Zuma should recuse himself and let Parliament do its Job

Following the Constitutional Court ruling to extend the contract between the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), the DA calls on President Jacob Zuma and Minister Bathabile Dlamini to recuse themselves from the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on social security and let Parliament do its job and oversee the implementation of the new contract.
The Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng in the court proceedings suggested that Dlamini is inept to do her job, stating that her handling of the social grants debacle “can only be characterised as an absolute incompetence”.
Dlamini’s “incompetence” is a reflection of the state of our current government, and neither Dlamini nor the President can, therefore, be trusted with overseeing this new contract. In fact, Dlamini can no longer be trusted with running an entire governmental department and must be fired immediately.
President Zuma’s decision to establish and chair an ICM, which includes the “inept” Minister of Social Development, to oversee the implementation of this contract, is a clear conflict of interest.
This is in light of reports last week that Zuma’s special adviser, Michael Hulley, met with Minister Bathabile Dlamini and high-ranking CPS officials to discuss the extension of the CPS contract.
Bathabile Dlamini has clearly bungled the entire process of institutionalising the payment of social grants. So desperate was Dlamini to ensure the extension of the invalid contract.
The ICM should take a step back and allow Parliament to perform its job, in line with Constitutional Court ruling.
This is why the DA has already requested Parliament to act and called for an ad hoc committee to be established to investigate the role of the Minister in the creation of this crisis, the continuation of grant payments and the way forward in order to avoid any further crises to this vital lifeline.
The DA also believes that the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, confirming the DA’s request to probe Dlamini, will shed light on the Minister’s involvement in this debacle.
The DA will continue the fight to ensure that those who were responsible for putting the livelihoods of 17 million vulnerable South Africans at risk are held to account.

Zuma has no plans to hold Minister Dlamini accountable for social grants crisis

The Democratic Alliance condemns, in the strongest terms, President Zuma’s unwillingness to hold the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, accountable for the social grants crisis that she has created. It is now clear that 17 million South Africans have been abandoned by the President and the ANC.
Today President Zuma told Parliament and the people of South Africa that there exists no social grants crisis. This indicates a President out of touch with reality.
He has no interest in making sure that Minister Dlamini is held to account for her astounding lack of action and utter contempt – not only for the Constitutional Court – but for the 17 million poor and vulnerable people who depend on social grants for their livelihood and survival. This is the very Minister who Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng yesterday called “incompetent” in discharging her responsibilities.
Zuma fails to see how Dlamini has sat on her hands for three years since the highest court in the land declared the CPS contract invalid and ordered that SASSA make alternative plans for the distribution of grants. Dlamini has been far too busy campaigning for the ANC to prioritise the payment of social grants.
Zuma fails to see how Dlamini wilfully misled Parliament when she claimed, in her budget vote speech on 5 May 2016, that SASSA will be ready to distribute grants come 1 April.
Zuma fails to see that Dlamini has failed in her responsibility as a Minister to answer 93% of Parliamentary questions relating to the crisis.
The President is flatly refusing to stand up for the 17 million South Africans. The DA will not hesitate to do so and that is why we have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request that she establish an Ad Hoc Committee to fully investigate this crisis and to hold those responsible to account.
The millions of South Africans who have been left to wonder if they will be able to put food on the table for their children and families after 1 April 2017 deserve nothing less.

