Department of Small Business Development to underspend by between R96 and R125 million

In the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development this week, it was revealed that the Department of Small Business Development is projected to underspend on its 2016/2017 budget by between R96 and R125 million due to incapacity, poor programme implementation and problems with transferring functions from the Department of Trade and Industry.
This projected underspend represents a staggering 7% to 9% of its budget. Recent statements by Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu, claiming that she needs more money to fulfil her mandate are absurd if she cannot even spend what has already been budgeted.
Furthermore, the department has failed to deliver on 79% of the recommendations made by the committee, most of which the department agreed with, since the committee implemented a tracking system on its reports and minutes.
The fact of the matter is that Minister Zulu should be focussing her efforts to ensure that her budget is spent on supporting and assisting small businesses so that they can, in turn, create employment for the millions of South Africans who have given up hope of ever finding a job.
The affected programmes are the National Small Business Upliftment Scheme, the Enterprise Incubation Programme and the Cooperative Incentive Scheme.
In meetings with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and Treasury, the mandate and strategy of the department came into question. The DPME subsequently initiated a review of the department’s strategy by an independent consultant which is due to report in December 2017, further delaying the urgent need for the department to have an agreed strategy and Annual Performance Plan.
Both the DPME and Treasury are pushing for the department to play a greater role in co-ordinating and monitoring overall government expenditure on Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, of which the Department’s own budget represents less than 30%.
Until the department gets to grips with its mandate, strategy and under-capacity issues, it will continue to fail small businesses and therefore continue to fail in creating employment.
The DA will continue to push for the department to assist small businesses and spend the money they have so they can be the job-drivers they’re meant to be.

DA requests joint committee inquiry following horrific Taxi rape

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Women, Ms Thandi Mamela, to request that she calls for an urgent joint meeting of the Portfolio Committees of Women, Police and Transport and accordingly summon the Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, to address the ongoing problem of violence against women on public transport.
This is in light of reports yesterday that a mother was raped by a gun-wielding gang of men in an unregistered Quantum taxi in a four-hour ordeal in front of her ten-year-old son. It is also reported that since yesterday seven more women came forward with similar stories.
These incidents expose how vulnerable women are to brutal acts of violence, especially on public transport.
The DA will propose that all taxis that belong to registered taxi associations clearly mark their vehicles to indicate that they are indeed valid transport operators. The DA members of the Portfolio Committees on Police and Transport will now also be campaigning for clearly visible markers for taxi operators, as a safety measure to prevent such incidents of violence against women and children in the future.
The DA will also be submitting parliamentary questions to the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, to get detailed information on how many similar incidents have been reported in each province across the country. It is clear that the incident in Gauteng and other similar incidents in the province is the work of a syndicate preying on women when they are at their most vulnerable.
Incidents such as this one is a clear indication that violence against women on public transport is an ongoing problem that must be rooted out and confronted head on.
Therefore the Departments of Women, Police and Transport must come together to address the lack of security measures in the public transport sector to keep women safe.
South African women live in constant fear whenever they get on a bus, train or taxi, as the threat of violent acts directed at them is constant. Measures be must put in place to protect our women against such vicious crimes.
It is shocking that women in this country are subjected to such brutal acts of violence on a daily basis and the DA will do everything in its power to promote and ensure the safety of women.

Inspector General of Intelligence must investigate Chief Justice office robbery

Media reports today, quoting sources close to the investigation of the break-in at the Office of the Chief Justice on 18 March, claim that the leading suspect in the case, Nkosinathi Msimango, has links to the State Security Agency (SSA).
I will be writing to the newly appointed Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI), Dr Setlhomamaru Isaac Dintwe, requesting that his office also investigate the incident and the alleged link with the SSA.
The DA is on record saying that the burglary is highly suspicious, and can only be viewed as an act of intimidation targeting our judiciary.
We are also on record calling on Dintwe to investigate the growing dysfunction in the intelligence services and address suspicions of the intelligence services involving itself in political intrigue.
We believe it is incumbent on the Minister of State Security, David Mahlobo, to address claims of SSA involvement in this outrageous crime and to clarify Msimango relationship with the SSA, if any.
The significance of the break-in at the office of the Chief Justice cannot be downplayed and nothing short of a complete and thorough investigation is required, including an investigation into state involvement.

