Called upon to serve, Cllr Ald. Campbell led with dedication to get Ekurhuleni back on track

The DA in Gauteng expresses our gratitude to Cllr Ald. Tania Campbell, now Leader of the Opposition in the Ekurhuleni City Council, and congratulates her on the achievements of the Multi-Party Coalition government she led since the 2021 Local Government Elections.

A motion of no confidence in Ekurhuleni’s Multi-Party Coalition government, brought opportunistically by the ANC-EFF coalition of corruption and its minor puppet parties, was passed earlier today, 126 votes to 91.

The Multi-Party Coalition government, led by Cllr Ald. Campbell in its efforts to turn the tide of decades of failure and neglect, prioritised throughout its time in office solutions to loadshedding, services delivery, and the eradication of corruption within the city.

Contracts with 47 Independent Power Producers (IPPs) were signed, 26 solar IPPs initiated, as well as several gas-based energy projects. Upon completion, these initiatives will add 358 Mega Watts of electricity by 2024, R6.5 billion worth of investment, and will lead to the creation of 2 500 job opportunities.

The Multi-Party Coalition government also focused on providing access to basic services such as water and electricity to households from the most socio-economically vulnerable. Illegal connections and tampered and bypassed meters were removed, and almost 6km of new pipelines were laid to ensure access to water.

Under the Multi-Party Coalition government, 70km of Ekurhuleni roads were rehabilitated. Over 500 square meters of potholes were filled and the pothole backlog of the City significantly reduced.

To avoid a fiscal cliff that would have seen the poor suffering the most, the Multi-Party Coalition government implemented effective and necessary measures that prevented the fiscal collapse of Ekurhuleni.

In vital mitigation of the effects on the poorest of the fiscal restraint measures required by the national government, an extensive Debt Rehabilitation and Reward Incentive Scheme to provide immediate reprieve to residents was initiated, resulting in a financial commitment of over R30 million.

The DA in Gauteng thanks Cllr Ald. Campbell for her dedication and service to the residents of Ekurhuleni and echoes the gratitude she expressed to the Multi-Party Coalition and administrative officials who sought to serve the people of Ekurhuleni despite the enormity of the challenges of dealing with decades of failure.

Whether from government, fighting for service delivery against a politicised civil service, or from the opposition benches in Council, fighting for the residents of Ekurhuleni, the DA’s commitment to getting the City of Ekurhuleni back on track will not flag.

Cllr Ald. Tania Campbell’s full remarks in reaction to the passage of the motion are available here.

An error by Joburg Water leaves large parts of Eastern Johannesburg without water

Large parts of Eastern Johannesburg have once again been left without any water. This followed a mistake by Joburg Water technicians after cleaning a reservoir.

One of three reservoirs at the Yeoville reservoir set-up was recently cleaned. To do the cleaning, they have to drain the reservoir and stop water from flowing from one reservoir to the other. The reservoirs needed to be closed so that no water could flow in or out. Once the cleaning was done, the reservoir was reopened for water to flow in but not for water to flow out.

This meant that overnight there was no water flowing out of the reservoir while the reservoir was filling up. During this process, the reservoir started overflowing, and millions of litres of clean drinking water was flowing over the walls of the reservoir and into the streets.

See video here and here

This could easily have been prevented with a first-line response team that works overnight. When a problem like this occurs, a team must be immediately available to fix the problem by opening all required valves This did not happen.

Joburg Water must ensure that they get the necessary budget so that there is a first-line of response team available at all times across all regions in Johannesburg that can quickly react to any emergency that may arise.

Through the mechanism in place at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, we will continue to apply pressure on the Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, to ensure part of the R28 billion earmarked for the 12 reservoirs is used to maintain and upgrade the water infrastructure of municipalities.


Gauteng emerging farmers failed by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

It is disheartening that the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is failing on one of its core mandates, which is to focus on the commercialisation of smallholder farmers. In partnership with the Land Bank, R1, 95 billion has been allocated over the next three years to assist emerging farmers to participate in the mainstream agriculture economy.

This money is meant for commercialising producers, especially black producers that are experiencing challenges in accessing the markets, finance, and technical support, as well as the lack of skill and capacity to be competitive.

TIA Farming Projects started with aquaculture in 2018, realising a market opportunity in farming with tilapia as an untapped market. Due to the quality of their product, they were inundated with orders and could not keep up with the need, which was a challenge.

TIA Farming Projects approached a venture capital firm to assist with funds. However, the department also approached the company and was excited about getting involved in aquaculture and offered to provide financing. The farm then declined the available venture capital and waited on the department’s promises for assistance when an Environmental Impact Assessment by the department was embarked on in 2019.

It is now more than three years later, and this company has still not received a single cent from a department that has promised them heaven and earth to a new start-up company. To survive and cover the cost of electricity and feed they have now started growing cucumbers in the shade houses that previously housed 10 tilapia tanks.

This department that promised to develop and grow farmers has destroyed the potential of promising lucrative farming enterprises. In its false promise the department has also spurned the opportunity for private sector investment via possible venture capital funds. This creates an unattractive environment in the agricultural sector as a result of the department not providing certainty around support for the sector. This only hampers job creation and economic growth in the province.

