Congratulations to Tito Mboweni on his appointment as new Finance Minister

We congratulate the former Governor of the South African Reserve Bank, Tito Mboweni, who has been plucked from political obscurity and appointed as the new Finance Minister in South Africa.

With his experience, the new Finance Minister will have the advantage of being able to hit the ground running and is, at least, known to market participants, ratings agencies and international financial institutions, who closely follow events in South Africa.

However, we are concerned that during the years that he was out in the political cold, he often came over on social media, at least, as a little looney posting content that seemed to be at odds with government policy like this:

We hope that the minister will clarify his view in the run up to the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement which is scheduled to take place in two weeks time in Parliament.

Jacques Smalle is the DA’s Premier Candidate for Limpopo

 The following remarks were delivered today by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, at the announcement of the DA’s Premier Candidate for Limpopo in Masodi Village, Mokopane. Maimane was joined by DA Limpopo Provincial Chairperson, Geoffrey Tshibvumo.

I am delighted to be in Masodi Village today to announce Jacques Smalle as the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) Premier Candidate for the 2019 Election.

Eight years ago, the Ratunku Primary School was meant to be built for the children of Masodi, some of whom are with us today. You can see why it is now referred to as the ‘invisible school’ because all that has come of this promise is the abandoned space we find ourselves in. There is still no school today, as the young children of this village are left behind by the ANC government

The effect of this ANC government’s empty promise is that the only existing primary school in the village is crammed with over 1 500 learners where 64 pupils squeeze into a classroom, and 4 children use the same desk. Young children have no choice but to walk 7km to schools in other villages, crossing a river and road en route.

At least 7 children have lost their lives on this long and dangerous walk to school. Thabang Matjiu is one of the lucky few who survived with injuries after being hit by a car walking home from school.

Thabang is here today with his mother, father and grandmother. Thabang, I would like to commend you and your family for being here and assure you that we will seek accountability and answers from government as to this complete failure by the ANC government.

The Limpopo Department of Basic Education (DBE) continues to fail in delivering quality school infrastructure. The national DBE conceded in June that it did not achieve any of its Accelerated School Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) goals. As few as 22 of 115 selected schools through South Africa were built. And although there is a more than R5 billion school infrastructure backlog in Limpopo, this year’s infrastructure development programme was allocated R300 million less than four years ago.

But much like this ‘invisible school’, even when the Limpopo DBE did set aside as much as R200 million of this programme to build new schools and administration blocks, these projects were abandoned and have still not been finished. Limpopo Education MEC, Ishmael Kgetjepe, continues to protect the political architects of these invisible schools over learners like Thabang who suffer with the consequences.

These learners are growing up in a world where just over a quarter of the entire province do not have jobs. Worse yet, when accounting for those who have also given up searching for jobs, this harrowing number spikes to a staggering 37.4%. The people of Limpopo need real change, and the DA is ready to bring that change. Change that creates work, cuts corruption, fights crime, speeds up service delivery to all, and ultimately betters the lives of all.

Of grave concern here in Limpopo is also the Makhado Project negotiated between South African coal exploration, development and mining company, MC Mining, and a Chinese construction enterprise, China Railway International Group. This almost R150 billion deal to develop a 4 600-megawatt coal-fired plant in the Makhado-Musina Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Limpopo has been signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

As with the R33 billion loan that the President signed from the Chinese Development Bank (CDB) to Eskom, the terms of reference of this deal have been cloaked in secrecy. The electricity and jobs created will only benefit the new Chinese-controlled industrial park, akin to a country within our country.

While I continue to fight the Eskom-China loan in Parliament, Jacques is probing the Chinese SEZ deal to get answers from government as to the impact it will have on the people of Limpopo. Jacques has a passion for this province and its people. He was born and raised in Limpopo’s Vhembe district and is a proud Tshivenda speaker.

His career in politics spans more than two decades from two terms as a Councillor, a Member of the Provincial Legislature and a Member of Parliament in various capacities.

When the province was placed under administration, it was his dogged fight that more than tripled norms and standards for quintile 1 to 3 schools from a meagre R320 to R1 060 per learner which made it possible for schools to become more independent. So when he offers to focus on funding incomplete infrastructure projects in the province such as Ratunku Primary School before starting on new infrastructure projects to ensure that we use resources effectively, you know that he will fight tooth and nail to realise this.

