DA Gauteng debates Motion on Virtual Spatial Mapping

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport, Fred Nel MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Petitions, Lebo More MPL, during a debate on introducing spatial mapping models for Gauteng City Region programmes.

Speech by

Fred Nel MPL

“Gauteng’s current spatial planning initiatives built on sand”

• In a fast-developing province like Gauteng we need every planning tool we can get to ensure the proper development of Africa’s economic powerhouse. The motion refers to the challenge that apartheid spatial planning and development has left us with today and the DA is equally committed to eradicate this legacy;
• We need to get low-income workers closer to their jobs so that they can spend less on transport and spend more time with their families;
• Gauteng needs to prioritise its economic focus. The world around us is changing and we need to make an honest assessment as to whether Gauteng is future proof with regards to its planned economic development; and
• It is time for the Gauteng Government to modernize, we need to become a truly smart province that utilises technology as an indispensable partner in our socio-economic and spatial development initiatives.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by

Lebo More MPL

“Virtual mapping of the province should be conducted inclusively”

• The Gauteng City Region Observatory collects and stores useful data, conducts surveys, develops new data sources and GIS mapping and analysis. Data is then converted into innovative products, which must include virtual modelling for a modernised government;
• Why do we want to decide what is to happen, with regards to spatial planning, without the inputs of those that we say we represent? and
• The Gauteng City Region includes all municipalities in the province, it is therefore imperative that the Provincial government works together with all local government structures in order to effect meaningful change which will see lower-income households and small businesses in the province succeed.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA Gauteng debates Motion on Scholar Transport

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Education, Ashor Sarupen MPL, during a debate on scholar transport.

Speech by

Khume Ramulifho MPL

“Departmental support for scholar transport inefficient”

• We have the responsibility to widen the scope of the Scholar Transport Programme within the department, to ensure that all scholar transport vehicles are roadworthy. Scholar transport must be reliable, arrive on time and driven by sober drivers;
• Is the department building schools too far from where learners reside? Is it not possible to prioritise building schools in closer proximity to avoid the burgeoning scholar transport budget?
• The DA visited rural schools and we saw learners walking long distances yet the transport owner is paid. Equally, some battle to do homework after school as the buses leave immediately after class. A ‘one size fits all’ approach is clearly not the best method;
• We should allow learners the opportunity to choose the school of their choice and get support from the department. We must start to consider a budget which affords individual learners a choice. If this can cover scholar transport and tuition fees, it will be a progressive move which advances learner choice.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by

Ashor Sarupen MPL

“Low-income families suffer most when scholar transport needs aren’t met”

• The current Scholar Transport policy can only be made effective with enforceable regulations and better planning, including working together with municipalities, to ensure that learner transport needs are met. It is an area in need of serious reform;
• Many parents make major financial sacrifices to cover the cost of private transport to get their children to school, such as taxis and private busses, outside of the framework of the department, because government has failed them;
• Despite the 2015 national learner transport policy being implemented, and Gauteng enacting its own scholar transport policy, a report by Equal Education found that principals who apply for scholar transport assistance frequently give up, as their requests are not responded to by the department; and
• As it stands, the policy places the onus on low income and working class parents for ensuring their children arrive on time, it assumes hard working low income families have the time or agency to dictate the timing of both state and private transport for their children.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Safety and security of Gauteng schools under threat


The DA is particularly concerned with the safety of learners and school staff whilst they are on school premises due to the spate of crime incidents which have recently made headlines.

Schools which were once declared as safe places for children have been turned into crime scenes.

These are just some of the crime incidents that have been reported over the last few weeks:

• This week, the deputy principal of Edalinceba Primary School in Duduza, Ekurhuleni was shot and killed in his office at the school;
• Earlier this month a patroller from Madibane Comprehensive High School in Diepkloof Soweto was shot dead during a robbery of smart boards at the school;
• Just this past week, a 13 year-old learner from Ekurhuleni died of injuries sustained while being bullied on school grounds; and
• A general worker from Skeen Primary School in Alexandra was shot inside the school premises.

The extent to which violence, bullying and murder is now so prevalent in our schools is very worrying, yet both the Gauteng Department of Community Safety and Department of Education are not doing enough to address this issue.

The Department of Community Safety’s patrollers placed at various schools are not trained to deal with the severity of bullying, fighting, drugs and various other crimes that take place on the school grounds on a daily basis.

These patrollers do not have resources such as torches, panic buttons and access to telephones in order to report crime immediately. This programme is wholly inadequate to deal with the enormity of the problem facing our schools.

Schools infrastructure is poor, in most schools there is no fence or the fence is broken making it easy for criminals to gain access to the schools. Some schools do not have panic buttons, alarms and electric fences. Many schools in the province do not have security guards due to a lack of financial resources.

We task both MEC Panyaza Lesufi from the Department of Education and MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane from the Department of Community Safety to ensure that they strengthen security fixtures in our schools.

We will hold both MECs accountable if anything happens to our children, teachers, general workers or patrollers while they are in our schools.

