ANC’s foul attempt to politicise taxi violence in Parliament falls flat

An emergency Portfolio Committee on Transport meeting scheduled for Friday to deal with “matters related to the recent Western Cape taxi violence linked to route and association disputes” was called off on Thursday. The DA finds the sudden interest by Parliament to engage on the issue of taxi violence in the province very perplexing given recent reports of over 500 taxi-related murder cases in Gauteng which have not been resolved and the over 400 open dockets in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) related to taxi violence still to be dealt with. 

Friday’s meeting, for which special permission had to be obtained by Chairperson Mosebenzi Zwane would’ve been the first to take place in physical form at Parliament. Committee members were ordered to attend regardless of the pandemic despite earlier this year a request by the DA for the committee to honour a commitment to meet with residents affected by the Moloto Development Corridor was indefinitely postponed due to the pandemic.

The DA therefore doesn’t believe that this meeting on the Western Cape taxi violence was convened in good faith. It was rather an attempt by the ANC to grandstand and politicise the situation. The DA will not stand for this. 

Across the country hundreds of South Africans face the risk violence and even death when they get onto a taxi. It is for this reason that the DA will now request a committee meeting focussed on the scourge of taxi violence across South Africa. This process should include:

  • A meeting with Minister Fikile Mbalula to share outcomes of the recent National Taxi Legotla 2020 and its recommendations.
  • Address the ongoing discontent regarding the taxi recapitalisation programme, the several sets of recommendations in former agreements and settlements that have been ignored by the ANC government.  
  • Invitation to the Police Portfolio Committee to engage the Transport Committee to improve safety in the transport sector.
  • Address the issue of rail transport services which have left commuters across the country frustrated. One of the major areas of concerns is the closure of the Cape Town central line which have now been ravaged by vandalism and land invasions under the watchful eye of PRASA.
  • Revise the National Land Transport Act (NTLTA) as a matter of urgency since it caters for the crucial operating space of public transport – improved stability and expanded enabling economic environment.

Since the ANC now appears to have a renewed interest in the issue of taxi violence, after previously showing no appetite for special engagements on this issue, we urge Chairperson Zwane to heed to our request for a special meeting to address the national taxi violence crisis. 

The ANC members on the Portfolio Committee on Transport cannot cherry pick issues to tackle and find solutions to, on the basis of petty politicking and short-sightedness that is fuelled by political demagoguery. The DA will not allow itself to be drawn into such low-grade efforts but we remain positive and committed to work for real solutions and the betterment of every citizen. 

Denel’s tax non-compliance impacts SAPS, SANDF and SAAF

Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

The DA has submitted parliamentary questions and will write to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, regarding the fact that Denel Pretoria Metal Pressing (PMP) is not tax compliant. Apart from PMP being under such immense financial distress that they are unable to supply State organs with the necessary ammunition, under the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) State organs cannot purchase from suppliers that is not compliant with tax regulations.

This has far-reaching implications for the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Air Force (SAAF). SAPS has already suffered the consequences when they ran out of rubber bullets and teargas on the first day of the riots that laid large parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to waste.

If Denel has any hope of survival, it must recapatilise or sell. Denel Dynamics has already lost most of their skilled staff, and at this point in time has lost the finance and capability to produce missiles – a huge security risk for the country. In order for Denel to honour its commitments, public partnership investments must be brough on board urgently.

Despite the urgency of the situation facing Denel, there has been no intervention from Minister Gordhan or his Department. Not only does this have dire consequences on a national level, but if Denel’s international commitments cannot be fulfilled either it might have more devastating consequences on the already distressed South African economy.

While government must ensure that all Denel orders are realised, it is in the position to amend legislation to ensure that South Africa’s needs are taken care of before exporting to the international market, and must do so now.

While Denel is selling its non-core assets, many questions regarding how this will assist with its recapitalisation and what the strategic financial plan will be going forward, persists. The DA has also submitted parliamentary questions in this regard.

The only way to save Denel is by selling it off to private bidders or putting it under business rescue. A bailout is, however, out of the question. Government must find a better solution to deal with SOEs that continue to drain the tax base.

