The Democratic Alliance welcomes Premier David Makhura’s suspension of Professor Mkhululi Lukhele as head of the Gauteng Health Department.
I note that Makhura says that he is acting on the recommendations of the Special Investigating Unit following the update report presented to him on 22 September 2020.
This report found that he failed to exercise his responsibility in the awarding of contracts to combat COVID-19, which may have resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Lukhele’s suspension is long overdue as it was clearly evident that he was negligent in not preventing the award of irregular and wasteful contracts.
Premier Makhura should have suspended him earlier as he did not need to wait for the SIU report.
Lukhele was negligent not only with the PPE contracts but also a fishy R140 million contract for financial services in March this year that was found to be irregular but the company was still paid R17.2 million.
Corruption can only occur when there are poor systems and dishonest officials, which Lukhele and his political head Bandile Masuku failed to prevent.
There needs to be both political and administrative accountability at all levels to ensure that the deep rot in this department is eliminated.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is disappointed to learn that there is no shelter for abused people in Tembisa, Ekurhuleni despite Tembisa being identified as the number three national hotspot for gender-based violence.
This information was revealed by the Gauteng Department of Social Development MEC, Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to the DA’s written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).
According to the MEC, there is no shelter for abused people in Tembisa.
This is very worrying because there is a high number of gender-based violence cases being reported in Tembisa. According to the recent gender-based violence statistics of the top 30 gender-based violence hotspots presented by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, Tembisa ranks third nationally.
Furthermore, there are not enough social workers in the area considering the population of over 512 000 people as the department has only deployed 40 social workers in Tembisa.
It is high time that the department consider working with the NGOs in the area to establish a shelter for abused people in Tembisa.
The DA will continue to put pressure on MEC Mokgethi to establish a facility for abused people in Tembisa to ensure that the victims and survivors of gender-based violence receive prompt and effective services and prevent secondary victimisation of the survivors.
We further call on Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko to ensure that the Green Door programme is prioritised to provide adequate and effective services and support to the victims and survivors of gender-based violence in Tembisa.
Gauteng Premier David Makhura should immediately suspend Professor Mkululi Lukhele, the Head of the Gauteng Health Department, who is implicated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in the irregular award of PPE contracts according to a report in City Press newspaper today.
According to the report, damning evidence has been unearthed of price tampering, inflation of the value of goods, and collusion between Gauteng health officials and companies that were awarded lucrative PPE contracts.
This includes R80 million payments to a company owned by presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko’s husband, Nkosi Thandisizwe Diko. The Diko’s are family friends of suspended Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife Loyiso.
The SIU has reportedly found that Lukhele failed to institute disciplinary processes against Lehloenya even after her “unlawful and irregular conduct” was reported to him.
Makhura has been inexplicably slow in suspending Lukhele who is the accounting officer for the department and was plainly derelict in his duty to ensure that proper procurement procedures were followed.
Last month I called for Lukhele’s suspension after it was revealed in a reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature that he
authorized the choice of a fishy company for a R140 million contract that was found to be irregular and cancelled after R17.2 million was already paid.
The SIU reports need to be made public and criminal charges instituted against all those implicated in corruption.
I welcome the SIU’s reported recommendation that Lehloenya and Lukhele pay back R29.7 million that was overpaid to Ledla Structural Development, a company used to channel money to Diko’s company Royal Bhaka.
Swift action is needed to recover funds and clean up the deep rot in this department, which needs new political and administrative leadership untainted by previous failures.
Only 700 patients have been admitted to the NASREC field hospital, which amounts to a cost of about R500 000 per patient.
According to a presentation made to the Gauteng Legislature’s Oversight Committee on the Premier’s Office and Legislature (OCPOL), the NASREC field hospital was commissioned on 15 June this year and has so far admitted 604 patients for quarantine and isolation, and 96 patients for intermediate care including oxygen.
The total bed capacity is 1500 but there were only 25 patients as at 28 August 2020.
The facility has cost about R350 million in total, which means that R500 000 has been spent on each patient.
This is a colossal waste of money caused by poor judgement and probable corruption as connected people benefited from large contracts.
The quarantine patients could easily have been accommodated at hotels, and private hospitals could have been paid to treat the 96 patients who required intermediate care.
Meanwhile, doctors at one stage had to appeal for oxygen to be donated to assist patients at NASREC.
