Bheki Cele: The Minister of Grandstanding

Please find attached soundbite by Okkie Terblanche MP.

Police Minister Bheki Cele once again put on a performance for the cameras this morning instead of announcing real interventions to address the violence crisis in our country.

“The truth of the matter is Bheki Cele does nothing”, said DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Police, Okkie Terblanche.

“He turns up after a serious crime has been committed, like the horrific Krugersdorp rapes, makes emotional statements and empty promises for the cameras, and then proceeds to do nothing. He is the Minister of Grandstanding.”

The last few months have been some of the bloodiest in the history of our democracy. In July, media reports indicated that more than 38 people died in mass shootings across the country, while the fourth quarter crime statistics revealed that more than 67 people are murdered and 153 people are raped in South Africa every day. 364 people are the victims of violent robberies every single day.

Yet, whenever Minister Cele appears at the scenes of these crimes, there had not been a single sensible announcement or intervention: not on capacitating the police force, not on training, not on improved facilities – nothing.

The DA questions Minister Cele’s claim at today’s press conference that there is no shortage of rape kits in any police station. The DA has embarked on massive police station oversight across the country and we will soon report the real state of SAPS stations.

“Minister Cele has been constantly failing over the last decade. He has blood on his hands,” Terblanche said.

That is why the DA launched a petition calling for Minister Cele’s head to roll. This petition is gaining traction by the day and now has just short of 25 000 signatures.

Minister Cele does not care about his mandate to protect and serve South Africans. If he did, he would stop grandstanding and ensure SAPS had the equipment and expertise to fight crime.

DA welcomes Government’s U-turn on poultry tariffs

Please find attached a soundbite for Dean Macpherson MP.

The DA welcomes the announcement by Trade, Industry and Competitions Minister, Ebrahim Patel, to suspend poultry tariffs for the next 12 months.

The DA first made the call in April 2022 as a means to cushion consumers from the rapid increase in poultry prices due to the war in Ukraine, as well as increases being passed on by local poultry producers.

During a parliamentary debate on the matter in May, Minister Patel refused to concede to the call made by the DA and said it was an “extreme move”.

The fact that Minister Patel has done such a dramatic and humiliating about-turn on this issues, begs the question as to why he didn’t do so two months ago when we raised it.

More and more questions are now starting to be asked about Minister Patel’s strategy on Masterplans and continued tariff protection which is clearly hurting consumers and making basic food items more expensive.

The DA has advocated for a more balanced approach than the extreme view of government, whereby businesses should be assisted to become more competitive to drive down the costs of production instead of relying on government protection.

This has only created a situation whereby JSE-listed producers have managed to post record breaking profits at the expense of poor Sourh Africans.

It is the DA’s hope that Minister Patel will take a step back from the Masterplan program and begin to asses what benefits ordinary South Africans derive from this and whether the costs they must pay, are truly worth it.

DA slams Ramaphosa’s commitment to nationalise the Reserve Bank

Please see attached a soundbite by Dr Dion George MP

“Nationalising the Reserve Bank will deepen South Africa’s negative economic spiral” said Dr Dion George, the DA Minister of Finance.

This was in reaction to the desperate attempt by President Cyril Ramaphosa to pander to the ANC’s RET faction during the weekend, where he appeared to agree and commit to his party’s misguided plan to reignite efforts to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

The suggestion by the President that the nationalisation of the SARB will proceed in a “manner and pace that takes account of the cost to the fiscus” will merely serve as a slow poison for investor confidence.

There is no meaningful public interest motive in nationalising the SARB, only the furtherance of narrow political interests.

The ANC believes that it can print money to save South Africa from the economic crisis caused by its failed economic policies. That would result in massive devaluation of the Rand that our economy cannot absorb.

The nationalisation of the SARB ultimately means that the finance minister will have the power to appoint every board member from a list of nominees that are confirmed by a panel also largely appointed by the minister i.e., cadre deployment on top of cadre deployment.

