Broken MRI machine is another blow for patients at Steve Biko hospital

Patient care at the Steve Biko hospital is suffering as the MRI machine has been broken for nearly a month.

It’s another blow for patients after non-urgent surgery was recently cancelled for more than a week because of broken air-conditioners in the operating theatre.

The use of an MRI machine is essential in the diagnosis of certain cancers, as well as in giving a clearer picture of injuries to soft tissues, joints and internal organs.

The MRI at Steve Biko is 16 years old and is no longer on a service plan as it should already have been replaced.

It broke in August this year because of cable theft and was then fixed, but the unstable power supply from load-shedding has been blamed for another breakdown in mid-September.

Usually, this machine is used for about 10 patients a day, so more than 150 patients have not been properly diagnosed as the only alternative MRI is at the Kalafong hospital.

This latest breakdown shows the need for pre-planning to purchase new machines when required and proper servicing for existing machines.

It’s another failure by the corrupt and dysfunctional Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development.

The DA proposes that authority should be devolved to the CEOs of major hospitals like Steve Biko to ensure proper maintenance of machinery and purchase new machines when necessary.

Millions of rands spent to safeguard GPG-owned vacant properties, yet illegal occupations and crime intensify

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) is currently spending millions of rands to secure and safeguard 1836 vested properties and 482 deemed properties.

A typical example is the dilapidated buildings in Amandasig in Pretoria North that have been taken over by illegal invaders. This happens despite having security hired to safeguard the premises.
This has led to an unsafe environment for our residents and a spike in crime due to alleged drug dealing that is taking place on these premises.

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) has indicated that for the past three years, the following amount of money has been spent on securing and safeguarding these properties:

• 2022 (for the past six months)- R15 498 638,04
• 2021- R25 693 361,76
• 2022- R23 507 535,00

In 2021, GDID indicated that the property in Amadasig was occupied by 17 Lesotho nationals, however, the DA has learnt that currently there are at least 300 Lesotho nationals living with South Africans in this building.

Given the huge amounts of money spent on securing these buildings from being vandalised and illegally occupied it would be expected that none of the vacant buildings is illegally invaded.

Furthermore, GDID indicated that a process was underway to vest this property which has been earmarked for nature conservation to the department. However, there has been no movement, and the building is still illegally occupied.

For the longest time, the DA has been warning the current government that the longer these buildings remain vacant they become vulnerable to illegal occupation and vandalism.

The DA demands that GDID should act swiftly and start the process of evicting the illegal invaders and ensure that those who are paid to safeguard these properties do their work. We cannot allow the department to spend millions on service providers who are unable to do their job properly.

The new MEC for Infrastructure Development, Lebogang Maile, must urgently do a forensic audit of all government-owned buildings that are vacant and the current state that they are in.
Furthermore, the GDID must put a plan in place to ensure that these properties are used for the benefit of our communities instead of taxpayers having to fork out more money on vacant buildings.

We also propose that where the vacant buildings are allocated to specific departments, they must look at ways of using these buildings for the benefit of our residents. In addition, these departments should also consider utilising these buildings instead of paying an exorbitant amount of money on rental fees.

GDE will not meet the demand to place all learners as DID is lagging in building new schools

The Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) will not meet the demand to place all learners who applied for Grades 1 and 8 for the 2023 academic year.

This is because the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management (DID) is lagging in building new schools and maintaining the existing schools.

This means that with the high demand for enrolment in this province, many learners will not have access to quality education and a conducive learning environment due to the shortage of schools.

This will result in overcrowding in classrooms, some learners being taught under the tree or in the school hall, and many schools will adopt the rotational learning system to ensure that learning and teaching continue without further disruptions.

There have been unnecessary delays in the construction of the following new schools; Hillcrest Primary School, Mayibuye School Primary, Mogobeng Primary School, Nokuthula LSEN School, Nancifield Primary School, Braamfischerville Primary School, and Rustervaal Secondary School.

The contractors have been terminated, and the planning is underway for the appointment of new contractors to complete the projects.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Infrastructure Development and Property Management (DID) MEC, Tasneem Motara, in a written reply to the DA’s questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL). See replies here.

It is unacceptable that seven schools are still incomplete and will not be completed within the stipulated timelines. Delays in the completion of infrastructure projects will result in running over budget.

It is further disappointing that the only action taken by DID against these contractors that have failed to complete the construction of the schools is terminating their contracts.

Contractors who fail to complete the infrastructure projects should be blacklisted and not do business with the government.

The DA demands that both MEC Motara and Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, must fast-track the process of appointing the new contractors so that the construction of schools can be completed and be able to ease pressure on high demand schools. When the DA governs Gauteng in 2024, we will terminate the current agreement between DID and the GDE, to ensure that GDE is responsible for its infrastructure budget and building its own schools.

