R10 million is needed to fix the abandoned OR Tambo Cultural Precinct, Gauteng residents still not benefitting

The historic OR Tambo Cultural Precinct worth R54 million is still not operational and does not benefit the Gauteng residents as the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) will require R10 million to repair the structural defects.

This neglected historical precinct, which was named after the renowned liberation stalwart, Oliver Reginald Tambo, has been abandoned by the previous ANC-led Ekurhuleni government and SACR since 2018.

This cultural precinct has not been included in the approved organogram which means that there is no human resources capacity allocated to run the facility by the City of Ekurhuleni.

This shocking information was provided by the Gauteng MEC for SACR, Morakane Mosupyoe, in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

This is unacceptable because this department has failed to fix the structural defects at this facility.

Delays in fixing this facility will result in further deterioration of the structure and incur more costs.

The DA demands that MEC Mosupyoe, must engage with the City of Ekurhuleni and prioritize the revival of this monument for the benefit of Gauteng residents.

We will also engage directly with the MEC to review the current organigram so that it includes this cultural precinct and create jobs for the people of Gauteng.

MEC Hlophe spends R7 million on a three-hour celebratory event while Gauteng athletes and artist’s struggle

Many Gauteng artists and athletes have lost their livelihoods and have been forced into unemployment because of the Covid-19 lockdown, yet the Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR), Mbali Hlophe spent R7 million on a three-hour Gauteng Sports Awards event.

The DA has been reliably informed that the department has spent R7 million on the 2021 Gauteng Sports Awards despite the DA cautioning the department on excessive spending on this annual event. There was nothing spectacular about this event as guests were served a three-course meal with a soft drink or juice and only three renowned artists performed at the event.

The money spent on the Gauteng Sports Awards could have been used to provide the Covid-19 relief grant to 1166 athletes and artists at a rate of R6000 each.

For far too long, the DA has been calling on the department to reprioritize its budget to ensure that the money is allocated to render services to our people instead of wasting money on celebratory events.

In the 2019/2020 financial year, the department spent R9,494,000,00 on the Gauteng Sports Awards and, since the 2012/2013 financial year to the 2020/2021 financial year, it has spent over R61 million on this annual event. This ridiculous excessive spending by the department is unacceptable because we still have libraries across the province that do not have access to reliable internet. This money could have been used for service delivery and not for a one-day event.

While the DA supports the honouring of our athletes as it motivates them and inspires our youth to take part in sports, we do not agree with excessive spending on this annual event considering the suffering of residents during this time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This event can be held at any one of the many government venues or community stadiums available instead of paying for expensive venues and wasting money on food and beverages. The department can also hire local artists to perform to showcase their talents instead of hiring renowned artists.

The DA will not hesitate to hold MEC Hlophe to account for the department funds to be allocated according to priorities and for the benefit of all our residents, not a few individuals who have access to the department tenders. We also demand a breakdown of how R7 million was spent on this event considering that it was an in-door event and there is a limitation in terms of the number of people who can attend such events due to Covid-19 regulations.

Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) spends a quarter of a million on external people to administer Covid-19 relief fund

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is disappointed to learn that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) has spent R249 800,00 in five days on external people hired to administer the payment of the Covid-19 relief fund.

This was revealed by the Gauteng SACR MEC, Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to the MEC, the Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation adjudication committee members who administered the rolling out of the Covid-19 relief fund were compensated on an hourly basis.

The chairperson rate per hour is R581, working 8 hours per day which equates to R4648 per day and the deputy chairperson rate per hour is R493 which equates to R3944 per day. The rate per hour for an ordinary committee member is R459 which is R3672 per day.

The MEC states that the Gauteng Arts and Culture Committee which adjudicated the arts and culture applications for five days from 24 to 28 August 2020 consisted of a chairperson, deputy chairperson and six ordinary committee members who were paid R153 120,00 in total.

The Gauteng Sports and Recreation Committee which adjudicated the sports and recreation applications consisted of the following: a chairperson and four ordinary committee members who were paid a total of R96 680,00.

It is deeply disappointing that the department outsourced the service that could have been done internally by its own staff in order to save costs.

The department budgeted R28 million for the Covid-19 relief fund which was not enough to help all our artists and athletes, yet they hired external people to administer the payments.

Furthermore, the Gauteng Department of Economic Development did not hire any external people to administer the Covid-19 relief fund, the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller’s (GEP) internal staff administered the funds which the department of SACR could have replicated in order to minimize costs.

The DA will continue to monitor the expenditure of the Covid-19 funds by this department to ensure that our artists and athletes receive the financial assistance they deserve, and that the money is spent on fulfilling the core mandate of this department.

DA welcomes suspension of three senior officials at the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR)

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng has learnt that three senior officials from the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) have been suspended for irregular expenditure namely the Chief Financial Officer, Priya Lutchman; Director for Supply Chain Management, Koketso Lekalakala and Acting Director for Facilities, John Mofokeng.

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

According to MEC Hlophe, these senior officials are on suspension because allegations of irregular expenditure were substantiated and as such will be subjected to disciplinary action.

