State Capture remains a serious concern for South Africans

The following speech was delivered in Parliament by the Chief Whip of the Democratic Alliance, John Steenhuisen MP, during the debate on The scourge of State Capture.
 Madam Speaker,
The Gupta Gang of Six
If ever there was a reason for this house to be having this debate today it was confirmed in glorious Technicolor yesterday evening. Watching the clip from Gupta TV of the gang of 6 ANC MPs defending state capture and tearing viciously into their own Chief Whip and their colleagues on the Public Enterprises Committee and threatening that this debate would not go ahead proved why this debate today is so essential. I think that we should start, as the honourable Gordhan has said before: “join the dots” .
When you do that you do have to ask; whose interests these members are serving? Certainly not the people of South Africa, certainly not our democracy’s and definitely not this Parliament’s. It was nothing more than a poorly executed dance of subservience to the Gupta masters who are no doubt carefully choreographing this charade from the confines of their Saxonwold Shebeen.
Headlining this sordid spectacle was none other than Mr. Loyiso Mpumlwana. Members may remember him, because apart from last night’s performance, he also had some other headline performances:
–   sacked by the TRC in 2009 for fraudulent misrepresentation;
–   withdrawn as a candidate for the Human Rights Commission; and
–   more recently, defended Grace Mugabe by saying that it was acceptable for her to beat up a young woman in his culture. With this past, his convoluted jargon last night and his weird legal interpretation, I wouldn’t have the good advocate represent me in an uncontested divorce!
Public trust in our institution
Just last week, the High Level Panel, headed by former President Kgalema Motlanthe, released its report. It’s a fascinating document which should be compulsory reading for every member. It is an indictment on the failures of this house and a major wake up call for all of us.  The panel calls on us for much more effective oversight of the executive and for a more activist Parliament not simply a rubber stamp processing the work of the executive.
But perhaps most worrying, and something which should concern every member off this house, is the section dealing with trust in institutions. Public trust in Parliament declined massively from 65% in 2009 to just 38% in 2015. And the question we have to ask ourselves is why? Well when you begin to “join the dots’ it’s easy to see: in 2009 Mr. Zuma was elected as the President and set about turning this Parliament into his poodle and adding it to his growing collection of captured institutions.
Since then we have experienced the SABC crisis, the mining crisis, Visagate, Nkandlagate, Nenegate, Sassagate, and at each step of the way this house has rolled over and simply allowed the executive to ride roughshod over it. Attempts to hold the executive accountable have been thwarted by ministers who don’t appear, don’t answer questions and don’t feel they are accountable to  Parliament, choosing overseas trips over their constitutional obligations to account.
Let’s not forget that it was this very Parliament that, without calling him to account before a single committee, shamefully absolved the President of any wrongdoing on Nkandla. It was up to the Constitutional Court to do our job for us and hold the President accountable.
And it’s not like this house has learnt a single thing from it: just last week at this podium the President, on one of his paltry four visits a year, was able to get away without answering a straightforward question that was on the order paper and that he had for over two weeks. Where was the sanction from the Deputy Speaker? Where was the accountability?
Because you see the executive are aided and abetted in this by presiding officers who see their role as one to protect the executive rather than to protect the members of this house as they discharge their oversight and accountability role. Last night the Speaker was on Radio 702 waxing lyrical about the President’s dignity – dignity? When is the Speaker going to start standing up for the dignity of this house which has been systematically abused by an executive and Presidency that have gone rogue.
It’s little wonder that the people, as the high level panel report affirms, are losing faith with this house as it continues to break its covenant to serve the people’s interests and instead serves the executive.
Despite all this, I don’t think that anything could have prepared us for the revelations that emerged through the Gupta leaks. Finally the vast network was laid bare for all to see, the tentacles of influence, subversion and deceit extending from Saxonwold through the union buildings, into government departments, through them into our state owned enterprises and deeper still into our provincial and local governments.
Flurries of emails, databases and communications exposed each terrible tentacle sucking up opportunity and huge sums of public money, away from its intended purposes and into the pockets of the Guptas, the Essas, the Ngubanes, the Hlongwanas and the Zumas. While the people of the Vrede Dairy project languish in abject poverty the money intended for them was used to pay for a wicked wedding, for champagne and caviar which these obscenely rich individuals and families quaffed back, all the while laughing whilst the poor suffer.
Parliament’s response: The case of the Curates egg
And what was this house’s response to the daily barrage of revelations of captured ministers, put in place as we read in the shocking revelations in the book “Enemy of the People” not to be faithful to the Republic as they swore in their oath, but rather to be faithful to the interests of the Gupta family?
Well, a whole six months ago the House Chairperson wrote to the chairs of four portfolio committees, Home Affairs, Public Enterprises, Transport and Minerals & Energy instructing them to “urgently probe the allegations”
Rather like the curates egg, the response has been excellent in parts but bad in others.
Only the Public Enterprises Committee seems to have acted with any urgency in dealing with this matter and not without significant resistance from many on these benches. Members of all parties on this committee must be complimented on their bravery, work and dedication to date in difficult circumstances. They have been relentlessly attacked by members of the executive hell-bent on ensuring that the truth does not come out. And as late as yesterday evening by their own six colleagues.
