Court confirms that Wim de Villiers and Stellenbosch University management broke the law

Please find attached a soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP. 

The Western Cape High Court today confirmed that the management of Stellenbosch University (SU), led by rector Wim de Villiers, broke the law by trying to keep information of critical public importance secret. The court order, which was handed down by judge Robert Henney, confirmed that the SU’s refusal to comply with a request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) was “unlawful and in violation of the provisions of PAIA.”

The court further ordered the SU to comply with the PAIA request within five days by handing over all records relating to De Villiers’ alleged improper contact with retired judge Edwin Cameron during the court case about the abolition of Afrikaans as a primary language of teaching, alongside English, to the DA’s constituency head in Stellenbosch and SU-alumnus, Dr Leon Schreiber. The court further ordered that the university must pay the DA’s legal costs for the application. 

Today’s court order is another victory in the DA’s ongoing quest for justice regarding the events that took place during the Constitutional Court case about the abolition of Afrikaans as a primary and equal language of instruction alongsideEnglish as the SU. The DA however derives no joy from seeing the SU descend into a swamp of unprincipled mismanagement. We remain determined to get to the bottom of what happened during the court case that robbed thousands of Afrikaans students of their right to mother tongue education precisely because the DA has such high regard for what the SU says it strives to be – a fully multilingual beacon of excellence. 

While the DA resolutely continues the fight for justice, members of the SU community as well as all students whose language rights were disregarded in the process, ought to demand answers from the SU management about their illegal conduct. 

Why did De Villiers and his management team knowingly break the law? And why did De Villiers have so little respect for the rights of Afrikaans students that he was apparently comfortable with conducting secret conversations with Cameron while the fate of mother tongue education hung in the balance? In the end, De Villiers will be accountable to the Maties community as they decide whether they are comfortable with such conduct. 

The DA looks forward to closely studying the evidence against De Villiers. Based on what it contains, we will take further steps to ensure that the right to mother tongueeducation does not get further trampled by the university management’s petty power games. The DA remains absolutely committed to the principle that Afrikaans deserves an equal place alongside English as a primary language of instruction at SU, and we will keep fighting until the constitutional right to mother tongue education is finally respected by Stellenbosch University.

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SA’s capital city is paying the price of an ANC power grab

In the 2016 local government election the residents of Tshwane voted the ANC government out of office. But now ANC rule has returned to the capital city.

In March this year the ANC provincial government in Gauteng disbanded the Tshwane’s council and placed the municipality under administration.

At the time Tshwane had no arrear Eskom debt, an unqualified audit outcome for the last financial year, an operating surplus, and a two-notch credit upgrade from Moody’s.

The only credible explanation for the province invoking section 139(1)(c) of the Constitution, reserved for “exceptional circumstances”, was that this was a cynical ANC ploy to grab back the power the party lost in 2016.

The pretext for provincial intervention was created by ANC and EFF councillors who disrupted council meetings and broke quorum. This was a clear violation of the statutory code of conduct for councillors.

The DA went to court to overturn the power grab, and in May the High Court ruled in our favour. Judge President Mlambo delivered a stringing rebuke of the Gauteng government as well ANC and EFF councillors.

Not only was the decision to disband Tshwane overturned, ANC and EFF councillors were ordered to attend council meetings.

On Monday a crucial aspect of the case will be heard in the Supreme Court of Appeal, and we expect a judgment soon thereafter.

But as important as the court case is, it is also important for the South African people to know what is going on under the cover of “administration” in the nation’s capital.

Collapse of service delivery and looming financial crisis in Tshwane 

At present Tshwane has no city council to check on the management of the city, including tenders, expenditures, court cases, and contracts.

DA ward councillors continue to help communities with service delivery problems, but until a court outcome they have no official standing when speaking to municipal officials. And there is no elected mayor down the line of accountability.

As we speak sewage is running down some of Tshwane’s main streets, but the municipal workers meant to fix the problem are either on strike or on slow strike.

