DA debates 2016/17 e-Government 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 Spokesperson on e-Government, Ashor Sarupen MPL during the debate on the 2016/17 annual report for the Department of e-Government.

Speech by
Adriana Randall MPL

“Gauteng e-Government must move into 6th gear on the digital highway”

  • The United Nations E-Government survey 2016, “E-GOVERNMENT IN SUPPORT OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT” highlights a positive global trend towards higher levels of e-government development;
    • The department of e-Government must implement a change and transformation management process, and continue with the roll-out of incentive programmes to improve usage through reward and loyalty systems;
    • Sites were identified where municipalities have not provided the necessary infrastructure for citizens to access e-Government services and applications through the GBN network;
    • In August the portfolio committee visited the Winterveld Enterprise Hub. The hub is open but not operational, which is indicative of the way this department operates.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by
Ashor Sarupen MPL

“Government still dialing-up on the roll out of digital connectivity”

  • A common operating platform for GPG could be rolled out to the entire city region, saving municipal governments tens of millions of rands and unifying service offerings in the long run, aiding co-operative government and, of course, offering citizens an array of e-government services across tiers of government on a unified platform.
    • The next steps, which must be expedited, must include:
    • A common database and query system, allowing for once off user registration for any and all services offered on the platform, both now and in the future; and
    • A discussion with municipalities in Gauteng about their requirements and how they can contribute design ideas to the common operating platform, and offer their services on it as well. Co-operative government should be a non-zero-sum game, in which the citizen wins every time.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates SCOPA report on Gauteng Department of Health

The following speeches were delivered today in the Gauteng Legislature by DA Gauteng Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Dr Heinrich Volmink MPL and DA Gauteng Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, Graham Gersbach MPL during the debate on the SCOPA report on the Gauteng Department of Health.

Speech by
Dr Heinrich Volmink MPL

“Gauteng Health department unable to exercise effective financial policies”

  • When the clinical risk to patients isn’t management properly, the results can be devastating – in fact they can cost lives, as we’ve seen in the tragedy of Life Esidimeni.
    • More specifically, as an unbudgeted liability, the Department faced claims of just under R22 billion in litigation. Of this amount R18.6 billion was for medico-legal matters (up from R14.1 billion in the previous financial year). This is staggering as it represents an increase of over 30% in medico-legal claims which, of course, include allegations of medical negligence.
    • The World Health Organization has described health as “…a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease.” This should, indeed, be the goal for every citizen in every community in our province. But this will require the translation of public funds given into efficient, effective, appropriate and accessible health services.
    The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by
Graham Gersbach MPL

“Gauteng’s health network on the brink of collapse”

  • The department had vacancy rates in excess of 10 % in respect of Medical Practitioners, Medical Specialists, Pharmacists, Professional Nurses and Staff Nurses while the vacancy rate for Student Professional Nurses is 30.2 %.
    • The long wait for Policy and Procedure on Ill-Health Leave and Incapacity Retirement (PILIR) impacts on key personnel who have to be replaced whilst still receiving their salaries until such time as Incapacity Retirement is applied for which in some cases can run into years.
    • This department needs to arrest its rabid spending to ensure that services are rolled out to patients and not needlessly wasted because the department is falling apart.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Annual Report for COGTA

The following speech was delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and Human Settlements, Mervyn Cirota MPL, during a debate on the 2016/17 Annual Report for COGTA.

Speech by
Mervyn Cirota MPL

“COGTA is underspending and failing to deliver services”

  • The Gauteng Department of Governance and Traditional Affairs has been failing in its primary role in ensuring good governance, financial accountability, capacity building and institutional stability.
    • The department has failed to achieve its goals of promoting and facilitating a viable and sustainable local government.
    • The department has not yet facilitated and provided an inclusive economic environment conducive for the creation of work opportunities.
    • This annual report also indicates the department’s failure to effectively undertake the placement and migration of staff members.
    • The report refers to the department’s intention to create 19000 new job opportunities under the CWP programme. It does not provide details of how and in what manner this will be done.
    • The department has failed to provide an effective plan going forward together with implementable and manageable timelines. This is due to the lack of effective political will and accountability.
    • The portfolio committee noted with concern the inability of our municipalities to cope with the increasing demand of migrants moving into Gauteng and the lack of infrastructure to deal with and provide ongoing service delivery.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Annual Report for Gauteng Department of Human Settlements

The following speech was delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Human Settlements, Mervyn Cirota MPL, during a debate on the 2016/17 Annual Report for the Department of Human Settlements.

