Maile illegally intervenes in motion of no confidence against ANC Rand West Mayor

It is very disturbing that the tabled motion of no confidence against the ANC Mayor of Rand West City Local Municipality, Gladys Khoza will no longer go ahead because the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile has decided to call for an “urgent meeting” to discuss a possible intervention.

The council sitting notice was served to councillors last week and a motion was submitted last month which was supposed to be debated and voted upon tomorrow, 27 July. The fact that MEC Maile has called for an “urgent meeting” is once again a way of trying to illegally intervene with council business which he does not have a legal right to do so.

It is known that the ANC lost a ward in Bekkersdale in the recent by-elections, Maile therefore acutely aware that there they do not have the numbers to defend the motion if it is processed tabled. Hence MEC Maile has decided to abuse his office to play party politics and continue to protect his own comrades.

This so called “urgent intervention meeting” could have taken place on any day of the previous week or even today but is so unsurprisingly taking place on the day when Council is meeting. This is also yet another way attempt to keep a failing Mayor in office. Instead of MEC Maile concentrating on his own work he opts to rather get involved in party politics.

The DA is demanding that Premier David Makhura intervenes in this matter urgently and fires MEC Maile for overstepping on his core mandate. This is not the first time that MEC Maile has overstepped, in 2019 he illegally placed the Tshwane Metro Municipality under administration. The DA proceeded to take the matter to court and won the case while he lost at every court in the country.

It is unfair that our residents are put in a position where they are unable to get the basic services they rightfully deserve as they religiously pay their rates and taxes. The DA will use all the mechanisms at our disposal to ensure that this motion of no confidence goes ahead.

Gauteng spends R35 million per month on office rentals while government-owned buildings are standing empty

It is very concerning that the Gauteng Provincial Government spends R35 million per month to rent offices for its officials despite owning many buildings across the province.

This is the result of the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development’s inability to implement the planned Kopanong Precinct project in downtown Johannesburg. This project was meant to provide office space for officials of the administration. This information was revealed in a reply to questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

See the reply here

The Kopanong Precinct project has been on the books since 2003, but because of a lack of skills and expertise, poor planning, political gymnastics and false starts, the project is still in the planning phase.

Many of the buildings identified for this project are owned by the government, have deteriorated in the interim and have contributed to the crime and grime in downtown Johannesburg.

One such building was the Bank of Lisbon building, which had to be demolished because of government negligence and incompetence. Many other buildings owned by the government are not compliant with health and safety regulations, which is yet another obligation of the government in which it has failed.

Both Premier David Makhura and her MEC for Infrastructure Development, Tasneem Motara must accept culpability for the lack of resources, expertise, systems, and processes to manage the substantial property portfolio of the Gauteng government.

The DA will be conducting oversight inspections of these buildings, and we will also be engaging directly with the MEC for Infrastructure Development on our findings.

In terms of the social contract, the government owes its citizens an obligation of care in ensuring the best value for every Rand spent. In this case, government politicians treat the public purse as their personal piggy bank and do not deliver the required service or skills.

1954 deaths due to negligence in Gauteng hospitals

Gauteng public hospitals recorded 1954 deaths last year due to Severe Adverse Events (SAEs), which are defined as unintended harm to the patient by an act of commission or omission rather than by the underlying disease or condition of the patient.

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

According to Mokgethi, these deaths gave rise to only 28 disciplinary cases. How can there be so few disciplinary cases in this matter?

These SAEs have so far resulted in 13 litigation cases, and 31 referrals for mediation.

The worst hospital by far was Kalafong hospital which had an astounding 1015 SAEs last year.

This compares to the similar-size Helen Joseph and Tembisa hospitals which had 587 and 626 SAEs respectively, which are also unacceptably high.

The four large academic hospitals had the following number of SAEs:

• Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – 854 SAEs
• George Mukhari Hospital – 453 SAEs
• Steve Biko Hospital – 330 SAEs
• Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital- 212 SAEs

Other hospitals with disturbingly high SAEs in relation to their patient numbers include the following:

• Leratong Hospital – 395 SAEs
• Weskoppies Psychiatric Hospital – 367 SAEs
• Pholosong Hospital – 239 SAEs
• Sebokeng Hospital – 206 SAEs
• Mamelodi Hospital – 194 SAEs
• Edenvale Hospital – 157 SAEs
• Bertha Gxowa Hospital – 134 SAEs
• Jubilee Hospital – 122 SAEs
• Bheki Mlangeni Hospital – 118 SAEs

It is horrifying that there have been so many deaths and injuries to patients because of avoidable negligence.

