DA to table Bill to end Eskom monopoly and lower electricity prices for all South Africans

The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a Press Conference in Parliament today. Maimane was joined by the DA Team One South Africa Spokesperson on State Capture, Natasha MazzoneA legal summary of the DA’s ISMO Bill can be found here

The year 2018 has been characterised by a sustained financial attack on the pockets of all South Africans by the failing ANC government. With increases in petrol tax, VAT, sugar tax, personal income tax, and “sin taxes” – more and more money is being taken away from hard-working South Africans to pay for the ANC’s corruption and inefficiency.

Another costly expense for South Africans has been the increase in electricity prices with Eskom wanting a further 15% increase after the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) granted Eskom a 4.41% price increase for 2019/20 and approved a 5.23% average price increase that came into effect at the beginning of April this year. Over the past decade, Eskom’s electricity prices have increased by about 356%, while inflation over the same period was 74%, which means that electricity prices have increased four times faster than inflation over the past 10 years.

This is due to a wide range of factors, with the most systemic cause being a complete lack of competition in the energy sector. Government has a monopoly which breeds inefficiency, rampant corruption and maladministration. This cannot continue any longer.

Moreover, it is not just South African families who are affected by this. Affordable, uninterrupted and reliable electricity access is a bare essential requirement for businesses to operate – especially SMMEs – which are the creators of much-needed jobs for the almost 10 million unemployed South Africans.

Shortly after the economy went into recession, I announced the DA’s plan to get the economy growing. Part of this 7-step “Agenda for Reform” is a plan to end Eskom’s monopoly by splitting Eskom into separate power production and distribution businesses, while at the same time allowing cities to purchase directly from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Today, we formally introduce and unpack the DA’s Private Members Bill, namely The Independent System and Market Operator Bill – the “ISMO Bill”. We believe the ISMO Bill is a key component in our plan to revive our economy, fast-track growth, and open up access to new jobs.

It goes without saying that the only way to keep the cost of electricity down for consumers is to introduce competition in the electricity market. Our ISMO Bill aims to achieve this by legislating the creation of an entity that is:

  • financially sound;
  • has efficient systems management;
  • acts as an electricity trader;
  • guides electricity supply and transmission planning;
  • is responsible for the integrated power system; and
  • will dispatch within this integrated system.

The Bill envisages the establishment of an independent body owned by the state tasked with buying electricity from electricity generators. The operator will function as a wholesaler of electricity that sells electricity to distributors and customers at a wholesale tariff. ISMO will function independently to electricity generation businesses to ensure fairness between generators, encouraging competition and innovation.

ISMO’s functions and capabilities include:

  • buying power from generators including IPPs through a power purchase agreement;
  • its operating cost being factored into the wholesale tariff in line with the Regulator’s approval;
  • ensuring that the new electricity produced by generators is incorporated into the national electricity grid and circulated to consumers; and
  • when required, assisting with planning as requested by the Minister of Energy.

A crucial objective of the Bill will be to allow metropolitan municipalities with a proven history of good financial governance and electricity reticulation management to trade with electricity generators directly, buying electricity straight from the source. In the spirit of accountability, the processes involved with such procurement will be required to be transparent, and any agreement concluded will be required to be the result of a competitive bidding process. Metropolitan municipalities that have shown themselves to be capable of good governance will be allowed to manage their energy requirements without being dictated to by national or provincial government.

This is a major boost for consumers, businesses and entrepreneurs in South Africa’s major cities, which aligns with the DA’s “city-led growth” agenda. The DA will now refer the Bill to Parliamentary Legal Services and issue a call for public comment to be published in the Government Gazette. Thereafter, ISMO will be tabled in the National Assembly.

The failed ANC government appears to be unwilling to take the tough decisions to fix the current state of Eskom, and electricity generation and distribution in our country. As far back as 1998, in democratic South Africa’s first energy policy, the 1998 Energy White Paper, government agreed that ‘Eskom will be restructured into separate generation and transmission companies.

This was followed by a Bill to this effect introduced by the ANC in 2012, stalled, withdrawn and then finally binned by the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC). As recently as last week, Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni’s, Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) made it clear that ‘Eskom’s weak financial position remains a risk that could lead to a call on guarantees.’

