More than 3,000 government buildings could potentially face imminent collapse

In a reply to a DA parliamentary question, the Minister of Public Works, Nathi Nhleko, revealed that a shocking 3%, that is 3 046, of all government buildings are unfit for occupation. Furthermore, almost 10 000 government buildings have serious structural defects.
It is unclear whether these building are currently in use. But what is clear is that our country’s ailing infrastructure is now on the verge of collapse.
The decaying infrastructure is a damning indictment on the dead ANC government. Indeed, the government is literally crumbling.
What’s worse is that only 1% of government buildings are in an excellent condition.
It’s unacceptable that government would risk the safety and security of hard-working public servants in this manner.
Considering the widespread allegations of corruption that emerge on a daily basis from the ANC-led government, it should come as no surprise that the public funds allocated for the maintenance of these buildings did not end up being used for that purpose.
Government buildings are an invaluable component of economic growth and development. If these buildings are dilapidated, it will have serious consequences for our economy and on social services to the public.
The DA will now write to Minister Nhleko and pepper him with more questions as to whether these buildings are indeed occupied and what his plans are to bring these unsafe buildings up to standard.
The crumbling infrastructure smacks of the dead ANC’s utter failure. This simply cannot be allowed to stand and the DA will continue holding the ever evasive ANC to account.

Department of Public Works wastes millions on 1,9 million hectares of idle land and 12 000 properties

In a written reply to a DA parliamentary question, the Department of Public Works (DPW) has revealed that it holds a staggering portfolio of land and property holdings, worth over R12 billion, that are lying idle and unutilised.
While this land and properties are not used, rates and taxes paid on these holdings, which comprise 1,9 million hectares and over 12 000 properties, has amounted to R138 million since 2014. This is in addition to R9 million that has been spent in the same period maintaining these properties.
It is staggering that taxpayers are forced to pay for these non-productive properties and lands.
The DA will write to the Minister of Public Works, Nathi Nhleko, to demand that his department must immediately conduct an audit of the unutilised land in terms of its potential for alternative uses.
Well-situated and unutilised land should be made available for housing for the poor. Alternatively, it must be leased or sold off to reduce the tax and maintenance burden on the state which be used for service delivery.
The DA finds it unacceptable that the DPW is sitting on vast acres of land while millions of South Africans continue to be excluded from land ownership. It exposes the hypocrisy of the ANC government and its lack of commitment to addressing the land question.
The DPW should play its part in reducing the growing budget deficit by avoiding wasteful expenditure on properties that it does not use or need. South Africa’s precarious public finances simply cannot afford to keep paying for non-essential cost items that are nothing more a burden to the fiscus.
The DA looks forward to a timely conclusion of this DPW land holdings audit and its eventual transfer to South Africans who are eager to put it to productive use.

Annual Report reveals 740% increase in irregular expenditure at IPID

The 2016/17 Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Annual Report has revealed that irregular expenditure at the department has piled up to as much as R21.5 million last year.
This regression of its financial management, owing to a politically-driven period of organisational destabilisation under former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, is now impacting on its ability to carry out its mandate of conducting independent and impartial investigations of crime committed by SAPS and Municipal Police Service (MPS) members.
This highly irregular expenditure represents a mind-boggling 739.5% increase from the previous year.
The R21.5 million is made up of R12.7 million from 2015 and R6.3 million from last year, all of which is yet to be approved.
Six months ago, IPID were forced to ask for a further R5 million from Parliament to make it possible for it to finish their investigations into the Marikana massacre.
Then two months ago it was reported that IPID was not able to finish one of the Farlam Commission into the massacre of the 44 Marikana miners recommendations because of this lack of finances.
IPID are meant to be the watchdog over those entrusted with our safety and security and were compromised in their ability to do so thanks to a Minister at the time who actively worked against its effectiveness and an unfit-for-purpose leadership that seemed intent on hollowing out its capacity.
The people of South Africa need to urgently be reassured that their safety is not being risked by IPID’s inability to keep its financial affairs in order and the department must implement an urgent recovery plan.

