One month later, report on those who lied in SABC Inquiry still sitting on Speaker’s desk

It has been a month since the report from Parliament’s Legal Services Unit identifying witnesses who gave false or misleading testimonies during the SABC Inquiry, was handed to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete.
The SABC Inquiry Report recommended that Parliament’s Legal Services Unit “identify the persons who misled the inquiry or provided false information or false testimony with the aim of criminal charges being laid”. The Legal Services Unit compiled this report and submitted to the Speaker, as required on 5 June 2017.
Unsurprisingly, the Speaker has refused to table the report before Parliament for scrutiny – as its contents no doubt implicate a number of her ANC comrades.
Mbete must remember that her duty to Parliament is above her role as Chairperson of the ANC. Lying before Parliament is a serious offence and those found guilty must be held accountable, irrespective of their political affiliation or position.
Mbete doesn’t have any legal basis for withholding the report and her explanation, offered in National Assembly Programme Committee, that the implicated persons were being consulted doesn’t hold water. Parliament doesn’t have an obligation to consult with those who lied to it.
This seems like a last ditch attempt by the Speaker to protect her ANC comrades, like former Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, from being held accountable for possibly lying during the SABC Inquiry.
Including Muthambi, it would appear that the following individuals gave contradictory evidence or may have misled Parliament during the SABC Inquiry:

  • Former Company Secretary, Theresa Geldenhuys, who may have submitted doctored Board minutes to Parliament;
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Ellen Tshabalala, who testified that there was political interference at the SABC and failed to provide evidence in that regard, when requested;
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Prof Mbulaheni Maguvhe, who testified that he did not brief his lawyers to launch an interdict against the SABC inquiry in his personal capacity, despite his lawyers clearly stating in court that Maguvhe submitted the application for the interdict in his personal capacity; and
  • Former SABC Board Chair, Dr Ben Ngubane, who testified that there was no political interference at the SABC, despite evidence to the contrary. He also insisted that The New Age arrangement made good business sense and that there was no cost to the SABC, despite evidence to the contrary.

On 6 June 2017, the DA wrote to the Speaker urging her to table the report in Parliament and on 20 June 2017, the DA submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to access the report. Nevertheless, the report has still not seen the light of day. It is shocking that Members of Parliament have to go to such lengths to gain access to reports emanating from their committee work.
Mbete has an obligation to table this report via the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) to ensure that Parliament performs its oversight and ensure that those who lied face the full consequences of their actions.
The DA will not allow for those who lied before Parliament to escape accountability and we will continue to put pressure on the Speaker to make this report public.
We strongly encourage Mbete to table this report before Parliament.

DA to ask Inspector-General of Intelligence to probe spying by Gupta proxies

The DA will ask the Inspector-General of Intelligence, Dr Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe, to urgently probe allegations that state resources were used to spy on prominent South Africans, on behalf of the Gupta family.
Shocking media reports on 24 June detailed how Sahara Chief Executive and close Gupta associate, Ashu Chawla, had access to sensitive, confidential and private state-held information about prominent South Africans. These included the personal and travel information of EFF leader, Julius Malema; former Minister of Finance, Trevor Manuel, and his wife, Absa CEO Maria Ramos; Investec CEO Stephen Koseff; and the chairpersons of FirstRand and RMI holding companies, Laurie Dippenaar and GT Ferreira.
Subsequent media reports have also detailed surveillance of prominent journalists and editors, allegedly as part of an intimidation and harassment campaign by former Gupta employees.
Following the first reports, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs called on Malusi Gigaba to appear before it to explain what role that his former department played in this breach. On two occasions Gigaba failed to present himself.
It remains the DA’s contention that Chawla could only have received the information from persons within the Department of Home Affairs and the State Security Agency (SSA).
It is deeply concerning that state resources may have been used to provide the Gupta family with information on perceived ‘opponents’. It also points to the seeming dysfunction in South Africa’s intelligence services that a clandestine spy network, reporting to the Guptas, exists within government.
It is distressing that the Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, once again finds himself embroiled in a scandal involving the misuse of state intelligence resources. It seems the SSA is either unable or unwilling to do its actual job, namely “provid[ing] the government with intelligence on domestic and foreign threats or potential threats to national stability, the constitutional order, and the safety and wellbeing of our people”.
The former and current ministers of Home Affairs and State Security all have explaining to do. It is our earnest hope that the IGI can get to the bottom of these serious allegations.

