Joburg City Manager leaving under a cloud?

The DA has raised serious concerns regarding today’s cancelled Council meeting which sources suggest was effectively intended to coerce the City Manager into resigning.

On Monday, the ANC called an extra-ordinary Council Meeting for today which was for a Human Resources item related to the disciplining of a senior official. Today, the meeting was opened by the Speaker who then proceeded to cancel it, indicating that a ‘settlement’ with the implicated senior manager had been reached.

We have reason to believe that the implicated senior manager is the City Manager.
This will leave the City’s administration leaderless when it cannot afford to be at this critical point in time. The Mayor is currently presiding over more than R400 million in corrupt Covid-related contracts and has been unable to exert the honest and dedicated leadership that the residents of Johannesburg deserve.

We hope that the City Manager is not being made to take the fall for the Mayor’s failings. The DA will not allow for any golden handshake deal which attempts to absolve anyone in the executive of their role in the City’s Covid corruption scandal.

Why have new doctors still not been paid in Gauteng?

I am astonished and disheartened that the Gauteng Health Department has still not paid more than 60 young doctors since the beginning of this year despite appeals to officials and to Gauteng Premier David Makhura.

According to the SA Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu) at least 48 medical interns, 14 community service doctors and several doctors under Covid-19 contracts have not been paid in Gauteng.

These doctors have worked for 40 hours a week and more than 80 hours of overtime a month.

This non-payment is utterly inexcusable and highlights the continuing mismanagement in the Gauteng Health Department.

Late payment of new doctors happened last year as well. Procedures should surely have been put in place to ensure that it not happen again.

Premier David Makhura has also been unresponsive in this matter, which is another instance of his unfitness to govern.

It is high time that poor leaders are booted out and frontline workers are given the priority they deserve.

The doctors should be paid forthwith.

Empty Tembisa Old Age Home gathers dust while Tembisa Hospital struggles to accommodate Covid-19 patients

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern that the R30 million state-of-the-art Tembisa Old Age Home with a capacity of 59 beds, now stands empty while Tembisa Hospital is struggling with capacity due to the increasing number of Covid-19 patients.

Built in 2012, the Tembisa Old Age Home only opened its doors to elderly residents two years later in October 2014. This facility was launched by the then Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Faith Mazibuko and the then Ekurhuleni MMC for Health, Cllr Makhosazana Twala.

The old age home now stands empty as it was closed in July 2019. Most of the elderly residents were taken back by their relatives while ten residents, who did not have relatives to accommodate them, were moved to various homes around Gauteng.

At the time of closure of this facility, employees were not paid their salaries for two months and are still waiting for their payout. The reasons for the closure are still not entirely clear.

According to media reports, the facility was shut down due to non-compliance, and renovations needed to be done in order for it to adhere to regulations. It was also stated that the Gauteng Department of Social Development withdrew funding for this facility because of irregularities such as the hiring of employees.

However, in response to a DA question in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature last year, the Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Thembi Mokgethi said her department was not aware of the closure of the Tembisa Old Age Home and that it was the responsibility of the Ekurhuleni Municipality.

It is worrying how the former MEC for Social Development officially opened a facility that possibly did not meet compliance requirements as the standard procedure for a government department to take over any building from the contractor, is to ensure that there are no structural defects. This raises concern how the structural defects were not detected at the time of the hand-over.

Tembisa Hospital has had to repurpose wards and add tents to create a capacity of 192 beds for Covid-19 patients while the 59 bed Tembisa Old Age Home, which is a stone throw away, is gathering dust.

This was a missed opportunity for the Gauteng Department of Health to relieve pressure from the Tembisa Hospital as The Old Age Home could have been renovated where necessary to be compliant, and made into a step-down facility.

It is high time that the Gauteng Departments of Health and Social Development work hand-in-hand to accommodate Covid-19 patients.

The DA will continue to advocate for the efficient utilisation of state resources in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Incomplete Khutsong Clinic crumbles: Makhura could care less about the peoples’ money

The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes with deep concern that there has still been no progress made on the completion of the new Khutsong clinic in Extension 2 on the West Rand.

In 2019, I visited this clinic and was told that the contractor had not been paid by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID). But according to GDID, the clinic was not completed because the contractor is experiencing financial difficulties.

Subsequently, I tabled further questions to the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Tasneem Motara, who indicated that this project will be completed by March 2020.

But as can be seen here here, here, here, here, here and here the clinic has still not been completed.

Furthermore, in her written reply, the MEC indicated that the contractor experienced serious cash flow problems after ordering equipment from a preliminary list for end users that was not approved by the Department of Health.

In addition, the local municipality had requested the department to conduct further studies which indicated that the land is dolomitic and that the original paving landscaping that was initially specified had to be canceled as per the recommendations of the feasibility studies.

If Premier David Makhura is serious about delivering services to the people of Gauteng, he would not allow his government to waste R53 129 024,65 of taxpayers’ money. A total of R65 189 559,65 was budgeted for the construction of the clinic.

