Motsoaledi’s centralisation of visa application processing is failing and creating massive backlogs

Please find attached a soundbite by Angel Khanyile MP.

Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi’s decision to centralise visa adjudication processes in the office of the Director General, while having no operational plan in place or the necessary resources to do the job, has created a substantial backlog on applications across all visa classes and is threatening to kill South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Home Affairs, Mosa Chabane, requesting that he summons Motsoaledi to come and account for the dysfunction of the visa processing function in his office. Motsoaledi must provide clarity on:

  • The exact number of outstanding visa applications across all classes.
  • What prompted the decision to locate and centralise visa application processing in the office of the DG?
  • What operational plan was put in place to reduce delays and ensure timely adjudication of visa applications?
  • At what rate are visa’s being adjudicated on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?

The DA’s public interface office in Parliament has been inundated by calls and emails from frustrated individuals who have waited for years to get feedback on their permanent residence applications, for example. When we follow up with Home Affairs, we are told that they have a backlog of applications that they are trying to clear.

Inefficiencies in providing timely visa outcomes has also begun to pose a serious threat to economic investment in the country. Recently, it was reported that foreign companies with billions of investment in the country are considering disinvesting in South Africa and going elsewhere due to delays in work visa processing for their expatriate staff.

With South Africa’s unemployment rate remaining stubbornly high, it would be a tragedy if the Department of Home Affairs conspires to make it worse by putting off potential investors through administrative red tape in visa processing.

The current crisis in visa application adjudication is a largely due to ministerial neglect of back office operations by Motsoaledi. Parliament should intervene and demand that he provides a bankable plan that would help remove the current bottlenecks in the system. South Africa should be making it easy, not difficult, for highly skilled individuals and investors to enter the country and contribute to the growth of our economy.

Transnet arrests: Rather late than never

The DA welcomes the arrests of former Transnet group chief executive, Brian Molefe, and former finance chief, Anoj Singh, this morning.

The DA has long called for their arrests in connection with a R93 million corruption fraud case.

While others have already been charged in this case, it seems that the last chickens have now finally come home to roost.

Under Molefe and Singh, the Guptas and other ANC cadres used Transnet as their own personal piggy bank.

The DA believes that the next step must be for the R41.2 billion in contracts that were awarded to companies linked to the Guptas and their associate Salim Essa, to be recouped.

Billions that should have gone towards developing South Africa into a prosperous country has been stolen and squandered during the years of state capture.

The DA hopes that the arrests of Molefe, Singh and other Transnet executives today is finally the beginning of justice and that all others implicated will follow in quick succession.

R200 000 donation towards school shoes and soccer balls to schools in Nyanga and Gugulethu

Please find photos here, here, here and here, and soundbite here

The Taiwanese Government, through its Taipei Liaison Office in Cape Town, donated over R200 000 towards buying school shoes, soccer boots and soccer balls for six primary schools in Nyanga and Gugulethu.

Today, DA Leader of the Opposition, John Steenhuisen, and DA Constituency Head in Gunya, Siviwe Gwarube, handed over this generous donation to representatives of these schools at a gathering at St Mary’s Primary School in Nyanga.

These areas are crime and gangsterism hotspots, and while much has been done to bring the levels of crime down, it is still important to encourage learners to remain in school and take part in team sport activities.

As a caring party, the DA welcomes this donation as it also contributes to the violence prevention efforts of the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Government.

Is the Parliamentary Speaker shielding Ramaphosa from accountability for saying the Zondo recommendations are ‘not binding’?

Speaker of the National Assembly Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has refused to allow me to submit an urgent question for tomorrow’s Questions to the President session in Parliament. I wanted to ask President Ramaphosa to clarify his recent statement under oath that the Zondo recommendations are “not binding”.

South Africa needs to know that the process to end state capture is on track and that the R1 billion plus of public money that paid for the Zondo Commission into State Capture was not for mere advice and not spent in vain.

The president is due to table his plan for implementing Zondo’s recommendations in October. South Africa needs to put maximum pressure on him to do the right thing by the country and implement the recommendations without fear or favour.

