DA wishes South Africa a blessed Easter and Passover

On behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA), I would like to wish members of the Christian faith a blessed and reflective Easter. I would also like to wish the Jewish community a happy Passover, a commemoration of the journey to freedom.
The Easter and Passover period give the Christian and Jewish communities a chance to deeply reflect on their faith and the kind of society we live in and the kind of society we would like to build. I therefore humbly call upon the Religious Community to dedicate a special prayer to South Africa, the people and the country’s political leadership during this holy period. We urge all South Africans to pray for South Africa and her people over this period.
We must recall the role that the Church played in the fight for the country’s Constitutional Democracy and its deep roots in all of society. Church leaders like the late Father Trevor Huddleston and Archbishop Desmond Tutu knew that the Church could not just standby while the country was subjected to the anti-democratic rule of unethical and self-interested men and women.
During these trying and irregular times, it is vital that all of society stand behind the shared democratic and constitutional values that put the country and people first.
This period also brings with it increased traffic volumes on the country’s national roads, I therefore urge all road users to travel safely, remain cautious and vigilant, and be mindful of all other road users.

DA’s #NoConfidence petition grows to over 500 000 signatures

The DA’s #NoConfidence petition has today exceeded 500 000 signatures, making our petition, if not already the biggest online political petition in South Africa ever, then certain to be the biggest.
Following Jacob Zuma’s midnight cabinet reshuffle, the DA launched this petition at noconfidence.co.za encouraging the public to be co-signatories in the Motion of No Confidence against Jacob Zuma.
In addition to an online petition, our activists and public representatives have been going door-to-door in every corner of South Africa encouraging support for the petition.
The support on the ground has been overwhelming, with so many South Africans supporting the petition and expressing anger at Jacob Zuma’s refusal to leave the presidency in the face of widespread protests.
That, to date, over half a million South Africans have already signed the online version of the petition is a remarkable showing of rejection for Jacob Zuma, and an endorsement of the DA and other opposition parties’ campaign to see Zuma being fired by Parliament.
It is clear that the people of South Africa have no confidence in Jacob Zuma. The past two weeks’ enormous groundswell of protest action against Zuma, along with this growing petition, show that Zuma must go.
We thank the patriotic South Africans who are coming out in numbers to oppose Zuma’s corruption, recklessness and self-enrichment in mass action across the country, including yesterday’s National Day of Action.
We encourage the public to continue protesting, no act is too small.
The DA will continue to use all means available – petitions, parliamentary mechanisms, litigation and will march along with all South Africans en masse across our country until Zuma is gone.
The President has betrayed the people of South Africa, and has sold our country to the Guptas, to corrupt individuals, who seek to serve their own interests and not the interest of the people.
When the Motion of No Confidence is rescheduled by Parliament, the ANC must make the right decision, humble themselves and listen to the people, and vote out Jacob Zuma. It is now only the ANC standing in the way of the will of the people.

Zuma lying, again?

Reports in today’s Mail & Guardian, referring to an explanatory affidavit submitted by the former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv. Mxolisi Nxasana, allege that Jacob Zuma lied under oath about the reasons behind the former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head vacating his post.
It should be of great concern to Parliament’s Justice Committee, which the NPA is accountable to, that the Head of State allegedly manipulated facts in order to bulldoze through a predetermined and unethical outcome – the axing of Adv. Nxasana.
I will therefore write to the Chairperson of the Justice Committee, Mathole Motshekga, requesting that he institute an investigation and hearings into this entire matter, and if needs be use the powers afforded to Parliamentary Committees to subpoena documents and people, including the President, so that this matter can be thoroughly probed.
Furthermore, I will write to the current NDPP, Adv. Shaun Abrahams, to request that the NPA investigate the serious claims made by the former NDPP. If they are found to be true, this would amount to perjury, which carries the sanction of jail time, a fine or both.
Lying under oath is a serious offense. But, frankly, the allegation is no surprise. Jacob Zuma has done everything, even destroying the institution of the National Prosecuting Authority, to avoid answering for his 783 charges – a case the DA is still fighting to ensure Zuma is brought to justice.
Jacob Zuma has lied before the National Assembly and has now allegedly lied under oath, adding further impetus and foundation to the calls for Zuma to be removed or resign because he is patently unfit to serve in the Office of the President.
It should not sit well with any South African that the country’s independent prosecuting agency is being used as a political tool. The DA will always fight for the independence of the criminal justice system and equality before the law.

