Victory for accountability as Speaker removes Prof Calland from Section 89 Inquiry independent panel

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.

The DA welcomes the removal of Professor Richard Calland from the Section 89 Inquiry’s independent panel.

This panel will be tasked with assessing whether there is prima facie evidence that President Cyril Ramaphosa has contravened the law in the Phala Phala saga, and whether impeachment proceedings should be instituted against him by Parliament.

Following pressure from the DA and other opposition parties, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, today, agreed to withdraw Prof Calland’s ill-advised appointment.

According to a letter form the Speaker, Calland himself acknowledges his appointment might “clutter or otherwise impair” the process.

This a victory for the institution of Parliament and indeed the legitimacy of the section 89 Inquiry. Professor Calland’s inclusion would have been in contravention of Rule 129G of the National Assembly in that that panel members must be independent and impartial.

Calland – while an expert in the field – has entered the political fray by routinely making his political views public. His inclusion would have been a spectacular error in judgement on the part of the Speaker and the institution.

The Speaker must now look at the remaining names submitted by political parties to serve on the panel and select a truly independent candidate so that the Section 89 Inquiry panel can begin its work.

ANCYL flouts immigration laws: DA supports Ukrainian investigation

The DA supports an investigation that has been opened by the Ukraine government against members of the ANC Youth League who stand accused of flouting Ukraine’s immigration laws. This is after they took part in the sham referendums that were organised by the Russian government in Ukraine’s Donbass region.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Ukraine Ministry for Reintegration stated that a number of countries, including South Africa (in this case the ANCYL) have sent representatives that are “participating in a collective crime against the sovereign independent state of Ukraine”.

The Ministry also called on Ukranian law enforcement agencies to “investigate evidence that concerns conducting sham referendums – in particular, the legitimacy of entry, stay, and operation of so-called foreign observers…”.

South African citizens have been accused of a serious offence by a foreign government and it is important that the South African government honours its obligation under international law by cooperating with the Ukranian investigation.

The DA therefore calls on DIRCO as well as the Police Minister, Bheki Cele, to provide their full cooperation in the investigation.

We will also request a meeting with the Ukranian Ambassador in South Africa, Ms Liubov Abravitova, to confrim the DA’s support of this investigation and our assistance in this regard.

Skyrocketing farming costs are worsening SA’s hunger crisis

Please find attached soundbite by Noko Masipa MP. 

The Democratic Alliance conducted an oversight visit at Addo and Kirkwood, in the Sarah Baartman District to ascertain the extent of the challenges faced by farmers.

Information received indicated that farmers were dumping citrus fruit, due to higher costs and various other factors, with tons of citrus fruit on the trees that must still be picked. See photos here, here and here.

The variable farming costs and other factors which caused the dumping of citrus fruit, amongst others, include the cost of production, transport and labour costs and the lack of market access.

The long unnecessary workers’ strike action, led by SANCO that took place earlier this year, caused infrastructural damages of around R500 million, and contributed to some of the current challenges.

The small towns of Kirkwood and Addo which depend heavily on the citrus farming economy are faced with bleak economic prospects and major job losses.

Despite these challenges, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) failed to assess the situation.

The black emerging farmers on 30 years PLAS farms lease are faced with a gloomy future. These farmers can’t pick or spray because they cannot afford it.

For many farmers who can, they are going to use this time to leverage with their banks before the situation worsens. However, the disgruntled land reform farm beneficiaries cannot use their farms as security to borrow from the banks to cover spraying and next input costs because their contract with the government does not make provisions.

Despite DALRRD knowing these challenges, it failed to make an allocation for this kind of disaster or future commercialization prospects.

Furthermore, farmers lamented heavily about the lack of market access in the United States of America (USA). In the past, the USA refused citrus from South Africa due to black spots. However, there have been incidents of black spots in California and Florida.

After the industry spotted the gap in 2017, they worked with the department and prepared protocol negotiation documents and to date, the industry has had no feedback.

While DALRRD was kept abreast regarding the increased planting of citrus in the country, the department has failed to intensify efforts of concluding new protocols for market access.

The current freight costs and petrol prices have made it uneconomical to take the fruit to the market. Hence, farmers have opted to dump these fruits. While the costs of picking the fruit, fertiliser costs, petrol costs and freight costs have doubled, the citrus fruit prices have halved.

The DA reiterates its call on the government to reduce the fuel levies to alleviate the burden of costs on food production.

Furthermore, we call on DALRRD to address key failures of the land reforms that include, amongst others, provision of post-settlement support, provision of title deeds to allow farmers to engage directly with the banks to borrow funding and opening of new markets for farmers.

Policy must limit Minister’s power to determine higher education institutional types

Please find attached soundbite by Chantel King MP.

The DA has submitted comments on the draft policy on the recognition of higher education institutional types.

