Gauteng’s Infrastructure Department comes under withering attack from Portfolio Committees

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development came under unprecedented criticism for its poor management of the Nokuthula school project from both the Education and Infrastructure portfolio committees during a recent joint committee meeting.

The Nokuthula school for learners with special needs, one of the most expensive schools ever to be built in Gauteng, cost R300 million to build over a 3-year period. It is still not fully operational after being completed in October 2017.

Poor management, a lack of attention to detail and failure to submit required documentation by the Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) has resulted in the City of Joburg withholding a final occupancy certificate for the school.

On the basis of a temporary occupation certificate, only a portion of the buildings have been occupied. The boarding school buildings cannot be used allegedly because they were built within a flood-line. The result of this is that many learners who would have been accommodated in the boarding school are being transported to school on a daily basis.

In addition, the quality of construction is being questioned despite the huge cost. When it rains, parts of the school become flooded, there are numerous leaks, walls are disintegrating because of damp and part of the ceiling in the hall has collapsed. There is also an on-going problem with the plumbing.

The Department of Education did not escape the criticism of the joint committee meeting as the department was accused of being too hands off during the project and not doing a proper handover to the educators and SGB when the school was occupied.

Members of the Education Portfolio suggested that the Infrastructure Department was unprofessional, lacked skills and did not apply consequence management. They even suggested taking away the responsibility for construction from DID.

An urgent follow up meeting has been convened with the MECs and HODs of the two departments and depending on progress made, a committee enquiry may be held to probe the poor performance of the infrastructure department.

Incompetent MEC Maile fails to spend human settlements budget

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is dismayed that the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements has once again failed to spend its allocated budget.

This has resulted in the national Department of Human Settlements stopping the transfer of R250 million for the Gauteng Human Settlements Development Grant.

This was revealed in the recent Government Gazette Volume 656, number 43050 published on 28 February 2020.

The Government Gazette can be accessed here:

According to Section 19 of the Division of Revenue Act, 2019, the Human Settlements Development Grant can be stopped where there is substantial underspending on the allocated budget and when there is failure to comply with the Municipal Finance Management Act.

This department has a reputation of failing to spend its human settlements grant.

This is also evident in the department’s third quarter report for the 2019/20 financial year.

According to the report, the department underspent by R7,007 million on Programme Two: Housing Needs, Research and Planning. The department only spent R4,157 million which is 37 percent of the R11, 234 million of the allocated budget for the third quarter. This means that the department underspent by 63 percent on this programme.

The spending to date in this programme is 29 percent of the R40 million annual budget.

This is unacceptable and can no longer be tolerated considering that this department is headed by MEC Maile who portrays himself as competent when in fact this is not the case.

Instead MEC Maile is destabilising a municipality that is delivering services while neglecting his mandate of ensuring that our people have access to adequate housing.

This clearly indicates that he is incompetent and not fit to head this department.

Its high time that MEC Maile must concentrate on executing his department’s mandate to deliver houses instead of spending time in Tshwane.

The DA calls on the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura to act against MEC Maile as he has committed a crime against the people of Gauteng by under spending on the allocated budget.

Infrastructure-led economic growth promised by Gauteng Government is a cruel lie

The biggest shock in the Gauteng budget presented last Thursday is the decision to drastically cut the expected allocation to infrastructure development.

This flies in the face of Premier Makhura’s numerous promises of infrastructure-led economic growth promised in his recent State of the Province address.

The Department of Health, which requires R6 billion just to become occupational health and safety compliant, has been allocated an additional R18 million more than last year. No, you are not reading this number incorrectly. R18 million.

Learners in Gauteng will be under increased risk of crumbling infrastructure as the overall budget for maintenance and repairs has been reduced by R159 million and the budget for educational infrastructure has been reduced by R163 million.

Human Settlements has been allocated R420 million less than last year and Infrastructure Development R159 million less.

The chickens have come home to roost. Years of poor policy choices, mismanagement and corruption have brought us to this point. There is simply not enough money to go around.

So, Premier Makhura’s numerous promises of huge infrastructure investments over the next 10 years is likely to be pie in the sky. His party has bankrupted us.

Makhura’s Rinse and Repeat SOPA

At the beginning of a new decade we once again find ourselves in familiar territory:

  • responding to the Premiers State of the Province Address filled with promises of things to come,
  • responding to a speech that only pays lip service to the extent of the challenges we face,
  • responding to the words of a Premier refusing to take full responsibility for falling short on all his previous pledges.

