Category Archives: Politics

DA to take legal action against Maile over Gauteng councillor suspensions

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has said it will take legal action against Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Lebogang Maile for “political harassment.”

Earlier on Thursday, Maile suspended former City of Johannesburg Speaker Vasco Da Gama as a councillor for three months without pay for contravening the Code of Conduct for Councillors.

Da Gama controversially adjourned a council meeting last year ahead of a vote to elect the city’s new Mayor following Herman Mashaba’s resignation.

‘Illegal move’

Maile also suspended current City of Tshwane Speaker Katlego Mathebe for six months without pay for failing to preside over two council meetings ahead of votes of no confidence against her and the Mayor.

However, the DA reacted angrily to the suspensions within hours of Maile’s press conference on Thursday.

In a statement, the party’s interim leader John Steenhuisen said the Municipal Systems Act does not permit Maile to make the suspensions without a council resolution.

He said, “The DA will not give in to the bullying tactics of MEC Maile. We have instructed our lawyers to approach the courts on an urgent basis to review this illegal move.”

Personal cost order

Steenhuisen added, “We have also written to the MEC to invite him to retract his unlawful decision, failing which we will apply for a personal and punitive cost order against Maile.”

He slammed Maile’s move as “self-serving” and cited several examples of the African National Congress (ANC), which deployed Maile, failing to act against its councillors.

The DA leader said the ANC had not invoked the law against former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede or former Emfuleni Mayor Simon Mofokeng despite various allegations against them.

“The ANC’s selective application of the law, applied only to DA councillors, shows its transparent hypocrisy and emphasises that they care not for residents, but rather for their own narrow interest to attain power at all costs,” Steenhuisen added.

A council vote to elect Johannesburg Mayor was eventually held last year. ANC’s Geoff Makhubo won the vote with help from some DA councillors.

In Tshwane, Stevens Mokgalapa, who is on special leave, remains Mayor. However, the DA’s Federal Council is set to make a decision on his future imminently.

DA claims Menzi Simelane, Mo Shaik earn R1.9m each as Sisulu's 'special advisors'

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has claimed Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s “special advisors” earn an annual salary of R1,978,533 each.

It emerged recently that Sisulu had appointed former National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) head Menzi Simelane and former State Security Agency (SSA) head Mo Shaik to the plum posts.

In a statement on Tuesday, DA MP Emma Louise Powell said their alleged salary amount was at Notch A of Level 16 DPSA (Department of Public Service and Administration) Grading – the equivalent of Directors-General of national departments.

‘Well-paid political cadres’

Powell added, “The DA is yet to understand how an optometrist and an ex-prosecutor are qualified to provide advice to a department whose focus is on water, sanitation and housing delivery.

“There is no doubt that gross mis-hiring has taken place – and the deck has been stacked with well-paid political cadres.”

In a statement on Monday, Sisulu’s department said she had obtained approval from the Minister of Public Service and Administration for the appointments.

The department said, “In considering an appointment of a special advisor, qualifications, experience and skills, amongst others, are taken into consideration. Therefore, both appointees are suitably qualified for the positions they hold.”

‘Providing advice to the Minister’

It added that Simelane and Shaik’s responsibilities include “providing advice to the Minister to enable her to execute her duties such as the development of policies to meet the service delivery needs of all South Africans.”

In Sisulu’s case, such service delivery needs include the provision of water as well as decent sanitation and shelter, the department said.

However, Powell said Sisulu is staffing a “political war room in lieu of a capably staffed Ministry” while “taps are running dry across our nation.”

She said, “The total annual cost of Sisulu’s Ministerial Office staff remuneration stands in excess of R13.9 million per year.

“This is excluding the costs of the additional 19 employees recently staffing her ‘National Rapid Response Task Team.'”

Sisulu also stoked controversy last year over her appointment of former Minister Bathabile Dlamini as chairperson of the Social Housing Regulatory Authority’s interim board.

