DA Leader officially responds to the nomination of Justice Zondo as new Deputy Chief Justice

In terms of his obligation under section 174(3) of the Constitution, President Jacob Zuma wrote to me requesting my views and input on his decision to nominate Mr Justice Raymond Zondo as the new Deputy Chief Justice of the Republic of South Africa.
I have today responded in writing to his request, outlining my support for the nomination of Mr Zondo, while drawing the President’s attention to a handful of concerns pertaining to the candidate which require further consideration.The full response can be accessed here.
We approach candidates for judicial appointment with one central thing in mind: Judicial independence is of paramount importance in any Constitutional democracy, but especially so in a young democracy which is still working to establish and entrench the institutions that make a democracy work for the people and limit the power of individuals.
To us, it is essential that appointees to the bench in South Africa observe, and evince, a genuine strict independence from the Executive, from party politics, from corporate interests, from organised religion, and all other external interests. In the South African context, this more often than not manifests itself in judges having to stand opposed to unfair, prejudicial or unconstitutional actions by a powerful state. This judges must be comfortable to do without fear or favour.
Furthermore, I appealed to the President, as head of the national executive, to take the lead in fostering an attitude of respect towards the courts, particularly the Constitutional Court – the highest in the land. The courts are not a burden to Constitutional democracy, but are given a particular Constitutional mandate to both protect and advance the Constitution and all that it embodies.

Dodging Dlamini’s reign of impunity

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of Social Development, Lindy Wilson MP, during the debate on the SASSA crisis.
From very large nyana skeletons to the artful dodger. Social Development Minister, Bathabile Dlamini, has become a master of dodging accountability.
Her absolute disdain and disregard for 17 million poor and vulnerable South Africans, the Constitutional Court, Parliamentary procedures and regulations, and the PFMA, beggar belief. The lengths she has gone to, to ensure that CPS gets a new contract to issue grants again, cannot be made up.
In July 2016, when it was fast becoming apparent that SASSA were facing challenges with regards to the take-over of grants in April 2017, the DA began submitting written questions to the Minister. 15 in total. The Minister responded to two. This year we submitted 13 questions and not one of them has been answered.

  • The DA asked the Minister 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 – NO REPLY.
  • In July 2016 and again in January 2017 the DA asked the Minister whether SASSA intends to extend its contract for the distribution of grants with Net1/CPS before the specified contract concludes on 31 March 2017 – NO REPLY.
  • The DA asked the Minister for 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 – NO REPLY.
  • The DA questioned the tender processes used for the contracts for the leaders and work streams – NO REPLY.

This a clear indication of the Minister’s reign of impunity and her continual dodging of any opportunity to account for her department’s failure to ensure that 17 million South Africans receive their grants when the current invalid CPS contract ends on 31 March 2017.
Parliamentary questions are a vital component of accountability in Parliament and provide an opportunity to ensure that the Executive conduct themselves in a transparent manner.
When the DA requested the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee to please summons the Minister to give account to the Portfolio, we were advised that the Chair may not summons the Minister, she gets invited. If she decides to come, it is up to her.
When the Minister did grace the Portfolio with her presence, it was to continue her lack of transparency. She was deliberately vague in her responses, and, when the DA pushed for concrete answers, they were shut down by the Chair of the Committee.
So the DA requested SCOPA to ask the Minister to appear. Only then did her skeletons start to fall out of the closet… and it became apparent that her manipulation of this emergency situation in favour of CPS and the lack of any contracts with them had put the lives of 17 million South Africans at risk.
The DA is of the belief that Ms Dlamini is no longer fit to hold office and have called for President Zuma to fire her. His silence on this matter is deafening and serves to confirm that the ANC rewards failure.
We will continue to pursue all avenues to make sure the Minister will not be allowed to dodge accountability any longer.

Who is Dlamini fighting for?

