ANC’s land reform policies benefit traditional elites, not rural communities

Chairperson,
Honourable Members,
Molweni!
The Constitution provides, in Section 25 (6), that a person or community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled to tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress.
Section 25 (9) provides that Parliament must enact the legislation.
Chapter 6 of the National Development Plan which advocates for an Integrated and Inclusive Rural Economy, states:
“[T]here will be integrated rural areas, where residents will be economically active, have food security, access to basic services, health care and quality education. Achieving this vision, will require leadership on land reform and communal tenure security … among other things … to implement these interventions”.
A critical and relevant vision indeed and one that the DA agrees with wholeheartedly.
What the commissioners who wrote it did not, perhaps, realise was that there was, and still is, NO leadership or political will in the ANC to implement this plan.
Six years down the line, the plan is held up by delays in legislation, insufficient budgets, beaurocratic bungling, corruption and ineffective government officials.
In June 2016, King Goodwill Zwelithini announced plans for those residing on Ingonyama Trust land to be awarded title deeds. The Chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board later explained that the task would take many years to conclude and would require funds from national government to implement.
Strangely enough, there is no provision in their budget to kick-start this initiative. The people are still waiting!
The ANC’s policies on communal land have, like their economic policies, benefitted a narrow political elite, at the expense of rural South Africans.
In her July 2014 article titled “Communal land, Property rights and Traditional leaders” Annika Classens states that the present ANC government has rejected the post 1994 rights-based approach to land reform in favour of outsourcing power and control over more than 17 million South Africans to Traditional Leaders in a context where power relations are notoriously unequal.
These unequal power relations have resulted in rural residents being taken advantage of and deals made on their land by corrupt and unscrupulous traditional leaders who see opportunities for self-enrichment.
Often, unelected and illegitimate traditional elites have acted unilaterally, authorising mining activities on communal land, without consulting their communities.
So why does the ANC insist on denying rural communities their land rights?
A decisive and efficient DA government will fast track communal tenure legislation and start off by securing tenure rights to the dispossessed rural dwellers in the former TBVC territories.
In a DA-led national government, rural residents will be economically active as the asset they live on will legally belong to them and not the government.
We will be forever grateful to the many individuals who made untold sacrifices to free our beloved country from the shackles of apartheid.
We will never forget them. It is now time to hand over the baton to a new order, to a swifter, more inclusive and forward-looking leaders who can restart progress in South Africa again.
The DA is the only party that truly believes the rural poor must own their land in line with our values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity for all!

DA requests meeting with NDPP Shaun Abrahams over indecision on Zuma Nkandla charges

Last week, I wrote to the Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, requesting that he urgently see to it that a decision is taken on the already concluded investigation into the eight charges of corruption regarding the Nkandla scandal I laid against President Jacob Zuma in March 2014.
In a vague reply, the Minister of Justice stated that he would not intervene, but would continue to “monitor the situation”. This response is wholly inadequate and shows a Minister who is compromised and refuses to take responsibility, preferring to continue to defend and shield  Jacob Zuma.
I have therefore requested an urgent meeting with the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv. Shaun Abrahams, in order to press the matter with him personally. As the complainant in this case, I cannot accept that a decision still hasn’t been taken in over 3 years. If no commitment is made by Adv Abrahams in this meeting, we will be left with no choice but to approach the courts to compel the National Prosecuting Authority to take a decision to either charge or not charge President Jacob Zuma for his role in the Nkandla scandal.
The Minister of Police has stated in a reply to my Written Parliamentary Question that the investigation “has been concluded”, and that “the case docket was handed into the office of the NDPP on 21 August 2015, for a decision on prosecution”. And since August 2015, the NPA has seemingly avoided this matter in its entirety.
This matter is not a complicated one. An investigation has been concluded, and the docket has been sent to the NPA. The role of the NPA is simple – it must decide to either prosecute Jacob Zuma or not prosecute Jacob Zuma.
The NPA cannot carry out a mandate of selective prosecution. This is a direct violation of its duty to prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice. Mr Abrahams faces the simple task of doing his job by prosecuting any citizen who has a case to answer for, even if that person happens to be the Head of State.
 

Land Reform budget aims to limit land ownership in order to expand the role of the state

