The only deal for Zuma should be a jail sentence

Reports today that the ANC is negotiating an exit deal for President Jacob Zuma is nothing but betrayal to the people of South Africa whose lives have been worsened during his tenure as the president.

ANC Deputy Secretary-General, Jessie Duarte, remarked that President Jacob Zuma “is here to stay”. President Zuma and those who have sold the country to the Gupta family, deserve nothing more than a hefty jail sentence. That the ANC would negotiate anything either than bringing him and his cronies to book, reaffirms that despite the new leadership, nothing has changed in this organisation.

The DA has continuously held President Zuma and his politically connected cronies accountable over the years.

We have pursued – for over a decade – the Spy Tapes case (783 charges of corruption and racketeering) and last year gathered evidence which was handed over to the Hawks in August, and we are pleased that these charges are finally being pursued.

The DA welcomes reports that the Hawks have acted against several individuals implicated in State Capture, including Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, and the Gupta brothers, who are President Jacob Zuma’s friends.

Zwane and Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, must be jailed for their role in the Vrede Dairy Farm scandal, where R220 million which was earmarked for poor black farmers was stolen. We will continue fighting to ensure the NPA prosecutes President Zuma and that he has his day in court.

The DA will use every avenue to continue holding those responsible for looting public resources at the expense of our people. We will not rest until each and every one of those who have stolen are not given a soft landing but a jail sentence.

Zuma’s supplementary heads of argument in the ‘State of Capture’ case are contradictory

The DA notes President Jacob Zuma’s supplementary heads of argument and is gobsmacked by the contents.
The prayers sought in the papers filed today are inconsistent with what his counsel sought last week.
On Wednesday last week, Zuma’s counsel did not want to refer the matter back for further investigation by the Public Protector.
The President now says that he wants the Public Protector’s remedial action set aside and instead, he undertakes to appoint a commission of enquiry headed up by a judge of his own choosing, and with terms of reference he will determine, within 30 days. As the Public Protector herself noted, this would make him judge and jury in his own case.
In another bizarre about-turn, the President is also now content for the alleged breaches of the Code of Ethics to be investigated by her.
Either the President has lost touch with reality or he is changing tack yet again to fend off any charges.
The DA has submitted our supplementary heads of argument in which we argue that the President is essentially trying to have his cake and eat it.
We have asked that the President be directed to urgently implement the remedial action ordered by the Public Protector and we are confident that the court will agree.
The DA will continue to doggedly pursue accountability for the man responsible for one of the darkest times in our democracy’s history.

DA to pursue Cabinet reshuffle appeal with urgency

The Democratic Alliance notes the fact that Judge Vally has granted the President leave to appeal against his order that the President has to provide the record of decision and reasons for this decision to drop Pravin Gordhan from the Cabinet.
We are encouraged by Judge Vally’s statement that:
‘I have come to the conclusion that there is no reasonable prospect that another court would come to a different conclusion.’
However, he found that there were compelling reasons, mainly relating to the public interest in the case, that justified granting leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Judge Vally noted that both the President and the DA agreed that the matter is urgent and, as he put it, ‘The door remains open to the President and the DA to approach that Court (the SCA) for an expedited hearing.’
The DA intends to pursue this appeal with urgency and we will be addressing a letter in this regard to the President of the SCA on Monday morning.

