Over 8 000 police vehicles out of service

The DA will submit follow-up questions after a reply to a Parliamentary Question by the DA’s Vusumzi Magwebu MP has revealed that over 8000 police vehicles are currently in repair shops.
More than 2 000 vehicles in Gauteng and over 1 500 vehicles in the Eastern Cape are currently out of service and some police stations have only four vehicles to serve eight sectors.
According to another NCOP reply, there are 48 247 police vehicles nationally. This means that a shocking 16.6% of all police vehicles are currently out of service and waiting for repairs and maintenance. Because of this, there is currently only one vehicle for every 5 South African Police Services (SAPS) members.
A report received by the Gauteng legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Community Safety on Thursday furthermore revealed that there are serious challenges at the auxiliary garage, where police vehicles languish for up to three months. The report also noted a relationship between policing performance and resourcing in all eight sampled police stations.
It is all too common for police members to lack the basic equipment they need to carry out their mandate of keeping South Africans safe.
Without vehicles, the police are not able to respond timeously to crimes taking place and therefore, the under equipping of the SAPS directly threatens the safety of ordinary citizens.
The DA will establish the true extent of the crisis with follow-up questions and find out what the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, and the SAPS command is doing about it.
It is unacceptable for the police to be incapacitated because of something as simple as a failure to accurately keep track of vehicle repairs, collect vehicles on time and run functioning vehicle repair shops.
The DA cannot stand by while crime thrives as a result of not giving police members the equipment they need to make South Africa a safer place for all.

DA to ask Public Protector to investigate Eskom CEO’s billion rand deals to stepdaughter

The DA will be writing to the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, requesting that she launches an investigation into Eskom CEO Matshela Koko for allegedly awarding tenders worth R1 billion to Impulse International, a company of which his step-daughter is a Director.
Impulse International was awarded 8 contracts by Eskom’s Generation unit during Koko’s tenure as the unit’s Group Executive.
Koko’s reported actions could show that he is compromised and unfit to be the head of Eskom. By claiming that he was not aware that his daughter was involved with Impulse International, Koko inadvertently admits that he failed in his role as the Chief Accounting officer to conduct due diligence on the company profile of a potential Eskom service provider.
This potentially means that Eskom violated State Procurement guidelines set out by Treasury to guide the acquisition of services by State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) under Koko’s stewardship.
The DA believes that this latest expose could be one of the reasons why Eskom board has been reluctant to release the Denton report.
The DA will ensure that the rot at Eskom is laid bare and all those implicated held accountable. It can never be acceptable that, while Eskom is struggling to raise capital for some of its power generation projects needed to grow our economy, its managers could be busy siphoning cash to benefit family members.

193 grade 3, 4 and 5 school children fell pregnant

A response to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that 193 pupils in Grades 3, 4 and 5 fell pregnant between 2014 and 2016. If school children from Grade 6 and 7 who fell pregnant are added, this number increases to 1 449 children.
This information should shock every South African. Young girls, most under the legal age of 16, are having their futures undermined, likely through being taken advantage of or abused.
The DA will urgently submit further parliamentary questions to find out if these girls are under the age of 16 and if so, whether any charges have been instituted against those responsible, as this would be statutory rape. We will also investigate whether these girls have since returned back to school, following the birth of their child, what support the school and the Department of Basic Education have provided them to catch up on the syllabus, and whether counselling and other emotional support has been provided.
The parliamentary reply showed that 18 357 pupils fell pregnant in 2014, 15 504 in 2015, and 8 732 in 2016.
Although the overall numbers seem to indicate a drop in school pregnancies, the Department of Basic Education was not able to provide the statistics for Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. Traditionally, these two provinces account for large numbers of school pregnancies, a total of 6 477 in 2014 and 5 178 in 2015 combined.
It is vital that the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga, provide these missing numbers as a matter of urgency so that a realistic and honest assessment can be made and solutions can be found.
These young girls cannot be lost to the system and the department must follow up to ensure that they continue to attend school.
Keeping children in school should be our major priority if we are to ensure that every person, no matter the circumstances of their birth, are able to live a life they truly value, filled with opportunity. This is something the DA will continue to fight for.