As servants to the public it is important to that we are people true to our words. What we say as members of this legislature is powerful as we carry the hopes of millions of South Africans who voted for us. So, we should not be callous in how we speak, we must not speak of things that we will not do.

In the recent State of the Province Address by the honourable Premier David Makhura, we were subjected to a repeat performance of his past SOPAs. I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I want to see a repeat, I can watch the Generations Omnibus over the weekend. What we require from leadership is not more empty promises, but a proper account of what you have done. The challenge for the Premier is that in giving a proper account of past goals set in his previous SOPA, is that he will expose his strategy of ‘rinse and repeat’. We are tired of listening to a broken record.

On Tuesday, the Premier dusted off his last SOPA, while tweaking some words here and there; but ultimately, we were subjected to roughly 90% of previous speeches. New Day, Same Old Wishlist. Unfortunately, the lives of Gauteng residents cannot survive on wishes Premier Makhura, they rely on concrete solutions that will feed the empty stomach, give dignity to the jobless, and provide shelter to the homeless.

Premier Makhura in your SOPA on Tuesday you presented grandiose ideas as if they were fresh, however we have been hearing you speaking about things such as the Aerotropolis, the Industrial Parks, Special Economic Zones and Renewable Energy for the past five years. There is nothing new you are saying about many of these projects, all you are doing is slapping lipstick on a pig and hoping we wont notice honourable Makhura. 

The Aerotropolis which has been a topic of discussion for over a decade is a white elephant that has seen taxpayer money being devoured on fruitless overseas trips. You speak about the consolidation of Ekurhuleni as Africa’s largest Aerotropolis, but you have not provided much detail on the progress over the past ten years in this endeavour.

Madame Speaker, the Premier is late to the game on energy policy. He has applauded the pronouncement from the President to allow municipalities to procure electricity from private producers, outside of Eskom’s monopoly. However, the Premier failed to acknowledge that it has been the DA which has been pushing for this, while the ANC has dragged its feet in an effort to secure Eskom’s tyrannical grip on our economy, as it operates as a vessel for cadre deployment. He now mischievously calls the attempts by the DA to allow municipalities to procure power independently from Eskom as playing politics.

The President’s pronouncement is much welcome, and we look forward to capable municipalities coming out from under the thumb of Eskom to ensure energy stability. However, as is often the case when it comes to the ANC whether nationally or in Gauteng, there is a lag between what they say and their actions. We hope Premier Makhura will not cower from facing the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Gwede Mantashe. Premier Makhura must ensure that the national Minister does not drag his feet with regards to allowing municipal energy independence through private energy procurement. The national Minister has shown a lack of enthusiasm for renewable energy; we hope that Premier Makhura will work with the DA in pushing the Minister even through legal efforts to come to the table in terms of diversifying our energy mix. Alas, the Premier’s performance in serving the interests of Gauteng residents over the ANC, does not bring much confidence as we have seen in the e-toll saga.

The Premier once spoke about ensuring that all government buildings would have solar panels, as an example of his commitment to renewable energy. This has not been realised, which makes his talking about plans for a low carbon future for Gauteng ring hollow.

Honourable Makhura you have once again spoken about the pivotal role to be played by Industrial Parks and Special Economic Zones in the economy. In 2017 you made promises about industrial parks in Khutsong and Chamdor, however, to date these industrial parks are still not operational. Another sign of unfulfilled promises by the administration of Premier Makhura.

The Premier cited a report published by the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA), the ‘Indlulamthi Scenarios 2030’ published by the institute in 2030. The report presented three scenarios facing South Africa rated good, mixed and bad, each titled ‘Nayi le Walk’, ‘Isbhujwa’ and ‘Gwara Gwara’ respectively. The Premier sees us as being currently in the ‘Isbhujwa’ scenario which is a position where “There are flickers of hope and moments of despair as the country zigzags forward and backwards. Change is happening but not fast and deep enough”.  I think the Premier has sanitised what MISTRA says about the ‘Isbhujwa’ scenario. The institute describes this scenario as one where we have “a South Africa torn by deepening social divides, daily protests, and cynical self-interest”.  This sounds eerily like what President Cyril Ramaphosa, has called the nine-wasted years, years of ANC rule.

