Mashaba's Jozi – building golden opportunities for all

One of the earliest challenges facing Mayor, Herman Mashaba’s administration in the City of Johannesburg is the blatant act of sabotage from some senior officials working against the new administration, at the expense of residents.
On top of that, the City’s unfunded infrastructure backlog from the previous administration sits at R170 Billion over the next 10 years. City Power is locked in a R500 million dispute with the Receiver of Revenue, which has already seen the entity’s financial position deteriorate. The City of Johannesburg has one electricity sub-station that supplies the entire Inner City of Johannesburg. The sub-station is 75 years old, 30 years past its useful lifespan.
Since the City only has R10 billion to address a R170 billion shortfall, it has to implement urgent intervention measures to address the challenges.
These measures include:

  • Establishing a professional public service to serve residents with pride;
  • Getting the City’s Municipal Courts functioning again so that the rule of law can be maintained. In the next few weeks these courts will be will re-launched back into operation;
  • Intensifying the City’s fight against fraud and corruption;
  • Fixing the City’s billing system to ensure residents are correctly billed, and that the City recovers the R5-R10 billion that is lost annually due to under-valuation and non-billing of properties;
  • Declaring war on criminals who vandalize and steal the City’s infrastructure; and
  • Kick-starting the City’s economic revival by turning the City into a construction site to ensure the long-term provision of low-cost housing and to create job opportunities in the interim.

I want to see that the construction that is going to take place around our City, affords young people the opportunity to be trained as plumbers, electricians, brick-layers, and the like. I want to see them gaining experience from this, and being able to make a living from these skills, and give them a hand-up to participate in our economy.
– Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Cllr Herman Mashaba

The Presidency ducking and diving on Zuma’s declaration of interests

Last week Thursday in Parliament, I asked President Jacob Zuma to respond to the allegations that he had received a R1 million a month salary from his friend Mr. Roy Moodley’s company, Royal Security, while he was President.
President Zuma replied saying “I did not receive payments from private individuals or companies during my tenure as President, other than those which have been disclosed or reported to the necessary authorities” (our emphasis)
After this reply, I wrote to the Director-General (DG) in the Presidency, Dr. Cassius Lubisi, indicating that I would like to view the President’s declaration of interests documents for all the years of his Presidency. Dr Lubisi is the person responsible for such, as per the Executive Ethics Code.
Section 7.5 of the Code makes it clear that ”Any person has access to the public part of a register during office hours of the secretary concerned”.
I have made it clear to Dr. Lubisi that I will be coming to the Union Buildings tomorrow, Friday 10 November, to view the President’s declaration of interests and that they ought to be ready to be viewed by then.
In an initial responding letter, the DG notified me that this documentation would take some time to compile as it is “voluminous”.
The DG’s response makes no sense at all. The President’s declaration of interests documents are public documents and should already be compiled and ready to be viewed at any time by anyone – as per the Executive Ethics Code. Moreover, the DG’s comments and subsequent ducking and diving are suspicious at best – and raise questions as to whether these documents do in fact exist.
It should not take more than a week to produce documents that should have been filed timeously by the President each year. No more delay, let’s see whether President Zuma declares his million Rand a monthly salary, or not.

