The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today filed its founding affidavit at the Constitutional Court seeking to be joined as an applicant in the matter currently before the court relating to SASSA’s abysmal failure to prepare for the payment of social grants to 17 million South Africans from 1 April 2017 onwards.
In just 29 days, the current agreement between SASSA and service provider NET1/CPS will come to an end. The dodgy contract with NET1/CPS was declared invalid by the Constitutional Court in 2014, and for the last three years Minister Bathabile Dlamini has sat on her hands while the livelihoods of 17 million people hangs in the balance.
It is clear that the social grants crisis was avoidable and has been manufactured by the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini. The only logical conclusion is that this delay was deliberately manufactured for corrupt purposes. It is for this reason that the Constitutional Court – the highest court in the land – must get to the bottom of this issue.
As part of our application, we have sought a declaratory order from the court confirming that the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, the CEO of the SASSA and the SASSA, violated their duties in terms of sections 165(4) and (5) and section 195 of the Constitution. We are further seeking a declaration that the minister has violated her oath of office in failing to perform the functions of her office with honour, dignity and to the best of her ability.
As the minister does not consider herself to be subject to Parliamentary oversight, and in the absence of Presidential responsiveness, the DA has also requested that the Court direct the minister and CEO of the SASSA to file responding affidavits within 15 days of this order explaining, inter alia:
- What steps were taken by them to comply with the court’s order of 17 April 2014;
- When exactly they realised that SASSA would not be in a position to take over from CPS; and
- Whether they at all times kept the NA informed of the true and correct status and progress of the issues raised concerning the payment of social grants after 1 April 2017.
Finally, the DA has applied to have the Court direct the CEO of SASSA to file a responding affidavit within 15 days of the order, in which he explains why he should not be held in contempt of the Court’s order of 17 April 2014.
Minister Dlamini’s catastrophic incompetence has placed the lives of 17 million South Africans in jeopardy, leaving them stranded and without a life line. SASSA’s current state of crisis is entirely self-engineered, and was easily avoided had the minister shown a shred of commitment to the needs of vulnerable grant dependents.
The DA will not rest until we have absolute clarity on who will take responsibility for paying social grants to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.
Given that Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko, today expressed concern about the great distances between police stations in rural areas, the DA believes that he needs to engage with the Minister of Public Works, Minister Thulas Nxesi, to pressure him to consider initiating a strategic project to improve rural policing facilities and infrastructure.
Minister Nhleko must also engage the Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, about better co-ordination if there are court-related challenges.
Today’s presentation on the crime statistics for the first three-quarters of the 2016/17 financial year revealed that 46 people were killed on small holdings and farms during this period.
This is compared to 50 persons killed in the entire four quarters of the previous financial year.
Acting National Police Commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane, further revealed that between October and December last year, there were 27 incidents of attempted murder, 73 incidents of attempted house robberies, 8 attempted rapes and 10 cases of common assault on small holdings and farms.
In the first three-quarters of this financial year, contact crimes decreased by 1.9% compared to the previous financial year but murder only decreased by 0.1%.
The DA’s own analysis of the ten-year trend in murder between 2006/7 and 2015/16 show that it is clear that murder is on the rise at an alarming pace in rural areas.
This analysis shows that in the North West province, the five police stations showing the highest increase in murder, between 200% and 700%, over this 10 year period – Setlagole, Mooinooi, Mothutlung, Mooifontein and Kgomotso – are overwhelmingly rural.
The same holds true for the five worst performing towns in Mpumalanga where the murder rate increased by between 133% and 200%; as well as in Limpopo (between 200% and 400%); KwaZulu-Natal (between 150% and 700%); the Free State (233% and 800%); the Eastern Cape (220% and 400%) and the Northern Cape (200% and 600%).
Today’s presentation also revealed that stock theft increased by 2% (438 cases) between the first 9 months of the 2015/16 financial year and the first 9 months of the 2016/17 financial year.
The data presented today in conjunction with the DA’s analysis show an urgent need for the establishment of rural safety units, which the DA has repeatedly called for.
The DA will not rest until the safeguarding of the lives and properties of our vulnerable people who live in rural areas are prioritised.
President Jacob Zuma’s dangerous comments on land reform this morning, while addressing the National House of Traditional Leaders, point to a man who has no clear vision or policies of his own, only dangerous rhetoric. The President has gone rogue on land reform, contradicting both his own Cabinet and the ANC’s Parliamentary Caucus; and he should be reined in by his Party and by Parliament.
President Zuma states that the current Constitutional provisions are a hindrance to meaningful land reform. This is just a dishonest attempt to excuse the ANC’s own failures in government. In fact, it is corruption and bad policy that have been the greatest inhibitors to land redistribution and reform.
