Cuba doctors training money should be redirected to Gauteng medical schools

The Democratic Alliance welcomes Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s announcement in his State of the Province (SOPA) address that the Provincial Government is working with the University of Johannesburg to fast-track the building of a new Medical School.

We desperately need to train more doctors in order to meet the health needs of a growing population.

Makhura has not indicated any provincial funding to assist the new medical school and has also ignored the need to assist the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University where he delivered his SOPA address.

Last year the Provincial Government spent more than R130 million on the Cuban doctor’s programme at double the cost to train a doctor locally. The programme also requires an extra year to learn Spanish, and another year in a South African medical school when returning home.

Medical training in Cuba should be wound down as soon as possible in favour of extra spending on local doctor training.

DSD consistently underspends its budget

Thank you, Madam Speaker,

The Honourable Premier talked about Circular 21: this circular has been around for many years. The Department of Social Development chose to by-pass it all this time. So, giving Gauteng the benefit of doubt that the department only found out about it then, why haven’t they ensured compliance until now?

It is wrong that for three years, this department has failed to spend its budget – failed to perform and execute its mandate. That means that vulnerable people are simply not cared after. While NPOs and NGOs struggle financially, the department has underspent in the 3rd quarter by R528 million. What happened to the caring part of the pillars which you stand for? Last year, the department underspent by R419.1 million and the year before by R104.4 million.

The department year on year fails to perform, yet the contract of the HOD is renewed. ANC protects an HOD instead of protecting the vulnerable people of Gauteng. 

Premier, you once said “underspending in this department will not be tolerated!” Why then is it continuing?

It is four months later and still the department does not have an MEC. MEC Lesufi is very busy with the Department of Education, while this department needs a full time MEC who will be accountable.

Honourable Premier, let me tell you about the real state of the province in Gauteng:

Sanitary pads and uniforms didn’t get to those who need them most. What a shame!

Youth and Women empowerment is not happening.

Promises are made year after year that NGOs and NPOs will be paid on time, yet when SLA’s are signed on time, payments are late. This is unacceptable!

Shelters for the victims of domestic violence are in a bad state – if you don’t believe me visit the one opposite the Bronkhorstspruit Police Station. It does not show that you are taking gender-based violence seriously.

I am waiting to see how the premier plans to dismantle patriarchy!

On Tuesday, the Premier talked about the Township Development Act that would nullify by-laws that make it difficult for small businesses. I hope ECDs are included in this Act. If not, it would have been wise to make a pronouncement about developing another Act that will assist ECDs to be compliant so that the children of this province are not forced to attend non-compliant creches. 

Furthermore, moderately compliant ECDs get conditional grants but there are still many that don’t get anything. ECDs in poor communities in Gauteng are simply doomed. Clearly, the fact that ECDs are opened in informal settlements shows that there is a need but while the by-laws are good, they “punish the poor”. So Honourable Premier, after several years, your so-called engagement with municipalities has yielded no results. It seems the ANC has run out of ideas, so the DA is here to help. l will be tabling a motion in this regard and I know, you will support it because you don’t want to see ECDs being victimized.

The Premier’s delivery on Tuesday would have been very inspiring if I had been a new member of the Gauteng Legislature this term. I have however been a member since 2014 and most of what he said I have heard it before.

I thank you!

Enough with empty housing promises Mr Premier

Madam Speaker, in my 14 and a half years in this Legislature, not much has changed with regard to both Housing and Local Government.  From Nomvula Mokonyane to Lebogang Maile, MECs have continued to treat the departments like their own personal fiefdom where they can do whatever they want, without regard for legal processes and good governance practices.

Across the years, the Premiers of the Province have turned a blind eye to their shenanigans and continued to promise “pie in the sky” solutions to the daily problems faced by the poorest residents of Gauteng.

Premier Makhura’s latest “pie in the sky” is not new, he talks about the various renewal projects across the province.  He makes new promises that these disastrous projects that have sucked millions of Rands into a money pit with no return, will be completed. Regarding the Alexandra Renewal Project, how can we believe him when nothing has changed, nothing is evident on the ground and nothing has been done regarding the dispute over the court interdict?  Further to that promises made last year to the residents of Alexandra during the Alex shut down, have not been realised. 

