SCOPA must get stuck into the PIC

The allegation that the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, received a R4.5 million “kickback” in return for facilitating a R210 million loan from the Public Investment Corporation must be probed by Parliament.

This is just one of several questionable investments made by the Public Investment Corporation, which up until now have included Ayo Technology Solutions Limited, Sagarmatha Technologies Limited, Steinhoff International Holdings N.V. and VBS Mutual Bank.

The fact is that hardly a day goes by without a new scandal surrounding questionable investments emerging at the Public Investment Corporation.

However, the finance committee has proved completely ineffective at probing the questionable investments made by the Public Investment Corporation.

We are prohibited from cross examining senior executives and simply do not receive straight answers to straight questions put to the Public Investment Corporation.

I will, therefore, as a last resort write to the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Themba Godi, requesting him to schedule a hearing probing allegations surrounding irregular payments and questionable investments at the Public Investment Corporation.

The hearing should probe the allegation that the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, Dr Zweli Mkhize, received a R4.5 million “kickback” for facilitating a R210 million loan from the Public Investment Corporation.

However, it should also probe:

  • allegations of irregular payments made by the Chief Executive Officer, Dr Dan Matjila, which now appear not to have been investigated thoroughly, following the leaking of an “internal audit” report; and
  • questionable investments and loans in inter alia Ayo Technology Solutions Limited, Sagarmatha Technologies Limited, Steinhoff International Holdings N.V. and VBS Mutual Bank.

Bathabile Dlamini and Pearl Bhengu must be held personally liable for SASSA waste

The Democratic Alliance will write to the new Minister of Social Development, Susan Shabangu, to request that her Department take urgent action to hold her predecessor, Bathabile Dlamini, and former South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) CEO, Pearl Bhengu, personally liable for gross irregular expenditure at the Department during their tenure, including the R16 million spent on dubious “education meetings”.

In a presentation to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) in Parliament today, SASSA revealed Bhengu signed off R16 million in December 2017 for “education meetings” in Kwazulu-Natal without following standard procurement procedures.

Today, Bhengu was the only Provincial manager absent, conveniently “unwell”.

It is alleged that Bhengu, within a day of receiving the request, approved inter alia:

• A marque for R485 000;
• Flooring for R482 000;
• Chairs and ‘decor’ for R487 000;
• Catering for R493 000;
• Transport for R493 000;
• A sound system for R492 000; and
• Gifts and promotions worth R480 000

Dlamini and Bhengu cannot escape accountability for their complicity in turning SASSA into their personal piggy bank while diverting money to vanity projects that did not improve the material welfare of grant recipients. While we welcome the commitments by the new acting SASSA CEO, Abraham Mahlangu to conduct further investigations, parliament must still exercise its oversight responsibilities and therefore Dlamini and Bhengu should be summoned to urgently appear before SCOPA to account for their actions.

Shipping Bhengu off to Kwazulu-Natal will also not atone for the financial damage she did while she was the CEO at SASSA. She must immediately be suspended pending an investigation and, if found guilty, made to pay back all the SASSA money that was wasted. The same is true for Dlamini; the fact she is now the Minister of Women despite her demonstrated poor leadership is an indictment on the ANC government and sends a clear message that accountability is not a priority for them.

The real tragedy is that while grant recipients are struggling with the rise in food prices triggered by the VAT increase to 15%, SASSA continues to lose money without any sense of responsibility to the millions of poor South Africans it is meant to serve. The DA will not sit idly and allow this blatant misuse of state coffers to continue.

State employees conduct R8 billion ‘business’ with government

Minister of Finance, Nhlanhla Nene, has revealed shocking statistics which show that 2 704 state employees were actively doing business with National and Provincial government Departments during the period 1 April 2017 to 31 January 2018, to the tune of R8 billion.

Minister Nene made the revelation in the Public Procurement Review report which he tabled in Parliament on Friday, 13 April 2018.

The DA will be writing to the SCOPA Chairperson, requesting that he summon Minister Nene and the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Ayanda Dlodlo to account for this gross violation of the Public Service Act and the Public Service Regulations of 2016.

Public servants doing business with the state were, through the 2016 Public Service Regulations, given a deadline of 31 January 2017 to either resign from the public service od relinquish their business interests.

In addition, the Public Administration Management Act, has an added provision which compels state employees to disclose their financial interests. Towards the end of 2017, 9 689 senior managers revealed that they have private investments or interest in companies.

