Premier Makhura admits DID has failed yet vows to keep the department

The fact that the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura has publicly admitted that the Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management (DID) is failing and yet vows to keep the department and not to fire the MEC is an insult to the people of Gauteng whose money continues to be wasted by this incompetent and incapable department.

In his recent State of the Province Address, Premier Makhura admitted that the inability of Gauteng to complete infrastructure projects on time and within budget has had a negative impact on service delivery and job creation in the province.

The DA feels vindicated after applying pressure for years to get the administration to admit that it is not providing value for money infrastructure and to take remedial action. We care about the wastage and inefficiency which costs taxpayers dearly.

Several schools and clinics remain incomplete years after construction has started, costing taxpayers millions of rands more than intended. A lack of skill and expertise in Gauteng’s Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) and its inability to provide quality maintenance has resulted in a loss to the fiscus as well as a huge backlog in the provision of social infrastructure.

This inefficiency kills the hope that exists that Health and Education contribute positively to redressing the ills of the past.

Examples of projects that were initiated years ago but are still incomplete include:

  • Mayibuye Primary School initiated in 2015
  • Braamfischerville Primary School initiated in 2017
  • Boikhutsong CDC initiated in 2017
  • Kekanastad Clinic initiated in 2018
  • Sebokeng Zone 17 Clinic was initiated in 2017
  • Khutsong South Clinic initiated in 2016
  • Johannesburg FPS Lab initiated in 2016
  • Chris Hani Baragwanath was initiated in 2018.

The Premier announced in his SOPA speech that other infrastructure providers from the public sector will be drafted in to take over failing projects from GDID. He was referring to national departments as well as entities such as the DBSA.

The DA will continue to demand that Premier David Makhura dissolves DID as a matter of urgency and ensures that each department is responsible for its own infrastructure projects. The DA will also be tabling a motion in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) demanding the dissolution of the DID. This will ensure that all our infrastructure projects are completed on time and within budget and taxpayers get value for money.

Hoërskool Die Burger’s learners’ safety at risk as a homeless family has invaded the classrooms

A homeless family of six adults and one infant has invaded the premises of Hoërskool Die Burger in Bergbron, Roodepoort. They have been occupying three classrooms for almost two years and pose a serious safety risk for both learners and teachers as well as the integrity of the school premises and equipment.

This homeless family is also sharing ablution facilities with learners, putting the lives of innocent learners under threat. One of the males was allegedly caught stealing at the science laboratory, he was arrested, and he is out on bail and still residing at the school premises. In addition, the school has had numerous burglaries since this homeless family invaded their premises.

This is unacceptable as a school is supposed to be a safe place for learners, not a place to harbour homeless people.

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) conducted an oversight inspection at the school and were disappointed with the state of the infrastructure and the school environment in general. The school is old and is turning 120 years this year; the infrastructure is ageing and is in dire need of proper regular maintenance.

The classroom windows and doors are broken; the school hall ceiling was damaged last year in March and has not yet been fixed. The wooden tiles in the school hall are broken, seven classrooms are not being used because the roof is leaking, and the structure is cracking.

The school environment is not conducive for learning and teaching as there is litter all over the school and the grass is overgrown.

Furthermore, there is a serious challenge of ill-discipline, drugs and bullying among the learners. Some learners are selling drugs at the school; learners are scared to report them as they fear being targeted. There were some learners who were sitting under a tree during the school hours, and we were informed that learners are disrespectful towards their teachers. They do not take instructions from teachers, they do whatever they want and do not adhere to the school code of conduct.

The school lacks leadership as there is no permanent principal, instead there are acting principals on a rotational basis.

The DA demands that the Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi must intervene as a matter of urgency to evict the homeless family that has invaded the school and secure the school premises to ensure the safety and security of our children and resources. MEC Lesufi must prioritise fixing this school’s infrastructure and appoint a permanent principal.

MEC Lesufi must engage with the Department of Social Development to ensure that this homeless family is relocated to one of the homeless shelters across the province. The Department of Social Development must engage with local NGOs to house this family in the meantime while looking for a permanent solution.

We also urge the School Governing Body (SGB) and the parents to take ownership of the school and engage their children about acceptable behaviour at school.

The DA believes that schools are precious resources, and the future of the next generation requires the assistance of all stakeholders. We will be tabling questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain when the last time was the department conducted maintenance at this school ,how much is the maintenance budget for this school, when will the school be fixed, when will the principal vacancy be filled and what action will be taken against the homeless family that have invaded the school premises. Based on the replies that we will receive from the MEC we will conduct a follow-up oversight inspection to assess the progress and ensure that we hold the MEC accountable to fix our school’s infrastructure.