Sithole admits SAPS is failing, DA calls for devolution of police services 

Please find attached soundbite by Okkie Terblanche MP.

National Police Commissioner Genl. Khehla Sitole admitted to the Police Portfolio Committee that the South African National Police Service (SAPS) will be handicapped in fulfilling its mandate following the current organisational restructuring to trim its personnel to meet budgetary requirements.

The reality is of course that SAPS has long been unable to fulfil its mandate of combating and investigating crime in South Africa.

This became patently clear almost three weeks ago when riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng caused wide-spread violence and destruction and led to the death of 337 people, all while the police seemed unable and sometimes unwilling to intervene.

While the Police Commissioner would like to blame public scrutiny and unclear mandates, it is clear however that it is poor leadership that has caused SAPS to fail in its mandate to protect and serve the public.

The DA has long sought for the decentralization of SAPS from national government to provincial and municipal levels to better serve local communities. The party also passed a resolution at our 2020 Federal Congress to support this.

Not only has SAPS suffered from budget cuts, but also years of mismanagement by career politicians who have never had boots on the ground. Had government prioritized the safety and security of its people over bailouts to pet projects like SAA, SAPS would possibly have been in a better position to combat crime. As it stands, allowing SAPS’ power to sit with provinces and municipalities will ensure that needs of local communities are much better met and will allow local crime rate to plummet.

It is not just the unrest in KZN and Gauteng that shows the decline of SAPS. Their actions since the start of the extended Covid-19 lockdown shows a service that is wholly incapable of combatting real crime and thus forced to persecute law-abiding citizens in order to satisfy a tyrant bent on “skop, skiet and donner”.

Policing can no longer be an ego game. South Africans deserve an honest and professional police service and Police Minister Bheki Cele and Genl. Sitole must finally do what is in the best interest of the country. If they cannot put the interests of ordinary South Africans over their own selfish agendas, then they must make way for people who truly care about SAPS’ mandate and the safety of all South Africans.

President Ramaphosa must fire Minister Mkhize following SIU affidavit

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP

President Cyril Ramaphosa can no longer dither on the future of Dr Zweli Mkhize as Health Minister. The founding affidavit by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to the Special Tribunal has enough evidence for him to be fired.

The President no longer has an excuse to table the SIU report handed over to him three weeks ago. Clearly the SIU has revealed wrongdoing on the part of Minister Mkhize.

The SIU in an affidavit to the Special Tribunal says Mkhize repeatedly pressurised the Health Director General, Malebona Matsoso, to approve the irregular Digital Vibes contract. Mkhize also allegedly “directly and indirectly” benefited from the irregular contract, which bypassed proper procurement processes.

The SIU claims that at best, this conduct on the part of the Minister was improper and, at worst, the conduct of the Minister was unlawful”. 

This is the final nail in the coffin for Mkhize. Now that the public knows what’s in the report the President must fire him. 

The DA calls on President Ramaphosa to show his mettle by cleaning up his Cabinet and appointing a permanent Minister of Health who is capable and beyond reproach.

We also welcome the move by the SIU to recoup the millions in public funds wasted on the Digital Vibes contract. This is another step closer to accountability for those involved in this scandal. The DA on 3 June also took the necessary steps to lay a criminal charge against both Minister Mkhize and the Director General of the Health Department. 

Not only should Mkhize be fired, he must also be criminally investigated and face the full might of the law should he be found guilty. 

DA requests meeting between opposition parties, President Ramaphosa and ministers about missing intelligence report

Please find attached a soundbite from the Federal Leader of the DA, John Steenhuisen MP.

I have today written to President Ramaphosa to request a meeting between himself, the leaders of the opposition parties, the Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo and the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, in order to establish precisely what happened in the week leading up to the looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal, and later in Gauteng too.

Specifically, the meeting should clarify who knew what about the violence that was to come, when they knew it and what they then did about it. Minister Dlodlo is on record having said that she handed an intelligence report to law enforcement warning of possible unrest action days before it started, and Minister Cele is on record denying that he ever had sight of such a report. This discrepancy needs to be cleared up.

