Yet another humiliating SSA robbery: DA to request urgent briefing by Minister Dlodlo

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will request an urgent portfolio committee meeting with the Minister of State Security, Ayanda Dlodlo and the State Security Agency (SSA)  following reports that the agency – whose Pretoria headquarters are supposedly one of the best-secured entities in the country – had allegedly been robbed once again.

A day after Christmas in 2015 they were robbed of R17 million in foreign currency, as thieves strolled in to the Lyttelton property, opened the safe, and strolled out.  

Now it has been revealed that once again the same headquarters has been robbed – but this time the thieves even stole the CCTV cameras. 

The thieves allegedly simply strolled in, unlocked the multi-million rand safe, and strolled out with sensitive documents and an undisclosed amount of cash.  The security guard was conveniently absent while the safe was robbed.

As such the robbery went undetected until employees arrived for work the next morning, only to find the safe empty.

And these are the people we entrust with the security of our country.

After the R17 million robbery in 2015, the Hawks were reduced to asking the public if they had any information about one of the three criminals, after two – both SSA employees, were arrested.  Further arrests were then made, and eventually six suspects appeared in court – four of whom were from the department.

As was pointed out at the time, there is no access to the building without an access card.

While it was claimed in 2015 that a major vetting shake-up was immediately undertaken, and that additional security facilities and advanced electronic controls were introduced, it seems they, too, have failed.

What is of concern to the DA is not only that the money was stolen, but also sensitive documents.  The implications may be political, to protect and/or blackmail political enemies, or may be criminal – evidence against global syndicates perhaps? 

Will we ever know how much cash was stolen, and what it was used for?

Given the shroud of secrecy around the SSA, despite the bombshell report of the High-Level Review Panel on the State Security Agency stating that there is a disproportionate application of secrecy in the SSA stifling effective accountability and facilitating serious non-compliance with controls including blatant criminality – the South African public may well never know.

Minister Dlodlo gambling with the SSA and SA’s integrity

It may have slipped the new Minister of Intelligence, Ayanda Dlodlo’s mind that she actually needs a Judge’s permission to bug people’s phones. A report by News24 today accuses the Minister of instructing the Head of the State Security Agency (SSA)’s domestic branch, Adv Sam Muofhe, to allegedly intercept telephone calls of a man who was thought to have been behind the flareup in xenophobic violence in Gauteng last month.

While it is paramount that our intelligence agencies perform their functions in detecting and preventing these heinous acts – one would think that obtaining a Judge’s permission would have been foremost on Minister Dlodlo’s mind. It has been just three weeks since her department’s humiliating loss in the High Court, which declared mass surveillance and the interception of foreign signals by the National Communications Centre to be “unlawful and invalid”.

The paint on her office door is barely dry and already the new Minister seems to have stumbled at the first hurdle.

Difficult questions are being asked, and the Minister must be held accountable for her actions. However, since the May 8th Elections, Parliament has been unable to hold the Minister and her department to account as the ANC is rowing backwards as fast as it can in terms of setting up the Joint Standing Committee of Intelligence, months after all other committees began work.

Where is the mandated oversight?  We accept that the committee sits in a closed building, and phones and laptops are forbidden, but Members of Parliament have been hamstrung in their oblligation to look into and dig out this sort of scheming as well as hone in on those breaking the law.

Clearly Minister Dlodlo knows there is no oversight committee, and thinks she has been evading accountability. The Minister should do well to remember that she is answerable to Parliament and cannot hide her skulduggery behind the “it’s confidential” label.  No matter how much she seems to want to be an operative, she must know by now that she cannot involve herself in the SSA’s operational matters.

The previous two Ministers also played this game. They pretended to be Super Spies and turned the whole department into an international joke.

The DA also warns the Minister against threatening South Africa’s increasingly professional investigative journalists, for such threats only makes her look guilty.

Ramaphosa must ensure borders are put on high alert as Guptas are a flight risk

The Democratic Alliance calls on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take action today to ensure that borders and airports are put on alert in order to stop the Gupta family from trying to flee the country ahead of their reported imminent arrests. We should not allow them to leave South Africa, and certainly not with the assistance of government, like Omar al-Bashir was allowed to do.

Following reports that warrants of arrest are being prepared for at least one Gupta brother as well as a high-ranking politician, our borders should be urgently secured to prevent the Guptas from slipping through the net. It is unlikely that the Gupta family will sit and wait for their arrest. There is a strong possibility that they will attempt to flee the country, if they have not done so already.

Therefore, Ramaphosa should today confirm with Home Affairs Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, whether the Guptas are still in the country and if so, must put all borders and airports on high alert as they are a flight risk.

Ramaphosa must ascertain from Minister Dlodlo the following without delay:

  • Determine the whereabouts of the persons for whom the warrants of arrest have been reportedly been issued;
  • Ensure that all exit points from South Africa are supplied with copies of the relevant arrest warrants;
  • Ensure that all exit points from South Africa are placed on high alert and instructed to execute arrest warrants on sight.