Jacques has been an entrepreneur from a young age, successfully running multiple businesses from a bakery, butchery and supermarket to an avocado and nut farm. His commitment to a civilian service programme that would provide young school leavers an opportunity to receive industry of their choosing and a programme partnering school leavers is reflection of the fundamental importance he places in investing in the future of young South Africans.

His cross-sector experience leaves him well placed to deliver on his offer to ensure that locals are the first to benefit in all SEZ developments by ensuring transparency on all Terms of Reference (TOR) and Memoranda of Understanding (MoU).

Few are as well qualified as Jacques to champion the DA’s call for Freedom, Fairness, Opportunity and Diversity throughout Limpopo. As of now, he will champion the DA’s charge for change and mission to unseat the incapable ANC government in the province.

Jacques will lead a team dedicating to eradicating corruption and will call for a commission of inquiry into the VBS Mutual Bank investment scandal before Limpopo municipalities lose another R1.1 billion to service delivery projects in the province.

His team will target its spending on completing incomplete infrastructure projects and clearing the infrastructure backlog for rural township schools. With 37.4% of Limpopo without a job or having given up hope of every finding a job, Jacques will make it a priority to support emerging businesses and equip SMME owners with the relevant business knowledge and skills to grow and create more opportunity.

In a province where so many have been left behind, Limpopo needs a leader willing and able to fight for one Limpopo with one future for all. I pledge the support of the DA’s national leadership to Jacques in his campaign to bring this change to Limpopo.

Because it is only the DA that can bring change for Thabang, his family and the rest of Limpopo to ensure we never again find ourselves gathered around an ‘invisible school’ remembering children who have lost their lives because of ANC government neglect. We believe in a better future for all in Limpopo and Jacques is the DA’s custodian of this belief in the province.

DA welcomes decision to institute an independent inquiry into the PIC

We welcome the fact that the Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, has finally taken action to stop the bleeding at the Public Investment Corporation.

There is hardly a day that goes by without some new scandal surfacing at the PIC including:

  • allegations of irregular payments made by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Dan Matjila, which now appear not to have been investigated thoroughly, following the leaking of an “internal audit” report;
  • allegations that the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, received a R4.5 million “kickback” in return for facilitating a R210 million loan from the Public Investment Corporation; and
  • allegations surrounding questionable investments, or potential investments, in inter alia Ayo Technology Solutions Limited, Sagarmatha Technologies Limited, Steinhoff International Holdings N.V. and VBS Mutual Bank.

The independent inquiry, and the forensic investigation, will hopefully get to the bottom of the various allegations and begin to restore public trust in the Public Investment Corporation.

However, there is now a risk that the outcome of the independent inquiry may be used as an excuse to put important legislation, aimed at strengthening governance and boosting transparency at the Public Investment Corporation, on ice in Parliament.

We cannot afford any delay in passing legislation, such as the Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill [B1-2018] (Private Members Bill), or the Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill (Committee Bill), in Parliament.

 

 

DA to grill SABS on continued chaos in Parliamentary Committee tomorrow

Tomorrow, in the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, the DA will grill the South Africa Bureau of Standards (SABS) on the threat it is posing to business sustainability and job creation as a result of its failure to fulfill its core mandate of product quality standardisation.

The Committee is due to consider a status report of an inquiry that was launched by DTI into the problems affecting SABS in M201, Marks Building, Parliament at 2pm tomorrow. Most importantly, SABS will update the committee on:

• funding of the testing function within the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications ( NRCS);
• measures taken by SABS since the start of the Inquiry to fix the challenges that threaten its survival as a going concern; and
• progress on accreditation of laboratories

Parliament cannot afford to stay quiet while businesses, especially small businesses who rely on standardisation for market access and job creation, lose business opportunities due to internal turmoil at SABS.

Minister Rob Davies has either ignored or remained non-committal to the DA’s repeated requests calling for the dissolution of the SABS board and to outline specific timelines by which the proposed turnaround strategy will be implemented. Minister Davies must also shoulder the blame for the chaos currently unfolding in SABS.

