During the past twelve months, the political and socio-economic landscape of Gauteng has changed dramatically.
Gauteng is now home to two DA-led coalition governments in the cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane, while continuing to govern with a majority in Midvaal.
In these municipalities, residents have begun to feel and see the DA difference in action. Steps have been taken to root out corruption, re-claim squandered public funds, increase economic inclusion and roll-out better service delivery.
However, these are not the only changes that have taken place.
The ANC-led Provincial Government, in the face of the DA’s successes and on the back of its mother body’s implosion, has desperately tried to resuscitate its image – as the threat of electoral loss in 2019 has become an ever-increasing reality.
At the beginning of his term of office in 2014, Gauteng Premier David Makhura painted a picture of a brighter future, of a city-wide region that would foster inclusive governance, and accountability.
Three years on and that brighter future remains a dream, one that is only likely to come true in 18 months’ time under a different administration.
Crime is up. Unemployment is up. Accountability remains as evasive now as it did in 2014.
The ANC in Gauteng is as intrinsically flawed as the man who leads their organisation.
With the leadership battle for the soul of the ANC having taken centre stage for much of the year, the soul of Gauteng – its 13 million residents, have had to endure an often absent and uncaring government.
The DA Cabinet Scorecard is an analysis based on the individual MEC’s grasp of his/her portfolio demands, leadership skills, approachability, willingness to appear before oversight committees, and quality of written and oral responses to DA questions.
Premier David Makhura
Gauteng Premier David Makhura has become a one trick pony for the ANC in the province. He is used as a publicity figure for announcing commissions, cutting ribbons and being the all-round good guy that the ANC wheels out to give off the appearance of active governance.
What has become obvious is that the Premier is a man of much talk and far too little action. Crime indaba’s, infrastructure summits, commissions of enquiry have all become the order of the day for Makhura – but results of all these endeavours are hard to come by as prosecutions and criminal charges remain at a low.
He set the tone for his term in office by dishing up a limp wristed and sanitised e-Toll white-wash commission which kept the gantries up and perpetuated the unashamed and unjust taxation of our people – simply for using roads.
Just recently SANRAL indicated it would write off R3.5 billion worth of uncollected toll fees because by its own admission – the system has failed. One would have expected this administration to by now have begun lobbying the Transport Minister to pull the plug on this failed project.
It hasn’t. Evidence it does not care about the plight of our people.
Under his watch, the Esidimeni tragedy was allowed to unfold, an event which he completely absolved himself of, despite being the captain of the Gauteng Government ship.
Conduit payments to unregistered NGO’s leading to millions of Rands of resident’s money disappearing into thin air and not reaching beneficiaries.
Increased government wasteful expenditure – money which should have been spent on rolling out critical services.
Violations of supply chain management regulations and treasury regulations opening the doors for corruption.
Overseeing the province’s expanded unemployment levels rocketing up to 33%.
The list goes on.
While running a tight office of his own, he has failed to effectively manage the challenges plaguing the province and the misdeeds of departments in the GPG fold.
The man who was touted as a game-changer in 2014 has shown that he is just a pawn in the ANC’s losing battle to steer the country in the right direction.
Finance – MEC Barbara Creecy
MEC Creecy is one of the few individuals who excels in her portfolio. She espouses good financial governance and has had the foresight to steer the province in a direction that will equip it for the coming fourth industrial revolution.
However, she is not without fault.
There remains little consequence for those who waste public funds and abuse the system to the detriment of the residents of Gauteng.
She is often evasive when questioned on the substantive details of cost containment and the running of multimillion rand projects across the GPG, redirecting questions and providing open-ended answers.
As the Leader of Government Business, she presides over a regime that routinely misses deadlines to answer questions and provides incomplete, unreadable and oftentimes misleading responses. Despite many times being requested to address this matter, the situation has remained unsatisfactory.
The MEC must also shoulder responsibility for the dire financial situation that the Gauteng Department of Health finds itself in. While there has been an intervention plan put in place, it is likely that this will have limited success based on the outcomes of numerous interventions that preceded it.
MEC Creecy tends to inflate the efficiency of her department.
