DA calls for urgent intervention in water crisis

The DA calls for urgent intervention and backup energy supply at pump stations as protests erupt due to a lack of water supply.

The continued blackouts coupled with years of ANC mismanagement and failing to upgrade necessary and critical water infrastructure throughout South Africa is at the core of the water shortages in Gauteng.

The ANC-engineered electricity crisis and loadshedding is negatively impacting Rand Water’s ability to supply our reservoirs in Gauteng with water. Water reserves in Gauteng remain low or empty because of power cuts and increased consumption because of the hot weather.

Loadshedding has been a problem since 2007 and no viable plan has been made to ensure that these critical pump stations are able to continue pumping water while experiencing loadshedding.

Because of the ongoing power outages, reservoirs do not fill to capacity. This has an impact on the pressure in the distribution pipe network. Because of the low pressure, higher-lying suburbs may have limited or no water supply.

While bad ANC governance is to blame for the situation, we also call on Rand Water, to turn its ship around. The State owned entity has irregular expenditure, which could have been used to upgrade critical rand water infrastructure.

We fear that these water restrictions could lead to widespread civil unrest, and therefore call for immediate intervention.

DA plan to prevent corruption with state of disaster declaration on load shedding crisis

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP.

With Cabinet scheduled to deliberate and take a decision on the proposed declaration of a State of Disaster (SoD) on the load shedding crisis, the DA is taking practical steps to ensure that such a declaration has in-built safeguards to prevent executive overreach and stop corruption.

To prevent the feeding frenzy that characterized PPE procurement by ANC cadres and their families during the Covid-19 SoD, the DA will fight to ensure that any SoD on the load shedding crisis is actively monitored through a:

  • Special Inspector-General to prevent the looting of any emergency funding that may be set aside to address the crisis;
  • Live and public National Treasury record that will track all tenders, procurement contracts and successful bidders;
  • Parliamentary ad-hoc committee to oversee the implementation of the SoD.

Following the official announcement of the SoD, as provided for in the Disaster Management Act, the DA will table a proposal to the Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, calling for the creation of a Special Inspector-General to prevent corruption relating to any funding directed towards addressing the electricity crisis.

This Inspector-General will have broad, sweeping powers to investigate and take pre-emptive, real-time action to prevent corruption at every level of government where taxpayer money is directed towards the crisis. The DA will specifically propose that the Special Inspector-General have the following powers:

  • Summoning information or assistance from any government department, agency, or other entity at National, Provincial or Local government level directly involved in the implementation of the SoD. Failure to disclose information within seven days will be regarded as a criminal offence;
  • Direct SoD implementing departments to take immediate action to address deficiencies identified by a report or investigation of the Special Inspector General;
  • Prevent the payment of any monies to, or recall moneys from any individual or entity where the Special Inspector-General finds deficiencies, non-adherence to processes, or potential abuse of power or corruption;
  • Nullify the awarding of tenders and contracts where the Special Inspector-General finds deficiencies, non-adherence to processes, or potential abuse of power or corruption;
  • Require an explanation of the reasons the State determined it to be appropriate to procure any goods or services, including a justification of the price paid for, and other financial terms associated with, the applicable transaction; and
  • Preventing and/or terminating procurement where exorbitant pricing is detected.

The Inspector-General would differ from the Auditor-General (AG) in that the AG only considers spending after it has happened at the end of a financial year, and cannot take any preemptive action to prevent corruption.

Similarly, as soon the as the SoD is announced, the DA will immediately ask Parliament to establish an ad-hoc committee that will act as an oversight mechanism to prevent executive overreach, stop corruption and enforce transparency and accountability during implementation.

The DA’s three point plan to place deterrents against corruption in an SoD on the load shedding crisis is to ensure that every single cent meant for addressing the electricity crisis is directed towards its intended purpose and not corrupt politicians and their friends.

DA to send delegation to Tottenham Hotspur Club to get R1 billion facts

Please find attached a soundbite by Manny de Freitas MP.

South African Tourism’s (SAT) plan to sponsor an English Premier League team, Tottenham Hotspur, is a slap in the face of every South African whose hard-earned tax will be used to sponsor a first-world football team.

It is also an insult for the South African tourism and travel sector which was decimated, and in many cases completely destroyed, during and post Covid.

A media report states that the deal “was on the verge of being finalised”. A delegation from DA Abroad will this week go to the Tottenham Hotspur Football Club in London to ascertain exactly what the status of this deal is and if any money has exchanged hands.

The DA will do everything in our power to oppose this lunacy.

