Multi-party solidified in Tshwane with the election of the Coalition Management Team

Note to Editors: Please find the attached soundbite by Cllr Jacqui Uys, the recently elected Tshwane Caucus and Coalition Management Committee Chairperson.

The Tshwane coalition has formalised its commitment to providing services to residents by electing a Joint Caucus Management Team. Please find attached pictures here and here.

The election was held at the first multi-party coalition caucus on Monday the 17 January 2022, at Tshwane House, where councillors demonstrated their commitment to the historic Local Government Coalition Agreement entered into by the DA, FF Plus, Action SA, Cope, ACDP and IFP.

This meeting is one of the starting points in setting the tone for running a clean and stable administration in the Metro.

The following positions were elected unopposed to the Management Team of the Multi-Party Coalition:
· Chairperson — Cllr Jacqui Uys (DA)
· Deputy Chairperson — Cllr Mandla Mhlana (ActionSA)

The Joint Caucus has full confidence in the ability of this management team in carrying out the Local Government Coalition’s mandate of fostering a culture of accountability, transparency and good governance in the Metro.

The multi-party caucus also discussed the upcoming Council Agenda in depth. The Joint Caucus Management Committee has full confidence that all parties and councillors in this multi-party caucus are committed and ready for this very important first official Council meeting – which will follow the election of the Mayor, Speaker and Chief Whip.

The different party caucuses are led in the Joint Caucus by:
Randall Williams (DA)
Grandi Theunissen (FF Plus)
Abel Tau (ActionSA)
Ronald Morake (ACDP)
Murunwa Makwarela (COPE)
Ziyanda Zwane (IFP)

DA elected to govern in West Rand District Municipality

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is pleased to announce the election of Cllr Hullet Hild as the Executive Mayor of the West Rand District. Cllr Hild was elected Mayor during a Council meeting that was held yesterday.

Cllr Gerhard Kruger was elected Speaker and Cllr Alme Swart was elected as the Chief Whip.

Please find the attached pictures from the Council Meeting here, here, here and here.

The DA won these positions through the support of other opposition parties.

The DA has full confidence in the newly elected team, and although the task ahead of them will be tough, we believe they are more than capable of turning things around and will get things done in the West Rand.

The DA will in the coming days and weeks announce its plans on how we intend to get things done and restore good governance in the district.

MEC Lesufi’s department must implement school infrastructure projects to ensure all learners have access to quality education

The DA is concerned that our learners in Gauteng are being failed by the ANC-led government. After conducting an oversight visit to assess school readiness today, the DA has observed that many learners have still not been placed.

The Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) has failed to build schools on time despite the fact that they are given a sufficient budget.

This is denying our learners an opportunity to learn and access quality education that will enable them to either study further or seek employment opportunities after completing school.

This trend of the DID not completing school infrastructure on time is extremely concerning and the DA will be writing to Premier Makhura to ask him to withdraw school infrastructure projects from the DID.

This will enable MEC Lesufi to take over the responsibility of building schools and placing learners. Many projects have been implemented by the DID which are have been on hold for more than 8 months. This includes amongst others Braamfischer Primary, Nancefield Primary, Mayibuye Primary and Ruste Vaal Secondary.

At all these schools, the DID has appointed incompetent contractors who either failed to build schools according to specifications; failed to pay sub-contractors and/or failed to meet deadlines.

The DA is calling on MEC Lesufi to take responsibility for his department by ensuring that all schools are ready on time at the start of the academic year. Learners have lost enough due to the rotational learning system that has been put in place due to Covid and they are continuing to fall behind as the provincial government is not playing its part to accommodate all learners.

Further to this, the Education Department must review the online admission system to ensure that it guarantees parental choice. The current system places children far from their home and place of work of their parents.

Learning and teaching cannot be disrupted anymore.

The DA demands that the MEC speedily finalizes the placements of learners, so that they aren’t denied access to basic education.

