DA vindicated by suspension of Hlophe

The DA welcomes the long-overdue suspension of Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe.

Earlier this year, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) made a finding of misconduct against Judge Hlophe and recommended that he be suspended in terms of Section 177(3) of the Constitution. This affirms the 12-year-long position of the DA that Judge Hlophe was not fit and proper to lead the Western Cape High Court.

It is regrettable that this suspension was unnecessarily delayed by President Ramaphosa, as this has resulted in Hlophe inflicting further damage to the judiciary through a variety of reckless statements, while also participating in JSC interviews for the Western Cape High Court.

The decision to suspend Hlophe will help restore credibility to the Western Cape Division of the High Court.

The DA calls on Parliament to proceed without further delay to institute removal proceedings under Section 177(1)(b) .

Prioritise road safety this festive season

With a larger number of travellers expected to use road transport over this coming festive season than in the last two years, all possible personal and regulatory precautions should be taken to avoid fatalities and injuries.

For this purpose, a special briefing was arranged recently to offer the Road Traffic Management Company (RTMC) the opportunity to present safety measures for the festive season of 2022.

An early indication of travelling and crashes has already shown an increase of 1.5% in crashes compared to 2019 (pre-covid) and a 3.5% increase compared to last year (2021).

Apart from all major routes that carry higher traffic volumes during this time, there is a need for road transportation of products throughout the entire nation, also outward trade to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) neighbours. Because of the high level of economic activity during this period, the transportation sector and distribution of goods are important. Potential hazards to public and pedestrian safety and commodity delivery should therefore be the focus.

The DA has emphasised the importance to identify and to take steps to reduce potential hazards through effective resource and operational planning. Increased efforts are the only way towards reducing fatalities and crashes on the road. The RTMC indicated that they will focus on drinking and driving, speed, pedestrian safety, vehicle roadworthiness, and execution of warrants of arrest.

The DA pledges its support to all efforts of saving lives. We are grateful to law enforcement, traffic and emergency staff who work during this time to make it safer for everyone else. Civic responsibility includes checking that vehicles are roadworthy and that the driver is competent. The road is a shared space that no user owns and our behaviour should show this.

May the precautions and planning of all who endeavour to protect lives lead to positive results this festive season.

Phala Phala Report vote shatters myth of ANC renewal

Today’s vote in the National Assembly, in which the ANC used its Parliamentary majority to block the Section 89 Independent Panel Report into the Phala Phala allegations, confirms, once and for all, that the ANC has not changed its undemocratic behaviour in the wake of State Capture and the Zondo Report.

The ANC we saw in the House today is the same ANC that leapt to the defense of the corrupt former President Jacob Zuma in half a dozen Motions of No Confidence as well as an Impeachment vote.

Despite all the solemn pledges to do better and to honour their oath of office following the scathing rebuke delivered by Justice Raymond Zondo in his final report into State Capture, the ANC fell at the very first hurdle.

Perhaps even more disappointing is that this behaviour was happily welcomed by President Ramaphosa himself, who has done everything in his power to avoid answering questions truthfully about the money he hid in his farmhouse.

But if the ANC and the president think they’ve succeeded in drawing a line under the Phala Phala scandal, they are very much mistaken.

As we did throughout the Zuma years, the DA will use every resource and every avenue at our disposal to hold the president to account, and to ensure that our Parliament remains functional and intact. This fight has only just begun.

What the ANC has perhaps not yet realised is that the blocking of the report in Parliament today was a pyrrhic victory for them, in that it shattered the myth around the party’s so-called renewal.

Today South Africans were left in no doubt that the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa is no different to the presidency of Jacob Zuma, and that both men would not hesitate to damage and weaken Parliament in order to evade scrutiny and the law.

If the ANC believes it can act in this way without electoral consequences, 2024 is going to teach them some tough lessons indeed.

MPs should have the courage to vote for accountability

The following speech was delivered by the Chief Whip of the Official Opposition, Siviwe Gwarube MP, in Parliament today during the debate on the Section 89 Phala Phala report.


Much has been said about this vote today;

Much will be said here about why this process – despite the fact that it was commissioned by this very House and its members – should be ignored;

However, not much will be said about what this vote is not about.

This vote is not about impeaching the President;

This vote is not about the highly contested ANC presidential race;

This vote is not about where the political lines are drawn; and whose politically loyal to who;

This vote is about accountability.

This vote is about the Constitution we all swore to uphold and the commitment we made to South Africans to be lawmakers who respect the rules of this House and by extension, the people who sent us here.

