Honourable MPLs, Activists, Democrats and distinguished guests,
In just a few days’ time, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi will deliver his very first State of the Province Address (SOPA). He will no doubt try and paint a picture of a thriving province under the leadership of the ANC. But we all know that this is not the case. Unemployment is rife, NGOs are not being paid on time, only one new school has been opened this year and the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) has still not rolled out its broadband network so that all our residents are able to connect to the internet. The list of the challenges that our residents are faced daily is endless.
Let’s take a look at the promises Premier Lesufi made late last year:
• Pay service providers on time (currently, this is the only department that does not pay service providers on time);
• Capacitate and refurbish hospitals;
• Establish a state-owned pharmaceutical entity.
Regarding the Gauteng Township Tourism Economic Development Act, Government will now buy goods and services from townships, informal settlements, and hostels;
• Allocate R650 million to the creation and operation of spaza shops by South Africans;
• Allocate R150 million to train young South African entrepreneurs who want to start and operate their own small businesses and begin to provide goods and services for the GPG;
• Develop a database of all businesses in our townships;
• Allocate R50 million to renew existing stalls of informal traders operating in townships, informal settlements and hostels;
• Build the Lanseria Smart City to be home to 3.5 million South Africans. GPG has concluded the investment and the plan. This is a long-term project, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
• Establish SA’s first provincial state bank.
• Introduce new schools of specialisation, equipping learners with specialised skills, relevant to the economy.
• The Department of Education will continue with the rollout of ICT in township schools,
• Continuously improve the online admission of grades 1 and 8,
• As MEC of Education in July 2022 premier promised that online school applications would run smoothly, with no glitches or hassles.
• Reclaim the number one spot in the National Senior Certificate results.
• Fight lawlessness and vandalism (the destruction of public infrastructure such as robots, streetlights, community halls, stadiums etc.);
• Create a new e-security network (face recognition CCTVs across Gauteng to monitor movements and e-panic buttons);
• Attain five helicopters per region in the province for rapid response to criminal activity;
• Attain high-powered vehicles for rapid response to criminal activity;
• Acquire 1,800 drones;
• Establish a state-run 24/7 anti-land invasion unit.
Transport and Logistics:
• Ensure that the e-tolls are scrapped;
• Refunding those who paid their etolls over the years
• Assist with tarring roads and fixing potholes in informal settlements and townships specifically (supplement Local Government’s role of tarring roads in local communities and wards).
COGTA, e-Government and Research Development:
• Ensure conflict resolution and mediation for unstable Coalition Governments.
• Key intervention areas for the Department of e-Government will be to enhance the use of technology in crime interventions by focusing on the introduction of an integrated intelligence operation centre, introduction of e-panic buttons, installation of face recognition CCTV, high-quality drones, tracking strategic assets of the state and cashless and paperless provincial services.
Human Settlements and Infrastructure Development:
• Change the face of the five provincial hostels;
• Land release (releasing lots to young South Africans).
• The Department of Human Settlements is mandated to accelerate the building of houses in townships, transforming all hostels to become habitable, releasing serviced land to young people to build their own houses and improving the quality of lives of people living in Township Informal Settlements and Hostels (TISH).
• The Department of Infrastructure Development will ensure the completion of incomplete infrastructure projects and accelerate infrastructure delivery in TISH areas.
• Formulate a new revenue model to take away the debt of SANRAL (scrapping of e-tolls) and use the relevant laws; and in agreement with National Government, help establish a state bank and pharmaceutical entity.
• Upgrade libraries and sports facilities, in the townships in particular.
• Open applications for rehabilitation for six months for Nyapoye addicts (youth, children);
• Create shelters for homeless people.
Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi promised to address the issues of the Khulumani Support Group, which consists of more than one hundred people who have been sleeping on the premises of the Constitutional Court (ConCourt), demanding for the government to compensate them for their suffering under the apartheid regime.
My fellow democrats,
We know that unemployment is rife in our province, particularly amongst our youth. To this end, a commitment was made by the Department of Social Development to fight youth unemployment in the province. Whilst the department has met this target, using unaccredited organisations providing useless qualifications is not an investment for our youth, the training provided by these organisations is a waste of time.
