Emergency solutions needed for long medicine queues

I am most concerned that there are still long queues for medicines at our public hospitals, which increases the risk of coronavirus infection especially for elderly people.

At large hospitals there can be more than a hundred patients in a long medicine queue waiting for many hours.

Alternate medicine collection arrangements need to be made urgently.

Queues could be thinned easily by giving three months supply of chronic medicines instead of forcing patients to come every month.

Medicines should be available at a variety of collection points, including private pharmacies, as is done extensively in the Western Cape.

Community Health Workers could also pay a valuable role in medicine distribution.

Emergency measures are needed as it is unacceptable to subject vulnerable patients to infection risks in hospital queues.

Johannesburg East Education District officials down tools over poor working conditions

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL conducted an unannounced oversight inspection at the Gauteng Department of Education, Johannesburg East District Offices in Parkmore, Johannesburg.

The offices have been closed for two weeks.

During my visit I found District Officials protesting outside the office over the poor working conditions.

We were informed that a representative of the Department of Labour was present to inspect the building but he was instructed by the Department of Education to leave the site.

Officials at the office say they have been pleading with the department to improve their working conditions but nothing has happened.

The building is dilapidated, the roof is leaking, the floor is wet, fire extinguishers have expired and pose a safety risk as it is a health hazard.

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.

See photos here, here, here and here.

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

This clearly indicates that there is a lack of support from head office and that this office is also unable to render services to the schools in the area. More than 139 schools aren’t getting the necessary support due to poor working conditions.

The DA will be meeting with the department later today to demand an explanation as to why the department has not acted on the issues raised by the staff at the Johannesburg East District Offices.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the HOD to ensure that the environment is conducive for workers. Furthermore, we have tabled questions to ascertain why the department is subjecting employees to such unsafe and unhealthy working environment.

Emfuleni official claims over R190 000 on travel claims

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is shocked to learn that the ANC-led Emfuleni Local Municipality has paid an official over R190 000 on travel claims.

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

According to MEC Maile, Richard Chaka has claimed R197 138,51 in travel claims since he was employed by the municipality.

Chaka was employed by the Emfuleni Local Municipality on 1 July 2016. He reports to both the Communications Department and the Office of the Executive Mayor. His scope of work includes social media, identifying service delivery issues, and interacting with internal and external stakeholders.

This means that Chaka’s travel claims have also contributed to the total amount of R215 550 063,00 which the municipality has spent on travel claims in the last five financial years.

It is also worrying that an official was paid large sums of money for travel claims by a municipality that is facing serious cash flow problems.

Chaka only has a matric certificate and earns R603 620, 52 annually.

The DA has been reliably informed that he was appointed without Emfuleni Municipality following proper procedures.

It has now become a norm where the ANC governs to offer jobs to cadres who do not qualify for the positions.

The DA calls on MEC Maile to investigate the travel claims submitted by Chaka. Should he be found guilty of fraud, he must pay back the money and be arrested.

We will also table questions in the GPL to ascertain whether Chaka’s position was advertised and how many candidates applied for the job as well as the qualification requirements for the position.

Contractor non-performance stalls infrastructure projects to the value of R231 million

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is concerned that infrastructure projects to the value of R231 million have come to a standstill as a result of contractor non-performance.

In the context of infrastructure development, projects fail or come to a standstill because of the inability of the contractors to perform.

This lack of performance is due to a lack of technical expertise, experience, or in some cases insufficient financial resources for the contractors to sustain their businesses or operations. The latter problem is exacerbated by the inability of government to pay the contractors within 30 days as is required by law.

The fact that these projects take longer to implement than what was originally projected leads to the opportunity cost of service delivery being delayed.

The longer than projected timelines contribute towards the direct cost of projects becoming inflated. The opportunity cost and the increased direct cost is the premium that is paid to cover for contractor non-performance.

There are those who have no objection to taxpayers having to pay for the inexperience or lack of expertise.

