airforce and the military in general.

The collapse of Denel now poses a major threat to SANDF’s operational and defence capabilities, and can leave South Africa vulnerable to unwanted threats, especially given the Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique.

The DA has already requested that the SADNF leadership appear before the committee, however, we also believe as Parliamentarians we have a constitutional responsibility to investigate this impending crisis at SANDF as a matter of national importance due to the possible threat to our country’s security.

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

DA verwelkom Menseregtekommissie-ondersoek van ons klagte teen die Universiteit Stellenbosch oor taal-diskrimminasie

Stellenbosch

Die DA verwelkom die ondersoek deur die Menseregtekommissie na die voortgesette diskriminasie teen Afrikaans by die Universiteit Stellenbosch.

Die DA het vroeër vanjaar die klag by die kommissie aanhangig gemaak oor die universiteit se taalbeleid, nadat dit aan die lig gekom het dat studente al meer op die kampus verbied word om Afrikaans te praat. Eerstejaars by verskeie koshuise is verbied om in Afrikaans in hul koshuiskamers te praat, en die verbod is blykbaar selfs op WhatsApp-groepe en parkiebanke op kampus toegepas.

Op grond van die DA se klag, gaan die MRK nou die mate ondersoek waartoe die US se diskriminerende optrede Afrikaanssprekende studente se regte tot gelykheid op grond van taal, ras of op enige ander ongrondwetlike wyse geskend het. Die ondersoek van die MRK kom op die regte tyd aangesien volgehoue klagtes aan die universiteitsbestuur – en spesifiek aan rektor Wim de Villiers – aanhoudend op dowe ore val.

De Villiers se moedswillige swyging gaan egter nou tot ’n einde kom wanneer die Mensregtekommissie Maandag 10 Mei om 10:00 met hul ondersoek in Kaapstad begin.

Die kommissie het aangedui die leierskap van die universiteit, insluitende De Villiers, sal moet getuig, sowel as ander partye wat by die saak betrek is.

Die DA sal self by die verhoor teenwoordig wees om De Villiers se getuienis te monitor. Ons sien voorts ook uit om self te getuig en om Afrikaanse studente op hul beurt te help om húl stem te laat hoor.

Dit is ook nou ’n gulde geleentheid vir die MRK om die rol van die unversiteit se 2016-taalbeleid te ondersoek, aangesien hierdie beleid amptelik aan Afrikaans ’n mindere status as onderigtaal toegeken het. Dit is die 2016-beleid se weiering om aan Afrikaans gelyke status naas Engels te gee wat die atmosfeer geskep het vir die diskriminasie teenoor Afrikaanssprekende studente selfs in private ruimtes.

Dit is ’n ontseenseglike feit dat moedertaalonderrig van uiterse belang is vir die sukses van studente. Dit is ook die grondwetlike reg van alle Suid-Afrikaners om hulself uit te druk in hul moedertaal en om onderrig te ontvang in die taal van hul eie keuse. Die DA sal daarom die MRK-ondersoek deurlopend monitor om te verhoed dat studente wat voor die kommissie getuig beskerm word teen verdere intimidasie of viktimisering deur die US-bestuur.

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

Gordhan’s secrecy surrounding Brussels vaccine flight is impeding Parliament’s constitutional oversight powers 

The Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has failed to provide adequate replies to questions on the South African Airways (SAA) vaccine flight to Brussels in Belgium on the 24th of February 2021. The DA will henceforth be referring Minister Gordhan to the Leader of Government Business in Parliament, Deputy President David Mabuza, so that disciplinary action may be taken against him for impeding the exercise of Parliament’s oversight powers.

 

Minister Gordhan has bluntly refused to provide details of the flight crew of the SAA vaccine flight to Brussels, attempting to justify his secrecy on the basis that there is apparently an “industrially charged environment at SAA” and that such a disclosure could pose a risk to the employees concerned.  This is a very serious allegation that the Minister is making towards the striking pilots, implying that they might be capable of violent extra-judicial conduct toward the crew if the crew were to be publicly identified.

 

In addition to the blunt refusal to give information about the crew, Minister Gordhan has also simply ignored the questions regarding the aviation regulations and exemptions obtained from the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA).

 

Minister Gordhan needs to play open cards with the public, who have the right to demand that he uphold the constitutionally enshrined principles of public administration, most notably transparency.

 

Thus far, the Minister has blatantly refused to answer the question of whether government adhered to all the relevant provisions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) when chartering the Brussels flight. His silence is becoming deafening and may be indicative of guilt.

 

The DA is confident that the Auditor-General will fully investigate the legal legitimacy of the Brussels flight when carrying out the audits of both the Department of Public Enterprises and the Department of Health and expose any likely wrongdoing on the part of Minister Gordhan and his cadres.

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

DA calls for debate of national importance on the failure of land reform in South Africa 

The DA will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to request a debate of national importance on the failure of land reform in South Africa over the past 25 years. Minister Thoko Didiza’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has presided over a dysfunctional land administration system that has left land redistribution, land restitution and land tenure reform in complete chaos across the country.

