Vrede Dairy Project back in the spotlight – DA writes to Public Protector

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the comments made by Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, indicating that the Vrede Dairy Farm investigation is in its final stages.

The DA have for long driven the issue surrounding the controversial Gupta-linked Vrede Dairy Farm Project in the Free State.

The first report by the Public Protector was set aside after successful court action by the DA, as was her appeal.

The DA now awaits the Public Protector’s second attempt at findings in this regard.

Despite the Public Protector’s ongoing investigation into alleged corruption involving the Vrede Dairy Farm project, the DA have written to Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane to seek clarity in terms of section 34 of Chapter 7 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act No 12 of 2004 (PACCA), regarding the role of former Premier of the Free State, Mr Ace Magashule and the then former MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Ms Mamiki Qabathe in several payments which were made by the Free State provincial government to a company called Estina. This Act criminalises the failure to report alleged corruption by individuals in authority.

A report received in 2013 from National Treasury into an investigation of the Vrede Dairy project indicated that “ultimately the project should be reassessed and the necessary due diligence should be completed to ensure that the project is viable. In its current form the project is not likely to yield a value for money to the State”. This should have raised serious questions on the part of the Premier of the Free State as well as the former MECs for Finance and DARD. Former Premier Magashule admitted receiving the national Treasury Report as early as 16 April 2014.

Furthermore, despite the fact that the contract between the Free State provincial government and Estina was cancelled on 12 August 2014, MECs from the DARD and the former MEC for Finance, Ms Elzabe Rockman, continued to allocate provincial funding to the project. This supports allegations of their complicity in the controversial project.

The cancellation of the agreement by the Executive Committee under Premier Ace Magashule without penalties and with the knowledge that Estina did not meet its commitments further makes them complicit in aiding and abetting Estina and their partners to escape the consequences of the irregular and illegal activities.

Due to the fact that Mr Ace Magashule and Ms Mamiki Qabathe ought to have been aware of these payments which were made after the cancellation of the agreement, they also had a duty in terms of section 34 of PACCA to report these irregularities to the South African Police Services.

With this in mind, the DA have approached the Public Protector seeking clarity regarding the interpretation of the aforesaid section and to make a finding regarding the political heads who sanctioned these irregular payments and failed to report the alleged corruption.

The DA wants to see politicians held accountable for their scandalous dealings in the Vrede Dairy Farm project, who have taken food out of the mouths of the project’s beneficiaries.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

DA hopes latest court ruling against Mkhwebane results in her removal from office

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the Gauteng High court finding against Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane today in the matter between her and President Ramaphosa, involving donations to his CR17 campaign.

Yet again, the courts have found Mkhwebane to be unable to perform her responsibilities in a competent, fair and unbiased manner. We hope this brings to an end her disastrous chapter in office. The DA has consistently fought it, ever since her name was first put forward as a possible candidate for appointment.

Successive court rulings against her, as well as photos of such known state capture agents as Mosebenzi Zwane and Bongani Bongo at her 50th birthday party, support the DA’s long-held view that Mkhwebane is not fit for office, that her appointment was politically motivated, that she is aligned to the pro-Zuma faction of the ANC, and that hers was a state capture deployment all along.

The DA has tabled a motion in the National Assembly to have her removed from office. We hope this latest court finding will be the evidence needed to swing the balance of opinion and pressure in favour of removing her. Our motion led to the Speaker’s commitment to appoint an independent panel to assess the evidence against her. If the panel finds there is a prima facie case for misconduct or incompetence, then an ad hoc committee of parliament will be established to consider her removal.

It was clearly irrational for Mkhwebane to have ruled that President Ramaphosa should have appeared before Parliament’s Ethics Committee, since the President is not a member of the house, having resigned his seat upon his election, and is therefore beyond the reach of the committee.

Mkhwebane should now do the honourable thing and resign. She is now so tainted and deeply compromised that any of her future findings will be questioned.