Particularly, Zondo’s conclusion that the ANC’s policy of cadre deployment is “illegal and unconstitutional” should be binding and should therefore decisively end that policy. Without cadre deployment, the ANC would not have been able to control almost every institution of state, making grand state capture possible and shackling all fight-back mechanisms.

The Speaker is meant to be an impartial presiding officer of the National Assembly which is constitutionally tasked to prevent abuse of power by the executive. But she too is simply a product of cadre deployment, the ANC’s project to “control all levers of power” in the party’s own interest, which enabled state capture in the first place.

I submitted the following urgent question in terms of rule 141 (1)(b) of the Rules of the National Assembly:

Having spent over a billion rand of public money on the Zondo Commission on State Capture, President Ramaphosa stated under oath in his answering affidavit to the DA last week that the recommendations of the Zondo Commission are “not binding”. This severely undermines the entire four-year process and implies the public has spent over a billion rand on mere advice that he can disregard if he so chooses. This is deeply concerning given that his own party was the prime offender. If he does not consider the findings of the Commission to be binding, what assurance can he give South Africa that he will consider its recommendations and make determinations without fear or favour?

The only logical conclusion is that Mapisa-Nqakula is protecting the executive from accountability, and by extension the whole ANC which was on the dock in the Zondo Commission.

Unless the public and parliament join the DA in applying maximum pressure on the President to do the right thing by South Africa, the Zondo Commission will meet the same dead-end as most other commissions and the Zondo Report will go down in history as the most expensive doorstop ever.

DA takes the fight to protect public infrastructure to Parliament

Please find attached a soundbite for Mat Cuthbert.

The DA will take the fight to protect public infrastructure to Parliament on the 1st of September in an urgent debate scheduled before the National Assembly.

The DA sponsored this debate in order to stem the tide against the rampant theft and vandalism of our public infrastructure.

It is estimated that the industrial-scale looting of our electrical, rail and telecommunications infrastructure costs the economy R187 billion a year.

In May of this year we released a document entitled “DA proposals on addressing public infrastructure theft and vandalism” in which we proposed a series of national, provincial and local government interventions needed to tackle this issue (see attached).

We have since met with a variety of stakeholders in the various municipalities where we govern, metal recycling industry, law enforcement as well as community organisations in order to share our plan.

Our “whole of society” approach has been welcomed by stakeholders as they too recognise that government alone cannot solve this crisis.

However, the sad reality is that despite assistance from certain pockets of excellence within the South African Police Service (SAPS) – government has failed to provide the necessary resources required.

Despite having the Second Hand Goods Act (2009) and Criminal Matters Amendment Act (2015) to empower law enforcement and the prosecuting authorities – these are rarely implemented.

It has largely fallen on the shoulders of DA governments and Community Policing Forums (CPF) to tackle this crisis by themselves.

In the Cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni, some of the measures implemented by our governments to deal with this are:

  • Dedicated infrastructure protection budgets;
  • Specialised metro police units;
  • Private-public partnerships to secure facilities;
  • Reward hotlines and;
  • Community raids to identify cable thieves, disconnect illegal electrical supplies and to secure infrastructure

All of these measures are in line with the proposals we put forward in May of this year.

While the DA has been at the forefront of protecting our infrastructure the ANC led national government has been reactive.

The DA firmly believes that the actions of criminal syndicates and illicit dealers in scrap metals are tantamount to treason and they should be punished in the strongest possible way.

However, the proposed ban on scrap metal exports for 6 months by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, incorrectly diagnosis the problem and punishes legitimate metal recyclers and waste pickers.

Scrap metal exports have already by and large been limited over the past five years through the introduction of the Price Preference System (PPS) and Export Tax.

A previous three-month ban in 2020 did little to prevent the theft and vandalism of public infrastructure and only ended up in job losses and economic hardship for those in the downstream steel industry.

The DA is clear that this is a crime problem and not a trade policy issue.

