Mayor Masina misled Ekurhuleni residents about Covid-19 vaccine

The Ekurhuleni Mayor, Mzwandile Masina has misled the residents of Ekurhuleni about procuring a vaccine for Covid-19 from Cuba.

Mayor Masina made an announcement during his State of the City Address that he would use the City’s emergency funding to procure the vaccine ‘Inferon B’ from Cuba to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Africa Check, Mayor Masina was referring to the interferon alpha-2b, a drug used to treat the symptoms of diseases caused by some earlier strains of coronavirus. This drug will not cure Covid-19.

This clearly indicates that no proper research was conducted before the Mayor made his announcement.

Mayor Masina was irresponsible in his pronouncement and gave false hope to the residents while the nation is in crisis.

Even though Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize subsequently confirmed that there is currently no vaccine for Covid-19, Masina has yet to withdraw his statement.

Masina has a reputation for opposing and undermining President Ramaphosa, and his pronouncement shows that he prefers to play internal ANC politics rather than rally around a fact-based plan that the president has put forward to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

Furthermore, the COGTA Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also made a determination that the spread of fake news about the coronavirus will be punishable, and the DA will be exploring if Masina’s announcement constitutes a violation of this determination.

The DA will continue to monitor the usage of the Ekurhuleni’s emergency funds to ensure that the public money is not shipped overseas to procure a vaccine that does not exist.

We call on all politicians to act responsibly and follow the lead of the Department of Health in combating the spread of Covid-19.

DA calls on local government to work with Gauteng DSD to ensure the safety of homeless during lockdown

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned that there is a lack of intergovernmental coordination between local government and the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) in terms of identifying temporary shelters for homeless people during the lockdown period.

We have been reliably informed that the DSD requested municipalities to identify places that can be used as temporary shelters for homeless people and to submit the list to the department so that the department can provide the necessary resources. However, we have been informed that some of our municipalities have not yet responded to the department’s call.

This clearly indicates a lack of intergovernmental relations and that these different levels of government are working in silos.

This will have a negative impact on the lives of homeless people who are at risk of contracting coronavirus because they do not have homes to stay in during lockdown.

There are temporary shelters that have been identified in Tshwane, but these have not been properly organised and are not ready to accommodate the homeless.

The new Tshwane Administrator is failing the homeless people in the City as the toll-free number is not functioning and homeless people are being left in the cold.

Furthermore, there seems to be a challenge with housing homeless people in the province as most of the department’s subsidised shelters have been filled to capacity and municipalities are failing to identify temporary shelters.

The DA calls for cooperation between the local municipalities and the DSD to ensure that temporary shelters are identified as a matter of urgency and equipped with the necessities needed by the homeless.

The DA further believes that now more than ever the Department for Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) should come to the fore as well and assist DSD.

The DPWI should donate some of its abandoned buildings to be converted into shelters which NGOs can manage.

The Covid-19 pandemic must be seen as the warning sign, where we should not only look into possible temporary shelters but consider long term plans to relieve the plight of the most vulnerable.

DA calls on MEC Maile to provide clarity on Lesedi’s Municipal Manager position

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile to provide clarity on the position of the Lesedi Municipal Manager.

The DA notes that the position of the Lesedi Municipal Manager was advertised in the City Press newspaper last week in which the closing date for applications was given as the is 26 March 2020.

Considering the fact that the MEC approved the appointment of the current Acting Municipal Manager, Gugu Thimane until the next municipal elections, the advertisement of the Municipal Manager position raises questions.

The DA has been reliably informed that the Speaker of the Lesedi Council has called a Special Council Meeting scheduled for tomorrow to appoint another Acting Municipal Manager.

This is totally unacceptable as we cannot have another Acting Municipal Manager. The Council must allow the current Acting Municipal Manager to finish her term as she has done nothing wrong in terms of executing her duties.

The DA needs clarity on whether the MEC has granted the Lesedi Municipality permission to advertise the post, and if so, the reasons for this must be provided.

It is high time that the ANC-led Lesedi administration puts the needs of the residents first by ensuring that the current Acting Municipal Manager finishes her term of office.

Medical aids should allow multi-month medicine collections

I welcome the Gauteng Health Department’s decision to authorize a three months’ supply of medicines for patients in order to cut queues in hospitals and the risk of infection by the coronavirus.

Private medical aids should also assist by allowing more than a month’s collection of medicines at pharmacies.

This will cut down on trips by vulnerable people to public spaces where the virus could be picked up.

I hope that private medical aids take quick action in this matter.

DA calls on MEC Mazibuko to investigate allegations of the eviction of a mother and her children from Ikhaya Lethemba

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko to urgently investigate the allegations that a mother and her children have been evicted from Ikhaya Lethemba shelter in Johannesburg.

It is alleged that the woman and her children have been evicted from the shelter and have nowhere else to go.

It is very worrying that this shelter which is run by the Gauteng Department of Community Safety is evicting people during this critical period of Coronavirus while the president has declared a national lockdown.

Ikhaya Lethemba as a One Stop Centre for female victims of crime and violence has a responsibility of housing the most vulnerable members of this province and ensuring that they are taken care of, instead of putting people out on the streets.

Should these allegations prove to be true those implicated should face the consequences of their actions.

The DA calls on MEC Mazibuko to urgently investigate these allegations. We will continue to monitor the work done by this shelter to ensure that adequate services are rendered to women and children who are victims of gender-based violence.

Tshwane officially dissolved today due to ANC’s political games

Due to the politically motivated move by the ANC MEC Lebogang Maile, the DA-led Tshwane Council is officially dissolved from today.

The national department of Cooperative Governance and the National Council of Provinces approved the dissolution and the appointment of an administrator.

