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.

Failure to upgrade informal settlements and hostels leave Gauteng citizens in squalor

It is of major concern that the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements appears to be unaware of the exact functions and roles of the Gauteng Partnership Fund (GPF). This was revealed during a recent meeting held by the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements.

This revelation will have a significant impact on the ability of Premier Panyaza Lesufi to upgrade Townships, Informal Settlements and Hostels in the province as announced during the State of the Province Address (SOPA) this year.

It recently came to light that GPF is failing to deliver on its core mandate which is to:

  • Administer its affordable housing mandate;
  • Be the preferred partner for the implementation of Mega Projects in Gauteng;
  • Be the implementation agent for some projects of the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements including the Rapid Land Release programme.

Furthermore, the fund is meant to add value to various lending products and government programmes by playing a capital raising, coordination and project management role.

The track record of the Department of Human Settlements to deliver on Mega Housing Projects in the province is appalling.

During our many oversight inspections across the province of various housing projects, we have observed that the projects struggle to get off the ground or are not completed on time and within budget.

Several projects across the province are incomplete. There is a continued regularity of underspending with more than 350 blocked, delayed, and incomplete housing projects in Gauteng waiting for completion.

This can be avoided if the GPF can focus on its core mandate. The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be tabling questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to determine the value that the GPF is adding to the work of the department of Human Settlements.

It is high time that the MEC for Human Settlements, Lebogang Maile, whips this department and the entities responsible for delivering dignified housing into shape. Our residents deserve a government that puts their interests first.


600 patients wait for wheelchairs at Gauteng hospitals

Six hundred disabled people are waiting for wheelchairs at Gauteng hospitals, mostly because of delayed wheelchair deliveries.

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

The largest shortage is at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital where there are 253 patients on the waiting list for wheelchairs. Reasons given are as follows:

• Delays in ordering processes, delayed deliveries of wheelchairs by the supplier.
• Insufficient storage for bulk wheelchairs.
• The current storeroom was flooded.

Wheelchairs are due to arrive at this hospital by 30 June this year. Meanwhile, they intend to improve the processing of orders, placing orders more frequently for smaller quantities to mitigate for lack of storage, and they will motivate a container to store wheelchairs in bulk.

Other hospitals where wheelchair deliveries have been delayed include the following:

• Tambo Memorial Hospital – 44 patients waiting for wheelchairs
• Tembisa Hospital – 11 patients waiting for wheelchairs
• Edenvale Hospital – 5 patients waiting for wheelchairs

The City of Johannesburg Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities have 105 patients waiting for wheelchairs, while Ekurhuleni PHC facilities and West Rand PHC facilities have 98 and 84 patients on their waiting lists respectively.

Therapists at the PHC facilities are now calling all patients on the waiting lists to receive their wheelchairs.

It is distressing that so many disabled people have to wait for wheelchairs to restore their mobility.

Imagine the suffering and indignity of vulnerable people who needlessly wait long periods for wheelchairs.

The supply management of wheelchairs needs to be tightened up as there is a sufficient budget to cover the assessed need for wheelchairs.


#NationalWaterWeek: Gauteng residents have nothing to celebrate as taps run dry

The years of neglect of our water infrastructure across Gauteng, with a lack of proactive maintenance, and regular upgrades of existing infrastructure, coupled with poor communication from Rand Water, have left residents without water for days on end.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is deeply concerned about this unacceptable behaviour from Rand Water. This entity continuously blames vandalism for its woes when it is its job to secure the infrastructure.

The blame is shifted to municipalities when they should also be maintaining their own infrastructure. Furthermore, Rand Water continuously talks about municipalities exceeding their daily quota while doing minimal campaigning to conserve water and protect water sources.

The world celebrated World Water Day on 22 March 2023, and South Africa continues to celebrate National Water Week from 20-26 March to raise awareness about the global water crisis and the need to manage water resources sustainably. In reality, Gauteng residents had nothing to celebrate as areas of Lesedi Local Municipality, such as Heidelberg, are still battling without water after more than a week. Schools and residents must buy water for drinking and cleaning as the taps are dry.

Every time the Vereeniging plant experiences an infrastructure failure, the Rand Water Eikenhof reservoir system fails to supply water to large parts of Randburg, Roodepoort, Hursthill, Crosby and the Commando system that feeds water to Johannesburg South.

To add insult to injury, Joburg Water has again left large parts of the East and Northeast of Johannesburg without water. As much as we appreciate maintenance work, the timing of the maintenance after two weeks of intermittent water supply and lack of roaming water tankers is leaving residents highly frustrated.

