DA-led metros intensify the fight against substance abuse

The DA-led metros, the City of Tshwane and the City of Johannesburg, are going all out in the fight against the scourge of drugs and substance abuse affecting our communities in Gauteng.

The City of Tshwane runs a world-class substance abuse treatment program to mitigate the impact of an explosion in drug abuse in particular. The City’s programme, which is similar to those implemented by a handful of major cities worldwide, aims to take intensive drug users off the streets and improve the very low percentage of success achieved by traditional rehabilitation centres.

The City partnered with more than 20 NGOs and has also established a working relationship with the University of Pretoria, which trains doctors specialising in substance abuse.

Furthermore, the Tshwane Metro Police Department Anti-Drug Unit has been established with the sole purpose of fighting and eliminating drug abuse in our communities.

The same is happening in Johannesburg where the DA-led multiparty administration recently opened the Tladi Community-Based Substance Abuse Treatment Centre in Soweto. This outpatient centre will help to rehabilitate drug users and to fight substance abuse in the area.

The City of Tshwane has allocated R40 million to NGOs to assist with the running of the substance abuse treatment program. Johannesburg in turn has allocated R16,7 million for the 2017/18 financial year for the upgrading of its substance abuse program.

The City of Joburg and City of Tshwane residents are now experiencing the total change brought by the DA-led administrations.

This is particularly supportive of underprivileged residents who cannot afford to pay for private rehabilitation services. Eliminating drugs in our communities is a positive start of building a safe and united society.

Previous ANC administrations failed to provide this most needed service to our people for the past 22 years, yet the DA has done it in less than 2 years in office.

This is the beginning as the DA works to bring Total Change to Gauteng in 2019.

Child vaccinations drop in Gauteng

I am concerned by a sharp decrease in immunization coverage by the Gauteng Health Department which has vaccinated only 75% of babies under one year old, instead of the 96% annual target.

This figure was revealed recently in the Department’s 3rd Quarterly Report which covers the period from April to December last year.

According to the Department, this was because of a “sudden increase in population figures nationally, and low numbers of children being brought for vaccination , and some public hospitals are still to establish the vaccination points.”

The Department has normally performed very well with vaccinations, achieving close to 100% coverage.

Their action plan includes the provision of Immunization Services Daily, monitoring of availability of constant vaccine supplies, encouraging the establishment of Vaccination Points in hospitals, and the tracing of defaulters by Community Health Workers.

I hope their efforts succeed as vaccinations are vital for children’s health.

The plight of Mamelodi hostel residents ignored by ANC administration

Like many hostel residents across the province who continue to live in terrible conditions, the pleas of Mamelodi hostel’s residents for dignified houses have been ignored by the uncaring ANC Gauteng administration.

During the DA’s visit to these hostels today, we were shocked to see the appalling conditions that our people are exposed to on a daily basis.

Block Y hostel is the worst when compared to the other blocks we visited; the structure of this hostel is old and dilapidated.

There is no maintenance being done at this block; the doors and windows, as well as the taps, toilets and toilet basins are broken. The toilets are not functioning and 40 families are sharing one toilet and one water tap, a situation which is posing a serious health risk to the occupants.

There is severe overcrowding in rooms and no privacy as four families are forced to share one room.

This block is drug infested and unsafe for the residents.

These residents have long been promised that their hostels will be converted into family units and have been on the waiting list since 1996.

The family units were built and completed in 2012 but the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements abandoned these units without allocating them to the rightful beneficiaries. These units were invaded by other community members who were not entitled to these units.

This is an example of the many completed housing projects that have been left empty without being allocated to beneficiaries.

These cases indicate a shocking lack of planning and accountability from the side of the Department.

The ANC Gauteng administration failed to deliver dignified houses to our people. The Mega City Housing Project will not address the 800 000 housing backlog faced by the province as it will take years to be completed while the backlog only increases.

This department fails to reach its own targets set every financial year and continually underspends on its budget. Recently, R150 million was taken back from the department by the Minister of Finance due to the department’s failure to spend its allocated budget.

The DA calls on the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura to intervene in this department to ensure that completed housing projects are allocated to their rightful beneficiaries as a matter of urgency. We demand that these hostels be properly maintained and our people have access to basic services.

The dignity of Gauteng residents will only be restored under a DA-led government. Total change is needed in Gauteng where houses are built, jobs are created and jobs are created.

MEC Maile must come clean about his relationship with GEP Acting CEO

The DA is highly concerned by the ongoing culture of intimidation and fear that has crippled the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) and the relationship between Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile and Acting GEP CEO Leah Manenzhe.

A letter written by an employee of GEP, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, has laid bare the rot that is taking place in the entity.

According to the letter, senior managers who have been on suspension with pay for three years are set to receive golden handshakes.

Five employees remain suspended despite an internal investigation recommending that the suspension be lifted.

It is alleged by this employee that anyone who dares to challenge Ms Leah Manenzhe falls victim to intimidation and is eventually maligned within the organisation.

Forensic investigation findings on matters of maladministration, abuse of power and corruption leveled against the Acting CEO have been swept under the carpet.