This past week, ANC Members of Parliament and Members of the Executive also articulated this view, saying that the Constitution needed to be actually implemented and adhered to, rather than discarded. Just this morning ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu said that “blaming the Constitution for the embarrassingly slow pace of land reform is both disingenuous and scapegoating”. The President’s comments this morning are clearly not in keeping with the Constitution, or indeed with the policies of his own Party.
In the DA-run Western Cape, the Constitution has been used as an enabler for successful land reform, not an inhibitor. The DA has delivered over 75 000 title deeds to beneficiaries since 2009, making these beneficiaries owners of the homes and land that where they live. This is meaningful land reform. A workable rural strategy, with no corruption, has resulted in a 62% success rate on all rural land reform farms. This is better than any other Province in the country, and there are budgetary provisions that have been made to ensure that even more is done.
This goes to show that with good governance, an understanding of the law and political will, land reform can meaningfully take place within the framework of the Constitution.
Today was a perfect opportunity for President Zuma to address the issue of land ownership in rural areas that fall under the jurisdiction of Traditional Leaders. He could have echoed the call made by King Zwelithini for security of tenure and title deeds for all rural residents living on communal land. But President Zuma is not interested in policies that help the people of South Africa. His only focus is on whipping up divisive emotions and explaining away the ANC’s corruption and failure to deliver.
The legacy of the 1913 Natives Land Act is still real for the majority of South Africans today, and President Zuma’s lawless and arbitrary contribution to this national issue will not work to redressing the land issue. President Zuma and the ANC do not have a vision for the people of South Africa and will do all they can to mislead the people. While the ANC s juggling contradictory positions, DA is working to ensure that we address the legacy of apartheid by building a better South Africa for all.
The DA welcomes the decision by the Chairperson of the Trade and Industry Committee, Ms Joan Fubbs, agreeing to our request for public hearings on the local poultry industry.
These crucial hearings have now been scheduled for 15 March 2017 and will give Parliament an opportunity to engage in an open discussion with the entire poultry value chain, including local producers, importers, and retailers.
The debate over chicken imports has thus far been characterised by considerable acrimony, without enough effort by those involved, including Parliament and regulators, to understand the nuances of the issue.
It is neither wise nor economically sustainable to protect local industries that are not globally competitive. This was the economic isolation strategy pursued by the apartheid government, which created the bulky uncompetitive monopolies that still dominate the South African economy.
The only people who lose out in this scenario are the public at large, who pay more for the staple products that they need.
However, it is also true that globally competitive local industries must be able to compete in the world market on an equal and fair footing. If there is incontrovertible evidence that this is not the case, then there is a strong justification for short-term defensive tariffs to level the playing field.
The key point is that this is a matter that should be resolved by evidence, not by sloganeering and certainly not by deferring to well-resourced public relations campaigns and special interests.
The DA believes that these public hearings will give all key role-players in the poultry industry the space to make their position known and understood. We encourage the public, retailers, consumer bodies, producers, importers, farmers and other interested bodies to participate actively in the hearings.
The DA will be writing to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Beatrice Ngcobo, in order to request that the National Treasury appear before the committee to clarify the impact that the proposed carbon tax will have on domestic air travel.
In a recent reply to a parliamentary question, the Minister of Transport, Dipou Peters, conceded that she was unsure of the impact that the proposed carbon tax would have on the cost of domestic air travel, and that carriers would be left to determine how its introduction would affect travellers.
Many South Africans already cannot afford air travel due to the high charges and taxes imposed by domestic carriers.
With several reports suggesting that domestic tourism is declining due to affordability, we need to explore ways to minimise the impact of taxes on domestic air travel.
Tourism is a key job providing industry in South Africa, with one in 22 employed people working in tourism, and we should not seek to restrict it but rather aim to grow it throughout South Africa. It seems ludicrous that no assessment is available which is indicative of how the tax will balance the interests of the job-creating tourism sector with the aim of reducing carbon emissions.
We need to minimise taxes, we need to be truthful in our advertising, treat air transport as a strategic catalyst for economic growth, and increase our number of flights to all parts of the country.
The DA calls on President Jacob Zuma to stop dragging his heels and appoint Prof Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe as the new Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI).
This crucial position, created by section 210(b) of the Constitution, has now been vacant since March 2015. As a consequence, there has been no oversight of South Africa’s intelligence services for nearly two full years!
Prof Dintwe was found to be the most suitable candidate for the position and, on 29 November 2016, the National Assembly passed a resolution approving the recommendation for the appointment of Prof Dintwe to the vacant post.
The DA has been tireless in its efforts to finalise the appointment of a suitable IGI. In March 2016 the DA successfully blocked the nomination of Cecil Burgess, the architect of the “Secrecy Bill” and a “whitewashed” report on “Nkandlagate”, to the post of IGI. Six months later we wrote to the chairperson of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence demanding that the committee urgently reconvene and resume its search for an IGI.
At the time, the DA vehemently objected to the appointment of Arthur Fraser as the new Director-General of the State Security Agency. Fraser’s suitability for the position is highly questionable and the new IGI must make an investigation into this dubious appointment his first order of business.
