BOKAMOSO | Mashaba’s team gives a tantalizing preview of a post-ANC South Africa

Mayor Herman Mashaba’s State of the City Address, delivered last week, makes for brilliant reading. It fills one with hope for a future South Africa that is modern, united and working. In Johannesburg, the foundations for that future are already being laid, because residents voted for change in 2016, and because a diverse group of parties has had the good sense to rise above their differences in pursuit of that change. Mashaba’s message is clear and authentic. It leaves no room for doubt that this is the way forward for SA: coalition government, so that no single party can abuse their power in our country ever again.
And they have their work cut out for them. They inherited a city in a parlous state of disrepair, a city with crumbling infrastructure and massive housing backlogs, a city held hostage by drug lords and crime. Most of Johannesburg’s 181 informal settlements have no basic services at all. Worst of all, 862 000 people are unemployed and youth unemployment is over 50%. It is unthinkable that the previous ANC government could have seen fit to build a R360 million new council chamber while people are subjected to these most dire conditions, living with indignity and in fear.
The violent protests that have flared up this week in Ennerdale, Eldorado Park and other areas around the country are fuelled by anger and frustration, the result of an ANC government that long ago stopped caring about the poor. South Africa is a powder keg of discontent. Every spark of protest has the potential to ignite a chain reaction of anarchy and destruction, which will produce even more suffering and frustration, but no winners. In some cases violence may be incited by opportunists fanning the flames in an effort to render DA-led cities ungovernable. It will not work.
Whatever the motivation, these protests are a measure of how disastrously ANC government has failed to deliver on its promises. They are an early warning system for the widespread chaos that might ensue if we don’t make some drastic changes very soon. Perhaps more than any other indicator, these protests highlight the urgency of a complete political realignment in South Africa. The people of Johannesburg opted for that in August 2016, and already many communities are experiencing real change, with so much more on its way.
Mashaba’s team has made a clear break from the previous way of doing things. They have a categorically pro-poor agenda. On assuming office, they immediately set about redirecting funding towards electrifying houses, tarring roads, extending clinic operating hours, improving waste removal and providing housing in the poorest communities. Going forward, a minimum of 60% of the City’s capital expenditure will be on projects in underserviced areas.
To reverse massive unemployment, they have a target to achieve a minimum of 5% economic growth in the city by 2021. They intend for Johannesburg to be the engine room of SA’s economic growth. Undoubtedly, economic stagnation is the root cause of protest action. The team is establishing an investment desk in the mayor’s office, and small business (SME) hubs throughout the city, with the sole focus of making Johannesburg as business-friendly as possible.
Mashaba’s motto is “service with pride” and his team is dedicated to building a professional, committed and responsive civil service, which will help to attract investment and spur growth and job creation. They have initiated an independent skills audit to ensure that every manager is there because of what they know and not who they know. They inherited a billing system in shambles, and have already made great strides in improving revenue collection, which in turn produces more funding for service delivery. In March 2017 they collected over R3 billion in revenue, far exceeding their budgeted amount of R2.6 billion. It is the first time the City has ever exceeded the R3 billion mark, and they are confident of reaching the R4 billion mark by July 2017. And every cent must be well spent.
Mashaba’s team takes a zero tolerance approach to corruption, and has appointed General Shadrack Sibiya to head up their new internal investigations unit in the City. It has already exposed and prevented R2 billion of fraud and corruption, and 30 city employees have been arrested, with an additional 91 employees suspended and 3 resignations as a result of the unit’s work. Over 300 cases are under investigation, and a total of R10 billion is alleged to have been lost or misused. In stark contrast, Mashaba’s team has established an open tender system in which bid adjudication meetings are open to the public and the media. Transparency kills corruption.
Their recently completed comprehensive housing waiting list is going to be made public too, as soon as its audit is complete. And they have handed out 2800 title deeds to date, with an additional 1100 ready to be handed over. Title deeds confer ownership, wealth and dignity. Importantly, having a title to a home provides residents with the economic opportunity to better their lives and enter the mainstream economy.
The revitalization of Johannesburg’s inner city is a key element in their quest for 5% economic growth. To fight crime, they are in the process of putting another 1500 metro police officers on the streets, and have launched a Narcotics Unit which has already made 597 arrests and recovered 100kgs of drugs, 463 stolen or hijacked vehicles, 1044 stolen items of property and 52 firearms.
Mashaba’s diverse team can be exceptionally proud of what they have achieved so far, but they are not blind to the enormity of the challenge which still lies ahead. The magnitude of the backlogs is staggering. One shudders to imagine the scale of unnecessary decay and suffering had the residents of Johannesburg waited another five years before choosing real change. And this is the key lesson to be learnt from the protests flaring up around South Africa. There is no time to lose. South Africans must vote for real change, nationwide, in 2019. A post-ANC South Africa is not only possible, it is the only way forward.

