Failure to utilise the open tender system by Gauteng Government opens room for corruption

The open-tender system implemented by the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) is not fully being utilised by all departments, which opens the door to corruption.

This also means that only a few connected individuals continue to benefit from government tenders.

Furthermore, millions of rands have been spent on probity auditors to ensure that the advertisement and project specifications are correct.

This information was revealed in a recent briefing to the Gauteng Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) by the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA).

According to the AGSA, only 37% of GPG projects with an estimated value of R2 million were initiated through the open tender process.

Several departments are not using this system despite the process being decentralised.

This system was implemented to ensure transparency and to reduce unauthorised, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure.

This is unacceptable because the departments and entities that are not adhering to the open tender system are contravening the Act that makes the process mandatory for tenders above R2 million.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng will be tabling a detailed set of questions to determine why all departments are not adhering to the open tender system and what measures are being put in place to enforce this law.

Gauteng Government’s under-expenditure on infrastructure budget puts service delivery at risk

The Gauteng Provincial Government’s (GPG) under-expenditure on its infrastructure budget by various departments is having a severe impact on the growth of the province’s economy which is meant to help to uplift the livelihoods of the residents.

Slow spending on the department’s infrastructure budgets and constant poor performance records will hinder the progress of the GPG towards its action plan of Growing Gauteng Together (GGT2030) which is meant to improve the lives of the residents.

This information was revealed in the Gauteng Provincial legislature’s (GPL) Finance portfolio committee meeting during the deliberations of the Gauteng Provincial Treasury second quarter report for the 2022/23 financial year.

According to the report, the following departments are the worst offenders in terms of underspending in their infrastructure budgets:

•     Health – they underspent on the construction of new clinics, citing the following reasons as an excuse for under expenditure; statutory planning approvals not obtained before commencement of developments that includes site issues, incorrect zoning, land too small or not suitable and poor performance of contractors who received the contract.
•     Social Development – this department also cited the sluggish performance of contractors, and the slow spending suggests that the budget be adjusted downwards.
•     Human Settlements – misalignment between planned and delivered units could be due to a lack of bulk infrastructure (bulk electricity and sewer). Rama, Westonaria BORWA and Montrose are typical examples.
•     Roads and Transport – the main reason for low infrastructure spending is due to procurement processes for example upgrades of road K56 (William Nicol) between K46 + P79/1 and K54 (Tsamaya road in Mamelodi). This slow spending resulted in the department considering adjusting its main infrastructure budget downwards by R337 million (main budget R2,095 billion).
•     Agriculture and Rural Development – this department is also considering adjusting the budget downwards with R2,5 million.
•     Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation – this department only managed to spend 3% of its infrastructure budget halfway through the financial year. This poor performance also suggests that the infrastructure budget be reduced from R40,4 million to R26,5 million.
•     Infrastructure Development and Property Development – a review suggests a budget adjustment downwards by R26 million (main budget R139 million). Challenges with Occupational Health and Safety and refurbishment on buildings where contracts have been awarded (Thusanong/SA Perm).

This trend of under-expenditure on the infrastructure budget is unacceptable considering the current economic crisis and the increasing unemployment rates. Infrastructure delivery is one of the most significant contributors to provincial economic growth, by boosting investment and stimulating job creation, productivity, and competitiveness.

The DA proposes that Gauteng departments must start investing in the preparation of infrastructure projects so that they have a pipeline of shovel-ready projects. This might easily be the single most important reason why departments fail to spend their infrastructure budgets.

The DA has already engaged the Gauteng MEC for Gauteng Provincial Treasury, Jacob Mamabolo, to closely monitor the spending patterns of departments, especially infrastructure spending. This will ensure that departments avoid underspending which would consequently lead to the departments surrendering unspent funds which will negatively impact service delivery.

Service delivery remains non-existent while GPG incurs R1.6 billion of unauthorized expenditure

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) has incurred unauthorized expenditure to the tune of R1.6 billion which is placing an extra financial burden on the residents of this province and has a negative impact on service delivery.

Unauthorized expenditure occurs when more money is paid for goods and services than was initially budgeted for.

In addition, if a department utilizes a saving from the salaries budget to buy goods and services, such expenditure is also unauthorized.

At a recent meeting of the Gauteng’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) it emerged that as of the 31 March, six departments within the provincial government incurred unauthorized expenditure as follows:
• Economic Development R 16.7 million
• Health R 653.9 million
• Education R 935.8 million
• Social Development R29 million
• Human Settlements R7.1 million
• Infrastructure Development R 30.3 million

The unauthorized expenditure amount represents just over 1% of the overall provincial budget which is just shy of R149 billion.

