DA debates SCOPA Report on Agriculture and Rural Development

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Spokespersons for Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), Graham Gersbach MPL and Heinrich Volmink MPL, during a debate on the SCOPA Report on the 2016/17 Annual Reports of Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Speech by

Graham Gersbach MPL

“AG could not verify department’s expenditure”

  • While this Department might have received a financially unqualified audit opinion, it remains one of those yet to achieve the goal set in 2009 of clean audits with no findings whatsoever.
  • The Auditor General found the main root causes for many of the findings in the audit opinion for this department in the year under review to be: (a)Officials lacking skills to prepare accurate financial and performance reports. (b)Slow responses by the Accounting Officer and Senior Management in addressing root causes and implementing action plans.
  • Included in these findings are: Poor record keeping that placed limitations on the scope of the Auditor General’s work due to a regression in the usefulness and reliability of the information provided in Programme 2 Agriculture, and Rural Development and Programme 3 Environmental Affairs.
  • 2085 hectares protected/rehabilitated to improve agricultural production; 8235 households benefiting from agricultural food security initiatives; 6000 individual household gardens were supported; 8023 hectares worked by GDARD tractors and 3621 hectares cultivated for food production in communal areas and land reform projects, could not be verified by the Auditor General.
  • What this really means is that we don’t really know if the monies allegedly spent during the financial year under review was spent nor who the beneficiaries really were.
  • Included in this list are approximately 770 “ghost” recipients of money for home garden projects whose ID numbers could not be verified by the Department of Home Affairs. GDARD needs to investigate this with urgency, as such forms of corruption cannot be tolerated.
  • Supply Chain Management remains a weakness mainly due to poor management controls.
  • Payments were made before receipt of goods and services in contravention of TR. (c) amounting to R43.8 million.
  • Irregular expenditure for the current year amounted to R9.5 million resulting in a closing balance of R75.4 million.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by

Heinrich Volmink MPL

“Department fails to manage expenditure effectively”

  • On the surface, the Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development gives an impression of progress. However, a closer inspection shows serious deficiencies.
  • The amount of agricultural produce that Gauteng imports from other provinces is still far too high.
  • The rate of local farmers producing food for local markets in Gauteng is still far too low.
  • The skills that our farmers have in commercial farming is still far too inadequate, with still too many constrained to subsistence farming which has little economic benefit.
  • I am of the view that the food security initiatives such as food gardens for households and schools should rather be rendered as a holistic social security intervention, not to be managed by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, but by social services. This will allow the department to concentrate on the commercial sector throughput of small and emerging farmers instead of continually dishing out seeds to household gardeners.
  • What is even further cause for concern with regards to the figures are the questions raised by the Auditor-General. Indeed, the AG indicated that the reporting on some of the crucial targets relating to the Agricultural and Rural Development Programme, as well as the Environmental Affairs Programme, were simply not reliable.
  • The AG also raised serious concerns about the Department’s ability to manage its expenditure effectively. This includes the failure of necessary steps taken to prevent irregular expenditure to the tune of R29 million, as well as payments made before receiving goods and services (in contravention of Treasury regulations) to the amount of just under R44 million.
  • We, therefore, call for urgent action to be taken on behalf of those working in the agricultural sector and, ultimately, for the households across Gauteng who deserve, and need, food security.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Gauteng Education Annual Report

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 Community Safety Michele Clarke MPL, during a debate on the 2016/17 Annual Report of the Gauteng Education Department.

Speech by

Khume Ramulifho MPL

“Education department continually fails to meet national and provincial targets”

  • It is disappointing that millions are spent in building what we call ‘state of art schools’, now, the infrastructure has started to crack. Shoddy work done by builders, and no consequences for their actions;
  • The DA has raised concerns on how districts are failing to support schools. The districts have failed to be proactive. The department has failed to deal with queries within 72 hours;
  • No fee schools, scholar transport and nutrition programmes are very helpful. However, the biggest challenge is how do we ensure quality education. Are there any consequences for teachers who are failing to deliver on their mandate?
  • The DA believes that quality education can be delivered to many learners. But this will require the political will to fire under-performing personnel, support from districts, appointing fit for purpose leadership, establishing strong partnerships with law enforcement agencies, creating conducive learning and teaching environments, redressing the past apartheid schooling environments and spending the budget.