DA welcomes extension for comment on Regulation of Agri Land Holdings Bill

The DA welcomes the extension of the deadline for public comment on the draft Regulation of Agriculture Land Holdings Bill, which will now close on 17 May 2017.
However, we have noted with concern that the draft Bill, in its current form, is blunt and inaccurate. It seeks to introduce ironclad limitations on agricultural land ownership at a time where food security and foreign direct investment are increasingly fragile.
Given the timing of the bill and its numerous potential adverse effects on job creation, investment and successful land reform, the DA calls on the public and stakeholders to submit their comment to ensure that this ill-conceived bit of legislation gets the attention it deserves.
Rather than working to govern the agricultural sector better, and in doing so create an environment where our country can flourish and foster new growth, the ANC is attempting to legislate its way to superficial outcomes.
While the need for land reform is undeniable, it is imperative that land reform be accelerated in a responsible manner, and with due consideration for Constitutional rights and investor confidence.
The DA remains hopeful that the tabled Bill will reflect a much more sophisticated solution for proposed agricultural land reform, at which point we will commit to engaging with it thoroughly.
The DA is committed to a sustainable system of land transfer that benefits the many, not just the few.

Speaker agrees to postpone MONC

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has this evening received a letter from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, acceding to our requests to postpone the Motion of No Confidence, which was scheduled to take place on 18 April 2017.
As the DA, we welcome the postponement, as the outcome of the Constitutional Court submission, where the matter of a secret ballot for a motion of no confidence will be tested, will have a material impact on the outcome of the vote.
The Speaker has stated that “the motion of no confidence is postponed pending consideration of the matter by the Programme Committee after the constituency period.”
The DA believes that it would have been remarkably disrespectful for the National Assembly to proceed with the debate and vote while the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the Republic, was deliberating on a matter directly linked to the motion.
The postponement will give ANC Members of Parliament time to reflect on their commitment to South Africa and the people. For as long as Jacob Zuma remains at the Union Buildings, the people, especially the poor and jobless, will continue suffer.
The postponement will not stop the people of South Africa from continuing to make the call that “Zuma must go and South Africa must come first”.

Berning Ntlemeza must vacate position immediately

The DA welcomes the decision today by the North Gauteng High Court to deny Hawks Head Berning Ntlemeza leave to appeal, and to order that the judgment setting aside Ntlemeza’s appointment should have immediate effect.
We have long called for his removal from the position of National Hawks Head on account of his unsuitability to hold this office and procedurally flawed appointment.
Berning Ntlemeza must respect this court ruling, and vacate his office immediately.
While we also welcome the decision by new Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, to withdraw the departments’ appeal, the fact is that Ntlemeza has served his political purpose, which the DA believes was to target the former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan.
This politicisation of the Hawks, which has been facilitated by the ANC, and the previous ministers of the portfolio, cannot be allowed to continue.
The new Minister must now publicly commit to ensuring that the Hawks will be an independent organised crime-fighting unit, with the new head being a person of integrity, who will always put the best interests of South Africa first. We urge him to take speedy action to expedite Ntlemeza’s removal from office and his replacement by a fit-for-purpose individual who can restore confidence in, and integrity to, the Hawks leadership.
The time for Zuma lackeys being placed in positions of power must come to an end.
South Africans deserve crime-fighting leadership that will not be bogged down by political games and it is now up to Mbalula to show he will take his new responsibility seriously.

