94% of Zuma’s Cabinet claim to have “never met” with Guptas

Answers to a series of written parliamentary questions to all 35 Ministers in the Zuma Cabinet indicate that it is not just a select few in the ANC who serve the Gupta project of State Capture, but rather the majority. Zuma’s Cabinet is now working tirelessly to enrich the connected few, while over 9 million South Africans go without a job.
I submitted parliamentary questions to each Minister asking whether he/she had met with any member, employee and/or close associate of the Gupta family and/or attended any meeting with these persons at the Gupta’s Saxonwold Estate in Johannesburg or anywhere else since taking office.
What has become quite clear from the answers provided is that the Gupta project of State Capture is an ANC project – fully endorsed and supported by the majority in the ANC. This is why Ministers are forced to dodge questions, or provide flimsy and equivocal answers to direct questions.
The written responses reveal the following:

  • The Ministers of Finance, Defence, Economic Development, Energy, Home Affairs and Trade and Industry all admitted to have “attended social events where members of the Gupta family were present”;
  • Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies states that he has indeed met with the Gupta family on several occasions;
  • Well-known Gupta affiliates – The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Des Van Rooyen, and the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane – both denied having met with members of the Gupta family despite the Public Protector’s State of Capture report providing concrete evidence to the contrary – including phone records and flight details;
  • The Ministers of Environmental Affairs, Public Enterprises, Sport and Recreation, State Security and Women in the Presidency all flatly refused to give an answer to the question;
  • The Minister of Energy admitted to meeting with Gupta employees Mr Nazeem Howa and Mr Moegsin Williams at various New Age breakfasts;
  • The Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, has refused to even reply to the question, which was put to her in writing 11 months ago, in April 2016; and
  • The Minister of Finance avoided answering the question as it related to his Deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, even though the question specifically asked about the Deputy Minister in light of his public proclamations that he was personally offered the post of Finance Minister by the Guptas in 2015;

Lying to Parliament is a serious offense, and if it transpires that any Member of Cabinet misled Parliament – to which they are Constitutionally accountable – we will take whatever action necessary.
I have also today written to the Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly, Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting that he ensures that the Ministers who have yet to answer, failed to answer, or answered vaguely, are made to provide sufficient answers to the question within the next 14 days.
The DA has already laid criminal charges in terms of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act against members of the Gupta family, with the Hawks having confirmed to be investigating this matter. We eagerly anticipate the outcome of said investigation.
It cannot be that the ANC works to enrich and promote a small elite minority of connected cadres, while millions of South Africans go without work and rely on social grants for their survival.
The DA will continue to expose the capture of state institutions by President Zuma and his gang of cronies, who loot the state for personal gain while South Africa suffers.

Social Grants Crisis: DA to proceed with our application in Constitutional Court

The disgraceful contempt shown by the Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, towards 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans this morning, deserves condemnation in the strongest terms possible.
The DA is both shocked and angered by the Minister’s failure to table a clear plan to resolve this crisis. If anything her unwillingness to provide clear answers, determination to blame the media, and refusal to explain the Director General’s resignation, provides the clearest indication yet as to why we are in this mess today.
Indeed, Dlamini doesn’t care about the poor, or all those South Africans, young and old, who rely on a social grant to survive. She is in this job just to feed at the trough – not to make a difference.
President Zuma must also be held accountable for this growing crisis. He has remained silent until the last possible minute, and failed to fire Minister Dlamini – the bare minimum he could do – to show that he was equally concerned about grant recipients.
Jacob Zuma rewards failure, so long as it means he remains in power.
The DA will not let the ANC get away with taking grants away from our poor and vulnerable. We are ready to do whatever we can to ensure that every person who needs a grant, gets a grant, come 1st April 2017.
We will therefore continue with our application in the Constitutional Court, seeking accountability for those who have failed to ensure SASSA’s readiness to take over the distribution of grants and who have put the livelihoods of 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans at risk.
As a part of our application, we have sought a declaratory order from the court confirming that the Minister of Social Development, 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.
Our preparations for our mass march this week Friday, 10 March 2017, are also continuing. We are ready to send a clear message to Minister Dlamini that her disdain for the poor will not be left unanswered. Dlamini must go and go now. We will make this clear on Friday.

DG resignation: Dlamini must go immediately

Reports today that Social Development Director-General, Zane Dangor, has resigned is yet another sign of the Social Development Minister’s destructive and toxic influence and should see her removed immediately.
The DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Rosemary Capa, to request that she invite Mr Dangor to come before the committee to detail what has been taking place.
Dlamini has utterly failed to ensure that SASSA was ready to take over the distribution of grants at the end of this month when the current invalid CPS contract comes to an end and has allowed the situation to reach crisis point.
In fact, she has manufactured this crisis and even misled the Constitutional Court in October last year when she stated that SASSA would be ready to take over the distribution.
Dlamini cannot be trusted with the livelihoods of 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans.
The President has more than enough cause to remove her and for the sake of millions of South Africans, the DA calls on him to do so immediately.

Zuma determined to keep NPA ‘captured’ & delay facing 783 charges of corruption

President Jacob Zuma’s decision not to suspend the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Adv Shaun Abrahams, is simply explained by his determination to keep the NPA ‘captured’ and to delay him having to answer for the 783 charges of corruption, fraud, money laundering and racketeering, that stand against him.
The fact is that Adv Abrahams is comprised. His decision to prosecute Pravin Gordhan, despite having ignored vital evidence in this decision, as well as his meeting at Luthuli House, the day before Mr Gordhan was charged, proves this.
It sadly comes as no surprise that Jacob Zuma has yet again undermined what should be an ‘independent’ institution of state in his bid to avoid accountability and remain in power.
The DA will continue to pursue our case against Mr Zuma in the courts, and we look forward to the Supreme Court of Appeal ruling in this regard.
Today, we remind Jacob Zuma that we will continue to do everything possible to ensure that the principle of equality before the law is respected. His day in court is coming.

SASSA crisis: DA files papers in Constitutional Court

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.

Crime stats: Nhleko must pressure Nxesi over rural safety improvement

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.

Zuma gone rogue on land reform, at odds with ANC and Cabinet

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.

DA welcomes public hearings on poultry industry

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.

Carbon tax: DA to request National Treasury to appear before Tourism Committee

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.

Two years without an Inspector General of Intelligence as we celebrate the Constitution that created the position

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.