Former Sedibeng CFO appointment questioned

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned that no consequence management has taken place after the former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) failed to produce the necessary documents to prove that his appointment followed the proper procedures. This CFO has now resigned.

The DA did not support the appointment of the CFO when it became evident that not all procedures were followed.

In a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Sedibeng District Municipality they claim that the proper procedures were followed. This reply is misleading as the municipality had been warned the official opposition that proper procedure was not followed in the appointment of the CFO.

According to the municipality the only money that the council will attempt to recover after the CFO resigned is for a course in Municipal Development that was paid for by the council.

Furthermore, it is also concerning that the only report that will be made available to council is that of the progress that has been made in recovering the fees for the Municipal Development course and not of the procedures followed when appointing the former CFO.

If the municipality has nothing to hide and they had followed proper procedure in appointing the former CFO then they must make the appointment report available to council for scrutiny.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the Sedibeng Municipality to investigate the appointment of the former CFO and to recover the salary he received while employed by the municipality as the CFO.

Emfuleni spends over R4.5 million on grave digging

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is shocked to learn that the ANC-led Emfuleni Local Municipality has spent over R4.5 million on grave digging.

This information 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 (GPL).

According to MEC Maile, Emfuleni has awarded the grave digging contract to Sobangena Trading JV Spinks Trading and Inkokheli Business Enterprise with effect from 24 May 2018 till 23 April 2021.

Sobangena Trading JV Spinks Trading has been paid R2 266 782.47 and Inkokheli Business Enterprise has been paid R 3 173 397.18.

In total, the municipality has paid R 5 440 179.65 for grave digging.

MEC Maile states that Emfuleni does not have the capacity to render the grave digging service internally.

It is worrying that this municipality which is facing a serious cash flow problem continues to outsource services that can be done internally.

This money could have been used to buy necessary equipment and tools needed for grave digging as well as creating employment opportunities for the local residents.

The DA calls on MEC Maile to clamp down on unnecessary outsourcing in Emfuleni as part of his interventions to save this municipality. We are also calling on MEC Maile to investigate the reasons why this municipality does not have a department which deals with grave digging services.

Ambulance crisis in Gauteng

I am concerned that the rushed provincialisation of ambulance services in Gauteng has led to disruptions of the vital role of ambulances in combatting the Covid-19 crisis and responding to other medical emergencies.

The provincialisation was finalized for all three metro councils at the end of last month. Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni were running their own ambulances before the Gauteng Health Department took over this function.

Johannesburg’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) have now dropped from 60 ambulances to 20 ambulances on a shift. These ambulances are purely focused on emergency calls whereas the 45 provincial ambulances in Johannesburg do both inter-facility transfers and medical emergencies.

In Ekurhuleni all their ambulances stopped running when Gauteng EMS took over on 1 July 2020.

The situation in Tshwane is also serious as the city announced in a circular dated 6 July that it would “temporarily cease to render ambulance services” and would divert all emergency calls to the provincial call centre at 10177. This has put out of action about 300 qualified staff and 78 ambulances.

I am already picking up tragic cases where ambulances take half a day to respond to an emergency call. This is further endangering lives during the Covid-19 pandemic when ambulances are increasingly needed for transportation of infected people to quarantine and treatment facilities.

The Gauteng Health Department has botched the provincialisation of ambulances and should urgently make arrangements to ensure that all city ambulances are in operation at this critical time.

DA calls on MEC Mazibuko to ensure the safety of rightful landowners in Elandsfontein

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko to ensure the safety of the rightful property owners in Elandsfontein, Midvaal.

This follows tension between the illegal land invaders and the rightful property owners after the illegal occupants were legally removed and their structures destroyed following a court order in favour of the rightful property owners.

It is alleged that the illegal land invaders have been protesting despite being forcefully removed from the properties that they illegally invaded.

It is also alleged that the rightful property owners are now being intimidated and threatened with petrol bombs by the protesters.

We condemn in the strongest terms any form of violence and lawlessness by the protesters.

Land invasion is illegal and can no longer be tolerated.