This is why medical negligence claims continue to rocket, with courts awarding massive payouts.

Hospitals should be only about healing rather than places where patients are harmed.

The Gauteng Health Department needs to drastically improve hospital management, and ensure there are adequate and well-trained staff with proper equipment.


DA to engage the City of Joburg to investigate electrocution in Crosby

The DA will engage the City of Johannesburg to investigate the allegations that the ANC Ward 58 Councillor and a City Power official told the residents in Crosby that when the lights trip, they are allowed to go to the mini-substation and restore power and had even provided a key to access the mini-substation.

This followed the electrocution of a Crosby resident after trying to restore power to the area. The victim was released from hospital on Thursday.

Some residents have alleged in a string of messages from a community WhatsApp group that in a meeting held earlier in July, the ANC Ward 58 Councillor and a City Power official allegedly informed the residents to restore electricity when it trips at the mini substation. They claim that they were told that they should do it themselves to avoid having to log calls and waiting for City Power contractors to attend to the fault.

The DA will request an immediate investigation into the matter to establish whether the ANC Ward Councillor and City Power official did indeed give permission and supplied a key for residents to access the mini-substation and restore power as and when required. The investigators must interview residents in the area and establish what was said, and who said what. The DA will also be engaging to MMC Michael Sun to have City Power investigate the newly installed mini substation as residents are complaining of daily power trips since installation.

Should these allegations prove to be true, those implicated should be held liable. According to news reports, the City of Joburg and City Power have laid charges against the electrocuted resident, however an investigation into the Councillor and City Power official is essential. Residents should not have access to the mini substation as it carries high voltage and is extremely dangerous, especially to a lay person.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile, to prioritise the Slovo Park in-situ housing project which will help solve the electricity issues in the area. It is understandably frustrating for residents of Crosby to go every single day with power outages which can last for hours due to the number of illegal connections in the area. This housing development project must begin to bring dignity to the residents of Slovo Park, get rid of the filth in the area and bring a stable electricity supply to the residents of Crosby and Slovo Park.

The DA understands the frustration of residents having to face daily power outages, but I urge that residents to please not touch the substations and mini-substations and log calls and have City Power attend to the fault. The City of Joburg must also ascertain the causes of constant power outages in the area and find a permanent solution.

Seven hundred and eighty -five ops cancelled at Charlotte Maxeke hospital as 2677 patients wait for surgery

Over 780 operations were cancelled at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital last year, worsening the long waiting lists for surgery which has grown to 2677 patients.

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

Paediatric surgery was the most affected, with 610 cancelled operations. The other cancellations were as follows:

• 80 Cardiothoracic ops cancelled
• 40 Gastrointestinal ops cancelled
• 25 Breast clinic, Endocrine and Soft Tissue ops cancelled
• 20 Neurosurgery ops cancelled
• 10 Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) ops cancelled

The largest waiting list is for Orthopaedics, with 833 patients who could wait up to two years for surgery.

Paediatric surgery has 453 child patients who will wait between 6 months and two years.

There are 200 cataract patients who will wait between 6 and 8 months for surgery, 137 neurosurgery patients will wait for six months, and 109 urology patients will wait between 4 and 6 months.

I think these figures underestimate the true situation as it does not include the long waiting periods for many patients to be diagnosed by a specialist before they are placed on the waiting lists for surgery.

Insufficient theatre time and the shortage of ICU beds are the major reasons for the cancellation of operations.

Disruption from Covid-19 and the partial closure of the hospital due to the fire in April last year are other factors.

It’s particularly upsetting that many children suffer from the surgery delays.

This highlights the need to fully re-open the hospital as soon as possible, and to expand the operating theatre and ICU capacity in order to drastically cut the surgery waiting lists.

Thousands of jobs are on the line due to continued rolling blackouts and investor uncertainty

Thousands of jobs are currently at risk in Gauteng due to the continued implementation of rolling blackouts by State Owned Entity (SOE) Eskom. This is having a negative impact on the economy and possible investment opportunities by the private sector, particularly from international investors.

The Gauteng Infrastructure Agency (GIFA) which is tasked with seeking investment opportunities from the private sector will have an even more difficult time doing so because of the unstable electricity grid.

Projects like the Sedibeng Fresh Produce Market has the potential of creating at least 4000 jobs, while the Merafong Bio-Energy Project has the potential of creating at least 8000 jobs with the help of private investors.

