DA votes against Rand West City 2022/2023 annual budget

The Democratic Alliance (DA) voted against the 2022/2023 Rand West City Local Municipality budget for failing to make provision for the maintenance and repairs of the town’s infrastructure.

The budget was tabled for a second time after the DA successfully opposed the budget as the 3% provision made for repairs and maintenance of the town’s infrastructure was not sufficient.

This was increased to 3,2% which comes to an amount of R77 million, an amount far below the required 6 to 8% as set out by the National Treasury.

An amount of R1 million has now been included in the capital budget for the upgrading of the electrical networks of the agricultural holdings. This area needs far more investment to protect the residents from constant electricity outages caused by the old dilapidated electrical networks.

Provision was also made in the budget after the DA raised the lack of inclusion of funding for the conditions as stated in the recent plea agreement regarding the Randfontein Wastewater Treatment Works such as the appointment of millwrights to maintain the wastewater treatment works and for the R3 million that has to be spent on maintenance and repairs of the Randfontein Wastewater Treatment Works.

The budget was passed with a vote of 37 for and 19 against the budget – despite objections from the DA.

Although several of the items that the DA raised in the previous meeting has now been included and provisioned for, we still cannot approve a budget that does not adequately make provision for the maintenance and repairs of the town’s infrastructure.

The DA will continue to hold the ANC and their alliance partners accountable to deliver the services as budgeted for in the 2022/2023 budget.

2 658 000 Gauteng residents are unemployed, yet few job creation targets are met

It comes as no surprise that there has been an increase in the unemployment rate in Gauteng.

According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS) that was released for the first quarter of 2022, the unemployment rate in the province currently stands at 36.7%.

Currently, there are 2 658 000 unemployed Gauteng residents, while there are 680 000 discouraged work seekers in the province.

This increase in the unemployment rate is extremely concerning, given Premier David Makhura’s claims that his administration is committed to ensuring that employment opportunities are created through various programmes led by the government.

However, the quarterly reports paint a different picture regarding the job creation targets and, in many instances, these targets are not met.

These job creation targets and skills development programmes play an integral part in ensuring that there is a conducive environment for the private sector to invest in the economy.

It is high time that Premier Makhura, and his executives should ensure that all job creation and skills development targets set each year are met.

This is critical for our unemployed residents who are not able to access tertiary institutions due to a lack of finances.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the Premier Makhura-led administration to meet all its job creation targets. We also demand that where these targets are not met, the political head and officials responsible for these programmes are held to account.

DA petitions National Government to make Brackendowns Police Station a permanent station

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has on behalf of the residents of Brackenhurst and Brackendowns submitted a petition so that the temporary police station can be made permanent. We are requesting National Government to liaise with the City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) in transferring the property where Brackendowns Police Station is situated from CoE to the Department of Public Works or South African Police Service (SAPS).

Doing so will enable SAPS to build a permanent station which will improve the services offered by the police station. The station requires upgrades to its facilities to allow the station to offer services to the public in a dignified manner.

Several oversight visits by the DA have revealed that one of the areas of concern is that there are no sufficient ablution facilities to cater for members, suspects as well as the public. The holding cells are lacking in capacity.

The DA has for several years advocated for a permanent police station to be built to serve the residents of Brackendowns and surrounding areas.

The DA even placed a request for a police station on the annual Integrated Development Plan (IDP) needs for the area through council processes.

It is disappointing that for more than 20 years, the National Government has not been willing to establish a permanent police station. The DA has engaged with police officers who explained to us that the condition of the station is demoralising to work at.

Considering that both the local and national governments have revealed that the property, where the station is situated, is owned by the municipality and Public Works is currently leasing from the City of Ekurhuleni, the DA believes that it is only logical that the ownership of the property is transferred to the Department of Public Works or SAPS.

A well-resourced police station will go a long way in addressing issues of crime in the area. Residents deserve a police station which inspires its members to serve the community with pride and diligently.

The DA will continue to implore both the local and national governments to come to a solution that will assist in keeping the residents of Brackenhurst and Brackendowns safe.

Children’s rights to essential services continue to be undermined

Children’s rights to access essential learning equipment and shelter continue to be undermined by the Gauteng Department of Social Development (DSD).

In the face of Child Protection Week, children continue to suffer due to the DSD’s constant underspending on its allocated budget for the programmes meant to deliver welfare services to children.

South Africa may be celebrating this week, yet there is nothing to celebrate, while children who are solely dependent on the government for survival are failed by the very same government on which they rely.

Year after year DSD celebrates children, while it has failed to meet its target of placing children in foster care.

According to the department’s fourth-quarter report for the 2020/21 financial year, only 16 811 children were placed in foster care compared to the targeted 17 654. The department also failed to meet its target of providing psychosocial support services as only 48 122 children accessed the service compared to the target of 71 092. 1342 children were provided with non-centre-based services compared to the target of 1902.

