Ramaphosa chooses ANC over SA

This evening, in his 2020 SONA speech, President Ramaphosa was forced into making a choice he has been putting off since assuming the office of the President two years ago. He was forced to choose between saving his country from economic disaster and saving his party from internal war. And tonight he chose the ANC over South Africa.

I am sure this was no easy decision for the President. No one wants to be remembered as the man on whose watch the country’s economy collapsed and millions of people were forced into hardship and suffering. But similarly, he would not want his legacy to be the weakening and possible split of the former liberation movement.

A bold president, however, would have chosen his country every time. Cyril Ramaphosa chose his party.

This SONA speech was his moment. The perfect storm of a stalled economy, rampant unemployment, fast-disappearing investment, shrinking tax revenue and a failed state-owned power utility has meant that this decision could no longer be kicked down the road, as the President has been doing these past two years. We have reached the proverbial D-day for introducing the critical reforms needed to stave off an economic collapse.

President Ramaphosa knows this urgency, and he also knows exactly what needs to be done. Since the start of his term as president – and particularly in recent months – economists, ratings agencies, opposition parties and even his own Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, have been telling him the same thing: Either you make bold economic reforms – even if this politically difficult – or you sign the death warrant of our economy.

The most urgent of these reforms are:
Breaking Eskom’s monopoly, closing the tap of taxpayer bailouts and keeping government’s hands off pension savings
Relaxing our stifling labour legislation to enable labour-absorbing businesses to succeed.
Reviving investor confidence by immediately walking away from the destructive populist policies of Expropriation Without Compensation and the National Health Insurance.

These were the low-hanging fruits that would have made the big difference. Without these critical interventions, our chances at rescuing our free-falling economy become very slim indeed. There are, however, many other things the President should also have announced tonight, such as doing away with the elite enrichment scam that is BBBEE, fixing basic education by curtailing the power of SADTU, and ensuring the safety of South Africans by devolving SAPS power to the provinces and metros.

But in each of these instances there is an interest within the ruling ANC alliance that was considered more important than the fate of 58 million South Africans.

In the case of Eskom and the electricity crisis, the President made some moves in the right direction, but stopped far short of what was required. Eskom remains the biggest threat to our nation, and the emergency measures announced tonight simply confirm what we all know: Eskom is dead. The ANC’s insistence on trying to resurrect it by raiding the pensions of government employees is madness. There is no “financially sustainable” way to throw a quarter of a trillion Rand of pension savings down a hole that has no bottom.

So while we welcome the announcement of plans to add additional energy to the grid, promises to process applications by commercial and industrial users to produce their own power within 120 days, as well as the decision to back the DA’s long-fought proposal to allow municipalities to procure their own power from independent producers, this is simply not enough.

What the President should have announced tonight was not only the breaking up of the utility into three separate entities – that of generation, transmission and distribution – but also the privatisation of parts of it to settle its debt. He should have announced a rationalisation of its bloated workforce, and he should have vowed to keep his hands of the pension savings of hard-working South Africans.

Instead the president chose to side with its union partners. He chose to protect the monopoly of the failed power utility at the expense of ordinary South Africans, who now have to pay three times for this failure: Once through the tax-funded bailouts, once through hiked electricity tariffs, and once through load-shedding and its resultant effects on the economy.

The president also chose to protect the financial interests of the unions who would stand to lose out if any of their members lost their jobs at the overstaffed Eskom. The irony of protecting the jobs of the same people whose pension savings he is planning to raid to prop up Eskom seems to have been lost on him.

We saw this same party-ahead-of-country decision playing out in virtually every other decision or omission of this SONA speech.

What the country, and particularly the 10.4 million South Africans without work, desperately needed was bold reforms to our draconian labour legislation that would allow businesses to thrive and absorb labour. For instance, there is no logical reason that Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises should have to jump through all the onerous and business-killing labour legislation, other than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

The business community have been begging this ANC government to help them solve our massive unemployment crisis, and President Ramaphosa knows exactly what needs to be done to free up our labour regime. But still he chose to side with the economic insiders – those with jobs as opposed to the millions on the outside – and maintain our hostile labour laws.

The same can be said for the economy-killing policies of Expropriation Without Compensation and the National Health Insurance. Both of these are guaranteed to have disastrous consequences for our economy and our people, yet the president and his government remain attracted to them like doomed moths to a flame.

In the case of the NHI, this is a plan we don’t need and certainly can’t afford. The additional tax burden this will require will surely slam a nail in the coffin of our already-dwindling tax revenue, not to mention the inevitable drain on our doctors and nurses as they leave our shores to flee the NHI. Furthermore, nothing in the NHI proposal speaks to the real challenges of healthcare infrastructure failure, skills shortages and the shortage of life-saving medicines.

Similarly, EWC will kill off all future investment in South Africa. A country that can’t guarantee secure property rights cannot possibly convince anyone that their investment will be safe. The moment you start picking and pulling at the thread of property rights, you start to unravel the entire economy. This is precisely what happened to Zimbabwe when they went down this road.

President Ramaphosa knows all of this. He knows that NHI will ruin healthcare in South Africa, both private and public. And he knows that EWC will shut the door on all investment, thereby hastening our runaway unemployment and our economic collapse. But yet he is prepared to persist with both these schemes, not because they are in the interest of the people of this country, but because they offer a cheap and easy tool for his party to win populist support. ANC first, South Africa last.

Tonight was his chance to be bold and courageous – to be the President of South Africa and not just the President of the ANC. To turn to his party and say, “This won’t be comfortable, but there are some things we have to do for the sake of our country.” But when push came to shove, President Ramaphosa simply could not do that.

Many South Africans were shocked back in 2015 when then President Zuma said, “I argued one time with someone who said the country comes first and I said, as much as I understand that, I think my organisation, the ANC, comes first.” It seemed treasonous for a President to unashamedly suggest that the interests of his party should trump those of his country. But Zuma was no aberration in his party. This attitude of “ANC first, South Africa last” is part of the DNA of the ruling party. President Ramaphosa’s decision to save the ANC at the expense of South Africa comes as no surprise.