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Thomas Walters MP, during the Budget Vote on Rural Development and Land Reform.
Honourable Chairperson,
This Budget Vote debate is presenting a choice in our history that needs to be unpacked for any discussion on Land Reform to be genuinely meaningful.
How we deal with this choice can deeply affect the lives of South Africans in the years to come.
What we do in this Parliament is the difference between a dream coming true or not; of real people having futures or not; a family going hungry or not.
It is not a game and real lives are involved!
It is our duty as the official opposition party and also a governing party over areas housing 16 million people to strongly challenge assumptions and highlight the choice between alternatives that are being made.
We also do so looking at this moment and its choices through the prism of a set of core values.
The Democratic Alliance has at the core of its belief system the individual.
Before you are part of a class, race, colour or ethnicity, you are an individual.
For us it therefore stands to reason that unless what we do changes the lives of individuals, anything else is mere layers of obfuscation standing in the way of change. Advancing individuals in non-destructive tandem with one another is synonymous with progress!
We further believe that unless each individual in South Africa can point at enhanced opportunity, receive fair treatment in their daily lives and can claim the freedom to pursue dreams, government is failing. Our optimistic values are summarised as Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity!
All of this, of course, must be done in a contextually intelligent manner which takes into account our particular history and what shapes the lives of individuals, especially the forgotten rural poor.
In short, Honourable Chair, we make our choices and judge this budget and its concomitant legislation based on the extent to which it advances these values.
This budget is meant to support a flurry of legislation coming to us, that also provides further context to what we are doing, that can briefly be summarised as follows:
It aims to limit land ownership in order to expand the role of the state.
The upcoming Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill is essentially aimed at dumping a lot of land on the market, in the belief that that will advance access to land.
It aims to secure a privileged position for the state as an operator, price setter, purchaser and distributor of land.
The new draft regulations for the valuation of land aim at setting a standardised land pricing system towards this objective.
All of this is superficially founded on a belief that the state is the vehicle of change in society and our budgets are also being led by these assumptions.
Honourable Chair,
These assumptions are not born out by the facts and we believe the underlying problems are simply being sidestepped.
The same ANC Government who wants more power and more control have shown that it is the very reason why land reform is failing and we cannot have more of the same:
More than R80 billion has largely been wasted in a commercial rural land market estimated at a size of R192 billion.
Billions and billions were lost in wasteful expenditure each year by the ANC government that could have been spent on land reform, fiscal dumping without meeting targets and of course, the ANC’s perennial bed-partner, corruption.
The government blames the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, but the truth is that acquisition is so mismanaged that it often takes years to process sales.
A massive failure rate of creating successful farming ventures exists.
In 2011 this government had a 90% failure rate in its land reform ventures.
It improved in this term to, what the ANC is proud of, a 73% failure rate when recap funding was used to support the failing projects, of course not inherently dealing with the problem but simply throwing money at what are essentially becoming state supported farms.
The ANC did nothing to ensure title deeds, or at least proper long term tenure, is secured for occupants of state or communal land.
This prevents the rural poor from accessing opportunities in the market place and making these desperately poor, forgotten areas prosper and attract investment.
The same applies to beneficiaries of land reform that are in truth exploited labour on inefficient state owned farms.
A state interested in advancing the poor and having individuals advance themselves, would not have underfunded, delayed and politically abused land claims as the recent Constitutional Court finding in this regard underscores.
Ask land claimants who have been waiting for their claims to be resolved since the late 1990s.
Today, beneficiaries (without ownership of land) are still reliant on support by strategic partners chosen by a government more interested in helping its cronies advance themselves, than interested in supporting beneficiaries achieve their dreams. Ask the beneficiaries of Nirwanda farm in the Hex River Valley how they benefitted from their Strategic Partner, a close, and should I say safe ally and funder of the ruling party.
It is now clear that the ANC prefers to keep the poor from owning property, stealing their futures and sustaining the colonial and Apartheid practice of keeping the poor dependent on government.
It uses poverty and state largesse as mechanisms to maintain a voting bloc for itself.
We cannot therefore accept that somehow the very state that has shown itself as the single biggest enemy of the poor is the vehicle of change.
Now government is intending to introduce legislation and regulations that will destroy the value of land, potentially ruin our financial sector and drive away internal and external investment, again destroying hopes and dreams.
It tries to provide political cover by stoking racial division, stereotyping commercial farmers as the obstacle and creating lightning conductors from their failure even if it does not exist.
There is a real choice that can be made because successful land reform is happening.
The Democratic Alliance challenges ANC governments to emulate our successes in Share Equity schemes (with between 60% and 80% success rates), based on win-win partnerships.
It should follow the DA Metros example of vastly accelerated provision of title deeds to the poor!
We believe the poor should own land! That is the choice we need to make!

