The devil is in the details

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Environmental Affairs, Thomas Hadebe MP, during the Budget Vote on Environmental Affairs.
Honourable Chair,
One of the Department’s key strategic goals or objectives is Outcome 10: protect and enhance our environmental assets and natural resources.
If one looks at the performance of the Department in achieving Outcome 10, worryingly, the devil is in the details. The details reflect an unresponsiveness shown to specific issues of wildlife conservation, pollution abatement and protected areas that seriously need immediate policy or legal framework interventions.
At first glance, the budgetary approach to environmental protection appears to be as fragmented and flawed as the legal approach. The proposed draft regulations on domestic trade in Rhino horn, or part, product or derivative of Rhino horn, is a case in point. On the regulations, the Minister seeks to allow domestic trade on Rhino horn and that is against the decision taken by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) last year.
Even the issues of protected areas management, resource conservation, pollution control and wildlife protection are treated as secondary priorities, with special attention paid only to benefit certain individuals in the short term rather than the broad population of South Africa in the long-run.
Classical examples of this would be that of the North West province’s donation of high value species to a few connected individuals.
The other is the ground breaking decision by the Minister to allow mining in environmentally sensitive areas, like the Mabola Protected Environment in Mpumalanga.
I cannot understand why the Minister allowed the mining in the protected area, which is also a strategic source of water and agriculture.
In no way is it in the Department or surrounding communities’ interest to have a mine near a water source and area that ensures food security for the surrounding communities and country.
These are just a few of the flawed decisions from a number of incidents I would be able to mention if I had more time at my disposal.
When you look at the directorship or management of the companies, the facts are glaring. There is no doubt that the decisions were made in order to reward politically-connected individuals rather than ordinary South Africans.
I would like to quote Pope Francis when he warns us against the destruction of our ecosystem and biodiversity: “We must not be indifferent or resigned to the loss of biodiversity and destruction of ecosystems, often caused by our irresponsible and selfish behaviour.”
Honourable Speaker, it is in this context that I am pleased to affirm that the DA is a strong proponent of “sustainable development for all”.
This is what people expect from the Government.
What do we mean by sustainable development for all? It means the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs and where no one is left behind in the development.
The DA views the Department of Environmental Affairs as one of the strategic pillars of economic growth.
This Department is tasked with the responsibility to preserve our biodiversity which attracts tourists.
The communities in and around the parks depend entirely on the natural environment for survival and income. It is important that this Department is well resourced to carry out daily conservation programmes and to ensure that species diversity is maintained to support livelihoods, to provide food and support a sustainable fisheries industry.
The fundamental basics that the DA will focus on to strengthen the Environmental Department are:
• The collection of data on threatened species and their habitats and the use thereof to improve the conservation status of these animals and the management of their habitats;
• The implementation and enforcement of environment protection legislation to ensure that the integrity of ecosystems is maintained;
• Focusing on the implementation of an integrated waste management strategy aimed at diverting waste from the landfill through recycling; and
• Sourcing Global Environment Facility (GEF) funding for the projects on sustainable financing of protected areas and land degradation.
This is the DA vision of an inclusive nation, where every citizen can aspire and work harmoniously in creating a better life.
Whilst we recognize that financial resources are limited and trade-offs are unavoidable, we cannot stress enough the importance of mobilising the resources for continued management of our natural environment for future generations.

A DA-led government will prioritise the environment for our future generations

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of the Environment, Ross Purdon MP, during the Budget Vote on Environment.
Section 24 of our Constitution is very clear. It states that everyone has the right to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations.
It is with this responsibility in mind that we wrestle with the urgency of saving and protecting our rhinos.
We are custodians of an iconic species with an enormous profile in the world and these assets are our responsibility to protect and save.
South Africa is home to approximately 80% of the world’s rhino population.
I approach this subject with great caution as there are many differing views on how we should be doing this.
As we speak, the country is faced with new legislation which has, and still is, being hotly contested both in and out of the courts.
I have spoken at length with environmental organisations, NGOs, veterinarians, private owners, game rangers and departmental officials and obviously there are many different opinions which we are not going to debate today.
However, there is one overriding common goal that everyone is in agreement with – we have to protect and save our rhinos.
There is also consensus that there is no silver bullet to the rhino issue. There are no easy answers.
One glaring issue that everyone has asked me to highlight is the fact that our law enforcement is failing in this crisis.
Many court cases go nowhere in South Africa.
Just last week, 3 men who are prime suspects in 99 rhino poaching cases dating back to 2009, were released by the Grahamstown High Court on R15 000 bail.
This has caused an outrage in the rhino community as it is feared that the suspects could re-ignite their network.
This follows a poaching drop while they were in jail. Sadly, we are living in a very corrupt society where documents get lost, people get bribed, permits are doctored and kingpins are not brought to book.
As long as our economy is struggling and unemployment figures are at an all-time high, there will never be a shortage of foot soldiers.
We have to, not only arrest and prosecute the foot soldiers, but also the middlemen and the kingpins.
Both the state and private owners – who are custodians of roughly a third of the national rhino population – are spending vast sums of money on security and our judicial system must not be allowed to cause these efforts to fail.
The legal process has to be intensified and the Minimum Sentences Act needs to be revisited with urgency.
To tackle rhino poaching effectively will require enormous political will. I want to emphasize, enormous political will.
This should involve greater urgency from the Minister together with Justice, crime prevention and security.
It certainly does not help the issue when an Al Jazeera documentary reported late last year on alleged links between the Minister of State Security, his wife, and a Chinese horn smuggler.
We, the DA, believe that the budget should have allocated more money to conservation.
At this time in our country-wide crisis, the Budget for Bio-diversity and Conservation has actually been cut and this is of major concern.
We need to be allocating more money into law enforcement and protection.
We also suggest that Government lobbies for foreign funding to help fund these efforts. I have been reliably informed that China has put money into conservation in both Kenya and Tanzania. If they are donating money for conservation, Honourable Minister, could you also not lobby them for a ban on rhino products in China?
Lastly, Let us not forget the importance of education. Education programmes need to be intensified both in South Africa and the East.
Chairperson, we certainly need a concerted effort from all South Africans to protect our rhinos. As well as the huge political effort that is required, I would like to appeal to the NGOs to co-ordinate their efforts.
All those affected and concerned need to rise above their differences and work towards this common goal.
We have to attack this on all fronts with new found urgency.
It is our duty.
We are also concerned that tourism could be affected and we can’t afford to lose tourists to other countries.
We must never forget that Tourism is one of the quickest job creators and we have to protect and grow this industry.
When the DA-led government comes into government in 2019, we will prioritise the environment to ensure that our children and their children’s children all enjoy the benefits of the environment.

