DA calls for greater transparency as Mineral Resources and Energy officials confirm meeting with bidder

Please find attached a soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP

The DA has noted the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s response to a court challenge to the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP), in which the Director-General, Adv. Thabo Mokoena, and Deputy Director-General, Tseliso Maqubela, of the Department confirm meeting with DNG Energy CEO Aldworth Mbalati at Kream restaurant in Pretoria. This response raises more questions than answers, and appears to support the allegations of interference and corruption that continue to cloud this project.

Of particular concern is the presence of one Vuyani Gaga in this meeting. Gaga, who allegedly has previously presented himself as Minister Gwede Mantashe’s nephew in the Nkwe mine controversy, is no stranger to corruption claims. He was arrested and charged in connection with the R631 million Siyenza toilet scandal in the Eastern Cape. He is currently a business partner of Mantashe’s wife, Nolwandle Mantashe, in a company called Siphamba Consulting (a company Mantashe’s son, Buyambo, also worked for at one time). This lends further credence to Mbalati’s allegation that Nolwandle Mantashe was working with other bidders to extend the submission deadline for bid proposals, and for which he submitted a forwarded message as evidence.

At the same time, a new legal opinion obtained by Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) from law firm Bowman Gilfillan identifies significant regulatory challenges for the RMIPPPP, and more specifically the Karpowerships bid. These relate to regulatory requirements in terms of the National Ports Act. The DA first raised these concerns weeks ago, when the successful bidders were announced, but were ignored by the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy. It is now clear that such regulatory requirements represent a major hurdle, which has not yet been resolved. Of particular interest is the Ministerial statement in reply to a DA parliamentary question as to why other bidders were unsuccessful: “Failure to comply with the Land and Environmental qualification criteria (did not have the necessary permits, authorisations, land rights or Final Scoping Reports for environmental purposes).” Assuming that the same criteria is applied to all regulatory requirements, why was the Karpowerships bid allowed to proceed without having such regulatory permissions in place?

The Democratic Alliance reiterates its demand for all scoring and deliberations of the bid adjudication committee (and any other bodies involved in the process) to be made public, and for the names of all persons involved in taking the final decision as to which bidders would be successful and which would not, to be revealed. Our constitution places a premium on openness, transparency and accountability. The DMRE and the Minister continue to obfuscate and obscure the process, which only serves to reinforce suspicions of malpractice and misconduct.

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

Open Letter to President Ramaphosa

Dear President Ramaphosa,

Your silence on the unfolding saga around Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and the irregularly-awarded Digital Vibes contract can no longer be justified or accepted. Unless you speak up on the issue and follow this with action against the errant Minister, South Africans will be left with no choice but to believe that his behaviour has your blessing.

The verified information already in the public domain is more than enough to satisfy any possible requirement for action on your part. This R150 million contract was not only irregularly awarded – as the Minister has publicly conceded – but it was indeed signed off by the Minister himself, which in itself is highly irregular and reason for alarm.

By now you should know better than to take at face value an accused member of your executive’s claims that he or she didn’t know the details of a particular contract or isn’t acquainted with a particular individual. The Minister’s signature on the contract along with the subsequent revelations of reciprocal largess from Digital Vibes towards the Minister and his son outweigh his solemn protestation of innocence many times over. If he continues to serve in your cabinet in the face of this evidence, we can reasonably assume that he does so with your full approval.

Talking about cleaning up your government and your party is easy, which is why we have heard you do so much of it in recent years. However, doing it is another matter entirely. It’s not good enough to only direct this clean-up action at your political enemies inside the ANC. Yes, the likes of Ace Magashule must step aside – and then be charged and prosecuted – but the same goes for those whom you consider your allies, or at least not politically hostile towards you. If they abuse the system for personal gain, they too must go.

This scandal around Minister Mkhize has now progressed way beyond the point where you can still claim to be assessing the information in order to make a decision. You need to act.

But we, in the DA, know better than to hold out hope for such action. After all, you took no action against Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille for her role in the infamous Beitbridge “washing line” border fence scandal. And you’ve said nothing yet on your Deputy Minister of State Security Zizi Kodwa’s outrageous kickbacks scandal. Selective intolerance for corruption does not serve the interests of the people of South Africa, which is why the DA will take action of our own.

