Service delivery suffers as GPG pays an extra R55 million to complete infrastructure projects

Gauteng residents continue to suffer a severe lack of service delivery due to the Gauteng Provincial Government’s (GPG) poor planning which has resulted in the expansion of tenders, costing residents an extra R55 296 610,97.

The money meant for service delivery will be used to complete these projects. This is worrying, as the National Treasury has recently announced that cuts need to be made by the provincial government to their budgets.

During the fourth quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year, the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) requested the expansion of tenders for six infrastructure projects currently underway.

In addition, project overruns due to bad management also contributes to the overspending on infrastructure projects.

The expansions are for four schools, 59 hostels, and the refurbishment of one government building. These projects were undertaken between 2018 and 2023. Two have been extended until December 2023 and four until 2024.

This information was revealed in a written reply to the Democratic Alliance’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) regarding tender expansions by GDID for the fourth quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year to MEC Lebogang Maile.

This indicates a lack of proper leadership and necessary expertise to properly manage the completion of key infrastructure projects in the province.

The Democratic Alliance will engage the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Lebogang Maile, to determine what measures are being put in place to ensure that infrastructure projects are completed within the stipulated timelines and on budget to avoid expansions that are costing the province.

#GPBudget: 2023/2024 budget is nothing more than hot air and election promises

The Gauteng 2023/24 budget displays a lack of service delivery and empty election promises.

This budget does not inspire any confidence. On the surface the budget hits all the right notes in terms of growing the economy and creating more jobs. This is nothing that we have not heard before.

Gauteng’s total budget is R158 945 081 000, and this year spending will focus on the following key priority areas:

  • Economic recovery and reconstruction;
  • Strengthening the battle against crime, vandalism, corruption and lawlessness;
  • Health and Wellness programmes;
  • Changing the living conditions in Townships, Informal Settlements and Hostels (TISH);
  • Strengthening the capacity of the state.

The provincial government has bold plans in place to attract investors but fails to explain how they will clamp down on corruption and wasteful expenditure. It is essential that proper plans are put in place to deal with officials who are intent on looting the public purse.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is worried that the proposed establishment of a Provincial State Bank and State Pharmacy will not be used to the benefit of our residents but only a few individuals who have connections within the department tasked to run these new entities. Is this really worth prioritising, in lieu of the serious challenges to residents’ livelihoods rising from a battered economy and constant blackouts?

The Department of Community Safety has received a huge increase in their budget from R1 374 065 000 to R2 706 192 000. This is to strengthen the province’s crime fighting strategy that was put forward in Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s State of the Province Address (SOPA) earlier this year.

Gauteng residents have been promised that e-Tolls are a thing of the past. However, MEC Mamabolo indicated that no budget has been allocated to the e-Toll debt for the 2023/2024 financial year and that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with National Treasury is still not done.

The increase in the Education budget is welcomed, as the constant inward migration of residents to the province puts a huge strain on our schools. The maintenance and building of new schools is of utmost importance. We therefore urge the department of Infrastructure Development to support Education in fast tracking the building of new schools.

The department of Infrastructure Development also needs to urgently support other client departments especially Roads and Transport and Health where critical infrastructure projects are often delayed and absconded by contractors.

Health is unable to pay its service providers on time, and for that reason we welcome the establishment of an Invoicing Dispute Resolution Unit to deal with disputed and unpaid invoices.

This budget is clearly aligned to attract voters to support the governing party in the 2024 general elections, a sign of desperation as current polling puts the ANC below 50%. Gauteng residents do not deserve a budget that is full on empty promises.

 

Gauteng residents continue to suffer as R3.7 million is wasted on the non-existent Lindley Waste Water Project

Gauteng residents continue to suffer due to the high cost of living which has been made worse by the ongoing loadshedding, yet the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) has spent R3.7 million on the non-existent Lindley Waste Water Project.

The Lindley Waste Water Project is one of many projects under the Gauteng Infrastructure Finance Agency (GIFA) which are meant to revitalize the economy and create employment opportunities. However, in the past ten years, GIFA has continuously misled the public about the progress regarding the development of capital infrastructure.

During the DA’s oversight inspection at the Lindley Waste Water Project in Lanseria, we were shocked to discover that the project does not exist despite GIFA having spent R3.7 million from the R8 billion budget for the project.

See images here, here and here.

We learnt that it was not possible for GIFA to build a sewer pump project next to BM Foods, a food manufacturer that has been functioning in the area for 35 years because of safety and health concerns.

