Provincial failures to spend housing grants: DA calls for clear plan by Minister

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, to develop a clear plan of action for three underperforming provinces including Gauteng that failed to spend their Housing Development Grants.

The plan will enable the DA to track the performance of underperforming provinces, Gauteng, Northern Cape and the Free State in the next financial year.

In a recent Government Gazette dated 28 February 2020, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, removed R250 million from Gauteng, R118 million from the Free State and R26 million from the Northern Cape, because they failed to spend their Housing Development Grants.

The money was reallocated in equal portions of R98.5 million each to the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga where it will be adequately used.

The DA is however concerned that residents of Gauteng, the Free State and the Northern Cape will lose the opportunity to realise their dream of a home due to their provincial governments inefficiencies.

The inability of the provincial governments to spend the money allocated to them, thereby causing their funding to be reallocated, is confirmation of poor planning, a lack of political will and the inability to govern.

South Africans are in desperate need of adequate housing and many who rely on government’s promises have been waiting expectantly for their houses only to be let down by an uncaring government.

The DA will continue its efforts to ensure that the people’s money is being spend as it should be.

DA challenges ANC on recall of metro police trainees

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is shocked to learn that the ANC-led City of Johannesburg is recalling 1083 newly graduated metro police officers.

It is alleged that Johannesburg Mayor, Geoff Makhubo displayed a lack of confidence in the new recruits.

The officers recently graduated after an intensive 18-month training programme that included curriculum and assessment exams set by external bodies, including the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

It is also surely unthinkable that all 1083 recruits were unable to drive after 18 months of training.

When the officers applied for trainee positions, legislation required that they possessed a code 08 drivers licence.

While we are in full support of ensuring the city’s law enforcement is professionalised and properly equipped, we also understand that some of the newly qualified metro police officers will take longer to adapt to their dangerous and challenging work environment and that they must also be supported by on-the-job training.

It is senseless to recall the entire 1 083 officers for retraining because they require support.

The DA-led coalition government recruited these officers due to the dire need for better policing and public safety in Johannesburg.

If this move by Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo is of pure politicking, it will endanger the lives of residents, and the DA will hold him accountable.

Gauteng Department of Economic Development clueless about the number of Township Enterprise Hubs

It is shocking that the Gauteng Department of Economic Development does not know exactly how many Township Enterprise Hubs there are in the province.

This was revealed to me by the MEC for Economic Development Winifred Mosupyoe in response to my written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to the MEC, the department is in the process of determining the number of Township Enterprise Hubs in Gauteng.

Prioritising Township Enterprise Hubs is an important pillar of the department as this will allow township economies to flourish.

The fact that the department does not have a detailed list of Township Enterprise Hubs shows that the ANC-led government cares little about growing township economies.

Furthermore, the department does not have any idea how many jobs have been created by the Township Enterprise Hubs.

Again, some of these Township Enterprise Hubs are in a deplorable state and are situated in old and dilapidated buildings.

These conditions do not attract the much needed investors who are key to growing the township economy.

It is high-time that the department prioritises Township Enterprise Hubs as they play a crucial role in promoting job creation, skills development and boosting the township economy.

The DA is calling on the MEC to speed up the process of determining the exact number of Township Enterprise Hubs and give us the final audit report on this matter.

Hospitals need to tighten controls on foetus disposal

I am saddened by the reported incident at Pholosong Hospital where a stillborn baby was discarded while the mother was expecting to bury it.

Zandile Zolo was 8 months pregnant when she gave birth to a stillborn baby and her family was preparing for a burial when the hospital informed them that they had mistakenly thrown it away with medical waste which was later burnt.

The hospital has apologised to the family, but the trauma will remain with them forever.

The normal practice is that foetuses that are more than 24 weeks old are made available to the family for burial, but there have been cases where families have requested to bury a foetus born at less than 24 weeks.

Unfortunately, I know of other cases where families’ wishes in this regard have not been respected.

The Gauteng Health Department needs to clarify and tighten controls in hospitals to ensure that proper protocol and sensitivity to the family is followed with regard to burial of stillborn babies.