BOKAMOSO | Zuma’s mafia turns to intimidating the judiciary

Justice Malala recently wrote: “These are dangerous times indeed. The state and its leader have gone rogue”. The break-in at the office of the Chief Justice on Saturday shows just how true his words are. This is a direct attack on the judiciary by Jacob Zuma’s state security thugs. The Constitution is what stands between Zuma’s mafia state and the ability to loot with impunity. We would do well to defend it with all our might.

 

The timing of the break-in is no coincidence. It happened the day after our courts delivered two judgements that dealt significant blows to Zuma’s state capture agenda. The Constitutional Court ruled that Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, a key driver of Zuma’s succession agenda, displayed gross incompetence in fulfilling her duties to ensure that South Africa’s poorest continue to receive social grants.

 

On the same day, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that Major General Berning Ntlemeza’s appointment as head of the Hawks was irrational and invalid. The Hawks is a specialist police unit, specifically tasked with fighting corruption. Despite two previous court rulings that Ntlemeza is unfit to head it, Police Minister Nhleko, another of Zuma’s lackeys, insisted on retaining him. The fact is, our state has been captured by a crime syndicate that cannot tolerate an independent corruption-busting unit that actually does its job. This is why Nhleko is now appealing this ruling, at taxpayers’ expense.

 

These rulings are major setbacks for the Zuma mafia’s state capture agenda. The checks and balances in a constitutional democracy are specifically designed to protect ordinary citizens from the abuse of power. When you control the executive, and have a supine ANC caucus in the legislature, then only the judiciary is left as an obstacle. Our legal benches are filled with independent thinkers who understand objectivity, believe in the rule of law and who defend the Constitution without fear or favour. And it is both fear and favour that Zuma’s mafia is now trying to extract from the judiciary.

 

The only plausible inference from this bizarre story is that the break-in at the offices of the Chief Justice was deliberately staged in order to intimate judges into submission. Fifteen computers holding the personal information of South Africa’s 250 judges were stolen, from the second floor of a building with dozens of other computers and other valuables in it, all of which were left untouched. The message to judges is clear: oppose us at your peril. If this sounds alarmist, consider that on Monday the house of Zane Dangor, who resigned as Social Development Director General earlier this month in opposition to Dlamini’s handling of the social grants matter, was broken into by two men looking specifically for his laptop. They didn’t get it, because he had it on him and he wasn’t home, but they assaulted his son. The message is clear: talk, and we’ll come for you.

 

On Wednesday, in a pitiful attempt to portray the break-in at the Chief Justice’s office as a burglary, the Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, announced that three arrests had been made. This was a poorly concealed setup: one of the three “suspects” was released the same day with no charges against him, and the charge sheets for the other two contained no mention of the break-in.

 

A politically intimidated or captured judiciary could leave us in the predicament that Zimbabweans and Venezuelans now face, and that the majority of South Africans faced during Apartheid South Africa: with no-one to turn to for protection from a hostile state. One step the DA would take to prevent this ever happening in South Africa, would be to allocate funds for a security budget for the judiciary. The judiciary shouldn’t have to rely on SAPS for protection, because SAPS answers to the executive.

 

The fact is, the judiciary is a direct threat to Zuma’s state capture project and he is using all available levers to fight it. For the Zuma mafia, nothing is sacred. They are taking a scorched earth approach to secure their survival. Very soon, those within the ANC who treasure our constitutional democracy will have to choose between their party, or a prosperous, free South Africa governed by a diverse group of people, bound by their steadfast commitment to the Constitution and its rule of law. 