Her incompetence has let the President off the hook, when in fact he has much to answer for. These crucial questions still need answers:

  • What services did Andile Ramaphosa deliver for R2 million and why did this contract coincide precisely with Ramaphosa’s election as ANC president?
  • What was the connection between Andile’s consultancy and the massive contracts Bosasa got from the state?
  • Why did Bosasa CEO Gavin Watson’s R500 000 donation to the CR17 campaign move through a number of accounts before ending up in the campaign bank account?
  • What exactly is the financial relationship between Cyril Ramaphosa and Bosasa and between the ANC and Bosasa?
  • The Bosasa donation was part of a R400 million campaign budget. Considering there were only 4500 delegates voting, what was this money spent on?

A finding against a Public Protector as compromised and incompetent as Mkhwebane does not mean that Ramaphosa is automatically innocent of all claims against him.

For the President to find it above board that his son receives millions of rands in “consulting fees” from a company that does billions of rands of business with the ANC government is simply not right. The fact is that Andile Ramaphosa was only on the Bosasa payroll because he is close to the centre of power. This is an abuse of power.

Equally so, it is not right that a company that does billions of rands of business with the government should be funding political campaigns – either of a faction of the party, or of the party as a whole.

In an ideal world, we should have a public protector who is able to carry out her duty to protect the public in an unbiased and competent manner and we should have a president who does not allow those connected to him to benefit financially from his position of power. Unfortunately, we have neither.

The DA will continue to fight the abuse of power when and where it arises, without fear or favour. We will continue to fight for independent institutions that check and balance power, run by truly independent candidates appointed on merit.

DA submits 7000 pages of supplementary evidence to strengthen our case against Public Protector

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite in English. The photo can be downloaded here.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today submitted over 7000 pages of supplementary evidence to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to strengthen our motion for the removal of Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

With over 7000 pages to support our motion, the DA hopes that Parliament will act swiftly by establishing an Ad Hoc Committee for Mkhwebane’s removal proceedings. There has been mounting evidence and continuous blunders to support our calls for Mkhwebane’s removal since the submission of our motion.

Some of her notable blunders include:

  • The Constitutional Court found that she acted in bad faith and was not honest with the High Court regarding her investigation process in the Reserve Bank matter.
  • She jumped to the defense of former President Jacob Zuma by laying criminal charges against former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, for releasing the transcript of her interview with him.
  • In late 2019, the North Gauteng High Court dismissed her appeal to overturn Judge Ronel Tolmay’s scathing judgment lamenting her handling of the Estina Dairy Farm matter and the report thereof.
  • She was also recently reported to have celebrated her 50th birthday party with individuals involved in state capture – she chose to spend an evening sipping champagne with the very people she should be investigating.

Throughout her tenure as Public Protector, Mkhwebane has time and again demonstrated an inability to conduct her work independently, and has illustrated a poor understanding of both the law, as well as of her mandate as Public Protector. Worse still, Mkhwebane’s actions have caused immeasurable damage to the reputation of the Office of the Public Protector.

In her almost three years in office, Mkhwebane has successfully tarnished the credibility, authority and independence of the Office of the Public Protector.

The DA hopes that the disgraceful chapter that was Mkhwebane’s rule at the helm of a once-proud Chapter 9 institution will soon come to an end, and that we can begin the work to build a strong and capable Public Protector’s office that upholds the rule of law and protects South Africans from state abuses. The DA will not rest till South Africans are given the Public Protector they deserve.

PP parties with rogues she’s supposed to be investigating

Yesterday the media reported that the current Public Protector (PP), Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has had a birthday bash celebrating her 50th birthday. While this in itself is of no general interest, some of the guests who attended the party most certainly are.

Her number one fan, Dali Mpofu was there, along with the dubious Bongani Bongo. Bongo spent a large part of his tenure in the fifth Parliament trying to outdo his ANC colleagues on the Justice Portfolio Committee in seeing who could treat the previous PP with the most discourteous contempt. He then eagerly competed for the post of Praise Singer in Chief of the current PP, particularly during his whirlwind stint as Minister of State Security, during which, rumour has it, he spent more time in her office than in his own.

If these reports are accurate, also in attendance was Mosebenzi Zwane, he of Estina Dairy Project infamy.

Zwane’s huge and unmistakeable role in the criminal enterprise that was Estina was conspicuously absent in the first and very questionable report of this PP, later emerging via a whistleblower’s report to the Speaker of Parliament, that this PP, now so cosily socializing with Zwane, instructed the investigator to remove evidence implicating Zwane and Ace Magashule.

