Emfuleni spends over R200 million on service providers, yet sewer and water leaks persist

The residents of Emfuleni Local Municipality must still bear the brunt of poor service delivery as their streets continue to be filled with sewer spillages and water leakages yet, the municipality’s Metsi a Lekoa Unit has spent over R221,613,086.97 million on service providers.

This is unaccaptable considering that Emfuleni has also spent over R65 million on overtime for Metsi a Lekao employees in the last four financial years and there is nothing to show for the money spent.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to MEC Maile, Metsi a Lekoa has contracted service providers to unblock sewers and fix water leakages for a period of 36 months.

The following service providers are among the list of service providers that have already been paid millions by the municipality:

• Lekoa Construction Services was paid R20, 509,677.81,
• Garujo Trading Enterprise was paid R12, 804,880.10,
• Bokana Construction and Projects was paid R15,563,812.75
• Sobangena Trading was paid R32,844,928.42
• Ntlangano Business Enterprise was paid R11, 066, 785.04,
• Kunjalo Kunje Trading was paid R10, 286, 436.01,
• and Alsandro Construction Pty was paid R83,757,974.86

This municipality to continue to waste millions of rands instead of fixing the water infrastructure to reduce water losses. This is certainly money down the drain because no results have been yielded.

There are also allegations that some of the above companies are owned by members of the ANC and the DA will liaise with the relevant authorities to investigate the procurement processes and possible corruption in this regard.

The DA will be engaging our councillors in Emfuleni to propose that the municipality must consider scrapping the outsourcing of service providers and instead use in-house resources to fix the persistent water and sewer issues.

Maile has no plans to support municipalities to procure electricity from IPPs

Our residents are once again suffering through another round of load-shedding simply because the State-Owned Entity (SOE) Eskom is just not up to the task of providing a regular supply of electricity to the country.

In addition, it is very worrying that the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) has no intention of assisting municipalities in the province to procure electricity from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

This information was revealed to me in a reply to my written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to the MEC for COGTA, Lebogang Maile. According to the MEC, the department will not be providing any support to municipalities as Section 154 of the Constitution makes provision for municipalities to do this on their own.

However, given the current state of our municipalities especially the local and district municipalities, it would be prudent for MEC Maile, to provide any assistance they may need to procure additional electricity that will at least provide some protection from load shedding.

Procuring electricity from IPPs is of vital importance, especially since the MEC for Economic Development, Parks Tau admitted that around 122 500 jobs have been lost in this province to the continued load-shedding.

The DA is demanding that MEC Maile together with other municipalities follow the lead taken by the City of Johannesburg Mayor, Mpho Phalatse in holding an energy summit. This is crucial if we want our struggling municipalities like Emfuleni and Merafong to become financially more secure as a continued supply of electricity is crucial to keep the wheels of any economy turning.

8 Gauteng hospital fires in 7 years

The DA is concerned that yesterday’s fire at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is the third fire at a Gauteng public hospital this year, and the eighth fire in 7 years.

According to the Gauteng Health Department, the fire at Bara hospital occurred near the Covid-19 tents, and then spread to the laundry site before it was put out by City of Johannesburg fire services.

This follows a fire at temporary structures at the Steve Biko Hospital on 30 May this year, and another fire at this hospital on 12 June when there was a blaze in a linen closet in a medical ward.

All three fires were put out speedily, but it could have been far worse.

Other hospital fires include the following:

• severe damage at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in April last year.
• a fire destroyed a store room at the Carletonville Hospital in February last year.
• a fire broke out at an administration block at Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in May 2019.
• dental rooms at the Tambo Memorial Hospital were destroyed by fire in July 2016.
• R7 million of medical supplies were destroyed by a fire in a store room at the Tambo Memorial Hospital in May 2015.

Furthermore, there was the fire that started at the Gauteng Health Department’s head office at the Bank of Lisbon building in September 2018, which burnt down the entire building and cost the lives of three fire fighters.