A DA government proposes the following:

• Conduct proper research on exactly what assistance smallholder farmers need;
• Do proper costing and evaluations;
• Provide support in the forms of both grants and loans.

It is high time that this department starts delivering on its core mandate. Through all the mechanisms in place at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), we will be pushing for the MEC Mbali Hlophe, to urgently put a turnaround strategy in place, so that smallholder farmers can get the assistance they need.


DA launches petition to save Yeoville recreation centre

The Democratic Alliance has launched a petition to save the Yeoville Recreation Centre which has been sorely neglected, with litter everywhere, overgrown grass and unsafe facilities.

DA PR councillor Chloe Homer is working with the local DA branch to collect signatures to be presented to Johannesburg metro council on this issue.

Yeoville is a cosmopolitan and bustling suburb which vitally needs a multi-purpose meeting centre where residents can relax, hold events, be educated or be entertained.

It is sad to see the decay of this recreation centre which needs to be repaired, cleaned up and properly guarded so that it is again a social hub where all Yeoville residents feel safe and included.

Residents of Slovo Park and Crosby still waiting for in-situ upgrades to be completed

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is disappointed that there will be further delays in the in-situ upgrade project for Slovo Park Informal Settlement and Crosby residents. 2023/2024 budget reveals that the project is still in stage two of the feasibility study, with no clear timeline for implementation.

While we welcome the increase in budget allocation for this project, it is unacceptable that the upgrade remains at the feasibility stage.

It is frustrating that the informal settlement was identified for an in-situ upgrade in the 2019/2020 financial year through the Upgrade of Informal Settlement Programme (UISP), yet no progress has been made. The project was planned in two phases, as an in-situ upgrade and Green Fields, which would have provided 1832 homes to families in the area.

Residents of Slovo Park and Crosby have been suffering from appalling neglect for over two decades, with no end in sight. It is unacceptable that they continue to endure hardships, including a lack of basic services such as housing, electricity, water, and sewerage infrastructure, as well as a continuous shortage of water supply due to Rand Water’s inability to supply water to supply towers.

The DA believes all residents deserve dignity and a decent quality of life. However, the ongoing delays in implementing these upgrades indicate that the ANC-led government under the leadership of Premier Panyaza Lesufi cares little about the plight of residents.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the Gauteng MEC for Human Settlements, Lebogang Maile, to prioritise allocating a budget for the upgrades of Slovo Park Informal Settlement and apply pressure on the City of Johannesburg to increase electricity capacity for Crosby residents to improve their living conditions. We urge the government to act urgently and ensure that all our people have access to basic necessities such as water, electricity, and sanitation, as stipulated by the constitution.

R708 million irregular hospital security contracts in Gauteng

R708 million is spent irregularly every year on security contracts for Gauteng hospitals.

This was admitted by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko in an oral reply to my questions at yesterday’s sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

She said the security contracts are rolled over irregularly as only service level agreements are used to manage them, and two previous tenders were advertised and cancelled due to irregularities and issues raised with the specifications by Probity Auditors.

I suspect there has been deliberate sabotage of the security tenders as politically connected people likely benefit from the existing contracts.

These contracts are poor value as there have been major thefts at hospitals like Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg and Chris Hani Baragwanath.

They were last advertised and awarded in November 2014 and were supposed to expire two years later, but have been extended on a month-by-month basis despite annual warnings by the Auditor-General that it is irregular expenditure

The MEC has expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of fixed-term security contracts, and has indicated that a new security tender will be advertised and awarded early in the 2023/24 financial year.

The DA will closely monitor the award of the new security contracts to ensure they are cost-effective and go to competent companies that will protect our hospitals.

The election of Cilliers Brink as Tshwane Executive Mayor is an excellent opportunity to refocus city governance on delivery for residents

The DA in Gauteng welcomes the election of Cllr Cilliers Brink as the Executive Mayor of the City of Tshwane. Mr Brink now leads the City’s Multi-Party Coalition government and we, like our coalition partners, have full confidence in his ability to deliver on the promise of clean and compassionate governance to make the Capital City one that works for all its residents.

The lingering effects of reckless lockdown policies, unlawful ANC interventions in the City from other spheres of government, poor financial decisions, and the continuous and escalating impact of prolonged stage 6 load-shedding have caused significant hardships for the City, especially with regard to its devastating impact on Tshwane’s finances.

Whilst the City has been spared much of the worst political opportunism that has derailed efforts at constructive coalition government in other metros in Gauteng, instability is the clear objective of the ANC-EFF in opposition, supported by minor parties willing to put opportunism before collaboration to deliver to the residents of the City. Even physical violence has been used by this coalition of corruption to seek the disruption of service delivery-focused governance.

But we are confident that Mr Brink, as Executive Mayor, will master these challenges with distinction.

The DA in Gauteng calls on all parties in the Tshwane City Council to put effective, delivery-focused government above party political games and stunts. The City’s residents deserve nothing less.