The truth is South Africa does not have another 20 years of Parliamentary withdrawals, post-election delays, and reformulations for ISMO to be passed. Eskom is a zombie State Owned Entity that is so financially precarious that it could pull our entire economy down with it.

Eskom’s most recent coal shortage crisis is so severe that last month’s indication from the utility was that four stations had less than 10 days of coal supply remaining. Corruption, mismanagement of coal contracts and a decision not to invest in coal-plus mines threaten the coal supply of multiple power stations that will ultimately lead to more load shedding and another devastating blow to South Africa’s economy.

The power utility’s plans to take on R212 billion more debt over the next four years from R388 billion to an unprecedented R600 billion while owed over R20 billion by almost 100 municipalities is grossly irresponsible.

Which is why today I have also submitted a Notice of Internal Appeal to Eskom in terms of section 75 of the Promotion of Access to Information Act for not granting my request for access to the terms and conditions of the R33 billion loan from the China Development Bank within the 30-day PAIA period. If Eskom fails to honour the further 10-day deadline set by this Notice of Internal Appeal, the DA will not hesitate to take the necessary legal action and approach the courts for relief.

The DA’s agenda for reform is in pursuit of a lean and capable state that builds an enabling environment to attract investment in a transparent, market-driven and competitive economy.

Changing failing SOEs like Eskom is the most critical intervention required to create fair access to real and long-term jobs and rapidly speed up the delivery of basic services in South Africa.

The DA’s ISMO Bill is one such intervention that is woven into the fabric of our agenda for change to build One South Africa for All, whereby more economic power lies in the hands of South Africans, not a corrupt and failing ANC government.

National Credit Amendment Bill poses serious financial risks to the economy and consumers

Next week in the National Assembly, the Democratic Alliance will oppose amendments to the National Credit Act by the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry (PCTI) through the National Credit Amendment Bill which will increase the cost of credit for low income earners, weaken the fight against illegal lenders and negatively disrupt the credit market while posing a financial risk to the state.

In 2016, the Committee had requested permission of the House in terms of Rule 273(1) to amend the National Credit Act of 2015 so as to provide for:

  • criminal prosecution of lenders who contravene the Act;
  •  an effective debt counselling framework for low-income workers; and
  • capped debt relief to promote a change in the borrowing and spending habits of an over-indebted society.

Instead of working within the provisions of the National Credit Act and input from public hearings, the Committee arbitrarily decided that individuals who earned less than R7 500.00 per month and had unsecured debt agreements totalling R50 000.00 should receive debt relief intervention.

The DA is concerned that this approach will increase, instead of decrease, the appetite among low income earners to incur more debt with no intention of ever paying it back creating a massive moral hazard, as long as they remained within the legislated threshold of indebtedness.

Realising the challenges posed by this proposal, I submitted an alternative proposal which made suggestions to deal with:

  • reckless lending;
  • various forms of credit available to consumers;
  • requirements on lenders with respect to affordability assessments before granting credit; and
  • a framework for the implementation of Debt Relief Intervention.

The Committee rejected this proposal (see attached proposal here).

The Bill in its current form fails to make adequate provision to deal with illegal and unregistered rogue lenders who take advantage of consumers who have no recourse or protection of the State. The weakness of this approach is such that an illegal lender only becomes guilty of the offence if reported by consumers and if he or she is located and found guilty. The probability of someone reporting a loan shark is next to zero.

Of particular concern is that, the Committee has failed to provide clarity on the cost implications for the state in implementing the Bill including where the R100 million will come from to fund the National Credit Regulator and National Consumer Tribunal to fund their new mandates to process Debt Relief applications.

In addition, the financial implications to the credit market are yet to be costed as the Committee is yet to receive an update from the Department of Trade and Industry which undertook to conduct a Socio-Economic Impact Assessment Study (SEIAS) on the post-implementation impact of the legislation.

The DA advocates for credit legislation that protects consumers from debt traps and illegal lending whilst ensuring the sustainability of the credit markets. In contrast, the Committee has sought to create legislation in an information vacuum which could have disastrous consequences for consumers, the cost of credit and the restriction of credit for low income South African’s.

Ramaphosa choice of Acting NDPP does not bode well for restoring the independence of the NPA

The DA has taken note of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Dr. Silas Ramaite, to the position of Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP).