Energy Department has demonstrated its ineptitude and thinly veiled venality

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Energy, Gordon Mackay MP, during the Budget Vote on Energy.
Ngiyabonga Sihlalo,
The Year that Was
What a year it has been since we last met to debate the Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) annual R8 billion budget.
More so than in any previous year, the DoE has outdone itself in demonstrating its ineptitude and its thinly veiled venality.
The news headlines have been awash with the manifold scandals rocking the Energy sector. Not a day goes by without some new disclosure about Eskom, PetroSA, the Strategic Fuel Fund, the Central Energy Fund or the scandalous aspects of the intended nuclear deal.
Not only are the Department’s failures manifold, they are also becoming legendary.
For this is the Department that has gifted citizens the biggest loss by any state owned entity (SOE) in the history of our country. Standing at approximately R16.2 billion, the impairment liability of PetroSA is currently unfunded and will remain so as PetroSA’s precarious financial situation shows little sign of improving.
This is also the Department that oversaw the illegal sale of South Africa’s entire strategic fuel stock at rock bottom prices and then lied about it to the nation calling it a stock rotation. Little did South Africans know that crude oil stocks do not require stock rotation like finished petroleum products such as diesel or petrol.
This is the Department that has led the nation by the nose, claiming all the while that the nuclear procurement process was legally sanctioned, only to be told by the courts in no uncertain terms that the process has been patently illegal and designed to exclude meaningful public participation.
This is also the Department whose previous Minister last year delivered what can only be described as the kookiest speech ever inflicted upon this House, when she made incoherent comments about bad cheap wine, juvenile delinquents, EFF leader Julius Malema being unable to be a mother (a rather obvious observation one would think) and something about a cow licking a fire.
Suffice to say none of these colourful metaphors assisted in providing any clarity on the array of critical Energy issues afflicting the nation.
Then of course, Chair, we have also lived through President Zuma’s ‘Night of the Long Knives’ cabinet purge, where upon, the insistence of either the owners of the Saxonwold Shebeen or the President of a former Soviet Socialist Republic, Minister Tina Joemat- Pettersson was unceremoniously sacked and replaced.
The reason: she was not proving to be the pliable nuclear-deal hand-maiden that the President had hoped she would be.
While we in the DA wish the new Minister Kubayi every success in her new role as Energy Minister and trust that she will live up to her constitutional mandate to act in the best interests of our people, her participation in the ‘white-wash’ that was the Nkandla Ad Hoc Committee does little to inspire our confidence.
In fact, Chair, all the Minister’s participation on the Committee demonstrated is the Minister’s ability to take instruction from Number One, her ignorance of the most basic laws and her rather meticulous manicurist capacities.
The Minister has however, to her credit, made some promising noises about greater transparency and accountability and has made undertakings to ensure greater public participation in Energy policy decisions.
These pronouncements are welcomed by the DA and we wait with baited breath, Chair, to see if the Minister is in fact a woman of her word.
Crisis in the Energy Sector
Chair, as already alluded to, the Energy Sector is in crisis.
Dominated as this sector is by the State, this crisis is in no small part a direct reflection of the broader ANC failure of governance afflicting the nation.
Just as various state institutions have been captured by venal private interests via the governing party, so too has much of the Energy sector been captured to enrich the few at the expense of the majority.
Policy failure has also meant that the Energy sector’s overall contribution to GDP is woefully inadequate and well below the benchmarks and norms of comparable nations.
At a time when South Africa is in desperate need of economic growth to address our innumerable social problems, the Department’s policy planning unit continues to dither and delay.
This dithering is so severe, Chair, that I put it to you it constitutes a crime against our people.
If we are lucky Chair, the Department’s policy planning unit may deliver the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) by the end of this year.
However, considering that both are unfavourable to nuclear, they may not survive the cabinet process.
These two critical documents which form the very foundation of the Energy sector in our country and which are required to provide much needed investor certainty have been delayed by more than 7 years.
Despite these serious delays, Chair, the Deputy Director General for Policy Planning, Mr Ompi Aphane, a dapper Malusi-Gigaba-esque individual, has remained in his position for over 4 years, his lack-lustre performance condoned by various ANC Ministers at a very real cost to our people.
The Department’s dysfunctional performance is also reflected in the various SoEs for which it bares responsibility.
PetroSA
Referred to most recently, Chair, by new Minister Kubayi as the DoE’s problem child, an epic understatement, PetroSA has become a joke that just isn’t funny anymore.
What is hilarious though, Chair, was the PetroSA board’s most recent presentation to the Portfolio Committee of its supposed turnaround strategy.
Presented in an 8 page PowerPoint document, yes Chair, I kid you not, 8 pages of PowerPoint of which 4 were merely company collateral, are what PetroSA board members think constitutes a turnaround strategy for a R16.2 billion loss making entity.
Simply put, Chair, the turnaround strategy failed to address the 2 critical problems facing PetroSA namely, that if it has no feed stock it cannot continue to operate.
And, if it ceases operation, then the ever expanding impairment liability falls due and needs to be repaid by the State as guarantor within 30 days.
Let me be plain, the minute PetroSA stops production at its refinery, Mr Gigaba is going to be forced to pull out the nation’s cheque book and fork out close on R20 billion. Not only is that R20 billion that the state doesn’t have, it is also yet another log to be added to the fire that has consumed the nation’s sovereign credit rating.
Chair, perhaps even more alarming than the complete lack of any strategic reflection in this so-called turnaround strategy – the document didn’t even contain the most basic SWOT analysis – is the fact that the directors of PetroSA were paid R17.3 million in bonuses in the last financial year, which would be funny chair, if hundreds of South Africans were not about to lose their jobs and livelihoods because of the blatant mismanagement and self-enrichment of PetroSA’s directors and board.
Action Step: DA Calls for Parliamentary Inquiry into PetroSA
