Nkandla: DA request Tax Ombud investigation into SARS foot dragging on tax payable by President Zuma

Reports this weekend revealed that the South African Revenue Service (SARS) began an investigation into whether President Zuma owed fringe benefits tax on improvements to his Nkandla homestead as far back as 2014.
While President Zuma was forced to pay a measly R7,8 million towards the full cost of turning his Nkandla home into the palace that it is, the Income Tax Act defined fringe benefit tax plus penalties and interest that President Zuma is liable to pay is estimated at R63.9 million.
The DA will therefore write to the Tax Ombud, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, to request that he investigate whether SARS have dragged their feet with regards to raising the tax, penalties and interest that are payable by President Zuma on Nkandla.
In response to my written question, President Zuma evaded a direct response on whether he had declared fringe benefits tax on Nkandla by hiding behind the confidentiality of taxpayer tax matters.
Whilst the DA fully supports the principle of the confidentiality of tax matters, this confidentiality must not be abused by Tom Moyane to hide SARS failure to apply the Income Tax Act in relation to his long-standing and close friend, President Zuma.
By doing so, Tom Moyane could be complicit in tax evasion which is a criminal offence.
We believe that the 2014 SARS investigation into fringe benefits on Nkandla accrued to President Zuma has not been professionally dealt with and after three years has made no progress. The DA will continue to ensure that the President is held to account for unduly benefitting from the exorbitant upgrades to his private residence in Nkandla.

DSD paid for Dlamini’s Addis Ababa trip

In a response to a DA parliamentary question, the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, admitted that the Department of Social Development (DSD) footed the bill for her trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in January this year.
The Minister’s trip to Addis Ababa took place at the same time the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) was launching its task team and young women’s desk in Addis Ababa.
Photographs and media reports from her trip to Addis Ababa point towards Dlamini seemingly attending events in her capacity as the Chairperson ANCWL, despite her representatives claiming that she was there on official state business.
The DA will now submit further parliamentary questions to find out how much public money was spent on this trip, considering that she might have attended to ANCWL affairs during her stay in Ethiopia.
The trip meant that Dlamini missed a crucial portfolio committee meeting in which she was supposed to give Parliament an update on the DSD and SASSAs progress in institutionalising the distribution of social grants.
When 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans were unsure whether they would receive their social grants on time, the Minister ignored their plight in order to attend to official ANC business.
Dlamini has continuously proved that she is unfit to hold office, but the President, in his cabinet reshuffle, has proven that he awards self-serving and careless individuals, who show little remorse for the suffering of our people.
As long as Dlamini is a Minister, the DA will continue to hold her accountable for her poor performance, as it is becoming shockingly obvious that the President will not.

IGI confirms investigation into ‘intelligence report’ leading to the firing of Pravin Gordhan

Note to Editors:  Please find copies of the correspondence between David Maynier MP, DA Shadow Minister of Finance, and Dr Sethlomamaru Dintwe, the Inspector-General of Intelligence, here and here.
The Inspector-General of Intelligence, Dr. Sethlomamaru Dintwe, has confirmed that the origins of the “intelligence report” that reportedly led to the firing of former Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, will be investigated.
On 31 March 2017 I wrote to the Inspector-General of Intelligence, Dr Dr. Sethlomamaru Dintwe, requesting him to:
…investigate inter alia whether the ‘intelligence report’ was produced, or disseminated, by any element within the national intelligence structure, or whether any element within the national intelligence structure played any role in the production, or the dissemination, of the ‘intelligence report’, and if so, whether same amounted to a violation of the Constitution, any law, any regulation and/or any policy applicable to the national intelligence structure in South Africa.”
The request followed reports suggesting that President Jacob Zuma acted on a bizarre “intelligence report”, claiming the former minister intended to use an international investor roadshow to mobilise people to overthrow the state, as a pretext to cancel the former minister’s international investor roadshow and to request his immediate return to South Africa.
On 05 April 2017 the Inspector-General of Intelligence, Dr. Sethlomamru Dintwe, replied as follows:
You are advised that the matter is under investigation and I will revert to you in due course.”
We welcome the investigation because we need to get to the bottom of whether any element within the national intelligence structure played any role in the production or dissemination of the bizarre “intelligence report” reportedly used as a pretext for the cabinet reshuffle which pulled the plug on the economy and triggered “junk status” in South Africa.