9 murders in 5 weeks due to 65% SAPS shortage in Tembisa

The South African Police Service (SAPS) Station in Tembisa is unable to fulfill its constitutional duty of protecting citizens because there is a 65% shortage in its visible policing capacity.
I was reliably informed of these shortages upon my recent visit to the Tembisa SAPS station, along with DA Councillor Philip Thamahane.
We also learned that there have been seven murders within the precinct in June and that within the first three days of July, two more people have been murdered.
Visible policing is a crucial deterrent to violent crime and it also provides vital reach for SAPS officers who must investigate, pursue and apprehend suspects. Failing to fulfill this function means that the SAPS is in breach of its mandate to protect citizens who cannot protect themselves.
The Tembisa SAPS station has five sectors that should have two visible policing vehicles patrolling at any given time, with two police officers in each vehicle. The station therefore needs 20 police officers for this purpose.
The visible policing unit also staffs the client service office, where people go to lay charges. At least eight officers should be on duty at this office, at any given time.
Given the above requirements, visible policing at the Tembisa SAPS station needs at least 28 police officers per shift. However, the reality is a bleak picture. The actual number of officers on duty per shift is as follows:
• Shift one has only 10 officers on duty, with a shortage of 18 officers.
• Shift two has only 10 officers on duty, with a shortage 18 officers.
• Shift three has only 10 officers on duty, with a shortage of 18 officers.
• Shift four only has 9 officers on duty, which means a shortage 19 officers.
The situation worsens when one takes sick leave and annual leave into account.
The Minister of Police and the National Commissioner must take full responsibility for the high crime rate and the chronic lack of police officers to prevent it. The residents of Tembisa deserve better police protection and their precinct must be urgently resourced.
Failing to provide adequate policing is an affront on our constitutional right to safety and security.

DA-led Tshwane selling Mayoral Mansion to bring better services

The DA-led City of Tshwane has plans to sell the mayoral mansion it inherited from the previous ANC administration in order to prioritise bringing better services to Tshwane residents, particularly those living in informal settlements.

I am happy to announce that the City will officially be selling the Mayoral Mansion which we have long believed is unnecessary and can free up funds to embark on other meaningful projects and programmes for the people of Tshwane who, as I have long asserted, are our true VIPs.
– Executive Mayor, Solly Msimanga

Overall, the DA-led City of Tshwane has plans to upgrade and fully formalise seven informal settlements over the 2017/18 financial year. Project Tirane will upgrade the following areas to fully serviced stands, with some areas provided with bulk infrastructure:

  • Kudube X9
  • Refilwe Manor
  • Themba View
  • Olievenhoutbosch Ext 60
  • Zithobeni Heights
  • Zithobeni Ext 8 & 9
  • Mabopane Ext 1

Real change is on the way in Tshwane!

 

DA-led Jozi Eliminating Corruption as City Power MD Removed

The City of Johannesburg is turning the tide on corruption. This time inside City Power, where the Managing Director, Sicelo Xulu has been immediately released from his contractual responsibilities.
This comes after the contents of a damning forensic report, detailing serious misconduct on the part of the MD were revealed. The Board would ordinarily institute a disciplinary hearing, however the MD’s contract is set to expire at the end of August and the City would not be able to complete the disciplinary process in time. It is for this reason that the Board has taken a decision to immediately release the MD from his contractual responsibilities.

This decision – which I fully support – will begin the process of restoring good governance and ending corruption at the power utility. Weak corporate governance and corruption at City Power have for too long been allowed to rob our residents of much needed service delivery.
– Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba

The Mayor has also instructed the City’s Group Forensic and Investigation Service Unit to extract relevant information from the final report for the possible institution of criminal charges against numerous officials implicated; the full contents of the forensic report can thus not be revealed at this stage.

