DA submits PAIA application for proof VBS’ compliance with National Treasury

The DA will today submit an application to Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to request PRASA to fully disclose documents showing concrete proof of VBS Mutual Bank’s compliance with National Treasury.

In terms of Section 7 of Public Financial Management Act (PFMA), PRASA is bound to act within the “prescribed framework” for their banking, cash management and investments. S7(2)(b) requires that a public entity may only open a bank account with (a) Treasury approval and (b) after prescribed tender processes have been complied with.

This follows media reports that the cash-strapped PRASA is allegedly investing R1-billion with VBS Mutual Bank, the bank that lent President Jacob Zuma R7.8-million during the Nkandla scandal.

Further, even if PRASA was granted approval by National Treasury, VBS submitted an unsolicited bid and the DA therefore requests PRASA’s compliance with PFMA procedures for unsolicited bids and any relevant tender documents for this deal.

This is a clear indication of a leadership crisis at PRASA and this once again supports the DA’s call for a total overhaul of the leadership at the entity.

What’s more, is that there are no reasons for PRASA, which is struggling financially, to invest money it doesn’t have.

It is a huge indictment on Transport Minister, Joe Maswanganyi and the ANC government that the current board and executives don’t have the best interests of South Africans at heart.

The DA will not allow any State-Owned-Enterprise (SOE) to be used as a conduit for any corrupt activities whether for Mr Zuma or the politically-connected Gupta family who are heavily implicated in State Capture. Indeed, it is highly unusual for an entity such as PRASA, already marred by serious financial problems, to ‘invest’ in a bank in the first place.

The DA now awaits a response from PRASA as the public deserves to know the full truth.

Disgraced Dudu Myeni must keep away from SAA

The DA finds it incomprehensible that the hard-won steps towards saving SAA can be so recklessly undermined by the proposal to move the embattled airline from the Finance ministry to the Transport Ministry– a ministry that has so fouled up the e-toll saga.
What makes such a proposal even worse is the news that disgraced Dudu Myeni has been appointed as a “special” advisor to Transport Minister, Joe Maswanganyi, a close ally of President Jacob Zuma. Despite any rules that may preclude her from interfering in SAA affairs, Ms Myeni will likely ignore these and meddle in the affairs of the airline.
The DA will now write to all South African banks that are owed the R13.8 billion guaranteed by the poor people of South Africa. We will request that they immediately inform Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, that they will recall their loans to SAA with immediate effect should the proposal to move SAA away from National Treasury be effected and if there is any pressure put on the SAA board and CEO to run the airline as anything but a commercial enterprise.
Given the mess that SAA has become under the “rule” of Myeni, she surely must be ranked as the most unsuitable person to appoint as an aviation advisor.
The removal of Myeni from the SAA board, the appointment of a new board (including an aviation expert) and, most importantly, the appointment of experienced executives like Vuyani Jarana and Peter Davies signalled the start of a process to attempt to save SAA and most of the more than 10 000 jobs. This would be in vain if the airline is once again treated as a cadre enrichment vehicle and moved back under the influence of corporate warlord Dudu Myeni.
South African banks must ensure that SAA is run on purely commercial lines. They cannot allow SAA to once again become Myeni’s plaything as poor South Africans will suffer the effects of billions of rands in losses as vital services will be forfeited in order to fund the failing airline.