It is also alleged that MEC Maile has shifted the goal posts to ensure that she becomes the successful candidate for the permanent position of CEO by pulling the advertisement for the job twice to allow Ms. Manenzhe to complete her MBA which will qualify her to assume the position.

Today a selection panel will sit to appoint a CEO. Ms. Manenzhe, who is in the possession of a Diploma – as she has not completed her MBA – is one of a few shortlisted candidates.

MEC Maile must come clean on his relationship with Ms. Manenzhe, who worked with the MEC during his tenure as the MEC for Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture.

I will write to MEC Maile to receive the forensic report implicating the Acting CEO as well as a copy of the selection panel’s criteria for the appointment of the CEO to GEP. If the Acting CEO has been involved in wrongdoing according to the forensic report, the DA will work to ensure she is removed from office.

Institutions responsible for the use of public funds must be headed by untainted individuals who have the best interests of the public at heart, not those who seek to create personal fiefdoms of power.

DA will ensure that David Makhura completely scraps the E-toll system

The DA welcomes Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s admission that E-tolls are a failure and that he plans to engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa on this matter.

The DA has long been at the forefront in the battle against E-tolls and once again calls on the government to scrap this system.

The Premier admitted that E-tolls place a burden on citizens of the province which echoes the DA’s long-sustained view of the system.

Given the increase in the fuel levy, the increase in VAT as well as the knock-on effect E-tolls have on consumers, the perpetuation of this system will be the death knell for the poor and middle class who are the hardest hit by continued and sustained tax hikes.

The Premier must ensure that the President scraps E-tolls once and for all, and not try to pass off another watered-down version of the E-toll system which he and President Ramaphosa foisted on Gauteng road users in 2015.

It is vital that an alternative funding mechanism for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project be found as new roads expansion has all but stopped in Gauteng due to a lack of funding.

If this situation is not addressed as a matter of urgency, gridlocked roads will severely impact the economy of the province.

Residents of Gauteng deserve a government that has their best interests at heart. A total change in government come 2019 is what is needed to offer respite to those who have had to bear the brunt of ANC mismanagement and poor governance.

The DA will keep the Premier accountable and ensure that he follows through on his promise to settle the E-toll question once and for all.

Dpt fails to nurture aspiring Gauteng sports talent

Despite the fact that our aspiring young athletes are struggling to fund their sporting activities, the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) is yet again failing to provide the much-needed funding.

The challenge is not funding but rather the department’s failure to plan and spend its allocated budget.

According to the SACR third quarter report for the 2017/18 financial year, the department failed to reach its own set target. It only managed to provide bursaries to four out of six sports-focused schools.

This indicates that this department is not serious about developing new sports talent in the province.

Furthermore, the department also failed to provide 80 out of a target of 160 clubs with much-needed equipment and attire as per the established norms and standards.

Gauteng local clubs, particularly in the townships, are in dire need of equipment, yet the department failed to deliver equipment on time to the clubs.

Sport plays a crucial role in overcoming social barriers and allows community members to engage with each other, as well as keeping our youth off the streets.

We call on Gauteng SACR MEC Faith Mazibuko, to ensure that all identified clubs receive the much-needed equipment and attire as soon as possible.

I will table questions in the legislature to determine the reasons as to why only four out of the six identified sports-focused schools received bursaries from the department.

The DA believes that school sports provides structured platforms for both mass participation and long-term athlete development for sporting excellence.

Come 2019, when we govern in Gauteng we will ensure that all sports-focused schools and clubs receive the support and funding that they so desperately need for the development of our sporting clubs and the nurturing of new talent.

MEC Lesufi not doing enough to address racism in GP schools

The DA calls on the Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi to act as a matter of urgency to address racism in Gauteng schools.

There have been numerous incidents of racism reported in schools across the province yet the Department has failed to effectively address this in any meaningful way.

These racism allegations have resulted in the disruption of teaching and learning since the beginning of the 2018 academic year.

In Overvaal High School in Vereeniging, different stakeholders embarked on violent protests after the school refused an instruction by the Department to accept 55 English-speaking pupils into the Afrikaans-medium school. The school said it had no capacity to admit the learners and its decision was backed by the High Court.

The inept handling of the matter resulted in disruption of schooling and a situation which posed a safety risk for both teachers and learners.

In Noordgesig Primary School in Soweto, parents and the community have been up in arms over the appointment of a black principal. The parents reacted by shutting down the school which severely impacted on teaching and learning.

The same occurred at Klipspruitwest secondary and Eldorado Park Secondary School where there are racial tensions amongst teachers.

In a recent incident, a 17 year-old black girl learner at Carletonville Hoërskool‚ in West Rand claims that she was assaulted by a white boy in class.

There are serious allegations of racism in this school and some former learners claim that white learners are treated differently from the black learners.

The DA strongly condemns racism in schools and appeals to all teachers to treat learners equally and not to discriminate based on the colour of their skin.

It is high time that MEC Lesufi must walk his talk of being pro non-racialism. He must stand firm in his interventions and implement stringent rules against racism in our schools.