More than R40 million spent on luxury cars for Ministers

After submitting a range of parliamentary questions across all governmental departments, the DA can reveal that the government has spent a total of R 41 960 075.91 on the procurement of luxury vehicles for Ministers and their Deputies between 2014 and 2017.
It is revealing that these ANC Ministers continue to spend such outrageous amounts of public money on luxury vehicles, when millions of unemployed South Africans struggle to put food on the table.
Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, has been calling on austerity measures in government spending since 2013. It seems that his colleagues are simply refusing to listen.
The worst offender is the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, which splurged an astounding R 5 505 351,65 on cars for Minister Gugile Nkwinti and his deputies.
This is money that could have been better spent on supporting emerging black farmers, who are in desperate need for financial assistance from the government.
Some of the other top spenders, include:
• Department of Transport: R 3 453 870,87
• Department of Justice: R 3 275 138
• Department of Public Enterprise: R 2 669 377,77
• Department of Agriculture: R 2 502 425,10
• Department of Telecommunications: R 2 383 769,14
Where the DA governs, we spend public money on the people, so that opportunities are created. In the DA run Tshwane, Mayor Solly Msimanga rejected 10 BMW 3 series, which were bought by the previous ANC administration. They have now been used to form part of a new anti hi-jack unit.
As Mayor Msimaga said: “No new luxury cars will be bought or leased for politicians‚ and if vehicles currently owned by Tshwane require replacement‚ sensible and low-cost vehicles will be procured. I will not allow public money to be spent on luxury cars‚ while our people struggle for services‚ houses and jobs. No more luxury cars will be bought or leased under my government.”
The DA will continue to monitor the purchases of vehicles by the executive, and where possible, do whatever we can to reprioritise the expenditure so that the poor benefit – not the ANC-connected elite.

DA to provide Tax ombud with information about SARS refund delays

The DA has written to the Tax ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, to provide him with information we have received from parliamentary questions about outstanding VAT and diesel refunds.
On 28 February 2017, the total amount of outstanding VAT refunds was R19.6 billion.
This represents a staggering increase of R 1.5 billion from the previous year, or 8% increase in the value of outstanding refunds.
It is shocking that 43 650 or 15% of a total of 343 674 claims submitted were outstanding as on 28 February 2017.
Moreover, of the 43 650 outstanding claims, it is worrying that 42% were outstanding for more than 2 months.
There was also an increase of 42% of refunds being audited.
It is indeed these audits that are at the heart of the problem.
They are either abused to, or unintentionally create, delays in refunds that result in huge cash flow problems and thus economic growth inhibitors.
It is astounding that there are VAT refunds that are 10 to 12 months overdue.
The impact on the businesses involved will have been very serious and there may well be some of the affected businesses that have been forced into liquidation or at very least out of business.
VAT vendors act as collection agents for SARS.
Businesses and small businesses in particular, have used their own cash to pay VAT on their purchases and it is morally wrong for SARS to in any way delay refunding them the very cash that they need to pay wages and to keep the business and jobs going.
It is immoral for VAT audits to be abused to meet SARS revenue income targets and if the Tax Ombud finds evidence of this sort of unethical behaviour the DA will demand that disciplinary action be taken against both those who made such policy decisions as well as those who participated in the implementation of them.
The DA is concerned that the R19.6 billion in outstanding claims could place serious strain on the national cash balances.
These cash balances, according to the provisional financing figures published by National Treasury, amounted to R210.77 billion.
This means that about 10% of the cash on hand would need to be used to refund the full amount of outstanding VAT refunds which would place the cash balances, over and above the normal monthly expenditure of the government, under severe pressure.
In addition to the referral of tax data to the Tax Ombud, the DA will take the following action to ensure that action is taken to resolve the delays in VAT refunds and thus the negative impact on economic growth and job creation:
• We will probe the SARS delegation robustly during the SARS appearance before the Standing Committee on Finance on the 28th of March 2017;
• We will submit a written question to the Minister of Finance to establish what the impact on the countries cash resources and ability to pay State employee salaries, expenses and capital infrastructure costs would be should the full backlog of VAT refunds have to be paid out.
Earlier this week, we welcomed the announcement by Judge Ngoepe that he will investigate the failures at the South African Revenue Services (SARS) that cause these reported delays in tax refunds.
However, it is imperative that the R19.6 billion be refunded and the DA questions whether SARS is currently in a position to do so.
The DA continues to urge Judge Ngoepe to efficiently and effectively investigate the failures at SARS so that they can resolve what is clearly a serious problem for business, economic growth and job creation.