In addition, while 172 717 children were targeted to be registered for Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes only 156 940 were registered, 201 of 281 children with disabilities were registered in ECD programmes and only 105 919 children accessed registered partial care facilities compared to the target of 157 150.

This department is failing our children and one week of Child Protection Awareness is not enough. All children deserve to benefit from government programmes and not a selected few individuals.

Therefore, the DA demands that this department must ensure that the most vulnerable in our society, particularly the children, do not suffer by ensuring that targets are met for children’s programmes.

We also urge all stakeholders to work together to stop the cycle of neglect, abuse, violence, and exploitation of children. However, to protect our children this department must ensure that it meets its target for foster care placement and other psychosocial support services that our children need.

Our children are the future of this country hence they must be protected, and the DA will do everything to ensure this happens.

Budget horror as Gauteng Health fails to spend R2.6 billion

Despite empty posts and decrepit hospitals, the Gauteng Health Department failed to spend a whopping R2.6 billion of its budget in the 2021/22 financial year which ended on 31 March 2022.

This bombshell information was disclosed last week to the Finance Committee in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to the presentation by Gauteng Treasury, R365 million meant for compensation of employees was unspent “as a result of not filling a number of vacancies that were provided for”, as well as underperformance in the award of bursaries for training.

Furthermore, R480 million earmarked for infrastructure was not spent, which resulted in Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) refurbishment not being done at the Leratong, Sebokeng, Weskoppies and Jubilee hospitals.

R1.6 billion of Conditional Grant money was unspent due to non-filling of posts, claims not submitted, and unpaid invoices for the procurement of equipment.

There was also R658 million unauthorised expenditure, and R2.57 billion is being surrendered back to Treasury.

In March, this year only 24% of health suppliers were paid within the legally required 30 days, with 22000 suppliers owed R2.4 billion, including 5580 companies that are owed R733 million for more than 120 days.

The accrued budget commitment at the end of the 2021/22 financial year is an astounding R8.86 billion which will have to be paid out of this year’s budget.

The big victims of this financial disaster are suffering patients, overworked medics, and unpaid suppliers.

The only glimmer of hope is that the department recently appointed a permanent head of department and a new chief financial official after these posts were vacant for more than a year.

They have a huge task to fix the deep rot which hurts so many vulnerable people who depend on public health services in Gauteng.

Premier Makhura: Make all SIU reports public tomorrow

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on Premier David Makhura to make the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) reports public tomorrow.

There are a number of SIU reports that Premier Makhura has promised to make public, but to date, we are still waiting.

Tomorrow would be the ideal time for these reports to be released, as Premier Makhura will be releasing the Gauteng Province’s State of Integrity and Anti-Corruption report.

A reply to the DA’s questions tabled last year regarding the SIU reports indicated that the Premier would make a consolidated report available by June 2021, while at a committee meeting, he said that this will happen at the end of the year.

However, the individual reports would not be made public, which covers all alleged corruption that may have taken place since March 2014.

If Premier Makhura is serious about running a government that is honest and accountable to the electorate he will release the consolidated report along with all the individual completed immediately.

By releasing all the SIU reports consequence management can take place and all officials and politicians implicated can be held to account.

Swift action stops fire at Steve Biko Hospital

I am relieved that swift action with fire extinguishers put out a fire in the early hours of this morning at temporary structures of the Steve Biko Hospital.

According to the Gauteng Health Department, 18 patients and one corpse were removed from nearby structures outside the main building, and there were no casualties.

This incident highlights the continuing hazard of fires at our health facilities, as well as the value of trained staff and equipment to prevent a fire from spreading.

This is the fifth fire in seven years at Gauteng health facilities.

I hope that a speedy investigation reveals the causes of the fire, unlike other investigations into fires which are never released and lead to suspicions of a cover-up.

I am continuing to press for the release of the investigation reports on the Bank of Lisbon fire in September 2018, and the fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in April last year.

Makhura is shielding his likely successor from housing delivery failures

The Gauteng Department of Human Settlements was allocated a budget of R1.5 billion for the fourth quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year and spent R2.2 billion, subsequently incurring 147% (R713.3 million) in over-expenditure. This while achieving zero targets in terms of delivering housing.

This is a result of Premier Makhura’s failed promise to implement performance assessments for members of his cabinet, thereby shielding his likely successor MEC Lebogang Maile from housing delivery failures.

This Department’s failures were revealed in its fourth quarterly report for the 2021/2022 financial year.

It is distressing to learn that there is no valid reason for this expenditure while ordinary citizens of Gauteng are still in desperate need of dignified housing.

