Malusi Gigaba is Des van Rooyen in a designer suit

The appointment of the new Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, has been a disaster for the economy of South Africa.
The minister’s first one hundred hours, in what he called the “hot seat”, has been a monumental shambles – the rand tanked, ten-year bond yields spiked and the country was downgraded to “junk status” by Standard & Poors.
This should not come as a surprise considering the minister’s weekend press conference, which was called to “restore confidence and restore calm”, but then proceeded to do exactly the opposite.
He suggested that:

  • policy changes could be expected when he committed himself to implementing “radical economic transformation”; and
  • that institutional changes could be expected at National Treasury, which he seemed to suggest was dominated by “orthodox economists, big business and international investors”.

And it got worse when the minister could not explain what “radical economic transformation” meant and was forced to concede there was still “a whole lot of clarification that we have to do.”
The minister then compounded the problem at today’s press conference,  which was called to do damage control following the downgrade to “junk status”, when he suggested that he was “committed to inclusive growth”, but had not abandoned “radical economic transformation”.
The minister’s damage control exercise was an own goal because it will give oxygen to the narrative that there is policy uncertainty and it will not go down well with the ratings agencies, which are concerned about possible “policy shifts” following the midnight cabinet reshuffle.
The fact is that the minister is just not up to the job and there is now a strong impression that: Malusi Gigaba is just Des Van Rooyen in a designer suit.

“Razzmatazz” Mbalula’s disturbing comments threaten the safety of South Africans

Comments made by the new Minister of Police, Fikile “Razzmatazz” Mbalula, that police must “fight fire with fire”, “shoot back, don’t retreat” and that he “does not want another Marikana” in reference to the constitutionally enshrined right to protest are deeply troubling and only confirms that he is not fit for office.
These disturbing comments, made at a parade held by the South African Police Service (SAPS) earlier this morning, are reckless and could result in loss of life, including the lives of police members and innocent bystanders.
The DA is of the belief that both Mbalula, and his Deputy, Bongani Mkongi, are unfit to head the Department of Police, as both have expressed troubling views on the use of violence, and how the people of South Africa can and should be treated.
Mbalula, while he was Deputy Minister of Police for a few short months between 2009 and 2010, suggested that it was inevitable that innocent civilians will die in crossfire in the fight against criminals, and urged police to shoot to kill “anybody who is endangering the lives of the people”.
In 2016, Mkongi suggested that a Cape Town apartment building – to which a giant “Zuma Must Fall” billboard had been attached – should be burned down, irrespective of the occupants inside.
It is unacceptable that these men, who can so glibly utter such thoughtless and dangerous statements, can be trusted with the safety and security of millions of South Africans.
Yet, it is obvious that Mbalula and Mkongi represent the interests of Jacob Zuma who consistently rewards those who are ineffective, yet compliant. Their concern is not the ordinary South Africans who suffer from violence and crime on a daily basis.
Mbalula and Mkongi would rather revel in pomp and ceremony at a parade to honour their egos than get down to the very serious business of ensuring that SAPS members have the equipment, training and resources they need to make South Africa safe.
It is apparent that Mbalula is willing to prioritise pomp and ceremony over the needs of the SAPS and the safety of the people of South Africa.
The DA will submit parliamentary questions to find out exactly how much was funnelled from the SAPS to pay for this parade.
The DA will not stand by while money that should be spent on equipping the SAPS and making South Africans safe is wasted on feeding Mbalula’s ego.

#NoConfidence: Parliament must reconvene as crisis intensifies

Yesterday’s decision by Standard and Poors Global Ratings Services to downgrade South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to “junk status” only emphasises the need for the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, to reconvene Parliament immediately.
President Zuma’s midnight Cabinet cull has precipitated a crisis and S&P has responded with a resounding vote of no confidence in the president and his new cabinet of lackeys. Other ratings agencies are sure to follow suit.
One of Parliament’s key Constitutional functions is “scrutinising and overseeing executive action” and holding the Executive to account. It is therefore incumbent on Mbete to call an urgent sitting of the House to debate the Motion of No Confidence proposed by the DA on 30 March. It is inconceivable that in a time of national crisis the lights remain off in the People’s Parliament.
Mbete committed to consulting with the Leader of Government Business and the Chief Whip on 2 April, and has surely done so by now. All that remains is for her to schedule a sitting.
The time has arrived for Mbete to put the institution of Parliament before the president she slavishly shielded from accountability during previous crises. She cannot be seen to be dithering – Zuma’s recklessness is already costing South Africa dearly.