It is no secret that President Zuma is deeply compromised and implicated in this matter through his well-known relationship with the Guptas – and their joint State Capture efforts. When the President is compromised and unable to act in an impartial manner, the Deputy President as second in command, ought to take action in the best interests of the country,

This was highlighted by the Western Cape High Court last year, when the court ordered that the Deputy President must appoint the new National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) as the President was compromised. The court said, on the facts at hand, it was “incongruous that, under those circumstances, President Zuma should be seen to be appointing an NDPP, since his conflict, both actual and perceived, is self-evident” and that “as long as the incumbent president is in office, the deputy president is responsible for decisions relating to the appointment, suspension or removal of the NDPP”.

The Deputy President has been extremely vocal in condemning State Capture and corruption. Therefore, as Deputy President of the country – and second in charge – Ramaphosa must act without delay.

The Guptas, along with President Zuma, must have their day in court for their role in the capture of the state. We call on South Africans who have information in this regard to come forward and alert the authorities on the whereabouts of the Guptas.

Minister Dlodlo must immediately resolve dire inefficiencies at Home Affairs

In a reply to a DA Parliamentary question, Home Affairs Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, revealed that at least 344 547 foreign nationals failed to leave South Africa before or on the date their visas were set to expire.
The reply also revealed that more than 15 million people entered the country during 2016. Thousands of them are seeking to find refuge in our country. However, without proper checks and controls, the government will not have an accurate picture of how many foreign nationals stay within our borders illegally.
If this is the case, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will not be able to identify undocumented immigrants, and will ultimately fail to process those individuals who are eligible for a permit.
While the DHA have an Inspectorate Unit tasked with tracing persons who remain in the country illegally, the DA is concerned that the Unit might be under-resourced.
For years the DA has consistently supported greater investment in immigration services and this Parliamentary reply is exactly what the DA has been warning for a long time.
Given the scale and potential ramp in numbers, this reply is an indictment of the DHA’s deeply rooted inefficiencies to carry out its mandate which is to ensure that immigration officers at the border post execute their directive efficiently.
The DA is seriously concerned that if this is what happens in a single year, it must mean that over time, millions of people have entered the country illegally.
The DA will submit more questions to ascertain the staffing and budget of this unit as an under-resourced unit will not be able to trace 340 000 people each year.
Minister Dlodlo must show political will and re-assure the public that she will immediately resolve this unacceptable state of affairs.

Minister Dlodlo allegedly contributing to victimisation at MDDA

The DA is in possession of a letter from a Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) employee in which he outlines the daily “wrath of victimisation and unfair treatment” which staff at the entity is subjected to.
The letter outlines the employee’s “disappointment on how the Ministry [of Communications] has ignored issues raised by the staff when they wrote and signed a petition [and that] [i]t gives me an impression that the Ministry is not protecting us as underdogs against the mighty and powerful”.
What makes matters worse, is that after various allegations of intimidation by senior officials at the MDDA came to light, the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, conducted an oversight visit to the entity a week ago where she proceeded to intimidate the employees.
The Minister allegedly told MDDA employees that they were not allowed to speak out about the victimisation or intimidation that they are subjected to.
The DA will now proceed to report Minister Dlodlo to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interest for her inappropriate conduct.
Instead of addressing these concerns, the Minister is now contributing to the toxic atmosphere at the entity.
It now seems like Faith Muthambi’s replacement is following in her footsteps.
The DA will simply not allow this intimidation and victimisation to happen at another Communications entity.

MDDA Chairperson must be suspended immediately

The DA calls on the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, to immediately suspend the Chairperson of the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), Phelisa Nkomo.
The Minister has recently stated that she cannot suspend the Chairperson based on rumours. These are no longer rumours, the DA now has proof of the Chairperson’s misconduct.
Following a PAIA application submitted by the DA, a report detailing alleged gross mismanagement and abuse of power at the MDDA has finally been released. The report was finalised in November 2016 and handed over to Minister Dlodlo in April.
The Minister had been sitting on the report for almost six months, and the Chairperson is heavily implicated for her alleged misconduct.
The report revealed that “Nkomo, the Chairperson received payments totalling to R235 304.04 including board fees and other expenses over a period of 12 months, from January 2015 to December 2015. It should be noted that the board fee is about R2 200 per meeting”.
Furthermore, the report also states that “The investing team on random check found an exorbitant fee to the tune of R95 266.34 for minute taking”. According to the report, “the minutes of Board meetings were not signed by the Chairperson”, which in contravention of the MDDA Act, but “also undermine the authenticity of the minutes and the decisions contained therein”.
Minister Dlodlo must ensure that disciplinary proceedings are immediately instituted against the Chairperson, as the report found that she “failed to provide leadership and stabilise the organisation” and that “[some] lapses in Governance that directly implicate the Chairperson include: Fruitless and wasteful expenditure, contravention of the act, dishonesty of the Chairperson and negligence in the use of public funds.”
The Minister has been sitting on this report without taking any actions against the Chairperson.
The DA finds it very suspicious that the Minister is protecting this Chairperson who has clearly lost the plot.