His choice this evening could not have been simpler: Save your country from near certain economic collapse, or save your party and its alliance partners from a possible split down the middle.

This evening, with the eyes of the world on him and the hopes and expectations of every single South African resting on his shoulders, President Ramaphosa said, “Sorry, but I choose the ANC”.

We have an opportunity to rebuild the DA. Let’s use it.

If you stand alongside John Steenhuisen, as he takes the helm of the Official Opposition, then please consider contributing R21 to our campaign to win more municipalities in 2021! Click here to donate online now. 

My fellow Democrats,

The DA is not in a fight over ideology or a fight for power. Our fight is to push back against the tide of poverty that has engulfed the lives of so many men, women and children in our country.

Our fight is for the prosperity and the dignity of millions of South Africans who are still waiting for their freedom.

I know that the DA has both the people and the ideas to win this fight. That’s why it is critical that we waste no time in turning our setback into a comeback.

As we set off on this path, I want you to know exactly what you can expect from me.

I will shoot straight. I will not have different conversations with different people. My views will be consistent, and you will always know where you stand.

My door will be open to you at all times. And you should always call me by my first name, John. We are colleagues and we are public servants. We are not a party of leader worship and deferential titles.

The DA is about big principles, not big personalities.

We must also be a party built on organic authenticity. There are no shortcuts in this and we cannot fake it. We need to put down genuine roots in every community, or else we will have no hope of winning hearts there.

Members and activists, and the branches they form, must lie at the very core of the Democratic Alliance. These structures are the umbilical cord that connects our party to communities.

Then the DA must be a party that defines itself in government.

First and foremost DA governments must be compassionate. They must care deeply for the communities they serve, and this compassion must always reflect in how we deliver.

The “DA difference” can’t just be a slogan – there has to be a clear difference in the lived experience where we govern.

This has to be so obvious and so consistent that people cannot help but talk about it.

But importantly, the DA also has to be a party grounded in values, and not one led by whatever happens to be the populist cause of the day. Just because we’re at the centre of our political landscape, doesn’t mean we must try to be everything to everyone.

The DA must be a fixed and steadfast signpost that South Africans can depend on, and not a weathervane spinning in the ever-changing wind.

Of all the major parties, we’re the only one fighting for a truly non-racial South Africa, where real equality of opportunity will mean we won’t have to try and engineer equality of outcome.

The DA also believes that the legacy of the apartheid must be corrected through targeted redress.

Apartheid was a brutal and unjust system that continues to haunt the lives of millions of South Africans two and a half decades after it came to an end. Those who still suffer the effects of past discrimination need to benefit from redress.

But we don’t need to resort to crude race classification to do so. We can target redress policies directly at the poorest in our society, almost all of whom are black.

The fact is, 25 years of race-based redress policies have made things far worse for the poor and the unemployed. Redress must actually improve the lives of poor South Africans, rather than just enrich the elite.

It is spurious to argue that only race-based policies can lift people out of poverty. That is a false choice.

We will be a party marked by generosity, empathy, and deep commitment to fighting poverty. And we will be a party that sees every person for their true worth and limitless potential, not just as a demographic statistic.

If liberalism is about individual freedoms, then our number one priority is to fight for the substantive freedom of all South Africans. Because you cannot live a life you value if you are hungry, poorly educated, live in unhealthy conditions, and fear for your safety. 

This is why the fight against poverty has to lie at the very heart of everything we do.

The DA I lead will not waver in this. We will pursue this goal of fighting poverty wherever we are.

We will do so in opposition.

We will do so in government.

We will do so wherever we have an activist or a ward councillor.

We will carry on fighting to improve people’s lives until the results are undeniable and they have no choice but to talk about us.

This will take time, because there are no shortcuts when it comes to building trust.

When we do, ours will be a story that cannot be ignored.

That is my vision for the DA – a party built through organic authenticity.

A party whose actions speak far louder than its words.

A party whose achievements in government say it all.

A party with values as strong and immovable as bedrock.

I am asking every one of you to commit to this vision too. If we all agree on what we’re fighting for, then whatever other differences we might have becomes irrelevant.

Thank you.

Choose a government that can keep you safe from criminals

The following remarks were made today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a public meeting in Kleinvlei, Cape Town. Maimane was joined by DA Western Cape Premier Candidate, Alan Winde, and Team One SA Spokesperson on Crime, John Steenhuisen, and Team One SA Spokesperson on Women, Nomafrench Mbombo.

Fellow South Africans,

I want to start off by strongly condemning the xenophobic attacks that are taking place in KZN and other parts of our country. Violence must have no place in our society. Not against fellow South Africans, and not against our brothers and sisters from other African nations.

Our stagnant economy has left many South Africans angry, fearful and frustrated, but innocent, law-abiding foreign nationals who play be our rules should never pay the price for bad government that is holding South Africa back.

It is always the innocent who suffer most. I know the price that communities like yours have had to pay because of gangs and drugs.

I know the heartbreak so many families have already had to endure at the hands of criminals who have taken over their neighbourhoods and terrorised their children. I know what the killings, the violence and the drug addiction does to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters. And I know it is so often the innocent who pay the price.

I have just spoken this morning to a family whose lives have been ripped apart by the senseless murder of their young son by gangsters here. He had nothing to do with their gang. He had no part in their life of violence and crime. And yet he was brutally murdered by them.

This is the worst nightmare for any mother or father – to learn that their child lost his life so young, and for nothing, at the hands of thugs who don’t follow rules or fear the law.

And something like this happens every single day in communities across the Western Cape. Last year 808 people lost their lives in this province to gang-related murders.

Cape Town and the Western Cape are under siege from gangs, and yet the ANC government just looks the other way. It simply does not care. National government controls all aspects of SAPS – all station resourcing, all appointments, all police officer allocation and all specialised units – but they have just washed their hands of the gang and drug violence in this province.