Water leaks and electricity outages that used to be fixed in 24 to 48 hours, now take weeks. DA councillors try their best to share the little information they receive from officials.

This month revenue collection is apparently down by 30% – worsening the blow of the lockdown on city revenues, and threatening the city’s financial sustainability.

Rates clearance certificates aren’t being issued, and building plans aren’t being processed. So the little development that is possible in spite of the lockdown is being thwarted by municipal incompetence.

In May, two months after the lockdown, the administrators approved for public comment a city budget that was underfunded by at least R2 billion.

The administrators hadn’t taken the likely effect of the lockdown on city revenues into account, rendering the entire public participation process worthless.

But what has concerned Tshwane’s lead administrator, Mpho Nawa, hasn’t been the breakdown of services, the revenue crisis, or a discredited budget.

He has been more concerned with appointing political support staff, including the currently vacant position of the mayor’s chief of staff.

Neverminded that until the court case is decided there are no politicians holding elective office in the city, and that there is no mayor in need of the services of a chief of staff.

Administrators fail to deal with violent strike action  

The administrators also cannot seem to get a handle on the SA Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) – despite the union being a key ally of the ANC in its Tshwane power grab.

Different ANC factions now seem to be fighting each other for control of Tshwane House – a reminder of what happened in the lead up to the 2016 local election.

When Thoko Didiza was announced as the candidate to replace the inept Sputla Ramakgopa as ANC mayoral candidate members of the party, including deployed cadres in the municipal administration, unleashed a wave of violence and destruction.

Roads were blocked, municipal offices were trashed, and municipal cars were set ablaze. All this had to be mopped up by the DA-led coalition government that took over later that year.

Settlement being considered on West Capital land scam

Today the DA can also reveal that the city’s administrators want to settle a court case over an unlawful land deal called the West Capital Development Project. The deal was concluded under the previous ANC mayor Kgosontso Ramakgopa in 2011 and amended without council approval in 2013.

In terms of the deal a 99-year lease is given to a private consortium over more than 1000 acres of city owned land that includes a waste water treatment plant, a bus depot, and the Heroes Acre cemetery. For this and other benefits the consortium pays a nominal rental of R100 per calendar year.

In 2018 the DA-led city government took the West Capital deal on judicial review, and the matter is now ripe for hearing in the High Court. But we have now seen documents proposing a “settlement” instead, including extending the life of the unlawful deal. The legacy of ANC mismanagement, corruption and cadre deployment between 2000 and 2016 runs deeper in Tshwane than anywhere else with the possible exception of Nelson Mandela Bay.

What has happened in Tshwane since March justifies the case the DA has made in court. It shows what happens to democracy, service delivery and the capacity of the state when an election outcome is reversed.

The DA will continue the fight against the Tshwane power grab – in court, but also in the lead up to the 2021 local government election. We have not yet reversed the ANC’s legacy, and we have made mistakes of our own.

But it is now even clearer than it was in 2016 that the ANC in Tshwane cannot be trusted with responsibility.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court.

Since Ramaphosa became President, his high-flying ministers and deputies have gallivanted overseas nearly 1 000 times

Kindly find attached an English soundbite by Dr Leon Schreiber MP.

Since Cyril Ramaphosa became President in February 2018, members of his cabinet as well as their deputies have used taxpayer money to pay for no fewer than 949 overseas trips. Given that Ramaphosa has now been in office for 912 days, this means that his government has forced taxpayers to pay for ministers and deputies to gallivant overseas at a rate of more than one trip every single day.

At a time when millions of South Africans are suffering due to the ANC lockdown crisis, it is absolutely scandalous that the President has turned his office into a glorified travel agency for ANC cadres, courtesy of long-suffering South African taxpayers.

These shocking figures were today revealed in Ramaphosa’s reply to a parliamentary question posed by the DA, which showed that, during 2018/2019, his ministers traveled abroad 354 times, while their deputies traveled in style 204 times. In 2019/2020, ministers again milked taxpayers for 244 trips abroad, and deputies undertook another 147 trips.