While we welcome that private higher educational institutions will be given the same recognition as public higher educational institutions, we are cautious of the fact that the Minister for Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, can abuse clause 12.4 of the policy and use his right to close private institutions without affording them the opportunity to appeal or improve as is the case for public higher educational institutions.

Private higher education institutions have proven that they meet the threshold to receive full university status. They play an important role in giving higher education access for the missing middle. The majority of students currently accepted at public tertiary institutions, especially those deemed historically disadvantaged, are National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary holders.

The draft policy could also be the perfect opportunity to elevate technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges to the higher education domain, instead of keeping it in the continuous education and training sphere. This will give more credibility to TVET qualifications and attract more students.

All learners deserve an opportunity of quality further education in an institution that will best serve their needs, and without the uncertainty of undue interference from the Minister.

Debate speeches on the establishment of the Phala Phala ad hoc committee

The following speeches were be delivered in Parliament on 27 September during the debate on the establishment of the Phala Phala Ad Hoc Committee.

John Steenhuisen MP- Don’t let Parliament’s shameful history repeat itself

Leader of the Democratic Alliance

Ryan Smith
Chief of Staff: DA Leader’s Office
072 385 1918

Siviwe Gwarube MP- Do we simply turn a blind eye to Phala Phala allegations because of party politics?

Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

076 055 6280

Werner Horn MP- Questions surrounding Phala Phala will not go away until answered properly

DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Correctional Services

083 262 2846

Ramaphosa’s inefficient NECOM chooses to be a ‘secret society’ while South Africans stay in the dark

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) has not only failed to be fully accountable to Parliament, it has chosen to keep the country in the dark by keeping its deliberations top secret.

In a presentation made by Eskom today before the joint Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises and the Portfolio Committee of Mineral Resources and Energy, Eskom conceded that they were “…not at liberty to disclose information from them (NECOM)…[as they were] classified as secret…”.

At a time when South Africans are calling for transparency and accountability on the electricity crisis, and despite having presided over one of the worst loadshedding episodes since they were appointed, NECOM has instead opted to operate like a secret society.

Ramaphosa launched his Energy Response Plan with much fanfare, promising to take “bold steps both to address the immediate crisis and to make load shedding a thing of the past.” Since then the crisis has deepened and NECOM, the National Energy Crisis Committee – comprising all relevant government departments and Eskom, led by the Director-General in the Presidency, Ms Phindile Baleni and tasked with taking “courageous and decisive action to close the electricity gap” – has been silent on the detail of any initiatives while the country is plunged into darkness.

By telling Eskom not to disclose information, NECOM has essentially muzzled Eskom and denied South Africans an opportunity to get insight into efforts, if any, that are being made to address the electricity crisis.

Once again the default Command and Control position of the ANC government is brought to bear in a time when the nation, reeling from crippling rolling blackouts, needs to be taken into confidence. This is truly the Sounds of Silence immortalized by Simon and Garfunkel, as darkness – our old friend – comes to talk to us again.

It simply won’t do. Transparency in the face of this ANC-generated debacle is required. The DA will not remain silent on this and will demand that the deliberations and initiatives are made public so that they can be monitored for efficiency and in order that parliament is empowered to conduct proper oversight.

ANC government finally admits that it is responsible for the failure of land reform farmers

In a response to a DA parliamentary question, the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development (DALRRD) and Land Reform has finally admitted that the ANC government is responsible for the failure of over 1 700 farmers who have been given 30 year leases on state owned farms under the Proactive Land Acquisition (PLAS) programme, due to lack of after-settlement support.

As the DALRRD gets ready to submit its budget estimates for the 2023 national budget, the DA will be submitting an advisory note where we will ask that the Department shifts funds away from expenditure items such as external consultants, travel and subsistence, towards increased support for farmers.

Oblivious to its own poor budget prioritization, the Department admitted that PLAS farmers were failing because of “…limited or lack of government support in terms of funding and technical expertise…”. This is the clearest admission yet by the Department that the ANC government has neglected the land reform process to the point where most resettled farmers are on the verge of operational failure.

The Department attributes this lack of support to insufficient capacity and budget but conveniently neglects to mention that it has has spent close to R500 million on travel and subsistence in the past five years. While the Department spends hundreds of millions of rand flying and staying in fancy hotels, the budget for ‘Farmer support and development’ has been decreasing since 2017. In 2022, the Department is on course to spend 9% less in 2022 than it did in 2017 providing support to farmers.

At a time when the cost of food is rising and placing many households in danger of food poverty, the ANC government is scaling back its financial support to farmers. The impact if this ill-advised scale-back from supporting farmers by the ANC government has been immediate, with the Department itself admitting that it has resulted in:

  • lack of capital to fund operations and inputs, which lead to underutilisation of farms;
  • lack of market access for their produce;
  • lack of production skills;
  • inability to pay rent;
  • inability to pay for water usage and electricity; and
  • inadequate infrastructure;

This grim outlook for PLAS farmers has exposed the undeniable fact that the ANC’s push for expropriation of land without compensation is nothing more than an attempt to mask its land reform failures and shift the blame away from itself. The DALRRD needs to understand that its first responsibility is protecting South Africa’s food security rather than making taxpayer funded flights and hotel stays.

