Merafong is trying to hide its adverse audit opinion from the ratepayer – why?

While residents of Merafong Local Municipality continue to suffer the indignity of living without water, electricity and regular refuse removal, the municipal council is also intent on hiding the true state of its malaise by keeping residents in the dark about audit outcomes.

The DA shares the concerns and anger of the residents over the shocking state of their once beautiful rural towns. We believe it is best to take residents into our confidence and to be honest about what is going on.

During a council sitting last week, a report was tabled “in committee” about the shocking findings of the Auditor-General on the annual financial statements of the municipality. It is not clear why the item was conducted in committee which means that the public is not allowed in the chamber when the audit report is freely available to the public. However, residents should be aware of the following:

  • Merafong received an adverse audit opinion. This means that according to the Auditor-General, “The financial statements contain material misstatements that are not confined to specific amounts, or the misstatements represent a substantial portion of the financial statements”.
  • The basis for the adverse outcome includes an understatement of assets, an overstatement of debtors, inadequacy of record-keeping, incorrect cash flow statements and various material uncertainties.
  • The municipality is currently legally non-compliant on several counts. Financial statements were not delivered within legal timeframes, were not prepared within legal formats and what was submitted was a lie.
  • Accounting officers awarded bids without inviting competitors, and then they did not monitor the performance of the companies they appointed. This resulted in irregular expenditure of over R33 million.
  • The Municipal Public Accounts Committee lamented in their report that the accounting officer does not know how to prepare financial statements and the origin of the statements is unknown or uncertain.

After a marathon council sitting of over 5 hours, the council made several resolutions that residents should know and monitor:

  • The Executive Mayor is tasked to get urgent help from the provincial government.
  • Permanent staff appointments need to be done urgently to avoid the high level of accountability failures by acting staff.
  • The departments causing most of these findings which are Infrastructure and Electricity in particular need be “scrutinized” for poor performance.

While it is a good sign that the Municipal Public Accounts Committee report was passed by Council at all, residents should take note of the bigger picture. Local governance in Merafong is in terminal distress and ANC infighting is at unprecedented levels. The Municipal Public Accounts Committee report was not written by Municipal Public Accounts Committee because no one has the skills to do it. As a going concern, Merafong should not exist.

The situation in Merafong can be turned around only if there is a political will to get the basics right, so residents can once again be proud of Merafong. Our community members, private security companies, CPFs, and business leaders have been outstanding in keeping our towns going, and we only need a new public governance regime.


Another fire at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital

I am horrified that there was another fire at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital last night.

From reports sent to me it appears to have been outside the main building but affected a parking lot.

Smoke can be seen in the parking lot under the hospital in videos that have been circulating.

The fire was fortunately put out by the fire services.

It is unbelievable that another fire could start at this hospital which spends R40 million a year on security.

A full investigation is needed, and sabotage should definitely be suspected.

And yet we still do not have a report on the devastating fire at the hospital in April last year that started in a store room. Many staff members think that this was deliberately done to cover up the evidence of corruption.

This is the fourth fire at a Gauteng public hospital this year.

There was a fire at temporary structures of the Steve Biko Hospital on 30 May this year, and there was a blaze in a linen closet in a medical ward there on 12 June.

Two weeks ago, a fire occurred at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital near the Covid-19 tents, and it spread to the laundry site before being put out.

In the last 7 years there have been 9 fires in Gauteng hospitals, as well as the unexplained fire at the Gauteng Health head office which burnt down the Bank of Lisbon building and killed three fire fighters.

We need answers from the Gauteng Health Department as to why there are so many fires and what is being done to prevent them.

The non-release of fire investigation reports looks more and more like a cover-up, and the DA will continue to press for them to be made public.

Devastating effect of load-shedding on Gauteng hospitals

I am most concerned by the devastating impact of load shedding on Gauteng’s public hospitals and clinics, including some serious incidents of generators not working.

Even though the Far East Rand Hospital has been exempted by the local municipality from loadshedding, the hospital generators had to kick in on Saturday after a fault at the local power station. On Sunday, however, one of the hospital’s two generators ran out of diesel at 9am and new diesel was only available two hours later.

At the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, the head of internal medicine Professor Adam Mohammed has described the situation when power goes off as “playing Russian roulette with our patients.”

Rahima Moosa Mother and Child hospital has also been badly affected by the power cuts, as detailed by Dr Tim de Maayer in his anguished open letter in May this year.

In Kagiso on the West Rand, the Thusong clinic has been without power since Wednesday last week, with no diesel to work the generator. Nurses do their best to see patients in the dark or outside, but their equipment does not work without electricity.

There is no excuse for running out of diesel, and proper management is needed to ensure it is always available.

But the sad reality is that batteries and generators were not designed to cope with frequent load shedding, so the lives of patients are endangered when this occurs.

Hospitals cannot operate fully even when generators work as their power is only enough for emergency surgery.

It’s not just Eskom power cuts – Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has sometimes cancelled surgery because of power loss from cable theft.

This is all terribly stressful for hospital staff and patients.

Hospitals should be exempted from Eskom power cuts wherever possible, and generators should always be in working order to mitigate the effects of unreliable power supply.