Powell similarly criticised the appointment as “illogical,” but Sisulu’s spokesperson, Makhosini Mgitywa, defended it.

In a radio interview, he said, “[Dlamini] remains a member of the National Executive Committee of the ANC, she is the president of the Women’s League of the ANC and we have to accept the fact that there is a deployment committee of the ANC.”

AfriForum files UN complaints against Ramaphosa, Sisulu over farm killings 'denial'

Minority rights group AfriForum has filed complaints against President Cyril Ramaphosa and Lindiwe Sisulu, in her previous capacity as Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, with the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders.

In a statement on Tuesday, the group said it had reported the two leaders for “attempting to discredit AfriForum as a human rights defender and, in doing so, impairing the work that the organisation is doing to promote human and civil rights in South Africa.”

The matter relates to US President Donald Trump’s tweet in August 2018, posted after an AfriForum trip to the US, that he had instructed his secretary of state to “closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.”

Trump ‘clearly misinformed’

In a subsequent trip to the US in September 2018, Ramaphosa told Bloomberg TV news channel that Trump had been “clearly misinformed.”

He said, “There are no killings of farmers or white farmers in South Africa. There’s no land grab in South Africa. We are involved in a process of discussing land reform.”

AfriForum later claimed that Ramaphosa had “lied,” but his spokesperson Khusela Diko denied this.

“It is very unfortunate that anyone would want to deliberately distort the President’s remarks which were in direct response to ‘large scale killing of farmers,’ a characterisation everyone knows holds no truth in South Africa,” she said.

AfriForum’s UN demands against Ramaphosa

The lobby group has now taken the matter to the UN, enjoining Sisulu in it for claiming AfriForum was spreading “blatant lies” and “misinformation” about South Africa.

It wants the UN Special Rapporteur to ask Ramaphosa and Sisulu to retract their statements “on an international platform.”

It also wants the UN to hold the President and his government responsible for allegedly discrediting AfriForum’s efforts to raise international awareness against “gross human rights violations, particularly against minorities, in South Africa.”

Ramaphosa should also commit to protecting AfriForum “as a human rights defender,” the group demands.

Ernst Roets, AfriForum’s Head of Policy and Action, said, “The first step in addressing these issues is to admit that it exists.

“It is very worrying that the South African government ignores these issues locally, but it is unacceptable for the President to completely deny the existence of these crises in the international sphere.

“The attempts by the President’s spokespeople to contextualise his statements after his return to South Africa did nothing to repair the damage that was done internationally.”

The Presidency and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation have not yet reacted to AfroForum’s complaints.

Tito's intriguing political advice: Don't be nice to people who plot against you

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has continued using his Twitter account to freely comment on South Africa’s political landscape, particularly the African National Congress (ANC).

In an intriguing tweet on Monday, he dished out political advice and left his followers guessing as to whom it was directed.

He wrote, “In politics, never try to be nice to people who hate and plot against you. Confront them head to head, hand to hand, fist to fist, word for word, tongue for tongue. Don’t give the other cheek.”

‘Give that advice to your President’

A number of Twitter users speculated that Mboweni should proffer that piece of advice to President Cyril Ramaphosa.

There is a growing belief that Ramaphosa should boldly confront his detractors in the ANC instead of pursuing his mantra of unity.

However, in an interview with SABC News after delivering the ANC’s January 8 statement earlier this month, Ramaphosa said he’s not a dictatorial President.

He said, “If people want a dictatorial President, they’ve knocked at the wrong door. I will never be. Throughout my leadership process, I’ve always been a leader who leads from the front, but leads people knowing that we’re taking people along, we discuss matters, and we mould consensus.”

‘Don’t criminalise those who disagree with you’

In several other tweets on Sunday, Mboweni also challenged the ANC to allow positive debate and disagreements within the party.

The ANC recently criticised him for stating that adopting a resolution to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) was a “wrong” decision.

Mboweni said on Sunday that such disagreements and “conflict of ideas” create impetus for “forward movement.”