The DA will be closely monitoring to see whether measures have been put in place to get these stalled projects back on track.

Delays in appointing 4th Industrial Revolution Panel negatively impacting on SMMEs

Despite the fact that Premier David Makhura announced that he will be establishing a 4th Industrial Revolution Panel during his second State of the Province Address (SOPA) address last year, nothing has happened.

This panel was supposed to be established within the Premier’s first 100 days of office.

The delay in the establishment of this panel has had a negative impact on SMMEs which are dependent on new technology for their businesses to flourish.

This panel will play an important role in ensuring how best the Gauteng Provincial Government can take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital industrial revolution in order for the economy to grow.

This will also ensure that those who are unemployed, particularly the youth are equipped with digital innovation skills.

It is important as both business and government are embracing digital technology in their day-to-day work.

Gauteng cannot be left behind in the digital revolution as the way in which business is done by both government and the private sector is evolving.

The DA will continue to put pressure on government to ensure that the 4th Industrial Revolutionary Advisory Panel is established, so that this province will not be left behind in embracing the evolvement of technology across the globe.

GDID throws in the towel in terms of the administration of EPWP

The Extended Public Works Program (EPWP) is a government programme designed to alleviate poverty and provide income relief through temporary work for the unemployed to carry out socially useful activities.

Gauteng’s Department of Infrastructure Development, which is responsible for the co-ordination of the programme across all government departments, has since its inception in Gauteng, provided the administrative services for the programme such as sourcing and on-boarding new applicants, monitoring attendance, payment of participants and skills development.

The poor quality of the administration of the programme has caused much unhappiness in terms of allegations of political patronage, nepotism, corruption, non- or inconsistent payment and participants exiting the programme without any marketable skills. Attempts to fix these problems have failed spectacularly because of poor management skills within the department.

Thus, it came a shock at a recent portfolio committee meeting when an announcement was made that the department would continue to co-ordinate the programme, but would give up the administration thereof. That responsibility is now passed on to each user department to administer the process within its own confines.

This poor decision is likely to cause chaos and is tantamount to spreading the ‘virus’ of weak management from one department across the whole administration. Instead of dealing decisively with the problems, Infrastructure Development has capitulated and the chaos experienced in the past will be evident everywhere.

In addition, it was announced that the Zivuseni poverty alleviation programme, a sub-program of EPWP, would be ditched by the Infrastructure department, ostensibly because of a lack of budget.

Walking away from the problem and passing it onto others is not only cowardly, but is a clear indication that the political leadership are amateurs and lack the experience required to make sensible decisions.

No wonder that everything government touches is destroyed.

Alexandra Renewal Project: Premier all talk, no action on housing crisis

The Gauteng Premier, David Makhura has failed to find solutions for the embattled Alexandra Renewal Project (ARP), despite the Premier announcing during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) that his government is working with national and local government to finalise plans to complete the ARP.

The Premier failed to answer oral questions tabled by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Gauteng Legislature about the progress that has been made in implementing the Statement of Intent entered into in 2016 and its implementation regarding the ARP.

This indicates that the Premier misled the people of Alexandra during his SOPA.

Clearly Premier Makhura has failed to resolve the impasse relating to the ARP. He has also failed to provide solutions to the process of lifting the court interdict.

Since taking office in 2014, the Premier has on numerous occasions made promises to the people of Alexandra about how he will improve their living conditions and 6 years on, the area is still appalling.

The ANC-led Gauteng administration has once again failed the residents of Alexandra who are living in inhumane and unsanitary conditions.

The DA will continue to put pressure on both Premier Makhura and the Human Settlements MEC, Lebogang Maile to find solutions to the issue of the ARP.

It is high time that the Premier and MEC focus on issues that are affecting residents instead of playing politics.

Cash-strapped Emfuleni spends over R215 million on travel claims

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned that the cash-strapped ANC-led Emfuleni Local Municipality has spent R215 550 063,00 in the last five financial years on travel claims.

