R17.4 million wasted on blowing MEC Maile’s trumpet

by Janet Semple MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development

Gauteng Department of Economic Development MEC Lebogang Maile’s vanity has seen his department blow an additional R13.4 million on deviations in the 2017/18 financial year, all of which has been spent on advertising.

According to the department’s fourth quarterly report, an additional R4 million was spent on advertising – over and above this item’s R14 million budget.

Total over-expenditure on advertising for the 2017/18 financial year amounted to R17.4 million.

Despite austerity measures and directives from both National and Provincial Treasuries to curb unnecessary expenditure, MEC Maile’s narcissism has gobbled up funds that could have been better spent on job creation and youth empowerment programmes.

When questioned in the Gauteng Legislature by the DA, MEC Maile denied that the department had over spent on advertising, yet the fourth quarterly report and written replies to DA questions tell a different story.

Millions have been spent to “promote” the department, yet the MEC could not substantiate what return on investment this excessive spend has brought the department.

While thousands of Gauteng residents remain unemployed and economically inactive, MEC Maile has seen fit to waste public money on what can only be described as a narcissistic campaign.

It is highly probable that this excessive advertising spend was to boost MEC Maile’s profile ahead of the Gauteng ANC’s elective congress.

Despite this, Maile’s attempt to ascend to the second highest position in the party failed.

This is not the only thing Maile has failed at. Prudent financial controls in the department have failed.

Given the high rate of unemployment across Gauteng, a DA provincial government in 2019 will get to work to create an environment conducive to job creation and economic growth.

Under a DA government, vanity projects will be the first thing scrapped and the funds re-directed to citizen-based economic inclusion initiatives.

Gauteng Health has too many head office staff

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

The Gauteng Health Department has 1350 head office staff, which is down from 1785 staff in 2010 and 1928 staff in 2015, but this is still top heavy and inefficient.

These figures are revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Ramokgopa, the vast majority of head office staff are administrative (1018), and also includes 191 allied professionals, 47 nursing and 45 management staff.

She says that “there is a decrease due to prioritisation of frontline and district services.”

I agree with the downsizing of head office staff which needs to go further to cut out redundant staff and ensure that productive people are directly involved in health service delivery.

The head office has too often been a dumping ground for useless people who only have jobs because of cadre deployment.

I am also concerned that three senior management positions are currently filled in an acting capacity.

This long-ailing department needs skilled top leadership with a lean and efficient team to make the changes to fully recover from the rampant corruption when Brian Hlongwa was Health MEC from 2006 to 2009.

MEC for Social Development grilled on Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Centre

by Justus De Goede MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Social Development

After a DA oversight inspection to the youth centre, from which reports of defrauding of funds and neglect of residents had been received, by representatives from Parliament and the Gauteng Legislature was irregularly refused, questions have been put to MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza on a number of issues which remain unclear.

It is strange that the MEC and the Department have tendered no explanations around the alleged misuse of funding received from the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), or for that matter why an institution funded by the DSD should qualify for SASSA funding.

The MEC eventually visited the Centre on 26 July and did admit that a number of issues needed addressing, including security and maintenance, but this cannot be verified in light of the prohibition she has placed on oversight visits.

The answers to be provided by the MEC will be of particular interest to Gauteng residents and we look forward to question time in the Legislature.

MEC Nkosi-Malobane abandons Heidelberg Junior Traffic Training Centre

by Michele Clarke MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Community Safety

It is a disgrace that the Gauteng Department of Community Safety has abandoned the Junior Traffic Training Centre in Heidelberg which has been dysfunctional for almost five years now.

During the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) oversight inspection, we were shocked to discover that the centre is a white elephant.

This facility has been abandoned and it is evident that there has been no maintenance or upkeep over this 5 year period.

The traffic road signs are covered with weeds.

The classrooms are locked but are still equipped with desks and chairs.

Training manuals, road traffic signs and training uniforms are gathering dust in the storerooms.

The wall fencing is broken; the electric motor of the main gate, other electric boxes and the water fountain pumps have been stripped and stolen.

Photo …..here….here……here and here

The DA is concerned that this centre might be further vandalized and the remaining resources stolen as the facility is not being guarded.