The full speech can be obtained here:

Speech by

Michele Clarke MPL

“Basic education in Gauteng in desperate need of a new beginning”

  • A major cause for concern remains the fact that almost a third of learners who started grade one will get to matric. Of 145 199 learners who started grade 1 in 2006, 45 000 have already been lost to the system in 2017. More must be done in this area, we cannot lose this many learners.
  • Early school leavers will struggle to compete in an economy that demands skills, and the department is failing these learners;
  • With regards to the Auditor-General report, it must be noted that the department has failed to pay suppliers within 30 days, against what the Premier has committed GPG to doing. Nearly half a billion rand was not paid to suppliers within 30 days;
  • The MEC enjoys sugar coating things, chasing invisible bogeymen and engaging in soaring rhetoric. But the performance of the department leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Education in Gauteng needs a new beginning. It needs a total change.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Gauteng Health wasted R500 million on Telkom contract

The Gauteng Health Department wasted R500 million on a data storage contract with Telkom which was awarded on 11 September 2014 but has now been found to be totally unnecessary.

This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Ramokgopa, the V-Block contract “was awarded based on the Gauteng Department of Finance Memorandum of Understanding agreement with Telkom” and it was “to renew the dilapidated back-end infrastructure through the procurement of a converged (storage and computing) solution.”

It is unbelievable that this wasteful contract was awarded when the data storage facility at the provincial government’s e-governance department could have been used instead.

Ramokgopa says that the motivation was made by the previous Chief Information Officer and was supported by the Chief Financial Officer and granted by the Head of Department.

This is either a massive blunder or corruption was involved.

It’s a huge blow to the struggling health department which is desperately short of money to pay suppliers and provide quality care to millions of patients.

Ramokgopa says that there is currently an investigation under way which I hope is wide-ranging and should involve criminal prosecutions if the evidence shows corruption.

We need to know if former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was involved in this contract and who else benefitted that should be held to account.

Efforts should also be made to recover as much of this money as possible.

DA debates 2016/17 Gauteng Department of Economic Development annual report

The following speeches were delivered today in the Gauteng Legislature by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development, Janet Semple MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Economic Development, Ina Cilliers MPL during the debate on the 2016/17 Department of Economic Development’s annual report.

Speech by

Janet Semple MPL

“Paper improvements don’t equate to real economic reforms”

  • Independent economists tell us that the economy should be growing at 3% but the current abysmal growth of around 1% is all about political uncertainty. Low economic growth means less jobs.  Less jobs means more people reliant on grants and fewer taxpayers supporting those grants.
  • Underspending of R2.9 million on economic planning is not such good news particularly as this was due to unpaid invoices relating to the refurbishment of township industrial hubs, a key component in developing small businesses and creating jobs.
  • The deployment of a sitting Metro Councillor to the Gauteng Liquor Board raises all kinds of ethical questions around a conflict of interest and impartiality especially when decisions must be made around development issues.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by

Ina Cilliers MPL

“Gauteng’s economy needs a new, values-driven approach”

  • Overall, the DED budget of R1.3 billion is still not leveraged in such a way as to create a meaningful, large scale economic difference in Gauteng – especially to the township economy.
  • This department is very adept at moving targets from the APP to the operational plans, and rolling up all the thousands of little decisions taken in the entities, and packaging them neatly in the DED annual report.
  • The only way to achieve a capable, corruption free State, knowing that as policy makers we will never know everything, is to govern by our values of freedom, fairness and opportunity.
  • If the DED were governed by such a set of values, their single pursuit would be to protect individual freedoms by facilitating opportunity in a free market. Less regulation, not more. Less intervention, not more.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Department of Agriculture and Rural Development annual report

The following speeches were delivered today in the Gauteng Legislature by DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Ina Cilliers MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Environmental Affairs, Janho Engelbrecht MPL during the debate on the 2016/17 Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s annual report.

Speech by

Ina Cilliers MPL

“GDARD needs to modernize to increase food security and upskill farmers“

  • I still hold the view that following the current operational plan, the targets in the NDP will not be achieved, climate change will not be addressed, and the big players in the agtech space will start to dictate to us what we should eat, and even who can own the germplasm.
  • Research suggests that farmers markets thrive because they are not affected by government intervention. Instead they are regulated almost purely by the forces of the free market.
  • DA Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, in collaboration with the Urban Agriculture Initiative is planning over a hundred rooftop gardens right here in the CBD.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by

Janho Engelbrecht

“Gauteng’s environment left to rot on a shoestring budget“

  • We have good people in this department, but they can do very little because of a lack of resources.
  • Why don’t we leverage local government and provincial budgets to achieve more, isn’t that what cooperative governance is all about?
  • We can come to an agreement with municipalities about what is needed and partly fund projects. There are a lot of areas with overlapping responsibilities resulting in no one taking responsibility. Let’s change this.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Annual Report for Department of Community Safety

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Community Safety, Kate Lorimer MPL and the DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Community Safety, Michele Clarke MPL, during a debate on the 2016/17 Annual Report for the Department of Community Safety.