South Africa needs to free itself from this confused and directionless ANC government

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Patrick Atkinson MP, during the Budget Vote on Economic Development.
Madam Speaker,
As we look back over the past year since we delivered the 2016 Economic Development Budget Speech, the view has not been a rosy one for our economy.
Unemployment remains persistently high at around 9 million, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates remain far too low to have any significant impact on unemployment and finally, our country has been downgraded to junk status by two of the three major international rating agencies. The effect of these downgrades will be negative, and in particular for those of our people without jobs, it will be felt for years to come.
Over the past year, the Economic Development Department has been one of the few examples of good governance in our Government. Budgets have been spent as planned, an unqualified audit attained, key performance indicators have been met and enough reports were written to fill a library. The Ministry is even looking at ways to mitigate our recent ratings downgrades.
So, why the disconnection between the work of the Department and the actual economic state of affairs on the ground?
Quite simply, the reasons for this lie in the actions of the President and his ANC cabinet rather than one specific Minister.
While it is very convenient to point to the challenges in the global economic environment, there are sufficient local factors which have resulted in South Africa getting a ratings downgrade from two agencies.
There are three factors amongst many, which have contributed to our present poor economic state.
These are:
1. Policy uncertainty and incoherence;
2. Poor Management at state-owned entities and Corruption; and
3. A workforce not properly equipped to deal with the coming fourth Industrial Revolution.
Policy incoherence and uncertainty
The Mining Sector has been the most high profile victim of policy uncertainty, as a once thriving sector is being slowly strangulated by the uncertainties created in proposed new legislation.
There is a limited amount of capital for investment in the world. When investors feel a lack of certainty in a specific jurisdiction, that money will be deployed elsewhere. The fact that Foreign Direct Investment into South Africa has fallen dramatically from US$8.3 billion in 2013 to US$1.7 billion in 2015 attests to this fact.
Falling investment levels such as this has a seriously negative impact on job creation.
Recent buzzwords of radical economic transformation (RET), land expropriation without compensation and white monopoly capital, which the South African Communist Party recently exposed had their genesis in the London offices of Bell Pottinger, devised on behalf of the President’s best friends, the Gupta brothers, has also had a chilling effect on local investment due to it heightening uncertainty.
RET remains an undefined concept from an ANC perspective. There is no evidence that any of its supposed underlying policies have been measured against any other successful economy. Policy ideas emanating from the ANC-proposed RET appear to owe more to economic policies attempted in Venezuela or Zimbabwe.
Such undefined comments by ANC officials and the Government will do absolutely nothing towards unlocking the R1.5 trillion cash investments by South African corporates. At least half of this cash has potential for investment in our economy.
A DA government would ensure well-defined investor-friendly legislation would be put in place in the mining industry and that the country would implement a single job-creating investment plan in many ways resembling the forgotten National Development Plan. Investment and job creation would be a top priority for a DA Government.
Mismanagement at state-owned entities
Mismanagement at state-owned entities has now entered the national lexicon. One only has to mention Molefe at Eskom, Dudu Myeni at South African Airways (SAA) or Motsoeneng at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) to realise the damage that has been done to our economic prospects through mismanagement at these entities.
The Minister often points out that Tourism will be one of the great economic saving graces through job creation in even the remotest of areas in our country.
South African Airways should form a major pillar in this strategy but its battle for survival due to gross mismanagement occupies its time. While SAA has been preoccupied by its own crises, international carriers such as those from the Gulf States have taken over much of its potential international traffic.
The actions of Brian Molefe at Eskom relating to the cancellation of the Glencore coal contract and the granting of it to a Gupta-linked company speak to actions which can have a chilling effect on investment. No investor would be prepared to allocate investments where there would be a fear of negative arbitrary actions by a government such as the case of Eskom and Glencore.
A DA Government would ensure that our state-owned entities would be run professionally by the very best people possible.
As the Gulf airlines have done, the DA would search for the best possible aviation specialists to ensure an efficient and successful SAA. We would also ensure that the state-owned entities deliver on their mandate to efficiently provide economic growth and job creation to the people of South Africa. The DA would focus on policy certainty across all departments.
South Africa has huge potential to be one of the world’s great economic success stories. Abundantly endowed with natural resources, good climate, a world class infrastructure and an energetic, creative and diverse people, it just needs to free itself of the burden of this confused and directionless ANC Government. Once we have a DA Government who will govern in the interests of all, our best days are to come.

