DA lays charges against Muthambi for political interference at the SABC

Please find soundbite in English and Zulu by Phumzile Van Damme MP and note more pictures can be found here, here and here

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) laid criminal charges against former Communications Minister current MP and Chairperson of the COGTA portfolio committee, Faith Muthambi.

This follows the release this week of the report of the “Commission of Inquiry into Interference in the Decision-making in the Newsroom of the South African Broadcasting Corporation,” which revealed that Muthambi violated the Broadcasting Act, when she on several occasions interfered in editorial decisions at the public broadcaster.

This means that Muthambi misled Parliament during the SABC Inquiry in 2016. During her testimony she explicitly said she “never” interfered in the editorial decision of the public broadcaster.

This is now the second time, following Parliament’s Legal Services in August 2017 finding that she has “tried to mislead Parliament”.

Her misleading of Parliament is in contravention of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act.

Section 17(2) of the Act states that a person who:

  • commits an offence […] is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or to both the fine and the imprisonment:

o (2) (b) (ii) to give false evidence before a House or Committee; and,

o (e) (ii) whether or not during examination under Section 15, willfully furnishes a House or committee with information, or makes a statement before it, which is false or misleading.

It is on this basis of a criminal act that the DA has today laid charges against Muthambi.

A complaint has already been laid regarding her unsuitability to be an MP following this and other misdeeds with Parliament’s Ethics Committee.

The DA firmly believes that it is paramount for Muthambi to face the full might of the law for her apparent violation of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act and for misleading Parliament during the SABC Inquiry.

The onus is now on the South Africa Police Services (SAPS) to deal with the former Minister and MP,  to investigate Muthambi without fear or favour. We will relentlessly pursue SAPS to ensure that this is not yet another criminal complaint against an ANC politician swept under the carpet.

The DA will continue to fight to ensure that the public interest always come first and that the SABC remains a public broadcaster, and not a platform for ANC corruption and wrongdoing. A fully independent SABC is in the interests of all South Africans.

DA to lay criminal charges against Faith Muthambi for political interference in the editorial policies of the SABC

Following the release today of the report into Political Interference at the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) revealing the interference of the then Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi in SABC editorial decisions, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will be laying criminal charges against Muthambi.

The Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Interference in the Decision-making in the Newsroom of the South African Broadcasting Corporation reveals that with regards to Muthambi:

  • “…evidence shows that from the year 2012 up until the year 2017, SABC Executives took instructions from people with no authority in the newsroom, for example, members of the SABC Board (Ellen Tshabalala) and the Minister for Communication (Faith Muthambi).

An example of Muthambi interference in the SABC’s editorial decisions includes how she insisted that her Constituency work for the ANC be covered. Evidence revealed how she insulted SABC crew members:

“When the crew caught up Muthambi told them to be fast – ‘or I will fire you, I will really fire you’. Then she picked on this young lady and told her she looked fat and that she wasn’t dressed appropriately. The journalist was wearing a nice shirt and a nice skirt.”

The findings of the Commission of Inquiry therefore indicate Muthambi not only violated the Broadcasting Act which establishes the SABC as an independent institution, but also that she misled Parliament during the SABC Inquiry in 2016. During her testimony she explicitly said she “never” interfered in the editorial decision of the public broadcaster.

Her misleading of Parliament is in direct contravention of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act, specifically with regards to Section 17(2) which states that a person who:

  • commits an offence […] is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or to both the fine and the imprisonment:
    • (2) (b) (ii) to give false evidence before a House or Committee; and,
    • (e) (ii) whether or not during examination under Section 15, willfully furnishes a House or committee with information, or makes a statement before it, which is false or misleading.

The findings in today’s report strengthens the findings made by Parliamentary Legal Services in August 2017 that she has “tried to mislead Parliament”.

The DA has laid a complaint with the Ethics Committee with regards to such violations by Muthambi while in office and her unsuitability to hold public office.

Given the fresh finding in today’s report, the DA will be laying criminal charges against Muthambi for her violation of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act for misleading Parliament during the SABC Inquiry.

The report also revealed that the ANC has “hovered” over the decisions made at the SABC. The DA believes that the current Board of the SABC must continue to enforce its independence. The report must serve as a stern warning to the ANC not to engage in political interference at the SABC.