DA to probe performance of SAA CFO

At a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance (SCOF), I managed to persuade National Treasury to announce that Ms Phumeza Nhantsi had been appointed as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of South African Airways (SAA), after having served as the interim CFO since November 2015.
Her appointment as CFO has been made despite the enormous current projected losses of R4,6 billion for the 2016/17 year.
Furthermore, during her time as interim CFO, SAA was involved in a number of controversial financial debacles including the infamous Airbus debacle that resulted in Jacob Zuma firing Nhlanhla Nene as the Minister of Finance in December 2015, rocking South Africa’s economy.
The most egregious financial crisis arose in July 2016 when SAA, apparently without following due process, appointed BnP Capital to raise debt funding for SAA at a fee cost to SAA of R256 million, a cost far exceeding what the market would have determined. When this outrageous contract was exposed by the DA and others, SAA were forced to cancel this contract but even so the cancelation fee was reported to amount to almost R50 million without any value at all received by SAA.
The BnP debacle was clearly pursued with the goal of enriching the principals of BnP at the expense of SAA and taxpayers. The same taxpayers who have had to continually bail out SAA, and will likely very soon have to bail SAA out yet again. The appointment of BnP was a financial contract and therefore would have required the approval of Ms Phumeza Nhantsi, the newly appointed CFO. Indeed the BnP contract may well have been initiated and negotiated by Ms Nhantsi.
SAA will be appearing before the SCOF on Wednesday the 17th of May 2017. At this meeting, I will ensure that the newly appointed SAA CFO is questioned about her performance as the interim CFO as well as her culpability with regard to the financial debacles at SAA during her time as the interim CFO.

Parliament must launch full-scale inquiry into Eskom

The return of Brian Molefe to Eskom is a monumental disaster for the power utility, which is currently in a dire state of affairs and is surrounded by a swirling cloud of Gupta-linked corruption allegations as a result of Molefe’s tenure.
As such, the DA will write to the Chair of Chairs, Cederic Frolick, to ask that the Public Enterprises committee launch a full-scale parliamentary inquiry into Eskom.
The return of Molefe to Eskom will see the Gupta hand return to the power utility, and most likely to the forthcoming nuclear procurement deal. This is something which South Africa cannot accept.
It was clear in the Public Protector’s damning State of Capture Report that Molefe was seriously compromised in his position at Eskom. He, himself, on leaving Eskom cited the interests of corporate good governance as requiring him to leave.
The State of Capture Report details the close relationship between Molefe and the Guptas and how key decisions were taken by Molefe, as the head of Eskom, for the ultimate benefit of the Gupta’s and at the expense of the people of South Africa. Specifically, Molefe called Ajay Gupta a total of 44 times and Ajay Gupta called Molefe a total of 14 times in 8 months. Molefe can further be placed in the Saxonwold area on 19 occasions between August 2015 and November 2015.
Importantly, the criminal charges that I laid against Molefe still stand and I trust are being actively investigated by the South African Police Service.
More than this, Eskom faces enormous challenges in its entirety which now need to be investigated through a Parliamentary enquiry. Most notably:

  • The Progressive Professionals Forum (Mzwanele ‘Jimmy’ Manyi CM (SA)) received a staggering R440 000 in “sponsorships” from Eskom under Molefe’s watch;
  • R1 billion worth of contracts are being investigated which were allegedly awarded by current Eskom Acting CEO Matshela Koko to Impulse International, a company of which his step-daughter is a Director;
  • Eskom has continued to resist the signing of contracts with IPPs even though government has instructed it to do so;
  • Eskom bosses received R18.3 million in short and long-term performance bonuses in 2016;
  • The entire Tegeta scandal.

The ANC have themselves come out and said that Molefe is unfit to return to Eskom as his name has not been cleared – ironic though this is given that he was just yesterday on their own Parliamentary back benches.
South Africa deserves to know the truth behind the many scandals currently engulfing Eskom. It is imperative that Parliament conducts an inquiry as a matter of urgency to ensure that those who are responsible for abuses are held to account – not least, Brian Molefe.
Our lawyers have also been instructed to investigate every angle possible to review this ridiculous and irrational decision.
Our public power utility deserves better than Saxonwold-captured individuals at its helm.

