Patients will suffer as Gauteng cuts doctors’ overtime

Patients will suffer as the Gauteng Health Department is clamping down on overtime for doctors.

According to a circular issued by Mr Lesiba Malotana on 15 February:

“The Department is currently facing a number of challenges on the approval and management of Commuted Overtime. Therefore, it has become necessary to withdraw the delegation to approve overtime applications for the upcoming 2024/25 financial year.

The Corporate Services team is diligently reviewing the policy and procedures governing the approval process. Once this review is finalised, the revised guidelines will promptly be communicated to all Accounting Officers.”

This means that doctors’ overtime will be cut drastically from 1 April, which is the start of the new financial year. It will cause short-staffing at night, on weekends, and on public holidays.

It’s a blow for many doctors who rely on the extra overtime money.

It is unclear why the approval of overtime has become problematic – is it poor administration, or is the Department trying to save money at the expense of doctors and patients?

The DA calls on the Department to reconsider this move and find a way for overtime to continue in a properly approved way.

Hundreds of EMPD officers have criminal records

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the City of Ekurhuleni can reveal that 167 Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) officers have criminal records.

According to responses to questions posed by the DA, 3449 fingerprints were taken during the last audit of 2022 and 3199 came back with no criminal findings. 250 officers were indeed found to have criminal records. Of these, 83 are awaiting trial leaving 167 officers having criminal records. Some of the crimes range from house break-ins, murder, fraud at the licensing department and driving whilst intoxicated.

Further to this response is that none of these officers have been arrested or suspended from duty. The South African Police Act of 1995 and the Criminals Procedures Act of 1997 emphatically state that no municipal police officer is allowed to have a criminal record. Yet, in Ekurhuleni, hundreds of the officers that are supposed to protect Ekurhuleni residents do.

How can Ekurhuleni residents trust metro police who themselves have criminal records? The DA believes that a caring government would ensure that police officers are compliant with all relevant Acts. Where officers have criminal records, they should have been arrested, or suspended until their cases are cleared by a court or relevant disciplinary body of the police.

We cannot allow the very people whose duty it is to serve and protect us to continue to work in the municipality while having criminal records. Under the ANC/EFF coalition, Ekurhuleni has become a gangster state.

Gauteng residents continue to starve as MEC Hlophe pays for empty food banks

Food banks in Gauteng continue to receive payments from the Gauteng Department of Social Development (GDSD) without being assigned the responsibility of distributing food, leaving the poor and vulnerable in our province to starve.

This was first discovered by the Democratic Alliance (DA) during its unannounced oversight visits to food banks in Gauteng’s five regions, prompted by several complaints from beneficiaries that they were not getting any food.

During these inspections, the DA discovered that food banks lacked or had insufficient stock.

The DA’s findings have since been confirmed by the GDSD portfolio committee during an oversight meeting, held on Friday, 16 February 2024, at one of the food banks with all food bank managers in attendance. The committee found that all food bank managers from all five regions continue to be paid as per the Service Level Agreements (SLA) to receive and distribute food items to beneficiaries as per the list provided by the GDSD, despite months of not receiving food items. The committee also learned that none of the food banks had been notified that they were in breach of their Service Level Agreements (SLAs) or that they were under administration. Furthermore, some warehouses had empty shelves for food parcel ingredients, while others had none.

It is ridiculous that the department funds food banks to conduct their operations and compensate workers for food parcel distribution when there is no food to distribute. We also find it concerning that, despite our warning that food banks had dried up in December 2023, the department has not taken any action to remedy the situation.

Instead, in a recent media interview, Social Development MEC Mbali Hlophe stated that the distribution of food to the food banks had been cancelled because the tender specifications did not include seeds. This is confusing because the department’s tender criteria excluded seeds. Besides, not everyone eligible for a food parcel can have a food garden to grow the seeds as the department claims to be an immediate solution to starvation in Gauteng.

The tender process has been finalised but has not been communicated to successful bidders. It doesn’t make sense that the department would cancel an entire tender instead of sourcing seeds when required by beneficiaries.

The DA will be tabling questions to MEC Hlophe in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to seek clarity on why food banks continue to receive funding but do not have the role of distributing food. We want to know whether other organisations are distributing food and how they were contracted while the food bank contracts were still in place.