Department of Community Safety not doing enough to protect victims of GBV and femicide as it fails to achieve its set targets

Madame Speaker,

We are fast approaching the end of the annual 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against women and child abuse for this year. A time of the year, where we normally reflect on gender-based violence ( GBV) and femicide. A time where we reach out to our vulnerable communities and speak out against abuse, and often end up making empty promises as to how we can or will fight for the prevention of further abuse. It is also at this time, where we find ourselves debating the annual report of the Department of Community Safety and reflecting on what the department did in this financial year to prevent and support victims who suffer abuse from perpetrators who should belong in jail.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed that the Department of Community Safety used the lockdown regulations as an excuse for not meeting or amending their targets as the lockdown also locked in many victims for ongoing periods in their homes with their abusers, holding them hostage at the hands of their abusers with nowhere to go.

The department stipulated in this report that the primary purpose is to undertake a proactive approach in ensuring the prevention of social crimes. This is coordinated through the Safety Promotion programme that provides professional and volunteer-based victim support services to victims of crime within Gauteng, with a special focus on victims of sexual and domestic violence and survivors of gender-based violence.

With a vision like this for the department, it is so much more important to ensure proper monitoring and evaluation and not to use the lockdown as an excuse to ensure that the job gets done and that our most vulnerable are safe and protected. Yet, if we look at this annual report and the targets set and achieved in this section relating to GBV, it is concerning to note that none was achieved.

It is also within these visible policing and safety awareness departments, where we find the highest percentage of vacancies not filled. Areas that require additional safety officers to ensure that the department can indeed achieve its targets and reach its goals in solving the social crimes of our communities.

The DA believes and fights for the protection of our basic human rights as enshrined in our constitution. This includes the basic human right of safety.

As this 16 Days of Activism campaign draws to a close, I ask the MEC, a woman, a mother, and a leader of this province to do some serious introspection and ask herself if she is protecting and showing the necessary care when it comes to the safety of her fellow sisters and children of this province. Is the MEC truly proud of the achievements of her department? I hope that she will answer those questions truthfully enough to take some serious actions in 2022, that we will not need to judge this department next year this time with the same criticism as we did today. Listen to the DA and prioritise the safety of our people, don’t just talk safety and awareness, walk the talk as well!

Department of Social Development has no desire to break the cycle of poverty as it constantly fails to assist needy residents

Madam Speaker,

This past year, with the national hard lockdown, precipitated a shock to the economy and heightened the impact of the many social ills affecting our communities causing additional loss of income, deepening poverty, unemployment, and resulting in increasing reports of domestic violence, hunger, and social injustice.

Our formal unemployment rate is 34.9% with a broad unemployment rate of 46,6%. This means, almost half of our people are unemployed.

This could have been the time for this department to shine and fulfil its core mandate to break the cycle of poverty. Sadly, it will forever be known as the department that underperforms and underspends its budget by R438 million.

Our people had nowhere to go and needed shelters, yet the department only achieved 30% of its target for shelters and despite receiving R88 million from the Treasury that they cannot account for. The department also wants to reduce 42 shelters to 24 when our municipalities are crying out for additional funding to upgrade existing infrastructure for additional homeless shelters.

The department also underperformed in Early Childhood Development centres (ECD) by 27%, while we have many centres across the province that are not registered or receiving regular maintenance.

The NPOs that have selflessly been caring and looking after our most vulnerable members of society have also experienced financial challenges as the subsidy payments were often received late and with donations having been dried up. This resulted in caregivers not being paid their salaries on time, where some could not afford transport to and from work, leaving patients and paraplegics stranded and without hygienic care.

In the East Rand, Old age homes were closed leaving beneficiaries out in the cold to fend for themselves. Safe houses for children were also experiencing financial constraints as children suffered from starvation.

I intervened in facilitating a meeting between the department officials and an NGO that has been battling for more than five years to get additional funding. The meeting was a success, something that the department could have done a long time ago without any external interventions.