This unacceptable breach of the law flies in the face of any effort to rid the state of the disease of state capture that had become entrenched during former President Zuma’s tenure.

President Ramaphosa and his executive must take urgent steps to deal with the culture of lawlessness that has become pervasive in state procurement, in open defiance to government employee ethical conduct.

South Africa cannot continue to be held to ransom by predatory elite that continues to reap undue benefit from the state without due regard for the law. Parliament has an obligation to ensure that this culture is eliminated once and for all.

Commissioner Sithole must free SAPS from Forensic Data Analysis (FDA) chokehold

Find attached soundbites in English and Zulu from Zak Mbhele MP.

The DA finds it outrageous that South Africa’s national security and integrity of the criminal justice system are being held to ransom by Forensic Data Analysis (FDA), a private company which is currently under investigation for possible corruption.

Commissioner Khehla Sithole is obligated, as the chief accounting officer, to ensure that he enforces the recommendation made by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to terminate all contracts with FDA.

The recklessness of the threat made by Keith Keating, the Director of FDA, to ‘collapse the criminal justice system’ if SAPS fails to adhere to his demands, is testament to the evolving crisis of chronic mismanagement within SAPS.

It is inconceivable how SAPS dropped the ball and failed to enter into a service level agreement to prevent ‘ransom demands’ by suppliers such as the FDA.

Commissioner Sithole must take urgent steps to diversify SAPS’s portfolio of suppliers for IT contracts so as to prevent a ‘hostile takeover’ of critical police functions by one supplier, to the detriment of the entire criminal justice system.

Together with my colleague in SCOPA, Tim Brauteseth MP, who exposed a possible corrupt relationship between FDA, SAPS and SITA and the resultant suspiciously irregular contracts, we will ask our respective portfolio committees to demand the immediate termination of all contracts with FDA as a first step in restoring SAPS independence.

Parliament must be the watchman on the walls of our democracy

The following end of year farewell speech was delivered today by the DA’s Chief Whip, John Steenhuisen MP, in Parliament.
Madam Speaker,
Another year has passed as quickly as the last. 2017 has been a tumultuous year, not only for this Parliament but for our South Africa as well:
In February Minister Dlamini brought SASSA to the brink of collapse imperilling the lives of the 17 million of our countrymen and women who rely on this important social safety net.
In March, The President, for the second time, dumped the country into crisis when he reshuffled his cabinet, removing finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy Mcebisi Jonas together with 20 other changes that sent the markets crashing. Many couldn’t work out what was behind these changes but as the State Capture dots began to be joined the motives became clear for all to see.
In May, the #Guptaleaks laid bare the sheer scope and scale of State Capture, revealing the rot at the heart of government and exposing the Billions of Rands of the people’s money looted from the public purse in the biggest smash and grab in our democratic history.
In August, the President survived his eighth motion of no confidence, and with the secret ballot having been granted the house witnessed the largest backbench rebellion with 177 members of this house voting in favour of removing the President from office.
In October, the Finance Minister tabled a budget full of doom and gloom but not a single solution, policy shift or bold initiative to get us out of the mess or create jobs for the 9.8 Million of our fellow South Africans who do not have the dignity of a job.
In November, the President was permitted to blatantly ignore out of a straightforward question on the order paper, which his office had for 16 days, and with not even as much as a concern or flurry from the Presiding officer that the effectiveness of this house and its primary function was being grossly undermined right under his very nose.
And as we head into December we do so as an economy that has been junked by the ratings agencies because the governing party that is so completely incoherent that South Africans and the international community have lost hope in the ANC’s ability to get their act together, even after their conference.
We find ourselves exiting 2017 with Mr Zuma still in the Union Buildings, the downgraded President of a downgraded economy.
But despite all this, there have been some highlights:

  • The stellar work done by the Ad-Hoc Committee on the SABC board enquiry.
  • The portfolio committee on social development and SCOPA’s handling of the social grants crisis.
  • The decision of the Speaker to allow a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence.
  • The portfolio committee on Public Enterprises ESKOM enquiry.
  • The consensus that has characterized our work in programming and the chief whips forum.
  • The terrific celebrations we held around our Constitution