President Zuma must appoint new SABC Board as annual report paints grim picture

Note to Editors: Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.
Yesterday, the SABC Interim Board’s term expired. It is now up to President Jacob Zuma to immediately appoint the new SABC permanent Board to get the SABC’s business back on track.
The work of the SABC permanent Board is especially important following yesterday’s tabling of the public broadcaster’s annual financial report for the 2016/17 financial year, in Parliament.
The report paints a grim picture about the state of the SABC’s financial affairs.
The SABC’s contingent liabilities currently stands at R956.7 million, which the report flags as a major risk to the broadcaster. This is due to corporation currently being embroiled in a number of lawsuits. This exorbitant amount could potentially cripple the already ailing SABC. Other areas of concern include:

  • Recorded losses – R997 million after taxes;
  • Fruitless and Wasteful expenditure – R 145.99 million;
  • Irregular expenditure – R 4.4 billion, of which R514.95 million was due to procurement policies not being followed;
  • Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s bonus – R11.5 million for 2016/17 financial year; and
  • Total Director and key personnel’s compensation – R 79.71 million.

It is of absolute importance that the SABC and Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, engage Parliament on how they plan on ensuring that the SABC’s finances recover.
In light of National Treasury’s proposed R3 billion bailout for the SABC, civil society and Parliament deserve to know the full scope of the SABC’s financial affairs and how this proposed bailout will turn things around for the embattled public broadcaster.
Thus, there cannot be any delays. President Zuma must appoint the Board immediately to ensure that they get to work on restoring the SABC back to the world-class broadcaster it once was.
The South African public has clearly lost faith in the SABC, and it is now up to the new Board to restore our faith in the public broadcaster.

DA to submit PAIA application for documents on proposed R3 bn SABC bailout

Note to Editors: Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.       
The DA will today submit an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to the Department of Communications, to gain access to the full application and motivation for the SABC’s request for a R3 billion bailout.
Last week, during a presentation to Parliament, National Treasury revealed that it is currently considering a R3 billion guarantee for the struggling public broadcaster.
The DA has on previous occasions requested that Minister Ayanda Dlodlo reveal the full bailout amount the SABC was requesting, to which she replied that the amount did not matter.
Now that the R3 billion amount has been revealed, it is clear that it does, in fact, matter.
This is an astonishing amount of money, which could be much better spent on more pressing matters affecting the people of South Africa.
It is for this reason that the DA is requesting a PAIA application. The South African public needs to know the exact reasons for requesting this amount, considering that the SABC Interim Board recently revealed that there has been an improvement in the SABC’s financial position.
The fact that Parliament’s Communications Committee has been bypassed is also a major cause for concern.
It is exactly this secrecy and lack of transparency that led to the SABC’s fall from grace.
Since the Minister and the SABC will not reveal the reasons for requesting this amount, the DA has no choice but to pressure them into doing so.

Minister Dlodlo must explain R3bn SABC bailout to Parliament

Note to Editor: Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP. 
We now have confirmation of the amount of the government bailout the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has applied for.
In a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance, National Treasury revealed that a “R3 billion [guarantee] is being considered” for the SABC.
It is seriously disappointing that Parliament, and indeed, the public had to find out about the amount of the SABC’s requested bailout in a roundabout manner.
The DA has on several occasions requested that the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, make the SABC’s financial requirements public and consult Parliament on the proposed bailout.
However, she refused, stating that the amount does not matter.
It is no secret that the SABC is currently facing immense financial upheaval due to the destructive decision making by its former executives and board.
Whilst the Committee was recently informed by the SABC interim Board that there has been an improvement in the public broadcaster’s finances, R3 billion is an astonishing amount of money.
Parliament’s Communications Committee should have been consulted in the interest of good governance and transparency especially given the financial stress at the SABC.
The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Communications Committee, Humphrey Maxegwana, to request that the Minister appear before the Committee when Parliament reconvenes to give a briefing on the SABC’s finances, as well give full details about the requested financial assistance.
It is time for the Minister to come clean to the Committee and the public as the DA will no longer tolerate her obstruction of Parliamentary oversight.

Dlodlo must publicly reveal SABC bailout amount

The DA will push for the amount of the bailout the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has applied for to be revealed publicly when the public broadcaster’s interim board appears in Parliament on Tuesday, 1 August 2017.
The Communications Ministry has stated that the decision on the funding proposal submitted by the SABC will be announced after 4 August 2017, only after National Treasury has considered its proposal.
The SABC interim board first announced in May 2017 that it would be submitting a funding request to National Treasury and asked the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, to engage with National Treasury on its behalf.
It cannot be that a bailout, likely in the billions, may be awarded to the SABC without prior consultation with Parliament, and indeed the public.
We strongly caution Minister Dlodlo against sullying what has been great performance thus far by attempting to sneak past Parliament and the public a multi-billion rand bailout. This matter cannot be decided in secret.
The Minister must take Parliament and the public into confidence.
It is not the first time the SABC has applied for a bailout. In 2009 it applied for a government guarantee of over R1 billion. That amount was made public and not announced to the public once a fait accompli.
The DA looks forward to engaging not only Minister Dlodlo but the SABC interim board when it appears before Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Communications on Tuesday on this matter. We trust that the Minister will choose openness over secrecy.
We need to know how much of our money will be given to the SABC, and we need to know it now.