#NoConfidence: Speaker playing games on secret ballot decision

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, has replied to my request to expedite her decision on whether the DA’s Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma, scheduled for 8 August 2017, should proceed via secret ballot. True to form, she has said nothing of significance.
In her written response, Mbete notes that the Constitutional Court “did not prescribe a specific time-period within which such a decision must be made” and wryly adds that “a decision … will be made and communicated at the earliest opportunity”.
The DA is fully cognisant of the fact that no time-frame was set. Nevertheless, it is incumbent on Mbete to act in the best interest of the Legislature and the Constitution, and avoid unnecessary litigation by parties that may feel that the timing of her decision offers an advantages to her own political party by limiting the rights of other parties to review her decision in time.
Mbete has displayed astonishing arrogance by setting political parties deadlines by which they should forward their view on the secret ballot, but refuses to accept deadlines of her own. Like Marie Antoinette, she wants her cake and eat it too.
There is no reason why Mbete cannot make her decision on the secret ballot now. She should stop playing games and must tell South Africans how their public representative will be voting on 8 August.

Yet more dodgy allegations about new SASSA CEO under Minister Dlamini

After less than a week at the helm of SASSA, a number of serious allegations surrounding the independence and character of the new acting CEO, Ms Pearl Bhengu, are now being raised.
While this is disturbing, it is not unexpected considering that Social Development Minister, Dodging Bathabile Dlamini, herself has acted in a highly questionable way for some time now.
The DA will write to the Minister to ask her a number of key questions regarding the CEO vacancy as well as Bhengu’s suitability to hold the office of CEO of SASSA.
Specifically, the Minister must answer:

  • When will the position for a permanent SASSA CEO be advertised?
  • Whether the allegations that the Minister’s daughter, Skhumbuzo Mazibuko, and Bhengu are business partners are true? If so, this raises major questions about ethics and conflict of interest.
  • Why has Bhengu been enjoying close protection, for how long and who did the threat analysis and what was the nature of this threat?

The Constitutional Court deadline of 31 March 2018, for SASSA to procure the services of an alternative service provider, is fast approaching.
The DA is of the belief that Dodging Dlamini manufactured the crisis in the first place, most likely to ensure that CPS would continue to distribute grants and that she or her cronies would somehow benefit financially.
However, this time, the process must be transparent and not in the hands of individuals who seem to reside in the pockets of this disdainful and arrogant Minister.
17 Million poor and vulnerable South Africans depend on social grants and they deserve to have people at the head of SASSA and the Department of Social Development who work to improve the lives of the people, not just for selfish gain.
The fact is that the Minister must prioritise the appointment of a permanent and suitable SASSA CEO.
The DA simply will not stand by and watch as another social grants crisis unfold.

BOKAMOSO | The ANC fired the Scorpions in 2008. We must fire the ANC in 2019.

It seems surreal that despite a seemingly endless flow of highly incriminating evidence of brazen looting of state coffers, not a single arrest has been made, nor investigation instigated. To me, it seems equally surreal that the blame for this is almost universally directed at President Zuma rather than at the ANC. Yet the ANC began suppressing state mechanisms of accountability before Zuma became president and they will clearly need to keep doing so, even after he steps down. The ANC is our real problem, not Zuma.

The Scorpions were the most potent and widely trusted crime-fighting unit our democracy has ever known. They tackled complex criminal investigations without fear or favour. No corporate director or high ranking politician was out of bounds. And this is why they had to go.  The ANC disbanded them in 2008, before Zuma became president, to protect themselves from arms deal and travelgate-style corruption that had already become entrenched in the ANC by then.

Had the Scorpions not been decommissioned back then, the capture of our state by the Zuma and Gupta families and their massive network of cronies would likely never have gotten off the ground. But the ANC opted to expose the country to this kind of risk, to protect themselves. And they are still at it. That is why they have protected Zuma in seven motions of no confidence and that is why they will do so again next month.

Even if enough MPs, such as Makhosi Khoza and Pravin Gordhan, vote with their conscience and Zuma is fired, it will not be enough. Make no mistake, this country will still be led by people who have let us down badly, many of whom are themselves compromised and will therefore continue to suppress all constitutional mechanisms for accountability. The only way to truly free our country is to fire the ANC in 2019.

Consider this statement by ANC Member of Parliament Yunus Carrim, in his speech in Parliament in 2008 arguing for the disbanding of the Scorpions: “Finally, let me say that we must be very clear. We are simply not going to allow our wonderful country to be handed over to organised criminals – absolutely not. [Applause.] You can bet your life on it, it is not going to happen. Do you know why? Mainly, you have to trust us. The main victims of organised crime, corruption and crime in general are the working class and the poor.”

