Are new hospital beds in Gauteng ready for January Covid-19 wave?

Gauteng Premier David Makhura promised that 2000 new beds would be built at existing hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients.

These beds were all supposed to be ready for an expected surge in August/September, but by this time the first surge of cases was on the way down.

According to the latest figures there are currently 2549 COVID-19 patients in Gauteng hospitals, both public and private. At the peak of the surge in July there were 7500 COVID-19 patients, so the extra 2000 beds should significantly ease the strain if they are properly staffed and equipped.

Reconfiguration has added 282 general beds at the Discoverers, Tembisa, Lenasia South, and George Mukhari hospitals, and 254 more High Care/ICU beds at the Tembisa, Helen Joseph, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Chris Hani Baragwanath, Tshwane District and Kopanong hospitals. Another 176 ICU beds were supposed to be completed at the Anglo Ashanti Hospital in Carletonville.

1400 completely new High Care/ICU beds were promised at the following hospitals:

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – 500
Jubilee Hospital – 300
George Mukhari Hospital – 300
Kopanong Hospital – 300

In addition to this, there are 1000 low-level beds at the NASREC field hospital which has been largely empty, and fewer than 10% of its beds were used at any one time. The poorly-drafted 6 month contract for this facility ends on 31 January next year and more than R200 million has been paid for hundreds of empty beds. A more rational and cost-effective contract is needed for any beds that may be needed there after January.

Mistakes have been made with wasteful spending on beds that may not be used fully because of their location and lack of staff – this is particularly the case with the Anglo Gold Hospital which was renovated at the exorbitant budgeted cost of R589 million.

The big challenge is proper staffing, equipment and oxygen supplies for all the extra beds.

I welcome the 246 extra staff that will start work in January at the Chris Hani Hospital, and I hope the other hospitals have enough staff to cope with the expected surge of COVID-19 cases next year.

I have requested the Chairperson of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee for an urgent meeting to get a full briefing from the Gauteng Health Department on their state of readiness for the surge to come.

We need to ensure that everything is done to ensure we have enough hospital staff with sufficient resources, including decent Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Water in Emfuleni under lockdown while country experiences second wave of Covid-19 pandemic

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned that residents of Emfuleni have, for the past few weeks, been unable to wash their hands regularly because the water pressure has decreased by 20% as the Emfuleni Local Municipality owes Rand Water R1 billion.

This is worrying given the fact that South Africa is in the grips of a second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and one of the ways in which the spread of this virus is curbed is by regularly washing your hands.

In addition, in some parts of Emfuleni like Evaton and Sebokeng, residents have to walk long distances to fetch water for doing laundry, drinking, cooking and bathing.

Emfuleni has been placed under administration, yet the water situation has still not been resolved. Service delivery while this municipality is under administration has completely collapsed and it is clear that it is failing to resolve the financial issues facing this municipality.

The DA is calling on the administrators to ensure that an agreement is reached between Rand Water and the Emfuleni Local Municipality where the water pressure is restored so that residents are able to have access to a normal flow of water, especially during the second wave of Covid-19.

Helen Joseph Hospital should find alternative Halaal food supplier

Muslims are understandably dismayed by a circular issued this week by the Helen Joseph Hospital that Halaal food services are terminated from 15 December 2020.

According to the hospital “due to unforeseen circumstances we would not be able to cater for any Halaal certified meals.”

This is most unfortunate as observant Muslim patients will not eat non-Halaal food, and this will adversely affect both their physical and mental health.

The situation is worsened by the restriction on visitors due to COVID-19, so family members are prevented from bringing in Halaal food.

I have alerted Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi to this matter and I hope she takes urgent action to ensure that Halaal food is available at the hospital.

Gauteng Road Infrastructure: Budget cut due to department failing to meet its targets

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is concerned that critical road infrastructure projects will not be completed on time because of budget cuts made during the second adjustment budget that was tabled earlier this year.

According to the explanatory memorandum issued by the Gauteng Department of Finance, the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport did not achieve their planning and implementation targets at the end of the second quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year and this resulted in the downward adjustment of their infrastructure budget.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic a special adjustment budget was tabled in which the department received R1 979 676 for infrastructure projects, which was then adjusted downward to R1 802 129 during the second adjustment budget that was tabled in November.

