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?

Minister Dlodlo allegedly contributing to victimisation at MDDA

The DA is in possession of a letter from a Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) employee in which he outlines the daily “wrath of victimisation and unfair treatment” which staff at the entity is subjected to.
The letter outlines the employee’s “disappointment on how the Ministry [of Communications] has ignored issues raised by the staff when they wrote and signed a petition [and that] [i]t gives me an impression that the Ministry is not protecting us as underdogs against the mighty and powerful”.
What makes matters worse, is that after various allegations of intimidation by senior officials at the MDDA came to light, the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, conducted an oversight visit to the entity a week ago where she proceeded to intimidate the employees.
The Minister allegedly told MDDA employees that they were not allowed to speak out about the victimisation or intimidation that they are subjected to.
The DA will now proceed to report Minister Dlodlo to the Joint Committee on Ethics and Members’ Interest for her inappropriate conduct.
Instead of addressing these concerns, the Minister is now contributing to the toxic atmosphere at the entity.
It now seems like Faith Muthambi’s replacement is following in her footsteps.
The DA will simply not allow this intimidation and victimisation to happen at another Communications entity.

Minister Dlodlo must explain R3bn SABC bailout to Parliament

Note to Editor: Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP. 
We now have confirmation of the amount of the government bailout the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has applied for.
In a presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance, National Treasury revealed that a “R3 billion [guarantee] is being considered” for the SABC.
It is seriously disappointing that Parliament, and indeed, the public had to find out about the amount of the SABC’s requested bailout in a roundabout manner.
The DA has on several occasions requested that the Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, make the SABC’s financial requirements public and consult Parliament on the proposed bailout.
However, she refused, stating that the amount does not matter.
It is no secret that the SABC is currently facing immense financial upheaval due to the destructive decision making by its former executives and board.
Whilst the Committee was recently informed by the SABC interim Board that there has been an improvement in the public broadcaster’s finances, R3 billion is an astonishing amount of money.
Parliament’s Communications Committee should have been consulted in the interest of good governance and transparency especially given the financial stress at the SABC.
The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Communications Committee, Humphrey Maxegwana, to request that the Minister appear before the Committee when Parliament reconvenes to give a briefing on the SABC’s finances, as well give full details about the requested financial assistance.
It is time for the Minister to come clean to the Committee and the public as the DA will no longer tolerate her obstruction of Parliamentary oversight.

Ministers mum on Government links with Bell Pottinger

The Ministers of Communications, Police, Public Enterprises and Small Business Development have chosen to remain mum on their links to Bell Pottinger.
The DA submitted a range of Parliamentary questions to all government departments asking them whether they or their entities have made use of the services of Bell Pottinger.
The DA submitted these questions in the interest of transparency, as it is important that the public know the full extent of Bell Pottinger’s relationship with our government.
Of all the departments, which responded to our questions, the Department of Tourism is the only department to confirm their links with the PR firm.
The DA’s questions appeared in Parliament’s questions paper on 26 May 2017 and their replies were due by 9 June 2017.
According to the National Assembly Rule 145(5)(a):“A question for written reply must be replied to within 10 working days, provided that the responsible Minister may in writing request the Speaker for an extension not exceeding a further 10 working days on good cause shown”.
However, none of the four Ministers requested an extension for any of our questions.
Therefore, the utter silence on this matter is highly concerning, especially considering in light of all the information coming to light, seemingly confirming that the ANC government has been captured by the Guptas.
Following the destructive propaganda campaign, Bell Pottinger designed for the Guptas, which saw the PR company exploiting racial divisions in our country, we need to know which departments have been in cahoots with Bell Pottinger and the Guptas.
The hearing into the Bell Pottinger’s behaviour, following a complaint laid by the DA, will be heard by the Public Relations and Communications Association in London on 18th of August 2017.
The DA is determined to ensure that Bell Pottinger, not only accounts but commits to reinvesting any profits from their dealings with the Guptas back to South Africa.

