Is Jacob Zuma receiving special treatment? 

Please find attached soundbite by James Selfe MP.

The DA is shocked by the decision of the National Commissioner of Correctional Services to release former president Jacob Zuma on compassionate grounds to attend his brother’s funeral. This is the policy of the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) in respect of low-risk offenders, but this decision is wrong in these circumstances for the following reasons:

  • The current volatile situation in KwaZulu-Natal is anything but low risk, and there is a very strong possibility of this funeral and Mr Zuma’s presence at it causing still more unrest. There will have to be a significant presence of the security forces to prevent unrest, which is not justified, since the security forces are required elsewhere to restore order and prevent chaos. The cost of such a deployment is also hard to justify.
  • The current level 4 lockdown regulations very stringently circumscribe attendance at funerals. Previously, no relatives at all were allowed to attend funerals, yet the DCS is inviting this occasion to be a super-spreader as it will almost definitely attract a large crowd, which will be very difficult to control.
  • The decision to release Mr Zuma is inconsistent with the previous determinations by DCS. I have tried to intercede on many occasions to have inmates released to attend funerals, and the Department invariably refuses, stating that they have insufficient staff to guarantee the inmate’s security.

It seems that Mr Zuma once more is being granted special treatment, just like he was when the Acting National Director of Public Prosecutions dropped 783 charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering against him in 2009. Once more, it appears as if there is one law for the rich and connected, and another law for the rest of us.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA to introduce legislation for new Chapter 9, Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate high-level graft cases

Please find attached a soundbite by Glynnis Breytenbach MP

Today, the DA together with Accountability Now hosted a joint media briefing to announce the introduction of new legislation which will create a new, independent Chapter 9 Institution, called the Anti-Corruption Commission.

The DA will be introducing two Private Member’s Bills (PMB) – one proposing amendments to Sections 181, 193 and 194 of the Constitution to establish the new Chapter 9 Institution and the other, legislation which will govern the functions, powers and composition of the Commission.

The main objective of the proposed Anti-Corruption Commission will be to investigate, amongst other functions, high-level corruption cases. This independent institution is long overdue, as the Directorate of Priority Crime Investigation (HAWKS) is not sufficiently independent and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) is currently besieged by systemic challenges.

The establishment of an Anti-Corruption Commission will particularly remove a large burden on the NPA, allowing them to concentrate on their core function of prosecuting crime, as the Commission will concentrate on a strictly defined and legislated space, dealing only with large scale grand corruption. This will provide a quicker, more efficient and effective method of dealing with the type of grand scale corruption we see daily, but which cannot be dealt with effectively within current existing and overburdened structures.

What the Commission will look like:

  • The Commission as we currently envision it will consist of a variety of Commissioners, with the Head National Commissioner being envisioned to be a retired Constitutional Court, Supreme Court of Appeals or High Court judge.
  • The appointment of Commissioners will be independent and follow the existing procedure outline in Section 193 of the Constitution.
  • There will also be a Secretariat of the Commission and a full complement of staff operating in support of the Section 193 appointed Commissioners.

What Commission will do:

  • Investigate allegations of high-level corruption.
  • Examine the practices and procedures of Public and Private bodies to facilitate the discovery of corrupt practices.
  • Receive complaints on the breach of the relevant codes of ethics by Prescribed Officers, and shall oversee the enforcement thereof.
  • Investigate and recommend to the National Director of Public Prosecutions the prosecution of any acts of corruption or violation of codes of ethics.
  • In the event of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) declining to prosecute any investigation referred to the NPA by the Commission, the Commission shall be entitled to second its duly qualified staff to the NPA to prosecute charges to their final determination by the appropriate Court, within strictly defined and agreed to parameters, to be contained in legislation to be drafted, and in cooperation with the NPA.
  • The Commission may refer any suspected offence that comes to its notice in the course of its investigations to any appropriate person or body for further investigation, forfeiture of assets, proceedings or prosecution.

The Anti-Corruption Commission will also be mandated to advise Public and Private bodies on effective measures to prevent corruption; educate the public and raise awareness on the dangers of corruption; and depending on its findings made, make the necessary recommendations to the appropriate authority.