Well Carrim was absolutely correct that the main victims of organized crime are the working class and the poor. Though that didn’t stop the ANC (and their SACP alliance partners) from handing the keys to our Treasury over to the biggest organized crime syndicate our democracy has ever seen. With a record 9.3 million South Africans now jobless, and with real per capita incomes having contracted for the past 3 years, poor South Africans are left in no doubt as to who are the main victims of organized crime.

But with the benefit of hindsight, we South Africans should know it was a grave mistake to place our trust in the ANC. They began their state capture project, deliberately and consciously, when they adopted their policy of cadre deployment at their Mafikeng conference in 1997 to gain control over the “key levers of power” – including “the army, the police, the bureaucracy, intelligence structures, the judiciary, parastatals, and agencies such as regulatory bodies, the public broadcaster, the central bank and so on”. The Guptas didn’t invent state capture, they just perfected it.

We urgently need to restore the checks and balances that will protect South Africa from rampant looting.  Instead, the ANC is already at work to destroy the most potent of all mechanisms of accountability: free and fair elections. Just this week, veteran ANC leader Frank Chikane warned that funds raised by the state capture project would be used to “steal the 2019 elections”.

The national election of 2019 may be our last opportunity to restore accountability and fire the ANC. We must seize it. The DA has fought state capture resolutely on all fronts. When we lead a coalition government in 2019, we will move swiftly to restore the independence and strength of our crime fighting institutions so that a culture of accountability can once again take root in our democracy.

The DA will build a brighter future for the young people of Upington

The following remarks were delivered today by the DA Leader during a public meeting in Upington, Northern Cape. This forms part of the National #Change19 Tour. The Leader was joined by the Northern Cape Provincial Leader, Andrew Louw.
Fellow Democrats,
My fellow South Africans
Thank you for welcoming me into your community. Today I am here in Upington as part of my Change19 tour. I’ve been travelling across the country, speaking to South Africans from all walks of life about how we can start moving South Africa forward again in 2019.
I want to start by offering my deepest condolences to the family of the ANC councillor here who died of a stroke recently. I have heard that her son may very well be here in the audience today. To him, I say: you have my heartfelt sympathy – you have suffered a great personal tragedy.
I have also heard that this son has recently become a DA activist. So to him, I would also like to say a very warm welcome. The ANC is your past, and I hope the DA will be your future. I’m guessing that this young man has already worked out for himself the very message that I came here today to deliver to your community: the DA is SA’s greatest hope for the future. We can make SA a country where young people can realise their full potential.
Right now, the ANC government is delivering blow after blow to your future prospects. Just this week, we’ve learnt that Eskom’s Chief Financial Officer, Anoj Singh, gifted R1.5 billion to the Zuma and Gupta families through the dirty Tegeta deal. Instead of a jail sentence, Eskom is giving him a R1.8 million bonus.
Believe me, you are the real victims of this corruption and state capture. Because corruption and state capture kills jobs. This is why electricity is so expensive in South Africa, and this is one of the key reasons our economy is shrinking.
Fellow South Africans, after 25 years – a quarter century – of ANC government, our country is crying out for change. There is an old saying: a new broom sweeps clean. Well, South African is ready for a new broom. We’re ready for a fresh start. When the ANC came into government in 1994, they were the new broom. And in the beginning, they did sweep clean. But now they’ve become complacent, arrogant, corrupt and captured. And as a result, we see decay all around us.
There’s physical decay – you can see it right here in your community – houses and buildings and streetlights and parks that need maintenance but aren’t getting it.
And then there’s moral decay – which creeps into a community when young people don’t have the opportunities they need to make the most of their lives. The youth of Upington should be in jobs, or training, or starting their own businesses – excited about the future. Instead, many have turned to drugs, crime and prostitution.
If we don’t arrest this decay, what will be left for the next generation?
Drugs, crime and prostitution are not the cause of our problems. They are the effect. The real problem is unemployment, and the real reason for it is that the ANC government doesn’t know and doesn’t care about how to get our young people working. Under the ANC government, most people think that the only way to get a job is to work for the council. But the council can never provide as many jobs as we need, and so we have the problems you see all around you today.
The fact is, the best way to get a job is to make one for yourself by starting a small business. Or else to work in someone else’s business. Because when it comes to private business, the sky is the limit. The potential for job creation is endless. You just need the right conditions. And that is where the DA comes in. A DA government here in Upington will create the conditions for young people to thrive – because we’ll create the conditions for small businesses to thrive. Let me give you two examples.
Under a DA government, Eskom’s role will be to keep electricity prices as low as possible, making it more affordable for people to start and run small businesses.
Another key ingredient for job creation is mentoring. Where the DA governs, we’re opening up Youth Cafes in communities such as yours. At these Youth Cafes, young people can get help and advice with starting their own business or finding jobs. They can access opportunities for skills and leadership training, including in project management, creative design and life skills – as well as the internet, for job seeking.
Under these kind of conditions, the economy here in Upington, and in SA as a whole, will thrive. Under a DA government, young people will have new hope for the future. Fellow South African, it’s time for change, and that change must come in 2019.

