DA encouraged by launch of paperless classrooms

KhumeThe DA Gauteng is encouraged by today’s launch of paperless classrooms and e-learning by Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi at seven public schools in Gauteng.

This morning, my DA colleague in the education portfolio committee, Solly Msimanga, and I attended the launch of paperless classrooms at the Boitumelong secondary school in Tembisa, and found learners and educators ready to teach and learn from day one.

The introduction of paperless classrooms is an important step to bridging the digital divide, and the DA is encouraged to find that our province’s schools of the future project are off to a great start.

Although government took the lead in this project, we believe that the involvement of the private sector should not be ignored.

That said, the DA continues to urge parents and communities to take ownership of our schools and to embrace this groundbreaking opportunity. We encourage learners and teachers to take pride in their schools, and to protect and safeguard all their school facilities and resources. Criminals who target schools should find it difficult to continue stealing and vandalizing school facilities and infrastructure.

The MEC has committed to furnish the DA with further details about this project which should include service providers, service level agreements, security measures, list of the schools and costs involved.

The DA will continue to support this innovation aimed at enhancing quality learning and teaching in the province.

Media enquiries:
Khume Ramulifho, MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
082 398 7375

No bandages for Ekurhuleni ambulances

Bloom,-JackThere is a shocking shortage of bandages and other basic medical items for Ekurhuleni ambulances, which forces paramedics to ration what is available, borrow from elsewhere or even buy from their own pockets.

I discovered this yesterday when I visited the Palmridge fire station in Alberton.

There is a shortage of bandages, oxygen masks, gauze, linen savers, syringes, intravenous needles, space blankets, alcohol swabs and nebulisers.

The store room is short of other items as well, with lots of empty shelves (photo available on request).

Medical consumables are ordered from the Gauteng Health Department, but supplies have been erratic and grossly inadequate for about a year.

It appears that the problem is due to the non-payment of suppliers.

These shortages affect ambulances all over Ekurhuleni and in other parts of Gauteng as well.

I have alerted Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu about this unacceptable situation that endangers the lives of patients.

I hope she takes quick action to ensure adequate supplies for all emergency ambulances in Gauteng.

Media enquiries:
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
082 333 4222

Jo’burg fibre broadband fiasco adds to ANC ICT woes

Sarupen,-AshorThe City of Johannesburg (COJ), in attempting to buy itself out of a R3 billion fibre broadband contract, has once again highlighted the ANC’s inability to manage large scale ICT projects.

Recently COJ attempted to cancel its contract with CitiConnect BWired after numerous delays and alleged breaches of contract.

Mayor Parks Tau wanted to terminate the contract in favour of setting up another Municipal Owned Entity, along the lines of the Johannesburg Roads Agency or Pikitup, to manage and maintain the broadband network and its operations.

This would entail the City buying the network infrastructure for R1.2 billion and cancelling the existing contract worth R3.4 billion over 12 years.

However, the City does not have the skills, expertise or employees to operate such a network and the longer term costs of operating and maintaining this network would far exceed the cost of utilising a credible service provider.

This fiasco is part of a long line of ICT contracts gone awry where the ANC governs in Gauteng.

Last year, the Auditor General found that the tender process in contracts worth R500 million for the procurement of tablets and provision of 3G connectivity to have been corrupt, with points being awarded outside of set specifications.

The investigation report on this is still outstanding.

Prior to that, the Provincial Government spent well in excess of R2.2 billion for a project called Gauteng Online – which was meant to provide computing facilities and connectivity to schools across the province.

This project was characterised by constant disconnections and rampant theft.

In 2011, two officials from the Ekurhuleni metro municipality were arrested for ICT tender fraud in excess of R32 million.

The City of Johannesburg’s investment into broadband, as well as the City of Tshwane, is being rolled out alongside a R1.2 billion investment from the Gauteng Provincial Government.

Considering the dense urban nature of the province, coordination – and to minimise costs, the province and metros should agree to share bandwidth.

No such agreements are in place and the projects appear to be duplicating one another’s work.

The DA will be launching PAIA applications to access information pertaining to ICT tenders as it appears that every time an ICT tender is awarded under the ANC in Gauteng, there is corruption and/or mismanagement involved.

Media enquiries:
Ashor Sarupen
DA Gauteng Finance Committee Member
060 558 8303

More questions raised about R265M Gauteng hospital security contracts

Bloom,-JackThe national government’s announced review of tender outsourcing in provincial health departments raises more questions about the Gauteng Health Department’s R265 million award of hospital security contracts in September last year.

I am very suspicious about these two-year contracts which were awarded in a rushed manner without the input of hospital managers.

We also appear to be grossly over-paying as the annual hospital security costs have more than doubled from the R113 million paid to private security companies in 2013.

The Hawks are already investigating allegations of fraud, corruption and money laundering with regard to the new hospital security contracts.

I have it on good authority that the department’s suspension of Mr Abey Marokoane, Chief Director of Risk Management and Internal Control, is related to allegations of corruption in the award of these contracts.

Marokoane is currently out on bail after being arrested on November 27 last year and appearing in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria the next day.

Former Health MEC Hope Papo refused to call for new security tenders because he said that national policy was moving towards in-house security for hospitals rather than outsourcing.