Speech by

Kate Lorimer MPL

“Gauteng Department of Community Safety can take a leaf out of Singapore’s book”

  • We had a brief glimmer of hope when a new HOD was appointed and she seemed competent and confident.  However, the quality of input and reporting has steadily become worse and worse.
  • So, this year I decided to rather look at the lessons learnt from our portfolio committee study tour to Singapore.
  • I knew before that our policing was in trouble but I realised how badly in trouble we are when visiting the various police departments in Singapore.
  • Probably the most obvious difference was the way in which all officers, members and officials we met, held and presented themselves.  Their pride in their own appearance, in their performance, in their country and in their commitment to their job was palpable.  All were impeccably turned out, looked strong and fit and were keen to impart any information they could.
  • This is in direct contrast to many of our SAPS, Metro Police and departmental officials who are caught slouching in their chairs, soliciting meals as bribes and lolling around (a prime example is our own SAPS VIP unit in the legislature who only bother to stand up when there is a General around).
  • Their unity of purpose is displayed in the exercise to co-locate their police stations, fire stations and ambulance services to ensure better co-ordination and leads to a police response time of 15 minutes 93,65% of the time, fire department 8 minutes and ambulances 11 minutes.  Here we are lucky if these services arrive within an hour.
  • On corruption or, the lack of corruption in Singapore. Corruption is a swear word.  The stigma attached to it is enormous and police members who are caught are disciplined, dismissed and lose all their benefits and these cases are widely publicised both internally and externally.  There is no early release or parole for those guilty of corruption.
  • It is time for the ANC to put the money where their mouths are, but oh, not possible, it has all been stolen.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by

Michele Clarke MPL

“Department fails to deliver services and to reach its targets”

  • Once again Community Safety has not reached its targets for 2016/2017.
  • The department only managed to reach 70% of its annual targets and a under expenditure of 21% was realised
  • The AG highlighted that the department needs to implement effective systems in terms of irregular expenditure and steps must be taken to ensure effective revenue collection. The AG recommended in his report that the lack of compliance in terms of regulations in line with supply chain management is very concerning.  This finding has been highlighted by the AG year on year.
  • Program three traffic management only realised 94,2% of its expenditure and did not reach its annual targets.  Road fatalities have a 10% reduction target but this target is never realised.
  • The most concerning is the underachievement of Program two, Provincial Secretariat which year on year underperforms, only reaching 89% of its targets and an under expenditure of 15%; this is the core mandate of the department.
  • The monitoring and evaluation of Police Performance is critical for our citizens to live in a safe environment.  It was found that 28 stations that were evaluated, did not comply with the Domestic Violence Act.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates SCOPA report on Gauteng Roads and Transport

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Spokespeople on SCOPA, Graham Gersbach MPL and Paul Willemburg MPL, during a debate on the SCOPA report for the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport.

Speech by
Graham Gersbach MPL

“A balance should be maintained between construction and maintenance of roads”

  • In The longer we delay new roads and refurbishments the more we will spend on maintenance;
    • The Department should not be wasting money defending claims when they know that they are likely to lose a case. Do not throw good money after bad defences; and
    • The DA will follow up as to the timelines for the introduction of electronic monitoring and reporting systems within this department.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by
Paul Willemburg MPL

“MEC Vadi must start cracking the whip in his department”

  • The Auditor General highlights unreliable reporting, especially around figures of achievements in Programmes 2, 3 and 4;
    • This Department contributed R2.37 billion, the bulk amount of the R5.3 billion in Irregular Expenditure incurred in the Gauteng Provincial Government; and
    • The PFMA is very clear about the misuse/misconduct of finance and needs to be complied with. Any form of non-compliance is non-negotiable.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Annual Report of GP Roads and Transport

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 Roads and Transport, Neil Campbell MPL, during a debate on the 2016/17 Annual Report of the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport.

Speech by
Fred Nel MPL

“Pot-holed roads and poor public transport department derails growth”

  • The department had no target, and no delivery, for the surfacing of gravel roads and this begs the question as to what the department’s strategy is with regards to gravel roads in the province;
    • A major concern is the lack of construction of non-motorised transport infrastructure and the fact that the department had no target for this type of infrastructure during the year under review; and
    • Public transport and its integration in the province remains on the to do list of the MEC and has not yet moved to the “doing” list.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by
Dr Neil Campbell MPL

“Simply more of the same with Roads and Transport ”

  • Our inability to decisively stop taxi violence and reckless driving by taxi drivers persists. Taxi routes are still contested, yet no solution is advanced. The report of the Committee Inquiry into Taxi Violence, adopted in this house, had not been acted on;
    • Rising commuter travel times remain unaddressed and road builds and upgrades are very slow;
    • Our subsidised busses are a huge problem with neither operators nor commuters satisfied; and
    • The integration of public transport and the promised universal single ticket system have also failed to materialise but this is hardly unexpected.