Chair, as the DA we will not stand by idly.
I have today written to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee requesting that he use his powers to call for an immediate and thorough Parliament inquiry into the directors and board of PetroSA.
The urgency of the issue cannot be over stated, the very real possibility of collapse of PetroSA was highlighted in recent media reports on internal discussions indicating PetroSA’s intention to seek business rescue. Immediate action must therefore be taken by this Parliament as a matter of urgency lest we be found wanting.
A failure to act at this critical juncture will only hasten the demise of PetroSA and will add to the very significant debt burden already faced by the State, with the attendant impact on our sovereign credit rating.
Let me be clear, Chair, we are putting the Portfolio Committee Chairman Majola on notice, the DA awaits his immediate response and should the Chair fail to adequately apply his mind, the DA will take his decision on review to the courts.
The time for dithering on this matter is over.
The Strategic Fuel Fund
Chair, on the 2nd of May this year, Minister Kubayi for the first time confirmed what has long been suspected – that the supposed stock rotation of the nation’s strategic fuel stocks was in fact a sale and not a rotation as stated in this House by the Minister’s predecessor.
10 million barrels have been sold at bargain basement prices, at least $10 per barrel below the spot price at the time, without the required concurrence of National Treasury or any detail to the procurement and tender processes followed.
This is money taken from the poorest of the poor and is an absolute disgrace for a government that claims to be the champion of the dispossessed.
The sale of the crude at well below its market value and replacement value means that South Africa has no discernible path to replenishing its strategic fuel stocks.
The reason for the apparent sale are unknown and as the Central Energy Fund, the SFF’s parent company, admitted it only became aware of the sale when it identified unaccounted funds in its own bank accounts.
As the situation now stands, South Africa currently retains approximately 300 000 barrels of its former strategic fuel stock, against a daily demand of approximately 650 000 barrels.
Most of the remaining crude stocks are however unrecoverable and are of no use in the event of a global oil market shock.
Action Step: DA to Seek Investigation into whether the DoE Wilfully Misled Parliament
Chair, the matter was referred to the Auditor General for investigation by the former Minister. The Portfolio Committee awaits this report, but it must be noted that the new Minister’s admission stands in stark contradiction to repeated comments made by the Department to the public, in the media and in Committee, in which it maintained that the sale was in fact a rotation.
The DA is of the opinion that the Department has wilfully mislead Parliament and is currently reviewing all minutes and transcripts in order to formulate allegations in order to have them investigated by the Public Service Commission and the Office of the Speaker.
Action Step: DA to Seek Legal Advice on Declaratory Order to Have Sale Declared Illegal
The DA is of the firm belief that the sale of the nation’s fuels stocks was conducted in violation of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) as well as applicable procurement regulation requiring concurrence from National Treasury. The DA has briefed its legal counsel and will be taking advice on the potential success of a declaratory order declaring the sale illegal.
Nuclear Deal
Regarding the nuclear deal, the court has ruled the process undertaken by the Department to be illegal and has set it aside. The finding of the Court is a victory for the people of South Africa.
The Court has been unequivocal in its requirements that:
1. The procurement process be defined before the actual commencement of nuclear procurement; and
2. That credible public participation form a part of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (NERSA’s) approval of any Ministerial determination to procure nuclear.
The Minister has said she will not appeal the court’s ruling.
Action Step: DA to Seek Time Frames on Nuclear Procurement Regulations and Court Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for All Nuclear Documents
Therefore, I have today written to the Minister asking her to clarify when exactly the people of our country can expect to see the proposed procurement regulations relating to nuclear procurement.
The DA will also in the coming weeks launch a court based PAIA application to obtain all government and National Treasury studies on the feasibility and costs associated with the nuclear deal in order to make this information publically available as a precursor to any public participation process.
The DA also puts the Minister on notice that our legal counsel have been briefed and are ready to interdict any deviation from the court’s rulings.
The Minister should further note that her statements in this House in response to oral questions as regards the issuing of the Request For Proposal (RFP) would seem to suggest that Minister has not quite understood the court’s ruling and I strongly suggest that the issuance of the RFP be held off until after the procurement regulations and IRP are finalised. Failure to do so Minister, would leave you and your Department vulnerable to further legal action.
The DA restates its absolute commitment to all Parliamentary and legal recourse to ensure that this disastrous and corrupt deal never sees the light of day.
Renewables and Independent Power Producers (IPP’s)
While the new Minister can rightly claim that much of the crisis engulfing the energy sector is not of her making, the Minister’s failure to compel Eskom to sign the remaining 37 outstanding IPP’s to the grid is damaging the fledgling sector and endangering R200 million worth of investment and thousands of jobs.
Your failure to act, Minister, is having very real consequences on the lives of ordinary and especially poor South Africans. That is to say nothing of the damage you are doing to investor confidence.
Might I remind you, Minister, that a robust renewables sector has the opportunity to play a leading role in assisting South Africa from exiting junk status.
Investors have shown a distinct appetite for investment in renewables and every day you dither, the appetite diminishes, and while that may be pleasing to your government which sees renewables as direct competition to nuclear, it is not pleasing to the vast majority of South Africans who are being denied a livelihood in the sector.
Word of Thanks
In closing, Chair, I would like to express my gratitude to our Committee Chairman, Slovo Majola, and my colleagues on this Committee. While we often disagree on critical issues, I can honestly say that the work of the Committee is conducted professionally and in a bi-partisan manner. Our Chair’s democratic instincts are a credit to the institution of Parliament.
I thank you.