Instead of being able to hold its head high and assist its needy residents, the department should be ashamed for failure to assist during this difficult period because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The department has underperformed dismally in fulfilling its mandate. It has shown that it has no desire to break the cycle of poverty or change the future of our most deserving people.

Department of Social Development fails vulnerable people of Gauteng as it continues to underspend and underperforms

Thank you Speaker,

In five years, the vulnerable people of Gauteng have been increasingly let down by this department as more of our Gauteng people needed this department, the more the department failed them by increasing underspending from R19,7 million in 2016/17 financial year to R438 million in 2020/21. This five-year under expenditure is now at a staggering collective amount of R1.38 billion.

For the year under review:

Just programme 1: Administration, underspending by R38.3 million is more than the whole under-expenditure of the department in 2016/17. This year, the department still had a vacancy rate of 752 posts. Goods and services not procured are a great concern. It is a tragedy when vulnerable people are denied access to school uniforms, dignity packs, and food parcels especially when Covid-19 has taken away so many people’s livelihoods. Failure to spend the Presidential ECD Employment Stimulus Relief Fund and ECD budget are also serious concerns. Many building projects are going on for too long. 

Overall, the main challenge facing this department is the lack of passion and commitment to serve the most vulnerable people of Gauteng. The MEC seems to have the passion but some of her crucial senior staff don’t seem to.

Speaker, it feels like the department provides disjointed information almost like they do not believe that we will read the whole annual report. From Page 71 – 175 (Institutional Programme Performance Information)

  • Department gave half explanations on failures to achieve targets (e.g. Page 72: with regards to internships, the deviation is 82 but the explanation is only given for 8 interns, no explanation for the other 74)
  • In many areas the department states “it should be noted that the actual achievements for indicators/targets do not reflect performance for the entire financial year, yet this document is an annual report. (This is mischievous actually).
  • Covid-19 is used as an explanation for failing to meet targets in many areas, yet that should have been the reason to exceed the target for this department. 
  • The department provides the same descriptors with different targets and different actuals. Disjointed information in many areas that does not make sense e.g.: Families participating in reunification programmes by the government: 411 (page 111) vs 2124 (page 113). Many felt like duplications descriptors of APPs but with different targets and actuals. 
  • All the above pages were also found wanting by the Auditor-General.

Page 316: R138,000 staff debt is written off (no effort made to recover it)

Let me re-iterate some of the findings of the Auditor-General which concerned me too:

  • Lawsuits cost R79.5 million without an outcome being determined. 
  • Irregular expenditure has more than doubled from the previous year: R336 million to R682 million and no steps taken to curb it. Taking the AGs comments further one notices that no action has been taken on these matters – which shows a lack of accountability for public funds.
  • Previously the department was failing to comply with Circular 21, now the department is failing to comply with treasury regulation 16 A6.1 (goods and services over R500,000 were procured with inviting competitive bidding) 
  • Many transfers were not made for their intended purposes as required by treasury regulation 8.4.1
  • The information reported on children and families “did not find material findings on the usefulness and reliability of the reported performance information for this programme.”
  • There are significant internal control deficiencies that led to non-compliance
  • Senior management had poor controls with NPOs

Failure to pay NGOs on time remains a serious challenge for the department. After years of complaining, finally, there is a much-needed monitoring and evaluation team yet – there are NGOs that are said to be non-compliant leading to late payments or simplyworked out of the system. I shall continue to call for an independent arbitration committee for NGOs and the department because the appeals mechanism in the department is not working properly. 

I thank you!

Department of Community Safety not doing enough to protect victims of GBV and femicide as it fails to achieve its set targets

Madam Speaker,

Today, we debate the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation’s (SACR) annual report for the 2020/21 financial year, however, it is sad that every year we raise the same issues, yet nothing is done to address the issues of under expenditure, underperformance and failing to deliver the department’s core mandate.

The fact that this department consistently ignores our recommendations demonstrates that it cares little about the plight of our people who are in desperate need of sporting facilities as well as support from the department to nurture their talents.