SAA R2,207 billion bailout only a part of the final bailout

Note to editors: please find the attached sound bite in English and Zulu
The DA notes Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba’s, report submitted to Parliament yesterday that the R2.2 billion SAA bailout will be funded by the sale of assets. It is however appalling that SAA has been allowed to accumulate losses that amount to R15.7 billion over the last five years.
The DA will robustly monitor Gigaba and National Treasury closely to ensure that the recapitalisation of SAA is budget neutral and that former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan’s, other commitments in his 2017 budget speech to prioritise a return of SAA to profitability as well as to expand private participation in SAA are adhered to.

Hands off the Treasury: Gupta-puppet Malusi Gigaba must resign!

The following speech was delivered today by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a protest outside the National Treasury Headquarters in Pretoria. The Leader was joined by Tshwane Mayor, Solly Msimanga, DA National Spokesperson, Refiloe Nt’sekhe, and DA Gauteng Leader, John Moodey.
Today we are gathered here outside the headquarters of National Treasury to send a clear message to Jacob Zuma, his ANC, and the Guptas: keep your hands off of Treasury and the people’s money!
We are here to demand that the keys to Treasury be taken back from the Guptas and be given to the people of South Africa so that our money can be spent on improving the lives of all in our nation – not just the connected few.
Fellow Democrats,
Treasury is by far the most important government department in the entire country. It is responsible for managing the country’s money – our entire R1.4 trillion national budget.
Treasury decides as to how our country’s money is spent on the people – such as building houses, roads, schools, hospitals, and creating jobs.
There are thousands of good and honest employees of Treasury who work tirelessly to ensure the right amount of money is spent, by the appropriate government departments, on the needs of our people and our country. We salute you!
We are currently in a fight for the future of South Africa. This fight is between those who are benefiting from the current corrupt system and those who believe we need to change this corrupt system totally.
I am in the latter group, and there are millions of South Africans who are standing with us.
Most patriotic South Africans inside the Treasury are doing what is right and honest, despite the enormous pressure they face. They are heroes.
Keep doing what is right and you will have the respect and support of the nation!
In the right hands and under the right leadership, Treasury has the ability to change the lives of South Africans and to allocate resources to building a better, brighter and more prosperous nation.
However, the Treasury is under siege.
Just over 100 days ago, Malusi Gigaba was appointed Minister of Finance, after Jacob Zuma swiftly fired Pravin Gordhan as he refused to allow the Guptas control over the people’s money.
It has been a long standing desire of Jacob Zuma and the Guptas to take full control of the Treasury, in order to control the flow of all public money.
That’s why back in 2014, the Guptas and Zuma planned to fire then-Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, and replace him the ultimate “yes man” – the unknown Des Van Rooyen.
From the outset, Pravin Gordhan made it clear he was no one’s puppet. And this meant less stealing and corruption for Zuma and his cronies.
With their initial plan having failed – and costing the country’s economy billions of Rands in the process – the Guptas and Zuma resorted to “Plan B”: fire Pravin Gordhan and replace him with a proven loyalist: Malusi Gigaba.
And just over 100 days ago, Zuma and the Guptas carried out this plan. Malusi Gigaba was appointed Minister of Finance with a mandate from Saxonwold.
There was no explanation for the firing of Minister Gordhan and his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, other than to make way for a Gupta yes-man in Malusi Gigaba. Which is why the DA challenged this decision in court.
We asked the court to rule that President Zuma should give us his reasons and a record of his decision for firing Gordhan and Jonas, which it did. But, predictably, President Zuma missed the deadline, deciding to appeal the court decision instead. He is just playing for time, but he will not get away with it.
Fellow Democrats,
There is no question where Malusi Gigaba stands in the fight to change this corrupt system. Since 2010, when he was first appointed as a Minister in the Cabinet, Gigaba has been doing the Gupta’s bidding.
During Gigaba’s spell as Public Enterprises Minister, his main job was to capture our country’s State Owned Entities (SOEs) for the sole benefit of the Guptas. He appointed to the boards of Eskom, Denel, Prasa, and Transnet, individuals who have been shown to be closely associated with the Gupta family. These include Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh, Iqbal Sharma, Nazia Carrim, Romeo Khumalo, Mark Pamensky, Marriam Cassim, Ben Ngubane, Kuben Moodley, and Viroshni Naidoo.
This allowed Gupta-owned companies to control those SOEs and to secure many lucrative deals, ensuring the Guptas and the Zumas become rich, and the people of South Africa stay poor.
After he had shown his loyalty to the Guptas, Gigaba was moved to Home Affairs, were as Minister he rolled out the red carpet for Guptas friends, employees, business partners to easily gain citizenship and access to the country.
Gigaba fast-tracked dozens of visas to benefit Gupta businesses as they moved employees, associates and family members between South Africa, India and Dubai. And when the Guptas themselves were denied South African citizenship, guess who make sure it was granted under “exceptional circumstances” – Minister Gigupta!
This Gupta ally is now in charge of all our country’s money. We must stand united against the capture of our Treasury.
Fellow South Africans,
We cannot allow our country’s budget to be crafted at Saxonwold.
The budget is meant to be spent on developing our country, not developing Zuma’s new Dubai mansion.
It is unfair that the ANC has created a system which keeps ordinary people stuck, while only the ANC and people with connections get ahead.
What’s more is that in the three months Gigaba has been at the helm, we have seen our economy tumble. We have now been officially downgraded to “junk” status, and our unemployment rate is at a record 14-year high of 27.7%.
What is clear is that Malusi Gigaba is bad for our economy and our country, and good for the Guptas. As a Gupta appointee, we cannot allow him to be in charge of our country’s finances, and its jobs plan to create work for the 9.3 million unemployed South Africans.
We are therefore here to hand over a memorandum demanding that Malusi Gigaba resigns as Minister of Finance Minister immediately, so that we remove the hands of the Guptas from our Treasury and our money.
The DA will continue to fight tirelessly, through every mechanism possible, to free our institutions and our governments from State Capture and corruption.