Premier Makhura has also promised the delivery of ten thousand serviced stands between April and June this year.  I vacillate between relief that the ANC have finally decided to implement a plan that the DA has been proposing in this Province since 2005 and disbelief that these stands will be delivered on time, on budget and result in the immediate handover of title deeds to the beneficiaries of the programme. I find it problematic that the Premier refuses to tell us where these stands will be because the land will be invaded.  How does he expect members of the legislature to fulfil their legislative mandate of oversight if they don’t even know where these stands are situated? The right thing to do would be protect the land and arrest invaders. Stop allowing thugs to take charge.

Unfinished developments, rogue contractors, poor monitoring and evaluation.  The list goes on.  So, do what the DA would do.  Be practical and rather than choosing ANC comrades, make the right choice to choose the best, most experienced contractors to do the job and incentivise them to produce a quality finished product on time and on or under budget.  Only by doing this will Gauteng be able to deliver what was promised.

The Premier proudly stated he was doing more to support local government to fulfil their constitutional obligations, but that is about all he said about local government.  No mention of failing municipalities like the West Rand District and Emfuleni, no mention of VBS and why nothing has happened to the perpetrators of this financial scandal where money was stolen from the community of Gauteng?  In order to build trust one has to admit to mistakes, take action against wrongdoing, have properly costed plans to fix and mitigate the problems, and then deliver a quality product by implementing those plans on time and on budget with intense monitoring and evaluation taking place throughout.  If you don’t do this, you have Medupi and Kusile all over again.

I am extremely disappointed that there was no mention of disaster management by the premier.  We have no up-to-date comprehensive provincial risk profile that identifies and prioritises hazards enabling the development of reaction, response and mitigation plans.  There is no way you can promote sustainable development without this.  Provincial Disaster Management needs funding, they need to be fully staffed and capacitated to do their job.  The threat posed by the coronavirus is real, but we hear nothing from our provincial government. It is a disaster in the making and I do not believe we are prepared.

The Premier had a lot to say about breaking the back of patriarchy.  Mr Premier, don’t you understand that gender-based quotas show your patriarchal tendencies.  Most women I know want to succeed based on their merit and not their gender.  Women are as competent as men and until men accept that fact, patronising women with gender quotas will not create a change to the patriarchal mindset we, as women, experience every day.

Mr Premier, good governance is key.  It means real transparency, meaningful accountability, absolute efficiency, inclusivity and truthful communication.  We need to be feeding our community with realistic, practical solutions that are guaranteed to make the life of each individual better. Don’t take the community of Gauteng for fools, stop feeding them “Pie in the Sky.”

Gauteng healthcare system is now two feet underground

Madam Speaker, the Honourable Premier has claimed that Gauteng health services are “on the road to swift recovery”.

 I would like the Honourable Premier to define “swift” and “recovery”.

Does he think that the Gauteng Health Department will get a clean audit at the end of his term of office in four years’ time?

Will we see a dramatic reduction in queues and waiting times for operations?

 A key achievement would be the computerization of all patient files, which he tells us will be completed in 2025, a year after he leaves office.

 Six new hospitals will supposedly be built during this decade. The Chinese can build a hospital in ten days, but will all these hospitals be built in ten years?

 I wish we could believe this slow timetable, but the track record is not good.

 The last two hospitals built took 8 years at more than double the budgeted cost, and they are full of structural faults.

 The Soshanguve Hospital was solemnly promised by former Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi more than six years ago!

 And where will the doctors and nurses and other health workers come from to staff the new hospitals?

 We are not training nearly enough doctors and nurses. The Honourable Premier should be harassing the Nursing Council to finalise regulations so that the private health sector can train more nurses.

 I welcome the commitment to build a new medical school at the University of Johannesburg, but I am surprised that the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University is ignored, despite the praise which the Honourable Premier rightly lavished on it.