The department has underspent by R160,537,000 across all its programmes.

It is concerning that this department constantly underspends on infrastructure projects while there is a dire need for libraries to be completed as well as sporting facilities. This amount could have gone a long way in building sports and recreation facilities in communities that lack these resources, particularly townships. Some communities which are located outside of suburbs do not have access to recreational facilities which can have a major impact on the quality of life.

The department incurred R12,795,000 in irregular expenditure, the majority of which was a result of not inviting competitive bids. It is unaccepted that officials constantly fail to adhere to the supply chain management procedures. It is high time that MEC Hlophe must act against those officials involved in this irregular expenditure. Should no action be taken, it will open the doors for further corruption within the department.

Madam Speaker,

The department has a high vacancy rate of 27.3% which is three times the recommended rate by the Public Service Commission. A total of 43 employees left the department during the 2020/21 financial year, which contributed to the increase in the vacancy rate. This high vacancy rate is contributing to the department’s underperformance as there is no personnel to execute some daily tasks in terms of delivering services to our people. With the high unemployment rate in this province, the department must prioritise filling these posts to ensure that our people are employed during this difficult period due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This department has failed to create a conducive environment for opportunities in the fields of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation so that they can be supported and flourish. During the year under review no targets were reached in the following areas:
• Zero schools were provided with Arts and Culture equipment for Wednesday Leagues against a target of 379
• Zero ECD classes in primary schools were imaged into Arts classrooms (noncumulative) against a target of five
• Zero Arts and Culture programmes were implemented in correctional centres (noncumulative) against a target of nine
• Zero local emerging authors were supported against a target of 50
• Zero Non-Profit Organisations were financially supported to inculcate a culture of reading against a target of seven
• Zero archival contributions were made to the National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System against a target of 100
• Zero combi courts were installed against a target of five
• Zero Indigenous games clubs/structure(s) participating in indigenous game tournaments against a target of six.

MEC Hlophe must be ashamed that her department achieved zero targets, yet they have spent millions of taxpayers’ money. Since you took over the reins as the political leader, this department’s performance has shifted from bad to worse.

The MEC is prioritising spending on corporate gifts instead of providing much-needed grants to artists and athletes who lost their livelihoods and were forced into unemployment during the Covid-19 lockdown.

This department needs a dedicated political leader who will prioritise service delivery, however, for that to happen, there is a need for a change of government as the ANC has failed our people.

Department of Community Safety underspends, underperforms and fails to keep Gauteng residents safe

Madam Speaker,

The same thing seems to happen every year when we have the debate on the annual report of the Department of Community Safety; the target for green doors is never met and we remind the MEC that the Gauteng Traffic Police should be made a 24-hour service with the greatest urgency possible in a bid to alleviate crime across our province.

Only 30 green doors have been established against a target of 36. We will continue to pray for the day that 100% of the target of green doors is met under this government and then in 2024 when the DA governs Gauteng, we will meet the target ourselves. 

The Department had planned to collect R37.6 million in the 2020/21 financial period; a 5 percent projected increase from the prior year. The actual collection decreased by R9.4 million compared to the prior year. 

We once again call for the cost of what it would take to make the Gauteng Traffic Police an essential service so that we can assess this against the Department’s under expenditure and failure to collect revenue.

R17 946 000 of the Department’s budget remains unspent. 

The Department incurred material impairments of R460 406 000 as a result of the impairment of accrued departmental revenue. In addition, the department wrote off or reversed accrued departmental revenue amounting to R 5 248 000. The SCOPA Committee of the Legislature has expressed concern that the Department failed to put pro-active measures in place to prevent material impairments. 

The department is the defendant in various lawsuits and labour disputes amounting to R 53 807 000. No provision for any liability that may result has been made in the financial statements and this may pose a significant risk going forward. 

