DA to champion youth activists’ petition to stop ANC-sponsored NYDA board appointments

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has received a petition signed by more than 800 youth activists opposing the politically compromised National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) board recommendations.

We are proud to champion this cause and sponsor this petition in Parliament as we too believe that the majority of those candidates on the shortlist show how unfair, biased, discriminatory and unconstitutional the process to appoint them was and that they are not representative of South Africa’s youth.

The petition has already been submitted to the President, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The DA will sponsor the petition for urgent discussion in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.

On Monday, the DA revealed a letter by the ANC National Youth Task Team (NYTT) convener, Tandi Mahambehlala, to the ANC deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte, that proves that the final recommendations for the NYDA board were pre-determined by Luthuli House.

Clearly, the nomination and appointment process of this board was just a box-ticking exercise for the ANC in Parliament.

NYDA, like countless other legitimate state institutions, has been eroded by the ANC’s cadre deployment scam in order to legally loot public funds.

The entity has wasted billions of rands since its inception with nothing to show but the enrichment of a few handpicked cadres who will continue to pursue their own stomachs above the well-being of the country with their new-found looting skills.

If South Africa is ever to rise above its myriad of socio-economic problems, cadre deployment must be wiped from the public institutions meant to service all South Africans. Expertise and merit should not be allowed to be overshadowed by political affiliation any longer.

The DA stands with the brave young activists that signed the petition to ask that the NYDA board appointment process be dismissed and dissolved. This is an excellent opportunity for the ANC that was so “shocked” by the Covid-19 corruption to put their money where their mouths are: ensure a fair board appointment process at NYDA.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Zimbabwean ‘Tea Summit’ a total failure, Ramaphosa himself must go

The decision by the Zimbabwean government to deny President Cyril Ramphosa’s envoys an opportunity to meet with opposition leaders was not only disrespectful to the office of the African Union Chairperson, which Ramaphosa currently holds, but seems to confirm that the voices of the opposition and civil society are being muzzled in Zimbabwe.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) now calls on President Ramaphosa, in his capacity as AU Chairperson, to show leadership and go to Harare and meet with all the relevant stakeholders and get a balanced picture of the political crisis unfolding in the country.

Media reports indicate that Sydney Mufamadi, Baleka Mbethe, and Ngoako Ramathlodi were hosted to a ‘tea briefing’ by Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mnangagwa then told the envoys that ‘there was no crisis in Zimbabwe’ and hence no need to meet with the opposition or civil society.

The envoys had made plans to meet with the opposition and had to cancel them at the last minute because of Mnangagwa’s strong-arming tactics. This is unacceptable.

Mr Mnangagwa’s government has unleashed a reign of terror on defenceless citizens, arresting journalists and activists on trumped-up charges. For him to claim that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe and ask that the envoys sent by the AU Chairperson turn around and go back without meeting the opposition, is a poor attempt at covering up the actions of his murderous regime.

For far too long, successive ANC governments have stood by as ZANU-PF has trampled civil liberties with impunity and disregard for the rule of law. The ANC has played an enabling role in the Zimbabwe crisis by glossing over state brutality in the country and its mismanagement of the economy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa faces the first real test in his Chairmanship of the AU. He will have to make a choice on whether to stand with the people of Zimbabwe against the tyranny of ZANU-PF or continue with the failed policy of ‘quiet diplomacy’.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

Ramaphosa must choose South Africa over ANC ideological battles on alcohol and tobacco sales

The Democratic Alliance (DA) strongly urges President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the continued ban on alcohol and tobacco sales which according to media reports will be discussed during a cabinet meeting this week.

Since the ban on tobacco sales was instituted 139 days ago and an alcohol ban which was brought back without any warning or consultation, it is believed South Africa has lost up to R8 billion in taxes from these industries.

This is roughly 11.5% of the R70 billion loan that we had to go and beg the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for.