Shaun Abrahams must hand over Zuma’s new representations by 16h00 today

The DA’s lawyers have today written to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv Shaun Abrahams, compelling him to provide written confirmation that he did in fact receive fresh representations from President Jacob Zuma in relation to the 783 counts of corruption, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering before yesterday’s deadline. This must be done by no later than 16h00 today.
It goes without saying that if Adv Abrahams did receive fresh representations, these must be shared with all interested parties – including the DA – by 16h00 today in order for those interested parties to be given an opportunity to comment on such representations.
Alternatively, if no fresh representations have been made by the President, Adv Abrahams must advise on what steps have been taken to call President Zuma to his first court appearance. President Zuma remains charged, and those charges must be faced in a court of law as soon as possible.
Our view is that if the President has raised any new representations of substance, a court of law must make a determination as to whether those justify stopping the prosecution or not. This will guarantee a fair and open consideration of any new representations, and will shield the matter from any undue political interference.
We cannot allow Shaun Abrahams to consider these representations in secret, as he cannot be trusted to oversee this matter in an independent and robust manner. For almost an entire year Abrahams has been in hiding, and has failed to take any action on a number of issues, most notably the “Gupta Leaks” and the rot of State Capture perpetrated by Jacob Zuma and his ANC. As such, this matter must be dealt with by a court of law to guarantee independence.
President Jacob Zuma can only hide for so long. Make no mistake, he will have his day in court, and he will face the criminal charges levelled against him. The DA has been the principal litigant in this matter for almost a decade, and we have not wavered in our relentless pursuit of justice on behalf of South Africa and its people.
Jacob Zuma will have his day in court, he will face the charges for the crimes he is accused of, and justice will prevail.

Bongo bribery allegations: DA to lay criminal charges and lodge complaint with Public Protector

The DA notes with concern the media reports that newly appointed minister of State Security, Bongani Bongo, is to be investigated by Parliament’s joint ethics committee for allegedly attempting to bribe the evidence leader of the parliamentary enquiry into state capture, Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara.
In addition to the committee’s investigation, we will be laying criminal charges of corruption against minister Bongo in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (12 of 2004) and will also be lodging a formal complaint with the Public Protector to investigate Bongo’s alleged violation of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act (82 of 1998).
The latest allegations of corruption against Bongo suggest that he has tried to actively collapse the state capture inquiry by offering Advocate Vanara a bribe to resign as evidence leader in the probe into allegations of state capture at Eskom.
If proved to be true, these allegations serve as basis for criminal charges to be pursued and they further amount to a gross violation of the provisions of the Executive Members’ Ethics Act and the associated Executive Ethics Code which, amongst others, prohibits ministers from using their position to enrich themselves or improperly benefit any other person and requires that ministers fulfill all obligations imposed upon them by the constitution and law.
The latest raft of allegations further demonstrate a deeply concerning trend for minister Bongo and the beleaguered State Security Agency (SSA).
Despite the fact that minister Bongo has only recently been appointed following President Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle on 17 October, it has already emerged that he is currently under active investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) for his alleged involvement in fraud and corruption while he served as the head of legal services in the Department of Human Settlements of Mpumalanga in 2012.
The DA has already undertaken to submit parliamentary questions to ascertain if Bongo was properly vetted by the SSA prior to being appointed.
We will now escalate our efforts to ensure that credibility and the rule of law is returned to the operation of the SSA through criminal charges and our complaint to the Public Protector.

DA to report Guptas’ Bank of Baroda accounts to Indian Reserve Bank

The DA will write to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Urjit Patel, in terms of Section 36 of the Banking Regulation Act of India to report the Guptas’ accounts with the Bank of Baroda.
Section 36 states that the Reserve Bank of India has the power to “caution or prohibit banking companies or any banking company in particular against entering into any particular transaction”.
Recent evidence produced at Parliament’s Inquiry into State Capture at State-Owned Entities, findings in the Public Protector’s “State of Capture” Report, and the Bank of Baroda’s own attempts to close the Guptas’ accounts, after citing the reputational risk of being associated with the Guptas’ companies, is enough reason for the RBI to prohibit any further transactions between Baroda and the Guptas.
The DA is of the belief that the Gupta family could be using their accounts with the Bank of Baroda to funnel South African public money out of the country.
The Guptas are at the centre of State Capture and have allegedly used their close ties to President Jacob Zuma to raid our state coffers for their own personal financial benefit.
The DA will, therefore, request that the Reserve Bank of India urgently prohibit the Bank of Baroda from entering into any further transactions with the Guptas, as the money the Gupta family is transferring into their Bank of Baroda accounts was possibly obtained through illegal means.