DA rejects Parliament’s half-baked state capture “probe” and reiterates need for ad hoc committee

The DA is angered by the 19 June announcement by Parliament that a select number of parliamentary committees have been directed to “urgently probe” allegations of state capture and report back to the National Assembly. This is an ANC attempt to shield President Jacob Zuma and the executive from answering to serious State Capture evidence.
This half-baked “probe” has been introduced by the ANC in bad faith and without any effort to gain multi-party agreement.
It is especially exasperating considering the ongoing discussions taking place in the Chief Whips’ Forum around Parliament’s response to allegations of state capture and the “special meeting” of the Forum which is scheduled to discuss, among other things, the Public Protector’s State of Capture Report on Wednesday, 21 June.
The instruction, reportedly issued by House Chairperson of Committees, Cedric Frolick, for the chairpersons of the portfolio committees on Home Affairs, Mineral Resources, Public Enterprises and Transport to “ensure immediate engagement with the concerned Ministers to ensure that Parliament gets to the bottom of the allegations” is both disingenuous and an attempt at subterfuge. It is also unclear by what authority the Chairperson has issued this instruction as his authority is limited to “implement[ing] policy or guidelines on the scheduling and co-ordination of meetings of all committees”. Portfolio committees may initiate probes themselves or can be instructed to do so by the House; the Chairperson does not have that authority.
This proposal was never brought before the Chief Whips’ Forum for discussion and, as such, ignores the opinion of 12 parties representing millions of voters in Parliament.
Furthermore, the investigation into state capture cannot be narrowly reduced to those four portfolios and cannot be effectively carried out by “engaging” the concerned Ministers as several ministers are at the heart of the state capture allegations.
Indeed, this proposed course of action conveniently side-steps the most prominent member of the Executive, President Jacob Zuma, whose relationship with the Gupta family is the very nexus of the state capture allegations.
On Wednesday, 21 June, the DA will once again lobby support for our draft resolution into the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture. This committee will be the only way in which Parliament will be able to hold the entire Executive to account, including the president and deputy ministers, and can easily conduct its business in concert with the relevant portfolio committees.
To illustrate, the Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture can begin its enquiry “into [the] undue influence by certain individuals over the executive in their exercise of executive authority” precisely as the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises begins its inquiry into Eskom, a process which is scheduled to commence on 21 June. The DA has consistently lobbied for portfolio committees to carry out inquiries into allegations of state capture, especially those actions targeting our state-owned entities (SOEs). However, recent allegations have shown that the tentacles of state capture extends well beyond a clutch of SOEs and certainly beyond the four committees tasked with carrying out this “Parliamentary probe”. The DA recognises the sterling work done by portfolio committees in the recent past, but we cannot afford “probes” that pass the blame to officials and let members of the Executive off the hook.
Consider the case of former Minister of Communications and current Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi: how will the proposed “probe” deal with the allegations that she sent confidential information on cabinet meetings to the Guptas? How will this “probe” deal with the well-ventilated accusations, also confirmed by then-Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas, that the Guptas were aware and possibly influenced Cabinet appointments? The “probe” also conveniently glosses over key departments which have allegedly been targets of state capture in recent times, including the departments of Finance, Communications and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Agreement was reached during last week’s Chief Whips’ Forum that Parliament should never again be found wanting, as was the case with the Nkandla debacle. However, instead of dealing decisively with the scourge of state capture, the ANC in Parliament are weaseling out by choosing to implement a damage containment strategy. This is the wrong choice to make and will once again leave Parliament exposed to accusations of failing to perform its effective oversight role.
The DA is undeterred and will continue to fight for the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture.

DA urges review of broadcast digital migration process

The Democratic Alliance appeals to the Minister of Communications, Ms Ayanda Dlodlo, to consider our request for a thorough review of the Broadcasting Digital Migration (BDM) process now that the Constitutional Court has ruled that the 2015 BDM policy was lawfully determined.
Today the court upheld the appeal by former Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, against the judgment of the Supreme Court of Appeal that ruled the process by which the minister amended the BDM policy in March 2015 was invalid and therefore unlawful.
This means that the sponsored set-top boxes – or decoders – that government plans to give to five million identified indigent households can now proceed. The key issue is that these decoders will not have encryption capabilities.
Production of the first tranche of 1,5 million decoders was halted in late 2015 because of legal challenges to the policy. More than 500 000 decoders had been produced and are housed in South African Post Office warehouses awaiting distribution.
A small number of decoders have been distributed to households in the Northern Cape and border areas.
It is noted that today’s decision is only one step in re-starting the broadcasting digital migration process. The procurement of government-subsidised decoders for identified indigent households is mired in irregularities, is unaffordable and the technology has moved on.
Minister Dlodlo said last month that she wanted to revert to the ANC-approved pre-2015 BDM policy, citing that the Muthambi amendments went counter to the policy of the ANC and its alliance partners.
A joint meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committees of Communications and Telecommunications and Postal Services to get an update of the Digital Terrestrial Broadcasting migration project is scheduled for June 20.
I call on the Minister to use this opportunity to reveal what steps she proposes to stimulate the ICT sector to join forces and contribute expertise to accelerate the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.
This must be government’s priority project so the airwaves can be released for desperately needed mobile broadband services that can contribute to economic growth, job creation and deliver services and opportunities to South Africans.