The much-lauded Open Tender System was less than useful, as it was virtually impossible to get details of where and when adjudication meetings would be held. There are very few GIFA projects that reach physical reality despite the millions that get transferred to that entity every year, and while the Gauteng Broadband Network has been rolled out in various areas, very few of the departments are using it.
Infrastructure Development – MEC Jacob Mamabolo
In 2016 Jacob Mamabolo inherited a dysfunctional, leaderless department that had failed to roll-out numerous projects on behalf of client departments.
Since taking office, Mamabolo, to his credit, has attempted to inject some energy into the department and has introduced some methodologies to try and increase the number of projects completed in time and within budget.
In addition, the perennial ‘turnaround strategies’ found in the public sector have been applied to the Maintenance and EPWP departments, the success of which will only be determined in future.
Despite these efforts, the majority of historical projects, have been delayed and still run over budget.
The MEC has tried to distinguish between the old, dysfunctional DID, and what he calls the “new” DID. He does this to try and escape culpability for the historical projects in the pipeline that do not meet time and budget constraints.
Mamabolo has staked his reputation on projects being more efficiently implemented post the process changes he has implemented in the department. Time will tell.
Of major concern is the department’s lack of response to queries received from members of the public. Despite paying lip service to the concept of serving citizens, the department does not respond empathetically or timeously to issues raised.
The quality of responses from DID to formal questions from the Legislature is also poor. Whether this is done to hide information, or whether the officials do not have a grasp of the issues is uncertain.
The department is feeling the pressure of the financial crunch as more than half a billion Rand to be paid to creditors is shifted from one year to the next because of insufficient cash flow.
With infrastructure development a major driver of growth and job creation in Gauteng, it is imperative that MEC Mamabolo gets his department into top gear and concern himself less with publicity stunts.
Economic Development, Agriculture, Rural Development and Environmental Affairs – MEC Lebogang Maile
The Gauteng Department of Economic Development, Agriculture, Rural Development and Environmental Affairs looks good on paper. It has received an unqualified audit opinion and has achieved many of the targets it has set itself.
However, these targets are deceiving because the economic climate of the province has not altered significantly over the past 12 months for the average person on the street looking to get ahead.
Innovation and dynamic thinking is sorely lacking under the guidance of MEC Lebogang Maile. There is a growing disconnect between the formal and informal economies of Gauteng set against a backdrop of a rising 33% unemployment rate.
MEC Maile, like MEC Mamabolo likes to punt a PR campaign and is often on the charm offensive – the numerous billboards around the province adorned with his face stand testament to this.
But the devil is in the detail, and when it comes to zooming in on the difficulties plaguing the department MEC Maile is noticeably absent. This can be evidenced in the way the Gauteng Liquor Board has been allowed to go rogue, flaunting its own regulations and the tardy approach taken to effectively supporting farmers affected by the Avian flu outbreak.
This department is the engine room for economic success in Gauteng. It is responsible for ensuring that millions of aspirant job-seekers, entrepreneurs, graduates and businesses are facilitated with an environment to succeed.
Sadly, under MEC Maile, the bind of sluggish growth and increased unemployment will not be broken.
Community Safety – MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane
MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane does not have a substantive vision for the Department of Community Safety.
Under her leadership the department has become disorganized, fragmented and under-utilized.
As leader of the department, MEC Nkosi-Malobane fails to exert her executive authority and repeatedly allows staff to violate auditing processes, as has been evidenced by the Auditor General repeatedly flagging the department’s poor record keeping.
Constitutionally the department ignores its mandate, as it never holds the South African Police Service to account for failing to meet their Key Performance Indicators.
The result of this has seen Gauteng becoming the most dangerous province in South Africa. Despite this – we have heard nothing from the MEC about any strategic plans on how this ANC administration intends to deal with this to keep our 13 million residents safe.
A great assistance to this department would be to strengthen the Civilian Oversight Programme. However, year on year, this programme fails to reach expenditure and activity targets and is not given the support it needs to carry out its mandate.