DA demands answers from Jeff Radebe on Gupta's military vehicle

The DA will write to the Chairperson of the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), Minister Jeff Radebe, to seek confirmation on whether or not the Gupta family have permission to own the armoured military vehicle currently stationed at their Saxonwold residence.
It is illegal for ordinary citizens to own military technology and it is therefore deeply concerning that this armoured vehicle is currently stationed at a private residence.
The Gupta family lawyer, Gert van der Merwe, has confirmed that the armoured vehicle does indeed belong to the Gupta’s and it is being used for “safety purposes”.
Reports in the media indicate that the vehicle is manufactured by Scipio Technologies, a Boksburg-based company in which the Gupta family own a stake. Scipio Technologies is apparently registered with the NCACC and is therefore permitted to manufacture vehicles for military use but they are prohibited from selling them to private individuals.
Should Minister Radebe confirm that the Gupta’s do not have permission to own this vehicle, he must make public the actions that will be taken to ensure that the Gupta’s are held to account.

DA to submit further allegations of improper Dlamini-CPS relationship to the Public Protector

Following reports in the media today on the possible improper relationship between the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, infamous businessman, Lunga Ncwana, and Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), the DA will submit the allegations to the Public Protector, Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to form part of her investigation the DA has requested into Dlamini’s relationship with CPS.
The link between Dlamini and Ncwana was reportedly revealed in a text message that Dlamini sent to the former director-general of Social Development, Zane Dangor, which reads; “You and Sipho [Shezi] have been used by [Thokozani] Magwaza who is a friend to my former boyfriend who wanted to extort money from Lunga and could not”.
The Minister’s connection to Ncwana is of grave concern, considering that Ncwana is a close friend of Brian Mosehla, who allegedly pocketed R83 million as CPS’s BEE partner, due to corrupt dealings.
The DA has long held that Dlamini purposefully manufactured the social grants crisis to ensure that the invalid contract with CPS would continue. The recent revelations could possibly reveal that this was done so that Dlamini and those close to her would benefit financially.
Dlamini played political games with the livelihoods of millions of South Africans, yet she somehow survived the president’s midnight cabinet reshuffle, whilst numerous other competent and effective ministers were removed.
Now that it is clear that the President has no remorse for the suffering of our people, it is up to the DA and ordinary South Africans to ensure that Dlamini and Zuma are held accountable for putting their own self-interest above the best interests of the people.

Pushing ahead with R1 trillion nuclear deal will guarantee junk status

Media reports today that the nuclear deal is going full-steam ahead is extremely concerning and will essentially guarantee that South Africa will be downgraded by further ratings agencies, and will make recovering from this status even more difficult.
According to a confidential document, in June Eskom will issue a formal request for proposals for the R1 trillion contract for the nuclear build programme. The winning bidder will be confirmed in March next year and the contract signed and sealed between December 2018 and March 2019.
Fitch stated in no uncertain terms that a key driver behind the decision was that “Eskom, has already issued a request for information for nuclear suppliers and is expected to issue a request for proposals for nuclear power stations later this year. The treasury under its previous leadership had said that Eskom could not absorb the nuclear programme with its current approved guarantees, so the treasury will likely have to substantially increase guarantees to Eskom”.
The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, Ms Dipuo Letsatsi-Dub, to request an urgent meeting of the committee in order to ensure that Parliament, as a key oversight body, will fully interrogate all aspects related to the nuclear deal.
The undeniable fact is that South Africa cannot afford, and does not need, the nuclear deal. Indeed, international ratings agencies agree and this deal has been repeatedly cited as a cause for great concern and a key factor in downgrades not only for Eskom, but the country as a whole.
Last week, Standard & Poor’s Global and Moody’s downgraded the long-term corporate credit rating on Eskom from B+ to BB-.
These downgrades have already and will continue to have a devastating effect on our economy. Jobs will be lost and the cost of living will increase, which will hurt the poor.
The ANC-led government is ignoring these facts and the massively negative effect on ordinary South Africans only reaffirms that they no longer put the best interest of our country or its people first.