Gauteng government must position itself to minimise costs, and maximise benefits

Tomorrow, Thursday 5 March 2020, the MEC for Finance, Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko will be delivering her first provincial budget speech in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

MEC Ralehoko will be outlining exactly how government will be spending its budget for the 2020/2021 financial year.

The Finance MEC will have to carefully balance the budget under tough economic conditions which means that the MEC will have to look at cutting the public servants’ wage bill, as compensation comprises almost 60% of the budget.

Given the tough economic climate, the lower than expected economic growth will also lead to lower than projected revenue collection by departments.

SMMEs are not only severely affected by the current economic conditions, but are also crippled by the intermittent power supply. Considering the current situation with Eskom, the MEC should look at providing assistance to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to help ease the burden on Eskom.

Currently, government is paying exorbitant prices for goods and services through its Supply Chain Management Process. This needs to change and there needs to be price bench-marking for goods and services procured by government. This will help to clamp down on fraud, corruption, and wasteful expenditure.

Gauteng is experiencing high rates of in migration which impacts on service delivery in the province. The lack of service delivery has led to an increase in service delivery protests in the province.

This also has a negative impact on schools in the province which have ageing infrastructure that’s in dire need of maintenance and there is a severe shortage of schools in the province.

This also further impacts on the health care system in the province as we do not have enough hospitals to deal with the influx of people dependent on the state for health care.

In order to mitigate this, Premier David Makhura announced that 6 new hospitals will be built within ten years and 10 hospitals will be refurbished. However, the mystery is where will this money come from.

This budget should look at ways of stimulating economic growth, while also creating a conducive environment for investors to invest in the economy. In order to effectively address this, there has to be policy certainty and direction for jobs and growth, thus giving the private sector reasons to invest in the province. This will help businesses to create sustainable jobs for the unemployed, particularly the youth and people living with disabilities.

By doing this, we will not have the same situation as in the Office of the Premier, where R6.6 million was squandered on unsustainable job opportunities for the youth.

In addition, the budget needs to prioritise the rollout of the Gauteng Broadband Network, which will prepare our youth for the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The budget should also contain extensive cost containing measures for municipalities considering the deteriorating state of a number of local municipalities across the province, for example, Rand West District, Merafong, Lesedi, Sedibeng, and Emfuleni.  The MEC should also outline how these struggling municipalities will be supported to regain their financial stability.

The MEC should commit to ensuring that all departmental Annual Performance Plans, Demand and Procurement plans are finalised before the start of the new financial year otherwise projects will once again be delayed, impacting service delivery and conditional grant spending.

The DA proposes that the MEC implements the following in her budget for the 2020/2021 financial year:

  • Tighter fiscal control to ensure that departments spend their allocated budget
  • Monitoring and Evaluation of all projects
  • Adhering to the 30-day payment process
  • Blacklisting of companies that fail to complete projects within the time frame
  • Improved access to innovation and ICT
  • Restructuring of entities where duplication of function occurs
  • Consequence management for officials implicated in corruption and mismanagement of government funds
  • Jail time for those found guilty of fraud and corruption

The inability of the provincial government to spend the money allocated to them, thereby causing their funding to be reallocated, is confirmation of poor planning, a lack of political will and the inability to govern.

The MEC should put the interests of the Gauteng residents first and ensure that this budget addresses the needs of the people.

Gauteng Department of Sports fails to spend over R90 million of its allocated budget

The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) has failed to spend R90,250 million of its allocated budget.

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

According to the report, the department was allocated a budget of R299 398 million, it spent R209 148 million and underspent by R90 250 million.

The department has only spent 69,9% of its total allocated budget while underspending across all its programmes.

The department underspent R38,343 million in Programme Four: Sport and Recreation. In Programme Three: Library and Archival Services, it underspent by R28,660 million and R18,878 million on Programme Two: Cultural Affairs. The department also underspent R4,369 million on Programme One: Administration.

This clearly indicates that this department is incapable of delivering on its core mandate to provide access to sports, arts, cultural activities, library, archival services and facilities.

The reasons given for the department’s under expenditure are outstanding payments for G-fleet; other operational expenditure; delays in the completion of infrastructure projects and the delays in the finalisation of the tender process for the procurement of library books and furniture. All of these relate to project management, at which it seems the department is incapable.

