DA calls on Parliamentary Task Team to continue corruption investigation into Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula 

The DA has written to the Chairpersons of Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) requesting that the Task Team established to investigate allegations of impropriety leveled against newly elected National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula continue its probe.

The Task Team was constituted by the JSCD in June 2021 to look into allegations that Mapisa-Nqakula accepted a series of gifts such as wigs and bribes amounting to R5 million from a businessperson contracted to the military. It is alleged that she also blew R7 million on aircraft charters, as well as staying in luxury hotels in New York and Paris.

The committee’s decision not to proceed with the investigation is premature and seems to overlook the importance of the whistleblowers’ statement, despite the fact that it raises significant claims that need comprehensive investigation. This is major concern as it suggests that the Speaker may have used her power and influence to prevent an investigation into her conduct from continuing.

We have warned that Mapisa-Nqakula’s election as Speaker of the National Assembly will strip Parliament of its power to ensure accountability and transparency. Given that Parliament will not continue the investigation against her, it is clear that the process of turning Parliament into a toothless institution has begun. The fact that she was elected to oversee the very institution that was investigating her for misconduct is a blatant betrayal of the principles that Parliament is intended to uphold.

These are serious allegations against the Speaker and must be fully investigated. If the Task Team fails to reconvene in order to thoroughly investigate the allegations, the DA will file criminal charges against the Speaker. We cannot allow a whitewashed investigation and sidelining of elected Members of Parliament to continue unabated.

The DA will do everything possible to get to the bottom of these allegations of corruption.

DA mourns the passing of NFP Leader, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi

Please find attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

The DA mourns the passing of National Freedom Party (NFP) Leader, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi.

Msibi was a powerhouse politician who started her career in the Inkatha Freedom Party, and later left to lead the NFP into Parliament.

We will remember her for her fearlessness and as a trailblazer for women in politics. We also commend her for her service to the country as a councillor, Member of Parliament, Mayor and Deputy Minister.

The DA sends its heartfelt condolences to the Msibi family and her NFP colleagues.

Zuma’s medical parole makes a mockery of South African law

Please find attached a soundbite from the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP.

The granting of medical parole to former president Jacob Zuma by the Department of Correctional Services is entirely unlawful and makes a mockery of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act of 2011.

Following the debacle around the granting of unlawful medical parole to Schabir Shaik in 2009, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services unanimously supported the amendment of Section 79 of the Act to stipulate that:

The Minister must establish a medical advisory board to provide an independent medical report to the National Commissioner, Correctional Supervision and Parole Board or the Minister, as the case may be, in addition to the medical report referred to in subsection (2)(c)

This amendment was made to specifically ensure that the legislation could not be manipulated into granting parole on medical grounds to any prisoner not deserving of it, as was done for Schabir Shaik.

A report on the health status of any prisoner must be subject to recommendation by an  independent board to confirm, in truth, that a prisoner is indeed deserving of medical parole. Given that Jacob Zuma publicly refused to be examined by an independent medical professional, let alone a medical advisory board, this decision is a violation of the Act and therefore unlawful.

Furthermore, any prisoner considered for medical parole must meet all three criteria stipulated in the Act: He or she must suffer from a terminal illness or be rendered physically incapacitated due to injury, disease or illness; the risk of re-offending must be low; and there must be appropriate arrangements for care in the community to which he or she is to be released. Simply being of an advanced age does not qualify.

It should also be noted that this medical parole was granted to Zuma by his former spy boss, Arthur Fraser – a man deeply implicated in the corruption of the State Security Agency and accused of running an illegal parallel intelligence structure. Instead of firing him from his administration, President Cyril Ramaphosa promoted him to his current position of prisons boss.

I will be submitting an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the records of the Parole Board to establish what criteria the Department of Correctional Services used to determine Jacob Zuma’s eligibility for medical parole.

I will also request that the Justice and Correctional Services Committee summon Arthur Fraser to explain to Parliament his decision to grant this medical parole in direct contravention of the Correctional Matters Amendment Act.

Western Cape moves one step closer to energy independence following launch of Energy Resilience Fund

The DA welcomes the Western Cape Provincial Government’s launch of the Municipal Energy Resilience Fund. The fund moves the province’s Municipal Energy Resilience (MER) Initiative one step closer to ensure an energy secure future for the Western Cape.

The launch of the fund last week by Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, will see R13 million made available to qualifying municipalities for  preparatory work, such as Electricity Master Plans and Cost of Supply Studies, to get renewable energy projects off the ground.

The ultimate goal of these projects is to protect Western Cape residents and businesses from Eskom’s rolling blackouts by helping municipalities build energy security through renewable energy sources.