Speech by
Mervyn Cirota MPL

“Systemic underperformance cripples department”

  • When a comparison is done in terms of the performance of the department over the last three years it is apparent that systemic underperformance remains the underlying theme.
    • There is also little or no interaction between the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements MEC, Paul Mashatile and the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Human Settlements Committee.
    • The MEC has failed to articulate any vision or provide direction for this department.
    • The MEC’s proposed Mega City initiative remains nothing more than a long-term hope which is financially unsustainable and lacks depth and long-term viability.
    • The overall impression gained from the annual report is that the department is under capacitated and lacks accountability.
    • Projects fail to be completed timeously due to supply chain irregularities, poor performance by contractors, political interference in the projects and lack of sufficient bulk infrastructure.
    • The overall performance of the department will continue to deteriorate until corrective measures are identified and implemented.

The full speech can be obtained here.

DA debates 2016/17 Department of Health annual report

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Legislature by DA Shadow MEC for Health, Jack Bloom MPL and DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Health, Dr Neil Campbell MPL during the debate on the 2016/17 Gauteng Department of Health’s annual report.

Speech by
Jack Bloom MPL

“Real achievement needed, not fake figures”

  • According to the Auditor General, 60% of what this Annual Report measures is not accurate;
    • Doing business with the Gauteng Health Department is a death sentence for many companies because they don’t get paid, and now some of them are stopping goods and services, which will mean that patients’ lives could be put at risk. I have said this before and I will say it again – if the department cannot pay its debts we will be faced with another Esidimeni of deaths caused by lack of necessary care;
    • The department did not consult with Treasury for approval of over-expenditure on compensation of staff, which has now ballooned to 62% of total expenditure when it used to be only 50% some years ago;
    • The other big budget risk is the R22 billion of litigation claims, mostly for medical negligence. This is more than half of the current health budget, and the figure rises every year; and
    • I suspect that there are too many incompetent deployed cadres in this department and it is politically impossible to get rid of all the rotten apples.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Speech by
Dr Neil Campbell MPL

“Gauteng Department of Health lacks effective senior management”

  • The fact that the Department started this year with 10% of its available budget spent on the previous year’s accruals places strain on service delivery and requires the CFO to play musical cheque-books with suppliers;
    • In many hospitals operations and radiation therapy are regularly cancelled because of inadequate maintenance of essential but easily serviced equipment such as air-conditioners and lifts. Such maintenance is often not performed because contracted firms have not been paid;
    • Supply chain management is all but non-existent with contracts, both below and above R500 000, being awarded without compliance with treasury rules;
    • The MEC reports verbatim what she is told by staff but we know that there is no proof underlying her statements.

The full speech can be obtained here.

Gauteng in desperate need of a new beginning

Honourable Members, Fellow South Africans

We are here today to debate the 2016/17 Annual report of COGTA in Gauteng.

If we were to believe the words of the COGTA MEC, Paul Mashatile we could be tempted to believe that his department is the best run in the province. MEC Mashatile has mastered the art of using words to deflect from the true state of our local municipalities in Gauteng.

Currently the two ANC-run local municipalities namely; Emfuleni and Merafong, are facing a potential water and electricity cut-off from Rand Water and Eskom respectively.

MEC Mashatile will not reveal such critical and crucial information to the public because he is trying to shield his fellow ANC comrades who have run the municipalities into the ground.

MEC Mashatile has done all he could to protect the former ANC Mayor of Emfuleni, Simon Mofokeng, at the expense of our poor people.