DA succeed in getting SAA forensic reports released

The DA have finally succeeded in getting the SAA forensic reports that we have pursued doggedly for the last 8 months.
The Deputy Finance Minister, Sfiso Buthelezi, confirmed in writing that he will apparently make good on his word after the DA gave him until the close of business tomorrow to provide the reports as he had promised in May.
We trust that the Deputy Minister will make sure all of the requested reports are provided and not just a select few.
Some of these reports date as far back as 7 years yet have been kept under wraps, most likely as they contain damning confirmation of extensive mismanagement at the state airline.
On almost a weekly basis new allegations of mismanagement and corruption, involving billions in tax payer’s money, emerge about SAA or its subsidiaries.
SAA has lost R15,7 billion over the last five years and lost an average of R12 million every day during April and May 2017. This burden on the taxpayer must stop and exposing the mismanagement of the past is but a small step towards the privatisation of the airline.
The release of the reports is a welcomed first step in the right direction towards uncovering how deep the alleged corruption at SAA runs.

Zwane’s moratorium on mining licences an attempt to bully mining sector

The decision by Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, to freeze the issuing of new mining and prospecting licences shows that the ANC would choose for there to be no mining activity at all, unless there is a share for its politically connected.
As it stands, the Mining Charter is a mess which was the result of disastrous unilateral decisions, and its sudden gazetting last month cost the economy R50 billion when it was introduced.
Since then, broad spectrum opposition to the Charter has forced the Minister to suspend it, pending consultations. Importantly, it is our belief that the existing Charter is massively flawed and the Minister needs to go back to the drawing board and needs to restart the process to produce an inclusive Charter which will benefit the industry instead of harm it.
The DA will therefore write to Zwane to request that he redraft the Mining Charter, so that this time, the process will be inclusive and that all stakeholders are engaged and given a fair opportunity to participate.
We will also ask the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources, Sahlulele Luzipo, to invite Zwane to Parliament so he can account for why there was no consultation previously.
However, the redrafting does not mean that issuing of new mining licences must be stopped.
Given that more than nine million South Africans are without work, closing the door on new business is irresponsible. The minister’s move will adversely impact the growth of the mining sector. It is shocking that just when South Africa should be pulling out all the stops to attract investors, Zwane is actively chasing them away.
The fact that the top official responsible for implementing this order had not even been informed of it when it was issued, shows that Zwane is acting in a dictatorial manner which is unsuitable for the office he occupies. In addition to this, the probable illegality of Zwane’s order displays rank amateurism that appears more like a childish tantrum than anything else.
Yet again, the ANC has shown that it cannot and will not improve the lives of South Africans.
This moratorium will not only hit small businesses in the mining industry the hardest but will also prevent new entrants to the market. This will only put a stop to job creation as the mining industry cannot grow under these conditions.