It is a vote to complete a process we collectively embarked on; showcasing that it does not matter whether you are a president or an ordinary citizen, the laws of this country apply to us all impartially.

It is a vote to afford the President an opportunity to have the truth uncovered.

An opportunity an innocent person should grab with both hands.

To deliberately make this vote about the President and not about the principle of fairness and the rule of law is dishonest.

It is undoubtable that crimes were committed on the President’s Phala Phala farm and state resources were abused.

it is also evident that this did not begin and end with the President, an entire network of government players and ministers are possibly implicated.

To vote against the recommendations of the panel; is to send a strong message to the people of South Africa that you only have to politically connected to be insulated from accountability.

This is not the first time a choice like this has been faced by this House.

Many of you here voted to disregard the Nkandla ad hoc report that detailed the abuse of state resources by the former President, Jacob Zuma.

You did so shamelessly.

You did so with no regard for the massive responsibility that you have been entrusted with.

Not only by ANC voters, but by all South Africans.

Today you will make the same choice.

You will choose party over people.

You will choose a cover up over accountability.

You will once again go down in history as the governing party that broke Parliament.

This is a big moment that will be recorded in history so that years from now, people will read about the disdain with which you have treated this House.

Those who will vote for what is right and not what is politically expedient today, will be voting to restore the credibility of this House which has been destroyed by the ANC over the years.

I hope you have the courage of your convictions today.

And one day, when your children ask you what you did in big moments of our democracy, may you be courageous enough then to admit that you stood firmly on the wrong side of history.

This time round, let Parliament do the right thing

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by the DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen during a debate on the Section 89 Phala Phala report in Parliament today.  

Honourable Speaker

Honourable President

Honourable Members

Eleven days ago, Mr President, you were ready to quit. Mind made up and speech written, you’d resigned yourself to resign.

And this wasn’t some noble sacrifice in service of your country. No, you were going to resign because the alternative was unthinkable to you and possibly fatal to your party.

The alternative would mean answering questions, before a committee of Parliament, about the large stockpile of money you’d stashed away in your farmhouse. Money that you claim was nothing but a simple misunderstanding – a bit of Christmas day cash buffalo shopping combined with some lax admin and bookkeeping.

But let me assure you, not many people in this house and even fewer people out there believe that you have been truthful about the origin of that money, or why it spent two months hidden in your sofa, or what you had intended to do with it, or why you tried for two years to cover up any evidence that it ever existed.

Those questions all remain largely unanswered, and it was the prospect of having to answer them, under oath, that convinced you to write your resignation speech.

That is how damaging the Phala Phala truth is to you personally, and to your party.

And it was only when your ANC comrades reminded you how your party normally deals with these inconveniences – how easily the ANC abuses its majority in this house to crush any notion of accountability – that you then decided to cancel your resignation.

Satisfied that the protection of your caucus would make the questions go away, you decided to step back into the ring.

Of course, we’ve been here before, not so long ago.

We all sat in this house, debate after debate, vote after vote, and watched an ANC majority shield Jacob Zuma from half a dozen Motions of No Confidence and one Impeachment vote.

We had to watch in embarrassment as shameless MPs all nodded in agreement with ridiculous videos about fire pools.

Our Parliament became the laughing stock of the world as 250 grinning, heckling ANC MPs reduced this once-august house to a mindless defender of the indefensible.

And when Justice Raymond Zondo wrote his final report on State Capture, he reserved his harshest words for the sell-outs in Parliament who so effortlessly trampled their oath of office in service of a corrupt president and his handlers.

“Never again,” we were told in the wake of the damning Zondo Report. Never again would Parliament be declawed and disempowered, as it was in those dark days. Not under this president who rode in majestically on the promise of a new dawn and pledged to do things differently.

And yet, here we are again. What has really changed?

Then it was Nkandla. Now it’s Phala Phala.

Then it was fire pools and cattle kraals. Now its couches stuffed with dollars.

Then it was President Jacob Zuma. Now it’s President Cyril Ramaphosa.

But it’s the exact same modus operandi: As long as you have the numbers in Parliament, you can make any scandal go away.

If that’s how you intend to vote today – one unified shield against accountability and oversight, just like you did in the Zuma days – then shame on you.

And President Ramaphosa, if that’s what you expect and demand of your caucus, after everything we’ve been through in the wake of state capture and the Zondo Report, then you, sir, are no different to your predecessor.

So I ask that every member thinks very carefully about what today’s vote means.

We’re not voting to find a president innocent or guilty of an impeachable offence. We’re not weighing up evidence to reach a verdict. That only happens later.