We need a Country Recovery Plan to mop up the Bryntirion Bomber’s mess

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Economic Development, Dr Michael Cardo MP, during the Budget Vote on Economic Development.
Honourable Chairperson,
South Africa’s economy is heading towards Ground Zero. This is thanks to the nuclear bomb detonated by Jacob Zuma at his Bryntirion home shortly before midnight on Thursday 30 March 2017.
As if his first strike against the Finance Ministry in December 2015 wasn’t bad enough (R500 billion went up in a fireball when Minister Nhlanhla Nene was axed), the Bryntirion Bomber recklessly risked a second, potentially bigger fallout.
So, at the command of his paymasters, the Guptas, President Zuma sacked another Finance Minister who had valiantly battled against state capturers and looters.
In nuking Pravin Gordhan, Zuma got rid of a warhorse and replaced him with a clothes horse. All so that the Saxonwold saboteurs could raid the Treasury and feed off the fat of State-Owned Enterprises.
The mushroom cloud has not quite settled, but already:
• Two of the three international ratings agencies have downgraded South Africa to junk status;
• Growth forecasts have plummeted below 1%; and
• The ranks of the unemployed have swelled, with over 9 million people now jobless.
Meanwhile, the President’s patronage network in Cabinet remains intact. The unguided missile, Faith Muthambi, has been launched into a new portfolio, while that weapon of South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) destruction, Bathabile Dlamini, continues to wreak havoc with our welfare system.
Nowadays, these political demolition jobs are justified in terms of “radical economic transformation”.
But that is just an empty, vacuous, populist slogan.
If you want to know about radical economic transformation, look no further than Brian Molefe. He was a member of the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development once, for all of two hours.
The point about Mr Molefe is that he has been so radically economically transformed that he could resign, retire and take unpaid leave from Eskom all at the same time. He could jump the ANC’s lists into Parliament, and jump out again when he wasn’t appointed Finance Minister. Throughout, he sought maximum financial advantage for himself and his cronies at the state’s expense.
That, Honourable Members, is radical economic transformation, ANC-style.
Mandates and institutional reform
It is the job of the Economic Development Department (EDD) to bring coherence to economic policy-making and implementation across state departments.
It must promote inclusive growth.
And it must tackle unemployment by accelerating job creation.
On every one of these metrics, the EDD has failed to deliver its mandate.
Now I certainly don’t hold the Minister personally responsible for that. He runs a tight ship; he knows his portfolio inside out; and in the unfolding battle between the ANC’s constitutionalists and its money-grubbing neo-patrimonialists, I’m sure he lines up on the right side.
But the fact is that his Department cannot justify its existence, financially or institutionally.
That is why the DA believes the EDD should be disbanded and its functions absorbed by other Departments.
Investment, Competition and Trade
Of the Department’s R797 million budget, over 85% (or R681 million) is channelled to Programme 3: Investment, Competition and Trade.
This is an almost 25% increase from last year’s allocation.
The bulk of it is for subsidies and grants to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC), the Competition Commission and the Competition Tribunal.
President Zuma wants to use the IDC and competition regulators to drive radical economic transformation.
But we need to ensure that these institutions don’t enrich politically-connected cronies in the guise of de-racialising the economy.
That is why the DA will watch closely to ensure that the R23 billion earmarked by the IDC for the Black Industrialist Programme serves to grow the economy and create jobs for the poor, not produce a new elite of radically transformed billionaires.
And that is why the DA will keep up the pressure on the IDC to reveal exactly who these industrialists are, what industries they’re building, how much money they’re getting from the IDC, and what the return on investment is.
In this regard, we welcome the IDC’s review of its confidentiality policy so that, in all contracts entered into from 1 April 2017 onwards, there will be greater transparency around funding to politically-exposed persons.
During his State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Zuma said that legislation was in the pipeline to amend the Competition Act. The aim is to “have a more inclusive economy and to deconcentrate the high levels of ownership”.
The Minister has expanded on this commitment today.
But let us be frank: the Competition Act is not the right tool for solving the exclusion of many black South Africans from the economy.
Making the economy more inclusive isn’t about breaking up large firms. There is no guarantee that smaller players will enter the market. And even with all the will in the world, competition law won’t change that.
Economic inclusion is about radically transforming our labour laws to create jobs. It’s about improving access to capital and credit for unbanked entrepreneurs. It’s about cutting red tape for small businesspeople. And it’s about growing the economy.
None of this can be done by the competition regulators. Competition policy can make the economy more competitive. But it cannot take on the role of labour policy or industrial policy.
So we need to guard against overreach by our competition regulators.
And we must insist at all times on the competition authorities’ institutional autonomy and integrity – however loud the chorus of populist voices chanting the mantra of radical economic transformation might be.This will be particularly important when the Competition Tribunal adjudicates the Competition Commission’s banks collusion case.
Country Recovery Plan
Honourable Chairperson,
When the Bryntirion Bomber eventually goes, we will need to mop up his mess.
Neither the ANC government in general, nor the EDD in particular, is up to the task.
The DA’s Country Recovery Plan for 2019 is designed to empower entrepreneurs with access to capital, infrastructure, skilled labour, policy certainty and a supportive government.
Already, in the cities we govern – Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg – we are transferring title deeds to township residents to give people a real stake in the economy.
When we govern nationally, South Africa’s cities will drive infrastructure development. We will give cities control of ports and economic development zones, and resource them to provide better public transport.
The DA’s Country Recovery Plan will rapidly transform the lives and futures of all South Africans.
By contrast, the ANC’s radical economic transformation (or “radical economic what what”, as President Zuma recently called it) is a hollow slogan.
And we should see it for what it is before it leads to an economic nuclear apocalypse.