Ramaite has in the past defended the decision of former NDPP Bulelani Ngcuka to not institute corruption charges against former President Jacob Zuma in the infamous “Spy Tapes” saga. He even went so far as to acknowledge his own co-responsibility on the issue, stating in 2004 that “We had made the decision as a collective in the NPA and we stand by it” and that “It was not as if Bulelani sat there in the office and took decisions alone.”

He has sat idly by while successive NDPP’s and Acting NDPP’s, including Mokotedi Mpshe, Menzi Simelane, Nomgcobo Jiba and Shaun Abrahams systematically destroyed the fabric of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and South Africa’s criminal justice system. His track record proves that, at best,  he is weak, vacillating and pliable.

President Ramaphosa must urgently appoint a new permanent NDPP, and it is our belief that he should involve Parliament in the selection process.

Under the ANC, the NPA and other key institutions who charged with combating priority crimes like corruption, have been reduced to mere puppets who serve at the pleasure of the ANC mafia. Over the past decade, they have often been tasked with carrying out political hits rather than being allowed to carry out investigations and prosecutions without fear or favour.

The DA has a plan to ensure that the appointment and removal of the NDPP is subject to proper oversight and accountability. Whereas section 179 of the Constitution currently provides for the NDPP to be appointed by the President, as head of the national executive, we will introduce a Private Member’s Bill that requires that the President’s decision be informed by a resolution of the National Assembly passed with a supporting vote of at least 60% of the members of the National Assembly, which resolution should be based on the recommendation of a committee of the National Assembly.

The NPA has been the plaything of the Executive for far too long. Dr Ramaite’s appointment does nothing to correct that.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s disastrous tenure must be brought to an end

Tomorrow, 13 June 2018, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services will finally meet to consider a request by myself, on behalf of the Democratic Alliance, to remove the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, after months of delay. This follows several formal requests to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to expedite these proceedings.

The DA maintains that it has long been apparent that Adv Mkhwebane is grossly unfit to hold office and has made requests dating as far back as September 2017 calling on the Speaker to institute proceedings to remove her.

The shockingly poor quality of the work Adv Mkhwebane has produced during her tenure as Public Protector speaks for itself.

She has consistently demonstrated that she falls far short of the required expertise necessary to hold the office of such a pivotal institution of our democracy, and at every turn has displayed a fundamental misunderstanding of role her powers and the fundamentals of the Constitution. Indeed, the DA stood alone in objecting to her appointment in the first instance.

This is borne out by the fact that Advocate Mkhwebane’s work has been found to fall so short of the Constitutionally required standard that several court judgments have already made deeply pejorative findings against her. These include, that she has been “…reasonably suspected of bias”, that she has not brought “…an impartial mind to bear on the issues before her” and that she …”did not conduct herself in a manner which should be expected from a person occupying the office of the Public Protector”.

It is on the basis of her fundamental misunderstanding of the basic principles of the Constitution and her own powers that her findings against the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille are now part of this growing list of abject findings by her. Her findings have no basis in law and if unchallenged have profoundly negative constitutional implications.

The content of Premier Zille’s tweets were the subject of a settlement between her and the party, and resulted in a public apology from Ms Zille. The Party has made it clear that we did not in any way support the merits of the tweets at the time. This stance remains unchanged. We have never condoned the content of Ms Zille’s tweets. However, this ruling has profound constitutional implications which speak to Adv Mkhwebane’s fundamental misunderstanding of the powers of the Public Protector.

In addition to this, there are a raft of other cases which Adv Mkhwebane has displayed ignorance for the law including:

  • The ABSA Bank matter (Report 8 of 2017/18), where Adv Mkhwebane demonstrated spectacular bias and did not adhere to the constitutional principle of procedural fairness; and
  • The Vrede Dairy Project matter (Report 31 of 2017/8 ) in which she completely ignored pertinent questions and failed to deal with evidence implicating senior government and ruling party office bearers.