 The Honourable Premier wants industry to source locally wherever possible, so why on earth are we spending double the local cost to train doctors in Cuba? Last year we spent more than R130 million on Cuban medical training. It should be wound down as soon as possible in favour of local doctor training.

 Last year the Honourable Premier promised extra attention to the five worst hospitals in the province. One of these was Tembisa Hospital where the management has long been crying out for extra staff and extra space to avoid overcrowding.

 But what did the Honourable Premier do about this? Early last year, former Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa authorized 103 posts for the hospital but they never got the extra staff because it wasn’t funded.

 Ten babies at this hospital died in the last two months of last year of antibiotic-resistant klebsiella. These deaths could have been prevented with proper staffing, but it is only this month that they are getting more than 80 new staff.

Put this down as yet another health failure.

The Honourable Premier admits that not all hospitals have permanent CEOs as was promised, but that the three remaining CEOs will be appointed in May.

This is important, but there are CEOs who need to be removed. The Bheki Mlangeni Hospital was a brand-new hospital which was opened six years ago with brand-new staff. It has underperformed badly, including a jobs-for-sale scandal, and was placed on the five worst hospitals list. But the same CEO who presided over this is still there. She must go, along with her top management team.

 Then there is the strange case of the new CEO of the Far East Rand Hospital, who was appointed despite facing charges that he falsified his overtime claims for two years.

 Honourable Premier, the rot is still there. The fact that this department is now two feet underground instead of ten feet underground is a bare sign of progress.

 Is a swift recovery really in sight?

 The DA will judge you favourably on this when the Auditor-General gives a clean audit, and medical negligence claims decline to a mere R100 million instead of R20 billion, as in the Western Cape which shows that it can be done.

Makhura’s Rinse and Repeat SOPA

At the beginning of a new decade we once again find ourselves in familiar territory:

  • responding to the Premiers State of the Province Address filled with promises of things to come,
  • responding to a speech that only pays lip service to the extent of the challenges we face,
  • responding to the words of a Premier refusing to take full responsibility for falling short on all his previous pledges.

As servants to the public it is important to that we are people true to our words. What we say as members of this legislature is powerful as we carry the hopes of millions of South Africans who voted for us. So, we should not be callous in how we speak, we must not speak of things that we will not do.

In the recent State of the Province Address by the honourable Premier David Makhura, we were subjected to a repeat performance of his past SOPAs. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I want to see a repeat, I can watch the Generations Omnibus over the weekend. What we require from leadership is not more empty promises, but a proper account of what you have done. The challenge for the Premier is that in giving a proper account of past goals set in his previous SOPA, is that he will expose his strategy of ‘rinse and repeat’. We are tired of listening to a broken record.

On Tuesday, the Premier dusted off his last SOPA, while tweaking some words here and there; but ultimately, we were subjected to roughly 90% of previous speeches. New Day, Same Old Wishlist. Unfortunately, the lives of Gauteng residents cannot survive on wishes Premier Makhura, they rely on concrete solutions that will feed the empty stomach, give dignity to the jobless, and provide shelter to the homeless.

Premier Makhura in your SOPA on Tuesday you presented grandiose ideas as if they were fresh, however we have been hearing you speaking about things such as the Aerotropolis, the Industrial Parks, Special Economic Zones and Renewable Energy for the past five years. There is nothing new you are saying about many of these projects, all you are doing is slapping lipstick on a pig and hoping we wont notice honourable Makhura. 

The Aerotropolis which has been a topic of discussion for over a decade is a white elephant that has seen taxpayer money being devoured on fruitless overseas trips. You speak about the consolidation of Ekurhuleni as Africa’s largest Aerotropolis, but you have not provided much detail on the progress over the past ten years in this endeavour.

Madame Speaker, the Premier is late to the game on energy policy. He has applauded the pronouncement from the President to allow municipalities to procure electricity from private producers, outside of Eskom’s monopoly. However, the Premier failed to acknowledge that it has been the DA which has been pushing for this, while the ANC has dragged its feet in an effort to secure Eskom’s tyrannical grip on our economy, as it operates as a vessel for cadre deployment. He now mischievously calls the attempts by the DA to allow municipalities to procure power independently from Eskom as playing politics.