Defence budget inadequate to protect our country

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Defence, Kobus Marais MP, during the Budget Vote on Defence.
Our Constitution confirms in Article 200 (2) that “the primary object of the defence force is to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force”.
In the light of the continuous budget decrease, especially in defence real terms (12%), it is becoming ever more difficult to simply maintain the defence force we have, let alone to support the defence force envisaged in the 2015 Defence Review.
Similar to last year, we will still not be able to fund Milestone 1 – “arrest the decline”.
In order to maintain a reasonable defence force, a year-on-year budget of at least 2% of GDP must be maintained.
This has not happened and is not foreseen over the Medium Term Framework, although it did not deter the Minister, Cabinet and the Department of Defence (DoD) from retaining their unrealistic ideological objectives, operational plans, and international commitments.
Our GDP, currently below 1%, and the national priorities of government do not provide for an ideal defence force.
There is a disjunction between the defence force government wants on paper – either from an ideological or an egotistical point of view – what we can afford, and what we actually need to comply with our Constitutional obligations.
Keep in mind we have no conventional warfare threat at our borders.
The DoD has confirmed we have a window period of only 3 to 5 years to address the decline in the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) capacities before its capabilities will be totally depleted.
Some of the current shocking national deployable capacity statistics are:

  • There are only two C130 aircraft at 28 Squadron, of which one is mostly out of service. These aircraft are responsible for the transportation of our troops, equipment and paratroopers;
  • There are no aircraft at 35 Squadron, which is responsible for maritime patrols, protection, and sea search-and-rescue missions;
  • There are five medium transport helicopters, two Rooivalk helicopters and one naval vessel;
  • There are two battalions for peace-keeping missions; We have one Level 1 medical capacity, of which only 1 Military Hospital requires a once off R1.1 billion just to bring it to standard. This is over and above the yearly allocation.
  • We have one Level 1 medical capacity, of which only 1 Military Hospital requires a once off R1.1 billion just to bring it to standard. This is over and above the yearly allocation; and
  • Fifteen sub-units for border patrols while we require at least 21.

National Treasury has indicated the funds requested by the DoD and the Minister will not be approved and that the DoD must “cut their cloth to size” and operate within the means of our economy.
Indeed, Treasury has not made it a secret that it appears the DoD do not intend to comply with their recommended austerity measures. Most notable was the directive that the HR spending of the DoD must be reduced from 57% to 40% of their budget.
The current funding requirements are unaffordable. The budget allocation of R48 billion will only fund the first two of the five phases to complete milestone 1, for which the DoD requires a further R55.7 billion for 2017/18 alone. We know the economy cannot afford this.
Let’s be honest, Minister, we must reprioritise and restructure the SANDF to balance what we can afford with what we need. Both you, Cabinet and the DoD must realise that your signed-off and idealistic plans are unaffordable, unrealistic and unachievable. Non-essential costs and commitments must be eliminated.
One example of avoidable expenses is the constant leasing of private aircraft, both for the President’s comfort and to transport our troops and equipment to the DRC. How many flying hours and funds are wasted for this?
Another example dealing with an unnecessary requirement is our favourite aircraft Inkwazi.
Contrary to the arguments, this luxury jet has been fully operational, while neither the President, nor the Deputy President, nor you have used Inkwazi since at least the end of June 2016.
Yet, at least 50 flights were undertaken to Langebaan, East London, Overberg, Bloemfontein, Hoedspruit, Durban, etc.
Who is using it?
The argument that this is for pilot training cannot be justified.
If there is no use for this aircraft, why train pilots to fly it?
An unused, fully operational Presidential Jet is a showpiece, and only an attempt “keep up with the Jones’”. We cannot afford that, Minister.
At the same time, you have indicated the appetite for yet another new regional VVIP Jet.
Why not rather sell Inkwazi or utilise it for the regional flight requirements? We cannot afford both as it will equate to reckless trading.
Minister, when the DA takes over the Union Buildings in 2019, will develop a sustainable and well-funded defence force, by:

  • Reorganising, reprioritising and restructuring the SANDF, based on the approved budget, the projected GDP, and the constitutional mandate;
  • Focusing on border protection for land, sea and air;
  • Supporting economic development and securing our ocean economy’s potential, thus contributing to helping the 9 million unemployed;
  • Complying with international obligations and treaties with regard to maritime patrol and protection;
  • Re-establishing discipline as non-negotiable;
  • Reducing the HR component to 40% of the budget so that at least 80% of solidier are younger than 40 years. The current scenario where the majority is older than 45 years compares badly. An exit mechanism must be developed and funded;
  • Rationalising the SANDF in support of the primary constitutional responsibilities, with the focus on secured SA Infantry capacity and basis;
  • When supporting UN peacekeeping missions, we must use fully serviceable assets and ring-fence the refunds for SANDF purposes only;
  • Ons sal Krygkor gebruik en onderbenutte bates en toerusting verkoop, insluitend die meeste van ons Hawk en Grippen vegvliegtuie, die duikbote, en veral Inkwazi;
  • Ons sal toesien dat die President en ander leiers met die Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens vlieg;
  • Ons sal toerusting en bates aanskaf ter nakoming van ons primêre Grondwetlike verpligtinge, byvoorbeeld:
    • Skepe vir die vloot vir die effektiewe bediening van al die oseane;
    • Patrollievliegtuie vir 35 Eskader wat nodig is vir see soek-en-reddingsoperasies en ter ondersteuning van ons see-ekonomie;
    • Vliegtuie vir 28 Eskader vir die vervoer van soldate en toerusting sodat koste vir gehuurde vliegtuie uitgeskakel kan word;
    • Diensbare toerusting en voertuie vir ons vredesoperasies en die bewaking en patrolering van ons landsgrense.

We will also improve our cyber warfare capabilities, specifically the use of drones for land border patrol and protection.
Voorts sal ons die kundigheid van Krygkor beter benut om ons verdediginsgbedryf te laat groei en ontwikkel sodat die 9miljoen werkloses volhoubare werk kan geniet.
Although this department requires a budget closer to 2% of GDP, we have to apply our current budget optimally and in the best interest of our citizens.
Op ‘n positiewe noot. Almal moet nog net vir twee jaar vasbyt. Daarna sal ‘n DA-geleide regering vinnig die Suid-Afrikaanse Nasionale Weermag op ‘n positiewe trajek plaas in die beste belang van die weermag en al ons inwoners.