There has also been a tsunami of job losses in both industries which run past 100 000 jobs lost and more than R10 billion worth of investments that have been pulled from South Africa.

While the idea of these bans had started off well-intentioned to build up healthcare capacity, it is clear that they quickly morphed into an ideological battleground within the ANC and national cabinet, with President Ramaphosa being reduced to a mere spectator while his ministers repeatedly contradicted him on these issues.

We have also been told repeatedly that the government is being “led by the science” on both of these bans and yet the “science” is just not with them to continue this prohibition going forward.

In fact, the President and his Ministers are now in stark opposition to what our leading scientists are telling us, and that is to drop the bans on alcohol and tobacco immediately.

In truth, the biggest winners during this national debacle have been cigarette smugglers and liquor bootleggers who have made billions of Rands while the state has criminalised ordinary South Africans for buying cigarettes and alcohol. Whose side is the government really on?

In the end, President Ramaphosa will have a chance to choose South Africans first this week, save livelihoods in these industries and to divert police resources to catching real crooks like ANC politicians who have stolen Covid-19 funds which should have been used to buy PPE, instead of unleashing the police to lock up people for buying cigarettes.

It remains to be seen, will President Ramaphosa choose South Africa over the wishes of the ANC and his ministers playing ideological roulette? Only time will tell.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

When will July Ters applications open?

The Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi, must indicate when July applications for the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) Covid-19 Ters benefit will open.

He owes it to the anxious and desperate workers of South Africa, who aren’t sure when their next pay cheque will arrive.

The Ters scheme is due to come to an end on 15 August, and July applications still aren’t open.

Applications for May opened late, at midnight on 26 May. Applications for June opened late, on 24 June, and then closed almost immediately because of security and data breech issues, with functionality only restored on the weekend of 11 and 12 July. Now we are almost halfway through August and nobody is any the wiser about when July applications will open. We don’t know whether July applications will be considered separately from August applications, or whether the six-week bloc between 1 July and 15 August will be treated as a single pay period with a single application process.

Of even greater concern is that payments for April and May seem to have dried up, and payments for June are coming through at a trickle. According to a survey by the National Employers’ Association of South Africa (Neasa), nearly 60% of employers across the country still haven’t received their June Ters money. Of the 40% of employers who received payment for June, only 64% were paid in full. Neasa claims that 28% of employers still haven’t received their May benefits and 12% of employers still haven’t received their April benefits. And here again, for April and May payments, only 60-65% of employers were paid in full.

This is deeply concerning and both the UIF and Minister Nxesi need to provide direction and communicate accordingly as a matter of urgency.

Click here to contribute to the DA’s legal action challenging irrational and dangerous elements of the hard lockdown in court

DA mourns the passing of Bob Mabena

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply saddened by the the passing of legendary South African radio personality, Bob Mabena.

Mabena was not only a legend of our airwaves – he was also a pioneer and role model to many of South Africa’s current biggest and brightest broadcasters.

For more than three decades, Mabena entertained our nation and was a constant feature of our daily lives through his music and radio shows. 

He was a giant in the media industry who has left an indelible mark in music, arts and broadcasting.

The DA sends its heartfelt condolences to the Mabena family, friends and his PowerFM colleagues.

May your soul Rest in Eternal Peace, Bob Mabena. 

Justice Committee must convene urgently on matters of national importance

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the chairperson of the Justice Portfolio Committee to request that the committee urgently convenes during the recess period to discuss two matters of national importance – the findings of the NPA’s De Kock Panel, and the removal of the Public Protector.

The first of these are the findings contained in a 96-page report dated June 2019, based on which the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Adv. Shamila Batohi, decided to withdraw charges against Johan Booysen and his co-accused. This report has been kept confidential but was recently leaked, exposing serious and possibly criminal prosecutorial misconduct in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

It is of the utmost importance that the committee urgently determines if any disciplinary and more serious  action is being planned or underway against the prosecutors and officials exposed – and if this is not the case, really tough questions need to be asked as to the reasons why.