Emfuleni spends R39 million on service providers to clean illegal dumping sites, yet staff claim overtime for the exact same service

Note to Editors: Please find attached soundbite by Kingsol Chabalala MPL here.

The cash-strapped Emfuleni Local Municipality has spent R39 000 000 paying service providers to clear and clean illegal dumping sites for the past five years, while the municipal waste removal workers continue to claim overtime for the same services.

Emfuleni residents have now resorted to disposing of their refuse at various illegal dumping sites because the municipality is failing to render refuse removal services on a regular basis which poses a health hazard.

This was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile in a written reply to the DA’s question tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to MEC Maile, 11 service providers have been appointed in the past five financial years to clean and clear the illegal dumping sites in Emfuleni.

The municipality has been spending an average of R73 920.00 per service provider per month for the past five financial years.

Furthermore, MEC Maile states that the municipality is not capacitated enough to handle illegal dump removals.

The DA believes that this municipality is well capacitated to handle illegal dump removals instead of wasting money on appointing external service providers to do the work.

This municipality continues to pay overtime to waste removal employees as R40 million have been spent in the last five financial years, yet there are service providers appointed to render the same services.

The waste removal employees should be doing the work instead of milking this municipality while there is nothing to show for the work done.

Recently, the municipality was offered a free service to clean dumping sites by a private company but refused to use it and opted instead to pay for the services.

MEC Maile has failed to establish a plan to save Emfuleni from corruption and maladministration. Therefore, the DA will be writing to the Office of the Public Protector to investigate the issue of waste removal in Emfuleni. The DA will not sit with folded hands while corrupt politicians continue to loot the money meant to deliver services to our people.


Multi-Party coalition led City of Johannesburg works to solve Crosby’s electricity issues

Crosby’s electricity woes seem never-ending, but the multi-Party coalition led City of Joburg administration is proactively working to resolve the ongoing power issues.

The residents have been without power since the substation situated at Old Castle Road near corner Katanga Road in Crosby was burnt down last week Tuesday and power was restored over the weekend. However, electricity issues in the Crosby area will continue due to several illegal connections coming from Slovo Park Informal Settlement.

The City of Joburg has worked swiftly and had the burnt-down substation replaced, and power restored to all affected residents.

Load-shedding is also a contributing factor to many power failures across the City of Joburg which is because of Eskom’s incompetency and old infrastructure.

This has resulted in many areas suffering many hours without power. The multi-party coalition led City of Johannesburg is actively working to help its residents to find an alternative solution to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply. It recently held an Energy Indaba to attract investment and start the process of bringing in independent power producers (IPPs) to mitigate the effects of load-shedding. In the DA-governed City of Cape Town, residents are protected from two stages of load shedding through the city’s interventions.

The DA is pleading with the residents to remain calm and reassures them that the multi-party coalition led government in the City of Joburg will continue to push for a sustainable and lasting solution for power issues in Crosby.

Furthermore, we demand that the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile to prioritise the Slovo Park in-situ housing project which will solve the electricity issues in the area.

The multi-party coalition led City of Johannesburg is committed to ensuring that all its residents have access to basic services such as electricity and water supply as part of their golden start commitment. Working together with the residents, we can fix Joburg and make it great again.


14 Gauteng Human Settlements projects were left to invaders while beneficiaries are in dire need of dignified housing

14 building sites and human settlement projects across Gauteng have been left for occupation by illegal invaders in the past five years. 

The inability of the Gauteng MEC of Human Settlements, Lebogang Maile to put in place an operation to remove illegal invaders has left the province unable to fast-track the delivery of houses to many beneficiaries who have been on the waiting list for decades. 

This information was revealed by MEC Maile in a written reply to the DA’s written questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL). 

According to the MEC, the human settlement projects in the following areas have been invaded: 

Ekurhuleni: 4

West Region: 3 

Johannesburg: 1 

Tshwane: 3 

Sedibeng: 3

Many of the projects have been invaded by armed organised individuals and the department has opened 12 cases. This is a huge financial setback for the department as some of the houses were invaded at various stages of construction before completion. 

The illegal invaders have severely negatively impacted the rightful beneficiaries who must now wait longer for their houses. 

The DA demands that the department put measures in place to safeguard their projects to ensure that the illegal invaders are stopped before they attempt to invade housing projects. 

The department must work with the law enforcement agencies across the province to stop and evict these illegal invaders. The only solution to stop the illegal invaders is for the department to ensure that there are no delays in the completion of housing projects. The completed housing projects should be handed over to the rightful beneficiaries immediately after completion so that they are not vulnerable to being invaded. 

The department is losing more money in evicting the illegal invaders and fixing the housing projects that have previously been illegally invaded, hence, it is crucial for the illegal invaders to be stopped before attempting to invade.  

861 urology patients at Bara Hospital wait up to three years for surgery

861 urology patients are on the waiting list for surgery at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (CHBH), some of whom will have to wait as long as three years.

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

There are 10 patients who will wait between two and six weeks for surgery for cancer of the testes, kidney, or bladder, but the worst wait is for 250 patients with benign prostate cancer and 120 patients with urethral stricture (narrowing) who will wait between two and three years.