#GPSecondAdjustmentBudget: Roads and Transport, Human Settlements loses out on much-needed service delivery funds

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng supported the second adjustment budget for the 2022/2023 financial year in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) as most of the planned funding speaks to matters which we have long raised and seems like they are now getting the necessary attention.

We are not just giving a blanket approval as we still have some serious reservations, as far as the departments of Roads, Transport and Logistics and Human Settlements are concerned.

During the first adjustment budget for the 2022/23 financial year, the Department of Roads, Transport and Logistics had its infrastructure programme decreased by R337,1 million from R2,095 billion to R1,758 billion, ascribed to delays in the procurement of outsourced roads maintenance, poor performance by contractors and projects interdicted and terminated.

We noted that during the tabling of the second adjustment budget earlier in March this year, the same department further lost out on R97, 4 million received originally from the Public Transport Operations Grant.

We will use our oversight role to monitor spending and project management implementation in this department.

On the other hand, the Department of Human Settlements surrendered R200 million for the Informal Settlements Upgrading Partnership Grant (ISUPG) to benefit other provinces that showed good performance in using this grant.

As much as we do support the overall adjustment, we remain concerned that the same department received a rollover amounting to R153 million for the payment of outstanding invoices and commitments to infrastructure relating to the 2021/22 financial year under the same grant.

The DA’s support for the adjustment will come with more hawk-like monitoring on improvements in spending and delivery.

We do support the adjustment budget with an understanding that these departments play a critical role in growing the economy, ensuring goods and services are transported on well-maintained roads and providing decent living standards to informal settlements in the province.

We reiterate that the DA will closely monitor the spending of the new budget for these departments for the 2023/2024 financial year. Maintaining our roads is of utter importance, and therefore there must be regular maintenance of our roads. In addition, our residents deserve to live in dignified housing after years to neglect by the ANC Government.

The threshold for hospital purchases raised to R1 million despite widespread abuse

Despite widespread abuses, the Gauteng Treasury has raised the limit for hospital purchases that can be signed off by the hospital CEO without going to tender from R500 000 to R1 million.

This was disclosed today by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko in an oral reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

Split-billing is dividing a contract so that it is just below the R500 000 (now R1 million) limit to avoid going out to competitive tender.

The MEC said that 14 cases of split billing had been picked up at Tembisa Hospital since January last year and no more cases were picked up at any other hospital since September last year.

According to the MEC, the Gauteng Treasury raised the limit to reduce turnaround time and account for increased costs.

I am astonished that the threshold has been doubled to R1 million as hundreds of cases have been exposed by the SIU and the media of fishy companies supplying goods just below the R500 000 limit.

How can the MEC claim that only 14 cases of split billing were detected from January last year?

It seems the Gauteng Health Department has grossly inadequate monitoring of hospital purchases and ignores all the cases exposed by the media.

The problem of split billing occurs at other hospitals as well, as revealed by official replies to my questions in the Legislature.

Abuses are likely to increase now that the threshold has been raised to R1 million. This only makes sense where there are adequate controls and honest and capable hospital CEOs, which is not the case as revealed by the recent Health Ombud’s report on the Rahima Moosa Hospital.

The Department relies on the SIU to investigate cases but needs to do far more to stop massive hospital misspending, which the SIU estimated at R1 billion over three years at the Tembisa hospital and is rife at other hospitals as well.

Gauteng Department of Social Development abandons NPOs

Despite the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) best efforts to coordinate a roundtable discussion on NPOs funding with the Gauteng Department of Social Development through the Portfolio Committee on Social Development, the department failed to attend the meeting.

The roundtable discussion was held in Rosebank last Thursday to discuss the service delivery implications of the termination of the NPOs funding.

At least 20 NPOs and the Gauteng Welfare Forum representing all NPOs in the province were present. Despite the seriousness of this meeting which was requested six months ago, the department did not bother to attend.

This shows their disregard for the services offered by NPOs and disrespect for the legislative arm that has the mandate to conduct oversight of the department’s work.

Since September last year, the DA has been asking the department to meet with the NPO sector. This came after it announced that R83 million will be reprioritised away from NPOs. According to the department’s third quarter report, NPOs in the Older Persons and Child and Welfare sector have had their funding taken away from them.

R42,2 million was moved from NPOs that provide services to older persons while R40,8 million was shifted from NPOs that provide services to Child Care and Youth Centres.

The moving around of funds by the department means that many NPOs did not receive funds from October 2022.

This is the reason why many NPOs are struggling to offer welfare services to the needy and vulnerable people of this province, pay employees’ salaries and sustain their services.

Hundreds of needy children will now suffer with no proper care and shelter because many NPOs will be forced to shut down.

The DA will continue to use all the mechanisms at our disposal to ensure that we force the department to reconsider its strategy of shifting funds away from NPOs. This has a detrimental effect on the lives of innocent people who are solely dependent on NPOs for survival.

We are calling all Gauteng residents to sign the DA’s petition to force the Gauteng Department of Social Development to scrap the new NPO funding model. To sign the petition please click here.