The fight for a better South Africa is the new struggle

The following remarks were delivered by the Democratic Alliance Leader at a press briefing, in Johannesburg, with the Leaders of the APC, AGANG SA, COPE, Freedom Movement, IFP, EFF, UDM, ACDP and SaveSA.
As the Democratic Alliance (DA) we stand side-by-side with all political formations, civil society organisations, the Religious Community, and the people of South Africa, who have all called for Jacob Zuma to be removed as President of our country.
As the DA, we will respect the outcome of Monday’s matter before the highest court in the Republic, the Constitutional Court, because unlike those who hold the majority in Parliament we believe in the Constitution, which states that courts are independent and subject only to the Constitution and the law.
Those opportunists and Gupta praise singers who say the courts are being used to run the country, fail to see that Zuma and the ANC are damaging the country and believe that some should be allowed to act illegally and unconstitutionally.  It should anger all citizens that the President and his ANC believe that they are above the law. No one is above the law – least not the president.
We are not using the courts to run the country, but rather to hold those in power accountable for their mismanagement of the country and its economy. The Courts are doing their job, and applying the law of the land. This has become inconvenient for a lawless president.
We call upon the ANC to support the upcoming Motion of No Confidence in Zuma because this is not about the Opposition, it is about the future of our nation. This Motion of No Confidence is about 55-million people who are being held hostage by one man and his ruling clique.
The ANC’s choice as simple as it is, has deep implications for all South Africans, especially the poor. The ANC must choose: Zuma or SA; because the two cannot co-exist.
The ANC under Jacob Zuma has radically neglected the Constitution and put the people of South Africa last in every decision they make. They no longer work to advance the country and its economy, they work to radically transform the material wealth of the Gupta family as well as other connected cronies close to Zuma.
The country is fast running out of time under Zuma and the ANC, which has continued to promote and endorse Zuma’s sham presidency. This is a presidency that has been marked by rampant unemployment, crippling corruption and socio economic decay. After 23 years, we should be working together as a people to advance our country and create opportunity for those left behind by Apartheid.
A continued endorsement of Zuma will be an endorsement of a criminal, anarchy and joblessness. If the ANC endorses, protects and promotes Jacob Zuma, then the ANC is Jacob Zuma.
Zuma’s removal from the Union Buildings will ensure that we are able to begin the process of building a better South Africa where there is economic growth and job creation; constitutionalism and national pride.
Finally, I join other Leaders in calling upon all South Africans to join us at Mary Fitzgerald Square on Wednesday, where we will stand united behind the Constitution in our call for Zuma to go and for South Africa to come first.
This is our new struggle for a better South Africa. If we do not fight today, we may not have a country to fight for tomorrow.

Zuma misses deadline to supply reasons for cabinet reshuffle

President Jacob Zuma has failed to comply with the ruling, handed down last week Thursday by Judge Vally of the North Gauteng High Court, to hand over his reasons and record of decision for his disastrous midnight cabinet reshuffle, by 4 pm today.
Given that President Zuma has only filed an application to appeal handing over his record of decision, he should still have provided his reasons by close of business today, for the cataclysmic axing Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, and Deputy Finance Minister, Mcebisi Jonas
There is a material difference between a record of decision and the reasons for the decision. The record pertains to any and all documentation upon which he relied to make the decision.
The reasons for the decision goes to the heart of what lead to the decision, essentially the key information which then informed his decision, not all the information.
Moreover, the President’s legal team admitted in open court that the DA and South Africa are entitled to the reasons, if not the record.
It is therefore very strange that President Zuma now elects to produce nothing, not even the reasons to which his legal team conceded.
Although we are of the view that he should have complied with the ruling by Judge Vally last week, the fact remains that we have seen these tactics used ad nauseam by President Zuma, first in the Spy Tapes saga and now in his latest desperate attempt to dodge accountability.
We have already been in touch with Judge Vally’s registrar to request an urgent date to argue the application for leave to appeal.  We hope as early as next week.
The undeniable fact is that President Zuma does not believe he should be held to the same standard all other citizens are. He believes he is above the law.
That is why the DA will continue to employ all mechanisms necessary to ensure that he is held accountable for his actions. South Africa deserves nothing less.