Today is simply about letting due process take its course.

It is about acknowledging – as the authors of the report did – that the large gaps in the story around the hidden and stolen dollars warrant further inquiry. An inquiry that must be undertaken by a committee of this Assembly.

That is the test before this house today. Have we learnt anything from the past, or are we prepared to break Parliament once more in defense of a leader who doesn’t want to be held accountable?

Honourable President, I don’t need to tell you that our country cannot afford an indefinite period of turmoil while you battle for your political life, and fight to evade accountability.

We simply do not have the luxury of time and resources. We are in deep, deep trouble.

We have an electricity crisis worse than war-ravaged Ukraine, with South Africans facing upwards of twelve hours a day without power.

We have a crime crisis, with our citizens coming under daily attack from murderers, rapists and violent robbers.

We have an unemployment crisis where 43% of our people – most of them under the age of 30 – cannot find a job.

For 60 million South Africans, these crises are very real. And to tackle them, we need a president with both hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road ahead, and his head in the game

Honourable members, you do have a choice today, and the world is watching your decision.

So I ask of each member here today: Remember your oath of office, remember who you are meant to serve in this house, and then vote in favour of adopting this report.

Thank you.


Cheating teachers must face the consequences

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP.

The DA welcomes the Department of Basic Education’s swift investigation into the matric exam cheating scandal that has been widely reported by the media. We call on the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, to ensure that the investigation is concluded before the announcement of the matric results on 19 January 2023.

We will write to the chair of the parliamentary portfolio committee on basic education, Bongiwe Pricilla Mbinqo-Gigaba, to summon the Minster to Parliament at the first opportunity to brief the committee on the consequence management against the implicated personnel, as well as how the examination protocols were breached in the first place. It is crucial that the guilty teachers face strong consequences to dissuade other teachers from facilitating cheating and ensuring that the quality of future matric examinations are not called into question.

The DA has been calling for an independent school monitoring evaluation authority to evaluate and monitor teachers, and this scandal has shown the necessity of such an organisation.

It is extremely unfortunate that the learners and teachers involved in cheating have put a blight on the efforts of those diligent and hard-working learners and teachers. The past two years have challenged our learners in various ways, and while most teachers have tried their best to rise to the equation, it seems that others have failed to fully prepare their learners for the matric exam. The majority of learners would not need to look for ways to cheat if they feel confident in the material they learned.

South Africa needs quality teachers to ensure that learners entering the workforce and tertiary institutions for learning are well equipped and won’t join the growing unemployment lines.

DA welcomes the pronouncement of the analogue switch-off date but remain sceptical

Please find attached a soundbite by Tsholofelo Bodlani MP.

The DA welcomes the analogue switch-off date of 31 March 2023 as announced by Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. We believe the date will provide a sense of urgency in finalising the switch-off.

The constitutional court judgment found that “all parties agree that there is a need for South Africa to migrate to digital and for the analogue switch-off to imminently take place. Analogue switch-off is an urgent, and unfortunately much delayed, national priority”.

The DA believes that this matter should proceed without any delay.

We note that the current rollout has faced challenges which include a court process as well as a number of citizens who have complained that they have not received the installation of the set top boxes after applying, using the prescribed methods.

We are worried about how entities who are part of the rollout are mismanaging the process, and we therefore asked the minister what her department’s reason was for implementing its broadcasting digital migration programme without ensuring that a proper project expense management tool was established first?

Furthermore, with citizens bearing the brunt of the worst loadshedding that the country has ever faced, we remain sceptical that the switch-off date will be met.

We encourage all who wish to provide comment to do so on or before 27 January 2023.

Incapacitated President – DA calls for the immediate reconvening of Parliament to provide leadership on the electricity crisis

With President Cyril Ramaphosa currently incapacitated due to the Phalaphala scandal hanging over his head and ANC factional politics his sole focus, the DA is calling for Parliament to be immediately reconvened to provide leadership on the electricity crisis.

Ever since the Section 89 panel on the Phalaphala scandal issued its report, Ramaphosa has completely disengaged from the business of governing and left the country to run on auto pilot. Meanwhile, loadshedding by Eskom has been escalated to a level where it has severely increased the risk of a national blackout and grid collapse.

The DA demands that the Chairpersons of the portfolio committees on Public Enterprises and Mineral Resources and Energy summon Eskom executives and Ministers who serve in the National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) to provide a comprehensive report on the steps that they have taken to address the crisis.