Furthermore, as bad as this Isbhujwa scenario sounds, for many South Africans, the lived experience is actually worse. Many South Africans would be more familiar with the ‘Gwara Gwara’ scenario where the Premier says “things get worse on every development indicator, leading to a total breakdown of public order fuelled by anger at the dysfunctional self-serving state, rising poverty, increasing inequality, rampant corruption and an unrelenting climate crisis”. Indeed, the picture painted in the Gwara Gwara scenario, of a dysfunctional self-serving state, rising poverty and inequality and rampant corruption, is where many residents of Gauteng would say we are. 

Madame Speaker, the major reason why we find ourselves in a cycle of repetition is because we have a culture of non-accountability. The problem of consequence management has been highlighted by the Auditor General in reports of various Gauteng Provincial Government departments. The Premier stood up on Tuesday, talking passionately about dealing with corruption and setting up lifestyle audits but his historic record indicates that he is a leader unable to get his subordinates in line.

Pablo Picasso once said “What one DOES, is what COUNTS. NOT what one had the intention of doing”. While Premier Makhura may use his words to paint visions even more beautiful than the best works of Picasso, we will judge him based on what he actually has done for the people of this province, we will measure him on real world progress rather than blue-sky thinking.

Our country is in a terrible economic situation Madame speaker, and while it is affected by global realities the problems we face are exacerbated by the numerous failures of the ANC government. Honourable Premier Makhura since 2015 the expanded unemployment rate has gone from 32.8% to 35.3%. This growing unemployment rate has happened over years of your repeated promises. You are failing to tackle corruption and poor management in your administration, and you are failing to take a strong step against job killing trends such as our vulnerability to loadshedding, and crime that deters investment and tourism.

On this side of the chamber we will work hard to make this a decade of change. We will not falter in our role as opposition in holding you to account, in shining light on empty promises and bad governance. We will be resolute in serving the people of this province.

Gauteng Provincial Government Departments owe ANC-led local municipalities over R89 million

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is shocked to learn that the Gauteng Provincial Government Departments owes ANC-led local municipalities over R89 million for utilities.

This was revealed to me by the Gauteng MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Lebogang Maile in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to MEC Maile, Gauteng Provincial Government Departments owe R89 503 016,41 to the following local municipalities; Emfuleni Local Municipality, Lesedi Local Municipality, Mogale City Local Municipality and Merafong Local Municipality.

The money owed to these local municipalities is for utilities and is overdue by over 120 days.

Emfuleni is owed a large sum of money compared to other municipalities with a total of R49 647 977,72 of which Gauteng Department of Education is owing R 11 265 058,46, the Gauteng Department of Health owes R18 347 003,51 and the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements owes R257 297,44.

Merafong is owed a total of R14 217 599,21, Mogale City is owed R12 996 983,23 and Lesedi is owed R12 640 646,25.

Most of these municipalities have unfunded mandates and they have no money to render services to their residents. This money owed to them could help to ease their financial pressure.

The embattled Emfuleni is struggling to pay debt owed to Eskom and Rand Water as well as to deliver basic services such as sanitation and refuse removal.

The DA calls on MEC Maile to intervene and engage with various departments that owe these municipalities monies to make payment arrangements as soon as possible.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the payments of these debts by the Gauteng Provincial Departments to these four municipalities.

The Gauteng Provincial Government must lead by example in paying for utility debt owed to municipalities so that residents can follow suit.

Why are not all tenders going through the open tender system?

It is concerning that the Gauteng Provincial Treasury only managed to process 96% of tenders through the open tender system.

This is according to the GPT’s annual report for the 2018/2019 financial year.

GPT implemented the open tender process system in all 14 departments and seven entities as part of strengthening supply chain management in the province.

By not ensuring that all tenders go through the open tender process, it opens up the tender system to corruption. This is also hindering the development of township businesses.

An effective supply chain management system is critical. This ensures that there is transparency and that all suppliers, particularly township suppliers are afforded the opportunity to provide goods and services to all government departments and entities in Gauteng.

I will be tabling questions to the MEC for Finance, Nomuntu Nkomo-Ralehoko to ascertain what measures the department is putting in place to ensure that all tenders are processed through the open tender system and what the reasons are for only 96% of tenders been processed through the open tender system.

Gauteng Department of SACR spends almost half a million on gifts

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is disappointed to learn that the Gauteng Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (SACR) has spent almost half a million rand on gifts while failing to help Gauteng’s aspiring sports, arts and cultural talent to compete on the international stage.