Added to this, there are cases which have been lodged with the Public Protector concerning Members of the Executive who have stolen public money meant to benefit the poor. These investigations are yet to be completed despite the public importance. These include:

  • The “pension pay-out” of R 30 million granted to Brian Molefe;
  • The VIP Protection assigned to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma while she occupied no government office; and
  • Several Ministers lying to Parliament, including former Minister Faith Muthambi during the SABC ad hoc committee and former Minister Lynne Brown for failing to disclose Trillian contracts

Tomorrow, the DA will finally have a formal opportunity to present its case for having Adv Mkhwebane removed from office. Through her conduct she has demonstrated that she is unable to act lawfully, she consistently acts without regard to procedural fairness and that her findings are patently unreasonable. The DA will fight to protect this vital constitutionally established institution and ensure that its integrity is restored by removing Adv Mkhwebane and ensuring that a suitably qualified person is appointed to the office.

Ministers must be sanctioned for contempt of Parliament for non-attendance

The Democratic Alliance has written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, requesting that Cabinet Ministers who were not present in the National Assembly to respond to members’ statements be sanctioned for contempt of Parliament.
On Thursday, 8 March 2018, Members of Parliament were scheduled to deliver members’ statements in the National Assembly in accordance with the National Assembly’s Programme. However, shortly after 17:30 when House Chairperson Grace Boroto announced that it was time for members’ statements, it was apparent that not a single Cabinet Minister was present to respond to members’ statements. This, after Deputy President David Mabuza secured an abysmal attendance rate for Cabinet Ministers during the questions session on Wednesday, 7 March.
By being absent from Parliament for this scheduled item in the Parliamentary Programme, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet Ministers have been grossly derelict in performing their duties. Cabinet Ministers have acted in violation of section 7(a) and (b) of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 4 of 2004 and may thus be sanctioned through referral to the National Assembly’s Powers and Privileges Committee.
As the DA has requested, the Powers and Privileges Committee must then investigate and impose the appropriate sanction on Cabinet Ministers for contempt of Parliament for improperly interfering with and impeding Members of Parliament’s ability to perform a core function.
The Speaker should have absolutely no hesitation in granting the DA’s request to refer errant ministers for sanction: In her affidavit in the secret ballot matter, Economic Freedom Fighters and Others v Speaker of the National Assembly and Another [2017] ZACC 47, she argued as follows in the context of discussing the constitutionally mandated role of the Legislature, at paragraph 33.4:
“The National Assembly’s Rules provide various mechanisms to ensure accountability and oversight of executive action, viz: In Chapter 9 (Members’ Statements and Executive Statements), Rule 132 (Statements by members) provides for members to make statements on any matter.”
As the Speaker clearly acknowledged before Constitutional Court, it is unequivocal that members’ statements are an important constitutional function of accountability and oversight in Parliament.
If neither Deputy President David Mabuza, in his capacity as Leader of Government Business, nor President Cyril Ramaphosa will ensure that Ministers come to Parliament to account to the people of South Africa, the DA will.
President Ramaphosa’s ‘new dawn’ is evidently coming to a crashing halt as his Cabinet duck responsibility and dodge tough questions on their underperforming ministries.

We will not support Ramaphosa’s nomination. South Africa must go to the polls to elect a new President

The following statement was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, on the steps of the National Assembly at Parliament, Cape Town.
Today, Parliament will sit to elect a new President of South Africa following yesterday’s resignation of Jacob Zuma. The Democratic Alliance (DA) caucus has taken a decision to not nominate our own candidate for President, and we will not be supporting Cyril Ramaphosa’s nomination.
Along with other opposition parties in Parliament, we took a decision to bring a Motion to dissolve Parliament in terms of section 50 of the Constitution. I submitted this Motion to the Speaker of Parliament 72 hours ago, and can be accessed here.
The reason for this Motion is that the National Assembly no longer represents the will of the people, having failed to hold President Jacob Zuma accountable. The National Assembly has failed in its duties to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and therefore must be dissolved.
We believe that whomever is the new President requires a mandate from the public. The people of South Africa ought to choose who the new President of South Africa is.
If Cyril Ramaphosa is certain he will be elected President of South Africa by the people, then him and his ANC will have no hesitation in supporting this Motion.
South Africa must now go to the ballot box and elect a new President, and a new Parliament that has a mandate from the people.