Another critical failing of this department is ensuring that Gauteng’s roads are kept safe. Not enough is done to stem the number of fatalities on the roads, and despite numerous one-hit-wonder “Arrive Alive” campaigns, road fatalities are on the increase.
MEC Nkosi-Malobane is one of the worst performing MECs in the GPG. She has a duty to the residents of this province to keep them safe.
Her arrogant attitude hinders her from taking on new approaches to tackling the criminal elements across the province, eating away at our social fabric like a cancer.
Roads and Transport – MEC Ismail Vadi
MEC Ismail Vadi is one of the more responsive members of the executive council, but is frustrated by a less responsive head of department.
A notable short coming of MEC Vadi is that he was too slow to act against his head of department who is also implicated in financial irregularities.
Internal management failures have seen the department slow to award tenders, hampering project roll-out as well as an underspending of capital funds.
Despite much talk of change, G-fleet remains a dysfunctional entity racking up billions of Rands of inter-departmental debt. The abuse of petrol cards remains an issue that MEC Vadi has failed to nip in the bud.
The MEC’s fixation with expanding the Gautrain network, when cost effective public transport is virtually non-existent in the province, speaks volumes to the mis-direction of the MEC’s priorities.
This is highlighted by the constant confusion and disorganization of provincial bus subsidies which frequently threaten commuter’s plans to get to and from work. Bus operations are a nightmare and unsafe which require assertive action from the department.
What the MEC sorely lacks is strategic thinking and operational running of the department to ensure that the provision of roads and public transport is sped up to improve the movement of goods and people in and around Gauteng.
The MEC has a partial vision for his department but is stifled by officials who do not live up to his expectations.
Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements – MEC Paul Mashatile
Paul Mashatile’s deployment to the Gauteng Provincial Government has been to play politics and bolster the ANC’s image ahead of the 2019 election.
He is by no means a competent MEC.
Under his watch, there have been no plans announced to address the numerous outstanding housing projects scattered across the province, neither have there been any moves to allocate completed housing units to beneficiaries.
The MEC’s proposed Mega City initiative remains nothing more than a long-term hope which is financially unsustainable and lacking in depth and long-term viability.
MEC Mashatile’s conduct in office has been disconnected, evasive and lacking in substance. He has acknowledged shortcomings in his department but continues to recognize deficiencies without providing effective and measurable solutions.
Although there are continued undertakings to deal with corruption and non-performance within the department very little is being done to effectively deal with the problem, with the striving towards operational and ethical excellence is severely lacking.
The residents of ANC-run Emfuleni have had to pay a heavy price for the lack political leadership under Paul Mashatile. His inability to place this bankrupt municipality under Section 139 administration has severely impacted on the quality of life for residents.
His answers to oral questions are regularly without any detail or substance. He has not attended a single portfolio meeting this year and as such his input has been negligible.
The MEC’s attention is certainly not on the job at hand. Gauteng is facing a housing shortage on a grand scale, yet this critical department is floundering under the lack of vision and competent leadership.
Health – MEC Gwen Ramokgopa
MEC Gwen Ramokgopa took over in February this year in adverse circumstances following the resignation of former MEC Qedani Mahlangu over the devastating Health Ombudsman’s report on the Esidimeni tragedy.
The Department’s admirable vision has been undercut by its manifold administrative deficiencies that the MEC has shown little sign of tackling energetically and comprehensively, and she has also not done well in coping with new crises.
She was unable to avoid the cut-off of telephones at her head office and at a Soweto hospital because of non-payment, and the Sheriff of the court pays frequent visits to take away furniture to settle a debt or payment of a medical negligence settlement.
She is trying to fix the mess and would have scored higher but for two incidents where she failed abysmally:
• The illegal mortuary strike in June and July which lasted four weeks and caused incredible anguish and expense to families who waited many days to bury their loved ones. She mishandled this strike from the start as mortuaries are an essential service and she should have used an existing court order to stop it while addressing the genuine grievances of Forensic Pathology Officers as was done in other provinces.
• Lack of cooperation with the police in providing information on the Esidimeni tragedy to the extent that a subpoena had to be served on Acting Head of Department Ernest Kenoshi in this matter. This is extremely shameful and should never have been allowed to get to this point.
