DA welcomes public hearings on poultry industry

The DA welcomes the decision by the Chairperson of the Trade and Industry Committee, Ms Joan Fubbs, agreeing to our request for public hearings on the local poultry industry.
These crucial hearings have now been scheduled for 15 March 2017 and will give Parliament an opportunity to engage in an open discussion with the entire poultry value chain, including local producers, importers, and retailers.
The debate over chicken imports has thus far been characterised by considerable acrimony, without enough effort by those involved, including Parliament and regulators, to understand the nuances of the issue.
It is neither wise nor economically sustainable to protect local industries that are not globally competitive. This was the economic isolation strategy pursued by the apartheid government, which created the bulky uncompetitive monopolies that still dominate the South African economy.
The only people who lose out in this scenario are the public at large, who pay more for the staple products that they need.
However, it is also true that globally competitive local industries must be able to compete in the world market on an equal and fair footing. If there is incontrovertible evidence that this is not the case, then there is a strong justification for short-term defensive tariffs to level the playing field.
The key point is that this is a matter that should be resolved by evidence, not by sloganeering and certainly not by deferring to well-resourced public relations campaigns and special interests.
The DA believes that these public hearings will give all key role-players in the poultry industry the space to make their position known and understood. We encourage the public, retailers, consumer bodies, producers, importers, farmers and other interested bodies to participate actively in the hearings.

Carbon tax: DA to request National Treasury to appear before Tourism Committee

The DA will be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Beatrice Ngcobo, in order to request that the National Treasury appear before the committee to clarify the impact that the proposed carbon tax will have on domestic air travel.
In a recent reply to a parliamentary question, the Minister of Transport, Dipou Peters, conceded that she was unsure of the impact that the proposed carbon tax would have on the cost of domestic air travel, and that carriers would be left to determine how its introduction would affect travellers.
Many South Africans already cannot afford air travel due to the high charges and taxes imposed by domestic carriers.
With several reports suggesting that domestic tourism is declining due to affordability, we need to explore ways to minimise the impact of taxes on domestic air travel.
Tourism is a key job providing industry in South Africa, with one in 22 employed people working in tourism, and we should not seek to restrict it but rather aim to grow it throughout South Africa. It seems ludicrous that no assessment is available which is indicative of how the tax will balance the interests of the job-creating tourism sector with the aim of reducing carbon emissions.
We need to minimise taxes, we need to be truthful in our advertising, treat air transport as a strategic catalyst for economic growth, and increase our number of flights to all parts of the country.

Two years without an Inspector General of Intelligence as we celebrate the Constitution that created the position

The DA calls on President Jacob Zuma to stop dragging his heels and appoint Prof Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe as the new Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI).
This crucial position, created by section 210(b) of the Constitution, has now been vacant since March 2015. As a consequence, there has been no oversight of South Africa’s intelligence services for nearly two full years!
Prof Dintwe was found to be the most suitable candidate for the position and, on 29 November 2016, the National Assembly passed a resolution approving the recommendation for the appointment of Prof Dintwe to the vacant post.
The DA has been tireless in its efforts to finalise the appointment of a suitable IGI. In March 2016 the DA successfully blocked the nomination of Cecil Burgess, the architect of the “Secrecy Bill” and a “whitewashed” report on “Nkandlagate”, to the post of IGI. Six months later we wrote to the chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence demanding that the committee urgently reconvene and resume its search for an IGI.
At the time, the DA vehemently objected to the appointment of Arthur Fraser as the new Director-General of the State Security Agency. Fraser’s suitability for the position is highly questionable and the new IGI must make an investigation into this dubious appointment his first order of business.
Ultimately, the IGI must investigate the Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, who has been proven to keep company with rhino horn traffickers, organised crime figures and criminally accused student “leaders”, among others.
Parliament today launched, to much fanfare, a campaign to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Constitution and the NCOP. Meanwhile, the IGI, a constitutional appointment, “celebrates” two years of being vacant. All the while, Minister Mahlobo and his cronies continue to have unbridled access to the security services without civilian oversight. Prof Dintwe has been tapped to fulfil this important function. He must be allowed to start his work.

