DAWN welcomes strike down of 20 year Expiry on Prosecuting Sexual Offences

The DA Women’s Network welcomes that the South Gauteng High Court has declared section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act unconstitutional. This section stated that all sexual offences, other than rape prescribe after 20 years.
This provision has meant that crimes such as sexual assault could not be prosecuted after 20 years and thus had the effect of denying victims their constitutionally protected right to justice.
The DA Women’s Network welcomes this decision by the court as it has the potential to afford all survivors of sexual violence the opportunity to approach courts for legal recourse and get the justice that is due to them even if the crime is reported numerous years later.
All sexual offences are serious in nature as the victims of these crimes often have to experience the adverse and far-reaching effects long after the crime has been committed.
Declaring section 18 of the Criminal Procedure Act unconstitutional is a major achievement in the fight against sexual abuse. We anticipate that the Constitutional Court will agree, and we look forward to the law being amended as soon as possible.

DA refers Mkhwebane’s illegal remedial action to Parliament's Legal office

The DA expresses serious disquiet at the ‘remedial action’ proposed by the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, in which she instructed Parliament’s Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development to amend the Constitution in relation to the powers of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).
Clearly, her recommendation goes beyond what she is legally empowered to do and is indicative of her long-term plan to render the Public Protectors office ineffective.
The effect of the ‘remedial action’ would be to instruct the Justice committee to promote the action, which in itself appears sinister and is a cause for great concern.
The DA will therefore seek a meeting with the Head of the Parliamentary Legal Services, requesting a confirmation that a Public Protector instruction for Parliament to amend the Constitution is illegal and to determine if Parliament will be taking this action on review, given the grave constitutional implications.
The SARB have received a legal opinion confirming that the ‘remedial action’ is both outside of Mkhwebane’s powers and illegal and has indicated their intention of having the matter reviewed.
The DA will be watching this process carefully and are currently exploring all possible actions to address the apparent difficulties with the remedial action in its current form, least of which is the fact that the Public Protector reports to the Justice Committee and is therefore not constitutionally empowered to instruct it to do anything.
The remedial actions announced yesterday are very disturbing and they mean that the new Public Protector has either failed to understand her role and powers as Public Protector, or she simply is prepared to break the law to drive political agendas.
Mkhwebane’s remedial action to amend the Constitution also undermines and usurps Parliamentary powers.
The National Assembly is the only institution empowered to amend the Constitution – once it has attained a two-thirds majority from MPs. Mkhwebane’s recommendation is also, therefore, a threat to Parliament’s legislative power.
When Mkhwebane was put forward as a possible replacement for Adv. Thuli Madonsela, the DA strongly opposed her appointment as we were of the belief that she was not the best candidate. We did this because we believed South Africa deserved better.
The DA will continue to investigate this matter fully with a view to taking further action as we cannot stand by as another key institution is hollowed out for the benefit of a few and at the expense of South Africa’s future.

37 Reports on corruption at the SABC awaiting action since 2014

The DA can reveal that the SABC Forensic Unit has issued 37 forensic reports on allegations ranging from fraud and corruption, to bribery and nepotism at the public broadcaster since May 2014. However, many of these findings still await corrective action from SABC management.
In a reply to a DA parliamentary question, Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo, lists a number of alarming findings including SABC missing equipment, failure to disclose business interests, the irregular appointment of employees, procurement irregularities in tender processes, conflict of interest and various cases of fraud and corruption.
Some of the findings include, but are not limited to:

  • SABC Medscheme – 24 SABC employees colluded with a Clinical Psychologist to bill SABC Medscheme for fictitious consultations and in return, the Psychologist paid the employees a cash amount. This report was issued on 23 July 2014 and the implementation of the recommendations are still in progress as an additional 192 incidents have been identified.
  • Ukhozi FM Drama – Freelance actors submitted fictitious invoices in collusion with the Drama Producer. Action against the implicated actors and Producer is still in progress, despite the report being issued on the 3rd of June 2014.
  • Lotus FM Dramas – on 24 August 2015 a report was issued regarding allegations that the Drama Producer at Lotus FM signed and submitted tax invoices and timesheets on behalf of an independent contractor. The report found that the Producer’s husband is a freelance writer for the independent contractor which she failed to declare. The report recommended disciplinary action against the Producer, however, no action has been taken.
  • The General Manager: Channels – Failed to disclose his Business Interests in 2014 and is still awaiting action by management.
  • SABC Marketing Executive – In 2014, he had an undeclared interest in a company owned by his spouse, who took on the SABC as direct clients.