South Africans must face the reality that the ANC will not succeed in addressing land reform

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Member of the Portfolio Committee of Rural Development and Land Reform, Ken Roberston MP, during the Budget Vote on Rural Development and Land Reform.
Today I will paint a picture of millions of South Africans who look at land as the only remaining answer to addressing long-term indignities and economic isolation.
One of the hardest realities for millions of South Africans to face is the realisation that the ANC government will not succeed in addressing land reform issues despite having the necessary legislation in place to do it.
To give examples:
The thousands of land claims that were submitted between the 2014 to 2018 claim extension period, have been put on hold because the extension was deemed unconstitutional.
Somhlolo Trust in Mpumalanga, is restituted land with going business concerns, but the beneficiaries have not received one cent. They have also not received title deeds and have no say regarding the finances on this property.
Can you imagine the feeling of utter frustration?
In the Eastern Cape, near Tsitsikama, was a thriving commercial hydroponic tomato farm called Cornucopia that was mostly under tunnel, but now has completely collapsed. This farm was purchased for a workers trust consisting of the employees of the farm. Now, the farm stands desolate. The 18 tunnels which provided for the hydroponics, stands weather-beaten and empty.
We cannot point fingers at the beneficiaries because government involvement and mentorship required to assist emerging farmers was non-existent and the Liphuma langa Development Trust was set on the inevitable course of failure.
It is these blunders that currently disadvantage our rural communities.
Honourable Chair,
Had we addressed mentorship shortfalls on land reform and given the beneficiaries ownership of their land through unconditional title deeds, emerging farmers or beneficiaries would be so much closer to participating in the economy.
I will ask the question? If state mentorship is stagnant and non-effective and those who have the knowledge and experience are being ostracised, who exactly is going to mentor emerging farmers and beneficiaries of land reform?
When the DA is in national government, we will allocate additional funding for the purposes of research and development and that will fast track the finalisation of claims.
We will ensure that the policy is effectively implemented.
We will increase the budget for mentorship programs so to drastically improve the chances of success for emerging farmers.
We will approach existing stakeholders to assist and offer business models that speak to the development of poor South Africans.
The DA is the only party that truly wants the poor to own their own property and that will ensure that the poor and destitute will have access to prosperous participation in the economy.

Minister Masutha will only act out of political expediency

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Adv Werner Horn MP, during the Budget Vote on Justice and Constitutional Development.
Honourable Chairperson,
Edmund Burke, an Irish statesman, more than two hundred years ago first used the now often quoted phrase that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men – and obviously good women – to do nothing”.
We believe, however, as has already been illustrated by the Honourable Breytenbach, that the last three years have shown convincingly that evil can also triumph if one only choose to do what is expedient and for the rest to try and do as little as possible.
Chair, despite all of the protestations of ANC colleagues, there is no denying that bar Legal Aid South Africa, the performance of the department and all other institutions provided for in vote 21 is deeply suspect.
Hopefully the South African Human Rights Commission will be re-invigorated by the wholesale change in personnel it underwent recently, but its failure to act on timely warnings about the plight of those killed in what is now known as the Esidimeni tragedy will remain an ugly scar on its reputation.
Before returning to the failures of the ministry allow me at this point, Chair, to briefly turn to another Chapter 9 institution and confirm that our fear remains that we will be proven correct in our assessment that the standards set by Advocate Madonsela in respect of an unwavering commitment to our constitution and effective handling of complaints of maladministration and corruption, specifically in respect of the so-called high profile cases, will not be maintained in the next six years. Although in all fairness no evidence is yet available to assess this, as no findings in respect of high profile cases has been released since the incumbent took office seven months ago.
Chair, but let’s return to the failures of the Minister and his deputy.
Anyone not yet convinced about the inability of this duo to ensure the proper administration of justice, should consider this:
Apart from the occasional energy displayed when jumping to the defence of the President, the last three years can be described not only by the word “failure” but also the word “delay”.
From the delay in the tabling of legal aid regulations, to the delay, or maybe it should be “the failure” to table the regulations enabling the implementation of the Maintenance Amendment Act” passed nearly two years ago with a big hoo-ha that government was to get tough on maintenance defaulters and blacklist them;
To the delay in processing of the Cyber Security Bill before tabling, while the number of convictions for cybercrimes are sliding backwards in the face of a massive worldwide increase in cybercrimes;
To an inordinate delay in the appointment of the solicitor-general, which Minister you promised would happen “very soon” in your 2015 budget speech, and which if kept could surely have eased some of the ills still faced by the state legal services despite money being thrown at this problem as if the minister himself is able to print it;
To a delay and resultant snowballing of costs in every build project this department is undertaking;
All of which, Chairperson, once again, underscores the assessment that unless it is politically expedient for this Minister and his deputy to act with focus and speed, nothing more than a snail’s pace can be expected of them.
Yet, and ironically, we have again today heard a lot about transformation of a radical kind that is going to happen in respect of the legal system.
This is ironic because, Honourable Members, of the way the study which should have been the launch pad of this radical transformation into the socio-economic impact of the decisions of our highest courts has been dealt with by this ministry.
This impact assessment, first announced in 2012, has been with the Minister since last year. But, when asked for an explanation on why this report has not been tabled yet, all sorts of vagaries are proffered. From saying that the report is not final yet to an answer that cabinet is still processing it, it is clear there is no urgency to table it.
Chair, radical transformation will not be launched from this pad as it in all likelihood has found that our courts have played a positive and enabling, dare we say “radical” role, in respect of the realisation of socio-economic rights and is not to blame for the failures of government to deliver.
What would have been funny if not so sad is that the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department attempted to bury this report under the target that, in response to it, a policy on the future court administration model of our High Courts must be finalised, the latter of course being another of those issues the Minister is approaching with his special mixture of obfuscation and tardiness.
Chair, after three years the proverbial jury is out and it is clear: this Department and its entities are led nowhere very slowly.