The MER Initiative has already gotten off to a successful start after the request for information (RFI) period solicited information from more than 100 potential energy generation projects.

The DA congratulates the Western Cape Provincial Government and Minister Maynier on highlighting that where the DA governs, progress is being made towards freeing residents from Eskom’s monopoly over electricity generation.

Eskom has for years failed to produce enough electricity to meet the demands of its consumers, both households and businesses. The real cost of Eskom’s mismanagement is evident in the increases in electricity tariffs experienced by South Africans across the country.

DA welcomes Constitutional Court judgment. We’re ready for the elections

Please find attached a soundbite from the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP.

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the Constitutional Court judgement handed down this afternoon in which the IEC’s application to have the Local Government Elections postponed was dismissed. This is a milestone victory for both our democracy and our Constitution.

The people of South Africa have a Constitutional right to elect their local governments within the mandated time period, and we are satisfied that the Constitutional Court stood firm and upheld this right. In doing so, the highest court in the country has given the people of South Africa faith by demonstrating that it remains the backstop of our democracy.

Given the fact that the IEC has one job to do, which is to ensure that free and fair elections take place within the Constitutionally mandated timeframe – and given this resounding rejection of their attempt to deny voters this fundamental right – it is perhaps time for the Chairperson of the IEC, Glen Mashinini, to reconsider his future in the organisation.

Now that this attempt to subvert the Constitution and deny voters their rights has been defeated, our country can put this whole episode behind it and look ahead to a registration weekend, followed by a free and fair election. All parties that played by the rules and did their homework in preparing for the proclaimed election date should welcome this decision.

The DA is well on track in its preparations. For the first time we have registered a candidate in every single ward in the country, our lists are submitted and our deposits paid. Our Metro mayoral candidates have been announced, and their campaigns are already underway.

We are ready. Bring it on!

 

 

 

DA votes to reject the Section 25 Amendment Bill in the Ad-Hoc Committee 

Please find attached soundbites in English and Afrikaans by Annelie Lotriet MP

Today, the DA members represented on the Section 25 Ad-Hoc Committee voted in unison to reject the ANC’s motion to adopt the draft 18th Constitution Amendment Bill before it is sent to the National Assembly. 

Since its formation on 6 December 2018, the Ad-Hoc Committee was just a political theatre for warring ANC factions and the radical fantasies of the EFF. In their hurried attempt to pursue expropriation of land without compensation and nationalisation of land, the two parties exposed their disdain for the Constitution and inalienable property rights of all South Africans.  

If anything, the vote in committee today was a culmination of 3 wasted years in which Parliament was made to process a Bill where alarms have been raised about its grave impact on the economy, the rule of law and food security. The ANC knew about these dangers hence their steadfast refusal to allow for an Economic Impact Assessment to be conducted. 

 Sending the Bill to the National Assembly is now a mere formality because the ANC will not have the two thirds majority, required by the Constitution, to ensure that it is passed. Its erstwhile allies, the EFF, have long since abandoned ship having missed the last 4 sessions of the Section 25 Ad-Hoc Committee. 

The DA stands ready to give the final knockout punch to these disastrous piece of legislation.

We have long argued against the need to amend Section 25 of the Constitution, in its current form, already has enough provisions to enable a just and equitable land reform process.

What we would not accept was a frivolous attempt by the ANC/EFF coalition to take a sledgehammer and tear down the foundations of our constitution. It will be a good day for South Africa that, after the madness of the past three years, principle wins over the unrealistic agenda of a misguided coalition.

Liliesleaf closure: DA calls on Minister Mthethwa to account to Parliament over his neglect of heritage sites 

Please find  an attached soundbite by Tsepo Mhlongo MP 

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture, Beauty Dlulane, requesting that Minister Nathi Mthethwa together with his department appear before the committee to brief Parliament on plans to revitalise South Africa’s heritage museums.

This follows news that Liliesleaf, South Africa’s historic landmark and iconic heritage attraction will be closed indefinitely. Liliesleaf is a significant heritage site that served as a nerve centre of South Africa’s struggle against the apartheid regime. The fact that a museum as important as Liliesleaf is in danger of closing its doors permanently indicates that the ANC administration has abandoned the responsibility of preserving South Africa’s heritage.

Liliesleaf is not the only site that is affected. The District Six Museum, Apartheid Museum, and some of late President Nelson Mandela’s homes are among the many heritage museums associated with South Africa’s struggle against apartheid that are struggling to stay open due to financial difficulties brought on by the lockdown.

