Tax-payers must cover escalating budget for Palm Springs Multi-purpose centre

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is shocked to learn that the funding that is still required to complete the Palm Springs Multi-purpose centre has tripled to R126 168 959,78 compared to the initial budget of R44 129 510,28.

This was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to MEC Maile, phase one of the project has been completed which includes; construction of different layers of earth materials and installation of stormwater drainage systems. Phase one of this project cost R24 199 592,22 which is more than half of the total cost of the project.

The DA visited the site and discovered that there is no construction that has been done, the site is just an empty piece of ground, yet millions have been spent on this project.

Initially, the project was expected to be completed on 15 June 2018, however, there is no timeline as to when the construction of the project will commence and when it will be completed. The Emfuleni Local Municipality is facing a serious funding shortfall and the project will be funded through Municipal Infrastructure Grant and only after COGTA has approved the funding.

Unnecessary delays in the completion of this project have resulted in sky-rocketing costs that taxpayers are expected to cover.

The amount of R82 039 449,5 that has accumulated could have been used to build two multi-purpose centres for townships in Emfuleni such as Evaton and Bophelong that do not have sporting facilities.

This is unacceptable and its high time that the ANC-led Gauteng government and their municipalities start using taxpayer’s money wisely.

The DA will continue to put pressure on MEC Maile to ensure that this centre is completed, without accruing further costs.

Gauteng medical negligence claims increase to R29 billion

Gauteng medical negligence claims have increased from R21.7 billion in 2017/18 to R28.91 billion in 2018/19 according to the latest edition of the SA Health Review which cites previously unpublished Treasury figures.

This is a very worrying 33% increase in claims which now total more than half of last year’s R50.8 billion Gauteng health budget.

It stands in sharp contrast to the Western Cape where medico-legal claims are only R110 million.

Last year, from April to September, the Gauteng Health Department paid out R424 million for 54 medico-legal cases. This has crippled cash flow as law companies have resorted to attaching the Department’s bank accounts to ensure payment.

There is a terrible human cost in these negligence cases for which no amount of money can be a real compensation.

The continuing rise in claims shows that hospital conditions are not improving in Gauteng, which is ill-prepared for Government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI).

Firm steps are needed to improve the quality of care in Gauteng hospitals to ensure they are places of healing rather than further injury inflicted on patients.

Maile overreaches again to “strengthen” his weak case

Yesterday MEC Lebogang Maile gave vague and very confusing “reasons” for rescinding the decision to suspend the Speaker of the City of Tshwane, Councillor Katlego Mathebe, and the former Speaker of the City of Johannesburg, Councillor Vasco da Gama. According to Maile’s statements, he is “strengthening” his case by withdrawing his previous decision. In doing so, he has conceded that his case was too weak to stand any form of legal scrutiny.

Now, the MEC has written to the Chief Whip of the City of Tshwane directing that Council convene urgent disciplinary proceedings. Once again, the MEC is exercising powers he simply does not have.

He has no such authority. Neither can Speaker Katlego Mathebe be judged as “insubordinate”. She is not his employee. Therefore, there can be no such thing a insubordination in this case.

We will continue challenging all moves made by the MEC which are an overreach, a power-grab and blatantly unlawful and unconstitutional. We will not allow the City of Tshwane to be captured by the MEC and his ANC cronies.

R70 million state-of-the-art Centurion Primary School in state of disrepair one year after opening

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng today conducted an oversight inspection at Centurion Primary school in Centurion. The visit was led by Khume Ramulifho, MPL and Cllr Peter Sutton.

This R70 million state-of the-art school was officially opened last year.

However, after just one year this school is in a state of disrepair.

The ceilings in several blocks at the school have collapsed and the Grade One learners that should have been using the classrooms are now combined with the Grade Two learners.

The ceilings in some of the classrooms are also broken.

There are major structural damages to the walls hence some of the classrooms are not being used.

See photos here, here and here.

This environment is not conducive for learning and teaching as the safety of the learners and teachers at this school is under threat.