ANC does about turn on DA’s urgent debate on Fees crisis

I have again written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request a debate on the Fees Commission Report as soon as possible. The Report was not debated yesterday despite a debate having been agreed to.
On 14 November 2017, I wrote to the Speaker requesting a debate on the Report, which was released by the Presidency after over two months of dithering, on 13 November 2017.
The DA received a letter from the Deputy Speaker, Lechesa Tsenoli, agreeing to our request that this important issue should be discussed by the Assembly. We prepared for a debate in which we intended to bring to the attention of the public the degree to which the vagueness and opaqueness of the government’s approach to the funding of higher education is likely to generate a major crisis in Universities in the New Year.
However, the ANC made a sudden about-turn yesterday on the debate, and failed to place it on the order paper. Instead it tabled a discussion on the unscheduled and non-urgent Refugees Amendment Bill.
The DA called for the debate in order to force the Minister to make clear what her approach would be to the funding of students and Universities in the upcoming 2018 academic year. She avoided public scrutiny on the matter.
Perhaps this is not surprising given the reported dispute between the populist President and the fiscally cautious Treasury on the matter and the plethora of other weird happenings around the issue.
The ANC’s fumbling and floundering is a clear indication that they are running scared of debating this matter  – because it would reveal the extent to which their plans and approach are in disarray, in the fact of a massive budget deficit and threatened student protests.
It has become more apparent that the dying ANC has so far dismally failed to come up with real solutions to put on the table.
Leaving the entire higher education sector in the dark will almost definitely lead to further tumultuous protests on university campuses, while Universities may well have to run on budget deficits themselves if no fee increase decisions are made before the end of the year.
The whole fees issue requires responsible oversight and political direction so that the fees crisis can be dealt with decisively. The current damaging uncertainty must be brought to an end. But the ANC is unable or unwilling to provide the leadership required.

President Jacob Zuma’s new “spend now, pay later” populism in South Africa

The following speech was delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier MP, during the debate on the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill in the National Assembly today.
Before we debate the merits of the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill [B24-2017], we should pause to consider the chaos in the budget process, which appears to have been manufactured by President Jacob Zuma who now seems determined to “take out” National Treasury.
The Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, tried to reassure us that there was “nothing to fear” from the new “budget prioritisation framework” during his briefing following the medium-term budget policy statement, on 26 October 2017 in Parliament.
However, yesterday we heard of the shock resignation of budget office “Tsar”, Michael Sachs, who is one of the most experienced, and one of the most capable, senior officials at the apex of the system at National Treasury.
The fact is that his resignation is a huge blow to National Treasury and confirms our fears that decision-making about budget priorities, and the budget itself, has now been centralised under President Jacob Zuma.
The Constitution itself requires that “budgetary processes” promote transparency, accountability and sound financial management, and yet we now have:
• a “Presidential Fiscal Committee” making decisions about the budget, which undermines the Minister’s Committee on the Budget;
• a “Mandate Paper” setting out budget priorities in terms of a new budget prioritisation framework, compiled by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, which undermines National Treasury; and
• that is not to mention rogue elements, such a Morris Masutha, who is reportedly peddling a R40-billion budget-busting plan for higher education, with the support of President Jacob Zuma.
What this means in practice is that in the middle of a “fiscal crisis” – which Michael Sachs himself described as the most challenging since the global financial crisis – decision-making on the budget has been plunged into chaos.
We have to face the fact that National Treasury are being “defanged” and reduced to “bookkeepers” with declining influence over budget priorities, and the budget itself, under President Jacob Zuma.
Things have got so bad that we are now not even sure whether government has abandoned fiscal consolidation, and its central fiscal objective, which is to stabilise national debt, in favour of a populist “spend now, pay later” fiscal policy under President Jacob Zuma.
Whatever the case, we can be sure that the ratings agencies, which are circling us like sharks, will have taken note and the probability of further ratings downgrades to “junk status” is greater today than it was the day before yesterday in South Africa.

