SOE Review: R100bn lost in two-years

On Wednesday the Democratic Alliance (DA) wrote to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, requesting a full-scale review of our failing and debt-ridden state-owned entities (SOEs), which have cumulative losses amounting to almost R100 billion. According to the National Treasury’s 2019 Consolidated Financial Statement report, loss making public entities raked up a consolidated loss of R50.65 billion in 2016/17 and R45.82 billion in 2017/18.

These financial losses increase on a daily basis and are proof that the status quo is no longer feasible. South Africa’s SOEs must, as a matter of urgency, be completely overhauled. Their insurmountable debt poses great risks to our economy and the functioning of our societies, as many of them are bankrupt and completely unable to provide the services they are mandated to deliver. Furthermore, several of these hundreds of SOEs duplicate functions and should not even exist in the first place.

The DA will continue to fight for this comprehensive review, which should be conducted to evaluate which SOEs are necessary, which SOEs need to be dissolved, which should be partially privatised, and which should be privatised in their entirety.

It is time to be pragmatic, and to stop playing politics. SOEs represent some of the biggest monopolies in the South African economy, and by conducting a comprehensive review, government would be providing citizens with a clear indication that they are willing to start the process of structural change to protect our economy from further financial losses.

We cannot be sentimental about SOEs when they add little to no value to the people of South Africa and the economy. The country’s is in crisis, it therefore requires urgent reforms, starting with Eskom.

In the interests of justice, the ANC must appear before the Zondo Commission into State Capture

The following remarks were delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a picket outside the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in Parktown, Johannesburg. Maimane was joined by Team One South Africa member for Corruption, Phumzile van Damme, Team One South Africa member for State Capture, Natasha Mazzone, and Team One South Africa Campaign Spokesperson, Solly Malatsi

Today we are gathered outside the Zondo Commission into State Capture to make one thing clear: the ANC must be called before the Commission, to play open cards and to answer each and every allegation levelled against the party and its members so that South Africans can be assured no stone has been left unturned in the pursuit of justice. Corruption and state capture is an enemy of the poor, vulnerable and jobless, and steals opportunity from South Africans by making ANC-connected cadres rich.

Nine days ago, the DA’s lawyers wrote to the Secretary of the Commission into State Capture, Dr Khotso De Wee, to request confirmation that Gwede Mantashe, Jessie Duarte, Jacob Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Mosebenzi Zwane, Malusi Gigaba, Des van Rooyen, Lynne Brown, Tom Moyane, Arthur Fraser, David Mahlobo, and David Mabuza be called to testify before the Commission.

Our lawyers have not yet received a response to our letter to Dr De Wee from 18 September. We reiterate this call and implore the Commission to consider this request in light of the sheer depth of corruption and capture, and its damaging effects on the livelihoods of ordinary South Africans. Nothing in the Commission’s Terms of Reference bar it from calling the above-mentioned individuals to appear and to account.

We applaud the great work already carried out by the Commission and look forward to observing today’s proceedings. The Commission has rightly focussed on inquiring into the truth behind state capture and have not permitted a trial of the losing ANC faction from last year’s ANC National Conference at Nasrec to take root. This is not about settling scores, it’s about ensuring those who stole the people’s money are held to account and are put behind bars.

While the ANC must account for their leading role in State Capture and their senior leadership must testify, the Commission cannot become a tool to settle ANC internal factionalism and navigate ANC cadre deployment. These 12 ANC members can mitigate this risk by telling the truth before the Commission.

State capture did not begin with the election of former President Jacob Zuma in 2009. Rather, state capture and corruption is central to the ANC’s very nature and being. Cadre deployment has been an ANC policy for the better part of 20 years, allowing corruption, nepotism, cronyism and ultimately state capture to ensue.

It defies reason for President Cyril Ramaphosa to have not known about ANC involvement in state capture as he was second in command of both the ANC and the country as Deputy President. He must appear before the Commission to explain whether he knew about state capture, and what he did about it once he found out.

The Minister for Woman in the Presidency, Bathabile Dlamini, has famously quipped that most within the ANC have their own ‘smallanyana skeletons.’ South Africa deserves a Commission that will call these ANC members to unearth the truth behind the ANC’s leading role in the capturing of the state.

