DA lays charges against Muthambi for political interference at the SABC

Please find soundbite in English and Zulu by Phumzile Van Damme MP and note more pictures can be found here, here and here

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) laid criminal charges against former Communications Minister current MP and Chairperson of the COGTA portfolio committee, Faith Muthambi.

This follows the release this week of the report of the “Commission of Inquiry into Interference in the Decision-making in the Newsroom of the South African Broadcasting Corporation,” which revealed that Muthambi violated the Broadcasting Act, when she on several occasions interfered in editorial decisions at the public broadcaster.

This means that Muthambi misled Parliament during the SABC Inquiry in 2016. During her testimony she explicitly said she “never” interfered in the editorial decision of the public broadcaster.

This is now the second time, following Parliament’s Legal Services in August 2017 finding that she has “tried to mislead Parliament”.

Her misleading of Parliament is in contravention of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliaments and Provincial Legislatures Act.

Section 17(2) of the Act states that a person who:

  • commits an offence […] is liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months or to both the fine and the imprisonment:

o (2) (b) (ii) to give false evidence before a House or Committee; and,

o (e) (ii) whether or not during examination under Section 15, willfully furnishes a House or committee with information, or makes a statement before it, which is false or misleading.

It is on this basis of a criminal act that the DA has today laid charges against Muthambi.

A complaint has already been laid regarding her unsuitability to be an MP following this and other misdeeds with Parliament’s Ethics Committee.

The DA firmly believes that it is paramount for Muthambi to face the full might of the law for her apparent violation of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act and for misleading Parliament during the SABC Inquiry.

The onus is now on the South Africa Police Services (SAPS) to deal with the former Minister and MP,  to investigate Muthambi without fear or favour. We will relentlessly pursue SAPS to ensure that this is not yet another criminal complaint against an ANC politician swept under the carpet.

The DA will continue to fight to ensure that the public interest always come first and that the SABC remains a public broadcaster, and not a platform for ANC corruption and wrongdoing. A fully independent SABC is in the interests of all South Africans.

ANC manifesto glosses over corruption and state capture

The ANC is not serious about tackling corruption head-on – and their manifesto is proof thereof.

Yesterday, surrounded by the architect of State Capture and his loyal henchmen, Cyril Ramaphosa, presented the ANC’s manifesto for the 2019 Elections. The manifesto promises to “put an end to state capture, restore the integrity of public institutions and tackle corruption”.

While these promises are all good and well, it is evident that the ANC chooses to gloss over its role in corruption which has had a devasting effect on the provision of services to our people.

The governing party is soft on corruption as is evident in their manifesto. Unlike the DA, they have no clear plan on how government should handle corruption as their only concern is to retain power and continue with their looting.

The ANC is incapable of self-correcting and promoting integrity in government, because they are the very people who erode good governance and destroy institutions.

The DA is the only party that has a track record of clean governance. We have a no-tolerance approach to corruption and under a DA government, anyone found guilty of corruption will be sentenced to 15 years in jail.

The DA’s plan to fight corruption is simple:

  • Establishing an independent unit dedicated to identifying, fighting and prosecuting corruption.
  • Ensuring the payment of all public money is transparent.
  • Bringing in direct elections for all political office holders so that the South African people can hold their president, premiers and mayors directly accountable.
  • Implementing regular lifestyle audits for all politicians and government officials.
  • Protecting and encouraging ‘whistleblowers’ who identify and report on corrupt activities.

Whilst the ANC celebrates the corrupt, the DA works to put them behind bars. The people of South Africa deserve a government which provides services and keeps them safe, not one which robs them of their futures.

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.

SABC spent over half a million on travel costs for officials to testify, or not, before SABC Inquiry

Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Miniter of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP

The SABC spent more than R680 000 on the travel costs of board members and officials who were supposed to testify before the Ad Hoc Committee on SABC Board Inquiry, some of whom refused to testify, referring to it as a “kangaroo court”.

This is according to a reply to a DA Parliamentary question.

The SABC forked out over R20 000 on flights and accommodation for former COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, and more than R31 000 on the travel costs of former CEO, James Aguma.