R13 billion has been wasted on an airline that we do not need

The following speech was delivered by the DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Finance, Alf Lees MP, during the debate on the 2017 Revised Fiscal Framework in the National Assembly today.
Madam Speaker,
The Revised 2017 Fiscal Framework indicates that the Expenditure Ceiling is going to be exceeded by R3.9 billion. This breach was completely avoidable had remedial action been taken to stop political interference and had competent people been appointed to the board at SAA.
As far back as September 2016, when South African Airways (SAA) should have been placed in business rescue, the ANC chose to give it a R4.8 billion guarantee lifeline.
In order to prevent Standard Chartered Bank from calling in the government guarantee at the end of June 2017, the Minister of Finance invoked section 16 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) to make an emergency payment of R2.2 billion to SAA.
For the 2017/18 financial year to July of this year, SAA ran at massive losses of R293.8 million per month and had no prospect of paying the loans of R6.8 billion due at the end of September 2017.
Domestic lenders were persuaded to roll over their loans on condition that certain conditions such as the removal of Dudu Myeni from the SAA board were met.
Citibank refused to roll over their loan and demanded payment.
In order to enable SAA to pay Citibank R1.8 billion, pay arrear suppliers of nearly R1.0 billion and to have some working capital available, the Minister of Finance once again invoked section 16 of the PFMA and made a R3.0 billion payment to SAA.
This brought the direct cash bailouts to SAA in 2017 to R5.2 billion.
A further R4.8 billion is now budgeted for SAA to fund ongoing losses.
Once this appropriation is approved it will bring the total cash bailouts to SAA in the current year to R10.0 billion.
It is these R10.0 billion of bailouts to SAA that have caused the Expenditure Ceiling to be breached.
Unfortunately, despite the appointment of a CEO and the board restructuring, the losses will continue with the Minister of Finance budgeting, rather optimistically, for a further R3.0 billion bailout to SAA in the 2018/19 year.
The R13.0 billion rand could have provided:
• 100 000 Reconstruction and Development Programme houses; and
• 162 000 National Student Financial Aid Scheme bursaries.
Instead, the money has been wasted on an airline we don’t need.

Time for a Comprehensive Spending Review

The following speech was delivered by the DA Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier MP, during the debate on the 2017 Revised Fiscal Framework in the National Assembly today.
1. Introduction
The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, revealed the full horror of President Jacob Zuma’s disastrous mismanagement of the economy when he delivered his medium-term budget policy statement two weeks ago in Parliament.
2. Budget Blowout
The minister tabled the revised fiscal framework during his medium-term budget policy statement, which exposed a full-scale budget “blowout” in 2017/18.
The hard facts are as follows:
economic growth: down by 0.6% from 1.3% to 0.7%;
revenue: down by R50.8 billion from R1.41 trillion to R1.36 trillion;
expenditure: up by R3.5 billion from R1.563 trillion to R1.566 trillion;
fiscal deficit: up by R54 billion from R149 billion to R203 billion;
national debt: up by R300 billion from R2.23 trillion to R2.53 trillion; and
debt service costs: up by R900 million from R162.4 billion to R163.3 billion.
The budget blowout was caused principally by a R10 billion bailout of zombie state-owned enterprise, South African Airways.
The minister is now drowning in red ink and has been forced to sell the family silver to hold the fiscal line in 2017/18.
3. Scary Facts
The fact is:
• the R50.8 billion revenue shortfall is the biggest revenue shortfall since the global financial meltdown in 2008/09;
• to avoid a breach of the expenditure ceiling about R3.9 billion worth of Telkom shares will have to be sold;
• the R6 billion contingency reserve has been wiped out despite the fact that funds may well be required to assist with flood damage and drought relief;
• debt service costs are the fastest growing item of expenditure in the budget, consuming 13.7 cents of every rand collected in revenue; and
• we will spend more this year on debt service costs (R163.3 billion) than we will spend on police (R93.7 billion) and higher education (R76.7 billion).
These numbers are staggering and they are terrifying.
4. Full Horror
However, the full horror of the budget blowout is revealed when one considers the primary balance, which is the difference between total revenue and total non-interest expenditure.
The deficit in the primary balance is set to widen by R51.9 billion from R4.4 billion to R56.3 billion in 2017/18.
What this means is that we are now borrowing money to pay the interest on borrowed money.
Or, put simply: we are using our credit card to pay the interest on our overdraft in South Africa.
5. Comprehensive Spending Review
The situation we now confront is serious and is described as the biggest fiscal crisis since the global economic meltdown in 2008/09 hit South Africa.
We are going to have to take some big, bold, tough decisions to solve the fiscal equation, especially on the expenditure side of things.
That is why we have proposed a Comprehensive Spending Review aimed at reviewing the composition of spending, efficiency of spending and future spending priorities with a view to cutting spending, and changing the composition of spending.
A Comprehensive Spending Review would be geared towards making hard decisions about spending cuts that could be sustained by, for example:
• reducing the size of the executive to approximately 15 ministries, which could save an estimated R4.6 billion per year, or a total of R13.8 billion between 2018/19 and 2020/21; and
• running the provincial legislatures more efficiently, which could save an estimated R1.8 billion in 2018/19, R1.9 billion in 2019/20 and R2.0 billion in 2020/21, or a total of R R5.5 billion between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
However, in the end if we are going to get serious about cutting spending we will have to confront the ballooning cost of “compensation of employees”, which is projected to cost R1.9 trillion, and which is projected to grow at 7.3%, between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
Consider the following:
• a freeze on the salaries of senior management who earn more than R918 000 per year, and who are employed on salary levels 13 to 16 in general government, could save an estimated R1.2 billion in 2018/19, R2.0 billion in 2019/20 and R2.8 billion in 2020/21, or a total of R6 billion between 2018/19 and 2020/21; or
• a freeze on the salaries of all employees in general government could save an estimated R57.8 billion in 2018/19, R92.7 billion in 2019/20 and R129.1 billion in 2020/21, or a total of R279.7 billion between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
Whatever the case, savings identified as a result of a Comprehensive Spending Review could be allocated:
• to hold the fiscal line on social protection and to fund investment in infrastructure and skills development to support economic growth; and
• to cut the fiscal deficit in order to reduce national debt and debt-service costs over the medium term between 2018/19 and 2020/21.
6. Conclusion
The fact is that in the end Comprehensive Spending Reviews have proved to be successful in Australia (Comprehensive Spending Review 2010), Canada (Strategic and Operating Review 2011), and the United Kingdom (Comprehensive Spending Review 2010).
And if the minister is serious about dealing with the fiscal crisis, he would give serious consideration to implementing a Comprehensive Spending Review in South Africa.
But, in the end, let no one forget that President Jacob Zuma and his disastrous management of the economy is responsible for the fiscal crisis in South Africa.