Parliament now has an obligation to ensure that a turnaround strategy, with specific timelines, is implemented as a matter of urgency. The R1,6 billion funding request by SABS to improve its operational efficiency should only be considered together with specific performance agreements to improve sustainability.

SABS has lost 401 customers since April 2017 because they no longer trust the entity’s testing process. Without an efficient and effective SABS, the small businesses cannot be the hope to create jobs for the 9,4 million unemployed South Africans. That is why the DA will continue to push for SABS to be turned around.

South Africa cannot afford to have a dysfunctional standards and certification body as this negatively impacts businesses who rely on standards for market access and growth.

ANC covers up State Capture in Mineral Resources

The long-delayed inquiry into State Capture in the Department of Mineral Resources is being sabotaged by the ANC. Months after being instructed by House Chairperson Cedric Frolick to conduct an inquiry into the behaviour of previous Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Parliament supplied an evidence leader and the process appeared, at last, to be on track.

However, at today’s meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources, the evidence leader Ms Fatima Ebrahim reported that her plans to travel to interview witnesses had to be cancelled at the last minute when Parliament refused to supply a budget.

This action amounts to nothing less than an attempt to shut down an inquiry which is sure to be embarrassing to the ANC and those deployed to senior positions in the Department.

Some ANC Members on the Portfolio Committee have suggested that the inquiry be shut down due to lack of budget.

The committee has resolved to write to Mr Frolick to ask for clarity and further instructions. To us it seems the decision has already been taken. That decision is unacceptable.

The Ramaphosa administration has sought to portray itself as a new broom that will sweep away the abuses of the Zuma years. But by trying to sweep abuses under the carpet, it is clear that the reputation of the ANC is being put above the need to hold people accountable for criminal and ethically unacceptable acts that have ruined the reputation of South Africa’s mining industry and rendered it all but uninvestable.

One of the consequences of this, is the loss of fifty thousand mining jobs over the past year. The reputation of South Africa as a worthwhile investment destination will only be restored if the abuses of the past are dealt with. The quashing of this inquiry means state capture will go unexplored and unaddressed by Parliament, which will have failed again in its oversight function.

Jobs will once again be on the line and Parliament will be shown again to have failed in its duty.

Fatally flawed labour bills promise jobs bloodbath

The DA today voted against the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill, the National Minimum Wage Bill, and the Labour Relations Amendment Bill in the National Assembly.

The DA has been very clear during deliberations on these bills in the Portfolio Committee of Labour that the bills have not been subjected to proper public consultation and will push hundreds of thousands of people into unemployment.

Indeed, many provisions contained in the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, specifically, are a significant departure from what had been agreed to at National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), an objection raised by many labour unions during committee deliberations.

Nedlac was created as the “vehicle by which Government, labour, business and community organisations will seek to cooperate, through problem-solving and negotiation, on economic, labour and development issues”, but the ANC has reduced this important forum to just another talk shop in its unseemly haste to deliver on the unachievable promises made by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The voice of organised labour and business has been silenced through this side-lining of Nedlac. This is to say nothing of the voices of South Africa’s 9.5 million unemployed which have never been heard in the discussion over national minimum wage.

As a consequence, the labour bills will take away labour unions’ right to collective bargaining, replacing it with Ministerial discretion on recalling sectoral minimum wages that have been meticulously negotiated over years. Furthermore, the labour bills will give the Department of Labour extensive enforcement powers to deal with transgressions and non-compliance, but without any concomitant plans to capacitate an already under-resourced Department and its entities.

There is little point in passing legislation knowing full well that implementation is impossible. It is inexcusable that the proposed bills have not been subjected to a thorough social-economic impact assessment. National Treasury concluded, in 2016, that the bills will result in some 715,000 job losses and a 2.1% economic contraction. The real number of job losses is certain to be even higher.

The labour bills currently before Parliament are the most important changes to South Africa’s labour regime in more than two decades. The process cannot be rushed and should be subjected to proper public participation, feasibility studies and detailed modelling on the anticipated job losses. The DA will continue to fight for those who have been excluded. These bills in their current form do little to improve the labour market, instead will contribute to massive job losses.