Should SCOPA find that the procedures in the guidelines for authorized expenditure were not followed or the criteria were not satisfied, SCOPA will recommend that the unauthorized amount be recouped from the new budget before any other money is spent.

In the case of Health, as stated above, the department will forfeit almost R636 million rand from its new budget to pay for the previous year’s over-expenditure if SCOPA so recommends.

This means that a critical service like Health will have to provide services with an even more constrained budget, which will negatively impact the residents of Gauteng. Our residents will have to wait longer as some public healthcare services may not have sufficient healthcare personnel or equipment.

If this mismanagement of public funds is not fixed in time, officials do not face consequence management, and money is not repaid, SCOPA can punish unauthorized expenditure by making departments pay out of their new budgets.

The DA will insist that SCOPA ensures that the Unauthorized Expenditure Bill that was adopted by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) in 2016 be enforced.

This bill makes provision for Provincial Treasury to assist some departments by paying off historic unauthorized expenditures if the departments have given satisfactory reasons for the unauthorized expenditure.

Where a department has unauthorized expenditure that is unjustified it must be funded from the department’s own budget.

The DA will write to the GPL SCOPA Chairperson, Sochayile Khanyile demanding that the Unauthorized Expenditure Bill be enforced to ensure that GPG departments adhere to all Provincial and National Treasury Guidelines.

By adhering to this bill government departments will be forced to budget correctly and spend money wisely for the benefit of our residents.

Vulnerable children left in the cold without safe homes due to the department’s failure to pay NGOs subsidies

Vulnerable children in Tshwane and surrounding areas are at risk of starvation due to delays of their placement to safe homes through adoptions as a result of the department’s failure to pay subsidies timeously to Christelike Maatskaplike Raad (CMR) in Tshwane.

CMR is among the list of NGOs in the social welfare sector that have not yet received their first tranche of the subsidy payment from the Gauteng Department of Social Development.

The CMR in Pretoria has three divisions that amongst others, provides food, clothing and shelter to destitute families. It also provides child protection services which include assessments and evaluations, protection of physically and mentally abused and neglected children, and also unites children with their families. The other division focuses on the adoptions and assessments processes.

This is just one of the many NGOs that fulfil such an important role in our fractured society, relying on every cent that they get from the department.

Failure by the Gauteng Department of Social Development to fulfil its mandate would see our vulnerable children being thrown under the bus with nowhere to go to find food and shelter.

The vulnerable children of Gauteng have been left out in the cold as the department delays the subsidy payment of several NGOs. This means these essential services for our orphaned, homeless, and victimised children and families cannot continue.

The DA has engaged with the affected NGO, and we will be writing to the Gauteng MEC for Social Development, Morakane Mosupyoe and the Head of Department (HOD) to ask for their intervention and to expedite the payments.

We will continue to put pressure on the MEC to speed up the process of making payments and ensure that this never happens again as many lives are dependent on that money for their day-to-day survival.

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

 

Gauteng patrollers suffer starvation due to delays in payments of stipends

The unnecessary delays in payments of Gauteng patrollers stipends has unjustly impacted negatively on the livelihoods of patrollers as they are solely dependent on this stipend to feed their families.

The DA is infuriated to learn of these non-payments of patroller stipends in the past and current financial year.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

According to MEC Mazibuko, there are two groups of patrollers that have not yet been paid in the last financial year; 1222 land invasion patrollers and 140 festive season patrollers.

While the Department of Human Settlements is responsible for the payment of land invasion patrollers, there is an existing arrangement where they transfer the funds to the Department of Community Safety to effect payment. The payment was only transferred on 8 June 2021 and the payment was scheduled to be effected on 20 June 2021.

MEC Mazibuko states that 140 festive season patrollers were not paid were a result of incorrect account numbers or branch codes which resulted in an exception when payment was affected. To date, 39 of the patrollers had not yet been paid and the department is working together with them to ensure that they get their money.

Furthermore, the MEC says that there is a significant number of School Safety Project patrollers that have not been paid in the current financial year, and that the payment complaint linked to this project are normally referred to the Department of Education for intervention.

Considering the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the delays in payment of patroller’s stipends should not be tolerated as so many of them are going to bed hungry while they are being owed money for work done.

The delays in payment of patrollers stipends are a result of poor planning and incompetency by these Department’s as all excuses provided are administration and accounting-related.

Patrollers play a crucial role in safeguarding our precious community resources such as schools and empty land, and they also ensure the safety of our people particularly during festive seasons at malls and shopping centres. They assist the police in patrolling and preventing crime as well as in reporting crime.