State capture is a criminal system that continues to operate parallel to national government. Change that builds One South Africa for All hinges on South Africans knowing the truth behind this shadow state.

The DA’s plan to fighting corruption like this includes establishing an independent unit dedicated to identifying, fighting and prosecuting corruption. Our agenda for change also intends to bring in direct elections for all political office holders so that the South African people can hold their Mayors, Premiers and President directly accountable.

The DA will fight corruption to ensure that all money is spent on the people and if voted into government, will ensure that anyone found guilty of corruption will be sentenced to 15 years in jail. The ANC is the same old part full of empty promises and rewarding their failure to fight corruption won’t change anything.

Our Constitutional democracy will not survive another quarter century of state capture. Jacob Zuma’s continued denial of its mere existence drastically increases the risk of a circulation of ANC capture through different actors.

The ANC, as arch architects of corruption and state capture, must appear before this Commission and tell South Africans the truth.

Maimane calls for Ramaphosa to table terms and conditions of R33 billion Eskom-China loan in Parliament within 14 days

In Wednesday’s Oral Questions session in Parliament, I asked President Ramaphosa about the nature of the R33 billion loan agreement that Eskom recently signed with the Chinese Development Bank. The President assured me that government is committed to transparency and accountability when borrowing money that will ultimately need to be paid back by the people of South Africa.

However, the terms and conditions of this loan – particularly around South Africa’s repayment liability – remain secret.

Therefore, in the spirit of transparency and accountability, I have today written to President Ramaphosa requesting that he tables the full unredacted loan agreement, with all its material terms and conditions, before the National Assembly within 14 days. If he fails to do so, the DA will submit a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request for the loan terms to be made public.

If the President is confident that the agreement is in the best interest of the South African people, he will surely accede to our request.

It is difficult to imagine that the Chinese Development Bank approved a R33 billion loan to Eskom with no strings attached. Eskom is in dire financial straits and made a R2.3 billion loss in the last financial year. It is therefore not clear how Eskom or the South African government will find the money to pay back this loan.

It is common cause that loans of this nature often keep developing countries in perpetual debt and create an environment for rampant corruption and abuse by the state at the expense of its people. Secrecy of agreements between the government and extra-state institutions lay at the heart of state capture.

In recent times, countries have paid a heavy price for entering into such loans. For example, Sri Lanka had to relinquish control of one of their ports as well as handing over 15 000 hectares of land when they failed to repay stringent terms and conditions of a Chinese Development Bank loan.

Eskom Chairman, Jabu Mabuza’s reply to DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone MP, disclosed some of the more general terms, but did not provide much detail, and importantly did not provide information on default liability. A loan of this magnitude, with the tax payer likely to foot the loan repayments, must be transparent.

President Ramaphosa needs to break away from the era of secrecy which is the ANC government’s modus operandi and make public the terms and conditions of this loan so that Parliament can fulfill its Constitutional duty of oversight and accountability.

From State Capture to State Collapse: The Legacy of a Failed ANC

The following remarks were delivered by Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, the DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone MP, and the DA Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, at a press conference in Cape Town today.

State Capture has been the defining feature of the ANC government for the past decade. While the DA welcomes that the work the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, led by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, has now begun, it is important to confront its legacy.

From the appointment and protection of corrupt or unqualified individuals, the purging and threatening of whistle-blowers and dedicated state employees, the unabated looting of public funds, the ANC’s mismanagement has gutted the State. What is worse, the ANC has forced South Africans to carry the cost.

Not only has the ANC allowed State Capture to thrive but they have reached into the pockets of every South African to pay for it, indirectly through bailouts and guarantees, and directly through the recent VAT increase, the successive fuel increases. Life is harder and more expensive for citizens.

Essentially State Capture has led to the very real reality of State Collapse which we are now left with. This collapsed state is not just about the billions lost, but it is the very real consequences it has had on suffocating the potential of our people and country to realise its potential.