Department continues to fail our military veterans

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Shahid Esau MP, during the Budget Vote on Defence and Military Veterans.
The Department of Military Veterans (DMV) consistently fails to deliver benefits and services to the majority of Military Veterans (MVs).
The Department has spent 85% of its budget for the 2016/17 financial year. It spent 100% of its Administration budget but only 78% on Socio-Economic Services and 83% on Empowerment and Stakeholders Management – the actual benefits and services to veterans.
This amounted to underspending of R91 million. The previous financial year, the DMV underspent by more than R233.6 million, money that could have been used for MVs.
The Department also achieved only 10 out of 19 performance targets – a miserable 53% in comparison to the 100% achieved on salaries.
Yet, one of the Department’s shortcomings, is its inadequately skilled employees. It is a known fact that the Department’s employees lack the requisite skills, experience and qualifications.
Only 133 out of 169 posts in the Department are filled. However, this Department employs 77 additional staff as interns and contract posts – a total of 210 employees.
Yet, it fails to deliver on its mandate. In fact, the Recruitment Policy and a Skills Audit are only now being considered for approval. In addition, a new organogram is under consideration with a permanent staff complement of more than 200. Yet, the DMV is already overspending on salaries by 0.6% and this increases year on year.
How do you reconcile these matters?
This Department did not deliver on its committed items as planned, with due consideration to the Adjustment Budget. Consequently, there was a lot of over and underspending, particularly in Education, where 4000 bursaries increased to 7212 in the 2016/17 financial year.
The target for Education bursaries is 4500 in 2017/18 financial year, according to Estimated National Expenditure (ENE). However, this target is recorded as 8700 in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the current financial year. How will this be sustained when education, generally, is achieved over the medium to long term? The Department’s response is to “take it upon itself to reprioritise”. Do you expect fiscal discipline from this Department?
How does this Department reconcile the provision of healthcare when it “will have a negative influence in order for the Department to fulfil its mandate to the fullest” and the amendment of the Military Veterans Act 18 of 2011 “will play a significant and critical role with inclusion of the dependants of Military Veterans in all benefits”?
This, while by its own admission, the Department’s budget “remains insufficient to fully fund Education Support and Healthcare Services”.
The Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) described the Department of Military Veterans as the worst performer in the 2012/13 financial year.
This is now described as a new indicator.
The Internal Audit has been reduced by 37% for this financial year. This is a critical component in addressing the issues of Governance, Compliance and Risks (GRC).
Issues of fraud are currently being investigated and the previous Chief Financial Officer (CFO), who was the whistle blower in irregular matters, left under a cloud of suspicion.
However, this Department placed a target of Level 3 or Key Performance Area (KPA) 3 for its MPAT. Under these circumstances, it is totally unrealistic. We anxiously await the outcome of the MPAT Report.
Do you know that the Supply Chain Management (SCM) Deputy Director and the Supply Chain Management (SCM) Contract Director will only be appointed this year? The Department admits that Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) are non-existent (decreased by 26%).
The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) Analysis by the DMV is much appreciated. The only problem is a number of contradictions in the analysis, like “Information to the Public” as a Strength and “Public Communication” and “Lack of Public Knowledge about Military Veterans” as a Weakness and Threat respectively.
This is further corroborated by one of the DMV’s main concerns of “inability to implement governance of information, communication and technology”. This High Impact Communication and Marketing Strategy continues to be elusive.
A number of contradictions also exist between the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) and APP in terms of amounts and targets. An example is the Compensation of Employees, where the ENE states R13.8 million whilst the APP records R12.8.
Targets of the National Military Veterans Database have been adjusted for previous financial years, as compared to those targets in the actual APP’s for those years. This is inaccurate, inconsistent and misleading.
The verification of Database set at 90% is a serious challenge with the number of concerns that require being resolved in order to achieve integrity, validity, reliability and accuracy of data, including the demographics of the Military Veterans, as reported in the APP. These demographics include “unknown”, “undeclared” and “foreign” categories and 3 989 as under the age of 35 years.
The Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) remain a challenge, as well as Housing, Burial Support, Transport, Military Pension, Skills Development and ICT.
We anxiously await the effects of the Turnaround Strategy Initiative (TSI) and the Improvement Plan. Otherwise, a sound, effective and efficient DA administration will certainly ensure freedom, fairness and opportunity to all Military Veterans.