Coupled with greater ministerial involvement in the SARB, this will give the government enhanced ability to unduly influence the rules in a market (in which it also competes) by altering the scope of the SARB’s mandate as it pleases.

However, the importance of an independent SARB goes far beyond this. In managing the country’s money supply and overseeing the banking sector, the SARB is the anchor for the country’s economic stability.

Left in creditable, independent and technocratic hands, it serves as an institution that can take necessary and often unpopular decisions. Where it is commandeered by politicians and cadres, the temptation would inevitably be to throw off the restraints and do what is immediately expedient, with the risk that in a deteriorating economic environment, it will ultimately collapse our currency.

This was clearly never a rational policy stance by the ANC. It is irresponsible, ill-informed and has thus far only succeeded in alienating investors by worsening perceptions of South Africa’s policy environment.

“Any prospect of economic recovery depends on a policy environment that is focused on growth. This requires of the government to abandon anti-growth, confidence-sapping policies like nationalising the SARB” said George.

It is not good enough simply to say that nationalisation will proceed in a manner that is “cognisant of the likely cost implications for the fiscus”. This policy stance must be permanently abandoned.

The DA therefore strongly opposes the threats by the ANC to the independence of the Reserve Bank.

Parliament is not a prison yard – remove the barbed wire

Please find attached soundbite by Natasha Mazzone MP.

“The Heritage Council must urgently intervene and order the removal of the barbed wire that was erected right around Parliament and limits access to the Company Gardens by the public,” said Natasha Mazzone, DA Chief Whip.

“From the outside, the parliamentary precinct looks like a cordoned off prison yard!”

Mazzone was referring to the barbed wire, fencing and blockades that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has erected along the entrance to the Company Gardens at Government Avenue via Wale Street months ago. Residents and tourists are being blocked from entering the Gardens through Cape Town’s earliest throughways.

The DA was informed by the Secretary to Parliament, Xolile George, that SAPS installed the barbed wire as an extra security measure after breaches to the precinct. While we agree that Parliament must be protected, especially in light of the fire that decimated the National Assembly in January, defacing a Grade 1 National Heritage Site cannot be the way to accomplish this.

However much the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, and his ANC comrades might wish it to be, South Africa is not a police state. The Parliamentary precinct has an important role to play, not only with regards to tourism, but also for social cohesion. It is a symbol of a democratic country where everyone is free and equal under the Constitution. Instead of encasing it in barbed wire and restricting access to public gardens, SAPS must find a viable solution that is in line with the National Heritage Resources Act – increased patrols in vulnerable areas or a mobile station or booth for instance.

SAPS’ measures are in contravention of a number of sections of the National Heritage Resources Act, and the DA hopes the Heritage Council finds a swift resolution to the eyesore.

DA welcomes government’s intervention in the citrus export impasse

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes government’s intervention in the citrus export impasse on account of the European Union’s (EU) Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (ScoPAFF) decision to subject South African (SA’n) citrus imports to extreme cold treatment in order to mitigate and circumvent false coddling moth (FCM).

This decision has significant implications for the industry and if left unchallenged – may lead to significant job and income losses.

It was announced yesterday that the SA’n government would be lodging a trade dispute with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the EU on account of this decision.

This comes after serious disquiet amongst SA’n citrus exporters as well as a letter written by DA Federal Leader, John Steenhuisen to President Cyril Ramaphosa, asking him to intervene in this matter.

While we have enjoyed a constructive and mutually beneficial trading relationship with EU, that has resulted in them becoming our largest trading partner, citrus exports have remained a bone of contention.

The longstanding disagreement on the science which is used to justify the phytosanitary measures associated with Citrus Black Spot (CBS) is evidence of this.

While this issue has not been fully addressed since it first appeared ten years ago, we are pleased with the swift action taken with respect to FCM.

We will closely monitor the WTO process as it unfolds and we look forward to an outcome that is objective, scientifically-sound and fair in its application.