The information also reveals that Ramaphosa’s leading globetrotter is the Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Lindiwe Sisulu, who undertook no less than 38 overseas jaunts at taxpayer expense. She is closely followed by Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, who flew on taxpayer dime 37 times. Another minister known for her appetite for the finer things in life is Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who used taxpayer money to travel abroad 26 times – including to a city in Switzerland called Geneva.

Then there are the supposedly ardent communists, Rob Davies (22) and Ebrahim Patel (21), who visited mostly wealthy shopping meccas on their overseas spending sprees. Other high-flyers include Naledi Pandor (31 trips), Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (24 trips), Aaron Motsoaledi (23 trips), Nathi Mthethwa (22 trips), Tito Mboweni (22 trips), Pravin Gordhan (14 trips), Bheki Cele (13 trips), Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma (12 trips), and Zweli Mkhize (12 trips).

The most popular destination for ANC cadres were the bright lights of the United States, which they visited 82 times. Next on the cadre bucket list was China (64 visits), Ethiopia (57 trips), and Switzerland (49 excursions). Some cadres were also lucky enough that their “official business” took them to luxury destinations like the Seychelles and Mauritius five times apiece.

What is even more disgusting about the Ramaphosa government’s contempt for citizens is that the vast majority of these flights were likely in first or business class. According to the new Ministerial Handbook that Ramaphosa’s government published under pressure from the DA in November 2019, ministers and their deputies are only limited to economy class flights if the trip is shorter than two hours.

There is also no way for Ramaphosa to use his usual trick by pretending that he is “shocked” to learn of such wastage. The President is personally responsible for these nearly 1 000 luxury trips as, according to the Ministerial Handbook, he has to approve written requests by ministers and deputies to travel abroad.

Now that we have exposed this information, the DA will explore every possible avenue to stop this grotesque waste of public funds. In addition to posing further questions to Ramaphosa to establish how much these overseas jaunts cost the people of South Africa, we will also be proposing fresh amendments to the obscenely wasteful Ministerial Handbook.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

DA watching briefs committee attends Hartswater court case

Please find attached video in English by Annette Steyn MP.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) attended the second court appearance of the five accused for the murder of Danie, Breggie and Elzabie Brand in Hartswater, today. The triple murder of the family members on 27 July shocked the country.

The increase in attacks and murders on farms is something that needs urgent attention of government. The DA launched the court watching briefs last month in order to ensure justice is served and that those found guilty of murders be dealt with harshly.

A watching brief can and should do the following:

  • monitor police conduct;
  • monitor the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service;
  • promote good relations between the police and the community;
  • assess the effectiveness of visible policing; and
  • liaise with the Shadow Cabinet member responsible for policing or prosecutions with respect to crime, policing and prosecutions.

The five accused appeared in the Hartswater court today and the case was postponed until 27 August to afford the accused to apply for bail. All the accused will remain in custody until 27 August.

The DA will keep on attending court cases to ensure that justice is served

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DSD need to pay old age, children’s homes urgently

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is appalled by reports that the Department of Social Development (DSD) has failed to pay thousands of organisations that do social work on behalf of Government in several provinces in South Africa, and call on the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, to ensure that the situation is rectified immediately.

We will also submit parliamentary questions to interrogate the root cause of this travesty.

These organisations service the most vulnerable member of our society, including old age homes, children’s homes and women’s shelters, and it is simply deplorable that they would not have been paid since March 2020.

According to a report by Lisa Vetten of the Care Work Campaign, and Margaret Grobbelaar of the National Coalition of Social Services, hundreds of such organisations in the Eastern Cape and North West have not received any payment the past four months, and many in North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga had their budgets slashed with up to 25%. To add insult to injury, these organisations are expected to use 15% of their operational budgets for the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE).