State Collapse means our children attend schools with no toilets, it means our elderly go hungry for days not knowing when or if they will get the social grant they rely on just to get by. It has meant that millions more South Africans live with the indignity and fear of entrusting their loved ones to a health system that neglects, abuses and in many instances, kills them.

State Capture came to light two years ago and yet there have been no arrests of politicians or corrupt officials. The DA has called for commissions, laid criminal charges and made great endeavours to hold the ANC government to account. However, it is now clear that South Africa can no longer endure another five years of disastrous ANC governance. While we will continue to fulfil our Constitutional role to hold those who loot the public purse accountable, it is clear that the ANC cannot self-correct. They simply do not know how. It is now incumbent on the millions of South Africans to punish them for their broken promises.

Today, we are here to join the dots on how this reckless and self-enriching approach to governance has resulted in bankrupt state entities, increased criminal activity and the highest number of unemployed people since the advent of democracy.

State Capture hollows out tax collection as government levies corruption tax

Once the beacon of public sector excellence, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) has suffered massive institutional erosion since former president Jacob Zuma deployed Tom Moyane to head the tax-collecting agency in 2014. Over the last four years, as State Capture reached its zenith, there has been a revenue shortfall of approximately R100 billion, described by one senior SARS official as entirely self-inflicted. The agency’s notorious investigative capacity was dismantled, and honest taxpayers’ rights were violated as tax refunds were refused or delayed, causing some business to shed jobs and others to close entirely.  Meanwhile, Moyane ensured Gupta-linked companies received hundreds of millions of rands in tax refunds, often illegally paid into attorneys’ trust accounts.

Corruption has infiltrated the once proud tax agency with the illicit tobacco trade increasingly being overlooked, costing the fiscus an estimated R37 billion between 2010 and 2017. There is no clearer example of organised crime and corruption costing ordinary South Africans dearly, both in terms of money for service delivery and jobs.

In a desperate attempt to plug the revenue gap, the ANC has turned to levy corruption tax on each and every South African. From the increase in VAT to the increase in the fuel levy, South Africans have been asked to pay an inefficient and indifferent government more and more, precisely as the cost of living amid soars.

Throwing good money after bad

Nothing illustrates that abject failure of the ANC government better than our ailing state-owned entities (SOEs) which became the epicentre of the State Capture project and the embodiment of maladministration and unimaginable waste.

The list of SOEs that have been swallowing up tax-payers money is shamefully long and cannot be considered in its entirety. However, some have become synonymous with corruption, cadre deployment, poor governance and the ever-present threat of financial ruin.

Eskom

Eskom has received large injections of capital from the government to the detriment of spending on other key areas. A R23 billion capital injection in 2015 was soon followed by the dubious conversion of a R60 billion subordinated loan to equity in 2016 to strengthen the utility’s balance sheet.

While cash has been pouring in, State Capture allegations and financial mismanagement have been rampant with the sale of the Optimum mine to the Gupta-owned Tegeta; inflated coal contracts; and redundant McKinsey/Trillian consulting fees.

The two large, coal-fired power stations at Medupi and Kusile have also doubled in price since they were first commissioned, with poor project management, labour unrest, procurement irregularities and contractor incompetence leading the way.

While high electricity costs and power outages have acted a brake on economic growth, Eskom accounted for R41.5 billion in finance costs and continues to record annual financial losses, amounting to R2.3 billion in the previous financial year alone.

South African Airlines (SAA)

SAA has been one of the most inefficient and worst run SOEs, hollowed out by State Capture and mismanagement by ANC cadres. Since 2009/10, the airline has received bailouts to the tune of R11.5 billion –  this doesn’t even consider guarantees extended to the airline, the R5 billion transition finance agreement announced earlier in 2018, or the R21.7 billion promised over the next three years set out in SAA’s corporate plan. The airline is a good example that the ANC puts cadres before South Africa, as the airline has no strategic or developmental value, yet good money that could be used far better is given to the SAA elites.