Minister Mthethwa appears to be completely out of touch, as he and his department haven’t made any attempt to help these museums overcome their challenges. Many more heritage sites will succumb to the government’s lockdown regulations and the mismanagement by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture.

The art and cultural sector as a whole is struggling to stay afloat. Artists are struggling to make a living due to a lack of government assistance and irrational lockdown regulations which prevent them from practicing their craft. Many of South Africa’s theatres are also at risk of closing indefinitely, this is posing a serious threat to the livelihoods of many individuals employed in the industry.

The DA demands that the Minister be brought before the Portfolio Committee so that he can be held accountable for dismally failing to preserve South Africa’s arts and cultural sector.

Don’t think the judiciary can’t be captured

Helen Zille responds to the media push back against her comments on the ANC and the ConCourt.

“All Truth passes through three phases, first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, third it is accepted as being self-evident.”

This profound insight comes from German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer, and is as true today as it was in the 19th Century.

South Africa is a living testament to this insight.

An example: When the DA first raised the risks of ANC cadre deployment more than 20 years ago, and pointed to its inevitable trajectory from cronyism to corruption and finally the captured, criminal state, we were laughed out of court.

After all, it was the height of Mandelaphoria, and the great man himself had presented the cadre deployment proposals to the ANC’s Mahikeng conference in 1997, to (mostly) uncritical media acclaim.

Around 2016, two decades later, the media suddenly “discovered” state capture, and there has been a glut of reporting on it ever since, even though it is still poorly understood.

Most of them, to this day, erroneously think that state capture involves the Guptas “capturing” institutions of state. Not so. It is about the dominant faction of the ANC capturing nominally independent state institutions — from the National Prosecuting Authority, to the Police, the SABC, State Owned Enterprises, the Human Rights Commission etc — and bending them to the ANC’s will.

In recent days, I have resurrected a subject I have addressed repeatedly before — the ANC’s capture of the Judicial Service Commission, which has arguably the most crucial job in a constitutional democracy:- the nomination of senior advocates to serve as Judges, and to recommend senior Judges for appointment to the Appellate Division and the Constitutional Court.

My recent focus on this subject was prompted by the belated decision of the JSC (almost 20 years too late) to impeach Judge President of the Western Cape, John Hlophe, for “gross misconduct”. I wrote an analysis of the JSC’s profound failures in this recent article.

I myself served on the JSC during my tenure as Premier of the Western Cape — and saw it gradually degenerate into a cadre deployment arm of the ANC. More often than not, the ANC nominees and MPs arrived at these crucial meetings, with a “mandate”. They knew who to support, irrespective of the candidate’s track record. In sometimes became apparent that some ANC members of the JSC had not even read the preparatory papers before presuming to vote in support of aspirant Judges.

I wrote about that on several occasions too, including this article dated October 13, 2014.

No-one paid much attention at the time. The media was still at the “ridiculing” phase of Schopenhauer’s Truth sequence in relation to state capture.

The big problem in failing to spot these trends early enough, is that the rot accumulates silently, until suddenly, institutions crumble.

State capture happens, as they say, in two stages: First slowly, then quickly.

And, with the judiciary, the pace is quickening and becoming more visible — which is why suggestions to this effect are met with “violent opposition”, the second phase of Schopenhauer’s time series.

The interesting thing is that the ANC has never hidden its intentions of capturing the judiciary.

Way back in 1998, writing in the ANC mouthpiece Umrabulo, Joel Netshitenzhe described the movement’s aim “to extend the power of the national liberation movement over all levers of power: the army, the police, the bureaucracy, the intelligence services, the judiciary, parastatals and agencies such as regulatory bodies, the public broadcaster, the central bank and so on”.

There you have “state capture” in a nutshell. The ANC never hid its intentions. It is perhaps the only project the party has ever successfully undertaken. But, as I have learnt, if you even dare to insinuate that it may be succeeding, especially in relation to the judiciary, the woke media will more than fulfil Schopenhauer’s second-stage of “violent opposition”.

This, despite the fact that not too long ago, we heard before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry, that the ANC’s cadre deployment Committee discussed ANC deployees to the Judiciary (including, apparently, the Constitutional Court)!

Worse still, in his evidence before the Zondo Commission, former Minister Sydney Mufamadi, who had investigated the rot in the intelligence services, revealed that there was a secret State Security Agency Slush Fund, earmarked to buy-off judges.

That sensational revelation caused a mere ripple of concern, and a little red rash of reporting, when it should have been relentlessly pursued by the media, until they established what the money was used for, and if judges were paid off, who they were.

The crucial question also arises: why was Arthur Fraser, the alleged master-mind behind these “special projects”, not called to give evidence to the Zondo Commission and face cross-examination on the slush fund to buy-off judges?