Today the DA Shadow Minister for Health, Siviwe Gwarube, will lay criminal charges against Minister Mkhize as well as Health Director General, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, for contravening both the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (POCCA) and the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA). The latter specifies that contracts must be signed off by an accounting officer and not the executive authority – something Minister Mkhize would have known.

Our scope for action may be limited compared to what you can do as President and Head of the Executive, but rest assured we will do everything in our power to keep the corrupt far away from public money.

Citizens of South Africa need to see the same commitment from their President. Please do not disappoint them.

Yours sincerely,

John Steenhuisen
Leader, Democratic Alliance

Kouga, a South African success story

No matter how bad things are in many parts of South Africa, the story of Kouga Municipality in the Eastern Cape shows us that things can turn around swiftly with the right leadership.

Kouga is home to some 200 000 people living in Jeffreys Bay, Humansdorp, St Francis Bay and the surrounding areas. When they gave the DA an outright majority in the 2016 local government elections, we inherited an indebted municipality collapsing under years of ANC neglect and corruption. To make matters worse, it was also the start of a prolonged drought.

Five years on, Kouga is a place of hope and progress, where the promise of “a better life for all” is real for people. The difference between 2016 and 2021 is striking. Consider the progress made in the following delivery areas.

Housing: The ANC-run council had neither built nor facilitated the building of a single house in Kouga since 2007. Since 2016, the DA-run council has completed 611 houses and another 3025 are in the pipeline while a further 2790 are being held up by land and infrastructure issues. This is against a backlog of about 15 000 houses needed, meaning that real progress is being made.

Fleet: In 2016, only 4% of Kouga’s vehicle fleet was operational. Today, 96% of the municipality’s vehicles are on the road every day to service communities, and 57 new vehicles have been added to the fleet.

Roads: From 2011 to 2016, the ANC-run municipality spent an average of R3.5 million per year on road maintenance. The DA-run municipality has tripled that delivery rate, spending on average over R10 million per year on repairing and upgrading roads in the past five years.

Public amenities: In 2016, public amenities were in a state of disrepair with little to no maintenance happening. Since 2016, the DA council has undertaken a massive maintenance drive and upgraded community halls, ablution facilities, sports facilities, parks, and campsites.

Investment: By 2016, investment in Kouga had all but dried up and local businesses did not want to take on contracts for the municipality because of its reputation for non-payment. Kouga is now an investment hub. A brand-new hospital is being built in Jeffreys Bay, while R4 billion has been invested in two housing developments, and several large companies have set up in Kouga.

But the municipality isn’t just content with getting these basics right. It is actively innovating, to take Kouga from good to great.

The municipality won gold at the Eco-Logic awards last year for the first plastic road in Africa, built in Jeffreys Bay using recycled plastic (equivalent to 1.8 million plastic bags per kilometre of road). This revolutionary new approach to tarring could increase the lifespan of roads while reducing maintenance costs and plastic pollution. If ever there was hard proof that the DA goes the extra mile, this is it.

Kouga has its sights on becoming the country’s leading Bioeconomy Zone. An SA subsidiary of Hive Energy is set to develop a waste-to-energy plant, a solar plant, and a biochar plant that turns invasive alien vegetation biomass into “green charcoal” which has several environmentally friendly applications. The first biochar units have been manufactured to kickstart the project.

The council has built a new state-of-the-art waste water treatment works and is upgrading its three other waste water treatments works, one of the many ways this municipality is fighting off Day Zero during a devastating drought which has brought the Kouga Dam level to below 5% this week.

Day Zero may be just weeks away but if it happens, Kouga residents will know their municipality pulled out all the stops to avoid it. It is aggressively pursuing water security by every means possible, including through groundwater supply and water conservation and demand management initiatives.

All this investment and innovation comes at a cost, and yet Kouga’s finances are in a much healthier state now than five years ago when the DA council took over. In 2016, Kouga was heavily indebted. Today, this debt has been paid off yet cash on hand is almost double what it was back then.

Kouga is a wonderful South African success story that needs to be replicated in municipalities across the country. What are the keys to its success?

First is meritocracy. People and service providers are appointed based on their ability to get the job done for the benefit of the public, rather than on political connections for the benefit of the party. This is why the people of Kouga are at the centre of everything council does.

Second is accountability. Before 2016, corruption was rife and went unchecked. Since 2016, the approach has been one of zero tolerance for corruption, driven by an anti-corruption unit which has seen two officials suspended for fraudulently issuing drivers licenses.