This was revealed in the department’s Annual Report for the 2018/19 financial year.

According to this report the department spent about R447 000,00 on gifts/donations and sponsorships.

The money was spent on condolence items for the bereaved families of employees and stakeholders who passed away as well as those who were hospitalized.

This amount has doubled compared to the R217 000,00 spent during the 2017/18 financial year.

While we sympathize with those that have lost loved ones, an amount of almost half a million cannot be spent on condolence items and gifts.

The department is lagging behind on many projects and mostly failing to provide much needed assistance to our aspiring talent.

The department failed to assist, dancer and choreographer, Oscar Buthelezi to travel to Germany for the Hanover Choreography Competition where he scooped three awards. The department’s reasons for not supporting him was that they don’t fund competitions and they only fund local projects. But when he won, the department took credit for supporting him.

The same applies to car spinner, Stacy-Lee May. She will be representing South Africa at the Mountain Dew Extreme Sports Festival in Pakistan. She is expected to leave South Africa on 17 September and be in Pakistan until 17 November 2019. She has been struggling to get financial support from the department and has now resorted to crowd funding.

The exorbitant amount of money spent by the department on gifts and condolence items could be used to assist our sporting talents in achieving their goals and in putting our province and country on the map.

I will be tabling questions to the Gauteng MEC for SARC, Mbali Hlophe to ascertain how many gifts, donations and sponsorships where paid for by the department for the past financial year.

Premier’s budget will not bring the change Gauteng desperately needs

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in the Gauteng Legislature by DA Gauteng Caucus Leader, Solly Msimanga MPL, during the budget debate on the Office of the Premier.

Madam Speaker,

Honourable Premier,

It is now more than two months since the National General elections held on 8 May.

In these two subsequent months a few things have become abundantly clear.

The first is that, given the ANC’s overwhelming dip in support, it is evident that millions of Gauteng’s residents have seen through the façade portrayed to them by the provincial government in the 5th administration.

They are simply tired of the same old promises, the same old excuses that eventually lead to the same outcomes – little that enriches or improves their quality of life.

The second notable observation is that despite this warning from our people, this administration will pick up right where the last one left off.

This is evident in the lack of tangible plans outlined in the Honourable Premier’s SOPA speech and the fact that the budgets to be tabled in this House do not adequately reflect the will of the people.

Myself, and some of my colleagues, were lambasted by the Honourable Premier in his reply to the SOPA debate for pointing out that this 6th administration has kicked off without palpable plans.

Judging by this response, our remarks surely hit a nerve, because despite what is paraded publicly, the truth is that there is little of substance below the hubris and bluster emitted by this cabinet.

The fact that this budget was drawn up prior to the election, and not modified since, is a clear indication that the next five years will be the same as those came before it.

There are Honourable Premier major issues regarding this budget, your office’s performance and what is to come in the 2019/20 financial year.

Let me start with your most crowed about project, Tshepo 1 Million.

In the beginning of last year, this project was upgraded from 500 000 to a target of 1 million.

By the end of the 2018/19 financial year, the project was flagged by the Oversight Committee on the Office of the Premier (OCPOL) as majorly under-performing. By the close of the financial year-end the cumulative number of people who had been impacted by this programme throughout the 5th administration stood at 586 725. Of these, a mere 18 980 secured full-time employment in the past financial year.

One of the reasons cited for the dismal performance of this programme was that more effort needed to be made by the private sector.

This would be laughable if it were not for the severity of the dire state our economy finds itself in.

Except for EPWP placements within this programme, which are “work-opportunities” and have a minimal long-term impact on unemployment, all of the so-called success stories of Tshepo 1 Million emanate from the work done by the private sector.

It is your political party Honourable Premier, its poor policies and wayward cadres that have run the economy into the ground.

On the one hand, the ANC has a disdain for the markets in their pseudo-Marxist, utopian outlook on the world, yet lived experience dictates that it is the markets and not government that stimulates the economy.

A fact, not always whole-heartedly, accepted by the ANC when it is convenient.

The private sector excuse holds no water as it is only you who is to blame for the failures of this project.

I quote from page 19 the OCPOL report on the fourth quarter for the Office of the Premier:

“… Programme 2 and Programme 3 under-spent by 47% and 75% respectively. This is a major concern and needs to be addressed particularly given that the highest under-spending was recorded under Programme 3, that is responsible for assisting economically excluded youth with the provision of training and skills contributing to employment among other things.”