The department has zero performance on half of its targets below:

• Procured zero serviced erven from the private sector compared to the target of 4,162 as part of its Rapid Land Release Programme (RLRP);
• Zero housing subsidies through FLISP (the first time you use the acronym, please write it out) compared to the target of 367;
• Zero houses received subsidies through FLISP compared to the target of 8 in its hostel development;
• Zero family units completed in hostel re-development programmes;
• Zero approved individuals’ informal settlements upgrading plans prepared in terms of the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP) compared to the target of 20;
• Zero hectares of land acquired for relocation of category B2 and category C settlements; and
• Zero informal settlements upgrade in situ compared to the target of 170.

This is a disgrace because there are officials employed who continue to draw salaries every month, yet there is no work done.

Gauteng residents are in dire need of adequate housing to improve their quality of life and uphold their dignity. Our people are tired of being exposed to inhumane and unsanitary living conditions.

Where is Premier Makhura as the custodian of the province to perform oversight on the work of the various departments?

Three years ago, the Premier promised to implement performance assessments for members of his cabinet, but to date, this has not been done.

The DA has constantly requested that Makhura must implement performance assessments for MECs to prevent such failures as reflected in this quarterly report. MEC Maile continues to do as little as possible and there is no accountability for poor performance. We will continue to put pressure on Premier Makhura to hold his cabinet to account for their department failures through the implementation of performance assessments.

Gauteng residents need houses now. They are tired of empty promises, and misuse of provincial coffers and the DA will continue to fight for accountability and delivery of houses.


Gauteng Roads and Transport underspends by R774 416 000 while the province’s roads are crumbling

Despite Gauteng’s provincial roads being in a terrible condition and motorists having to fork out extra money to repair their vehicles, the Department of Roads and Transport has once again underspent its budget for the 2021/2022 financial year.

R774 416 000 that was not spent by the department could have been used to fix our roads. This information was revealed in the department’s fourth quarterly report for the 2021/2022 financial year.

It is unacceptable that this department constantly underspends, yet there is a need to fix potholes and re-tar our road surfaces on provincial roads.

This is how this department could have spent the money:

• The strengthening of 258 kilometres of road. Strengthening refers to increasing the structural capacity of pavement through the recycling of existing layers or the addition of new granular layers or structural asphalt layers.
• The improvement of 43 kilometres of road. This would entail improving roads with unacceptable quality services through actions such as the addition of passing lanes, addition of paved shoulders, and improved intersections. Road improvement is often combined with the rehabilitation of pavement.
• Adding 19 kilometres of new road facilities. This would entail improving the capacity to accommodate traffic and expand the road network. Examples of new facilities include: greenfields/brownfields roads (construction of newly surfaced roads where previously no road existed), upgrades from single to dual carriageway, new bridges, and replacement of intersections with interchanges.
• Could have facilitated routine maintenance on 7,744 kilometres of road. This maintenance would have included cleaning drains and culverts, cutting vegetation, repainting road markings, repairing guard rails and signs, and patching and sealing cracks.
• Could have facilitated periodic maintenance of 258 kilometres of road. This would entail scheduled waterproofing of roads by application of surface seals and thin functional asphalt layers.

According to the department, this money was not spent because of delays in procurement, poor project management and litigation. These are internal administrative issues that could have been resolved.

This has a negative impact not only on our roads but also on our residents who use both private and public transport, as well as the transportation of goods and services into our provinces. This places a huge burden on residents who live below the breadline and struggle to afford basic groceries on a monthly basis.

I will be directly engaging with, and tabling questions to, the MEC for Transport, Jacob Mamabolo on this matter. Our residents deserve to live in a province where the roads are properly maintained on a regular basis.

Joburg pathology building delayed by more than three years

The budget for a new Pathology Services building for the Gauteng Health Department is R588 million but it is running more than three years behind schedule.

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

According to Mokgethi:

“The original plan was to refurbish and rehabilitate the existing facility that is situated in Hillbrow, but after assessment of the facility it was decided to rather build a new one, incorporate a head office for the Forensic Pathology services as well as basement parking for the existing nurses’s college at Helen Joseph Hospital.”

Construction of this building situated next to the Helen Joseph Hospital started on 3 November 2016 and was supposed to be completed on 3 November 2019.

It is now only 71% completed and is expected to be finished on 21 January 2023.

The delay is blamed on poor service by the professional team and change in designs during the construction stage, which has led to additional work and cost increases.

Meanwhile, pathologists continue to work at the decrepit Hillbrow mortuary instead of a new building that should have been completed two-and-a-half years ago.

This is yet another example of the notorious incompetence of the Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department (GDID) which hardly ever completes a project on schedule and within budget.

Corruption is also a factor as fishy contractors are often selected who are unable to finish the job and have to be replaced at extra expense.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is investigating many cases involving the GDID, including the R500 million Anglo Ashanti ghost hospital in the far west rand, and botched repairs to the fire-damaged Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

This is why the DA has called for the GDID to be shut down and replaced by a competent entity that can get the job done.

Premier David Makhura needs to take this decisive action otherwise Gauteng residents will continue to suffer from endless delays in vital building projects.