Some of the other estimated travel costs the SABC covered, include:

  • R183 000  for former SABC Chairman, Professor Mbulaheni Maguvhe;
  • R100 000 for former SABC company secretary, Theresa Geldenhuys; and
  • R34 000 for SABC company secretary, Lindiwe Bayi

Some of the hotels the officials stayed at include the five-star African Pride Crystal Towers and the Hilton Hotel in Cape Town. Clearly, no expense was spared for these extended hotel stays.

In the reply, the financially distressed SABC stated that it would not recover these monies from individuals who did not attend the Inquiry. This means that the public essentially footed the bill for a luxury holiday in Cape Town for people who destroyed a once world-class public broadcaster.

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the SABC Board, Bongumusa Makhathini, to request that the SABC recoup the costs from all individuals who travelled to Cape Town for the SABC Inquiry, but refused to testify, or walked out. The SABC must recover the monies to individuals who brought the public broadcaster to its knees.

The SABC is facing financial ruin and every cent that has been unduly spent on compromised individuals must be returned to the public broadcaster.

Election 2019: a festival of ideas, not manipulation

It is so lovely to be here today.

To be here in a building filled with thousands of South Africans from every corner of our beautiful country.

South Africans who have travelled long distances driven by a love for our nation and the common values that unite us the Democratic Alliance.

Our values are the glue that holds us together, despite our differences in race, gender, culture, sexual orientation and all the other beautiful differences that make South Africa’s people special.

We are a party united in diversity.

We are party united in building a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.

We must therefore stand united, as a party, against those who seek to divide us.

Especially those who seek to divide us on race.

Let those political parties who trade on pitting South Africans against each other know that they will not succeed.

South Africa will defeat you.

Your attempts to foster hatred between us will fail.

We also send a warning knell to those companies who will no doubt come knocking as the 2019 election beckons to peddle their digital dark arts.

We say, take heed of what is happening to Cambridge Analytica.

Ask the company formerly known as Bell Pottinger what happens when you try manipulate South Africans.

As we know, Bell Pottinger paid by the Guptas ran a PR and digital campaign that attempted to divide and conquer South Africa.

It did so by exploiting racial divisions in South Africa.

It did so in order to keep Jacob Zuma and the ANC in power.

It was the people of South Africa who first stood up who made it loud and clear that “not on our doorstep”

And then met Bell Pottinger with the formidable force that is the fearless spirit of the people of South Africa.

Ours, as the Democratic Alliance was to ensure accountability.

And so we took the fight to London, and defeated Bell Pottinger in their own backyard.

We say to companies who specialize in the digital dark arts and aim to exploit and manipulate voters: there will be zero tolerance for underhanded tactics in the digital space. You will be caught. And you will be held accountable.

In my role in Parliament, I will make it my goal to ensure that there is better protection of personal data on social media platforms so what happened in the US election does not happen here.

We will also join in taking the fight to companies like Twitter, who must ensure that their problem with political propaganda bots is dealt with.

Bots pose a serious threat to our democracy in their use as conduits and amplifiers of disinformation and fake news, in order to manipulate voter opinions.

Fake news websites, pose a similar threat.

We will be appealing to the IEC to take the technological threats to our democracy seriously, or run risk of an election that may not be free and fair.

South Africa, we say let the 2019 election be a festival of ideas.

An election where each political party brings to the table their plan to build a better South Africa.

Let it be about persuasion, and not manipulation of voters.

I look forward to joining the DA as we embark on our 2019 campaign to persuade South Africa to vote DA.

We will do so ethically, through hard work and toil to win the hearts and minds of the people of our beautiful country.

Viva DA viva.

Woza 2019, woza.

Veil of secrecy over Multichoice’s ANN7 deals continues, seemingly aided by Parliament

Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.