The Speaker must immediately table report on those who lied to the SABC Inquiry

The DA will today write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, urging her to promptly table a report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit detailing any witnesses who gave contradictory or misleading evidence during the SABC Inquiry.
We have been reliably informed that the report was finalised on 5 June and that a copy has been handed to the Speaker’s Office.
The report was one of the key recommendations of the SABC Inquiry Report and Legal Services were tasked with “identify[ing] the persons who misled the inquiry or provided false information or false testimony with the aim of criminal charges being laid.”
The Speaker is obliged to table this report before the House, via the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC), and should do so at the earliest convenience.
Individuals who gave evidence during the SABC Inquiry and who are suspected of having misled Parliament include former Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, and the former chairpersons of the SABC Board, Ellen Tshabalala, Dr Ben Ngubane, and Prof Mbulaheni Maguvhe.
For too long errand members of the Executive and persons mismanaging our state-owned enterprises have evaded accountability by failing to report to Parliament or, when finally forced to do so, obfuscating and lying. Those who have misled Parliament should, in the interest of accountability, be exposed and made to face the consequences of their actions.

No, We Won’t Stop Fighting for a Better Parliament

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, during the Budget Vote on Parliament.
House Chairperson,
A few weeks ago, as the Speaker was beating a hasty retreat from the newly constituted Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament (JSCFMP), she had an emotional outburst where she asked me a very interesting question. She said, and I quote, “don’t you ever get tired of fighting?”
Given events at the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) over the weekend, perhaps the Speaker should rather have been directing that question to colleagues in her own party!
Nevertheless, this weekend’s meeting of the NEC and the release of emails confirm the fact that President Zuma’s cabinet is captured by an extensive network of parasitic vampires who are sucking the very lifeblood from our state and the State-Owned Entities.
They have set up a parallel government that operates through mutually nefarious means and evades all forms of accountability through its tentacles that extend all the way from the Union Buildings, right through organs of state like the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), and reach deep down into local municipalities.
Two things have emerged, as clear as daylight, from this weekend’s events:
1. South Africa doesn’t have a Jacob Zuma problem, it has an ANC problem – the rot in the ANC goes deep and wide.
2. The ANC knows what the problem is; their alliance partners know what the problem is (which is why Mr Zuma is no longer welcome at their events); South Africans know what the problem is; religious bodies know what the problem is (which is why they have taken to the streets in record numbers not seen since the advent of democracy); and those commentators and ANC members who keep holding out for the “self-correction” are going to grow old waiting for something they will never see. The ANC is incapable of self-correction and it will be up to the voters to force the spring of correction through the ballot box.
And that is why Parliament cannot continue to turn a half glance to the seriousness of the crisis our nation faces through capture of our state. This is exactly why the Leader of the Opposition has proposed that this House establishes an ad hoc committee to probe the extent of state capture.
Witnesses must be subpoenaed, documents must be demanded and those Ministers implicated must face full and proper enquiry by this House. The Constitution gave us the power to do this and we must exercise those powers on behalf of the people to get to the bottom of this scourge and expose and remove this network, root and branch, from our government, State-Owned Entities and wherever it has planted its poisonous roots.
Simply chipping away in individual committees may expose some of the branches but will not deal with the rotten root. That will require a broad and overreaching enquiry that will be able to get a full picture of the extent of the problem. Parliament must do the job that the framers of our constitution intended it to do.
What should a Parliament do?
The Constitution is explicit on what we should be doing as Parliament and section 42(3) sets out very simply the four things we must do:
1. Choose a President;
2. Providing a national forum for the public consideration of issues;
3. Pass legislation;
4. Scrutinize and oversee executive action.
Now you can have all the plans, protocols, intentions and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that you like, and we have listened to the Speaker rattling off how well she thinks Parliament is doing. But the reality is, once all the management jargon has been stripped away, if we are not meeting these four simple Constitutional expectations then we are not performing our job. They are the core functions of Parliament and we should be measured by them. So how are we doing on these?
Choosing a president:
Well, the less said about this the better. The truth is that we have a President who has been found by the Constitutional Court to have failed to uphold his oath of office, violated the very Constitution he was supposed to protect, and who continues to ride roughshod over democratic institutions and process.
We elected him in this House and we should have had the courage to remove him when he failed us and the people of South Africa. Yet we allow him to continue in office. The Ipsos poll released today showed that 62% of ANC voters disapprove of Mr Zuma and his approval rating is the lowest of any of the country’s democratically elected presidents. Clearly, South Africans, particularly the 9 million unemployed, don’t think too highly of this Parliament’s performance on this score.
Providing a national forum for the public consideration of issues:
Again, hardly a stellar performance here. The freedom of speech in this House, bequeathed to us by the Constitution no less and which should be a right protected with all the might our presiding officers can muster, is being eroded and undermined every day.
Simple terms, quite ordinarily used in Parliaments and debating forums around the world, have been banned. Members’ rights to say the things that need to be said, particularly members of the opposition, are restricted through a stranglehold of insecure presiding officers. Time and again the members of this House have had to approach the courts to get them to uphold this right, yet time and again the rights are eroded.
Just last week, opposition Members were prevented from calling a minister “an invisible minister”. A Parliament where Members, as public representatives, cannot raise matters in a forthright and robust manner is not good for democracy and not worthy of the name.
Passing legislation:
This should be one of the most important functions performed by us and, given how long we have been doing it, something which should be improving and not declining. Yet on a regular and steady basis legislation passed in this house is struck down by the courts as invalid or unconstitutional.
Shoddy, job-wrecking legislation is pushed through and, despite their obvious failings and legal problems, the ANC cannot bring themselves to correct the errors and omissions. Here in the House they stubbornly march on incorrect paths passing legislation (that’s when they are actually able to get their MPs to pitch for work on the day!) and are then repeatedly beaten in court.
The Speaker has had a lot today to say on empowering and capacitating MPs to do their job. It would be nice if we could just start by making sure that we have enough researchers, legal advisors and content advisors at a committee level so we can properly scrutinise the legislation that the Executive send to us and play the role of proper legislators.
Scrutinising and overseeing Executive action:
Anybody who thinks that this 5th Parliament has met its expectations in this regards must have been living on another planet. This is probably the requirement where we have witnessed the worst failures. At every turn the Executive has been protected from proper accountability and scrutiny.
The Nkandla Report should have been the massive wake-up call that this Parliament needed to overhaul and reconsider how we hold the executive accountable. There was a single tick-box meeting after this devastating indictment on this Parliament’s failure and zero action arising from it. The protection and shielding of the executive has simply continued.
Nowhere is this more evident than the manner in which the Executive is protected by Speaker Mbete during oral question sessions. Bearing in mind that these are the only unscripted exchanges where MPs can truly hold the Executive accountable, the Speaker always defaults to protecting the Executive from difficult and probing questions posed by MPs.
It is for this reason that the SABC was virtually brought to its knees before Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, who belatedly felt the firm hand of parliamentary accountability in the ad hoc committee probing the SABC. For an entire year before this, Muthambi was allowed to regularly evade parliamentary accountability with impunity by simply not answering written and oral questions by opposition MPs or by not showing up. There were never any consequences
We witnessed the same pattern with the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, who was also consistently aided and abetted by the Speaker to avoid answering the tough questions relating to the impending South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) grants crisis. Minister Dlamini was allowed to regularly mislead the House over her Department’s readiness to take over social grant payments on 1 April 2017.
When opposition MPs challenged these glaring factual inaccuracies in the House, the Speaker was the first to rush to Dlamini’s defense.
When the anatomy of both these crises is properly examined it is plain to see that both could have been avoided had Parliament been doing its job, without fear and favour, and had those Members who take their role seriously been protected in performing their role by a Speaker who actually placed the institution above her organisation.
South Africa requires a functioning and vibrant Parliament if our multi-party democracy is to survive. It also requires a Parliament that is unafraid of holding the Executive accountable as the Constitution prescribes.
The Speaker
Given the myriad of institutional failings, the Speaker’s dismal record of court losses, the daily own goals and organisational foul-ups, one could be forgiven for thinking there was not enough institutional support for the office. Quite the opposite actually, the Speaker has over 42 employees in her organogram costing over R37 million.
I was particularly interested to note that there is an entire office of nine full-time employees who form the so-called Office on Institutions Supporting Democracy, which includes a Director who rakes in over R1.5 million per annum, a Constitutional and legal advice specialist earning R1.4 million, two legal assistants and a manager.
All this and yet when I made a simple inquiry of the Speaker about some outstanding reports from Chapter 9 institutions I received a letter confirming there were none. Surprise, surprise, less than one week later the reports were magically ATC’d. You have an entire office of people whose full time job it is to liaise and monitor with chapter nine institutions and they couldn’t even pick this up. What a disgrace.
The rules of the National Assembly, in acknowledging the key importance of impartiality, directs the Speaker to conduct herself impartially. Rule 26(4) states that “the Speaker must act fairly and impartially and apply the rules with due regard to ensuring the participation of members of all parties in a manner consistent with democracy”. Whenever the Speaker acts in a way that is partisan, biased or conducts herself in a manner that favours a single political agenda, she breaks that covenant.
So it may be convenient to “not hear” when a member is being sworn at under your nose (despite the fact that the whole nation heard it) or refuse to take action when a female member of the opposition is called a “straatmeid” or become conveniently deaf when Mr Dicks shouts out “rented Darkie”. But every time you do this, Speaker, it undermines the very rules that you are tasked with upholding and enforcing. You do this at your own peril and by extension open yourself up to attack and also place the consistent enforceability of the rules of the National Assembly at great risk.