DA to request Minister Sisulu’s intervention in the abandoned housing project

Please find attached soundbites in English and Sepedi by the DA Shadow Minister of Human Settlements, Solly Malatsi MP.
View pictures: here, here, here, here, here and here.
On an oversight visit to the Rockdale housing project in Mpumalanga’s Steve Tshwete Municipality today, the DA was shocked by the living conditions our people have been subjected to by the ANC government.
The project consists of 205 houses, all of which have been completed but have no basic services.  The people of Steve Tshwete Municipality continue to wait for the running water, electricity and proper sewerage systems to be fully installed at the incomplete houses.
The handover of these houses were supposed to be completed by March this year; however, residents who have no other alternative have been forced to occupy the houses illegally.
In some cases contractors’ labourers, who were responsible for building houses at a nearby project, are occupying some of the unallocated houses.
Even worse is that the housing infrastructure has become dilapidated and most have become the target of vandalism.
Some residents have been forced to make illegal electricity connections to cook and water leaks remain unfixed.
These housing conditions are a damning indictment on the failing ANC government and clearly indicates the ANC government’s disregard for the residents of Steve Tshwete Municipality.
The DA will now write to the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, to request that she urgently intervenes in this housing project and the hundreds of other abandoned projects across the country that is preventing our people from owning a home.
This is further evidence of the ANC government’s complete failure in providing houses to the countless, mostly black South Africans who still remain destitute more than 20 years after liberation.
The people of this country deserves better than this uncaring ANC government.
The DA remains resolute that South Africans deserve to know the dignity of owning a home that is safe and decent.