Multichoice has this month refused the DA’s request for the full report on its payments to ANN7 allegedly to influence government policy on digital migration in its favour.
Multichoice states that it is under no legal obligation to make the report public, and furthermore does not recognise “public interest” as a recognised right.
Last month, the DA submitted an application to Multichoice in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for the full report compiled by its Audit and Risk Committee, followings its investigations into the payments.
The press conference in January announcing its findings, was scant on detail, vaguely admitting “mistakes were made”, and holding no one accountable. No information was provided for the reasons for the payment to ANN7 first at R25 million, increased to R50 million and then R141 million.
The DA believes that the public needs to know the full truth about the dealings between Multichoice, ANN7 and indeed the SABC, and whether, MultiChoice, a private company engaged in “policy capture” by paying inducements to influence government policy in its favour. There is nothing wrong with lobbying government regarding policy, but when money is paid to gain influence, that is called a bribe, which is quite unlawful.
The matter is currently before ICASA’s Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC), who we trust will conduct its investigations and subpoena the relevant documents without fear or favour.
The DA will write to ICASA requesting an update on its investigations.
Multichoice’s refusal to provide the full report coincides with the cancellation of a scheduled meeting in Parliament this week, which was due to be attended by MultiChoice, ANN7 and Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for the Portfolio Committee on Communications to conducts its own oversight on the matter.
When requesting the reason for the cancellation of the meeting, my colleague Veronica van Dyk MP, the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Communications was told by the Chairperson of the committee, Humphrey Maxegwana, that changes were made to the programme and the meeting would be rescheduled in the near future.
The DA objected to this, as all parties in the committee, including the ANC has agreed that the matter relating to Multichoice was urgent, and needed to be dealt with as a priority. A meeting where a parliamentary inquiry, as ordered by the Speaker’s Office in August 2017, into Faith Muthambi’s role in State Capture, was due to be discussed also mysteriously disappeared from the committee’s programme.
It, therefore, seems that all Gupta-related meetings are being kicked for touch and delayed in perpetuity as is sometimes the case when dealing with uncomfortable matters at the Communications Committee. This has no doubt been exacerbated by reports today revealing the direct involvement of former President Jacob Zuma’s in setting up ANN7.
The DA will continue to be relentless in its push for both meetings to held, and inquiries conducted. Jacob Zuma must also be subpoenaed to appear before Parliament to explain his role in the saga.
The DA will not rest until the full truth is revealed about both policy and state capture involving the Department of Communications, its entities, and the industry it regulates.

DA thanks Phumzile van Damme for her incredible work as National Spokesperson

The DA would like to thank Phumzile van Damme for the incredible work she has done as the DA’s National Spokesperson (NSP) over the last four years.
As the longest-serving NSP, she has shown immense dedication in what it is often a demanding job. She has travelled the length and breadth of South Africa delivering the DA message professionally and with passion and grace.
While Ms van Damme has resigned from this position, for personal reasons, she remains the DA Shadow Minister of Communications where she will continue to conduct effective oversight as she has done and at which she has been highly successful.
Refiloe Nt’sekhe will continue as the DA’s National Spokesperson, responsible for communicating on issues that crosscut or fall outside the portfolios of our shadow cabinet and will remain the first point of contact for members of the media.

