“BREAKING: In a reply to my Parliamentary question, Minister of Public Works Nathi ‘firepool’ Nhleko, has said that there are no upgrades planned for Zuma’s Nkandla residence. Meanwhile, The chief director of Public Works, Barnie Ntlou told the Sunday Times that work will go ahead at the Presidents residence. Who’s fooling who?” (Mmusi Maimane, 22.05.2017).
South African citizens across the land are speaking out and taking action to express their dissatisfaction. The Nelson Mandela Foundation supports the demand to hold to account those responsible for compromising our democratic state and looting its resources.
Twenty years since Nelson Mandela signed South Africa’s Constitution into law and as the third anniversary of his passing approaches, it is painful for us at the Nelson Mandela Foundation to bear witness to the wheels coming off the vehicle of our state.
We have seen a weakening of critical institutions such as the South African Revenue Service, the National Prosecuting Authority and law enforcement bodies due to political meddling for private interests.
We are reaping the results of a political trend of personalising matters of state around a single individual leader. This in a constitutional democracy is to be deplored.
The ability and commitment of the Head of State to be a ‘constitutional being’, is one of the wheels of our state. The unanimous judgment of the Constitutional Court of the Republic in the matter of President Zuma and the use of state resources on a private residence was one such test. It is increasingly a national consensus that he has failed the test.
As this particular wheel rolls away, other critical institutions of state break off to follow it. The legislative, business, and public service sectors of the country are severely affected, compromising the ability of the state to serve the people. A battle now rages to keep SARS attached to the vehicle of state. What public discourse has described as ‘state capture’ by private and political interests is, we believe, a real threat to the Republic.
Another wheel is an accessible and well-functioning education system. Arguably this wheel has never been fully attached, but the failures of the last two decades threaten that it rolls away. Schools, in our view, particularly those in townships and rural areas, have largely been captured to political interests and have deteriorated to unimaginable levels. And now universities are being brought to their knees as they lurch from crisis to crisis while a semblance of normality is enforced under what are effectively states of emergency. This is not sustainable for any education system. The potential collapse of universities will damage our democracy to its core.
We call on the governing party to take the steps necessary to ensure that the vehicle of state be protected and placed in safe and capable hands. And we join the call for a national convention of stakeholders to begin to reimagine South Africa’s future beyond the unsustainable stresses of the moment.
Written Press Statement by the Nelson Mandela Foundation
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 19, 2016 – Yesterday afternoon, van Der Merwe Associates (“VDMA”) notified the Minister of Finance’s attorneys of their client’s (the Oakbay Group of companies) (www.OakbayInvestments.co.za) intention to oppose the application issued under case number 80978/16 on 14 October 2016 – unless the Minister of Finance withdraws the application and tenders costs by this afternoon – Wednesday 19 October.
VDMA’s letter noted that the Minister of Finance’s affidavit implicated its clients in inappropriate and unlawful conduct. The affidavit also insinuated that VDMA’s clients would “expose the fiscus not only to loss of tax revenue but also put the burden of mining rehabilitation on the fiscus.” which VDMA noted was “uncalled for, malicious and nothing but vexatious.”
VDMA’s client disproved this earlier this week with evidence of the transfer of the Optimum Rehabilitation Trust Fund from Standard Bank to Bank of Baroda, which followed a request by Advocate Thuli Madonsela on 4 October 2016.
VDMA advised its client to oppose the Minister of Finance’s application, obtain all the necessary information from the relevant role players and ask for punitive costs order against dismissal of the application.
VDMA’s letter also stated that the Minister of Finance’s letter has been launched with the financial resources of the tax payer. VDMA’s client does not dispute that Minister of Finance’s is not by law compelled or obliged to intervene in the relationship between VDMA’s clients and the commercial banks. However, VDMA noted that to spend tax payers’ money in “a reckless and inappropriate manner” would constitute a contravention of the provisions of the Public Management Act, No.1 of 1999 – which would warrant “further action against those officials responsible for same.”
Furthermore, VDMA noted that:
“In order that we do not expose the fiscus unnecessarily to costs we propose that the application be withdrawn” – that the Minister of Finance’s application is withdrawn and that the Minister of Finance’s tenders VDMA’s client’s costs, before close of business on 19 October 2016.
VDMA reiterated that the purpose of its letter was to offer the Minister of Finance the opportunity to save taxpayers money.
VDMA also noted that its clients “would like” to put their formal version before court since the Minister of Finance has chosen that forum, so if the application is not withdrawn then “the matter must proceed and we will gladly do the necessary in order to restore the misrepresentation created by the papers.”
VDMA concluded its letter by noting that the Minister of Finance had made “defamatory and untrue remarks towards members of the Gupta Family by insinuating that they have been involved in inappropriate conduct” and that “their rights remain strictly reserved.”
This morning, attorneys for the Minister of Finance declined the offer to withdraw the application and tender COSTs.