New DG paves way for complete capture of mineral resources

The DA is unimpressed by the appointment of Thabo Mokoena as Director General of the Department of Mineral Resources.
Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has continued the estrangement of his department from the mining industry by making the appointment without consultation.
But this is not the biggest problem. In appointing Mokoena, he has appointed somebody with no visible mining experience and no experience of commerce of any kind.
Mokoena comes from the position of head of the administration of the Free State legislature. He has a reputation as a mild-mannered man who will not make waves. There are indications his redeployment has something to do with making his former position available to a favourite of the province’s ruling clique.
The mining industry is in crisis. Declining investment and shrinking job numbers require different strategies. Instead the ANC is merely doubling down on those it has tried and have not worked. The last thing the DMR needs is a rubber stamp at its head.
Minister Zwane came to the Ministry with no record in mining. He has elevated his crony, Seipati Dlamini, also with no mining experience, to the position of Deputy Director General in charge of the issuing of mining licences. After this was exposed it was claimed her appointment was temporary but the department has refused to say when a permanent appointment will be made.
Now the key position of Director General has been given to another newcomer to mining.
We conclude from this that the viability of the mining industry as a provider of state revenue and jobs is not seen as important by the ANC. Instead, it is deploying people who will not stand in the way of the capture of resources by cronies of the ruling faction of the ANC.
This has been noticed by mining investors who’s view of South Africa as a destination for investment continues to worsen. As with so many other actions by the ANC, the results will be measured in the loss of value, income and jobs.

PP must investigate corruption at Mining Qualifications Authority

The DA will today be submitting a complaint to the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request that she launches an investigation into the allegations of corruption by senior executives of the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA).
The MQA is a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) under the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). SETAs are mandated to manage skills development, by managing grants and assuring the quality of training.
For months, MQA employees have lodged official complaints against their Acting CEO, Tegobo Mmotla, whom they accuse of misappropriating the entity’s funds. Despite the employees writing to the Director General at the DHET with these allegations, he remains in his positions.
A forensic report into previous corruption allegations against Mmotla resulted in MQA lawyers recommending he be dismissed – but an agreement was reached amongst executives which meant no action was taken against him.
Further allegations from employees and contractors of the MQA include:

  • that Mmotla demanded a bribe from a skills training company after the company had not been paid, despite them meeting training targets;
  • that Mmotla falsified his qualifications when he was appointed to the acting CEO position; and
  • that bonuses were paid on a preferential basis despite those MQA employees not meeting targets.

The DA requests that the Public Prosecutor investigate this matter urgently. SETAs are given an extraordinary amount of money for the purpose of training South Africans to gain the skills that they so desperately need to gain sustainable employment.
Irregular expenditure at SETAs directly takes money away from developing skills for jobs, and intentionally increases the number of people who are Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) in South Africa.
The DA will not allow for corrupt individuals to milk state entities and loot public funds for their own personal gain, as this takes away from the Lost Generation’s opportunities to empower themselves.

DA to march in our thousands to Bathabile Dlamini to ensure social grants are delivered

The DA has applied for permission for a large-scale march to the Department of Social Development in Tshwane, next week Friday, 10 March 2017.
Thousands of DA supporters and concerned South Africans will take to the street of our Capital to make it clear to the ANC that they cannot take the grants away from our poor and vulnerable.
The DA is ready to do whatever we can to ensure that every single person who needs a grant, gets a grant come April, 1st 2017.
We are heading towards an unparalleled catastrophe, because the ANC’s Bathabile Dlamini has failed to put the interests of the poor first, focusing instead on hiding her smallanyana skeletons and defending Jacob Zuma at all costs.
Instead of intervening to make sure grants are delivered, Jacob Zuma and the ANC have also done nothing. The ANC has lost interest in the poor, they only care about lining their pockets.
South Africans can’t sit by and do nothing when over 17 million people, including children and pensioners, may have no income at all to survive on in three weeks’ time.
We need to fight Dlamini’s contempt for the poor and send a strong message next week that we will not allow our people to be treated in this way. The DA will fight for every person to get their grants, and on time!
We encourage all concerned South Africans to join our march and make your voices heard.

Roof collapse at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital

I have seen the collapsed roof section at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital and I hope desperately that there are no deaths.
We know that some people have been pulled from the rubble and were injured.
Staff have told me that stones were moved onto the section of the roof which collapse onto the hospital street level.
Staff at the Hospital have warned in the past of the leaking Hospital roofs and other structural problems in the building.
The entire hospital must be urgently assessed to ensure it is safe.