Given, the current state of the clinic, it is clear that this budget will no longer be sufficient and that the residents of Gauteng will have to fork out more money to pay for the absence of expertise that GDID lacks to ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.

As long as the management of this project flounders, the risk of deterioration of the clinic will continue to rise.

This incomplete project is not only hindering the delivery of health care services to the community but has also left a number of construction workers without jobs and money as they were laid off without being paid.

I will once again be submitting questions to the MEC for Infrastructure Development to ascertain if the current contractor is still going to be completing the project and when this clinic will finally be completed and opened to the public.

It is high time that Premier Makhura starts to ensure that consequence management takes place where MECs fail to ensure that their departments deliver on their mandate.

Cllr Tyrell Meyers to serve residents of Ward 23

The DA Joburg notes the resignation of Sarah Wissler as a Councillor within the City of Joburg and we wish her well in her future endeavours.

We recognise that Residents of Ward 23 cannot be left without representation or assistance and as such the DA have allocated Cllr Tyrell Meyers to the ward to provide residents with support during this time. He is a standing PR Councillor within Johannesburg and as the ward is now vacant such allocation is legitimately recognised. Cllr Meyers has served the residents of Johannesburg South for 15 years, is currently serving as the Chairperson of the Johannesburg South Constituency, and is Chairperson of the City’s Transport Oversight Committee.

Cllr Meyers will serve as a PR Councillor within Ward 23 until the by-elections which are likely to be held in May 2021. At this election residents can count on the DA to put forward a candidate who works towards the DA vision for Johannesburg as a well-run, caring City which puts the needs of residents first.

Joburg wants to buy R45m land it sold for R1

The DA has uncovered a scheme by the City of Johannesburg to buy a piece of land in Jabulani for R45 million from Calgro M3, when it sold this land for only R1 12 years ago. They claim that this land is needed to complete the Jabulani Transit Development Project, which is part of the Jabulani CBD development.

The land in question was subdivided, with the Soweto Theatre and Jabulani Amphitheatre built on a portion. Aquarella did nothing with the remaining pieces, which were sold to Calgro M3 in 2018 for R37 million. It appears that Aquarella was a subsidiary of Calgro M3 and shared directors. Now Calgro M3 wants to sell one of these pieces back to the City for R45 million which doesn’t reflect the actual value.

This raises a number of serious questions: why would the City sell land for way below its market value (illegal under the MFMA), and then spent its own money to build the Soweto Theatre on land which it no longer owns? Why would the City sell land it knew that it needed for the development of the Jabulani CBD?

The Johannesburg Property Company, whose CEO is under a number of forensic investigations for land deals in the area, was responsible for the sale, and is still forging ahead with the development of the Jabulani CBD – using City-owned land which it leases out to developers. These leases come with strict clauses to enforce development, otherwise the land returns to the City. Why JPC did not use a lease with development agreement in this case is a mystery.

When the DA pointed out these contradictions at the January Council meeting, even the Mayor acknowledged that this deal was highly suspicious, and agreed to the DA’s recommendation for a full forensic investigation to be conducted.

Johannesburg residents deserve an honest, well-run city which puts their needs first. The DA supports the vision of a flourishing CBD in Soweto, and will make sure that this is realised through proper planning and public private partnerships which are not mired in corruption.

Incompetent MEC Maile fails to implement urgent measures to rescue collapsing Gauteng municipalities

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern that the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile has once again failed to implement the urgent measures needed to rescue the collapsing Gauteng municipalities.

This information was revealed in the Gauteng Department of COGTA’s annual report for the 2019/2020 financial year.

According to the annual report, three municipalities namely, Emfuleni Local Municipality, Merafong Local Municipality and Lesedi District Municipality were earmarked for functional statutory council committees. However, the target was not achieved because the research on the functionality of the statutory council was not finalised.

The department had a target to support Merafong Local Municipality to develop the Capital Expenditure Framework (CEF) together with the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) levers and this target was not achieved. The department states that this target was not achieved because of the challenges to appoint the service provider.

Furthermore, the department failed to meet its target to support Emfuleni with repairs and maintenance of the sewer pump stations. This target was not achieved because the department missed the deadline to transfer funds to the implementing agent namely the Ekurhuleni Water Care Company (ERWAT).

The reasons given for the department’s failure to meet its target relates to project and financial management, in which it seems the department is incapable and inefficient.

It is high time that MEC Maile prioritises fixing the challenges facing these municipalities that were caused by his own cadres.

The residents of these municipalities continue to suffer as service delivery has collapsed and these municipalities are facing serious cash-flow problems. This department is failing to support our local and district municipalities which are plagued by enormous challenges ranging from failing to settle their water and electricity debts, and some are bankrupt and unable to pay employees’ salaries.

This department lacks a political leader to drive the core mandate of the department; MEC Maile is incompetent and must be held accountable for his department’s failures.

We will continue to put pressure on MEC Maile to ensure that those targets that were not met in the previous financial year are prioritised during this financial year. We will also continue to monitor the work done by this department to ensure that they provide much needed support to our municipalities.