“Throughout political history, those who have no new ideas hide behind name calling and refer to those who bring up new ways of thinking, the mindset changers, as ill-disciplined. That is an old Stalinist way of politics. Change your mindset. Politically therapeutic! Move with the times,” he tweeted.

Mboweni added, “There is nothing as reactionary as sticking to outmoded ways of thinking and of doing things! Inertia is what [it] is called in politics.

“Move, change your thinking when material conditions change. Otherwise you become a political has-been. ‘Nothing is STABLE except STABILITY!'”

Ndabeni-Abrahams: Abuse of state resources claim is a 'malicious smear campaign'

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has refuted claims that she abused state resources and interfered with the editorial independence of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Over the weekend, a Sunday Independent report claimed Ndabeni-Abrahams used taxpayers’ money to fund her wedding anniversary celebrations in September last year.

It claimed the Minister had taken along her husband, Thato Abrahams, on a trip to the United States (US) and Switzerland without permission from President Cyril Ramaphosa.

‘No permission required from President’

The report further alleged that Ndabeni-Abrahams had allowed Mr Abrahams to “interview candidates for positions on the various boards for which she has political oversight.”

However, the Minister denied the allegations in a statement on Monday, saying they amounted to a “malicious smear campaign.”

She said, “At the outset, attention is drawn to the fact that the President is not required to approve the inclusion of a spouse for official international trips, as long as all is in line with the limits set in the Ministerial Handbook.

“That the trip coincided with the Minister’s anniversary is of no consequence as public funds were not used and/or misused for this purpose.”

Minister ‘welcomes EFF’s call for investigation’

Ndabeni-Abrahams also assured the public that Mr Abrahams has not attended any government meetings, did not drive from Switzerland to France for a “shopping spree” and did not use a Mercedes-Benz S600 during the trip.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) issued a statement based on Sunday Independent‘s report and said it would file a complaint with the Public Protector.

The Minister said she welcomed the EFF’s call for an investigation and urged anyone with evidence of impropriety on her part to present it to the relevant authorities.

She added, “The Minister is fully aware of the political malice at play, which has given shape to a well-orchestrated and sinister campaign to discredit her and deter her from fulfilling the department’s mandate, which includes sector transformation.”

Ndabeni-Abrahams lamented that the report had caused her reputational damage and urged the media to “avoid being conduits for gossip and character assassination.”

She however did not comment on Public Works Minister Patricia De Lille’s apparently erroneous assertion that ministers are required to “motivate why you must take your spouse along” for “each and every trip.”

Cyril vows to end practice of hiring poorly qualified people through patronage

President Cyril Ramaphosa has said his administration is committed to ending the culture of “parachuting” poorly qualified people into positions of authority through political patronage.

In his weekly newsletter to the nation on Monday, Ramaphosa signalled that this will be part of building a capable state, a key priority of his administration.

He wrote, “A capable state starts with the people who work in it. Officials and managers must possess the right financial and technical skills and other expertise.”

‘There should be consequences’

The President continued, “We are committed to end the practice of poorly qualified individuals being parachuted into positions of authority through political patronage. There should be consequences for all those in the public service who do not do their work.”

Former President Jacob Zuma’s administration was widely perceived to have thrived on African National Congress (ANC) patronage networks at national, provincial and local government levels.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has repeatedly stated that this led to the deployment of “cadres” into government and state-owned enterprise (SOE) positions, sometimes without due regard to qualifications.

Ramaphosa said the National School of Government will play a greater role in “the ongoing and focused training of civil servants.”

Restoring SOEs

Ramaphosa also reiterated his determination to restoring SOEs to health by “appointing experienced and qualified boards and managers” and clarifying their mandates.

He hailed the introduction of the district-based delivery model and its vision of “One District, One Plan, One Budget, One Approach.”

The President added, “Through the proper execution of the district development model, we will be able to know which police station needs vehicles, which rural clinic has run out of medicine, which businesses are struggling to obtain water use licenses, and respond in a targeted manner.

