Steenhuisen on the latest ANC scandals – and SA’s “cowardly” President…

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has had a very bad start to the election year. It has been one scandal and controversy after another.  BizNews speaks to John Steenhuisen, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) about the big four: ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula’s apparent admission that the ANC had lied to cover up the truth about the Nkandla “fire pool” to protect former President Jacob Zuma; the millions being spent on catering on the Presidential jet; Cyril Ramophosa’s “threat” to the poor that social grants are likely to disappear if the ANC loses the election; and the latest allegations of corruption in the higher education sector that could result in radical protest action from desperate students. In a raft of actions, the DA has already laid criminal charges against Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Meanwhile, the party is going after ANC officials and members of Parliament who might have perjured themselves before the courts to protect Zuma. “… this is a very, very serious situation that Fikile Mbulula has now landed the ANC in. And I think he significantly exposed a number of those people who were part of what we knew was an extensive cover up at the time…it’s just showing here again that this is a government that cannot be trusted. They cannot tell the truth. They cannot deliver. They’re led by a coward who cannot stand up to his own associates, and it’s time to vote them out of office – and we will have that chance later this year.” – Chris Steyn

Sign up for your early morning brew of the BizNews Insider to keep you up to speed with the content that matters. The newsletter will land in your inbox at 5:30am weekdays. Register here.


Watch here

Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:34 – Allegations of corruption in the higher education sector
  • 02:38 – Criminal charges against the minister of higher education
  • 04:19 – Will social grants disappear if the ANC  loses?
  • 07:52 – Costs for tax payers
  • 11:00 – ANC admitting to lying in order to protect Jacob Zuma (fire pool)
  • 13:29 – Conclusion

Listen here


Highlights from the interview

___STEADY_PAYWALL___

The latest allegations of corruption in the higher education sector:

“…this latest scandal now, which appears that there’s been a kickback scheme operating within the Department of Higher Education and in the NSFAS scheme (The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is very, very worrying. We obviously were very concerned when a number of service providers were appointed that nobody had ever heard of to do the direct transfer payments to students. And we’ve already seen that there’s been a hefty administration fee that’s being accrued on all of those, which means there’s less money for poor students in the system. 

“Obviously, this is incredibly concerning and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA)  released a very significant dossier, but also voice recordings, which ostensibly show the chairperson of the NSFAS board in conversation with a number of senior officials around how they intend to protect those service providers from being exposed. 

“…we’ve laid criminal charges against Blade Nzimande. We’ve also set up an PAIA (Promotion of Access to Information Act) application to obtain the Werkman’s report and various other reports that have been doing investigations into corruption at NSFAS. We’ve also asked the president to widen the scope of the SIU investigation that’s currently underway into problems in the Higher Education Department to include these latest allegations as well as the other kickback scheme, which just seems to be revolving around student accommodation where exorbitant administration fees, exorbitant registration fees are being put onto service providers in order for them to provide accommodation to NSFAS. Again, the more that this happens, the less there is to be able to spend on students and their actual needs.

“…additionally to that, once Parliament reopens in a week’s time, we hope to be able to summon the minister to the portfolio committee. We will be able to hold his feet to the fire around what has been going on here…”

President Cyril Ramaphosa claiming that social grants are likely to disappear if the ANC loses the election:

“President Ramaphosa is a coward and he’s inability to be able to stand up to the corrupt within his own organisation and within his Cabinet have led to a situation where in fact the reality is that the biggest threat to social grants in South Africa is the ANC continuing in office. And I think it’s shameful and cowardly of a president to play upon the fears of the poorest of the poor by threatening them in this manner and making this completely empty claim that social grants would end. 

“In fact, social grants will end if President Ramaphosa and the ANC remain in office because their poor stewardship of the economy, the incompetence of their departments is significantly risky for the continuation and sustainability of the social welfare scheme. 

“Just in the last 48 hours, we’ve seen revelations of over 70,000 grant recipients across the country who’ve not been able to access their social grants for January because of incompetence of the department. The reality is, and President Ramaphosa knows this, and this is why it’s cowardly with what he’s done, he knows that in the DA’s alternative budget and in our social development policy, both of which are available publicly and which he is aware of, showed that in fact the ANC government has undermined grants significantly by the pitiful 2% increase in an environment where the inflation rate is above 5.2%. So in fact, grant recipients are already poorer off. 

“I think it is a despicable act of cowardice that the president would hide behind something like this, something so, so fundamentally important to the very survival of so many people as some form of election gimmick. 

“He knows that the DA-run Western Cape regularly wins the awards for the best payment of social grants. Nobody stands in sun or is exposed to the elements when accessing their grants. Grant recipients are treated with dignity and respect where the Western Cape government is responsible for providing pay points.”

The millions spent to feed the president and his entourage on the presidential jet:

“…we put in a number of questions around this after there was a revelation that over R600,000 were spent on catering for VIPs on a recent flight that the president undertook between Washington and the UK and South Africa. And the response that’s come back is quite shocking. It’s a bit of a mixed mess and a bit of a garbled response from the minister, but it does look like millions and millions of rands are being spent every month on catering on the VIP jet.

“And that is an outrage. First of all, South Africa shouldn’t have a jet to fly the president around the world. South Africa should be flying commercial like many other heads of state do in similar economic circumstances to South Africa’s. Secondly, it is a slap in the face to the thousands upon thousands of children who are going to bed hungry every night on the ground below that right flying above their heads is a president and a small group of elite who are spending millions and millions of rands on food for themselves. 

“I’ve already said any government that the DA is a major player in will ensure that that jet is sold and that we fly commercial like every other head of state in a similar economic status to South Africa. We simply cannot in an economy that’s not growing, in a country where 82% of South Africans are missing one of the three meals a day, where we have child malnutrition and hunger stalking the country, that we’ve got people flying around in jets spending millions of rands on food and luxuries.”

ANC’s SG Fikile Mbalula’s apparent admission that the ANC lied to cover up the Nkandla “fire pool” scandal to protect former president Jacob Zuma:

“It’s absolutely clear that he said that that MPs were lying when they were putting forward those ridiculous defenses around the chicken runs and the animal hides being security features. And of course, the infamous fire pool, which was clearly a swimming pool meant for recreational use of the president, for which the South African public paid over 256 million rand. 

“… we’re going to be going through those court papers and court submissions and affidavits submitted by ANC officials and members of parliament around that time, because there’s a very good chance they might have perjured themselves before the courts. If they’re now admitting that they were lying about many of the defenses to protect Jacob Zuma, well, I think there’s going to be serious implications for those ministers and those members of parliament that remain members of parliament. 

“There’s also the opportunity for executive ethics complaints against the president who as deputy president at the time would have been a leader of government business, would have been very, very instrumental in whatever decisions were made to tell the truth or not before those committees. 

“But this is a very, very serious situation that Fekile Mbalula has now landed the ANC in. And I think he significantly exposed a number of those people who were part of what we knew was an extensive cover up at the time. We all knew it wasn’t a fire pool. We all knew that those were chicken runs and goat pens and were not security features. But it’s just showing here again that this is a government that cannot be trusted. They cannot tell the truth. They cannot deliver. They cannot be trusted. They’re led by a coward who cannot stand up to his own associate. and it’s time to vote them out of office and we will have that chance later this year.”

Read also:

Visited 5,079 times, 6 visit(s) today