Third is decentralization. By collaborating with community groups and the business sector, they’ve managed to get much more done than would have been possible working in isolation. The trick to getting stuff done in government is to understand that government is not so much about doing stuff as about enabling stuff to get done. South Africans are super entrepreneurial and innovative. They just need a government that’s working for them rather than against them.

The story of Kouga shows that the first step to building a successful South Africa is to vote DA. In the local government elections on 27 October 2021, a vote for the DA will be a vote for success because the DA gets things done.

Competition Comission’s intervention in Burger King sale damages foreign investment drive

The DA is deeply concerned by the actions of the Competition Commission to block the sale of Burger King in South Africa on “public interest” grounds.

We are of the belief that these actions, which had nothing to do with competition issues and everything to do with racial bean counting, sets an incredibly dangerous precedent about how future sales of business will be conducted.

Because of this intervention by the Competition Commission, it has effectively devalued every business in South Africa and sent a warning signal to foreign investors that they have no business in South Africa if they do not confirm to Broad Based Economic Empowerment.

This was proven by the 17% crash in the value of Grand Parade Investments (GPI), which owns Burger King in South Africa on the JSE.

It is staggering that the Commission would see fit to block R600 million worth of investment in our country when it is so desperately needed.

This move by the Commission is perverse and will only damage the workers of Burger King and investors in GPI, of which up to 28 000 are black.

In a time when 74% of young people are unemployed and South Africa hitting record unemployment of 42%, we are shooting ourselves in the foot by blocking much needed foreign investment like this.

The DA would urge GPI to fight this in the Competition Tribunal and if needs be, approach the courts for relief.

It is our firm belief that the actions and motive of the Commission are not in the public interest of South Africans and the unemployed.

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

SIU probe into the Lotteries Commission has led to no arrests, charges or assets seized as of yet

Please find attached a soundbite by Mat Cuthbert MP.

In response to parliamentary questions posed by the DA, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has informed us that the first phase of the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) probe into the corruption and maladministration at the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) will be completed by the 30th of June 2021.

In addition, he has stated that the 2nd phase of the probe will be completed by 31 December 2021.

The DA acknowledges that the scope of the investigation is wide and that the necessary due diligence is required to ensure successful prosecution against guilty parties.

However, we can’t quite understand why the contents of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s (DTIC) own investigation into corruption at the NLC, handed over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) in September 2020, has not been successfully prosecuted by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) as of yet.

Therefore, it is regrettable that President Ramaphosa has informed us that “…there have as yet been no arrests, no charges have been brought against any persons, and no assets have been seized”.

The DA will continue fighting to ensure that those guilty of looting money, meant for the most vulnerable in society, are dressed in orange overalls and placed behind bars.

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

The ANC/EFF bid to ‘nationalise’ land and side-line the Courts must be rejected by all South Africans 

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Dr Annelie Lotriet MP.

The ANC/EFF “coalition of the irrational” has taken a drastic next step in their quest for Expropriation Without Compensation by proposing to place land in the custodianship of the State.

This amendment was pushed onto the agenda of what should have been the final meeting on Monday 31st May, of the multi-party ad hoc Parliamentary Committee on amending the “Property Clause” – Section 25 of the Constitution.

The bid to place land under the custodianship of the State will effectively “nationalise” the land under the control of the State – a disastrous move that will lead to economic devastation and escalating poverty, as it has already done in countries as diverse as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

What makes matters worse, is the ongoing attempt by the ANC/EFF to exclude, or minimise the role of the courts, in adjudicating land expropriation cases.

Because of the opposition to this proposal in the Ad-Hoc committee, the ANC/EFF will now extend the life of the Committee and produce a final report by August 31st, in which it will seek to include the proposal for State custodianship of land.

The DA will do whatever it takes to prevent this, as it will push South Africa into the abyss, destroying what is left of our economy by deterring investment, destroying prospects for growth, and driving millions more people into extreme poverty.

As the ANC/EFF are determined to press on with this issue before LGE 2021, the DA stands ready and determined to stop them and defend our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

We believe that this blatant abuse of power by the ANC/EFF is in line with its determination for the Party to control the State and for the State to control the whole of society. By attempting to seize custodianship of the land, and by-passing the courts, the ANC is planning another major step in the direction of a Totalitarian order – which was its objective from the start in terms of its Leninist goal of the “National Democratic Revolution”.

