Less money for struggling artists, athletes with service providers costing R16.5 million to administer Covid-19 relief grants

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is appalled to learn that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (GSACR) has spent R16 546 200 on two service providers to administer the payment of R13 206 000 Covid-19 relief grants to the Gauteng athletes and artists.

It is extremely concerning that two service providers were paid such a ridiculous amount of money, which is higher than the amount individually paid out to artists and athletes. The jobs of the two entities enlisted to help administer grants must be audited to ascertain exactly how they used the millions of rand that was paid to them. Clearly this Covid-19 relief grant did not benefit the financially struggling Gauteng athletes and artists, but a few individuals, labelled as ‘department stakeholders’.

This was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to MEC Hlophe, the Covid-19 relief funds of R13 206 000 were paid from November 2020 to date to Gauteng athletes and artists. This means that 2201 athletes and artists have been paid R6000 each. While the relief grant is meant to ease the pressure off artists and athletes during this trying time, this amount could have been higher or included more recipients had the department negotiated a lower administration fee or simply facilitated the disbursement themselves.

There are still many artists and athletes in the province who are struggling to make ends meet and the utter lack of forward thinking by this department when it came to the distribution of the Covid-19 relief grant is unacceptable. 

Business Arts South Africa had received R9,946,200, and the Gauteng Sports Confederation had received R6,600,000 (both inclusive of the administration fee) for administering the payments for Gauteng athletes and artists.

While we understand that these two service providers play a critical role in the careers of artists and athletes, however, they should not have benefitted more than the artists themselves who are the sole beneficiaries of this grant.

The administration of the Covid-19 relief grant could have been done in-house by the officials of the department as a way of saving costs and ensuring that more artists and athletes could have benefitted. 

The DA will not hesitate to hold MEC Hlophe to account for the millions spent on service providers instead of the beneficiaries and will continue to put pressure on the MEC to utilise in-house officials to administer the Covid-19 relief funds. We will also keep pushing for a full investigation into the funds paid to the service providers until the truth is revealed on how the Covid-19 relief grant has been spent.

It is high time that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely to benefit our people who are in dire need of financial support, and not a few individuals who are directly connected or linked to the department.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Gauteng should release updates of much-needed vaccinations

The Gauteng Health Department should release detailed daily updates on the Covid-19 Phase Two vaccinations which cover the 1.3 million people who are over 60 years of age.

This would assist in assessing progress and identifying weak spots where more needs to be done to speed up the vaccinations.

According to the National Health Department, 39 371 vaccinations have been done countywide so far this week, but we do not know how many of these were in Gauteng and its various districts.

I am concerned by reports that many elderly people have received short notice to travel long distances for their vaccinations.

In some cases they have arrived at the site and been told that the vaccines have run out.

While teething problems could be expected, it is clear that vastly more vaccination sites need to be running that are closer to where people live. For instance, there are no vaccination sites in the A and B regions in north west Johannesburg.

It is disappointing that the private sector sites in Gauteng will only be operational next week as they are vitally needed to boost the numbers of vaccinated people.

A decentralised model of vaccine distribution will work best in Gauteng, with the private and public sectors working together to save lives as a third wave looms of Covid-19 infections.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Vaal residents at risk because of Covid bed delays

The Vaal area is currently experiencing a surge in Covid-19 infections, but the 300 extra beds at the Kopanong Hospital in Vereeniging will not be completed until September this year.

This was revealed yesterday at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature Health Committee.

Building of the new wards started on 29 June last year, and they were supposed to have been ready by November, but work stoppages and contractual disputes have led to delays.

The contract has now been re-advertised, and work on the wards is only expected to resume next month.

This is yet another failure by the provincial government, which has a poor record in choosing lousy building companies who miss deadlines and waste money. Corruption is often a factor in this continuing failure to choose contractors who can do the job.

Another building fiasco is the R500 million spend on ICU beds at Anglo-Ashanti Hospital in the Far West Rand, which will now only be used for quarantine and isolation of Covid-19 patients, instead of treatment for serious cases.

Meanwhile, people in the Vaal area continue to suffer from a shortage of hospital beds which could cause lives to be lost in a third wave of the Covid-19 epidemic.

It’s a crying shame that badly-needed health projects are never built on time or within budget.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Chaos at Joburg Hospital vaccination site

I am concerned at the chaos at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital vaccination site as health workers are turned away despite being notified that they are due to receive the J&J vaccine for Covid-19.

Early this week the SA Medical Research Council stated that “due to high demand at many sites we can only accept health workers and personnel with vouchers.”

But many health workers have arrived with vouchers and are told to come back, and then another excuse is given for why they cannot get the vaccination.

The Sisonke J&J trial is due to end soon as the general rollout for people over 60 years old is supposed to start next week.