Furthermore, poverty alleviation in the province can only take place if NGOs are paid on time. The non-payment and late payments remain a serious challenge. There is poor innovation to interrogate why NGOs become non-compliant when the municipalities do not issue health certificates. In addition, when NGOs and NPOs do not receive their funding on time, they cannot pay staff salaries and the vulnerable suffer.
R122 million was set aside by Social Development to spend on the procurement of dignity packs. Some of this money was meant to be spent on cooperatives that are vulnerable women. The recipients of the dignity packs are mainly girls who then miss days of schooling because of menstruation or use homemade unhygienic products.
The target of rehabiliting 5000 nyaope users has not been reached. Only 400 were assisted. The farm that Premier Lesufi wanted to established has not yet been registered. This is only a pipe dream.
Homelessness, human trafficking and Gender Based Violence (GBV) are increasing on a daily basis. It is very worrying that our government units have no clear understanding of this pandemic, which means that there is no real plan in place to counter this.
Gauteng is the economic hub of the country. It is often the transit point for goods. But our roads which should be in tip-top condition are nothing to write home about. Our roads are littered with potholes, maintenance companies are not appointed on time to ensure that our roads are resurfaced.
In 2013, when e-Tolls were implemented we were informed that the revenue that will be generated will be used to maintain our roads, however, it never happened. Last year, an announcement was made on the scrapping of e-Tolls and we were never informed about were Gauteng’s portion of the debt will come from. This means that Gauteng residents will be made to pay for the provincial government’s part of the debt. Once again, without properly consulting us, the residents of this province.
Our roads in this province are in atrocious condition. During an oversight inspection last year of the R101 road in Tshwane. This is an extremely busy road that is littered with potholes. To make matters even worse there is a high accident rate on this road as there is no proper signage.
The maintenance of our infrastructure is critical if we want to have an economy that grows. There is a significant backlog of infrastructure projects in the province, which has led to a shortage of housing, roads, and other basic services.
• Corruption and mismanagement: Corruption and mismanagement have been a persistent problem in the GDID, and it is imperative that the Premier takes steps to address these issues. This includes implementing transparent procurement processes and strengthening internal controls to prevent corruption and mismanagement from occurring.
• Funding constraints: The GDID faces significant funding constraints, which limits its ability to undertake large-scale infrastructure projects.
• Skill shortages: The GDID faces a shortage of skilled personnel, which affects its ability to carry out infrastructure projects effectively.
The backlog of infrastructure to the tune of billions of rands is not likely to be reduced to acceptable levels in the next 10 years. This is because the fiscus has been stripped because of poor policies, mismanagement, inefficiency and wastage. The DA will have to fix the mess the ANC-led government has created when we take over governance after the 2024 general elections.
GDID can better utilise the EPWP to create jobs and opportunities by taking the following steps:
• Incorporating EPWP into infrastructure projects: The GDID can incorporate EPWP principles into its infrastructure projects by ensuring that a portion of the workforce required for each project is made up of people from the local community. This will help to create job opportunities and provide local residents with the skills and experience necessary for future employment.
• Working with local communities: The GDID can work with local communities to identify projects that will benefit the community and provide job opportunities. This can include projects such as road building, housing development, and community park maintenance, among others.
• Building partnerships with the private sector: The GDID can build partnerships with the private sector to provide training and skills development opportunities to people participating in the EPWP. This can include training in construction skills, project management, and other related areas.
• Fostering entrepreneurship: The GDID can foster entrepreneurship by providing EPWP participants with business skills training and financial support. This can help to create new businesses and job opportunities in the local community.
• Measuring and tracking outcomes: The GDID can measure and track the outcomes of its EPWP projects, including the number of job opportunities created, the skills development of EPWP participants, and the impact on the local community. This information can be used to improve the programme and ensure its effectiveness.
By taking these steps, GDID can better utilise the EPWP to create job opportunities and have a positive impact on the local community.
Our residents who live in Reiger Park, Eldorado Park and Westbury continue to live in fear because of the ongoing gang violence. This week community leader, Ayob Mungalee, known as the Ultimate Warrior X. Mungalee was brutally killed in a shooting in Eldorado Park on Sunday evening. There has been a continuous rise in the number of fatal shooting incidents, with people being shot daily.
Mungalee has been a vital role player within the community in raising awareness about the brutal killings, gangsterism and other socio-economic issues contributing to the violence in the community.