Racism has no place in our society and cannot be tolerated. Those who are perpetrating racism in our schools must be disciplined and face the course of the law.

The DA will continue to put pressure on MEC Lesufi to ensure that racism is addressed in our schools. We will also follow up on all these cases to ensure that the victims get the justice they deserve and that the perpetrators are punished for their actions.

Gauteng Speaker bending the rules to shield Premier Makhura from scrutiny

ANC Speaker of the Gauteng Legislature, Ntombi Mekgwe, has abandoned the principles of her office by shielding Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, and former MEC for Health, Qendani Mahlangu, from scrutiny by reneging on a commitment to allow the DA to bring a motion before the house which seeks to hold both Premier Makhura and Mahlangu to account for their roles in the Esidimeni tragedy.

The DA tabled this motion in order to refer the Premier to the Integrity Commissioner to establish if he breached the Code of Conduct and Ethics by misleading the House and the Arbitration Hearings by claiming he never knew that Life Esidimeni patients were being sent to NGOs, despite evidence to the contrary, including the proceedings of the sitting on 15 March 2016.

On 16 February 2018, in a programming meeting with the Speaker and Chief Whips from political parties represented in the Legislature, the motion was proposed and it was agreed that it would be put on the agenda for today’s meeting.

In today’s programming meeting, the Speaker denied there was any such agreement in the previous meeting.

The Speaker indicated that this may be brought back to the discussion table sometime in April 2018.

If this is the case, by the time this motion appears on the schedule for a Legislative sitting the Life Esidimeni Arbitration panel will have made its recommendations based on inaccurate testimonies by both the Premier and Mahlangu.

This motion is an important step in ensuring that those who were responsible for this inhumane and painful tragedy are not shielded and are held to account for their role in the cruel deaths that resulted from the indifferent attitude of ANC politicians.

The DA will fight to ensure that this constitutional mechanism is not abused by the ANC in a desperate attempt to absolve themselves of any wrong doing.

Justice must be served and the constitutional mechanisms to ensure this must not be thwarted by those who put their political party before the rights of ordinary South Africans.

Adjustment Budgets: DA the only party that actually delivers to the poor

DA-led governments in Gauteng have demonstrated their commitment to uplifting poor communities by allocating more money serving the most vulnerable citizens.

In the City of Tshwane, revenue will increase by R450 million due to increased property rates, increased interest on investments, higher grant allocations and a general increase in other revenue. This means that more money will be spent on delivering to the poor.

R72 million will go towards the Bus Service for Mamelodi, so that more people can access opportunities and R225 million will go towards Housing top-structures to provide housing opportunities for families in need.

Similarly, the City of Johannesburg is faced with a massive service delivery backlog after years of financial mismanagement by the ANC. However, the DA-led administration is increasing revenue and spending more on services to the poor.

The Department of Social Development is allocated R16.7 million for the advancement of the City’s Substance Abuse Program. R1.2 million will be allocated to the Department of Social Development for operational capital to acquire equipment needed to run the City’s free drug clinics.

The Department of Housing receives an increase of R33.7 million for the upgrade in Soweto and Meadowlands hostels, and an additional R84.3 million for the management of informal settlements and to address the shortfall on utility charges for Council owned hostels. R11.8 million will be allocated to the relocation and management of informal settlements.

The Department of Economic Development is allocated R10 million to establish opportunity centres to provide training so that people can get skills for jobs. The DA is hard at work in the fight against unemployment.

Allocations to the City’s Department of Transport increase by R76.4 million for the security and cleaning of public facilities and Rea Vaya bus stations. We intend to recruit 1500 people to undergo training and join the ranks of the JMPD with an allocation of R21.5 million.

The DA welcomes these pro-poor budgets. We are the only party that can bring about total change and delivering to the poor as the national budget will further impoverish our most vulnerable. We know it will take hard work, but we are committed to improving the lives of the people of Gauteng.

ANC failing to charter government towards the fourth industrial revolution

Barbara Creecy, in her tenure as Gauteng MEC for Finance, has stressed the importance of government digitizing its systems to advance service delivery, but the track-record of the Department of e-Government has shown that the MEC’s words have failed to translate into tangible results.

By the third quarter of the 2017/18 financial year the department has underspent on its budget by a whopping 16%. Only R861.1 million out of R1.461 billion, or 59% of the envisaged 75%, has been spent thus far.

This has had a major impact on performance.

Three Gauteng government departments and two provincial entities, which were to be connected to cloud packages for the quarter under review, have not been linked.

The common platform on which departments are meant to operate has not yet been tested.

There are still challenges connecting sites to the Gauteng Broadband Network and the ability to make use of end-to-end networking between departments remain.

Technological advancements make the work of government simpler, more cost effective and improves the lives of residents through improved service delivery outcomes.

The lacklustre performance of this department under the guidance of MEC Creecy shows that this ANC administration is void of tangible outcome and cannot commit to the promises it makes.

Under a DA government, digital migration and digitalisation of the province will be a game changer that will empower citizens and improve their quality of life through a more efficient and effective system of governance.