However, Patel denies this fact and is more interested in protecting special interests in the upstream steel industry who stand to benefit from artificially low scrap prices which is use for feedstock in their mills.

Patel cannot be trusted to act in good faith and almost always has an ulterior motive in the policies he develops and implements. One just has to remember lack of empirical evidence used to back up the ban of roast chickens, open-toed shoes and crop tops.

On the 1st of September 2022 we will put forward credible, evidence-based solutions to fight this scourge and pressure government into reconsidering their approach.

The DA is the only party who takes this issue seriously and will continue to fight to protect our critical infrastructure.

DA welcomes SIU investigation into NSFAS

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite by Chantel King MP.

The DA welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into the management of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) finances and allocation of funding.

NSFAS was placed under administration in 2018/19 to assist with financial and operational management. Conflicting views on the approach of the administrator drew union interference and contradictory reports from the office of the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, and the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education.

Moreover, the transition from a loan- to a bursary system posed various challenges. Outdated IT systems, underfunded administration cost, Auditor-General (AG) concerns on the non-aligned legislative framework of NSFAS, were just some of the issues hampering its mandate. To date these challenges persist, leading to questionable disbursement of bursaries, backlogged appeals and extensive delays in reporting.

The Ministerial Task Team, appointed to review the scheme, is yet to deliver its long overdue report on the sustainability of student funding, further delaying an informed conclusion on NSFAS’ sustainability and the country’s ability to fund fee-free higher education.

We call on the Minister to ensure a cooperative space for this investigation to run its course and any criminal conduct uncovered be pursued to the fullest extent of the law.

DA requests Office of Public Protector to investigate MOA between NAC and Mzansi NPO

Note to Editors: Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Veronica van Dyk MP.

The DA has requested the office of the Public Protector to investigate the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the National Arts Council (NAC) and the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (NPO).

The MOA includes the Surplus Funds Policy, which the Public Protector found “amounts to improper conduct in state affairs” as envisaged by the Constitution and maladministration under the Public Protector Act. The Policy was also misaligned with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA), National Treasury Regulations and the Public Service Regulations.

Recently, the NAC has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Between the hiring and firing of senior management, the opacity surrounding the NPO, the mismanagement of the Presidential Employment Stimulus Programme (PESP) during the Covid-19 pandemic and now allegations that R65 million were transferred to the NAC’s account at the South African Reserve Bank in lieu of funding artists, the NAC seems unable to fully grasp the needs of the arts and culture sector to implement solutions that benefit those communities.

The DA has submitted a host of parliamentary questions regarding the NPO and has called for the NAC, the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, and Mzansi NPO CEO Bongani Tembe to appear before the parliamentary portfolio committee on sports, arts and culture.

Good governance of public funds is crucial to economic growth and job creation in the arts and culture sectors. The DA will continue to do everything in our power to get accountability on NAC spending.

AG report reveals risk of corruption with procurement for KZN floods

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP

A preliminary report by the Auditor-General (AG) of South Africa into the national Department of Public Works and Infrastructure’s (DPWI) tenders to rebuild State-owned properties damaged by the April floods has revealed widespread risks of corruption.

These funds are meant to rebuild crucial infrastructure and it is disheartening, but hardly surprising, that these funds are in danger of being looted.

The AG has recommended an investigation into instances of non-compliance to determine the cause of the risks and requested that irregular expenditure identified from the projects should be included in the 2022/23 annual financial statements. The AG’s office has also referred the matter to the labour relations and legal services unit to investigate further.

The DA calls upon the DPWI to refuse all payments to any company that has been flagged until the investigation is completed.

The AG’s report has flagged:

  • Tenders to companies owned by the same director;
  • Service providers owned by State employees;
  • Suppliers that did not exist on government’s central supplier database;
  • Service providers approached by DPWI using an unfair deviation process that failed to provide market analysis to assess price reasonability;
  • Five quotations exceeding R1 million awarded to the same company;
  • Quoted amount by service providers exceeding the authorised amount;
  • Quotations received after the contractor had commenced on site; and
  • Projects not completed within the stipulated time.