Our Parliament should be a road sign to the future, not a weathervane of the present

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.

Mr Chairman,

Introduction

Thank you very much, it is a privilege to be able to participate in this important debate today upon our Parliament. In all likelihood, this will be the last budget debate of this type before the 5th democratic Parliament draws to a close and we start to prepare the legacy report for the transition into the 6th.

It’s an opportunity for us to reflect too on where this Parliament has done well and where it has not. And what place our Parliament holds in the minds and experience of the people of South Africa. In doing so it would be wrong to ignore the fact that trust in Parliament as an institution of democracy has plummeted from 65% in 2004 to 38% in 2015. These findings of the Human Sciences Research Council are contained in the High-Level Panel report tabled at the end of last year. Why is this significant?  The High-Level Panel went on to say and I quote:

“Trust is an essential element of democratic legitimacy, declining levels of trust in institutions impact negatively on nation building”.

What are the reasons for this loss of trust in our democratic institutions?

Road signs not weathervanes

I would advance that one of the chief reasons there has been such a loss of trust in our institutions of democracy is because many of our citizens do not see these institutions, including our Parliament, as relevant to their daily lived experience, nor do they see them as offering hope, a ladder of opportunity, out of their present conditions.

A former leader of the opposition wrote that in politics there are two essential choices in the political arena, you can choose to be a signpost or a weathervane. A weather vane he wrote will:

“twist in the wind, trimming sails to the prevailing winds of political correctness. It is the easy path of least resistance, but it usually leads over time, downhill”

A signpost on the other hand:

“does not bend to the vagaries of the moment but stands for a cause greater, for an enduring set of principles and beliefs”

There is no shortage of examples of institutions that have become weathervanes to the prevailing political winds of the time, they twist and contort themselves, this way and that, spinning listlessly trying to find favour with the current faction in charge or point to the populist side of the latest cause De Jour.

We saw it with the HAWKS, who, when the foul winds of State Capture blew, failed to act when they should have against the Guptas and who, now as the political winds have shifted have suddenly sprung to life, too little too late sadly.

We saw it with the NPA who blew this way and that, protecting those in political office and their connected elite from prosecution, now that the winds have shifted have started to act, too little, too late sadly.

And we saw it with this Parliament, which protected and defended the worst excesses of the last eight years of the Zuma administration. Some latter-day claimants of sainthood now decry the thievery, the corruption, the looting and the rot, yet they were the very same ones who sat around the Cabinet table nodding, back-slapping, drawing salaries and perks while they knew exactly what was going on, and they are the very same ones still sitting here today.

What we needed in these days and challenges was institutions that stood solid, rooted in values and principles, secure in their mandate and acting without fear or favour, solid, resolute standing firm for democracy, the rule of law and the Constitution, we needed roadsigns, not weathervanes.

And so the question we have to ask is what sort of Parliament do we want to create in South Africa, how do we turn this Parliament into a roadsign standing firm as a beacon of democracy rather than a weathervane that twists and turns buffeted uncertainly by prevailing political winds? Never is it more important for a Parliament to be a roadsign and not a weathervane than when it is confronted by an executive that subverts, breaks the law and ducks accountability. We witnessed what happened when this house became a weathervane to the tsunami of the Zuma Presidency, instead of standing firm on the Constitution, the rule of law and on principle, it was blown off course over Nkandla, over Sassagate, over Guptagate and over Zumagate. We must never have Parliament again where the velvet gloves mollycoddle the executive and shield them from accountability. This house is not a lecture hall or a classroom, it is a robust arena of accountability. And, let me be clear, no member of this house requires a permission slip from the President or his ministers to speak up, speak out and hold them accountable!

Road sign to hope

Surely we can start by making this house far more relevant to the challenges facing our nation and working in a more future-focused way on finding solutions to them. Instead of endless debates on topics that only matter to the talking heads, pundits and speak to the insider bubble we should be grappling with the challenges and offering a road sign pointing the way clearly and unambiguously to a way out of these challenges.

