Vulnerable children left in the cold without safe homes due to the department’s failure to pay NGOs subsidies

Vulnerable children in Tshwane and surrounding areas are at risk of starvation due to delays of their placement to safe homes through adoptions as a result of the department’s failure to pay subsidies timeously to Christelike Maatskaplike Raad (CMR) in Tshwane.

CMR is among the list of NGOs in the social welfare sector that have not yet received their first tranche of the subsidy payment from the Gauteng Department of Social Development.

The CMR in Pretoria has three divisions that amongst others, provides food, clothing and shelter to destitute families. It also provides child protection services which include assessments and evaluations, protection of physically and mentally abused and neglected children, and also unites children with their families. The other division focuses on the adoptions and assessments processes.

This is just one of the many NGOs that fulfil such an important role in our fractured society, relying on every cent that they get from the department.

Failure by the Gauteng Department of Social Development to fulfil its mandate would see our vulnerable children being thrown under the bus with nowhere to go to find food and shelter.

The vulnerable children of Gauteng have been left out in the cold as the department delays the subsidy payment of several NGOs. This means these essential services for our orphaned, homeless, and victimised children and families cannot continue.

The DA has engaged with the affected NGO, and we will be writing to the Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Morakane Mosupyoe and the Head of Department (HOD) to ask for their intervention and to expedite the payments.

We will continue to put pressure on the MEC to speed up the process of making payments and ensure that this never happens again as many lives are dependent on that money for their day-to-day survival.

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

 

Premier’s role in Esidimeni deaths should also be probed

The legal representative for former Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu has claimed at the inquest into the Life Esidimeni tragedy that Premier David Makhura took “the ultimate decision to transfer the mental health patients.”

This is in stark contrast to Makhura’s claim that he did not know that the patients were being moved to NGOs.

I have always maintained that Makhura knew what was happening as there were many media reports as well as Mahlangu’s oral reply in the Gauteng Legislature on 15 March 2016 when I asked whether NGOs were ready to receive the patients.

Mahlangu replied as follows: “Progress we have made with the NGOS: we have activated more than 2000 beds, including beds that are in the provincial facilities, as we speak now. The NGOs have hired the staff. They have also been given licenses.”

I hope that the inquest fully probes the premier’s involvement, but this should not exempt Mahlangu from her own culpability for the deaths of the 144 patients.

It is far-fetched to claim that she was not personally responsible as she was the driving force in closing down Life Esidimeni which was presented as a cost-saving measure.

I repeatedly warned in the Gauteng Legislature that it was likely to be a disaster, and so did other organisations on behalf of the patients’ families.

There is an important principle at stake here that politicians should not be able to escape responsibility by blaming officials.

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

Save Jobs: DA requests MEC Tau to grant 3 months grace period to liquor industry

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the MEC for Economic Development, Parks Tau asking him to grant liquor outlets a grace period and payment holiday for three months for those outlets that have their licences up for renewal.

Small businesses, including liquor outlets, bore the brunt of the vandalism and looting that erupted in the province last week.

In addition to this devastation, the alcohol industry has already suffered major losses due to the Covid-19 restrictions imposed on the sector.

The Covid-19 Lockdown regulations have brought countless liquor outlets to their knees, forcing many to retrench staff. This has resulted in an additional loss of jobs – something our economy cannot afford.

Granting a grace period on the renewal of liquor licences as well as a payment holiday will help the industry to get back on its feet once the ban on the sale of alcohol has been lifted.

Given the extraordinary times that we are living in, extraordinary measures are needed to help get our economy in the province back on track.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the MEC to put measures in place that assist not only the liquor industry, but all businesses that have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.

A grace period such as this could very well be the measure that ends up saving the jobs of those who are in absolute fear of their livelihood as a result from lockdown restrictions, and the rampant looting and destruction of the province.

The time is now to save livelihoods.

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

Lives and livelihoods can be saved if SAPS shares intelligence on pending violence

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on the SAPS to embrace the work of the private security companies hired to protect our communities’ precious resources and be willing to share intelligence information and warnings to prevent violence and looting from happening again.