We still do not have a report on the Bank of Lisbon building fire, nor do we know the cause of the devastating fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.

The slow investigations and non-release of reports fuel suspicions of a cover-up to protect negligent officials and politicians.

According to a presentation at a recent meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee, only 50% of Gauteng public hospitals are compliant with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The DA will continue to press for the release of fire investigation reports, and for better fire prevention at our hospitals so that the lives of patients and staff are not at risk.

City of Tshwane takes steps to stimulate economic growth and create jobs

The City of Tshwane’s Economic Development and Spatial Planning Department has undertaken a mission that will set in motion the actions required to facilitate higher and shared economic growth and development.

This will enable the city to gear towards attracting investment and create an environment that is conducive for sustainable economic activity that would benefit local businesses and the community at large.

The DA is proud to be a part of the team leading the city towards innovative strategies such as the recently initiated Marabastad trading and stalls construction project. This project will soon start with the second phase of construction, with a R7 million budget approved for the 2022/23 financial year.

This will provide informal traders with the much-needed infrastructural resources that will encourage these businesses to be counted in the greater economy.

The provision of proper ablution facilities, safe shelters and storage will also assist current traders with necessary compliance, which will improve the environment for sustainable growth.

Understanding the strain that our economy is under, the city is also prioritising one of our highest revenue stream generators by investing R18 million towards upgrading, maintaining and extending the market facilities of the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market.

The upgrades seek to strengthen the market which currently has a 21,5% share of the market value and is only second to its Joburg counterpart as the favourite market of preference in South Africa.

The DA understands the eminence of economic growth and the role of government in ensuring that a conducive environment for such growth is prioritised, and will continue to support and drive initiatives that promote the revamping of a leading Capital city.

870 ops cancelled at Bara Hospital this year

870 operations have been cancelled at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital so far this year because of overbooking, equipment problems, maintenance issues, and shortages of linen.

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

According to Mokgethi, the shortage of clean linen occurred because of inconsistent functioning of boilers and frequent breakages of laundry machines.

She said that the department would be buying a new boiler, which costs about R20 million, to cut down on linen shortages.

I am concerned by the high number of cancelled operations as this causes great distress to staff and patients.

Surgeons are hugely frustrated when an operation cannot proceed because of a linen shortage or another avoidable reason.

Some patients have waited years for operations, only to be disappointed at the last moment when their surgery is cancelled.

Hospital CEOs should be given more powers to do maintenance, which is currently done by the dysfunctional Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department.

More use should be made of private laundries as the state-run laundries are notoriously unreliable and are not cost-effective.

Every effort should be made to avoid the cancellation of operations as the surgery backlogs are alarmingly high and patients suffer from long waits.



46 years later, the plight of the young continues to fall on deaf ears

Madam Speaker,

Last week Thursday marked the 46th anniversary of the “June 16 Uprising” in which hundreds of young South Africans in Soweto paid the ultimate price at the hands of the Apartheid police when they stood up for freedom.

46 years later, young people still fighting to have themselves heard – to be afforded their right to access and equality.

46 years later, the plight of the young continues to fall on deaf ears.

Unemployment for those between the ages of 15 – 25 years of age is a staggering 63%. What kind of message does this send to our youth?

Would these odds of getting ahead inspire you? I think not.

To quote the author, Anthony Horowitz:

“Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child.”

It is little wonder we see substance abuse among this same demographic skyrocketing.

In the first three months of this year, Madam Speaker, 45 young people were killed in this province – an 80% increase for the same period a year ago.

What kind of society do we live in where the young are killed with such wanton destruction of life?

How can we face ourselves when this is the world we have bequeathed to our young?

This is not the society that those who marched and died fought for.

It is time that this government stopped attempting to paper over the gaping crevasses before we have an entire generation lost to ANC ineptitude.

I thank you.

Over R100 million worth of heritage monuments are still not operational with no benefits to residents

Note to editors: Please find attached an English soundbite by Kingsol Chabalala MPL.