The establishment of a new, independent Chapter 9 Institution is an unprecedented proposal by the DA. But it is necessary due to the ANC-led government failing to establish a truly independent high-level corruption-fighting organisation.

We call on civil society and parties across the political spectrum to support us in this important endeavour.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Parliament must assess impact of riots on old age, children’s homes and ECD centres’ access to food 

Please find attached soundbite by Bridget Masango MP.

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee for Social Development, Mondli Gungubele, to request oversight visits to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to assess the impact of the riots on social development infrastructure and services.

Widespread looting and destruction of infrastructure in these provinces have had devastating consequences for communities with residents struggling to access food, medicine, fuel and other necessities.

And while private individuals, NGOs and the communities all over the country are working hard to restore supply chain management and access to essentials, many families still have to queue for hours in lines that span whole city blocks in order to procure produce.

The Social Development Committee therefore has to urgently ascertain the needs and damage caused to homes for the vulnerable including old age homes, crèches, children’s homes, early childhood development centres and Community Nutrition and Development Centres (CNDCs). These homes often struggled with procurement of necessities before the anarchy unfolded and will undoubtedly be struggling now.

South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) pay points also need to be assessed to ensure that the poor and vulnerable have access to the grants.

President Cyril Ramaphosa committed the Department of Social Development and SASSA to intervene and alleviate the disastrous impact of the riots, and the committee must therefore comply to its oversight mandate over the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu, her Department and SASSA. The committee would also benefit greatly from briefings by the provincial departments on how they will roll-out the relief as per the President’s instructions.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA calls for ICASA Council nomination process to be extended to 30 days

Please find attached soundbites in English and in isiZulu by Zakhele Mbhele MP.

The DA calls on the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, Boyce Maneli, to open the nomination process to fill four vacancies on the Council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) for at least 30 days.

In a statement released yesterday afternoon, Tuesday 20 July, Chairperson Maneli gave notice for the public and organisations to nominate suitably qualified individuals by no later than Friday, 23 July 2021 – three days after the nominations were opened.

Not only is this Friday deadline ridiculous, but it also raises very concerning questions about whether the selection process, outcome and allocation of positions has already been predetermined.

The extension of the nomination process by at least another 27 days will be a reasonable and fair time window to give all interested parties enough time to finalise and submit their nominations.

The unreasonable and irrational notice period seems to suggest a total manipulation of the nomination and subsequent selection processes to reduce them to little more than tick-box exercises. It would of course not be surprising if the ANC has already identified preferred candidates, and has used this three-day window to give them an unfair advantage.

The Council is the highest decision making body in ICASA. Therefore, the process of appointing councillors ought to be open, procedurally fair and transparent, and the public must be given enough time to participate in the process. Any deviation from this principle violates convention, and calls the entire nomination process into question.

The DA will not be party to a rubber-stamping exercise of what appears to be another brazen attempt by the ANC to install politically connected persons in another organ of state. We will object to filling these key positions if they are not done in an open, reasonable, procedurally fair and transparent manner.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA strongly condemns senseless taxi violence in Western Cape 

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Chris Hunsinger MP.

The DA strongly condemns the taxi violence that has wreaked havoc on the Western Cape’s public transport sector and local communities. This violence has resulted in senseless deaths and has left many commuters stranded.

The DA calls on Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, to urgently engage his colleagues, the Ministers of Defence and Police, to ensure that there are enough boots on the grounds to put an end to this violent thuggery.

Warring taxi associations have engaged in senseless acts of violence which has practically brought the public transport system in Cape Town, in particular, to a standstill and have placed innocent lives risk. Urgent intervention is required from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) to support the efforts by local law enforcement to quell the violence.