Another major area of concern, as pointed out by both OCPOL and the DA, repeatedly, is that the project has little impact at a grassroots level.

In one breath, you speak of the Township Economy and stimulating markets that have been historically disadvantaged, and in another, do the complete opposite.

Spending by your office within our townships is low. This is not my assumption. This is evidence based as recorded by OCPOL.

Your office spent its annual budget almost in its entirety, yet given the above, it is clear these precious funds were mis-used.

Honourable Premier,

We desperately need to assist those who have been excluded from the economy. While the TMR project speaks of economic rejuvenation, it cannot be that those who are to create sustainable businesses for themselves are reduced to mere middlemen.

Neither is the solution to unemployment subcontracting every tender that is on offer.

Successful bidders of tenders need to be in a position to be the producers of goods and services, not simply to pass the buck in the form of some or other sub-contract within a sub-contract.

As the head of the Provincial Government it is upon you to ensure that upskilling, incubation and training becomes an integral component of the work of this administration.

We cannot continue on the path we are on where departments and entities are at the mercy of cabals who use their resources to enrich themselves and those who are linked to them through patronage networks.

The only way to ensure that this becomes a reality is to not only speak a good game on taking action to root out corruption, but there must be tangible outcomes too.

It is common cause that while within your office you have an anti-corruption team, this team’s work is seldom reported on and outcomes are hard to come by.

The results of investigations are vague at best and the ramifications for those who are found guilty are seldom reported on.

Therefore, time and again the GPG is lambasted for a lack of consequence management.

Last year Honourable Premier you referred 300 cases to the SIU for investigation – one of which involved MEC Lebogang Maile. What has happened to these cases? Have they disappeared into the ether never to be seen again?

If your office Honourable Premier is the benchmark by which other departments are to measure themselves by, given their lack of capacity to pursue corruption, it is then clear as to why we find ourselves in this perilous state.

Honourable Premier, while your office meets the right criteria to achieve clean audits, doing the bare minimum has not translated into improved socio-economic conditions. We have not broken the vicious circle that is the reality faced by millions of Gauteng’s residents – particularly the poor, the marginalised and forgotten.

Your office may look good on paper, but lived experience tells a different story.

And from experience, the budget tabled before us will give little effect to dramatically changing the lives of Gauteng’s 14 million residents.

Premier Makhura’s State of Planning a talk shop devoid of substance

Note to Editors: This speech was delivered in the Gauteng Legislature today by Gauteng Caucus Leader, Solly Msimanga MPL, during the debate on the 2019 State of the Province Address

Madam Speaker,

Today I stand here a proud man as the Leader of the Official Opposition in Gauteng.

Sometimes, our colleagues on the other side of this House understand the word opposition in its denotative form and misinterpret our stance on several issues and challenges that face the people of this province, on a daily basis.

Our existence is a critical one.

Ours is to hold the powers that be to account and to contribute robustly and critically to our democratic discourse.

Ours is not to simply oppose, ours is to be the light that guides the way through these dark socio-economic days bequeathed to us by successive failing governments.

In digesting what was said on Monday, one can only describe it as the Premier’s State of Planning address, a phrase that most aptly jumps to mind is that of surrealist painter Pablo Picasso, and I quote:

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone”.

The question I have to ask the Honourable Premier is, if you were to die today, would you be happy with the things you have left undone?

In your address on Monday, the 6th administration intends to pick up directly where the 5th one left off, with much talk and very little action.

In 2014, I sat in this House and listened attentively to what you had to say, hoping that under your watch, the province would begin to turn the tide on skulduggery that was your predecessor, and state capture damsel Nomvula Mokonyane’s reign of terror.

Sadly, by 2015, with the cancellation of the Life Esidimeni contract which led to the most horrendous deaths of some of the province’s most vulnerable citizens, the “Giant-slayer” hype had all but died and it was business as usual.

In your inaugural State of the Province address Honourable Premier, you envisaged so much for this province, yet very few of these promises were fulfilled. Just to remind you, here are but a few:

  • Gauteng securing its own source of energy to mitigate the impact of load shedding;
  • The retrofitting of solar panels to GPG buildings to reduce government’s carbon footprint and to save funds which could be better directed elsewhere;
  • Convictions of crooks fleecing the state of public funds;
  • Down-scaling the extravagance of MEC lifestyles and closing the taps of unbridled opulence within departments;
  • The mass roll-out of broadband and Wi-Fi throughout the province; and
  • Fixing an ailing health department that bleeds public funds due to negligence while at the same time kills businesses by not paying them on time.