In August last year, the PP announced that her office had undertaken a new investigation into Estina, where politicians would be held to account. This investigation, the results of which have yet to be shared, must of necessity include the machinations of Zwane.

Yet he reportedly shamelessly cavorts at the birthday celebrations of the person who is investigating him.

The staggering impropriety thereof aside, this PP, despite a cacophony of views to the contrary, insists that she has both read the Constitution and understands her mandate, and is fit and proper to hold office.

If she is unable to appreciate this rather glaring conflict, and the underlying erosion of independence that accompanies it, then we beg to differ.

DA welcomes news that Mkhwebane’s disgraceful tenure as Public Protector may soon end

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes today’s announcement by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, that she has accepted the DA’s motion on the Public Protector’s removal.

We have long held that Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane is not a fit and proper person to hold the office of Public Protector, and that she must be removed from her position.

Last year, the rules committee of the National Assembly adopted a set of rules that guide the process by which Parliament must deal with the removal of heads of Chapter 9 institutions, a task that it is empowered to do by section 194 of the Constitution.

In terms of the new rules, the process must start with a substantive motion in the National Assembly, after which the Speaker must forward the motion and its supporting documentation to an independent panel to assess if there are grounds for setting up a special section 194 committee to consider the removal of the person in question.

The Speaker has already written to parties to nominate persons to sit on the independent panel, and we are therefore encouraged that the process will move ahead with appropriate urgency.

The DA opposed the appointment of Advocate Mkhwebane from the beginning, and her three-year tenure to date has proved that we were correct in arguing that she is not a fit and proper person to occupy the office of Public Protector.

We hope that the disgraceful chapter that was Mkhwebane’s rule at the helm of a once-proud Chapter 9 institution will soon come to an end, and that we can begin the work anew to build a strong a capable Public Protector’s office that upholds the rule of law and protect South Africans from state abuses.

DA requests fresh Public Protector removal proceedings, following Parliament’s adoption of rules

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, to request that removal proceedings against the incumbent Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane be instituted following Parliament’s adoption of a set of rules for the removal of a Head of a Chapter 9 Institution in terms of Section 194 of the Constitution. 

In August, the DA submitted draft rules to the Speaker in order to assist Parliament in setting up proper processes for the removal of a Head of a Chapter 9 Institution, such as the Public Protector. We are pleased by the rules which have been adopted by Parliament and have since requested that Parliament initiate fresh proceedings in accordance with Section 194(1) of the Constitution to remove Mkhwebane as soon as the Second Session of the Sixth Parliament commences.  

The DA from the onset opposed the appointment of Mkhwebane as Public Protector and we consider her removal a matter of great urgency.

She has time and again proven that she is unfit to hold office, has consistently demonstrated an inability to conduct her work independently and has illustrated a poor understanding both of the law as well as of her mandate as Public Protector. Worse, Mkhwebane’s actions have caused immeasurable damage to the once respected reputation of the Office of the Public Protector.

Despite her claims to the contrary, Section 194 of the Constitution is quite clear that Parliament is the correct body to consider and decide upon the removal of the Public Protector. Section 194(3) states that the President must remove a person from office upon the adoption by the Assembly of a resolution calling for that person’s removal.

With the adoption of the removal proceedings rules this week, we are one step closer in removing Busisiwe Mkhwebane from office and replacing her with a capable and independent Public Protector.

Rescuing and reforming SA’s economy is our primary focus

The following statement was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a press briefing at Nkululeko House, Johannesburg. Maimane was joined by the Chairperson of the DA’s Federal Executive, James Selfe, and the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba.

Over the past two days, the Democratic Alliance’s Federal Executive (FedEx) convened for its first sitting of the 6th Parliament, to discuss and decide upon matters of importance to the party and the nation.

 SA’s Economic Crisis

On top of FedEx’s agenda this weekend was South Africa’s deep and persistent economic crisis and how we plan to rescue and reform the economy. The perilous state of the economy is the single biggest threat to our country’s future. It is with great concern that over the past months the conversation has moved from how to grow the economy, to how we avoid total collapse.