The joint committee sitting must demand that:

  • NECOM provides a progress report on what they have accomplished to date in terms of resolving the crisis, including a timeline of proposed interventions;
  • The Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, provides an update on what his Department has done to secure new generation capacity in the short to medium term;
  • The Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, together with Eskom executives, give updates on each power station, units that are out of commission and the steps being taken to bring them back online;
  • The Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, gives a  detailed report of what his Department has done to date to address the issue of sabotage that continues to rear its ugly head at power stations;
  • The Minister of Finance provides an update on the way forward with regards to Eskom’s request for assistance with resources to purchase diesel for its Open Cycle Gas Turbines.

Instead of coming up with cogent solutions to the crisis, Ramaphosa’s Ministers have issued empty statements and blamed everyone other than themselves for this national emergency.

Just last week, Mantashe made a flimsy attempt to absolve himself from any responsibility by accusing Eskom of “actively agitating for the overthrow of the state”. His colleague, Pravin Gordhan, issued an inconsequential instruction, with no tangible support, to Eskom demanding that they end loadshedding.

The indecisiveness in this ongoing crisis has brought a heavy toll on the economy, with South Africa escaping a technical recession by a whisker. Recent estimates suggest that economic losses for 2022 due to continuous blackouts have scaled up to R 950 billion.

With no end to Eskom’s woes in sight, the damage to the South African economy is set to breach R 1 trillion before year end for 2022 alone.

Parliament should not abdicate on its responsibilities to hold the Executive to account and should, instead, show leadership during this time of uncertainty when the President has all but abdicated on his responsibilities. South Africans are looking for clear leadership on the electricity crisis and Parliament should not let them down.

Despite promises, SASSA beneficiaries still cannot access their funds

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP.

Despite promises from Postbank, the DA has received reports that South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries are still struggling to access their social grants.

And while the article in yesterday’s Sunday Times and others the past 12 days highlight the depth of the crisis at the Postbank, it is of little comfort to the millions of South Africans reliant on it to pay their grants every month. That looters made off with R150 million – R18 million in just 5 days – is an indictment on the bank. These thieves not only stole money, they were playing loose and fast with millions of people’s lives.

Through the establishment of a new Chapter 9 institution, the DA’s “Cyber Commissioner” Bill will go a long way to strengthen and support cybersecurity in the country’s State-owned enterprises (SOEs). The institution will advise on, monitor and establish cyber security capability in the public sector, as well as establish minimum standards and build cyber security capacity.

This year was a particularly difficult year for South Africa’s 18 million SASSA grant beneficiaries. Not only has the country’s cost of living increased astronomically and unemployment lines grown, access to social grants have become a nightmare. There was scarcely a single month without some or other glitch that made grant payment difficult.

When the Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) contract finally came to an end, the DA was one of the voices questioning why the outsourcing of social grant payments.

After SASSA successfully migrated beneficiaries from CPS to the Post Office and other banks, we were carefully optimistic that beneficiaries’ troubles in accessing their grants would be at an end. But this has never been the case. Almost every month another problem prohibited the easy payments of social grants. And every time beneficiaries were forced to borrow money to return home empty handed after often spending days sleeping in queues.

After 17 years, SASSA should have been an expert in assisting and paying grant beneficiaries. Instead, almost two decades of dealing with the country’s poorest and most vulnerable has created no urgency with them to address the myriad of recurring problems, nor has the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu’s R2.4 million annual salary bought her an ounce of compassion.

Government silence on Russian ship is deafening

Note to editors: Please find attached Afrikaans and English soundbites by Kobus Marais MP.

The complete silence of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the Minister of Defence, Thandi Modise, supports the suspicion that something illegal happened with the unwelcome visit of the Russian cargo ship, the Lady-R. It also supports the inferences that weapons were unloaded and transported by trucks.

It is now clear that the question by DA Leader John Steenhuisen to Minister Modise on whether the South Africa government sells weapons to Russia was apt and on point.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the South African government is openly siding with Russia – as also proven by their refusal to reject the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

If the disembarkation of defense equipment was legal and a declaration of goods took place in terms of the relevant legislation and regulations, why all the secrecy?

The Minister is silent as the grave and did not respond to my letter, requesting answers. This involuntarily raises the question of whether these are similar illegal imports as with the Cuban medicine. The military’s declarations that these were legal imports were later proven to be false and contrary to the relevant laws and regulations governing medicine imports.

Does the Minister realise the damage her silence is doing to our essential trade links, foreign policy and the already unsatisfactory image of our military as well as the government’s image to instead side with the pariahs of the world?

The ANC government, with the Commander-in-Chief and Minister of Defense at the helm, is proving that they cannot be trusted with our country’s security and essential trade links.