This school is just one of many examples of shoddy workmanship and lack of project management skills by the department.

Furthermore, this school is an ICT school that is equipped with the latest technology like smart boards but this is not used as the school does not have access to internet.

The DA has written to the MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to appoint engineers to the school, so that a proper assessment can be done to determine whether the school is safe to be occupied as some of the structures are disjointed and the ceiling is falling apart.

The MEC should also launch an investigation into the contractor and the quality control process.

Gauteng’s Department of Infrastructure Development in turmoil as HOD leaves

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has learnt that the Head of Department for Infrastructure Development and Property Management, Bethuel Netshiswinzhe has left the department allegedly as a result of undue pressure being placed on him by the MEC Tasneem Motara.

The DA has been reliably informed that Netshiswinzhe who has been in the senior position for many years and has seen four MECs come and go, decided to vacate the position despite being asked to extend his contract. In addition, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has been placed on suspension for unspecified reasons.

Officials have been given strict instructions not to interact with or provide any information to politicians or outsiders which gives rise to a working environment in which the overriding dynamic is one of distrust and suspicion. Officials are simply too afraid to speak up about the arrogant and disrespectful treatment they receive.

Under normal circumstances one would expect the MEC to hold her officials to account if her actions gave rise to an increase in performance, but in this case the treatment of officials is aggressive and unreasonable and the morale and performance of the department is in a downward spiral.

It has long been a bone of contention that people who are appointed as MECs often do not have the requisite levels of expertise to manage their allocated portfolios and the process is nothing but cadre deployment.

The newly appointed MEC has tried to hide her lack of experience and expertise in the infrastructure space behind aggression and arrogance.

She got off to a poor start when she contradicted herself about the need for maintenance of immovable assets. Then, she refused to accept a proposal to outsource the property management function in spite of the fact that the department has hardly any expertise or resources to manage immovable assets worth more than R43 billion. This has given rise to unsafe buildings, property not being maintained and the deterioration of assets.

The DA is calling on the MEC to explain what is going on in her department and come clean about Netshiswinzhe’s departure and the suspension of the CFO.

There is no substitute for expertise and the victims in all of this are the officials and the tax-payers who pay for wastage and inefficiency in government.

Constitutional delinquent Maile beats a hasty retreat

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the press statement issued by MEC Maile wherein he announced that he has abandoned his unlawful attempt to suspend Councillors Katlego Mathebe and Vasco da Gama without pay.

No doubt, his lawyers advised him that he would lose the legal case initiated by the DA. He would be exposed as having abused his powers and as being a constitutional delinquent.

But it is not enough that the DA and Its Councillors Mathebe and da Gama have been vindicated. Maile must face consequences. In this regard, Councillors Mathebe and da Gama are seeking legal advice to pursue Maile for impugning their integrity.

Moreover, the DA will be tabling a Motion in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature calling upon Premier David Makhura to remove Maile as MEC.

Maile is a serial abuser of power who lacks even a basic understanding of his role in overseeing local government.

Ramaphosa didn’t provide promised staff at Tembisa Hospital

President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the Tembisa Hospital in May 2018 but failed to provide extra staff and resources even though he saw for himself the gross understaffing and overcrowding that led to the recent baby deaths at this hospital.

I was reminded of this failed promise when the Gauteng Legislature Health Committee on which I serve did an unannounced visit to the hospital last week on Friday.

I was aghast to hear that 103 extra staff posts had been approved for the hospital a year ago, but there was no funding to add them to the staff establishment. Even worse, former Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa had cut 75 posts three years ago as part of budget-cutting efforts.

At the Ward 5 neonatal ICU unit, staff told us that they had only 19 staff but needed 40 staff.

At the Ward 4 neonatal ward where most of the deaths occurred there are 44 beds, but there were 61 babies when we visited and we were told that in December there were days when there were more than 100 babies.

According to Hospital CEO Dr Lekopane Mogaladi, the hospital has been managing to control Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) klebsiella cases which averaged two a month from January to October last year i.e. 14 cases in total. But they noticed a rise to 5 cases in November and got really concerned when there were 12 cases in December.