These are organisations that work non-stop on behalf of the Government to look after vulnerable and desperate people that have no refuge. And in a turn of events that no reasonable person would find surprising anymore, Government has left them in the lurch with some organisations that have already burnt through their savings and have gone into debt in an effort to feed those under their care and provide PPE.

The Minister and all those working in her Department should feel ashamed. She regularly boasts about her successes, but rarely do they seem to be rooted in reality. The reality is that thousands of people suffer every day due to the failings of DSD. The reality is that if you are one of the lucky few that have a positive DSD experience, you are very much the exception and not the rule.

The reality is that is seems like the Department would rather see people suffer than do the job it’s been mandated to do.

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Minister of No Tourism allegedly plotting to capture tourism industry with new ANC-backed union

A whistle-blower has contacted the Democratic Alliance (DA) providing information that the ANC is allegedly planning to start a “sweetheart” union for the tourism sector sanctioned by Luthuli House. This tourism union will supposedly be compliant and deferential to the ANC and would serve as the official voice of the tourism industry thus muting the sector in an attempt to stop the tourism demonstrations that are now taking place almost daily.

Such a union would be ideally timed in the current climate caused by the lockdown and economic hardships that the ANC government itself caused. These hardships have been highlighted by professionals within this sector, leaving hundreds of thousands without jobs and many others unable to earn a living for the past 5 months.

With the establishment and existence of such a union, the ANC government would be able to create the perception that it cares for the tourism industry when all it wants is one that is compliant and will not demonstrate in the manner that the sector has in recent weeks. The DA is advised that the ANC plans to register the Tourism Union of South Africa (TUSA), a union that was established by tourism operators and tour-guides a few years ago but was never registered with the Department of Labour and Employment.

An official, with instructions from Luthuli House, is supposedly working at formalising the TUSA.

This clandestine action under the watch of the Minister of No Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, matches what she stated at a Tourism Portfolio Committee meeting in mid-July when discussing the regulations that are currently decimating the tourism sector, when she explained that there must be no ambiguity with regards her unequivocal support for Government, even if it causes the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs as is currently happening. The establishment of such a union would reinforce this support given to Government by the clearly out of touch Minister.

In the last few weeks, the tourism, hospitality and restaurant industries have launched a concerted and sustained campaign against Government’s crippling Covid-19 lockdown. They have successfully highlighted how it is decimating these sectors as hundreds of thousands of jobs are being lost. The Minister has even admitted this on numerous occasions, yet she chooses to do nothing to aid the sector, instead, she chooses to seemingly work against them.

The DA will be keeping a close eye on developments in this regard so that it can caution the tourism sector about the threat this union poses to the sector.

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DA legal team challenges PP application to interdict Parliamentary removal proceedings

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) lawyers will today make arguments, before the Western Cape Division of the High Court, opposing the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s urgent application to interdict Parliament’s inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

We believe that this legal action by Mkhwebane is frivolous and another attempt by her to frustrate a legitimate and legally sound Parliamentary process to hold her to account for her continuous mishaps at the helm of this crucial Chapter 9 institution.

Mkhwebane wrongly claimed in court that the DA has a vendetta against her. This could not be further from the truth.

Our decision to institute removal proceedings against her was based solely on her performance. In fact, the DA submitted over 7000 pages of supplementary evidence to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to support our motion for the removal of Mkhwebane.

Her tenure as Public Protector has been characterised by legal blunder after legal blunder, as well as questions around her independence. Some of her most notable mishaps include:

  • The Constitutional Court found that she acted in bad faith and was not honest with the High Court regarding her investigation process in the Reserve Bank matter.
  • She jumped to the defence of former President Jacob Zuma by laying criminal charges against former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, for releasing the transcript of her interview with him.
  • In late 2019, the North Gauteng High Court dismissed her appeal to overturn Judge Ronel Tolmay’s scathing judgment lamenting her handling of the Estina Dairy Farm matter and the report thereof.
  • She was also recently reported to have celebrated her 50th birthday party with individuals involved in state capture – she chose to spend an evening sipping champagne with the very people she should be investigating.