The DA welcomes the interventions announced by Western Cape Premier Alan Winde on Tuesday to restore peace in the province. Premier Winde yesterday announced the following interventions:

  • Called for more SANDF troops be deployed to the Western Cape.
  • The Provincial Department of Transport and Public Work (DTPW) is considering approaching the Western Cape High Court to empower the MEC to place South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO) associations under administration.
  • The DTPW has suspended its financial support agreement with SANTACO until such time the violence ends.
  • The Provincial Government is preparing to approach the High Court seeking a declaratory order that taxi associations such as Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (CATA) and Congress of Democratic Taxi Associations (CODETA) are confined to specific geographic areas. The Province will also seek an interdict against associations to prevent them from establishing themselves outside demarcated geographical areas.

We also welcome the work done by the City of Cape Town’s Metro Police to bring an end to the violence and the announcement that the City will redeploy the dedicated Golden Arrow bus enforcement unit to protect commuters.

It is the commuters who are now bearing the brunt of this violence. Alternative public transport such as bus services have either been targeted by the violence or, in the case of trains, Metrorail infrastructure has been completely gutted.

The DA, therefore, urges Minister Mbalula to engage his Cabinet colleagues to provide further assistance to the province to ensure peace is restored.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Lessons from the looting spree

The orgy of mass destruction that began in KZN on Friday 9 July has done immeasurable harm to the communities and organisations affected and to the country at large.

I spent most of last week in affected areas seeing for myself and speaking to people on the ground. I don’t think I would have quite believed the extent of senseless destruction had I not been there. It is genuinely hard to describe in words.

History turns on moments such as these. This coordinated looting spree has the potential to greatly accelerate South Africa’s descent to a failed state. It has dealt a body blow to confidence in our state and in our economy.

The first “no” is the easiest “no”. The state’s failure to anticipate and act swiftly to quell this insurrection before it properly got going means there is now a heightened risk of recurrence.

This will scare away more skills and investment and our tiny tax base will shrink still further, with terrible consequences for our ability to provide social services and relief to those millions of vulnerable households who need these now more than ever.

But there is also the real possibility that this devastation will convince people of the changes we need to make if we are to build our society into one which really does deliver a better life for all.

Sometimes hard evidence succeeds where reasoning fails.

The mayhem last week is painful proof of the DA’s long-held view that the rule of law, a capable state and a social market economy are essential prerequisites for a successful South Africa. South Africa needs a government that is deeply committed to each of these fundamental, interdependent principles.

The rule of law

The rule of law is a precondition for safety, stability and order and therefore an indispensable characteristic of a functional society. Where people feel emboldened to rebel against the rule of law, as they did in KZN and Gauteng last week, wellbeing, investment and productivity give way to suffering, anarchy and destruction.

A capable state

The rule of law requires enforcement by a capable state. It is no coincidence that the state intelligence and police services failed utterly to protect people and property before and during the uprising. And no one will be surprised if the state fails to arrest, charge and imprison the perpetrators for their actions.

The institutions of our state have been severely weakened by years of cadre deployment, the ANC’s policy of basing public service appointments on political loyalty. Cadre deployment is directly responsible for the incompetent, corrupt and captured state that let citizens down so badly last week.

The DA has spoken out against this unconstitutional policy since its formal adoption by the ANC in 1997 and consistently called for public appointments to be based on merit (ability to get the job done, which requires skills, experience, commitment) rather than on considerations of political loyalty, identity or patronage.

Inherent in the concept of the rule of law is a culture of accountability. But it is only possible to instill this in society when institutions of state, such as the National Prosecuting Authority and the whole criminal justice system have the necessary capacity.

A capable state, acting in unison with a social market economy, is also an essential precondition for tackling the dangerously, unacceptably high unemployment, poverty and inequality that exacerbated the chaos. This imperative has never been more urgent than it is now.

A social market economy

Last week laid bare not only the incapacity of the state to deliver on its most basic responsibilities, but also the incredible capacity that resides amongst private citizens to make the right decisions and get things done. It was private citizens who protected people, jobs and workplaces. With no established systems, budget or leadership, private citizens performed the state’s most basic role of providing protection and stability.

The contrast between a capable, motivated private citizenry and an incapable, demotivated state has never been more starkly on display. Can anyone now still support the ANC’s ideology of a command economy, controlled at the centre by the state?