The President’s pronouncement is much welcome, and we look forward to capable municipalities coming out from under the thumb of Eskom to ensure energy stability. However, as is often the case when it comes to the ANC whether nationally or in Gauteng, there is a lag between what they say and their actions. We hope Premier Makhura will not cower from facing the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Gwede Mantashe. Premier Makhura must ensure that the national Minister does not drag his feet with regards to allowing municipal energy independence through private energy procurement. The national Minister has shown a lack of enthusiasm for renewable energy; we hope that Premier Makhura will work with the DA in pushing the Minister even through legal efforts to come to the table in terms of diversifying our energy mix. Alas, the Premier’s performance in serving the interests of Gauteng residents over the ANC, does not bring much confidence as we have seen in the e-toll saga.

The Premier once spoke about ensuring that all government buildings would have solar panels, as an example of his commitment to renewable energy. This has not been realised, which makes his talking about plans for a low carbon future for Gauteng ring hollow.

Honourable Makhura you have once again spoken about the pivotal role to be played by Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones in the economy. In 2017 you made promises about industrial parks in Khutsong and Chamdor, however, to date these industrial parks are still not operational. Another sign of unfulfilled promises by the administration of Premier Makhura.

The Premier cited a report published by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA), the ‘Indlulamthi Scenarios 2030’ published by the institute in 2030. The report presented three scenarios facing South Africa rated good, mixed and bad, each titled ‘Nayi le Walk’, ‘Isbhujwa’ and ‘Gwara Gwara’ respectively. The Premier sees us as being currently in the ‘Isbhujwa’ scenario which is a position where “There are flickers of hope and moments of despair as the country zigzags forward and backwards. Change is happening but not fast and deep enough”.  I think the Premier has sanitised what MISTRA says about the ‘Isbhujwa’ scenario. The institute describes this scenario as one where we have “a South Africa torn by deepening social divides, daily protests, and cynical self-interest”.  This sounds eerily like what President Cyril Ramaphosa, has called the nine-wasted years, years of ANC rule.

Furthermore, as bad as this Isbhujwa scenario sounds, for many South Africans, the lived experience is actually worse. Many South Africans would be more familiar with the ‘Gwara Gwara’ scenario where the Premier says “things get worse on every development indicator, leading to a total breakdown of public order fuelled by anger at the dysfunctional self-serving state, rising poverty, increasing inequality, rampant corruption and an unrelenting climate crisis”. Indeed, the picture painted in the Gwara Gwara scenario, of a dysfunctional self-serving state, rising poverty and inequality and rampant corruption, is where many residents of Gauteng would say we are. 

Madame Speaker, the major reason why we find ourselves in a cycle of repetition is because we have a culture of non-accountability. The problem of consequence management has been highlighted by the Auditor General in reports of various Gauteng Provincial Government departments. The Premier stood up on Tuesday, talking passionately about dealing with corruption and setting up lifestyle audits but his historic record indicates that he is a leader unable to get his subordinates in line.

Pablo Picasso once said “What one DOES, is what COUNTS. NOT what one had the intention of doing”. While Premier Makhura may use his words to paint visions even more beautiful than the best works of Picasso, we will judge him based on what he actually has done for the people of this province, we will measure him on real world progress rather than blue-sky thinking.

Our country is in a terrible economic situation Madame speaker, and while it is affected by global realities the problems we face are exacerbated by the numerous failures of the ANC government. Honourable Premier Makhura since 2015 the expanded unemployment rate has gone from 32.8% to 35.3%. This growing unemployment rate has happened over years of your repeated promises. You are failing to tackle corruption and poor management in your administration, and you are failing to take a strong step against job killing trends such as our vulnerability to loadshedding, and crime that deters investment and tourism.

On this side of the chamber we will work hard to make this a decade of change. We will not falter in our role as opposition in holding you to account, in shining light on empty promises and bad governance. We will be resolute in serving the people of this province.