It is time for South Africa to March for Change!

The DA encourages South Africans to join our peaceful March for Change to Mary Fitzgerald Square, Johannesburg, on Friday, 7 April 2017.
We are also organising a number of events around the country on the same day, for those who are not able to join us in Johannesburg.
Details of these events will be made available soon.
The DA has been inundated with requests from fellow citizens who are deeply concerned about the crisis South Africa today finds itself in, and who wish to voice their anger with reckless Jacob Zuma on ‘National Shutdown’ Friday.
Each and every one of you are warmly welcome to join our peaceful marches. This is not about party politics. This is an opportunity for South Africans to unite to protect our precious, hard-won democracy, and send a loud and clear message to Jacob Zuma that his time to go is now.
In this time of crisis, it is incumbent on all South Africans who want our country to put be first again to stand together and let their voices be heard.
This will not be the last such opportunity to do so. Indeed, the DA is also looking into future marches following this Friday’s mass march to Beyers Naude Square, including to the Union Buildings.
This cannot just be a one-day event. We must continue to keep up the pressure so that Jacob Zuma is fired.
We have yet to clarify the date of this future march, and together with other parties, we will look to finalise this as soon as possible. We will communicate this information with you as soon as it becomes available.
Ke Nako! It is now time to march for our country, for our economy, for our democracy and for our shared future!

Downgrade to “junk status” a vote of no confidence in Jacob Zuma

Make your voice heard –
This evening’s decision by Standard and Poors Global Ratings Services (“Standard & Poors”) to downgrade South Africa’s sovereign credit rating to “junk status” is a clear vote of no confidence in President Zuma, and a direct result of his decision to fire Pravin Gordhan and Mcebisi Jonas last week.
President Zuma should resign immediately to allow a new administration to stabilise our economy, and to stanch this growing crisis.
Standard & Poors’ decision comes just days after President Zuma reshuffled his cabinet –  sending shudders of uncertainty and volatility through our economy. International ratings agencies have long warned this government that our status is on a knife edge. Zuma has clearly learnt nothing from the market reaction to his firing of then Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015.
Instead of acting in the best interests of the country and its people, Zuma chose to act in his own best interests by firing Gordhan and Jonas. The negative effects of this downgrade – which is likely not to be the last – will be felt by all South Africans. This downgrade will result in higher government borrowing costs, less money for basic services, and less job creating investment.
Zuma is on a path of destruction, and must be stopped. If he does not surrender to the will of the people and resign, then Parliament must remove him by supporting our Motion of No Confidence which will come before Parliament in the coming weeks.

DA calls on all South Africans to join this Friday’s March for Change

Over the past 72 hours, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has been inundated with requests from a host of concerned citizens – from all backgrounds and walks of life – who want to take part in the growing movement calling for Jacob Zuma to be removed as President of South Africa.
As the DA, we are seeking to bring together all like-minded South Africans who want to see change, and who want to stop the corruption and state capture at the heart our government. This includes civil society, religious organisations, business groups, and political parties – including the honourable citizens inside the ANC that wish to help in restoring our Constitutional order.
This is not a party political matter. It is a matter of urgent national importance, which affects all of us as South Africans, and thus transcends party politics.
Therefore, in the interests of this ever-growing movement to remove Jacob Zuma, we have today taken a decision to lead a March for Change through the streets of Johannesburg this Friday, 7 April 2017. The march will finish at Beyers Naude Square in the Johannesburg CBD, where a rally will be held calling for Jacob Zuma to be removed. Further details, including times, will be communicated during the course of this week.
I would like to encourage every South African who cares for the future of our country, regardless of political affiliation, to join this March for Change. I would also like to invite all those citizens and civil society structures who are participating in Friday’s “national shutdown” to join this March for Change. Together, with one united voice, we are stronger and we will be heard.
Lastly, following public comments over the last few days by a number of senior ANC leader indicating broad dissatisfaction with Jacob Zuma, I will be extending an invitation to leaders in the ANC’s top 6, including Cyril Ramaphosa, Gwede Mantashe, and Zweli Mkhize, to join the thousands of South Africans who will be marching in a united call for Jacob Zuma to be removed as President of this country. We will create an opportunity for these senior ANC leaders to address the rally – which will be just one block away from Luthuli House – and to add their voice to the call to free our country from the reign of Jacob Zuma.
Our Constitution states that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity. Not to the connected few, but to all of us.
Therefore, in the spirit of our Constitution, let us all stand up against the Jacob Zuma and his lawless, corrupt ways, and sent a clear and united message: Zuma must go!

