Today, in the Portfolio Committee on Transport (PC), it was revealed that the Board of PRASA was dissolved by the Minister of Transport, Dipou Peters.
The DA supports the decision, but it is too little, too late and should not absolve Peters from accountability for the mess that the entity is in.
PRASA is currently under investigation for over a billion rand in the current financial year in irregular payments.
The announcement of the dissolution of the board came at the same time that the PC decided to launch an inquiry into the gross mismanagement at PRASA.
While the DA welcomes the decision by the PC to launch an inquiry into the governance challenges at PRASA, the DA is suspicious of the timing of the dissolution of the Board.
This would not be the first time that Minister Peters has asserted her power unilaterally over state-owned enterprises, and we believe that this move is an attempt by the Minister to escape accountability.
The presentations made to the PC in the past two days has made it abundantly clear that the Minister is not innocent in the disastrous state of affairs at PRASA. The DA will not sit by as yet another Minister attempts to evade accountability.
The DA remains resolute that the mess at PRASA needs to be resolved and that the Minister accounts for her role the crisis.
The massive amounts of wasteful expenditure at SOE’s could be used for funding the education of the lost generation, but because of mismanagement these funds end up in the hands of a corrupt and elite few.
For the second time, the ANC has been unable to pass its own legislation in the Select Committee on Security and Justice today due to a lack of quorum.
The approval of the Protected Disclosures Amendment Bill was postponed from 23 February 2017 to today, purely because the ANC did not have the required quorum of 6 members present to pass the Bill.
Today, when it became clear that the ANC would again have no quorum, the item was again removed from the agenda of the meeting without any reasons given.
The DA objects to section 9B of the Bill on the grounds that it may serve as a deterrent for possible whistle-blowers in the future. This view is shared by organisations such as Whistle-blowers International, Corruption Watch and Open Democracy.
It is the duty of the opposition to ensure that possibly problematic provisions in proposed legislation do not get passed, not to pass such legislation on behalf of the government.
The inability of the ANC to reach a quorum to pass their own legislation is a clear indication that they have lost the will to govern and no longer respect the parliamentary process.
A reply to a DA parliamentary question has revealed that there are 69 employees of national and provincial departments who have been placed on suspension for more than six months, pending disciplinary action, at a cost R136.5 million since 1 April 2016.
The R136.5 million total cost on the precautionary suspensions is made up of R24 million in national departments and R112.5 million in provincial departments.
The DA will be submitting further parliamentary questions to find out exactly why it has taken so long to conclude disciplinary action.
Of the 69 employees currently on suspension, 45 are from national departments and 24 from provincial departments.
Alarmingly, 4 of the provincial employees have been suspended for more than a year and 5 for more than two years.
It is astounding that so much money has been paid in salaries because the respective departments have failed to efficiently conclude disciplinary action.
This money should be spent on skills development or internship programmes within these departments for the millions of young people who are currently without work and who have been abandoned by the ANC government.
Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, has become a master of dodging accountability. The Minister has failed to answer an astounding 93% of parliamentary questions, submitted by the DA, relating directly to the South Africa Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the social grant crisis, since we began to raise the alarm about the impending crisis in mid-2016.
This is yet another clear indication of the Minister’s reign of impunity and how she continuously dodges any opportunity to account for her department’s failure to ensure that 17 million South Africans continue to receive their grants when the current invalid CPS contract ends on 31 March 2017.
In 2016, the DA submitted 15 questions and Dlamini saw fit to only answer two. This year, the DA submitted 13 questions and not one of them has been answered. A full list of the questions submitted can be found here.
The DA will be writing to the Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, to get an update on when these questions will be answered.
Parliamentary questions are vital component of accountability in Parliament and provide the opposition with the opportunity to ensure that the Executive conduct themselves in a transparent manner.
Some of the questions we submitted included:
- Whether she submitted the proposed payment model for the takeover of the payments of grants by SASSA to the National Treasury for analysis and evaluation;
- Whether SASSA intends to extend its contract for the distribution of grants with Net1/CPS before the specified contract concludes on 31 March 2017; and
- What are the details of the various work stream categories set up by her department to action the transition of the distribution of social grants from Net1/CPS to SASSA.