They sit up in Gauteng, miles from the lived reality of the people who are under daily attack here, and they make terrible decisions that have a profound effect on your lives.

The DA has been asking for years for a fair allocation of police officers to gang and drug-ridden communities in the province, but still the ANC government turns a blind eye and continues to under-resource these areas.

The DA has been asking for years for the reintroduction of the specialised narcotics and gang units, which the ANC themselves disbanded. Don’t be fooled by their recent announcement of new specialised units. No new police officers have been appointed. They simply pulled officers from somewhere else, leaving a hole there. This was done just for show, ahead of the May election.

This is simply not good enough. The people of the Western Cape should not be made to suffer at the hands of a national government that cannot and will not keep them safe.

I am here today to tell you: enough is enough. You shouldn’t have to put up with gangsters and drug dealers in your neighbourhood, in your streets and outside your schools.

You shouldn’t have to hide in your homes and pray that these thugs pass you by. You shouldn’t have to fear the bullets of their crossfire, or fear your children being recruited into their gangs or sold their drugs.

This is your community, not theirs. If anyone should be running and hiding, it is the gangsters.

Fellow South Africans, in communities such as this one, we all know that it is the women and the children and the most vulnerable in our society who are impacted most. And often, the communities know exactly who the criminals are, but they are too scared to come forward, because they don’t have a policing system that will work with them.

Communities need to be able to partner with the police effectively. This is the only way we can stop criminals. Together we can beat them. Together we can fight for your right to live safe and peaceful lives here in Kleinvlei, and in all communities across this province.

The Cape Town Metro Police partnered effectively with the community to bring down crime levels in the inner city by 90%. I say it again, we can only do this together. That’s why the DA believes passionately that we need to decentralise policing powers.

The DA will continue to fight for a Provincial Police Service, so that decisions that affect the safety of communities in this province can be made right here in the Western Cape

We will continue to fight for the introduction of proper, well-resourced specialised narcotics and gang units here in the Western Cape, and not just pre-election window dressing.

We will continue to fight for a fair allocation of officers and other resources to the police stations in these gang-ridden areas.

But the biggest difference we can make is in national government. Because that is where we will be able to shape the policy to make every community in South Africa safe from criminals.

We know that SAPS is currently severely under-trained, under-staffed, under-resourced and under-equipped. Our plan will address all of these critical issues. A DA national government will completely transform SAPS into an honest and professional service, staffed only by those committed to serve and protect.

We will appoint only the best, fit-for-purpose people to positions of leadership. The days of deployed cadres in SAPS whose only loyalty is to the ANC will be gone for good.

We will actively recruit police officers with a passion for policing, and we will ensure that all new recruits undergo extensive training. Where necessary, we will retrain officers and we will increase the number of specialist officers and detectives.

Provinces with a proven capability will be allowed to take on the responsibility of managing policing in that province.

We will immediately slash the budget for VIP protection services, and shift this money to the protection of people like you in communities such as this.

We will institute a semi-independent drug-busting force within SAPS which can target gangs and drug-related crimes, and we will create specialised units aimed specifically at things like rural safety, sexual offenses, organised crime and missing persons.

A DA government will ensure that law and order is maintained in our communities, and we will do so by seeing to it that effective arrests are followed by effective prosecutions and convictions.

This is the safe and peaceful South Africa that I want to build. And to do so, I am going to need your help.

Together we need to fire the government that has abandoned you and left you at the mercy of gangsters. In its place we need to install a government with both the will and the plan to keep you safe in your homes, and to keep gangsters in jail, where they belong.

We can’t have parents burying their sons and daughters. We can’t have young children, not even teenagers yet, lured to the life of a gangster. We can’t have deadly drugs flooding our streets and our schools. That is not the South Africa of our dreams.

Let us stand up as one and say: No more! These street belong to the people of this community, and not the criminals. If the ANC government can’t keep you safe, you need to vote for a government that will.

In next month’s elections you can either choose five more years under this failed ANC government, or you can choose a South Africa under a DA-led government where your children have a future, and where you can reclaim your streets from the gangsters and drug dealers.

Join me on 8 May as we choose to build one safe and prosperous South Africa for all.

Metrorail is letting the people of the city down – urgent intervention needed

This morning at 6am Cape Town Mayor-elect, Dan Plato, together with City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee Member of Social Services and Safety and Security, JP Smith, and the DA’s Team One SA Spokesperson on Crime, John Steenhuisen MP met at Mitchells Plain train station to catch a train from there to Cape Town to inspect the safety conditions in the run-up to the City, Prasa and the Western Cape Government’s deployment of additional safety officers on the trains.

However, almost an hour later, no train had arrived and the leaders engaged with commuters about what they have to endure on a daily basis before they headed back to Cape Town by car.

Mitchells Plain train station has become a “ghost station”; Hundred of commuters queue to take a taxi after the train once again did not arrive.

It is clear that the management of Metrorail has reached a point of no return.

It is ludicrous that on a Monday morning, there was no train travelling from this densely-populated area and people had to desperately make use of alternative, more expensive transport to get to their places of work.

Plato said: “Today, I witnessed first-hand the frustrations, commuters have to endure on a daily basis. Commuters has completely lost faith in the management of Metrorail due to trains not arriving on time or simply not arriving at all – as was the case this morning. The Mitchells Plain station, like many other train stations in and around the Cape Town metro region has become “ghost stations” which in turn is a strain on the effectiveness of service delivery in the City of Cape Town.”

Listen to soundbite here.

Commuters no longer rely on Metrorail to get them from home to work and back. The failure of Metrorail to ensure trains arriving on time, has led to commuters having to resort to alternative transport to get to work and back. Many train commuters have to use taxis or busses now to get to work, which has costs implications on train commuters of R250 or more on a monthly basis. This is simply unaffordable for most South Africans.

Watch a video of regular commuter, Rushqah Davis, sharing her daily frustration with the train system here.