Cabinet turns its back on 17 million vulnerable South Africans

In today’s post cabinet briefing, the Minister in the Presidency, Jeff Radebe, announced that the matter of the ongoing social grants issue was raised, but that cabinet would schedule time next week to deal with the complexities of the issue.
This is an outrageous abdication of responsibility and it should leave every South African angry.
With just over three weeks left until the deadline, this clearly demonstrates just how little the ANC cabinet cares about the 17 million vulnerable South Africans that depend on social grants as a lifeline.
It seems that the tendency to avoid accountability and responsibility is not unique to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department of Social Development but is also present throughout the Cabinet and the ANC as a whole.
For months Minister Dlamini and SASSA have been stalling on this issue and with just over three weeks to go, this crisis cannot be left without action from the Presidency and Cabinet for a moment longer.
We again urgently call on President Zuma to hand over the negotiations of the grants payment process to the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan. It is clear that Bathabile Dlamini cannot be trusted with the livelihoods of 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans and should be relieved of her duties immediately.
The DA will continue to hold the Presidency and Cabinet to account for their negligence, seeing that the uncaring ANC government is failing to do the same. We will not allow the ANC to get away with depriving poor South Africans of their grants.

DA growth in Mangaung by-election a triumph

Strong growth by the Democratic Alliance in yesterday’s by-election in Ward 39 Mangaung, is a triumph for the party and shows increasing support for the DA in the Metro.
The DA surged in voter support, doubling our votes from the August 2016 elections, and bringing the ANC below 50% in this Ward for the first time. While the ANC nosedived by 6%, the DA grew by an outstanding 13% in this Ward.
This is a victory for the DA, and is in line with the trend of increasing DA support all across South Africa.
At the Ebenezer Pre-School voting station, in Morolong Township, DA support grew from 5,4% in 2016 to 19,4% yesterday. And at the Shammah Primary School voting station, in Taba Nchu, the DA achieved 24,1% of the vote yesterday, which is an enormous achievement in a voting district where the DA has previously obtained very few votes.
At both the Mmabana Community Hall voting station, and the Itireleng Tsoelopele Creche voting station, the DA beat the ANC for the first time. This shows that increasingly voters in areas previously considered ANC strongholds are making the choice to support the DA, and our brand of good governance, while turning their backs on Jacob Zuma’s ANC.
The DA is thrilled with this surge in support in Mangaung, and we thank the voters of Ward 39 who came out in their numbers to support us.
The DA looks forward to winning Ward 39 in future, as the trend continues to move us closer to shifting the just 8,5% now needed to overtake the ANC in this Ward.

State sponsorship of Jimmy Manyi and the Progressive Professionals Forum was simply wrong

Today, after bashing his critics on social media as “retards”, President of the Progressive Professionals Forum, Jimmy Manyi, finally called a press conference to fight back in the scandal surrounding the R840 000 received in “sponsorships” from Eskom and Transnet.
The fact is that sponsoring Jimmy Manyi and the Progressive Professionals Forum was simply wrong.
That is because the sponsorships:

  • could not possibly have advanced Eskom’s mission (“Powering the world”) or Transnet’s mission (“Delivering freight reliably”);
  • involved the use of public funds from state-owned enterprises, who are so cash strapped that they, in the case of Eskom, are squeezing consumers with electricity tariff hikes; and
  • supported an organization which is deeply involved in politics and which campaigns against the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, and National Treasury, who, ironically, not only guarantees Eskom’s R350 billion debt, but also masterminded Eskom’s R83 billion bailout.

We are not going to sit back and allow state departments, state-owned enterprises and public entities to be used as “washing machines” to recycle public funds to organizations pursuing political agendas on behalf of factions in the ruling party, or on behalf of families supporting factions in the ruling party, as it heads towards the ANC 54th Elective Conference.
We believe that the R840 000 in sponsorship received from Eskom and Transet is the tip of a big iceberg. And That is why we will be ramping up our investigation and will be:

  • probing whether public funds have been transferred by state departments, state-owned enterprises and public entities to the Progressive Professionals Forum, Decolonization Foundation and the Black Business Council;
  • submitting requests, in term of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (No. 2 of 2000), for copies the sponsorship policies employed by Eskom and Transnet; and
  • requesting the Audit-General, Kimi Makwetu, to investigate the sponsorships received from Eskom and Transnet.

We have to be sure that the sponsorships, received by Jimmy Manyi and the Progressive Professionals Forum, were in fact consistent with the sponsorships polices employed by Eskom and Transnet.
The fact is that in the end Jimmy Manyi and his Progressive Professionals Forum should not have received one cent from Eskom or Transnet.