Tourism continues to suffer as R2.9 billion Suikersbosrand Nature Reserve is in a state of disrepair

The Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve at some point in the past was functional and attracted tourists. It was valued at R2,9 billion in 2009.

After years of missteps and mismanagement by the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the reserve today has no tourism activity besides a few day visitors.

Failed projects to install water pipelines managed by the Department of Infrastructure Development resulted in the reserve closing its doors because of the fire risk. At some point, without water, the reserve opened its doors again and the risk of fire seemed to fall off the table.

Other bulk services such as electricity and sewerage are also problematic in terms of deteriorating infrastructure. The total estimated cost of restoring the bulk services is estimated at approximately R117 million.

Another risk to the future of this reserve as a tourist attraction is the poor security situation that exists. The fences are often damaged or stolen, the animals are sometimes poached, and all the while the performance of the security company hired to protect the reserve is questioned. Maybe some lessons could be learned from the Kruger National Park as to how to apply resources to protect visitors and wildlife.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, which is responsible for the reserves, has admitted that it does not have the expertise to encourage and manage tourism in Gauteng. Instead, they have employed a private transaction advisor to make recommendations as to how to commercialise the property. They estimate that a further R90 million would be required to attract a private partner via a Public Private Partnership.

When it was suggested that because of a lack of expertise, in order not to throw good money after bad, the reserve should be sold off to the private sector, members of the ruling party objected to the DA’s proposal.

There is a price to pay for a lack of expertise and competence. It is most unfortunate that the taxpayers of Gauteng are the ones to pay the premium for the government’s inability to manage professionally.


Pupils failed as Gauteng refuses to investigate R82 million Mayibuye School project

The Gauteng administration is backtracking on an agreement to hold an inquiry into the failed project and waste of money that arose when the Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) built the Mayibuye Primary school on a sewerage line.
After spending R82 million, the project was abandoned and the incomplete buildings are deteriorating while politicians dither.

As a result of unsatisfactory answers from GDID as to why the project failed, the GDID Portfolio Committee sought permission to hold an inquiry into the Mayibuye project. This request was approved by the Speaker.

The Committee was shocked when at a subsequent meeting the Chairperson of the committee indicated that he was experiencing resistance from the administration and doubted whether the inquiry would ever go ahead.

The apparent reason for the concern expressed by the administration is that the contractor involved has threatened legal action. If the Department of Infrastructure has nothing to hide and has acted according to legislation, policies, and regulations, then they should not fear legal action from any quarter.

The hesitancy of the Gauteng Provincial Government to approve the investigation and allow a process to unfold to determine exactly what went wrong is very concerning.

We are concerned that someone is trying to hide the reasons why millions of rands in taxpayers’ money have once again been wasted by GDID on a critical project that will ensure better education facilities for our children.

The DA will continue to apply pressure to ensure the inquiry goes ahead. That is the least that the voters of Gauteng should expect from politicians who are tasked with spending hard-earned taxpayers’ money openly and transparently, and with their best interests at heart.

Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development fails to meet job creation targets, while many residents remain unemployed

It is an indictment on the unemployed residents of Gauteng that the Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) in the province continuously fails to meet its Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) objectives.

This department is responsible for the implementation of the EPWP programmes in the province.

The third quarter report has a target of creating 5252 job opportunities, however only 721 job opportunities were created.

This is worrying as programmes like the EPWP play a crucial role in alleviating unemployment not only in the province but in the entire country.

Programmes like the EPWP are very important in providing the necessary skills for our unemployed residents, particularly the youth. This helps them to find long-term employment especially given that once our learners leave school, they are not fully equipped to enter the job market.

When government departments fail to meet such an important target, it shows that they are not serious about alleviating unemployment in the province which is the economic hub of the country.

This trend cannot continue any longer and it is high time that government departments are held to account when they fail to meet important targets like job creation.

While the EPWP programme only employs our residents on a short-term basis the skills and knowledge imparted in this programme are invaluable and helps to ensure that our residents are able to either start their own businesses or seek gainful employment in the private sector.

On Monday the committee was asked to approve a budget adjustment on EPWP to the amount of almost R60 million. This is an indictment of the department’s ability to create job and opportunities for the most vulnerable and in fact it is testimony of a government who wants to keep its knee on the throat of the poor and dependent on government.

The DA is demanding a comprehensive report from the department as well as action steps on how this department will correct the great injustice to our people and will start to meet its set job creation targets.


Nokuthula LSEN still not fully functional despite MEC Motara’s proclamation that the school can be fully utilised

Today, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng conducted an oversight inspection at Nokuthula LSEN School in Lyndhurst and we were disappointed to discover that the school is still not being fully utilised despite that the Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC, Tasneem Motara stating that all facilities at the school are open and can be fully utilised.