DA to keep hawkish eye on any nuclear deal movements

The allegations in the media regarding the high-level Russian delegation who met with President Jacob Zuma shortly before the second cabinet reshuffle in seven months, which saw David Mahlobo appointed as Energy Minister, ostensibly to push through the nuclear deal in favour of the Russians, are startling, to say the least.
The previous Minister of Energy, Mmamoloko Kubayi, committed on record to abide by the Western Cape High Court’s ruling in April of this year, which declared that all Requests for Information (RFI) and potential RFP pursuant to the outdated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Section 34 Ministerial Determinations are set aside with immediate effect. Mr Mahlobo is reminded that he too is bound by the court judgment and any deviation will be illegal.
In order for the nuclear deal to be approved, five key pieces of legislation/regulations will need to be updated and amended, which will require Parliament’s participation. These are:

  • The Integrated Resource Plan;
  • The Electricity pricing path;
  • The procurement regulations;
  • The framework agreements; and
  • Changes to the energy act – to allow for a different funding/ownership model.

In addition, the court ruling made clear the need for a substantial public participation process.
The fact is that we cannot afford nor do we need the nuclear deal. In any event, it is doubtful that we need nuclear in the energy mix bearing in mind that by the time reactors come online, green energy will be able to fill the gap sufficiently.
The DA will be keeping a very close eye out for any such amendments and will also push for the entire process to be open and competitive. Should the details of any progress on pushing through this costly and unnecessary nuclear build not be open to the public, the deal will be tainted and the DA will not hesitate to go to court to interdict it.

President Zuma must appoint new SABC Board as annual report paints grim picture

Note to Editors: Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.
Yesterday, the SABC Interim Board’s term expired. It is now up to President Jacob Zuma to immediately appoint the new SABC permanent Board to get the SABC’s business back on track.
The work of the SABC permanent Board is especially important following yesterday’s tabling of the public broadcaster’s annual financial report for the 2016/17 financial year, in Parliament.
The report paints a grim picture about the state of the SABC’s financial affairs.
The SABC’s contingent liabilities currently stands at R956.7 million, which the report flags as a major risk to the broadcaster. This is due to corporation currently being embroiled in a number of lawsuits. This exorbitant amount could potentially cripple the already ailing SABC. Other areas of concern include:

  • Recorded losses – R997 million after taxes;
  • Fruitless and Wasteful expenditure – R 145.99 million;
  • Irregular expenditure – R 4.4 billion, of which R514.95 million was due to procurement policies not being followed;
  • Hlaudi Motsoeneng’s bonus – R11.5 million for 2016/17 financial year; and
  • Total Director and key personnel’s compensation – R 79.71 million.

It is of absolute importance that the SABC and Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, engage Parliament on how they plan on ensuring that the SABC’s finances recover.
In light of National Treasury’s proposed R3 billion bailout for the SABC, civil society and Parliament deserve to know the full scope of the SABC’s financial affairs and how this proposed bailout will turn things around for the embattled public broadcaster.
Thus, there cannot be any delays. President Zuma must appoint the Board immediately to ensure that they get to work on restoring the SABC back to the world-class broadcaster it once was.
The South African public has clearly lost faith in the SABC, and it is now up to the new Board to restore our faith in the public broadcaster.

Deputy-Minister Sifiso Buthelezi needs to clarify exactly what is going on at the PIC

The Deputy-Minister of Finance, Sifiso Buthelezi, suggests there is “no truth” to the claim that there is an attempt to remove Dr Dan Matjila, the Chief Executive Officer of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), at a special board meeting on Friday 15 September 2017.
However, reports  claim that:
• the Deputy Chairperson of the PIC, Xolani Mkwanazi, has written to the Dr Dan Matjila requesting him to respond to allegations concerning the funding of a project linked to a partner at a special board meeting tomorrow; and
• that the allegations are an attempt to remove Dr Dan Matjila from his position in order to crowbar a person, such as Brian Molefe, into the top job at the PIC.
The PIC’s board has a duty to deal with bona fide allegations of corruption but these allegations appear to amount to a “political hit”, not dissimilar to previous “political hits”, contained in the “Project Spider Web” dossier, which appears to have been designed to advance the interests of President Jacob Zuma, and his clients, the Guptas.
The Deputy Minister of Finance, Sifiso Buthelezi, who is also the Chairperson of the PIC, needs to act to protect the integrity of the institution, and to protect the savings of pensioners, by making a public statement clarifying exactly what is going on at the PIC.
We cannot sit back and allow President Jacob Zuma, and his number one clients, the Guptas, to get their hands on the R1.8 trillion under the management of the PIC.