SARS potentially misled the public about revenue collection in 2016/2017

The South African Revenue Service Commissioner, Tom Moyane, potentially misled South Africans when he claimed that the revenue service reached its revised target of R1.14 trillion for the 2016/17 fiscal year.
The commissioner claimed he would deal with “the elephant in the room”, but then did exactly the opposite, and did not disclose the amount owing in VAT refunds as of 31 March 2017.
The commissioner simply cannot claim to have reached the revised target if there are significant amounts outstanding in VAT refunds, which we know amounted to R19.6 billion as of 28 February 2017.
I will, therefore, write to the SARS commissioner, Tom Moyane, requesting him to disclose the total amount of VAT refunds outstanding as of 31 March 2017.
We cannot have a situation where the SARS potentially misleads the public about its performance in terms of revenue collection into the 2016/17 fiscal year.

#ZumaMustFall: Opposition United Behind Putting SA First

Note to Editors: The following joint statement was delivered at a press conference, following a meeting of Opposition Parties in Johannesburg. The meeting was attended by the DA (Mmusi Maimane), EFF (Godrich Gardee and Dali Mpofu), UDM (Bantu Holomisa), COPE (Mosiuoa Lekota), IFP (Mangaqa Mncwango) and ACDP (Kenneth Meshoe).
Today, Monday, 03 April 2017, the Leadership of the DA, EFF, IFP, COPE, UDM, and ACDP met in Johannesburg following the hostile takeover of the Treasury, and selling of the country by Jacob Zuma to a grouping whose only interests are amassing wealth and weakening the State through the theft of the people’s money and the undermining of the country’s Constitution.
These are indeed irregular and trying times for South Africa and the people, which demands a united vision and programme of action from leaders of society, like Opposition Parties represented in the National Assembly. Opposition Parties agreed that the Constitution must come first, and the country must be protected from those who seek to undermine it.  We therefore deliberated and agreed upon a number of issues in this regard.
Opposition Programme of Action
This Programme of Action stems from already existing partnerships and other ad hoc co-operation arrangements which exist in the country’s metros and other municipalities, where the Opposition governs for all residents, regardless of their political affiliation. The opposition-led metros serve as important platforms to show what the Opposition can do for the people of South Africa, which present a tangible example of the work that we can do, when we united against corruption, state capture and other ills in society.
Furthermore, we agreed that there is a need for a Summit that brings together Political Parties and Civil Society to discuss the state of South Africa. Going forward, we will at times act collectively and at times as separate political parties, depending on the nature of the issue facing the coutry. Our Programme of Action will be to put the people first, with the vision to build a better South Africa.
National Day of Action to the Union Buildings
It was agreed that as Opposition Parties, we will start the process of mobilising their structures from across the country for a National Day of Action to the Union Buildings. We are planning to have this mass action event as soon as possible.
We will also be engaging Civil Society formations and other Political Parties to mobilise in order to support the people’s National Day of Action to the Union Buildings, so that we are united and not fractured in our call to save our country in the short-term.
We therefore call upon all South Africans and the whole of Civil Society to support this mass action, where will speak with one voice calling for Jacob Zuma to remove himself from the Union Buildings, failing which he will be pushed, using democratic processes. Zuma cannot hold an entire country hostage.
 Motion of No Confidence
 Opposition Parties are fully behind the Motion of No Confidence in Jacob Zuma and the call for the Speaker of the National Assembly to reconvene the House for a special sitting so that this matter of National Importance can be debated and voted on. The DA and EFF have already asked the Speaker to reconvene Parliament. The UDM have submitted a similar request today.
We expect an urgent answer from the Speaker about progress made in scheduling the Motion, should we not be satisfied with her response, court action, supported by Opposition Parties will be taken.
Given the crisis engulfing our society, we are confident that Members of Parliament will stay true the Constitution and their Oath of Office.
The Motion of No Confidence is not about the removal the ANC. The ANC was voted into government by the majority, through the democratic project, which we respect. In the short-term, we are working to remove Jacob Zuma, and elect someone from the ranks of the National Assembly who is committed to South Africa, the people and the Constitution.
Court Cases
 The Opposition support the two court cases which are currently before the Judiciary.
The DA will be submitting papers for a Review Application which seeks to test the legal rationality of Jacob Zuma’s disastrous Cabinet Reshuffle.
The EFF, UDM and COPE are currently before the Constitutional Court to probe the process and duty of Parliament to facilitate the impeachment of the President.
Opposition Party Leaders are united in their call for Zuma to go and our belief in the supremacy of the Constitution. The choice South Africans must make is: Zuma or South Africa. The two cannot co-exist.