Army provides private security to ANC cadres

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

The DA strongly condemns the abhorrent abuse of power and misuse of state resources by an SANDF Colonel, as revealed in a recent news report. We will be submitting parliamentary questions regarding this matter.

Sunday newspaper, Rapport, revealed a complaint by a whistle-blower against his commander for allowing the ANC to hold some of its meetings and gatherings during the party’s policy conference from 29 to 31 July at the Doornkop Military base.

It is alleged that the Colonel used state resources to advance the interest of the ANC by providing guards and weapons to protect politicians that held the political meeting at the army base.

This is an absolute misuse of funds and a violation of the code of conduct of the SANDF, which states that members may not misuse public funds for personal gain, political motives, or any other reason.

The Minister promised that “consequence management” will be introduced against any alleged offender. However, In light of her recent written responses to my questions, stating that no action is taken against members of the military if there is no outside complaint to the police, the DA knows that this is unlikely to happen.

The SANDF must remain apolitical to ensure the security and protection of all South Africans, and not just members of one party, or one faction of the ANC.

We seek immediate action, not only towards the member concerned, but also his supervisory heads who have neglected their fiduciary responsibilities. The enforcement of discipline should be non-negotiable in any military.

Furthermore, all three senior persons involved (political, administrative and operational) must give feedback to the parliamentary committee as soon as possible on (1) the appropriate action taken towards the member, and (2) what they will do to prevent similar abuses.

DA calls for public comment on cutting food VAT

The DA calls on South Africans to comment on the scrapping of VAT on more essential food items, reducing the cost of these food items by over 15%.

At this time of out-of-control food price increases, it is essential that the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, use the Medium Term Budget in October to announce food price relief.

The DA has demanded on behalf of all South Africans that the Finance Minister takes bold action to cut food prices in his October Medium Term Budget, and now the South African public can comment and support this demand.

To back the demand, and comment on the proposal, South Africans can go to

Further to this, the DA has formally requested that Minister Godongwana assemble an expert panel to advise him on the food stuffs he must zero-rate for VAT in October.

A zero-rate of VAT on a much-increased basket of essential foods will alleviate millions in food taxes paid by struggling South Africans. The uncaring ANC Government must now intervene to relieve food prices, as more people slip into food poverty.

Across the globe governments are taking bold action to help struggling people through this cost-of-living emergency, yet in South Africa the ANC Government remains sitting on its hands.

We call on South Africans to support and comment on the scrapping of VAT on more essential foods so that your voices are heard, and so that you show the Finance Minister that he must act.

Comments will close on 20 October 2022, and the Minister’s Medium Term Budget is expected on 26 October.

Who paid for ANCYL to ‘observe’ sham Russian referendums?

Please find attached a soundbite by Darren Bergman MP.

The African National Congress’ Youth League (ANCYL) has committed a serious breach of international law by sending “observers” to witness a series of Russian referendums to somehow give legitimacy to the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory by the Russian military.

In doing so, the ANCYL is not only lending official credibility to these sham polls, but seemingly carrying the full weight and backing of South Africa’s governing party, giving a blank cheque to other pariah nations and governments to annex whatever territory they please, knowing they will have the support of the ANC-led South African government.

This is both a flagrant disregard for international law, and a violation of South Africa’s very own constitution. It is also in direct conflict with the ANC-led national government’s official response to the conflict which states that South Africa is non-aligned, and supports dialogue to resolve what is nothing more than a Russian attack on the sovereignty of a neighbouring country.

The DA is calling on the ANC to clearly state who paid for the trip of the ANC Youth League members to “observe” the voting in polling stations in the Ukranian territories that the Russian military has conquered.

There are three possible answers – all three equally egregious:

1. The Russians paid, meaning that the ANC will willingly flout international law and South African constitutionalism to be bought as Russian puppets;

2. The ANC paid, meaning that the governing party will fork out hundreds of thousands to observe sham referendums in Europe while their staff remain unpaid; or

3. The South Africa taxpayer paid, meaning that the ANC is abusing state resources to embark on international trips which are in direct violation of the state foreign policy.

South Africans have the right to know who funded this trip that is widely regarded as a complete sham and a legitimisation of Russia’s forceful and bloody invasion of Ukraine.

If the ANC does not come clean and reveal who funded this trip, the DA will launch our own investigation to get the facts. We cannot allow the ANC to bulldoze through the Constitution and our international commitments to turn South Africa into a global pariah state.