This is a result of poor planning and failed administration by the current government which continues to fail its residents.

In February 2018, the DA submitted questions on the progress of the project and the MEC confirmed that it was at the commercial close stage and negotiations with Rand Water were still underway.

We also received a project progress report for the 2021/22 financial year which also confirmed that the project is still at the financial close stage. However, we were recently informed that the project is back at the feasibility stage which means they are going back to the drawing board.

The DA is highly concerned that the Lenasia Smart City concept needs a wastewater project of this magnitude, but the government is has made extremely slow progress in building capital infrastructure projects.

The DA will use all mechanisms available to us to pressure GIFA to make public a detailed report on all the provincial capital infrastructure projects. GIFA must also explain and provide evidence on how the R3.7 million of the Lindley Waste Water Project was spent since there is nothing to show for it.

The current Eskom blackouts have exposed the government’s lack of development and maintenance of infrastructure which has severely compromised our water supply system.

Gauteng does not have enough wastewater treatment plants; hence, the government needs to speed up the development process.

The DA will continue to assess all GIFA project sites to establish if these projects do exist. We further emphasise that the government must complete all capital infrastructure projects on time and within budget to help grow the Gauteng economy.

Gauteng’s adjustment budget displays under-expenditure and poor performance, hampering service delivery

The mid-term adjustment budget delivered by Gauteng MEC for Finance, Jacob Mamabolo is an admission that government departments are struggling to spend their budget in a manner that will provide basic service delivery to all our residents.

Today, MEC Mamabolo announced that there will be a rollover of R1.6 billion. The Gauteng Department of Health has the biggest rollover of over R1.1 billion. This is very worrying as currently there is a huge underspending on infrastructure in the province.

For the remainder of the current government’s term the following key priorities have been identified:

• Economic recovery and reconstruction
• Strengthening the battle against crime, corruption, vandalism and overcoming lawlessness
• Changing the living conditions in townships, informal settlements, and hostels
• Prioritisation of the health and wellness of people
• Strengthening the capacity of the state

Infrastructure is one of the key drivers of the economy and if more is not done by the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) the current government facilities will not be able to cater to the needs of our residents, as the population in the province is growing on a daily basis.

MEC Mamabolo claims that this province has state-of-the-art infrastructure including roads, airports, rails, and premium digital connectivity. Yet when our motorists use our roads, they are faced with numerous potholes and a rail system that is not always operational.

Furthermore, there are plans in place to seek alternative funding for the e-Tolls debt and establish a state-owned bank and a state-owned pharmaceutical company. This will take time and will not be completed before the next general elections which are to be held in 2024.

The proposed state-owned bank appears to be a duplication of the work that the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) is supposed to do. It is high time that this entity starts to deliver on its mandate to assist small businesses, particularly those operating in the townships.

In order to change the living conditions in hostels, townships and informal settlements, the dysfunctional Department of Human Settlements will need to get their act together as a matter of urgency.

If the GPG is committed to building a capable state in this province under the leadership of Premier Lesufi and MEC Mamabolo, the DA proposes the following solutions:
• Ensure that consequence management takes place where budgets are not spent within the allocated time frame
• Conduct an audit of all officials in the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) to make sure they have the necessary skills needed to implement infrastructure projects
• Audit all entities and ensure that they are delivering on their mandate instead of creating new entities
• Reduce the amount of money spent on consultants by government departments
• Cut the red tape so that more small businesses are able to do business with the government

Gauteng residents deserve a government that is capable of delivering basic services to all, while still ensuring that there is value for money.

Gauteng’s adjustment budget indicates lost opportunities by the incompetent provincial government

Gauteng’s mid-year adjustment budget will tell the story of lost opportunities, lack of accountable leadership and lacklustre performance which has had a severe impact on service delivery in the province.

The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been worsened by reckless and irresponsible governance and our people remain at the losing end of the stick.

This budget comes after Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s promises of creating a provincial state bank, state pharmacy, advertising for 6000 job opportunities for crime prevention wardens, R650 million for reclaiming spaza shops in Gauteng townships as well as a state farm for nyoape addicts. The e-Toll bill that Gauteng residents must contribute to currently stands at R12,9 billion. Different revenue streams in the form of a “hybrid model” will have to be found to raise the necessary funds.

Tomorrow, the MEC for Finance, Jacob Mamabolo, will be delivering the adjustment budget for the province in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) for the 2022/23 financial year.

In the National Division of Revenue Amendment Bill 2022, the Gauteng province did not receive any additional funding through equitable share or conditional grants.