“District-based development is the basis for growing and sustaining a competitive economy.”

The ANC Lekgotla currently being held in Pretoria will also discuss these matters, according to ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule.

The ruling party also held its National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting over the weekend.

Speaking to journalists on Sunday, Magashule said during the meeting, Ramaphosa “once more emphasised the issue of building a capable state, the issue of discipline, the issue of unity.”

Zuma threatens to challenge legality of Zondo commission – report

Former President Jacob Zuma has “hinted” that he may challenge the legality of the establishment of the state capture commission of inquiry and how it has been conducted, Business Day reports.

Zuma reportedly made the threat in his submission, made through his lawyers, against a summons application by the inquiry’s legal team.

He also criticised the inquiry, chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, of abuse of process because it sought to summons him even when he had not refused to appear before it.

Zuma ‘failed to respond to 23 notices’

The ex-President first appeared before the inquiry in July 2019 and was meant to continue his testimony at a later stage.

However, his scheduled appearances have been postponed three times so far. The latest dates, 27-31 January, 2020, were included in the aborted summons application earlier this week but ultimately postponed because of Zuma’s undisclosed medical condition.

It has now emerged that the inquiry reportedly sent 23 notices to Zuma in respect of evidence implicating him, but he allegedly failed to respond.

In his submission, Zuma insisted that he has a right to ignore testimonies he feels do not implicate him, the report adds.

‘Attacks on inquiry’

The former President further claimed that many of the testimonies implicating him were made by witnesses who were “bitter” that he had removed them from their positions.

He also insisted that the evidence made so far had not implicated him in any unconstitutional or criminal conduct.

The inquiry’s evidence leader Paul Pretorius told Zondo on Tuesday that the submission by Zuma’s lawyers had made some “attacks on the integrity of the commission and members of the legal team.”

Zondo subsequently decided that the inquiry’s legal team should file a formal response to what Pretorius had termed “incorrect facts.”

It’s unclear at this stage when Zuma will re-appear at the inquiry. On Tuesday, his lawyer Thabani Masuku proposed that his lead doctor be allowed to brief Zondo on the nature of his medical condition “under very strict conditions of confidentiality.”

Zondo later said he had accepted “with some reluctance” Masuku’s suggestion, adding that this would then help determine when Zuma would be able to appear.

ANC lambasts Mboweni on SARB nationalisation: 'ANC leaders are not freelancers'

The African National Congress (ANC) has criticised Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s recent tweets about the proposed nationalisation of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

At its 54th national conference held in Nasrec, Johannesburg in 2017, the ANC took a resolution to nationalise SARB.

However, in a series of tweets on Tuesday, Mboweni said the ruling party had adopted a “wrong” resolution, suggesting that the country would achieve nothing by implementing it.

‘ANC leaders are not freelancers’

He wrote, “As a longstanding member of the ANC and its leadership structures, I know and understand our resolutions. I don’t need lectures on that.

“But on the SARB, I am convinced that we adopted a wrong resolution. What do we want to achieve? Our strategic focus: Structural economic reforms.”

In a statement issued by national spokesperson Pule Mabe on Wednesday, the ANC said its leaders, especially National Executive Committee (NEC) members such as Mboweni, are expected to “uphold and defend” its resolutions on public platforms.

It added, “Elected leaders of the ANC are therefore not freelancers and remain bound by the overall prescripts of our organisational values and discipline in pursuance of the National Democratic Revolution.”

‘Lack of policy certainty’

Mboweni’s tweets sparked angry reactions on Twitter from fellow ANC leaders such as Ekurhuleni regional chairperson Mzwandile Masina, who said ANC branches must “correct” Mboweni’s “arrogance.”

The ruling party lamented that such public spats contribute to perceptions of lack of policy certainty in the ANC-led government.

It said, “Any public statement by a leader of the ANC questioning the wisdom of a national conference outside formal structures [has] the potential to create confusion within and outside the organisation.