The second matter that the committee should urgently discuss relates to the Public Protector, Adv. Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Argument by her own counsel before the South Gauteng High Court last week raised the question of whether she had perjured herself; and revealed that she does not feel bound by court orders. This must give rise to questions as to why the Public Prorector should not be suspended with immediate effect, pending removal proceedings.

After relentless pressure by the DA, Parliament late last year adopted a set of rules to govern the removal process of a Chapter 9-head such as the Public Protector. The DA then requested the institution of such proceedings against Mkhwebane, which request was accompanied by thousands of pages of evidence.

It is our belief that the committee must seek an urgent update from the Speaker of the National Assembly, Thandi Modise, on the progress made to appoint – in terms of the new rules governing the process – an independent panel to assess whether or not there is prima facie evidence that points to to misconduct, incapacity or incompetence on the part of Mkhwebane.

The DA firmly believes that the evidence will confirm that Mkhwebane is not fit to occupy the office of Public Protector and that she must be removed.

Institutions such as the NPA and the Public Protector are crucial defences to ordinary South Africans against a corrupt ANC government, and as such the integrity of public office bearers with these institutions must be above any reproach.

The DA will continue to fight to keep these institutions independent and free to speak truth to power.

NYDA board members were pre-determined by Luthuli House

A letter by the ANC National Youth Task Team (NYTT) convener, Tandi Mahambehlala, to the ANC deputy secretary general, Jessie Duarte, proves that the final recommendations for the National Youth Development Agency’s (NYDA) board were pre-determined by Luthuli House.

See the letter here.

The letter, dated three months ago lists the Progressive Youth Alliance’s (PYA) preferred candidates for the NYDA board an affirms that the final recommendations were pre-determined and only rubber-stamped by the ANC in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.

It is now clear that the majority of the final recommendations were decided months before the interview process for the board even began.

The letter states that:

“The ANCY NYTT convened all PYA structures with regards to its preferred candidates for the new NYDA board. The structures agreed on the need for continuity with regards to the composition of the board therefore reaffirming the names off Sifiso Mtsweni and Joy Maimela.”

Four names included in the letter ultimately made it on to the final recommended list. These are Sifiso Mtsweni, Thuthikile Zuma, Karabo Mohale, and Avela Mjujabana.

From the onset of the appointment process, the Democratic Alliance (DA) warned against the NYDA board being used, as in the past, to accelerate ANC political interests and patronage, and called for candidates to be appointed based on merit and experience.

Much like most of our state machinery, the ANC and its cadres, under the guise of transformation, BBBEE and empowerment, have regressed the NYDA into a full-blown criminal entity to legally loot its almost half a billion Rand budget.

NYDA board members are paid an average of R500 000 annually to attend 10 board meetings per year, where they decide who will be the next cadre to get a slice of the entity’s almost R500 million budget.

This is millions of Rands wasted on politically compromised individuals whose greatest achievements are their ANC memberships.

Meanwhile, brilliant and talented young people across the demographic and political spectrum are left out in the cold with little to no opportunities available to them.

The National Assembly will soon vote on the appointment of this ANC-sponsored NYDA board recommendations. The DA will once again strongly object to these candidates, as we did during the interview process.

We do not believe that the composition of the board is based on merit in, nor do we believe that they work in the best interest of South Africa’s poor and vulnerable youth.

The NYDA is and will continue to be a structure that serves as patronage for the ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League.

It has done very little with the millions of rands at its disposal other than to enrich a hand-picked few, as has now been confirmed by this letter.

40% Government contracts for women – just more opportunity for ANC to enrich themselves

Note to Editors: Please find attached a soundbite by Natasha Mazzone MP. 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is strongly opposed to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that 40% of Government procurement contracts will be set aside for businesses owned by women. This is not a sincere effort to empower women, but rather yet another cynical attempt by the ANC to loot the state coffers even further.