18 Gauteng head office posts vacant, some for more than ten years

Despite failing health services in Gauteng, 18 senior posts at the Gauteng Health Department are vacant, including two posts that have not been filled for more than 10 years.

This is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, the post of Senior Human Resource Manager in the Directorate of Health Information Management and Technology has not been filled for 11 years and 9 months.

Other posts that have not been filled with permanent employees for more than two years include the following:

• Senior Administration Manager in the Directorate for Strategic Support and Performance Management has been vacant for 10 years and 4 months.

• Senior Administration Manager in the Integrated Employee Wellness Programme unfilled for 9 years and 9 months.

• Senior Human Resources Manager at the Directorate Management, Leadership and Skills Development for 3 years and 1 month.

• Senior Nursing Manager for 2 years and 8 months.

• Senior Manager in Health and Occupational Risk Management for 2 years and 4 months.

• Senior Finance Manager for two years.

It is of great concern that key posts have had acting personnel for so long as competent leadership is desperately needed to fix this department is plagued by scandal and inefficiency.

The top post of Head of Department has not been filled for 1 year and 5 months, and a permanent Chief Financial Officer has not been appointed since the previous CFO left in May 2020.

Mokgethi claims that most of these posts will be filled by April or May this year but false promises have been made before about filling posts.

I suspect that many posts have acting personnel in order to allow opportunities for corruption.

It’s high time that all senior posts were filled with ethical and competent people who will ensure a decent health service for sick people in our province.

DA urges ActionSA to reconsider its opposition to Tshwane coalition budget

In the interest of service delivery to the people of Tshwane, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has asked ActionSA to reconsider its decision to vote against the adjustment budget of the coalition government.

The adjustment budget is to be considered by Tshwane’s municipal council today after the vote had to be postponed from last week due to ActionSA’s conduct. Today is the statutory deadline for the approval of any adjustment to a municipality’s budget.

This is a budget that ActionSA had every opportunity to influence. Unfortunately, their members of the mayoral committee (MMCs) and councillors failed to do so.

The first time Mayor Randall Williams and the other parties in the coalition government learnt that ActionSA would oppose the adjustment budget was on Monday last week, days before it was to be tabled in the municipal council for a vote (on Thursday).

At the caucus meeting where this notice was given, ActionSA councillors made no attempt to come forward with alternative proposes. In fact, they made no effort to articulate what their grievances were about.

By this time ActionSA MMCs had several opportunities, which they failed to use, to propose changes to the adjustment budget. Several budget preparation meetings took place during February.

Mayor Williams nonetheless took steps to postpone the Council’s consideration of the adjustment budget from Thursday to today, to allow the coalition to understand and try to accommodate ActionSA’s demands.

But not all of the eleventh-hour demands made by ActionSA could be accommodated, not without rendering Tshwane’s budget unfunded and jeopardising the city’s whole service delivery programme.

The DA will make a last-ditch effort to convince ActionSA not to sabotage the coalition government by voting against the adjustment budget. We hope that sanity, and a sense of service to the people of Tshwane, will prevail.

Makhura’s failed promises leave residents without houses

The Gauteng housing unit waiting-list has exceeded a million. Our people are in dire need of dignified housing, yet Premier David Makhura continues to make false promises during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) yesterday, while he is aware that his government is not capable of building houses for its residents.

This is an insult to our people that are dependent on the government to provide housing. Many Gauteng residents are forced to continue to live in inhumane, unsanitary, and appalling living conditions yet those that are supposed to deliver services live comfortably.

In his SOPA speech, Premier Makhura promised to clear the title deeds backlog by 2024, including issuing 44,339 new title deeds to beneficiaries of current housing projects. This is just another empty promise as the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements has never achieved any of its targets of handing out title deeds since Premier Makhura was elected to office in 2014.

In terms of the Rapid Land Release Programme, Premier Makhura stated that in addition to the 1610 sites that they have allocated, they have also acquired an additional 12 000 stands to be allocated to beneficiaries. This programme remains a pipe dream that will never materialise as there are no figures in terms of the people that have benefited as well as the intended beneficiaries.

In his speech, Premier Makhura promised to deliver an inclusive mega housing development, fast-track the delivery of urban renewal projects, complete incomplete housing projects and provide service sites for people to build houses themselves.

These are the same empty promises that he made before that will never happen. There are many incomplete and completed housing projects that are still standing empty and have not been allocated. Several completed and unoccupied housing units across the province have been illegally invaded and some have been vandalised. The illegal occupants are costing the department more money in terms of legal fees for eviction orders, eviction processes as well as repairs for the damages.