DA challenges Baleka Mbete’s decision not to postpone Motion of No Confidence

The press statement by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, indicating that the Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma can only be withdrawn by the MP that sponsors it, flat out ignores our request for the motion to be postponed.
Indeed, the DA never indicated that the Motion of No Confidence will be withdrawn but only requested that the Speaker postpone the motion due to the importance of the pending Constitutional Court application. The rules clearly allow for it to be postponed.
The DA will therefore not withdraw the Leader of the Opposition’s Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma.
This side-stepping of our important request is precisely the condemnable conduct that one would expect from the ANC’s pro-Zuma Chairperson, also masquerading as the Speaker of Parliament. Mbete is determined to do everything possible to protect Jacob Zuma, and disregard the will of the people.
Rule 129(5) of the National Assembly provides as follows:
“After proper consultation and once the Speaker is satisfied that the motion of no confidence complies with the aforementioned prescribed law, rules and orders of the House and directives or guidelines of the Rules Committee, the Speaker must ensure that the motion of no confidence is scheduled, debated and voted on within a reasonable period of time given the program of the Assembly.”
This rule clearly gives the Speaker the power to schedule the motion and, therefore, also the implied power to postpone and reschedule such a motion. This differs from the scheduling of other NA business which would require the National Assembly Programming Committee to either schedule or reschedule matters.
Business that has been scheduled, such as bills and reports, have been re-scheduled in the past.
We have therefore written to the Speaker to again urge her to postpone the existing motion, pending the outcome of the Constitutional Court matter, or any further directives provided by it.
The rules provide her with this authority and she must now exercise it so that the people of South Africa can be put first again.

Radio stations instructed to play birthday song for Zuma

The DA has learnt that various public radio stations, including Ukhozi FM, Phalaphala FM, Ikwekwezi FM and Ligwalagwala FM, have received instructions “from above” to play a special happy birthday song for the President’s birthday today.
In light of the political and economic fallout following the President’s midnight cabinet reshuffle, the latest move by the Zuma camp can be described as nothing less than propaganda to ensure that he retains his power by all means possible.
The DA will submit parliamentary questions to the new Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, to find out who exactly commissioned the song, who paid for the commissioning of the song, which stations were ordered to play it and how much it cost to air the song?
Under Zuma’s presidency, poor South Africans continue to suffer, as he sells our country to individuals who seek to loot our public coffers in order to enrich themselves.
These radio stations have an obligation to inform and educate our people and should not be used to protect the self-interests of the political elite or to sing the praises of a person who has become a one-man wrecking ball.
The DA urges all public broadcasters to protect their independence from any attempt by captured individuals to promote narratives that endanger media freedom.

Staggering state sponsorship in the amount of R13.9 million will have to be investigated

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, has committed to holding the fiscal line in South Africa.
However, a series of parliamentary questions submitted to all national departments reveals that a staggering R 13 864 380 has been spent on “sponsorships” of various institutions between 2014 and 2017.
 
The latest reply to parliamentary questions reveals, for example, that various state-owned companies transferred R 74 563 to the Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut, R3 725 624 to the South African Chamber of Commerce and R 1 151 393 to the Black Management Forum.
 
The total “sponsorship” so far is as follows: Afrikaanse Handelsinstituut (R 74 563); South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (R 3 725 624), Black Management Forum (R1 151 393), Black Business Council (R 8 050 000), Business Unity South Africa (R 22 800) and the Progressive Business Forum (R 840 000).
 
And the biggest “sponsors” so far are as follows:  Department of Trade and Industry (R 7 000 000), Transnet (R 5 059 002), Eskom (R 1 501 763), and Denel (R 303 615).
 
It boggles the mind that cash strapped state-owned enterprises would be allowed to use public funds to sponsor private institutions, especially when some of these institutions blatantly pursue a political agenda and bite the hand that feeds them.
 
I will therefore be requesting the Auditor-General, Kimi  Makwetu, to investigate this matter when we have all the facts, based on all the replies to my parliamentary questions on this subject in Parliament.

DA request postponement of MONC pending outcome of Constitutional Court application

The DA has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request a postponement of the Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma, scheduled for 18 April 2017, until such time as the Constitutional Court decides on whether the vote will be done by secret ballot.
It is important to allow the Constitutional Court the time to determine whether the motion can be conducted by secret ballot, as we believe that this would materially affect the outcome of the vote itself.
As soon as a decision is taken, the motion must be debated before the Assembly as soon as possible.
While this means that we have to wait a little longer to vote on the motion, I urge all South Africans to march together to the Union Buildings tomorrow and make it clear that we will no longer tolerate a President who is willing to put his own self-interest above the best interests of South Africa.