Court action will follow if ministerial performance assessments withheld – John Steenhuisen

DA leader says such information rightfully belongs in the public domain

DA will take court action if Ramaphosa withholds Ministers’ performance assessments

30 November 2023

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will approach the courts to obtain the performance assessments of South Africa’s national cabinet ministers if President Cyril Ramaphosa withholds them from the public.

We are already appealing a decision by government to deny the public this information following our application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).

In his 2020 State of the Nation Address (SONA) President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that:

“To strengthen the capacity of the State and increase accountability, I will be signing performance agreements with all Ministers before the end of this month. These agreements, which are base on the targets contained in the Medium-Term Strategic Frameworj, will be made public so that the people of South Africa can hold those who they elected into office to account.”

While the performance agreements themselves have been signed and made public on government’s website, it will be a futile exercise if the assessments are not then also made public.

The performance of the South African government is information that rightfully belongs in the public domain for the requisite scrutiny as per the constitutional principles of democracy, transparency, and accountability.

It is the ultimate indictment on Cyril Ramaphosa’s presidency as a so-called reformer, and his constitutional obligation to respect and uphold the values of democracy and accountability, that just over three years since releasing signed ministerial performance agreements, the President now refuses to make the results of their assessments public.

This act of public censorship shows not only a deeply concerning disregard for democracy and transparency, but a contradiction of President Ramaphosa’s initial commitment to reform the state and the public service.

It is now clear that in backtracking on his promises to reform the public service and hold his cabinet ministers accountable, he is censoring the public from measuring the performance of its government, thus being able to take the requisite electoral action.

It is not the President’s job to protect the reputations of his ministers, it is his job to be transparent with the public in the interests of true democracy and accountability.

Furthermore, it has been almost six years since President Ramaphosa promised to conduct lifestyle audits on Members of the National Executive, as announced in his 2018 SONA reply. To date, this process is still shockingly incomplete and inconclusive – yet another lie to the South African people from a President who exists only as a bystander to his own government’s failures.

Far from the reformer he painted himself out to be, President Cyril Ramaphosa has only done more damage to South Africa’s investor confidence, our economy, and our society with his decision paralysis.

As the South African people continue to suffer under the failure and collapse of government at the hands of the ANC, it is only fit that the people be allowed to judge the performance, or non-performance, of their government for themselves.

We will go to court if necessary to obtain the performance assessments of South Africa’s national ministers – we will not allow President Ramaphosa to run a government devoid of the transparency and accountability.

Issued by John Steenhuisen, Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 30 November 2023