Premier Makhura promised to deliver a mega housing development, the same promise he made in 2018 that a total of 31 new mega settlement projects have been approved for all the five development corridors of the Gauteng City Region. Premier Makhura promised that the mega housing projects will yield more than 700 000 housing opportunities over five years. The Housing Mega projects have been blocked by red tape and contractors not finishing projects on time and within budget.

All the promises that Premier Makhura made to the people of Gauteng with regards to housing have not happened. The hostel redevelopment plan and formalisation of informal settlements only exists on paper while our people continue to suffer a lack of basic services.

The only solution for the housing crisis in Gauteng is for both Premier Makhura and MEC Maile to publicly acknowledge the crisis the department finds itself in, take responsibility for its failures, and then set in motion a workable and implementable turnaround strategy together with timelines for holding officials accountable. This will ensure that the department’s budget is spent, and houses are delivered to those that need them the most.

I challenge Premier Makhura to come along with the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and COGTA, Lebogang Maile to show me all the work they have promised and have done for the people of Gauteng.

Premier Makhura’s government has failed to build houses – it’s high time that they admit it. The DA will continue to put pressure on both MEC Maile and Premier Makhura to ensure that the department’s budget is fully spent, and housing projects are properly monitored to yield houses.

Delay in opening R60 million Zone 17 Sebokeng clinic denying residents access to health services

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Emfuleni is concerned with the delay in the opening of a R60 million Zone 17 clinic in Sebokeng

The need for a permanent health care facility was identified in 2008 as services were offered from small containers forcing patients to queue outside and endure harsh weather conditions.

In 2019 the DA conducted an oversight visit and we were informed that the project will be completed and handed over in 2021.

The DA recently visited the site and was informed that the contractor had not been paid by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure and Development so they can purchase cables and connect electricity to the building.

These delays are hindering the delivery of health services to the community of Zone 17 Sebokeng as they continue to receive health services in less than ideal conditions.

The DA will submit questions to the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Tasneem Motara, to determine whether the current contractor will complete the project and when the clinic will finally be open to the public.

Residents have a right to receive quality health services and it is the government’s responsibility to deliver on this.

Emfuleni delays payment of February salaries as bank account is still attached

Yesterday, Emfuleni Local Municipality released a memorandum informing employees, councillors and the local labour unions that salaries for February will be delayed due to challenges with the municipality’s bank account being attached.

The municipality’s bank account was attached by Rand Water on 3 February 2022 after the municipality failed to honour it’s payment agreement to its R1.5 billion debt. Last year, Eskom also attached the municipality’s bank account for failing to pay on their R3.5 billion debt.

The delay in the payment of salaries will place a serious financial burden on employees and councillors, they will also suffer additional penalties on returned debit orders.

The delay will also negatively affect employees’ and councillors’ payments to their medical aids, pension funds and SARS contribution.

There is also a risk that employees may embark on a strike in protest which will bring service delivery to a complete halt.

Although the municipality is on the brink of financial collapse, they are still going ahead with making political appointments that will cost the municipality R15 million a year.

The ANC-led municipality has no interest in turning things around and bringing sound financial management to improve service delivery for the people of Emfuleni.

The DA will continue to engage and put pressure on the MEC for Cogta, Lebogang Maile, to resolve this ongoing debacle. It is the responsibility of the Provincial Cogta which deployed administrators to the municipality to deal with financial control and service delivery as prioritized per Section 139 1(b).

The attachments of the municipal account has been an ongoing battle since 2019, and to date, we are still dealing with the same problem. MEC Maile must provide decisive leadership to get the municipality back on track.

Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg pass adjustment budgets

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is delighted to announce that the DA-led coalition governments in the City of Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg passed their adjustment budgets for the 2021/2022 financial year.

These municipalities have been operating on ANC-approved budgets since last year, making it extremely hard for the multi-party coalition governments to implement new plans and speed up service delivery.

In Ekurhuleni, Mayor Tania Campbell inherited massive service delivery backlogs with the municipality being in a poor financial state.

Mayor Campbell announced that the back-to-basics adjustment budget will prioritise infrastructure and economic development. R117 million has been allocated to promote the security of energy supply – a further R40 million for maintenance and R77 million for new infrastructure.

R58 million will go towards economic development to create job opportunities. An allocation of R17 million has also been made for repairs and maintenance of human settlements.