Human rights need to be the guiding principle of our international relations

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, during the Budget Vote on International Relations and Co-operation.
Today, as we mark the 54th anniversary of the AU, we salute the founding fathers and visionary leaders of the African continent. Happy Africa Day.
Agenda 2063 contains the blueprint for a paradigm shift in Africa’s future that aims to create an environment of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It strives for an integrated continent with shared values, good governance, democracy, rule of law, justice and a peaceful and secure Africa.
We want to acknowledge and commend the hard work done by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) programmes that seek to facilitate Africa’s renewal and reshape its future. Unfortunately, the current crop of leaders are working hard to reverse the noble deeds of our forefathers and in the process, are tainting the legacy of our continent. Africa is still ravaged by civil wars, conflict, underdevelopment, unemployment, power-obsessed dictators, undemocratic regimes, human rights abuses and corruption.
The current global environment is volatile, as the rise of populist, nationalistic and extremist movements are posing a threat to global security and undermines international order, which brings fear and mistrust among people and states.
This trend has led to many states adopting a narrow nationalistic approach as opposed to globalisation to foreign policy. For example, the presidential election in the USA and BREXIT.
This trend is compounded by growing expectations and disappointments, as well as demographic shifts and migration.
All of this leads to a scramble for scarce resources due to jobless economic growth which contribute to unemployment and poverty. National interests become the focal centre of a state’s approach to foreign policy. States are pursuing a zero-sum game through a narrow nationalistic focus in trying to outsmart each other for the maximum benefit of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Globalisation and urbanization are a twin reality which must be managed by states, as non-state actors are intensifying their role and involvement in the foreign policy space.
Chairperson, allow me to address you on some of the Department’s programmes:
Programme 1: We are concerned about the ill-discipline of the staff and urge the Minister to take steps against the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) immediately.
Programme 2: International Relations addresses the core business of the Department with a budget of R3.6 billion. This programme still remains a source of concern with 126 missions abroad in 107 countries and 160 resident in South Africa. This is unsustainable and hurtful to the fiscus under the current economic conditions.
It is prudent under these circumstances to follow the National Development Plan (NDP) and National Treasury’s advice to consider rationalization of our missions and to cut expenditure on foreign infrastructure projects.
It is also important to consider the reduction of maintenance costs on foreign leased properties, as over 1000 properties are leased at a cost of R575 million.
Economic diplomacy is still lagging behind the number of high level visits and bilateral commissions still yield little in terms of value for money. We need quality outcomes, not quantity in number of visits. This requires a concerted effort in skilling and equipping our diplomats as economic diplomats to market and sell our country abroad.
Our current crop of diplomatic cadets are a shame as they serve personal interests rather than public interests.
Some are criminals, others are dishonest by faking their academic credentials.
We need more vigorous vetting processes to ensure that these cadets are beyond reproach and are people of integrity, ready to serve with pride, dedication and patriotism.
This is the reason why the DA supports the finalization of the Foreign Service Bill to professionalise and regulate our foreign service and eliminate the dumping ground syndrome.
Programme 3: This provides an opportunity for South Africa to play a meaningful role and take leadership in global politics by influencing the multilateral agenda through its constitutional values.
However, South Africa is failing dismally in multilateral forums when it comes to promoting our constitutional values and principles and championing human rights. This is evident from our failed withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and our relationship with dictators like Mugabe, al-Bashir, Nkurunziza and Kabila.
We cannot afford to be quiet when opposition leaders are persecuted and on fabricated charges as is the case in Zambia with Hakainde Hichilema. That is why DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, will attend the treason trial of Mr Hichilema in Zambia tomorrow to offer him our full support.
We must also use our chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to address this serious issue. In a seemingly democratic country like Zambia, the intimidation and suppression of opposition parties should be strongly condemned.
Programme 4: On public diplomacy, we are happy to see an increase in the allocation to this programme. We would like to see this programme provide early warning systems on major international events and we suggest organising a national dialogue on South African foreign policy and national interests to ensure participatory diplomacy of non-state actors and civil society in foreign policy matters.
Programme 5: We need to evaluate our participation and commitment to international membership. We also need to ensure that we respect and uphold our constitutional values in the global arena.
The DA is concerned about the recurring and serial adverse audit opinions. For three consecutive years, the Department has received a qualified opinion. This raises serious concerns in the Department and we hope that these issues will be addressed urgently.
We have abandoned our moral high ground to stoop low to a slippery slope. If South Africa is to realise its vision of a better South Africa in a better Africa and a better world, we must shape up and be counted or ship out and lose all credibility in the global arena.
We must be vocal and speak out against wrongdoings and also be bold to challenge our allies when they do wrong. The days of failed quiet diplomacy are over. We need to redeem ourselves by ensuring that our voting patterns in the multilateral forums are consistent with our values.
In conclusion, Chairperson, the DA foreign policy is centred on three key pillars of constitutionalism, human rights and economic diplomacy. Under the DA government, we will not roll out a red carpet to dictators and mass murderers. We will respect international law and institutions, we will speak out against wrongdoings, we will ensure our diplomats are well trained in economic diplomacy and are assessed on what value they add to FDI.
Human rights will be the guiding principle in our international relations as we aim to promote intra Africa trade and prioritise regional integration and trade. In 2019, South Africans can choose more racial nationalism, populism and division on the basis of race, or we can choose progress towards an open opportunity society for all. Our country’s national interest consensus will be defined clearly and pursued in all our international relations for the benefit of the people and not only the connected elite.
I thank you.