The question is why MEC Mahlangu pushed ahead so speedily with these contracts,

Mahlangu has also refused to give me the prices quoted by other security companies for each hospital, which I why I have submitted an application for it to be revealed under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

I will continue to push for more information so that the truth is revealed about these contracts.

Statement by Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
Tel: 082 333 4222

DA Gauteng wishes the class of 2015 a fruitful academic year

KhumeThe DA in Gauteng wishes the class of 2015 a fruitful academic year, and encourages all learners to start the year with the end in mind.

While the DA believes that the education department has put all necessary plans in place before schools open tomorrow, we will visit schools across Gauteng for the rest of January to check school readiness.

By doing so, we will make sure that all schools are sufficiently staffed and equipped with learning and teaching materials, properly furnished, that school nutrition programmes are in place and ready to deliver, and that municipal service accounts are paid up to date.

As we head into a new academic year, the DA urges all learners to be disciplined and focused on their studies, and we urge parents and communities to take ownership of their schools and provide the youth with the necessary support.

Education is the key to success, and we firmly believe that all learners starting grade 1 will continue until they reach grade 12 and finish school with flying colours. Theft and vandalism should be things of the past, and learners must commit themselves to academic excellence.

The DA also appreciates the work done by our dedicated and committed teachers, we wish them well too.

Media enquiries:
Khume Ramulifho, MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education
082 398 7375

Gauteng licensing centre staff take extended vacation

de-Goede,-JustusComplaints from members of the public have been pouring in regarding the sloppy and at times hostile behaviour by staff at licensing centres across Gauteng who appear not to be back at work.

At least four centres in the province, Centurion, Midrand, Watloo and Randburg, have experienced queues backed up for hours due to poor communication from the centres’ staff.

Although Monday 5 January 2015 was identified as the first working day of the new year, preparation was not made to receive licence applications. Various excuses were provided, ranging from the premises having to be cleaned to unexpected volumes of applicants.

At Centurion, members of the public were left to queue for hours, only to be informed that they would not be served.

This “couldn’t-care-less” attitude was experienced at several other centres. In addition, serious allegations of corrupt practices whereby individuals offer to help members of the public jump queues for a fee have also been reported.

Licensing centres are the responsibility of the Gauteng Provincial Government. Citizens expect the authorities to intervene and resolve the unnecessary logjams which have inexplicably occurred.

If staff are incapable of managing this important service, steps should be taken to replace them with individuals who can do so.

Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, must intervene immediately and ensure that this indispensable service runs optimally.

Media enquiries:
Justus de Goede MPL
DA Gauteng spokesperson on transport
060 558 8305

Gauteng road carnage continues unabated

de-Goede,-JustusThe lack of intervention by the Gauteng Provincial Government to curb the horrendously high number of road fatalities in the province over the festive season has tragically resulted in 212 deaths.

Before the start of the 2014/2015 festive season, the Democratic Alliance appealed to the Gauteng Provincial Government for a focussed intervention by traffic authorities to reduce the horrific accident and death toll on South African and Gauteng roads.

It is clear that despite our constant pleas, nothing has changed the attitude of motorists and law enforcement authorities.

Despite the fact that South Africa has far more road accidents and fatalities than countries with similar levels of development, there is a reluctance to impose harsher penalties on law breakers.

There are no real consequences for irresponsible road behaviour such as the withdrawal of licences, the impounding of vehicles and the successful prosecution of fleet owners who effectively allow their employees onto the road armed with lethal weapons.

Without political will and a real understanding of the underlying causes of road chaos on Gauteng’s roads, the situation will be repeated year after year.

It is essential that the Provincial Government identify and treat this situation like the emergency it is.

I will request that Gauteng Community Safety MEC, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, provide an explanation for the unnecessary waste of human life and an action programme as to how incidents like these will be avoided in the future.

Media enquiries:
Justus de Goede MPL
DA Gauteng spokesperson on transport
060 558 8305

DA Gauteng urges Education MEC to invite technology experts to monitor “Schools of the future” project

KhumeThe DA in Gauteng is urging Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi to invite technology experts to monitor the implementation “Schools of the future” project.

Failure to do so will see a repeat of Gauteng on Line problems, where the Gauteng Provincial Government invested about R3 billion towards the project in the last few years. Despite it being a good initiative, the lack of oversight led to the project being characterized by lack of strategy, theft, failure of connectivity for users and insufficient training.

The DA believes the new initiative to make 7 schools paperless is dependent on proper connectivity, trained teachers, support from service providers and safety of the technological gadgets.

About 188 tablets were stolen last year and not recovered. Should this trend continue, teaching and learning will be disrupted with the provision of quality education being compromised.

Criminals get away with their illegal activities as there were no charges brought against offenders.

The DA asks the MEC to provide details about this proposed project which includes service providers, service level agreements, security measures, list of the schools and costs involved.

The DA supports innovation intended to enhance quality learning and teaching in the province. However the department must take ownership of the project and monitor progress based on the service level agreement.

Media enquiries:
Khume Ramulifho, MPL
DA Gauteng South Regional Chairperson
DA Gauteng Caucus Chairperson
082 398 7375