MEC Motara was responding to my oral questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) on Tuesday.

During the oversight inspection at the school we also discovered that the school is still operating on a temporary occupational certificate hence it is still not being fully occupied.

The school can only be fully occupied once it have been issued with a permanent occupational certificate.

This means that the dormitories are still not being utilised and learners are forced to commute everyday to school.

This clearly indicates that MEC Motara misled the House by stating that all facilities at the school are open and can be fully utilised.

The permanent occupational certificate will only be issued once all outstanding matters relating to site development and building plans have been addressed.

The DA calls on MEC Motara to provide a timeframe as to when the defects at the school will be fixed as the department has set aside a budget of R2,5 million.

The R300 million state-of-the-art school is not in a good state , the fascia boards have fallen out , there are roof leakages which are affecting the ceiling and the walls and the hydrotherapy room is non functional.

We will continue to monitor the progress with regards to the fixing of these defects to ensure that the school complies with the standard building regulations and can be issued with a permanent occupational certificate.

The DA further calls on the Department of Education to take over control of its entire budget as the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) is incapable of building proper schools.

Gauteng Health owes R92 million penalty interest for late payments

The Gauteng Health Department paid R5 642 301 last year for interest on late payments and owes a further R91.8 million for penalty interest.

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Masuku, the high amounts paid and owing for interest are due to “court orders, late payment of interest-bearing accounts and infrastructure related.”

The breakdown of what is owed in penalty interest is as follows:

  • Telkom V Block – R88.7 million
  • Telkom voice account – R1.4 million
  • Novo – R513 000
  • Interest on litigation – R1.2 million

I am concerned that so much is owed to the disputed Telkom V Block contract which has been mired in allegations of corruption that need to be resolved soon. It is also shameful that R1.2 million is owed for interest on overdue court-ordered payments.

With regard to late payments to the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development, Masuku blames “poor project management processes and coordination between the two Departments. This has since been addressed with the appointment of a dedicated Head of Infrastructure in the Gauteng Department of Health.”

This Department will never get a clean audit if penalty amounts continue to be paid for overdue accounts as these are classified as fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Better financial discipline is needed to ensure that all accounts are paid in time.

People with disabilities not a priority for ANC-led government

by Alan Fuchs MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Infrastructure Development

People with disabilities claim that they have been excluded from accessing opportunities offered by the Gauteng government.

This came to light during a meeting hosted by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) with stakeholders representing people living with disabilities that was recently held in the Johannesburg City Hall.

The objective of the meeting was to inform stakeholders about DID’s achievement of the 2% target in terms of appointing people with disabilities to the department.

But instead concerns were raised about the lack of understanding and sensitivity on the part of government in dealing with people living with disabilities.

Stakeholders highlighted that some government facilities were not designed to accommodate people with disabilities.

Other issues raised at the meeting included allegations that people with disabilities were only offered low level jobs despite their skills.

Furthermore, they did not have access to the same training opportunities as abled-bodied individuals, while internships and learnerships for the disabled hardly ever resulted in full time employment.

In addition, people with disabilities claim that they do not have access to infrastructure and services in Gauteng.

It is clear that government lacks the sensitivity, expertise and resources to reasonably accommodate the disabled and mainstream them as far as possible.

The DA believes that people living with disabilities must not be discriminated against and are entitled to the same rights as the able bodied.

The DA calls on the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Jacob Mamabolo to address the concerns raised at this meeting as a matter of urgency.

Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department fails to equip EPWP beneficiaries

Despite the of lack of skills amongst the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) beneficiaries, the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development has yet again failed to ensure the transfer of critical skills.

The Department of Infrastructure Development has not met its target of training 2 500 beneficiaries in skills development, coaching and mentorship intervention set for the second quarter of the 2017/2018 financial year.

The EPWP programme is critical for the creation of new job opportunities, mentorship, skills development and coaching especially amongst the youth, women and people with disabilities.

Despite the ANC’s ongoing rhetoric about radical economic transformation, it fails yet again to ‘walk the talk’ as only 165 beneficiaries were trained as part of the Radical Economic Transformation programme. This because the department failed to timeously appoint a service provider to conduct the much-needed training.

By not meeting the targets set, the ANC-led government is once again demonstrating that they do not care about the people or the economy of Gauteng.

The DA believes that a well-run EPWP programme is imperative, as this will ensure that unemployed youth are given the necessary education and skills needed to help grow the economy of the country.

The DA calls on the MEC for Infrastructure Development, Jacob Mamabolo to ensure that the remaining 2 335 beneficiaries receive the training they need as a matter of urgency.

I will continue to monitor the work of this department and will continue to put pressure on the MEC to ensure that the department meets its training targets.