 

Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA)

Systematic corruption and mismanagement at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) have led our rail system into near collapse. The rail system is plagued by chronic delays, dangerous conditions and vandalism that is totally out of control. According to the Auditor-General, the entity and group had incurred a combined accumulated loss of R8.9 billion at March 2017, with another R14.1 billion in irregular expenditure during the 2015/16 financial year. The Public Protector’s 2015 “Derailed Report” described how top officials at PRASA handed out contracts to friends and allies, amounting to almost R3 billion. Corruption and mismanagement have led to a lack of safety officials and police which is making crime thrive and chronic delays are costing jobs because no alternatives are in place when the system inevitably breaks down. With the context of increasing fuel prices and record unemployment, it is shocking that the only truly affordable transportation has been brought to a standstill.

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC)

The after years of political capture and gross mismanagement, the SABC is now almost R700 million in debt. This week, senior employees revealed to Parliament’s portfolio committee that they are paying salaries first and thereafter utilities, in the hopes of just keeping the doors open. After meeting all of their obligations this month, the public broadcaster will have only R26 million left in its bank account.

The SABC has also failed in its mandate as the public broadcaster, acting instead as a captured “state broadcaster” that serves as an ANC mouthpiece and even dutifully airing videos made by the Party’s leader upon request.

This week we also saw hundreds of employees of the “Afro World View” news network, formerly known as ANN7, summarily lose their jobs because the network was forced to close its doors.

This comes amid an economic climate where millions of young South Africans struggle to find employment. The thought that employees of the SABC may soon follow suit is unbearable.

From State Capture to State Collapse: The Human Cost

Social grants

After a disastrous 2016/2017 in which the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), Net1 and the Department of Social Development came close to entirely collapsing the social grant systems, whilst spending R42 million on setting up unnecessary “workstreams” and wasting R1.4 billion in irregular expenditure, it was hoped that under a new Minister in 2018 the entity will turn itself around. So far, this hope is not holding up.

During the past few months, the DA has conducted numerous oversight inspections to SASSA pay points to monitor the process of switching over from CPS to the South African Post Office (SAPO). The process has been characterised by long queues and endless frustration. In July and again in August many grant beneficiaries had to wait for weeks to receive their money as glitches in the system caused many payments to not go through or to not reflect on beneficiaries’ cards.

Meanwhile, the cost of living has been rising steadily for South Africans across the spectrum, with enormous fuel price hikes driving up the cost of food and other commodities. According to the PACSA monthly food price barometer, the price of a basic food basket increased by about 7% between September 2017 and May 2018. Standing at just over R3,000 now, this is entirely unaffordable for the average family that rely on social grants for their income.

Local government in disarray

State Capture and State Collapse influences every single level of government, yet local governments are especially impacted, and their financial position is perilous. Only approximately 7% of our municipalities function well; 112 out of 257 municipalities had unfunded budgets in 2017/181; 87 municipalities are labelled as distressed; and 11 municipalities are under Section 139 interventions (under some form of administration). This is a clear picture of maladministration, and at the end of the day, the poorest of the poor pay the most for this maladministration and collapse of local government.

Maladministration is not the only issue, but blatant corruption is present at many municipalities. The clearest example is the fact that 15 municipalities illegally deposited funds with VBS Mutual Bank, in contravention of the MFMA and against the explicit instructions of National Treasury to not do so. It is highly unlikely that these municipalities will get their deposits back, estimated to be R1.5 billion. This will hamper their ability to provide services and could lead to a collapse of these municipalities.

Public safety

The Presidential Protection Unit currently employs 1,382 staff members at a cost of R693 million per annum, protecting a mere 17 individuals on a permanent basis. VIPs are kept safe by 81 protection personnel each, whereas ordinary South Africans have to make due with one police officer for every 369 people. In Nyanga in the Western Cape, the country’s so-called “murder capital”, the police-to-population ratio is an estimated one police officer to every 628 residents.

While current and former Heads of State and their spouses are safely protected, millions of South Africans live in constant fear of being the next victims of violent crime in our country.

Human settlements

There is currently a backlog of 1.8 million people registered on the Department of Human Settlement’s National Housing Needs Register (NHNR). The Department is a sterling example of how the ANC government has taken South Africa backwards.

