SA Tourism spends R9.6 million with Guptas' PR agents

The DA is deeply concerned that the South African government has spent R9.6 million on the PR services of Bell Pottinger, at the same time that the Guptas were using Bell Pottinger to sow racial division in South Africa.
A reply to a DA Parliamentary Question has revealed that SA Tourism, an entity under the Department of Tourism, hired Bell Pottinger, on a 3 year contract from 2014 and paid them approximately R9.6 million.
The DA will therefore write to the Tourism Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Beatrice Ngcobo, to call on the Tourism Minister, Tokozile Xasa, to justify this large amount of money spent by the Department at Bell Pottinger and to table the full contract with Bell Pottinger.
We believe that there is a disgraceful conflict of interests for Bell Pottinger to be on the South African government payroll at the same time as the Guptas were paying them to sow division in South Africa.
No ethical firm could accept business to both advance and damage a country at the same time.
The DA will demand a full justification for this spending from the Tourism Minister, and we will seek an explanation for how SA Tourism continued to pay Bell Pottinger after the Gupta scandal emerged numerous months ago.

Despite guilty verdict, PP remedial action against Hlaudi must now be completed

The DA welcomes the dismissal of Hlaudi Motsoeneng, following a disciplinary inquiry into his decision to hold a press conference about the SABC, in violation of the SABC’s Code of Conduct.
The very litigious Motsoeneng is likely to take the interim board’s decision on review. We advise him not to waste the public and the SABC’s time and money on what will be barren harvest litigation. Throughout several court judgments, including one by the SCA, Mr Motsoeneng has been found to be unsuitable to hold office at the public broadcaster.
While Motsoeneng’s dismissal is indeed to be welcomed, he must still be held accountable for his reign of terror at the SABC. He does not get off scot-free for his past sins, simply by being dismissed today.
As such, the interim board must now proceed with the second disciplinary inquiry flowing from the Public Protector’s 2014 “When Governance and Ethics Fail”, as ordered by the Western Cape High Court in December 2016.
The Western Cape High Court directed the SABC to commence disciplinary proceedings against Motsoeneng for his dishonesty relating to the misrepresentation of his qualifications, abuse of power and improper conduct in the appointments and salary increments of Ms Sully Motsweni, and for his role in the purging of senior staff members resulting in numerous labour disputes and settlement awards against the SABC.
The Public Protector also recommended that any “fruitless and wasteful expenditure that had been incurred as a result of irregular salary increments to Mr Motsoeneng, Ms [Sully] Motsweni, Ms [Leah] Khumalo and the freelancers, is recovered from the appropriate persons”.
Any remedial action ordered by the Public Protector is legally binding and must be acted on. The interim board would fall foul of this legal precedent should it decide not to proceed.
The DA thus calls on the interim board to promptly convene disciplinary action against Hlaudi for his dishonesty regarding his qualifications and irregular salary increases. We will also raise this matter when the SABC appears before the Communications Portfolio Committee tomorrow at Parliament.
The interim Board has made much progress in addressing the rot at, the once world-class, public broadcaster, and the DA urges the Board to continue to work to restore good governance at the SABC, most important of which, is holding all those responsible for the rot, fully accountable.