These reports show how deep corruption runs in the SABC. These findings and reports only scratch the surface of the misconduct happening at the public broadcaster.
It is now clear that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) should start with the mammoth task of addressing all the corruption in the SABC immediately. The SABC interim board Chairperson, Khanyisile Kweyama, indicated in Parliament last week that a request has been sent to the President to sign the proclamation for the SIU to investigate the SABC. The President is yet to sign and must do so immediately for the investigation to commence.
The SABC can only get back to its status as a world-class broadcaster once the rot of corruption is weeded out once and for all.

ANC goes into damage control over Winnie Mandela’s Brandfort House

The DA notes the oversight visit by the Deputy Minister of Arts and Culture, Maggie Sotyu, to the site of Winnie Mandela’s House in Brandfort yesterday. She was accompanied by the Free State MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mathabo Leeto.
It is interesting that this visit comes days after extensive negative press coverage around alleged fraud and misappropriation of funds on this project to convert Winnie Mandela’s Brandfort house into a museum.
MEC Leeto indicated that the provincial government will see what they can do with the little funding that they have to complete the project, whilst millions of Rands were already budgeted on previous occasions for this project, without any result.
The MEC also alluded to the fact that the project holds tourism and job opportunities to the benefit of the local community, but remained silent on why the ANC government has failed to unlock this potential over the last 12 years, since the project was initially planned.
Although the DA would welcome the establishment and completion of the Winnie Mandela House Museum, we condemn in the strongest terms the fact that it took the recent public outcry on the matter before both MEC Leeto and Deputy Minister Sotyu appeared to express their willingness to take action.
The MEC and Deputy Minister should have used the opportunity to call for a full investigation as to where the previously allocated funds were spent, why the project has been incomplete for 12 years and why the site has still not been declared a provincial heritage site.
The DA has submitted written questions to both MEC Leeto and the Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mthethwa, in this regard.
It would be appalling if a finding was to be made of irregular spending of funds on the part of the government and that the ANC used what is a painful past – not only for Mrs Madikizela-Mandela, but also for the people of Brandfort – to enrich themselves.

DA rejects Parliament’s half-baked state capture “probe” and reiterates need for ad hoc committee

The DA is angered by the 19 June announcement by Parliament that a select number of parliamentary committees have been directed to “urgently probe” allegations of state capture and report back to the National Assembly. This is an ANC attempt to shield President Jacob Zuma and the executive from answering to serious State Capture evidence.
This half-baked “probe” has been introduced by the ANC in bad faith and without any effort to gain multi-party agreement.
It is especially exasperating considering the ongoing discussions taking place in the Chief Whips’ Forum around Parliament’s response to allegations of state capture and the “special meeting” of the Forum which is scheduled to discuss, among other things, the Public Protector’s State of Capture Report on Wednesday, 21 June.
The instruction, reportedly issued by House Chairperson of Committees, Cedric Frolick, for the chairpersons of the portfolio committees on Home Affairs, Mineral Resources, Public Enterprises and Transport to “ensure immediate engagement with the concerned Ministers to ensure that Parliament gets to the bottom of the allegations” is both disingenuous and an attempt at subterfuge. It is also unclear by what authority the Chairperson has issued this instruction as his authority is limited to “implement[ing] policy or guidelines on the scheduling and co-ordination of meetings of all committees”. Portfolio committees may initiate probes themselves or can be instructed to do so by the House; the Chairperson does not have that authority.
This proposal was never brought before the Chief Whips’ Forum for discussion and, as such, ignores the opinion of 12 parties representing millions of voters in Parliament.
Furthermore, the investigation into state capture cannot be narrowly reduced to those four portfolios and cannot be effectively carried out by “engaging” the concerned Ministers as several ministers are at the heart of the state capture allegations.
Indeed, this proposed course of action conveniently side-steps the most prominent member of the Executive, President Jacob Zuma, whose relationship with the Gupta family is the very nexus of the state capture allegations.
On Wednesday, 21 June, the DA will once again lobby support for our draft resolution into the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture. This committee will be the only way in which Parliament will be able to hold the entire Executive to account, including the president and deputy ministers, and can easily conduct its business in concert with the relevant portfolio committees.
To illustrate, the Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture can begin its enquiry “into [the] undue influence by certain individuals over the executive in their exercise of executive authority” precisely as the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises begins its inquiry into Eskom, a process which is scheduled to commence on 21 June. The DA has consistently lobbied for portfolio committees to carry out inquiries into allegations of state capture, especially those actions targeting our state-owned entities (SOEs). However, recent allegations have shown that the tentacles of state capture extends well beyond a clutch of SOEs and certainly beyond the four committees tasked with carrying out this “Parliamentary probe”. The DA recognises the sterling work done by portfolio committees in the recent past, but we cannot afford “probes” that pass the blame to officials and let members of the Executive off the hook.
Consider the case of former Minister of Communications and current Minister of Public Service and Administration, Faith Muthambi: how will the proposed “probe” deal with the allegations that she sent confidential information on cabinet meetings to the Guptas? How will this “probe” deal with the well-ventilated accusations, also confirmed by then-Deputy Minister of Finance, Mcebisi Jonas, that the Guptas were aware and possibly influenced Cabinet appointments? The “probe” also conveniently glosses over key departments which have allegedly been targets of state capture in recent times, including the departments of Finance, Communications and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
Agreement was reached during last week’s Chief Whips’ Forum that Parliament should never again be found wanting, as was the case with the Nkandla debacle. However, instead of dealing decisively with the scourge of state capture, the ANC in Parliament are weaseling out by choosing to implement a damage containment strategy. This is the wrong choice to make and will once again leave Parliament exposed to accusations of failing to perform its effective oversight role.
The DA is undeterred and will continue to fight for the creation of an Ad Hoc Committee on State Capture.