The DA will not sit by and watch our country become yet another failed state. Every South African deserves a decent education, the opportunity to get a job, and to succeed in life.

By this move, the ANC/EFF will eradicate all these prospects. We call on all South Africans to reject this fatal move.

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

DA urges public to make submissions into Children’s Amendment Bill

Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP.

As the country once again commemorates National Child Protection Week, the DA urges South Africans to make their voices heard during the public hearings into the Children’s Amendment Bill that are currently taking place.

Participation in the hearings will allow the public and children to make meaningful contributions to the protection of the rights and lives of children.

The Children’s Amendment Bill was introduced to implement the “comprehensive legal solution” ordered by the North Gauteng High Court in 2011 to address the challenges within the foster care system. The Bill seeks to strengthen the protective measures for children and to address other concerns, like early childhood development (ECD) and adoption.

It is therefore of the utmost importance that the public fully engages with the Bill and participate in the public hearings en masse. In this crucial way, Parliament and the Department of Social Development are held to account and our children’s best interests are kept at the forefront.

The DA is of the view that the amendments regarding unmarried fathers, foster care, adoption, and reform to the ECD sector should be fully scrutinized as these could have unintended consequences.

The DA is looking forward to engaging the Department during the formal processing at the end of the hearings.

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

DA pressure forced Parliament to review R10 million wasted every year on luxury flights for retired cadres

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

In November last year, the DA revealed through a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request that Parliament spent R45.3 million on luxury flights for retired ministers, deputy ministers and their spouses between 2014 and 2020. Our exposé revealed the shocking reality that the jet-setting lifestyles of venal and corrupt politicians continue to cost hard-working taxpayers long after they have retired.

Prior to the DA exposing this issue, Parliament was happy to fork out an average of R10 million every year on gravy plane flights for retired ministers. It was only after relentless DA pressure, which included exposing this matter on newspaper front pages and bringing it to the attention of the Auditor-General, that National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise yesterday admitted that this was an obscene and immoral practice.

While we welcome Modise’s DA-inspired Damascus moment, we remain deeply concerned by Modise’s apparent plan to simply outsource this wastage of money to the executive and to provincial legislatures. It is unacceptable for her to simply shift the responsibility for this wastage to other parts of government, because at the end of the day it will still be taxpayer money that is wasted on the gravy plane.

Instead, the DA insists that this immoral and corrupt practice must be abolished entirely and immediately. Members of Cabinet earn multi-million Rand annual salaries which includes lavish pension benefits in a country where over 30 million people live in poverty and unemployment stands at over 43%. They have no right to be ferried around in luxury at taxpayer expense even after they retire.

They should pay for their own flight tickets.

The DA’s exposé in November last year revealed that over the past two financial years:

  • Derek Hanekom had no qualms about wasting R114 432 of taxpayer money on luxury flight tickets last year;
  • Enoch Godwangana got R240 442 from the people of South Africa over the last two years;
  • Ace Magashule’s right-hand man, Malusi Gigaba and his spouse, got R200 413 from hard-working taxpayers;
  • Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who is implicated in the illegal sale of South Africa’s strategic fuel reserves, got R443 850 to finance her jet-setting lifestyle;
  • Des van Rooyen, who was finance minister for only one weekend, got a R242 015 gift from taxpayers to fly in style;
  • Fikile Mbalula and his spouse pocketed R183 920 in flight tickets;
  • Taxpayers’ money was used to finance the flights of Nathi Nhleko, the former police minister who disgraced himself in defence of the corruption at Nkandla, to the tune of R363 133;
  • Faith Muthambi, one of Jacob Zuma’s most senior lieutenants, merrily spent R267 668 in taxpayer money to jet set;
  • Dina Pule, who was fired by Zuma after even he could no longer defend the corruption allegations stemming from her time as communications minister, was gifted R240 997;
  • Dipuo Peters, who most recently oversaw the collapse of PRASA, pocketed R150 670 in business class tickets;
  • Ben Martins, who defended Gupta-linked looting at Eskom, and his spouse wasted a staggering R685 657 on business class flights;
  • David Mahlobo, another Gupta acolyte, spent R349 289;
  • Yunus Carrim, who enthusiastically paved the way for industrial-scale looting when he helped kill the Scorpions, happily accepted R184 063;
  • Hard-working South Africans paid R97 838 for luxury flights for the alleged perpetrator of gender-based violence, Mduduzi Manana;
  • Disgraced former ANC Western Cape leader Marius Fransman pocketed flights worth R94 261;
  • Last year, former deputy minister of trade and current Ekurhuleni mayor Mzwandile Masina and his wife milked R299 818 from the state;
  • Criminal suspect Bongani Bongo got R78 000 from taxpayers last year to fly in style;
  • Roelf Meyer used R224 966 in taxpayer money for flights over the last two years;
  • Trevor Manuel milked taxpayers to the tune of R312 135 over the last two years; and
  • Mcebisi Jonas and his spouse spent R378 290 on luxury flights in two years.