Watchmen on the walls of democracy
And perhaps all these challenges of 2017 have underscored, more than ever before, the important and essential role this Parliament should be playing. We really are among the last watchmen left on the walls of our democracy.
And never in the democratic history of our nation, has this role been more essential or crucial.
American slavery abolitionist Wendell Phillips bequethed us the well know quote that:
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”
But he went further to say that:
“The hand entrusted with power becomes, either from human depravity or esprit de corps, the necessary enemy of the people. Only by continued oversight can the democrat in office be prevented from hardening into a despot; only by unintermitted agitation can a people be sufficiently awake to principle not to let liberty be smothered in material prosperity”
The reality is that State Capture did not emerge overnight, it didn’t just spring up, it was a carefully planned process, a process that developed slowly, methodically and with maximum malice and it happened in the full view of those in the executive who should have been watching and who should have known better  and who should, when the opposition raised the alarm, acted sooner.
Our vigilance has never been more important or needed than it is now. This is a task that no member in this house, regardless of the party t-shirt they wear, should ever underestimate or undervalue.
We have seen first hand the deceitful forces that have captured key institutions of our state subverting these institutions original intention to serve, benefit and protect the people and transforming them into ATM’s and bodyguards for the connected few.
We have seen the elite corruption busting Scorpions, castrated at the hands of Mr. Yunis Carrim, and turned into the tame and caged Hawks. They are so captured, corrupted and compromised that we should rename them the Budgerigars.
We have seen our State Security agency turned into a political gossip factory that misses every single attack on our sovereignty and security as a nation, yet is never short of smears or crudely drawn intelligence reports to taint a political rival or a handy break-in at an opponents premises.
We’ve seen SARS go from an internationally respected an acclaimed revenue collection institution into a veritable rogues gallery of insiders and captured individuals who’s only aim is to ensure their rich buddies get away with even more public money than they have already stolen.
And of course the NPA who loudly proclaimed that their “days of being disrespected are over” and yet went on to behave in a shameful manner that has made them the laughing stock of the nation.
And that is why we, all of us, are called upon to break this cynical cycle of corruption and capture.
The High Level Panel
Since we have well passed the halfway mark of this 5th Parliaments life, it’s perhaps a good time to examine the role of the house and its place in our democracy. And there can be no better stimulus for this discussion than the recently released High Level Panel assessment of key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change.
It is an incredible document and we must thank the panellists for the work that they have done crisscrossing the country, engaging with communities, examining legislation and establishing for themselves its impact and effect on the lives of our citizens. They have identified many of the challenges that block our path to prosperity, many of these acts of commission or omission by this very chamber.
Its a welcome body of work and I really do hope that members, after a certain event at Nasrec is over, will spend their Christmas recess studying it closely. But I do think that we should pause and ask ourselves as members of this house, why? Why was it a high level panel that had to find that:

  • Only 0.4% of our GDP is spent on land reform and that this last year saw the lowest amount of land transferred since 1994. And how so many of our citizens, particularly women, living in rural areas are subject to cruel serfdom where their constitutional rights are trampled.
  • 13974 tourists or investors were denied boarding on South Africa bound flights because of the disastrous unabridged birth certificate policy championed by former Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba- thanks to this policy we are likely to use 578 000 tourists per year a loss of over R7.51 billion (I bet you could do with that now) and who knows how many jobs.
  • Public trust in Parliament, national government and local government have declined rapidly in the last 5 years whilst the trust in our judiciary has increased.
  • We have a skills crisis that the current education and training regime is simply not meeting