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Member of the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, Karen Jooste MP, during the debate on the SASSA crisis.
Honourable Chairperson, Honourable Members, Fellow South Africans
Die hele SASSA debakel wys duidelik dat die behoeftes van mense wat sosiale toelaes ontvang, die Opper Gesag van die Reg en verantwoordbaarheid geensins vir hierdie Minister belangrik is nie.
She avoids answering questions, she interferes in the administration of her department and has gone out of her way to make sure that grants will again be distributed by CPS.
We know that the Minister ignored all three legal options on the impending crisis which begs the question: who is the Minister fighting for?
Certainly not the 17 million South Africans who rely on social grants just to get by each day.
Verlede jaar op die 7de Junie het ek die Minister gevra of die finansiële waarde van sosiale toelaes genoeg is om die mans, vrouens en kinders wat daarvan afhanlik is te onderhou.
Sy het toe die vermetelheid gehad om te antwoord dat “R753 genoeg is om kos en ander noodsaaklikhede te koop”.
Hierdie antwoord was n klap in die gesig van mense wat sosiale toelaes ontvang. Dit wys duidelik hoe uit voeling die minister is met die harde werklikhede wat baie Suid-Afrikaners daagliks ervaar.
Op grond van hierdie antwoord alleen moes sy afgedank gewees het. In plaas daarvan is sy gelos om net nog skade aan terig.
Honourable Speaker, the crisis is not only about whether these grants will be paid, it is about the quality of these grants.
It costs approximately R640 to feed a small child a basic nutritious meal and R680 to feed a teenager… yet the child grant is only R380!
When unemployment is as high as it is now, these child grants are the only income. It is shared across a household and are used for buying basic foodstuffs.
Our country’s future needs an educated population and a skilled workforce. For the sake of these children, and our country’s economic future, the grants must not only be paid on the first of April but their value has to be increased so mothers can at least feed their children properly.
Die DA is die enigste party wat werklik die behoeftes van mense wat sosiale toelaes ontvang verstaan, wat aandring op verantwoordbaarheid en wat baklei vir beter toelaes.
As die President nie die Minister wil afdank nie, behoort sy die eerbare ding te doen en self te bedank.

Dodging Dlamini’s ominous agenda

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Social Development, Bridget Masango MP, during the debate on the SASSA crisis.
Last week, I submitted a PAIA application for the contract between the Department of Social Development and Net1/Cash Paymaster Services for the distribution of 17 million social grants to the poorest of the poor in our country.
The response was that there IS NO contract between CPS and the South African Social Security Agency.
With two and a half weeks to go until the current invalid contract with CPS expires – and no alternate plan on the to ensure grants will be paid – this is an unbelievable example of recklessness and the hopeless inability of Social Development Minister Dlamini who has put the livelihoods of millions of our people at risk.
It is now blatantly clear that she has done all in her power to avoid having to produce any contract for the Constitutional Court’s scrutiny and possible adverse comment, something that Net1/CPS has openly admitted they wish to avoid. It is also clear as day that this minister is desperate to ensure that CPS keeps this lucrative contract at all costs.
The DA warned of this impending crisis in June and October last year. Yet the Minister did nothing. That is why the DA have repeatedly called for her to be fired and do so again today.
The CEO of SASSA, Thokozani Magwaza, told the media that Minister Dlamini blocked all his efforts to report back to the Constitutional Court – which she was obliged to do – about the payment of social grants and that she personally interfered when he tried to find a solution to the crisis.
When the agency was about to petition the court for guidance early last month, she issued eleventh-hour instructions to block the process. She has desperately and determinedly ensured that there is no communication with the highest court in the land on an issue which affects millions and millions of our poorest of the poor.
The same CEO was booked into hospital due to stress and has been off sick for two weeks, AND, according to reports, his acting CEO, Thamo Mzobe, was also hospitalised with the same condition. And, last week, Social Development Director General, Zayn Dangor, resigned.
What we have here is a case of honest officials – and there are many of them – coming head to head with the truly ominous agenda of the minister, and indeed the president, to keep this corrupt contract at all costs.
To be playing games like this, with 17 million South Africans, at this critical stage is scandalous and should see her removed immediately.
The whole country is seized with this crisis. The DA will not rest until we get to the bottom of this sorry saga. We will not rest until we have answers and accountability.