Other waiting times are as follows:

  • 6 months for 60 malignant prostate cancer patients
  • 2 years for 171 adult patients with undescended testes
  • 1 to 2 years for 150 patients with hydrocele (swelling in the testicle)
  • 6 to 12 months for 100 patients with incontinence

These are very long times to wait for painful conditions, and lives are at risk in the case of cancer delays.

According to Mokgethi, reasons for the long waiting times include the following:

  • many referrals from clinics are un-booked and walk-ins are common.
  • only one of the two urology operating theatres is currently used as the other one is dedicated to Covid-19 cases.
  • cable theft and electricity disruptions/water disruptions/linen shortages all continue to slow services.
  • extra patients from the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital

This very busy urology department sees more than 200 patients a day and needs two more nurses to provide a proper service to them.

It would help if extra capacity was built up at other hospitals to treat urology patients at an earlier stage and only refer the serious cases to CHBH.

Reliable electricity supply and clean linen would also cut down on the serious problem of cancelled operations.



Public Works breaks the law and leaves Ga-Rankuwa SAPS in the dark

The National Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) must account for the power outages that lasted almost 12 months at Ga-Rankuwa Police Station which has been hindering police service delivery to the residents. 

It has come to light that the DPWI removed circuit breakers from an Eskom substation that supplied electricity to both the pathology department and the Ga-Rankuwa police station due to an apparent devolvement of the station. 

Ga-Rankuwa Police Station has since been handed over to the SAPS which is now responsible for its maintenance. 

This information was revealed to the DA during the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) Community Safety Portfolio Committee oversight visit at Ga-Rankuwa Police Station this week. 

The fact that the substation remains the property of Eskom and the station will still be getting electricity supply directly from Eskom, means that Eskom must be responsible for all maintenance repairs and upgrades to the substation. 

According to the report presented during the oversight visit, the DPWI removed the circuit breakers without the involvement of Eskom and without notifying the police. 

This is illegal tampering with state infrastructure, a criminal act and completely unacceptable, which has left the Ga-Rankuwa SAPS in the dark for almost a year and hampered the safety of residents.

It is a relief that power has been restored at the police station, but it’s only an interim measure and according to this report, SAPS will have to procure a new mini substation to ensure that there is a stable electricity supply at the station which can only be done in the next financial year. 

The police station remains vulnerable because this is only an interim solution and could at any point be disconnected yet again. 

The DA believes that there is sufficient provision within the financial regulations to procure the mini substation as an irregular expense within the current financial year at an estimated cost of R500 000 to solve the problem permanently without taking any risks of future electricity failures or further delays. 

The DA believes in the rule of law and demands that an urgent investigation must be done to ascertain whether DPWI did tamper with the substation. Should it be found that these allegations are true, DPWI must be held accountable and face severe consequences for their actions. We will use all the mechanisms at our disposal to ensure that there is accountability so that such incidents never happen again.

Electricity supply is an essential service required for a police station to ensure its safety and to provide police services to the communities.


MEC Mazibuko needs to urgently intervene to restore peace at Gomora, West of Pretoria

The community of Hercules and surrounding areas of Gomora in the West of Pretoria are suffering, and they are unable to go to work and leave their homes unattended or engage in any economic trade due to a hostile strike.

This hostile strike has been caused by some unhappy residents that are tampering with essential infrastructure, yet the police are not doing enough to stop and prevent their acts.

The electricity supply to parts of the Hercules community in Ward 1 and Ward 55 has been tampered with. The DA ward councillors have been on the ground tirelessly facing the acts of terrorism, to show support for their communities and trying restore electricity for the residents even though the infrastructure has been damaged by the strikers. See pictures here, here and here.

The Tshwane coalition MMCs have engaged the community and requested a memorandum with a full list of their grievances that have led to the unlawful and volatile protest that has resulted in a number of cars and houses being damaged by heavy objects. Till this point, no memorandum has been received by the strikers.

The strikers also used petrol bombs which is nothing other than terrorist behaviour.

This is the third day of the strike, yet only seven arrests have been made. Although the police officers and TMPD public order policing were on the scene using rubber bullets to disperse the strikers, they refused to make any further arrests to defuse the situation once and for all.

This afternoon the protest started escalating again when the strikers started looting, vandalizing businesses and torched a truck.

SAPS have driven into the area with a Nyala and proceeded to drive out with no action. This has become a cat and mouse game between SAPS and protestors.

Civil society organisations such as Afriforum have provided SAPS with a drone for the past two days to assist, but SAPS wants the political leadership to assist with resolving the situation instead of doing their job, which is to enforce law and order. SAPS indicated that they will not act without a directive as they don’t want casualties on their hands.

This protest cannot continue any longer. The issues of Gomora require an intergovernmental approach and the DA calls on MEC Lebogang Maile from Cogta to engage the municipality to find a workable solution.

Furthermore, we also demand that the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko provides political direction to ensure that peace is restored in this community that has fallen prey to terrorist acts this entire week.

The MEC must immediately instruct the police to do their job as we cannot afford any more petrol bombs, damage, or further terrorist attacks within this community.