MECs Creecy and Mashatile must be held accountable for Emfuleni water crisis

Gauteng MEC for Finance, Barbara Creecy and MEC for Local Government, Paul Mashatile must accept responsibility for the perilous situation faced by thousands of Emfuleni residents who have had no access to water due to the financial mismanagement of the Emfuleni Local Municipality.

Last year the DA advised both MECs that Emfuleni should been placed under administration as it owed millions of Rands to both Eskom and Rand Water, placing residents and businesses in a precarious situation.

Had the ANC in Gauteng acted swiftly on the DA’s recommendations, these measures could have been avoided.

Both Creecy and Mashatile were too concerned with scoring places in the ANC’s elective congress in December 2017 to pay attention to the powder keg in the Vaal region which was waiting to explode.

Despite the fact that the Premier, David Makhura visited this municipality last week to assess the situation, it did little to change the water crisis in Emfuleni.

Water supply is a basic human right guaranteed by the constitution.

It is unacceptable for residents to be without water for days, particularly during this heat wave.

The Emfuleni Municipality must be dissolved and placed under administration as soon as possible to uphold government’s constitutional mandate of service delivery to all residents.

Failure to do so will not only perpetuate the financial mismanagement that has taken root, but residents will be exposed to health hazards such as diarrhoea, infection and dehydration.

The DA has requested a meeting with the Emfuleni Local Municipality Municipal Manager and the Mayor to get clarity on when the payment for the outstanding balance to Rand Water will be made to avoid the recurrence of such a situation.

DA demands certainty about the fate of unplaced learners

Despite the Gauteng Department of Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi’s commitment to place all grade 1 and 8 learners in schools before end of last year, many learners are still unsure about their schooling for 2018.

The DA is concerned about the number of Gauteng learners who have not yet secured school placement, including those who had applied online.

Parents are frustrated and uncertain as to whether their children are going to be placed in schools for this academic year; they aren’t sure if they must buy school uniforms as they have received no confirmation from the department.

The department’s online application process which opened on May 2017 and closed in November 2017, should have given the department ample opportunity to plan and allocate the required resources.

We supported the online registration process in the hope that it would create certainty before school holidays, and alleviate the pressure placed on both schools and parents.

Failure to ensure the timeous placing of any grade 1 and 8 learners will have a traumatic effect on such learners, which could negatively impact on their educational outcomes.

The DA will write to MEC Lesufi to get confirmation on whether all learners will be placed before start of the 2018 academic year.

Learning and teaching must start on day one of schooling next week.

The trend of the past few years of placing learners in schools at the end of February must come to an end.

The department must strike a balance between schools facing high enrolment demand and those schools which are standing empty.

The DA will request the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Education Portfolio Committee to interrogate the online registration process to determine the reason for delays, identify schools with high demand and how to improve the system going forward.

DA congratulates Gauteng class of 2017

The DA in Gauteng congratulates the matric class of 2017 for maintaining its good standard by obtaining a 85, 1 percent pass rate.

Many Gauteng districts performed exceptionally well and achieved outstanding results.

This success must be used to unlock the potential of this province.

The DA believes that Education is the key to opportunities and redressing the past imbalances.

Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi must dedicate 2018 to achieving a 90% pass rate that is characterized by more bachelors in the province.

This can only be achieved by the department focusing on employing qualified school principals and teachers, prioritizing teacher development, improving school infrastructure, providing more support to schools from the districts and resourcing schools in poor areas.

Education is a basic right and all learners deserve quality education.

Furthermore, to achieve quality and better results teaching and learning must begin from day one of schooling in 2018.

The DA will request that the MEC pays close attention to poorly performing schools and districts.

The focus should start from the foundation phase to ensure that all learners complete the 12 year basic education cycle.

The DA urges learners who have passed to celebrate in a responsible manner and those who didn’t achieve their desired results to repeat the grade or consider other avenues.

Water woes hit Sebokeng Hospital

Low-pressure water supplied by Rand Water to the Emfuleni municipality has delayed operations at the Sebokeng Hospital because it lowers the efficiency of air-conditioning in the theatres.

This problem hit the hospital after 11 December last year when Rand Water and Emfuleni reached an agreement concerning outstanding water payments whereby the amount of bulk water was reduced to the council. Residents were warned that this could result in low pressure and intermittent water supply.

The cooling units at the hospital’s theatres are only receiving water at 2 bars of pressure, instead of 4 bars, which lowers their efficiency.

Surgery should only be done under cool conditions because of the danger of heat-related sepsis, which is why some surgery at the hospital is now being done at night.

Only short operations that are less than three hours are being done during the day, and an arrangement has been made for longer surgery, mostly Orthopaedic, to be done at the Kopanong Hospital, but they can only do five operations a day.

Surgery backlogs are building up at Sebokeng Hospital which is trying to get a pump that will hopefully solve the water pressure problem.

It is distressing that the failure of the Emfuleni Council to pay its water bills has led to much stress and inconvenience for patients and staff at this hospital.

ANC Gauteng Government has no appetite for accountability

The ANC-run Gauteng Government has no appetite to stamp out corruption and stem financial mismanagement, nor does it have stomach to prosecute individuals found guilty of mismanaging public funds.

According to the Public Service Commission (PSC) of the 87 cases reported to it in the 2016/17 financial year, 78 individuals were found guilty of financial mismanagement yet no criminal action for violation of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) was take in 89% of cases.

Similarly, only 5% of guilty individuals were dismissed from their positions – the lowest rate in four years.