Over the past eleven years, the residents of Gauteng have been expecting the full functionality of the Women’s Living Monument, Boipatong Monument, and the Kagiso Memorial which remain not fully operational.

These monuments have cost the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) over R100 million, yet they are not benefiting the residents of Gauteng.

The Women’s Living Heritage Monument was initiated in 2012 and was meant to be completed in 2015, but the construction of the facility was only completed in August 2018.  However, some of the heritage work is yet to be installed. Delays in the completion of this project have had a financial impact as the initial budget of R151 861 075.59 accrued to R205 693 734.18.

The Boipatong Monument and Youth Centre were initiated in 2011 and were supposed to be completed in 2012 but were only completed in November 2015. The initial budget was R32 572 833.00 which accrued to R35 199 212.5.

The Kagiso Memorial was built in 2014 and was opened in 2016 with a budget of R39 501 852.00 and is still not fully operational.

The unnecessary delays by the department in the completion of these monuments are denying our youth access to empowerment and up-skilling opportunities which could be offered by these facilities.

Furthermore, these facilities have the potential to boost local tourism and attract investment to grow the local economy. By so doing, they create employment opportunities in our townships.

The DA demands that the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR), Mbali Hlophe must ensure that these monuments are fully operational as a matter of urgency. MEC Hlophe must conduct an audit on the current status quo of these monuments and provide a comprehensive plan to ensure that these monuments are fully operational and deliver services to our people. The DA will not sit by and allow MEC Hlophe to waste such precious monuments that are meant to benefit our people.



MEC Motara snubs her nose at struggling SMMEs

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) under the leadership of MEC Tasneem Motara continues to put the livelihoods of small business owners at risk where a contractor has failed to pay R60 million to subcontractors for work done.

This information was revealed at a recent meeting held by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Infrastructure Development with sub-contractors on the Kopanong hospital project.

The government set an expectation whereby 30% of the value of a contract must be given to small and medium businesses for growing that sector but it fails to ensure that the contractors upskill people, eradicate poverty and empower small businesses.

During the portfolio committee meeting, it came to light that the main contractor for the Department of Health and Infrastructure Development has failed to honour its contractual agreements to pay subcontractors on time.

These departments are doing nothing from their side that will ensure that the objectives of the 30% policy are met which is unacceptable.

This makes it very difficult for our small businesses to pay their workers on time, who in turn will fail to pay their rent or bonds on time and put food on the table.

Furthermore, it is even more concerning that GDID is failing in its mandate to have proper monitoring and evaluation tools in place to ensure that they meet all their contractual obligations.

To add insult to injury the Kopanong hospital project which is currently under scrutiny is still not complete. This hospital was earmarked as a Covid-19 emergency project yet there is nothing to show for the money that was spent to date on the project.

This project was supposed to be completed within four months and yet 11 months later the contract with Codocor was terminated for non-performance after only 65% of this project was completed.

The DA will continue to fight for the rights of subcontractors by ensuring that the departments of Health and GDID pay all subcontractors on time.

In addition, the DA will also demand that effective consequence management tools be put in place to ensure that critical infrastructure projects are completed on time and within budget.

Sad stories of broken phones in Gauteng hospitals

The Democratic Alliance has received a deluge of responses to my press statement about broken phones at 25 Gauteng public hospitals, with some hospitals having persistent switchboard problems for more than 10 years.