Under-staffing and under-resourcing of Satellite Police Stations requires Parliamentary oversight

The DA conducted oversight on the state of Durban satellite police stations on Friday and we were deeply concerned with the serious issues we encountered, including under-resourcing and under-staffing.
I will therefore write to the Police Portfolio Committee Chairperson, Francois Beukman, asking that Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, and Public Works Minister, Nathi Nhleko, brief the Committee on the shocking state of these police stations, their buildings, and facilities, and to update the Committee on how under-resourcing and under-staffing will be remedied.
Parliament must now exercise oversight of these two ministers as their departments continue to fail in this area.
A proposal made by local business to develop a cluster office that will bring with it a 24-hour policing service in the area must also be considered by Minister Mbalula.
I will also submit Parliamentary Questions to ascertain the past and future police staffing and vehicle allocations to the Durban North precinct.
During the oversight visit, it was clear that the station’s staff capacity and patrol vehicles are severely under-resourced and that the crime rate in the area, particularly business robberies in malls and house break-ins, has remained exceptionally high. At the end of the 2015/16 financial year, robberies at non-residential premises had increased by 50% from the year before, and was it its highest level since the 2009/10 financial year.
Crime increases in the country are a consequence of the shoddy state of the police service at station level which is best characterised by the “four U’s” (under-resourced, under-trained, under-equipped and under-staffed) as well as poor leadership.
Due to the under-staffing at station-level across the country, the capacity of the South African Police Service (SAPS) is shrinking and it will soon not have enough capacity to adequately prevent, combat and investigate crime. Police officers, and especially detectives, are already constrained and overburdened by under-capacity, which further restricts their ability to fight crime.
The appropriate resourcing of the SAPS is a national competency and the ANC government has directly failed to protect the most vulnerable in our society. As highlighted by the Durban satellite police stations, it is clear that where the SAPS are most under-resourced, crime is highest.
It is high time that Mbalula and Nhleko put the country first by urgently delivering a plan to Parliament for how the under-resourcing, under-training, under-equipping and under-staffing of the police services will be addressed and how they will ensure that the scarce resources at their disposal are efficiently used for the reduction of crime.
The DA urges Mbalula to take seriously the need to fix the police service and ensure safe homes and safe streets for all our people, rather than tweeting himself into trouble.