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

According to MEC Maile the following monies were spent by Emfuleni on travel claims:

  • From January 2020: R21 539 322,92
  • June 2019: R36 051 927,25
  • June 2018: R45 761 557,84
  • June 2017: R38 029 590,23
  • June 2016: R37 281 281,14
  • June 2015: R36 886 383,62

Total spent – R215 550 063,00

It is unacceptable for the municipality to spend exorbitant amounts of money on travel claims while they have a fleet of municipal vehicles to be used for service delivery purposes.

It is also worrying that this municipality which is facing a serious cash flow problem continues to spend money on travel claims.

Furthermore, it is concerning that this amount of money has been spent on travel claims given the fact that most of the areas that officials will be traveling to are located within close proximity of each other.

This money could have been spent on reducing debt owed to Eskom and since Eskom has attached the municipality’s fleet this means that the travel claims will skyrocket.

The DA calls on MEC Maile to clamp down on travel claims in Emfuleni as part of his interventions to save this municipality.

It is high time that the ANC-led Gauteng Government puts residents of Emfuleni first by dissolving the Council as service delivery has collapsed.

We will continue to put pressure on both Gauteng Premier, David Makhura and MEC Maile to dissolve the Emfuleni Council and to monitor how this municipality is wasting taxpayers’ money.

Gauteng Department of Social Development neglects ECDs

The Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD) cares little about the Early Childhood Development (ECD) sector and has once again under-performed and has failed to meet its targets for the third quarter of the 2019/20 financial year.

This was revealed in the department’s third quarterly report for the 2019/20 financial year.

According to the report, the department has failed to achieve the following targets:

  • Only 765 children have been placed on the foster care placement waiting list compared to the target of 1,338 children;
  • 5934 families received crisis intervention services (social work services) instead of the target of 6266 families;
  • 27 substance abuse users were admitted at registered and founded half-way houses against the target of 64;
  • Only 185 NPOs were capacitated compared to the target of 312 NPOs;
  • 11,285 dignity packs were distributed compared to the target of 464,000 dignity packs;
  • 244,552 people benefited from poverty reduction initiatives compared to the target of 614,728 people.;
  • 59,779 people were issued food relief through food banks compared to the target of 108,432 people; and
  • 1,906 households accessed food through the DSD feeding programmes (centre based) compared to the target of 2,876 households.

This clearly indicates that most of the vulnerable members of this province did not all receive social welfare services from this department.

It is a shame that sanitary pads, school uniforms and food parcels as well as the social work services did not get to those who need them the most.

This indicates that this department is not capable of delivering on its mandate because it consistently underperforms yet no one is held accountable.

It is high time that this department implements a consequence management system that will ensure that those in top management are held accountable for not delivering these services.

The DA has tabled questions in the Gauteng Legislature to ascertain when the new MEC for this department will be appointed to ensure that there is accountability.

13 suspended Gauteng health staff paid R790 000

The Gauteng Health Department has paid R790 000 to 13 employees who are currently suspended pending disciplinary action against them.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Masuku, the suspended staff include four directors, two deputy directors, two social workers, two contract workers, an operation manager, a property caretaker and a radiographer.

One staff member is on special leave – this is Advocate Mpelegeng Lebeloane who is “working from home while awaiting investigation by the Public Service Commission into the functionality of the unit under her leadership.”

Lebeloane has a chequered history with the Department – she was former Health MEC Gwen Ramokhopa’s personal assistant when she was fired in January 2006 for misusing state property but was later absolved on appeal. When Ramokgopa returned as Health MEC in February 2017, she employed Lebeloane to head the legal unit. I received a number of complaints about her high-handed management style, so I am not surprised that the PSC is investigating her.

The Department needs to employ better people and speed up its disciplinary investigations as it is expensive to pay suspended employees for long periods of time.