Minister Van Rooyen is unable to provide effective and efficient leadership

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mbulelo Bara MP, during the Budget Vote on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
The mandate of SALGA is to transform the local government sector for it to have capacity to contribute to poverty alleviation, drive economic development and improve service delivery.
However, what we have noticed is that more than 32% of SALGA’s budget goes towards salaries. Of the R619,2 million projected revenue for the 2017/18 financial year, R277 million goes to the administration programme with the bulk of this for salaries. A whopping R4,4 million goes to the CEO of SALGA, Xolile George. That’s more than double the salary of the president, any cabinet minister, or the highest paid municipal manager in South Africa.
This makes you wonder, Minister, how such bloated salaries at this entity help in improving the capacity of the 257 municipalities that SALGA represents. And how does that improve service delivery in these municipalities? It does not, Minister.
Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission)
Out of all the Chapter 9 institutions, this one is the least funded by the government. This institution is entrusted with the task of investigating the exploitation of masses of our people by bogus churches using poisonous substances like Doom, swallowing snakes etc. The sexual abuse of young women by self-proclaimed pastors is part of what the Commission is currently working on. The Commission also has to come up with a regulatory framework thereof.
The CRL Rights Commission also deals with issues around stereotypes about Albinism, the commercialization of religion and the protection of grave sites. There is a lot that is entrusted on this entity. Then, Minister, how do you expect this Commission to do its work with a mere budget of less than R40 million?
Clearly, the lives of South Africans are not important to this government. What happened to the famous slogan of a better life for all?
Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA)
This is an initiative focused on improving municipal infrastructure provisioning and maintenance for accelerated service delivery. That is supposedly in keeping with the “Back to Basics” strategy.
MISA has been marred with poor controls in supply chain management, weak performance management and human capacity deficiencies. Surprisingly, their budget increased from R349,9 million to R381,5 million in the 2017/18 financial year. Without an effective supply chain management unit, MISA has been unable to deal with irregular expenditure. Is this another way of extending the patronage network? The ANC government has demonstrated too many times that it is incapable of properly handling taxpayers’ monies.
Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB)
The objectives of the MDB is to determine and re-determine municipal boundaries and to delimit wards to facilitate local government elections.
It is incomprehensible that the budget allocation for this financial year has been dropped from R59 million to R50,5 million. How is the board expected to fulfil its mandate and increase its capacity with a budgetary cut?
The task of MDB remains crucial in the determination of the viability of municipalities. That is work that must be continuously done not only just before elections. Extremely concerning though is the fact that no municipal capacity assessments have been conducted in the last 3 years. This is a core function of the Board and permits a review of the municipality’s ability to deliver on their mandates.
National Disaster Management Centre
In the 2015/16 financial year, the National Disaster Management Centre had an underspending of 56,3% and as indicated in their annual report this was mainly due to the uncertainty with the payment of the Disaster Relief Grant. How is it that there was an underspending by this entity when the whole country was ravaged by the drought?
Cape Town currently has a challenge of water scarcity as we speak. What contingency plans are in place by this department to respond swiftly to that situation? Why has the Minister not declared a National Disaster, as the DA has advocated since 2014?
All the above reaffirms that effective and efficient leadership is what this department needs. This department is at the heart of service delivery. The current Minister is unable to provide that kind of leadership. Obviously, his priorities are elsewhere. South Africa deserves better.

There is too much uncertainty over the legal status of traditional councils

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Member of the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, David Matsepe MP, during the Budget Vote on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Chairperson, the budget allocation for the 2017/18 financial year for the management of Traditional Affairs increases from R9.3 million to R11.3 million.
In terms of section 81 of the Municipal Structures Act (No. 117) of 1998, Traditional Leaders must be permitted to participate in municipal councils, yet the function of traditional leaders, especially in a constitutional democracy, has not been clearly defined. This is a failure of the ANC government.
Traditional councils have, in many instances, not yet been legally constituted, and Kingship and Queenship councils, though established in terms of customary law, are not yet legally established as prescribed in the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (No. 41 of 2003). The forthcoming amendment to the act seeks to legitimise an already illegitimate situation, and will further muddy the waters in this regard.
Consequently, there is uncertainty over the legal status of the current traditional councils.
Reducing deaths at initiation schools is another glaring problem which the Department has not yet adequately addressed.
According to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Rights Commission), about 251 male initiates died between 2014 and 2016 in 8 provinces. Chairperson, this is far too many!
There is thus an urgent need to better equip and monitor the cultural initiation practice so as to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries emanating from it. We request that the Department of Traditional Affairs work closely with the CRL Rights Commission to implement better control over traditional initiation practices, and stamp out the malpractice that is resulting in the deaths of our young men!
Another challenge the Department must address is the costing of the Traditional and Khoisan Leadership Bill which will be inclusive of the Khoisan leadership and their structures. Given the fact that the number of Khoisan leaders has not yet been audited, the financial implications are in this regard unknown.
We, therefore, request that a comprehensive financial impact assessment be urgently initiated as part of the legislative process.