The Minister’s failure to answer these questions is highly problematic, as it indicates that she has once again violated her oath of office by not performing her functions to the best of her ability.
The DA is of the belief that Dlamini is no longer fit to hold office and have repeatedly called for President Zuma to fire her. His silence on this matter is deafening and serves to confirm that the ANC rewards failure.
The DA has approached the Constitutional Court specifically seeking a declaration that Dlamini has violated her oath of office by failing to perform the functions of her office with honour, dignity and to the best of her ability. We are also seeking a declaratory order confirming that Dlamini and SASSA have violated their duties in terms of Sections 165 (4) and (5) and Section 195 of the Constitution.
The DA will not allow for the Minister to dodge accountability any longer, that is why we will march in our thousands on Friday, 10 March 2017, to the Department of Social Development to send a clear message to the Minister that poor South Africans will no longer be treated in this disgraceful manner.
The DA will write to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to request that it conducts a thorough investigation into whether or not South African Police Services (SAPS) members or assets were involved in the heist at OR Tambo International Airport last night.
The DA will also submit parliamentary questions to find out how many SAPS vehicles and firearms have been found to have been used for criminal activity, as well as how many SAPS members have been found guilty of criminal offences.
Furthermore, the DA will also be submitting questions to the Ministers of Police and Transport to determine the state of security at our country’s airports.
Last night, an astounding R24 million was reportedly stolen from a South African Airways plane at the OR Tambo International Airport by people who approached the plane in a marked police vehicle.
The use of a police vehicle in this incident is extremely concerning and could point to the involvement of corrupt cops.
SAPS should be protecting the lives and property of South Africa’s people and we should not be seeing the use of official resources by corrupt cops to enrich themselves.
Earlier this year, Robert McBride, the head of IPID, told members of the Portfolio Committee on Police that the SAPS and the Hawks seem to be involved in a turf war over drugs at OR Tambo.
This was denied by Berning Ntlemeza, the head of the Hawks, at a subsequent portfolio committee meeting.
SAPS officers should be fighting crimes such as armed robbery, not committing them.
We cannot allow South Africa’s airports to become a hotspot for gangs and cartels.
The SAPS need to be beyond reproach and the DA will not rest until South Africans feel safe and secure in public spaces.
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, during the debate on Xenophobia.
The English philosopher John Locke, who laid much of the foundation of modern liberal thought wrote that the primary duty of any government was to ensure the security of the nation and the protection of the rights of its citizens. This is how it would care for the people.
In return for the fulfilment of this duty of the government, the people would reciprocate in this social contract by being law-abiding, which would promote a society of harmonious co-existence.
On many fronts of governance and state delivery, the ANC government has failed in fulfilling its duty, showing that it does not care about the people. Whether in the case of the deprivation of the right to life for the victims of the Esidimeni scandal and the Marikana massacre or putting the comfort of the political elite before caring for the needs of the people through indulgent state spending on cushy cars, luxury hotel accommodation and excessive VIP Protection, the ANC has broken the social contract that underpins the relationship between citizens and the government.
This brokenness is starkly evident, and has been for many years, in the area of border security and policing. It is part of a chronic and endemic pattern of ANC misgovernance: from a broken President and Parliament to a broken SABC and society – the ANC breaks almost everything it touches.
As a result of its misgovernance and mismanagement, the ANC has been creating and piling up the dry tinder that we have seen become kindled into bonfires of unrest and xenophobic violence over the years.
The seeds of these xenophobic flare-ups were sown in the inability of the ANC to create jobs for almost 9 million South Africans and also in the mismanagement and ultimate weakening of border security, creating porous and poorly controlled borders that make illegal in-migration virtually impossible to police and curtail.
The cause and manifestation of this border security mismanagement are well-known: under-resourcing, under-staffing, under-equipping, under-training, incompetent leadership and a failure to enforce accountability.
While the stream of illegal immigration over the years has, on one hand, created the context for violent xenophobic outbreaks, the chronic neglect of the police service has, on the other hand, undermined and hollowed out the state’s capacity to forecast and respond adequately to public unrest when it does break out.