Department of Small Business Development to underspend by between R96 and R125 million

In the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development this week, it was revealed that the Department of Small Business Development is projected to underspend on its 2016/2017 budget by between R96 and R125 million due to incapacity, poor programme implementation and problems with transferring functions from the Department of Trade and Industry.
This projected underspend represents a staggering 7% to 9% of its budget. Recent statements by Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, claiming that she needs more money to fulfil her mandate are absurd if she cannot even spend what has already been budgeted.
Furthermore, the department has failed to deliver on 79% of the recommendations made by the committee, most of which the department agreed with, since the committee implemented a tracking system on its reports and minutes.
The fact of the matter is that Minister Zulu should be focussing her efforts to ensure that her budget is spent on supporting and assisting small businesses so that they can, in turn, create employment for the millions of South Africans who have given up hope of ever finding a job.
The affected programmes are the National Small Business Upliftment Scheme, the Enterprise Incubation Programme and the Cooperative Incentive Scheme.
In meetings with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and Treasury, the mandate and strategy of the department came into question. The DPME subsequently initiated a review of the department’s strategy by an independent consultant which is due to report in December 2017, further delaying the urgent need for the department to have an agreed strategy and Annual Performance Plan.
Both the DPME and Treasury are pushing for the department to play a greater role in co-ordinating and monitoring overall government expenditure on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, of which the Department’s own budget represents less than 30%.
Until the department gets to grips with its mandate, strategy and under-capacity issues, it will continue to fail small businesses and therefore continue to fail in creating employment.
The DA will continue to push for the department to assist small businesses and spend the money they have so they can be the job-drivers they’re meant to be.

DA requests joint committee inquiry following horrific Taxi rape

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Ms Thandi Mamela, to request that she calls for an urgent joint meeting of the Portfolio Committees of Women, Police and Transport and accordingly summon the Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, to address the ongoing problem of violence against women on public transport.
This is in light of reports yesterday that a mother was raped by a gun-wielding gang of men in an unregistered Quantum taxi in a four-hour ordeal in front of her ten-year-old son. It is also reported that since yesterday seven more women came forward with similar stories.
These incidents expose how vulnerable women are to brutal acts of violence, especially on public transport.
The DA will propose that all taxis that belong to registered taxi associations clearly mark their vehicles to indicate that they are indeed valid transport operators. The DA members of the Portfolio Committees on Police and Transport will now also be campaigning for clearly visible markers for taxi operators, as a safety measure to prevent such incidents of violence against women and children in the future.
The DA will also be submitting parliamentary questions to the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, to get detailed information on how many similar incidents have been reported in each province across the country. It is clear that the incident in Gauteng and other similar incidents in the province is the work of a syndicate preying on women when they are at their most vulnerable.
Incidents such as this one is a clear indication that violence against women on public transport is an ongoing problem that must be rooted out and confronted head on.
Therefore the Departments of Women, Police and Transport must come together to address the lack of security measures in the public transport sector to keep women safe.
South African women live in constant fear whenever they get on a bus, train or taxi, as the threat of violent acts directed at them is constant. Measures be must put in place to protect our women against such vicious crimes.
It is shocking that women in this country are subjected to such brutal acts of violence on a daily basis and the DA will do everything in its power to promote and ensure the safety of women.

Inspector General of Intelligence must investigate Chief Justice office robbery

Media reports today, quoting sources close to the investigation of the break-in at the Office of the Chief Justice on 18 March, claim that the leading suspect in the case, Nkosinathi Msimango, has links to the State Security Agency (SSA).
I will be writing to the newly appointed Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI), Dr Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe, requesting that his office also investigate the incident and the alleged link with the SSA.
The DA is on record saying that the burglary is highly suspicious, and can only be viewed as an act of intimidation targeting our judiciary.
We are also on record calling on Dintwe to investigate the growing dysfunction in the intelligence services and address suspicions of the intelligence services involving itself in political intrigue.
We believe it is incumbent on the Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, to address claims of SSA involvement in this outrageous crime and to clarify Msimango relationship with the SSA, if any.
The significance of the break-in at the office of the Chief Justice cannot be downplayed and nothing short of a complete and thorough investigation is required, including an investigation into state involvement.

BOKAMOSO | Zuma’s mafia turns to intimidating the judiciary

Justice Malala recently wrote: “These are dangerous times indeed. The state and its leader have gone rogue”. The break-in at the office of the Chief Justice on Saturday shows just how true his words are. This is a direct attack on the judiciary by Jacob Zuma’s state security thugs. The Constitution is what stands between Zuma’s mafia state and the ability to loot with impunity. We would do well to defend it with all our might.

 

The timing of the break-in is no coincidence. It happened the day after our courts delivered two judgements that dealt significant blows to Zuma’s state capture agenda. The Constitutional Court ruled that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, a key driver of Zuma’s succession agenda, displayed gross incompetence in fulfilling her duties to ensure that South Africa’s poorest continue to receive social grants.