PetroSA shows further impairments of R1.1 billion, after the R14.5 billion in 2014/15 financial year

Today, the Committee on Energy was told of a further R1.1 billion impairment for current 2016/17 financial year at PetroSA. This is on top of another forensic report that was presented to the Committee on the monumental impairment of R14.5 billion in the 2014/15 financial year, the majority of which was due to the failed Ikhwezi ocean-gas project.
The DA will request the full forensic report so that a second opinion can be provided by another independent law firm on possible prosecutions against those responsible for the billions wasted.  With the value of this loss, a second opinion is completely justified.
An impairment is an expense when the book value of an asset exceeds the recoverable amount of that asset.
We will also call for the Minister of Energy, Tina Joematt-Pettersson, to account for the appointment of the current board who have presided over this further R1.1 billion impairment. Minister Joematt-Pettersson must also fast track the recommendations of the Presidential Review Commission. This must include a review of all contracts to ensure executives are awarded bonuses on performance and not on being retained only.
The two main findings from the forensic report presented to the committee, compiled by SNG, found that the project did not deliver on its gas promises and secondly that there were massive project management issues including changes in contractors, overruns, delays and a disconnect between the board and management.
The only punishment in relation to this R14.5 billion loss was two golden handshakes for the ex-CFO and the ex-CEO and a demotion for the vice president of new ventures upstream, after they were each on full pay and at home pending the outcome of the investigation.
The acting chair of PetroSA, Mr Ngubane, went on to say that the contracts of executives did not link performances to bonuses. This is disgraceful and highlights the critical issue crippling SOEs in SA – poor governance and a lack of oversight.
The main problem surfacing from this whole saga is that the ANC-appointed board was not fit to oversee this kind of project, as they lacked the requisite skills and that the board failed to punish the executives properly.
This trend seems to be continuing with the current impairment of R1.1 billion that will place a further liability on the SOE.
The DA will continue to strive for public money to be accounted for and the people involved in illegal and negligent activities punished.
The DA will continue to push for a comprehensive turnaround plan from PetroSA, which should be backed by detailed research, and include action steps to ensure that the leadership is held accountable.