This idea is even worse than the money allocated for the ANC’s comrades in Cuba, an effort that was stopped by Solidarity in the courts. Our country is in a power crisis. Consumers are being crushed by inflation. There is no way the ANC will be able to condone such a decision in the 2024 election, not even among its staunchest supporters.

We will be submitting questions as to how this decision was arrived at and what studies have been undertaken to justify this decision. We will also be tabling this matter at the next Tourism Portfolio Committee meeting.

SAT sites examples elsewhere where other Destination Management Organisations have signed agreements with other international football teams, however in these instances, the destinations in question already had a strong and thriving tourism industry. In such cases such deals makes sense as a “top-up” to what they are already successfully doing. In the case of South Africa, government isn’t even doing the basics, such as maintaining tourism sites and infrastructure.

No doubt, this will also be a slap in the face of the sports fraternity, particularly the soccer sector, who do not receive much-needed funds to advance our own sports teams. With R1 billion the government can build a brand new soccer pitch in every town in the country!

It appears that this is yet another glitz and glamour ploy by Tourism Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, to leave a mark in tourism before the potential redeployment to another department in a soon-to-be announced cabinet reshuffle.

This money should rather be spent locally to improve our tourism sector so that it can thrive, create jobs and in turn contribute to the much-needed growth of our economy.

36 000 patients waiting for surgery in Gauteng Hospitals

An astounding 36 237 patients are on the waiting lists for operations in Gauteng public hospitals, with a waiting period of five years for some types of surgery.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Chris Hani Baragwanath has the largest waiting list – 10 900 patients in total, including 1777 patients who will wait 4 years and five months for hip and knee replacements.

Other hospitals with long waiting lists for surgery include the following:

• George Mukhari Hospital – 5979 patients

• Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital – 3132 patients

• Sebokeng Hospital – 2977 patients

• Mamelodi Hospital – 2570 patients

• Steve Biko Hospital – 1921 patients

• Thelle Mogoerane Hospital – 1070 patients

• Tembisa Hospital – 1023 patients

• Pholosong Hospital- 832 patients

• Tambo Memorial Hospital – 804 patients

• Leratong Hospital – 733 patients

• Far East Rand Hospital – 708 patients

• Kalafong Hospital – 584 patients

The largest backlogs are in cataract surgery, with more than 10 000 patients who will wait up to two years at the Steve Biko and George Mukhari hospitals, but six months or less at the Tembisa, Kalafong, Pholosong and Mamelodi hospitals.

The worst waiting times are for hip and knee replacements, which will mostly take from two to five years although some hospitals do them in less than a year.

Nkomo-Ralehoko says the Covid-19 pandemic drastically increased the surgery backlog as elective procedures were halted.

Other factors identified include:

1. Delays in the procurement of specialised machinery

2. Delayed renovations of operating theatres

3. Mass exodus of skilled staff to overseas countries and to the private health sector

4. The number of foreign nationals

5. Delays in the filling of critical posts.

Load-shedding has also adversely impacted surgery, and linen shortages often cause operations to be cancelled.

Some hospitals have done well with surgery marathons in reducing the backlogs e.g. Kalafong hospital eliminated their cataract backlog by doing 151 cataract surgeries in October last year.

It’s a vast human tragedy that so many people suffer in pain while waiting for surgery. While Covid was a setback, the huge backlogs are largely due to years of incompetence and corruption.

Premier Panyaza Lesufi should recognise it as a provincial crisis that requires a plan with adequate resources to relieve the medical misery of so many people.

Gauteng residents once again left without water due to Rand Waters’s incompetence

Gauteng residents once again have limited access to water due to Rand Water’s ineptitude.

The continued load shedding is negatively impacting Rand Water’s ability to supply our reservoirs in the province with water.

Municipalities are also severely affected by this as it means that there is not sufficient time between the scheduled blackouts for the reservoirs to fill up.

It is extremely worrying that during a heatwave, our residents do not have access to a reliable supply of water.

It is high time that Rand Water gets its house in order so that some of the pressure can be taken off municipalities.

Furthermore, we demand that Rand Water must communicate timeously to the residents of Gauteng through their municipalities about the planned water outages due to the maintenance of water infrastructure. They should also provide updates on reservoir levels per municipality so that they are aware of the severity of the issue and find ways to mitigate.

In order to find a solution to the current problem with the supply of water in the province, Rand Water should urgently convene a meeting with all the municipalities in the province.

Loadshedding has been ongoing since September 2022 and a solution to ensuring that Rand Water and municipalities can supply water to our residents is urgently needed.