No end in sight for e-Tolls

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is once more disappointed that Premier David Makhura did not announce any concrete solution to e-Tolls during his State of the Province Address (SOPA).

During his SOPA yesterday, Premier Makhura only indicated that President Cyril Ramaphosa will make an announcement soon on the matter.

Today, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will be delivering his Budget speech and it is expected that he will once again reiterate his position of the user-pay principle when it comes to e-Tolls.

This is a clear indication that Premier Makhura is just shifting the goal post on making an announcement on e-Tolls and that no concrete solution has been found to e-Tolls.

This is despite residents of Gauteng making it clear that they are not prepared to pay for a system that they did not agree to.

It is high time that Premier Makhura is honest with the people of Gauteng about the future of e-Tolls instead of kicking the announcement to a future date as he has done during SOPA.

The DA is disappointed by Premier Makhura’s lack of action on the matter, because there is a clear and viable alternative in the form of ringfencing a few cents per litre from the fuel levy.

Tshwane residents used as pawns in political power game

The ANC and EFF have once again disrupted a Tshwane Council meeting and refused to allow the meeting to proceed, and for a new mayor to be elected.

The meeting collapsed after the ANC and EFF staged a walkout, stating that they would not participate until Speaker Katlego Mathebe resigned from her position.

The Speaker’s right to hold Office has been upheld by a Court. But the ANC and EFF clearly have no respect for the judiciary.

But this is a red herring. The ANC and EFF have had three weeks to negotiate their terms in the run-up to the election of a new Mayor but have failed to find each other. Now they are playing for more time, and in the process are abusing residents and using them as political pawns.

Once again, it is the residents of Tshwane that suffer while the ANC and EFF compete for whatever opportunities are available in order to try and finance their respective election campaigns in the run-up to the 2021 local government elections.

Council has important matters to deal with, such as the approval of the adjustment budget which needs to be concluded urgently, in order for the city to realign the budget to the identified service delivery needs. A delay in approving the budget will have a negative impact on all residents in Tshwane.

It is time to put our differences aside, find common ground, and get back to the business of Council.

Cash strapped Emfuleni does not have money for printing

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has been reliably informed that the cash strapped ANC-led Emfuleni Local Municipality does not have money to print Council reports and agendas.

Emfuleni owes the service provider money for printing.

Due to non-payment of their account the service provider has refused to print Council documents.

The Council meeting which was supposed to be held today was postponed to Friday because they were unable to circulate Council agendas and print the reports.

This is unacceptable because the financial status of this municipality is now impacting on the work of the Council

This clearly indicates that Emfuleni is facing a serious cash flow problem.

This municipality’s financial standings has rapidly declined with having to produce an unfunded mandate.

For the last two years we have been proposing that the Council should go paperless for Council meetings to save costs.

The DA calls on MEC Maile, to urgently place the failing Emfuleni under full administration, in terms of Section 139 (1) (c) of the Constitution, as service delivery has completely collapsed.

We will continue to put pressure on MEC Maile to fully place Emfuleni under administration and to monitor the progress of the payments of the debt owed to service providers.

MEC Lesufi fails to keep his promise to fix HA Jack Primary School

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL and the Ward 74 DA Councillor, Dave Fisher conducted an oversight inspection at the HA Jack Primary School in Highlands North, Johannesburg.

We were disappointed to discover that the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi has failed to honour his commitment to fix the collapsing roof at the school.

The school has severe infrastructure challenges such as leaking roofs, dilapidated ceilings and cracks in the walls as well as loose floor tiles.

This school is over 70 years old and requires major renovations. In September 2019, MEC Lesufi promised to fix the school within two months. But since then nothing has been done.

See the replies from MEC Lesufi here.

The environment in which the learners are taught is not conducive for learning and teaching.

The DA is calling on MEC Lesufi to ensure that the school is fixed as a matter of urgency. The current situation is unacceptable because in November last year the department forfeited its R250 million budget meant for school infrastructure.

We will continue to put pressure on the MEC to fix this school.