In 2008, 2015 and now 2017, the Criminal Intelligence division of the SAPS seemingly never saw the xenophobic violence coming, even though there always seems to be an organised element to these episodes.
When the violence does erupt, the SAPS response is slow and ineffectual and policing capacity is initially too thin on the ground to contain the violence, enabling it to escalate and spread. The reasons for this shoddy state of readiness are the same familiar ones: under-resourcing, under-staffing, under-equipping, under-training and poor leadership.
The DA will fix our broken border security and police service when we come to lead national government because we care.
We will ensure adequate resourcing, staffing, training and equipping. We will boost the frequency and coverage of border patrolling.
We will fix our broken Crime Intelligence so that it can foresee disturbances before they erupt and we will restore Public Order Policing to adequate strength so that it contain unrest before it escalates and spreads.
We will build a caring government that reconnects with the people through a social contract that all citizens can trust and put their confidence in.
After 23 years of failing delivery and corrupt governance, the ANC has broken the trust that it once enjoyed with the people. The people will soon place that trust in another government that deserves it and truly cares for them.
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, during the debate on Xenophobia.
Thank you Madam Speaker,
The Democratic Alliance condemns any act of xenophobia, along with any form of discrimination.
We support South Africa’s role as a continental leader and stakeholder, and believe that legal immigration can contribute to economic growth, skills development and job creation.
We also believe that the problem of foreign nationals residing in South Africa illegally should be addressed, but in a manner that respects the fundamental human rights and dignity of those immigrants.
The African Union’s Agenda 2063 envisions a prosperous Africa with inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It envisions an integrated continent, a continent that is politically united. It envisions an Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law.
Madam Speaker, our Constitution shares these values and principles. It is stated in the preamble to the Constitution that South Africa belongs to all who live in it. This is an important feature of our Constitution, rightly enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
However, the significant question we have to ask ourselves is this: does the actions of today’s government show that they believe that South Africa truly belongs to all who live in it?
The recent increase of violence against foreign nationals implores us to reflect on this question, and I am afraid that the answer to this question is a resounding NO.
Recent events have clearly shown that South Africa’s foreign relations policy falls short of achieving Afro-optimism and Pan-Africanism.
Our government remains reactive, rather than proactive, in addressing the underlying causes of the growing hostility towards foreigners.
One of the key issues in the hostility towards foreigners is that the ANC government is failing horribly in their mandate to provide jobs for 8.9 million unemployed South Africans and particularly for the lost generation, the millions of young people who have been abandoned by the ANC government.
Madam Speaker, inefficient practices at the Department of Home Affairs is compounding the problem of illegal immigration, as many foreigners wishing to enter the country legally are faced with almost insurmountable bureaucracy.
In many ways, Home Affairs creates illegal immigrants through their own inefficiency. It is also a fact that our borders are too porous, and the government believes that the establishment of a Border Management Authority will solve this problem.
This is yet another example of the ANC trying to legislate their way out of a problem, rather than fixing the existing mechanisms. Not only is the current proposal unconstitutional, it is highly impractical and will only lead to a waste of state funds.
Xenophobia is irrational and immoral and should be rejected by each and every South African. Mutual co-existence and individual legal freedom of movement should be protected as enshrined in our Constitution.
It is worrying that we have a President that only last week said, and I quote, that “we appeal to our people not to allow the actions of a few criminals to turn them against their brothers and sisters who are here legally.”
The President should know that his words carry weight, and that his statement could easily be interpreted as a tactic go –ahead for violent attacks against foreigners who are here illegally. This simply cannot stand.
Madam Speaker, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is a massive gap between what the ANC states their foreign policy should be, and what it actually is. For example, by ignoring a high court order to arrest Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir, and by unconstitutionally withdrawing from the International Criminal Court (ICC), the ANC government has not supported a human rights based foreign policy.
It is now becoming clear that the ANC also does not respect the promotion of human rights nationally.
As the DA, we implore all South Africans to do what the government has failed to do, and that is show a sense of solidarity to and respect for the dignity of our fellow African brothers and sisters. Xenophobic violence is never acceptable.
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Shadow Minister in the Presidency, Sejamothopo Motau MP, during the debate on Xenophobia.