We live in an abnormal constitutional democracy

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP, during the Budget Vote on the Office of the Chief Justice and Judicial Administration.
We live in a time when the debate on vote 22, the Office of the Chief Justice, again attracts more attention than would have been the case had we lived in a normal constitutional democracy. But then, of course, we do not.
We live in a constitutional democracy described by the President, who should be one of the ultimate guardians of this constitutional democracy, as a “funny” democracy. And he is the only one laughing! Particularly when he displays his total inability to understand the role of the judiciary in scrutinising all exercise of public power.
But he, of course, is not alone in this inability. It is clearly an extremely contagious affliction that has spread not only through his entire cabinet, or what remains of it, but through his entire party.
In his speech on this vote on 19 May 2015, the Honourable Minister of Justice stated as follows:
“Today’s maiden budget vote debate of the Office of the Chief Justice marks an important turning point in the 21 years of our democracy. The independence of the judiciary is crucial in view of the role it plays in a constitutional democracy within the context of separation of powers.”
He then went on to quote, with approval, former Chief Justice Ngcobo who remarked:
“The role of the judiciary in a constitutional democracy is an expansive one. Decisions of judges affect many people. Courts have the power to overrule even the most popular decisions of the other arms of the state if they believe they are contrary to the constitution. The acceptance and support of these and all court decisions by society depends upon public confidence in the integrity and independence of the judiciary”.
Maybe the President is correct in saying that we live in a funny democracy, because, what would have been funny if it was not so terribly sad, is that on every occasion since then where the courts have performed exactly this function, they were roundly criticised and derided by the President and members of his cabinet in a manner that can no longer be seen as merely a discussion of court rulings, but which can only be seen as an attempt to intimidate the judiciary.
Chairperson, then from left of the stage, entered yet more “thieves”, this time of the allegedly common and garden variety, or at least that is what the Acting Commissioner of Police wanted the country to believe, when he rounded up three unfortunate passers-by and tried to pass them off as criminal masterminds of the calibre of George Clooney and Brad Pitt in a South African version of Ocean’s Eleven.
What, however, remains unanswered, is exactly how the real thieves, who remain undetected, gained access to a building that should be totally secure, whether a CCTV camera system was operational at the time, and if so, how it was circumvented, as well as the progress, or lack thereof, in tracking down these real thieves.
Chairperson, in all seriousness, it was with a great measure of discomfort that we learned that the budget allocation to the Office of the Chief Justice will not allow this department to strengthen security measures through their own resources.
If the President, and his colleagues within the ANC, are really serious about the practical implementation of the separation of powers, it must follow that the Office of the Chief Justice should not be dependent on another of the arms of state for its safety measures.
Chairperson, on the right of stage, and present there since before this department was established in 2015, and afforded its own budget vote, remains of course, the issue of a judicially-led court administration model. From the outside, looking in, it would seem that the Minister of Justice approaches this issue with the theory that if he turns a blind eye to it for long enough, it will simply go away – like we sometimes wish he would.
The stance of the judiciary on this matter is clear, and since nothing real has happened to address the standoff since this debate last year, we re-iterate:
The Democratic Alliance supports a model through which the judiciary be allowed, in a manner similar to that of the Auditor General, to negotiate directly with Treasury regarding its budgetary allocation.
Accountability in regard to how this budget would be spent should be enforced by a Parliamentary Committee set up specifically for this purpose, rather than the Portfolio Committee for Justice and Correctional Services.
This unwillingness to constructively deal with the issue must be read against the backdrop of the continuous and continued criticism of the President, members of his cabinet and others within his polluted inner circle.
From accusations that the collective mindset of the judiciary is in need of ‘transformation’, to statements that certain divisions met with what was called ‘characters’ before producing counter-revolutionary judgements to a more specific accusation that specifically the Western Cape and Northern Gauteng benches assisted efforts by opposition parties to govern through our courts – we have heard it all.
After the Nkandla judgement, scathing attacks were launched on the judiciary by many in the ANC, particularly those that rushed, predictably, to the defence of the President, the hand that feeds them.
After the judgement in the matter of Al-Bashir, cabinet ministers openly attacked the judiciary. In particular, Minister Mbalula and Minister Nzimande were most outspoken in their criticism of the judiciary.
When the President addressed the House of Traditional Leaders, he told them that the judiciary was not to be trusted, that judges found one guilty for stating one’s case, even when one was innocent.
The attacks on the judiciary were of such an alarming scale that the Chief Justice was moved to request a meeting with the president in order to address the attacks and the effects thereof.
The meeting took place, and a stone-faced Chief Justice, and a predictably giggly president, told the nation that the proverbial hatchet had been buried, and that a new understanding had been reached, re-affirming the importance and the independence of the judiciary.
For as long as this budget does not facilitate complete independence of the judiciary, the DA cannot support this budget.

Show us your Nkandla tax returns, Mr President

In a written response to a DA parliamentary question regarding whether he declared the fringe benefits accrued to him as a result of the State-funded upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, to the South African Revenue Services (SARS), President Jacob Zuma refused to answer.
Zuma, as set out by the Income Tax Act, is liable to pay the estimated R63.9 million in fringe benefits tax on the benefits that accrued to him as a result of the extravagant upgrades to his personal Nkandla homestead.
In his response to the DA, the President answered that “tax is a confidential matter between the South African Revenue Services and the Tax-payer”. Although this is true, all the DA has asked is for him to confirm that he has declared to SARS the fringe benefit that has accrued to him in order to prove that he is indeed a law-abiding citizen.
His refusal is yet another indication of him continuously dodging accountability.
The ANC-government has become synonymous with corruption, and the President and his cronies are unashamed in the looting of the public coffers. This, when 8.9 million unemployed South Africans struggle to feed their families.
The DA will not stand for this, and we will continue to hold those in leadership accountable.
A government must deliver services to the people, not steal from them.