SETAs must explain R14 million spent on lavish international trips

The DA will submit further parliamentary questions to get to the bottom of how 13 of the 21 Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) spent R14 million of public money on lavish international trips in 2015 and 2016.
A series of replies to written DA parliamentary questions revealed that 13 SETAs spent millions to fund lavish international trips for their senior executives and board members.
The DA will now submit additional parliamentary questions requesting the full internal reports on these trips to learn if there is any demonstrable benefit to the performance of the SETAs as a result of the international travel.
The fact of the matter is that every possible cent should be poured into skills training, not on international travel for high-earning executives and board members.
The worst offender of this irregular expenditure is the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA) which spent R4.6 million during this period. The CEO, alone, accounted for R1.2 million on 8 international trips to various destinations including Brazil, the UK, the US and the Netherlands.
The second-highest expenditure was the R1.6 million spent by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (merSETA), where the CEO took 11 international trips in 2015/2016. The third-highest is the Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) which spent R1.45 million.
Earlier this month the DA submitted a complaint to the Public Protector after allegations of extensive corruption amongst senior executives at the MQA came to light.
It is unacceptable that the executives of these SETAs, who can afford to pay for their travels out of their own pockets, spend such outrages amounts of public money, especially considering the high rates of underperformance amongst SETAs.
The Department of Higher Education and Training’s Annual Report for 2015/16 noted that only two of the four performance targets across SETAs were achieved. Only 40% of national artisan learners were either employed or self-employed after training and the latest available 2014 post-school education and training sector statistics showed that a mere 30.5% of those registered for internships, had been certificated.
For too long the lost generation of born frees have been the victims of decades of government greed and corruption.
The DA will find out, through the requested reports, whether these expensive trips have any tangible benefit to South Africans struggling to improve their skills and opportunity for employment.

Chief Justice office robbery: DA demands answers from Phahlane on ‘bogus’ arrests

The DA will request that the Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, be summoned urgently to brief the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services to account for the seemingly bogus arrests in relation to the break-in at the office of the Chief Justice on the weekend.
Yesterday, Phahlane announced that three arrests had been made in relation to the break-in. Yet, according to media reports, it appears that the arrests had nothing to do with the break-in.
One of the three suspects was released yesterday as there were no charges against him, and the charge sheets for the other two suspects contained no mention of the break-in.
The DA views this burglary as a brazen attack on the Judiciary, the timing of which is highly suspicious considering the damning judgement handed down by the Constitutional Court in the social grants crisis the previous day.
This act must therefore be treated with the seriousness it deserves yet the police seem content to go after the small guys when they should focus on getting to the bottom of who was behind the break-in.
The DA has already requested that the Ministers of Police, State Security and Justice urgently appear before the Portfolio Committee to account for the robbery. Phahlane must now join them so we can get the full picture on what is being done to address this attack on the very foundations of our democracy.
What is also of concern is the fact that the personal information of 250 Judges was stolen, putting their security at risk. The DA will therefore also request an update from the respective Ministers, as to what is being done to ensure the safety of the affected judges.
The Justice Portfolio Committee has an opportunity to meet next week, given that all meeting this week were cancelled at the last minute.
The DA urges the Chairperson of the Committee to address this matter with urgency and summon the relevant Ministers so that we can properly deal with this very serious attack.

Ntlemeza should be suspended without pay pending outcome of court proceedings

The DA will write to the Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko, to urge him to do the right thing and suspend disgraced Hawks head, Berning Ntlemeza, without pay pending the outcome of his application for leave to appeal the judgment of the High Court that Ntlemeza’s appointment as Hawks head was unlawful and invalid.
While his application for leave to appeal is pending, Ntlemeza will continue to be the head of the Hawks and will continue to draw a salary.
The DA believe that this is a flagrant waste of public money.
While the DA fully respects the legal process that must follow, we strongly believe that by appealing this ruling, Nhleko is wasting public money on trying to defend the indefensible.
We will not stand by while Nhleko allows a person, who was described in February 2015 by Judge Matojane of the North Gauteng High Court as “dishonest” and “lacking integrity,” to be in charge of our elite priority crime fighting unit, at the expense of ordinary South Africans.
By keeping Ntlemeza as head of the Hawks, Nhleko is clearly not prioritising the safety and security of South Africans.
Ordinary South Africans should be able to trust that the police leadership are competent, beyond reproach and will carry out the mandate of their office and keep South Africans safe. Sadly, this is not the case.