Going forward, the DA will be;

  • Writing to Gauteng Premier, David Makhura requesting that his office urgently investigate what is causing the delays in payment of patrollers stipends and to provide us with an exact date as to when these payments will be made;
  • Continue engaging directly with patrollers across the province to ensure outstanding payments are received by these hardworking South Africans;
  • Follow up with the relevant provincial departments on what new measures they will put in place to ensure there are no delayed payments in the future.

We will not rest until there is a mechanism in place by this current Gauteng administration to ensure that patrollers are paid timeously every month. This tendency of not paying patrollers on time must come to an end as failure to pay them will result in them pulling off their services and putting the safety of our resources at risk.

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

Residents denied their service delivery with GIFA just another cash cow for Gauteng Government

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is deeply concerned that the Gauteng Infrastructure Financing Agency (GIFA) is not capable of assisting municipalities in sourcing funding needed to complete important projects that will improve service delivery, such as water and electricity stability, and create job opportunities for the residents of Gauteng.

During a recent presentation to the Gauteng Finance Portfolio Committee, it was revealed that the affordability in municipalities where these projects are to be undertaken, where GIFA is only able to provide technical advice to municipalities and assist with feasibility studies, while funding such projects remains a very problematic issue.

According to the presentation, two projects that are supposed to be completed include the Tshwane Alternative Waste Treatment Technology project which was initiated in 2016, and the Sedibeng Government Accommodation, which was initiated in 2014. However, these municipalities have indicated that funding remains a challenge. It is clear that projects undertaken by GIFA take a long time to get off the ground and be completed.

A prime example of this is the Ekurhuleni Waste to Energy project. The project was initiated in 2015 when the Waste Management Department wrote a letter to GIFA, requesting financial assistance for a feasibility study into Alternative Waste Treatment Technologies. In 2018 it appears as if GIFA stopped communicating with the municipality on this and only picked up on it again in 2021.

It is clear that GIFA is just another entity created by the Gauteng Provincial Government to waste taxpayers’ money as it is unable to provide value for money and takes close to seven years before any project gets off the ground. These projects should be directly administered by the municipalities, and not through GIFA.

Furthermore, the DA believes that this entity should be integrated into the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management, as this department already provides the infrastructure needed to government departments. These are the same sentiments held by all the members of the Finance Portfolio Committee, yet the MEC for Finance, Nomantu-Nkomo-Ralehoko indicated that this will not happen.

A DA provincial government would ensure that municipalities across the province would be equipped to manage and complete these projects on their own, so that residents do not have to suffer, waiting on bureaucratic red tape to get the services they deserve.

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

Service delivery crumbles while municipalities are owed millions by the Gauteng Government

Residents in Gauteng are bearing the brunt of the lack of service delivery due to monies not being paid to municipalities in the province. The DA is very concerned that service delivery has become virtually non-existent in a number of municipalities as the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) is not paying municipalities the money it owes.

The DA has learnt that the GPG owes municipalities in the province R402 022 039 for property rates and municipal services as at March 2021.

This information was revealed to me by the MEC for Finance, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).

Life is already very hard for residents with some municipalities being subjected to load reduction by Eskom on a daily basis.

This trend of the GPG owing money to municipalities is extremely concerning given that the local municipalities in the province with the exception of Midvaal has tabled unfunded budgets and struggle to provide proper service to the residents, this includes water and electricity supply.

This money could have been used by municipalities to pay their debt owed to service providers mostly Eskom and Rand Water.

It is unacceptable that people are suffering when millions of rands is owed to local municipalities who are unable to provide continuous services to the residents in their area.

This puts additional strain on our people who are forced to make alternate arrangements to ensure that they are able to cook, work from home and run businesses.

Residents’ lives are also put in danger when there is no electricity making them vulnerable to crime.

Furthermore, GPG should make arrangements with the municipalities in terms of how this debt will be paid so as to relieve these municipalities from financial strain and so that service delivery can resume.

I will be engaging with the MEC for Finance on this matter to find out what measures are been put in place to ensure that this R402 022 039 that is owed to municipalities for property rates and municipal services is paid as a matter of urgency as this status quo cannot be allowed to continue.

Questions will also be tabled in the GPL, to ascertain exactly why it is taking 120 days for municipalities to be paid, what percentage of the amount is owed is been disputed and how long it will take to resolve this issue.

Our residents deserve better, and we will continue to put pressure on the GPG to prioritise service delivery.

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

Gauteng Government resolves to issue liquor licenses to liquor outlets located closer to schools, churches, community amenities

The Gauteng Provincial Government has resolved not to subject shebeens to the provisions of section 23 of the Gauteng Liquor Act and other strict provisions, in order to assist shebeen operators, and promote open and legal liquor trade.

This information was revealed by the Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Parks Tau in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

MEC Tau states that pre-inspections are not conducted, and permits are granted to shebeens located closer to places of learning, places of worship, other community amenities and similar liquor outlets.