Minister Peters contradicts herself on Letsoalo’s 350% wage increase

In a written response to a DA parliamentary question, the former Minister of Transport, Dipuo Peters, revealed that the Acting Group CEO (AGCEO) of PRASA, Mr Collins Letsoalo, was “eligible to receive all the benefits applicable to this position”, which include an annual salary of almost R6 million or roughly R500 000 per month.
This response is a clear contradiction of the secondment letter which the former Minister sent to Letsoalo and the Board of PRASA on 7 July 2016, in which she allegedly informed Letsoalo and the Board that Letsoalo’s remuneration package would remain unchanged at R1.3 million per annum, plus an additional 12% acting allowance.
The former Minister has therefore either misrepresented herself in her response to the DA, or she was untruthful in her secondment confirming that Letsoalo would earn R1.3 million per annum.
As a Minister, Peters had a Constitutional obligation to answer parliamentary questions truthfully, and she also had an obligation to be transparent and honest in her dealings with the Board.
She must now account for this obvious discrepancy and if she is found to have been less than truthful, the DA will ensure that she is held to account.
Entities of the Department of Transport under the leadership of Peters have lurched from one crisis to another due, in large part, to overpaid and underperforming CEOs, who enjoyed undue protection from the former Minister, whilst ordinary workers continue to fight for better wages.
Unions that represent PRASA employees have for the past two months threatened to go on strike, in a bid to get better wages. Yet, the former Minister thought it was appropriate for the acting GCEO to earn close to R6 million per annum.
The DA will not allow Peters or Letsoalo to escape accountability on this matter. Peters must answer for the discrepancies in her communication with Parliament and the PRASA Board.

Fitch’s downgrade is a vote of no confidence in finance minister’s ability to hold the fiscal line and stabilise debt

The new Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba’s, attempts to restore confidence and engage ratings agencies failed to convince Fitch Ratings (“Fitch”) not to downgrade South Africa.
The fact is that the decision by Fitch to downgrade our long-term foreign currency debt and long-term local currency debt to “BB+”, or “junk status”, with a “stable outlook”, is a vote of no confidence in the minister’s ability to hold the fiscal line and stabilise debt.
This should come as no surprise given that the minister is trying to convince the ratings agencies that he can hold the fiscal line and implement “radical economic transformation”, which is simply not credible.
It’s not good enough for the minister to simply concede the ratings downgrade was a “setback”. The minister needs to roll up his sleeves and get into the fight to avoid further ratings downgrades.
The minister’s number one priority should be to avoid the nightmare scenario where massive forced selling of our debt triggers an economic meltdown that will spare nobody, rich or poor.
This could happen if Standard & Poors and Moody’s downgrade our long-term local currency debt, which makes up about 90% of our debt, to “junk status”.
However, the problem is that the ratings agencies do not trust the minister: they regarded him as a presidential minion, ready to carry out any instruction, no matter how damaging to the economy.
To re-establish trust, the minister will have to show, rather than tell, ratings agencies that he is serious about avoiding further downgrades, by delivering “quick wins”, starting with saying “no” to bailouts for “zombie” state-owned entities, like the SABC.

Fitch Downgrade will make SA poorer: Time to "junk" Jacob Zuma

This afternoon’s downgrade by Fitch Ratings of both South Africa’s foreign and local currency credit ratings to “junk status” is a devastating blow to our economy, and yet another damning indictment of Jacob Zuma and those who persist in defending him.
Jacob Zuma has sabotaged our economy, and the hopes of millions of South Africans, to benefit himself, his family and the Guptas. It is the poor who will suffer the most, as there will be less money available for basic services, and jobs will be shed.
There is only one way to get rid of Zuma. Parliament must vote him out.
In the face of South Africa’s now-official “junk status” and overwhelming opposition to Jacob Zuma shown throughout the country today, I call upon the ANC caucus in Parliament to reconsider their illogical decision to vote for Zuma in the Motion of No Confidence in 11 days’ time. Parliament holds the power to fire Jacob Zuma, and all that stands in our way is the ANC.
Two reasons are offered by Fitch for their downgrade: that Jacob Zuma’s latest cabinet reshuffle and firing of Pravin Gordhan will weaken the standards of governance in South Africa, and that new Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s promises to not change fiscal policy are in conflict with the President’s promise to achieve “radical socioeconomic transformation”. This shows that it is Jacob Zuma’s conduct which has directly brought about this downgrade.
The downgrade to “junk status” of both our foreign and rand-denominated ratings, will have a severe impact on our country. The ability of our treasury to compensate our budget deficit, through the issuance of bonds, is now placed at risk.
Foreign investors are now likely to also steer away from South Africa, at a time when we need investment to create jobs.
On a day that hundreds of thousands of South Africans across the country came out to protest against President Zuma, and our country suffered a further downgrade to “junk status”, the case for firing Jacob Zuma is now undeniable.
This is the surest sign that confidence in Jacob Zuma has reached rock-bottom. It is now only the ANC that remains in his corner.