Motsoaledi must account after Home Affairs blows R300 million on dodgy tenders

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Mr Mosa Steve Chabane, to request that Home Affairs Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi appears before the Committee and explain how hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money could have been spent on a project that, five years down the line, is still incomplete?

This follows a recent exposé in City Press that revealed that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) had spent a total of R450 million on a contract to upgrade its population register system that, until this day, had not been completed.

In 2017, the DHA paid a company, EOH Holdings, almost R300 million to upgrade the Home Affairs National Information System to the Automated Biometric Identification System, a project that would benefit both the DHA and SAPS. However, that R300 million has now seemingly gone down the drain. The DHA then paid an additional R150 million to another company, Idemia, to complete the project. Bizarrely though, Idemia was the original subcontractor to EOH Holdings, who never finished the project in the first place.

Investigations revealed that government officials allegedly engineered an unlawful scheme to award the tender to the politically connected EOH Holdings. Despite these investigations and findings, no apparent action has been taken, which is typical of any ANC scandal. It is the ANC rot that the people of South Africa have unfortunately come to know and expect.

Despite the taxpayers losing hundreds of millions of Rands to yet another alleged corruption scandal, it is in fact the poorest of the poor who suffer the most. Instead of using taxpayer money to fix non-functioning DHA offices, or implement online booking systems, so that people don’t need to queue for hours on end, or providing the poor with valid identity documents, money continues to fall into the bottomless pit that is the corrupt ANC.

The ANC is incapable of not breaking everything that it touches. Minister Motsoaledi must come and account before Parliament and explain how R450 million later, this system is not yet up and running.

The Fuel Price should decrease over R6.00 next week

“The only announcement around the fuel price which the ANC government must make next week, is to slash over R6.00 per litre by ending the exorbitant levies and taxes on fuel.” said Kevin Mileham, DA Shadow Minister of Energy.

The ANC Government continues to keep fuel prices artificially high at the pumps, through fuel taxes, levies and a centrally determined fuel price.

“Indications that the ANC Government intends to lower the fuel price by just R1.00 next week, and that it intends to celebrate this, is laughable.” added Mileham

The devastation of our outrageously high fuel prices will not be alleviated by small decreases at the whim of the global oil price month-by-month, but only by substantive, calculated and fundamental changes to how government controls the fuel price.

The fact is that the ANC Government needs to get out of the fuel price manipulation game, and their time has now run out.

Patricia de Lille’s failure to act on CBE Tribunal recommendations should be her swansong

Please find attached a soundbite by Madeleine Hicklin MP

The failure by the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Patricia de Lille, to act on the findings made by the Council for the Built Environment Tribunal (CBE) against the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP) is not only a violation of the Council for the Built Environment Act of 2000 (CBE Act), it also exposes de Lille’s failure to show leadership on Built-Environment Profession Councils under her ministry.

At a Tribunal held under the auspices of the CBE in Pretoria on the 23rd of June 2022, the tribunal made findings against SACAP leadership which suggest that:

  • The President of SACAP, the Registrar of SACAP and the Council, have effectively established themselves as a ‘self-serving collective’ that control a regulatory body and believes that it is beyond the realm of the law.
  • Incompetence and total disrespect of the law have become entrenched in SACAP.
  • There is an urgent need to take action against the President and the Registrar of the SACP, though, at the very least, removing them from office for individually and collectively destroying the credibility and integrity of the offices that they were employed to serve.

Despite these damning findings, de Lille has stubbornly refused to take action and has instead chosen to sidestep the issue in the vain hope that it will go away.

In doing so, de Lille is violating the CBE Act, which enjoins her, as the Minister responsible for councils of the built professions to ‘…promote sound governance of the built environment professions… and investigate or initiate investigations into matters pertaining [their] functions and policies with regard to the built environment’.

By refusing to act on the CBE Tribunal findings against SACAP, de Lille is neither promoting sound governance nor is she enforcing a sound code of conduct with regards to the proper functioning of the councils.