Minister Dlamini cannot be trusted with the money for the poor

Note to Editors: The following speech is under embargo until delivery. The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, during the Budget Vote on Social Development.
The budget vote we are debating today is meant to facilitate the Social Development Department’s commitment to social transformation.
The Department continues to state that it “endeavours to create a better life for the poor, vulnerable and excluded people in our society”.
But recent, almost unbelievable, developments in this Department stand in stark contradiction to this noble commitment and endeavour.
And the actions and behaviour of the Minister whose budget we are expected to support today show no commitment to these goals at all.
This is the same Minister – tasked with protecting the poorest of the poor – whose preferred place of residence is the Oyster Box Hotel. Yet, she insists that South Africans can survive on R753 a month.
As South Africans we need to take a closer look at the Minister in charge of this budget and honestly ask ourselves whether we want to entrust her with a budget meant for poor, vulnerable and excluded South Africans?
This is the same Minister who stands at the helm of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) which has notched up more than R1 billion in irregular expenditure.
We need only to recall the run-up to the 31 March 2017 expiry date of the illegal and irregular contract between Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) and SASSA, to be reminded of Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s rank negligence and her lack of empathy for her task as Minister.
The DA consistently called for action or at least clarity on what plans the Department and SASSA had made to move the distribution of social grants inhouse – but our calls fell on defiant and disdainfully deaf ears.
When civil society voiced its displeasure with the Minister, she singlehandedly defied all logic and rule of law to ensure that the irregular and illegal contract was “extended” – despite earlier, on record assurances that SASSA would be prepared to take over the distribution of social grants on April 1st this year.
Leaders from various sectors – including church groups and NGOs – took turns to decry the Minister’s behaviour and her attitude towards the poor and vulnerable of our country.
While we still demand to know what the Minister’s well-paid work streams and their leaders have been doing all these years to institutionalise the system, we will be scrutinising the Department and SASSA’s progress towards its promise of taking over the payment of social grants on April 1st, 2018.
We are not holding our breath.
This Minister blocked efforts by SASSA officials to adhere to the Constitutional Court order three times, losing a Director General in the process.
Even her own staff can’t work with her, it seems.
Therefore, this Minister simply cannot be trusted with the budget for the Department.
The Minister’s inconsistency and chaotic style of leadership can be demonstrated in the much publicised R316 million that was paid to CPS in 2015 for “enrolling more grant recipients and beneficiaries than it claimed it was contracted to do”.
The Minister presided over the decision to oppose Corruption Watch’s application to review and set aside the decision to pay the money – only to decide recently to withdraw its costly opposition to the legal challenge. All of this at taxpayers’ expense.
This is the same Minister whose budget we are expected to support today.
On the other hand, there has been deafening silence from the Parliamentary leadership towards the DA’s call for an urgent Ad Hoc Committee to conduct a Full Parliamentary Inquiry into the Minister, her officials and CPS.
We have received assurance from the Public Protector’s Office that they will give us feedback as the investigation on allegations of the Minister’s violation of the Executive Member’s Ethics Code, unfolds.
While the SASSA fiasco was unfolding, sending ripples of panic throughout the sector and the country at large, the rest of the Department of Social Development was crumbling – with social services employees going on strike and scores of NGOs closing down due to the non-payment of their subsidies.
This has left many NGOs having to scrape their meagre reserves to provide services to the poor, the vulnerable and the excluded in our society.
How then, can we entrust a budget to a Minister who has virtually put the Department and its entities under administration.
In keeping with our commitment to care for the poor and vulnerable, the DA will not stop to make louder calls for the Minister of Social Development to step down, seeing that she mysteriously survived the midnight Cabinet reshuffle of President Zuma.
Which once again proved that the ANC protects ineffectual leaders and do not care for the interests of our people.
In 2019, the DA-led government will ensure that the Department of Social Development will prioritise the people whose care it was established for – the poor, vulnerable and the excluded of our society.
South Africa’s poor, vulnerable and excluded deserve better and the DA is the only political party that can ensure that all our people receive equal access to opportunities within a fair society.
Thank you.

South Africa is NOT for sale

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone MP, during the Budget Vote on Public Enterprises.
House Chairperson, Members of Parliament, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good Afternoon.
Today I dedicate my 2017 budget vote speech to the brave men and women of South Africa, who, despite facing tremendous pressure, potential job loss and alienation from certain sectors, have boldly spoken out against and exposed corruption, state capture, nepotism, cronyism and mismanagement.
To you all, I say thank you on behalf of South Africa for your determination to look after the South African coffers, and for your relentless patriotism in the face of serious opposition from the highest echelons of power.
Your names will go down in history as true South African heroes.
Our state owned entities are not just in a state of chaos, they are in fact in a state of capture.
Every single morning, another scandal breaks in the media. If we are not dealing with Gupta associated businesses being given tenders, we are dealing with children of employees being given multi-million rand deals or, most recently, resignations … no wait, retirements … no wait … retrenchments … no wait … re-appointments of inept CEOs.
The Public Protector has certainly had her hands full with the DA requesting multiple investigations into issues within the SOEs.
We have asked the Public Protector to probe revelations in the unfolding nepotism scandal at Eskom involving the acting CEO, Matshela Koko, and his stepdaughter Koketso Choma, and a R1.7 million donation that was paid from Choma’s company to the ANC.
The DA has asked the Public Protector to include this new, shocking allegation of a massive donation to the ANC, into an already established investigation into Koko and Choma as requested by the DA in March 2017.
It now appears that, not only did Koko allegedly improperly award tenders worth R1 billion to Impulse International, a company of which his stepdaughter is a Director, when he was head of Eskom’s Generation Unit, but the arrangement was used as a conduit to siphon money to the ANC.
The Public Protector must now investigate and expose what the relationship between Koko, Choma, Impulse and the ANC really is.
It is totally unacceptable that so much public money was allegedly improperly directed toward a family member of the acting CEO of Eskom, only to land in the hands of the ANC!
This latest revelation, including the intimidation of journalists who have exposed this scandal, shows the lengths to which those with much to hide are willing to go to cover up.
Eskom has been reluctant to release the Denton Report that contains details of widespread corruption at the parastatal, and it seems that corruption scandals are only increasing under the current leadership.
The DA welcomed Public Enterprises Minister, Lynn Brown’s, rejection of an exorbitant and unjustified R30 million golden handshake “pension” payout to the disgraced Brian Molefe.
Indeed, after leaving Eskom under the most swirling clouds of state capture allegations, and close collusion with the Guptas, and then being rewarded with an ANC seat as a Member of Parliament, Mr. Molefe does not deserve one further cent from the public purse.
Our joy, however, was very short lived, as we soon learned of the return of Brian Molefe to Eskom.
This was a monumental disaster for the power utility, which is currently in a dire state of affairs and is surrounded by a wave of Gupta-linked corruption allegations as a result of Molefe’s tenure.
The return of Molefe to Eskom will see the Gupta hand return to the power utility, and most likely to the forthcoming nuclear procurement deal.
This South Africa cannot accept.
It was clear in the Public Protector’s damning State of Capture Report that Molefe was seriously compromised in his position at Eskom. He, himself, cited the interests of corporate good governance as the reason for him leaving Eskom.
The State of Capture Report details the close relationship between Molefe and the Guptas and how key decisions were taken by Molefe, as the head of Eskom, for the ultimate benefit of the Guptas and at the expense of the people of South Africa.
Specifically, Molefe called Ajay Gupta a total of 44 times and Ajay Gupta called Molefe a total of 14 times in 8 months. Molefe can further be placed in the Saxonwold area on 19 occasions between August 2015 and November 2015.
Importantly, the criminal charges that I laid against Molefe still stand and I trust are being actively investigated by the South African Police Service.
The ANC themselves came out and said that Molefe is unfit to return to Eskom as his name has not been cleared.
This is somewhat ironic given that he was, just the other day, on their own Parliamentary back benches.
South Africa deserves to know the truth behind the many scandals currently engulfing Eskom.
The damning allegations by the former Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, that Eskom’s then CEO Brian Molefe and Chairperson Ben Ngubane tried to force him to withdraw Glencore’s Optimum mining licences in a bid to help the Gupta’s takeover Glencore’s coal mines, are astounding and deserve a full scale investigation as part of the Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom which the DA has requested.
I am most pleased that the Committee on Public Enterprises has stood firm and has agreed that a full parliamentary investigation begin into the shenanigans at Eskom.
Chairperson, I advised the Minister on Tuesday, and I will repeat myself today, suspend the Board of Eskom with immediate effect. Send a full team from Public Enterprises to Megawatt park and collect all the documents pertaining to the reappointment of Brian Molefe as well as all documents related to alleged corruption charges so that we know they are safe and are unable to be destroyed.
Denel has had their fair share of scandals involving of course, the family that is causing chaos in our state owned enterprises (SOEs) and our country, the Guptas.
To this end, Denel will be called to appear before the committee together with National Treasury so that once and for all, we can get to the bottom of capture allegations. Perhaps the next the time they appear, they will be better prepared to answer our many questions.
South Africa is NOT for sale. Our SOEs cannot be bought by the Gupta family with the help of Number One.
As the web of state capture starts to unravel, so will the stranglehold that this unwelcome family has over our country.
It is now the time to put a stop to this corruption and capture and the DA is the only party that can bring an end to the crisis the ANC-government has created at the SOEs.
When the DA comes into national government in 2019, we will ensure that our SOEs work for our people and bring an end to the scourge of corruption that has manifested under ANC governance.
South Africa is NOT for sale, NOT on our watch!