Virginia Tavern which was established after the Klipspruit West Secondary School is one of the examples. This tavern, which is situated on San Salvador Street in Klipspruit West; opposite Klipspruit West Secondary School was granted a shebeen permit on 17 August 2006 by the Gauteng Liquor Board in terms of Section 141(1)(m) of the Gauteng Liquor Act of 2003.

MEC Tau states that the tavern was not inspected before issuing a permit because the Act does not make provision for inspection, as shebeens are exempted from complying with the provisions of the Act.

It is deeply concerning that the Gauteng Liquor Board continuously approves liquor licenses that are against the Gauteng Liquor Act.

The Gauteng Liquor Act, Section 23(3) states that notice of the application shall include the full names of the applicant, intended trading name, identity number or registration number of the applicant, full address and location of the premises, the type of licence applied for, names and nature of educational institutions, names of and distances to similar licensed premises and places of worship within a radius of one (1) kilometre from the premises.

Section 30(3) further states that “The Board shall grant an application in the case of premises not situated within a radius of five hundred (500) metres in the vicinity of a place of worship, educational institution, similar licensed premises, public transport facility, or such further distance as the Board may determine or as may be prescribed from time to time.”

We should not be approving liquor licences that tempt learners of an educational institution who are under the age of 18 years.

One of the biggest social and health problems that we have as a nation is substance abuse, in particular alcohol abuse.

At the end of the day, it looks like almost all liquor licences applications are not subject to the Gauteng Liquor Act considering how many shebeens, bottle stores and other establishments operate within the radius as set out in the Act.

I will be writing further questions asking when these provisions were relaxed and to ascertain whether there were any amendments to the Act.

Irregular expenditure continues to mount due to lack of consequence management by GPG

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is concerned that irregular expenditure by the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) departments and entities are mounting because there is no consequence management system in place to deal with officials who do not plan properly for the financial year.

According to a presentation at a recent Standing Committee on Public Accounts meeting, irregular expenditure for the current financial year is already at R4.3 billion and it is expected to increase due to widespread non-compliance in the procurement of Covid-19 related Personal Protective Equipment and infrastructure. In addition, there was also no adherence to the Supply Chain Management procedures, meaning not all tenders went through the open tender system. Entities for this financial year have already reported R6.4 million in irregular expenditure.

The worst offending departments in irregular expenditure include:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Roads and Transport
  • Human Settlements

See full document here

This vicious cycle continues every year, with the same issues and reasons given for irregular expenditure. While all irregular expenditure may not be bad, this does point to poor planning from the departments and entities, and also opens the door for corruption.

Irregular expenditure will continue for as long as there is no consequence management systems in place, and officials responsible are allowed to resign before disciplinary action can be taken against them.

It is high time that the public service is professionalised, as the constant irregular expenditure has a negative impact on future budgets, which will severely affect service delivery.

R15 366 405,30 of taxpayers’ money has been paid to the Special Investigating Unit for investigations in the GPG, yet the DA’s request for copies of these investigation and forensic reports are refused. Efforts to obtain these reports through the Promotion of Access to Information Act remains futile. It is clear that there is no transparency by the GPG and that they do not know how to implement consequence management.

The DA hopes that during the Budget speech on Thursday, the MEC for Finance, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko will address these issues and ensure that proper consequence management is implemented, especially in departments where regulations set out by Provincial Treasury are not adhered to. We will also be closely monitoring whether the GPG ensures that all municipalities adhere to the open-tender and integrity system that is expected to be rolled out to curb corruption.

Prasa failing to protect its infrastructure

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is concerned that the Prasa rail infrastructure in Gauteng is being pillaged and the company is not doing anything to protect its assets.

The damage has been so severe that Metrorail can no longer service the commuters of Gauteng and can only operate on one line, Pienaarspoort. Even this line had its services interrupted due to cable theft.

Prasa will maintain that that their services are limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but the truth is that this is a veiled excuse. The company’s security, including the railway police, have failed to protect its infrastructure to the point that it can no longer operate its services in the province.

The latest example of this is the cable theft that happened on the line in Lyttleton in the early hours of Monday morning. The stolen cables, ready and cut for collection, were found by a local resident on Monday morning. He alerted Prasa who sent out an investigator.

See pictures here here  here  and here

What Prasa requires is a proactive strategy to protect its infrastructure or else its trains will never run in Gauteng again, leaving 5% of the province’s commuters stranded and placing undue pressure on other modes of public transport in the province.

I call on Prasa’s administrator to step in and arrest the rampant theft that will cost the company millions of rands, it does not have to repair the damage. Gauteng requires the services of this important public transport provider if it wants to restart its economy in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.