The truth is though that they still have a long way to go, they have dealt with Eskom only, they still haven’t even begun to scratch the surface on Transnet and Denel where even further indications of the rot of state capture reside.
But what has happened outside this committee?
The Home Affairs chairperson has done everything he can to thwart efforts by members to conduct a probe into the Home Affairs related aspects of State Capture. To date former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has not once, been called to explain why he used executive privileges to grant citizenship to Gupta family members when the original sponsor and applicant, did not compete the process?
– What progress has the Transport Committee made in dealing with allegations?
– The Minerals and Energy Committee is being led a merry dance of evasion and obfuscation by one of the chief protagonists in this sage, Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
–   And what too about the revelations that fall outside these committees are we simply going to ignore the revelations that have emerged around South African Airways and the Gupta involvement there in trying to snaffle the lucrative Mumbai route.
–   Why has the State of Capture report by the Public Protector not been referred to a single committee?
–   What too about the revelations that the Guptas were provided with a secret cabinet memorandum by a former Communications Minister?
–   Why has Minister Des Van Rooyen not been called to explain what happened in the 4 short days he was the Finance Minister
–   And most importantly why has the President not appeared before a single committee of this house to account for a single one of the serious allegations?
The struggle against state capture starts in Parliament
There are some today, like the gang of six last night, who will no doubt argue that it is not this houses responsibility to investigate and hold the executive accountable.
They will argue that the proposed judicial commission of enquiry should do this (funny though that it is the very same people who, when the opposition beats them in court, argue repeatedly that the judiciary shouldn’t do Parliaments work)
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Constitution of the Republic makes it clear:
–     section 42(3) “scrutinising and overseeing executive action”
–     Section 55(2) “ the National Assembly must maintain oversight of the exercise of national authority….and any organ of state”
And this was confirmed by the Chief Justice Moegeng in the Nkandla judgement : “ Scrutinise means subject to scrutiny. And scrutiny implies a careful and thorough examination or a penetrating or searching reflection”
 This Parliament is mandated by the Constitution to do the job that is required to get to the bottom of the scourge of sate capture.
It is provided with all the tools both constitutionally and within our rules to perform the functions that it needs to in holding the executive accountable.
And, it is obliged to do the job because as the peoples parliament  it has the duty to act in the interest of the people of South Africa.
Because, in the final analysis, if we don’t act who will?
One can only wonder if the situation would have actually got so bad and run so deep if the Scorpions had not been shut down in an act of complete political treachery led by Mr. Yunis Carrim, who now tries to shamelessly re-style himself as the political sands have shifted, as a champion of justice. Thanks to him and his underhand efforts at the time we are now bequeathed the moribund Hawks, who do not leave their perch unless it’s to pick on an identified enemy of the State Capture brigade.
It’s unlikely that the NPA are going to come to our rescue, they have been so captured that in this whole year of damning revelations, so much time has elapsed since the revelations first came to light that three books have been published, yet not a single page criminal indictment has been written or investigation concluded. The NPA seem to spend more time arguing why accused persons should NOT be charged than building cases against criminals. The lights may be on at the NPA, but clearly nobody is home, they too don’t leave the office unless it’s to pick on an identified enemy of the State Capture brigade.
It’s even more unlikely that the State Security Agency, which should be guarding the sovereignty of our state are going to come to our rescue. They too have been so captured that they are used as a tool to protect and entrench the very people responsible for state capture and pose the biggest risk to its sovereignty. Events of the last year show clearly that they only act to smear and undermine with trumped up “intelligence reports” any identified enemy of the Sate Capture brigade.
And SARS is also not going to help, their systematic capture has led to a situation where good stewards of public finances have been pushed out and replaced with the very allies of the State Capture crew. Their transgressions? Going hard after those people who themselves are the perpetrators of State Capture, The Guptas body refunds, Edward Zuma’s illegal cigarette enterprises and Khulubuse Zuma’s asset stripping and fraud. Tom Moyane’s SARS is not interested in pursuing anybody outside of identified enemies of the State Capture brigade.
And it’s certainly not going to helped by the keyboard warriors and twitter activists that currently occupy the ANC benches. Those members like Mr. Derek Hanekom and many others who were or are still part of the cabinet and have been for the past 8 years, serving President Zuma slavishly and loyally and who now feign surprise at the scourge of State Capture as though they didn’t know what was going on under their very noses and around the cabinet table. They turned a blind eye for years and now try to reshape themselves as pillars of virtue.
There is no charge office on Twitter, there is no such thing as a Facebook arrest and no courts of law operate on Instagram. If we want to do something then this house must do its job, every member I this house must do their job and act without fear and favor and ensure that those responsible are held fully accountable.
This house cannot be one of the “Presidents Keepers” or become an “Enemy of the People”
Refusing to act on State Capture, denying the duty of this Parliament to exercise oversight and accountability over the President and his cabinet and turning a blind eye to the wrongdoing that has been going on and defending those who have looted the resources and opportunity of our country will be the grossest dereliction of duty and history will judge this house harshly.