  • We have an unemployment rate of almost 10 million South Africans, this is a national disaster and threatens the very fabric of our society, the latest labour force survey should have triggered an immediate debate in this house on what is to be done, and yet it does not.
  • We have a complete breakdown of law and order, our citizens are murdered indiscriminately in their homes, our women and children are raped and murdered and criminals have taken to brazenly blowing up cash in transit vans and gangs operate with impunity. This house should be debating a plan of action on how to restore law and order across the land, and yet it does not.
  • We have a crisis of poverty in our land, our children are literally starving to death, families reduced to living off sugar water and grass. This should trigger us into action, we should be developing a national plan to feed our starving children and this house should be leading the charge, and yet it does not.

Instead, we find every opportunity to selectively debate conflicts and suffering in foreign lands, ignoring the daily conflict and suffering of our own citizens. Debates on high days and holidays, Africa Day, Youth day, joint sittings commemorating this and that. All retreating further into glories past, yet all the while the present and the future lie in peril. It is little wonder the widening trust deficit exists between this house and the electorate, they don’t see our work as relevant or useful to improving their lives.

Roadsign to the future.

Where too is the future focus, a vision oriented with an eye on the challenges to come? Our house should be initiating debates that point the nation towards the future because innumerable challenges lie ahead of us. The legislation we pass, the debates we have, the policies we implement should be preparing our country for not only the domestic challenges but the global challenges that will confront us going forward.

We should be debating, and this Parliament should be on the very cutting edge of the debate, on Artificial Intelligence advancements, the job market is going to change significantly in the next 20 to 30 years, jobs and work as we know it today will simply not exist. We need to prepare our country and our people for its impacts and position ourselves to take advantage of its opportunities

Major advances in key technologies, the internet of things, drones and biotechnology are going to force us to compete even more to attract investment but we cannot compete if we are not even having these debates to prepare us for the future. We cannot compete if we are still indulging in backwards-looking analogue debates on the past in a rapidly evolving future-focused digital era.

We have a golden opportunity to leap the technological divide. Our education system is broken and our skills and technological capacities are hamstrung and constrained. Policy failure and poor planning have left our citizens, particularly our youth massively vulnerable. The 2016 Global Information Technology Report released by the World Economic Forum Ranked South Africa last in maths and science for the third consecutive year.

Our disjointed and outmoded education and skills development processes, research and development all need to be massively overhauled anyway, and we have the opportunity to do so in a way that gives South Africa the competitive edge in the new economy to come. We can build a skills and technological powerhouse that will allow the youth of our country to ride the wave of the disruption to come and cash in on being world leaders in key modern industries, but only if we start leading that debate as this house. If we as legislators fail to do so, we will be failing our country and our people, particularly our youth, who will be left hopelessly behind. Our economy will slide further into decline and our people will be unable to compete globally. Moving our country, boldly and bravely into this new era should become our obsession and the very best thing we could do for our people and our country.

The legislature that doesn’t legislate.

One of the primary functions entrusted to this house by our Constitution is the passing of legislation. This is not an area where there is any proud boast possible. The 5th Parliaments track record on passing legislation and has been abysmal. In 2017, the house passed only eleven pieces of legislation, taking into account the financial legislation we are bound by law to pass the figure is even more miserable. The truth is that we just do not sit often enough to work on and pass legislation.

This has led to a massive backlog of now 34 pieces of legislation in the NA and 15 in the NCOP. Some of this legislation has been hanging about on the books since 2015 with very little progress made on dealing with it. Given the fact that the NA will be going into an unprecedented 3-month recess to enable the ANC to take care of their internal processes it’s unlikely that we are going to dramatically improve on this record in 2018.

The High-Level Panel acknowledged this shortcoming and expressed its disappointment in this key failure to legislate effectively where they said”

“The time it takes between the first submission of legislation to Parliament and its passage is too long”

It did not, however, require the Panel to point this out, a perusal of the programming committee minutes, the joint programming committee minutes over the course of the last three and a half  years shows how the opposition repeatedly sounded the warning about the legislative logjam and the need to intervene, prioritise and make provision, we made suggestions repeatedly on what would need to be done, yet these warnings were all systematically ignored with the result that now, in the final year of the 5th parliament, is the realisation and implications of this failure are emerging for all to see: We have become the legislature that does not legislate.

Improving our own legislative capacity.