Service delivery could therefore be interrupted pending the court case on Tuesday when we hope that the decision to place the municipality under administration will be overturned.

If the court action is successful the dissolution will no longer be effective.

If the court finds that the Gauteng Provincial Government overreached itself it will set the matter aside immediately.

Otherwise, judgement may be reserved and ruled on in the following week.

In the interim, DA councillors are committed to assist residents where possible despite no longer being officially recognised.

Gauteng Health setting priorities for Coronavirus

At a Gauteng Legislature Health Committee meeting this morning Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Maseko set out rational and sensible priorities to combat the Coronavirus in Gauteng.

He said that all Gauteng hospitals had been directed to create isolation areas for suspected and probably Covid-19 cases. Venues for mass quarantining were also being sought.

9000 Community Healthcare Workers will be trained as contact tracers, and 10 000 additional test kits are being procured over and above what the NICD is already providing.

A major problem is that the NICD hotline for cases has been overwhelmed, so war room contact numbers for Gauteng will be publicized.

Other important points that were made include the following:

  • Health workers need to be provided with protection both for their own sake and to ensure that there are enough trained staff available to deal with the epidemic.
  • Clinicians rather than politicians will take charge in setting priorities.
  • Testing our of fear should be discouraged in view of limited resources – only cases of genuine risk should be tested.

Masuku urges that citizens must also be responsible in taking appropriate precautions to avoid infection.

He raised the possibility of travel restrictions out of Gauteng that might be required over the Easter season as Gauteng is the epicenter of the epidemic.

My assessment is that the correct priorities have been set in line with the best information from medical professionals.

My fear is that we need to act fast and there are deficiencies in implementation.

The DA in Gauteng pledges full support to MEC Masuku in what he is trying to achieve in a difficult situation, and we will help in whatever way we can.

My strong sense is that the national guidelines restricting gatherings to less than 100 need to be lowered to 50 or even 10 as is the case in many overseas countries.

It is imperative that we break the transmission rate before it escalates dramatically.

GPL Petitions Committee fails Gauteng residents

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned that the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) Petitions Committee has only managed to process 19% of the petitions received from members of the public.

This information was revealed in the third quarter report for the GPL. According to the report out of the 80 submissions received only 16 were processed.

This is worrying as it means that the Petitions Committee is failing to meet its obligation in ensuring that there is public participation when it comes to dealing with the issue of service delivery.

This committee plays an important role in ensuring that the Gauteng residents’ concerns around service delivery issues are heard and attended to by the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG).

It is high time that this committee put in place a clear plan to deal with the backlog of petitions received from the residents of Gauteng to ensure a participatory democracy.

The DA will be closely monitoring the progress of this committee in dealing with petitions to ensure that there are no more backlogs.

GDE succumbs to the DA’s pressure by shutting down Johannesburg East Education District Offices

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng welcomes the decision by the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to shut down the dilapidated Johannesburg East District Offices in Parkmore, Johannesburg.

This decision was made following the DA’s oversight inspection to these offices last week Thursday.

We discovered that the offices have been closed for two weeks and we found District Officials protesting outside the office over the poor working conditions.

The roof is leaking, the floor is wet, and fire extinguishers have expired and pose a safety risk. The staircases, kitchen sink cardboards and taps are broken. The ceilings are broken, ablution facilities are dysfunctional with no toilet paper and there are water leakages.

The building is infested with rats and the chemicals used to kill the rats has resulted in some employees getting sick.

There is also severe overcrowding in the offices with 200 employees based there, and the environment is not conducive for working.

We alerted both the Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi and the HOD who made commitments to prioritise resolving the matter.

While we welcome the MEC’s decision to shut down the offices, we call on him and his counterpart, the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Tasneem Motara to prioritise fixing school infrastructure during this school holiday.

It is high time that the department spends its infrastructure budget to ensure that the old and dilapidated schools are fixed so that when the schools reopen, teaching and learning is not compromised.

DA welcomes SALGA presentation at the NCOP hearing

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the submissions made by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) during the National Council Of Provinces (NCOP) hearing held in Tshwane yesterday, regarding the move by Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Lebogang Maile to dissolve the City Council in terms of Section 139 of the Constitution.

The NCOP continued to engage with SALGA and other stakeholders during the second day of the hearing.

SALGA made several proposals to the NCOP for solutions to solve the current impasse in the City of Tshwane.

It stated that Section 139 should be the last resort and that the MEC and the provincial government should have placed more emphasis on Section 154, which translates into providing more support to the City of Tshwane where needed.

SALGA also stated that it should have been part of this process, but it was excluded.

It said it would have lobbied different parties and spheres of government to work together, and that the MEC had never contacted SALGA, and they do not therefore have sufficient evidence at this stage to confirm that section 154 has been exhausted.

Furthermore, SALGA requires an opportunity to approach the municipality to solve the political problems between parties.

It said it does not believe that the allegations of corruption should form part of the decision to dissolve the City of Tshwane, as there are other processes to be followed to resolve this.

The SALGA representative went on to say that if the problem is not solved now, an election wont solve it either, as the parties will come back after the election and still face the same problems.

The DA believes that SALGA’s response is a sober and realistic one that should be taken seriously by the NCOP before approving the dissolution.

Furthermore, the DA calls on the NCOP  to be non partisan to any political party, to put the residents of Tshwane first, and to consider the input of all stakeholders.

The DA challenges the NCOP to disapprove the dissolution of Tshwane and refer the matter back to both the provincial government and SALGA to first exhaust all internal processes within the Constitution, before reverting to the most extreme measures whereby the residents of Tshwane would suffer the most.