The Secretary to Parliament
Parliament is much more than just bricks and mortar, it is a living institution made up of people. It cannot function without them and today I want to pay special tribute to the hard-working men and women that make up our staff. I want to say to those that really care about this institution and are invested in its success that your work, under difficult circumstances, is greatly appreciated.
And that’s why I am filled with deep sadness when I see the way that many of you are disrespected, targeted and treated like criminals, sidelined and marginalised, threatened or intimidated by the Secretary to Parliament. Since Mr Mgidlana’s arrival in our Parliament there has been a rapid decline in industrial relations and for many this is not a happy place to work.
On top of this the staff have now received notice that there will be no pay increases this year because there is not enough money. Given inflation and rising cost-of-living, this essentially amounts to a decrease.
It never ceases to amaze me that when it comes to the luxuries there is never a problem finding money. Take for example the international travel of the secretary to Parliament. Given the amount of international travel he does I sometimes think he believes he is the secretary to the United Nations, not the secretary to the Parliament of South Africa. In March last year he spent seven nights in a Lusaka Hotel at R21 000 a night, and enjoyed a rented limousine that cost R800 per hour, adding up to some R37 000 for the duration of his stay. We have, through the JSCFMP, asked for a full breakdown of all international travel costs by the Secretary.
This is of course on top of the blue light brigades, and VIP European and international travel. It seems when it comes to the Secretary to Parliament there is no destination too far or conference to obscure that he isn’t ready to pack his bags for. Despite his multi-million rand salary he has added insult to injury by awarding himself a bursary. Why does somebody who earns what he does require a bursary? There must be countless of our employees who are more deserving and more appropriate recipients.
I would also be remiss if I were not to express concern at the spate of new appointments at a senior management level. It is very clear that a determined and unashamed cadre deployment strategy is at play. How else would somebody like the deeply partisan former ANC spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, simply drift through the swing doors, suddenly be appointed as the spokesperson for a multi-party, non-partisan institution like Parliament. The employment procedures were rigged and subverted to make sure that the ANC’s dark arts practitioner could get work. He has wasted no time in proving his critics right by turning the Parliamentary media operation into an extension of the ANC attack machine.
I also suppose that we shouldn’t expect any different when the Secretary himself cannot distinguish his role between the Party and the Institution, which is why he sees no problem attending ANC speakers’ forums at Luthuli House to carry out party business. Of course, “Goebbels” Mathopo promptly tried to spin the Secretary as this non-partisan who attends to all party caucuses. I bet there is not a single other party caucus or training that has been graced by his presence. I’m going to investigate who paid for those flights and accommodation costs to attend this meeting. I have a sneaking suspicion what the answer will be.
How funny then that Mgidlana punts the recently launched “new organisational values”, values which include professionalism, integrity, accountability, openness and teamwork, when he and his closest affiliates practice none of these.
Take for example how “special bid adjudication committees” are set up where the Secretary appoints himself to serve despite the fact that the supply chain regulations do not provide for this and where the Secretary is supposed to act as the adjudicator, essentially being both player and referee. We believe that this is a serious breach of the Supply Chain Management (SCM) regulations and the Financial Management of Parliament and Legislatures Act (FMPPLA). We have further concerns about the process used by the Secretary to simply write off fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
It’s clear that the secretary wants to deal with the deficit by making the staff pay for it through denying them bonuses, which they have worked hard for, and by retrenching those staff members who do not bend to his whims. I have a message for those staff members to stand firm. The time is fast approaching when this Parliament will be under new management and we can turn it into a world-class operation by truly working together for the betterment of this special institution.
We can have a functioning and effective Parliament. It’s going to require leaders both political and administrative who put the needs of this institution first, ahead of self-interest, ahead of party interest.
We can truly be an institution that represents our people, their hopes, their concerns, their needs and aspirations, but that means we must always put the people first, ahead of selfish interests and narrow partisanship.
We believe passionately in this institution. We believe that when Parliament works, South Africa works and we must, as an institution, strive harder every single day to live up to the expectations placed upon us by the framers of the Constitution and the people of this great nation.
And so, back to the beginning if I may. Madam Speaker, the answer to your question is an emphatic no!
No, I will never get tired of fighting for a Parliament that does what it is supposed to do.
No, I will never get tired of fighting for the 9 million unemployed South Africans who have suffered through the policies of the Zuma administration.
No, I will never get tired of fighting for greater executive accountability from the President and his cabinet.
And most of all no, I will never get tired of fighting to hold you accountable, and for you to just do your job as the head of this institution.