DA refers Multichoice to ICASA following fresh kickback allegations

The DA can reveal SABC board minutes dated 6 June 2013 suggesting that Multichoice sought to pay the SABC R100 million for its 24-hour news channel in exchange for the public broadcaster’s political influence over digital migration.
The minutes form part of hundreds of documents provided by the SABC in December 2016 to the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC Inquiry, and support allegations in media reports last week that Multichoice paid Gupta-owned ANN7 millions in exchange for similar influence over government’s position on set-top boxes.
The minutes reveal a “clandestine” meeting attended by former SABC board members and executives, including Ellen Tshabalala, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, Lulama Makhobo and Jimi Matthews, with the then CEO of Multichoice, Imtiaz Patel.
Patel was at pains during the meeting to explain that Multichoice does not ordinarily pay TV stations for their news channels to be aired on DSTV, but he would be able to convince the Multichoice board to pay for the SABC’s 24-hour news channel, if a set of “deal-breaker” conditions in Multichoice’s favour were met.
One of the conditions was changing government’s position on set-top boxes to favour Multichoice.
During the meeting, Patel informs the SABC:
We would not normally pay for a news channel. Ok. We don’t. There’s a unique relationship with eTV that everybody espouses etc. It’s got unique conditions. They’re supposed to supply us with many more channels and it’s quite tricky at this point in time. But, besides that we don’t pay for any other news channel, anyway, ok.”
He goes on to state:
“…we need to justify to our Board to say why would we pay you R100m a year which is a lot of money. Ok. It’s after tax money. To make R100m net you have to make R150m or R200m, R300m in turnover. We are looking for the excuse and the excuse for us is to be able to justify to our Board that you are giving us something in return. What are you giving us in return for the R100m? We’re saying you giving us a news channel, you’re giving us a general entertainment channel from your archives, your old, you know. We are less focused on the core elements of it being new content. And we’ve been sort of quite open about it with Lulama, saying even if it’s old stock. And thirdly, we are saying we also need to justify this problem of conditional access [unencrypted set-top boxes] is a big problem. And in order to justify that we’re saying in addition to that, your additional channels will be available on our platform.”
Patel also says:
So, in addition to the R100m in cash, you will be getting a lot of advertising revenue, probably the equivalent, even more, I don’t know, I don’t know the details, I don’t know to what extent, you know, given that kind of base, how much you can monetise it. In return, we can justify to our Board that, we are paying this extraordinary sum of money but we are getting something for it. That was the simple logic that we applied in our own minds. So I’m giving you a sense and therefore I’m hoping that if we can co-create a solution, we are also happy to co-create a solution. We are not coming here saying this is, you know, this is the be all and end all, you know. But I must say though, Lulama, that this is the very important point for us. It’s a deal breaker point, I’ll be honest. And I have re-iterated it. I have said this to you before. 
The implications of Multichoice paying kickbacks in order, to not only solidify its dominance in the pay-TV sector, but also secure influence over government policy in its favour are serious.
It speaks to a company willing to stop at nothing, including paying kickbacks to the Gupta family, thus supporting State Capture, in order to get its way. (It is an undisputed fact that two years after this meeting, and the payments to ANN7, digital migration policy was changed to Multichoice’s favour).
The DA believes that while companies should be allowed the space to conduct business in a free market system, there must be adherence to business ethics and the law.
This matter, and in particular the payments, now require thorough investigation by South Africa’s broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). The DA has today written to ICASA requesting an investigation in terms of Section 4B(1) of the ICASA Act.
The DA had hoped that following the media reports about ANN7 last week, Multichoice would take the opportunity to play open cards by revealing all. It refused to do so. It is now left to ICASA to reveal the truth.
We hope that ICASA will finally flex its muscle and take a clear stand against what appears to be seriously unethical conduct by a company it regulates.

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

SABC board’s preferred candidate for CEO is wholly unsuitable

Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP
The DA has been reliably informed by several whistle-blowers that the SABC board’s preferred choice for Group CEO is Alan Mukoki, a candidate wholly unsuitable for the position.
Despite evidence presented of Mukoki’s unsuitability, almost all members of the board allegedly supported his appointment.
The DA strongly encourages the SABC board to reconsider and save the public broadcaster a likely long-drawn-out battle for Mukoki’s removal as GCEO.
While eminently qualified, Mukoki’s history in the public sector makes him an inappropriate choice.
A 2007 Deloitte & Touche forensic audit commissioned by the then Minister of Agriculture, Lulu Xingwana found that Mukoki and his executives had without board approval, diverted almost R2 billion meant for emerging farmers towards projects that had nothing to do with agriculture, including luxury golf estates, a sugar mill, equestrian estates and residential developments. Some of the beneficiaries of irregular loans were Mukoki’s business associates; and high ranking ANC politicians and benefactors.
Mukoki resigned and was given a R4.5 million golden hand-shake. A few months later the Land Bank was placed under administration and transferred to the National Treasury.  The then Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan described it as being “in ICU”.
Given this history, it is absolutely unfathomable why anyone in their right mind would think Mukoki suitable to be the GCEO of the SABC.
The SABC simply cannot afford to give a high-risk candidate with a chequered past in the public sector the reins of leadership at the SABC.
The SABC needs steady hands. It requires innovative leadership to ensure it can stay afloat without requiring a bailout. It requires a person with a demonstrated commitment to clean governance. Mukoki is quite simply, not that person.