These Honourable Premier are just a few items that slipped off your radar, there are many more.

But while I am on the topic of things left undone, I must address the elephant in the room, e-Tolls. In 2014, you instituted a review panel to deal with this unjust system whose gantries cast an ominous spectra over our freeways.

This review was nothing but a ruse. Your so-called “people’s march” to the union building was nothing but a ruse. I am most certain that once again, your utterances on Monday were but another ruse.

You have the power to dismantle this system. Nothing should hold you back. If this system was the anathema you claim it to be, you would have rid us of it long time ago.

You say the Gauteng Provincial Government will even pay towards the debt to free us of e-Tolls, but my question Honourable Premier is where will you get this money?

The province is already barely scarping through to make ends meet, now you want to throw good money after bad National government decision, which lacked proper public and inter-government consultations.

We as the DA don’t buy what you’re selling and come end of August, if we don’t have a definite date of the removal of those gantries, we will bring a motion to this House to lodge an inter-governmental dispute on the matter so that the people of Gauteng no longer have to endure the anxiety of being persecuted for using the roads.

Similarly, it is quite sad that through your pronouncement to pawn the Gauteng Provincial Health services off to National Government, you have officially tried to shirk the responsibility of providing caring and dignified health services to the people of this province.

It is a widely known fact that the Health Department is in an absolute shambles.

It is widely known that if you need to make use of a GPG healthcare facility that it is likely you may come out worse than when you went in.

This is evident through the high number of medico-legal claims against the department year in and year out.

This department must care for the highest number of patients in South Africa, yet as the country’s largest economy, this province should be up to the task of managing this demand.

If it were not for the nefarious deeds of some of your comrades and cadres, who have seemingly escaped justice, this department would not be in the state that it is.

Hospitals and clinics should be allowed to control their own budgets and manage their own affairs, as it is the staff at these institutions who know best what is required and how to react to the demands of our people.

If we continue down the path we have been on, it is likely that more shameful incidents like the cancelling of operations at the Thelle Moegerane Hospital due to a shortage of clean linen will occur and continue to put lives of our people at risk.

Another risk this government has taken is by playing games with our young people’s futures.

It is all good and well to implement tablets and smartboards, but if the critical juncture between teacher application and learner comprehension is not met, then all the technology in the world will not save our children.

What is needed Honourable Premier is for you to tackle SADTU head-on to resolve the issues that are plaguing the education system in Gauteng.

It cannot be the case that learners are abandoned in class while teachers head off for union meetings and do not make this time up.

This does our youth a disservice and, likely, contributes to the high dropout rate of children who do not make it all the way to Matric.

Likewise, it is critical that there is an introduction of the Common Annual Provincial Assessments. The primary purpose of these assessments is to inform teaching and improve learning.

These assessments contribute to constructive learning processes and provide useful feedback to learners, parents and teachers. Without standardised and frequent monitoring, it is impossible to gauge the level of competence of learners and what steps can be taken to rectify difficulties that may be taking place.

It is also of critical importance that learners are provided adequate and safe school environments. It is imperative that an audit is done of our schools to assess their safety and establish enforceable maintenance plans.

Quality educational outcomes are not possible in dilapidated, overcrowded and unsafe schools. Without quality education, we as a nation are doomed. Perhaps in this term we should also visit the case of schools buildings that are not being utilized, which in some cases turn into havens for criminal elements.

On the Economy

Look no further than the perilous state of our economy and the thousands of young people within the ranks of the unemployed.

Sadly, under this administration, our unemployed youth have little to look forward to.

If we look to our regional competitors, the likes of Rwanda, Ghana and Ethiopia the approach we have been taking has indeed been unrewarding.

The fundamental difference between them and us is that an environment conducive to investment and growth has been fostered, unlike here where outdated and debunked Marxist theory still manages to find a space on the economic stage.

Our systems of governance are bureaucratic, cumbersome and lethargic. It is difficult for any business to be born, grow and prosper.

Yet despite this, the market is still finding ways to make inroads where it can.

During your speech on Monday Honourable Premier, you peeled off a string of success stories that you tried to claim as your own. The truth is, these success stories have nothing to do with your administration.

Rather, they are the fruits of the labour of those that seek to prosper in the face of adversity.