DA to submit PAIA for West Coast Rock Lobster fishing rights as only 75 of 800 licenses granted

At the end of April 2017, the National Government Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced that only 75 of the previous 800 established fishing rights holders would be allocated fishing rights for West Coast Rock Lobster (WCRL) in South Africa.
Effectively, the Department has rendered these fishermen jobless. This is the mark of an extremely uncaring ANC government.
Worse yet is the Department’s refusal to provide reasons for why fishing rights applications have been denied.
The DA will therefore submit an application, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), for the score sheets and any other data used by the Department to allocate Fishing Rights.
We will also write to the Chairperson of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Portfolio Committee, Machwene Semenya, to call a meeting of the committee to allow Parliament to get to the bottom of how the fishing licenses were allocated in a way that denies 725 lobster fishers their livelihoods.
The outcomes of the application process has been nothing short of devastating for the majority of WCRL fishermen and their families who have held these rights for at least thirteen years. The lives of thousands of fishers and their families are depending on government to allow them to continue their trade.
The fishers who have been denied their long-standing licenses are entitled to an administrative appeal under the Marine Living Resources Act or to prepare an urgent court application, but the applicants require the following documents which they are being denied by the Department:
• A letter addressed to the applicant, informing him/her of the actual reasons for the decision;
• A copy of the score sheet for a particular application and all other evaluation records used to score the application;
• Copies of the score sheets and evaluation sheets for every other applicant in that fishery – for both, the right holder and new entrant applicants;
• The General Published Reasons; and
• Complete lists of successful applicants, together with the names and registration numbers of their nominated fishing vessels and crew allocations.
The refusal to publicise this information brings into question the lawfulness of the processes followed in allocating these rights.
The DA supports the notion that every person who fulfils the criteria should be awarded fishing rights as soon as possible. We also support sustainable, responsible and scientifically based rights allocations. But until such time as the Department comes clean, fishers simply do not know what is costing them their livelihood.
The DA believes that if a fisher has had rights and has used them responsibly by giving in catch data, building a market and paying fees and taxes, there is a legitimate expectation to have the right renewed the following year.
As such, we fully support the community’s decision to pursue an urgent application interdicting the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Senzeni Zokwana, to set the process aside to stop them continuing with allocating the other reserved rights and to allow them fishing rights on an interim basis until the appeals process is finished.
The DA will fight for the community’s jobs where it is clear the uncaring ANC government will not.
We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that this matter is resolved as a matter of urgency so that the livelihoods of fishing communities are protected.

Dlamini must explain R6 billion SASSA distribution price tag

Yesterday, in a rare appearance in Parliament, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini revealed that the price tag for SASSA to take over the distribution of social grants will cost the taxpayer R6 billion.
The DA will now submit parliamentary questions to get the exact details of how Dlamini arrived at this alarming figure.
Specifically, Dlamini must provide explicit detail on the following questions:

  • How did the Minister arrive at this R6 billion figure?
  • Did this price tag increase because SASSA was unready to distribute social grants at the 31 March 2017 deadline, which was a crisis manufactured by Dlamini?
  • What measures will the department take to ensure that its plan remains in line with the Public Finance Management Act, Act 1 of 1999?

The new R6 billion figure is absolutely staggering and raises yet more alarming questions about the DA’s long-held belief that Dlamini purposefully manufactured the social grants crisis to ensure that the status quo on the multi-billion rand social grant distribution system remains, including that CPS, continues to benefit.
Dlamini is infamous for her constant evasion of accountability, but the Minister should have no problem answering the DA’s questions truthfully and on time if she has nothing to hide.
After the President’s disastrous midnight cabinet reshuffle, Dlamini somehow managed to evade the chop, this despite having so blatantly played political games with the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans.
Dlamini’s department deals with millions of the poorest people in our society, and yet, in another example of the disdain she has for the poor, she saw fit to purchase a brand new luxury vehicle worth more than R1 million. Dlamini’s claim that buying an ultra-luxury vehicle was “unavoidable” is a disgrace in the face of growing poverty and unemployment in South Africa.
It is glaringly obvious that Dlamini loves feathering her nest with luxury cars and expensive hotel stays, whilst millions of our people live in absolute poverty.
The fact is that Dlamini is not fit to be a champion of the millions of vulnerable South Africans who rely on her to provide their safety net.