DA welcomes intervention at Bheki Mlangeni Hospital


I welcome the measures announced today by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa to fix the deep-seated problems at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Soweto.

This intervention is long overdue and follows a sex for jobs scandal and other irregularities in the hiring of staff. The hospital also suffers because telephone lines have been cut because of non-payment.

I am relieved that psychiatric patients will no longer be referred to the hospital as I warned in March this year that the psychiatric facilities were inadequate and had led to a suicide and injuries to patients.

The hiring of six more doctors will assist in providing a better service.

The MEC has set up an intervention team that will work for three months to stabilize the hospital.

There were high hopes when this hospital was opened in May 2014 but it has been plagued by management problems that I hope will now be solved.

DA Gauteng proposes Motion on Living Conditions in Hostels


The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Community Safety, Michele Clarke MPL and DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Human Settlements, Mervyn Cirota MPL, during a debate on living conditions in hostels across Gauteng.

Michele Clarke MPL

“Hostel dwellers in Gauteng deserve better housing”
• The hostels in our province are unsanitary and pose a severe health risk to residents. There is no access to water and electricity in some of our hostels. The safety of residents is often under serious threat, there is a high rate of crime that includes murder and prostitution.
• The living conditions in the Gauteng hostels are inhumane and not conducive for human habitation. The hostel’s infrastructure is crumbling, old and dilapidated;
• The Gauteng Department of Human Settlements should ensure the regular maintenance of hostels that require urgent maintenance, not waste money in maintaining hostels that need to be demolished; and
• The Gauteng Provincial Government, together with all municipalities in the province should prioritize delivering services such as water, electricity, and refuse collection to all the hostels in Gauteng.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Mervyn Cirota MPL

“Hostel dwellers must be treated with dignity and respect”

• It is thus with deep frustration and disappointment that I report to this house that undertakings by the ANC remain hollow and unfulfilled and that residents continue to live in squalor and despair;
• The lack of basic facilities such as water supply, the lack of basic sanitation and the filth and decay that exists with the full knowledge and consent of the ANC administration in Gauteng, is appalling;
• Both the Premier and the MEC have in this house acknowledged that urgent steps need to be taken to provide suitable living conditions that guarantee these residents dignity and a dignified environment as specified in our Constitution, yet to date not much has been done to improve the conditions in hostels across the province.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA Gauteng proposes Motion on ICT in Libraries


The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Finance, Ashor Sarupen MPL and DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Kingsol Chabalala MPL, during a debate on ICT in libraries in Gauteng.

Ashor Sarupen MPL

“Gauteng can use ICT in libraries to promote local languages”

•    This motion calls on the Legislature to use this opportunity to give meaning to sections 30 and 31 of the constitution, using technology to promote local language use, while also modernizing ICT in libraries, and, in the process stimulating the local ICT industry;
•    While Microsoft does provide basic Windows functions in isiZulu, isiXhosa and Sesotho, it is rudimentary at best, and its grammar and spell checker is not sufficiently developed for serious academic and journalistic use – which is the lifeblood of how languages thrive;
•    Our citizens should see their language rights promoted in the digital world, and should be able to select their language of choice to interface on these devices when they make use of their local library; and
•    In Gauteng, our libraries, as we modernize and move to e-government, offer a prime opportunity to stimulate the local ICT industry and protect language rights by transitioning to local language-based, open-sourced platforms on the devices that our citizens use.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Kingsol Chabalala MPL

“Libraries open up the windows to opportunity”

•    The DA in Gauteng tables this motion as it seeks to encourage young people of all walks of life to access good, reliable and efficient internet services at local libraries across the province;
•    The power of mother tongue internet services will bring our people closer together and unite all those that have felt excluded and marginalised;
•    Libraries remain empty for years, construction delays and blame shift occurs, very little to no books are bought and many remain in boxes for many months whilst internet connectivity seems to be something of the ‘future’  yet we need to adapt to the digital age and an ever transforming society; and
•    Great software makes great computing which equals successful job hunting. It is a win-win on all sides and this house should seriously consider adopting this motion and get our libraries working.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA Gauteng debates Motion on Hospital Boards


The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health, Jack Bloom MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on SCOPA, Dr Heinrich Volmink MPL, during a debate on Hospital Boards and Clinic Committees in Gauteng.

Jack Bloom MPL

“Stronger boards can attract donors to improve quality care in hospitals”

• An effective Hospital Board and Clinic Committee can perform an invaluable role in raising the standards of health treatment;
• Donors are more likely to give when they are approached by a public-spirited board member with a specific project in mind. The Department should be encouraging this and making sure that they are making use of the skills and experience of those who give of their time to help our hard-pressed hospitals and clinics;
• Boards or Committees must actually have the powers and influence to do something about problems that they identify, they should be empowered to act.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Dr Heinrich Volmink MPL

“’You can’t manage what you can’t measure’”

• Out of 369 facilities in the province, only 143 have fully complemented Clinic Committees. This means that 226, or about 6 out of every 10 of the facilities do not have fully complemented Committees and, in fact, 39 out of those facilities have no Clinic Committees at all;
• If we consider how imperative good governance is to quality of care and then reflect on these deficiencies, we begin to understand some of the Department’s performance challenges; such as why, for example, only 71 out of 300 clinics measured in the province reached Ideal Clinic status;
• In terms of developing the capacity of these bodies, we would encourage the MEC to consider the DA’s Health Policy proposal entitled “Our Health Plan” where we emphasize the independence of such bodies so that they can fulfil their governance duties unencumbered by undue political influence.

