ANC amnesty settlement for Zuma an insult to South Africans

The suggestion by the ANC that an amnesty deal should be granted to President Jacob Zuma for the corruption charges against him as this will unify the factionalised party, is outrageous and should be dismissed with the contempt that it deserves.
The DA will continue to fight for President Zuma to have his day in court. No amnesty deal should be granted to the man who – with the help of his party – sold South Africa to the highest bidders.
While the legal battle to hold President Zuma accountable for the 783 charges of corruption, fraud and racketeering against him has been ongoing for close to a decade now, it is still far from over. Mr Zuma has been abusing the court system to delay his inevitable date with the law. He will not succeed.
The ANC has used every opportunity to shield Mr Zuma from accountability and the latest proposed ‘political settlement’ is hardly surprising at all. It is symptomatic of a party that has completely lost its way and too far gone to ever self-correct.
We have filed answering affidavits to Mr Zuma’s appeal against the High Court’s ruling that the NPA’s decision to drop the 700 charges against him was irrational and we will appear again in court on 15 September 2017.
It is outrageous that the ANC is considering amnesty for its leader because they have completely failed to hold him and those politically connected to him, accountable for running this country into the ground. This latest amnesty move proves that the ANC has been complicit in undermining the Constitution and condoning the abuse of power.
Such amnesty will set the precedent that powerful politicians deserve special treatment and will violate a sacred constitutional principle, namely, that all citizens are equal before the law.
The ANC cannot be allowed to continue abusing our democratic institutions to protect one man. ANC factionalism should not be an excuse to subvert the authority of the Constitution. The DA will continue using every legal avenue to protect the Constitution.

SAA is Robbing South Africans of Basic Services

South African Airways’ recent R2,2 billion bailout from National Treasury is just one of many, with the struggling airline having been given billions of rands in both bailouts and guarantees over the last number of years.
 

#NoConfidence: South Africans must unite as a date is set for the end of Zuma’s ruinous presidency

The DA welcomes the decision by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to schedule the DA-sponsored Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma for 3 August.
I have twice written to the Speaker since the Constitutional Court ruled on the matter of the secret ballot on 22 June. Finally, we have been given a date.
We call on Mbete to timeously apply her mind and make a decision on the secret ballot, as the Constitutional Court reaffirmed is within her discretion.
South Africans should be buoyed by the fact that Jacob Zuma’s ruinous presidency could come to an end in a month’s time. All that is required is for their representatives in Parliament, irrespective of party affiliation, to do the right thing.
Zuma’s presidency has been an unrelenting and unmitigated disaster for this country, especially for those unable to find work who now number a staggering 9.3 million people.
It is the recent revelations of state capture and the weekly revelations of how the Gupta and Zuma families colluded to loot and pillage the state that should leave individual Members of Parliament with no doubt in their minds how they should vote on 3 August.
The end of the Zuma presidency is in sight. South Africans should use the coming weeks to unite in purpose and make it clear to those who represent their voices in Parliament that when the Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma is put to the House, they must vote with a resounding “AYE”. We call on all South Africans to join the DA and take to the streets on 3 August to bid Zuma and his cronies ‘good bye’.
 

#NoConfidence: DA to meet with Speaker to push for a date for the debate

It is has now been a week since I wrote to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, calling for the DA-sponsored Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma to be scheduled at the earliest available opportunity.
This followed the 22 June Constitutional Court’s ruling on the matter of the secret ballot.
South Africans have, however, been treated to a deafening silence by Mbete save for a statement by Parliament noting that the Speaker “will … ensure the judgment is given effect”.
I have thus requested an urgent meeting with the Speaker to discuss the scheduling of the Motion of No Confidence. Parliament’s Third Term is scheduled to commence on 31 July and the Motion of No Confidence can and should take place on the very next day, 1 August 2017.
It appears that Mbete is prioritising the ANC policy conference, and her role as ANC Chairperson, instead of her Constitutional role as Speaker of the National Assembly, for which she is paid R2 716 798 per annum.
NA Rule 129 is clear that the Speaker alone has the responsibility to schedule the motion and in doing so she must accord it urgent priority. She cannot drag her feet on this any longer.
Mbete must now prioritise her role as Speaker and act in the interest of the country by scheduling the DA’s motion of no confidence without delay.