This should deal a death blow to the ANC’s many attempts to centralise economic control in national government, including its attack on private security companies, private gun ownership for self-protection, metro police services, private medical aids, and independent power producers.

The more economic decision-making and control is decentralised to private individuals and organisations – where the capacity and incentives reside – the more jobs and tax revenue will be created to provide a lifeline to the millions of citizens suffering in abject poverty.

Without a healthy, growing economy that only the private sector can deliver, all talk of a basic income grant is merely hollow rhetoric and empty promises. If we are serious about a basic income grant – and we should be – then we need to be equally committed to a market-driven economy.

Conclusion

This has been a hinge of history moment. If ever there was a need for South Africans to come together around these operating principles and to back a reform agenda, it is now. The DA will continue to fight for, operate by, and govern according to these principles. A vote for the DA in the upcoming local government election will be a vote for the rule of law, a capable state, and a social market economy.

Let’s go to KZN and see how we can help save livelihoods

Please find attached soundbite by Mat Cuthbert MP.

The DA has written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade, Industry and Competition, Duma Nkosi, to request an oversight visit to survey the economic damage inflicted on KwaZulu-Natal last week.

According to the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) 1199 retailers were impacted and damaged over the past week, 150 000 jobs have been put at risk and the estimated impact on gross domestic product (GDP) in the province is R20 billion. Furthermore, the national economy is estimated to have a taken a hit of R50 billion.

There is a strong sense in the business community that government has failed them, and they are considering divesting from the province. This will only serve to exacerbate the dire economic circumstances in which the residents of KZN find themselves.

High profile foreign investors such as Toyota have cited serious concerns with respect to the City of EThekwini’s ability to provide a way forward that secures their investment and provides policy certainty.

Both the Portfolio Committees on Defence and Police were in the province yesterday assessing the damages that occurred.

Then why is the committee charged with looking after industry not on the ground?

Therefore, we urge Chairperson Nkosi to agree to our request as we have a duty of care to protect both the lives and livelihoods of KZN residents.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA notes Moseneke Inquiry recommendations on Local Government Elections

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP

The DA has taken note of the recommendation by the Former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke that it will not be reasonably possible for South Africa to hold free and fair Local Government Elections (LGE) on 27 October and that the elections be held by no later than the end of February 2022.

The recommendation forms part of a report released by the retired Judge today on the outcomes of his Inquiry into Ensuring Free and Fair Local Government Elections.

The DA does not support the postponement of the LGE.  We have said from the start that it is possible to hold elections within Covid-19 protocols. During our oral submissions to the Moseneke Inquiry earlier this month, the DA made the following arguments in support of the elections going ahead:

  • The LGE must adhere to the constitutionally prescribed timeframe. According to the Constitution, the LGE must take place every 5 years.
  • It is not essential to have mass gatherings and marches in order to hold free and fair elections.  It is these events that give rise to the risk of Covid transmission – not the holding of elections in themselves.
  • The election timetable is a regulatory mechanism to ensure free and fair elections, and the “state of readiness” of political parties to participate in the elections is not a valid reason to postpone the LGE. 
  • Arguments that the LGE will lead to increased Covid-19 infections can be disputed in light of the various by-elections which took place since the start of the State of Disaster. Furthermore, most scientific models, at this stage, predict that there is a very good possibility that infection rates will be stable and even low in the period immediately before and on 27 October.
  • We also argued that it should not automatically be accepted that government will be able to vaccinate the number of people necessary to achieve so-called herd immunity by February 2022.
  • While scepticism exists around the Covid-19 protocols which could contribute to depressed turnout during the elections, more must be done to encourage turn out and not simply scapegoat the Covid pandemic. 

The DA will now study the Moseneke report in light of the constitutional implications thereof and communicate our next steps in due course. 