Denel tables flawed financial reports

Today, in Parliament the Public Enterprises Committee was presented with a letter from the Auditor-General, Kimi Makwetu, in which he expressed concerns regarding the financial audit the firm, SNG, did of Denel.
The A-G found that SNG failed to properly account for irregular expenditure in its report of Denel’s financials.
SNG requested that Denel amend the flawed reports, but according to the A-G, Denel resisted this request and proceeded to table the incorrect financials.
It is completely unacceptable that a Board and the executives of a public entity would see it fit to not only submit incorrect financials but also deliberately refuse to follow an instruction by an auditing firm.
By doing so, Denel also possibly breached Section 55 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), which states that “[t]he accounting authority for a public entity (a) must keep full and proper records of the financial affairs of the public entity [and that financial reports] fairly present the state of affairs of the public entity, its business, its financial results, its performance against predetermined objectives and its financial position as at the end of the financial year concerned”.
The DA will now write to the Chairperson of the Public Enterprises Committee, Ms Zukiswa Rantho, to request that Denel be urgently brought before the Committee to account for this transgression.
The DA shares the A-G’s concerns, considering that SNG has also done financial audits on Transnet and Eskom.
Given the fallout from the KPMG scandal and credibility concerns with the audit profession in general, we trust that the A-G needs will go over the audit outcomes of Eskom and Transnet with a fine tooth comb to check for similar errors.
Corruption is rife within our state-owned enterprises, and we need to ensure that auditors are transparent.

Eskom must hand over Oliver Wyman report to Parliament after lying about payments to Trillian

The DA has noted Eskom’s sudden U-turn today after it initially claimed that the R1.6 billion paid to the Gupta-linked Trillian and Mckinsey was above board back in June this year.
The fact is that Eskom defended these payments and stated that everything was above board following an investigation by Global consultancy, Oliver Wyman, in June.
It has now been revealed that Oliver Wyman not only warned against the approval of these payments, but had actually red flagged these payments, stating that Eskom needed to conduct a legal review of all contracts.
The DA will write to the Acting Public Enterprises Committee Chairperson, Ms Zukiswa Ranthoto, to ask that she urgently ensure Eskom hands over the report by Oliver Wyman to Parliament for scrutiny.
It is now apparent that Eskom procured the services of Oliver Wyman. Yet, when the advice was not in favour of the Guptas, they blatantly chose to ignore it.
It is unacceptable that Eskom thought they could get away with this lie for so long.
The DA will ensure that all those responsible for this will be held to account at Parliament’s upcoming Eskom Inquiry.
Under the toxic influence of the seemingly Gupta-captured Eskom leadership, the power utility has floundered from one corruption scandal to another and enough is enough.