Ultimately, the IGI must investigate the Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, who has been proven to keep company with rhino horn traffickers, organised crime figures and criminally accused student “leaders”, among others.
Parliament today launched, to much fanfare, a campaign to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Constitution and the NCOP. Meanwhile, the IGI, a constitutional appointment, “celebrates” two years of being vacant. All the while, Minister Mahlobo and his cronies continue to have unbridled access to the security services without civilian oversight. Prof Dintwe has been tapped to fulfil this important function. He must be allowed to start his work.
The DA is unimpressed by the appointment of Thabo Mokoena as Director General of the Department of Mineral Resources.
Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has continued the estrangement of his department from the mining industry by making the appointment without consultation.
But this is not the biggest problem. In appointing Mokoena, he has appointed somebody with no visible mining experience and no experience of commerce of any kind.
Mokoena comes from the position of head of the administration of the Free State legislature. He has a reputation as a mild-mannered man who will not make waves. There are indications his redeployment has something to do with making his former position available to a favourite of the province’s ruling clique.
The mining industry is in crisis. Declining investment and shrinking job numbers require different strategies. Instead the ANC is merely doubling down on those it has tried and have not worked. The last thing the DMR needs is a rubber stamp at its head.
Minister Zwane came to the Ministry with no record in mining. He has elevated his crony, Seipati Dlamini, also with no mining experience, to the position of Deputy Director General in charge of the issuing of mining licences. After this was exposed it was claimed her appointment was temporary but the department has refused to say when a permanent appointment will be made.
Now the key position of Director General has been given to another newcomer to mining.
We conclude from this that the viability of the mining industry as a provider of state revenue and jobs is not seen as important by the ANC. Instead, it is deploying people who will not stand in the way of the capture of resources by cronies of the ruling faction of the ANC.
This has been noticed by mining investors who’s view of South Africa as a destination for investment continues to worsen. As with so many other actions by the ANC, the results will be measured in the loss of value, income and jobs.
The DA will today be submitting a complaint to the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request that she launches an investigation into the allegations of corruption by senior executives of the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA).
The MQA is a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) under the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). SETAs are mandated to manage skills development, by managing grants and assuring the quality of training.
For months, MQA employees have lodged official complaints against their Acting CEO, Tegobo Mmotla, whom they accuse of misappropriating the entity’s funds. Despite the employees writing to the Director General at the DHET with these allegations, he remains in his positions.
A forensic report into previous corruption allegations against Mmotla resulted in MQA lawyers recommending he be dismissed – but an agreement was reached amongst executives which meant no action was taken against him.
Further allegations from employees and contractors of the MQA include:
- that Mmotla demanded a bribe from a skills training company after the company had not been paid, despite them meeting training targets;
- that Mmotla falsified his qualifications when he was appointed to the acting CEO position; and
- that bonuses were paid on a preferential basis despite those MQA employees not meeting targets.
The DA requests that the Public Prosecutor investigate this matter urgently. SETAs are given an extraordinary amount of money for the purpose of training South Africans to gain the skills that they so desperately need to gain sustainable employment.
Irregular expenditure at SETAs directly takes money away from developing skills for jobs, and intentionally increases the number of people who are Not in Education, Employment, or Training (NEET) in South Africa.
The DA will not allow for corrupt individuals to milk state entities and loot public funds for their own personal gain, as this takes away from the Lost Generation’s opportunities to empower themselves.
The DA has applied for permission for a large-scale march to the Department of Social Development in Tshwane, next week Friday, 10 March 2017.
Thousands of DA supporters and concerned South Africans will take to the street of our Capital to make it clear to the ANC that they cannot take the grants away from our poor and vulnerable.
The DA is ready to do whatever we can to ensure that every single person who needs a grant, gets a grant come April, 1st 2017.
We are heading towards an unparalleled catastrophe, because the ANC’s Bathabile Dlamini has failed to put the interests of the poor first, focusing instead on hiding her smallanyana skeletons and defending Jacob Zuma at all costs.
Instead of intervening to make sure grants are delivered, Jacob Zuma and the ANC have also done nothing. The ANC has lost interest in the poor, they only care about lining their pockets.
South Africans can’t sit by and do nothing when over 17 million people, including children and pensioners, may have no income at all to survive on in three weeks’ time.
We need to fight Dlamini’s contempt for the poor and send a strong message next week that we will not allow our people to be treated in this way. The DA will fight for every person to get their grants, and on time!
We encourage all concerned South Africans to join our march and make your voices heard.
I have seen the collapsed roof section at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital and I hope desperately that there are no deaths.
We know that some people have been pulled from the rubble and were injured.
Staff have told me that stones were moved onto the section of the roof which collapse onto the hospital street level.
Staff at the Hospital have warned in the past of the leaking Hospital roofs and other structural problems in the building.
The entire hospital must be urgently assessed to ensure it is safe.