Mkhwebane has demonstrated that she cannot conduct her work independently and has illustrated a poor understanding both of the law as well as of her mandate as Public Protector. She has proven that she is not fit for office and must be removed.

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Eskom once again plunges SA into darkness

South Africa has once again been plunged into darkness this morning when stage 2 load shedding was implemented countrywide due to the delay to return five generation units to service and a further two units went offline.

Eskom has issued warnings of a “severely constrained” power system and has urged “the people of South Africa to reduce electricity consumption in order to help us power the country through the evening peak.”

This blow follows a court ruling this week that the City of Cape Town must first exhaust negotiations with the Government in its attempt to secure South African municipalities the legal right to select their electricity suppliers.

These developments reflect the continued inability of Eskom to meet the needs of South Africans for affordable and available electricity. On the one hand Eskom continues to limp into the darkness of the death spiral Eskom CEO, André de Ruyter, himself referred to and on the other, an inexplicable procedural judgment that has stymied the plans of a city of four million people to set up its own power-purchasing office, which would secure supplies within six years.

This situation is untenable as South Africans battle to emerge from the economically crippling effects of Covid-19 legislation that has depressed demand for electricity in the interim. How Eskom intends to meet a rise in electricity needs as the economy revivifies is woefully unclear.

Meanwhile the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Independent Systems and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill or the Cheaper Energy Bill which aims to drive the cost of electricity down, introduce competition into the energy sector and diversify the country’s energy sources to introduce more renewables, continues to be side-lined by the portfolio committee. The private member’s bill introduced by DA Chief Whip Natasha Mazzone MP, is a reworked version of another bill first introduced by the Energy Minister in 2012 to deal with Eskom’s conflict of interest as a generator and distributor of electricity. It was later withdrawn in 2014.

The question to be asked in view of this, is whether Government as shareholder of Eskom and responsible for the country’s energy needs is serious about the dire situation South Africa is facing on the electricity supply front? Its actions or more precisely, its lack of action, seems to suggest otherwise.

The utility’s crippling debt levels, its continued inability to secure a stable grid and Government’s unwillingness in the face of this to pursue meaningful alternative options reflects a gross dereliction of duty and responsibility to the nation.

The DA demands urgent attention to these issues, failing which, the death spiral De Ruyter referred to and the concomitant impact on our flailing economy will be, in the words used to refer to the failure of the Apartheid government, too ghastly to contemplate. We urge an urgent re-visitation by the parliamentary committee of credible options with urgency. The DA will write to the chair of the committee to make this request plain.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

What is Minister Mantashe doing to secure SA’s electricity supply?

With South Africa having returned to stage 2 load shedding this morning, and some 11 000 MW of Eskom generation capacity out of operation, the question has to be asked: What is the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, doing to secure South Africa’s electricity supply? The answer, sadly, is precious little.

In December 2019, when load shedding peaked at stage 6, the President and Minister Mantashe committed to an Emergency Power Procurement programme to add 2 000 to 3 000 MW to the grid as a matter of urgency, in order to ensure stability of supply. But the good intentions of President Cyril Ramaphosa were undermined by his Minister, who has sat on his hands and not procured a single megawatt of additional generation. Nor has he secured the promised incremental supply from existing renewable energy independent power producers with spare capacity, or increased the exemption threshold required for licensing of generation facilities from 1MW to 10MW as had been widely expected, and he has done absolutely nothing about opening the next bid window for renewable energy Independent Power Producers (IPP).

Instead, the Minister has dithered and squandered a period of lowered demand, during which he could have done so much more to bolster South Africa’s power supply.