Despite all the corruption and maladministration charges against former Mayor Mofokeng, the ANC political head of COGTA who is also the chairperson of the ANC in Gauteng, MEC Mashatile, did nothing to intervene.

It took allegations of sexual grooming, and substantive media pressure, before the ANC was forced to act.

It is now clear for the people of Emfuleni and across the Gauteng province that there is a need for a New Beginning.

Our local municipalities are facing a serious challenge in terms of the lack of bulk infrastructure development and maintenance. The department is failing to spend money on this critical area.

The department has underspent its municipal infrastructure budget by 28% which is about R20 million.

This is the money earmarked to assist these local municipalities namely; Emfuleni, Merafong and Rand West.

The problem is not the absence of money but rather how to spend it effectively.  We cannot justify the R50 million that the department has handed back to treasury when our water and sewer infrastructure is falling apart.

We need a new government in Gauteng that will prioritise service delivery not a party that places their political interests above the interests of the people. The DA is the only party that can bring change and new beginning in Gauteng.

Madam speaker.

Gauteng has been experiencing an increase in the number of boys that have been abducted and taken to illegal initiation schools.

We are very worried that no arrests that have been made with regards to people who have been found to be abducting our boys.

This cultural practice needs to be preserved and protected. The only way to do so is to arrest the people who have highjacked this practice for the purposes of their narrow commercial interests.

I must indicate that I do not agree with the recommendations of the CRL Commission to suspend all initiation schools in Gauteng. This recommendation will lead to the mushrooming of illegal initiation schools in the province.

This is part of our culture and we need legal initiation schools in Gauteng.

Fellow South Africans,

There is still hope and all is not lost in Gauteng, the people of Midvaal municipality, which is the only municipality in the entire Gauteng province to have received a clean audit, continues to receive high quality services.

Again, the residents of the City of Joburg and City of Tshwane are now witnessing improved service delivery from their respective municipalities.

It is not a coincidence that all these municipalities are governed by the DA.

I should take this moment and remind the ANC that the frivolous motion of No Confidence against the Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba scheduled for Thursday will not succeed.

The people of Johannesburg are experiencing real change in service delivery and there is no way that they will vote against the DA.

In 2019 the entire population of Gauteng will experience this change as the DA will be taking over the province.

I thank you, Ndza Khensa.

Gauteng Department of Human Settlements fails to spend and reach its targets

Honourable Members, Fellow South Africans

The Department of Human Settlements is the  one of the worst performing departments when it comes to the delivery of services to residents of Gauteng.

The 2016/17 Annual Report of the Department of Human Settlements indicates that the department has spent 98% of its budget and delivered only 53% of its targets.

This indicates that the department has money but it is failing to plan their projects properly and deliver timeously.

Hence, we have numerous number of unfinished housing projects across the province with no proper timelines on when will they be completed.

This department lacks project management skills and political leadership that can task the officials to do their duties and monitor all the provincial housing projects.

The department’s money is not being effectively spent as can be seen in with some of the unfinished housing projects and poorly maintained.

The only thing that the MEC and his department are good at is on jumping from one project to another and neglecting the unfinished projects.

Furthermore, in three municipalities in the West Rand, that were allocated money for BNG houses and for improving the mining towns, have not yet spent any of the monies allocated.

MEC it is for the third year that Gauteng has failed to spend on this project of improving conditions in mining towns.

The people of Bekkersdal, Kokosi and Rand West do not have proper services due to the departments’ failure to spend money to improve their living conditions.

MEC, what are the plans with regards to the vandalised Dube hostel upgrade? This development is not secure and people are continuing to vandalise the property and steal bricks and slabs.

I conclude that there is no reason whatsoever why the people of Gauteng should continue to have this government post 2019. The people of Gauteng deserve a New Beginning, we deserve a caring government, a government that will deliver the much-needed houses to the people of our province. The DA is the only answer for a new beginning.

I thank you, Ndza Khensa

Gauteng Premier ducks question on former Health MEC

Gauteng Premier David Makhura ducked my questions today at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature as to why former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu was not on the original list of witnesses at the Esidimeni Arbitration Hearings.
He said that as representatives of the state, which included himself, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, they decided on those who would appear at the hearings not as witnesses but to “give their side of the story and answer questions.”