DPW budget will not benefit the poor, it will benefit the President

Honourable Chairperson, allow me to use the words of wisdom by, Caesar Chaves:
“History will judge societies and governments — and their institutions — not by how big they are or how well they serve the rich and the powerful, but by how effectively they respond to the needs of the poor and the helpless”.
Honourable Chairperson, on the 1st of April 2017, South Africa woke up to an unprecedented cabinet reshuffle.
To our dismay, unfit, notorious, and corrupt ANC Ministers remained in the cabinet while competent and incorruptible Ministers were substituted with the young lions with no teeth.
To us it has become clear that the redeployment of Minister Nathi Nhleko to this department is to continue with the second phase of Nkandla.
This is a testament that the budget of this Department will not benefit the poor and the vulnerable people of South Africa but only the President and his ANC cronies.
It is actually regrettable that the Department of Public Works is permanently under a cloud of corruption scandals. This is a great pity, seeing as this department has the potential to contribute to the built environment and the economy of this country.
Minister, you and your predecessor were amongst President Zuma’s men, in the Nkandla cover up scandals and you continue to do so.
The DA finds it highly suspicious that the new Minister, mysteriously cancelled a press briefing scheduled for the 25 April 2017, which was supposed to explain the new upgrades and improvements planned at President Zuma’s private homestead in Nkandla.
Despite the confirmation from both senior Public Works officials and the Minister of Police that these upgrades are going ahead.
The public needs to be taken into confidence, they have the right to know how their tax money is spent. They also need the assurance that there will be no further upgrades at all at Nkandla.
This “Mantashing” by the Minister is very suspicious and strongly suggests that there is something to hide. South Africans have not forgotten the role you played in defending the Nkandla scandal from the beginning, most notably your infamous innovation of the ‘Fire pool’.
The DA strongly urges you to avoid a similar performance going forward.
Honourable Chairperson, in a written response to a DA parliamentary question, Minister Nhleko has revealed that 8 of the 14 companies contracted to carry out the notorious upgrades to Nkandla have since been rehired by the Department to perform other work. It would seem then that there has been no accountability.
He also confirmed that not a single one of the 14 companies involved in these upgrades have been blacklisted. This is a shocking revelation considering that the Constitutional Court found these upgrades to be fraught with corruption and unlawful enrichment. It clearly proves that the more connected and corruptible you are, the more valuable to the ANC government you become.
Honourable Chairperson, one of the Department’s entities, the Property Management Trading Entity was established in April 2006, with the prime focus of executing all property management related functions, such as maintenance of properties and property rate payment on behalf of the Department of Public Works.
However, it took the Department of Public Works 9 years to operationalise this entity.
The Department indicated that this entity has a 39% vacancy rate in critical positions. It does not have the specialist skills to ensure the sustainable operationalization of excellent property management.
This entity of the South African government can make the most appropriate property investment for a developing country.
The DA calls on the new Minister to make sure that this important entity is well resourced with the specialised skills required, to fulfil its mandate. This is an entity that accounts for half of the budget of the Department.
Honourable Chairperson, it is really disturbing that another entity of the department; the Independent Development Trust is in a crisis. This trust plays a crucial role in the delivery of social infrastructure in provinces, where there is a dire need and substantial backlog of facilities such as schools and clinics.
However since 1997 this entity:
• Has had a number of leadership challenges.
• Loss of critical staff in key areas of financial administration and management and as a result the entity struggled to collect management fees for all the projects it has been involved in.
• The frequent changes in leadership of client departments threatens the continuity in the IDT’s delivery of programmes and meeting of obligations to service providers.
• The budget cuts and the deliberate delays in transfer of funds by the clients’ department exposes the IDT to litigations due to late processing of service providers.
• For the past three financial years this entity has received a negative audit opinion/ disclaimer from the Office of the Auditor- General.
• The entity does not show any profit.
Honourable Minister, the DA is calling on you to transform this entity so that it can fulfil its mandate or we should scrap it once and for all. Let’s make sure that the tax payer’s money is used effectively.
Honourable Chairperson, when the DA gets into government we will make sure that state resources are used in a responsible and transparent manner. We are already doing this in the cities where we govern.
We will make sure that state resources benefits the poor and vulnerable people of this country. Leaders will not use their positions of power and state resources for self-enrichment when the DA governs.

Nhleko U-Turn on Nkandla upgrade briefing highly suspicious

The DA finds it highly suspicious that the new Minister of Public Works, Nathi Nhleko, mysteriously cancelled a press briefing scheduled for today, to explain the new upgrades and improvements planned at Jacob Zuma’s palace of corruption, Nkandla.
This after both senior Public Works officials, and the Minister of Police, are reported to have confirmed these upgrades are going ahead.
The President’s public denial of requesting upgrades to the “residence” is simply not good enough. This smacks of the same obfuscation around Zuma’s mortgage bond, which was nothing more than a smokescreen to mislead Parliament. There is a difference between the entire Nkandla “homestead” compound, which includes chicken facilities, a swimming pool and visitor’s entrance, and the individual living quarters, or “residence”, within the compound.
The public needs to be taken into confidence and given guarantees that there will be no further upgrades at all, to any part of Nkandla, not just the “residence”. This is what we expected of Nhleko today.
This U-turn by Nhleko is very suspicious and strongly suggests that there is something to hide. If Nhleko had a defensible case to make, he would have come out and given today’s briefing.
We have not forgotten the role that Nhleko played in defending the Nkandla scandal from the start, most notably at the infamous “fire-pool” press conference, and the DA urges Nhleko to avoid any similar performances going forward. The passionate defence of Nkandla from such senior ANC Ministers only illustrates that many conspired to build Jacob Zuma the enormously expensive Nkandla, or defend it, using public money.
It is deeply concerning that ten officials from the Department of Public Works are being used as scapegoats for not following proper procedure in the procurement processes for the R246 million Nkandla upgrade, when it was clearly a politically collective project for the ANC government.
No additional upgrades to the President’s Nkandla homestead are justifiable. We expect Minister Nhleko to come out of hiding and tell the nation that Nkandla will no longer receive a single cent of public money, for any further upgrades.
The DA will challenge any corrupt leaders for flagrantly abusing the public purse at the expense of the poor and jobless.