It is alleged that a hit list was shared at the end of last year with various community leaders’ names. A case was opened at the Eldorado Park police station, and this case number has been shared with us. This is a clear indication that the safety of all Gauteng residents is under threat due to a lack of resources in our police stations. Most of our police stations are under resources and unable to prevent crime and ensure residents’ safety.
My Fellow Democrats,
The Gauteng Department of Economic Development has several entities that are meant to assist small business owners. But instead of using entities like the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) to grow the township economy, Premier Lesufi has opted to instead establish a provincial state bank. But no mention is made of where the money for this will come from and what will happen to the entities that already exist to assist small businesses.
In addition, another entity that is clearly failing in doing what it has been mandated to do is the Gauteng Liquor Board (GLB). We have received numerous complaints that the offices of the GLB are not accessible to members of the public who which to track the status of their application. This is because the office either has staff on sick leave or staff are not at their desks. This could potentially lead to businesses that do wish to comply being forced to trade without a liquor licence. Furthermore, there is continuous non-compliance with liquor outlet licences issued to outlets situated in close vicinity to places of education and worship. This is in direct contravention of the Gauteng Liquor Act.
The Township Economic Development Act has not yet made an impact on any lives, yet we now want to create a provincial state-owned bank.
Under expenditure and fruitless and wasteful expenditure will continue to rise because treasury guidelines are not followed in resolving these issues. Some outstanding investigations are decades old and cadres have long moved on without consequences.
Service delivery continues to be hindered by government officials who are intent on looting the public purse.
The report by Corruption Watch focuses on corruption in the public and private sectors and identified corruption being reported in the following areas.
• 27% – Bribery/Extortion
• 21%- Abuse of power
• 19%- Fraud
• 18%- Dereliction of duty
• 15%- Misappropriation of resources
This province has a huge problem with irregular expenditure. –
According to the report that deals with the Public Finance Management Act Provincial Audit outcomes that was released last year, irregular expenditure to the tune of R9,73 billion was incurred, while fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounted to R378 million.
The only way in which the provincial government will be able to clamp down on this is to ensure that consequence management takes place.
Loadshedding is also negatively impacting our economy. For the last few months, we have been subjected to ongoing blackouts because Eskom is unable to generate enough electricity. Coupled with this our infrastructure is old and falling apart. Our substations were not meant to be constantly switched on and off and this more often than not leads to power surges and electricity tripping. Our residents are then left without power for longer than needed because of this.
The continuous blackouts also have a ripple effect on our water supply. During the last few months, we have experienced extremely hot water weather in our province. But because of the ongoing loadshedding, our reservoirs do not have sufficient time to fill up with enough water leading to low pressure. Residents are then without water or only a trickle of water. Besides our residents not having access to water, the sewage system is also affected because of the low pressure meaning that our sewage pipes are at risk of bursting. Late last year at the height of the rolling blackouts in our province, we tabled questions to Premier Lesufi about utilising the Vaal Dam for hydroelectricity in the province. The response we got stated that none of the dams in this province is viable to be used for hydroelectricity.
Earlier I mentioned that having adequate infrastructure is key to a thriving economy. We know that Gauteng is the hub of the economy and that we have many people migrating to the province on a daily basis. This means more pressure on our infrastructure that was only meant to cater for a certain amount of people. It means that more clinics, hospitals, schools and libraries need to be built. But since the start of the year, only one school was built and opened this year. We have many projects like Braamfischer Primary, Rustervaal Secondary, Nancefield Primary and Mayibuye that are on hold, while our learners are forced to be taught in dilapidated mobile classrooms.
Overcrowding in our schools is also a problem. Realogile Secondary school in Alex has 98 learners in one class, Carter primary in Alex has 80 grade 1 learners while Thorntree Primary has 77 learners in one mobile classroom. At primary, the maximum amount of learners in a class is 40 and in high school 35. These are just a few schools where there is overcrowding and dilapidated school infrastructure.
To add more fuel to this fire, the online system, which Premier Lesufi promised would work without any glitches when he was still the MEC for Education, left many learners unplaced for the new school year. This year we have seen an increase in incidents of violence at schools, gangsterism, theft and killings. Our learners need a safe environment in which to be taught. More needs to be done to ensure that there is adequate security at all our schools.