“We therefore encourage leaders and members of the ANC to exercise their freedom of speech within the confines of the structures and discipline of the ANC.”

The ANC reiterated the NEC’s commitment to implement resolutions of the 54th national conference, including public ownership of SARB.

It said during the January 8 rally, ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa reaffirmed the ANC’s commitment to “undertake the process towards full public ownership of the Bank in a manner and according to a timeframe that is prudent and affordable and that does not benefit private shareholder speculators.”

Zandile Gumede for SA president one day? Her supporters think so

Supporters of former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede believe she will be president of South Africa one day.

The supporters expressed their wish at a rally following her appearance at the Durban Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.

Addressing the crowd in isiZulu and English, eThekwini councillor and ardent Gumede backer Simphiwe Mncube said Gumede “will lead us one day.”

‘Mam’ president’

Some supporters in the crowd shouted, “Mam’ president.” Mncube then asked them if they all agreed with that before declaring that she will be president one day.

However, Gumede’s most immediate ambition is retaining her powerful position as chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) in eThekwini region, the largest in the ANC.

Dates for the regional conference have not yet been confirmed, but Gumede and her supporters kicked off their campaigns in September last year.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal asked Gumede to resign along with many of her allies in the eThekwini metropolitan council last year citing their poor performance.

Corruption trial postponed

Her removal as Mayor followed the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) decision to lay corruption charges against her and others over a R208 million waste disposal tender.

The NPA revealed in court on Wednesday that it had found new evidence that raises the amount involved to R389 million.

However, it requested for more time to conduct further investigations. The court agreed to postpone the matter to 16 April, 2020. Gumede is out on R50,000 bail.

The ex-Mayor has always maintained that she is innocent and that the charges are politically motivated.

Addressing the rally on Wednesday, she said, “We will wait the three months and we will wait for even the next three months because we know they will find nothing.”

Among those who attended the rally to support her was ANC Women’s League President Bathabile Dlamini.

Tito Mboweni on SARB nationalisation: 'We adopted a wrong resolution'

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has said that the African National Congress (ANC) adopted a “wrong resolution” to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Mboweni suggested that nothing would be gained by nationalising SARB.

He added that the ANC government’s main focus should instead be on “structural economic reforms.”

‘What do we want to achieve?’

Mboweni wrote, “As a longstanding member of the ANC and its leadership structures, I know and understand our resolutions. I don’t need lectures on that.

“But on the SARB, I am convinced that we adopted a wrong resolution. What do we want to achieve? Our strategic focus: Structural economic reforms.”

The Finance Minister added, “As of now, 90% of the SARB profits are handed over to the National Revenue Fund.

“So? What do we want to achieve? Tell the public. Let’s debate. Don’t say internal debates – this is a fundamental national debate.”

ANC conference resolution

Mboweni is also a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which has previously reiterated its commitment to implement all conference resolutions.

Nationalisation of SARB as a resolution was adopted at the ANC’s 54th national conference in 2017.

The ANC introduced a motion in Parliament in 2018 to give effect to it, but it was withdrawn “for greater consultations.” It has not yet been re-introduced since then.

Some social users criticised Mboweni’s tweets, but he persisted, “Answer the question. What do you want to achieve by nationalising the SARB?

“Don’t tell me about internal debates, NEC, etc. What do you want to achieve? Let’s answer that fundamental question.”

The resolution is one of the contentious policies pushed forward by the “radical economic transformation” (RET) grouping within the ruling party.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also strongly supports it. It is likely to be a bone of contention at the ANC’s National General Council (NGC) scheduled for June this year.

In an interview with eNCA on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa signalled that the NGC will be used to review performance and policies.

He said, “The NGC is about reviewal of our performance [and] what we have done in the interim since we were elected.

“We want to look at whether the policies that we adopted still have currency – do we need to tweak them, do we need to refashion them given the conditions that we are operating under right now?”

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