This shows that it is the market that is best poised to make in-roads. Imagine if government created a conducive environment for growth by making doing business easier, providing policy certainty and then standing back allowing enterprising individuals to prosper. I hear you talking about this now as I’ve heard you a number of times before.

The question is, will we now see action, or will we at the end of this term face the same situation?

If we were to act, Imagine the economic benefits this would have?

Imagine the dent this would make to the unemployment figure and the trickle- down effect it would have on the families of those for whom gaining meaningful employment has been just a dream?

If your government can start to understand these principles, this province’s economy would prosper. More foreign direct investment would start pouring into the economy, creating a positive stimulus and ultimately, more jobs.

If you are serious about fostering this environment Honourable Premier, we will be more than happy to assist. We will show you how to do as we have done in the Western Cape where unemployment is decreasing while job creation is booming through the bold initiatives we have put in place.

You see Honourable Premier, the 21st century is poised to be the African century.

Markets across the continent are booming, many have faced up to the fact that the 4th industrial revolution is an inevitable epoch and as such have started to mould their way of operating in order to reap its many rewards. With the African free-trade agreement in place, South Africa and particularly Gauteng could be a major role player in this common marketplace.

Many successful South African companies have already branched out into Africa and are succeeding. As you said on Monday, this agreement could foster growth domestically and abroad, yet if this government continues to operate at the snail’s pace that it currently does, our people will be left in the successful wake of others.

To do this Honourable Premier, you need a strong dose of introspection. This province is riddled with corrupt individuals who rob our people of their dignity and opportunities.

A few years ago, you held a Corruption Summit and established an advisory panel, yet very few individuals have been held to account.

Corruption eats away at the fabric of our society.

Where are the lifestyle audits you so proudly claimed would be introduced to ensure public servants are held to account and kept inline?

You say you are waiting for the go-ahead from national government, yet like the e-Tolls, you have the power to act, yet you vacillate in the hopes that like many of your other so-called bold initiatives, this plan gets confined to the dustbin of history.

In this regard, you held a crime summit with the intention of coming down hard on criminals and odious characters who have our people in a vice-like grip of fear.

Some of the most atrocious crimes take place in Gauteng, and they happen Honourable Premier, because like much else that falls within the mandate of the ANC there are no consequences for wrong doers Criminals know that the SAPS is under-resourced, fatigued and in some instances are criminals themselves.

They know that people living outside of metro areas are highly vulnerable because policing in these areas is minimal.

People living in informal settlements suffer terribly at the hands of criminals because they are often overlooked and there are insufficient resources in place to service these highly populous areas.

Premier Makhura, we are cognisant of and welcome your stance on fighting crime, yet it is high time we start to see results.

The people of Gauteng can no longer endure living in a gangster’s paradise. They deserve security and peace of mind in their homes and public spaces.

Your Zama-Zama initiative is commendable, but it comes with a number of issues that if not carefully dealt with could further entrench the dangers that come with this activity. Who will regulate their activity and how will they do it? How do we ensure their safety? How do we keep the communities in which they operate safe?

I am sure you have not answered these questions because like so many of your other promises, it has probably been kicked into touch, only to be thought of again in 100 days’ time.

Honourable Premier, I must reiterate that many of the things you announced on Monday are old ideas wrapped in new, shiny rhetoric.

The development of agricultural activities is not a new idea. In 2014, when announcing your activities for the various corridors, the West Rand was to be a place of agricultural prosperity.

I agree Honourable Premier that this is an activity that we as a province must take full advantage of. Not only to grow this economy and create jobs, but also to add to the food security of Gauteng.

This activity will help many of the people living in the region as most of the towns there are dying a slow and agonizing death due to the downscaling of mining activities and dreadful governance .

It is these places that have had to bear the brunt of weak governance. These are the towns that suffer because financial mismanagement has seen their revenue depleted and are now having to operate without funds.

Where, Honourable Premier, is the report into the illegal investments with VBS Bank?

This report was promised to us in February by former Finance MEC Barbara Creecy, yet it has not seen the light of day.

This is yet more lip-service and once again, cadres who have pilfered public funds will not face the consequences of their actions.

How can you claim to be hard on wanton officials when there are a litany of claims of mismangement in various GPG departments?

When, Honourable Premier, will the accounting officers be held accountable for poor financial governance?