Our latest information is that such a notice – given “orange” status by State Security – was indeed presented to the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) on the 30th of June, and that subsequent briefings happened daily after that, warning of the threat to shopping centres and main transport routes. If this is the case, and if Minister Cele says that he had no sight of such a notice or briefings, then the question is: who took the decision to disregard a notice deemed serious enough to be given orange status by State Security, or to deliberately withhold it from the Police Minister, and why?

Crime Intelligence and SAPS were caught napping, and when they eventually did respond, it was insufficient and disjointed. If it turns out that this was because a credible intelligence report was either ignored or concealed, those responsible must face the consequences. They certainly cannot continue to serve on the Executive.

Over 330 South Africans died in the violence, tens of billions of rands were lost to theft and damage to property and infrastructure, hundreds of thousands of jobs and livelihoods are in peril and these events have been widely described as an attempted insurrection. The response has to be swift and decisive, and all parties need to be informed and on board.

The meeting I have requested with the President will offer Minister Dlodlo the opportunity to set out, for the benefit of those outside the governing party, the timeline of events leading up to the violence and looting, as well as the details of the reports and briefings that were given to NATJOINTS. It will also offer Minister Cele the opportunity to explain how much of this he was privy to, and why it took Crime Intelligence and SAPS so long to react.

It is critical that these questions are not posed and answered behind the cloak and dagger veil of secrecy that has characterised the security cluster to date, and which was heavily criticised in the Mufamadi high level panel report.

What happened in KZN and Gauteng was an attack on the citizens of our country. They deserve nothing less than full transparency and accountability.

SA does not need another Inquiry into intelligence, it needs a complete overhaul of all three intelligence structures 

Please find attached soundbite by Dianne Kohler Barnard MP.

The DA calls on National Assembly House Chairperson, Cedric Frolick, to clarify his comments on SAFM that a second parliamentary inquiry would be held by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (JSCI) to look into Crime Intelligence, the State Security Agency (SSA) and Military Intelligence.

Mr Frolick is not a member of the JSCI, nor does he control it or what it does. He has no right whether to determine that this committee holds or does not hold an inquiry.

That being said, an inquiry into this matter and the evident disfunctionality of those three entities if done by this committee, would never see the light of day. The DA will continue to push for legislative reform so that the outcome of such an inquiry would be made public.

The High Level Review Panel Report into the SSA decried the excessive stress on secrecy – and this inquiry would, I have no doubt – be buried along with, for example, various criminal charges laid by the DA against Arthur Fraser – never again to see the light of day.

The DA has welcomed Parliament’s plan to institute an inquiry into the insurrection which took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and we most certainly do not see the need for a second inquiry into intelligence.

South Africans are inquiry fatigued, and a second probe by the JSCI would achieve nothing in that it would be shrouded under a veil of secrecy.

In addition to this, the High-Level Review Panel Report into the SSA is packed with recommendations and an in-depth look into how the SSA had been captured and looted. South Africa therefore doesn’t need another inquiry into these recent intelligence failures which had this Security Cluster caught with its pants down, added to which have been the revelations of the President’s phone being bugged, and the catastrophic Transnet cyberattack. The evidence of the decay of these three units is already out in the public domain.

Let us repeat our call from January this year: what is required is a complete disbandment of the SSA which should then be replaced with a lean, independent, efficient and transparent state security entity.

In Crime Intelligence, what is needed is the immediate reinstatement of General Jacobs – whose expertise is currently wasted elsewhere – and for the SANDF to learn how to react with speed and not to drag its heels, then arrive completely unprepared when asked to assist in a matter as serious as the one in KZN and Gauteng three weeks ago.

None of this – not one shameful shred – should it ever be allowed to be hidden away from the South Africans who pay them billions just to do their job.

DA submits objections to draconian Gun Bill; urges South Africans to object before 31 July 2021

Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

Today, the DA has submitted our objections to the Firearms Control Amendment Bill and we urge all South Africans to use these last three days to voice their objections and submit their comments on this draconian Bill that amongst other things seek to remove “self-defence” as a reason to possess a firearm.