The dream of a country free from fear

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, Zakhele Mbhele MP, during the debate on farm murders.
Section 205(3) of our constitution states that “the objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law”. On all of these points, the SAPS is struggling and failing when it comes to crime in rural communities and the safety of farm-dwellers.
This is not because we don’t know what to do to improve safety and security in these communities; rather it is because the police service lacks the right leadership, both political and managerial, to address the problem. The SAPS is the key state institution for ensuring that all people live in safety, free from crime and violence, but is failing in fulfilling that duty due to poor leadership and skewed priorities that undermine the fight against crime on the ground.
The 2016 White Paper on Policing outlines that the police service must be rooted in a community-centred approach, a key demonstration of which is to be responsive to the vulnerabilities and policing needs of local communities. To quote the White Paper: “At local level the SAPS must be equipped to respond to the risks, vulnerabilities and policing needs of the disparate communities it serves.”
This echoes the DA’s longstanding call for the localisation of policing through greater autonomy for police stations. Because crime threats vary drastically from community to community, the SAPS approach of a centralised crime-fighting strategy often undermines the ability of police stations to respond to the very specific needs of their communities.
In this regard, there are multiple instances of SAPS failure to be responsive, both structurally and operationally, to the local policing needs of rural communities. During a visit last month to the town of Belfast in Mpumalanga with my colleague, Honourable Steyn, following another farm attack, we heard from the local councillor about numerous examples of how the SAPS is hopelessly handicapped to do its job:
• In a context where one ward can sometimes be as large as encompassing three towns, one police station has to cover a geographically massive policing precinct, involving long travelling distances, and usually covering multiple settlements.
• Outside of roads between and within towns, most vehicular travel has to be on gravel roads and sometimes on no roads at all. This terrain requires tougher, more agile police vehicles that can take hard knocks and won’t be rendered useless after it rains because they get stuck in mud too easily.
• The under-staffing and inadequate number of police vehicles means that when a suspect in custody has to be transported to another town for a court appearance, normal sector policing operations are deprived of cars and officers for visible patrolling and rapid response.
The SAPS is also missing a huge opportunity in the fight against farm attacks and other rural crimes when it comes to police reservists. The White Paper on Policing is clear that “the effective use of reservists contributes to strengthening policing at station level and the implementation of crime prevention initiatives.”
Currently, the reservist corps has shrunk, is poorly managed and almost impossible to get into due to inexplicably stringent eligibility criteria in the revised regulations. A larger SAPS Reservist Corps would act as a force multiplier to get more boots on the ground for visible patrolling and rapid response, plugging the gaps and helping to spread the workload.
There is no need for the situation to be this bad. This is what the DA would do to improve the safety and security of rural communities and reduce farm attacks:
Give greater budgetary freedom: Often station commanders are prevented from adapting resource allocation according to their specific needs because of centralised bureaucratic processes. The DA would give more discretionary management authority for these decisions to be localised so that stations could deal with problems more effectively – for example, given that policing precincts usually cover a large area, a station commander would be free to ensure the operation of a larger number and spread of satellite police stations.
Allow for local sourcing of equipment: Under a DA government, police stations would be allowed to procure equipment and services directly from approved suppliers based on station needs. This means that they would be sure, for example, to get the right kind of vehicles for their context, instead of being subject to decisions from higher up in the hierarchy that are ill-suited for their needs.
It also means that vehicles would not languish at a centralised SAPS Garage for weeks or months on end for repairs and maintenance while vulnerable communities are poorly protected by an under-resourced and under-equipped police service. They could get them attended to at a local mechanic within a shorter turnaround time.
Boost operational personnel numbers with a strong reservist corps: The DA would ensure rigorous vetting and training, coupled with strong accountability, to ensure that volunteer reservists’ behaviour and conduct is in line with the ethos and expectations of permanent SAPS members.
The DA stands ready to lead a national government that will fix the police service and ensure safety and security for all, particularly rural and farming communities. In order for us, as a nation, to harness the full potential of our people, we need safe homes and safe streets. As the ANC is increasingly paralysed by corruption, cronyism and poor leadership, the DA is becoming the hope of more and more citizens to realise the dream of a country free from fear.

Why does the government turn a blind eye to farm murders?