SOEs a strain on public funds

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Erik Marais MP, during the Budget Vote on Public Enterprises.
House Chairperson, today we debate the budget vote for the Department of Public Enterprises.
As we all know the objective of the National Development Plan (NDP) is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030, which is a mere 13 years away.
After 23 years of ANC rule, there has never before been a bigger need to rescue our beautiful country. South Africans have been left with empty promises, lip service, and hopelessness.
If we continue to allow the ANC to hijack South Africa at every opportunity available to them, what will the state of our Nation be in 13 years’ time?
It is a chilling realisation and I can confidently say, the people of South Africa have had enough and are not as ill-informed as the governing party believes.
More and more of our people are realising that the DA is the only party to reignite hope and inspiration and has the will to build a better future for South Africans. The Western Cape, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg have already become testament to this.
The aim of the Department of Public Enterprises is to drive investment, productivity and transformation in the state-owned entities (SOEs) in order to unlock growth, propel industrialisation and most importantly, to create jobs and develop skills.
House Chairperson, how prosperous would South Africa be if the ANC government placed as much effort into proactively achieving this essential aim as they do in protecting the personal pockets of a select few?
It is crucial that this Department functions optimally to stop the misappropriation and misuse of taxpayers’ money once and for all.
House Chairperson, can the ANC in this House truthfully and in good conscience tell the people of South Africa that the R266.7 million allocated to this Department for the 2017/18 financial year will be constructively used to give effect to the NDP ‘s objective of creating jobs and providing skills development?
I pose this question because this is the nature of interrogation from our constituents and because the DA believes in shared prosperity for all South Africans.
We have a constitutionally mandated duty to answer them, as millions of South Africans see the DA as the only alternative to the ANC.
House Chairperson, it is stated that clear transparent governance combined with stable leadership will enable SOEs to achieve their developmental potential.
However, this has not been the case.
Look at Denel for example. It came to light in April 2016 that the suspended CEO of Denel had been officially fired, despite not being found guilty of any misconduct.
The timing of his discharge is suspicious and lends credence to the notion that his dismissal was linked to his refusal to broker arms deals with the politically connected Gupta family.
The CEO, Mr Saloojee, the CFO and a group company secretary were suspended in September 2015 while the board examined a number of allegations related to irregular acquisitions.
However, it is widely speculated that the suspension of these three officials was related to the creation of the new company, Denel-Asia, and the proposed joint venture with VR Laser Asia, a Gupta-linked firm.
Denel has been in hot water for this dodgy joint venture which has direct links to Duduzane Zuma and the Guptas.
Treasury has finally put this deal to bed after many months of back and forth between Treasury and Denel. However, Denel is appealing this decision.
House Chairperson, if I may, I also urge Minister Lynne Brown to be mindful of her oath, the plight of the most vulnerable South Africans and the urgency with which we have to collectively rescue South Africa.
Our country is suffering at the hands of a select few, protecting one. The world has lost confidence in our once great rainbow nation and we find ourselves in a national despondency.
While still in a position to bring about real positive change, I ask you to prioritize the over 55 million South Africans Suffering due to patronage politics.
I thank you.