Going forward, our priority will be to bring stability to City Power as we finalise the appointment of a new MD.
– Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba

#NoConfidence: Mbete continues to put the ANC before Parliament

The DA notes with concern comments made by Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, relating to the upcoming Vote of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
Speaking to media at the ANC’s National Policy Conference 2017, Mbete responded to a question about the secret ballot by urging individual MPs to toe the party line.
She is quoted as saying that: “In as far as the question of secret or not secret [ballot], I think individuals can think whichever way they want to, but whereas a Member who was sent to Parliament by a political party, you owe it to that party to take a position as guided by it.”
Mbete’s comments show that, when faced with the inherent conflict of her role as Chairperson of the ANC and NA Speaker, she does not hesitate to put party before Parliament.
It is alarming that Mbete feels free to speak so candidly about the “obligations” of ANC MPs precisely when she is called upon to apply her mind and decide on the matter of the secret ballot.
The Constitutional Court was unequivocal in its 22 June ruling. Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, in considering if the Constitution provides for a secret ballot, noted that “Members of the ruling party are also at liberty to vote in a way that does not always have to be predetermined by their parties”.
He elegantly adds that “[e]ach Member must, depending on the grounds and circumstances of the motion, be able to do what would in reality advance our constitutional project of improving the lives of all citizens, freeing their potential and generally ensuring accountability for the way things are done in their name and purportedly for their benefit”.
Mbete must not lose sight of her responsibility as Speaker of the National Assembly, and the fact that she is both empowered to decide on the matter of the secret ballot and will, in all likelihood, preside over the motion of no confidence. She must choose her words carefully.
As Mogoeng rightly notes, “accountability is necessitated by the reality that constitutional office-bearers occupy their positions of authority on behalf of and for the common good of all the people”.

TVET accommodation crisis must be addressed to ensure equal education

The Minister of Higher Education and Training recently revealed in a DA Parliamentary Question that he has no idea how many beds are currently available at our Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) institutions. The lack of accommodation is a serious problem given the crucial role that colleges should play in ensuring that young people receive technical and vocational training.
Early this year, the department said that only 10 120 were available in 2015. No departmental funds have been allocated to expand the number of beds. The National Skills Fund will add 248 additional beds, which is simply completely inadequate. There will only be enough beds at TVET colleges to accommodate 1,4% of the student body. This is quite simply a crisis.
TVET colleges are vital as they are the only option for hundreds of thousands of learners to receive training in the skills needed for the job market. NSFAS also emphasises TVETs, with many students who are turned down for university funding being encouraged to apply for TVETs.
TVETs are however chronically underfunded. Many are not even meeting their operating expenses at the moment, and all reserve funding has been diverted to pay salaries and other running costs. The lack of accommodation was the source of many protests at TVET colleges earlier this year.
As such, the DA will be visiting several TVET institutions to assess the state of accommodation at these colleges and collate evidence of the state of these institutions in order to table this information at the Higher Education Portfolio Committee. The first DA oversight visit will be at the Atlantis Campus of West Coast College tomorrow, where there is reported to be one shower for every 15 students and one toilet for every 12 students in the men’s residences. The women’s residence has only one toilet for every 10 students.
The DA has previously proposed an amendment to the Appropriations Bill to increase funding to 63 331 more poor students who are currently enrolled, or would like to enrol at TVET colleges, but the ANC showed no support for this proposal, proving that it remained unwilling to address the crisis at these colleges.
The DA is firmly committed to equal education as this will allow more young people to enter the job market. The pursuit of this goal will, however, be stifled by the government’s reluctance to develop TVET colleges and provide adequate accommodation for students at these institutions. If we are truly serious about the 9.3 million unemployed people, then we need to start prioritising these institutions as a crucial higher education platform for skills training.