De Lille’s tap dancing around the CBE Tribunal’s findings is hardly surprising. This is the same Minister who went to extreme lengths to stop the release of a report into allegations of severe and repetitive governance challenges, bullying and sexual harassment at SACAP. Her motivation, it seems, has been to sweep the rot at SACAP under the carpet and hope it will all go away.

If de Lille has decided to abdicate on her responsibilities, the DA will not allow the impunity at SACAP to continue taking place without consequences. We will use every avenue available to us to ensure that they are held accountable.

DA rejects (another) proposed Eskom bailout

Please find attached soundbite by Dr Dion George MP.

Reports that National Treasury is working on a plan to absorb a significant share of Eskom’s R400 billion debt are not only concerning but are setting up a very expensive precedent on the management of debt in failing State-owned Enterprises (SOEs).

The DA finds it unacceptable that, after years of ANC sponsored corruption and mismanagement of Eskom, the South African taxpayer is now being asked to reward Eskom for its failures through a debt subsidy.

Current Eskom debt is hovering around R390 billion. Eskom has stated that debt servicing will only be sustainable at R200 billion, signaling that an almost R200 billion bailout is required. The DA has warned that a bailout by the State of this size will pose a severe risk to South Africa’s already fragile sovereign debt profile. Thus far Eskom has been provided with R136 billion to pay off its debt, with a further R88 billion guaranteed until 2025/26.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that Eskom’s operational and debt problems have raised macro-critical challenges for the South African economy and reported that any solution to Eskom’s debt must be preceded by concrete and credible actions. Additionally, the IMF has warned that shifting Eskom’s debt onto the State’s balance sheet would precipitate a marked deterioration in the nation’s already stretched finances.

Gross State debt had already increased from R2.5 trillion to R4.3 million in just the past 5 years. Consequently, skyrocketing debt and debt-service costs have become the fastest-growing expenditure line item in the budget, to the detriment of those who are dependent on the State. Amidst a failing economy government needs now to alleviate the pressure on hard working taxpayers and the most vulnerable.

It is wholly naïve to think for a moment that another bailout is an appropriate solution to address the structural problems that beset the utility. Treasury absorbing up to half of Eskom’s debt will not only set a dangerous precedent for other failing SOEs, but will risk flinging South Africa back to junk status as soon as the announcement is made to do so.

The DA is currently working on a Fiscal Responsibility Bill that will prevent what Treasury is trying to do with Eskom debt. The Bill introduces, for the first time in South Africa, a limit on how much government will be able to borrow. This Bill will not permit reckless financial behaviour by the State that National Treasury is unable to contain.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana is set to unveil a proposal for Eskom’s unsustainable debt during his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in October. Any proposal for the State to take on more of Eskom’s debt will have to be subject to normal budgetary processes. This will include incorporating the proposal into the national fiscal framework in addition to being approved by the Finance Minister, Cabinet, and Parliament.

Throughout this process the DA will reject any plan that will entail allocating Eskom’s debt to the State’s balance sheet.

DA calls on the SIU to obtain a preservation order against NLC commissioner

Please find attached soundbite by Mat Cuthbert MP.

The DA calls on the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to obtain a preservation order against the National Lotteries Commission (NLC) Commissioner, Thabang Mampane, from the Special Tribunal (ST).

This comes after revelations by publication GroundUp that she used money meant for the rebuilding of a school, gutted by fire, to purchase a luxury home worth R3.6 million in a golf estate near Hartebeespoort Dam.

It is alleged that the house was registered in a trust of which Mampane and her family were beneficiaries.

Moreover, GroundUp alleges that the money was channelled through a company linked to notorious NLC COO, Philemon Letwaba, which has been cited in several other cases of corruption involving the NLC.

This is the second public revelation in just over a month, which fingers a senior member of the NLC’s leadership having purchased a home with money meant for grannies, the sick and marginalised communities.

Furthermore, we call on the NLC’s new board to swiftly conclude disciplinary action against her and in the interim place her on suspension.