Writing off the prior year’s irregular expenditure amounting to R79 238 000 is underway as investigations have been conducted and completed an application for condonation has been submitted to the Treasury. It is a large figure that must be addressed by the department going forward. This year’s annual performance report discloses that the department failed to reduce irregular expenditure by 50% (which is the department’s target). The report fails to disclose two very important questions:

  • What are the reasons for this failure?
  • How much irregular expenditure was there?

The Auditor-General highlighted that in terms of IT systems, a risk was identified about the department’s management of user access. Listen to this quote from the report itself: “There is currently no coordination between HR and IT as officials who are no longer employed by the department have unauthorized access as they have not been removed from the database.” This is the same department that is meant to be keeping the people of Gauteng safe and it is therefore of the utmost concern that the department cannot protect its records from former employees. 

This department needs to do more to keep the people of Gauteng safe. The 15% vacancy rate in the department does not point to a serious approach to keeping people safe. There are still deficiencies when it comes to paying suppliers within 30 days; which stands at 94% of invoices paid. 

No one can have freedom while they live in fear.

Victims of sexual assault suffer double trauma due to a shortage of rape kits

Madam Speaker,

I previously raised concerns about the SAPS Green Door project, and I am raising it again because we are in the period of 16 Days of Activism of no violence against women and children and in fact against all vulnerable groups.

Over the past weekend, a rape victim went to the Roodepoort police station where she was sent away because the police station did not have any rape kits. The victim then went to three different police stations where none of them had rape kits available and eventually got assistance at a Netcare facility.

Speaker, I want to suggest that Public Safety in collaboration with SAPS and the Department of Social Development should assist the Rapid Response Teams to deal with cases of sexual assault.

There is also a need for sensitivity training of all officials when dealing with sexual cases, particularly the police officers, and all police stations must have rape kits available. All police stations must also have social workers readily available to assist victims of sexual assault and violent crime.

I also want to suggest collaboration between Public Safety and the Department of Health in terms of collecting data on gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual assault, this will help to guide the Public Safety and other departments in directing funding to assist the victims in the future.

Condonement of irregular expenditure concerning, while Gauteng residents endure poor service delivery

It is extremely disheartening but not surprising that several government departments have applied for a condonement of the irregular expenditure incurred for the 2020/2021 financial year.

This is the process where the relevant authority acknowledges the expenditure and pardons the action that has resulted in the irregular expenditure. Whilst in certain instances irregular expenditure cannot be avoided, this should only occur when absolutely needed.

Furthermore, it is concerning to note that in many instances where a condonement was applied for, no consequence management or remedial action reports were submitted with the application. Last year, the Auditor-General’s report highlighted that Gauteng incurred irregular expenditure to the tune of R9.7 billion for the 2020/2021 financial year.
The only way in which we will be able to clamp down on irregular expenditure which often opens the door for corrupt activities to take place, is to ensure that there is proper consequence management.

In a recent reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) regarding departments and entities that had applied for the condonement of irregular expenditure it was revealed that following departments had submitted a request:

• Department of Roads and Transport
• Department of e-Government
• Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs
• Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation
• Department of Community Safety
• Department of Infrastructure Development
• Department of Education
• Department of Economic Development
• Department of Social Development
• The Office of the Premier

See full annexure here

While the following entities submitted a request for the condonement of irregular expenditure:
• G-Fleet Management
• Gauteng Tourism Authority
• Gauteng Growth and Development Agency
• Gauteng Gambling Board
• Dinokeng

See full annexure here

Our residents of Gauteng deserve better. Their hard-earned taxes must be used in an open and transparent manner where a proper paper trail exists that will allow officials to properly account for how each and every cent is spent.

Without this our government coffers are at risk of being looted and service delivery to our residents in the province will suffer the most.

As the official opposition in the GPL, we will continue to advocate for proper consequence management and remedial action to take place where the proper guidelines on how taxpayers’ money is spent has not been followed.

The DA is also demanding that the Gauteng Provincial Government considers establishing its own charter against corruption that every government department and accounting officer signs, so they can be held accountable for any missteps that take place in their department along with the officials responsible.