It is essential that the vaccination programme is properly organised, with measures to ensure that nobody jumps the queue.

The appointment system for vaccines should be efficient and fair, with a minimum of waiting times especially for old people in this cold weather.

We need to do everything we can to ensure a speedy vaccine rollout to save lives as the epidemic appears headed for a third wave of infections.

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

DA urges all over-60s to register for vaccine rollout


I am very concerned that only 235 000 out of 1.3 million people over 60 years of age in Gauteng have registered for the Covid-19 vaccine that is due to roll out on 17 May.

It is very important that as many vulnerable people as possible are vaccinated before a possible third wave of infections which appears to be starting.

The two available vaccines, J&J and Pfizer, have both proved to be very effective in preventing severe illness and death from Covid-19, and they have a good safety profile.

It is clear that the benefits outweigh the very small risks of vaccination which can be managed by careful monitoring.

Mass vaccinations of vulnerable people will help our hospitals to avoid being flooded by patients.

The Democratic Alliance urges all over-60s to get registered at https://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za/#/ or they can be assisted toll-free at  0800228827

Local Government Elections are coming up in 2021! Visit check.da.org.za to check your voter registration status.

Gauteng needs more vaccines and vaccination sites

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the start of vaccinations for health workers in Gauteng, but we are concerned that implementation will be slow and disruptive because only two hospitals are vaccinating for the entire province.


Gauteng has received 16 800 out of the 80 000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines that have arrived – 11 800 to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and 5000 to Steve Biko Hospital.


It will be very disruptive and time-consuming for health workers in different parts of the province to go to these two hospitals for vaccinations. Their own hospitals are under severe pressure and will suffer from all the staff taking time off to get the vaccine.


Furthermore, it will take more than three weeks for Chris Hani Baragwanath to administer the small supply of vaccines that they now have as they have said they will vaccinate between 400 and 600 people daily.


There are 211 403 employees in the public and private health sectors in Gauteng, so we need a lot more vaccines and vaccination sites as soon as possible.


The Gauteng Provincial Government should engage urgently with the National Health Department to expand the number of vaccination sites.


It would greatly assist if there was a true partnership with the private sector to ensure that a mass vaccine rollout can run smoothly and speedily to curb the Covid-19 epidemic in our province.


Gauteng Premier David Makhura should also be scouring the world for extra vaccine supplies as Western Cape is doing. This is perfectly legal as health is a provincial competence, and it is affordable as it will cost less than R1 billion to vaccinate 10 million people in Gauteng, which is under 1% of the provincial budget.


It is critical that every effort is made to dramatically scale up vaccination in Gauteng before an anticipated third wave of infections in early winter.


DA launches petition for Covid-19 vaccines in Gauteng

The Democratic Alliance has launched a petition which calls on the Gauteng Provincial Government to make every effort to get vaccines from around the world wherever they are available.

This is because the sole reliance on national government to procure vaccines is unnecessary and unwise as health is a provincial competence.

The Gauteng Health Department has set a target of 10.72 million to achieve herd immunity and effectively stop the virus spreading, but projected supplies of vaccines will not arrive in time to mitigate an expected third wave of infections in early winter. 

Whereas the national government promised vaccines for health workers before the end of January, it now appears that this can only take place in mid-February due to logistic and quality control issues

Last week the Gauteng Health Department said it would vaccinate 150 000 health workers staring on 1 February, which shows how out of touch they are.

Gauteng should follow the Western Cape where DA Premier Alan Winde is trying to get extra vaccines from different suppliers. 

The benefits of vaccines for saving lives and livelihoods in Gauteng are immense, and the earlier the better. Not more than R1 billion will be needed to vaccinate 10 million people in Gauteng, which is less than 1% of the total provincial budget. It is also far less than what has been misspent, wasted and stolen in this province from money allocated to fight the pandemic.

The petition will be run on social media and can be found http://petitions.da.org.za/p/more-vaccines-now


Premier Makhura not fit to govern Gauteng: DA asks Hawks to urgently investigate Makhura’s corruption scandals

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has submitted a letter to the Hawks calling for an urgent investigation into the full extent of the corruption scandals that have occurred under Premier Makhura’s watch.

Since the inception of the national lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic Gauteng has been plagued with corruption scandals.

Following the recent revelations by the former Gauteng Health Department chief financial officer, Kabelo Lehloenya that Premier Makhura gave her the names of the companies to appoint to supply and deliver PPEs in the province there is an urgent need for action to be taken against Premier Makhura.