The runaway costs of the NASREC facility are yet another reason why suspended Health MEC Bandile Masuku should be fired in addition to his failure to prevent the massive corruption in the PPE contracts.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern the terrible state of Gauteng heritage sites as the country celebrates National Heritage Day tomorrow.
Most of the Gauteng heritage sites are in a state of disrepair yet there is money allocated annually for the maintenance of these heritage sites.
The following heritage sites are a disgrace and an insult to our heritage:
- Solomon Mahlangu Square: a bronze statue of the late struggle icon Solomon Mahlangu mounted on a large pedestal in the centre of a circular paved area is in a dreadful state. The decorative square plaques at the base of the statue have been removed. The surrounding fences have been stripped and litter is scattered everywhere. A stench of urine and human faeces hangs over the site. All in all, the monument is in a state of utter dilapidation, disrepair, and degradation.
- Mamelodi Rondavels: the iconic Mamelodi Rondavels and the Heritage Centre in Mamelodi West D6 section is a miserable sight. It was burnt down in 2019 and was never restored; instead, it was allowed to fall into further ruin. The 1940s thatch-roofed rondavels were once a college where Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu was schooled.
- Madiba Alexandra House: The former international icon, Nelson Mandela’s house in Alexandra, a heritage site which the Gauteng Provincial Government promised to convert into a museum has been abandoned and left to deteriorate.
- Magaliesberg’s picturesque landscape: the picturesque landscape of the Magaliesberg mountains in Hartbeespoort has been ravaged by illegal loggers who are cutting down trees in the protected biosphere.
- Rotunda building: the historic Rotunda building in Braamfontein has been vandalised and the roof is being removed bit by bit.
- Cradle of Humankind: there is pollution in the rivers flowing through the Cradle of Humankind, and Mogale City’s inaction is a risk to the environment, a health hazard and affects the cultural status of the area. The archaeological and palaeontological resources of the site have been listed as one of 53 sites around the world that are in danger of losing their status, according to Unesco.
- Boipatong Monument and Youth Centre: is still not fully operational despite being completed in November 2015. This facility is plagued by numerous problems which includes the following: structural defects as a result of poor workmanship; sewer blockages; broken windows and air-conditioners not functioning.
- Women’s Living Museum in Pretoria: this facility remains non-operational, four years after its unveiling.
It is concerning that our heritage sites are in a terrible state despite the that fact that there are millions of rands allocated annually for the maintenance and completion of our heritage sites.
While the country continues to commemorate Heritage Month, there is nothing to celebrate in Gauteng as several facilities worthy of preservation remain a shadow of their former selves.
The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe should be held accountable for the terrible state of our heritage sites.
The DA has tabled questions to MEC Hlophe in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain how the heritage site budget allocation is being spent and to determine when last the department conducted an audit on the state of our heritage sites in Gauteng. We request the MEC to conduct this audit as a matter of urgency.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the ANC in Gauteng has extended suspended Health MEC Bandile Masuku’s leave of absence by two weeks as they deal with the party’s integrity commission report.
It is disturbing that the ANC does not separate party and state when deciding Masuku’s fate. According to the Constitution only the provincial government has the power to suspend or dismiss him.
Premier David Makhura should be firing him for failing to prevent the R2 billion PPE contracts scandal, instead of defending him within the ANC. This is an accountability issue, and he should be held to account.
His failure is far larger than the multimillion-rand PPE tender awarded to a company owned by Thandiziwe Diko, the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Spokesperson Khusela Diko, who is a family friend of the Masuku’s.
Masuku should not have lied about the resignation of Chief Financial Officer Kabelo Lehloenya which he claimed was for personal reasons when he knew that she was avoiding disciplinary action because of the PPE contracts.
His task was to fix a department notorious for corruption, but he failed to appoint the right people and to uproot the corruption networks that jumped at the opportunity to loot the massive amount of money made available to fight Covid-19.
There were other fishy contracts that he did not stop like the 73 security companies that were irregularly appointed in 2014 for a two year period and then extended month-by-month to the present at a cost of R2.56 billion irregular expenditure.
Nor did he pick up the R140 million contract awarded to Impela Alliances to do unnecessary financial work that was found to be irregular and cancelled after R17.2 million was already paid.