But, allied to this budget of Parliament, this of course, begs the further question, and that relates to our actual capacity as legislators to indeed legislate. Time and time again over every budget year the members of this house have raised their concerns about the imbalance of forces between the executive and the legislature where the executive has abundant resources, whole departments and batteries of staff, of research, review, planning, legal advice and data analysis, yet the parliamentary research capability available to members is horribly underfunded, the staff massively overworked and underappreciated.

If passing legislation, and good legislation at that, is one of our core functions, then why does the budget not reflect that? It is for that reason that members are reduced to biblical Davids trying to take on the Goliaths of departments. If we don’t seriously and quickly address this huge imbalance of forces, the legislative arm is forever going to be at the mercy of the executive arm.

We need a more activist parliament, where committees are able to interrogate departments and ministers, understand policy and its effects and be armed with our own competing research, data and analysis. We cannot continue to be beholden to the executive for this information. Nowhere is this phenomenon more on display than during these very budget hearings and debates where overwhelmingly the budgets remain unamended and unaltered by this house, in many instances not for lack of will but for lack of capacity.

We need to cut back on the unnecessary expenditure of jamborees and conferences and redirect that money urgently to the support of members of this house to empower all of us to be able to do our job.

Who will watch the watchers?

The Ancient Roman Poet Juvenal in his work Satires famously asked

“who will watch the watchers?”

In any system, those who exercise oversight over others should themselves be subject to oversight. The answer to the question Juvenal poses, in our parliamentary instance is the ethics committee of Parliament.

This committee has been an abject failure and has been rendered completely moribund by committee leadership that clearly do not understand how ethics works or how to effectively run processes. The committee has only met once this year, despite a massive caseload of complaints against members of this house, ranging from assault of women, to dishonesty, to theft of public money. It is an indictment on the chairs of that committee that the important work of this committee, deeply respected during the tenure of Ben Turok, has been reduced to low-level political hit squad when opposition members are in the crosshairs but a lumbering and docile committee when governing party members are required to be investigated.

If we are to hold others accountable as parliament, then we must submit to accountability. I would like to suggest, Speaker, that the chairpersons of this committee are replaced and that the committee gets to grips with performing its functions and that the case backlog is finalised before the fifth Parliament rises. As the honourable knows too well, justice delayed is justice denied!

Conclusion

Speaker, our 5th parliament has achieved much, but has also fallen far short of what the constitution expects of us. I think we can do better as a Parliament and I think that we can do better as Parliamentarians.

This house has to become a place that realises the very best dreams of the hopers, and defeats the worst intentions of the haters.

This house has to become a place where freedom is defended.

This house has to become a place where opportunity is expanded.

This house has to become a place where diversity is celebrated.

This house has to become a place where fairness is legislated.

And if this great Parliament can be that roadsign, standing firm through even the darkest night and strongest storm, resolutely directing us to a new hope then the answers to the challenges of our Republic will be within our grasp, BUT, we must be bold enough to confront them.

The opportunities that lie before us to build a new future with total change from our broken and divided past are there for the taking, BUT we must be brave enough to grasp them.

We need to become a more responsive Parliament

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, Mike Waters MP, during the Budget Vote on Parliament.

At our recent Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament, several concerns were raised, in connection to the budget.

Of the 19 performance indicators, only 14 or 73% were achieved while 95% of the previous budget was spent.

Of the 23 divisions within programmes 1 – 4, 14 have no performance indicators, seven have one performance indicator and two divisions have three performance indicators.

This makes it impossible for the committee to ensure effective oversight over the budget and whether taxpayers are receiving value for money. It is unclear to the committee how Parliament is actually measuring and assessing outputs when there are no performance indicators.

In addition, we still do not have a Treasury Advice Office which has resulted in a potential conflict of interest where the Accounting Officer and Chief Financial Officer are giving the Executive advice on financial matters when it is themselves who should be held accountable.

Another concern is that when one compares quarterly reports, it highlights inconsistencies by Parliament when reporting on its performance as the annual budgeted figures keep changing from quarter to quarter, despite Parliament’s budget not having been adjusted during the appropriation period.