Last year, I wrote a letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, requesting that an inter-governmental task be established to find a solution to load shedding and the water crisis in the province.

To date, the only entity that has come back to me about our complaint regarding the water crisis is the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). During our engagement with the SAHRC last year, they indicated that they would be looking into our complaint.

We will be sending a request to the SAHRC for a meeting so that we can be updated on the progress made in our complaint.

The DA urges all our residents in the province to adhere to the current water restrictions in place while we are engaging with different stakeholders in finding a permanent solution to the issue.

Lesufi must first do his own job before interfering in Tshwane

Please find attached English and Afrikaans soundbites by Cilliers Brink MP.

The premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi, faces many crises that require his diligent attention. The most obvious one is the Rand Water supply crisis currently afflicting municipalities and their residents. Instead the premier seems to be dedicating his time to playing political games.

The DA takes note of Lesufi’s statement that “the provincial ANC will enter into talks with other political parties in Tshwane in a bid to remove the DA from power”, and we assure him that we will fight him every step of the way.

We know what happened the last time the ANC provincial executive in Gauteng intervened Tshane. Provincial ANC administrators found a surplus of R296 million on its operating budget, and by the time they left the city had a R4 billion deficit.  Systems and controls were also destroyed.

In fact, the multi-party coalition in Tshwane is still trying to repair the damage done to the city by the province’s administrators. This ‘intervention’ was eventually set aside by a court of law, and the ANC received even fewer votes in Tshwane in the 2021 local government than it did in the 2016 local government election.

The newly elected mayor of Johannesburg is a puppet, and he will have many masters. The ANC could manipulate smaller parties like the Patriotic Alliance to sell out their voters, because no single party or coalition in Joburg had a clear majority. Tshwane’s multi-party coalition does have a majority.

The DA will keep a close eye on Lesufi and the actions of the Gauteng provincial executive. In 2020 we stopped their unlawful power grab in Tshwane, and the precedent from that court case gives us even stronger firepower for prevent similar abuse in future.

If Lesufi wants to help the people of Tshwane, he should prioritise his job as premier over his job as provincial chairperson of the ANC. He has a constitutional obligation to support municipalities, including those that are not governed by the ANC, which in Gauteng is now the majority of municipalities.

DA’s SoD proposal was never intended to give the ANC government carte blanche

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The recommendation from the ANC, Cosatu and SACP that a national state of disaster be declared over Eskom comes about six months after President Ramaphosa rejected the idea in favour of the so-called energy action plan. He is on record as saying “We do not need a state [of]…. national disaster to implement common sense regulations that should help in resolving our energy crisis”.

The key feature of the president’s current turnabout is “to ensure that sufficient financial resources are allocated to end load-shedding.” It is for this reason that Parliament needs to fulfil the function of watchdog to ensure this does not become yet another opportunity for Covid-like misappropriations by key ANC ministers and officials.

The DA’s repeated request that a ring-fenced State of Disaster on Eskom be declared was to ensure  disaster relief funding be sourced from other departments and government resources, and reprioritized to keep the open-cycle turbines running in the immediate term.

Moreover, such a declaration would allow government to bypass its own self-imposed obstacles, bottlenecks and cost inflations in the form of unworkable labour legislation, localisation requirements, cadre deployment and preferential procurement. The DA was clear that the national focus should be on finding short term solutions to stabilize supply while expanding energy market participation by Independent Power Producers.

It is crucial that the envisaged State of Disaster is ring-fenced around Eskom and that it is overseen by an independent panel of suitably qualified experts to ensure probity and transparency.

Should this putative move by government be implemented it is of utmost importance that the president and his implementing minister, Gordhan, be placed on terms: mess this one up and you will have driven the final nail into South Africa’s economy and the lives and livelihoods of millions of citizens.

This initiative – first tabled by the DA – will be under our intense scrutiny, particularly as it will enable disaster relief funding to address immediate actions while fully costed measures to augment generation are presented and actioned without let or hindrance and that maintenance and repairs are carried out with urgency and transparency.

Make no mistake, this is not carte blanche for a 20 year opaque contract with Karpowerships and it is imperative that every cent spent is accounted for and its impact measured.

ANC finally concedes the obvious: it has turned Eskom into a disaster

Please find attached a soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP.

Today, the ANC was finally left with no choice but to accede to the DA’s long-time demand to declare Eskom an ANC-made disaster zone. With more than a decade of loadshedding already having wiped billions off the economy, the reality that the ANC turned our electricity system into an unmitigated disaster appears to finally be sinking in.