In Mpumalanga, years of maladministration and rampant corruption under then-Premier DD Mabuza has left thousands out in the cold.  With a housing backlog of 183,555, a collapse of service delivery and spreading protests are the legacy of the Deputy President in the province. Indeed, under President Ramaphosa, looters and crooks have not been prosecuted: they have been promoted.

The DA has conducted countrywide visits and exposed how the failed ANC government has denied South Africans dignified housing. Too often even those residents who have been given structures continue to wait for the running water, electricity and proper sewerage systems to be fully installed at incomplete and crumbling houses.

Public healthcare

The ANC has decided to forge ahead with the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme despite the dismal failure of the pilot projects around the country. This failure has cost South Africa a budgeted amount of R2,3 billion this year alone, and still, the failing ANC government would have us gut the private health care system, putting the health of South Africa in their exclusive care at a cost of almost R200 billion per year.  We are only now coming to grips with the trauma that began with a R1.2 billion corruption scandal in the Gauteng Department of Health and culminated in the deaths of 144 patients in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. We mourn the 499 cancer patients who died while awaiting treatment in KwaZulu-Natal in 2015 and 2016, the result of the oncology crisis which unfolded on the ANC’s watch. This government has broken our healthcare system and the NHI is a poisonous solution devised to fuel further ANC corruption.

Higher education

In a last-ditch attempt to shore up his corrupt patronage network, Jacob Zuma announced increased financial support for students in December 2017. This desperate attempt to sway the ANC elective conference in favour of his chosen successor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, is set to cost the taxpayers R43 billion extra as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is expanded over the next three years.

Zuma’s surprise declaration meant that NSFAS officials had less than a month before the academic year got underway to deal with tens of thousands of new applications in an already struggling system. Treasury and the Department of Higher Education and Training admitted that they were not consulted and were not ready. As a result, nearly 75,000 students who were awarded NSFAS funding for 2018 have not yet received their funding – eight months into the academic year. Stuck in limbo without qualifications or support, these students will not be securing lasting employment any time soon.

Basic education

School safety is one of the major casualties of the looting of the fiscus and Zuma’s Higher Education promise. The 2018 budget for school infrastructure suffered a massive cut of R7.2 billion, despite a backlog of schools that are falling apart and lack basic services.  Pit toilets at schools, in which two young learners have lost their lives in recent times, would cost R7.5 billion to eradicate – almost the exact amount cut from the infrastructure budget. 24 years after the advent of democracy, 3,898 schools still have only pit toilets for use, while another 3,040 have dangerous unused pit toilets that have not yet been demolished. Meanwhile, 97,000 learners who need transport to get to school safely are not receiving it, due to a budget shortfall of R640 million. These learners will never make it to post-school education or employment if their safety at school continues to be compromised.

Unsecured borders

Constitutional delinquent and ultimate Cabinet reshuffle survivor, Malusi Gigaba, has failed to attend to South Africa’s burgeoning immigration problem. Seemingly preoccupied with expediting the Gupta’s naturalization process, he has overseen a failing Department of Home Affairs (DHA) which simply does not have the capacity or the resources to identify, detain and deport illegal immigrants. In 2017 alone 384,357 people came into South Africa and failed to leave upon expiry of their visas – this figure only accounts for those persons from the top five ‘offending’ countries. Department figures dating back to 2013 put that number at well over one million. Our failure to deal with illegal immigration has cost the country R279 million over the last five years on deportations alone. And with fewer than 800 immigration officers in the country whose job it is to seek and arrest undocumented immigrants, undocumented immigrants often go undetected for years.

The asylum system has a backlog of more than 100,000 applications which, by DHA’s own admission, is a gross underestimation. The Department’s inefficiencies in the processing of asylum applications have led to asylum seekers – who followed proper procedures upon entry into the country – failing to get renewed permits timeously due to staff shortages and Refugee Reception Office closures. These applications are then kicked out of the system, rendering the applicants illegal. And these cases are not included in the backlog figure quoted above.

 

Water and sanitation

The Vaal River crisis is a potential environmental catastrophe. Accounting for some 45% of the drinking water in South Africans and 60% of economic water support supplied, the system forms an integral part of South Africa’s water supply.

