Land Reform: Speaker must urgently convene Parliament to deliberate ANC’s undermining of the economy

Last night’s announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa, indicating that the ANC will move forward to expropriate land without compensation and amend the Constitution to give effect to such, is a direct attempt to undermine Parliament and is contributing to no confidence in the economy. This is yet another blow to the almost 10 million unemployed South Africans.

I have therefore written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, requesting the immediate reconvening of Parliament for an urgent sitting to deliberate on this matter. Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee was established to ensure the voice of the people is heard as to whether section 25 of the Constitution ought to be amended. We need to established where this process has been properly followed.

It beggar’s belief that while there are still half a million submissions to be processed by the Constitutional Review Committee, and no less than five public hearings still to be conducted in the Western Cape, the ANC has decided to jump the gun, undermine this public consultation procedure, and render the entire process moot.

It is incumbent on the Speaker of Parliament, as the guardian of this Constitutional body, to protect it from being undermined by political machinations and brinkmanship. I implore her to act in the best interests of the country, not the ANC.

The DA will never, under any circumstances, support a reckless policy that removes economic power from individuals and hands it to a corrupt government. Land reform is a justice issue, and we advocate for land reform that champions private property rights and empowers individuals – as evidenced in DA-led governments across the country. We don’t need a new Constitutional clause to accelerate land reform, we need a new government.

The ANC cannot on its own amend the Constitution as it requires a two thirds majority vote in Parliament. It appears the ANC is being led by other populist parties who only want to sow division, eradicate property rights, and see our economy implode. We call on all South Africans to reject populism and stand up for constitutionalism in building One South Africa For All.

South Africa is currently facing an ANC-created economic and unemployment crisis. With almost 10 million jobless South Africans, every decision ought to be measured on the impact it has on the economy and job creation.

Expropriating land without compensation will damage the economy and will lead to many more joining the ranks of the unemployed. Therefore, the DA can never support such a policy.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s disastrous tenure must be brought to an end

Tomorrow, 13 June 2018, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will finally meet to consider a request by myself, on behalf of the Democratic Alliance, to remove the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, after months of delay. This follows several formal requests to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to expedite these proceedings.

The DA maintains that it has long been apparent that Adv Mkhwebane is grossly unfit to hold office and has made requests dating as far back as September 2017 calling on the Speaker to institute proceedings to remove her.

The shockingly poor quality of the work Adv Mkhwebane has produced during her tenure as Public Protector speaks for itself.

She has consistently demonstrated that she falls far short of the required expertise necessary to hold the office of such a pivotal institution of our democracy, and at every turn has displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of role her powers and the fundamentals of the Constitution. Indeed, the DA stood alone in objecting to her appointment in the first instance.

This is borne out by the fact that Advocate Mkhwebane’s work has been found to fall so short of the Constitutionally required standard that several court judgments have already made deeply pejorative findings against her. These include, that she has been “…reasonably suspected of bias”, that she has not brought “…an impartial mind to bear on the issues before her” and that she …”did not conduct herself in a manner which should be expected from a person occupying the office of the Public Protector”.

It is on the basis of her fundamental misunderstanding of the basic principles of the Constitution and her own powers that her findings against the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille are now part of this growing list of abject findings by her. Her findings have no basis in law and if unchallenged have profoundly negative constitutional implications.

The content of Premier Zille’s tweets were the subject of a settlement between her and the party, and resulted in a public apology from Ms Zille. The Party has made it clear that we did not in any way support the merits of the tweets at the time. This stance remains unchanged. We have never condoned the content of Ms Zille’s tweets. However, this ruling has profound constitutional implications which speak to Adv Mkhwebane’s fundamental misunderstanding of the powers of the Public Protector.

In addition to this, there are a raft of other cases which Adv Mkhwebane has displayed ignorance for the law including:

  • The ABSA Bank matter (Report 8 of 2017/18), where Adv Mkhwebane demonstrated spectacular bias and did not adhere to the constitutional principle of procedural fairness; and
  • The Vrede Dairy Project matter (Report 31 of 2017/8 ) in which she completely ignored pertinent questions and failed to deal with evidence implicating senior government and ruling party office bearers.