It also found that Parliament remains “far too dependent on the executive, which operates in silos, to draft law. This manifests in a lack of integrated approach
The truth is that WE should have been doing this work, WE should have been doing the monitoring and WE should have been doing the engagement.
And we can only do this if we are empowered to do so and that’s why it is essential that we start 2018 with a very hard look at our systems, our processes and the resourcing of members.
We, the members of this house, must be better empowered to be able to access research and resources that will make us better lawmakers, legislators and more vigilant watchmen over the executive.
We have been set as the watchmen on the wall by the people of South Africa, it is their interest we must always safeguard. Our duties have been assigned by the Constitution of the Republic, and we must always meet them.
For it us that will be held accountable if the walls of our democracy are breached by the forces of evil and tyranny. As Ezekiel 6, verse 3 says:
“If the watchman sees the enemy coming and doesn’t sound the alarm to warn the people, he is responsible for their captivity and will be held accountable”
We have much work to do in 2018 to improve our vigilance and resolve to transform this house into a true arena of accountability and a people-centered institution that genuinely advances the interests, hopes dreams and aspirations of all the people of our nation.
Let me end by thanking all of those people who operate behind the scenes who keep our Parliament running, the ushers, the translators, the chamber support staff and those who maintain this house.
Allow me to also extend, once again, a very big thank you to the National Assembly table team for their hard work, long hours and dedication to this institution we are all proud to work in. I would also like to specifically thank Mr Mbulelo Xaso, Collen Mahlangu and Andrew Mbanjwa and their offices for their patience and unfailing willingness to always assist.
I also think we should extend a very special thank you to the acting Secretary Mrs. Penny Tyawa, who stepped in to the position under very difficult circumstances and has, in the short time she has been acting secretary, already transformed the draconian and oppressive management style that existed before.
To Chief Whip Hon. Jackson Mthembu, and his Deputy, Dorris Dlakude, thank you both for your leadership of the whippery of the house. You are both always able to disagree without being disagreeable.
I would also like to thank the Chief Whips of the other opposition parties, notably Mr. Shivambu, Mr Singh, Dr, Mulder, Mr. Nkwanka, Professor Khubisa, Mrs Dudley and Mr. Ntshayisa for their good spirit, hard work and the terrific co-operation the opposition has enjoyed this year.
I would also like to remember specifically, as we close this annual session, Hon. Tim Khoza and Hon. Tarnia Baker who both lost their lives in service of this house and their nation and we remember them both today with respect and affection.
May I, in this season of peace and goodwill, take this opportunity on behalf of our leader Mmusi Maimane and our party to wish all honourable members of this house, and their families a safe, peaceful and restful festive season and we look forward to seeing you all in the new year when we resume with the peoples business,
Who are, as I end with a quote from a poem by our very own Joan Fubbs from her latest collection of poems “ Humanity’s covenant with Life”:
“Waiting and waiting
For a new tomorrow
The clouded horizon
Is pierced by silent hope.
That seeks beyond today”

DA reveals deep corruption at SITA

Astonishing replies to the DA’s cross examination of government’s State Information Technology Agency (SITA) in Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) today exposed that no valid process was followed when Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) were appointed to maintain ROFIN, NIKON and Spheron products bought by the South African Police Service (SAPS).
This process is required by the Constitution, the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and National Treasury.
SITA is responsible for maintenance and the upkeep of products belonging to the SAPS.
The DA will therefore ensure that the current forensic investigation at SITA continues until a full investigation into all SITA business with FDA, Unisys and EOH is completed. Our call extends further than forensic equipment and extends to the provision of IT infrastructure and architecture at SAPS, which has cost R5 billion to date.
We will also continue to push that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to continue to investigate SAPS members involved in this fraudulent behaviour, and that they regularly update SCOPA as to the progress they have made.
The DA wrote to the SAPS, before they appeared in SCOPA, to ensure that they provided the following information today:
• All procurement details for 3 573 forensic equipment items;
• A verification of the amount of members using this forensic equipment;
• A list of case numbers where forensic equipment was used; and
• The full 108 SAPS records relating to what forensic equipment is issued to individual members of the SAPS.
Despite our timely request, none of these documents were provided and it is highly suspicious that SAPS ignored our demands.
We even presented photographic evidence of FDA and Unisys directors entertaining Supply Chain Management (SCM) SAPS members at Old Trafford Football Stadium in the United Kingdom in October 2011 where FDA owner, Keith Keating, was present. This is watertight proof that SAPS’ relationship with FDA is entirely improper, inappropriate and possibly illegal.
The DA also strongly questions the need for expensive maintenance contracts to maintain the 3 573 items of forensic equipment at a cost of R9.7 million per month. It is a completely superfluous contract because most of the items are maintenance free, the contract has two years to run and is still worth R234 million.
We are therefore deeply concerned that while millions has been splurged on maintaining thousands of forensic equipment devices, there has been no substantial improvement in prosecution rates.
The DA is confident that these investigations will reveal yet more evidence of possible corruption and we will not rest until the questionable SITA contract is cancelled and the money paid to FDA is recovered.