The crisis was identified as far back as 2008, with studies by the CSIR pointing to high levels of toxicity caused by the discharge of raw sewage and industrial waste, the direct result of mismanagement, poor infrastructure development and lack of maintenance by the Emfuleni and Ngwathe local authorities. Water experts believe it could cost between R800 billion and R1 trillion to rejuvenate the water system.

Meanwhile, the Auditor-General found R6.4 billion in wasteful and irregular expenditure at the Department of Water and Sanitation, dating back to 2014 when Nomvula Mokonyane was appointed as minister. Mokonyane’s tenure included an unbudgeted amount of R2.5 billion for the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority; the so-called “War on Leaks” programme, costing R524 million, was included under the service programmes and not budgeted for; and a staggering R848 million is owed to municipalities and water boards.

Moving South Africa Forward Again

The DA, as the Official Opposition, has done everything possible to hold the ANC-led government to account. Through our tireless work and using every tool at our disposal that corruption, State Capture, bad governance and institutional incapacity has been laid bare. The ANC has been given every opportunity to address these problems, be it through Motions of No Confidence in Jacob Zuma and his enablers or through our tireless drive to expose State Capture in the Legislature.

The Zondo Commission is finally up and running, and we hope it is given the space and support to complete its important work. It will take time. But we cannot ignore the fact that, to date, no-one has gone to jail and no senior politician has lost their job.

The DA believes that the ANC as an organisation must be called to appear before the Zondo Commission to explain their part in the project of State Capture, and we will be consulting legal advisors on how we can achieve this.

The DA in Parliament has done everything possible to uncover the rot and hold people to account, but Parliament itself has been sidelined and undermined by the ANC. In June 2017, four portfolio committees that were tasked by House Chairperson Cedric Frolick to investigate allegations of State Capture, yet it was the sterling work done by another portfolio committee, on Public Enterprises, that turned the tide and made it impossible for the stonewalling to continue.

The ANC is clearly not fit to govern. Indeed, it doesn’t matter who is tasked with leading the organisation. The failing ANC has brought the State to the brink of collapse and it has no idea how to turn things around.

It’s now up to the voters.

We will be launching our offer to South Africans, alongside all our Premier candidates next month. We will travel to every corner of the country, knocking on every door and speaking to South Africans. It is now time for voters to remove the failing ANC at the polls in 2019. We no longer can endure another 5 years of disastrous ANC governance.

Natasha Mazzone elected Deputy Chair of Federal Council

During the Democratic Alliance (DA) Federal Congress which took place on 7 & 8 April 2018 Congress resolved to amend section 6.2.4.1 of the Federal Constitution to the effect that two members would serve as deputy chairs of the Federal Council (FedCo). In terms of another section of the Federal Constitution these office bears must be elected during the Federal Congress.

FedCo on 6 April 2018 resolved that voting in this election would take place on Sunday 8 April 2018, subject to the approval by Congress of the creation of two Deputy Chairpersons. This meant that two Deputy Chairpersons of FedCo would be elected if Congress adopted that amendment to the Federal Constitution.

In order to seek clarity, the matter was taken to the Federal Legal Commission (FLC), which resolved that “the position of a second Deputy Chairperson of the Federal Council is to be filled by way of the result of the vote that took place on 8 April 2018 during Federal Congress.”

Therefore, I wish to congratulate Ms Natasha Mazzone MP on her election as a Deputy Chairperson of Federal Council.

Ms Mazzone brings with her a wealth of experience that will add deeply to the work of the 155-member FedCo, the Party’s highest decision-making body between Congresses.

Ms Mazzone first started serving in the Party’s leadership structures over twenty years ago, when she was elected Chairperson of the then Democratic Party’s (DP’s) University of Pretoria Youth Branch in 1997. In May 2009, she was elected as a Member of Parliament. She’s been serving as the DA’s Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises since February 2012, a role in which she has been at the forefront of the fight against State Capture, exercising her duties with exemplary courage.