Added to this, there are cases which have been lodged with the Public Protector concerning Members of the Executive who have stolen public money meant to benefit the poor. These investigations are yet to be completed despite the public importance. These include:

  • The “pension pay-out” of R 30 million granted to Brian Molefe;
  • The VIP Protection assigned to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma while she occupied no government office; and
  • Several Ministers lying to Parliament, including former Minister Faith Muthambi during the SABC ad hoc committee and former Minister Lynne Brown for failing to disclose Trillian contracts

Tomorrow, the DA will finally have a formal opportunity to present its case for having Adv Mkhwebane removed from office. Through her conduct she has demonstrated that she is unable to act lawfully, she consistently acts without regard to procedural fairness and that her findings are patently unreasonable. The DA will fight to protect this vital constitutionally established institution and ensure that its integrity is restored by removing Adv Mkhwebane and ensuring that a suitably qualified person is appointed to the office.

Cyril’s first 100 days = R100 more to fill up a tank of petrol

The following statement was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the Noord Taxi Rank in Johannesburg CBD. Maimane was joined by DA National Spokesperson, Refiloe Nt’sekhe, DA Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey, and DA Shadow Minister of Transport, Manny De Freitas.

Today we’re here at the Noord Taxi Rank in Johannesburg CBD to engage with both commuters and taxi drivers as to how we can mitigate the negative effects of last night’s astronomical fuel hike on the pockets of poor, working class, and middle class South Africans

At midnight last night, the price petrol hit a record high of R15.79 per litre – the highest it has been since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

The DA will therefore be writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request for a debate of national importance in Parliament about the tax and levy structure of fuel in the country. Because we simply cannot tax our way to prosperity.

Over the past 100 days, we’ve seen Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC declare financial war on ordinary South Africans. Through increases in Value Added Tax (VAT), Income Tax, RAF levy, General Fuel Levy, and so-called “sin taxes” – the South African public has been strong-armed into paying for the sins of the ANC government. This is not the change we hoped for.

We are here to say enough is enough to this “tax attack” aimed at the backbone of our country – the poor, working and middle classes. These are everyday South Africans who are made to pay for the shortcomings and corruption of the ANC government.

When Cyril Ramaphosa was elected President of South Africa the price of petrol per litre was at R13.76. Today just over 100 days later, petrol costs R15.79 per litre which is a R2.03 per litre – or 14.75% increase. After just over 100 days of a Ramaphosa Presidency, it cost approximately R100 more to fill the tank of an average sized car. South Africans are angry – and rightly so.

This fuel increase will directly affect poor and working-class South Africans through increase in the cost of taxi fares. According to the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), during the last fuel increase of 67c/l in September last year, the increase per journey was up to R5 – depending on distance and region. There will no doubt be an even heftier increase this time around, affecting the more than 50% of South African households that are dependent on taxis for transport.

Even when using the conservative R5 estimate by SANTACO, for a person taking two taxi journeys a day, that’s an additional R300 per month just on taxi fare. This is crippling to the livelihoods of poor and working South Africans.

In addition to this, the indirect and often hidden costs of this unprecedented fuel hike will again hit ordinary South Africans the hardest. Due to the fact that most food in South Africa is transported via trucks, a fuel price increase inevitably leads to a food price increase.

According to a report published by the Department of Agriculture entitled The South African Food Cost Review, food accounts for 18% of household costs. For a family with a household income of R10 000, this fuel increase could result in a R270 increase in food bills. For the millions of families with less household income than that, or the millions with no formal income at all or who are living on grants, this fuel price is devastating.

The bottom line is that South Africans are spending more of their hard-earned money on food and transport under Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC government. And this could be avoided.

Last year alone, the Road Accident Fund (RAF), which brings in 99.6% of its revenue from the fuel levy, made a loss of R30 billion – the biggest loss of any State-Owned Entity (SOE) for the financial year – running a deficit for five consecutive years. This is down to sheer mismanagement and tolerance of corruption. In truth, ordinary South Africans are now paying to plug this R30 billion black hole. President Ramaphosa must at once place the RAF under independent and external administration in order to eradicate corruption, install competent and independent leadership, and begin the process of tackling its R160 billion backlog in unpaid claims.

Despite all the enthusiasm and expectancy that greeted Cyril Ramaphosa when he was elected South African President, the economy cannot grow under the stranglehold of all of these tax increases. This is illustrated by yesterday’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth figures for Q:1 2018 – which shows the economy shrunk by 2.2% – the highest quarter-on-quarter in almost a decade – taking us back to the pre-Zuma era.

