The DA calls for SAA’s new acting CEO to appear before SCOPA

The DA is astounded by the appointment of Thomas Kgokolo as the acting SAA CEO. He is the latest person appointed to run the embattled airline despite having no experience in running an airline.

Kgokolo has no real competitive commercial experience in any private sector let alone the airline industry and therefore chances of him making SAA profitable are to all intents and purposes non-existent.

He will undoubtedly be paid a very handsome salary and allowances even whilst SAA is under the administration of the business rescue practitioners so one wonders what value SAA and the taxpayer will get from the payments to Kgokolo and his executive. Surprisingly, SAA seemingly has enough money to pay high salaries, allowances and fees to the SAA CEO, other executives and the SAA board members, not forgetting the business rescue practitioners, Siviwe Dongwana and Les Matuson, but does not have enough money to pay employees their full salaries.

The DA calls for the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to invite Thomas Kgokolo, the new acting CEO of SAA, to appear before the committee to explain what he, as a chartered accountant, is going to do to ensure that the annual financial statements for SAA which have not been tabled in parliament for the last three years are published without any further delay. He will be held accountable and will be acting as a delinquent director if he follows in the footsteps of his predecessors and fails to produce the financial statements

The DA holds the view that there is little or nothing left of SAA and its subsidiaries and this move to hire a person with no competitive commercial experience in the airline industry is but an exercise in futility to keep the ANC vanity project alive at taxpayer’s expense.

There is no way that SAA will succeed as a state-owned enterprise under the continual interference of ANC politicians and without ongoing taxpayer bailouts.

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DA demands audit as fraudsters help themselves to struggling farmers’ relief vouchers 

The DA calls on the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Ms. Thoko Didiza, to commission an independent audit of her Department’s farmer relief voucher scheme. This follows claims made by farmers on social media platforms, indicating serious irregularities and possible fraud.

According to these reports, various individuals used forged paperwork, claiming to be distressed farmers, and gained access to relief funding. These fake farmers are now reportedly attempting to sell the relief vouchers to the real farmers, who are in desperate need for relief.

Minister Didiza must without delay commission an audit of her Department’s relief scheme, in order to establish the extent of the fraud and the possible involvement of Departmental officials. The maladministration and rot that besets her Department, which undoubtedly contributed to making these fraudulent claims possible, must be curbed, and any officials found to be involved must be held to account.

Struggling small-scale farmers are now left out in the cold, unable to meet their production inputs because the system ostensibly designed to help them has been infiltrated by criminals and the Department does not seem to be doing anything to stop it.

The DA will also submit a series of parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of the matter.

The Department’s inability to protect the livelihood of farmers, compromising the entire country’s food security in the process, must not be allowed to continue. The time has come for the Minister to hold herself and her Department accountable for their failures.

DA to submit a supplementary affidavit to the Zondo Commission

The DA this month received a response from the office of the Public Protector relating to an old request for an investigation into allegations of corruption at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA). The letter, as received, will be submitted to the Commission of Enquiry into State Capture.

In May 2018 I lodged a complaint with the Public Protector, requesting an investigation into allegations of corruption at PRASA. The allegations related to the purchase of a Sandton property by previous PRASA Group Chief Executive Officer, Lucky Montana. Reports indicated that the property was bought with money that was alleged to have been received from a third party with connections to Siyangena Technologies – a company that had been awarded a R4 billion contract by PRASA (later irregularly extended) during Mr. Montana’s tenure as Group CEO. Ownership of the property was later transferred to Mr. Montana’s name.

Earlier this month, I received a formal response from the office of the Public Protector that indicates that a criminal investigation into this matter is currently being pursued by the Hawks, and that the office of the Public Protector is further looking into allegations about PRASA employees conducting business with the entity.

The DA will be including this information in an additional supplementary submission, which submission was requested by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo after my testimony before the Zondo Commission in February this year.

Gordhan must declare his support for De Ruyter

The DA calls on the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to ensure that Eskom’s CEO, Andrè de Ruyter is not unfairly and maliciously targeted as he cleans up corruption in the utility.

The witch-hunt against De Ruyter is now being intensified with fresh allegations of undue process in the appointment of three seniors at Eskom. This follows earlier allegations of racism which De Ruyter explicitly denied in an affidavit before Parliament.

According to reports three new appointments – all General Managers – were made on the instruction of De Ruyter without being advertised. Reports also indicate that the appointments were for new positions.

The DA is of the view that De Ruyter is being subjected to a witch hunt as a result of his efforts to clean up Eskom, which has seen years of unrestrained looting.

The DA notes the board of Eskom’s support for De Ruyter and we request that, together with Minister Gordhan, publicly assure the nation of their full support for his clean-up efforts.

It’s now high time for Minister Gordhan to step in so that De Ruyter is given space to focus on his job – which is to keep the lights on.

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RAF should use high court ruling to get its ducks in a row

The DA welcomes the High Court order that suspends all payments for settled claims not older than 180 days until 12 September 2021. The order also states that claims older than 180 days in which settlement have already been reached, must be paid.

This should allow the RAF some breathing room to get its ducks in a row and finalise historic payments, while putting the necessary measure in place to be able to pay out newer claims.

The Fund’s financial woes have mostly been of its own making as its approach since 2008 has not been to settle as required by the RAF Act, with the Fund trying to entice people into lodging their own claims rather than seeking representation from a legal professional. This is due to the RAF’s erroneous belief that their high legal cost is based on fair representation rather than the Fund’s own overlitigation.