Activists, Democrats, Members of the Provincial Legislature,
Our health department is the top offender when it comes to not paying service providers on time. This means that the service provider is unable to pay salaries and cannot pay the overheads due. This needs to change urgently.
Just last week we revealed that there are more than 36000 patients waiting for surgery in our hospitals. With some for as long as five years. Let me repeat that 36000 patients waiting for surgery some as long as five years. Again, here infrastructure is a major problem. Some of our hospitals are crumbling and half of our hospitals do not comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
To ease the pressure on the Tembisa hospital, Premier Lesufi should make good on his promise to build a new hospital in Kempton Park.
During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, R500 million was wasted on the Anglo Ashanti Hospital on the West Rand. We need to know who took this decision. What action has been taken? How will the money lost be recouped?
The Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation has underspent with over R110 million for this quarter alone. School sports programmes have lost over R10 million. This means that our children who would have been exposed to positive extramural activities will now fall prey to the evils of drugs and crime.
The Women’s Living Heritage Museum in Tshwane is still not operational, yet it was completed in 2014.
Local Government, Human Settlements, and our Municipalities
The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs plays an integral role in providing support to our municipalities. They should also be the first to step in when a municipality like Emfuleni struggles to deliver basic services. Since 2017, Emfuleni has been under administration, but there has been no improvement in the quality of service delivery. The quality of life of our people living in Emfuleni has not improved.
This municipality is unable to pay salaries and cannot pay its debts. Waste collection has collapsed, and a house burnt down because this municipality cannot afford to put diesel in their fire trucks. The debt owed to Eskom and Rand Water keeps increasing and yet billing is irregular and inaccurate, with revenue collection erratic.
Gauteng has a huge housing backlog. The Slovo Park Informal Settlement adjacent to Crosby in Johannesburg was identified for an in-situ upgrade in the 2019/2020 financial year. This project was to be rolled out in two phases an in-situ upgrade and Green Fields which will yield 1832 units. To date, there has been no movement on this. Slovo Park residents are forced to live in squalor and residents of Crosby live in similar conditions due to the illegal electricity connections, water connections and sewage running down the streets.
The Department of Human Settlements continues to fail to reach any of its targets despite a comprehensive turnaround strategy.
This can be attributed to a lack of effective leadership, absent political and operational accountability, poor and exaggerated goal setting, ineffective controls, deficiencies in institutional knowledge, zero effective capacitation and training and little to no consequence management.
This is all made much worse by the department’s failure to recognise the serious challenges faced by the lack of bulk infrastructure and poor planning.
The department lacks direction, and cohesion, and is thus unable to perform its core mandate.
Several projects across the province are incomplete and there is a continued regularity of underspending with more than 350 blocked, delayed, and incomplete housing projects in Gauteng waiting for completion.
Zero targets are achieved in many programmes of this department.
Contractors have either disappeared or abandoned their projects, the properties then being vandalised and destroyed.
The failure to spend R236 million during the 2021/22 financial year on various projects is reflective of a systemic practice of underspending.
With the departments of Infrastructure and Human Settlements now under a single MEC, much more effective planning and interaction between the departments are required for successful coordination and implementation.
During an oversight visit to projects in the West Rand this week, the completion of projects has been totally halted due to the lack of bulk infrastructure and long-term planning.
There further needs to be an urgent review of the staffing and organisational structure within the department and a reassessment of how political and operational accountability can be better effectively monitored and managed.
Senior management must be subjected to lifestyle audits and held to account for failures to reach performance targets which would assist in curtailing shortcomings within the department.
The failure in the effective selection and appointment of contractors and holding them to account remains a core reason for the poor completion of housing projects.
The DA solution:
The DA will ensure the devolution of powers and give the hospital CEO’s a mandate in terms of utilising their own budget. This will assist in ensuring that the money is used where it is most needed. By so doing, it will ensure that hospital infrastructure is regularly maintained.
We will also prioritise reducing the backlogs in surgeries by ensuring that all our hospitals are well-equipped, and the equipment is regularly maintained. In addition, we will also prioritise the building of a new hospital in Kempton Park to alleviate the pressure on the Tembisa Hospital. The payment of service providers will be prioritised.
e-Tolls and Road Maintenance
We know that e-Tolls have been a contentious issue since 2013. A DA-led government will use the current e-Tolling infrastructure to enforce the speed limit on our roads. In addition, it will be used to improve the flow of traffic on our roads, we will set out certain times at which trucks should be on the roads and the infrastructure currently used for e-Tolls can be used to monitor this. If trucks are then found to be on the roads outside of the designated time, a fine will be imposed.