We are left to ask where the so-called “New Dawn” is for ordinary South Africans. It appears to be just more taxes and less money at the end of the month. This shows quite clearly that talk shops, summits and PR stunts will not fix our economic mess and bring real and immediate change to South Africa.

South Africa requires real change, and real change lies outside of the ANC.

Parliament must remove Mkhwebane as Public Protector

The DA will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to again follow up on the request that Parliament institute proceedings in terms of section 194 of the Constitution to remove the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

Yesterday, 28 March 2018, the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria rejected an application by the Public Protector to appeal against a judgment of the court in the matter of ABSA Bank Limited & Others v the Public Protector Case No 48123/2017 in which she was ordered to personally pay 15% of the costs due to her gross incompetence.

It is this very case in which the court made damning findings against the public protector including that she “…is reasonably suspected of bias”, that she did not bring “…an impartial mind to bear on the issues before her” and that she …”did not conduct herself in a manner which should be expected from a person occupying the office of the Public Protector”.

The court’s rejection of her latest attempts to escape liability for her incompetence is yet another warning that Parliament can no longer afford to delay – the proceedings in accordance with section 194 of the Constitution and section 2(1)(c) of the Public Protector Act must commence as a matter of urgency.

The Office of the Public Protector is one of the cornerstone institutions established by Chapter 9 of our Constitution to protect our democracy. We simply cannot allow Advocate Mkhwebane to remain in office and continue to deride its reputation given her conduct and the court rulings against her.

Ministers must be sanctioned for contempt of Parliament for non-attendance

The Democratic Alliance has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, requesting that Cabinet Ministers who were not present in the National Assembly to respond to members’ statements be sanctioned for contempt of Parliament.
On Thursday, 8 March 2018, Members of Parliament were scheduled to deliver members’ statements in the National Assembly in accordance with the National Assembly’s Programme. However, shortly after 17:30 when House Chairperson Grace Boroto announced that it was time for members’ statements, it was apparent that not a single Cabinet Minister was present to respond to members’ statements. This, after Deputy President David Mabuza secured an abysmal attendance rate for Cabinet Ministers during the questions session on Wednesday, 7 March.
By being absent from Parliament for this scheduled item in the Parliamentary Programme, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet Ministers have been grossly derelict in performing their duties. Cabinet Ministers have acted in violation of section 7(a) and (b) of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 4 of 2004 and may thus be sanctioned through referral to the National Assembly’s Powers and Privileges Committee.
As the DA has requested, the Powers and Privileges Committee must then investigate and impose the appropriate sanction on Cabinet Ministers for contempt of Parliament for improperly interfering with and impeding Members of Parliament’s ability to perform a core function.
The Speaker should have absolutely no hesitation in granting the DA’s request to refer errant ministers for sanction: In her affidavit in the secret ballot matter, Economic Freedom Fighters and Others v Speaker of the National Assembly and Another [2017] ZACC 47, she argued as follows in the context of discussing the constitutionally mandated role of the Legislature, at paragraph 33.4:
“The National Assembly’s Rules provide various mechanisms to ensure accountability and oversight of executive action, viz: In Chapter 9 (Members’ Statements and Executive Statements), Rule 132 (Statements by members) provides for members to make statements on any matter.”
As the Speaker clearly acknowledged before Constitutional Court, it is unequivocal that members’ statements are an important constitutional function of accountability and oversight in Parliament.
If neither Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as Leader of Government Business, nor President Cyril Ramaphosa will ensure that Ministers come to Parliament to account to the people of South Africa, the DA will.
President Ramaphosa’s ‘new dawn’ is evidently coming to a crashing halt as his Cabinet duck responsibility and dodge tough questions on their underperforming ministries.