This Bill has been a source of concern and anger since its publication on 21 May 2021, and rightly so. The amendments suggested would severely hamper any citizen’s rights to protect themselves – something that cannot be judged lightly, particularly given the wide-spread destruction and chaos that reigned in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng two weeks ago and left residents there to fend for themselves when the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other law enforcement agencies failed utterly to protect communities from violence and looting.

In addition to our objection to the removal of “self-defence” as a reason to possess a firearm, we also object to the following aspects of the Bill:

  • The broad and sweeping powers given to the Minister of Police to ban any type of ammunition by notice in the Government gazette.
  • We do not believe it is appropriate to completely remove the expiry period for a disqualification of a person who is declared unfit.
  • The DA opposes the increased requirements this Bill will create to get a licence for occasional hunting or sport shooting purposes.
  • We oppose the limitation on the number of firearms licenses that dedicated and professional hunters may possess.
  • We do not support the removal of the ability to own firearms and ammunition in private collections.
  • The periods of validity for occasional and dedicated hunting and sports- shooting licences, professional sports shooting licences, business purpose licences and licences for public collections should remain as is in the current Act and not be reduced in the proposed Bill by half for almost all categories.
  • The Minister’s powers to prescribe the manner in which a firearm must be carried by a security officer is overly broad and too open-ended in this Bill.
  • The limitation of only transporting 3 firearms, without a transporter license, may be too low as it is foreseeable that professionals and security personnel may at times be required to transport more than 3 firearms at a time.
  • We are of the view that the reduction of ammunition that a holder of a firearm licence may possess from 200 cartridges down to 100 cartridges per licenced firearm be removed.
  • We strongly opposed the amendment to repeal Section 93 of the Firearms Control Act. This amendment will remove the ability of private licenced firearm holders to load and reload their own ammunition.

While the DA supports the need for strong gun control and licensing, we cannot support this Bill in its current format. It has far-reaching implications not only for civilian safety but also for other industries such as the professional hunting and private security industries.

We urge all South Africans to the write to the Civilian Secretariat for Police at and to the DA at before 31 July 2021 and to sign our petition so that this Bill can be stopped in its tracks. Police Minister Bheki Cele cannot ignore the 100 000 people that have already signed our petition, nor the many objections sent to the Civilian Secretariat.

Minister Cele has failed utterly in his task to enable SAPS to protect and serve South Africans, and now he seeks to strip us of further safeguarding measures. He cannot continue to persecute law-abiding citizens, just because it’s easier than doing his actual job of catching criminals and protecting our people. If the Minister cannot fulfil his mandate, he must be fired. But turning ordinary people into criminals because of Minister Cele and SAPS’ ineptitude should never have been tolerated by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

DA welcomes Finance Minister’s support for leveraging of retirement fund assets

The DA welcomes the Minister of Finance’s commitment to amending the Pension Funds Act to enable pension fund members to leverage this asset to their own benefit, as proposed by the DA in September 2020. 

My Private Member’s Bill (PMB), submitted last year, made provision for members to access a portion of their benefit as collateral for a loan. The loan would be repaid and the capital invested would, therefore, not reduce. During the public hearings, several stakeholders gave input into how the Bill could include a withdrawal provision that would reduce significant financial pressure now felt by pension fund members in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. Although the financial mechanism differs, the outcome – urgent relief to embattled workers – remains the same.

Given that my PMB is currently still on the table and in the process of being amended to include recommendations made during the Committee hearings,  including a withdrawal mechanism is possible. This would significantly speed up the process of enacted the legislation necessary to provide for the much-needed relief. 

By withdrawing the funds, members will reduce their capital invested and ultimately receive a lower pension. A withdrawal, with specific conditions on how it would be utilised – such as for debt reduction – would however make a significant impact on the lives of workers hardest hit by the pandemic.

DA seeks clarity on SANDF’s R1bn operation in Cabo Delgado

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

President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally informed Parliament of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) employment to Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province as part of the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Standby Force. The operation seeks to quell regional tensions caused by the ISIS insurgency in the area.