Given the current unemployment rate in the province which currently stands at 36.7%, the unstable power grid will only add to the number of people who find themselves unemployed because businesses are unable to trade for between six and eight hours a day.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will continue to demand that the Gauteng Provincial Government, under the leadership of Premier David Makhura, assists municipalities to procure additional electricity from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

This is the only way in which the wheels of the economy can continue to turn with minimal interruption. Should this trend of rolling blackouts continue, it means that our economy will not be able to grow, and employment opportunities will become non-existent causing our unemployment rate in the province to soar.

Staff scared of snake at Katlehong clinic

Treatment at the Magagula clinic in Katlehong has been severely disrupted because a cleaner spotted a snake inside the clinic on Monday 11 July, but snake catchers could not find it and staff fear that the snake is still around.

Staff were evacuated when the snake was first spotted, and snake catchers arrived the next day. After failing to find the snake they said that the snake could still be hiding in boxes in the clinic.

On Thursday last week the clinic’s management promised that the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) would take the boxes and furniture outside, but GDID workers refused to do this as they are also scared of snakes.

The clinic is a four-roomed house packed with boxes where the snake could be hiding.

Clinic staff have not worked in the clinic for seven days in the last two weeks, and are requesting to work in other clinics.

Meanwhile, patients are suffering because of the disruption in treatment.

I have alerted the Gauteng Head of Department to this sad situation which cannot be allowed to continue.

Professionals should be brought in to thoroughly examine the clinic to ensure that staff and patients are safe from the snake.

GDE online application system already experiencing glitches on the first day of applications

It is very worrying that on the first day that online applications for placement of Grade 1 and Grade 8 learners opens, the system already has glitches.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has received numerous calls from anxious parents regarding the online application system.

According to the parents I spoke to, the system is not allowing parents to select schools, is not showing the correct home address and indicates that there are no schools available.

The current system is not able to handle the amount of traffic as registration was only available for a few minutes after 8am this morning.

Furthermore, the address function does not always automatically locate where you are, which then forces you to type in an address and location on the online map function.

To fix this problem, the online map should have a ‘use this current location’ function to automatically pick up your location.

In addition, because of the high traffic volumes, the system is hanging and therefore takes parents back to the beginning of the online registration process.

The DA is demanding that the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) urgently fixes the current glitches in the system so that parents can apply for schools for their children as soon as possible. Furthermore, we are also urging the department to allow parents to rank their school choices from the first choice to the last choice and ensure that they are allowed to choose up to five schools as currently the system only allows for three choices.

We will be keeping a close eye on this system as we cannot have a situation where we have many unplaced learners at the start of the new school year. No child should be denied their right to education because the GDE is unable to get their ducks in a row.

Broken switchboard at Charlotte Maxeke hospital

I have been receiving complaints that anxious relatives have been unable to contact the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital as their phones are broken.

I tested this myself several times, receiving a message that my call could not be completed.

It is unclear why the switchboard is broken, but the hospital has blamed load-shedding in the past for telephone failures.

According to a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature earlier this year, 25 public hospitals have recently experienced switchboard problems, sometimes for weeks on end.

Most of these problems are blamed on outdated switchboards.

It is hugely distressing when people can’t get through to a hospital to find out how their loved ones are doing.

Patients also lose out when they cannot contact hospitals to get information for their medical needs.

And staff have to use their own mobile phones to contact patients.

Some hospitals have had persistent telephone problems for more than ten years.

I will continue to push for the upgrading of switchboards in our hospitals as they perform a vital function.

Game-based Education could be a game changer for learners

The integration of gaming, coding and physical wellness activities into our learning curriculum could prove to be more relevant to learners to prepare them for a modern economy. A step the Gauteng Department of Education should seriously consider introducing in mainstream schools.

During the Democratic Alliance (DA) oversight inspection at the Centennial Independent School, we discovered that activities like e-sporting, yoga, coding, and boxing play a crucial in improving learning, development and imparting social and entrepreneurship skills to learners.

This specific learning also plays a key component in the learner’s mental health and seems to be a strategic move to improve the children’s development.

While there is a positive move in our provincial technical schools, the Department of Education should consider incorporating necessary skills that will provide a platform for learners to create income for themselves.

This will encourage learners to venture into entrepreneurship which will also help improve our economy.

Helping learners adapt to the fourth industrial revolution way of thinking can only create a brighter future for Gauteng learners.

The DA will be conducting oversight inspections of several independent schools across the province to assess how the schools are performing and to see if there are any safety, security, and infrastructural-related issues.

Learners in independent schools like any other learner in a public school deserve access to much-needed resources as well as a conducive learning and teaching environment.