There exists a tangible mood of fear throughout the country, with the vast majority of South Africans lacking hope in the future. Discontentment with the current downward spiral is fast producing fertile soil for mass rebellion. The reality is that change will come, whether by the ballot or other means. We have no more time to kick the can down the road. We need immediate action.

Despite this, there lacks both the requisite urgency and a bold reform plan from Cyril Ramaphosa and his ANC government. For the past 18 months Ramaphosa has occupied the presidency it has been business as usual, with an added dose of economic gimmicks in the form of summits, talk shops, roadshows.

Unemployment is at a post 1994 record high, breaching the sobering 10-million mark for the first time. 10.2 million South Africans are without a job, with an expanded unemployment rate of 38%.There are now 746 000 more jobless South Africans than there were 18 months ago when Ramaphosa assumed office. This is a clear vote of no confidence in Ramaphosa’s much heralded yet ineffective “Jobs Summit” held earlier this year.

In terms of growth, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has forecast growth for 2019 at a meagre 0.6% – the worst since 2016. Last year, South Africa experienced its first recession in over a decade – with two consecutive quarters of negative growth. We also saw the economy contracting by 3.2% during the first months of this year – the biggest decline in a decade. It appears we may just narrowly avoid another recession in 2019.

As things stand, we are the closest we have been to complete, all round junk status since 1994. In July this year, ratings agency Fitch changed their outlook for SA to junk status. Moody’s, the only agency that has SA above junk status, also expressed its concerns especially given the lack of change or plan to reform SOEs – specifically Eskom. Once we hit complete junk status, we are staring down the barrel of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.

Investment is plummeting at an alarming rate. The President’s investment summit has yielded little positive impact as foreign investors have sold a record-high $4.8bn of South African equities and bonds in 2019 -the most on a year-to-date basis in over 20 years. Both at home and abroad, investors see South Africa as a risk not worth taking.

There is no sign of any “green shoots” in the economy, and instead of halting the decline, it appears Cyril Ramaphosa is exacerbating it. His open support for economically damaging policies such as Expropriation Without Compensation, the National Minimum Wage, the National Health Insurance, and the Eskom monopoly – among many others – is proof that when it comes to the test, Cyril Ramaphosa is loyal to the ANC above all else.

The DA’s Economic Recovery Plan

In order to avoid economic collapse and bring about rapid growth, a clear and concrete plan for urgent reform is required. The DA is currently in the process of expanding our “Economic Recovery Plan” – a comprehensive package of reform interventions that are unashamedly pro-growth, pro-investment, and pro-job creation.

The focus of this “Economic Recovery Plan” is on deliberate structural reform that will act as shock to our economy, in order to revive it and usher in rapid economic growth. The plan will include the following proposals, among others:

  1. Splitting Eskom into two separate entities while allowing IPPs to come on board by passing the Independent Electricity Management (IEMA) Bill;
  2. Passing our “Jobs Bill”, consisting of a wide range of incentives for foreign companies to invest in SA – bringing thousands of job opportunities to our shores.
  3. Implementing a government-wide Comprehensive Spending Review aimed at reviewing the efficiency of spending, the composition of spending, and future spending priorities in order to “tighten our belts”;
  4. Placing SAA under business rescue with a view to sell it off;
  5. Scrapping BEE and replacing it with a pro-growth plan that offers real broad-based inclusion in our economy;
  6. Beginning the rollout of a Voluntary Civil Service Year for young people;
  7. Introducing tax incentives for big job-creating sectors including manufacturing, tourism, mining and financial services;
  8. Rejecting investment-killing policies including the National Health Insurance (NHI), Expropriation Without Compensation (EWC), the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and the nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB);
  9. Cutting the Public Sector Wage Bill; and
  10. Creating an enabling environment for job creation by freeing up micro enterprise and relaxing labour legislation.

In addition, provinces in which persistent drought continues to affect the agricultural sector must declare such as a provincial disaster. One such province in the Northern Cape, where over 60 000 jobs are on the line due to 5-year long drought.

This plan and the details thereof will be tabled early next month during Parliament’s urgent debate of national importance on the economy, which I requested in light of our current economic crisis.