The PSC also noted that departments are negligent in recovering monies that have gone missing. The total amount of money involved in cases relating to financial misconduct in 2016/17 amounted to R198 312 821.71, yet the total amount recovered only came in at R282 428.80.

Gross negligence, 17 cases and theft, 52 cases account for the most types of cases reported.

High on the PSC’s radar are the Departments of Economic Development and Sports, Arts, Recreation and Culture who completely failed to submit any finalised cases to the body in contravention of Section 85 of the PFMA.

The lack of willpower by departments to prosecute and recover stolen money is a disservice to the people of Gauteng who will now go without much needed services as a result.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura announced that he has established an ethics and corruption committee to tackle the challenges faced by his administration, but until there is political will to act, this committee will be another toothless grouping of individuals with more bark than bite.

Gauteng municipalities owed R622 million by ANC Provincial Government

The Gauteng Provincial Government is hampering service delivery in the province’s municipalities as it currently owes a collective amount of R622 105 203.30 to local governments.

The amounts owed are as follows:

Home to the most affected residents, DA-led metropolitan municipalities make up the lion’s share of this debt.

Embattled local municipalities that are hardest hit by the provincial government’s failure to pay back money it owes.

ANC-run Emfuleni, Merafong City and Rand West City owe millions of rands to both Eskom and Rand Water. Emfuleni is already experiencing a decrease in water pressure as Rand Water has restricted flow due to the large debt the municipality is battling to service.

Gauteng MEC for Finance, Barbra Creecy, along with Cooperative Governance MEC, Paul Mashatile, have done very little in turning around the fortunes of these local municipalities and assisting them with servicing the debts they owe.

These local municipalities should have been placed under Section 139 administration to ensure that residents do not continue to suffer under ANC mismanagement.

Both MEC Creecy and Mashatile refuse to take this step because of the embarrassment it will cause to the ANC in the province, as it tries to give off the impression that it has a good story to tell.

If MECs Creecy and Mashatile cared as much for the residents of these municipalities as they did for the image of the ANC, then they would take decisive action and ensures that monies owed were paid timeously to ensure service delivery does not grind to a halt and that basic constitutional rights of residents are not threatened.

The DA will write to MEC Creecy to ensure that these monies are paid as soon as possible because the effects of non-payment will be detrimental to the wellbeing of residents.

Top politicians now need to answer at Esidimeni hearings

The Esidimeni arbitration hearings have concluded this year with senior officials put under the spotlight and searing reactions from bereaved relatives.

We now need to hear from the top politicians who are ultimately accountable for this tragedy in which 143 mental patients lost their lives.

Former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu is due to testify on 22 January next year, followed by Gauteng Premier David Makhura and National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

I hope that they are not as evasive as the Gauteng Health Department officials who have appeared at the hearings.

Suspended Head of Department Barney Selebano ended his testimony with a heartfelt plea for forgiveness, but this was only after contradictions were exposed in his evidence and he tried to evade responsibility for what occurred.

It is clear that former MEC Qedani Mahlangu was the driving force behind the cancellation of the Esidimeni contract, and health officials were scared to challenge the reckless transfer of patients to illegally registered NGOs.

Selebano has said that the Budget Council chaired by Premier Makhura approved the cancellation of the Esidimeni contract for budgetary reasons.

Makhura’s knowledge of the Esidimeni transfers needs to be probed, including why he ignored warnings sent to him and alarming media reports.

He also needs to answer why he failed to fire Mahlangu immediately after 36 deaths were revealed in response to my question in the Gauteng Legislature on 13 September last year. This step would have saved many lives as Mahlangu and senior officials continued to cover up what was really happening.

Furthermore, Health Minister Motsoaledi must account for his own ineffective action as the tragedy unfolded.

There must be nothing less than full disclosure and sincere contrition from the politicians involved so that the families can find some sort of closure in this traumatic matter.

MEC Mazibuko fails to deliver to GP residents

Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation(SACR) MEC, Faith Mazibuko has failed to deliver libraries and cares little about the important role they play in our communities.

We visited 28 libraries across all regions in the province and we discovered that the books are outdated, there are internet challenges and some are still not complete.

Even though the Gauteng Broadband Network has been installed in libraries, it has not been connected.

Almost all the libraries are connected to the municipality WI-FI which is slow, unreliable and not strong enough to meet the need of the users. The internet connectivity is very weak and sometimes down for days.

Yet the department’s Annual Report for 2016/17 financial year indicates that seventy-seven libraries were connected in 2016/17; once again, no names or areas – just numbers.

We are to believe that this department is not serious about its mandate and continues to lie to the public.

The libraries are desperately in need of new books as the current books are old and outdated, especially the reference books.

There is a serious challenge posed by the lack of project management, financial management and leadership from the department.

There is now a pattern of continuous failure in completing libraries construction within the stipulated time frame.

Shoddy workmanship is also a setback as some libraries have been officially opened and then closed namely Venterspost, Naturena and Kagiso Extension 6 library.

Despite the enormous challenges faced by our libraries the department under-spent R33 million of the Library Grant. This money could have been used to buy new books for the benefit of our communities.

Furthermore, the Annual Report indicates that 79% of users are satisfied with library services. This information is not true and is misleading as there are many issues raised by library users which indicates that they are unhappy with the status quo.

The DA firmly believes that libraries are a vital community resource for residents to access information, internet services and provides a safe studying environment for our young people.

We will hold MEC Mazibuko accountable to ensure that all our libraries are equipped with resources, have access to internet connection, the infrastructure is properly fixed and are re-opened as a matter of urgency.