DA rejects Parliament’s half-baked state capture “probe” and reiterates need for ad hoc committee

The DA is angered by the 19 June announcement by Parliament that a select number of parliamentary committees have been directed to “urgently probe” allegations of state capture and report back to the National Assembly. This is an ANC attempt to shield President Jacob Zuma and the executive from answering to serious State Capture evidence.
This half-baked “probe” has been introduced by the ANC in bad faith and without any effort to gain multi-party agreement.
It is especially exasperating considering the ongoing discussions taking place in the Chief Whips’ Forum around Parliament’s response to allegations of state capture and the “special meeting” of the Forum which is scheduled to discuss, among other things, the Public Protector’s State of Capture Report on Wednesday, 21 June.
The instruction, reportedly issued by House Chairperson of Committees, Cedric Frolick, for the chairpersons of the portfolio committees on Home Affairs, Mineral Resources, Public Enterprises and Transport to “ensure immediate engagement with the concerned Ministers to ensure that Parliament gets to the bottom of the allegations” is both disingenuous and an attempt at subterfuge. It is also unclear by what authority the Chairperson has issued this instruction as his authority is limited to “implement[ing] policy or guidelines on the scheduling and co-ordination of meetings of all committees”. Portfolio committees may initiate probes themselves or can be instructed to do so by the House; the Chairperson does not have that authority.
This proposal was never brought before the Chief Whips’ Forum for discussion and, as such, ignores the opinion of 12 parties representing millions of voters in Parliament.
Furthermore, the investigation into state capture cannot be narrowly reduced to those four portfolios and cannot be effectively carried out by “engaging” the concerned Ministers as several ministers are at the heart of the state capture allegations.
Indeed, this proposed course of action conveniently side-steps the most prominent member of the Executive, President Jacob Zuma, whose relationship with the Gupta family is the very nexus of the state capture allegations.
On Wednesday, 21 June, the DA will once again lobby support for our draft resolution into the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture. This committee will be the only way in which Parliament will be able to hold the entire Executive to account, including the president and deputy ministers, and can easily conduct its business in concert with the relevant portfolio committees.
To illustrate, the Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture can begin its enquiry “into [the] undue influence by certain individuals over the executive in their exercise of executive authority” precisely as the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises begins its inquiry into Eskom, a process which is scheduled to commence on 21 June. The DA has consistently lobbied for portfolio committees to carry out inquiries into allegations of state capture, especially those actions targeting our state-owned entities (SOEs). However, recent allegations have shown that the tentacles of state capture extends well beyond a clutch of SOEs and certainly beyond the four committees tasked with carrying out this “Parliamentary probe”. The DA recognises the sterling work done by portfolio committees in the recent past, but we cannot afford “probes” that pass the blame to officials and let members of the Executive off the hook.
Consider the case of former Minister of Communications and current Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi: how will the proposed “probe” deal with the allegations that she sent confidential information on cabinet meetings to the Guptas? How will this “probe” deal with the well-ventilated accusations, also confirmed by then-Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas, that the Guptas were aware and possibly influenced Cabinet appointments? The “probe” also conveniently glosses over key departments which have allegedly been targets of state capture in recent times, including the departments of Finance, Communications and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Agreement was reached during last week’s Chief Whips’ Forum that Parliament should never again be found wanting, as was the case with the Nkandla debacle. However, instead of dealing decisively with the scourge of state capture, the ANC in Parliament are weaseling out by choosing to implement a damage containment strategy. This is the wrong choice to make and will once again leave Parliament exposed to accusations of failing to perform its effective oversight role.
The DA is undeterred and will continue to fight for the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture.

Malusi Gigaba’s marathon press conference on the economy was a complete disaster

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba’s, press conference on the “way forward”, following the shocking news that the economy had slipped into recession, was a complete disaster.
The fact that the press conference took place nine days after the announcement that the economy had slipped into recession, and three days after postponing a press conference to deal with the fact that the economy has slipped into recession, created the impression that the Minister would announce new measures to deal with the recession.
However, after delivering a 2698-word press statement, during a marathon two-hour press conference, all the Minister was able to announce was that President Jacob Zuma would be convening a full-day meeting in two weeks time with the “economic cluster” to deal with the recession.
The fact is that the Minister’s press conference was a complete disaster that will damage the investor confidence it was presumably designed to restore and it demonstrates there is no recession-fighting plan in place in South Africa.