Instead of litigating almost every claim that comes to the RAF, it should mandate its claim settlers to settle minor claims. At the moment, research shows that 90% of litigated claims are settled on the day of judgement.

Unless the RAF changes the way in which it operates, the current backlog will continue to increase, and it will edge ever closer to insolvency.

The DA also calls on the RAF to reinstitute a unit to investigate corruption and fraud since there has been no form of inspectorate since the shut-down of the RAF-Forensic Investigating Task Team (FITT) in 2017.

The RAF should take this reprieve from the High Court and do everything in its power to rectify the situation or history will simply repeat itself next year and the year after.

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NYDA selection process: Parliament dare not fail young South Africans  

The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) application process closed recently. As this process restarts, the DA calls for a fair process that will prioritise all young South Africans and one that won’t favour political patronage and connections over talented young South Africans who want to build their country.

Last year’s selection process was riddled with controversy when a letter believed to be from the ANC Youth League task team, was forwarded with a list of preferred candidates. We hope that the culture of installing politically linked individuals has been wiped out, and that Parliament will stand firm as a vanguard to ensure that this process is transparent, fair, and based on merit.

The politicisation of the NYDA has to stop. With increasingly high unemployment amongst young people coupled with a lack of skills, they desperately need a NYDA that works. This is something we can no longer wait for but needs to be fought for.

The DA will fight vigorously during the shortlisting and interview process to stop cadre deployment in its tracks. Historically, the NYDA has been used as a graduate school for cadres and those who are politically connected.

The ANCYL has been the main beneficiary of cadre deployment in the NYDA. They have continued to benefit while the majority of young people remain left behind and unable to advance. The ANCYL owes young people an apology for the destruction of the NYDA for all these years.

As we head into this process, the DA will continue the fight to overhaul the NYDA of cadre deployment and political patronage. We wish all young people who have applied well as all efforts are required to help us fight youth unemployment amongst young South Africans.

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Madikizela matter referred to the DA’s Federal Legal Commission

The DA notes, with concern, the allegation that the CV of Bonginkosi Madikizela, the party’s Western Cape leader, claims a qualification that he does not hold.

The DA regards this in a serious light and will follow due process in establishing the facts and taking consequent follow-up action.

The matter has been referred to the DA’s Federal Legal Commission for investigation.

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NAC sit-in: It is time for President Ramaphosa to look artists in the eye

Please find attached a soundbite by Tsepo Mhlongo MP, and pictures here, here and here

The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to intervene in the crisis unfolding at the National Arts Council and personally meet with affected artists.

It’s been 42 days since artists began a sit-in at the offices of the NAC, attempting to force answers from the NAC about R300 million in relief funding that was promised through the Presidential Economic Stimulus Programme (PESP) but never received by the artists.

The government’s irrational lockdown regulations have caused many of those employed in the arts and culture sector to lose their income. Some of those engaged in sit-in at the NAC do not have homes to return to or food to eat.

Both the NAC Council and the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa have demonstrated an inability to adequately address challenges faced by the sector. As the DA we have continuously argued that, unless the arts and culture sector receive the necessary support, the regulations and economic restrictions would decimate the industry.

Instead of honesty, the NAC gave them lawsuits. For the past few weeks, it has been attempting to force the protesting artists from its premises. The NAC should rather have prioritised finding ways that would solve the crisis it created and speed up payments to artists.

In light of the Minister’s ineptitude, we hope that President Ramaphosa will accede to our call and personally meet with the artists. Their plight is the direct result of his government’s mismanagement of the Covid crisis. The only decent the President can do is to look them in the eyes and engage with their questions.

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DA welcomes ruling for Zuma to pay back taxpayers’ money

The DA welcomes a ruling by the Supreme Court of Appeal today confirming that former President Jacob Zuma must pay back the money that the State spent on his personal legal costs.

The DA previously obtained an order to this effect from the High Court, which Mr. Zuma then took to the SCA on appeal. Today’s judgment dismissed Mr. Zuma’s appeal and confirms that the State Attorney is only obliged to act if it is in the Government’s or the public’s interest to do so. This was Mr. Zuma’s personal legal battle and he had no right to fund it with tax-payer money.

The DA takes strong exception to any abuse of public funds by current or former public officials, including former Presidents.

Mr. Zuma’s tenure in office was disastrous for South Africa, its economy, and our hard-won democracy. We are still reeling from the effects of State Capture and the hollowing out of public institutions that accompanied it. This a victory not for the DA alone, but for all South Africans, our Constitution and the Rule of Law.

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SAPS owes R24 million for unpaid water and electricity bills  

The Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, has revealed in an answer to a written parliamentary question by the DA, that the South African Police Service (SAPS) owes more than R24 million in outstanding water and electricity bills. The Department usually pays these municipal bills on behalf of clients like SAPS and then invoices them for the outstanding amounts.

This non-payment has already affected service delivery, as last month the Germiston SAPS station was without power for days on end. With crime rates soaring, stations country-wide cannot address serious concerns in their communities with their lights off and equipment not working. We need clarity whether the Department has not paid the account, or whether they have stopped payments due to SAPS not settling their bills.

It seems SAPS is completely collapsing. With the massive DNA backlog and the infighting between the Minister, Bheki Cele, and National Commissioner, Khehla Sithole, it is clear SAPS can’t even pay for the most basic services.

The Department must urgently verify all outstanding SAPS accounts and ensure that they are settled promptly. Furthermore, SAPS and the Department must appear before the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure to account for the current mess.

Additionally, the DA will submit follow-up questions to Minister De Lille regarding all government’s water and electricity bills and the measures in place to ensure timeous payment.

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