 

On the same day, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that Major General Berning Ntlemeza’s appointment as head of the Hawks was irrational and invalid. The Hawks is a specialist police unit, specifically tasked with fighting corruption. Despite two previous court rulings that Ntlemeza is unfit to head it, Police Minister Nhleko, another of Zuma’s lackeys, insisted on retaining him. The fact is, our state has been captured by a crime syndicate that cannot tolerate an independent corruption-busting unit that actually does its job. This is why Nhleko is now appealing this ruling, at taxpayers’ expense.

 

These rulings are major setbacks for the Zuma mafia’s state capture agenda. The checks and balances in a constitutional democracy are specifically designed to protect ordinary citizens from the abuse of power. When you control the executive, and have a supine ANC caucus in the legislature, then only the judiciary is left as an obstacle. Our legal benches are filled with independent thinkers who understand objectivity, believe in the rule of law and who defend the Constitution without fear or favour. And it is both fear and favour that Zuma’s mafia is now trying to extract from the judiciary.

 

The only plausible inference from this bizarre story is that the break-in at the offices of the Chief Justice was deliberately staged in order to intimate judges into submission. Fifteen computers holding the personal information of South Africa’s 250 judges were stolen, from the second floor of a building with dozens of other computers and other valuables in it, all of which were left untouched. The message to judges is clear: oppose us at your peril. If this sounds alarmist, consider that on Monday the house of Zane Dangor, who resigned as Social Development Director General earlier this month in opposition to Dlamini’s handling of the social grants matter, was broken into by two men looking specifically for his laptop. They didn’t get it, because he had it on him and he wasn’t home, but they assaulted his son. The message is clear: talk, and we’ll come for you.

 

On Wednesday, in a pitiful attempt to portray the break-in at the Chief Justice’s office as a burglary, the Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, announced that three arrests had been made. This was a poorly concealed setup: one of the three “suspects” was released the same day with no charges against him, and the charge sheets for the other two contained no mention of the break-in.

 

A politically intimidated or captured judiciary could leave us in the predicament that Zimbabweans and Venezuelans now face, and that the majority of South Africans faced during Apartheid South Africa: with no-one to turn to for protection from a hostile state. One step the DA would take to prevent this ever happening in South Africa, would be to allocate funds for a security budget for the judiciary. The judiciary shouldn’t have to rely on SAPS for protection, because SAPS answers to the executive.

 

The fact is, the judiciary is a direct threat to Zuma’s state capture project and he is using all available levers to fight it. For the Zuma mafia, nothing is sacred. They are taking a scorched earth approach to secure their survival. Very soon, those within the ANC who treasure our constitutional democracy will have to choose between their party, or a prosperous, free South Africa governed by a diverse group of people, bound by their steadfast commitment to the Constitution and its rule of law. 

SETAs must explain R14 million spent on lavish international trips

The DA will submit further parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of how 13 of the 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) spent R14 million of public money on lavish international trips in 2015 and 2016.
A series of replies to written DA parliamentary questions revealed that 13 SETAs spent millions to fund lavish international trips for their senior executives and board members.
The DA will now submit additional parliamentary questions requesting the full internal reports on these trips to learn if there is any demonstrable benefit to the performance of the SETAs as a result of the international travel.
The fact of the matter is that every possible cent should be poured into skills training, not on international travel for high-earning executives and board members.
The worst offender of this irregular expenditure is the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA) which spent R4.6 million during this period. The CEO, alone, accounted for R1.2 million on 8 international trips to various destinations including Brazil, the UK, the US and the Netherlands.
The second-highest expenditure was the R1.6 million spent by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (merSETA), where the CEO took 11 international trips in 2015/2016. The third-highest is the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) which spent R1.45 million.
Earlier this month the DA submitted a complaint to the Public Protector after allegations of extensive corruption amongst senior executives at the MQA came to light.
It is unacceptable that the executives of these SETAs, who can afford to pay for their travels out of their own pockets, spend such outrages amounts of public money, especially considering the high rates of underperformance amongst SETAs.
The Department of Higher Education and Training’s Annual Report for 2015/16 noted that only two of the four performance targets across SETAs were achieved. Only 40% of national artisan learners were either employed or self-employed after training and the latest available 2014 post-school education and training sector statistics showed that a mere 30.5% of those registered for internships, had been certificated.
For too long the lost generation of born frees have been the victims of decades of government greed and corruption.
The DA will find out, through the requested reports, whether these expensive trips have any tangible benefit to South Africans struggling to improve their skills and opportunity for employment.