DA confirms SAPS used potentially damaging device at anti-Zuma protest

A reply to a DA Parliamentary question has confirmed that the South African Police Services (SAPS) deployed a Long-Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) during the anti-Zuma protest march in Tshwane in April 2017.
This is incredibly serious as SAPS used potentially dangerous crowd control equipment in defence of the captured President Jacob Zuma.
Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, must answer key questions on this and the DA will write to him to find out why the LRAD was used, under what circumstances it was used and whether the officers deployed to the protest had been adequately trained on its use.
LRADs are a highly controversial form of crowd control as they let off a high-pitched sound which causes immense amounts of pain, can lead to migraines and may even bring about permanent hearing damage. So much so that in other jurisdictions, the police are currently being sued for using LRADs to control crowds.
When questioned on this by reporters in April, former Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, avoided answering initial questions on this issue. Phahlane’s deafening silence was more deafening than the LRAD itself.
The reply also states that the Council for Science and Industry Relations (CSIR) has confirmed that the device ‘is suitable for its intended use’ and that the SAPS had previously deployed LRADs, while 25 public order policing units are currently in possession of them.
However, SAPS does not have the best track record when it comes to crowd control. The lessons of Marikana, where 34 protesting miners were gunned down by the SAPS, show that the SAPS use disproportional force to control crowds in South Africa.
The fact that SAPS are now using equipment that has the potential to seriously harm people, and is subject to large lawsuits in other countries, is cause for serious concern and must be addressed.
The DA will not stand by while the ANC continues to protect their own leaders instead of the citizens that they are meant to.

DA lobbies multi-party support for Ad Hoc Committee on state capture

I have today distributed the DA’s draft resolution on the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on state capture, as per National Assembly Rule 253(1)(a), to all parties for consideration. A request for this matter to be placed on the Order Paper as a matter of urgency was forwarded to the Speaker’s Office on 29 May.
The motion will now be discussed in Chief Whips Forum with a view to having it scheduled at the next meeting of the National Assembly Programme Committee.
South Africans are punch-drunk by the seemingly endless revelations about state capture and the astonishing influence the Gupta family wields over President Jacob Zuma and members of his Executive.
I believe there is broad consensus that a thorough investigation into these allegations is long overdue and submit that Parliament is best placed to undertake it.
As detailed in our motion, Parliament is duty-bound by Section 55 of the Constitution to oversee the exercise of executive authority. As such, the various correspondence which show that there has been undue influence by persons not in the executive over the exercise of executive authority in South Africa must be laid bare and interrogated.
An Ad Hoc Committee is the perfect vehicle for looking into state capture as the committee can:

  • Summon any document to be served before it;
  • Summon any person to appear before it, under oath;
  • Receive petitions or submissions from interested persons; and
  • Conduct public hearings into any relevant matter pertaining.

This committee will be empowered to call President Zuma and the Guptas to give testimony, and should not hesitate to do so.
We call on all parties represented in Parliament to support the establishment of this Ad Hoc committee and to participate in the project of putting an end to state capture, once and for all. South Africans are looking to Parliament to tackle this crisis and we dare not fail them.