It is high time that the law enforcement agencies act against the criminal elements that are being demonstrated by these lawless protesters.

We also urge the rightful property owners to report any incidents of intimidation to the police and not to take the law into their own hands.

The DA calls on MEC Mazibuko to protect the rightful landowners and their properties as their lives are at risk and their safety is under threat. The only solution to these illegal land invasions is for government to ensure that they deliver the houses that they promised our people.

Over 1263 abandoned houses and 842 incomplete houses in Gauteng

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has learnt that Gauteng has over 1263 abandoned housing units and 842 incomplete houses across the province.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements in a presentation to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) Human Settlements Committee during a virtual meeting.

According to the presentation, the City of Ekurhuleni has 149 incomplete housing units in Etwatwa Extension 9 and 10; 22 incomplete housing units in Etwatwa Extension 36 and 200 housing units in Wattville Extension 12, Benoni. The City of Tshwane has 180 incomplete housing units in Mamelodi Extension 6. The Merafong Local Municipality has 265 housing units that have Geotech issues in Khutsong Extension 3. Emfuleni Local Municipality has 26 housing units that have storm water management issues in Sebokeng Zone 6 and Extension 5.

Of these 842 incomplete housing units, 502 housing units are to be demolished and rebuilt and 340 housing units are to be completed.

The cost of completion of the 340 housing units has been budgeted for in the 2020/21 financial year and amounts to R40 563 985,00. The process of appointing service providers to complete these houses is underway.

The DA is deeply concerned that money will be wasted again as this department is incapable of monitoring its housing project to ensure that they are completed within the stipulated budget and time frame.

These 842 incomplete housing units should have been completed long time ago had the department implemented stringent measures against the service providers that are failing to complete housing projects.

It is worrying that the Gauteng housing units waiting list has exceeded a million, yet this department is failing to monitor the progress of its housing projects.

We will monitor the completion of these 340 housing units to ensure that they are completed on time and within budget with no accumulated cost. The department should adopt a system of not paying the service providers the full amount before the project is completed and should rather implement a stage-by-stage payment process so that they do not lose money unnecessary. They should also blacklist service providers that fail to complete projects.

Merafong Local Municipality adopts 2020/2021 budget with tariff, salary increases despite negative impact of Covid-19 pandemic

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is disappointed to note that the Merafong Local Municipality has gone ahead and adopted a budget for the 2020/2021 financial year.

The DA in Merafong has consistently called on Council to postpone all increases until the next financial year in order to provide some relief to residents while the economy recovers from the pandemic response.

The virtual Council meeting during which the budget was tabled was chaotic as speaking times were not permitted and it is questionable as to whether a quorum was met which renders the outcomes of this meeting invalid.

In addition, in spite of numerous written responses from residents opposing the budget, the municipality has also gone ahead with tariff increases even though it is lower than initially proposed and has also adopted the proposed salary increases for the new financial year.

This is extremely concerning as the municipality has an unfunded mandate and clearly does not care about the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the residents of Merafong.

Now is not the time to milk residents for more money. It is a time to be responsive to the economic realities that face rural economies in Gauteng and listen to the plight of residents.

The adoption of this budget comes as the Auditor General, Kimi Makwetu released the annual municipal audit findings which indicates that irregular expenditure is up by R7 billion. This shows a shocking lack of accountability.

Merafong can take steps to get its house in order to curb illegal connections, water and electricity losses and focus on the basics of service delivery. By pushing for tariff increases that are unrealistic and unaffordable many more businesses will be forced to shut their doors, enabling a vicious death spiral for rural communities.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the MEC for COGTA, Lebogang Maile to ensure that Merafong Local Municipality gets it house in order. The ovid-19 pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to push through a budget that did not follow the proper processes.

DA calls on Gauteng MEC for Finance to ensure departments adhere to procurement and SCM procedures

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the MEC for Finance and e-Government Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko to ensure that government departments adhere to the procurement laws and Supply Chain Management (SCM) policy of the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG).

During this Covid-19 pandemic some departments may need to procure emergency goods and services and where this is needed departments should ensure that they follow a transparent procurement process.