There is no doubt in my mind that all the good people of South Africa cherish the promotion of harmonious co-existence and respect for the rights of all persons, including foreign nationals.
This is the case because we want to establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights for all who live in the country.
A country that is peaceful and crime-free.
Sadly, we seem to be failing in our noble national mission. As matters stand, this country seems more divided and violent than at any time since 1994.
Xenophobia, homophobia, racism and religious intolerance, bedevil the social fabric of our nation.
This, despite the fact that that the Presidency is mandated to lead the agenda and discourse on nation building, social cohesion and national identity facilitated through the Moral Regeneration Movement and its charter of positive values.
What positive results can we show for the millions of Rand appropriated for this purpose every year?
The simple answer is: Very little, if anything. Political correctness and expediency seem to be the major culprits responsible for this dismal performance.
Following the recent xenophobic violence in the Tshwane area, DA Leader Mmusi Maimane made the following plea: “The DA strongly condemns xenophobia and xenophobic violence and we urge all South Africans to do the same. The hatred and intolerance towards foreign African nationals that has flared up in areas of Gauteng is morally contemptible and self- defeating.”
To defeat this scourge, we need to get to the root causes of the problem and eradicate them. Political correctness will not get us anywhere, as experience has shown.
While irrationality can be blamed for some xenophobic behaviour, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there are some objective factors that generate resentment among both South Africans and immigrants that serve as triggers for violence.
For instance, there are growing grumblings amongst South Africans in the townships that foreign nationals put severe strain on amenities and services such as public schools, clinics, hospitals and housing. Scrambling for jobs also always comes up as a big factor.
With 9 million jobless and 17 million people on social grants this is hardly surprising.
The very weak economic growth in the country is not helping. The economy needs to grow by at least 5 percent or more a year, as envisaged by the National Development Plan, to create millions of jobs.
Most people who have a job, hardly ever worry about who is in the country.
Let me defer to the DA Leader again: “The DA’s position is that anyone who meets the legal criteria; is prepared to play by the rules of our Constitution, and who seeks a better life for themselves, should be welcome in South Africa.”
These factors – real or imagined – must be confronted head-on and addressed as they will not go away of themselves. We dare not shy away from them.
Following the xenophobic violence in 2008 and 2015, Parliament appointed Ad Hoc Joint Committees to probe the causes of the violence against foreign nationals.
These committees, constituted at some significant cost, completed their assignments and made recommendations to Parliament regarding the actions to be taken to address the scourge.
These recommendations included that:
- The Department of Home Affairs prioritise issuing foreign nationals with correct documentation, maintain adequate records and root out corruption;
- That the Portfolio Committees on Safety and Security establish the ability of crime combating units to stem future attacks and for police response to violent situations in general; and
- That the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development monitor Special Courts progress in processing cases of violence against foreign nationals.
Very little seems to have been done regarding the implementation of these recommendations. As a member of this House who served on the 2015 Ad Hoc Joint Committee, I have no idea as to what has come of the recommendations.
The DA calls on this Parliament to institute an urgent review of the recommendations made in 2008 and 2015; establish which have been implemented and facilitate the implementation of those outstanding – as a matter of urgency.
The DA believes that recent incidents of xenophobic violence and anti-foreigner sentiments are a consequence of the failure of the ANC Government to implement the recommendations set out in the 2008 and 2015 reports – adopted by Parliament – of the Ad Hoc Joint Committees on Probing Violence against Foreign Nationals.
There is no more time to lose. Failure to implement frustrates any effort to promote social cohesion and harmonious co-existence among the people who live in the country.
Tomorrow, 09 March 2017, marks three weeks since I wrote, on 16 February 2017, to President Jacob Zuma, urgently requesting that he use his constitutionally assigned authority to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Esidimeni tragedy, which resulted in the death of over 100 mentally ill patients at the hands of an uncaring ANC government in Gauteng.
Since writing to the President almost a month ago, I have only received an acknowledgment of receipt from the Presidency. This lengthy waiting period for a full response implies that the death of over 100 citizens, due to government negligence, is not a priority area for the Zuma-led ANC administration.