The DA will continue to fight to ensure that public interests always come first and that the SABC remains a public broadcaster, and not a platform for ANC corruption and wrongdoing. A fully independent SABC is in the interests of all South Africans.

Withdrawal of Broadcasting Amendment Bill a step towards safeguarding SABC independence

Please find attached a soundbite in English by DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.

Today, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee of Communications was unanimous in a decision that the notorious Broadcasting Amendment Bill must be sent back to the Ministry.

The Bill, introduced by the then Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, sought to remove Parliament’s role in the appointment of the SABC’s non-executive board members and vest it in the Minister of Communications. The Bill also aimed to reduce the number of the non-executive board members from 12 to 9; reduce the quorum from 9 to 7.

The DA welcomes this decision, and has since its introduction maintained it would see the last vestige of independence removed from the SABC, paving the way for it to become a ANC-government propaganda tool.

We trust that the current Minister of Communications, Nomvula Mokonyane, will carefully consider the Bill, and re-table one that seeks to strengthen, not weaken the SABC’s independence.

Ramaphosa has the power to sanction Ministers who waste public funds on bloated private offices

With the increasing cost of living, a stagnant economy, and almost 10 million unemployed South Africans, the packed private offices of the failing ANC- led government is set to cost R1.2 billion per annum by 2020/21.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has repeatedly promised to address government excesses, yet he has failed to address this issue with any seriousness.

By immediately signing the revised Ministerial Handbook, President Ramaphosa can ensure those who do not adhere to the stipulated 10 people per private office are held to account and properly sanctioned.

While Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo, has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the number of people appointed to Minister’s private offices, she too must be held to account given that she took a similar stance when she was Minister of Home Affairs.

Between October 2017 and February 2018, Minister Dlodlo’s private office at Home Affairs contained 16 employees instead of the 10 allowed and this cost the public more than R11 million.

The Ministerial Handbook currently recommends that Ministers’ offices be limited to 10. However, Ministers such as former Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi, who had 26 people in her office, have blatantly ignored this.

These actions clearly show that the ANC is not sympathetic to the plight of many South Africans but only driven by the desire to advance their own motives of cronyism.

The daily struggle to put food on the table is only getting harder, with millions not able to do this. South Africans should not be forced to tighten their belt when the ANC government is seemingly doing the exact opposite and passing the cost on to ordinary citizens.

Deliberation on State Capture inexplicably removed from Comms Committee schedule

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

Renewal requires a leaner, capable Cabinet

I congratulate President Ramaphosa on his commitment to a smaller and more capable Executive. I welcome reports that the President has heeded our calls for a smaller, less wasteful Cabinet. We believe it is entirely possible for the Executive to function even more effectively with a Cabinet of around 15 Ministers.
Now is also the time to make the Cabinet more capable by removing those Ministers who have failed the country over the past few years. President Ramaphosa should use the imminent reshuffle of the Zuma Cabinet as an opportunity to effect deep cuts to the profligacy and waste of the bloated Cabinet, and to rid the Cabinet of many of the people who propped up Zuma for so long.
A new era of hopefulness and renewal cannot be achieved with the same people who were at the centre of nearly every Jacob Zuma scandal. The following Zupta Ministers should be relieved of office:

  • Malusi Gigaba has, after Zuma himself, done the most damage to the economy. Whether naturalising the Guptas whilst Home Affairs Minister or facilitating the capture of state owned entities as Public Enterprises Minister and putting them in the hands of the Guptas, he is long overdue for being fired. More immediately, to have him present the Main Budget on Wednesday would undermine President Ramphosa’s ‘new broom’ spirit and the credibility of his turnaround plan;
  • Mosebenzi Zwane brought the mining industry to its knees with policy designed to maximise looting. Whether as the Mining Minister who oversaw the sale of Optimum Coal Mine to the Guptas, or as the MEC for Agriculture in the Free State who conceived and enabled the Vrede Dairy Farm heist of R200 million of public money;
  • Lynne Brown has presided over the near death of Eskom. As someone who protected Gupta appointees on boards, did the Gupta’s will, helped them loot millions from the public purse and lied in her testimony during the Eskom inquiry about having met the Guptas;
  • David Mahlobo allowed Zuma’s parallel mafia state to flourish. He is the Minister who did his best to rush through Zuma’s nuclear deal with the Russians, the Minister of State Security who was closely associated with rhino horn trade, oversaw the signal jamming in the 2015 SONA and is close to convicts and gangsters;
  • Bathabile Dhlamini is responsible for the ongoing social grants crisis that continues to put millions of recipients and the country at severe risk and another key Zuma lackey and cheerleader;
  • Nomvula Mokonyane has cleaned out the Department which is now practically crippled under the weight of corruption, incompetence and maladministration. Minister Mokonyane has deployed corporate warlord, Dudu Myeni, to head up the Umgeni and Mhlathuze waterboards, and showed disdain for the true state of the economy in her flippant comment about “picking up” the Rand;
  • Faith Muthambi oversaw the near-destruction of the SABC as Communications Minister. Minister Muthambi allowed Hlaudi Motsoeneng to run the SABC like his personal fiefdom and was found to be incompetent and guilty of misleading Parliament, which is a criminal offence; and
  • Des van Rooyen is another Gupta stooge who deliberately misled Parliament about his meetings with the Guptas. Minister van Rooyen was prepared to be the mechanism through which the keys to Treasury could be handed to the Guptas.

President Ramaphosa has an opportunity to demonstrate his true commitment to what he said on Friday night by ridding the Executive of those Ministers whose presence in the government has only ever been a source of scandal and failure.
The promise of ‘renewal’ requires that Malusi Gigaba, Mosebenzi Zwane, Lynne Brown, David Mahlobo, Bathabile Dhlamini, Nomvula Mokonyane, Faith Muthambi and Des van Rooyen be relieved of office as soon as possible.

PSC agrees to DA request to investigate Minister Faith Muthambi

The DA welcomes the decision taken by the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) to launch an investigation into possible abuse of office by the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi.

See the PSC letter here.

On 2 February 2018, we wrote to the PSC asking that an investigation be conducted to test allegations that Minister Muthambi had expanded her private office to 40 people, some of whom include family and friends.

The PSC is mandated to investigate personnel practices in the Public service in terms of section 196 (4)(f)(i) of the constitution. The allegations against Muthambi are such that she may have violated the Ministerial handbook; which only makes provision for 10 appointees in the Ministers’ private office.

For far too long, Minister Muthambi has ‘got away with murder’ in her brazen attempt to turn the Ministry into an employment agency for the politically connected few. Money that could have been better spent creating a more accessible Public Service, was diverted to hire excess food aides, drivers and administration assistants.

Minister Muthambi’s behaviour has been enabled by an ineffectual leader of government business, Cyril Ramaphosa, who has turned a blind eye while the rot festered.

The DA looks forward to a timely conclusion of this investigation and appropriate sanction that would reign in Minister Muthambi’s abuse of office to please the politically connected few.

DA requests that the Public Service Commission investigates Muthambi for alleged abuse of office

The Democratic Alliance has written to the Public Service Commission (PSC) asking that they launch an investigation into possible abuse of office by the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi.

This follows allegations that her private office has grown to 40 people, some of which include friends and family. Among these controversial appointments are Cliff Bopape who was hired as a ‘protocol officer’ while Jack Matlala former Limpopo MPLs became her speechwriter with an two spokespersons allegedly in her office.

Worse still, she has been accused of purging her department, most notably her former Director General Mashwahle Diphofa.

The allegations facing Minister Muthambi are serious and a direct contravention of the Ministerial Handbook which mandates her to only have 10 appointments in her private office.

The PSC, as the statutory body empowered to investigate personnel practices the public service, must take urgent steps to test the veracity of these allegations. South Africans need full disclosure on who is hired to work in Minister Muthambi’s office, their role and the number of staff members thereof.

It is not enough for the PSC to take her on her word that the allegations against her are not true. A formal inquiry must be instituted to ensure that these supposed acts of impropriety are investigated.

The DA is confident that the PSC will accede to our request and the allegations against Muthambi are investigated in transparent manner without fear or favor.


