DA West Rand Leadership Election Results

We are delighted to announce the results of the Leadership Elections which took place at at the Democratic Alliance (DA) West Rand regional congress in Randfontein today.

This year, the Covid-19 pandemic has made it necessary to host congresses differently than in previous years. The congress proceeded at a hybrid venue, completely in line with the regulations.

The election results were compliant with all DA election requirements and rules. They were signed off by myself as presiding officer, as well as the candidates’ party agents who oversaw the voting process.

All individuals who observed voting consider the elections free and fair.

The results of the elections are:

Regional Chairperson
Julius Jacques

Regional Deputy Chairperson
Cilliers Ina

Regional Finance Chairperson
Blake Brian

Non-public representatives to Federal Council
Steenkamp Carl

We extend our congratulations to all elected candidates as we enter an exciting new chapter of Achieving Real Growth in Gauteng.

Gauteng’s Department of Health criticised for poor planning of Covid Infrastructure

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is not surprised that the Health Portfolio Committee, during a recent committee meeting, questioned the planning and quality of Covid-19 infrastructure projects.

The first question which the department could not answer satisfactorily was how it came about that the province was spending more than R2 billion on 5 facilities that are meant to provide 1575 high care beds, the majority of which are not yet available.

The five facilities, which include Chris Hani Baragwanath; Kopanong; George Mukhari; Jubilee and the Anglo-Gold Ashanti hospitals, have not yet been completed and have not been utilised in the fight against the pandemic. The excuse presented by the officials is that the pandemic peaked earlier than expected and that the initial planning was not as stringent as it could have been due to dealing with an unknown situation.

Even now, there are no publicised plans as to how these high care beds will be repurposed in the event that, as seems likely, they will never be used for Covid patients. In addition, there is no information which indicates whether the equipment, staff and finance required to run the hospitals is available.

The officials could also not explain why a whopping R589 million was budgeted to set up 175 high care beds at the AngloGold Ashanti hospital in Carletonville, when by their own admission, a new facility could have been built at a lower cost. Clearly no feasibility or cost-benefit analysis had been done.

An SIU report in terms of the AngloGold Ashanti project highlighted the risk to the project when the department, without solid justification, stopped paying the contractors. As a result, the project was stopped due to strike action by the contractors and the subsequent threat by contractors to remove or damage high value medical equipment. The department was also criticized for not providing sufficient security.

The Gauteng Department of Health is dysfunctional and will remain so unless certain steps are taken. The Premier must appoint an MEC who is more than an ANC cadre with purely ideological objectives, who in turn must appoint skilled administrators. Failing this, the department will continue to limp from crisis to crisis.

Gauteng Enterprise Propeller sits on R250 million earmarked to assist small businesses

The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller is sitting on R250 million that has been earmarked to assist small businesses in Gauteng that faced hardship during the Covid-19 pandemic.

This amount was allocated during the budget adjustment in July. To this day, the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) has failed to spend a cent towards assisting small businesses.

Given the dire need of small businesses in the Gauteng, this inaction by GEP and the Department of Economic Development is unforgivable. The recently released unemployment statistics indicates that Gauteng has over 2,5 million unemployed people.

Small businesses are supposed to be front and centre of job creation but the entity that is meant to assist them get back on their feet is sitting on R250 million.

It’s high time that Premier Makhura reign in the MEC of Economic Development to ensure that the R250 million does go to assist small businesses in Gauteng.

I will be submitting questions to MEC Morakane Mosupyoe and Premier Makhura to get them to explain the delay and when the fund will be available to small businesses. If we are to reduce the high unemployment rate in Gauteng, it must be business unusual.

No proper records kept of sundry payments for emergency procurement during Covid-19 pandemic

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is concerned that the Department of Social Development and Provincial Treasury do not have clear lines of communication regarding sundry payments as it relates to emergency procurement during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Conflicting information was given to me when I tabled questions for written reply to the MEC for Finance Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko regarding Covid-19 funding and procurement.

According to the MEC, suppliers for the Department of Social Development for Covid-19 procurement were paid through sundry payments amounting to R825 390 000.

In addition, the MEC indicated that the reason for the sundry payment could be obtained from the Department. Further questions were then tabled to the MEC for Social Development, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi regarding the reasons for the sundry payments. According to MEC Mokgethi, no sundry payments were made for Covid-19 procurement.

The conflicting replies are extremely concerning as it indicates that there is no system in place to keep track of goods and services that were procured for use during the Covid-19 pandemic. This clearly indicates that there is an opportunity for fraud and corruption to take place.