Areas of Benoni in Ekurhuleni also suffered from water outages over the long weekend. As much as water entities would like to blame the system’s failures on loadshedding, neglect and the lack of electrical infrastructure maintenance and upgrades have led to the current dire situation.

World Water Day is about celebrating access to water, about the conservation of water resources. The Minister for Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, announced a R28 billion investment into 12 more Rand Water reservoirs while calling on municipalities to use less. However, as much as any capital investment must be welcomed, the DA insists that the Minister adopt a cooperative approach to assist municipalities with the maintenance upgrades where the municipalities cannot do it independently.

The DA has launched an online petition demanding that Rand Water act decisively and supply water. Sign our petition here

No schooling for at least a month at Sizuzile Primary School due to delays in construction

Learning and teaching have been disrupted at the Sizuzile Primary School in Tsakane, Ekurhuleni, by angry parents. There has been no learning and teaching at this school for at least a month.

The parents are unhappy because it is alleged that a tender has been awarded for the school to be replaced with a brick-and-mortar structure, but there is no work to show that the contractor was appointed.

Some of the mobile classrooms are a safety hazard as the floorboards are uneven, and there are no proper steps leading into the classrooms. The mobile classrooms are unstable and posing a danger to learners.

In addition, some classrooms have been vandalised. Windows have been broken and cannot be used for learning and teaching.

See pictures here, here and here

See video here

It is unacceptable that these classrooms have been vandalised simply because the Gauteng Provincial Government, under the leadership of Premier Panyaza Lesufi, has failed to ensure that proper plans have been put in place so that construction work can begin.

The DA will be submitting written questions to the Gauteng MEC for Education, Matome Chiloane and the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Lebogang Maile, to determine when construction work will begin and what contingency plans will be put in place to ensure that learning and teaching are not disrupted during the construction of the new school.

All our children deserve to be taught in an environment that is conducive to learning and teaching. However, we also urge parents not to take matters into their own hands and damage the current infrastructure that is in place.

DA will fight Lesufi’s plan to make Tshwane ungovernable

Note to editors: A voice note from Cllr Cilliers Brink pertaining to this statement can be found here in English and here in Afrikaans.

The DA in Tshwane will not stop fighting for stable, accountable government in Tshwane, even as the Gauteng ANC-EFF coalition tries everything in their power to make the City ungovernable with residents as collateral. We will also resist any effort by the ANC premier of Gauteng Panyaza Lesufi to create conditions for the City to be placed under administration.

Attorneys for the DA and our coalition partners have written to the ANC-EFF puppet Speaker of Tshwane to demand that he resume the Council meeting to elect an Executive Mayor to serve and reassure the residents of the City.

Yesterday the Speaker adjourned this meeting on the pretext of a dispute within COPE over who their sole councillor must be. The issue of who is to fill COPE’s vacancy is, howver, simple: the Speaker can merely consult the IEC to determine who the next person is on the list.

The real reason the Speaker obstructed the progress of the meeting was that the ANC-EFF coalition does not have the numbers to elect an Executive Mayor.

Previously the ANC-EFF coalition relied on the support of individual picked-off councillors from other parties to secretly vote against their parties and their electoral mandate. But each of the parties in the Multi-Party Coalition have now taken steps to clean house and ensure the underhanded tactics previously used cannot again succeed. Three ActionSA councillors have been fired. The police is also investigating an allegation by another ActionSA councillor that he was offered a R2 million bribe to secretly vote for the ANC-EFF coalition.

Premier Panyaza Lesufi has been instrumental in forging the Gauteng ANC-EFF coalition and, adding deed to his word, causing the current chaos in Tshwane. He personally persuaded the now-disgraced COPE councillor Murunwa Makwarela to become the ANC-EFF puppet mayoral candidate. Makwarela was later discovered to be an unrehabilitated insolvent.

It is clear that Lesufi’s game plan for the political benefit of the ANC-EFF coalition is to cause chaos in Tshwane and manufacture conditions for the City to be placed under ‘administration’ by his provincial executive committee. Residents will not forget that the last time the ANC Gauteng government ‘intervened’ in Tshwane, it caused financial devastation and the breakdown of financial controls.

When the ANC-EFF last sought to capture Tshwane, the DA obtained a Constitutional Court order against the Gauteng government. We will use this precedent to defend Tshwane against Lesufi’s prying hands.

DA Gauteng wishes the Muslim community, Ramadan Mubarak

As we enter the holy month of Ramadan, we would like to take a moment to wish all Muslims a blessed and peaceful month. Ramadan is a time for reflection, devotion, and giving back to our communities.