Let’s unite in a new Movement for Change

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at the DA’s “March for Change” in Johannesburg this morning.
 
My fellow South Africans,
Our country is in crisis, and many feel a deep sense of despair.
But today, looking out at all of you I am filled with hope.
Today is a defining moment in the history of our country.
The moment when South Africans stood together against a corrupt President and his government.
All around the country hundreds of thousands of people are gathering to make their voice heard.
In Pretoria, in Cape Town, in eThekwini, in Mangaung, in Mpumalanga, in the North West
Thousands of businesses are showing their support by shutting their doors for the day.
Workers and employers joining hands.
Political opponents united in a common goal.
Religious leaders from across the spectrum.
Rich, poor, black and white.
We have all had enough of Jacob Zuma and the corrupt ANC government he leads.
We have had enough of the Guptas and their stranglehold on our country and our economy.
We have had enough of our currency being manipulated.
We have had enough of job losses and deepening poverty.
So we are here today to show the world that enough is enough.
That our spirit will not be crushed.
That hope is alive in our country.
And we can rise again.
We are not a “junk” country. Jacob Zuma may have led us to this point, but we are embarking on a movement for change which seeks to create opportunities for all and build a prosperous, diverse nation.
This is a new struggle, a moment we can charter a better tomorrow.
Fellow South Africans, just when Jacob Zuma wants us divided, we are united.
The people of South Africa will never accept the destruction of our country. We will stand up and stop it, together.
Fellow South Africans, 23 years ago, we experienced another defining moment in our history.
In 1994, South Africans from all walks of life – religious, ideological, political, cultural – came together to build a new South Africa.
A united, democratic and non-racial future.
Make no mistake, when we came together, we had our differences. But in the spirit of ubuntu, in the best interests of our country and its future, we united around our shared goals.
It took maturity and it took vision. It took political leaders, business leaders, religious groupings, and civil society organisations who were prepared to rise above their differences.
And in that moment, we achieved something historic.
This consensus led to the adoption of our Constitution that protects everyone’s rights and limits power abuse.
This sacred document that remains our guiding light and moral compass in dark times.
My fellow South Africans, it took all of us.
23 years later, we face another defining moment.
What we choose to do will determine the future of our country for all our children.
Wherever I travel, people affirm that our nation has enormous potential. From the beautiful sands of the Karoo, the majestic wildlife, the efficient sectors of finance, business and labour, and ultimately the talent and ingenuity of our people.
They affirm the belief that our nation can be great, and that we as a people working together can achieve much
It is my great hope that today will give life to a new movement for change.
A movement to end this political monopoly that holds our country back.
A movement that transcends the barriers that divide us.
A movement that rekindles the spirit of 1994.
Fellow South Africans, history will judge us harshly if we miss this opportunity.
The time to act is now.
We cannot wait for the ANC to self-correct.
We need to forge a new path, and decide our own destiny.
We the people shall overcome.
Our country is calling on all of us to achieve this dream.
We will do it by uniting opposition parties around a set of shared values.
We will do it by joining hands with those in the ANC who still have a conscience.
We will do it with the help of business, churches, trade unions and civil society.
South Africa is not the property of one individual, one family or one party.
South Africa belongs to all of us, black and white.
This is our beautiful country. It is time that we took it back.
Let’s unite, let’s begin our work, and let’s usher in a new era of hope and prosperity for our beautiful country.
Our time is now!