DA congratulates Stevens Mokgalapa MP on his election as President of the Africa Liberal Network

The DA congratulates Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, on his election as the President of the Africa Liberal Network (ALN) during its 13th General Assembly in Kenya.
As an alliance of 44 African Liberal Democratic organisations and parties spread across 30 African countries, the ALN seeks to share liberal values throughout Africa.
Mr Mokgalapa succeeds former president Olivier Kamitatu Etsu, from Congo who was elected on 18 October 2012.
The ALN has a vision of a prosperous and integrated Africa of flourishing democracies that are at peace with one another, in which every person has the right and opportunity to fulfil their potential and be what they want to be.
Its mission is to empower liberal parties to grow their support, to increase their influence on politics and to implement liberal policies when in government.
The DA, as a member of the ALN, believes in the rule of law, upholding the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and are committed to the promotion of democracy in government and the fight against corruption.
We believe that Mr Mokgalapa, in his capacity as President of the ALN, will be an excellent ambassador for the DA and the country.
The DA will continue to spread and uphold our values of freedom, fairness and opportunity.

Hypocritical ANC closes over 3000 schools across the country

The DA will today submit parliamentary questions to find out whether the closing of 3 257 schools across seven ANC-governed provinces over the next three years, will follow due and proper processes.
Currently, education departments across the country have or will be embarking on rationalising schools:

  • 41 schools in Mpumalanga
  • 50 schools in the Northern Cape
  • 73 schools in Limpopo
  • 93 schools in the Free State
  • 233 schools in the North West
  • 865 schools in KwaZulu-Natal
  • 1 902 schools in the Eastern Cape

Rationalisation is the practice of discontinuing schools that have become unviable due to a number of reasons, including a decline in enrolment , as set out in a national Department of Basic Education document called Guidelines for the Rationalisation of Small and Non-viable Schools, while balancing this with the right to basic education in terms of Section 29(1) (a) of the Constitution. The closure of schools is aimed at improving the quality of education and accelerating the resourcing of schools.
In 2012, when the WCED earmarked 27 schools for rationalisation, it was decided to close 20 schools after the WCED actively engaged with stakeholders as prescribed by law. After protracted litigation, the Supreme Court of Appeal ruled in the WCED’s favour in 2014.
Yet, the ANC led protest marches, petitions and even reported the Western Cape government to the South African Human Rights Commission, which can only be described as political opportunism on the part of the ruling party. The hypocritical ANC continuously criticised the WCED for following due process.
Yet, within an ANC-governed Eastern Cape, where the education system is already in disarray, nearly 2000 schools are about to be closed.
Should the replies to our questions confirm that proper processes were not followed, the DA will investigate all avenues to ensure the provincial departments are held accountable.
The blatant double standards of the ANC government is unacceptable. The same fervour which the ANC used to condemn the Western Cape’s school rationalisation should be applied to the actions of its very own government.

Chief Justice office robbery: Justice Committee cancel all meetings this week

The DA is stunned and angered that all meetings of the Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, especially the one scheduled for tomorrow, when the Office of the Chief Justice was scheduled to appear, have been cancelled at the last minute.
It seems that some on the Justice Committee would prefer to stick their heads in the sand rather than urgently discuss the deeply troubling break-in at the office of the Chief Justice, which can only be viewed as an attack on the Judiciary.
This is simply unacceptable and the DA will write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, Dr Mathole Motshekga, to again request that when the committee next sits, the Ministers of Police, State Security and Justice urgently appear to account for the robbery.
The DA notes the arrests following the break-in at the Office of the Chief Justice announced this morning.
The burglary is highly suspicious, and can only be viewed as an act of intimidation and political criminality.
It is imperative for the computers to be recovered, the alleged “kingpin” arrested and the motive behind the burglary established. The men arrested were clearly acting on instructions from higher up and the crime intelligence division of SAPS need to efficiently and effectively get to the bottom of who is behind this attack on the judiciary.
The National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, this morning announced that 3 suspects have been arrested in connection with the burglary at the Office of the Chief Justice on Saturday where 15 computers containing personal information of South Africa’s 250 judges were stolen.
Phahlane further announced that false identification documents, unlicensed firearms and what is believed to be the getaway vehicle have been seized.
However, there are some troubling aspects of the “arrest” process that need to be further examined.
The DA believes that an act of intimidation in these circumstances is an attack on the very foundations of our democracy.
We will continue to push for Parliament to exercise its oversight function and for the Committee on Justice to summon the will to deal decisively with this brazen attack.