Minister Masutha is motivated by political grovelling for the benefit of the hand that feeds him

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, Adv Glynnis Breytenbach MP, during the Budget Vote on Justice and Constitutional Development.
Honorouble Chairperson, Honourable Members,
A year has passed since we were last here debating the budget of vote 21. I wish I could say that things have changed for the better, that the same tired old issues do not require being highlighted here today. Unfortunately, this is not the position.
In fact, despite the best efforts of the Minister to portray improvement, and despite the thin veneer of varnish that the ANC members will try to apply to these issues, little to no progress has been made on critical issues, and in some instances the regress in performance has continued.
This, Chairperson and Honourable Members, must be attributed to the lackadaisical and ineffective approach of the Minister and his deputy.
A Minister that is not able to understand and consequently convince his cabinet colleagues that the administration of justice is a labour-intensive exercise, and therefore should not be subject to the same budget cuts as other departments that may not necessarily render a critical service, is obviously a poor leader.
Our sympathy, therefore, must lie with the rank and file within the department and its various entities, who must continue to render these essential services in the face of not only budgetary constraints, but must also contend with vacuous political leadership.
It is astonishing that the Minister is always ready, willing and able to operate in the political space, but rarely in the last three years has he been able to garner the necessary energy to perform his executive functions.
Let me substantiate this by discussing the following areas of grave concern within this budget vote:
• The Minister is responsible inter alia for the appointment of Masters’ of the High Courts and the administration of the Guardian’s fund and deceased and insolvent estates. It is no secret, and I am sure it is in fact common cause, that all the offices of the Masters’ of the High Courts are in an abysmal shambles. What is also of concern is the perceived unwillingness to implement a system to address service delivery complaints of the public in respect of these offices. It is of no use whatsoever for members of the public who have grievances about the administration of estates to lodge complaints with the institution responsible for it. We have advocated since 2014 for some form of internal ombud to deal with these complaints and the only response has been an annual promise that the Department is looking into it. Perhaps the Minister thought that he would address this issue once he has solved his multitude of problems in respect of the proposed policy in respect of insolvency practitioners, which has been found to be unconstitutional by both the Western Cape High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal. This of course, should come as no surprise as the Minister and his Deputy have laid bare, for all to see, their poor understanding of our constitution.
Honourable Members, cast your minds back to debates on the Public Protector’s report on Nkandla, and more specifically, whether the remedial action ordered by the Public Protector is binding and the debate on government’s failure to arrest Omar Al Bashir, during which Minister Masutha and Deputy Minister Jeffrey respectively advanced arguments later held by our courts to be without any basis in law, and more specifically, constitutional law.
While we certainly don’t want to speculate whether these failures can only be ascribed to a poor understanding of the law, or whether these arguments were motivated by political grovelling for the benefit of the hand that feeds them, one would ironically hope that the latter would rather be the case, as it gives some explanation for the fact that the Minister and his deputy both seem to have a rather flimsy grasp on legal principles, or any principles for that matter.
• The next area of grave concern is the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The Minister, when it suits him, is quick to remind us that he, in terms of the constitution, is the Minister responsible for the administration of justice and the NPA. However, what we have seen since 2014 is a Minister in a constant state of dithering in respect of the problems facing the management structures of the NPA. At least a constant state of dithering whenever those in the upper structures of the NPA, captured by President Zuma and his henchmen, are under scrutiny;
• His unwillingness to deal with Mwrebi and Jiba, hiding behind appeals they have lodged to justify why they are on stay at home pay well in excess of R1 million annually each;
• His failure to accept the findings of retired Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob in respect of the mayhem reigning at the NPA head office. Juxtapose this, however, by his sudden burst of energy and his personal involvement in the collapsing of the Cassim enquiry into the fitness of Nxasana to hold office as well as his alleged involvement, along with the ubiquitous Michael Hulley, in the negotiations of the notorious and putative settlement agreement reached with the then National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP), Mxolisi Nxasana; and
• The picture is completed of a minister who is responsible for the NPA and its functionality only when it suits him.
Chairperson, Honourable Members, obviously I will again be accused today debating while embittered about my own involvement with the NPA. But before I am again so accused, I leave you with the following, to underscore that the Minister’s inabilty to focus on what is important, has had the following knock-on effects since 2014:
• The number of cases finalised with a verdict has decreased between 2014 and 2016 from 33 430 to 31 832 in the regional courts, and from 284 741 to 278 006 in the district courts. The response of the Department and the Minister to this: they removed this indicator from the 2017/18 annual performance plan; and
• Simultaneously the number of cases on the backlog court roll in the district courts has increased from 12 572 to 14 924 over the same period. The response to this: all smoke and mirror stuff with a formula to be applied to determine whether cases’ quality be included on the backlog roll being changed from year to year.
Also bear in mind that under the watch of this Minister, the NPA has now been allowed to significantly lower many of its performance targets and remove others completely from its annual performance plan, proving to us all that while the Minister is apparently prepared to meet with the new NDPP on Monday afternoon at Luthuli House, despite the fact of a long standing and apparently vital dentist appointment of the NDPP, to discuss what they believed to be the anarchy caused by students, he has apparently not yet found the time to inform the NDPP that whilst the latter must focus on eliminating political opponents, he should still ensure that the NPA efficiently also does its day job.