Unemployment is on the rise, while Lesufi makes empty promises

Gauteng residents have once again been failed by the provincial government, which has promised to create more employment opportunities for them. The unemployment rate in Gauteng has increased to 2 565 000 for the fourth quarter of the 2023/2024 financial year. During the third quarter, the unemployment rate stood at 2 557 000. Currently, there are 502 000 discouraged job seekers in the province.

Despite many promises made by Premier Panyaza Lesufi that there are concrete plans in place to curb the unemployment rate in the province, his interventions, like the Nasi Ispani programme, are clearly not working.

Furthermore, the Gauteng Department of Economic Development has constantly failed to meet its job creation targets, which also has a negative impact on the unemployment rate.

Load-shedding has worsened the situation and is impacting negatively on the job opportunities that can be created by small businesses, particularly those operating in the townships. Many of our businesses cannot operate during load-shedding, and when there are higher stages of load-shedding, many cannot operate for a full day.

The Gauteng Provincial Government’s job is to create a conducive environment to attract both local and the international private sector to invest in our economy. However, if we do not clamp down on corruption, crime, and load-shedding, this will deter potential investors.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has a plan to rescue Gauteng and create a conducive environment that will help create sustainable job opportunities.

DA urges parents to participate in SGB elections to ensure the delivery of quality education

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng encourages all parents and guardians to participate in the upcoming School Governing Body (SGB) elections to contribute in ensuring that children have access to quality education. The elections will take place from 1 to 31 March 2024.

SGBs play a pivotal role in the administration of schools, overseeing day-to-day management and contributing to decisions on crucial policies such as admissions and language preference criteria.

The DA calls on parents and guardians to carefully choose SGB members who are not only responsible but also capable of effectively liaising with the education department to address concerns affecting the teaching and learning environment.

It is imperative that elected SGB members actively monitor governance matters in schools, ensuring that educators are meeting educational objectives and that curriculums are completed on time before final examinations.

Over the years, there have been regrettable instances where SGB members in certain schools disrupt the educational environment by directly interfering with teaching and engaging in conflicts over maintenance tenders. In addition, there are instances where individuals participate in SGB elections solely for personal gain. Such disruptions impact the learning experience for learners.

Learners mustn’t be adversely affected by these actions and motivations. Therefore, active participation in the upcoming elections is crucial. Parents and guardians must strive to elect new SGB leadership that is genuinely committed to acting in the best interests of learners and willing to go the extra mile to ensure efficient learning and teaching.

#SOPA2024: No real solutions to rescue residents from poor service delivery, rising crime and unemployment

As expected, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi has not offered our residents any real solutions to improve their well-being. Once again, the Premier has given us pipe dreams instead of proper solutions to the constant service delivery issues faced by residents on a daily basis.

As expected, the economic corridors were at the top of the Premier’s list. According to the Premier, each of the corridors has attracted investors and created jobs. However, the reality on the ground is that many of the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) are not operating properly.

Furthermore,he promised that small businesses would not struggle to access the internet; however, we tend to question this as the Gauteng Broadband Network (GBN) has not yet been fully rolled out across the province. Many residents still struggle to access the internet.

There is no solution to the ongoing load-shedding; instead, finding a solution has been kicked back to the municipalities, who are already unable to provide basic services such as refuse removal and a reliable supply of water and electricity. We are once again told us about solar farms.

Instead of ensuring that all our residents are given dignified housing, emphasis is instead placed on the upgrading of Townships, Informal Settlements, and Hostels (TISH). The Premier has also failed to name which hostels have been upgraded. Yet the Democratic Alliance (DA) has visited many informal settlements and hostels that have not had any upgrades and where our residents continue to live in squalor. Furthermore, the provincial government is constantly failing to meet the target of releasing land parcels to eradicate informal settlements.

If the rollout of the hundreds of crime wardens was so successful, why is there a need for the South African National Defence Force (SANDF)? This clearly means that this strategy is not working and that the only solution is to ensure that all police stations are adequately equipped with all the resources they need to prevent and fight crime.

We are told that there are drones and helicopters that have been procured for this province. However, we do not know what impact this has had on reducing crime in the province.

Gender-based violence (GBV) remains a problem in this province. We will be closely monitoring whether the 31 vehicles that have been given to the South African Police Service (SAPS) will help in the fight against the scourge of GBV. In addition , the Premier did not mention anything about ensuring that Victim Empowerment Centres (VEC) are equipped with all necessary resources as we know that not all are functioning properly.