While this earth-shattering revelation was allowed to die a gentle death, the woke media’s “violent opposition” was reserved for those who suggest that something may be rotting in the state of the judiciary.

Take the latest brouhaha over the ANC’s failure to meet the IEC deadline for the submission of its lists in 93 municipalities.

Claiming that the IEC’s technology and Covid 19 had thwarted them, the ANC lodged legal papers with the Electoral Court, seeking an order for the re-opening of the candidate nomination process.

Then inexplicably, within hours, the ANC withdrew its court appeal, without clarifying what had caused it to change its mind in the short space of time between the submission and the withdrawal.

The ANC merely said it would now wait for the Constitutional Court to rule on the IEC’s application to postpone the election to February 2022 — in which case the timetable will be changed and the registration period, both for candidates and voters, will re-open.

Die Burger, the only remaining readable Western Cape daily, ran a front page article the next day (1 September) speculating on the reasons why the ANC withdrew its appeal (in the absence of any credible explanation by the ANC itself) and quoted Professor Andre Duvenhage of the University of the Free State suggesting that the ANC must have received inside information that the IEC’s application to have the application postponed would succeed.

As the newspaper’s quote was confusing, I telephoned Professor Duvenhage myself, who unambiguously repeated this view to me. I also telephoned the journalist, Llewellyn Prince, who told me that the correct version of Professor Duvenhage’s quote had appeared in his original article, published by Netwerk24 and confirmed the Professor’s quote.

Armed with this background I posted a series of four numbered tweets summarising the situation:

1) Die Burger this morning doesn’t mince its words. In its headline it suggests that the ANC must have received inside information from the Constitutional Court, which led to the ANC withdrawing its case before the electoral court to re-open candidate registration.

2) The context is this. If the ConCourt enables the IEC to postpone the election, then it presses the “re-set” button and it issues a new timetable, which will enable the ANC to re-register its candidates. So the ANC would not have to get permission from the Elec Court.

3) The ANC’s withdrawal from the Electoral Court indicates that they have been tipped off that the IEC’s application to postpone the election was successful. If information is leaking from the Concourt to the ANC, it is nothing short of an Constitutional crisis.

4) If this is so, cadre deployment will have destroyed every institution, right up to the ConCourt, turning them into instruments of ANC power abuse, rather than protectors of the people against ANC power abuse. That is the crisis we are facing now. SAns must wake up.

Nothing in any of these tweets that had not been said before. But, the outrage manufacturers in the media went into overdrive.

I was more than a little bemused.

Why, I asked myself for the umpteenth time, don’t most of the media take the ANC’s stated intentions seriously until it is far too late?

The ANC has been entirely open about its plan to capture state institutions, including the judiciary, from the very start of our democracy.

Yet today, over 20 years later, if you dare suggest that the ANC may be succeeding in its quest to capture the judiciary, you risk howls of outrage from those self-same journalists who should have been exposing what has been going on for years, rather than excusing it.

Well, as they say, the truth will out, if not now, in the not too distant future. Then, tragically, we will reach Schopenhauer’s stage when the fulfilment of the ANC’s “state capture” strategy will all, very suddenly, be “self evident”.

Unless, of course, enough of us are prepared to do enough to stop it.

Which is why the DA (and I) will not hesitate to say what we believe to be true, and fight to set them right, whatever the consequences.

That is why we fight elections. And that is why voters, who once ridiculed the idea of voting DA, will suddenly come to the belated realisation that doing so should have been “self evident” all along.

Tourism will only grow with private sector participation

Please find an attached soundbite by Manny de Freitas MP

A report was tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday about a Tourism oversight visit done in March this year to a Coronavirus Rapid Testing Centre.  The testing centre demonstrated a secure system which combines testing and vaccinations with the latest digital technology to provide an efficient health passport system which can be integrated with existing travel, health and event systems.

This is an example of how government should get the private sector more involved in opening up tourism. The DA will be encouraging government to do exactly that.

This type of testing and health passport system can help to immediately reopen the travel, tourism, events and hospitality industry whilst also protecting individuals, business, the economy and society.  Travellers can upload their official Passenger details onto a Health Passport app which can be automatically linked to airlines, notifying them in real time that a passenger’s documents are in order and the passenger is fit to fly.

This technology has proven successful and has been used internationally at events that have thousands of people attending.  This technology was tested and proved successful locally as well.

This government’s job-destroying lockdown and travel restrictions has regressed tourism at least 10 years. StatsSA reports that foreign arrivals dropped by 71% from over 15,8 million in 2019 to less than 5 million in 2020. The overall number of travellers decreased by 50,7% over a 15-year period from nearly 24,6 million recorded in 2006 to 12,1 million travellers recorded in 2020.  South Africa did not receive visitors for a period of six months from April to September 2020.