SABC CFO must be suspended for dubious multi-million contracts

We now have confirmation of dubious contracts signed off by the SABC’s top executives, including Acting CFO Audrey Raphela, in late December 2016.
Replies to DA parliamentary questions reveal that at least two dubious tenders were awarded by the SABC in late December 2016 while Parliament was conducting hearings during the SABC inquiry, namely:

  • A contract worth R5.1 million (R4.5 million excluding VAT) for the redesign of the SABC’s websites awarded to Infonomix without going to tender; and
  • A contract worth R7.3 million paid to Imagine Communications for an advertising management system, with an additional R 4.7 million over three years for “license fee and maintenance”. The contract with Imagine Communications was signed despite it being proven that the system was not suitable for the SABC, contributing to the R300 million loss in advertising revenue at the public broadcaster. It does not appear that this contract was put out to tender.

We await replies from Communications Minister, Ayanda Dlodlo about other contracts reportedly signed off in a rush in December by Raphela.
On the basis of these allegations of serious tender flouting, the SABC Acting CFO must be suspended pending an investigation into the awarding of these tenders, and pending a disciplinary inquiry.
In addition, the procedures relating to Raphela’s appointment as Acting CFO must be reviewed. She was appointed from outside the SABC in August 2016 into the acting CFO position. Normally, a person from inside an organisation is appointed into an acting position with the understanding he or she will return to their permanent position once the temporary allocating in the acting role is complete. It is alleged that Raphela was brought in by James Aguma into the CFO position, flouting the SABC’s HR procedures.
The DA is intent on cleaning up the rot at the SABC, and ensuring that those individuals responsible, are held accountable. SABC COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who received R1.7 million while on suspension since January 2017, and was paid R12.5 million while irregularly employed as the SABC’s COO, has fallen and James Aguma is currently suspended, facing a disciplinary inquiry. Next should be Raphela, and the numerous “enforcers” who implemented patently illegal and unethical decisions at the orders of Aguma and Motsoeneng.
The SABC can and will be returned to being the public broadcaster that fulfils its mandate of entertaining and educating the public, without being a feeding trough for corrupt officials.

DA submits PAIA to Treasury for Sfiso Buthelezi PRASA forensic reports

The DA has submitted an application, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), for the findings of all the forensic investigations into Deputy Finance Minister, Sfiso Buthelezi, when he was Chairperson of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
It is in the best interest of the South African public that these findings be made public and will ensure that any of these damning findings will not be buried. There is a very real and present danger that as Deputy Minister, Mr Sfiso Buthelezi has the power to conceal and bury the findings against him.
Reports recently stated that the forensic investigations findings, going as far back as seven years, show that Prasa Executives, the Board and Buthelezi did not uphold their fiduciary duties when they ignored wasteful, fruitless and irregular spending in multiple tender procurement processes totalling more than R1 billion and violated the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
The findings of the investigations were apparently passed on to National Treasury recently and now Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, and Buthelezi are left to act on the findings. The Minister is between a rock and a hard place, and only a full public disclosure will ease this for him.
The DA has already opened a criminal case against Buthelezi for apparent involvement in corruption at Prasa. We have also written to Transport Committee Chairperson, Dikeledi Magadzi, to summon the Hawks to update Parliament on its continued Prasa investigations and we have written to Minister Gigaba to pass on the full forensic investigations findings on Buthelezi to the Hawks.
We will continue to push for the corrupt rot at the State Owned Entity (SOE) to be weeded out and will not back down until all implicated government officials are brought to book for any abuse of state resources. If guilty, Buthelezi must be held accountable to the full extent of the law.