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

SASSA-SAPO agreement does not mean Minister Dlamini is off the hook

Minister Jeff Radebe’s announcement today that the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Social Security will have an agreement ready for SASSA and the South African Post Office (SAPO) for the distribution of social grants, does not mean that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is off the hook.
Minister Radebe, at the Joint sitting of SCOPA and the Social Development Committee in Parliament,  announced that an agreement between SASSA and SAPO is expected to be signed by next week Friday.
Although the DA is pleased that there might soon be an end to this SASSA social grants debacle, we must face the facts that Minister Dlamini once again tried to delay the process of SASSA finding a new distributor of social grants in order to keep the dodgy CPS contract.
The Minister failed on numerous occasions to resolve the crisis which ultimately led to joint committee meetings and the intervention of the IMC.
Minister Dlamini was clearly blocking every effort to ensure that SAPO did not qualify as a suitable service provider because she either wants the illegal CPS contract to continue or she has another provider in mind.
Minister Dlamini is unfit to lead the Department of Social Development and she must be held accountable for putting the country on the brink of another social grants crisis.
It is clear that SASSA also had a hand in this prolonged procurement process. The Panel of Experts appointed by the Constitutional Court to oversee this entire process found that SASSA failed to cooperate with experts. In a letter to the Committee, National Treasury stated that SASSA took more than two months to evaluate and adjudicate one proposal, this conclusion implies there was a deliberate delay from SASSA to work with SAPO.
Both Minister Dlamini and  SASSA must account for their disgraceful behaviour of threatening the security of social grants for what is no doubt their own financial benefits.

DA to request that Minister Dlamini is formally summoned to Parliament

Following yesterday’s shambolic joint meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development and SCOPA, where Minister Bathabile Dlamini yet again failed to show up, members resolved to formally call on the Minister to appear before Parliament.
However, in light of Dodging Dlamini’s history of chronically bunking accountability whenever she is formally invited to Parliament, merely issuing an invitation will not suffice.
The DA will, therefore, write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Rosemary Capa, to request that she formally summon Minister Dlamini to come and account.
If Dodging Dlamini again fails to show up, she could face serious consequences for ignoring a summons, including possible arrest.
SASSA’s failure to get the ball rolling on finding a new service provider to pay out social grants is a disaster ushering in a crisis.
At yesterday’s shambolic joint meeting SASSA scrambled to answer questions which can only lead us to believe that SASSA is either uncertain or dishonest about finding a credible alternative to CPS.
The meeting also brought into question the South African Post Office’s (SAPO) readiness to take over paying out social grants.
There are too many unanswered questions and nobody is providing clarity and certainty.
The Minister’s failure to show up to a meeting at this critical time is nothing more than a delaying tactic to once again ensure that the contract with CPS continues.
The Panel of Experts appointed by the Constitutional Court to oversee this entire process, has warned that SASSA and the Minister’s lack of cooperation and blatant delaying tactics will see a repeat of the fait accompli we witnessed earlier this year.
Minister Dlamini is playing Russian roulette with the lives of millions of vulnerable South Africans.
She is busy campaigning in KwaZulu-Natal, instead of carrying out her mandate of serving the people and she cannot be allowed to escape accountability again.

KPMG failures pose risks to the state

Today’s SCOPA briefing by KPMG on the SARS Rogue report revealed a lack of transparency and audit integrity by KPMG with regards to reportable irregularity to the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) , over a three year period, within the 33 state entities that it was providing audit services for.
The briefing provided clear evidence of poor oversight that exists over audit firms in South Africa. We are concerned that this poor oversight may have negatively affected the proper functioning of government departments and state entities.
Due to the compromised SARS rogue unit report prepared by KPMG, the DA will call for an independent inquiry that:
· will be transparent and composed of a member of Parliament, as per the DA’s initial suggestion to the SCOPA chairman, Temba Godi;
· will review the documents of the briefing that SARS gave to KPMG, which KPMG has agreed to provide; and
· will review all documentation and reports of the Gupta related companies doing business with the State. SCOPA has requested these from KPMG.
It is unacceptable for auditors to claim to assist state departments and entities but fail to report irregularities, as required by law, to IRBA and SAICA for further investigation.
KPMG has entered into 1 301 projects with the state and constitutional institutions last year and 3 948 over the last three years. It is clear that the presence of systemic problems at KPMG could pose a great risk for the state.
The DA, therefore, calls for a review of all the contracts that government departments have entered into with KPMG including all the contracts that the firm has tendered for.
The DA will not tolerate corruption and poor oversight, whether in the private or public sector as this has consequences financial accountability.