State Capture charges: The law must now take its course

Note to Editors: The full charge sheet can be accessed here
Today the Democratic Alliance (DA) laid an array of criminal charges against President Jacob Zuma, members of the Gupta family, several cabinet ministers and senior executives of State Owned Entities, and other individuals alleged to be key players in the criminal syndicate that has captured large elements of the South African state. These charges are based on new evidence that emerged last weekend, in the form of documentation and emails, forming a paper trail which implicate these individuals in serious criminal offences. This acts as a preliminary indictment, and as more information emerges, we reserve the right to supplement these charges.
It is clear from the evidence that, acting in concert with each other, President Jacob Zuma, Atul Gupta, Ajay Gupta, Rajesh Gupta, Ashu Chawla (Chief Executive of Gupta-owned Sahara Computers), Nazeem Howa (Director of various Gupta-linked companies and former CEO of Oakbay Investments), Mosebenzi Zwane (alleged Gupta-appointed Minister of Mineral Resources), Malusi Gigaba (alleged Gupta-appointed Minister of Finance), Faith Muthambi (alleged Gupta-appointed Minister of Communications), Desmond van Rooyen (alleged Gupta-appointed former Minister of Finance and current Minister of COGTA), Duduzane Zuma (director of Gupta-linked companies and oldest son of President Zuma) and Matshela Koko (suspended Senior executive of Eskom) have committed the following offences:

  • Corruption – through unlawful conduct which contravenes the Prevention of Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act – 12 of 2004 (POCA), specifically offences in respect of corrupt activities relating to public officers, public officials, foreign public officials, agents, legislative authorities, contracts, procuring and withdrawal of tenders, inducing another person to commit offences, and relating to the duty to report corrupt transactions.
    • This specifically includes the specific corrupt offense of the “misuse or selling of information or material acquired in the course of the, exercise, carrying out or performance of any powers, duties or functions arising out of a constitutional, statutory, contractual or any other legal obligation” that amounts to “the abuse of a position of authority, breach of trust; or the violation of a legal duty or a set of rules” in section 3 of the POCA act.
  • Racketeering – through unlawful conduct which contravenes the Prevention of Organised Crime Act of 1998.
  • Treason – through unlawful conduct which violates, threatens or endangers the existence, independence and security of the Republic of South Africa or which has the effect of changing the constitutional structure of the Republic of South Africa.

The law must now take its course. Each of these individuals must be held accountable for their actions and must face the full force of the law. Nothing less will be acceptable to the Democratic Alliance, and nothing less will be fair to the people of South Africa, who are united in their condemnation of these heinous crimes.
The DA also welcomes the growing consensus regarding the desperate need to investigate the corrupt State Capture project headed by Zuma and the ANC. We maintain that the situation requires a truly broad-based investigation that includes all the departments and individuals named in the leaked emails and the State of Capture report. That process must start with a parliamentary Ad Hoc committee, and then through a Judicial Commission of Enquiry we will be able to uncover the truth as to how captured ministers and government officials have allowed the Guptas to control entire chunks of government.
Notwithstanding, criminal investigations and prosecution must follow where crimes have been committed.
The DA will pursue every available avenue until the corrupt State Capture project that has undermined and crippled key institutions of the state is stopped and the ANC is removed from power.
We will not allow Zuma Inc. to continue to steal from our people. We must earnestly focus South Africa towards building a prosperous nation, where jobs can be created for all.