In Johannesburg, Mayor Mpho Phalatse announced that at least R53 million would be allocated to Rea Vaya related projects, R53 million will go towards the improvement of the Orange Farm transport facilities and R153 million will increase for City Power infrastructure to secure electricity supply.

R183,3 million will be allocated for bulk water infrastructure projects, R296,5 million increases JRA infrastructure projects, R37,5-million in increases for the completion of clinics in Alexandra and Orchards and R93,9 million in increases for key housing projects across the City.

The remaining DA-led coalition governments in the City of Tshwane and Mogale Local Municipality will table and vote on their respective adjustment budgets on Monday 28 February 2022.

The passing of the adjustment budgets is a win for the residents of Ekurhuleni and Johannesburg who will start to experience the DA difference in their areas.

The DA congratulates Mayor Campbell and Mayor Phalatse for sticking to the election promises; to accelerate basic service delivery, improve infrastructure and prioritise economic development to enhance opportunities for the people of both cities.

District Development Model is the last attempt by Premier Makhura’s administration to centralise power and empty municipalities’ coffers

Madame Speaker,

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is concerned about the vigorous way in which the Premier spoke in terms of the implementation of the District Development Model in Gauteng. This model focuses on the implementation of a “One Plan” with a “One Budget”, which is a clear indication that the Premier wants to leave a legacy of centralized power, which completely undermines the principles of our constitution. 

This “One Plan” will bind all municipalities in the province and their Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) into certain projects and commitments for the next 25-30 years. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that centralized power should be avoided at all costs. We saw what happened with the National Command Council, where we became prisoners within our own houses, being held hostage by our government. 

Neither the Constitution nor the IGR Framework Act, the Municipal Systems Act nor the MFMA makes provision for the District Development Model. The purpose of the IGR is for cooperation and support and not to undermine, control or prescribe to municipalities. Premier, do not be deceived, the IGR and the District Development Model are not the same. We must protect the autonomy of the municipalities. Let each municipality plan for its future. 

This SOPA also includes a lot of champions to champion this dream of centralized power. The DA cannot help but wonder if the ethics champions will become judges, jury, and perpetrators in our many cases of corruption within our provincial government. Will the District Development Champions be appointed to manage, or even worse, replace our mayors within our various municipalities? Will the ward-based war room champions be replacing the duly elected councillors within our various wards across the province? 

This model has no financial benefit for municipalities, and in fact, it will in all likeliness only cost our municipalities more money, stealing from the people who are already suffering at the hands of the provincial government. This will generate even more underfunded mandates from the provincial government such as emergency services, motor vehicle licensing, clinics, libraries and even housing. 

The writing is on the wall, and the real question one should ask is whether this District Development Model is not a final coup d’etat from the ANC?

Is the District Development Model not a final attempt by the ANC to hang on to power, projects, and money ahead of the 2024 elections after they lost control of so many municipalities in 2021? 

Madame Speaker, the Premier also proudly announced the establishment of a Debt Management Committee (DMC) to facilitate the settlement of government debt. It is, however, important that this House hears the truth about this DMC. 

This committee met once a quarter over the last year and yielded very little to no success from its meetings. But, approximately two weeks ago, the decision was taken for this committee to meet every two weeks and to finally do what it was intended to do. This came at a time when the City of Tshwane and City of Johannesburg respectively decided to take power into their own hands and started an intensified disconnection campaign, which lead to various Provincial Governmental Departments and facilities being left without power. 

Mr Premier, the truth is that you should thank the DA-led coalition governments for their no-nonsense approach to billing and debt recovery. 

In Johannesburg, there is still a total of R422 755 347, in Tshwane there is R326 159 946 outstanding, and in Ekurhuleni, there is a total of R80 million still overdue. 

This is close to a billion rand that the Provincial Government owes the local municipalities. I know these figures are enormous for some of us to fully comprehend, so let me break this down into simpler terms, R1 billion is equivalent to 14 000 new RDP houses or equivalent to 1000 kilometres of tarred roads. This lack of payment is robbing our municipalities, but more so robbing our residents of the services they deserve. 

If the provincial government cannot even pay its debt to municipalities, how can we be sure that they will be able to manage the District Development Model with one plan and one budget for the entire province?

Section 154(1) of the Constitution states that the National Government and Provincial Government by legislative and other measures must support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their affairs, to exercise and to perform their functions. Not to attempt to control them.

The DA rejects the District Development Model and demands that this House stands firm against this model and the lies that the Premier is trying to sell us. We need to stand for the rule of law to protect our constitution. We should stand firm against state capture, centralisation of power, and interference from other spheres of government. We must keep governance as close as possible to the people, with easy access to the services they deserve.