8 of the companies contracted at Nkandla are still doing business with the State; none blacklisted

The Minister of Public Works, Nathi Nhleko, has revealed that 8 of the 14 companies contracted to carry out the infamous upgrades to Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead have since been rehired by the Department to perform other work, notwithstanding their involvement in the R250 million scandal.
The Minister also confirmed that not a single one of the 14 companies involved in these upgrades has been blacklisted, or “placed on the restricted supplier database”.
In his reply to a DA written parliamentary question, the Minister of Public Works confirms that according to the records at the Department’s disposal, from 1 August 2014 to date, the following companies who were involved in the Nkandla upgrades have been contracted by the Department:

Name of Company Company Registration Number
Otis – Reg. No. 1948/030021/07
Pro-Hydraulics – Reg. No. 1991/032516/23
Mustapha Cachalia Engineering – Reg. No 2000/011218/23
Ilangalethu Consult / R/G Consulting – Reg. No. 2003/086502/23
Bonelena Construction Enterprise and Projects – Reg. No. 2005/07916/23
 
E Magubane – Reg. No. 2006/056588/23
CA Du Toit – Reg. No. 1971/001759/07

 
This is a shocking revelation considering the Constitutional Court found these upgrades to be fraught with corruption and unlawful enrichment, and once again proves that the more connected and corruptible you are, the more valuable to the ANC government you become, and the more illegitimate money you can make.
The DA will be referring this matter to the Chief Procurement Officer at the National Treasury to immediately intervene in this matter, and to conduct an assessment as to whether any of the companies involved has breached the Supply Change Management (SCM) policy and/or the National Treasury Regulations. We are adamant that any company or individual who unduly benefitted from carrying out work at Nkandla must be blacklisted and held accountable for their actions.
We also note yesterday’s suspicious U-turn by Minister Nhleko, whereby he cancelled a press briefing scheduled for today in which he planned to “set the record straight” on further upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla homestead. No reasons were given for the cancellation. I will therefore be submitting written questions to the Minister, seeking an explanation for the proposed new upgrades at Nkandla.
I wish to once again make it clear that the DA rejects any new or further upgrades to the President’s Nkandla home, regardless of how they are described or categorised by national government. We maintain that not another cent of taxpayers’ money must be spent at Nkandla for the benefit of one man.
Corruption is an evil that enriches the elite at the expense of the poor and the jobless. The DA will not stop until all those who are involved in corruption and any abuse of public funds are held to the highest account.

Mbalula should suspend Phahlane over allegations of non-cooperation with IPID

The DA will write to the new Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, to strongly urge him to do what his predecessor, Nathi Nhleko, failed to do, and immediately suspend Acting National Police Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane, pending the outcome of the current Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) investigations into numerous disturbing allegations against him.
Reports today indicate that Phahlane continues to frustrate attempts by IPID to carry out their investigation into allegations that he took money for awarding tenders while he was the head of SAPS forensic services.
Phahlane’s lawyers claim that he is not being investigated by an “independent investigatory body.”
However, the fact is that IPID is the body established by national legislation, to investigate alleged misconduct or offences committed by members of the police service.
Phahlane’s continued refusal to cooperate with IPID is therefore deeply concerning. If he has nothing to hide, he should have no issue with providing IPID with the information they require in a bid to clear his name.
As the head of the SAPS who are responsible for protecting South Africans, it is vital that he be beyond reproach. Therefore, he should give his full cooperation to the investigation and allow IPID to follow due and proper processes.
The SAPS cannot afford to be shaken by more uncertainty in its senior ranks and it is imperative that South Africans are able to trust that SAPS leadership is fit and proper.
It is high time that Mbalula shows he is serious about leading the fight against crime and protecting South Africans by suspending Phahlane pending the outcome of the investigations into him.