Deliberation on State Capture inexplicably removed from Comms Committee schedule

The DA will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete, so that she reports former Minister Faith Muthambi to the Powers and Privileges Committee.
This comes after the Committee’s scheduled deliberation on the Deputy Speaker’s request for an Inquiry into State Capture involving Muthambi, was inexplicably removed from the Committee’s agenda this week.
By removing this pertinent item from the program, it clearly shows that the ANC in the Communications Committee has no appetite to hold Muthambi accountable.
It is now up to the Speaker to urgently step in. If the ANC cannot allow the Communications Committee to hold Muthambi accountable, she will have to refer the matter to the Power and Privileges Committee.
The report by the Parliamentary Legal Services on the SABC Inquiry found Faith Muthambi’s testimony before the Inquiry “could be seen as an attempt to mislead the Inquiry”.  During the Inquiry she denied her relationship with the Guptas and that she ever interfered with matters of the SABC Board, despite evidence to the contrary.
This report was issued in August last year – nearly 6 months ago. Yet, there still has not been any action taken against Muthambi.
Other allegations level against Muthambi during her stint as Minister of Communications, include the SABC tripling its support for Gupta-owned media publications. She was also accused of leaking confidential Cabinet documents to the Gupta family.
Now that Muthambi has been removed from Cabinet, it doesn’t mean she is absolved from accountability.
The ANC in the Communications Committee tried every possible trick in the book to prevent Muthambi from being held accountable when she was a Minister, now they are protecting her again.

Parliament must remove the Public Protector for incompetence and misconduct

The DA has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete MP, requesting that she expedite the process to remove the Public Protector, Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane in terms of Section 194 of the Constitution which states that the Public Protector may be removed from office on:
(a)   the ground of misconduct, incapacity or incompetence;
(b)   a finding to that effect by a committee of the National Assembly; and
(c)   The adoption by the Assembly of a resolution calling for that person’s removal from office
The Speaker must now see to it that the proceedings to have the Public Protector removed commence swiftly as Mkhwebane has repeatedly demonstrated that she is not to fit to serve as Public Protector. The decision by the High Court to set aside her Bankorp-CIEX report, in which she recommended that ABSA pay back R1.1 billion, was a damning indictment on her fitness to hold office.
She clearly does not understand her role as Public Protector and misconstrued the powers of her office when, in the same report, she proposed that the Reserve Bank’s mandate be amended.
The DA has repeatedly called for Mkhwebane to be fired as Public Protector as having her at the helm has harmed the integrity of the office she holds. Just last week, Mkhwebane said the DA was “unpatriotic” for criticising her work. Such remarks show that she is biased and that cannot be accepted from the head of a Chapter 9 institution.
We have previously instituted the process of Adv. Mkhwebane’s removal through the Justice Committee but it was shut down by the ANC members that form part of this committee towing the party line.  Parliament can no longer sit idly by while this important office is rendered useless by the incumbent.
South Africa deserves an objective Public Protector who is committed to upholding the rights of all citizens and defending them without fear or favour and Mkhwebane has proved she is not the right fit.
The Speaker must now act with haste in order to ensure that parliament can do its work immediately by firing Mkhwebane which would begin to restore public confidence in this important institution.

Parliament must remove Zuma and dissolve ahead of early elections

Today, leaders and senior representatives of opposition parties met in Cape Town to discuss the way forward in terms of the removal of Jacob Zuma as President of the Republic of South Africa.
The outcome of this meeting, attended by representatives from the ACDP, AIC, COPE, DA, EFF, FF+, PAC and UDM, was a unanimous call for the immediate removal of Jacob Zuma as President through a Motion of No Confidence vote in terms of Section 102 of the Constitution, followed by the dissolution of Parliament in terms of Section 50 of the Constitution. This would then trigger early elections. The DA have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, and the Chairperson of the National Council of the Provinces, Thandi Modise, accordingly.
It was agreed by all in attendance that the opposition cannot be drawn into the factional battles within the ANC. It was also noted that, as per the same Constitutional court judgment which found that President Zuma had violated the Constitution, Parliament had also failed in its duty to the people of South Africa. It is therefore not sufficient to simply vote the President out and replace him with another tainted candidate. Parliament itself must be reconstituted.
The opposition parties agreed on the following points:

  • President Jacob Zuma needs to be removed with immediate effect. The Motion of No Confidence, provisionally scheduled for the 22nd of February, must be treated as a priority and brought forward to within this week. We are confident that this motion will succeed and that our country will finally be rid of President Jacob Zuma.
  • On the day of the Motion of No Confidence, South Africans from all walks of life – political parties, religious bodies, NGOs, business as well as ordinary citizens – must march to insist on the removal of Jacob Zuma as President. This is about the will of the people and not the will of a faction of the ANC. It is important that the people’s voice be heard.
  • Following the successful motion, we as the members of the National Assembly must then dissolve Parliament in terms of Section 50 of the Constitution. This crucial institution of our democracy failed in its duty to the people and took decisions that harmed our country. Anyone who wants to lead this country must have the mandate of the people, and this can only be established through an early election.

