416 elderly denied access to funded residential facilities

The Gauteng Department of Social Development has denied 416 elderly people access to funded residential facilities due to the department’s failure to spend the allocated budget for this service to older persons for the second quarter of the 2017/18 financial year.

Failure of this department to spend its allocated budget has had a severe impact on service delivery to these most vulnerable members of society.

According to the Development’s second quarter report for the current financial year, over 400 older persons were unable to access funded residential facilities.

The DA is dismayed that is a huge blow to many elderly people in the province who are living in appalling conditions, often abused at home and are in desperate need of subsidised residential facilities.

During the DA’s oversight visits to several elderly care facilities across the province last year, it was observed that fees are high, depending on the level of specialised care services required.

Most elderly residential care institutions charge fees of between R4000 to R9000 per resident per month, way out of reach to the vast majority of senior citizens.

In addition, the department failed to reach its target of older persons participating in active aging programs and, worse still, thousands of elderly people meant to access community-based care and support facilities (services centres and luncheon clubs) managed by funded NPOs, were left behind.

We can no longer allow the Gauteng Department of Social Development’s incompetence to affect service delivery for our elderly.

The DA will hold the MEC, Nandi Manyathula-Khoza, accountable for ensuring that the department improves on underspending on its allocated budget.

When the DA takes over Gauteng after 2019, competent administration will prioritise the needs of all its residents, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable in society.

Gauteng’s infrastructure at risk of further decay

Speaking in Davos at the World Economic Forum, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe indicated that infrastructure maintenance was one of government’s key priorities.

This echoed his sentiments in August 2016, when he announced that an action plan would be developed to ensure greater expenditure on municipal infrastructure maintenance. In addition, he indicated that the plan would enforce proper financial asset management to ensure an extended lifespan and increased quality of infrastructure.

He went on to say that R1.3 trillion of assets are in jeopardy because of insufficient maintenance. It has been fifteen months since he first made the undertaking yet little has been done to achieve this plan. In fact, the situation has regressed.

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development, under the leadership of MEC Jacob Mamabolo, has slashed infrastructure maintenance budgets and deteriorating infrastructure contradicts the undertaking made by national government that greater control over assets would be implemented.

The fact is that assets that are currently not being used for service delivery are not being maintained and they are losing value because of their deterioration. The deterioration of these assets also impacts negatively on the residential amenity of people living near to them.

The Department of Infrastructure’s Property Management Division, which is responsible for the management of the infrastructure, is so dysfunctional, that MEC Mamabolo has proposed that it be outsourced.

The cost of outsourcing is concerning, and should the contract be given to a connected cadre who may not have the requisite skill set to take control of R30 billion worth of assets, the situation is likely to worsen.

The DA will closely monitor this proposed outsourcing process and ensure that the ANC-run Gauteng government does not continue to squander public funds.

Gauteng COGTA and Human Settlements in limbo

Gauteng Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements MEC, Paul Mashatile appears to be preoccupied with his new position within the ANC NEC as the Treasurer-General, neglecting his responsibilities as the political leader of this department. This comes although Gauteng faces enormous housing challenges, a crisis in local municipal governance, maladministration and poor financial management.

The MEC, as the incumbent ANC Gauteng chairperson, has left Gauteng Premier, David Makhura as the acting chairperson while this department flounders without anyone to act in his absence. This indicates that the Gauteng ANC-led administration cares little about providing adequate quality housing and service delivery to our people.

This province has a housing backlog of about 800 000 and 101 unfinished projects such as Ga-rankuwa Extension 10 housing project in Tshwane, River Park flats and Alexandra Extension 21 housing projects and Sethokga housing project in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni.

Housing allocation is also rife with corruption, as the rightful beneficiaries of these houses are left out in the cold. Our people who are desperate to own decent houses have been on the waiting list since 1996 and are now expressing their frustrations through embarking on protests throughout the province. Furthermore, Merafong Local Municipality and Emfuleni Local Municipality are also facing severe service delivery challenges due to poor financial management.

There are many housing projects that were launched last year, such as the Mega City housing projects, that require political will to ensure that they are completed within the specified time frame.

While MEC Mashatile is preparing for his new position, the DA calls upon the Premier Makhura to appoint an acting MEC to lead and oversee the functions of this department.

We cannot allow that our people suffer due to MEC Mashatile prioritising his Party responsibilities over serving the needs of the people.

Only the DA can build a better province and houses for those in need. Mashatile, Makhura and others cannot be trusted to do so. Gauteng deserves a new beginning and a new government led by the DA.

Confusion over dead and missing Esidimeni patients

It is distressing that the Esidimeni arbitration hearing has concluded, but we still don’t have accurate figures for the dead and missing patients.

The police have confirmed 144 dead, but Section 27 says they have submitted affidavits concerning a further 12 bodies and Legal Aid lawyers say they have at least two more as well.

This would push the total death tally to 158, but it could be even higher as many of those who are missing could be dead as well.

I have opened 62 missing person cases with the police based on a list sent by the Gauteng Health Department to some NGOs last week.

But Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa disputed this list at the hearings, saying that there was a list of 59 missing patients that has been reduced to 55, and that 7 of these may have been found in NGOs. This would bring the missing list to 48, which is still a high number.

The confusion over lists should be cleared up as soon as possible.

But it is difficult to see how the list could be further reduced as details are missing for many patients, including names and ID numbers in some cases. In one case, for instance, a person is described merely as “Female number 1”, born in 1976.

Justice Dikgang Moseneke has given the state until Thursday next week to finalise the names and numbers of the deceased.

I agree with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi that there should be an investigation into the possible abduction or kidnapping of patients from Esidimeni as they were not properly discharged.

Every effort should be made to ascertain the fate of all those vulnerable patients whose human rights were so tragically trashed by the state.