Over 8 000 police vehicles out of service

The DA will submit follow-up questions after a reply to a Parliamentary Question by the DA’s Vusumzi Magwebu MP has revealed that over 8000 police vehicles are currently in repair shops.
More than 2 000 vehicles in Gauteng and over 1 500 vehicles in the Eastern Cape are currently out of service and some police stations have only four vehicles to serve eight sectors.
According to another NCOP reply, there are 48 247 police vehicles nationally. This means that a shocking 16.6% of all police vehicles are currently out of service and waiting for repairs and maintenance. Because of this, there is currently only one vehicle for every 5 South African Police Services (SAPS) members.
A report received by the Gauteng legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Community Safety on Thursday furthermore revealed that there are serious challenges at the auxiliary garage, where police vehicles languish for up to three months. The report also noted a relationship between policing performance and resourcing in all eight sampled police stations.
It is all too common for police members to lack the basic equipment they need to carry out their mandate of keeping South Africans safe.
Without vehicles, the police are not able to respond timeously to crimes taking place and therefore, the under equipping of the SAPS directly threatens the safety of ordinary citizens.
The DA will establish the true extent of the crisis with follow-up questions and find out what the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, and the SAPS command is doing about it.
It is unacceptable for the police to be incapacitated because of something as simple as a failure to accurately keep track of vehicle repairs, collect vehicles on time and run functioning vehicle repair shops.
The DA cannot stand by while crime thrives as a result of not giving police members the equipment they need to make South Africa a safer place for all.

Crime stats: Nhleko must pressure Nxesi over rural safety improvement

Given that Police Minister, Nathi Nhleko, today expressed concern about the great distances between police stations in rural areas, the DA believes that he needs to engage with the Minister of Public Works, Minister Thulas Nxesi, to pressure him to consider initiating a strategic project to improve rural policing facilities and infrastructure.
Minister Nhleko must also engage the Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, about better co-ordination if there are court-related challenges.
Today’s presentation on the crime statistics for the first three-quarters of the 2016/17 financial year revealed that 46 people were killed on small holdings and farms during this period.
This is compared to 50 persons killed in the entire four quarters of the previous financial year.
Acting National Police Commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane, further revealed that between October and December last year, there were 27 incidents of attempted murder, 73 incidents of attempted house robberies, 8 attempted rapes and 10 cases of common assault on small holdings and farms.
In the first three-quarters of this financial year, contact crimes decreased by 1.9% compared to the previous financial year but murder only decreased by 0.1%.
The DA’s own analysis of the ten-year trend in murder between 2006/7 and 2015/16 show that it is clear that murder is on the rise at an alarming pace in rural areas.
This analysis shows that in the North West province, the five police stations showing the highest increase in murder, between 200% and 700%, over this 10 year period – Setlagole, Mooinooi, Mothutlung, Mooifontein and Kgomotso – are overwhelmingly rural.
The same holds true for the five worst performing towns in Mpumalanga where the murder rate increased by between 133% and 200%; as well as in Limpopo (between 200% and 400%); KwaZulu-Natal (between 150% and 700%); the Free State (233% and 800%); the Eastern Cape (220% and 400%) and the Northern Cape (200% and 600%).
Today’s presentation also revealed that stock theft increased by 2% (438 cases) between the first 9 months of the 2015/16 financial year and the first 9 months of the 2016/17 financial year.
The data presented today in conjunction with the DA’s analysis show an urgent need for the establishment of rural safety units, which the DA has repeatedly called for.
The DA will not rest until the safeguarding of the lives and properties of our vulnerable people who live in rural areas are prioritised.