Overcrowding that increases the risk of cross-infection is a major problem – instead of one metre distance between beds, nurses told us that beds were often side to side.

There is only one doctor on call in the evening for the seven maternal and natal wards, which is extremely problematic if there are a number of emergency cases at any one time.

There is also a severe shortage of cleaning staff who are all on permanent overtime. For wards 4 and 5 there are only two cleaners.

Tembisa management have been crying for extra staff for a long time now, particularly for the maternity section which delivers 16 800 babies a year, the second highest number of births in the country after Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

President Ramaphosa was supposed to allocate extra health staff in his stimulus budget last year, but Tembisa Hospital only got one pharmacist instead of the extra nurses and doctors that they desperately need.

The 10 baby deaths at this hospital from antibiotic-resistant klebsiella could have been avoided if President Ramaphosa had listened and acted effectively when he visited there nearly two years ago.

Note failed promises in the health sector will unfortunately lead to more avoidable deaths in hospitals.

DA submits urgent application to the High Court as Maile moves to capture Tshwane

The Democratic Alliance (DA) yesterday submitted an urgent application to the High Court to suspend the MEC’s decision to suspend the Speaker of the City of Tshwane, Councillor Katlego Mathebe, and the former Speaker of the City of Johannesburg, Councillor Vasco da Gama.

The effect of the MEC’s decisions is extreme, as it will affect democratically elected councillors from representing the voters who elected them. The decisions will not only prejudice the DA, but also the residents in both the City of Tshwane and the City of Joburg.

In the case of the Speaker of Tshwane, the ANC have already taken advantage of the situation to push forward their political agenda and have called for the continuation of a Special Council Sitting to carry through their Motions of No Confidence in the Mayor, the Speaker, the Acting Speaker and the Chair of Chairs. As such, we will use whatever means available to ensure this does not happen.

We will not allow MEC Maile to hijack the City of Tshwane, disregard the rule of law, and hold the residents of Joburg and Tshwane to ransom.

DA concerned over drop in matric pass rate at Lufhereng Secondary School in Soweto

Today the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng conducted an oversight inspection at the Lufhereng Secondary School in Soweto.

This school only managed to achieve a matric pass rate of 51%, a huge drop from the pass rate of 71.8% that was achieved in 2018.

Currently there are only 878 learners at the school with an average of 35 learners per class.

In addition, this school is a container school, which is not fully conducive to teaching and learning.

The school is faced with numerous challenges such as a lack of discipline among different stakeholders at the school, learners not attending extra classes and the Secondary Schools Improvement Plan (SSIP).

Furthermore, the school is still waiting for the Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) to be sent to the school.

There is also a high rate of absenteeism amongst the teachers, which has led to the school’s poor performance in the 2019 matric examinations.

The Department of Education is implementing interventions to ensure that the school’s performance improves this year.

I will be tabling questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to ascertain when the department will be building a brick and mortar school. The DA will also be closely monitoring the implementation of the interventions by the department to increase the matric pass rate for 2020.

DA calls on MEC Mazibuko to investigate the incident of a police officer assaulting a woman

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko to investigate the incident of a police officer assaulting a woman inside the police station.

This follows a shameful incident captured in a video which went viral on social media. The video shows two male police officers forcefully dragging a woman across the floor inside the Client Service Centre.

One of the male officers is then seen assaulting the woman who is screaming for help.

It is alleged that the incident happened on Monday at the Evaton police station.

The video can be seen here

This unethical conduct by the police cannot be tolerated.

It is a crime to assault anyone and the fact that it was done by a police officer who has a duty to prevent crime is worrying and questions the safety of women in our police stations.

It is sad and disturbing that this incident occurred while the country is experiencing a high rate of murder and domestic violence against women.

The only way to present such acts by the police is to hire police officers, and to retain officers, with a passion for policing so as to make SAPS honest, professional and ensure that it serves and protects our people.

We will monitor the progress of the investigation into this incident to ensure that the law takes its course and that the victim gets the justice she deserves.