On Sunday the DA urged the President to provide full details of this operation to Parliament after we reliably learned that 1495 soldiers had been employed to Mozambique.

The DA has serious concerns regarding the employment, especially the costs. In his letter to Parliament, the President indicated that the deployment is expected to cost a staggering R984 368 057. There has been no indication where the money will come from, however, the costs certainly cannot be carried by the South African taxpayer.

This is a SADC initiative and the almost R1 billion price tag should be covered by them, not South Africa. The notion that the thinly stretched South African taxpayer will foot the bill for this employment is grossly unjustifiable.

Secondly, the employment of SANDF members will be for a period of three months, between 15 July 2021 to 15 October 2021. The DA is of the view that it will take significantly longer than three months to defeat the ISIS insurgency in Cabo Delgado. We call on the Minister of Defence to provide feedback in this regard.

To avoid a repeat of the situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), which resulted in the unnecessary deaths of our soldiers on foreign soil – we need to know everything there is to know about the SANDF’s mandate, how they will be resourced, and what the intended effect of their deployment will be.

While we applaud efforts to put an end to the ISIS insurgency in Mozambique, we must ensure that all operations are conducted safely and responsibly in order to maintain regional stability. At the moment, however, many questions about the SANDF’s employment to Cabo Delgado remain unanswered.

ANC’s R18 billion cash payment is a political bribe to secure union support ahead of the election

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Dr Leon Schreiber MP

Clearly reeling from the effects of declining support in the wake of the recent looting and anarchy, the ANC, led by Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu, has committed fiscal treason against the people of South Africa by offering a R18 billion cash bribe to secure the support of public sector unions ahead of the upcoming local government elections. 

The wage deal, which happens to run until shortly after the upcoming elections, will reward ANC cadres for mismanaging South Africa to the very brink of state failure with a 1.5% salary increase and a monthly cash “bonus” that will amount to between R14 640 and R20 340 per year. As a result, South Africa’s spending on public servant salaries will increase from the already astronomical R650 billion that was budgeted for in February to a new record high of R668 billion. 

We all know that the ANC relies heavily on its allies in Cosatu-affiliated unions to campaign for it ahead of elections and, with its support already flagging, the party was clearly willing to do whatever it takes to appease radical unions. It is blatantly obvious that the ANC offered the R18 billion cash payment to buy the support of labour unions in the run-up to the local government elections. The only way that this political bribe could be more obvious, is if the ANC handed the money to their union cadres in unmarked duffle-bags. 

As always, it is taxpayers who will have to pay for the ANC’s desperation to remain in power at any cost. With total tax revenue of R1.37 trillion expected in the current financial year, the ANC’s political bribe means that nearly half of all tax revenue will now be used just to pay the salaries of a public service that cannot even fulfil some of the most basic functions of a state, including by preventing anarchy and the looting of private businesses. Out of every one Rand paid by taxpayers, 48 cents will thus go towards paying the salaries of ANC cadres and government employees. 

The wage increases are also nothing less than treasonous in the current environment of economic collapse. While private businesses in sectors like hospitality and the alcohol industry have been decimated by Covid lockdowns and subsequently left to fend for themselves by a government that despises the private sector, and while many businesses and private sector workers in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng lost everything they had due to the recent state failure to prevent looting and anarchy, the government continues to fall over their feet to pay outrageous salary increases to their political allies in public sector unions. 

This wage bill bribe, which was seemingly endorsed by the National Treasury, has laid waste to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s credibility, after he made repeated promises over the years to cut the wage bill. Mboweni will now need to tax South Africans even more, dump our country even deeper into debt, and reduce basic service delivery even more to pay-off his political debt. It is clear for the whole world to see that Mboweni’s promises are not worth the paper they are written on. 

By paying this political bribe, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reform agenda lies in tatters. As the ANC has always done, he has bent the knee before the unions. As the ANC has always done, he has chosen the politics of his party over the prosperity of our country. As the ANC has always done, he has left South Africans to foot the bill for a political bribe that will benefit cadre and cronies while decimating the futures of citizens.