DA to begin removal proceedings against Public Protector

The revelations that Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, first consulted President Jacob Zuma’s legal advisors and discussed further recommendations not included in her initial report into the ABSA/Bankorp bailout, casts serious doubt as to her independence.
This information has been revealed in annexures to the supplementary affidavit filed by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and clearly demonstrates that Mkhwebane does not operate in an impartial manner but rather seems to take her orders from the Union Buildings.
The DA will, therefore, write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request that this matter is dealt with by the relevant Portfolio Committee, in terms of Rule 337 and 338 of the National Assembly Rules.
Specifically, the DA in the Committee will call for removal proceedings to be initiated urgently. In terms of Section 194 of the Constitution, the Portfolio Committee has the power to make a finding of “misconduct, incapacity, or incompetence” against the Public Protector. Thereafter, the National Assembly must adopt a resolution calling for removal, which requires a two-thirds majority.
The DA has, from the get go, had serious doubts as to Mkhwebane’s suitability for the vital role of Public Protector. She has confirmed these doubts numerous times, including:

  • When she failed to act when President Jacob Zuma was trying to interdict the release of the State Capture report last year, which gave the first inkling of her bias;
  • When she jumped to the defence of the President by laying criminal charges against former Public Protector, Advocate Thuli Madonsela, for releasing the transcript of her interview with the President;
  • When she has been sitting on key Gupta-related investigations for months; and
  • When she admitted to stepping outside of her mandate by recommending changing the Constitution regarding the mandate of the SARB, showing that she has very poor understanding of her own powers and the limits thereof.

The Public Protector is Constitutionally mandated to investigate misconduct by government departments and entities and to protect the public’s interest. Clearly, Mkhwebane is acting in the interest of the already captured Number 1 and must be removed before she is allowed to compromise the once proud office any further.

Parliament’s State Capture committees must get to work

The DA urges the committees that have been tasked to probe State Capture to begin their important work immediately. To assist in this task, the DA will be tabling the #GuptaLeaks e-mails in the relevant committees this week, on 15 and 16 August.
Tomorrow will be exactly two months since House Chairperson of Committees, Cedric Frolick, directed the chairpersons of the portfolio committees on Home Affairs, Mineral Resources, Public Enterprises and Transport to “urgently probe the [State Capture] allegations and report back to the National Assembly”. The chairpersons were also directed to “ensure immediate engagement with the concerned Ministers to ensure that Parliament gets to the bottom of the allegations”.
All these committees are scheduled to meet this week, but worryingly only the PC’s on Public Enterprises and Mineral Resources are set to busy themselves with State Capture-related matters. Even more worryingly, only one meeting for each of the four committees have so far been scheduled for the Third Term.
The DA previously warned that Frolick, acting entirely outside his powers, was limiting the scope of the State Capture inquiry and without justification. This process is now being frustrated even further by a lack of urgency and action.
Parliament is best placed to deal with State Capture and is empowered to identify perpetrators, including those in the Executive, and hold them accountable. The Legislature has an opportunity to recover from its purposeful bungling of the Nkandla matter and should never again be found wanting.
On 3 August, I wrote to both the House Chairperson and the Acting Secretary to Parliament to plead that these committees be adequately capacitated and staffed. It is now essential that each committee have evidence leaders, researchers and legal advisors appointed to assist in the process of compiling the terms of reference, witness lists and documentation lists.
Too much time has passed since the #GuptaLeaks e-mails exposed the true nature and extent of the Gupta family’s influence over President Jacob Zuma and the ANC government. During last week’s debate on the DA’s Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma, not one speaker from the ANC mentioned the Guptas, clearly showing that their project of State Capture is either wilfully being ignored or endorsed by the ANC.
The DA does not share the ANC’s selective amnesia and will not allow Parliament’s probe into State Capture to be stalled any longer. We heard the clarion call of South Africans who took to the streets countrywide on 8 August, calling for an end to the looting and demanding action.