Minister Dlodlo should stop Muthambi taking the SABC inquiry report on review

Parliament’s Legal Services have today confirmed that Faith Muthambi is indeed still taking the SABC Inquiry report on review.
In a Notice of Motion filed in the Western Cape High Court on 5 April 2017, and signed on 29 March 2017 – before the Cabinet Reshuffle – Muthambi requests that the court declare the recommendation of the SABC Inquiry Ad Hoc committee that – “The President should seriously reconsider the desirability of this particular Minister retaining the Communications portfolio”– constitutionally invalid and unlawful; and set is aside.
Muthambi indicates in her founding affidavits that her application has “nothing to do with the individual who is the Minister of Communications at any given time”, thereby saddling the Department of Communications with the litigation, and the costs thereof.
The DA has submitted parliamentary questions to the new Minister of Communications, Ayanda Dlodlo, requesting confirmation of whether she intends on pursuing this litigation, and using public money in order to do so.
In line with her oft-said commitment to restore public confidence in the Communications Department, Minister Dlodlo would do well to withdraw this litigation.
If Muthambi would like to take the report on review, as she is entitled, she should do so in her personal capacity, out of her own pocket. The recommendation had nothing to do with the office of the Minister of Communications, but her own failures as a Minister.
Not a cent of public money should be spent on this court case.
The DA looks forward to the finalisation of Parliament’s report on those who may have misled or provided false testimony during the SABC inquiry, which includes Muthambi. Parliament’s Legal Services indicated that a report will be tabled on 5 June 2017, detailing against whom criminal charges should be laid.
Muthambi, must be held accountable for her role in the crisis that the SABC finds itself in.