A low point was claiming in a written reply that she did not have figures for the waiting lists of patients at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, and then revealing when pushed by an oral question that 11 736 patients are waiting for operations there and the longest waiting time is five years for a hip operation.
The Gauteng Department of Health needs to be resuscitated, but it is unlikely that MEC Ramokgopa is the person to give it the kiss of life.
Education – MEC Panyaza Lesufi
Panyaza Lesufi is the darling of the Gauteng Provincial Government. He is an innovative MEC who applies out-of-the-box thinking to the challenges facing his department.
He is often swift to respond to problems that are raised by the DA and, although not always having the best solutions, is willing to robustly debate a position.
While the MEC made an effort to ensure that learning was not disrupted during the shocking revelations of sexual abuse of learners at school, there were few systems in place to provide support to affected learners. A commission of inquiry should have been established to ascertain the severity of the problem, and to develop methods to root this scourge out of the education sector.
One of the failings of this department at the beginning of the school year was to ensure that all school-going learners in grades 1 and 8 were placed on the first day of the new school year. Some learners were only seated in a classroom up to a month after schools had opened.
A challenge that plagues this department is its ability to safe-guard its ITC equipment.
The introduction of smart boards and tablets have bolstered the department’s attempts to increase quality educational outcomes, however these devices are often stolen from classrooms and are costly to replace. The department should do more to safeguard against the theft of these high-end goods.
MEC Lesufi must do more in his department by getting the basics right and stamping out corruption decisively.
MEC Lesufi continues to out-perform his counterparts based on the fact that he has the best interests of learners at heart and has introduced a number of innovative strategies to ensure that quality educational outcomes is the main objective of the department.
Social Development – MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza
With a provincial population that is growing at a rate of 200 000 people per annum, it is imperative that the department of social development is fully capacitated to assist the people of Gauteng who turn to it in their time of need.
With MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza at the helm of the department, socio-economic ills are not being attended to with the decisiveness and compassion that is required of its political head.
A million of the province’s most vulnerable were left in a desperate situation this year when social workers went on strike. The MEC did not have an adequate contingency plan in place to ensure that these residents were provided for in their hour of need.
The elderly and disabled members of our society are still treated as second class citizens by the department whose main objective is to ensure that they are well looked after.
Similarly, those who suffer with substance abuse have not been given a helping hand to climb out of despair as the budget for substance abuse facilities has once again gone unspent.
Under the MEC’s watch, conduit payments were not used to benefit those who are supposed to benefit.
The real work of welfare to work programmes is not accounted for and is under-reported on thus belying the MEC’s soft words and apparent concern
Gauteng’s forgotten deserve a clean break and a new hope, but until someone else occupies the MEC’s seat, this will not become a reality.
Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture – MEC Faith Mazibuko
This department was historically one of the few in the Gauteng Government to obtain a clean audit opinion with no findings.
However, since the appointment of Faith Mazibuko as the Executive Authority, there has been a regression in the performance of the Department of SACR.
Material underspending of R33 million on the Library Grant is of major concern, especially as this MEC and her department are expected to create a culture of reading in the province.
This is coupled with the continuous failure to complete libraries on time and within budget. Shockingly the libraries in Venterspost, Kagiso Ext 6 and Naturena are completed but still closed to the public.
The provincial Archival Centre in Kagiso still not fully functional almost two years after completion.
Memorials such as Boipathong, the Women’s Memorial are not fully operational, even though they were officially “opened”.
Under Mazibuko, unauthorized expenditure is up from R12m to R17.9m mainly due to overspending on compensation of employees. This is due to the non-alignment of its organizational structure, the same cause for the previous year’s unauthorized expenditure finding, even though MEC Mazibuko assured that it would not happen again.
The much-lauded Operation Mabaleng remains a pipe dream for the second year in succession.
MEC Mazibuko is another MEC in the GPG fold who has been recycled through the ANC’s policy of “pass one, pass all”.
The importance this department has in developing the youth, fostering a culture of learning and encouraging the arts should not be left in the hands of an individual who is not committed to the development of our people.