However, we are also aware of the ongoing power and water outages that are affecting many communities across Gauteng. We understand that this can add to the challenges of observing Ramadan, and we as the Democratic Alliance (DA) are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that these essential services impacted by the incompetence of Rand Water and Eskom be mitigated as quickly as possible.

We are also deeply concerned about the few incidents of armed and attempted armed robberies at Mosques during times of prayers. This is a callous and despicable act that goes against the very spirit of religious observation and devotion faced not only by the Muslim community but all religions. We demand that law enforcement agencies must ensure that those responsible for these crimes are apprehended and brought to justice.

Finally, we urge all members of the Muslim community to stay vigilant during this time and to report any suspicious activity to the authorities immediately. Together, we can make this Ramadan a safe and peaceful one for all Insha’Allah (God Willing).

We wish all Muslims a Ramadan Mubarak. May the blessings of the month of Ramadan be on all of us and may Allah SWT accept our prayers and fast.

Speaker Makhubele’s absenteeism exposes her political opportunism and unwillingness to serve the people of Johannesburg

The DA in Johannesburg notes with concern the dereliction of duty by the Speaker of Council, Cllr Colleen Makhubele.

Yesterday, instead of doing her job of presiding over Council matters as Speaker, Cllr Makhubele put the politics of her party’s collaboration with the ANC-EFF coalition of corruption above the people of Johannesburg, choosing to attend a meeting of the Tshwane City Council as it sought to elect a new Executive Mayor. This follows the chaotic mayoral election and fall of Murunwa Makwarela, elected as the sole COPE colleague in Tshwane of Cllr Makhubele, who was elevated to the Tshwane mayoralty by the ANC-EFF, only to vacate the office amidst allegations of ineligibility, insolvency, and fraud. This led to COPE acknowledging serious concerns regarding the integrity of their elected officials in Gauteng.

As Speaker, Cllr Makhubele carries a constitutional and democratic obligation to, more than any other elected official in the City Council, disengage from opportunistic and petty party politics. Yesterday’s desertion of her Council duties to assist the ANC-EFF as it sought to undermine the governance of the City of Tshwane is simply yet another instance of Cllr Makhubele illustrating her tragic lack of understanding of her own office.

This is a Speaker unable to achieve the impartiality her office requires and who engages is party political attacks on those sitting in the Council over which she presides. But, it is a new low, even by the standards of this Speaker, to so shamelessly put the party politics of another City Council above her obligations to the Council she is supposed to be a servant of.

The speakership of Cllr Makhubele has been a democratic travesty. Her incompetence. Especially in defending women in Council from sexist abuse, her unashamed partiality, and her bullying of Council members have been matched in scale intensity only by her commitment to self-promotion.

Whilst Cllr Makhubele’s dereliction of her duties in Johannesburg is embarrassing for her, it is perhaps more so that proceedings yesterday in Council ran smoother and more effectively in her absence. For the first time in seven months the proceedings were held with a semblance of professionalism, such as would be expected of any Council seeking to serve its residents.

The DA in Johannesburg wishes to thank Cllr Lloyd Phillips, the Chair of Chairs, for the impartial and productive manner in which he presided over Council business yesterday.

The DA in Johannesburg will urgently refer Speaker Makhubele’s dereliction of duty to the City’s ethics committee for investigation. The residents of Johannesburg deserve a Speaker who puts the City’s interests above her own political ambitions.


774 vacant posts at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital is inundated with patients but has 774 vacant posts, which includes a shortage of 357 nurses and 124 doctors.

These figures are revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

It works out to about 1 in 7 vacant posts out of the 5334 total staff complement.

The hospital is also short of 253 administrative and support staff, and 40 therapeutic services staff.

According to the MEC, the vacant positions are due to employee deaths, resignations, transfers and retirements.

Since January last year, 650 staff have left. Their exit interviews mention growth prospects, working conditions, family reasons and better remuneration.

The MEC admits the vacancies affect patients negatively as follows:

Increase in infections within the hospital, Patient Safety Incidents (PSI), litigations, waiting times, surgical backlogs, inadequate patient care and complaints.

It is scandalous that there are so many vacancies and resignations, mostly due to poor management and the botched re-opening after the devastating fire in April 2021.

This has led to neglect of patients, increased infections and massive surgery backlogs.

Hospital CEO Gladys Bogoshi has failed in her job and should be replaced with a dynamic new CEO to lead a rejuvenated management team at this flagship hospital.