I will be tabling further questions, to ascertain why Provincial Treasury would indicate that sundry payments were made by the Department of Social Development and why this department has no record of this payment.

DA calls on Premier to investigate economic sabotage

The DA in Gauteng is appalled by the coordinated attacks on approximately 20 trucks last night on the N3, R550 and R23 near Nigel and Heidelberg.

These attacks were clearly coordinated and not part of another community protest and amounts to economic sabotage.

The damage will amount to tens of millions of rands as expensive vehicles were destroyed and their loads were either damaged or destroyed.

The movement of goods on our roads is vital to the Gauteng and South African economy and we should do everything in our power to protect truckers and their loads.

We therefore call on the Premier of Gauteng to immediately launch an investigation into this economic sabotage and to bring the guilty to book. This was clearly an organised criminal act and the perpetrators need to be brought to book to send a clear message that this type of criminality will not be tolerated.

We cannot afford to have our economy held to ransom and sabotaged in this way. Especially after the devastating effects of the Corona virus on our economy. We need to do everything in our power to protect and grow our economy so that jobs can be created again.

We call on the Premier to act swiftly and announce, as a matter of urgency, what action he will be taking in this regard.

It is time to plug the holes in the Gauteng budget or risk going over the fiscal cliff

Today’s second adjustment budget tabled by the MEC for Finance and e-Government, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralekho has allocated funding that must prioritize economic recovery and fiscal consolidation. COVID19 has indeed had a significant impact on the functioning and performance of Gauteng Government departments and we expect that to remain the case for as long as we have to deal with the impact of the pandemic on efforts to bolster the Gauteng economy and ensure fiscal prudence.

During her adjustment budget speech today in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, the MEC highlighted the need for the boosting of the township economy. However, the DA remains concerned that subcontracting remains an issue and that the provincial government does not have a hold on ensuring that main contractors pay subcontractors on time. This is a clear indication that contract management is lacking, which can be used as a tool to ensure that the main contractors pay subcontractors, instead of drafting more legislation to manage timeous payments. In many stakeholder meetings where the DA was present it is evident that SMMEs are worried about late payments, as it is hurts their cash flow and is even destroying the sustainability of their enterprises.

Furthermore, in order to get the private sector involved in assisting government to deal with critical infrastructure projects effectively, there needs to be a trust relationship built on government’s commitment to eradicate corruption, stop the mismanagement of funds and show solid procurement plans to ensure infrastructure projects are completed.

For the 2020/21 financial year an amount of R65.5 million has been approved for rollovers for the following departments:

• Health- R50.9 million

• Human Settlements- R7 million

• Community Safety- R5.5 million

• Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation- R2 million

These rollovers are due to slower spending as a result of the lockdown, and accruals, mainly because of invoices that have been paid late.

It is also concerning to note that the Community Library Services grant has been reduced by R1.5 million by national government to fund the business rescue plan for SAA, with a total of R94,1m cuts in Conditional Grants to contribute towards rescuing SAA. The DA condemns this as the ANC has chosen to fund public transport for the rich instead of building schools, hospitals and providing water for the millions of poor South Africans.

In addition, the MEC confirmed the focus on Special Economic Zones, Industrial Hubs, and Agri Hubs but it is worrying that these zones are still not all fully operational. Whilst the DA believes that the establishment of these zones, and hubs will indeed create longer term sustainable jobs, more needs to be done to ensure that these zones become fully operational.

The MEC further stressed the need for Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to ensure maintenance of our current infrastructure, however, the Gauteng Province is not known for many successful PPPs. PPPs are often very complex in nature and without a strong relationship with private sector to collaborate government on PPP’s nothing much will happen.

We concur with the statement that the Gauteng government needs to be more transparent in the way it deals with various SIU investigations into alleged corruption and financial mismanagement, as final reports and recommendations are often clouded in secrecy.

In total there were will be a reduction of R5 billion in equitable share, to accommodate consolidation of the public sector wage as Minister Mboweni plans to freeze increases for the next three years. Trade unions will definitely be making their voices heard on this matter and Gauteng can expect protests and disruptions in this regard.

In addition, the DA is calling on the MEC to not only present the Provincial Economic Review and Outlook but also consider presenting a Municipal Economic Review and Outlook as Gauteng municipalities are in serious trouble when it comes to financial sustainability and continuous delivery of services to their residents in the midst of COVID19 and declining revenue collection and increasing debt.