DA Leader officially responds to the nomination of Justice Zondo as new Deputy Chief Justice

In terms of his obligation under section 174(3) of the Constitution, President Jacob Zuma wrote to me requesting my views and input on his decision to nominate Mr Justice Raymond Zondo as the new Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa.
I have today responded in writing to his request, outlining my support for the nomination of Mr Zondo, while drawing the President’s attention to a handful of concerns pertaining to the candidate which require further consideration.The full response can be accessed here.
We approach candidates for judicial appointment with one central thing in mind: Judicial independence is of paramount importance in any Constitutional democracy, but especially so in a young democracy which is still working to establish and entrench the institutions that make a democracy work for the people and limit the power of individuals.
To us, it is essential that appointees to the bench in South Africa observe, and evince, a genuine strict independence from the Executive, from party politics, from corporate interests, from organised religion, and all other external interests. In the South African context, this more often than not manifests itself in judges having to stand opposed to unfair, prejudicial or unconstitutional actions by a powerful state. This judges must be comfortable to do without fear or favour.
Furthermore, I appealed to the President, as head of the national executive, to take the lead in fostering an attitude of respect towards the courts, particularly the Constitutional Court – the highest in the land. The courts are not a burden to Constitutional democracy, but are given a particular Constitutional mandate to both protect and advance the Constitution and all that it embodies.

Social Grants Crisis: 28 days and counting since DA called for dodging Dlamini to be fired

It has been 28 days since the DA called on President Zuma to fire the Social Development Minister over her inexcusable mismanagement of the social grants crisis and still no action has been taken to hold her accountable for putting the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk.
Since then it has emerged that:
• SASSA has failed to answer questions put to them by the Constitutional Court regarding social grants and the CPS contract;
• SASSA knew they would not be ready to take over the distribution of social grants as far back as April 2016, a full year ago;
• Dlamini has taken every opportunity to block any alternative options that do not involve CPS;
• Three different legal opinions, which stated that SASSA should approach the Constitutional court, were ignored by Dlamini;
• The President’s special advisor, Michael Hulley, has been involved in ensuring CPS would continue to distribute social grants; and
• Dlamini has failed to answer 93% of parliamentary questions regarding the social grants crisis.
The DA have already written to the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request two investigations, one into the relationship between the Minister and CPS as there seems to be a possibility that Dlamini will, in some way, benefit from the CPS contract, and the second to investigate whether Dlamini wilfully mislead Parliament.
It is blatantly obvious that Dlamini is not fit for office and her contempt for the highest court in our country is matched only by her contempt for the most vulnerable people in our country.
The laundry list of failures by Dlamini is vast and it is high time the President puts the interests of the people and their wellbeing first.

Newly appointed Inspector General of Intelligence must immediately investigate dodgy D-G

The DA was pleased to learn that President Jacob Zuma finally appointed Dr Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe as the new Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI), ten days after we called on him to hurry up and approve the candidate endorsed by the National Assembly in November 2016.
This brings to an end to an excruciating two year wait to end the vacancy of a position created by section 210(b) of the Constitution and tasked with the oversight of South Africa’s intelligence services.
We now call on Dintwe to immediately prioritise an investigation into the appointment of Arthur Fraser as the Director-General of the State Security Agency in September 2016.
Fraser’s suitability for the position is highly questionable as he frequently courted controversy during his stint as the Deputy Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, the predecessor to the State Security Agency, involving himself in political intrigue and irregularities. In particular, Dintwe must urgently probe Fraser’s involvement in the ‘Principal Agent Network’, a covert project run by the NIA between 2007 and 2010 which was tainted by allegations of misspending and prompted an investigation into fraud and corruption by then-IGI, Faith Radebe.
It beggars belief that Fraser was even considered for the position, never mind being appointed to one of the most powerful positions in the intelligence services. Fraser’s dodgy appointment, along with State Security Minister David Mahlobo’s close relationship with organised crime figures and his strained relationship with the truth, is vast eroding the integrity of our intelligence services.
Dintwe has a duty and responsibility to investigate the growing dysfunction in the intelligence services, which has been operating without civilian oversight for far too long. We hope he has the courage to do this important work.

