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Cabinet paralyisis in times of need 

More of the same crisis…

Editorial  7 October…..

Every time Parliament re-opens from recess and the Cabinet goes, we seem to be saying that the next session will represent extraordinary and tumultuous times.

The reality is that with South Africa lurching from one crisis to another and the taxpayer continuing to fund probably what is the most incompetent Cabinet for many a year, each parliamentary session for the last two years could have been easily described in the same way.

A Cabinet statement issued on September 27, consisting of three pages of self-congratulatory facts which totally ignore the current perilous state of the economy, is the latest communication South Africans have from their Leader.

The document records President Zuma’s visit to the UN; congratulates Minister Motsaedli on his successes with an affordable single-pill HIV-treatment regime; celebrates the SA-Zimbabwe and SADAC protocol; records the opening of a new hospital wing in the Eastern Cape;  gives a welcome to President Mugabe  on his visit to South Africa and asks all citizens to celebrate the fact that October is not only Social Development Month, OR Tambo Month but also Transport Month.

Collective thought

This, insofar as far as business and industry is concerned, is the total constructive effort of forty-seven ministers and deputy ministers during the month of September on domestic economic affairs.  Not one word from the Cabinet on what is so evident to the whole financial world is stated:  that South Africa has been the subject of one of the largest heists of taxpayer monies since banking started.

In the meanwhile, the statement mentions that a new Copyright Amendment Bill version has been introduced, mainly the work of Parliament, and the Department of Land Affairs  has come up with a Land Survey Amendment Bill.  But the meat is missing and the statement lacks substance on anything that is connected with the crisis that has gripped South Africa.

No wonder nobody bothers to read any GCIS  releases. The writers appear to be on a different planet, or more likely, the statements are so restrained by the powers that be that they have become senseless.

Truth on holiday

Business and industry in the meanwhile has had to labour on, hanging on to the hope that Parliament might get to the bottom of some of the untruths told by Ministers to portfolio committees.   At this moment, as far as government spend is concerned, Parliament appears to be at a point where the guilty parties find it better not to tell the truth but have it told by others, facts which are then denied as a matter of form and referred to the judicial system.

Indeed, transparency of government and telling the taxpayer and Parliament the truth are now the major problems being faced by many governments departments and their spokespersons as well.    Or, in some cases, how they can put spin on an untruth.

Some do, some don’t

We have reported on a parliamentary meeting with Minister Davies who was at the time presenting the DTI annual report.  It was then that we saw him really struggling to answer questions on what has been happening with procurement at SAA, Transnet and Eskom.  His frustration was totally evident as shot back at his questioners with the remark, “You seem to think I am representing here the department of  public enterprises.”

The really worrying issue was that most of the questions being asked by Opposition members were based on facts not emerging from parliamentary oversight meetings but from newspapers.    The real truths on much of government spending at the moment seem only to be emerging  from investigative journalism.

Indeed, when Pravin Gordhan said, “We also stayed up like you last night – we learnt our fate from the TV screen. Not from a phone call or chat or conversation”, such a comment clearly indicates that half of the Cabinet, as well as Parliament, are all in the queue for more transparency and truth from a particular clique of ministers supported by the Presidency.

World opinion

In the last session of Parliament some of the issues under debate in Parliament were an affront to one’s intelligence, the lies were so blatant.   Witness the Eskom, Transnet, PetroSA, Denel, SABC, Prasa and SASSA outrages.   Unfortunately, matters seem not to have improved in recent weeks if the WTO findings and statements on South Africa are anything to go by.   So, once again, we must predict that the next parliamentary session will be “more tumultuous than ever”.

But the next session will also be very different.  Why?  Because for this session everybody including many in the governing party know for sure that President Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and his family are as crooked as bent pins.

Who’s who in the zoo

What is more, debate will be cognizant of the fact that ministers could again be subject to yet another re-shuffle.    Most MPs have a rough idea also which ministers are President Zuma’s partners in crime and who works at the behest of the Gupta clan. The evil conspiracy is  evident to all MPs and anybody who is relatively literate.

We say this without fear of contradiction, since the crimes committed are common knowledge, spoken upon on news stations without denial and more so, because the proof is endorsed, thank heavens, in e-mail form and available to all.

Partners in crime

Most important, the Parliamentary Inquiry into State Capture committee is now in receipt of Bianca Goodson’s report on the odious relationship between Trillian – a Gupta fronting company, McKinsey and Eskom.  This report to Parliament exposing the truth makes extraordinary reading.

It is also most sad to see when directors general evade questions at parliamentary committee level because they genuinely don’t know what is going on or they do not wish to lose their jobs.

Government regularly commences new investigative inquiries into missing millions resulting in outcomes that are also camouflaged in useless GCIS statements because the government information service, also it seems, has little idea of what is going on.

Who will break ranks?

Whilst spineless entities such as the NPA, the current Public Protector and the Hawks make up their minds on how to go about the obvious, one must endure the cat and mouse game in Parliament as minister after minister continue to find reasons not to appear when summonsed to do so.

For exampleit  was reported by the press first that South Africa had entered into an agreement with a well-known company in the Russian Federation to exploit Block 9 and 11a of South African East Coast waters for oil and gas. This was later, a week after confirmed in a  cabinet statement on the subject.   What is more, it became evident from the newspaper article that the Minister of Energy had been in Xiamen, China, at the BRICS summit when signature took place.

Mum on the issue

She had said nothing about this in meetings in Parliament some weeks earlier when gas was being discussed as a component of the energy mix. This would have been an important contribution.  Most had hoped, when she was appointed a minister after Minister Joemat-Petterson’s discharge for not publicy agreeing with nuclear, that she would be different but President Zuma’s influence over her ability to give Parliament the correct facts have been quite evident.

Minister of Energy, Mmamaloko Kubayi, therefore joins those ministers who can easily be accused of a multiplicity of sins amongst which are purposeful non-disclosure, lack of transparency or just simply not telling the truth.

More of the same

Meanwhile, the band plays on.    In theory, this could be the last session of Parliament with Jacob Zuma at the helm.  The political turmoil as to whether the ANC Elective Conference planned for December is to be held or not has of course no relationship to Parliament other than it gives some indication of whom will be attending as MPs.

Thus, the outcome of the current upheaval in political control will also affect affect parliamentary inquiries, investigations and other matters of oversight work  currentlyin progress.

To do their duty

Importantly, from a parliamentary oversight viewpoint, it is therefore hoped that both KPMG and McKinsey will be honourable enough to tell us who said what to whom with useable evidence and save both the auditing and business consultancy professions from ignominy.

In other words, they should also tell the truth.

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State capture, corruption dominating parliamentary process – ParlyReportSA

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