ANC policies will ruin agricultural sector

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Annette Steyn MP, during the Budget Vote on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
Chairperson,
I dedicate this budget speech to our farmers and farm workers who are working tirelessly to put food on our tables.
According to a report by UNICEF, every year, 75 000 children in South Africa die before their fifth birthday.
The same report also found that malnutrition contributes to 64% of all deaths in children under the age of five.
This is a shocking statistic in a country where we have national food security.
It is, therefore, necessary to scrutinise the role that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is playing in all of this.
The budget allocation of DAFF is R6.8 billion. This is a slight increase of R292 million from the 2016/17 financial year.
With this budget DAFF’s focus is on improving food security, creating decent jobs and sustainably increasing the contribution of the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
This Department is, unfortunately, failing in meeting all of these targets and it has no credible plan to turn this lack of progress around.
Firstly, the allocated budget to the Department is only 0.01% of the national budget. Which indicates that government is not taking these industries seriously, and that DAFF has not been able to confidently show why National Treasury must provide it with more funding.
Chairperson, when looking at the Department’s strategic plan it becomes clear why Treasury does not allocate more funding to it.
Some of the Department’s Strategic Objectives do not have planned targets – in some cases the target is set as planning.
Transfers and subsidies make up 56% of DAFF’s budget to provinces and municipalities, with little or no monitoring or evaluation of these funds taking place. This notwithstanding an amount of R60 million that was reportedly put aside for the medium term period beginning in 2016/17.
During his State of the Nation Address this year, President Zuma announced that “government will implement a commercialisation support programme for 450 black smallholder farmers”. The committee found no clear plan on how the Department would achieve this.
With R5.5 billion allocated to support smallholder farmers over the next three years, the focus needs to shift from the number of people helped, to the outcomes achieved. At this stage reporting is done on budget spent and not on improvement of livelihoods.
These are only some of the few examples why the Democratic Alliance does not think that this Department has what it takes to grow our agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors into the strong role players they could be and which we need to improve our economy.
With the almost stagnant growth of our country’s economy, agriculture could play a massive role in creating much-needed jobs.
Dit maak die DA ook onrustig dat opruiende politieke uitsprake gemaak word wat verdere beleggings in die landbousektor strem.
Dan is daar ook die huidige droogte, wat slegs gedeeltelik gebreek is, wat ons landbousektor onder groot finansiële druk geplaas het.
Dit word bereken dat die totale landbouskuld nou R144 miljard beloop en dat landbouers versigtig is om verdere beleggings in die sektor te maak as gevolg van groot beleidsonsekerheid.
Our sector needs all the support it can get, to not only feed 55 million South Africans, but to still be able to export and assist with food security internationally.
Although the contribution of the agricultural sector to South Africa’s GDP has decreased from 9.1% in 1965, to around 2.4% currently, the significance of agriculture is enhanced by its large linkages with other sectors.
This means that growth in agriculture can contribute to the much-needed growth in other sectors of the economy.
A DA-led government will focus on recognising the role that agriculture plays in our economy and take active steps to create an enabling environment for agricultural growth, by: Increasing the budget for agriculture and land reform and

  • Increasing the budget for agriculture and land reform and
  • Partnering with the private sector in order to facilitate the expansion of agricultural production of the potentially arable soil on communal land in the high rainfall areas of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga – in order for it to be brought into full production.

A DA national government will establish policy certainty in this sector that is, by its very nature, characterised by uncertainty.
While the ANC government is intending to introduce legislation and regulations that will destroy the value of land, potentially ruin our financial sector and drive away internal and external investment, the DA’s proposals are focused on strengthening land rights and providing title deeds to black farmers and homeowners in order to ensure that they are a part of the economy.
The DA would invest in training and education for agriculture.
It is sad to see the state of our agricultural colleges. Many of them are poorly maintained and their infrastructure is deteriorating.
Agricultural development support, or agricultural extension services, focussing on developing the skills base of farmers and providing technical support, has been shown across the world to significantly raise the extent of land use and to increase output and income.
Our extension support has all but collapsed and farmers are left to fend for themselves. This especially has a massive impact on our small scale farmers.
A DA-led national government will expand investment in research and development for agriculture.
While other countries are increasing their budgets on agricultural research and development, our budget decreases on a year by year basis.
It was noted that the Agricultural Research Council’s (ARC) budget cut will also impact the completion of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) Vaccine Production Facility, which is expected to play a significant role in the prevention of Foot and Mouth Disease.
The DA will provide and effectively implement a disaster risk management system for agriculture.
The government’s responses to the drought have been slow, sporadic and badly targeted with concerns of corruption and mismanagement of funds during this extremely difficult period. With predictions that El Niño weather patterns and climate change are likely to increase the severity and incidence of drought in South Africa – we must prioritise the development of agricultural response to climate change.
We will have to rethink farming and agricultural relief when the sector is vulnerable to crises, which includes drought, political and economic crises.
And finally, a DA-led government will prioritise to the safety of our rural communities and their property.
Farm attacks must be classified as priority crime in order for more resources to be allocated to Rural Safety Units, currently the South African Police Services (SAPS) is under-resourced and the Rural Safety Strategy is not properly implemented.
South African farmers are recognised as part of the best in the world and are ensuring food security under extremely difficult circumstances. Access to food is a basic human right and with an ever growing population, it puts massive strain on our farming communities to ensure that food is easily accessible, safe and affordable to everyone.
Thus, when the DA comes into power in 2019, we will show every South African the kind of country we can build together – one which is safe and prosperous for all.
I thank you.