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

More must be done to address the Umhlanga toxic chemical emergency 

Please find attached soundbite by Dave Bryant MP and find attached photographs here, here, and here

Today, the DA visited the Umhlanga area in Durban, where I witnessed first-hand the devastation caused by a toxic cocktail of chemicals released into local water bodies and the atmosphere by the Mumbai-based UPL warehouse. The warehouse was attacked during the riots last week and has been burning and releasing toxic waste since then. I was accompanied on my visit by hard-working local DA councilors Rory Macpherson and Nicole Bollman who were able to provide additional context to the situation.

The warehouse has for the past week been releasing a bright-blue mix of chemicals into the rivers that flow down into the Umhlanga Lagoon and from there into the ocean. I witnessed the bright blue liquid flowing into the river first hand today whilst teams of contractors scrambled around in the sludge to try and contain some of it. We saw bags of dead fish being carried away by trucks in two separate parts of the beach and I was advised by environmental groups that the lagoon is effectively “dead”. This lagoon has formed an essential part of the important local ecosystem for thousands of years, including the surrounding forest biosphere. The long term impact on other animals within the forests is a serious cause for concern.

Along with the devastation caused by the release of the poisonous chemicals into the river systems, there is ongoing concern about the airborne toxic chemicals being released into the atmosphere by the raging fire. Local residents have been breathing in these rancid fumes since the fire started but there appears to be no sense of urgency from the municipality to actually put the fires out. The fires at the plant were still burning today, in spite of a press release from the Department saying that they would be extinguished by today. A brief visit to the Umhlanga Fire Station at around 11am found two large fire vehicles and a number of other response vehicles sitting idle. Surely the urgency of the situation should see more of these vehicles involved in putting the fires out? An air quality reading from IQ Air at the Durban City Hall classifies the air quality in the area as “unhealthy” and recommends the wearing of masks and refraining from outdoor exercise.

A central question remains how the warehouse itself was allowed to operate in the first place and store such highly dangerous substances in an area so close to an environmentally sensitive biosphere. It is essential that we establish the chain of events that led to the warehouse being given the green light to operate from this building and whether due process was followed. If an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was indeed conducted, as it should have been, then we need to know who conducted it and why there were seemingly no effective contingency measures put in place to deal with the consequences of a building fire.

I have been in communication with the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, today whilst visiting the sites in question and she has committed to assist in addressing the issues as best possible but I fear it may be a case of too little, too late. There appears to be a serious disconnect between the current steps being taken by local authorities and the actual scale of the disaster on the ground. Whilst Umhlanga beaches are technically “closed” many people seem to not be aware due to inadequate signage and continue to walk their dogs and even wade across parts of the hazardous lagoon. More must be done to communicate with local residents and advise them of the potential dangers. The ANC led administration cannot continue to pretend that this environmental disaster is under control. The consequences will be with the residents of Umhlanga for many years to come and they will never forget how absent and ineffective their government was during this time.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Ramaphosa in danger of insurrection within his cabinet

Please find attached soundbite by Solly Malatsi MP.

The DA notes the contradictions within the South African cabinet regarding whether the violence and destruction in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last week was in fact an insurrection.

These contradictory messages between the Presidency and security cluster are more than a communications crisis. They symbolise the incoherent handling of the government response to the violent outbreaks in KZN and Gauteng.

State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and the Minister for Defence and Military Veterans, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, reportedly refuses to label the anarchy that led to deaths of at least 215 people, caused damage to multitudes of businesses all over these provinces and have severely disrupted supply chain management of food, medical supplies, fuel and other necessities, as an insurrection.

While the Deputy Minister of State Security, Zizi Kodwa, the Acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, and the head of the domestic intelligence branch, Mahlodi Muofhe, concurred with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assessment of the situation. This disagreement as well as the necessity for the Joint Standing Committee on Defence to call for coherence in the characterization of the violence and looting, shows clear evidence of the different ANC factions within Ramaphosa’s cabinet and that the President has lost control over them.

Unless President Ramaphosa quells the mutiny rising in his ranks by shuffling his cabinet and getting rid of deadweight Ministers clearly out of touch with reality and unable to fulfill their mandates who are only there to cash an exorbitant salary every month, he and indeed the whole country will be at the mercy of a cabinet gone rogue and sitting ducks for any future insurrections.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.