With regard to the failing management of safety and security at Metrorail, we again saw last week, with the burning of trains at the Cape Town Station, the need for intervention to take control of this system. The continued arson attacks on our transport system has had a massive economic impact not only Metrorail, but also on train commuters.

John Steenhuisen and JP Smith engaging with commuters.

The people that continue to suffer are however ordinary South Africans. Rail remains the only truly affordable transportation in the era of record fuel prices. Yet the system has been brought to its knees by widespread arson attacks and lack of accountability from the national government. Until the rot is sorted out at the top, commuters in and around Cape Town will continue to suffer due to a lack of action on the part of Minister Nzimande.

Only the DA-led City of Cape Town can sort out the mess at Metrorail created by the failing ANC national government.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba costs tax payers nearly R900,000 in legal fees for Fireblade case

In response to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen, the Department of Home Affairs has confirmed that R874 199,25 of tax payers’ money has been spent so far on Minister Malusi Gigaba’s legal fees in the Fireblade Aviation (Pty) Ltd v Minister of Home Affairs matter.

It is absolutely unacceptable that Minister Gigaba’s ongoing involvement in the Fireblade Aviation matter will only continue to incur legal fees as he attempts to overturn the damning findings of the High Court which concluded that he lied under oath and violated the Constitution.

Thus far, Minister Gigaba has lost his appeal to a full bench of the High Court, a further appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal and it’s highly likely that his current bid to have the Constitutional Court hear the matter will also fail. The amount of legal costs incurred by the Department of Home Affairs to protect a constitutional delinquent will only continue to escalate has he needlessly pursues this matter at the expense of tax payers.

It is simply not enough for President Cyril Ramaphosa to express “great concern” or “give serious attention” to Minister Gigaba’s unlawful conduct – the damning findings and escalating legal costs demands that President Ramaphosa immediately intervene and take action against the Minister.

The DA has already laid a formal complaint with the Public Protector requesting that she investigate Minister Gigaba’s conduct in the matter in light of the serious findings of the High Court. We will continue our engagements with the Public Protector to ensure that her investigation into Minister Gigaba is now expedited so that he can be held to account.

Parliament must be the watchman on the walls of our democracy

The following end of year farewell speech was delivered today by the DA’s Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen MP, in Parliament.
Madam Speaker,
Another year has passed as quickly as the last. 2017 has been a tumultuous year, not only for this Parliament but for our South Africa as well:
In February Minister Dlamini brought SASSA to the brink of collapse imperilling the lives of the 17 million of our countrymen and women who rely on this important social safety net.
In March, The President, for the second time, dumped the country into crisis when he reshuffled his cabinet, removing finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas together with 20 other changes that sent the markets crashing. Many couldn’t work out what was behind these changes but as the State Capture dots began to be joined the motives became clear for all to see.
In May, the #Guptaleaks laid bare the sheer scope and scale of State Capture, revealing the rot at the heart of government and exposing the Billions of Rands of the people’s money looted from the public purse in the biggest smash and grab in our democratic history.
In August, the President survived his eighth motion of no confidence, and with the secret ballot having been granted the house witnessed the largest backbench rebellion with 177 members of this house voting in favour of removing the President from office.
In October, the Finance Minister tabled a budget full of doom and gloom but not a single solution, policy shift or bold initiative to get us out of the mess or create jobs for the 9.8 Million of our fellow South Africans who do not have the dignity of a job.
In November, the President was permitted to blatantly ignore out of a straightforward question on the order paper, which his office had for 16 days, and with not even as much as a concern or flurry from the Presiding officer that the effectiveness of this house and its primary function was being grossly undermined right under his very nose.
And as we head into December we do so as an economy that has been junked by the ratings agencies because the governing party that is so completely incoherent that South Africans and the international community have lost hope in the ANC’s ability to get their act together, even after their conference.
We find ourselves exiting 2017 with Mr Zuma still in the Union Buildings, the downgraded President of a downgraded economy.
But despite all this, there have been some highlights:

  • The stellar work done by the Ad-Hoc Committee on the SABC board enquiry.
  • The portfolio committee on social development and SCOPA’s handling of the social grants crisis.
  • The decision of the Speaker to allow a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence.
  • The portfolio committee on Public Enterprises ESKOM enquiry.
  • The consensus that has characterized our work in programming and the chief whips forum.
  • The terrific celebrations we held around our Constitution

Watchmen on the walls of democracy
And perhaps all these challenges of 2017 have underscored, more than ever before, the important and essential role this Parliament should be playing. We really are among the last watchmen left on the walls of our democracy.
And never in the democratic history of our nation, has this role been more essential or crucial.
American slavery abolitionist Wendell Phillips bequethed us the well know quote that:
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”
But he went further to say that:
“The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity”
The reality is that State Capture did not emerge overnight, it didn’t just spring up, it was a carefully planned process, a process that developed slowly, methodically and with maximum malice and it happened in the full view of those in the executive who should have been watching and who should have known better  and who should, when the opposition raised the alarm, acted sooner.
Our vigilance has never been more important or needed than it is now. This is a task that no member in this house, regardless of the party t-shirt they wear, should ever underestimate or undervalue.
We have seen first hand the deceitful forces that have captured key institutions of our state subverting these institutions original intention to serve, benefit and protect the people and transforming them into ATM’s and bodyguards for the connected few.
We have seen the elite corruption busting Scorpions, castrated at the hands of Mr. Yunis Carrim, and turned into the tame and caged Hawks. They are so captured, corrupted and compromised that we should rename them the Budgerigars.
We have seen our State Security agency turned into a political gossip factory that misses every single attack on our sovereignty and security as a nation, yet is never short of smears or crudely drawn intelligence reports to taint a political rival or a handy break-in at an opponents premises.
We’ve seen SARS go from an internationally respected an acclaimed revenue collection institution into a veritable rogues gallery of insiders and captured individuals who’s only aim is to ensure their rich buddies get away with even more public money than they have already stolen.
And of course the NPA who loudly proclaimed that their “days of being disrespected are over” and yet went on to behave in a shameful manner that has made them the laughing stock of the nation.
And that is why we, all of us, are called upon to break this cynical cycle of corruption and capture.
The High Level Panel
Since we have well passed the halfway mark of this 5th Parliaments life, it’s perhaps a good time to examine the role of the house and its place in our democracy. And there can be no better stimulus for this discussion than the recently released High Level Panel assessment of key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change.
It is an incredible document and we must thank the panellists for the work that they have done crisscrossing the country, engaging with communities, examining legislation and establishing for themselves its impact and effect on the lives of our citizens. They have identified many of the challenges that block our path to prosperity, many of these acts of commission or omission by this very chamber.
Its a welcome body of work and I really do hope that members, after a certain event at Nasrec is over, will spend their Christmas recess studying it closely. But I do think that we should pause and ask ourselves as members of this house, why? Why was it a high level panel that had to find that:

  • Only 0.4% of our GDP is spent on land reform and that this last year saw the lowest amount of land transferred since 1994. And how so many of our citizens, particularly women, living in rural areas are subject to cruel serfdom where their constitutional rights are trampled.
  • 13974 tourists or investors were denied boarding on South Africa bound flights because of the disastrous unabridged birth certificate policy championed by former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba- thanks to this policy we are likely to use 578 000 tourists per year a loss of over R7.51 billion (I bet you could do with that now) and who knows how many jobs.
  • Public trust in Parliament, national government and local government have declined rapidly in the last 5 years whilst the trust in our judiciary has increased.
  • We have a skills crisis that the current education and training regime is simply not meeting

It also found that Parliament remains “far too dependent on the executive, which operates in silos, to draft law. This manifests in a lack of integrated approach
The truth is that WE should have been doing this work, WE should have been doing the monitoring and WE should have been doing the engagement.
And we can only do this if we are empowered to do so and that’s why it is essential that we start 2018 with a very hard look at our systems, our processes and the resourcing of members.
We, the members of this house, must be better empowered to be able to access research and resources that will make us better lawmakers, legislators and more vigilant watchmen over the executive.
We have been set as the watchmen on the wall by the people of South Africa, it is their interest we must always safeguard. Our duties have been assigned by the Constitution of the Republic, and we must always meet them.
For it us that will be held accountable if the walls of our democracy are breached by the forces of evil and tyranny. As Ezekiel 6, verse 3 says:
“If the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity and will be held accountable”
We have much work to do in 2018 to improve our vigilance and resolve to transform this house into a true arena of accountability and a people-centered institution that genuinely advances the interests, hopes dreams and aspirations of all the people of our nation.
Let me end by thanking all of those people who operate behind the scenes who keep our Parliament running, the ushers, the translators, the chamber support staff and those who maintain this house.
Allow me to also extend, once again, a very big thank you to the National Assembly table team for their hard work, long hours and dedication to this institution we are all proud to work in. I would also like to specifically thank Mr Mbulelo Xaso, Collen Mahlangu and Andrew Mbanjwa and their offices for their patience and unfailing willingness to always assist.
I also think we should extend a very special thank you to the acting Secretary Mrs. Penny Tyawa, who stepped in to the position under very difficult circumstances and has, in the short time she has been acting secretary, already transformed the draconian and oppressive management style that existed before.
To Chief Whip Hon. Jackson Mthembu, and his Deputy, Dorris Dlakude, thank you both for your leadership of the whippery of the house. You are both always able to disagree without being disagreeable.
I would also like to thank the Chief Whips of the other opposition parties, notably Mr. Shivambu, Mr Singh, Dr, Mulder, Mr. Nkwanka, Professor Khubisa, Mrs Dudley and Mr. Ntshayisa for their good spirit, hard work and the terrific co-operation the opposition has enjoyed this year.
I would also like to remember specifically, as we close this annual session, Hon. Tim Khoza and Hon. Tarnia Baker who both lost their lives in service of this house and their nation and we remember them both today with respect and affection.
May I, in this season of peace and goodwill, take this opportunity on behalf of our leader Mmusi Maimane and our party to wish all honourable members of this house, and their families a safe, peaceful and restful festive season and we look forward to seeing you all in the new year when we resume with the peoples business,
Who are, as I end with a quote from a poem by our very own Joan Fubbs from her latest collection of poems “ Humanity’s covenant with Life”:
“Waiting and waiting
For a new tomorrow
The clouded horizon
Is pierced by silent hope.
That seeks beyond today”