DPWI’s blatant circumvention of tender procurement processes has proven yet again that the ANC government cannot be trusted. Clearly, nothing has been learnt from previous scandals and any company or official found to have committed any wrongdoing should face the full might of the law. Any officials involved in any tender wrongdoing should be fired immediately.

After State capture, we were promised that there would be no more corruption; when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we were promised that there would be no PPE corruption; when the floods came in KZN, President Cyril Ramaphosa promised that there would be no corruption in tenders and procurement, yet here we are.

The ANC’s continuous decline means the possibility that a competent DA-led coalition will govern South Africa from 2024 where good governance and accountability will be the order of the day.

Zondo Report: Did South Africans pay over R1 billion for mere advice?

I have today written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, requesting that she allow me to submit an urgent question for next week’s Questions to the President session in Parliament asking President Ramaphosa to clarify his recent statement under oath that the Zondo recommendations are “not binding”.

I submitted the following urgent question in terms of rule 141 (1)(b) of the Rules of the National Assembly.

Having spent over a billion rand of public money on the Zondo Commission on State Capture, President Ramaphosa stated under oath in his answering affidavit to the DA last week that the recommendations of the Zondo Commission are “not binding”. This severely undermines the entire four-year process and implies the public has spent over a billion rand on mere advice that he can disregard if he so chooses. This is deeply concerning given that his own party was the prime offender. If he does not consider the findings of the Commission to be binding, what assurance can he give South Africa that he will consider its recommendations and make determinations without fear or favour?

This question is urgent because the public needs to hear directly from President Ramaphosa that he will treat the recommendations of the Zondo Commission with the seriousness they deserve, having spent over a billion rand of the public’s money on the commission. The President owes it to the people of South Africa, who have suffered greatly and lost much due to the evils of state capture, to address them openly and honestly on this issue, and to do so with the utmost urgency. The report is already before Parliament and the President is expected to submit to Parliament his plan to implement its recommendations in October. This question therefore cannot wait until the next oral question session on 29 September.

People will not have confidence in the process, or confidence in South Africa’s ability to end state capture, until the President gives his assurances on this matter. Investors, decision-makers, corrupt politicians, and ordinary South Africans need to know that the entire process of ending state capture is still on track and has not been fatally derailed. The economy is already on its knees; it cannot afford any further uncertainty.

Questions to the President for oral reply are particularly critical to democratic accountability since the President has steadfastly refused to take questions from the media. I have urged you to do the right thing by South Africa and allow me to put this question to President Ramaphosa for oral reply.

ANC government wastes R1.52 bn over 5 years

Please find an attached soundbite by Ashor Sarupen MP.

A briefing by the Auditor-General (AG) to the Standing Committee on Appropriations revealed that national government incurred R1.52 billion in wasteful and fruitless expenditure over the past 5 years.

The DA will submit parliamentary questions to the 41 departments responsible for this astronomical waste of taxpayer money. The various Minister and Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) must be held accountable for this travesty.

The Department of Defence (DoD) is the worst offender with R460 million in wasteful and fruitless expenditure, followed by National Treasury wasting R339 million.

Just the past few weeks the DoD wasted R1.6 million to charter a flight to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as subscription fees to ensure the VIP fleet remain airworthy were not paid. And this on the heels of Defence Minister Thandi Modise’s foolish attendance of a security conference in war-mongering Russia.

The AG identified the causes of the wasteful and fruitless expenditure as weak project management, unwanted goods and services, unoccupied property, and damages to State property due to negligence.

There were R8.6 billion in material irregularities brought to the attention of accounting officers:

  • non-compliance in procurement processes resulting in overpricing of goods and services procured or appointed supplier not delivering;
  • overpricing of goods and services procured or poor-quality goods that are unusable; and
  • asset losses and penalties due to non-compliance.

It seems clear from the AG’s presentation that the country currently lacks any Ministers that has the skill and political will to turn their Departments around. Instead, there is a culture of waste with little care or thought on how the staggering financial losses impacts the growing millions of vulnerable South Africans.