It is shameful that this much needed facility that is meant to educate young children about road safety is standing empty and unused.

Considering the fact that pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in this province, this centre could serve a good purpose in educating children at a young age about pedestrian safety to save lives.

This raises serious concerns about the funds allocated to the Traffic Management Unit and its sub-programme of promoting road safety.

We will table questions to the Gauteng Community Safety MEC, Sizakele Nkosi- Malobane in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, to determine why the centre has been abandoned, when it will be operational, how much money has been allocated for the running of the centre and on what its allocated budget has been spent.  The DA will also ask who owns the centre building and how much is owed in terms of utility bills.

By failing to ensure that this facility is operational the ANC-led Gauteng is failing on its mandate to educate our people about road safety.

Gauteng government still failing to provide adequate mental health services

by Dr Heinrich Volmink MPL – DA Member of Gauteng Health Committee

The Gauteng Department of Health currently has a 14.39% vacancy rate for psychologists and 7.28% vacancy rate for psychiatrists.

According to the reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, by the Acting MEC for Health, Faith Mazibuko the department currently has 266 posts for psychologists for the 2017/2018 financial year. This number has decreased from 320 in the 2016/2017 financial year. While the number of posts for psychiatrists has remained at 96 for the last two financial years.

The acting MEC indicated that following hospitals have vacancies for psychologists:

Carletonville District Hospital 1
Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital 1
Chris Hani Bara Hospital 2
Dr George Mukhari Hospital 3
Ekurhuleni Health District 1
Johannesburg Metro Area 3
Metsweding District Area 8
Rahima Moosa Mother & Child Hospital 3
Sterkfontein Hospital 1
Steve Biko Academic Hospital 2
Tambo Memorial Hospital 1
Tara De H. Moross Centre 1
Tembisa Hospital 1
Tshwane/Metsweding District Services 1
Tshwane Metro Area 3
Tshwane Rehabilitation 2
Weskoppies Hospital 3

Psychologists, like psychiatrists, are essential for care of patients who need mental health services and are important in long-term treatment.

The mental health services offered by the department is important as many of Gauteng’s poorest people rely on these services offered by government. If all the vacancies are not filled then those who rely on the service the most will not be able to get the treatment they need.

Despite the Esidimeni tragedy that highlighted the plight of mentally ill patients in the province, the Gauteng government is still not doing enough to protect this vulnerable group of people.

The fact that these vacancies have not been filled shows that ANC-led government under the leadership of Premier David Makhura is failing on its mandate to provide proper health care services to the people of Gauteng.

I will be engaging with the MEC to ascertain why these key vacancies have not been filled.

ANC wheels out e-tolls as an election ploy

by John Moodey MPL – DA Gauteng Provincial Leader

Newly-elected Gauteng ANC deputy chairperson, Panyaza Lesufi’s announcement that the ANC in Gauteng has resolved to scrap e-tolls should not come as a surprise as elections are just 10 months away.

The ANC has sung this tune more than once since 2014 and as history has shown, these are just empty words.

The ANC government has used scare mongering tactics and intimidation in a desperate attempt to have people pay these toll fees.

Despite this, only 30% of all e-toll bills have been paid.

The effect that the tolls have had on the cost of living in Gauteng has put severe strain on the pockets of all the provinces citizens.

Most of the toll fees collected thus far have been gobbled up by foreign companies in the form of collection and administration fees while very little has been used to repay the bonds raised by the South African Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) to carry out the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP).

Since the idea of e-tolls were first mooted in 2007, the DA has vehemently disagreed with the project.

By admitting that the project has been a failure and should be scrapped, the ANC has endorsed the DA stance on the issue.

The DA has brought a Private Members Bill before Parliament that, if adopted, would ensure that the e-toll system is not repeated elsewhere in the country.

The reality is that the only way to get rid of e-tolls is to vote for change led by a DA-led government.

Qedani Mahlangu has means to personally pay for Esidimeni deaths

by Jack Bloom MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC

Former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has substantial wealth that should be attached to pay some of the R159 million arbitration award for the suffering and deaths of Life Esidimeni patients.

The Democratic Alliance has established that Mahlangu cashed in her R16 million pension fund when she resigned in February last year, leaving her with a nest egg of about R11 million after tax.