State Capture remains a serious concern for South Africans

The following speech was delivered in Parliament by the Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, during the debate on The scourge of State Capture.
 Madam Speaker,
The Gupta Gang of Six
If ever there was a reason for this house to be having this debate today it was confirmed in glorious Technicolor yesterday evening. Watching the clip from Gupta TV of the gang of 6 ANC MPs defending state capture and tearing viciously into their own Chief Whip and their colleagues on the Public Enterprises Committee and threatening that this debate would not go ahead proved why this debate today is so essential. I think that we should start, as the honourable Gordhan has said before: “join the dots” .
When you do that you do have to ask; whose interests these members are serving? Certainly not the people of South Africa, certainly not our democracy’s and definitely not this Parliament’s. It was nothing more than a poorly executed dance of subservience to the Gupta masters who are no doubt carefully choreographing this charade from the confines of their Saxonwold Shebeen.
Headlining this sordid spectacle was none other than Mr. Loyiso Mpumlwana. Members may remember him, because apart from last night’s performance, he also had some other headline performances:
–   sacked by the TRC in 2009 for fraudulent misrepresentation;
–   withdrawn as a candidate for the Human Rights Commission; and
–   more recently, defended Grace Mugabe by saying that it was acceptable for her to beat up a young woman in his culture. With this past, his convoluted jargon last night and his weird legal interpretation, I wouldn’t have the good advocate represent me in an uncontested divorce!
Public trust in our institution
Just last week, the High Level Panel, headed by former President Kgalema Motlanthe, released its report. It’s a fascinating document which should be compulsory reading for every member. It is an indictment on the failures of this house and a major wake up call for all of us.  The panel calls on us for much more effective oversight of the executive and for a more activist Parliament not simply a rubber stamp processing the work of the executive.
But perhaps most worrying, and something which should concern every member off this house, is the section dealing with trust in institutions. Public trust in Parliament declined massively from 65% in 2009 to just 38% in 2015. And the question we have to ask ourselves is why? Well when you begin to “join the dots’ it’s easy to see: in 2009 Mr. Zuma was elected as the President and set about turning this Parliament into his poodle and adding it to his growing collection of captured institutions.
Since then we have experienced the SABC crisis, the mining crisis, Visagate, Nkandlagate, Nenegate, Sassagate, and at each step of the way this house has rolled over and simply allowed the executive to ride roughshod over it. Attempts to hold the executive accountable have been thwarted by ministers who don’t appear, don’t answer questions and don’t feel they are accountable to  Parliament, choosing overseas trips over their constitutional obligations to account.
Let’s not forget that it was this very Parliament that, without calling him to account before a single committee, shamefully absolved the President of any wrongdoing on Nkandla. It was up to the Constitutional Court to do our job for us and hold the President accountable.
And it’s not like this house has learnt a single thing from it: just last week at this podium the President, on one of his paltry four visits a year, was able to get away without answering a straightforward question that was on the order paper and that he had for over two weeks. Where was the sanction from the Deputy Speaker? Where was the accountability?
Because you see the executive are aided and abetted in this by presiding officers who see their role as one to protect the executive rather than to protect the members of this house as they discharge their oversight and accountability role. Last night the Speaker was on Radio 702 waxing lyrical about the President’s dignity – dignity? When is the Speaker going to start standing up for the dignity of this house which has been systematically abused by an executive and Presidency that have gone rogue.
It’s little wonder that the people, as the high level panel report affirms, are losing faith with this house as it continues to break its covenant to serve the people’s interests and instead serves the executive.
Despite all this, I don’t think that anything could have prepared us for the revelations that emerged through the Gupta leaks. Finally the vast network was laid bare for all to see, the tentacles of influence, subversion and deceit extending from Saxonwold through the union buildings, into government departments, through them into our state owned enterprises and deeper still into our provincial and local governments.
Flurries of emails, databases and communications exposed each terrible tentacle sucking up opportunity and huge sums of public money, away from its intended purposes and into the pockets of the Guptas, the Essas, the Ngubanes, the Hlongwanas and the Zumas. While the people of the Vrede Dairy project languish in abject poverty the money intended for them was used to pay for a wicked wedding, for champagne and caviar which these obscenely rich individuals and families quaffed back, all the while laughing whilst the poor suffer.
Parliament’s response: The case of the Curates egg
And what was this house’s response to the daily barrage of revelations of captured ministers, put in place as we read in the shocking revelations in the book “Enemy of the People” not to be faithful to the Republic as they swore in their oath, but rather to be faithful to the interests of the Gupta family?
Well, a whole six months ago the House Chairperson wrote to the chairs of four portfolio committees, Home Affairs, Public Enterprises, Transport and Minerals & Energy instructing them to “urgently probe the allegations”
Rather like the curates egg, the response has been excellent in parts but bad in others.
Only the Public Enterprises Committee seems to have acted with any urgency in dealing with this matter and not without significant resistance from many on these benches. Members of all parties on this committee must be complimented on their bravery, work and dedication to date in difficult circumstances. They have been relentlessly attacked by members of the executive hell-bent on ensuring that the truth does not come out. And as late as yesterday evening by their own six colleagues.
The truth is though that they still have a long way to go, they have dealt with Eskom only, they still haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on Transnet and Denel where even further indications of the rot of state capture reside.
But what has happened outside this committee?
The Home Affairs chairperson has done everything he can to thwart efforts by members to conduct a probe into the Home Affairs related aspects of State Capture. To date former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has not once, been called to explain why he used executive privileges to grant citizenship to Gupta family members when the original sponsor and applicant, did not compete the process?
– What progress has the Transport Committee made in dealing with allegations?
– The Minerals and Energy Committee is being led a merry dance of evasion and obfuscation by one of the chief protagonists in this sage, Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
–   And what too about the revelations that fall outside these committees are we simply going to ignore the revelations that have emerged around South African Airways and the Gupta involvement there in trying to snaffle the lucrative Mumbai route.
–   Why has the State of Capture report by the Public Protector not been referred to a single committee?
–   What too about the revelations that the Guptas were provided with a secret cabinet memorandum by a former Communications Minister?
–   Why has Minister Des Van Rooyen not been called to explain what happened in the 4 short days he was the Finance Minister
–   And most importantly why has the President not appeared before a single committee of this house to account for a single one of the serious allegations?
The struggle against state capture starts in Parliament
There are some today, like the gang of six last night, who will no doubt argue that it is not this houses responsibility to investigate and hold the executive accountable.
They will argue that the proposed judicial commission of enquiry should do this (funny though that it is the very same people who, when the opposition beats them in court, argue repeatedly that the judiciary shouldn’t do Parliaments work)
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Constitution of the Republic makes it clear:
–     section 42(3) “scrutinising and overseeing executive action”
–     Section 55(2) “ the National Assembly must maintain oversight of the exercise of national authority….and any organ of state”
And this was confirmed by the Chief Justice Moegeng in the Nkandla judgement : “ Scrutinise means subject to scrutiny. And scrutiny implies a careful and thorough examination or a penetrating or searching reflection”
 This Parliament is mandated by the Constitution to do the job that is required to get to the bottom of the scourge of sate capture.
It is provided with all the tools both constitutionally and within our rules to perform the functions that it needs to in holding the executive accountable.
And, it is obliged to do the job because as the peoples parliament  it has the duty to act in the interest of the people of South Africa.
Because, in the final analysis, if we don’t act who will?
One can only wonder if the situation would have actually got so bad and run so deep if the Scorpions had not been shut down in an act of complete political treachery led by Mr. Yunis Carrim, who now tries to shamelessly re-style himself as the political sands have shifted, as a champion of justice. Thanks to him and his underhand efforts at the time we are now bequeathed the moribund Hawks, who do not leave their perch unless it’s to pick on an identified enemy of the State Capture brigade.
It’s unlikely that the NPA are going to come to our rescue, they have been so captured that in this whole year of damning revelations, so much time has elapsed since the revelations first came to light that three books have been published, yet not a single page criminal indictment has been written or investigation concluded. The NPA seem to spend more time arguing why accused persons should NOT be charged than building cases against criminals. The lights may be on at the NPA, but clearly nobody is home, they too don’t leave the office unless it’s to pick on an identified enemy of the State Capture brigade.
It’s even more unlikely that the State Security Agency, which should be guarding the sovereignty of our state are going to come to our rescue. They too have been so captured that they are used as a tool to protect and entrench the very people responsible for state capture and pose the biggest risk to its sovereignty. Events of the last year show clearly that they only act to smear and undermine with trumped up “intelligence reports” any identified enemy of the Sate Capture brigade.
And SARS is also not going to help, their systematic capture has led to a situation where good stewards of public finances have been pushed out and replaced with the very allies of the State Capture crew. Their transgressions? Going hard after those people who themselves are the perpetrators of State Capture, The Guptas body refunds, Edward Zuma’s illegal cigarette enterprises and Khulubuse Zuma’s asset stripping and fraud. Tom Moyane’s SARS is not interested in pursuing anybody outside of identified enemies of the State Capture brigade.
And it’s certainly not going to helped by the keyboard warriors and twitter activists that currently occupy the ANC benches. Those members like Mr. Derek Hanekom and many others who were or are still part of the cabinet and have been for the past 8 years, serving President Zuma slavishly and loyally and who now feign surprise at the scourge of State Capture as though they didn’t know what was going on under their very noses and around the cabinet table. They turned a blind eye for years and now try to reshape themselves as pillars of virtue.
There is no charge office on Twitter, there is no such thing as a Facebook arrest and no courts of law operate on Instagram. If we want to do something then this house must do its job, every member I this house must do their job and act without fear and favor and ensure that those responsible are held fully accountable.
This house cannot be one of the “Presidents Keepers” or become an “Enemy of the People”
Refusing to act on State Capture, denying the duty of this Parliament to exercise oversight and accountability over the President and his cabinet and turning a blind eye to the wrongdoing that has been going on and defending those who have looted the resources and opportunity of our country will be the grossest dereliction of duty and history will judge this house harshly.