In order to halt our economy’s spiralling decline and create opportunities for those left outside the economy, we need bold and urgent reform. This is the DA’s plan, and we intend to pursue it with intensity.

The President and the Public Protector

FedEx reaffirmed the party’s stance that Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane is unfit to hold office and Parliament must initiate an inquiry into her fitness without delay – as requested by the DA.

The DA was the only party that objected to Mkhwebane’s appointment almost two years ago, citing the very concerns which have now manifested themselves in the daily operation of her office.

The Office of the Public Protector is a crucial Chapter 9 Institution tasked with fostering accountable democracy. Under Mkhwebane’s tenure, it has been reduced to an arm of a certain faction within the ANC. Mkhwebane lacks both the impartiality and technical ability required to justify her continued occupation of the role of Public Protector, and there is little evidence to suggest otherwise. She must be removed at once.

Notwithstanding, it must be made absolutely clear that questions around Mkhwebane’s impartiality and ability have nothing to do with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s wrongdoings as it pertains to Bosasa.  Mkhwebane’s unfitness to hold office has no bearing on whether the relationship between Bosasa and the President is corrupt, nor whether he misled Parliament.

Ramaphosa’s misleading of Parliament, and his and his son’s dodgy dealings with Bosasa, are all established facts independent of the Public Protector and her supposed agenda. We will continue to monitor President Ramaphosa’s review application as it pertains to the Public Protector’s report into his Bosasa dealings.

We will not relent in our pursuit of accountability because the principle of equality before the law must be upheld, and the Office of the Public Protector must be respected regardless of whether the incumbent is fit to hold office.

This coming Thursday, 22 August, I engage Cyril Ramaphosa in Parliament on this matter during the scheduled Oral Question Session. Presidents and their families who abuse their power for personal benefit must be treated as equal before the law and held accountable for their actions. Cyril Ramaphosa is no exception.

National Health Insurance (NHI)

FedEx noted Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s tabling of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in Parliament last week.

The South African healthcare system is an unequal one, with a minority of South Africans paying for quality, private healthcare, and the majority of South Africans with access to free, but overwhelmingly substandard healthcare.

The DA supports the move towards the provision of universal healthcare. This is non-negotiable in our unequal society. However, we disagree that the NHI is the way to achieve this. The NHI is a deliberate attempt to nationalise healthcare in South Africa, and it is based on this core aspect that we reject the bill.

Moreover, it is both naïve and irresponsible to have an academic debate about the merits of the NHI in the abstract. The debate must consider both this ANC government’s dire governance deficiencies and its tendency to loot public money at every juncture. As with the approach to both property rights and land, and the SARB, this is a push for more state control and thus more inefficiency and corruption.

We also have serious concerns as to the legality and constitutionality of the NHI bill, particularly around its impact on the constitutional mandate and power of provinces as it pertains to health services. We have urgently requested that on behalf of Parliament, Speaker Thandi Modise, instructs the Parliamentary Legal Services to obtain a legal opinion on the bill. On Thursday, the Committee folded to our demands and there will be extensive legal scrutiny of the bill. Our alternative plan, Sizani, is a hybrid model, seek to achieve the following:

  1. It will be funded through the current budget envelop which includes the tax benefit currently afforded to medical aid clients;
  2. It would strengthen the role of primary healthcare in many communities;
  3. It would invest heavily in the provision of maternal and child health services, and the training and provision of healthcare professionals;
  4. It would reinforce the powers of provinces by ensuring they are adequately funded and equipped to provide quality healthcare to all;
  5. Through these interventions, all South Africans would have access to a quality health system that provides them with a standard package of care across all facilities;
  6. Medical aid companies would be used as a top up measure for those South Africans who choose to use them and who can afford to do so;
  7. Ultimately this system would increase competition, drive up quality, and afford every South African the choice of which medical provider they wish to use.

The DA has a workable alternative that will ensure all South Africans are provided with quality healthcare, without crippling the economy.

Road to 2021

South Africa has entered the space where we go from election to election, with little time to rest in between. This is illustrated by the fact that following the 2019 National and Provincial Elections, we have contested 24 by-elections, with success in the vast majority, and the need for reflection in others. There is another tranche of by-elections between now and the end of the year, most notably, all 15 wards in Maluti-a-Phofung municipality in the Free State. Between the 2016 Local Government Elections and the 2019 National and Provincial Elections, the DA showed growth in every ward in Maluti-a-Phofung, which bodes well for the upcoming by-elections on 28 August 2019.