This backlog of invoices indicates that the department is failing to pay service providers within 30 days.

Furthermore, the department fails to compete library infrastructure projects; yet they never fail to host annual celebratory events.

The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe and the Head of the Department must be held accountable.

The DA calls on Gauteng Premier, David Makhura to act on the Gauteng Provincial Departments that are underspending on its allocated budget.

In addition, during the SOPA debate response the Premier said under expenditure is a crime against the people of Gauteng hence it’s high time that he acts against the departments that are underspending.

Johannesburg CBD is becoming filthy, yet the ANC-led administration seems not to care

Since the ANC-led administration took over the reigns of the City of Joburg, the Johannesburg CBD is reverting back to the dirty City that it was before the DA-led administration took over in 2016.

The current state of the Johannesburg CBD is appalling because it is filthy, and the streets are full of litter. There are also piles of garbage at all the streets corners and at the robots. This environment is dirty which is health hazard.

Please see photos here, here, here and here.

This clearly indicates that the current ANC-led administration is neglecting to keep the City clean as there is no longer regular refuse removal.

The ANC are reversing the huge strides made by the DA-led administration to ensure that the CBD is kept clean. We introduced the City-wide volunteer cleaning campaign called A Re Sebetseng which calls on the communities to take ownership of their spaces through the participation in joint clean-up initiatives.

It is high time that the ANC-led administration considers taking the urgent steps required in order to have a clean Joburg CBD.

The DA firmly believes that a clean City attracts investors which will help with job creation.

We call on people to refrain from littering and to make use of street dustbins for the disposal of litter.

Smelly water leaks in Joburg hospital

Please click here and here for photos and here for a video.

Leaks have erupted again at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, including the parking level where the oncology department is situated, and near the operating theatres on the sixth floor.

After heavy rain yesterday a layer of smelly water from a leaking ceiling covered the corridors on the parking level.

Last week on Friday buckets were set up to catch water on the sixth floor by the theatres.

I am disappointed at the return of major ceiling leaks at this hospital which was last affected by this in 2016. The then Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu blamed it on the old pipes and promised that they would be fixed in 2017.

Poor maintenance has long been a problem at this major hospital.

Competent contractors need to be employed to ensure that the hospital is structurally safe for staff and patients.

DA wishes Caucus Leader Funzela Ngobeni well in his future endeavors

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed by the resignation of DA Caucus Leader in the City of Johannesburg and DA Johannesburg Regional Chairperson, Funzela Ngobeni, and the party wishes him well in his new endeavors.

The DA thanks Ngobeni for his dedication to the party and leading the DA Caucus during October 2019 and February 2020.

The DA Caucus will follow internal Caucus rules to elect a new leader and the Johannesburg Region will be led by its Deputy Regional Chairperson, Tsepo Mhlongo in the interim until a new chairperson is elected.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to prioritise fixing aging school infrastructure

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education, Khume Ramulifho MPL, DA Benoni Constituency Head, Haseena Ismail MP and DA Ward 73 Councillor, Sinethemba Matiwane conducted an oversight inspection at the Verkenner Primary School in Benoni, Ekurhuleni.

We discovered that the school requires an urgent refurbishment because the infrastructure is aging and in many cases, collapsing.

The department made a commitment to refurbish the school five years ago, but it has not yet materialized.

The school is 74 years old and has severe infrastructure problems. The classroom roofs are leaking, and the ceilings of the school hall have collapsed.

The floor tiles are loose and broken. There are also cracks in the walls and structural pillars that are supporting the classrooms are no longer stable.

Furthermore, the department has promised, year after year, to fix the school but this has not happened.

This school infrastructure poses a safety risk for both learners and teachers.

It is unacceptable that the department returned R250 million of its’ infrastructure budget last year yet the school’s infrastructure is aging and deteriorating.

It’s high time that the department utilizes its’ infrastructure budget appropriately to fix dilapidated school infrastructure across the province.

The DA is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to fix the school as a matter of urgency. We will also table questions in the Gauteng Legislature to ascertain when this school will be fixed.