The priority must be for us to go back to normal so that we can start working towards bringing tourism to at least 2006 levels.  One of the ways to normalise the situation is to ensure that testing and vaccinations are done speedily and efficiently to as many tourists as possible.

Government should allow, and indeed encourage, the roll out of these programmes by the private sector as they are able to do this efficiently and cost-effectively.

Tourism, and the spin-offs from it, needs to be prioritised as this contributes to economic growth and job-creation. Government needs to therefore explore collaborations with the private sector.  In doing this tourism will start to properly reopen in the form of various tourism-attracting events, concerts, conferences and the like.

Internationally we are seeing how various tourism markets are reopening in various countries all within the prescribed Covid protocols.  These tourism sectors are being revived and people are returning to the jobs.  We too need to do this immediately.

Government accepts DA proposal to changes to railway safety

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Chris Hunsinger MP.

The DA is overjoyed that our proposal to completely overhaul the legislation which currently governs railway safety was unanimously accepted amongst all political parties in the parliamentary portfolio committee for transport yesterday. The motion of desirability will allow for the total replacement of the current National Railway Safety Regulator Act which was approved nearly 20 years ago.

The objectives and conditions have changed considerably since the inception of the original Act when the primary goal was to establish a legal framework for the current railway safety regulator (RSR). Ever since it was the RSR’s role to execute safety functions within the passenger and freight train environment through support, monitoring and enforcement which, in the view of the DA urgently needs review as the RSR’s mandate has not been updated since 2009.

One of the major issues which the DA has repeatedly highlighted was the conflict of interest of the RSR’s income structure. The regulator currently derives its income from a penalty fee structure by issuing fines to railway operators. This has resulted in recent years’ trend of a near totally dysfunctional PRASA/Metrorail/Shosholoza and TRANSNET Freight service while the RSR’s financial income stream lately, exceeded all expectation. This is mainly due to the RSR issuing fines for unsafe conditions and rather than addressing the danger, fines are gladly paid.

Railway safety affecting passengers and commuters, also cargo and assets cannot be exposed to this ridiculous approach any longer. It has become clear that the relationship between RSR and railway service providers have been compromised potentially endangering lives and cargo – something the DA refuses to accept. Tolerating dangerous conditions for the sake of guaranteeing continued revenue streams is not an acceptable mandate and requires change.

Through regular parliamentary questions to the Department of Transport, the DA has monitored the degradation of safety standards over the past pre-Covid years noting the following trend:

  • Issued warning directives in the form of Manual Train Authorisations due to unsafe sections on the national rail has increased from 35 356 per month in January 2018 to 136 470 per month in July 2019. This means that on average per year, the opportunity for fines nearly doubled from 68 297 to 130 150.
  • Over this monitoring period a total of 1 895 641 alert orders were issued.
  • Over the same period RSR’s net cash flows from operating activities increased from R17 billion to over R44 billion.
  • Cash and cash equivalents of the last couple of years reflect an impressive increase from R300 million (2017/18) to R65 billion (2019/20). This, in stark contrast to the appalling service delivery to commuters and clients.
  • As consolation, glossy cover page prospectus-style safety reports are released annually, confirming what the every-day rail user experience and fear daily – a total of 3 392 operational occurrences (derailments, collisions, level crossing crashes and occurrences where people were stuck by moving trains) have been recorded during the last year.

Security-related incidents per million train km increased by 105%. PRASA experienced a 32% decrease in its operational tracks and a 75% decrease in passenger usage over the last 10 years while the Gautrain achieved an increase of 643% in operational tracks and a 41% increase in passengers over the same period.

While this railway safety revamp has a specific focus to change the current legislative framework, the DA stands firm on the position of a merger between PRASA and TRANSNET since more than R1 billion is exchanged between these two entities in cross-invoicing of shared platforms, rail sections and other equipment while everything belongs to the State.

Commuters and users demand three basic needs: safe, clean, and reliable train service.

It is clear that change is needed, and not just to legislation and frameworks but also to operational efficiency and managerial conduct. The Gautrain is a prime example of what can be achieved within a shared governance model where service delivery is the focus.

With the inclusion of rail, ultimately, cities and rural regional bodies should manage public transport while ownership can be retained nationally. In this regard the DA is committed to constructively contribute towards the needed changes and improvements.

Various opportunities for public and stakeholder input will be invited which, in the case of this Bill will include consultation within each province – something the DA encourages given the need and opportunity for improvement.