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Speech by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, The Hon JH Jeffery, MP in the State of the Nation (SONA) Debate, National Assembly, Parliament, 12 February 2019

House Chairperson,
Honourable President,
Honourable Members,
Fellow South Africans,

The freedom we enjoy today was achieved through struggle, determination and great sacrifice. Despite challenges and setbacks, we won our freedom by working together and never giving up.

Yesterday, 29 years ago, Madiba walked free from Victor Verster prison. We have come a long way as a nation.

The opposition speakers have and will, no doubt, continue to say the ANC government has not done enough.

Of course, it’s very easy to be the opposition - when government builds 100 houses, they say “why not 200?”

When government has 55 Thuthuzela Care Centres, they say “why not 65?”

When we set up commissions of inquiry to investigate the capture of state resources, they say “it’s just commissions, commissions do nothing, people must be arrested.” Then, when arrests are made, they say that it prevents people from testifying before a commission.

And so it continues.

Government is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

Because it’s easy to be the opposition, it’s easy to talk, to criticize from the side-line, to be the perpetual spectator, playing to the gallery and governing by way of press releases and hashtags.

There is a saying that the only way to avoid criticism is to say nothing, do nothing and be nothing.

But this is not an option of us in the ANC government.

To ensure the safety of all in South Africa, our law enforcement agencies and government departments work together to achieve the NDP goal of ensuring that “All people in SA are and feel safe.” 

This may sound similar to the election promises of other parties - but instead of just promising it, we are actually doing things to make this happen.

The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster was established at a Cabinet level and has identified certain priority focus areas, being -

  • crimes against women and children,
  • trio crimes - carjacking, house and business robbery, and cash in transit crime,
  • murder (inclusive of taxi violence),
  • the proliferation of firearms, liquor, drugs and gangsterism, illegal immigration, illicit economy, ferrous and non-ferrous metal theft, and
  • corruption.

We are, as part of the Crime Prevention Strategy, empowering communities and building partnerships through Community Policing Forums, Community Safety Forums and street and ward committees in order to fight crime.

We hosted a very successful and first-of-its-kind, Youth Crime Prevention Consultative Summit, last year to increase youth participation in the fight against crime.

We have initiated Organised Crime Threat Analysis projects to address identified criminal syndicates, repeat offenders, persons of interest and persons involved in trio crimes.

Other successful initiatives include SAPS’ 72-hour Activation Plan which mobilizes maximum resources such as crime intelligence, forensics, the Hawks, detectives and tactical teams, for a 72-hour period after a crime is committed, to ensure that the preliminary investigation is done thoroughly and no information and evidence gets lost. This means that we are realising greater successes in arresting perpetrators.

We have already committed ourselves to further strengthening the police to rid our communities of crime. We need to ensure that police are better trained and we shall be increasing the numbers and visibility of police in communities.

We are implementing and monitoring the Anti-Gangsterism Strategy.  The SAPS have made notable successes in cracking down on organised crime since the establishment of the anti-gang unit.

Owing to our declaration of war against those who hurt women and children, we have, between April 2017 and March 2018, achieved a total of 1 824 life sentences.

The improved conviction rate of 72, 7% in sexual offences cases is an all-time high, reflecting a firm commitment to deliver justice for victims of sexual violence. 

Indeed a lot has been done, but much more needs to be done.

The regulations setting out the minimum requirements for sexual offences courts will be finalised soon after a meeting with civil society service providers and the NPA next week.  We are continuously working with role-players to improve the practical implementation of the sexual offences legislation.

With regards to corruption, the Asset Forfeiture Unit continues to play a critical role. In the past year, the AFU completed 563 forfeiture cases with a value of over R350 million. It significantly exceeded its targets in relation to the value of freezing orders. There were 325 freezing orders, valued at R4.4 billion.

The Special Investigating Unit investigates corruption, malpractice and maladministration in the State. As a result, in 2017/18, a value of R 797 million of contracts or administrative actions was set aside or deemed invalid and R407 million of potential loss was prevented by the SIU.

As you know, the SIU recently brought an application in the High Court to have a coal supply contract, worth R3,7 billion, between Eskom and Mining Company Tegeta declared illegal and invalid.

We are also engaging with the SIU regarding the establishment of a special tribunal. This will mean that the SIU has access to a dedicated civil court for the speedier resolution of cases. It will empower the SIU to sue on behalf of the State as well as to retrieve money from irregular payments.

Last week, the President quoted Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” which says “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood…”

One this side of the House, you have such a man – however, on the other side, there is a hollow man, who continues to blow hot air.

In 2015, in this House, I said that the Honourable Maimane is, as the poem by TS Eliot says -

“Shape without form,
Paralysed force,
Gesture without motion”

A hollow man, presiding over a hollow party, devoid of substance.

It is now 2019 and not much has changed. Vukani Mde, in last Friday’s Mail and Guardian wrote:

“Maimane does not instil much confidence…. He has failed to put his stamp on his party or its message. If anything, it doesn’t have a coherent message. Maimane appears to be a policy and ideology empty vessel.”

Compare the man in the arena to the hollow man.

Where we have established commissions of inquiry, the DA had to be forced by the NCOP to have the Public Protector probe the Knysna Municipality over corruption allegations. And there are brewing corruption scandals in Tshwane, Johannesburg, George and other municipalities governed by the DA.

