Speaker must reconvene Parliament immediately for Vote of No Confidence

I have written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to request that Parliament resume immediately and that an urgent sitting of the House be scheduled at the very earliest opportunity.
The DA tabled a Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma – in terms of Section 102 of the Constitution – on 30 March. A debate on this crucial motion simply cannot wait and it should be scheduled for next week.
President Zuma dumped the whole country into an entirely avoidable crisis with his reckless decision to replace 15 members of Cabinet, including the Minister of Finance and his deputy, Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas. This purging of his Cabinet, cowardly communicated via a media statement released late on 30 March, was done without offering a reasonable explanation and has only fuelled speculation about his motivations and intentions.
Parliament is empowered by the Constitution to exercise executive oversight and should do so now. It cannot be seen to be missing in action amidst this tempest. It is incumbent on the Speaker to call the people’s representatives back for an immediate sitting of the House.

DA to urgently interdict the swearing-in of Zuma’s new Ministers

Last night’s decision by Jacob Zuma to fire Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, and a host of Members of the Executive – replacing them with compromised and co-opted individuals – has completed his self-serving project of State Capture. We must act now, as our country and our shared future depends on it.
Therefore, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has today taken a decision to institute urgent legal action to stop this assault on our Constitution and our people. We will this afternoon file papers in the Western Cape High Court seeking an urgent interdict to halt the swearing in of Jacob Zuma’s compromised cabinet members, and the implementation of his reshuffle, which is set to take place at 18h00 this evening.
Last night’s decision has devastating ramifications for the future of our country. The Guptas now not only have unfettered access to our national keypoints as they did to the Waterkloof airbase, to multi-million rand coal tenders, and to cabinet appointments – but crucially now hold the key to our National Treasury and our R1.56 trillion national budget.
The President must be removed from office, and it is the role of Parliament to do so. It is the House that elected him, and it is the House that must remove him. Therefore in addition to our urgent legal action, I – as leader of the official opposition – will lead a march to the ANC’s headquarters at Luthuli House next Friday 7 April, calling on the ANC to support our Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma, which will be before Parliament in the coming weeks.
We are calling on South Africans from all walks of life – political parties, NGOs, civil society – and any South African who cares about the future of our country to join us in our movement for change.
Our country has now reached a crucial tipping point. Jacob Zuma, and his cabal of liars and looters, have made it crystal clear: they come first, and the people of South Africa come last. Our country deserves better than treasonous conduct by those in power.
The time for change is now, and as South Africans, we must stand together and defend what so many gave their lives for.

Parliament must defend our Constitutional Democracy and fire Jacob Zuma

President Jacob Zuma’s decision to fire the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, and the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebesi Jonas, should be a rallying call for all South Africans to stand together and defend our hard-won Constitutional Democracy.
The President has once again shown that he has no interest in our beloved country’s future – or the 9 million South Africans who are unemployed. He has bowed to the whims of those who are determined to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and jobless. This is an act of complete state capture.
We cannot sit by and let this happen. It is time that all South Africans stand together to protect our democracy.
It is Parliament who hired Jacob Zuma and it is Parliament that can fire him. We therefore urge all political parties, including members of the ANC, to vote President Jacob Zuma out when the DA’s motion of no confidence is debated in the National Assembly.
The time is now. We must stand together and defend what so many fought and died for.
Visit NoConfidence.co.za and become a citizen co-sponsor of our Motion of No Confidence in President Zuma.

Meddling Muthambi at it again

Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi’s blatant attempt to go undermine the authority of the new SABC interim board, in order to delay it from performing its duties, will not go unchallenged.
Today, the SABC secretariat handed members of the interim board letters – during its meeting with the Communications Committee and hundreds of SABC staffers – indicating that they cannot begin their work until security clearance has been granted, and signed off by her office.
The Minister does not have the authority, legal or otherwise, to prevent the duly appointed members of the SABC interim board from meeting with representatives of Parliament – to whom it accounts, by law.
Moreover, the Broadcasting Act does not require the security vetting of the SABC’s interim board, and lists short timelines for both its nomination and appointment so that the public broadcaster is not without a board for a long period of time.
The SABC has been without a full constituted board since September 2016, and further delays can most certainly not be afforded. The Minister’s attempt at a filibuster of the work of the SABC interim board is only at odds with the spirit of the Broadcasting Act, but also the Office of the President.
The President approved, by signed letter, the appointment of the interim board on 27 March 2017. The appointment letter signed by the President did not require that members of the interim board be security vetted, and must be taken as the final word in this regard.
It is not surprising that Minister Muthambi seeks to delay the work of the board, as it is likely to undercover, in its investigations, her further complicity in the collapse of good governance at the SABC.
We also strongly caution her against attempting to strong-arm the interim board like she did with the previous board. During the Ad Hoc committee on the SABC, testimony was given by former members of the board of how she interfered in the board in order to force the illegal appointment of the former COO of the SABC, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
The DA looks forward to meeting with the Minister when Parliament reconvenes, where she will have to account for this, and other actions.
The SABC interim board has a short period of time within which to start the process of cleaning up the SABC. First order of business is a disciplinary inquiry into the fitness of Hlaudi Motsoeneng to hold office.
The inevitable cannot be delayed, we urge the Minister to move aside and let the board do its work.