Again, we have heard about panic buttons that can be downloaded on a smart phone; however, no details have been given as to what will happen when there is load-shedding and cellphone towers are affected. Furthermore, we do not know whether this has been tested and will actually work as outlined by the Premier.

There are over 2.5 million unemployed people in the province, and the training of 40 000 unemployed youth from the township as artisans is a step in the right direction. However, the jobs that they will be given are not sustainable jobs and wouldn’t solve the bigger problem of unemployment in the province. The Nasi Ispana programme is not a solution to creating sustainable jobs.

Inspiring investor confidence is key to creating more job opportunities in this province. In order for this to happen, corruption must be clamped down on, and the lifestyle audits that have been conducted on all the MECs and high-ranking government officials must be made public.

Public transport, particularly the use of trains, is the most cost-effective way to get to and from work. However, not much has been said about how public transport will be improved to make it more user-friendly. The goal post for scrapping e-tolls has once again been shifted. While the province intends to repurpose the gantries, Gauteng residents will have to wait until March for this plan to be implemented and e-tolls scrapped once and for all.

The Premier has admitted that some municipalities are failing to provide basic services to our residents, yet there is no tangible solution in place. As much as the provincial government will be stepping in to collect refuse where the municipality is unable to and Rand Water will step in to supply water, this is only putting a band-aid on the problem. This is not a lasting solution. The only solution is to ensure that municipalities appoint officials who are fit for purpose and can do the job properly.

The implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI) remains a concern. More so because our hospitals do not have the necessary resources to run a hospital or clinic properly. This is why we are calling for the devolution of power.

A government led by the Democratic Alliance (DA) will prioritise making all lifestyle audits public, clamping down on crime by ensuring that all police stations have adequate resources, and that Community Policing Forums (CPFs) are able to effectively support our police officers.
Our residents need real solutions now. Solutions that not only look good on paper but that can be practically implemented once we take office after the next general elections. The DA has a plan to rescue Gauteng and give our residents the basic services they deserve.

Petition delivered to suspend load-shedding in East Joburg suburbs

DA ward councillors Carlos da Rocha and Neuren Pietersen today handed over more than 2000 names on a petition to suspend load-shedding while repairs are done to the Observatory and Bellevue substations in east Johannesburg.

See video and photo here.

The petition was given to a representative from the office of City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava at their Reuven headquarters.

It calls for a load shedding pause for wards 66, 67 and 118 as residents face a third month of power outages due to failures at the Observatory and Bellevue substations.

It follows a fire in December last year at the Observatory substation, which cut power to thousands of residents in Yeoville, Bellevue, Bertrams, Upper Houghton, Kensington, Bezuidenhout Valley, Cyrildene, Dewetshof, Observatory, Bruma and surrounding areas.

But power outages have continued after the repair, which City Power claimed had solved the problem. This past weekend was particularly difficult with widespread power cuts, and many people were out for days on end.

City Power now says cables need a major upgrade, and a new transformer for the overloaded substations. They say disruptions can be expected for the rest of the year as a new transformer is purchased and installed.

Clr Da Rocha is most concerned that the ageing Observatory substation could collapse completely with constant switching on and off.

Another problem, according to Cllr Pietersen, is that cables are stolen when the power is off, which makes things worse.

A load-shedding pause will give relief to residents and speed up repairs as technicians cannot work on the network when it is off.

I will be writing to Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Mzi Khumalo to use his provincial powers to ensure Johannesburg Council addresses this problem which badly affects about 100 000 people.

#GPSOPA2024: Lesufi won’t offer any real solutions to rescue Gauteng

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi will not offer anything new during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) this evening. The residents of Gauteng will continue to hear about the economic corridors of this province as in previous years, but there will be no tangible results.

Crime in Gauteng continues to rise, yet hundreds of crime wardens have been deployed to prevent and fight crime. The drones that were promised last year by the Premier have yet to be rolled out. Therefore, our residents, particularly women and children, continue to live in fear. Police stations and Community Policing Forums (CPF) need to be given adequate resources to fight crime in the province instead of the Premier spending millions of rands on drones and CCTV cameras. While police stations do not have enough vehicles and generators to operate during load-shedding.

Given that this is an election year, Lesufi will continue to push his pipe dream of a bullet train from Limpopo to Gauteng. While our current railway system does not function properly, residents struggle to get to and from work daily. Furthermore, the goalposts for the scrapping of e-Tolls have been moved every year since the 2019 elections. Our residents are being forced into paying for a system they never wanted. We need a real solution to e-Tolls immediately, not empty promises.