Justice for Esidimeni not a priority for Zuma and ANC

Tomorrow, 09 March 2017, marks three weeks since I wrote, on 16 February 2017, to President Jacob Zuma, urgently requesting that he use his constitutionally assigned authority to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Esidimeni tragedy, which resulted in the death of over 100 mentally ill patients at the hands of an uncaring ANC government in Gauteng.
Since writing to the President almost a month ago, I have only received an acknowledgment of receipt from the Presidency. This lengthy waiting period for a full response implies that the death of over 100 citizens, due to government negligence, is not a priority area for the Zuma-led ANC administration.
The ANC and Zuma cannot tip-toe around this tragedy and hope that it goes away. The reality is that the ANC has failed the most vulnerable in the country’s healthcare system, and the time for accountability is now. Like the Marikana Massacre, this tragedy requires a full probe that has the backing of the highest office in the land.
When the DA first raised this matter in 2015, the ANC government in Gauteng ignored the warnings of the DA Gauteng Shadow MEC of Health, Jack Bloom MPL, and again the ANC is ignoring the DA’s urgent request for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which will fully interrogate matters and seek justice on behalf of the victims and their families, who are still without real answers.
The inquest by the Health Ombudsman did not go far enough, therefore a Judicial Commission of Inquiry is necessary in order to ascertain what exactly transpired, how it was allowed to transpire, what national governments role was – and ought to have been, and to identify the shortcoming of the current system so as to avoid a catastrophe like this from occurring again. Moreover, the terms of reference of the Commission ought to be wide, so as to include an investigation into the treatment of mental health patients across the country.
The ANC and Zuma cannot continue to place political allegiances ahead of the lives of the people of South Africa. The people and accountability always come first.
A Judicial Commission of Inquiry will not bring back the victims, but that should not stop the DA from seeking accountability. Something went terribly wrong, and this will start the process of fixing it.

Zuma gone rogue on land reform, at odds with ANC and Cabinet

President Jacob Zuma’s dangerous comments on land reform this morning, while addressing the National House of Traditional Leaders, point to a man who has no clear vision or policies of his own, only dangerous rhetoric. The President has gone rogue on land reform, contradicting both his own Cabinet and the ANC’s Parliamentary Caucus; and he should be reined in by his Party and by Parliament.
President Zuma states that the current Constitutional provisions are a hindrance to meaningful land reform. This is just a dishonest attempt to excuse the ANC’s own failures in government. In fact, it is corruption and bad policy that have been the greatest inhibitors to land redistribution and reform.
This past week, ANC Members of Parliament and Members of the Executive also articulated this view, saying that the Constitution needed to be actually implemented and adhered to, rather than discarded. Just this morning ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu said that “blaming the Constitution for the embarrassingly slow pace of land reform is both disingenuous and scapegoating”. The President’s comments this morning are clearly not in keeping with the Constitution, or indeed with the policies of his own Party.
In the DA-run Western Cape, the Constitution has been used as an enabler for successful land reform, not an inhibitor. The DA has delivered over 75 000 title deeds to beneficiaries since 2009, making these beneficiaries owners of the homes and land that where they live. This is meaningful land reform. A workable rural strategy, with no corruption,  has resulted in a 62% success rate on all rural land reform farms. This is better than any other Province in the country, and there are budgetary provisions that have been made to ensure that even more is done.
This goes to show that with good governance, an understanding of the law and political will, land reform can meaningfully take place within the framework of the Constitution.
Today was a perfect opportunity for President Zuma to address the issue of land ownership in rural areas that fall under the jurisdiction of Traditional Leaders. He could have echoed the call made by King Zwelithini for security of tenure and title deeds for all rural residents living on communal land. But President Zuma is not interested in policies that help the people of South Africa. His only focus is on whipping up divisive emotions and explaining away the ANC’s corruption and failure to deliver.
The legacy of the 1913 Natives Land Act is still real for the majority of South Africans today, and President Zuma’s lawless and arbitrary contribution to this national issue will not work to redressing the land issue. President Zuma and the ANC do not have a vision for the people of South Africa and will do all they can to mislead the people. While the ANC s juggling contradictory positions, DA is working to ensure that we address the legacy of apartheid by building a better South Africa for all.