The following are some of the corruption scandals that have happened while the people of Gauteng suffer under the Covid pandemic:

  • R2,2 billion was spent by the Gauteng Department of Health on fishy PPE suppliers in three months last year. The department paid inflated prices above the National Treasury’s regulated PPE price list and the husband of the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khuselo Diko reportedly scored part of this contract to supply PPE’s for the Covid-19 pandemic,
  • Premier Makhura has been implicated in the Gauteng Department of Health PPE scandals by the former Gauteng Health Department chief financial officer, Kabelo Lehloenya who stated in her affidavit to the special tribunal that Premier Makhura gave her the names of the companies to appoint to supply and deliver PPEs in the province,
  • AngloGold Ashanti hospital on the far West Rand received R500 million worth of funding in order to equip it with extra beds and facilities to treat Covid-19 patients. The wards are still incomplete and are under construction. The completed areas have no equipment and there is no indication that the hospital will be ready for use anytime soon,

The Gauteng Department of Education has spent more than R431 million on sanitising schools in three months between June and August last year.

It is critical now more than ever that the standard that was set with the dismissal of MEC Masuku is also applied to Premier Makhura and that Premier Makhura is investigated to determine the extent of his involvement in these corruption scandals.

As the Premier of Gauteng, Makhura has failed in his oversight duty to safeguard our coffers and he must be held accountable for failing to prevent corruption in this province.

It is sad and disgraceful that the heads of the province are tainted by corruption scandals with the money meant to save lives during this critical period of Covid-19 pandemic.

The DA will be calling for an urgent sitting in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) and we will be tabling a motion of no confidence in Makhura as he has shown that he is not fit to govern Gauteng.

We will also be exploring other mechanisms to ensure that Makhura is held to account.

While awaiting a full investigation by the Hawks, I will also be writing to President Ramaphosa to act against Makhura as a matter of urgency.


Work stoppages delay new beds for covid-19 at Bronkhorstspruit

Greedy sub-contractors and a local ANC councillor in Bronkhorstspruit have been hobbling efforts to complete 150 new beds at the Bronkhorstspruit Hospital that are desperately needed to treat the surge of COVID-19 cases.

According to Tshwane DA councillor Bronwynn Engelbrecht, the extra beds should have been completed by 15 December last year, but sub-contractors have downed tools and are demanding more money to finish the job. It appears that they have squandered money already paid to them by buying expensive cars.

Engelbrecht has also been informed that a local ANC councillor has been encouraging these stoppages. This is putting pressure on BMW which is funding it as a social responsibility project.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura claimed last week that the hospital upgrade was expected by the end of this month, but this seems unlikely.

Further delays can be expected in staffing and equipping these beds as well.

It is questionable why extra beds are being set up so far from the densely populated parts of Tshwane where the need is greatest.

Extra beds at the Mamelodi and Kalafong hospitals would have been more useful in taking strain off the Steve Biko Hospital where COVID-19 patients are now being treated in tents in the parking lot.

And where is the field hospital in Rosslyn that Makhura promised in May last year with the assistance of Nissan and BMW?

This is yet another example of poor planning and botched implementation of hospital projects that are urgently needed to save lives in this terrible epidemic.

Note: Clr Engelbrecht can be contacted at Tel: 082 376-1022

R500 million wasted on incomplete Covid-19 Hospital on West Rand

About R500 million of funds meant for urgent Covid-19 beds has been wasted on the AngloGold Ashanti hospital on the far West Rand that will probably treat not a single Covid-19 patient.

Last week local DA Councillors Blackie Zwart and Alme Rowles-Zwart visited this former mine hospital which AngloGold Ashanti donated to the Gauteng Health Department to fight the Covid-19 epidemic.

They found it closed with a number of completed wards but mostly unfinished construction. The completed areas had no equipment and there was no indication that the hospital will be ready for use anytime soon.

Photos can be seen here, here, here and here.

This hospital was in reasonable condition when it was handed over, and the plan was to remodel it with 176 high care/ICU beds for acute Covid-19 cases.

But only 56 beds have been completed because of on-site strike action by contractors, and payment to the 8 contractors has been stopped pending the outcome of an investigation by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into possible corruption.

It is very unlikely that any Covid-19 patients will be treated at this hospital in the near future.

We need to know why so much money was allocated for a hospital that is doomed to be a white elephant as it is so far from major urban centres. It is also difficult to access since it is in the Western Deep Level mine midway between Carletonville and Fochville.

An official admitted at a meeting of the Gauteng Legislature’s Health Committee that it would have been cheaper to build the hospital from scratch.

This is a colossal misuse of money that could have been spent at other hospitals to assist them in treating the rapidly escalating Covid-19 cases, some of whom will need high care or ICU beds.

The DA will insist on accountability for this fiasco, and we await the outcome of the SIU investigation in this regard. We need to know who authorised it, who benefited from it, whether there was corruption, and how unauthorised money can be recouped.