The slow spending on the department’s infrastructure budgets will not assist the current provincial government to grow Gauteng if the following departments continue to record poor performance:

• Health
• Social Development
• Human Settlements
• Roads and Transport
• GDARD – Also considering adjusting budget downwards with R2,5m
• SARC
• GDID

Infrastructure development is most important during the current economic crisis with the highest recorded youth unemployment figures in a long time. Infrastructure development provides a foundation for economic and social activity and is critical if sustainable growth is to be secured.

One of the biggest responsibilities of the Premier is to ensure the conditions are there for a growing job-creating economy. The fact that his departments are failing in their infrastructure spending which is critical to a growing economy is a major red light and is the flip side of his apparent generosity to townships.

This is not the budget of a senior politician who is looking to a growing economy for all residents of Gauteng but one of a politician desperately trying to shore up support in a particular group that was once a base but who is seeing through their incompetence and underperformance.

The DA proposes that instead of Premier Lesufi focusing on buying votes for the upcoming 2024 general elections, by making promises he will not be able to fund without taxing residents, even more, he along with MEC Mamabolo should focus on assisting departments in spending their budgets on time. This will ensure that for every rand spent there is value for money, and that residents on the ground receive the services this government has to date not been able to deliver to better their lives.

Gauteng residents’ hard-earned taxes are lost to rampant corruption in the province

It is very disheartening to learn that Gauteng residents are losing their hard-earned taxes to corruption.

According to a recent report released by Corruption Watch, entitled Analysis of Corruption Trends (ACT), the majority of fraud and whistle-blower reports for the period January 2022- June 2022 came from Gauteng. Two-thirds of all reports received during this period came from this province.
In addition, the report also found that 62% of complaints classified as corruption emanated from the public sector, while 25% originate from the private sector.

The complaints regarding the public sector related to the abuse of authority, bribery, extortion, procurement, and employment irregularities.

This is very concerning and indicates that the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) is doing very little to clamp down on corruption. In May 2022, Premier David Makhura introduced The State of Ethics, Integrity management systems, and anti-corruption strategy in Gauteng, with these introductory remarks:

“On the other hand, corruption, maladministration, abuse of power and poor service delivery undermines development outcomes and further contributes to loss of public confidence and shifts public resources away from the development and advancement of society to enrich a few individuals”.

No truer words were spoken, but if it lacks action and the will of the governing party to eradicate corruption, it will remain an uphill battle.

The DA will continue to put pressure on the GPG to strengthen the measures they have in place to fight corruption and maladministration.

This can be done by ensuring that whistle-blowers are afforded the protection they deserve when reporting suspected cases of corruption. A DA government will not let corrupt officials off the hook and will ensure that they are charged and prosecuted even if they resign.

Our residents can no longer have a government that turns a blind eye to corruption within its ranks. This will all change in 2024 when our residents vote for a capable DA government that is committed to ending corruption.

Electronic Invoice System open to fraud and corruption as Gauteng Department of Health records over 34 thousand duplicate invoices

Gauteng government departments are at risk of paying more than once for services that are rendered by service providers. Currently, suppliers can upload their invoices on the Electronic Invoice Submission (EIS) system and, if not carefully monitored could be paid twice for services delivered.

This information was revealed to me in a reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL). The Department of Health had a total of 34 856 duplicate invoices uploaded to the EIS system from 1st April 2021 to 31 March 2022. This amounts to a total of R24 256 537 105, 09. The Department of Infrastructure had 650 duplicate invoices submitted through the EIS system, amounting to R143 716 057,71.

While other departments have not had any duplicate invoices, it is very concerning that the Department of Health has the highest number of duplicate invoices submitted. This indicates a loophole in the current system, which opens the door for fraud and corruption to occur.

Our taxpayers cannot afford to have such a loophole that exists in the government invoicing and payment system. Each department has a limited budget and this crack in the system is putting an even greater strain on the budget.

The DA is therefore proposing the following:

• An exception list must be created every morning, so that duplicate invoices are flagged immediately.
• The service provider must be contacted to determine why a duplicate invoice was submitted.
• Repeat offenders must be red flagged for future business.

While none of the duplicate invoices was paid the risk of corruption occurring remains.

While human error may occur and there may be problems with the system while uploading invoices, the fact that only one department appears to have a high number is very concerning and warrants further investigation.

Furthermore, we urge the Department of Health and the Department of Infrastructure Development to engage with their counterparts to determine how they can quickly weed out duplicate invoices from their system or prevent them from being loaded onto the EIS for a second time.