The full speech can be obtained here.

934 cancer patients waiting for treatment at Steve Biko Hospital

934 cancer patients are waiting for radiation treatment at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, with delays caused by broken machinery earlier this year and a shortage of radiographers.

This was disclosed on my visit to the hospital yesterday with my colleague Dr Neil Campbell MPL. We wanted to assess conditions at the cancer unit and were escorted by Acting Hospital CEO Dr Mathabo Mathebula.

In February and March this year two of the four radiation machines could not be used because broken air-conditioning led to dangerous over-heating.

We were assured that the air-conditioning has been fixed and all the radiation machines can now be used, but a backlog has developed because of the down-time.

Another problem is that there are only 20 radiographers but 31 are ideally required to make best use of the machines.

Ten radiographers have left in the last year, and only 8 radiographers have been recruited to replace them.

Patients currently wait about one month to see a doctor, and will receive radiation treatment two months after being scanned. This three month delay decreases the survival chances of cancer patients.

Staff told us that there has been a sharp increase in cancer cases, many coming from other provinces and a significant number from other countries.

The most common cancers are breast, cervical, head and neck, and prostate.

I am concerned that there is a large backlog of cancer cases which is being worsened by the shortage of radiographers.

More radiographers should be recruited urgently and private hospitals should be contracted to cut the backlog.

MEC Mashatile delays redevelopment of old Alexandra Township


Gauteng Department of Human Settlements MEC Paul Mashatile has admitted to delays in implementing a statement of intent signed between his department, City of Johannesburg and the Alexandra Land and Property Owners Association (“ALPOA”), The Alexandra Property Owners Right (“APOR”) and The South African National Civic Organisation (“SANCO”) over the their land claim.

MEC Mashatile was responding to my oral questions during the House Sitting in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature yesterday.

This statement of intent was signed on 25 June 2016, over a year ago now, and nothing has been implemented.

Furthermore, the MEC shifted the blame for the delays to the change of administration of the City of Johannesburg. This excuse does not hold water, as it is his department’s responsibility to implement this agreement.

These delays does not only affect the ALPOA, APOR and SANCO but the redevelopment of the old Alexandra Township that is currently in a shameful state.

The redevelopment of the old Alexandra was stopped by ALPOA in 2005 through a court interdict, stopping any infrastructure development in the old section of the township.

The Alexandra Renewal Project remains frozen for the past 11 years and 9 months unless this statement of intent is put in place nothing further can happen.

This means depriving the citizens of old Alexandra access to modernized facilities and infrastructure.

According to the MEC, the signed statement of intent provides the claimants with four various options which includes the following:
• Provision of title deeds to claimants of stands in Alexandra;
• Provision of alternative stands in areas around Alexandra to claimants;
• Development of a partnership in which the claimants who want to get involved in development; and
• Financial compensation.

MEC Mashatile said the chosen options by the claimants will determine the amount of money to be requested from the National Treasury. The date for the Stakeholder’s Summit will be on 25 October 2017.

We believe that it’s about time that MEC Mashatile takes responsibility and does something proactive about this matter that has been dragging for years.

The DA will continue engaging with the MEC on the matter to ensure that he fast tracks this process of compensating the land and property owners of the old Alexandra Township so that the area can be developed.

Who’s in charge: Lesufi or SADTU?

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned by disruptions in schooling districts where the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) is the dominant union. Instead of engaging constructively and putting learners first, SADTU has elected to collapse schooling by withdrawing its members from a number of schools in Johannesburg.

On an inspection of schools this morning, many schools in Soweto were non-operational, with learners lying in the sun and walking the streets. Their futures are being sacrificed at the altar of SADTU’s narrow politics.

In contrast, schools in affluent areas are pushing ahead with the teaching programme. While SADTU claims to care about the youth, in particular the poor black child, they continue to undermine their right to quality education. Despite this collapse in education, the ANC is nowhere to be found, meaning that they tacitly endorse the actions of SADTU.

SADTU has shown itself to have outsmarted MEC Panyaza Lesufi who also appears to lack the support of the ANC, in particular Premier David Makhura and MEC Paul Mashatile, both of whom rely on SADTU to get elected and fight their factional battles.

SADTU’s participation in today’s COSATU march only reinforces the idea that their only interests are ANC factional battles and politics, not teaching and learning.

SADTU stands as a barrier between the current poor state of education and quality education, which is delivered in areas were the DA has jurisdiction over education and SADTU’s influence is limited.

Anybody who undermines the right to education is an enemy of the youth and the project of building a better South Africa. The DA will always work towards ensuring that the right to education is upheld and protected.