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

As stage 4 loadshedding looms, the DA is fighting for energy independence 

Please find an attached soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP

Top Eskom expert, Ted Blom, this week warned that the power utility may possibly plunge South Africa to stage 4 rolling blackouts. This could be a potentially devastating blow for South Africans who are still reeling from the impacts of the country’s economic decline and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest spate of rolling blackouts come as South Africa inches closer towards a Covid third wave which might compromise the storage and rollout of vaccines.

The impact on businesses and jobs will also be devastating especially in lights of the Q1 Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) released by Statistic SA yesterday which confirms that unemployment in South Africa has reached a new high of 32.6%. All economic recovery efforts will be weakened if we continue to rely on Eskom to keep the lights on. Ekurhuleni, the industrial workshop of Africa is currently reeling under blanket blackouts which impacts economic recovery and job security – let alone job creation – in no small measure.

While the ANC government is dithering on Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to add additional capacity to the grid and stumbling on renewable energy projects, the DA-run Western Cape government is proving that we are the only party that can free South Africa from loadshedding.

The Western Cape has allocated almost R70 million to free the province’s municipalities from Eskom’s grip and to defeat loadshedding through the Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) project. The MER project will assist six municipalities in generating and selling their own electricity and empower them to purchase energy directly from IPPs. These municipalities include:

  1. Drakenstein Municipality;
  2. Mossel Bay Municipality;
  3. Overstrand Municipality;
  4. Saldanha Bay Municipality;
  5. Stellenbosch Municipality; and
  6. Swartland Municipality.

South Africa cannot continue to be dragged down by Eskom. The DA will continue to challenge Eskom’s monopolistic grip on our energy supply.

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

DA to lay criminal charges against Minister Mkhize over Digital Vibes dodgy contract

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP

Damning revelations against Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, keep surfacing about his involvement in the awarding of an irregular contract to a communications company, Digital Vibes. The runners and owners of this company are close associates of his who bagged a R150 million contract from the Department of Health and have reportedly channeled money and services to him and his family.

Considering the clear violation of the law, the DA will be laying criminal charges against Minister Mkhize and Health Director General, Dr Sandile Buthelezi with the South African Police Service (SAPS) tomorrow. Over and above the SIU probe, a criminal investigation needs to ensue.

Following a Daily Maverick investigation, it has since been reported that Minister Mkhize personally signed off on the submission that contained the contract. This is in direct contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (POCCA) section 3 and specifically section 12 and 13 which relate to acts of service offered or accepted in exchange for government contracts and tenders.

In addition, the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) explicitly states that the signing off of any contracts is the function of the accounting officer and not the executive authority – as was allegedly the case with Minister Mkhize. Therefore, the Health DG, Dr Buthelezi must also be investigated for his involvement and possible contravention of the PFMA with gross negligence.

This highly irregular abuse of political power by Minister Mkhize is underscored by emerging evidence that the company in question, Digital Vibes, carried out maintenance projects at the Minister’s home and money was directly channeled to Minister Mkhize’s son.

The DA has long called for President Cyril Ramaphosa to break his silence on this matter and take action against Minister Mkhize. He cannot be entrusted with leading the national response on Covid-19 while there are damning allegations levelled against him. The President needs to instruct the Minister to step down pending the full investigation by the Special Investigative Unit (SIU). The Minister cannot continue being both the player and the referee in an investigation that he is the center of.

The DA will be laying charges against Minister Mkhize and Dr Buthelezi tomorrow at the Cape Town Station. Details are as follows:

Date: 3 June 2021

Time: 11.00

Place: Cape Town Police Station (28 Buitenkant Street)

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