Gauteng residents deserve a government that is detail oriented and that will put every measure in place to ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent transparently and is not lost to corruption. Our residents do have an opportunity to change the current government come 2024 and vote for a DA government that is capable of clamping down on corruption.

Residents risk having electricity supply reduced as Lesedi Local Municipality owes Eskom over R44 million

The Lesedi Local Municipality which is already struggling to provide basic services to its residents owes Eskom more than double the amount it owed in April 2022.

This is very worrying as it means that this municipality is at risk of having its electricity reduced if they are unable to pay its debt to Eskom.

According to the Gauteng MEC for Finance and e-Government, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, in April Lesedi Local Municipality owed Eskom R20 144 000, 00 and in July the municipality owed Eskom, R44 723 000, 00. This is a staggering increase of 122%.

However, according to an internal memorandum the municipality owes Eskom R111 million and R14,5 million to Rand Water.

Furthermore, the DA has learnt that the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance currently owes the municipality R37 971 238, 00 for electricity.

To add further fuel to the fire, the municipality has put out a tender for the appointment of service providers for sourcing funds for the implementation of their planned infrastructure projects.

This is of great concern as the municipality’s officials are already sitting around doing very little because of a lack of adequate budgets for service delivery.

It is high time that this municipality learns from the Midvaal Local Municipality on how best to manage its budget and debt. As indicated by the MEC, the Midvaal Local Municipality has had no increase in its debt to Eskom between May and July 2022.

The DA will put pressure on the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairss to pay their outstanding electricity bill. This money will go a long way to reduce the current amount owed by the municipality to Eskom. In addition our councillors will also bring this matter to council so that arrangements can be made to pay the debt owed to Eskom.

The ever-increasing debt to Eskom by this municipality is proof that our residents deserve a government that is focused on ensuring that service delivery takes place unhindered.

Cash-strapped Emfuleni returns over R50 million of unspent funds to National Treasury while service delivery collapses

The Emfuleni Local Municipality which is unable to provide proper service delivery to its residents has returned R56,581,000 in unspent grant funding to the National Treasury.

This is very concerning as the municipality often blames a lack of funds for poor service delivery, yet it failed to spend its allocated funds during the budgetary period.

This money was from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant, which was intended to improve municipal infrastructure for service delivery.

A further R4.8 million allocated to education was returned unspent, despite the extreme need for resources at our schools.

This information was revealed in a written reply to our questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

In his response, the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile explained that the underspending in Emfuleni was because of the late appointment of service providers due to supply chain processes and poor performance by some of the appointed service providers.

However, the supply chain processes in the Emfuleni Municipality are directly controlled by the MEC’s own office, as the municipality is under the administration of the province.

This is therefore an admission on the part of the MEC that he and his department have failed in their task of fixing the mess in Emfuleni.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be putting pressure on Premier David Makhura to reassess MEC Maile’s fitness for office and to re-prioritise the situation in Emfuleni under more capable leadership.

The dissolution of the Council in terms of section 139 of the Constitution has become unavoidable so as to give the people of Emfuleni a chance to elect leaders who can fix this broken municipality.

Delays in the construction of K14 Apies Bridge puts 3000 job opportunities on the line

More than 3000 jobs are on the line because of a delay in the construction of the K14 Apies Bridge in Pretoria. This project will go a long way towards creating employment opportunities for residents who are struggling to survive.

The project to link the K14 Apies Bridge to the Rosslyn and Silverton automotive special economic zones will now only begin in 2024. Construction on this project was meant to begin in 2021.

This information was revealed to me in a reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), to the MEC for Roads and Transport, Jacob Mamabolo.

According to the MEC, construction will only begin in 2024 and as yet no tender has been issued. This situation is confirmation that the Democratic Alliance (DA) has been spot on with our concerted efforts to ensure that departments’ demand and procurement plans are in place at the start of every financial year. Without this being in place, a department cannot advertise or award tenders on time.

This is very concerning as it means that the potential to unlock a R12 billion investment into the Rainbow Junction Mega Mixed-Use Development in the north of Pretoria is now in jeopardy.

Investment opportunities like the one offered by the Rainbow Junction Mega Mixed-Used Development are critical if we want to create more employment opportunities in our province.

While the construction of the bridge is fully funded by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport, it is critical that government speedily ensures that this project is put out to tender.

This project has the potential of creating thousands of jobs in the Pretoria North and East areas.

The DA will be closely monitoring the progress of this project which is still at the procurement stage for the services of a Professional Service Provider to complete the designs.