Service delivery remains non-existent while GPG incurs R1.6 billion of unauthorized expenditure

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) has incurred unauthorized expenditure to the tune of R1.6 billion which is placing an extra financial burden on the residents of this province and has a negative impact on service delivery.

Unauthorized expenditure occurs when more money is paid for goods and services than was initially budgeted for.

In addition, if a department utilizes a saving from the salaries budget to buy goods and services, such expenditure is also unauthorized.

At a recent meeting of the Gauteng’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) it emerged that as of the 31 March, six departments within the provincial government incurred unauthorized expenditure as follows:
• Economic Development R 16.7 million
• Health R 653.9 million
• Education R 935.8 million
• Social Development R29 million
• Human Settlements R7.1 million
• Infrastructure Development R 30.3 million

The unauthorized expenditure amount represents just over 1% of the overall provincial budget which is just shy of R149 billion.

Should SCOPA find that the procedures in the guidelines for authorized expenditure were not followed or the criteria were not satisfied, SCOPA will recommend that the unauthorized amount be recouped from the new budget before any other money is spent.

In the case of Health, as stated above, the department will forfeit almost R636 million rand from its new budget to pay for the previous year’s over-expenditure if SCOPA so recommends.

This means that a critical service like Health will have to provide services with an even more constrained budget, which will negatively impact the residents of Gauteng. Our residents will have to wait longer as some public healthcare services may not have sufficient healthcare personnel or equipment.

If this mismanagement of public funds is not fixed in time, officials do not face consequence management, and money is not repaid, SCOPA can punish unauthorized expenditure by making departments pay out of their new budgets.

The DA will insist that SCOPA ensures that the Unauthorized Expenditure Bill that was adopted by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) in 2016 be enforced.

This bill makes provision for Provincial Treasury to assist some departments by paying off historic unauthorized expenditures if the departments have given satisfactory reasons for the unauthorized expenditure.

Where a department has unauthorized expenditure that is unjustified it must be funded from the department’s own budget.

The DA will write to the GPL SCOPA Chairperson, Sochayile Khanyile demanding that the Unauthorized Expenditure Bill be enforced to ensure that GPG departments adhere to all Provincial and National Treasury Guidelines.

By adhering to this bill government departments will be forced to budget correctly and spend money wisely for the benefit of our residents.

Fourth Quarter Crime Stats paint a bleak picture for Gauteng residents

The 4th quarter report of the 2021/2022 Crime Stats indicates that the safety and security of the Gauteng residents remain at risk, and they have a bleak future ahead of them.

Gauteng SAPS Stations are dominating in the top 30 of all crime stats across the country, with a severe increase in crimes like hijackings, murder, and sexual offences.

From January 2022 to March 2022, the following cases have been reported; 1403 murder cases, 2936 hijackings and 2267 cases of sexual offences.

This is devasting and shows that the lives and livelihoods are in danger, hence the DA’s sponsored Community Oversight Bill is going to play a crucial role in monitoring the performance of Gauteng SAPS stations across the province. This Bill will intensify the fight against crimes such as rape and farm murders.

Without a progressive plan by the Gauteng MEC of Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, of implementing 24-hour police visibility in the province, criminals have seen the gap and will continue to take advantage of innocent residents in Gauteng. This is due to the lack of SAPS resources like vehicles, and human resources that should be prioritised by both MEC Mazibuko and Minister of Police Bheki Cele.

Residents of this province are living in constant fear of being the next victim of crime. These statistics are nothing but a trigger of fear and leave residents without any hope in the police services.

The DA has done oversight inspections in several police stations in Gauteng over the last few months and we can confirm that our police stations are not well equipped or maintained when it comes to basic infrastructure and technological requirements, such as electricity, sanitation, and internet. This is the reason why Gauteng is in the top 30 of every crime reported on the crime stats.

This impacts the functionality and performance of the police stations and has a serious negative impact on visible policing and crime prevention.

Community Safety should not just check on constitutional compliance but also look into the functionality of our police stations.

MEC Mazibuko must take action and ensure that residents no longer suffer from being turned away from stations. She must ensure that police respond swiftly to crimes and do a thorough investigation.

Minister Cele should not only present the crime stats in Gauteng, but embark on proper oversight with the MEC Mazibuko to address these issues. If he cannot provide the stations with the support and solutions to address the constant rise in crime figures, he should resign as a matter of urgency.

Mr President, let’s respect the people who live and work around the Union Building

Yesterday, I wrote to the Presidency to ask for their help to keep the grounds of the Union Buildings clean and safe.

This follows weeks of protests by about 500 members of AMCU and NUM who have camped on the lawns of the Union Buildings, demanding a salary increase from their employers.

The protesters have no access to formal ablution facilities and if the City of Tshwane had not stepped in, no waste collection would have taken place.

While I welcome the support of the City, the grounds of the Union Buildings, the health and safety of the people who occupy them, is the responsibility of the National Government.

To expect the City to divert personnel and resources to do the job of the most powerful office in the country is unfair and unsustainable.

Trade unions representing the striking workers have made it clear to me that unless the President responds to their demands, they won’t be moving.

As the Ward councillor for the area, I have no place to tell the striking miners or the Presidency how to resolve the dispute. But I do want to ask the Presidency to manage the situation.

The Union Buildings is one of the country and the city’s iconic sites – a symbol of our hard-won democracy. It should not turn into blight and a nuisance to the people who live and work in the area.