Our public representatives are currently engaged in a focused ground campaign where they are winning back the confidence of voters we lost in 2019, while constantly engaging those who voted for us. We are strengthening our branches and we are recruiting new members every day. The work has begun on the ground as we build momentum towards the 2021 Local Government Elections.

In the build up to 2021, we are concerned by the capacity and impartiality of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). To date we have not received an update or correspondence regarding two key investigations into ANC conduct. One of the complaints dates back to the 2016 election, where the ANC ran a black-ops social media campaign. The other case relates to the Bosasa-sponsored ANC election “war room.” These matters cannot be allowed to gather dust, especially when they impact on South Africa’s democratic processes and we implore the IEC to act in this regard.

Moreover, the voters’ roll is of great concern. It is vital that the voters’ roll has the most accurate and up to date geographical information of voters in order to ensure the credibility of the election.

At the end of the last Federal Council, it was announced that James Selfe will step down as the head of both the Federal Executive and Federal Council in order to head up our Governance Unit. This unit will act as the Party’s direct line with our governments at an executive level. James has hit the ground running, and we will work to fully capacitate the office, to ensure that we have real-time information from DA-led governments so that we truly deliver on our commitment to job creation, clean governance, and the acceleration of basic service delivery.

Mayor Herman Mashaba

The Democratic Alliance is fully behind Mayor Herman Mashaba in the frivolous Motion of No Confidence (MONC) tabled by the ANC in the Johannesburg City Council. Throughout his term, Mayor Mashaba has prioritised service delivery to forgotten communities, rooted out corruption, created jobs and attracted investment, and channelled millions of freed up funds into building a city that works for all.

The Motion of No Confidence  tabled against Mayor Mashaba must be seen for what it is – an attempt by the ANC criminal syndicate to get their hands on the people’s money and reverse the gains made by Mashaba’s multi-party government.

Mayor Mashaba is a strong and capable leader who has the best interests of Johannesburg at heart. We call upon all Johannesburg residents to rally around Herman Mashaba on 22 August. The message to the ANC crooks is clear: ‘Hands off Mashaba!’. We do not say this for the sake of staying in government, we say so because we have made significant changes to better the lives of residents across the country’s economic capital.

In the time that the DA and Mayor Mashaba have led the multi-party government, the following key interventions have been made:

  • 44 000 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) job opportunities have been created;
  • Extended operating hours have been introduced at 22 clinics;
  • 1,500 Metro Police Officers have been recruited to ensure the safety of residents and to maintain order. Furthermore, regular updates are given on the state of crime and the interventions made in the City;
  • Over 5,000 cases of corruption worth more than R34 billion in transactions have been uncovered;
  • Just this week it was announced by the Household Satisfaction Survey that customer satisfaction with the city’s services has risen by 12 points to 73 in 2019 from 61;
  • For 2018/19 the City of Johannesburg attracted over R17-billion in investment.

We have full confidence that we will have the support of our coalition partners to successfully defeat this motion so that Mayor Mashaba can return his focus to delivering services to the people of Johannesburg.

DA Governments

Premier Winde’s Western Cape provincial government has been hard at work during its first 100 days in office. With its focus on job creation and economic growth, we welcome the establishment of an “Economic War Room”. The Western Cape continues to lead in job creation, with the province boasting an unemployment rate that is 14% below the national rate. Other achievements include:

  • Advertising the tender for the conducting of lifestyle audits on the entire Western Cape cabinet;
  • Introducing the Open Government First Thursday – an ability for citizens to engage directly with politicians and officials;
  • Starting the process of revising the Ministerial Handbook for a second time. The first review conducted ten years ago has already saved the province in excess of R100 million;
  • Conducting a “speed dating” event with mayors and municipals managers across the province, hosted the Premier’s Coordinating Forum (PCF). The purpose is for these individuals to learn from each other and share best practice;
  • Engaging with key stakeholders in the agricultural sector, business organisations and religious leaders.