Knysna fires: Out of tragedy, we must rebuild together

The following remarks were delivered today by DA Leader Mmusi Maimane at a press conference in Brenton-on-sea, following the Leader’s visit to Knysna. Maimane was joined by the Mayor of Knysna, Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies.
I have spent today in Knysna, visiting the communities of Concordia, White Location, Knysna Heights, Welbedacht, and Brenton, to meet with residents who were affected by the tragic fires, and to assess the current situation. I was joined by the Mayor, Cllr Eleanore Bouw-Spies, who also took me to the Joint Operations Centre, which she established, and which has been the headquarters of the rescue mission.
The situation is truly heart-breaking. I am told that six people have lost their lives as a direct result of these fires. One man I met today has lost both his wife and his six year old daughter, and the home they lived in. People’s lives, like the landscape itself, lie in ashes.
I wish to extend my sincere condolences, and those of the Democratic Alliance, to those who lost their loved ones in this disaster. Out of this tragedy, we must redouble our efforts to rebuild people’s lives and bring hope to the future.
DA branches in the region are mobilising to provide humanitarian support in the form of food, shelter, and clothing. I congratulate them on their quick response, for which I am deeply grateful.
I wish to thank Mayor Bouw-Spies, who has been a beacon of calm in this crisis, and who has provided leadership in coordinating the response. Over a thousand firefighters risked their lives and gave of their time and energy to bring the fires under control. I’m told – weather permitting – the fires will be completely extinguished in the next 48 hours.
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to all who have been involved, who have reached out to strangers, offering to help in myriad ways. It is in times like these that we reveal the true depths of our humanity and generosity.
The tourism industry in Knysna is key to job creation and the economy in this area, and it has naturally taken a severe blow. We encourage all South Africans to continue to support the town of Knysna. And we call on all South Africans, especially corporate companies, to continent to provide towards the relief effort in this disaster area, where many thousands have been displaced and lost their homes.
Out of tragedy, we must all work together to rebuild lives.

DA to push for State Capture Ad-Hoc Committee on Wednesday, 14 June

The DA is hopeful that multi-party consensus can be reached on Wednesday, 14 June, when our draft resolution on the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture is discussed during Chief Whips’ Forum.
As detailed in our motion, the committee will be tasked with investigating evidence of “undue influence by certain individuals over the exercise of executive authority in South Africa”.
News reports are detailing, almost daily, how the Guptas have succeeded in capturing President Jacob Zuma and his executive, and how their influence now permeate the Cabinet and key state-owned entities (SOEs).
Indeed, there is already overwhelming evidence that Cabinet ministers and heads of SOEs have abused their positions of privilege by wantonly passing government information on to the Gupta family and their associates to be exploited for self-enrichment.
Offenders include:

  • Faith Muthambi

Then-Minister of Communications Muthambi forwarded a presidential proclamation detailing her powers to the Guptas and their associates before this proclamation was even signed by the President.  She also sent them confidential information on cabinet meetings.

  • Lynne Brown

Leaked emails show that the Gupta family and their associates had easy access to confidential internal memos sent to the Minister of Public Enterprises in which the Department expresses uneasiness about the Denel and VR Laser Asia joint venture.

  • Des van Rooyen

Special advisers during Van Rooyen’s three-day tenure as Minister of Finance, Ian Whitley and Mohamed Bobat, sent Treasury documents on to Gupta associates such as Eric Wood and Salim Essa.

  • Dan Mantsha

The Head of Denel reportedly forwarded confidential emails between Denel and the State Security Agency to the Gupta family and/or associates.

  • Bruce Koloane

In February 2013, while he was Chief of State Protocol in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Koloane sent Ashu Chawla, an associate of the Gupta family, operational information with regards to the Waterkloof Airforce Base for the months of March and April 2013.
Through the actions detailed above, Muthambi, Brown, Van Rooyen, Whitley, Bobat and Mantha may have committed offences in terms of sections 3 and 4 of the Protection of Information Act, Act 84 of 1982 (last amended in 2013 by General Intelligence Laws Amendment Act, Act 11 of 2013), whereas Koloane and others may have committed offences in terms of the National Key Points Act, Act 102 of 1980.
These offences are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The DA will proceed to lay criminal charges against these Ministers and officials. We will soon announce the details of the charge laying.
It has become clear that a sweeping investigation into state capture is required and Parliament, empowered by Section 55 of the Constitution to oversee the exercise of executive authority, is best placed to undertake it.
Importantly, the ad hoc committee’s general powers, as detailed in section 167 of the NA Rules, will authorise it to determine its own working arrangements and includes the powers, inter alia, to summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, to produce documents, and to conduct public hearings. The committee is also permitted to meet on any day and at any time, allowing this important work to start immediately and proceed with the necessary urgency.
Our draft resolution can be adopted by a simple majority in the National Assembly and we urge the presiding officers to have it tabled at the soonest possible opportunity. In the interest of South Africa, we urge all parties to support our motion and to work side-by-side, through the ad hoc committee, to investigate and expose those individuals who have sold our country to the highest bidder.