As former Communications Minister confirms Multichoice allegations, ICASA & Parliament must act

Honourable Chairperson,
The DA will not be supporting this report, for one main reason, the Minister’s recommendation for the appointment of Rubben Mohlaloga as Chairperson of the Council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
It is our belief that cadre deployment is one of the main causes of the problems facing state-owned entities, and with Mohlaloga having previously served as an MP for the ANC and a Deputy President of the ANCYL, he is just that.
We do hope that Mr Mohlaloga will prove us wrong, and will demonstrate leadership that will be independently-minded, and focused on taking ICASA to greater heights.
The biggest task facing Mr Mahlaloga will be an inquiry the DA has requested into payments made by Multichoice to ANN7 and the SABC.
Yesterday, the DA revealed SABC board minutes dated 6 June 2013 suggesting that Multichoice sought to pay the SABC R100 million a year for its 24-hour news channel in exchange for the public broadcaster’s political influence over digital migration.
This notion has since been confirmed by the former Minister of Communications, Yunus Carrim, who is quoted in the media today stating that: “…Multichoice was seeking to change government policy to serve its own interests”, and he “…felt it wrong for a private company to seek to buy government policy in this way so that it could retain its 98% dominance of the pay-TV sector”. 
This is very serious indeed, and ICASA must exercise the very broad powers the ICASA Act gives it to investigate this. It is ICASA’s duty, to take this matter up in the public interest, and in particular, on behalf of those who use the very little they earn to fork our subscription fees for DSTV. It cannot be that their hard-earned money is used by Multichoice for nefarious deeds.
In addition, it is important for us in Parliament to do the same.
The Communications Committee must discharge of its duty to conduct an inquiry into allegations of State Capture relating to the former Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi as it was requested by the Deputy Speaker.
We believe that in that inquiry the following people must be included in those summoned:

  • Former Communications Ministers, Faith Muthambi, Yunus Carrim and Dina Pule
  • Former CEO of Multichoice, Imtiaz Patel
  • Multichoice’s executive chairman, Nolo Letele
  • Naspers CEO, Bob van Dijk
  • Former SABC board Chairperson, Ellen Tshabalala; and
  • Former CEO Lulama Makhobo

We look forward to feedback from ICASA, and also, the Minister of Communications, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane who has thus far remained silent on the SABC and Multichoice matter, and indeed, her views about the encryption of set-top boxes. What will it be Minister? Encrypted or unencrypted?

Public Protector can no longer ignore request for Set-Top Box probe

The Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, can no longer ignore the DA’s request for a probe into the procurement process of the government-sponsored set-top-boxes (STB) – a key component of the broadcast digital migration (BDM) process.
The DA has written to the Public Protector once again to request that she proceeds with the investigation without further delay as it seems the BDM process is marred by irregularity and corruption, which needs to be urgently investigated.
The DA’s initial request to the Public Protector, acknowledged on 8 August 2017, was for her office to:

  • Probe the procurement process for the government- subsidised STBs;
  • Investigate alleged tender irregularities and possible unlawful decision-making;
  • Determine whether the entire BDM process needs to be cancelled and re-run; and
  • Recommend disciplinary action or actions by SAPS or other investigatory bodies to further probe the process and pursue possible criminal acts.

Yet, three months later and there seems to be little to no progress.
This past week, the GuptaLeaks revealed how Tony Gupta acted as a channel between MultiChoice – a key protagonist in the STB encryption battle – and former Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, to change the BDM policy in MultiChoice’s favour, which she did.
Today it has come to light that the Hawks raided 13 of the 26 firms involved in the STB tender, following a 10-month investigation by the Competition Commission into collusion in the process.
These revelations, in conjunction with the Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) investigation into the process clearly indicate serious procurement irregularities or criminal acts had been committed and must been acted upon.
The PWC report that was forwarded to the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, who has administrative authority of the BDM programme while the Minister of Communications has executive authority over it, has not been acted upon because “it is a draft”.
Clearly, there’s something in the report that Minister Muthambi and Telecommunications Minister, Siyabonga Cwele, do not want the public to see.
Repeated requests to the Chairpersons of the Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services portfolio committees to hold two-day hearings into the entire BDM process have also failed to materialise, despite being included in the committee programmes of each term this year.
In August 2017 USAASA applied to the North Gauteng High Court for a declarator order to declare the tender process unlawful and to set aside the purchase orders as there were irregularities – and possibly criminal acts – in the awarding of the tenders. The matter is still to be heard.
The DA remains resolute, and we will not be deterred by the obvious tactics to sweep the irregularities and corruption in the BDM process under the rug.