South Africans must not be fooled. It is not ordinary women who will benefit from this announcement – only ANC cadres and those connected to them will get the contracts and kickbacks. The ANC does not care about women’s empowerment, they only care about their own pockets.

Government procurement contracts should be awarded on merit, and merit alone. At a time of severe economic hardship and record unemployment, poor people need contracts to be awarded to those who deserve to get them, and not because one is connected to the corrupt ANC. BBBEE and quotas of any kind have not helped poor people, it has only enriched the ANC and its cadres.

Our opposition to this blatant attempt at capturing every last rand of public money, is not an opposition to women’s empowerment – even though this is what the ANC would like citizens to believe. South Africans have been abused by this government for long enough to see that this is just BEE and a quota system in another form and only the ANC will benefit from it.

It is a disgrace that whilst we are fighting a scourge of gender-based violence the ANC is using “empowerment” as a smokescreen for yet more looting.

We have seen the same modus operandi at the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA), where the ANC has used the entity to loot and line the pockets of ANC Youth League cadres, under the guise of transformation and progression.

Very soon there will be nothing left to steal.

The DA sees through this blatant corruption. It’s just another sign that Ramaphosa is part of the corrupt ANC. They don’t have what it takes to empower women.

DA calls for sacking of VBS politicians and fast-tracked prosecutions

Calling for the removal of your comrades is one thing, but actually removing them is quite something else. Moreover, some VBS-linked politicians in Limpopo seem to be making a comeback in the ANC.

Under Letsie’s watch Merafong lost R50 million of the municipality’s money in the collapse of VBS. Under Maneli’s watch the West Rand District lost R77 million.

Both municipalities now face severe cashflow constraints as well as the collapse of basic service delivery.

Yet Letsie held on to her mayoral chain, while Maneli was promoted to Parliament in 2019. He is now the chairman of the parliamentary portfolio committee on communication.

Mayors of municipalities that deposited funds in VBS can hardly plead ignorance of the law or the financial decisions of municipal officials.

As far back as October 2016 the DA MP Kevin Mileham uncovered the first unlawful deposits in VBS, at which point National Treasury confirmed that the Municipal Finance Management Act does not allow for deposit of municipal funds in mutual banks. Find a copy of the answer here.

But Merafong proceeded to make further VBS deposits beyond this point, and both it and the West Rand District made no attempts to recoup money from the bank until the bank had already started to collapse.

The DA renews our call for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to fast-track the prosecutions of VBS-linked municipal officials and politicians. These are low hanging fruit.

As we have said before: section 173 of the Municipal Finance Management Act, which criminalises financial misconduct short of fraud and corruption, is a powerful weapon in the armoury of the NPA that has hardly been used.

Maybe if VBS crooks had been prosecuted back in 2019, other crooks in Gauteng and elsewhere would have been deterred from looting Covid relief funds

DA launches petition to open up the Tourism Sector

In the last few weeks the various sectors within the tourism, hospitality and restaurant industries have been peacefully demonstrating against government’s lockdown regulations which is economically crippling these sectors.

Many previously flourishing businesses have been decimated and hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost.

The minister of no tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has even acknowledged that numerous jobs have and will be lost within these sectors. This is a huge indictment on and an admission of failure by this government and minister Kubayi-Ngubane in particular.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) encourages continued pressure by these sectors against this authoritarian job-killing government which is causing a daily loss of R748 million for the industry.

Today we are launching a petition that calls on government to allow South Africans to travel to any province that they may wish and be permitted to stay at any holiday resort, lodge or any other type of accommodation whilst also being permitted to enjoy all activities on offer at any of the tourism and hospitality facilities.

South Africans are encouraged to sign and distribute this petition as widely as possible.

The petition will then be officially handed to parliament when the DA will request that the demands are adhered to, thus saving livelihoods as well as lives.

The petition can be accessed here: http://www.opentourismnow.co.za