Furthermore, he said they had to do everything through the force of law, but he evaded comment on why the Gauteng ANC Provincial Executive had given Mahlangu leave of absence to study abroad over this period.

Makhura also refused to comment when I pointed out that ANC Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa had said in an interview on Power FM earlier this year that he had spoken to Qedani Mahlangu and told her to “leave the country, going into exile for two years”.
He dismissed as a “fairy tale” any suggestion that the ANC in Gauteng did not want her to testify at the hearings as it would discredit them before the ANC’s crucial conference in December this year.

I am skeptical about Makhura’s claim that everything was being done to ensure that the families of the deceased patients can receive closure through the arbitration process.

He said that the intention was that the arbitration hearings would be concluded in October this year, but the absence of the former Health MEC has delayed this to next year.

Makhura should have ensured that Mahlangu was on the original list of witnesses as he surely could not have thought that the families of the Esidimeni victims would have been satisfied without hearing from her as the key instigator in this matter.
Meanwhile, the families continue to suffer because the prolongation of the hearings could have been avoided.

MEC Lesufi must tighten school security during festive season

The DA is very concerned about the security of school assets and infrastructure particularly during the festive season.

The majority of robberies occur during December, as teachers and learners will be on holidays and schools will be empty.

We have had numerous incidents of burglaries and vandalism of our schools where valuable assets such as smart boards, computers, televisions, printers, tablets and laptops have been stolen.

According to a written reply to the DA’s questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, the Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi indicated that 412 incidents of theft, vandalism and break-ins have been reported from 2014 to date.

Johannesburg Central schools are the most affected with the highest number of incidents – 127 – reported.

The assets stolen during these incidents are to the value of about R5 633 789.

We suspect that this amount has been grossly underreported as these stolen schools asset cost more based on the market value.

These statistics are very disturbing and indicate that our schools’ safety and security is under threat.

Furthermore, to date, 156 smartboards, 8050 tablets and 74 desktops have been reported stolen since they have been rolled out to schools.

MEC Lesufi must implement stringent security measures to minimise such losses in our schools.

Schools patrollers alone are unable to prevent crime from occurring in our schools as they are not adequately trained to deal with these type of incidences and have limited resources.

The department should ensure that our schools are equipped with alarm systems and CCTV cameras.

The department must also involve the communities in safe-guarding the schools.

The DA calls upon MEC Lesufi to review his school crime prevention strategy and allocate budget for school security to protect our educational assets.

Merafong ANC Council hiding extent of water debt

The ANC-led Merafong Council has failed to disclose to the municipality’s Section 80 Finance Committee that it has until 8 December 2017 to pay the Water Board R10 million or residents will face lower water pressure and possible cuts.

The municipality currently owes Rand Water R60 million.

The National Department of Water and Sanitation (DoWS) last week announced that municipalities in arrears would start to have their pressure reduced, and should the non-payment of overdue debt continue, water cuts will follow.

Neighbouring Emfuleni has already had its water flow reduced to 40%.

It is concerning that this is not the only debt the municipality has. It also owes power utility Eskom R77 million.

The DoWS has already indicated that it will be lobbying National Treasury to take what it is owed directly from Merafong’s equitable share grant.

This poses a serious challenge to service delivery as this money should be used for the day to day running of the municipality, as well as paying for indigent grants to the poorest of the poor.

Through negligent financial planning, and a failure to attend to the numerous water leaks plaguing the municipality, the ANC in Merafong has allowed debt to spiral out of control – threatening the livelihoods of residents.

Gauteng MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy and MEC for Cooperative Governance, Paul Mashatile instituted an eight-point plan to reverse the situation in Merafong, but this has amounted to nothing but a wish list on a piece of paper.

It is now time that these two MECs work together to place this ailing municipality under administration in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution so as to stabilise its finances and to improve the conditions of the residents who call Merafong home.