The system of local government is in disarray

The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Kevin Mileham MP, during the Budget Vote on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Chairperson,
It’s rather astounding that 3 years after the “Back to Basics” programme was announced, no assessment has been done to determine whether the situation has improved.
Lest we forget: at its launch, then Minister Pravin Gordhan noted that roughly a third of all of South Africa’s municipalities were dysfunctional, a further third were “at risk”, and the final third were performing well. The last time any assessment was done, in February 2015, 29% of municipalities were considered dysfunctional, 31% at risk, and 40% performing well. This begs the question: just what has COGTA been doing for the past 3 years? No significant improvement and no assessments to determine whether things are getting better or worse.
According to a presentation this week from the Department of Cooperative Governance to the Portfolio Committee, 86 municipalities are not viable. And some 205 municipalities rely on grants from the national fiscus for more than 75% of their revenue according to the section 71 reports they submit quarterly to National Treasury. This is indicative of a system of local government in disarray. Unless municipalities can generate their own revenue, they face financial failure. Coupled with excessive and rapidly growing salary bills, it should be no surprise that many municipalities are unable or unwilling to comply with the National Treasury guidelines regarding the minimum amount to be allocated to maintenance and renewal of infrastructure.
On this latter issue, it is abundantly clear that the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) is not going to achieve its objectives in relation to municipal bulk infrastructure. Again, information provided by the Department just this week shows that, with 60% of the MTSF timeframe expended: Only 12% of the targeted 2.3 million households have been given access to water through this programme; and

  • Only 12% of the targeted 2.3 million households have been given access to water through this programme; and
  • Only 17% of the targeted 2.5 million households have been given access to sanitation.

And that is just two of the indicators!
Salary increases that outstrip inflation, in all spheres of government, are making the provision of services unaffordable. It is interesting to note that in the DA-governed Western Cape, salaries comprise just 53.2% of the total provincial budget, according to the latest provincial budget and expenditure report. And this is the lowest percentage of all the provinces, by a clear margin. And the same is true in DA governed municipalities, because where we govern, there are no “jobs for pals!”
We welcome the progress municipalities and National Treasury are making on implementing a standard chart of accounts at municipal level. We are, however, concerned that a number of municipalities are not going to be ready to roll-out the Municipal Standard Chart of Accounts (MSCOA) system on 1 July, as required by National Treasury. The reduction in the Municipal Systems Improvement Grant will have a significant impact on municipalities’ ability to implement this, and may result in further financial instability in our municipalities.
During the 2016 State of the Nation Address, it was emphasized that excessive and wasteful expenditure must be reduced, and that action must be taken to manage unnecessary expenditure. The Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) Circular 82 highlighted the following areas of cost containment that should be implemented at local government level, including:

  • The curtailment of overseas trips;
  • The requirement of a detailed motivation for all travel, whether local or international;
  • The discouragement of the use of business class flights;
  • Restrictions on the employment of consultants, including the requirement that a “gap analysis” be conducted to determine the need for the consultants and restrictions on the fees charged to equal or less than their industry standards;
  • Regulations guiding the use of accommodation when travelling;
  • Encouragement of the use of municipal facilities for meetings, rather than offsite workshops, indabas etc.;
  • A prohibition on the issuing of municipal credit cards; and
  • A curb on spending on conferences, catering, entertainment and social functions.

While we welcome this initiative from former COGTA and Finance Minister Gordhan, it is sadly mostly ignored – as was evidenced in Umgeni Municipality who decided to hold a “Strategic Workshop” at the luxury Edward Hotel in Durban. Interestingly, the entire ANC caucus booked in for an extra night the evening before the conference, to discuss “other business” at ratepayer expense. The bottom line, one that is often repeated by the Auditor-General, is that there is zero accountability and a complete lack of consequence management. But why should we be surprised – the ANC of 2017 has learned well from Number 1, and his able lieutenants, including Minister Des van Rooyen.
We note with extreme concern that political battles continue to play out at a local government level. The dissolution of Nquthu Municipality is one example of how the ANC puts its faction fights ahead of the people of South Africa. But other examples abound. The political hypocrisy evidenced by the ANC in acceding to the AIC’s demand for Matatiele to be reincorporated in KwaZulu-Natal, simply so that they can hold onto power in Ekurhuleni is breathtaking. And then we have Gauteng MEC Paul Mashatile, who has indicated that he wants to withdraw all municipal powers and functions from the DA-controlled Mogale City municipality, and vest them in the ANC-controlled West Rand District Municipality, not because Mogale City is failing to deliver, but because it puts the ANC back in charge of the biggest cash cow in the district.
Chairperson, last year I was thrown out of this house for calling the Minister a two minute noodle. This year, I’ve been racking my brain to figure out what you call a Minister who has accomplished absolutely nothing. Who is more absent than present, but who shows up at any JZ783 event, and pretends to have military veteran credentials.
Maybe that’s why we see him in camo gear so often – he’s hiding from his many failures. So, instead, I’m not going to call him anything. I am, however, going to challenge him.
I challenge him to present a report on the effects of amalgamating municipalities prior to the 2016 Local Government Elections. I challenge him to show leadership on the Vuwani matter. I challenge him to ensure that municipal officials and public representatives are held responsible for any and all misconduct.