She lives in an property in Bedfordview which is worth about R5 million and recently paid R3.9 million for a property in the Johannesburg suburb of Kensington, apparently to be developed as an investment.

Last year she paid for a university course in England, and lived there for several months, which must have cost about half a million rand.

Mahlangu is even able to afford two professional bodyguards who drive and escort her, which costs about R50 000 a month.

Incredibly, she has even staged a political comeback with her re-election to the ANC’s Provincial Executive Committee in Gauteng.

Last week I wrote to Premier David Makhura to request him to use the Apportionment of Damages Act to ensure that Mahlangu and two former senior health officials pay a share of the R159 million Esidimeni arbitration award.

Makhura has not yet responded, but if he fails to force her to pay from her own pocket it will show that he is not serious about holding her to account for the Esidimeni disaster.

Her assets are probably worth more than R20 million in total which should be seized by court action to pay a fair share of the financial recompense to Esidimeni victims.

Ultimately she must appear in court for her crimes, but action can be taken now to curb her luxurious lifestyle so that taxpayers don’t have to foot the total bill for her cruel and negligent deeds.

SAPS lags in the identification of women’s bodies lying in mortuaries

by Kate Lorimer MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Community Safety

Of the 47 unidentified female bodies lying in state mortuaries across Gauteng, the majority have not been checked against the list of missing persons by the South African Police Service.

Twelve of these bodies have been lying in mortuaries for over 4 months and a number of those for 9 to 12 months.  The rest are anything from a few days to 4 months.

These figures were revealed in questions asked in the Gauteng Legislature by Gauteng Health MEC, Gwen Ramokgopa.

This means that at least 12 families are unaware that a family member who may have been reported missing to the SAPS, is lying in a mortuary.

It is inexcusable that the SAPS are not doing their job and expediting the identification of bodies through fingerprinting and through comparison with lists of missing persons.

I will be asking further questions of the SAPS to establish whether there is a consolidated list of missing persons in Gauteng or only lists for every station area?

A consolidated list that is updated weekly should be available as missing persons are not always found in the area they went missing.

Not treating these women and their families as a priority denies them their dignity in death.

DA calls on MEC Vadi to hold corrupt department officials accountable

by Dr Neil Campbell MPL – DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Roads and Transport

The discovery of the fraudulent issuing of vehicle licence discs by officials in Benoni and other areas is long overdue.

Using deceased vehicle owners licence accounts to dump ‘bad’ debt of living, non-compliant vehicle owners for a fee has cost the fiscus at least R 80 million.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation must be commended for uncovering this rampant corruption.

The Auditor General has pointed out a lack of efficient systems and management by Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi’s department for several years yet there has been no improvement.

Corruption is rife within most Driver Licence Testing Centres, Roadworthy Centres and registering offices. MEC Vadi and the ANC continue to preach about being hard on corruption while allowing it to fester unchecked in areas where they know it exists.

The electorate is not fooled by cheap talk.

Action rather than hot air is necessary from both MEC Vadi and Premier David Makhura to root out systemic corruption in the department and the centres that it manages.

Nokuthula LSEN School is gathering dust with no learners

by Khume Ramulifho MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education

The Democratic Alliance is disappointed to discover that Nokuthula LSEN School in Lyndhurst, Johannesburg is still not operational. This is a white elephant gathering dust.

Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, announced that the school would be operational at the beginning of the third term.

During the DA‘s oversight inspection of the newly built Nokuthula LSEN School today we were shocked to see that there are no learners or teachers and that the school is vacant.

It is not clear why there are still delays for learners to utilize the school as the City of Johannesburg has given the department occupation certificate.

According to MEC Lesufi, there was an arrangement with the City of Joburg and the Department of Education in which a six months occupation certificate was issued.

It is shameful that this state of the art school, with much needed facilities, is standing empty.

Learners who will make use of this new school are cramped in an unsafe warehouse in Marlboro not knowing when they will be relocated.

This R300 million school, which was officially opened in October last year, has been abandoned and it is evident that there has been no maintenance or upkeep carried out.

The Department is denying our learners, who are in desperate need of this facility, an opportunity of a lifetime.

The DA will engage with MEC Lesufi to ascertain why this school has not been occupied and when will it open its gates to deserving learners.