In addition, the MEC should also ensure that municipalities adhere to procurement and SCM policies when procuring goods and services needed as part of their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Adherence to the procurement laws and SCM policies will ensure that particularly small businesses and township businesses which qualify are able to put in a tender bid for the goods and services required.

In addition, National Treasury has also provided guidelines that need to be adhered to for Covid-19 emergency measures.

See full letter here

The Covid-19 pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to not adhere to the procurement laws and SCM polices of the GPG.

The DA will be taking its oversight role seriously when it comes to the current Covid-19 procurement procedures and will ensure that the funds set aside for this is spent within budget and within the procurement laws and SCM policy of the GPG.

Metrorail has collapsed in Gauteng

Prasa’s Metrorail service has totally collapsed in Gauteng. The service that was scheduled to open today on the Pienaarspoort line was unable to do so due to cable theft.

Prasa had previously announced that with the lifting of lockdown levels it will only start operating the Pienaarspoort line due to coronavirus considerations. However, Prasa is hiding its real problems behind the coronavirus.

The real reason Metrorail cannot reopen in Gauteng is because Prasa has neglected and failed to protect its infrastructure. Infrastructure failure combined with high levels of theft and vandalism is preventing Metrorail from resuming services in the province.

It is unlikely that Metrorail will be able to resume its full services once the pandemic has passed in the province due to the scale of the collapse of its infrastructure.

The DA calls on the Prasa administrator to come clean to the commuters of Gauteng about the true scale of its problems and why it cannot resume operations in the province.

Mamelodi Thusong Centre causing residents great distress

The Democratic Alliance (DA) calls on the unlawfully deployed Tshwane administrators to ensure that residents of Mamelodi have better access to municipal services and that the only operational Thusong Service Centre Centre in the area has adequate staff and proper working systems.

The DA visited the centre today as part of its overall campaign to pressurise the illegal administrators to improve service delivery in Mamelodi.

Angry residents queueing outside the centre complained that the systems being offline are a regular occcurence.

It does not help that the centre is Covid-19 ready with the necessary protocols in place when there is no cashier on site and customers have to walk to the local mall to pay their utility services bills.

The centre is the only place where residents can report general service delivery issues and deal with the municipality on a face-to-face basis. A similar one in Stanza Bopape has been closed due to security reasons.

The initial purpose of the Thusong Centre was to strengthen service delivery in communities.

The DA will ensure that the Mamelodi Thusong Centre does not become a white elephant like all the other failed ones countrywide under ANC control.

Furthermore, the DA has discovered that meter readers are failing the residents of Mamelodi.

Many accounts are being estimated, causing inflated accounts that anger residents. No accounts are currently going out, which causes a drop in payment rates by account holders in Mamelodi.

Mamelodi is experiencing major issues with regular and lengthy electricity outages, poor repair response times and a lack of infrastructure maintenance to such an extent that violent protests erupted last week.

The DA calls on the unlawful Tshwane administrators to urgently reinstate a cashier service at the Mamelodi customer care centre, re-open the Stanza Bopape customer care centre and beef up security there, upgrade the Nellmapius customer care centre to provide better access to municipal services and restore electricity supply and electricity maintenance in Mamelodi.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to close schools in Diepsloot until they are properly supplied with water

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to close down all schools in Diepsloot as a matter of urgency due to the schools not having running water.

Diepsloot has been without electricity for about eight days and as a result there is no pressure to pump running water for the schools’ toilets and water taps.

The water tanks are being delivered to the schools every day however they cannot supply water for the toilets.

The fact that there is no running water at these schools and that both learners and teachers are unable to use the toilets and wash their hands is unhygienic.

This clearly indicates that the schools in the area are not compliant with the school regulation standards of operation during this national lockdown period due to the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.

We call on MEC Lesufi to close down schools in Diepsloot as they are not safe and are putting the lives of both our learners and teachers at risk of contracting the Coronavirus.

The department should also engage with both the City of Johannesburg and Eskom to ensure that electricity is restored, and the water pressure problem is resolved in Diepsloot to ensure conducive learning and teaching environments.