These senior officials were implicated in tender and appointment irregularities amounting to R43 889 200.32.

There were irregular appointments, tenders, and Performance Management Development System (PMDS) payments that have been ongoing for years however this was only revealed after the DA asked questions on this issue.

We will await the outcomes of the disciplinary hearings. We will also be checking if cases of fraud and racketeering will be opened with the South African Police Service.

The DA will also table follow-up questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to ascertain what next steps will be taken following the disciplinary hearings against these three senior officials.

Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation incapable of delivering libraries to the people of Gauteng

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng notes with great concern that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) continues to underspend the library and archival services budget and consistently fails to complete library infrastructure projects.

This was revealed in the department’s fourth quarterly report for the 2019/2020 financial year.

According to the fourth quarterly report, the department has underspent by R37.8 million on Programme Three: Library and Archival Services which is the highest underspend in the department for the fourth quarter of the 2019/2020 financial year.

The underspend was attributed to the vacant posts for the Community Library Services Grant which have not yet been filled, infrastructure projects and not executing the planning of the three new libraries.

The under-expenditure in Library and Archival Services has become a norm for this department; in the department’s third quarterly report for the 2019/20 financial year, it underspent by R28.660 million.

This clearly indicates that this department is incapable of delivering on its core mandate to provide access to library, archival services and facilities to our people.

Furthermore, the department did not meet all its target for the construction of three new libraries and delivering 14 workstations for visually impaired individuals in libraries.

The department failed to achieve its target of renewing library subscriptions and implementing a library holiday programme. The department also failed to achieve its target of upgrading one existing facility for public library purposes.

The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Mbali Hlophe and the Head of the Department must be held accountable.

The DA calls on Gauteng Premier David Makhura to hold the MEC to account to ensure that her department delivers Library and Archival Services in this province.

Gauteng Department of SACR to spend R41,154 million on celebration of public holidays in 2019

Note to Editors: This is an updated version of the statement released earlier.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed to learn that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) has allocated an amount of R41,154 million for the celebration of public holidays in 2019.

This was revealed by Gauteng SACR MEC Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to my question in the Gauteng Legislature.

This is a massive waste of public funds as the money could be better spent in maintaining our deteriorating sporting stadiums and equipping our townships with adequate sporting facilities.

The table below shows the money that has been budgeted and spent so far for each public holiday in 2019:

Public Holidays Budget allocation Money spent
Human Rights Day R8,2 million R8 25 million
Freedom Day R6,012 million R7,8 million
Youth Day R4,342 million R4,342 million
Women’s Day R6,1 million R5,450 million (awaiting final recon)
Heritage Day: Gauteng Carnival R16,5 million Still to happen
Total R41,154 million

The department has overspent by R1,79 million on Freedom Day celebrations.

A large portion of each public holiday’s budget is spent on catering, security and transport.

This department must find ways to curb this wasteful expenditure on public holidays.

One way to cut costs is to ensure that public holidays’ programme of events are short so as to cut the inexplicably excessive catering costs.

The department must consider using government facilities rather than outside venues to cut costs on ablution facilities, accommodation, venue rental and security.

In addition, the department must also consider collaborating with civil society, trade unions and private companies as this will help to drastically cut expenditure and save money as they will also contribute towards the event.

While we understand the importance of celebrating public holidays, the Gauteng Provincial Government should not go overboard. They must consider their core mandate of providing adequate services to the people of Gauteng instead of wasting money on public holidays.

In the past these public holidays celebrations have been little more than thinly-disguised ANC rallies and further used as a tool to extend a hand of patronage to the service providers which are closely linked to their organization.

Gauteng SACR spends over R28 million on Gauteng Sports Awards in the last four financial years

The Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) consistently underspends on its budget and fails to deliver much needed sporting facilities in the townships, yet it continues to spend millions on the Gauteng Sports Awards annually.

This year the department has allocated R9,494,000,00 for the Gauteng Sports Awards.

This was revealed to me by the Gauteng SACR MEC, Mbali Hlophe in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

The department must reprioritise its budget to ensure that the money is allocated to render services to our people instead of wasting money on entertainment, food and beverages.

The following has been spent on Gauteng Sports Awards in the previous financial years:

Year Amount
2012/2013 R9,473,000,00
2013/2014 R6,000,000,00
2014/2015 R6,000,000,00
2015/2016 R6,674,000,00
2016/2017 R9,503,034,00
2017/2018 R6,935,760,00
2018/2019
2019/2020 R9,494,000,00

It is ridiculous in that the department has spent over R28 million in the last four financial years on this annual event while we still have libraries across the province that do not have access to the internet. Most of our libraries are using the municipality WIFI which is weak and unable to accommodate the influx of the residents who are in dire need of internet connectivity.

The department has not yet delivered combi courts to the residents as promised and some of the sporting stadiums are in a shameful state. The Gauteng Provincial Archives in Kagiso Extension 6 in Krugersdorp is also still under-utilized. This money could have been used for service delivery not only for a one-day event.