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Anette Steyn MP, during the debate on farm murders.
We are today participating in a debate to discuss murder. Murder is the unlawful and intentional killing of another human being! South Africa has a shocking murder rate. During 2015/16, 18 673 murders were recorded, it is an average of 51.2 murders per day. We have become so accustomed to this that we don’t even blink an eye anymore when someone is murdered.
Voorsitter, plaasmoorde le my na aan die hart. Ek is ‘n gebore plaasmeisie en weet hoe dit voel om by die plaashek in te ry en te wonder of daar dalk onwelkome gaste op my wag. Ek weet hoe dit voel om in die nag wakker te word as ek vreemde geluide hoor en om dan stil in die donker op te staan en versigtig deur die huis te beweeg om seker te maak dat alles buite nog reg is. Ek vrees elke dag dat iemand na aan my en waarvoor ek lief is op ‘n plaas vermoor kan word.
Wat ek nie weet nie, is hoe dit voel om te hoor dat een van jou geliefdes of werkers in ‘n plaasmoord gesterf het. Terwyl moord in ons land buite beheer is, kan niemand hier vandag se dat hul nie bewus is van die gruwelmoorde wat op Suid Afrikaanse plase plaasvind nie.
Chairperson, we may disagree with the reasons for these murders, some may say it is because farmers mistreat their workers or because “they stole our land” but we have to agree that the torture of any person by another is inhumane and barbaric. This year alone we have seen more than 70 attacks resulting in at least 20 murders.
Let me tell you about three of these attacks:
• On 13 January this year, 69 year old Mrs Kidson was killed while recovering from a hip operation and sitting in a wheelchair. Mrs Kidson was repeatedly stabbed with a sharp object and then her throat was slit. Her husband was also found with his throat slit.
• Op 22 Februarie het Sue Howarth na twee dae in die intensiewesorg eenheid die stryd gewonne gegee. Sue het ‘n gruweldood gesterf, haar liggaam was vol meswonde, haar borste was gebrand en haar oe was toegeswel. Net om seker te maak dat sy wel doodgaan het die aanvallers ‘n swartsak in haar keel gedruk en haar toe ook nog in die kop geskiet.
• This past weekend the 62 year old Nicci Simpson was tied to a chair and tortured with an electrical drill, drilling holes in her feet, legs and knees. Her ribs were broken and she was stabbed multiple times. Luckily she survived this horrific attack.
How is it possible that even one person could get burned with hot water, an iron, dripping plastic, a blow torch, slaughtered like an animal and no-one says a word?
Why are we quiet when it comes to crimes affecting farming and rural communities, could I assume that we are quiet because these victims are farmers?
Hierdie aanvalle is nie slegs teen boere nie, plaaswerkers word ook hierdeur geraak. Inligting versamel deur Vrystaat Landbou wys dat daar reeds 12 aanvalle hierdie jaar in die Vrystaat plaasgevind het, in 7 gevalle was dit teen plaaswerkers gerig. Op Saterdag 11 Maart is twee werkers naby Kroonstad deur 10 rowers aangeval en aangerand.
Crime and violence is affecting and is dehumanising all people in farming and rural communities, irrespective of their race.
Why then does the government turn a blind eye to this? Why does the government refuse to take decisive action to protect its farming and rural communities?
Instead, what we have seen is political leaders using rhetoric that only serves to incite hate and more violence. The president sings “bring back my machine gun” while people are murdered by gangs using machine guns. Others tell their followers to invade land illegally, while singing “one settler, one bullet”.
We cannot allow this to spiral into racial hatred and for us to divide our people along racial lines. We have to stand up and condemn all murders. It cannot be allowed that a person is tortured over two days and no one says a word. It cannot be allowed for a person to shoot someone and then say, “I thought it was a monkey”.
We must take collective responsibility for our divided country by ensuring that all our citizens feel safe and secure.
Ek het die afgelope maand na Mpumalanga, KZN, Gauteng en die Vrystaat gereis om met boere oor landelike veiligheid te praat. Die Demokratiese Alliansie stel die volgende voor:
• Farm attacks must be classified as priority crime in order for more resources to be allocated to Rural Safety Units, currently SAPS is under-resourced and the rural safety Strategy is not properly implemented.
• It is important for attacks to be classified as a separate category of crime for statistical purposes going forward. This classification must include farmers, farmworkers and farm dwellers. It must be linked to specific research into safety and security in order to establish whether murder and attacks on farms are more violent in nature and what the reasons is for this.
• Crime intelligence must be involved in order to see if a link exists between farm attacks where criminals are looking for weapons and other syndicate related crimes in South Africa. Farm attacks are well planned and executed and cannot be purely seen as normal crime anymore.
• The reservist programme in rural areas must be properly implemented with a concerted effort to recruit and train farmers, farm workers and farm dwellers. The current requirements to become reservists is seen as a stumbling block.
• Trauma support must be offered to victims and their families in order to deal with this horrific reality.
Chairperson, this is a fundamental human rights issue and people living on farms must be treated equally in this regard. The ANC should not show less care to a particular group of people based on race.
Condemnation of attacks should come from government and stereotyping of farmers must stop.
The Democratic Alliance would like to offer its condolences to all people who have lost their lives in our violent South Africa.

