DA submits PAIA application to access GDE R432 million PPE corruption report

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has submitted a Promotion of Access to Information (PAIA) application to force the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to fully make public the R432 million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) corruption report.

The GDE advised the Auditor General that the report would be completed at the end of September last year. However, the DA has been reliably informed that the MEC has the report but not doing anything about it.
Please see the application here.

It is of utmost importance for the Gauteng residents to know how the funds which were meant to decontaminate schools and safeguard their learners were used.

The report contains crucial information on how GDE managed to blow over R400 million within three months.

It has been five months since the Auditor General (AG) probed the matter, and the department committed to releasing the report, but to date, it has not happened.

This has been one of many other promises that the department has failed to accomplish.

The DA will continue to use all the mechanisms at our disposal in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to force the department to make the report public. We will also continue to demand transparency and accountability from this department.

Only one police vehicle per sector for Germiston SAPS

A written parliamentary question from the DA to the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, revealed that the Germiston Police Station only has one police vehicle assigned to each of its five sectors. (See here )

What’s more, vehicles in for repairs can take up to 226 days to return to the fleet, depending on the type of service/repairs required and only 10 of the police officers assigned to the station have attended advanced driving courses, which might explain the ration of one accident a month. (See here)

Given that the second quarter crime statistics indicate rising crime for almost all indicators, it is unacceptable that the station does not have the resources it needs to police the area.

Murder has risen by 5.6%. Sexual offences by 88.9% and rape by 127.3%.

The decrease in crime detected as a result of police action shows the impact broken vehicles have on visible policing, especially in an area as vast as Germiston.

It is time the Police Minister and Gauteng MEC for community safety, Faith Mazibuko, took policing seriously and empowered officers to protect their communities, instead of continuously hobbling them.

Gauteng residents continue to suffer due to the R83.4 million NPO budget cut

Gauteng’s most vulnerable residents particularly, the elderly and orphans, are again facing a bleak future because the Gauteng Department of Social Development has reduced the Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) budget by R83.4 million.

This is a clear indication that this department and the current government are callous and insensitive to the needs and plight of the vulnerable residents of this province.

NPOs play a critical role in ensuring that the vulnerable residents of this province have access to food, shelter, and social services. In most cases, their social workers earn far below the minimum wage, but they continue to provide love and compassion to the older persons and children with whom they have bonded and are often the only family these children have ever known.

This information was revealed in the department’s third-quarter report for the 2022/ 23 financial year.

According to the department’s third quarter report of the year under review, the programme that deals with social services and serves the elderly to provide support to the residential facilities for older persons as well as providing support to community-based care organisations has had its NPO budget decreased by R42.6 million.

The department’s excuse for reducing the budget was because of the re-prioritisation of uncommitted funds from NPOs. It has further stated that some of the NPOs were either suspended or had not signed their Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

The programme that deals with children and families had its NPO budget reduced by R40.8 million which according to the department was due to non-compliant NPOs and again SLAs that were not signed.

In total R83.4 million has been taken away from the NPOs budget. Many NPOs will be forced to shut down because they will be unable to render services and pay salaries to their employees due to budget cuts.

The department continues to turn a blind eye and reprioritizes critical funding that could ensure that many struggling NPOs provide critical services to the most vulnerable residents of Gauteng.

The DA will continue to engage the department to find ways to work with NPOs instead of reducing their budget. The department claims that the NPOs are misusing the funding and to curb such there should be proper monitoring and evaluation of NPOs by the department. Instead of the department punishing the NPOs for noncompliance they should be engaging with the municipalities to institute waivers for NPOs to reduce the complicated compliance regulations.

The DA proposes stringent measures to be put in place such as proper accounting, auditing, and consequence management. This will ensure that NPOs that are found not to be adhering to the processes are taken to account. This is because reducing NPOs funding not only affects the NPOs but has a huge impact on the residents.

Helen Joseph Hospital attack highlights the need for new security tenders

The appalling attack this past weekend on a nurse at the Helen Joseph Hospital highlights the need for new security contracts at Gauteng public hospitals.

Hospital security contracts were last awarded in 2014 for a two-year period that expired in November 2016.

Although an investigation found irregularities in the award of these contracts they have been rolled over on a month-by-month basis for more than six years.

The Auditor-General has condemned this as irregular expenditure every year since, but the Gauteng Health Department has been slow to re-advertise the contracts.

I suspect corruption as many of the contracts are exorbitant and the security companies have failed to prevent theft and violence at hospitals.

New security contracts should be advertised and awarded as soon as possible to ensure cost-effective security that stops thefts and protects staff and patients.

DA’s pressure leads to the demolition budget for HM Pitjie stadium being reduced from R84 million to R19 million

The DA’s pressure has successfully forced the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development to reduce the budget for the demolition of HM Pitjie stadium in Tshwane from R84 million to R19 million.

The R84 million budget was announced during a presentation by the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation to the Parliament Portfolio Committee of Sports on 22 June 2021.

The DA questioned how the department could spend such a ridiculous amount of money on a stadium that is in ruins.