ANC rejects job-creating Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill

Yesterday, the ANC rejected the DA’s Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill that was designed to make it easier for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMMEs) to do business and therefore, create jobs for the 9 million unemployed South Africans.
Essentially, the ANC have rejected an opportunity to decrease the sheer volume of red tape that stands in the way of small businesses and therefore in the way of economic growth and job creation.
Year on year Zuma promises, without any solution, to make it easier for businesses to launch and grow. Now that the DA has tabled a solution, the ANC has rejected it. We therefore call on the ANC to table its own red-tape reduction proposal to parliament, setting out how it will end the strangling red tape crisis in SA.
The DA’s Bill sought to create an enabling environment that will stimulate small business growth and create jobs by addressing the following problems associated with dense bureaucracy and red tape in South Africa:
• The general absence of red tape impact assessments;
• Lack of cost calculations of red tape to business;
• A regulatory environment that is not “Business Friendly” and fraught with inconsistencies; and
• Limited co-ordination across the different spheres of government.
In the DA-run Western Cape, the Red Tape Reduction Unit has achieved a great success rate of 90% in the nearly 4 000 cases it has dealt with since its 2009 inception.
The fact is that we need to adapt to international best practice with regards to lowering the regulatory hurdles facing small businesses if we are to have any hope of improving our economic growth which is vital for job creation.
Given the dismal state of the economy, due in no small part to the actions and poor decisions of the ANC, it is all the more imperative to create the environment for SMMEs to grow.
Red tape is ultimately hitting the poorest of the poor which further highlights the ANC’s inability to solve this crisis.
The fact that the ANC rejected it, speaks volumes about their lack of commitment to ensuring that SMME’s are given the support they need and South Africa needs, to prosper.

DA will oppose a TV license fee for mobile phones, computers and tablets

The DA will oppose the imposition of TV license fees for mobile phones, computers and tablets.
Yesterday, the SABC’s Acting GCEO, James Aguma, indicated that when purchasing a mobile phone, computer or tablet, South Africans will in future have to pay a TV license fee for those devices. This would be achieved by changing the definition of “receiving device” through an amendment to the Broadcasting Act.
The DA strongly advises the SABC not to table this amendment in Parliament, and rather devote time to finding innovative ways to fund the public broadcaster.
It is indeed possible for the SABC to stay afloat without seeking to further tax the already over-burdened South African taxpayer.
The reason the SABC is currently in serious financial crisis is not because it does not have enough money; but because of corruption, financial mismanagement and a decline in advertising revenue.
The public should not have to pay for the SABC’s sins through additional TV license fees.
Moreover, very few South African access SABC on their phones, computers and tablets. Why should they have to pay money to the SABC when they don’t consume SABC products on those devices?
The SABC should focus on the following in order to improve its financial standing:

  • Recovering money lost through corruption;
  • Cost-cutting;
  • Improving the reputational damage caused by years of financial mismanagement;
  • Improving its content to reverse declining viewer – and listenership; and
  • Engagement with advertisers to bring them back to the SABC.

The SABC can be profitable, it has been in the past – it just needs the right management in order to do so.
The DA will continue to vigorously hold the SABC accountable, in order to ensure that it is able to deliver on its mandate to provide quality and entertainment and educational programming.

SA Human Rights Commission agrees to DA’s request to investigate SADTU

The DA has been informed that the South African Human Rights Commission is investigating the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) for its role in denying children the right to a basic education.
This follows the DA’s complaint to the Human Rights Commission in September 2015.
We specifically asked the Human Rights Commission to investigate the following:

  • SADTU’s blocking of measures to hold educators accountable for poor performance – including regular assessments, competency tests and performance agreements for Principals.
  • SADTU’s neglect of teaching and learning while engaged in various unlawful protests and strikes.
  • SADTU’s unlawful interference and corruption in the appointment of teachers and principals as exemplified by the ‘Jobs for Cash’ scandal.

It is the DA’s view that SADTU’s conduct violates the constitutional rights of learners across the country to a basic education, as well as the constitutional imperative that, in all matters concerning the child, “a child’s best interests are paramount”.
The DA, therefore, welcomes the willingness of the Human Rights Commission to investigate.
We are in the process of making detailed submissions to the Human Rights Commission to highlight the extent of SADTU’s toxic influence on our education system. We call on various stakeholders, including Minister Motshekga, the MECs in the various provinces and SADTU itself to co-operate fully with the investigation.
It is a tragedy that two decades after the end of apartheid the majority of our children are still prevented from receiving the quality education they deserve.
We need to remove all impediments that prevent our children from escaping poverty, and this means holding SADTU bosses accountable for their role in denying children a right to a quality basic education.