This budget cut will have a negative impact on the maintenance, rehabilitation and design of new roads in the province, which is the economic hub of the country. It is unacceptable that the department lost funding for key infrastructure because the department did not meet its infrastructure targets for the second quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year. During the first quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year the department also failed to meet its procurement targets due to a lack of transformation in the construction industry.

It is now becoming a norm that this department does not meet it targets set for the year. The Covid-19 pandemic cannot be blamed for this as during the previous financial year, the department also failed to meet some of its infrastructure targets.

The continuous maintenance and design of new roads in the province is extremely important because Gauteng’s roads are used to transport and receive goods from other provinces.

Furthermore, ensuring that the roads are in a good condition will reduce the number of accidents on our province’s roads.

The DA will be tabling follow up questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain exactly how the department intends to remedy the problem of infrastructure targets not being met.

Gauteng needs to publish district figures as Covid-19 cases shoot up

The recent spike in Gauteng COVID -19 infections is of great concern and highlights the need for accurate figures and a district breakdown in order to track this epidemic.

Yesterday 1162 new infections were recorded in Gauteng, which is about triple the average number of daily infections last week.

People have the right to be informed about emerging hotspots, but the Gauteng Health Department has not published district and sub-district figures since 4 November.

A question mark also remains over the accuracy of Gauteng figures since it was claimed at one stage that there were fewer active infections than those in hospital with the disease. This prompted the National Health Department to request Gauteng to “harmonise” its data as the figures did not make sense.

There are currently 1349 COVID-19 patients in Gauteng hospitals which is much lower than the 7500 recorded at the peak of the epidemic in July this year, but the numbers can be expected to increase rapidly.

People need to take basic precautions over the festive season to slow down the resurgence of this epidemic as our hospitals will again come under severe strain.

DA calls on MEC Lesufi to place all learners who applied on time, tomorrow

The Democratic Alliance ( DA) in Gauteng is calling on the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi to ensure that all Grade and 8 learners who applied on time for the 2021 academic year are placed by tomorrow.

According to MEC Lesufi, about 20 000 applications have not yet received their placements.

The DA in Gauteng is urging MEC Lesufi to place all learners who applied on time. It is important that learners receive their placements so that their parents and schools can plan for 2021 academic year.

The DA has noted comments made by MEC Lesufi indicating that not all learners will be placed, however the DA demands that the MEC should finalize the placement by tomorrow.

The department must avoid placing Grades 1 and 8 learners in February which will result in disruption of learning and teaching and loss of schooling time. The online admission process should be used to assist the department with planning and resource allocation.

The department must directly allocate money to schools to build more classrooms to ensure that there is adequate space to accommodate the demand . There is also a need to speed-up the process of constructing new schools in areas with high demand due to new housing developments.

The department must communicate the latest placement statistics with parents so they are able to buy uniforms, stationery and are ablest to budget for transport and school fees.

Also the MEC must share contact details where parents who aren’t happy with their placement to appeal. Parents are currently not sure who to direct their objections and appeals.

e-Government awards a tender even to a company that is being deregistered

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is shocked to learn that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) has awarded a tender to Finesse World Wide to sanitize documents despite the fact that this company is currently in the process of being deregistered.

According to the 2019 CICP records, this company which is owned by Koketso Pitso was in the process of being deregistered for annual return non-compliance.

In reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), the MEC for Finance and e-Government Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, confirmed that the company was appointed due to the Covid-19 pandemic and because government has an obligation to provide a safe working environment, the employer must ensure that the workplace is free from any risk to the health of its employees as far as it is reasonable and practicable. Furthermore, the department also recorded incidents of Covid-19 infections in its building and therefore documents received from the Document Management Centre (DMC) needed to be sanitized.

The DA has confirmed that this was not the first time that the department struggled with Occupational Health and Safety issues, as this was an audit related matter contained in the department’s 2018/19 Annual Report, and we agree that the department had to act fast to prevent the spread of COVID19 infections. It is however unacceptable that an organisation that clearly does not have all its paperwork in order is awarded a tender by provincial government to the value of R328 457,00. According to the MEC, Finesse World Wide (Pty) Ltd was the only company which responded to the department’s calls for a quotation, and which submitted supporting documents, including a BBBEE and tax certificate or pin, the Central Supplier Database (CSD) report and company registration documents. A memorandum to procure these services as an emergency procurement was approved by the Accounting Officer.