Social Grants Crisis: Hundreds did not receive grants today

Today, during an oversight visit to the Rabasotho Community Centre in Tembisa, Johannesburg, by myself and other DA activists, it emerged that hundreds of social grants recipients – many of them elderly – were not going to be paid today, as the pay point was closed, with not a single SASSA official in sight.
This is despite reassurances from the Department Social Development that all social grant beneficiaries who get their grants from SASSA pay points would receive their money today, April 3.
However, by 7 am, about 300 grant recipients had already arrived at the Rabasotho Community Centre, only to learn that the facility was not even open. This is completely unacceptable.
The grant recipients were distressed not to be receiving their money as expected. Some gogos went to the pay point with the minibus taxis which they paid for, and many of them did not have the money for transport to return home.
DA activists then went to the nearby SASSA office to investigate, only to be told by SASSA officials that these grant recipients were only scheduled to be paid tomorrow, Tuesday, April 4th.
All the grant recipients we spoke to, informed us that they were never told that they would not receive their grants today.
SASSA officials then set up a makeshift poster, informing grant recipients that they would be paid on the 4th.
This comes amidst a number of reports nationwide, that some grant recipients are short of R4 from their payments this month.
Minister Dlamini must urgently explain this unexpected deduction and also account for some recipients not receiving their grants today.
This is what is happening at one pay point the DA has visited, and at many other pay points grant recipients are waiting in front of closed doors.
This is yet another indication of the mess that is the Department of Social Development. Minister Bathabile Dlamini is clearly not in command of her department. The fact that Dlamini was not removed during the President’s midnight cabinet reshuffle, while other competent ministers were, is an indictment on Zuma. It shows that President does not care for the poor nor does he care about ending the scourge of corruption in South Africa.
The fact that Dlamini was not removed during the President’s midnight cabinet reshuffle, while other competent ministers were, is an indictment on Zuma. It shows that the President does not care for the poor nor does he care about ending the scourge of corruption in South Africa.

Malusi Gibaba should come clean and make a public statement about his relationship with the Guptas

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, will reportedly take office this morning at National Treasury.
The minister tried to restore confidence and calm following his shock midnight appointment.
However, there is a strong impression that President Jacob Zuma appointed the minister with the Guptas’ “stamp of approval” and that the minister is close to the Guptas.
The impression was re-enforced when the minister reportedly zig-zagged his way around hard questions about his relationship with the Guptas at his maiden press conference on the weekend.
The minister can run but he cannot hide from hard questions about his relationship with the Guptas.
That is why the minister should act in the best interests of National Treasury and issue a public statement:

  • setting out all the facts including the details of every meeting, every decision, and every gift ever received from or relating to the Guptas; and
  • reassuring the public that he is committed to serving the public interest rather than the private interests of the Guptas.

If the minister continues to zig-zag his way around the hard questions, he will be responsible for compromising the institutional integrity of National Treasury.
And the one thing that we simply cannot afford is for the whiff of corruption and maladministration to waft around National Treasury.