DA requests investigation into exorbitant SAPS expenditure

Media reports today have revealed that on the last day of the 2015/16 financial year, the South African Police Service (SAPS) paid Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) over R52 million for a contract for 169 torches.
This amounts to an astonishingly exorbitant R300 000 per torch.
The invoice for the contract was paid for by the section in which former Acting National Police Commissioner General Khomotso Phahlane’s wife works. FDA is owned by a businessman that has been implicated in potentially corrupt transactions with Phahlane through the provision of luxury vehicles to him and his wife.
The DA will therefore write to the Secretary of Police, Mr Alvin Rapea, to request a specific investigation and analysis project of the SAPS expenditure over the last 5 financial years by the Civilian Secretariat, as per section 6(1)(b) of the Civilian Secretariat, in order to closely scrutinise potentially irrational or wasteful large contracts.
The reports also state that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is investigating other suspicious transactions between the SAPS and FDA.
SAPS annual reports always show that the department’s budget is fully spent yet police stations are always under-staffed and under-resourced. Stations are often told that there is not enough money when they ask for additional vehicles and personnel up the chain of command.
The DA have always suspected and can only conclude that the SAPS budget continues to be misspent due to skewed priorities and irrational procurement in supply chain management. This revelation sadly sheds light on that seemingly being the case.

SASSA-SAPO agreement does not mean Minister Dlamini is off the hook

Minister Jeff Radebe’s announcement today that the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Social Security will have an agreement ready for SASSA and the South African Post Office (SAPO) for the distribution of social grants, does not mean that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini is off the hook.
Minister Radebe, at the Joint sitting of SCOPA and the Social Development Committee in Parliament,  announced that an agreement between SASSA and SAPO is expected to be signed by next week Friday.
Although the DA is pleased that there might soon be an end to this SASSA social grants debacle, we must face the facts that Minister Dlamini once again tried to delay the process of SASSA finding a new distributor of social grants in order to keep the dodgy CPS contract.
The Minister failed on numerous occasions to resolve the crisis which ultimately led to joint committee meetings and the intervention of the IMC.
Minister Dlamini was clearly blocking every effort to ensure that SAPO did not qualify as a suitable service provider because she either wants the illegal CPS contract to continue or she has another provider in mind.
Minister Dlamini is unfit to lead the Department of Social Development and she must be held accountable for putting the country on the brink of another social grants crisis.
It is clear that SASSA also had a hand in this prolonged procurement process. The Panel of Experts appointed by the Constitutional Court to oversee this entire process found that SASSA failed to cooperate with experts. In a letter to the Committee, National Treasury stated that SASSA took more than two months to evaluate and adjudicate one proposal, this conclusion implies there was a deliberate delay from SASSA to work with SAPO.
Both Minister Dlamini and  SASSA must account for their disgraceful behaviour of threatening the security of social grants for what is no doubt their own financial benefits.

DA welcomes SABC Board’s stance against new Communications Minister

Please find attached a soundbite by the DA Shadow Minister of Communications, Phumzile Van Damme MP.
The DA welcomes the new SABC’s board’s commitment to protect the public broadcaster’s independence, as expressed in a statement this morning.
In the statement, Chairperson of SABC board, Bongumusa Makhathini indicated that the SABC will be seeking a legal opinion on the appointment of its top executives, as well as the pending appeal by the Communications Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane’s against a court judgment asserting the public broadcaster’s independence.
The SABC board’s decision to seek its own legal advice on these important matters comes at a time when the public broadcaster’s independence once again hangs in the balance, under serious threat of political capture by the ANC.
We are re-assured that the board is demonstrating an intention to side with the law regarding the governance of the public broadcaster, and not the ANC or government.
We hope that our faith is not misplaced.
It became very apparent at yesterday’s meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Communications in Parliament, that Minister Kubayi-Ngubane was eager to follow in Faith Muthambi’s footsteps and re-capture the SABC, and that she was reshuffled to the portfolio for this purpose.
In fact, she even went so far as to instruct the SABC board members present at the meeting, including Makhathini not to respond to questions from MPs.
It was disappointing to see the SABC board members not standing up for themselves, the law and the SABC and allowing the Minister to bully them. We trust that this will never happen again.
The DA urges the board to act as firm bulwarks against political interference at the SABC and act as custodians of the public broadcaster, which belongs to the South African people and not the ANC.
We will keep a close eye on developments as it is clear that the new Communications Minister and the ANC are on course to undo all the progress we have made in the past few months.
The DA will continue to fight to protect the independence of the public broadcaster and will not stand idly by as Zuma cronies push their political agendas, and plunge the SABC into crisis again