The wrangling of ANC factions should not delay Masuku’s dismissal for his lack of oversight in preventing massive corruption, which was also a finding of their own integrity commission.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern that the Gauteng Department of Social Development has reprioritised funds for the compensation of employees, yet the department has a high vacancy rate for critical skills.
This information was revealed by the Gauteng Department of Social Development in a presentation to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) Social Development Portfolio Committee during a virtual meeting.
According to the department’s fund reprioritizations in the special adjustment budget for the 2020/21 financial year, R74 963 000,00 has been reprioritized from the compensation of employees to food parcels; R14 649 000, 00 has been reprioritized from the compensation of employees to food banks and R1 388 000,00 has been reprioritized from the compensation of employees to substance abuse. In total R91 million has been reprioritized from compensation of employees by the department.
While we understand that there is a need for food security in this province there should however be a balance in ensuring that other services within the welfare sector are not compromised.
According to the department’s first quarter report for the 2020/21 financial year, the department has a vacancy rate of 44 percent for occupational therapists and a 36 percent vacancy rate for psychologists.
The department’s vacancy rate remains high at 15 percent, yet the money intended for filling these vacancies has been reprioritised.
Gauteng is still facing a severe shortage of social workers as the department has for several years failed to meet its target of employing sufficient social workers in the province.
It is high time that the department considers filling all critical vacant posts to ensure that our people receive critical welfare services.
The DA calls on the Gauteng Social Development MEC, Nomathemba Mokgethi to reconsider the department’s fund reprioritisation in the special adjustment budget for the 2020/21 financial year to ensure that the critical skills vacancies are filled as a matter of urgency.
Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) conducted an oversight inspection at the President High School in Ridgeway, Johannesburg South and we discovered that the school has received 1838 Grade 8 applications for 2021 academic year, yet the school can only accommodate 400 learners.
The school currently has 570 Grade 8 learners and a total number of 1850 learners.
There is a need for 12 additional classrooms for this school to be able to accommodate all the Grade 8 learners that have applied at this school.
The school is also waiting for the Gauteng Department of Education to pay R7 million so that they can start the process of building additional classrooms.
The schools in Johannesburg South are experiencing a lot of pressure and there is a high demand for schools due to new developments in the area.
The Hills High School was temporarily housing unplaced learners from different schools around the area. The Sir John Adamson High School is also housing unplaced Grade 8 Learners from different schools.
It is high time that the department ensures that it plans for more learners next year.
The DA calls on MEC Lesufi to speed-up the process of building a new school in Winchester Hills to ensure that all learners who applied for grade 8 will be placed in 2021 academic year.
The department should prioritize building more new schools in this area to match the demand of new developments in Johannesburg South. This will also minimize the current pressure faced by schools in the area.
We also call on the MEC to ensure that they provide additional classrooms to those schools that have received a high number of Grade 8 applications to ensure that the 2021 academic year is not disrupted.
The Gauteng Health Department has spent R2.56 billion on irregularly awarded hospital security contracts that were then irregularly extended on a month-to-month basis for four years.
This is revealed by Acting Health MEC Jacob Mamabolo in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mamabolo, the contracts of 73 security companies that were appointed in October 2014 for a two-year period were extended month by month to the present day at a total cost of R2.56 billion for the four year extension.
This is all irregular expenditure which happened even though criminal charges were laid against the chairperson of the bid evaluation committee that first awarded the security contracts.
The Auditor-General warned the Department two years ago about the irregular extension of contracts, but nothing was done to fix this.
Hospital security contracts are notorious for corruption and gross overcharging. New contracts should have been awarded long ago, but it probably suited certain interests to keep extending them.
Suspended Health MEC Bandile Masuku cannot escape accountability for allowing these contracts to continue at great cost.
We need better security at a more reasonable cost in view of recent disturbing security incidents at hospitals in Gauteng.
News that SANRAL has issued a tender for the management of the controversial e-toll system in July, makes a decision on the future of e-tolls by cabinet an urgent one.
The tender was adertised (and closes today) because cabinet has not yet informed SANRAL about which way it is going with e-tolls.
The people of Gauteng have spoken and signalled to government in no uncertain terms that e-tolls must go.
To waste time and energy in considering a tender that may never be awarded is counter productive. Even worse, if the tender is awarded and e-tolls is scrapped, it will leave a contractual burden for SANRAL.
Government needs to make its decision on e-tolls known as a matter of urgency before the tender proceeds any further.