The government’s flagship land redistribution programmes, the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) and the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) have been so badly managed that it has led to widespread confusion, with affected farmers left facing an uncertain future due to a poor land tenure system.

Under LRAD, the government undertook to transfer land to previously disadvantaged citizens under lease to buy agreements. However, the DALRRD has reneged on the ‘lease-to-buy’ agreements, despite the commitment it made in 2005. On the 22nd of April, the DA wrote to Didiza and asked that she intervenes directly in the case of 6 farmers who were being thrown from pillar to post as they tried to action the purchase clause in their ‘lease-to-buy’ agreements. Didiza has not responded.

Similarly, under PLAS, a programme which was meant to address the skewed patterns of land ownership, the Department has only managed to enter into sale agreements with only 15 out of 730 PLAS beneficiaries since 1995. Farmers under the PLAS programme have now become vulnerable to farm evictions or the refusal by the Department to renew their leases. The moratorium on farm evictions, announced by Didiza, has failed to stop the issuance of eviction notices and the renewal of farm leases for famers under this programme.

The government has repeatedly failed to meet its own deadlines to resolve land claims and land restitution cases. In fact, the High-Level Panel Report to Parliament indicated that there are currently more than 7 000 unsettled land claims and 19 000 unfinalised ‘old order’ (pre-1999) claims. At this rate of progress, the report concluded, it will take 43 years before the backlog is cleared. In 2015, the Constitutional Court declared the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act 15 of 2014 to be invalid and ordered that land claims lodged by 1998 be finalised before new claims are lodged.

The ease with which the government has been able to wield eviction notices against vulnerable farmers has been influenced by lack of tenure security. Farmers have been given short term leases, leaving them susceptible to summary evictions from belligerent officials. A case in point is Ivan Cloete who almost lost his farm after he received an administratively flawed eviction order. It was only after the DA’s intervention that the Department rescinded the eviction order and agreed to give him a long-term lease.

Amending section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation, as proposed by the ANC, does nothing to provide justice for landless South Africans. The failure of land reform over the past 25 years has been the lack of action by government to ensure justice is served and land ownership patterns are addressed.

The DA’s position is consistent with the findings of the Motlanthe High-Level Panel Report which stated that “the need to pay compensation has not been the most serious constraint on land reform in South Africa to date.” It identifies evidence of corruption by officials, diversion of the land reform budget to the political elite, a lack of political will, and a lack of training and capacity as more serious stumbling blocks. These are all factors that the government has control over without need for recourse to constitutional amendments.

Parliament has a constitutional obligation to step in where government has failed. The DALRRD has shown itself incapable of addressing the chaos in land reform which has left many farmers at the brink of losing their livelihoods. This has to be fixed as a matter of urgency before the farming sector is plunged into chaos.

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

ANC infighting destroys North West municipalities

It is clear that the ANC’s current infighting has a devastating impact on service delivery in North West municipalities.

The ANC is the majority party in all the province’s municipalities, but ANC factions are embroiled in an all-out war for jobs and resources.

Parliament’s portfolio committee on co-operative governance is currently conducting oversight visits to these municipalities. What we have discovered has shocked even ANC Members of Parliament.

While water purification plants and roads fall apart, sewage pollutes rivers and electricity networks crumble, ANC councillors are busy fighting each other (in full view of MPs).

In some municipalities, such as Twaing and Ratlou, two ANC councillors lay claim to the same mayoral position. Municipal managers have also been dragged into these fights.

The result is that nobody charged with government responsibility in these municipalities is focused on management and service delivery.

Normally we would ask for the intervention of national government, but the North West provincial government has been under its administration for years.

The chaos in the North West offers a lesson to the rest of the country on the dangers of a one-party State and the devastation caused by cadre deployment.

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

Funding Zondo is worth every cent 

The DA welcomes the additional resource allocation for the completion of the Zondo Commission, so long as this Commission leads to real criminal consequences for every person involved in state capture.

Minister Tito Mboweni erred in February when he failed to allocate extra funds to the Zondo Commission in the main budget. 

The newfound tranche of R75 million announced by Minister Lamola that is to be allocated to the commission is thus welcomed by the DA.

Part of the reason South Africa is in financial crisis is state capture. It is crucial that the oozing, fungating wound of ANC corruption be opened and cleaned out for everyone to see.

Zondo is giving us crucial insights into how the ANC has plundered the state, how the policy of cadre deployment is the true cause, and how Parliament was neutered to stop accountability.

It is imperative that the commission be allocated time and funding in order to conclude its work so that criminal prosecutions against dozens of state capture cadres can be initiated. Until then, it is a worthwhile cost to incur. 

Perhaps if failing state companies SAA weren’t continuously bailed out, Ministers Mboweni and Lamola might find it easier to come up with the requisite funding.

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