DA officially objects to Palmietkuilen coal mine

The Democratic Alliance has officially lodged an objection with the Department of Minerals and Resources against the proposed open cast coal mine to be situated on the Palmietkuilen farm in Lesedi.

Given the rapid slowdown of SA’s economy, and Eskom’s decision earlier in the year to reduce four coal power stations supply, so as to incorporate more independent power producers on to the grid, the need for this mine, in what is an environmentally sensitive region, is not justified.

225.2 hectares of wetland, the Aston Lake and three plant species with red data status will be threatened should this mining operation go ahead. Given South Africa’s poor track record with the implementation of environmental laws by law enforcement agencies, there is a substantial risk that the regions already poorly treated water-ways will be exposed to acid mine water.

Notwithstanding the insistence in the EIA that these impacts can be mitigated, we have no confidence in the regulatory authority’s ability to enforce laws in this regard.

At a local level, and even beyond at a provincial and national level, the re-zoning of this agricultural greenland to a mining zone will have a negative impact on food security. The area is home to chicken and egg farms with an annual turnover of R393.3million, directly employing 332 people. Direct jobs and ancillary jobs are on the line in an already protracted labour market.

Further to this, property rates in the area will be lowered, making it more difficult for home owners to find value in the properties that they currently own.

This proposed mine only stands to benefit the company applying for the rights to mine and the trucking companies who will move the coal.

The environment, livelihoods, homes and futures all stand to be lost should this project go through.

The DA will fight this proposed mine on the grounds that the Constitution enshrines every South African’s right to an environment that is not harmful to their wellbeing or health.

Gauteng still running short of medicine

Gauteng hospitals and clinics are still not receiving all vital and essential medicines, with a particular problem in the East Rand because of space problems in the regional distribution depot.

According to a presentation by the Gauteng Health Department to the Health Committee of the Gauteng Legislature last week Friday, there was a 98.13% availability of essential medicines at health facilities from April 2016 to March this year.

Vital medicines were 98.56% available for this period, which was also below the target of 99% availability.

The real target should be closer to 100% as even a 1% shortage means thousands of patients are not receiving their correct medicine.

The department blames “poor supplier performance, with non-adherence to contractual lead-time, as well as erratic ordering by institutions”.

Pharmaceutical companies were fined a total of R5.6 million for buy-out penalties when alternative suppliers had to be used.

I welcome the tougher approach to non-performing drug suppliers, but poor distribution and ordering is a major problem for medicine shortages in certain areas of Gauteng.

Distribution of essential medicines by the provincial department is worst on the East Rand, where availability at clinics varied from 89% to 94% last year.

In the Tshwane area, medicine availability at clinics was also low, ranging from 93% to 97%.

Availability was better in the Johannesburg, West Rand and Sedibeng regions where it ranged from 95% to 100%.

Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa said that the problem in the East Rand was that the medical depot at Nigel was too small to supply the 93 clinics, as well as old age homes and some NGOs in the area.

This problem is eased by weekly deliveries to the depot and also moving the supply of ARVs and TB medicine to a depot in Germiston, but the MEC conceded that this was not enough to get full availability in Ekurhuleni.

It is unacceptable that there are gaps in medicine supply and delivery in Gauteng state hospitals and clinics.

There should be more use of direct supply from companies to health facilities instead of reliance on inefficient regional depots.

The department needs to do everything necessary to ensure full availability of medicines in Gauteng.

Metrorail crash: Who patrols the railway lines?

The train collision that took place in Elandsfontein in Ekurhuleni yesterday has claimed one life and left over 100 people injured. Initial reports suggest that cable theft may be to blame for the collision. The DA is concerned about the extent to which railway lines are policed to prevent vandalism such as cable theft.

I will submit questions to the MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng, Sizakele Nksoi-Malabane, in the Gauteng Legislature to determine the extent to which our railway lines are being patrolled by the South African Police Service (SAPS).

South Africans who must commute by train have no choice but to place their lives in danger to get to their jobs or look for work. It is an injustice that they must face grave danger on a daily basis because they cannot afford to use safer modes of transport.

The Metrorail service is highly vulnerable to criminal activity as the railway lines are open and must therefore be patrolled. The DA is concerned about whether the SAPS and Metrorail have a memorandum of understanding in terms of who is responsible for what aspects commuter safety and security of rail stock.

Aside from the ghastly risk that cable theft poses in terms of commuter safety, it further results in chronic train delays which make it very difficult for people to get to their jobs or look for work. Effective railway policing will go a long way in preventing this debilitating vandalism.

We offer our condolences to the family of the train driver whose life was lost during the collision. The DA will continue to monitor the incident as we are committed to commuter safety as well as to the reliability of trains.

More police officers needed to curb crime in Gauteng

There are shortages of police officers in Gauteng which makes it impossible to curb violence against women and children crime in our province.