Following the widespread incidents of looting, violence, and social unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, private security companies have proven to be resourceful and effective to help the SAPS to deal with such incidents.

In areas where security companies were alerted about the possibility of looting at the malls, they managed to safeguard those areas from any looting and destruction. We have also seen that in areas where SAPS and security companies were working together, they managed to stop the looters.

The safety and wellbeing of our people are of utmost importance for the DA, therefore the solution for SAPS to work more closely with private security companies will make an exponential difference for communities.

Through enhancing safety, people can live their lives of value and families can prosper into the next generation. Everyone deserves to feel safe, and no one can have freedom while they live in fear of their lives and businesses being looted and vandalised.

Through better coordination between the SAPS and the private security companies, we will be able to keep the people of our province and its resources safer.

For the longest time, the DA has been proposing a total reform of the SAPS to ensure that there are honest and dedicated police officers committed to serving our communities. Through the DA’s proposed solutions, we can have a safer future, respect for the rule of law and practical steps in place to ensure that the violence and looting which recently occurred and were unprecedented in our democracy, never takes place again.

The DA has written to Premier David Makhura requesting him to urgently liaise with the leadership of our various law enforcement agencies in the province to give account of their responses to the violence and looting that has taken place in Gauteng.

We will be writing to the Gauteng SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General, Elias Mawela to propose that SAPS should work and share intelligence information with private security companies.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the Gauteng SAPS Provincial Commissioner to provide daily updates on all platforms to the residents of Gauteng as to how violence has been addressed in key hotspots as well as joint operations in those areas.

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

DA welcomes commitment by MEC Tau that R200 million of GEP funds will be used to assist small businesses affected by looting and vandalism

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng welcomes the commitment made by the MEC for Economic Development, Parks Tau, that the bulk of the R250 million that the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) has been sitting on since last year, will be used to assist small businesses that were affected by looting and vandalism last week.   

In a social media post on Twitter in response to our call for GEP funds to be used to assist small businesses impacted by the looting, the MEC indicated that R200 million will be used to assist small businesses affected by the unrest.   

According to the MEC, the details of exactly how to access these funds will be finalised by the end of July.   

The DA is calling on the MEC to ensure that these funds are made accessible to small businesses as soon as practically possible after 31 July 2021.   

In addition, we urge the MEC to ensure that the eligibility criteria include saving as many jobs as possible and getting the Gauteng economy going.   

Our economy has already been brought to its knees by the harsh Covid-19 regulations which have led to a number of small businesses having to close shop or retrench staff as they were unable to afford to keep their full workforce employed.   

The announcement by the Economic Development MEC is a step in the right direction and will go a long way to ensuring that our small businesses are able to get back on their feet again, salvage some jobs and get the wheels of the provincial economy turning again.   

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

Deficient safety audit failed to prevent devastating fire at Joburg hospital

A fire safety audit was last done at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in October 2017 but failed to pick up key deficiencies that could have prevented the devastating fire on 16 April this year.

Details of this audit are given by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, this audit was done by Bigen Africa but “was not comprehensive as it did not identify the deficiencies that were highlighted by the City of Johannesburg and the appointed fire engineer by the Department of Infrastructure Development such as fire rational plan, fire doors etc.”

The problem with the fire doors is “due to changes in the industry standards e.g. the rating of the fire door has to be displayed on the door. “

There needs to be accountability for this failure to ensure that up-to-date fire safety requirements were not complied with, starting with hospital CEO Gladys Bogoshi. She should face disciplinary charges along with officials from the Department of Infrastructure Development who did not ensure that the hospital was compliant with occupational safety standards.

Meanwhile, lives are lost because the hospital’s ICU beds are not being used to treat Covid-19 patients as the third wave of infections puts intolerable strain on public hospitals.

The way forward is to use private sector expertise to speed up the safe use of specialist beds at the hospital to alleviate the suffering of hundreds of sick patients.

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

Esidimeni inquest should ensure full accountability for deaths, including Qedani Mahlangu

The inquest into the 144 Life Esidimeni deaths which begins tomorrow (19 July) should seek full accountability for those responsible, including former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

I hope that all relevant witnesses give evidence which can lead to criminal charges against those who caused the deaths.