Full Buthelezi dossier must be handed to Hawks for investigation

Minister Malusi Gigaba must immediately hand over the findings of forensic investigations conducted into Deputy Finance Minister, Sfiso Buthelezi, when he was Chairperson of the Prasa Board, to the Hawks as supplementary evidence into their ongoing investigations into Prasa.
Media reports today claim that the findings of the forensic investigations, dating back as far as 2010, reveal how the Deputy Minister, his Board and Prasa executives, violated various sections of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and failed to carry out their fiduciary duties when they turned a blind eye to irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in various tender procurement processes.
These investigations were commissioned by Treasury, following recommendations from the Public Protector’s Derailed report. Findings from these probes have apparently been handed over to Treasury recently – which means that Finance Minister and ironically, his implicated Deputy will now have to deal with these findings.
The DA will write to Minister Gigaba to request that he urgently hand the full dossier on Buthelezi over to the Hawks as we will not allow him to sweep these damning allegations under rug.
It is clear that both the Finance Minister and his Deputy have been placed in their positions to promote the Guptas’ interests, but we will not allow the ANC’s captured Gupta-Ministers to protect one another.
The DA has already written to Transport Committee Chairperson, Dikeledi Magadzi, to request that the Hawks be summoned to Parliament to give an up to date report on its progress in its ongoing investigations into Prasa.
Last week, the DA laid criminal charges against Minister Buthelezi as it appears that the Minister might have been involved in corrupt activities at Prasa.
As a Minister in charge of such an important portfolio, he must be beyond reproach. Sadly this is not the case. The DA will ensure that any Minister or public official that have been implicated in State Capture are investigated to the fullest extent of the law.

Parliament must investigate bizarre Crime Intelligence anti-Zuma spying

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman, to request that he summon the new acting National Police Commissioner (NPC), Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba, following reports that he agreed to set up a covert Crime Intelligence unit to identify and spy on ‘anti-Zuma’ individuals and organisations.
Reports today indicate that at a meeting between the acting NPC, the Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans’ Association (MKMVA) and other intelligence operatives on 2 June 2017, it was discussed that the President was under attack and the decision was taken that crime intelligence would gather covert intelligence that will “assist in the build-up to the ANC’s December elective conference.”
These reports are cause for deep concern and must be fully investigated by the Committee as they could constitute a serious violation of this division’s mandate, for purely political reasons. It is highly inappropriate for the head of the police service to meet with politically partisan bodies for such narrow ends.
The Crime Intelligence Division is responsible for gathering vital information to pre-empt crimes, especially by organised criminal syndicates before they happen, a core function they are failing at. The rising trend over many years in trio crimes – carjackings, home robberies and business robberies – is clear evidence of this failure and is the reason for increasing numbers of South Africans not feeling safe in the streets and in their homes.
Should these reports prove true, it will become abundantly clear that this vital division is failing at its core mandate because they are more focused on protecting Zuma and his cronies rather than South Africans.
Those who would be targeted include members of the media, opposition parties and well as the non-governmental sector. This continued politicisation of the intelligence sector is yet another example of the Zuma ANC putting the interests of politicians above those of the people.
This is simply unacceptable. The Portfolio Committee must get to the bottom of these allegations and should they prove true, the DA will not hesitate to take any and all action to ensure that our Crime Intelligence Division is not abused to protect one man while ordinary citizens are vulnerable to law-breaking thugs that threaten the safety of South Africans with impunity.