DA to lay charges against Eskom CFO, Anoj Singh

The DA will lay criminal charges against Eskom’s Chief Financial Officer, Anoj Singh, as we have reason to believe that Singh may have played a pivotal role in the Guptas’ capture of Eskom.
The DA will lay charges against Singh for possible breaches of Section 50 (1) of the Public Finance Management Act (PMFA), which states that an accounting officer at a public entity must “ensure reasonable protection of the assets and records of the public entity” and “act with fidelity, honesty, integrity and in the best interests of the public entity in managing the financial affairs of the public entity”.
Furthermore, Section 50 (2) of the PMFA clearly states that an accounting officer at a state owned enterprise may not use their “position or privileges […] for personal gain or to improperly benefit another person”.
Under Section 86 (2) an accounting authority is “guilty of an offence […] or to imprisonment […] if that accounting authority willfully or in a grossly negligent way fails to comply with a provision of Section 50, 51” of the PMFA.
Singh has been linked to a range of corruption scandals and dodgy deals at Eskom which must be fully investigated.
These include but may not be limited to:

  • The Trillian contracts of R495 million, as a subcontractor of McKinsey;
  • The arbitration settlement of R577 million, reduced from R2.1 billion, for Tegeta;
  • Giving Tegeta a R1.6 billion guarantee to purchase Optimum even if it wasn’t used; and
  • The upfront coal contract payment to Tegeta.

Based on the absurd explanation Singh provided yesterday, as to why Eskom gave Gupta-linked Tegeta a 72% discount to acquire Optimum, it appears he may be one of a number of seemingly compromised individuals at Eskom who have sought to loot our public coffers.
The DA will also lay charges of false statements, reckless conduct and non-compliance against Singh, under Section 214 (1) of the Companies Act 71 of 2008, which states that a person is guilty of an offence if they “with fraudulent intention, knowingly provided false or misleading information” and if they were party to “an act or omission by a business calculated to defraud [the company] or with another fraudulent purpose”.
Under Section 216 of the Act, if a director of a company is convicted of an offence in terms of Section 214 (1), they are liable “to a fine or to imprisonment” of up to 10 years.
As CFO of Eskom, Singh would have been best placed to provide access to those intent on looting the entity for their own selfish gain. This possibility must be fully investigated and should the allegations prove true, the DA will ensure that Singh has his day in court and that he accounts for his hand in the capture of Eskom.

Anoj Singh should be next

The DA welcomes Eskom’s decision to take disciplinary action against former Acting CEO, Matshela Koko, for the R1 billion Impulse International nepotism scandal.
However, there are still a number of likely compromised individuals at the helm of Eskom who must be dealt with decisively if we have any hope of solving the multiplicity of problems at the entity.
Chief among them is Eskom’s Gupta-linked CFO, Anoj Singh, who should be immediately suspended and investigated for his involvement in the outrageous 72% discount Eskom gifted the Guptas to acquire Optimum.
Singh’s ridiculous explanation as to why Eskom reduced the original R2.1 billion fine, to R577 million, simply won’t fly. Instead of being suspended and investigated, he has been rewarded with a bonus of R1.8 million for the year.
Eskom executives cannot continue to protect the Guptas at the power utility’s expense any longer.
The truth is, Eskom’s announcement of disciplinary action against Koko today, is simply a smokescreen to cover up the glaring financial troubles at the power utility.
The power utility’s finances today showed some concerning figures:

  • R355.3 billion in debt securities and borrowing which is a 10% increase from 2016’s R322.6 billion,
  • Net profits plummeted by 82%, from R5 billion to less than R1 billion.

It is evident that Singh is failing in his role as CFO, and the DA will now explore further avenues to bring Singh to book for his role in the deterioration of Eskom’s finances.
As Eskom slips further into financial chaos, ordinary South Africans will have to bear the brunt.
The DA looks forward to meeting Singh at the upcoming Parliamentary Inquiry into Eskom to ensure that he is held to account.