While direct culpability lies with people in the NGOs where the mental health patients died, Mahlangu and senior health department officials should not be let off the hook for their role in this tragedy.

Further charges should include contraventions of the Mental Health Act and the fraudulent licensing of the NGOs where the patients were sent.

The evidence should also lead to charges for the maltreatment of those patients who survived.

It is essential that there are no further delays in achieving justice for the relatives of those who died five years ago.

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

Gauteng motorists bleeding more of their money as Mbalula evades e-Toll decision

Gauteng motorists and consumers are still burdened by the unwanted e-Tolls system that increases the cost of doing business in Gauteng as well as that of consumer goods. Considering the damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and government lockdowns, Gauteng residents need all the help they can get to get by and survive. Scrapping e-Tolls will be a step in the right direction.

The Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, has strung along motorists and consumers in the province since February this year, promising imminent announcements on the future of e-Tolls no less than four times. The last time he made this promise was in May.

It is almost two months since his last deadline of making an announcement and not a peep has been heard from the Minister. Each time he points a finger to Cabinet who needs to make the final decision.

It is clear that Mbalula cannot get an agreement from Cabinet and that he is clearly at loggerheads with his colleagues who seem to be concerned about the cost of scrapping the system.

Mbalula can no longer evade responsibility on e-Tolls and his delaying tactics is causing more suspicion about the government’s intentions to scrap the system. The ANC government is clearly playing for time as the announcement may make things uncomfortable for them on 27 October when the local government elections are scheduled to take place. They clearly do not want to make their decision known before then.

The DA has been at the forefront opposing the e-toll system in Gauteng and we will continue with our campaign to pressurize Mbalula and Cabinet for a decision. I will be working with my colleagues in Parliament to call the government to account on e-Tolls so that we can get a resolution on the matter once and for all.

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

GEP’s R250 million must be immediately released to Gauteng small businesses affected by looting and violence

The Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) should immediately release the R250 million they have been sitting on since last year to assist small businesses that have been damaged and looted during the recent unrest that flared up in the province.

In many cases, small businesses affected may not have adequate insurance or no insurance at all to cover the damage and loss of stock incurred, which may result in their permanent closure, having already endured economic-killing lockdown restrictions.

Township economies have suffered a near-fatal blow from the looting and destruction of property. Almost all jobs lost from targeted malls employed residents in affected townships. So many more households are set to face hard times ahead, wondering how they will get food onto the table.

The R250 million will go a long way to helping small businesses get on their feet again, salvage some jobs and get the wheels of the provincial economy turning again.

In addition, the government should be working with communities and business chambers to ensure that there is security for businesses in the province, especially those that invest in the townships.

The looting and destruction will also have a negative impact on investment in townships, with the private sector hesitant on investing in affected areas again.

Small businesses affected by the looting deserve all the support they can get from the government as the township economy is a key driver of job creation in the province. We will continue to push the GEP to provide support to small businesses so that economic recovery in the province can be realised.

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

Three cheers for citizen action to quell riots and rebuild

Ordinary citizens deserve three cheers for their efforts to quell the rampant vandalism and looting, as well as clean-up and rebuilding efforts.

Private security companies have been crucial in limiting the damage in the Jules street area of Malvern and Jeppe in east Johannesburg, including donations of rubber bullets to the Cleveland and Jeppe police stations.

This area has fared badly in the past with xenophobic riots, and small businesses again felt the brunt of the violence. They don’t have insurance and will struggle to get back on their feet.

It is disappointing that local police have yet again been poorly equipped to handle the violence, but private security companies have done what they can to assist. Surely a simple thing like rubber bullets should have been immediately available to the police?

There should be no more talk of inhibiting private firearm ownership as this is crucial self-defence for people let down by weak state security.

I am heartened by citizen initiatives like Malvern Cleanup and Rebuild which is using social media to coordinate efforts to rehabilitate the area.

Private/public partnerships can save our country, as we are seeing with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout-out which has been boosted by efficient private sites that are now open to people not on medical aids.

The weak link is public sector incapacity and corruption, which active citizens can fix by booting out the ruling party at the next elections.