We tabled questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) and delivered member statements in the house demanding that the department review the budget as it was too much and a waste of taxpayers’ money.

DA’s interventions have yielded positive results because the budget has significantly reduced. This means that we have saved R65 million from the department’s coffers that could be used to build 13 state-of-the-art combi courts for R5 million each.

Ironically, the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements and Infrastructure Development, Lebogang Maile, is refuting our statement, which states that the department was going to waste R84 million in demolishing the stadium based on the presentation. This indicates that MEC Maile is clueless about what is happening within the Department of Infrastructure Development, which is mandated to build infrastructure for all the departments.

We will not apologise or retract our statement as we have evidence to prove that we are not misleading the public.

MEC Maile is misleading the public by not telling the truth about the initial budget for demolishing the stadium. MEC Maile will not silence us, we will continue to expose wasteful expenditure and ensure that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation reprioritises its budget to ensure that the money is allocated to render services for the benefit of our residents.

Gauteng communities are in dire need of proper sporting facilities such as this stadium, which will undoubtedly nurture and develop young sporting talent from a grassroots level.

While we welcome the reduction of the budget from R84 million to R19 million, we will continue to monitor the progress of the demolition to ensure that the money is used for the intended purpose.

Rand Water once again leaves Gauteng residents in the lurch

Just one day after the vandalized Palmietfontein pump station was repaired, another burst pipeline has residents in parts of Ekurhuleni, Primrose and Tshwane left without water.

This is a double blow to many residents suffering from two pipeline bursts in five days because of Rand Water’s lack of maintenance and suffering as a consequence of Eskom’s infrastructure failure and the effect of load-shedding on the provision of water and sewer lines.

For a long time now, we have been aware that maintenance, just like infrastructure protection, has become a significant problem at Rand Water. As a result, our residents are feeling the brunt of these systematic failures.

Damaging water infrastructure is robbing our people of life and livelihoods and is tantamount to treason. This should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

It is high time that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) step up to the plate and set up an inter-governmental task team to deal with the vandalism and protect our key infrastructure.

Withdrawal of City Power technicians from Westbury, Claremont further victimises the victims

Gauteng residents living in Westbury and Claremont now not only have to contend with the ongoing gang violence but also need to go without power for long stretches of time. This is because City Power has temporarily withdrawn its employees and technicians from the area due to gang violence.

While it is perfectly understandable that the council-owned entity does not wish to put its employees and contractors at risk, in a normally functioning democracy, the gangsters would have been dealt with, and the technicians would be able to continue their work under the protection of the police services.

The people of Westbury and Claremont are already victims due to poor government services; they are victims because their suburbs are overrun with gangsters and violence, and they are now further victimised by being without electricity for long periods because of the withdrawal of City Power officials.

To further inflame the situation, politicians from populist and xenophobic parties such as the Patriotic Alliance propose that their members go to these suburbs to “protect” the technicians from City Power as they do their work. How can one send untrained people into volatile situations such as this?

If anything goes wrong, Gayton McKenzie will have to take responsibility for innocent people being hurt or, even worse, killed.

Culpability for the people of Westbury and Claremont suffering this indignity lies fairly and squarely on the shoulders of the ANC. A hollowed criminal justice system foisted untrained policemen and women on us and has mismanaged the SAPS to the extent that lack of resources, skills and expertise is the order of the day.

No wonder our residents are feeling hopeless, and our country is on the verge of being a failed state.

Then you have politicians like Premier Panyaza Lesufi, who, in his endeavour to ensure that empty electoral promises blind people, undertakes to provide 6000 crime wardens, six helicopters, 180 drones, e-panic buttons, and CCTV cameras on every street.

In order to deal with the policing weaknesses, the DA has introduced to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature the Community Safety Oversight Bill, which will give the MEC more powers and ensure the police have adequate resources to do their jobs.

A change of government in 2024 is the only way in which we can change the status quo.

Sign our petition here.

No relief in sight for Gauteng residents from rolling blackouts as the government fails to put proper plans in place

Gauteng residents will continue to suffer through rolling blackouts while the provincial government does absolutely nothing to assist in solving this crisis.

Earlier this month, the Democratic Alliance (DA) tabled questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to Premier Lesufi regarding the Gauteng government’s plans to reduce the number of blackouts experienced by Gauteng residents.

We have since been informed that the Premier has requested an extension on answering these questions on 20 February 2023 to 13 March 2023. See letter here.

These questions were submitted during the first week of February and sought answers to the following questions:
1. With regards to the research that was conducted to determine whether Gauteng dams are suitable to be used for the generation of hydroelectricity, could the Premier please explain why the dams are not viable?
2. Which company/entity carried out this research?
3. What amount in rands and cents was spent on this research?
4. Does Gauteng have a Green Economy War Room?
5. If yes, what is the budget in rands and Cents?
6. Could you please provide a list of the work completed by the Green Economy War Room?