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

DA demands protection for Eskom Inquiry committee members and witnesses

The Democratic Alliance will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to demand protection for both members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises currently investigating allegations of State Capture at Eskom as well as the witnesses appearing before the inquiry.
It is clear from recent media reports that those implicated in the illicit activity at Eskom will stop at nothing to hamper the investigation into State Capture. It has already emerged that witnesses appearing before this committee are at risk, as evidenced in Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara’s affidavit in which he alleges that State Security Minister Bongani Bongo attempted to bribe him to step down as evidence leader in the inquiry.
However, committee members are now also being targeted – the Democratic Alliance’s member on this committee, Natasha Mazzone, has recently been followed and her vehicle has also been tampered with.
As the truth emerges in this inquiry into how billions of rands are being unlawfully funnelled away from our state enterprises to a small group of politically connected criminals, it is blatantly obvious that both committee members and witnesses appearing before this inquiry need to be afforded protection by Parliament.
The Democratic Alliance will not yield to intimidation or halt our efforts to ensure that those implicated in State Capture are held to account and criminally prosecuted.

DA refers Lynne Brown to Ethics Committee for misleading Parliament

The DA will today submit a formal complaint to the Parliamentary Ethics Committee against Public Enterprises Minister, Lynne Brown, for allegedly misleading
Parliament, when she failed to disclose if there had been any contracts of engagement between Eskom and Trillian, a Gupta-linked company.
In response to a DA parliamentary question (PQ), Minister Brown stated that no agreement existed between Eskom and Trillian. However, AmaBhungane, has established that either Trillian or its subsidiary companies had, at the time of the reply, already invoiced Eskom for R266 million.
This means that the Minister may not have been truthful in her reply to the PQ, which would be a breach of the Code of Ethical Conduct and Disclosure of Members’ Interests.
According to Section 4.1.3 and 4.1.4 of the Code, Members “must act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them” and “discharge their obligations, in terms of the Constitution, to Parliament and the public at large, by placing the public interests above their own interest…”.
If these allegations are true, it would indicate that the Minister is seemingly part of the Zuma-Gupta self-enrichment cartel currently operating at Eskom. We are led to ask if Minister Brown has been put in her position to further the Guptas nuclear interests – which would be a further contravention of the Code.
The DA has already referred these allegations to the Public Protector, to ensure that the matter is investigated.
Minister Brown has today also bunked out of accounting to Parliament on the Brian Molefe fiasco, by raising a legally inadequate argument of the matter being sub judice. What Brown clearly overlooks is that the Nkandla judgement places Parliament under a positive obligation to hold the Executive to account for executive actions and decisions, with which the sub judice rule cannot compete. The rule is, by the admission of Parliament’s own Chief Legal Advisor “archaic” and only applicable if the committee was intending to reflect on the merits of a case before court, which Brown accounting to Parliament would not do.
By allowing Brown to hide behind the sub judice rule to escape appearing before an extraordinary sitting of the committee today, Parliament has failed in this obligation and has let Brown off the hook for now.
The DA, therefore, calls on the Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, as the Leader of Government Business, to instruct Brown to appear at the next sitting of the Portfolio Committee, and to ensure that Brown submits herself to a full-scale Parliamentary inquiry into the state of Eskom and the return of Brian Molefe as CEO.
I will write to Ramaphosa today, urging him to ensure that Brown submits herself to a full-scale inquiry – it is his responsibility as Leader of Government Business to do so.
The DA will make use of every possible avenue to ensure that Minister Brown is held to account for any discrepancies regarding Trillian and the return of Brian Molefe.
Our state-owned enterprises are in crises because of a failing Minister and her skewed interests.
It is becoming increasingly clear that the ANC government can no longer govern our country in the interest of our people and that the DA is the only alternative to this captured ANC-government.