Minister Gigaba remains clueless about SAA CEO appointment

Chaos continues to reign at SAA. Yesterday, Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, reportedly told journalists that he had made the appointment of a CEO, which seems to have been a condition of the R 2,207 billion bailout paid to SAA for the national carrier to settle its debt with Standard Chartered Bank.
However, just yesterday Minister Gigaba replied to a written parliamentary question wherein he informed me that the top three candidates for the CEO position would be presented to National Treasury by the 26th of May 2017. A whole month has passed since the 26th of May 2017 and the Minister, if his public comments made yesterday are to go by, still has no idea when a CEO for SAA will be appointed.
A whole month has passed since the 26th of May 2017 and the Minister, if his public comments made yesterday are to go by, still has no idea when a CEO for SAA will be appointed.
Minister Gigaba seems to think that placing such an apparently open-ended condition on SAA is somehow going to galvanise the SAA board to actually address this vital appointment, bearing in mind that SAA has not had a permanent CEO since September 2015.
The same condition was placed on the R4.7 billion guarantee issued to SAA by National Treasury in September 2016.The then Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, assured Parliament that the appointment would be made by the end of March 2017. Now, at the end of June 2017 the new Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, seems to have no idea when the appointment will be made and seems to think that his responsibility ends with the imposition of yet another condition on a payment that has already been made. Conditions that are supposed to be met after the funds have been paid out are toothless and are not conditions at all.
The then Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, assured Parliament that the appointment would be made by the end of March 2017. Now, at the end of June 2017 the new Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, seems to have no idea when the appointment will be made and seems to think that his responsibility ends with the imposition of yet another condition on a payment that has already been made. Conditions that are supposed to be met after the funds have been paid out are toothless and are not conditions at all.
Malusi Gigaba has no more room to manoeuvre, he must now take robust action to stop the massive monthly losses that are running at R 370,0 million per month. As such, I will write to the Minister to request that the conditions for this recent bailout are made public to improve accountability. The DA continues to maintain that the only sure way that he can take robust action is to file for SAA to be placed under business rescue in terms of Chapter 6 of the Companies Act.

Labour Court ruling a victory in the DA’s fight to hold Molefe accountable

The DA welcomes today’s ruling by the Labour Court in Gauteng to postpone Brian Molefe’s case pending the outcome of the DA’s High Court application against Molefe. This is directly in line with what the DA argued for in court and is a victory. Molefe has also been ordered to pay the DA’s legal costs.
The DA has consistently held that Molefe resigned from his position as Eskom’s Group CEO following which he took up another job – as a Member of Parliament. While Molefe now claims that he instead went into early retirement, his actions at the time and all statements by Eskom and the Minister at the time indicated that he had resigned. If this was not the case then he should have refuted them.
Further, section 47 of the Constitution is clear that a person may not become a Member of Parliament while still in the employ of, or receiving remuneration from, a state entity.
While Molefe had approached the Labour Court to argue the illegality of his removal from Eskom by its board in early June, our contention has always been that this cannot be argued until the substantive matter of Molefe’s resignation and then subsequent re-employment have been dealt with in part B of our High Court application.
It is our contention that Molefe’s re-employment at Eskom was completely irrational and illegal and as a result has no lawful position at Eskom.
We look forward to presenting our arguments in the High Court so that we can ensure that Molefe is held accountable on this issue. It is clear that Molefe is not fit to restore good governance practices at the Eskom and indeed should have no further place there.
The DA will continue to take all possible steps towards ensuring that our state-owned entities are no longer pilfered for the benefit of the Guptas and a politically connected few.

Transnet must shed light on tender to manage R40 billion property portfolio

The DA welcomes the announcement today that Werksmans has been hired as an external firm to probe allegations of widespread corruption at Transnet. Importantly, the DA is concerned that a recent Transnet tender, given its size – comparable to the arms deal – would be very vulnerable to corruption given the depth of corruption which has already been exposed at Transnet.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) that was issued by Transnet for “the development and implementation of a holistic and sustainable non-core property solution for Transnet that achieves improved profitability”. The RFP was issued on 26 April 2017 and closed on 13 June 2017. As of 31 March 2016, Transnet’s property portfolio was valued at R40 billion – a significant figure that would be very enticing for those with intentions of looting.
There are rumours swirling that Gupta-linked entities may be interested in this tender. It is imperative, given the sheer nature of this deal and in light of the far-reaching stories of State Capture by the Gupta family, that Parliament has oversight over this tender to ensure that there is no corruption in this deal.
I have thus written to the acting Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, Ms Zukiswa Rantho, to request that we receive an urgent briefing on this tender.
I will also be submitting Parliamentary Questions related to this matter to uncover whether there were any irregularities in the tender process.
These questions include:

  • Whether the Guptas or any of their associates were involved in, or given preferential treatment/ access to any material, at any stage of the tender process?
  • What is the total value of Transnet’s property portfolio at present and what are the values of the core and non-core property holdings?
  • How many companies responded to the RFP and what are their names?
  • Where and when was the RFP published or advertised, and for how long?

The value of Transnet’s property portfolio is substantial and the tender process must be thoroughly investigated to protect the parastatal from being looted. Billions of rands which could have helped South Africa’s poor have been stolen through State Capture and the DA will not allow any more parastatals to be captured.