SAA have possibly defaulted on billions in loans

Reports today that Standard Chartered Bank has declined to renew their loan facilities to SAA and that repayment of these loans has been demanded, may only be the tip of the iceberg.
According to a repayment schedule, SAA has listed R 8,887 billion repayable in 2017/18, yet some of the maturity dates have in fact past.
Key dates that have already past include:

  • R0.3 billion due to STANDARD BANK on 30 December 2016;
  • R1 billion to STANDARD BANK on 30 December 2016;
  • R1 billion owed to STANDARD CHARTERED on 27 January 2017;
  • R1 billion owed to ABSA  on 8 December 2016;
  • R1 billion owed to STANDARD CHARTERED on 22 December 2016;
  • R2.25 billion owed to  VARIOUS PHOENIX on 28 April 2017; and
  • R0.8 billion owed to VARIOUS GBF on 28 April 2017.

I will write to Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, to request that he urgently answer two vital questions.
The first is whether or not the other loans already overdue have been repaid and/or rolled over?
The second is how close is SAA to default resulting in lenders calling in government guarantees?
All of SAA’s loans are backed by government guarantees that in total now amount to R 19,1 billion.
If SAA has failed to repay some of these loans, it could force other creditors to recall their loans, which would then necessitate the government to step in and pay. This money would ultimately be taken from the public purse and could have dire consequences for the sovereign rating status of South Africa.
The fact is that the only way out of this mess is for SAA to apply for business rescue where robust cost reductions can be implemented.
A successful business rescue and the prevention of the government guarantees being called in would be have to lead to a full, or at very least a majority privatisation, of SAA in order to for SAA to survive in the long-term and importantly to release the South African taxpayer from ever having to meet the R 19,1 billion government guarantees.

Public Protector must use presser tomorrow to release Gupta reports

Following reports today that Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has failed to release numerous reports, involving the Gutpas, the DA calls on her to release them at her press conference scheduled for tomorrow in the interest of transparency and the South African public.
Reports today detail how Mkhwebane has, for the last eight months, failed to release at least 4 separate investigation reports involving the Gupta family. These reports include, but may not be limited to:

  • The report of the investigation, following a complaint laid by the DA, into the illegal landing of Gupta wedding guests at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in 2013;
  • Numerous reports following investigations into the relationship and funding of Gupta media, The New Age (TNA), and key state-owned companies such as the SABC, as well as the North West provincial government; and
  • The relationship between certain ANC politicians and the Guptas.

It is telling that not one of the reports released by Mkhwebane during her tenure have involved any key political figures, despite there being numerous complaints against such individuals.
Given the flurry of reports uncovering just how far the ANC’s project of state capture has reached, it is more important than ever that the Public Protector investigate and report without fear or favour.
The DA were concerned at her appointment and specifically that she has always been employed in and around government and that she specifically indicated that she wanted to have a more “friendly relationship with government”, which now seems to be proving true.
However, Mkhwebane has an opportunity to act in the best interest of the South African public and release these reports at her press conference tomorrow and the DA strongly urge her to do so.

Kebby's R8 million strong-arm for MKMVA conference must be probed by AG

The DA notes with deep concern the allegations that Deputy Minister of Military Veterans, Kebby Maphatsoe, forced the Departments Director General, to release R8 million for the recent MKVA elective conference after the initial request was rejected because there was no evidence that 637 of the delegates were in fact bona fide military veterans.
The DA will therefore write to the Auditor General, Kimi Makwetu, to request that he institute an urgent investigation into these allegations.
We cannot allow ANC political appointees to continue to abuse their offices to divert public funds for political events. Kebby Maphatsoe is a known Zuma-cheerleader and seems to act with impunity as a result.
Should the AG find that this R8 million was diverted illegally, we will ensure that Maphatsoe is held accountable for this gross abuse of office to the full extent of the law.