Dodging ANC minister, Lynne Brown, cannot hide behind sub judice

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s outrageous about turn regarding her appearance before Parliament’s extraordinary Public Enterprises Committee meeting tomorrow, is a damning indictment on her waning credibility as a Minister and is yet another example of the all too common practice of ANC ministers dodging accountability.
Yesterday the committee was informed that the Minister will no longer appear before Parliament to account for the shocking reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom CEO, as the Department believes that the matter is sub judice.
However, Parliament’s legal opinion stated that the sub judice rule does not necessarily apply to this extraordinary sitting, so long as the committee does not delve into the rationality of Brian Molefe’s appointment.
Parliament can and must still play a vital oversight role alongside court processes.
There are still many important questions regarding governance failures, the processes that allowed for Molefe’s early retirement and the decisions around the R30 million pay-out for which we, and all South Africans, deserve answers.
Parliament can investigate these despite the current court challenge.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Minister Brown is hiding behind the sub judice rule to avoid being held accountable for the catastrophic redeployment of Molefe and her apparent failure at the helm of her department.
It is unacceptable that Parliament is letting her do so. Parliament has the power to summon the Minister and must exercise this power on behalf of all South Africans.
The DA Deputy Chief Whip, Mike Waters MP, raised the attempted cancellation and was given the assurance by ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu MP, as well as ANC Deputy Chief Whip, Dorries Dlakude MP, that they would engage on the matter but the meeting would continue as scheduled.
Under Lynne Brown’s watch, good governance practices have completely collapsed at Eskom and corruption has been allowed to fester with impunity.
The recent revelations that Brown allegedly mislead Parliament when she failed to disclose if there had been contracts of engagement between Eskom and Trillian, a company owned by the Guptas, is perfect evidence of this.
The DA will, therefore, refer these allegations to the Public Protector for investigation and will also ensure that the Trillion matter forms part of the broader investigation by Parliament into Eskom.
It now appears that the Minister has ties to the Gupta’s and is seemingly blocking Molefe’s removal as Eskom CEO.
It is time for Parliament to perform proper oversight and hold the Minister and the board accountable for the mess at Eskom, as the President has shown his unwillingness to do so because his priorities lie with the self-interest, not with the people of South Africa.

Eskom: DA requests Ramatlhodi’s damning allegations be added to Parliamentary inquiry

The damning allegations by the former Minister of Mineral Resources, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, that Eskom’s then CEO Brian Molefe and Chairperson Ben Ngubane tried to force him to withdraw Glencore’s Optimum mining licences in a bid to help the Gupta’s takeover Glencore’s coal mines, are astounding and deserve a full scale investigation as part of the Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom which the DA has requested.
The DA has already written to Parliament’s Chair of Chairs, Cederic Frolick, to ask that Parliament’s Public Enterprises committee launch a full-scale parliamentary inquiry into Eskom, without delay.
I have this morning written to Mr Frolick to urge that these most recent “Ramatlhodi allegations” also be investigated in the course of the inquiry and that Mr Frolick urgently provides a timeline for the inquiry.
We demand that this matter receives the utmost urgency and is taken with full seriousness by Parliament, and this requires a full-scale Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom, including the new “Ramatlhodi allegations,” as soon as possible.
With each passing day, there are more and more allegations that Eskom, under Brian Molefe, has been looted for the benefit of one family, who are apparently at the heart of a project, headed by President Jacob Zuma, to capture our country for their own self-enrichment. This is also revealed in the state capture report.
That Brian Molefe was allegedly prepared to put the jobs and livelihoods of approximately 35 000 Glencore employees at risk, to help the Gupta’s essentially hi-jack Glencore’s mines, is simply appalling.
This must not be allowed to stand. Parliament must investigate and must expose the rot within Eskom, calculated to benefit the Gupta’s at public expense.
The fact that the Minister of Public Enterprises, Lynne Brown, has seen fit to reappoint the man at the centre of so many damning allegations, including the Public Protector’s ‘State of Capture’ report, as the head of Eskom has been widely rejected by South Africa and now Parliament must hear the voices of these outraged South Africans.
Our court action, filed yesterday against Mr Molefe, is the first step to prevent him doing further harm to Eskom, and further entrenching the Gupta’s foothold, but Parliament must also exercise its oversight mandate to its fullest extent.
The South African public deserve to know exactly what is going on at Eskom and that there will be consequences for those found to be putting their own narrow interests above those of our country.
A full-scale Parliamentary inquiry will allow for all of Eskom’s dirty dealings to be exposed, and therefore such an inquiry must go ahead urgently.