Social Grants Crisis: 28 days and counting since DA called for dodging Dlamini to be fired

It has been 28 days since the DA called on President Zuma to fire the Social Development Minister over her inexcusable mismanagement of the social grants crisis and still no action has been taken to hold her accountable for putting the livelihoods of 17 million South Africans at risk.
Since then it has emerged that:
• SASSA has failed to answer questions put to them by the Constitutional Court regarding social grants and the CPS contract;
• SASSA knew they would not be ready to take over the distribution of social grants as far back as April 2016, a full year ago;
• Dlamini has taken every opportunity to block any alternative options that do not involve CPS;
• Three different legal opinions, which stated that SASSA should approach the Constitutional court, were ignored by Dlamini;
• The President’s special advisor, Michael Hulley, has been involved in ensuring CPS would continue to distribute social grants; and
• Dlamini has failed to answer 93% of parliamentary questions regarding the social grants crisis.
The DA have already written to the Public Protector, Adv Busisiwe Mkhwebane, to request two investigations, one into the relationship between the Minister and CPS as there seems to be a possibility that Dlamini will, in some way, benefit from the CPS contract, and the second to investigate whether Dlamini wilfully mislead Parliament.
It is blatantly obvious that Dlamini is not fit for office and her contempt for the highest court in our country is matched only by her contempt for the most vulnerable people in our country.
The laundry list of failures by Dlamini is vast and it is high time the President puts the interests of the people and their wellbeing first.

ANC U-Turns on Parliamentary investigation into PRASA

The DA is angered by the ANC members of the Portfolio Committee on Transport’s decision to U-Turn on the matter of a parliamentary investigation into the allegations of mismanagement at PRASA.
This is after they only last Wednesday stated their support for a full parliamentary inquiry into the affairs at PRASA.
The DA maintains that a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations of corruption at PRASA will be an important step towards resolving the crisis at the entity and to ensuring that Minister Dipou Peters is held accountable for her hand in this mess.
However, this recent change of heart by the ANC is clearly a politically motivated move in order to protect the Minister and anyone else implicated from accountability.
It is becoming abundantly clear that Minister Peters is intent on exercising political interference over the investigations of corruption at PRASA, and only serves to confirm our suspicions over her dismissal of the PRASA board.
Parastalels have become a dumping ground for ANC cronies to loot the public coffers whilst the poor suffer in silence.
The DA will not stand for yet another state owned entity to be run to the ground and for another Minister to dodge accountability. It is unacceptable that the ANC continues to protect ineffective Ministers.

Mbalula must tell Parliament why R118 million was wasted on Commonwealth bid

The DA will today write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation, Ms Beauty Dlulane, to request that she summon the Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula, to appear before Parliament and account for the R 118 million which was wasted during South Africa’s bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
Minister Mbalula must, therefore, account to Parliament as to why he chose to ignore the very obvious signs that South Africa was simply not financially ready to host this event and provide a detailed breakdown of the costs that were incurred during the bidding process.
Yesterday it was reported that Durban lost the right to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022. This news also means that the R 118 million that was spent on the bidding process was all in vain.
The DA continuously warned the EThekwini Municipality, Minister Mbalula and SASCOC that the Commonwealth Games were too expensive and that South Africa simply does not have the financial means to host it.
All of these parties should have known that South Africa could not afford to host the Games when South Africa failed to meet several deadlines to present an adequate budget. South Africa was able to spend R 4 billion, which was not nearly enough to host the event.
SASCOC also failed to conduct a proper financial impact assessment to calculate the cost and benefits of Durban hosting the games, meaning that South Africa had no idea what the true financial impact of the games would have been on the country.
The entire bidding process was doomed from the start. South Africa was ill-prepared and underfinanced.
However, the numerous warning that the games would not be financially viable were repeatedly ignored and as such R 118 million of public funds have been wasted.
Millions of young South Africans are desperate to find financial assistance in order to educate themselves. The R 118 million could have been better spent on grass-roots sport development and on building sports fields rather than on a failed bidding process.