It’s been a year of antagonism between the Minister and the ICT sector

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Marian Shinn MP, during the Budget Vote on Telecommunications and Postal Services.
About a year ago, the took fright at the National Integrated Information and Communication (ICT) White Paper Policy and within months, gazetted its invitation to network operators to participate in an auction for the much sought after high demand spectrum.
There’s an impolite way to say what happened next, but let’s just say that the fan is still spinning.
It’s been a year of antagonism between the Minister and the ICT sector. Legal battles were launched, there were threats of expropriation, or more benignly, nationalisation of the mobile network business, and mutterings about taking this ANC government all the way to the Constitutional Court to protect the due process of law making and the preservation of private-sector financial investments.
But the hullabaloo around contentious aspects of the White Paper has had some effect. The Minister’s agreement last week to some of the recommendations of the ICT stakeholders, including mobile network operators, must be clearly documented as policy amendments – which is what they are – despite the Minister’s spin of ‘flexibility in implementation’.
All of this angst could have been avoided if the Department’s true focus was on a credible process of delivery of ubiquitous, affordable, robust broadband access for all. Instead, we were presented with a suspiciously spawned network idea that smelled of connected cronies making a grab for other people’s businesses in the guise of radically upending the ICT sector to transform it.
What ICASA saw a long year ago was a policy idea that would introduce a wholesale network monopoly that would inhibit investment in the sector and keep costs high through lack of competition.
The way this ANC government ambushed the ICT sector with a drastic plan that would crush, arguably, the most dynamic and successful economic sector since our democratic dawn, is shocking.
The deluge of critical opinion on the details of the network and the Policy White Paper came from many sources: specialist IT lawyers, business leaders in the sector, academics.
The outcry forced the Minister to encourage informal talks with the sector to get its views on how to ‘implement’ the policy. He was adamant there would be no changes to the policy.
The concessions he has agreed with the core of stakeholders involves allowing the mobile network operators to retain the spectrum they currently use to service their customer bases, as well as access to ‘sufficient’ high-demand spectrum. This will enable them to run in parallel to the Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN) while committing to be its significant customers.
There’s a legal and operational minefield to traverse here as the WOAN will depend on a share of the operators’ business to survive, and its assigned spectrum might not always be appropriate to the demands of the operators’ customers.
Also, the operators are being asked to commit, now, to using 51% of a network that, even with optimum efficiency, will take at least six years to build. Who knows what the market and the economy will look like in 2022.
We await the written details of the way forward with the new network plan. It must be implemented in a phased approach to test its objectives and refine its implementation.
The plan must be underpinned by thorough, credible research, on the financial, economic and social impacts. It cannot be another shoddy, tick-box job that the Minister reluctantly put out earlier this year to extol the virtues of his policy.
But the promise of open access wireless network is years away. Its birth is hampered by another spectacular ANC government failure: the migration to digital broadcasting that will free up the spectrum needed for the wireless broadband delivery of a vast array of content, applications and services.
This migration is bogged down in the courts thanks to a suspect policy amendment made by Minister Muthambi. The new Minister of Communications indicates that a reversal of this policy is pending.
But this is only the first step in breaking the logjam. There is the seemingly corrupt procurement process for the production of government-sponsored set-top boxes. The process needs to be revised.
Another failure of this ANC government in delivering affordable internet throughout the country is South Africa Connect. The tender to find a lead agency to manage this ambitious project failed last year.
Had the Minister taken the advice of the National Broadband Advisory Council, rather than snubbing it into oblivion, they would have steered him clear of the ‘lead agency’ mistake. Phase 1, announced in SONA 2015, would be well on its way by now.
Despite its mantra of bringing down the cost to communicate and spreading internet connectivity to the farthest and poorest regions of our land, this department is treading water.
Its delivery is weighed down by misguided ANC policies, its hoarding of spectrum, its actions without consideration of consequences and its determination to centralise and control this most dynamic, innovative and fast-paced economic sector.
It creates one talk shop after another to pretend it is listening to the ICT sector players. They’re becoming conference groupies, both here and abroad.
It dreams up policies to create more bureaucracy and establishes boards for connected cronies at the expense of the taxpayers. All of which pushes up costs which taxpayers fund.
The Department has neither the budget nor the resources to deliver on the legislative mandate it has foisted on itself for the next three years.
They should instead focus their energies on key deliverables, such as facilitating and incentivising the investment and rollout of fixed and wireless broadband internet. The Western Cape government gave them a presentation last week on best practice in this field.
Its main messages are: one size doesn’t fit all; devolve responsibility locally; seek innovative solutions relevant to the circumstances and preferably with local providers who are managed to deliver on standards and to deadlines.
This is what a DA-led government does to deliver connectivity. We’ve already proved this where we govern.