For years, we have been hearing about how our infrastructure will be improved, yet our children are still being taught in asbestos schools, clinics are not completed on time, and learners are still taught in overcrowded classrooms due to delays in completing schools. In addition, infrastructure projects are a key driver of employment opportunities, yet the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) is unable to appoint competent service providers and complete projects on time and within budget. It is high time that the Premier announces that this department is dissolved.

Corruption remains rampant in this province. Only a few connected individuals and politicians continue to benefit from government tenders. For many years, we have been told that lifestyle audits will be conducted on all MECs and high-ranking government officials. However, we have never been given any of these lifestyle audit reports. This begs the question: What is the Premier hiding from the public?

If the Premier truly cared about the well-being of our residents, he would use today’s SOPA to admit that his government has failed to uplift the lives of our residents.

Our residents need proper solutions to fix Gauteng, and this can only happen if Premier Lesufi admits that his administration has failed. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has a plan to rescue this province. It is high time that our residents are given a capable state that can deliver real solutions to the problems this province faces, not lip service.

MEC Maile’s failure to allocate container homes is to blame for the illegal invasion in Alexandra

Unnecessary delays in allocating temporary container homes adjacent to the Madala Hostel in Alexandra by the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements MEC, Lebogang Maile, have sparked illegal invasions from residents who are desperate and tired of waiting for dignified housing.

It is unacceptable that the department has failed to timeously allocate these homes to our people, who are forced to live in inhumane conditions in hostels that could have been converted into liveable family units over two decades ago. It is also absurd that taxpayers’ money was wasted on these containers, which have become white elephants while our people continue to live in unacceptable conditions.

Almost four years later, the programme that was supposed to take only four months is still not implemented. Consequently, despite being built and ready for occupancy, the container homes intended to assist those living in the most despicable and unsanitary conditions, such as the Madala hostel, remain vacant.

When the temporary container homes were introduced, the DA was informed that they would be used to decongest the informal settlements in Alexandra and Marlboro, following a reported case of Covid-19 in Alexandra, which prompted a rapid response from the National Department of Human Settlements.

The DA demands that MEC Maile promptly allocate the home containers to the rightful beneficiaries because the longer they remain unoccupied, the more prone they are to vandalism, illegal invasion, and costing the department money to safeguard them.

We will also table questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to ascertain how much was spent on these containers and why there has been an impasse in allocating them, considering that they were meant to mitigate the lasting effects of Covid-19.

A DA government would have made a responsible and compassionate decision by ensuring the allocation of home containers took place efficiently and fairly. This would have provided much-needed relief to those living in impoverished and homeless conditions in Gauteng and shown taxpayers that their money was used for their benefits.

City Power turns a blind eye to residents’ cry for help

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Johannesburg is deeply disturbed by the disdain City Power is showing the residents of Johannesburg.

Recently, the City of Johannesburg (CoJ) introduced an electricity complaint escalation number, however, residents have confirmed that this number is rarely, if ever, attended as their calls fall on deaf ears. Councillors then follow the traditional route of escalating issues via service delivery WhatsApp groups, as has been the practice for years. To no avail.

We are appalled that City Power officials would rather debate the format in which the escalation is sent than attending to the problem. This speaks to the contempt they have for councillors alongside the residents who come to them for assistance.

This disdain is crystal clear when, after exhausting all forms of escalation, not even the CEO is willing or able to provide feedback on urgent queries – leaving some residents in the dark for 6 days.

Only once issues are escalated to the MMC by the DA Caucus Leader are they tended to, we want to acknowledge the MMC for his response.  However, this should never be the case because officials should serve residents – as is their mandate.

We are starting to wonder what the purpose of the WhatsApp escalation groups are, as they are ignored. If City Power wants to prescribe tools, they have to be willing and able to use them.

Once a technician is finally despatched, they don’t have the necessary equipment or they simply leave work incomplete. Subsequently, tickets are closed without the issue being resolved.

It’s a disgrace that residents and Councillors alike, have to go on X (Twitter) to get a response from City Power.

We call on the Mayor and the Executive to pay closer attention to and conduct in depth oversight at City Power. They have to ensure fair and transparent delivery of service without to the residents of Johannesburg.