The appointment of contractors to maintain our roads is of utmost importance. We will cut the red tape in the tender process and ensure that these tenders are awarded on time and that the maintenance of our roads takes place within the set timelines.
State-Owned Bank Proposal
There is no need to establish a state-owned bank. This will just be another waste of our taxpayers’ money. Under the DA we will utilise the entities already in place like the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) to ensure that they start delivering on their mandate. Furthermore, we will make sure that only officials who are qualified will be appointed to senior positions at these entities. Budgets set aside for the empowerment of small businesses must be used. We cannot continue to have a situation where money is ring-fenced for small businesses but is never used.
Loadshedding and the Water Crisis
When we are at the helm of government in 2024, we will urgently set up an intergovernmental task team to look into ways of reducing the number of blackouts the province is currently experiencing. Yes, loadshedding is not only a Gauteng problem but a national one. But if we look into the strides made by the Western Cape Provincial Government, we can reduce the number of times our power goes off. We can become less reliant on Eskom if we engage Independent Power Producers (IPPs). This is not a quick fix but one that we will reap the benefits of in the future.
In terms of the water crisis in the province, the task team that we are proposing to be set up will also look into declaring all water reservoirs a national key point. This means that all our reservoirs will be exempted from loadshedding. This will ensure that our residents are not subjected to having no water or using water tankers to get water for their basic day-to-day needs during loadshedding.
We have already approached the South African Human Rights Commission on the water crisis. They have given us feedback on the progress of the investigation. They are awaiting a written response from Rand Water regarding the issues raised. This is not a matter that we take lightly. Accessing clean and safe drinking water cannot and should not be a deathly experience.
Corruption and the economy
A DA government will ensure that where officials are found to be involved in corruption and irregular expenditure a disciplinary hearing takes place as quickly as possible. When the official resigns, we will continue with the disciplinary process and if need be, we will lay criminal charges against the officials. Furthermore, we will also establish an independent provincial agency that will tackle corruption in public procurement.
In order to attract investors to our province, we will ensure that we have a stable supply of electricity by engaging IPPs and beefing up security. Investors want to do business in a country that is safe. We need to professionalise the police service so that our residents are kept safe and the crime rate in the country goes down.
We have successfully lobbied for an inquiry into the spate of gang violence and shootings that have occurred in Eldorado Park, Westbury and Reiger Park. Furthermore, we have also introduced the Community Safety Oversight Bill to strengthen the police service with adequate resources, improve police intelligence and give the MEC more oversight powers.
Local Government and Human Settlements
Midvaal continues to bring in awards and commendations and now celebrates its 9th consecutive clean audit. A clear display of the DA difference. Yet our Premier wants to reintroduce the misguided idea of creating a Metro in the Vaal. You cannot cure a sick shark by feeding it a healthy fish. We will not allow the excellent work in Midvaal to be destroyed by the ANC’s jealousy.
The DA proposes the initiation of a multi-party projects sub-committee which will facilitate the driving, monitoring and implementation of projects such as the Renewal Projects, the upgrading of hostels and the rapid land release programme.
This can be accelerated through the fast-tracking of level 3 accreditation to municipalities in Gauteng, and the introduction of incentives to attract significant private sector involvement in housing delivery.
This will include employment where necessary of outside consultants to advise on intergovernmental interaction, planning implementation and providing expertise in the implementation of the Mega Housing Projects and the role of the Gauteng Partnership Fund in this process.
Operational staff must be more effectively monitored and held accountable for timelines, planning and target deadlines.
The effectiveness of the oversight powers of the Human Settlements committee needs to be re-examined and assessed to capacitate such committees to exercise their oversight role.
In order to ensure more effective capacitation within the department, lifestyle audits must be introduced, and performance management targets strictly adhered to.
Until all these proposals are set in motion the department will be unable to achieve its primary goal of promoting and facilitating the provision of adequate housing in the province.
The failure of the MEC and the department to accept these shortcomings will certainly ensure a further decline in performance and accelerate its inability to carry out its core mandate.
Together we will and can fix Gauteng.