South Africa needs to break free of the Eskom monopoly. One of the things necessary to do this is to create a transmission grid that is independent of Eskom’s generation facility. This is exactly what the DA’s Independent Electricity Management Operator (IEMO) Bill would do. This bill, introduced by DA Chief Whip, Natasha Mazzone MP in 2019, would permit Eskom’s generation plants and those of independent power producers to compete on a level playing field, and allow metropolitan municipalities with the financial capacity and technical capabilities to purchase electricity directly from IPPs.

It is clear that Mantashe is out of his depth and playing to the unions/coal lobby. It is time that President Ramaphosa either held him to the commitments made in December last year, or fire him from his cabinet. Mantashe cannot be allowed to continue as the handbrake on the South African economy. To save lives and livelihoods, we need a secure supply of electricity, at the lowest possible cost, in the shortest possible timeframe.

The DA will not permit South Africa’s electricity needs to be further compromised by this incompetent and bumbling minister. We need decisive action now.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Ramaphosa buckles under relentless DA pressure – but is too cowardly to fire the ANC’s Bonnie and Clyde

After months of sustained pressure by the Democratic Alliance (DA), President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally caved in and implicitly acknowledged that the Director-General of the Public Service Commission (PSC), Dr Dovhani Mamphiswana, is a criminal ANC cadre.

However, instead of acting decisively by outright firing Mamphiswana for illegally hiring his mistress as the head of professional ethics in our most important public sector ethics watchdog, Ramaphosa continues milking desperate taxpayers by placing Mamphiswana on “precautionary suspension with full pay.”

If Ramaphosa cared more about the country than his rapidly disintegrating political party, he would not have forced struggling South Africans to continue paying this disgraced ANC cadre’s multimillion-rand salary.

A real leader who puts country over party would have immediately fired Mamphiswana, and launched criminal and civil proceedings to claim back the millions that Mamphiswana and his mistress, Boitumelo Mogwe, defrauded from taxpayers.

Even for a President as weak as Ramaphosa – who has publicly admitted that he prizes ANC unity above the interests of the country – there is absolutely no reason why Mamphiswana should continue receiving his nearly R2 million annual salary.

A completed investigation by advocate Smanga Sethene from the Office of the State Attorney already confirmed on 8 July that Mamphiswana and Mogwe were guilty of “nepotism par excellence” and “premeditated deceit, dishonesty, fraud and corruption calculated to deceive…the citizens of the Republic of South Africa”.

Incredibly, Ramaphosa is at pains to state that “the President’s suspension of the Director-General does not in any way constitute a judgement on the part of the President”.

Why does the President steadfastly refuse to pass judgement and act decisively against the ANC’s Bonnie and Clyde pair who have committed “premeditated corruption”?

If Sethene’s report is not enough for him, then what will it take for Cyril Ramaphosa to ever decisively do the right thing?

Ramaphosa’s latest half-hearted attempt to make it appear like he is acting against Mamphiswana comes six months after Sethene originally recommended that he be suspended.

By sitting on his hands for half a year, Ramaphosa caused an additional R1 million in taxpayer money to be wasted on Mamphiswana’s salary.

That figure will now continue to increase as Ramaphosa’s government inevitably drags out the disciplinary process against Bonnie and Clyde for as long as possible.

Unlike Ramaphosa, the DA acted immediately upon conclusion of Sethene’s report. We laid criminal charges against both Bonnie and Clyde over a month ago.

We have also confronted Ramaphosa and public service and administration minister, Senzo Mchunu, at every turn about this government’s revolting failure to act despite overwhelming evidence against the two criminal cadres.

The DA will pose a series of parliamentary questions to Ramaphosa about his dereliction of duty by continuing to waste taxpayer funds on a criminal cadre.

We also reiterate our demand that Ramaphosa must follow in the DA’s footsteps by personally laying criminal charges against the ANC’s Bonnie and Clyde.

If Ramaphosa fails altogether to fire Mamphiswana, we will brief our lawyers with an eye to holding the President legally accountable for breaking his Constitutional duty to promote and sustain a high standard of professional ethics in the public service.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court