The DA is concerned that the validity of the tax certificate or pin had not been confirmed as the information on the company was merely obtained from the Central Supplier Database (CSD) report. It does not appear as though the latest CICP report was used by the accounting officer, as it seems that the company’s process for deregistration was overlooked.

The DA will be submitting further questions to the MEC for Finance and e-Government to determine if the department was aware that the company was in the process of being deregistered and if they were, then will the accounting officer who awarded the tender be facing any disciplinary action.

110 Gauteng Health Officials conduct business with government departments

Despite efforts to enforce conflict of interest regulations there are still 110 staff of the Gauteng Health Department who conduct business with Government departments.

This is disclosed in the Department’s 2019/20 Annual Report which was recently tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to the report, the Auditor General and the Gauteng Audit Services (GAS) identified 184 health officials last year who were doing business with state organs.

But the latest GAS report shows that 86 of the 184 identified officials are still doing business with the state despite steps taken against them, and 24 more officials guilty of this have been identified as well.

It is appalling that so many health officials flout anti-corruption regulations in a department that has been riven by corruption scandals.

The new Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi should crack the whip on all conflicts of interest so that staff do not benefit from any government contracts that they may get in a corrupt way.

Pienaars River Pollution: Gauteng Department of Environmental Affairs, Agriculture and Rural Development denies responsibility

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng, is extremely disappointed to learn that the Gauteng Department of Environmental Affairs, Agriculture and Rural Development is shifting the blame as to who is responsible for cleaning up the raw sewage that is spilling into the Pienaars River in Tshwane.

In response to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to the MEC for Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development, Winifred Morakane Mosupyoe, the department is not aware of the raw sewage that is spilling into the Pienaars River and the rehabilitation of the river is the responsibility of the National Department of Water and Sanitation and the relevant metro.

Earlier this year, the DA was inundated with complaints about the raw sewage spill, which comes from the Bavianspoort WasteWater Treatment Facility. The sewage pollution in this river will inevitably lead to algae bloom which will in turn give rise to a massive increase in water hyacinth growth. This is already a huge problem and government has spent millions in an effort to curb the growth of these invasive water plants.

The MEC has also indicated that wastewater treatment facilities are not inspected by the department. According to the MEC, biodiversity management for river ecosystems only deals with river health ecological monitoring. It is clear that while the City of Tshwane was under administration, the administrators had no clue about how to curb raw sewage from spilling into the river even though part of their mandate was to see to the quality of the waste water released back into the river after processing according to the authorization letter received to release the water.

The pollution of this river is having a negative impact on the province’s wildlife, which is important for the preservation of our ecosystem. If the wildlife disappears from its natural habitat, the balance of the ecosystem will be disturbed with dire consequences.

The DA will be tabling further questions to the National Department of Water and Sanitation to ascertain if they are aware of the raw sewage that is spilling into the Pienaars River and what measures are being put in place to rehabilitate the river’s ecosystem.

#e-TollsMustGoNow: Cabinet must urgently make a decision on the future of e-Tolls

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern, that the e-Toll contract with Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) has once again been renewed.


This clearly means that the ANC government does not have any intention to scrap e-Tolls any time soon and they are making empty promises that the matter is at a critical stage and is being looked into.


It is now more than a year since President Cyril Ramaphosa indicated that cabinet will make a decision on the future of the e-Tolls, but yet we are still waiting on a decision.


It is unacceptable that the ANC government continues to mislead people on the e-Toll matter to the extent that they used it as an electioneering tool last year, when they knew that they had absolutely no intention of finding a viable solution to e-Tolls.


The residents of Gauteng have made it clear that they are not willing to pay for e-Tolls as it was something that they were not consulted on before it’s implementation. Given the current economic climate, e-Tolls is something that our residents in Gauteng are unable to pay.


As the DA we have always been against the implementation of e-Tolls as it is an unfair tax burden on the residents of Gauteng. Further to this we have also suggested that a portion of the fuel levy be used to pay for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project.


It is clear that the ANC has no clue about what it is doing when it comes to finding a resolution to e-tolls. The DA has previously put forward a solution to e-Tolls by suggesting that a few cents from the fuel levy be ring-fenced to pay for the e-Tolls, but instead it is being used to bail out State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).


The e-Toll system must be scrapped before it turns motorists into criminals. The DA will continue to put pressure on National and Provincial Government to make a decision on the e-Toll system.