DA to table Motion of No Confidence in Jacob Zuma following his reckless assault on our economy

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today taken a decision to table a Motion of No Confidence in President Jacob Zuma – in terms of Section 102 of the Constitution – following his now confirmed intention to fire Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas. I have therefore written to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete, in this regard, indicating our intention to have the motion debated and voted on by Parliament once it is back in session.
At a time when 9 million South Africans are without work and our fragile economy requires leadership and clear policy direction, President Zuma continues to play “Russian Roulette” with our economy and the future of our country.
Since his reckless and irrational decision to recall Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, from an international roadshow to boost investment, growth and job creation in South Africa, the gains made by Gordhan and Jonas to restore credibility in our economy following the disastrous firing of former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene, 15 months ago, have all but been eviscerated.
This is negatively affecting all South Africans – but in particular the poor and the jobless whose only hope is a growing and inclusive economy.
Zuma has threatened our economy by dangling the possibility of firing Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, before the country, and before the world, by using a bizarre and seemingly last minute “security report” to justify such removals. This is nothing more than an attempt at total state capture and cannot be accepted.
The President’s actions confirm what we already know: Zuma has abandoned the interests of the people, the economy and South Africa in favour of a kleptocratic Guptamocracy, where the keys to the Treasury and the Government are made available to anyone who puts Zuma first and the people last. The Treasury stands as the last line of defence against Zuma and his project of state capture and unfettered looting.
Such a crisis was seen previously during the Nenegate crisis of December 2015. That President Zuma has indicated his intention to go down the same destructive path shows that he has lost all sense of rationality and sound judgement. These actions will result directly in job losses and will thus be most profoundly felt by the poor and most vulnerable citizens in South Africa. President Zuma’s derelict leadership has resulted in a collapse of public confidence in the President of the Republic of South Africa, has created a government at war with itself and ultimately has undermined efforts to restore confidence in the South African economy. There can be no confidence in such a President.
Parliament hired Jacob Zuma, and Parliament must now fire Jacob Zuma. Only Parliament can act now – the Courts do not have the authority to remove a sitting president.
Therefore it is vital that a Motion of No Confidence be tabled against the calamitous, corrupt and job-killing Zuma presidency. For the sake of the country and the people, it is important that Members of Parliament, regardless of political affiliation, come together and put South Africa and our people first by removing Zuma from the Union Buildings.
We therefore call on all political parties to support our motion – including the South African Communist Party’s (SACP) deployees to Parliament. This is in light of their public pronouncements earlier today, in which it was confirmed that the removal of Gordhan and Jonas was discussed with its leadership, and that the party publically denounces Zuma’s assault on the National Treasury and the economy.
The SACP, along with the growing and increasingly public opposition to the Zuma leadership within the ANC, are now afforded the opportunity to put action to their words and support our motion.
This a call to remove Zuma before he destroys our economy and our shared future.

Fake “Operation Check Mate” intelligence report must be investigated by the IGI

Three days ago President Jacob Zuma announced he had instructed the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, to cancel his international investor roadshow and immediately return to South Africa.
There has been no reasonable explanation for the bizarre instruction, beyond the speculation that the minister is about to be fired in a cabinet reshuffle.
However, bizarre explanations for the bizarre instruction are now beginning to surface.
The most bizarre explanation by far is that President Jacob Zuma issued the instruction on the basis of an “intelligence report” claiming that the finance minister would be holding secret meetings with people in the United Kingdom and the United States to discuss “overthrowing the state”, as part of “Operation Check Mate”.
This is by far the most bizarre explanation for the bizarre instruction and is exactly the kind of rubbish that one would expect President Vladimir Putin to dream up and have published in “Pravda”.
The fact is that nobody in their right mind would believe the finance minister would participate in secret meetings with the intention of overthrowing the state.
However, President Jacob Zuma and his inner circle of securocrats are so prone to conspiracy and so clueless about international finance that we cannot be sure, mad as it may seem, that the bizarre instruction was not based on a fake intelligence report about a fake intelligence operation, comically called “Operation Check Mate”.
I will request the Inspector-General for Intelligence, Isaac Dintwe, to probe these allegations because we need to know whether a fake intelligence report about a fake intelligence operation played any role in the bizarre instruction for the finance minister to cancel his international investor roadshow and return to South Africa