DA 2017 Parliamentary Review: Tackling self-generated crises and confronting State Capture

It is with great pleasure that I present a review of the parliamentary activities of the Democratic Alliance for 2017. As we have done in the past, we table this document with the purpose of accounting to the people of South Africa on what we have done as the Official Opposition during the course of the last year.
Without a shadow of doubt, this year was dominated by President Jacob Zuma and his many acolytes who broke the law and violated the Constitution to capture our state institutions for their own nefarious purposes. Despite this, the Democratic Alliance has again emerged as the peoples’ champion in Parliament, ensuring that the Executive is held to account, the rule of law is upheld and that the corrupt are criminally prosecuted.
South Africa was beset with unprecedented crises in 2017. Nearly all of these were self-generated by an ANC-led government at war with itself, headed by a compromised President, and aided and abetted by those obsessed with succeeding him.
From Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini’s pathological drive to sabotage social grants, to President Zuma’s two disastrous Cabinet reshuffles, to the #GuptaLeaks revelations and the ANC’s desperate efforts to block and frustrate an investigation into allegations of State Capture.
Indeed, 2017 will be remembered as the year in which the final veneer of legitimacy still surrounded the ANC-led government faded amid chronic mismanagement of the state and an avalanche of corruption scandals. It will be remembered for Jacob Zuma’s arrogance in Parliament and his contempt for the Constitution. It will be remembered for the ANC Caucus’ deliberate and dogged defence of Zuma and their unwavering allegiance to a compromised President.
However, 2017 will also be remembered for the work done by the DA in Parliament. Through our efforts, the corruption of the ANC-led government has been laid bare and the self-created crises of this tainted administration have been tackled head-on.
This parliamentary year will be remembered for many things – including the stellar work done by the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC Board Inquiry, the Portfolio Committee on Social Development and SCOPA’s handling of the social grants crisis, and the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises’ Eskom Inquiry. It will be remembered for our Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma which was supported by no fewer than 177 MPs from every party.
The DA has remained steadfast and unwavering in its commitment to the Constitution and to making Parliament work. Once again, we took up the fight on behalf of the people of South Africa and forced Government to confront and deal with the many crises confronting it. Using the country’s apex institution, Parliament, we have held the Executive to account and found solutions.
We will continue to resist efforts to side-line the Legislature, by those who resent and reject accountability. We will continue to stand up for our Constitutional democracy and for the people of South Africa.

