Emfuleni residents suffer a lack of service delivery despite Maile’s false claim that things have improved

The residents of Emfuleni Local Municipality are struggling to access basic services such as water, electricity, proper sanitation and regular refuse removal, yet the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile falsely claims that service delivery has improved in Emfuleni.

Our people are being denied their rights to access basic services such as water, electricity and sanitation and their lives are being placed at risk with conditions that are putting their health in serious danger.

During the department’s budget vote for the 2021/22 financial year earlier today, Maile asserted the false claim, a direct insult to the residents of Emfuleni where service delivery has completely collapsed.

This municipality is experiencing a serious long term cashflow crisis which has resulted in failing to pay service providers for basic services rendered.

Emfuleni is currently experiencing low water pressure and water shortages in some areas due to its failure to pay debt owed to Rand Water. Electricity is also a challenge as residents experience continuous power cuts due to the municipality’s failure to pay a debt owed to Eskom.

In all this, the residents are at the losing end of the stick as they continue to suffer a lack of service delivery that they are rightfully entitled to, as is happening in Emfuleni.

Furthermore, MEC Maile informed the House that Emfuleni is not under administration which is misleading as on several occasions the MEC has told the public that he has placed Emfuleni under administration.

We demand that MEC Maile must explain to the people of Emfuleni what exactly is happening in that municipality and why he appointed a team of administrators while knowing that Emfuleni is not under administration.

Maile must stop playing politics with the lives of Emfuleni residents as they will also punish his party during the upcoming local government elections.

According to what MEC Maile told the public, Emfuleni was previously placed under partial administration and later under full administrator.

Despite being placed under full administration, the administrators are failing to rescue this cash-strapped municipality from its serious financial situation. Emfuleni continues to move from one challenge to another with no lasting solution.

The DA’s solution to the ongoing lack of service delivery in Emfuleni is to vote for change during this upcoming local government elections. If we change the current administrations and vote for the DA, we can bring actual service delivery and accountability to different communities across the province, especially in Emfuleni.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

GPL Speaker rules failure of health services, water and electricity supply not urgent

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) is dismayed that the Speaker of the Legislature, Ntombi Lentheng Mekgwe has used a trivial technicality to prevent two urgent DA debates, one on the water and electricity crisis in the province, and a second debate on the failure of the provincial government to reopen the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg. Evidently, the Speaker deems that the suffering of people denied health services, water and electricity to be not urgent. This is bizarre in view of the raging Covid pandemic and the bitterly cold weather.

The first debate, proposed by DA MPL, Nico de Jager, and if agreed to by the GPL, would see the provincial government call on national government to declare all substations, electrical water reservoirs and water towers across the province as national key points. This move would allow municipalities to isolate electricity supply to electrical water reservoirs and water towers to ensure they are protected from load shedding and prevent further breakdowns that result in days-long water outages. Residents are already subjected to constant Eskom rolling blackouts, on top of unplanned power outages due to ageing and unmaintained infrastructure, but with such a move by the provincial government, the water supply would be stabilized, and residents would be able to maintain personal hygiene, especially during the Covid-19 third wave.

The second debate, proposed by DA MPL Jack Bloom, is on the failure of the provincial government to reopen the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital since its closure on the 16th April. Since then, cancer patients needing chemotherapy and radio therapy have gone without much-needed treatment, or had to struggle seeking treatment from neighbouring hospitals. Kidney patients requiring dialysis have also found themselves without any help. The failure of the provincial government to reopen Charlotte Maxeke has put a severe strain on the province’s efforts to combat the third wave of Covid-19, as the ICU beds in Charlotte Maxeke have still not been made available.

Agreeing to our first debate would get the province one step closer to ensuring a stable water supply to hospitals like Charlotte Maxeke and Rahima Moosa, where shortages were experienced just this past week and patients forced to used half a litre of water to wash and drink.

However, instead of allowing these two critical debates to go ahead, the Speaker cited a trivial technical rule, of which she has the power to overrule, and further stating that it would not be healthy for the GPL to remain in session for so many hours due to Covid-19.

The Speaker’s reasons are selfish and shortsighted. Residents of Gauteng are subjected to water and electrical outages that last up to a week. Extending today’s sitting of the GPL for a few more hours would not cause harm to anyone, especially considering we are conducting the day’s business through a hybrid model, with social distancing and health protocols followed in the House, while other Members are connected virtually from their homes.

Even then, if there was such a concern for safety, the Speaker could declare the debates to go ahead on a fully virtual sitting of the House later today.

The residents of Gauteng are suffering constant electricity outages with municipalities battling to keep up with the breakdowns caused by Eskom load shedding. It is time that the ANC in the GPL stop acting so selfish in their duties, wake up, and realise the true situation on the ground. They have the means to change the situation.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA deeply saddened by the passing of Johannesburg Councillor, Noorbhai

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is saddened by the passing of Councillor, Abdul Razak Noorbhai, from the DA’s City of Johannesburg Caucus.

Councillor Noorbhai was first elected to Council in October 2018 and was a PR Councillor assigned to Ward 8 in the City of Johannesburg.