Time for a Comprehensive Spending Review

The following speech was delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier MP, during the debate on the 2017 Revised Fiscal Framework in the National Assembly today.
1. Introduction
The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, revealed the full horror of President Jacob Zuma’s disastrous mismanagement of the economy when he delivered his medium-term budget policy statement two weeks ago in Parliament.
2. Budget Blowout
The minister tabled the revised fiscal framework during his medium-term budget policy statement, which exposed a full-scale budget “blowout” in 2017/18.
The hard facts are as follows:
economic growth: down by 0.6% from 1.3% to 0.7%;
revenue: down by R50.8 billion from R1.41 trillion to R1.36 trillion;
expenditure: up by R3.5 billion from R1.563 trillion to R1.566 trillion;
fiscal deficit: up by R54 billion from R149 billion to R203 billion;
national debt: up by R300 billion from R2.23 trillion to R2.53 trillion; and
debt service costs: up by R900 million from R162.4 billion to R163.3 billion.
The budget blowout was caused principally by a R10 billion bailout of zombie state-owned enterprise, South African Airways.
The minister is now drowning in red ink and has been forced to sell the family silver to hold the fiscal line in 2017/18.
3. Scary Facts
The fact is:
• the R50.8 billion revenue shortfall is the biggest revenue shortfall since the global financial meltdown in 2008/09;
• to avoid a breach of the expenditure ceiling about R3.9 billion worth of Telkom shares will have to be sold;
• the R6 billion contingency reserve has been wiped out despite the fact that funds may well be required to assist with flood damage and drought relief;
• debt service costs are the fastest growing item of expenditure in the budget, consuming 13.7 cents of every rand collected in revenue; and
• we will spend more this year on debt service costs (R163.3 billion) than we will spend on police (R93.7 billion) and higher education (R76.7 billion).
These numbers are staggering and they are terrifying.
4. Full Horror
However, the full horror of the budget blowout is revealed when one considers the primary balance, which is the difference between total revenue and total non-interest expenditure.
The deficit in the primary balance is set to widen by R51.9 billion from R4.4 billion to R56.3 billion in 2017/18.
What this means is that we are now borrowing money to pay the interest on borrowed money.
Or, put simply: we are using our credit card to pay the interest on our overdraft in South Africa.
5. Comprehensive Spending Review
The situation we now confront is serious and is described as the biggest fiscal crisis since the global economic meltdown in 2008/09 hit South Africa.
We are going to have to take some big, bold, tough decisions to solve the fiscal equation, especially on the expenditure side of things.
That is why we have proposed a Comprehensive Spending Review aimed at reviewing the composition of spending, efficiency of spending and future spending priorities with a view to cutting spending, and changing the composition of spending.
A Comprehensive Spending Review would be geared towards making hard decisions about spending cuts that could be sustained by, for example:
• reducing the size of the executive to approximately 15 ministries, which could save an estimated R4.6 billion per year, or a total of R13.8 billion between 2018/19 and 2020/21; and
• running the provincial legislatures more efficiently, which could save an estimated R1.8 billion in 2018/19, R1.9 billion in 2019/20 and R2.0 billion in 2020/21, or a total of R R5.5 billion between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
However, in the end if we are going to get serious about cutting spending we will have to confront the ballooning cost of “compensation of employees”, which is projected to cost R1.9 trillion, and which is projected to grow at 7.3%, between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
Consider the following:
• a freeze on the salaries of senior management who earn more than R918 000 per year, and who are employed on salary levels 13 to 16 in general government, could save an estimated R1.2 billion in 2018/19, R2.0 billion in 2019/20 and R2.8 billion in 2020/21, or a total of R6 billion between 2018/19 and 2020/21; or
• a freeze on the salaries of all employees in general government could save an estimated R57.8 billion in 2018/19, R92.7 billion in 2019/20 and R129.1 billion in 2020/21, or a total of R279.7 billion between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
Whatever the case, savings identified as a result of a Comprehensive Spending Review could be allocated:
• to hold the fiscal line on social protection and to fund investment in infrastructure and skills development to support economic growth; and
• to cut the fiscal deficit in order to reduce national debt and debt-service costs over the medium term between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
6. Conclusion
The fact is that in the end Comprehensive Spending Reviews have proved to be successful in Australia (Comprehensive Spending Review 2010), Canada (Strategic and Operating Review 2011), and the United Kingdom (Comprehensive Spending Review 2010).
And if the minister is serious about dealing with the fiscal crisis, he would give serious consideration to implementing a Comprehensive Spending Review in South Africa.
But, in the end, let no one forget that President Jacob Zuma and his disastrous management of the economy is responsible for the fiscal crisis in South Africa.

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.