The delaying tactics employed by the ANC in negotiating a soft exit for Jacob Zuma serve only the interests of Zuma himself as well as the interests of the ANC. While the ANC negotiates with a criminal President in the interest of self-preservation, it falls to the opposition to speak up for the people of South Africa. The people want Zuma gone and they want a government that serves and represents them.
We, as the opposition, therefore cannot lend our support to Cyril Ramaphosa by default. He is simply a different faction of the same problematic ANC.
The ANC speaks of a transition. What we’re seeing playing out in the ANC now is not a transition but simply a swapping of factions. If we’re serious about a real transition, then this can only mean a transition from the 5th to the 6th Parliaments of South Africa.

Parliament must schedule Motion of No Confidence for Tuesday

South Africa cannot continue to be held in limbo while Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma, and their respective factions, continue to fight over the terms of Zuma’s exit. We need a swift resolution to this impasse as soon as possible.

As public servants, it is our duty to place the best interests of the country before party political interests. While Ramaphosa and Zuma fight over the Presidency, corruption continues, and people remain without hope for any immediate improvement in their daily lives.

It is for that reason that I have consulted with the leadership of the EFF, and we have resolved to call on the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to schedule an urgent sitting of Parliament this coming Tuesday, 13 February 2018, for the Motion of No Confidence in Jacob Zuma to be debated and voted on. A letter from the EFF will be sent to her office reflecting this urgent call.

This will allow for Parliament to debate and vote on the EFF’s Motion of No Confidence in Jacob Zuma. Parliament elects a President, and Parliament removes a President. It is not done behind closed doors at Luthuli House.

Cyril Ramaphosa is currently the Leader of Government Business in Parliament. It would be remiss of him to neglect his responsibility in this regard, and therefore I call on Mr Ramaphosa to support this call, and to ensure that the Motion of No Confidence is debated without delay.

Moreover, there must be an urgent sitting of Parliament’s Programming Committee, in order for Parliament’s agenda to be finalised, and so that the work of the people can continue.

Lastly, we flatly reject any amnesty agreement or special deal for President Zuma. He is not above the law, and must still face the 783 criminal charges illegally dropped over a decade ago and which the courts have now revived.

Cyril Ramaphosa cannot talk anti-corruption, yet broker an amnesty deal for the corrupt in the ANC. Any attempt to do so will be opposed with everything we’ve got. Jacob Zuma will retire in prison, where he should have been years ago.

We welcome the decision to postpone the State of the Nation Address following our request last week

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to accede to our request to postpone the State of the Nation Address (SONA). This follows a meeting today with the Chief Whips of political parties represented in Parliament.

Last week, I wrote to the Speaker requesting that SONA be postponed indefinitely until the current leadership crisis within the ANC is resolved. We cannot waste money, time, nor another iota of our dwindling credibility on the international stage by allowing Jacob Zuma to deliver the State of the Nation Address.

The ANC is in complete turmoil and being held to ransom by Jacob Zuma. At a price tag of over R11 million in taxpayers money, SONA cannot be reduced to a public relations exercise for a man on the precipice of impeachment and possible jail time.

South Africa only works when Parliament works, and SONA is an integral part of the country’s legislative agenda. It is therefore imperative that we work towards circumstances that allow SONA to proceed. However this can only happen once Jacob Zuma is removed as President of South Africa.

To this end, the DA will be writing to Speaker Baleka Mbete to ensure that our impeachment motion, tabled last year, is urgently placed back on the order paper and the rules governing the impeachment process are finalised this week.

Following this, Parliament must elect a new President, and this must be done via a special sitting of Parliament next week. One thing we cannot postpone is removing Jacob Zuma and electing a new President. This must be done in the next week.

Lastly, we flatly reject any amnesty agreement or special deal for Jacob Zuma. He is not above the law, and must still face the 783 charges of fraud, money laundering and racketeering against him which were erroneously dropped almost a decade ago.