The DA re-emphasises our long-held position that any declaration of a State of Disaster should be strictly ring-fenced around Eskom and the electricity sector. Most importantly, such a declaration must be subject to complete and transparent parliamentary oversight.

Properly implemented, a ring-fenced and transparently-managed State of Disaster can enable government to bypass its own self-imposed obstacles, bottlenecks and cost inflation in the form of unworkable labour legislation, localisation requirements and BEE.

However, full and complete transparency and parliamentary oversight will be required along every step of the way to prevent a repeat of the PPE looting frenzy during the Covid-19 State of Disaster. With this in mind, the DA will immediately write to the Speaker of the National Assembly requesting her to ensure this matter is urgently tabled in Parliament.

DA reveals Home Affairs applications deleted due to loadshedding

The DA has discovered that Home Affairs applications are being deleted due to loadshedding. The possibility that this is also the case in other state departments is extremely concerning and the DA will be doing oversight in the coming weeks to ascertain whether it is indeed the case.

I have written to Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, to urgently address this issue.

When visiting the Bronkhorstspruit Home Affairs office with ward 105 DA Councillor candidate Lida Erasmus, it was found that there are cases where citizens apply for an ID document or passport, complete the application and receive a valid receipt. A few weeks later when they return to the office to find out why the documents are not ready they find that the application was completely deleted due to load shedding that causes the system to go offline.

These residents are then required to reapply. This is a completely unacceptable waste of time for these residents. There can be no compromise on database replication and power failover systems in place for secure systems that contain such sensitive information.

The Minister has to date failed to answer a DA parliamentary question posed in October 2022 requesting a list of the home affairs offices with no functioning generator or uninterrupted power supply system and by when emergency power supply systems will be installed in each of these offices.

A detailed report presented to Home Affairs as far back as 2019 already highlighted electricity and environmental issues as major causes of system downtime including uninterrupted power supply devices not kicking in, no power backup or not having fuel in generators when power fails.

The lethargy in having these issues addressed is difficult to understand, given the severity of their impact. Ministers enjoy generators at their residences at taxpayer expense and are completely disconnected from the effects of load shedding.

The DA will be following up to ensure that this issue of applications being deleted due to loadshedding is addressed without delay.

Doctors should not have to march to be employed

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP.

It is shocking that more than 1 000 doctors were forced to take to the streets today in order to try and remedy the critical shortage of doctors in South African hospitals.

Last year, the Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, revealed a vacancy for 1 339 doctors in the public health sector, as well as 10 831 vacancies for nurses. In December, the South African Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu) said that at least 225 post-community service doctors had yet to find employment.

Since it has become crystal clear that the ANC government is either unwilling or incapable of addressing this critical shortage, the DA has taken matters into our own hands. We will be bringing a Private Members Bill (PMB) before Parliament to change the way medical students and doctors are placed for the internships and community service years.

The placement of community service doctors has never run smoothly. Every year, scores of doctors are left in limbo by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) putting 8 years of hard work in jeopardy.

And the issue stretches further than the chaotic placement of community service doctors. Last year 94 doctors who qualified at foreign universities, sued the HPCSA for seemingly hindering their registration to enable medical practice in South Africa. The Council also failed to provide the doctors who wrote the board examinations with exam scripts and marking memoranda, despite being ordered by the Public Protector after an investigation.

It is unfathomable that the ANC government refuses to address the country’s doctor shortage (0.31 doctors per 1 000 patients), especially given the large number of qualified doctors that seek employment.

In an interview last year Dr Nicholas Crisp, the deputy director-general for the Department of Health (DoH) responsible for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, blamed the failure to fill posts on the annual decrease of budgets and the rising cost of employment. Yet the 2021/22 annual report revealed that R42 655 000 of the Department’s dwindling budget was spent on just 44 NHI posts.

And to this day, the Department has failed to provide an NHI financing plan. To add insult to injury, the Minister and Dr Crisp have not managed to come to an agreement on how the NHI would be funded with everything from introducing additional taxes, possible increases in value-added tax (VAT), changes to general taxation, adding a payroll tax to the reallocation of funds being touted.

Today’s march has illustrated the Department of Health’s clear disdain for South Africa’s medical professionals and the people they serve. Instead of prioritising front line health care by capacitating the public health system, the ANC government is wasting money on an ill-conceived idea that will inevitably fail and erode the little that’s left of the country’s health care.

It is time the NHI was scrapped entirely, and the money reprioritised to employ nurses and doctors.