It is important now more than ever that everything possible is done to avoid falling over the fiscal cliff. If anything goes wrong now it will happen easily, and it will be the most vulnerable in our society that will suffer the consequences

Gauteng medical liability declines from R22 billion to R15.6 billion but new claims still pour in

The Gauteng Health Department has brought down its medico-legal liability from R22 billion to R15.6 billion, but R589 million was claimed in new letters of demand from July to September this year.

This is revealed in a presentation by the Department to the Gauteng Legislature Health Committee on Tuesday this week.

According to the report, the reduction is the result of the following:

• reduction of R3.03 billion through the proper verifying of actual claims;

• settlements amounting to R532 million from last year to date;

• a further saving of R2.78 billion as a result of forensic investigation of 305 matters;

• a further reduction of R102 million by successful mediation of cases from October 2019 to August 2020.

I commend the department for these measures which have exposed fraudulent claims and speedily settled some claims through mediation, but I am concerned that there were new medico-legal claims of R589 million in letters of demand from July to September this year.

The problem is that too many patients are still suffering injury in our hospitals because of medical errors.

We see this in these recent settlements of cases by mediation:

• R1 970 000 paid to a child whose leg was amputated through negligence at Heidelberg Hospital.

• R250 000 awarded to the parents of a baby that was still born at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (CHBH).

• R800 000 awarded to the mother of another still born baby at CHBH who suffered a hysterectomy after a botched caesarean operation.

The way forward should include accountability for those who are guilty of medical negligence, and proper staffing, training and equipment to ensure quality care for all patients.

Damning report on security gaps in Gauteng hospital sexual assault cases

A damning report by the Gauteng Health Department has identified security gaps at the three hospitals where mental health patients were allegedly sexually assaulted.

The following security gaps at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Tara and Bheki Mlangeni hospitals were identified in the report which was presented yesterday to the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee:

1. The areas for mental health users were not suitable to admit them.

2. There was insufficient to no security interventions.

3. Where security interventions were done, the areas where incidents directly happened do not allow for intruding on patients’ privacies e.g. when the mental patients are at the toilet.

4. The mental patient who alleged that he was raped cannot give a good explanation of events due to the nature of his mental status.

In the case of another alleged rape which was at the Stanza Bopape Clinic and involved a staff member and a male patient, the staff member was suspended immediately and SAPS was involved. A Chairperson was appointed by the Office of the Premier and the hearing was supposed to happen on 5 November.

Taxi strike thuggery kills the economy

This morning’s taxi strike ahead of the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) march in Pretoria is nothing but thuggery aimed to hold the economy of Gauteng hostage to the benefit of narrow interests. Taxi drivers blocked major highways and main roads in Gauteng and are resorting to violence to prevent motorists going to work and students going to school.

Although the NTA has the right to strike and protest, it also have the responsibility to do so orderly. They have the responsibility to adhere to the legal conditions of their protest march and respect the rights of other citizens.

Preventing students from getting to their exams on time endangers the future of this students and prevents them from accessing economic opportunities in our country and denies them their right to education.

The NTA is literally cutting South Africa’s nose to spite its face.

The thuggery of the NTA is condemned in the strongest terms by the DA in Gauteng.

I call on MEC Jacob Mamabolo to take strong action against the NTA, its affiliates and drivers for this morning’s illegal actions. This is not how responsible transport operators should act and Mamabolo needs to sanction them for their actions or else he is complicit in their actions.

We await his response with bated breath.

DA calls on MEC Hlophe to recover R480 000 spent on installation of low-quality burglar bars on only 15 windows at the Gauteng Archives Centre

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes the response by the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR), Mbali Hlophe on the corruption exposed by the DA where R480 000 was spent on the installation of low-quality burglar bars on only 15 windows at the Gauteng Archives centre.

The MEC states that preliminary investigations have revealed that there was a parallel procurement of the service that was initiated over an existing contract with the main service provider at the time.

MEC Hlophe states that the officials that were found guilty of the illegal procurement and installation of surveillance cameras are also signatories to the payment of these exorbitant window prices. Some of these officials implicated in the window corruption scandal have been dismissed and others have resigned following the receipt of their suspension letters.

The department has engaged with law enforcement agencies for criminal charges to be laid against those implicated.

We will closely monitor the progress of this case to ensure that those implicated in corruption and criminality in stealing taxpayer’s money pay back every cent looted and face the might of the law.

The DA is concerned about MEC Hlophe’s lack of oversight of this department.

If the DA did not expose the rot in this department, such actions, and pronouncements by the MEC would not have happened.

We will write to the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura to raise our concern about a lack of focused oversight by the members of his executive who consistently fail to execute their oversight responsibilities in terms of the running of their departments.