He will be remembered as a lighthearted soul, who always displayed commitment and dedication.

We send our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, and we wish them all the strength they need in this difficult time.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA calls for urgent debate on failure to reopen Joburg hospital

I have today requested the Gauteng Legislature Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe for an urgent debate in the Gauteng Legislature on the failure to reopen the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH).

The hospital was closed after a fire on 16 April, but it has not reopened despite an assessment that most of the building is structurally sound, and the pressing need to save the lives of patients who require specialist care.

Senior doctors have called for safe sections of the hospital to be reopened as soon as possible, but it is unclear why this has not happened despite promises by the provincial government.

Patients who are most affected include cancer patients who need chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and kidney patients who require dialysis.

It is critical that the ICU beds at CMJH for Covid-19 patients are available for use as soon as possible as we face a devastating third wave of the epidemic.

The Gauteng public health system is in crisis as other hospitals are crowded with hundreds of CMJH patients.

There needs to be accountability for the failure to speedily reopen this 1000-bed hospital, as it is causing immense suffering to patients and will lead to deaths the longer it is closed.

The debate on this matter will go ahead at the sitting on Tuesday if Speaker Mekgwe grants my request that it be considered as a matter of urgent public importance.

This will hopefully pressurise Premier David Makhura to give a clear answer on the opening of the hospital.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Lives at risk as Joburg ambulances stop operating

Lives are at risk as the city of Johannesburg suspended its emergency ambulance service on Friday last week because of vehicle insurance and medical supply problems.

This means that about 40 fewer ambulances will be operating as the Gauteng Health Department has botched its takeover of all ambulance services in the province.

Before the provincial takeover Johannesburg could field more than 90 ambulances, which shows the decline in the local service.

The provincialisation of ambulances has now led to the disuse of ambulances in two of the three metro cities in Gauteng.

Only the DA-run City of Tshwane is still providing an ambulance service as Tshwane MMC for Community Safety Karen Meyer announced last week that its temporary ambulance operating licence has been extended until the end of the year.

Unlike Tshwane, the ANC-run city of Ekurhuleni has not applied for a license to run their own ambulances, which are lying idle as emergency response times plummet.

I am increasingly getting complaints from desperate people who have called an ambulance that does not arrive in good time.

How can it be that we have idle ambulances in two Gauteng cities as Covid-19 infections increase alarmingly?

The collapse of Johannesburg’s ambulance service comes as residents reel from power and water cuts due to years of poor maintenance.

The provincial government should halt its provincialisation of ambulances, and ensure that all available ambulances and personnel are used to save lives in medical emergencies.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

R32.5 million wasted on Cuban doctors

The Gauteng Health Department took R32.5 million out of its HIV/AIDS grant to pay 28 Cuban doctors for a year’s service on Covid-19 related activities even though no local need for them had been identified.

This wasteful and misdirected spending was disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, the Cuban Brigade doctors were employed from 15 May 2020 to 30 May 2021. Their work “ranged from advisory, health data specialists, Public Health specialist care, consulting with patients and total health care delivery.”

Their one-year salaries ranged from R858 000 for a Biostatistician to R1.58 million for a specialised Medical Doctor.

Mokgethi says that their employment “was as a result of a Government to Government agreement entered into by South Africa and Cuba to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The budget for them was taken from Covid components of the HIV/AIDS grant, which is surely irregular. It appears that Gauteng was forced to fit in with the nationally imposed decision to use Cuban doctors even though no local need was identified.

I doubt whether these doctors did anything that local doctors could not have done more cost-effectively.

It’s yet another example of the ANC’s Cuba obsession that diverts money that should be used to save lives of patients in our crumbling hospitals.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Patients suffer as Joburg Hospital fails to reopen

Patients continue to suffer as the cancer unit at the fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital (CMJH) failed to reopen this week as promised by the Gauteng provincial government.

This is yet another blow to cancer patients, and uncertainty remains about when other sections of the hospital will reopen.

It’s a desperate situation which has promoted doctors to launch a petition to urgently reopen the hospital as they say that the healthcare system is at breaking point.

Two-thirds of CMJH patients are not showing up for treatment as alternative arrangements are hopelessly inadequate.

Other hospitals cannot cope with the extra numbers of CMJH patients, especially the Helen Joseph and Rahima Moosa hospitals which have been hit by water shortages.

All this is happening as hospitals are filling up with Covid-19 patients as a third wave of infections hits the province.

Lives will be lost if the specialist ICU beds for Covid-19 cases are not back in operation very soon.

It is still not entirely clear what is the obstacle to opening sections of the hospital that have already been determined as structurally safe.

Premier David Makhura’s excuses and false promises are not convincing.

Using the expertise of private organisations like the Gift of the Givers is surely the way forward to fix the crisis at CMJH so that it can speedily readmit patients.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Learners suffer overcrowded classrooms because of wasted millions on school decontamination

Thousands of children are being taught in overcrowded classrooms yet the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) is failing to recover over R430 million wasted on the decontamination of schools.

This money could be used in ensuring that our learners are taught in a conducive learning environment where their educational development can be nurtured.