FedEx considered the current situation in Tshwane and resolved to intensify our daily engagement with the political leadership. We have been given assurance that Mayor Mokgalapa will apply consequence management to employees of the city who caused damage during the recent unprotected strike.

Lastly, we continue our call for Mongameli Bobani to be removed as mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay as he is wholly unfit to hold the position. The DA has submitted a Motion of No Confidence in Bobani, which will be debated and voted upon in the coming weeks.

No more denying, Public Protector must go

Today’s ruling by the North Gauteng High Court on the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s  report into the Estina Dairy matter, makes it clear that Parliament can no longer delay the removal proceedings against her.

Judge Ronel Tolmay handed down a scathing judgment lamenting the Public Protector’s handling of the Estina matter, stating that:

  • She failed to fulfill her constitutional duties;
  • Her dereliction of duty in this matter was “more lamentable” than in the ABSA/Bankorp matter; and
  • She turned a blind eye to the poor.

Furthermore, the Court ruled that Mkhwebane personally pays legal costs of the Democratic Alliance and CASAC.

This ruling is an indictment on Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s competence. There is no more denying – the Public Protector is wholly unfit and improper to hold the office of such a crucial Chapter 9 body.

These bruising defeats are stacking up on a weekly basis, and the longer she stays at the helm of this institution, the more damage she will do.

In her almost three years in office, she has successfully tarnished the credibility, authority and independence of the Office of the Public Protector.

The DA respects the important role the Office of the Public Protector plays in strengthening South Africa’s democracy, however, we will not waver in holding an inept and problematic incumbent to account.

High Court ruling reaffirms questions about Mkhwebane’s fitness for office

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the Pretoria High Court granting President Cyril Ramaphosa an interim interdict to have the implementation of the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s remedial action against him suspended, pending a judicial review of the Bosasa report.

While the DA believes that the President has a case to answer for and that he must be held to account – we respect the Court’s ruling and will abide by this decision.

Our obligation is to the public and the Constitution. The rule of law is sacrosanct, and if the President believes he has done nothing wrong, then he is well within his rights to take this matter on review and to obtain an interdict.

Today’s ruling does, however, raise questions about Mkhwebane’s fitness for office and is a further blow to her credibility.

It cannot be that the Public Protector staggers from one defeat to the next on an almost weekly basis. The High Court decision reaffirms the DA’s position that Mkhwebane needs to be removed.

While we respect the authority of the Office of the Public Protector and the Constitutional role it serves, we have serious concerns over the competence and independence of the incumbent.

In her almost three years in office, she has on numerous occasions showed the public that she is wholly unsuitable for office.

The DA reiterates its call that Parliament expedite removal proceedings in Mkhwebane. The longer she remains in office, the more she will erode the nation’s faith in this very crucial Chapter 9 institution.

Ramaphosa must act on Public Protector findings and fire Gigaba

The DA welcomes the recommendation by the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, that President Cyril Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against Minister Malusi Gigaba for violating the Constitution and the Executive Ethics Code.

I lodged this complaint on 21 February 2018 not long after the Gauteng Division of the High Court found, in the matter of Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Home Affairs, that “there is no escaping the conclusion that [Malusi Gigaba] has deliberately told untruths under oath.” The judgement further noted that he had “committed a breach of the Constitution so serious that I could characterise it as a violation.”

In finding that my allegations against Gigaba is substantiated, the Public Protector has instructed the President to take action within 14 days and has instructed the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to refer him to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interests within the same time period.

The DA has repeatedly called for Constitutional delinquent Gigaba to be sacked, yet inexplicably he has remained a fixture in the cabinets of both Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. This is why we are challenging the President’s decision to appoint Gigaba to his Cabinet in court.

Ramaphosa’s retention of errand ministers and his failure to take action against them is further proof that the fundamental nature of the ANC has not changed since the recall of Jacob Zuma. The party remains an organisation whose leaders act with impunity because there is no genuine accountability.

We would like to remind the President that the findings of the Public Protector are binding unless challenged in court, and encourage him to finally put an end to Gigaba’s scandal-prone and frequently dishonest tenure.

Gigaba’s sacking will not rub out all his mistakes, but will finally bring to an end one of the most inglorious careers of any Cabinet minister.