Responses include the following:

o Barbara – Absolutely appalling. After 6 hours and 30 attempts, I just gave up.

o Antoinette – Horrible! When my Sister was in Steve Biko Hospital in 2019, I couldn’t get anybody to answer the switchboard!! No matter how many times you phoned!!!

o Glen – I had to go there to check on an injured on duty worker because no joy on phones. When I got to Reception, no Computer, and they said I must go look for him 17h 00 hours. I found him sitting since 9.00am at the doctors without treatment for a serious hand injury. He stayed overnight and saw doctor the next day.

o Heather – I gave up trying to contact St John’s eye hospital at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital. I had 5 numbers and they all rang continuously for 2 days on 2 occasions someone did answer and promptly put the phone down.

o Christal – Also gave up on hospitals, got a message my brother died, 28 April 2022, still can’t find his body, no answer at hospitals.

o Gary – Can get through to the main switchboard during office hours at the Leratong Hospital, but when put through to the wards nobody answers. After hours they don’t really even answer the main switchboard.

o Portia – They never pick up 💔💔💔

o Deleni – Even to get an appointment for colposcopy is a mission.

o William – Almost impossible to get through in an emergency, actually at any time..

o Nomathemba – 😔😔😔hv experienced it eish

o Ann – As a private nurse practitioner, I phoned to enquire about my patient. No one could help me , and I only learnt 3 days later that he had passed away.

o Beverley – Yes and at the end of 45 minutes I had called about 8 different numbers…they can’t tell you where the patient is and they keep giving you a different number to call…each time you have to give all the details, date and time of admission, name, surname, medical problem…and the 8th call you make you are given the same number for the first call you made…

o MamaKhomotso – The call is busy at the moment, please try again later, it’s so annoying.

o Doreen – Mission impossible!!!!

These responses show the distress caused by not being able to get through to hospitals to find out how relatives are doing, or to get information for medical needs.

So far this year, the Pholosong Hospital has had no landline phones for 6 weeks, the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital had broken phones for two whole weeks, Helen Joseph Hospital was cut off for 6 days and Yusuf Dadoo Hospital for 5 days.

Other hospitals have experienced the following phone problems:

• Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – intermittent problems since 2019
• Tambo Memorial Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 5 years
• Rahima Moosa Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 4 years
• Pretoria West Hospital – intermittent problems for the past 4 years
• South Rand Hospital – intermittently for the past 3 years

The Weskoppies hospital has had intermittent switchboard problems since 2006, and Sterkfontein Hospital has been affected by this since 2012.

Even when phones are answered, there are still problems experienced with getting the right information.

It is appalling that the Gauteng Health Department has not been able to do a simple thing like getting hospital switchboards to work.

I will continue to put pressure on the department to ensure that there is reliable telephone communication at all Gauteng public hospitals.

Investigation recommends that Kairos Centre’s licence be revoked, yet they are still operating

It is extremely distressing to learn that the Kairos Centre in Cullinan, Tshwane is still operating even though an investigation has found that there are no adequate systems in place to ensure the safety of the mentally ill patients in their care.

This is a clear indication that the lives of the most vulnerable are in danger as there is no constant monitoring to ensure their safety and that they do not endanger themselves and others around them.

This information was revealed to me by the MEC for Health, Dr Nomathemba Mokgethi, in reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to the MEC, there are currently no proper reporting systems in place where families or users can report concerns, complaints, or issues such as a visitors’ book or handover book.

Furthermore, the Kairos Centre files are not within the required norms and standards and to this end, there was no evidence in the file of negative behaviour or incidents, such as the regular absconds or suicide indications.

This is sheer carelessness and points to the fact that this centre does not take its duties and responsibilities seriously. In addition, the MEC also indicates that the absconding of two mentally ill patients was not reported to the district, families, or police and that the contact details of the family were not kept up to date.

The investigation into the Kairos Centre came as a result of the Democratic Alliance (DA) raising the alarm about the five patients who died at the Kairos Centre. Subsequently, this centre was then investigated for negligence.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the MEC for Health to ensure that the issues of negligence at the Kairos Centre are addressed as a matter of urgency. Furthermore, we demand that the recommendations made by the department are implemented, failing which this centre must be closed immediately and its license be revoked.

Five patients have died at Kairos Centre in two months, yet the department is still dragging its feet in implementing the recommendations. The DA will continue to fight to ensure that mentally impaired patients are treated with the dignity they deserve.