The ANC and Zuma cannot tip-toe around this tragedy and hope that it goes away. The reality is that the ANC has failed the most vulnerable in the country’s healthcare system, and the time for accountability is now. Like the Marikana Massacre, this tragedy requires a full probe that has the backing of the highest office in the land.
When the DA first raised this matter in 2015, the ANC government in Gauteng ignored the warnings of the DA Gauteng Shadow MEC of Health, Jack Bloom MPL, and again the ANC is ignoring the DA’s urgent request for a Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which will fully interrogate matters and seek justice on behalf of the victims and their families, who are still without real answers.
The inquest by the Health Ombudsman did not go far enough, therefore a Judicial Commission of Inquiry is necessary in order to ascertain what exactly transpired, how it was allowed to transpire, what national governments role was – and ought to have been, and to identify the shortcoming of the current system so as to avoid a catastrophe like this from occurring again. Moreover, the terms of reference of the Commission ought to be wide, so as to include an investigation into the treatment of mental health patients across the country.
The ANC and Zuma cannot continue to place political allegiances ahead of the lives of the people of South Africa. The people and accountability always come first.
A Judicial Commission of Inquiry will not bring back the victims, but that should not stop the DA from seeking accountability. Something went terribly wrong, and this will start the process of fixing it.
Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the Chairperson of the DA’s Federal Executive, James Selfe MP, during the discussion on the adoption of the Final Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on the SABC Board Inquiry.
I want to commend the Ad Hoc Committee for the rigorous way in which it conducted its enquiry into the affairs of the SABC.
The report reads like a horror story. It is a story of maladministration and corruption; of fear and intimidation; of nepotism and of abuse of power. At the centre of this story sit two malignant individuals: Mr Hlaudi Motsoeneng and the Minister of Communications.
Like so many public institutions, the SABC has failed the public. Viewed cumulatively, the report portrays a SABC that is indistinguishable from that which existed under apartheid: biased, partisan, irresponsible, profligate, and unaccountable.
As members of Parliament, to whom this institution reported, we need to introspect about how we allowed it to happen.
Ultimately it was left to the Public Protector to expose the rotten state of the SABC in her Report, When Governance and Ethics Fail. This report was released in February 2014.
When we realised that the government and Parliament would not implement the Public Protector’s remedial action about him, the DA approached the Courts in a two-part application: first, to suspend Mr Motsoeneng and subject him to a disciplinary hearing, which had been ordered by the Public Protector; and secondly, to declare that his appointment as COO was irrational and therefore illegal.
On 24 October 2014, we got an order compelling the SABC to suspend Mr Motsoeneng and to subject him to a disciplinary hearing. He and the SABC sought leave to appeal. On 23 April 2015, Motsoeneng was granted leave to appeal, but the SABC was ordered to implement the disciplinary hearing pending the appeal. He and the SABC appealed again. The case was adjudicated by the Supreme Court of Appeal on 8 October 2015, and the appeal was dismissed.
On 27 November 2015, the Western Cape High Court reviewed and set aside the appointment of Mr Motsoeneng as COO. He and the SABC appealed. On 23 May 2016, leave to appeal was dismissed. The SABC and Motsoeneng petitioned the SCA for leave to appeal. In September 2016, these petitions were dismissed by the SCA.
The SABC convened a sham disciplinary hearing against Mr Motsoeneng in December 2015, which predictably exonerated him, as key witnesses were not called. The DA again approached the courts to review and set aside this disciplinary hearing. The SABC, in turn, applied for a stay of these proceedings. That application for a stay was dismissed on 14 June 2016.
Judgment in the DA’s case was delivered on 12 December 2016. The disciplinary hearing of December 2015 was set aside and a new one ordered, and Mr Motsoeneng’s appointment as Group Executive: Corporate Affairs was set aside, and the court ordered that he could not occupy any senior position in the SABC until after his disciplinary hearing. Mr Motsoeneng and Mr Aguma were ordered to pay our costs personally to demonstrate the courts’ displeasure.
Guess what? The SABC and Mr Motsoeneng applied for leave to appeal. On 7 February 2017, this application was dismissed.
At every stage, the SABC and/or its Executive Directors were ordered to pay the DA’s costs, which run to millions of Rand. We hope that the new Board will root out this culture of impunity.