Desperate job seekers are swindled, yet Gauteng Safety Department fails to fill vacant posts

Desperate job seekers have once again fallen prey to corrupt police officials who promised them job placements in exchange for money while the Gauteng Department of Community Safety sits on 279 vacant posts.

This is extremely worrying considering that the unemployment rate has increased in the province. Our people are struggling to put food on the table and have once again been let down by this department as filling these vacant posts will go a long way in alleviating poverty.

As of March 2022, the department had a staff establishment of 1761 while the headcount was 1725. This means that only 1482 posts were filled, leaving 279 vacant posts which translates to 15.8% of vacancies available. This information was revealed in the department’s fourth quarterly report for the 2021/2022 financial year.

Recent media reports have indicated that there are unemployed youth that have been made to pay about R5000 to corrupt police officials in exchange for job placements at the Gauteng SAPS Training College.

These allegations are serious, and the consequence management must take place as a matter of urgency.

It is high time that the Gauteng MEC of Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko clamps down on corruption within her department. The DA will be directly engaging with the MEC to ascertain if there is a plan of action to deal with such acts of corruption. We will also monitor every development on this issue and demand that MEC Mazibuko prioritises the filling of these vacancies.

We will not stand by as Gauteng job seekers are being taken advantage of by those in positions of power.

Broken phones at 25 Gauteng hospitals

Anxious relatives have battled to get through to 25 public hospitals in Gauteng that have had switchboard problems this year, and some hospitals have had persistent phone problems for more than 10 years.

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

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

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 Pholosong Hospital had no landline phones for 6 weeks this year, and 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 had phone problems for a few days or hours, or during loadshedding.

According to Mokgethi, most of the telephone problems are due to outdated or faulty PABX. She says that the affected hospitals reverted to mobile phones and communicated these numbers to patients’ relatives.

I have received many calls from people who tell me they cannot get through to hospitals to find out how their relatives are doing, or to get information for their own medical needs.

It is particularly hard when people are desperate for news about ailing family members, especially during periods when visits were restricted because of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Hospital staff are also frustrated when they can’t use landline phones and have to use their own cellphones, often at their own expense.

I am astounded that the Gauteng Health Department has not been able to do a simple thing like working switchboards at hospitals for so many years.

The department now says they are implementing a new telephone system this year, but it remains to be seen if they finally manage to get this right.

I will be following this matter up to ensure that there is reliable telephone communication at all Gauteng public hospitals.

GPL should raise the pride flag this month in solidarity with the LGBTIQ+ community

The LGBTIQ+ community is among the most vulnerable members of society who continue to be victims of various crimes, hence the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is once again demanding that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) should raise the Pride Flag during the pride month in June.

This will go a long way in supporting our Gauteng residents who are members of the LGBTIQ+ community.

During a recent sitting of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, the DA highlighted that the members of the LGBTIQ+ community continue to be killed and victimised because of who they are.

It is with this in mind that we reiterated our call for the pride flag to be raised, as it is our responsibility as members of the GPL to protect all our residents.

For many years we have heard the commitments from Premier David Makhura and even from Executive Mayors in Gauteng that they will set up directorates within their offices to specifically deal with homophobia and transphobia and to date very little has been done.

In addition, the DA demands that the Green Door facilities at police stations are prioritized and that SAPS be trained and sensitized to assist all victims of sex crimes and gender-based violence, even where those victims are from the LGBTIQA+ community.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the GPG to raise the pride flag during this month and to ensure that all police stations are equipped with Green Door facilities.

Gauteng residents are left in service delivery limbo as GDID once again fails to deliver

The well-being of Gauteng residents is once again in jeopardy after yet another dismal performance by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) for the fourth quarter of the 2021/2022 financial year.

GDID is critical to ensuring that basic services infrastructure such as public healthcare facilities, libraries and schools are delivered to our residents unhindered.

However, over the last two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that this department is full of cracks that no amount of plastering will fix.

The fourth quarterly report indicates that the department failed to deliver on its targets set in the following areas:

• Only 50% of operational performance targets were met.
• Of a target of 24 projects, only 13 were completed.
• Wasteful expenditure of R26,8 million and irregular expenditure of R76,7 million was recorded.
• Of a target of 66 conditional assessments of Gauteng-owned buildings, not a single assessment was completed.
• Only 68% of the temporary job opportunities targeted for the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) programme were achieved.

This follows the shocking approval of a budget for the next financial year that is underfunded to the extent that it will prevent the department from meeting its mandate.

In addition, several projects may have to be postponed.

While this department is in a downward spiral ,the acting MEC Jacob Mamabolo pretends that all is well and whitewashes the poor performance of the department with gimmicks and propaganda.

None of this is unknown to the administration of David Makhura, who during the recent State of the Province Address (SOPA) debate lamented the fact that the Department of Infrastructure, because of its poor performance, is not able to meet its mandate.

He went on to strip the department of the responsibility to refurbish Charlotte Maxeke Hospital after the fire, as well as to maintain health facilities.

Despite this, Premier Makhura insists on allocating a budget of R3, 2 billion to the department, with no consequence mechanisms to ensure performance and efficient spending.

The only victims in all this are the residents of Gauteng. The fact that the department is unable to fulfil its mandate means that residents are subjected to longer waiting times at state healthcare facilities and will struggle to find a school near where they live for their children.

The only solution is that Premier Makhura gives in to the demands of the DA and places this department under administration with immediate effect.