The DA supports the honouring of our athletes as it motivates them and inspires our youth to take part in sports. However, we do not agree with the fact that the people’s money is being used for this event, rather than building and maintaining much-needed facilities.

The DA is of the view that Gauteng Sports Awards can be held at any one of the many government venues available instead of paying for expensive hotels and wasting money on food and beverages.

Break-ins at libraries result in theft of equipment to the value of R286 556

by Paul Willemburg MPL – DA Spokesperson for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation

The DA is deeply concerned about the 12 break-ins that have occurred at libraries across the province.

ICT equipment to the value of R286 556 was stolen while 6 computers and 5 flat screens were recovered amounting to R45 000. This disadvantages our youth, especially those living in townships, as many rely on library equipment to complete school assignments and to search for job opportunities.

The following libraries in Gauteng were broken into since 2014/2015 financial year to date:

MUNICIPALITY LIBRARY EQUIPMENT AMOUNT
Emfuleni Municipality
  • Roshnee
  • Boitumelo
  • Residensia
  • Sebokeng
  • Evaton
  • Tshepiso

 

6 computers

10 computers

12 computers

10 computers

5 computers

1 Camera

R21 000.00

R50 000.00

R42 000.00

R50 000.00

R17 500.00

R1 500.00

City of Ekurhuleni
  • Kempton Park Library
1 computer R2 000.00
Merafong Municipality
  • Wedela Library
8 computers R36 000.31
Mogale City Municipality
  • Desmont Tutu

 

  • Krugersdorp

 

  • Muldersdrift
All in one computer and 2 scanners

 

1 laptop

 

1 HP Desktop

R32 950.00

 

 

R8 556.00

 

R6 000.00

Lesedi Municipality
  • Heidelberg
8 Computers stolen

6 recovered

 

10 Flat screens stolen

5 recovered

R12 500.00
TOTAL R286 556.00

 

It is unacceptable that these facilities are not provided with sufficient security to protect the resources meant to uplift and educate our communities, especially the youth and those who are seeking job opportunities.

The DA believes that residents have a responsibility to look after the libraries within their communities. They must work with the police and report any thefts which may occur at their libraries. Communities must refrain from purchasing stolen library equipment, as in so doing, so they are creating a market for these goods.

The DA is calling on the department to provide adequate security at all libraries, so that these valuable resources can be protected.

ANC Gauteng-led administration continues to overspend on public holidays

by Kingsol Chabalala MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR)

Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation has overspent by 154,68% on its budget for public holidays in the province since 2013/14 financial year to date.

This was revealed by the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation MEC, Faith Mazibuko in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

According to MEC Mazibuko the total budget for activities and celebrations relating to public holidays and public commemoration days for the 2013/14, 2014/ 15, 2015/16, 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years respectively was R112.5 million. The department has over spent by 54,68% on these public holidays.

The public holidays that were commemorated are as follows; Freedom Day, Human Rights Day, Youth Day, Women’s Day, Heritage Day and Day of Reconciliation.

This is unacceptable as it is a blatant waste of public funds.

This indicates that there is no fiscal control in this Department and that the ANC-led Gauteng administration cares little about the real needs of our people.

The millions that were overspent could have been used to better the lives of our poor people.

We will continue to put pressure on MEC Mazibuko to reduce gross over-expenditure on public holidays.

Come 2019, when the DA takes over Gauteng, money will be diverted from frivolous parties and will be used for the upliftment of our communities instead.

MEC Mazibuko fails to deliver to GP residents

Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation(SACR) MEC, Faith Mazibuko has failed to deliver libraries and cares little about the important role they play in our communities.

We visited 28 libraries across all regions in the province and we discovered that the books are outdated, there are internet challenges and some are still not complete.

Even though the Gauteng Broadband Network has been installed in libraries, it has not been connected.

Almost all the libraries are connected to the municipality WI-FI which is slow, unreliable and not strong enough to meet the need of the users. The internet connectivity is very weak and sometimes down for days.

Yet the department’s Annual Report for 2016/17 financial year indicates that seventy-seven libraries were connected in 2016/17; once again, no names or areas – just numbers.

We are to believe that this department is not serious about its mandate and continues to lie to the public.

The libraries are desperately in need of new books as the current books are old and outdated, especially the reference books.

There is a serious challenge posed by the lack of project management, financial management and leadership from the department.

There is now a pattern of continuous failure in completing libraries construction within the stipulated time frame.

Shoddy workmanship is also a setback as some libraries have been officially opened and then closed namely Venterspost, Naturena and Kagiso Extension 6 library.

Despite the enormous challenges faced by our libraries the department under-spent R33 million of the Library Grant. This money could have been used to buy new books for the benefit of our communities.

Furthermore, the Annual Report indicates that 79% of users are satisfied with library services. This information is not true and is misleading as there are many issues raised by library users which indicates that they are unhappy with the status quo.

The DA firmly believes that libraries are a vital community resource for residents to access information, internet services and provides a safe studying environment for our young people.

We will hold MEC Mazibuko accountable to ensure that all our libraries are equipped with resources, have access to internet connection, the infrastructure is properly fixed and are re-opened as a matter of urgency.