What support is the Gauteng government providing to municipalities to help them procure extra electricity from Independent Power Producers?
The fact that Premier Panyaza Lesufi has asked for an extension to answer these questions is a clear indication that they have absolutely no tangible solution in place. This despite announcing during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) last week that plans are afoot to establish a solar farm in Merafong.

The DA is waiting in anticipation for Premier Lesufi’s answers. We will also conduct unannounced oversight visits to all the places he mentioned in his SOPA last week that will be equipped with an alternate supply of energy to be utilised during loadshedding.


National Government must support Rand Water to prevent continued vandalism of bulk water infrastructure

Over the last five days whole parts of the City of Tshwane have grappled without water due to a lack of supply from Rand Water. The primary driver of these shortages have been incidents of vandalism which have taken place alongside planned maintenance operations.

Theft and vandalism of our critical bulk infrastructure should be treated with the highest urgency and the South Africa Police Service must deploy to assist and support Rand Water. Criminal syndicates are now freely accessing and damaging our water networks and compromising the water supply to the entire province.

On 23 February before the planned shutdown to do a tie on the S4 pipeline, Rand Water suffered vandalism which had a direct impact on both the Mapleton and Palmiet supply networks to Tshwane. This significantly affected the City of Tshwane’s efforts to manage its reservoir levels in preparation of the 30 hour shutdown for the maintenance on the S4 pipeline.

Rand Water proceeded with the shutdown on the pipeline which meant that parts of the City of Tshwane would be negatively affected as Rand Water reservoirs would drop to zero.

Then another incident of vandalism occurred in the Germiston area on Sunday 26 February which has further compromised supply to the city on the H3 pipeline. The most recent information from Rand Water indicates that this incident of vandalism could lead to water shortages “for a number of days”.

Ward Councillors in Tshwane are facing the brunt of immense anger and frustration from residents who have spent days without water. While the City of Tshwane is forced to pay for the continued use of water tankers driving up its costs.

The DA in Tshwane call on the Department of Water and Sanitation to immediately deploy additional security to support Rand Water in securing their infrastructure. We also need more continuous communication on when the most recent incident of vandalism will be resolved so that residents of Tshwane can receive water again.

The water crisis is becoming a bigger problem across a number of municipalities in Gauteng. It is therefore vital that the Provincial Government must also join in with the municipalities in Gauteng to drive a programme and put pressure on National government and other relevant entities such as Randwater and Eskom, to find a permanent solution to this crisis.


Gauteng Hospitals don’t have fire clearance certificates

Fire risk at Gauteng’s public hospitals is high as only 2 out of 37 hospitals have valid fire clearance certificates, mostly because they don’t have floor plans and adequate fire detection systems.

This alarming information is disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The only hospitals with valid fire certificates are the Thelle Mogoerane and Bertha Gxowa hospitals. While the Jubilee and Odi hospitals claim they have valid certificates this is only for part of their buildings as they do not have fully functional fire detection systems.

Responsibility for fire compliance falls with the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) and hospital CEOs. Fire assessments should be done annually by the local authority and by the DID, but this does not always happen, and those that are done do not result in compliant hospitals.

In the case of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, the last fire assessment was done in 2016 and they were found to be non-compliant. They recently engaged the City of Johannesburg and are awaiting the report on an inspection done in October last year.

Responses from other major hospitals include the following:

• Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital “only obtains a valid fire clearance if it complies with the relevant fire by-laws.”

• George Mukhari Hospital is non-compliant due to old infrastructure and lack of maintenance.

• Steve Biko Hospital – the “ancient architecture poses a problem in meeting the revised and safety latest requirements.”

• Tembisa Hospital – non-compliance of the hospital infrastructure (safety hazards) and insufficient fire equipment.

• Helen Joseph Hospital – no hospital floor plans and the fire detection does not cover not all areas.

• Kalafong Hospital – the hospital does not have floor plans.

• Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital – facility needs to be inspected and assessed for compliance, and a fire detection system needs to be installed.

• Edenvale Hospital – it was built in 1937, the last revamp was in 2006, and the fire safety systems are obsolete.

• Tambo Memorial Hospital – non-compliant with Ekurhuleni Emergency Services by-laws.

• Sebokeng Hospital – does not have functional fire equipment and insufficient emergency exits, and is awaiting the Department to do the inspection.

• Far East Rand Hospital – no emergency exit due to structural challenges, only some floors have emergency exit doors.

• South Rand Hospital – old infrastructure as it was built in 1954, and was declared non-compliant on 9 June 2021.

Some hospitals say they can be forced to stop operating if they are declared a fire hazard, while others claim they will remain open due to their critical mandate to provide health care.

There have been at least 8 Gauteng hospital fires in the last seven years. These occurred at the Charlotte Maxeke, Chris Hani Baragwanath, Steve Biko, Tambo, Bheki Mlangeni, and Carletonville hospitals, but none of them have adequate fire prevention measures to prevent a repeat.

It is scandalous that so little has been done to upgrade fire security at our hospitals. We need to know what firm measures are being taken to ensure staff and patients are protected from fire hazards.