NSFAS must explain non-payment to 200 000 university students

Yesterday, during an oversight visit to the University of Venda by the Higher Education Portfolio Committee, it was revealed that some 200 000 university students across the country have not yet received their NSFAS grants.
The DA will today write to the Chair of the Portfolio Committee, requesting her to urgently summon the NSFAS Chair, Sizwe Nxasana, to the committee to explain how this crisis unfolded.
Yesterday, the Portfolio Committee could not meet on the campus of the University of Venda due to violent protest, triggered by the delays in the payment of NSFAS grants. These grants, distributed through the “sBux” voucher system, are used by thousands of students all over the country to pay for private accommodation, food, books and travel.
A technical problem in NSFAS’s centralised system apparently led to the inability to make these payments.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of students – many from extremely poor backgrounds – have been seriously disadvantaged in the first vital weeks of their studies. Reports of students going hungry on various campuses are rife.
The Committee also received reports of students on TVET campuses, such as the Sekhukhune TVET College in Groblersdal, dropping out as a result of not being able to pay their expenses. Payment of NSFAS funds in TVETs appears to be both cumbersome and slow as well as insufficient in many respects.
The DA was first alerted to problems with the sBux scheme at the beginning of March at the University of Mpumalanga, where the campus was also closed as a result of protests over the NSFAS delays. Our subsequent letter to the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, was never responded to.
The DA believes that this issue has been covered up and that it is only the student protests that has brought it to light.
The DA is extremely concerned about the current state of affairs, especially since this crisis once again affects some of the most vulnerable people in our society – poor young people.
As it stands, there is an entire generation of young people who have been lost because of the poor quality of basic education in South Africa. We cannot allow their opportunity for higher education to also be jeopardised.
We will do everything in our power to try to find out what has led to this crisis and prevent it from escalating

Show us your Nkandla tax returns, Mr President

In a written response to a DA parliamentary question regarding whether he declared the fringe benefits accrued to him as a result of the State-funded upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, to the South African Revenue Services (SARS), President Jacob Zuma refused to answer.
Zuma, as set out by the Income Tax Act, is liable to pay the estimated R63.9 million in fringe benefits tax on the benefits that accrued to him as a result of the extravagant upgrades to his personal Nkandla homestead.
In his response to the DA, the President answered that “tax is a confidential matter between the South African Revenue Services and the Tax-payer”. Although this is true, all the DA has asked is for him to confirm that he has declared to SARS the fringe benefit that has accrued to him in order to prove that he is indeed a law-abiding citizen.
His refusal is yet another indication of him continuously dodging accountability.
The ANC-government has become synonymous with corruption, and the President and his cronies are unashamed in the looting of the public coffers. This, when 8.9 million unemployed South Africans struggle to feed their families.
The DA will not stand for this, and we will continue to hold those in leadership accountable.
A government must deliver services to the people, not steal from them.

SABC phone tapping: Inspector General of Intelligence must investigate after Judge denies authorisation

The DA will write to the Inspection General of Intelligence, Dr Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe, to request that he conduct an investigation into the allegations made by South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) journalists during the hearings into the SABC that their communications were monitored and intercepted by the State Security Agency (SSA).
A reply to a Parliamentary Question revealed that Judge Yvonne Mokgoro “has not to the best of her recollection authorised the State Security Agency to intercept the communications of any individuals said to be working for the South African Broadcasting Corporation” in the 2014-15 and 2015-16 financial years and since 1 April 2016.
The allegations of communications interception are also reflected in the final report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on the inquiry into the fitness of the SABC Board adopted by Parliament.
If Judge Mokgoro did not authorise the alleged tapping, it is possible that it was done without authorisation, which is a criminal offense and must be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
The tapping of phones is in violation of section 14 of the Constitution that states, “Everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have the privacy of their communications infringed.”
If it is found that the SSA did unlawfully monitor and intercept the communications of SABC employees, they must be held to account.
Press freedom is a cornerstone of our democracy and we simply cannot have a situation where journalists are working in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.
The DA is deeply concerned at this allegedly irregular use of state resources and believes that Dr Dintwe’s report, once completed, must come before the Minister of Intelligence and Parliament as a whole, not only the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, and that disciplinary action should be taken where applicable.

Zuma promotes Muthambi in defiance of Parliament

President Jacob Zuma’s announcement that he has promoted Faith Muthambi to the position of co-Chair of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Communication is in defiance of Parliament.
Last month, political parties in the National Assembly, including the ANC, adopted the hard-hitting report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC inquiry.
The report found that Muthambi had “displayed incompetence” in carrying out her responsibilities as Shareholder Representative at the SABC and that the President should “seriously reconsider” the desirability of her retaining the Communications portfolio.
President Zuma’s promotion of Muthambi does not in any way demonstrate that he has considered the serious findings against Muthambi and is, in fact, a vote of confidence in her abilities as a Minister.
By ignoring the findings and recommendations of the SABC inquiry report, the President Zuma is therefore in active defiance Parliament.
As such, the DA will be submitting parliamentary questions to President Zuma requesting his reasons for ignoring the recommendations of a report of Parliament and why Muthambi has not been fired.
We will also write to the Leader of Government Business to ask him to intervene in this matter based on the damning findings against Muthambi in the Parliamentary report.
The President’s claim during Oral Questions to the President this month that he had heard that Muthambi plans to take the SABC inquiry report on review, and therefore cannot take any action against her, does not hold any water. Muthambi has not filed any papers to start a process of judicial review, and in fact, does not have legal grounds to do so. The findings and recommendations of the report, therefore, remain in force.
President Zuma has for too long undermined the authority of Parliament, in protecting himself and members of his Cabinet against accountability. The DA will ensure that this is brought to an end.