Find full report card booklet here

We will not allow Parliament to become one of the “President’s Keepers”

The following statement was delivered today by DA Leader Mmusi Maimane, at a press briefing in Parliament, Cape Town. Maimane was joined by DA Federal Executive Chairperson, James Selfe, and DA Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen.
Last week Thursday, President Jacob Zuma appeared before Parliament in his last oral question session for the year, and quite possibly his last one oral question session as President.
Oral questions to the President take place only once a Term, roughly every three months, and remain one of the few mechanisms available to elected Members of Parliament to hold the Executive accountable. Openness, transparency and accountability are the essence of what the Constitution envisaged by such oral question sessions.
In a show of total disdain for our country and its people, Zuma once again made a mockery of the institution of Parliament by appearing to answer oral questions, unprepared and unwilling to answering the questions.
As, Leader of the Opposition, I posed a clear and unequivocal question to the President relating to the past decade of legal action in the now infamous “Spy Tapes”, and the 783 charges of corruption against him:
“What is the total amount in Rand of all legal costs incurred by (a) his Office and/or (b) the Presidency since 1 May 2009 in respect of the irrational decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to drop the 783 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering against him in his personal capacity?”
In his reply, the President refused to answer my question, despite several exchanges between him and I. The Deputy Speaker – who was presiding at the time – protected him and refused to compel him to answer it. The President’s reply was as follows:
“Honourable Speaker
The litigation referred to was not at the instance of the President but was initiated by a political party.
The President has defended it, as he is entitled to do, at State expense according to the provisions of the State Attorney Act 56 of 1957.
This benefit is extend to all who are employed in the service of the state.
I thank you”
This was quite clearly a deliberate refusal by the President to honour his constitutional duty to the country and its people, and to tell us how much of their money he has used over the past decade to keep himself out of jail.
This was not a matter of lack of knowledge nor lack of time to prepare. The Presidency is given sixteen (16) days prior notice of the question to allow ample time for preparation of a response, and to undertake whatever research might be required to answer any initial or follow-up questions. The task is neither difficult nor onerous.
Therefore, we have taken a decision to approach the High Court for an order to compel the President to answer the question put to him in Parliament, as required to by the Constitution and the Rules the National Assembly. The DA will file papers in the coming days, and we are confident that the courts will compel the President to properly account to Parliament as per sections 42, 55 and 85 of the Constitution, and to answer the question fully and truthfully.
We are also of the view that in the same circumstances, Parliament’s presiding officers failed in their constitutional duties. The National Assembly has a constitutional responsibility to hold the Executive to account. In the Nkandla case, the National Assembly was roundly – and correctly – criticised for failing to hold the President to account for his failure to implement the remedial action of the Public Protector.
Indeed, the Constitution is crystal clear in Parliament’s powers and responsibilities. Section 55(2) states –
The National Assembly must provide for mechanisms:

  • to ensure that all executive organs of state in the national sphere of government are accountable to it; and
  • to maintain oversight of–
    • the exercise of national executive authority, including the implementation of legislation; and
    • any organ of state.

Equally, Section 42(3) of the Constitution states –
The National Assembly is elected to represent the people and to ensure government by the people under the Constitution. It does this by choosing the President, by providing a national forum for public consideration of issues, by passing legislation and by scrutinising and overseeing executive action.
If ever there was a clear-cut case of the need to scrutinise and oversee executive action, it lies in requiring the President to account for the money that was spent in defending what was ultimately judged by the Supreme Court of Appeal to be an irrational decision – namely, the decision to discontinue the prosecution against him.
In the Nkandla judgment, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng did not mince his words when he referred to the failure of the National Assembly to hold the President accountable. The Chief Justice said, referring to the Public Protector’s report, that
“[the National Assembly] had another equally profound obligation to fulfil. And that was to scrutinise the President’s conduct as demanded by section 42(3)…”
We contend that the question put to, and ignored by, the President, falls into the same category of failure by the National Assembly to fulfil its Constitutional responsibilities. Equally appalling was the conduct of the Deputy Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli. The Rules of the National Assembly make it clear that –
26 (1) In exercising the authority of the Speaker, as provided for in the Constitution and legislation and the rules of Parliament, the Speaker must:

  • ensure that the National Assembly provides a national forum for public consideration of issues, passes legislation and scrutinises and oversees executive action in accordance with section 42(3) of the Constitution;
  • ensure that parties represented in the National Assembly participate fully in the proceedings of the Assembly and its committees and forums, and facilitate public involvement in the process of the Assembly in accordance with Sections 57 and 59 of the Constitution; and
  • whenever possible, consult with relevant office-bearers and structure within Parliament to achieve the efficient and effective functioning of Parliament in a transparent and accountable manner.

The Deputy Speaker did nothing of the sort. He abdicated his responsibilities in the most cowardly manner, and allowed the President to elect whether or not to answer the question. Parliament, too, has become of the “President’s Keepers”.
As a consequence of their dereliction of duty, the DA will approaching the High Court to find Deputy Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli, to be in serious dereliction of their duties. We will also be moving a motion in Parliament to remove the Deputy Speaker in terms of section 52(4) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa read with National Assembly Rule 28.
The DA will continue to ensure that the Constitution and the rule of law respected and upheld by all who hold elected office, none more so than the President. Those who fail to do so will be brought to book.

De Lille and Smith placed on special leave from DA activities in Cape Metro

Please find attached a soundbite by the DA National Spokesperson, Phumzile Van Damme MP
In recent days various allegations and counter allegations have been made in the Cape Town press involving Cape Town Executive Mayor, Patricia de Lille, and Councillor JP Smith.
DA Leader Mmusi Maimane called both Mayor de Lille and Cllr Smith to account for their actions at a meeting held last night. Following that meeting, Mr Maimane has placed Mayor de Lille and Cllr Smith on special leave from DA activities in the Cape Town Metro until such time as a DA Federal Executive investigation can be concluded.
Some time ago, the Leader convened a special sub-committee of the DA’s Federal Executive in order to investigate the political management and governance situation in the City of Cape Town, and to report back to the full FedEx as to what further action is required. This sub-committee will be chaired by John Steenhuisen MP, and is scheduled to begin its hearings today, 3rd October 2017.
Placing the Mayor and the Cllr on special leave during the investigation means that neither will be able to attend DA caucus meetings, interact with caucus members or others who may testify before the committee or attend party meetings. This leave does not affect their candidacy for provincial elected positions, nor does it affect their work in government. They should also not address the media on this issue until the conclusion of the investigation.
The statements being made in the media on allegations from both the Mayor and Alderman Smith are now a subject of investigation by both the panel mentioned above and the City itself. These statements have been inaccurate and are prejudicial to the investigation.