Did Makhubo mislead the SIU?

The SIU’s report on the finalised investigations into allegations of corruption concerning Covid-19 PPE procurement appears to be missing information relating to the City of Joburg’s spending which the DA had reported to them in 2020. The report only referred to a whistle-blower’s claims that several PPE suppliers to the City were not on the Central Supplier Database (CSD), and relied on the City’s Supply Chain Management (SCM) Unit to verify this before closing the investigation. One has to ask why Mayor Geoff Makhubo failed to bring to the SIU’s attention to the R400 million in dodgy deals (out of more than R600 million) which was
highlighted in the City’s own internal audit report in September 2020.

The DA wrote to the SIU last year to alert them to the high levels of irregular expenditure and potential fraud in terms of PPE tenders in Joburg, which has no doubt increased since September 2020.

I will be sending a follow-up letter to the SIU alerting them to the following:
1. The City’s SCM Unit was not responsible for all Covid-procurement in the City, and the bulk of dodgy contracts happened in the City’s companies, such as City Power (spent R3000 on a mask), and the Joburg Property Company (R7.5 million on fogging one building).
2. Many companies were not on the CSD, were not even registered companies when they were awarded, were not tax compliant, and had no experience in PPE supplies or sanitisation.
3. Several reports were tabled in Council which clearly stated that there were significant irregularities relating to PPE procurement between the period March to November 2020 including, but not limited to, flouting of procurement processes, inadequate management of disaster funds, excessive price hikes, failure to comply with National regulations or city supply chain processes, failure to comply with the MFMA, etc.
4. According to the SIU Progress report, dated 5 February 2021, the City is listed as having spent R222 million on PPE procurement during the national lockdown. This figure does not correlate to the amounts being presented by the Executive Mayor and his cabinet in council.

At the September Council meeting, the Group Audit Services report stated a procurement
amount of R607,539,039 as of 23 September 2020.
b. At the November Council meeting (Item 64), the City Manager’s report stated a procurement
amount of R412,711,172 from March to October 2020.

c. At the January 2021 Council meeting (Item 16), the City Manager’s report stated a
procurement amount of R354,589,447 from July to December 2020.

All of this information should have been handed over to the SIU by Makhubo, but considering that his government has consistently failed to present accurate information to Council, it is not surprising that the SIU may have been kept in the dark. We hope that the SIU has not finalised all investigations into the City, and would welcome their continued scrutiny into Makhubo’s government.

The SIU has highlighted what we all know: only DA governments in the Western Cape and Midvaal had zero corruption on Covid-expenditure, and only the DA is capable of giving residents the honest, well-run city that they deserve.

R19 Billion irregular expenditure by Gauteng Health Department

The Gauteng Health Department incurred R3 045 756 000 in irregular expenditure from April to September last year, which brings its accumulated irregular expenditure over the years to an astounding R19 billion.

This was revealed at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) last week on Friday.

The vast majority of this irregular expenditure is due to the corrupt PPE contracts, and also some dubious spending on infrastructure to increase beds for the Covid-19 pandemic.

In 2019/20 the irregular expenditure was R2.319 billion, of which R633 million was due to irregular security contracts.

These amounts are added to irregular expenditure from previous years which has accumulated to a total of R19 billion. This is about one-third of last year’s R58 billion provincial health budget.

It is tragic that the Gauteng Health Department is a habitual offender with poor financial management over many years.

There have been many failed promises to fix the finances in this department and the continuing lack of financial controls is what enabled the massive PPE corruption.

I hope that the latest horrendous corruption is the wake-up call for fundamental reform to ensure clean and effective spending.

#NotFitToGovern: Premier Makhura’s office failed to implement investigation recommendations

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is dismayed that the Office of the Premier, David Makhura has failed to implement 86% of the forensic investigation recommendations from the 2019/20 financial year.

This was revealed during a presentation to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) on Friday, 5th February.

Included in the presentation was a breakdown of each department’s recommendations that had been implemented, were in progress, or not implemented.

The other offending departments include Transport with 54% of their recommendations not implemented, the Department of Health with 34%, and the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs with 59% unimplemented.

39% of the total forensic investigation recommendations across all provincial departments for the 2019/20 financial year remained unimplemented.

These figures are indicative of Premier Makhura’s inability to govern, and lead by true example for other MECs to follow. The worst is that these investigations were made in the financial year before the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. Since then, Covid-19 related corruption has exploded in the province, with the Premier’s office now accused of interfering in the appointment of service providers for Personal Protective Equipment.

This just simply demonstrates Makhura’s poor track record since the beginning of the term and why he is no longer fit to govern. If the Office of the Premier cannot implement at the very least, the bulk of recommendations from a previous financial year, how can the residents of Gauteng trust him to govern effectively in the current and future years?

This is all the more reason for Makhura to go. The stakes are higher than ever before for Gauteng with the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown. The residents of this province deserve a Premier who is serious about cleaning up government.