This, Madam Speaker, is of great concern on two fronts, firstly, it reflects questionable practices with regards to the movement of money from one line item to another and secondly, it prevents the committee from performing effective oversight over Parliament’s finances. We need answers Madam Speaker.

Another anomaly is that of the Women’s Conference expenditure, keeps increasing despite the 4tt quarterly report showing no actual expenditure at all.  If one looks at the third quarter report it shows an overspend on the conference of 102%, however, this jumps to 118% in the fourth quarter without a single cent being spent and with no explanation. Once again, the officials could not explain this Madam Speaker.

In programme 5, R199 million has been withheld for political party funding due to non-compliance by four parties of public funds. The four parties guilty of non-compliance, are the ANC, ACDP, AIC and UDM. The taxpayers should be informed as to the reasons for non-compliance as it is they who are contributing to the funding of political parties. If we expect taxpayers to fund such extravagance the least we can do is to ensure there is a transparent process of accountability.

Madam Speaker the process of awarding the Parliamentary budget needs serious consideration as it cannot be that the Treasury, who is one of the Departments that we are supposed to hold to account and exercise oversight is the department that determines what budget we are given to hold them to account. There is a clear conflict of interest.

There are many examples from across the world where the awarding of the Parliamentary budget is independent from the Executive and Treasury. One such example if Ghana, where on a recent whips trip, we learnt that their Parliamentary budget is determined by a Parliamentary board, independent from the executive, their budget goes to the President not for changing but simply for approval. Treasury has no say at all in the awarding of the budget. This ensures that Parliament is financially resourced to allow it to fulfil its Constitutional obligations.

Madam Speaker, our current budget has a shortfall of R476 million, resulting in most divisions, having to cut their budgets.

If one looks at programme 1 the difference between requested and the actual allocation is R4.3 million, programme 2 shortfall, is R16.7million, programme 3 is R37.3 million, while programme 4 is R331 million – which includes human resources.

It is little wonder that many committees find themselves under-capacitated with content adviser and researchers, negatively affecting our ability as Parliament to hold the executive to account. In fact, the sluggish manner in which some portfolio committees have dealt with the State Capture issue has been blamed on the lack of resources of committees.

Only programme 5 received its full allocation of R692 million and not only did it receive its full allocation it had an increase of R20.8 million.

Why is this? Well, programme 5 consists of two divisions, one being Members facilities, which includes our salaries and entitlements which sees a decrease of just over one million, the second division is transfers to political parties which sees an increase of R22 million.

How is this justified when core services in Parliament are having their budgets slashed?

A total of R455 860 million has been budgeted for political party funding this year.

This when Departments across the board having their budgets cut resulting in frontline services being affected.

How can we, in all honesty, sit here and approve this budget, when, for example, the Basic Education budget is being slashed by a staggering R7 billion this when basic education is already failing our children in preparing them for life after school. Many cannot read, comprehend nor do basic arithmetic.

In fact the, Trend in International Maths and Science Study found that out of 38 countries, South Africa ranks second last in Maths and last in Science.

And with regards to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study found that out of 50 countries, 78% of Grade 4 learners are illiterate, they cannot read for meaning in any language.

How can we in all honestly approve this budget when the Police service, is to be cut by 2000 police officers due to budget constraints? This, despite the wave of crime, engulfing our country.

Yet we increase the funding to political parties. This honourable members is unethical and cannot be justified no matter how much spin one puts on it.

If there is a legacy this 5th Parliament should be leaving for the 6th Parliament is that we need to become a more responsive Parliament, a more caring Parliament that reacts to the issues affecting the voters. Instead, we bog ourselves down in debates that may make us feel important but have very little or no impact on the day-to-day lives of voters.

For example last week the latest unemployment figures were released, which showed that unemployment has increased by 264 000 people, in a three month period to a gobsmacking 9.5 million. Where was the outrage from this Parliament?

If you divide the 264 000 by 90 days you can actually work out what the daily unemployment rate is. So in the last quarter 2 933 people joined the unemployment ranks every day, but where was the outrage from this Parliament?

And if that does not make you sit up and take note then maybe this will – 65.7% of young South Africans between 15-24 years are now unemployed while 42.8% of 25-34 year-olds are unemployed. This is a ticking time bomb that can explode at any minute. But where was the outrage from this Parliament?