The Gauteng Department of Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi must use the Special Investigative Unit’s (SIU) investigation progress report as evidence to suspend the department’s top officials.

This follows the recent announcement by the SIU that they have been granted a preservation order to freeze seven more accounts of service providers appointed to decontaminate Gauteng schools.

The DA has already called on MEC Lesufi to suspend the department’s Head of Department (HOD), Edward Mosuwe, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Johan van Coller and Supply Chain Management Chief Director, Samora Mhlophe.

This was after the SIU released report findings indicating that 173 service providers appointed to decontaminate Gauteng schools were not accredited and not on the Central Supplier Database.

It is strange that MEC Lesufi has not yet acted on these top officials considering that the department irregularly spent more than R431 million on the decontamination of schools within three months.

The SIU’s job is enough to compel MEC Lesufi to take action.

The progress made so far by the SIU is commendable and we believe that the recovered money can also go a long way to eradicate asbestos schools.

This will ensure that no child will have their health put in danger while trying to achieve an education.

The SIU has been granted a second order to freeze bank accounts of seven companies with the sum of R22.4 million.

This is an addition to the 14 accounts of service providers that were frozen with the sum of R40.7 million.

In total so far, the bank accounts of 21 companies have been frozen, and about R63.1 million can be recovered.

The good work done so far by the SIU will be in vain if the HOD, CFO and the Supply Chain Management Chief Director are not held accountable for failing to adequately review and monitor compliance in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act and treasury regulations.

It is high time that these officials face the consequences of their irresponsible actions that costed the ability of our children to be taught in a conducive learning environment.

The DA will not let MEC Lesufi sweep this matter under the rug.

We will continue to hound him to suspend the officials responsible for this wasteful expenditure, as well as recover the wasted money.

This money could be used to build new classrooms and eradicate asbestos schools , so that children from across the province can have a suitable environment to learn and grow.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

No funds to fully staff Anglo Ashanti hospital for covid cases

The Anglo Ashanti Hospital in the Far West Rand has been refurbished at a cost of R474 million, but there is no budget to fully staff its 175 beds for Covid-19 cases.

This information was disclosed today by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

Mokgethi said that there was no approved organogram for the hospital, and the staffing depended on the availability of budget.

The hospital building was donated by AngloGold Ashanti, but the provincial government has not yet taken ownership.

There are 175 beds in the hospital, but according to Mokgethi, the staffing of only 40 ICU beds at the hospital is being prioritised.

According to the Provincial Command Council, the hospital will only be used for quarantine and isolation of Covid-19 patients during this current wave of infections.

It is no surprise that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investing possible corruption in the contracts awarded for refurbishing this hospital, which was supposed to be ready last year but was only finished recently.

It is very disappointing that so much money has been spent on this hospital which is far away from major population centres.

This is yet another example of the vast waste of money that should have been used for extra beds and staffing at existing hospitals to save lives during this terrible epidemic.

I will continue to monitor the spending on Covid-19 to ensure that all corruption and waste is exposed, and money is recovered where possible.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Three lives lost from 149 cases of road spikes with zero convictions

Three innocent lives have been lost at the hands of criminals who are placing spikes along the N4 highway, a clear indication that Gauteng motorists’ lives are in danger and raises great concern about the ability of police to ensure their safety while driving at night.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to MEC Mazibuko, criminals place spikes on the road during the night time, with the intention of robbing victims when they have to conduct an emergency stop due to burst tyres. So far, 149 cases have been opened with regards to spike placement along the highway in the past three years to date.

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No convictions have resulted from the three culpable homicide cases reported at Pretoria North Police Station. As criminals continue to trap innocent motorists with their hazardous tactics, the families of these victims continue to wait for justice.

Not only do these roads spikes risk the lives of motorists who drive over them, motorists of incoming traffic are also in danger should a victim of this crime swerve too quickly to avoid the spike, or swerve after impact.

Gauteng motorists already do not feel safe considering the increased rate of crime as revealed by the SAPS Gauteng crime statistics for the fourth quarter for the 2020/21 financial year. Car hijacking has increased from 2290 cases in the 2019/20 financial year to 2328 cases in the 2020/21 financial year. The pattern is the same with truck hijacking, with 144 cases in the previous financial year to 206 in the 2020/21 financial year.

The safety of Gauteng road users are already at great risk with the absence of the Gauteng Traffic Police monitoring the highways during the night.

The DA has already demanded, and will continue demanding MEC Mazibuko to declare the Gauteng Traffic Police an essential service to ensure a 24-hour monitoring of Gauteng roads.

Driving at night is already a risky exercise for motorists due to no natural light, and they therefore do not deserve any further anxieties over possible spikes that could lead to them being victims of theft, hijackings or worse.

We call on motorists to report any highway lights that are not working to us via our DA GPL Twitter account or Facebook Page, where we will escalate the issue with the provincial and national department of transport to ensure that it is attended to.

Highway lighting is vital to security for road users during the night, and therefore the DA will be engaging with both the national and provincial departments of transport to install streets light in all our highways for the safety of our motorists.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.