The public have until Friday to comment on the ‘School Capture Bill’

The DA urges all School Governing Bodies (SGBs), teachers and school principals to submit comments on the Draft Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill by the close of business on Friday, 10 November 2017 to ensure that the process is as participatory as possible.
The DA is concerned with the implications of the Draft Bill as it will ensure the power that SGBs have is effectively taken away from them, by reducing their input in:

  • the admission of learners; and
  • the appointment of Heads of Departments (HODs), principals and deputy principals

This is concerning as SGBs are the closest entities to schools and the 9 Provincial Departments of Basic Education simply do not have the capacity to consider all applications for admissions for more than 24 000 schools across the country.
Appointing, transferring and promoting senior staff members would require the provincial departmental head to have close relationships with all schools in order to ensure that suitable people are placed. It is SGBs that have these relationships and not the relevant education department.
It would, therefore, make sense for the provincial head of department to work with SGBs to manage admissions and appointments at schools. This would also help avoid situations where, due to a lack of capacity, important decisions are devolved to junior officials by provincial HODs.
The Draft Bill poses further problems in the following areas.

  • Language Policy

This policy would need to be reviewed every three years and the process would be time-consuming and expensive.

  • Home Schooling Policy

The Draft Bill refuses to recognise non-South African service providers and would be detrimental to learners who use the Cambridge system, for example. Local service providers would need to be approved by the government.
SGBs understand the communities in which schools operate and to ensure the optimal performance of schools, the role they play should not be undermined. The DA will not allow government to reduce the power SGBs have. We will ensure our public schools are not turned into state schools through this Draft Bill.mbridge system
The public are urged to send their comments to:
The Director-General, Private Bag X085, Pretoria, 01. For attention: Adv. TD Rudman,
Tel. (012) 357 3856, email: rudman.d@dbe.gov.za, fax (012) 323 9430.
 

DA to ask Inspector-General of Intelligence for update on Arthur Fraser investigation

The DA will be writing to the Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI), Dr Setlhomamaru Dintwe, to request a meeting and an update on the investigation into State Security Agency Director-General, Arthur Fraser.
The DA lodged a formal complaint with the IGI’s Office on 18 May 2017, in terms of section 7(cA) of the Intelligence Services Oversight Act (40 of 1994), requesting an investigation into Fraser’s involvement with the Principle Agent Network (PAN) programme which he, as the then-Deputy Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, initiated and oversaw from 2007 to 2009.
It has now been nearly six months since we approached the IGI and the public interest in the matter has never been greater, prompted largely by Jacques Pauw’s recently released book, The President’s Keepers.
The need for the IGI to expedite his investigation is all the more acute considering Fraser’s links to President Jacob Zuma and mounting evidence of State Capture in government and state entities.
Additionally, Pauw’s book mentions long-serving member of the IGI Office, Jay Govender, by name and implicates her in wrongdoing. Dr Dintwe must act with haste to ensure the integrity of his office.
The DA vehemently objected to Zuma’s outrageous appointment of Arthur Fraser in September 2016, pointing both to his involvement the PAN programme and the irregular government tenders, amounting to millions of rands, secured by Resurgent Risk Management, a company co-founded by Fraser after he was forced out of the intelligence services, disgraced and under investigation.
We will also be calling on the IGI to make his report on Fraser public, rather than referring it to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence which is a closed forum.
The allegations against Fraser are profoundly serious and needs to be prioritised by IGI. It can no longer be left to opposition parties, journalists and civil society to expose the rot in our intelligence community.