Full scale Parliamentary Inquiry into Eskom set to commence

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises is set to commence a full scale Parliamentary Inquiry into the rot at Eskom, as requested by the DA.
The DA has long pushed for this inquiry to be launched, and we are pleased that preparations for the inquiry will now begin on Thursday, 21 June.
According to the committee programme, on 21 June 2017, the Portfolio Committee will meet to proceed with “[discussions] and preparations for the inquiry into Eskom and related matters”.
For far too long good governance practices at Eskom have crumbled under the watch of Minister Lynne Brown, its executives and board members, while the Gupta ANC mafia has pillaged public money at the utility and other public enterprises alike.
The Parliamentary Inquiry into Eskom must focus on a broad range of issues that have plunged the entity into crisis. Specifically, the inquiry must investigate:

  • Brian Molefe’s reappointment saga and his “golden handshake”;
  • Minister Brown seemingly misleading Parliament, in her reply to a DA parliamentary question, when she failed to disclose the contracts of engagement between the Gupta-linked, Trillian and Eskom;
  • Matshela Koko’s nepotism scandal;
  • Allegations by former Mineral Resources Minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, that Molefe and Chairperson Ben Ngubane tried to strong-arm him to withdraw Glencore’s Optimum mining licences in order to guarantee that the Guptas takeover Glencore’s coal mines; and
  • Allegations of Duduzane Zuma producing a fake ‘intelligence’ report which the President used to fire four Eskom executives in 2015.

Parliament is the only body that is empowered to oversee and investigate the governance failures and corrupt rot at Eskom, and only Parliament can ensure that the entity operates effectively for the people of South Africa – as opposed to the cash cow it currently is for the Gupta-ANC looters.
The DA warmly welcomes this Parliamentary inquiry as a critical step towards ensuring all of those responsible for the mess at Eskom are held to account and that the full details of the corruption at Eskom is finally laid bare.

Moody’s downgrade strengthens the case for a snap debate on the economy in Parliament

The decision by Moody’s to downgrade our sovereign credit rating to “Baa3”, with a “negative outlook”, is more bad news, in a string of bad news, and is a clear vote of no confidence in finance minister Malusi Gigaba and President Jacob Zuma.
The decision by Moody’s highlights the fact that “political developments” have had a negative effect on “institutional strength” which “casts doubt over the strength of and sustainability of the recovery in growth and stabilisation of the debt-to-GDP ratio over the near term”.
The ratings action means our long-term local currency debt, which forms 88.2% of our R2.2 trillion net debt, now hovers dangerously at one notch above “junk status”, with a negative outlook, following ratings actions by the two most important ratings agencies, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.
We will not sit back and do nothing when the economy has slipped into recession, and when a staggering 9.3 million people do not have jobs, or have given up looking for jobs, in South Africa.
And that is why we have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, calling for a “snap debate” on measures to deal with the recession, ratings downgrades and mass unemployment in South Africa.

Agreement on disciplinary process timeline

Today, the DA’s Federal Legal Commission (FLC) met with Helen Zille and agreed to the timeline for the process going forward.
These details are as follows:

  • By 13 June 2017, all parties must sign confidentially agreements, to protect the integrity of the hearing;
  • By the 23 June 2017, all documents pertaining to the matter must be submitted to the FLC; and
  • On 30 June 2017, the pre-hearing meeting, confirming each party’s readiness and dealing with any preliminary points, will be held.

DA opens criminal case against Deputy Finance Minister Buthelezi

The DA has opened a criminal case against Deputy Finance Minister, Sfiso Buthelezi, in light of allegations that he appears to have gained from R150 million in contracts from the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) while he was Chairperson, awarded to his brother.
The case was opened this morning at the Cape Town Central Police Station.
The DA believes there appears to be a clear case of corruption implicating Deputy Minister Buthelezi and we therefore laid criminal charges in terms of the Prevention of Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act.
In terms of the Act, Buthelezi could be guilty of the general offence of corruption, an offence in respect of contracts, an offence in respect of tenders and an offence relating to private interests in public contracts.
The DA have also written to Parliament’s Transport Committee Chairperson, Dikeledi Magadzi, calling on the Hawks to come before Parliament to bring the Committee up to date with the current Prasa investigations. It is shocking how many criminal investigations are yet to be completed and the Hawks are long overdue in updating Parliament.
We expect that the South African Police Services (SAPS) will fully and thoroughly investigate this matter so that Deputy Minister Buthelezi is held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.