Parliament may be strangling State Capture enquiries

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is increasingly concerned that Parliament may be placing a stranglehold on the committees tasked with investigating state capture by not providing them with the resources they need.
On Tuesday this week, the Public Enterprises Committee held a preparatory meeting to establish the groundwork of its investigation into state capture at Eskom. It was made clear that a qualified evidence leader would be needed to assist the committee with this vital enquiry. Specifically, Adv. Vanara, who was the evidence leader for the SABC Ad Hoc Committee was requested.
However, during the meeting, the Chairperson received communication from Frolick which made it clear that due to his current workload as the Registrar of Members Interests, Adv. Vanara may be able to assist the committee with advice, but would not be available to perform the role of evidence leader.
Limiting the resources of these committees aligns directly with the agenda of the ANC – make it look like action is being taken but prevent that action from ever actually getting to the heart of the problem. The sudden about turn of the ANC in Parliament should after all be recognised for what it is – an exercise in damage control rather than a real attempt at rooting out corruption.
Importantly, if Parliament cannot source the needed legal services from inside Parliament then it needs to take on an advocate from outside of Parliament to do the job.
Given the scope of the Public Enterprises Eskom enquiry it is our contention that the committee will require the expertise of an advocate experienced in litigation. The committee will also require assistance from experts in engineering and the procurement of large infrastructure projects at a minimum.
Parliament has a Constitutional duty to investigate the damning state capture evidence which continues to be exposed through the leaked emails, alongside the Public Protector’s report into state capture.
In order to properly fulfill that duty, Parliamentary committees need to be properly resourced to handle such in depth investigations.
The concern of under-resourcing was exactly the reason why the DA argued so strongly for the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee to investigate state capture. Had this proceeded, then only one committee would have required such a high level of resourcing. Now at least four committees require this support if they are to stand any chance of getting to the bottom of the rot within the ANC led-government.
The DA will thus be writing to Mr Frolick to request that a suitably qualified evidence leader be appointed to assist the Public Enterprise committee as a matter of urgency, and that the committee be provided with additional outside expertise from the fields of engineering and procurement.
We will not allow these committee enquiries to become a farce to assist an ANC driven agenda or to be strangled by a lack of resources.

Dodging ANC minister, Lynne Brown, cannot hide behind sub judice

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s outrageous about turn regarding her appearance before Parliament’s extraordinary Public Enterprises Committee meeting tomorrow, is a damning indictment on her waning credibility as a Minister and is yet another example of the all too common practice of ANC ministers dodging accountability.
Yesterday the committee was informed that the Minister will no longer appear before Parliament to account for the shocking reappointment of Brian Molefe as Eskom CEO, as the Department believes that the matter is sub judice.
However, Parliament’s legal opinion stated that the sub judice rule does not necessarily apply to this extraordinary sitting, so long as the committee does not delve into the rationality of Brian Molefe’s appointment.
Parliament can and must still play a vital oversight role alongside court processes.
There are still many important questions regarding governance failures, the processes that allowed for Molefe’s early retirement and the decisions around the R30 million pay-out for which we, and all South Africans, deserve answers.
Parliament can investigate these despite the current court challenge.
It is becoming increasingly clear that Minister Brown is hiding behind the sub judice rule to avoid being held accountable for the catastrophic redeployment of Molefe and her apparent failure at the helm of her department.
It is unacceptable that Parliament is letting her do so. Parliament has the power to summon the Minister and must exercise this power on behalf of all South Africans.
The DA Deputy Chief Whip, Mike Waters MP, raised the attempted cancellation and was given the assurance by ANC Chief Whip, Jackson Mthembu MP, as well as ANC Deputy Chief Whip, Dorries Dlakude MP, that they would engage on the matter but the meeting would continue as scheduled.
Under Lynne Brown’s watch, good governance practices have completely collapsed at Eskom and corruption has been allowed to fester with impunity.
The recent revelations that Brown allegedly mislead Parliament when she failed to disclose if there had been contracts of engagement between Eskom and Trillian, a company owned by the Guptas, is perfect evidence of this.
The DA will, therefore, refer these allegations to the Public Protector for investigation and will also ensure that the Trillion matter forms part of the broader investigation by Parliament into Eskom.
It now appears that the Minister has ties to the Gupta’s and is seemingly blocking Molefe’s removal as Eskom CEO.
It is time for Parliament to perform proper oversight and hold the Minister and the board accountable for the mess at Eskom, as the President has shown his unwillingness to do so because his priorities lie with the self-interest, not with the people of South Africa.