In Gauteng alone 63 women have been murdered in just 30 days for the period from April 1 to May 21. In these cases only 31 arrests have been made.

Rapid urbanization has resulted in an increased number of people in the province- yet the ANC led government has done nothing to recruit more police officers.

The number of police officers has decreased drastically from 2012 to 2016 while the population has increased rapidly.

The police population ratio has decreased from 282 per 100 000 citizens to 196 per 100 000 citizens, as shown on this table below from the Gauteng Department of Community Safety:

Year Total estimated population size Total number of SAPS members in Gauteng Police Population Ratio Number of citizens per police officer
2012 11 328 208 31 947 282 355
2013 12 728 438 30 513 240 417
2014 12 914 817 27 431 212 472
2015 13 200 349 27 940 212 472
2016 13 498 200 26 519 196 510

Police officers often shoulder the blame for the failure to combat crime while not considering the lack of personnel and resources as an obstacle.

Gauteng Community Safety MEC, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane must consult with the Gauteng SAPS Commissioner, Lieutenant General Deliwe de Lange in engaging the National SAPS Commissioner and the Ministry of Police to intervene by urgently recruiting more police officers for the province.

The DA will hold MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane accountable if our people continue to be victims of crime due to shortage of police officers to protect them.

MEC Lesufi, stop gambling with children’s futures

It is very shocking that learners of Daleview Secondary School in Ennedale, South of Johannesburg have been without teachers since the beginning of the year.

While Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi boasted about the readiness of the Gauteng schools during the start of the school year, Daleview Secondary School Learners have been without teachers for five months for the following subjects: mathematics, physics, economics, accounting, business studies and English.

The Gauteng Department of Education has been informed about this crisis and has done nothing about it.

MEC Lesufi must prioritize the futures of the learners and act swiftly in ensuring that learning and teaching resumes at the school as a matter of urgency.

The learners are coming to school to play while some have opted to stay at home.

By not providing the school with teachers, the future of these children is doomed.

The DA believes that quality education is the key to an improved quality of life and will continue to fight for the rights of learners.

The DA will table questions to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to ascertain the following:

• How many schools in the province have a shortage of teachers?
• Why the Department has not addressed the teacher shortage at Daleview Secondary School in Ennedale, South of Johannesburg?
• How is the department going to recover the time lost -5 months especially for the grade 12 learners that will be writing examination by the end of the year?

Education is a constitutional right and a basic human right that MEC Lesufi has infringed upon during Child Protection Week.

Mashatile overspends but under-delivers


Despite overspending its 2016/17 budget allocation by R219 million, the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements, under the poor leadership of MEC Paul Mashatile, under-delivered by failing to meet some of its own key targets. This is unacceptable given the growing housing crisis in the ANC-run province of Gauteng.

Some of the key targets for the fourth quarter of 2016/17, which the ANC-run Gauteng Provincial Government failed to deliver on, include:

  • Failing to meet its procurement targets;
  • Only 66 out of 94 of its proposed projects were ready for tender;
  • Zero beneficiaries were trained through its skills development coaching and mentorship, despite a target of 2500;
  • The Department failed to conduct performance reviews for the quarter under review; and
  • The Department only transferred 830 (or 44,5%) residential properties to beneficiaries, missing the target of 1865.

At a time when the people of Gauteng, especially the poor, struggle for housing it cannot be that the critical Department of Human Settlements fails to deliver on its key targets.

Perhaps if MEC Mashatile focused his efforts on his Department, instead of internal ANC politics and working to undermine DA-governed Gauteng municipalities, there would be a better story to tell about the state of housing in Gauteng.Gauteng Department of Human Settlements

Under a DA-led Gauteng Provincial Government we will commit to delivering quality services, including houses, to the people of Gauteng.

MEC admits failure in managing the construction at Charlotte Maxeke

Infrastructure Development MEC, Jacob Mamabolo admitted the department’s failure to manage the construction at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital efficiently and enforcing quality standards.

He admitted this during the media briefing today on the findings of investigations into the collapse of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital roof.

The MEC’s failure to manage this construction project has resulted in the injury of five people.

Efficient site communication, and a health and risk management protocol must be implemented to ensure the safety of construction sites.

Thandzani Trading Enterprise, the construction company executing a waterproofing contract at the hospital, will be held liable for the collapse.

The role of the department’s officials is also being investigated.

MEC Mamabolo must ensure that skilled contractors that meet the minimum quality work standards are appointed.

The uncaring Department of Infrastructure Development only visited the five victims who were injured during the collapse on 14 March 2017, two weeks after the incident.

The DA will engage MEC Mamabolo to ensure that all the necessary steps are taken to hold those that are responsible to account, including Departmental officials.