The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Annual Report for Department of Infrastructure Development

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Infrastructure Development, Alan Fuchs MPL and the DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Infrastructure Development, Janho Engelbrecht MPL, during a debate on the 2016/17 Annual Report for the Department of Infrastructure Development.

Speech by
Alan Fuchs MPL

“DID is underperforming and failing to deliver services timeously”

  • The new MEC, to his credit, tried to instil some urgency in the department. Certain building blocks have been implemented such as the elements of national Treasury’s IDMS methodology which has been put in place at great cost; Lutsinga House has become operational and the Project Readiness Review Matrix has been implemented.
    • The only real positive improvement seen in this annual report is an increase in the successful completion of KPIs within 1 of the 3 programmes in the department, namely Public Works. The increase is positive, but still falls short of the desired targets. The other two programmes, namely EPWP and Administration have performed extremely poorly.
    • Some of the KPIs that have not been met include the percentage reduction in the backlog of maintenance queries, the amount of revenue collected and the number of market-related rental leases entered into, a delay in the Kopanong Precinct project, the targets for EPWP work opportunities created by DID not being met , the total failure of skills development training, lack of adherence to GIAMA, deterioration in the department’s ability to pay creditors within 30 days, a 50% vacancy rate amongst engineers and professional staff and most importantly, the vast majority of projects not being completed within time or budget constraints.
    • Accruals of 20% of the total budget amounting to more than half a billion rand, impact on the department’s ability to pay creditors within 30 days and results in a department that is underfunded.
    • The Kopanong Precinct project has been delayed due to the fact that the feasibility study shows that the project is not affordable within current fiscal constraints. The submissions by the transaction advisors to national treasury have been returned to the department to rework the affordability calculations.
    • All in all, this annual report paints a picture of a department that has put building blocks in place, but that has not made any great advances in terms of performance.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by
Janho Engelbrecht MPL

“MEC Mamabolo’s empty promises and broken dreams”

  • MEC Jacob Mamabolo made a number of promises in this House, ranging from turnaround strategies to obtaining a clean or unqualified audit.
    • MEC Mamabolo, like his fellow ANC comrades like to talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk.
    • In the report of the auditor-general on the DID Annual Report, the last sentence of point 9 states that, “The amount of R584,7 million would therefore have constituted unauthorized expenditure had the amounts due been paid in a timely manner.”
    • An accrual is a matter of emphasis, unauthorized expenditure of more than half a billion rand is a qualification.
    • In statements made by both the Premier and the MEC on various occasions, the pursuit of clean or unqualified audit reports seems to be somewhat of an obsession.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Gauteng Treasury annual report

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance, Adriana Randall MPL and DA Gauteng Chief Whip, Mike Moriarty MPL during the debate on the Gauteng Treasury’s 2016/17 annual report.

Speech by
Adriana Randall MPL

“Treasury fails to hold those who hold the purse strings to account”

  • It is concerning that the department spent R5.7 million on advertising. There is very little to show for this advertising, and it is unlikely that the department received bang for its buck;
    • Although a cost containment strategy was implemented, Gauteng Provincial Treasury is of the opinion that accounting officers from the different departments are responsible for their own cost containment, which by in large has been minimal;
    • Adequate performance information systems are key to measure service delivery to the public. If information on these systems is not reported accurately and completely it may have a negative effect on service delivery. Key officials must have appropriate competencies to ensure adequate performance is rolled out.
    • There is weak governance in some of our municipalities, and inadequate leadership and guidance. Provincial Treasury has a crucial role to play here and needs to ensure that strategic objectives are achieved and aligned to current challenges.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by
Mike Moriarty MPL

“Gauteng failing to implement game changing public-private partnerships”

  • I wish to place on record that the MEC and her departments have been constructive in matters of inter-governmental cooperation and resolving disputes;
    • But some delivery achievements have been overstated. For example, there are very few GIFA projects that reach physical reality despite the millions that get transferred to that entity every year.
    • In the Portfolio Committee, the officials report a lack of appetite in the market for GIFA projects, in particular, Public Private Partnerships (PPPs). But the National Treasury indicates otherwise;

The full speech can be obtained here.