Another issue highlighted last week by the Hon Mbhele, was that of child murders and rapes, in a reply to a Parliamentary question, it was revealed that last year 39 828 rapes were reported to the police of that 19 017 were children. So child rapes account for nearly 48% of all rapes in this country – but where was the outrage from this Parliament?

This translates into at least 46 children being raped every day in our country, but where was the outrage from this Parliament?

In the same reply, it was revealed that over the past three years 2 600 children were murdered. But where was the outrage from this Parliament?

It means that at least two children are murdered every single day in our country, but where was the outrage from this Parliament?

And you know what, we also win the dubious prize for the country with the highest child murders in the world, but where was the outrage from this Parliament?

To make matters worse, another Parliamentary reply shows that the very police units established then scrapped and nor re-established to help combat these heinous crimes – the FCS units – these units are too facing chronic shortages of basic equipment such as over 18 000 rape kits and 43 000 DNA kits, but where is the outrage from this Parliament.

Madam Speaker, we cannot continue having flowery debates in this chamber while people are being murdered, raped or feel total despair due to a belief there is no future for them.

We need to turn this narrative around and show through our actions that we as Parliamentarians do care about those that are currently left behind. Instead of having an eco chamber let us make this chamber into what it was initially intended – the exchange of ideas no matter how robust the debate may be.

We have to ensure that we give meaning to the Constitution by reflecting people’s anger, misery and hopelessness and turn it into optimism, confidence and hope.

I thank you.

Mduduzi Manana: DA to request IPID investigation for possible collusion with SAPS commander

The DA will write to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to request that they investigate the Douglasdale South African Police Service (SAPS) station commander and his involvement in the Mduduzi Manana case.

In the voice clip that was recorded outside the Douglasdale police station and released in the media, Manana allegedly states: “so the commander is saying if we do that, the statement is convened and then we go sit down for negotiation.”

This implies that there might have been some form of collusion between Manana and the station commander to get the charges against him by his domestic worker, Ms Christine Wiro, allegedly pushing her down a flight of stairs and out of his house whilst verbally abusing her, dropped.

It is important that this be investigated as it is in no way acceptable that charges of gender-based violence be negotiated.

The police cannot negotiate charges laid by victims of gender-based violence who depend on them for protection. They are there to investigate these charges.

IPID should therefore act within their mandate and investigate these disturbing utterances and to ensure that justice is upheld.

The damning allegations against Manana and his previous assault conviction should see him removed from Parliament, yet he continues to serve as an MP.

He belongs behind bars, anything less would be a terrible injustice to women in South Africa.

Eskom Inquiry to approach Courts to force Guptas, Myeni to testify

Parliament’s Public Enterprises Committee, in a closed meeting today, have resolved to launch an application for an edictal citation with the High Court in order to force the Gupta brothers, Dudu Myeni and Duduzane Zuma to testify before the Eskom Inquiry.
The DA welcomes this decision by the Committee. It makes it clear that we will not condone the blatant disregard shown for Parliament’s authority.
Following numerous attempts by Parliament’s legal team to serve the Guptas, Myeni and Zuma with their summonses, they have used every trick in the book to evade accountability.
The Guptas, who are suspected to be outside of the borders of the Republic, have failed to provide the Inquiry with information on their whereabouts, leaving the Committee with no other choice but to approach the Court.
Myeni has also frustrated attempts efforts to serve her with a summons, by refusing to reveal her residential address. However, the Committee has the ID numbers of both Myeni and Duduzane Zuma and we will now proceed to inform the Courts that both are registered to vote and their residential addresses can, therefore, be requested from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
Myeni is registered to vote at the AGS Lewende Waters in Richards Bay and Duduzane Zuma is registered to vote at the Saxonwold Primary School in Johannesburg.
The Gupta brothers, Myeni and Duduzane Zuma are currently scheduled to testify before the Committee on 11 April 2018. Should they fail to show up, the Committee will push for warrants of arrest to be issued.
The Public Enterprises Committee has once again proven that it will not back down on getting to the bottom of State Capture. The DA will continue to work with our colleagues across the political spectrum to ensure that all those responsible for State Capture are brought to book.