To this day, they have never released the Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr Report into irregularities in the City of Cape Town or the PriceWaterhouseCoopers report – is it because it exonerates Patricia De Lille, or is it because it implicates the DA in corruption?

In the TS Eliot poem, the hollow men are scarecrows with, I quote, “headpieces filled with straw.”

A scarecrow is an object of baseless fear - hollow, made of straw, unable to do anything – a useless scaring tactic - which is exactly how the DA operates.

It uses the issue of crime as a scaring tactic and blames the national government for alleged policing issues in the Western Cape, but fails to acknowledge that the DA starved community policing forums of funding and closed down programmes such as the Bambanani Volunteer Programme in fighting crime.  

They are trying to scare voters by saying they must vote DA in the Western Cape to keep the ANC and the EFF out – yet they themselves govern in Johannesburg and Tshwane with the EFF’s support!  There they need the EFF to keep them in.

The ANC Manifesto states and commits us in stepping up the fight against corruption throughout society and safeguarding the integrity of the state and ethical leadership.

In response to the ANC’s manifesto the DA, as usual, had a lot to say.

Of course, the DA has no manifesto yet – which is extremely convenient as it allows them to first look at the ANC manifesto and then adjust theirs accordingly.  

The DA promises that anyone found guilty of corruption will be sentenced to 15 years in jail.

What they don’t tell the people is that they have no control over sentencing. Courts decide on sentences, not political parties. Parliament can make laws on minimum sentences, but constitutionally the judiciary still has discretion.

The DA says they will deal with corruption in 3 ways:

First, they would establish a unit dedicated to fighting corruption.

President Ramaphosa has already announced that he will be establishing an investigating directorate within the NPA to focus on corruption.

So while the DA talks about it, the ANC does it.

Secondly, the DA say they will ensure that the payment of all public money is transparent.  Yet the DA had reservations about the recently assented to Political Party Funding Act - claiming that they need to protect the identity of their donors and that the civil and criminal sanctions in the Act were savage.

Thirdly, they say they will hold their public representatives to account. But how can they claim this when they can’t even hold their own Premier to account?

Whether it’s her “open mouth, insert foot” tweets, her ravings about colonialism or her calls for a tax revolt - which, by the way, is illegal conduct - nothing ever happens to Helen Zille – there is no sanction, no discipline, no reprimand.

Why? Because the Leader of the Opposition cannot even lead his own party, let alone the country. He is a man of straw.

He is a man of straw with little knowledge of the Constitution. In a 2017 article by the Hon Maimane, he writes:

“The DA has some big, bold ideas to win the war against corruption…. South Africa needs a new and powerful independent commission dedicated to fighting corruption. It must have a high level of independence… Candidates for leadership must be short-listed by Parliament and then appointed by the Judicial Services Commission.”

But the JSC advises on matters relating to the judiciary and makes recommendations to the President for the appointment of judges.  

They don’t appoint anyone and they cant.  How can investigators be appointed by the JSC?

Clearly the separation of powers and the provisions of the Constitution are not of much consequence to the Hon Maimane.

Former DA Federal Chairperson, Dr Wilmot James, said it best when he said, and I quote, “I don’t think Mr Maimane understands the Constitution at all.”

The DA and the Hon Maimane has also been extremely vocal about prescribing to the Zondo Commission who should be called and how the Deputy Chief Justice should run the Commission.

I trust that we can therefore expect the Hon Maimane to ensure that Helen Zille appears before the Commission given that the DA accepted donations worth R300 000 from the Gupta family.

And the Hon Maimane tried to justify it in 2017 by saying that the DA has paid back the money.

Last week, in his so-called “Alternative SONA” that didn’t even make it to evening news or community radio stations, the Hon Maimane takes the moral high ground on corruption.

But this smacks of hypocrisy.  He should tell us about what the DA is doing about the alleged collusion between the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape Provincial Government in granting development rights to property developers, as well as the previous examples I have given.

Chairperson,

Corruption pervades all sections of society. You find it in the public sector and you find it in the private sector.  

We can stand here all day pointing fingers at one another – saying this one is more corrupt but than that one. 

But what is most important is what is being done about it.

This ANC government has ensured that investigations are conducted and their reports released. It was this ANC government that ensured that VBS was investigated in the face of opposition from some EFF Members.

The President has established commissions of inquiry to look into the allegations of state capture, into the Public Investment Corporation and SARS’ administration and governance as well as an inquiry into the fitness of 2 senior members of the NPA to hold office.  One of these Commissions – the one on SARS - has completed its work and reported.  The President and Government are acting on that report.

In addition, he has announced the establishment of an investigating directorate in the NPA as provided for in terms of Section 7 of the NPA Act to focus on evidence that has emerged from these commissions.

And the difference, Madam Speaker, between the ANC and the DA is this – we are doing something about corruption, they are just making promises.

While the hollow man just talks, the other man is in the arena.

To use the words of the TS Eliot poem, the DA has -

“dried voices, [when they] whisper together, [they] are quiet and meaningless, as wind in dry grass.”

While others may follow the hollow man, or may fall for the masquerading of the scarecrow, we trust that the majority of the people of our country will continue to have faith in President Cyril Ramaphosa – the man in the arena - and the ANC, the party that put him there.

I thank you.