I am glad that you intend to sign performance agreements with members of your cabinet, but should action against one of them be required, do you have the conviction to act? Your previous handling of such issues – look no further than how you dealt with the Angel of Death, Qendani Mahlangu, suggest you will be impotent and ineffectual.

I applaud you for wanting to make these performance agreements public, but the must be another political stunt. The people of Gauteng should be able to exercise greater oversight and hold your executive to account. Therefore, these performance agreements and their reviews must be publicized every quarter. Failure to do so will make those performance agreements worth less than the paper they are written on.

Throughout your State of Planning address, you touched on Housing – an issue that is sensitive to many of our people who are yearning for security of tenure and dignified housing.

In the hundred days it will take the MEC for Human Settlements to draw up a semblance of a plan of action – millions of Gauteng’s poor and destitute will have to endure a bitter winter, unprotected from the extremes of freezing evenings and mornings.

Human settlements in this province is a disgrace and your government must hang its head in shame for perpetuating the cycle of poverty and homelessness. It is not only through carelessness and ignorance has this hardship been inflicted on our people, sometimes it is through the greed of cadres that people are subjected to inhumane conditions.

Just yesterday, the Daily Maverick exposed how the roll-out of sanitation in the ANC Metro of Ekurhuleni is being exploited through inflated rates and dubious tenders to benefit the pockets of a few predatory elite.

Another sensational scandal that you were deafly mute on throughout your State of Planning Address were the incomplete Evaton and Alex Renewal projects.

During the campaign season this issue became a political hot-potato with enormous amounts of blame shifting and little accountability from those who were meant to implement these projects.

You undertook to investigate what had happened to the funds and what tangible assets were delivered to our people. However, like Roman Emperor Nero, you seemingly fiddle while these places burn.

When will the people of Evaton and Alex be given answers, when will those who are implicated in wrongdoing be brought to book?

When will there be an audit of these programmes to ascertain what was delivered and what was not?

I must ask you Honourable Premier, how do you sleep at night knowing that the suffering of our people lands squarely at the feet of your fellow cadres?

Your pronouncements on Mega-Human Settlements to address the housing backlog is nothing new. You announced this in 2014. It is critical then, Honourable Premier, to ascertain in the past 5 years – how many of these have come to fruition?

Similarly, the old Apartheid relics known as hostels, which are hellholes, were to be converted into family units. To my mind this has not happened. If so, please tell us which have been converted and where they are so that we can see for ourselves that this is not just another fantasy concocted to appease the electorate.

It would seem Honourable Premier, that many of the successes you boast of are not your own and many old ideas and promises have been recycled into “new” initiatives.

The Aerotropolis, a plan that never took off. The River City, a plan that never took off. The four corridors and their envisaged economies – plans that never took off.

The manufacturing of rolling stock for PRASA, an initiative not of your own doing. Automotive investment, an initiative not of your own doing.

Honourable Premier, the electorate gave you the tiniest majority possible on May 8. Their message was clear, shape up or we’ll ship you out.

The people of Gauteng are tired of empty promises, regurgitated rhetoric and the hopelessness they have come to experience over the past 25 years of your party’s rule.

The winds of change are blowing strong throughout Gauteng. If you do not adjust your sails, they will blow you away.

This 6th administration must be one of more action and less talk.

The Democratic Alliance will be the support you need when you put the people of our province first and center, but will also be a thorn in your flesh when you, the executive and officials step out of line.

14 million people are dependant on you and your performance.

The time has come for implementation.

The fate of our elderly, our youth, the maligned and forgotten – ultimately our collective future, hangs in the balance. Again I say, the DA will work to assist in making Gauteng great, but will also continue to hold you and yours to account for those who are so quickly forgotten once elections have come and gone.

Gauteng SOPA 2019: The Dream Deferred

Gauteng Premier, David Makhura’s State of the Province address today highlighted clearly that the ANC has not been living in the same province as the millions of residents who have received sub-standard services under his watch over the past five years.

This is evident by the fact that many of the initiatives announced today are those of his inaugural speech in 2014, just repackaged.

His speech was peppered with numerous catchwords and very few tangible action steps.

Many wishes, few concrete plans.

Throughout his speech, the Premier reiterated that many programmes are “back on track” – things such as the Aerotropolis, Special Economic Zones, the Vaal River City and the development of the West Rand agricultural sector. This confirms what the DA has known for a long time – that many of the promises of the past five years had fell off the radar of the provincial government’s agenda.

The fact that all MECs still have 100 days to formulate plans for their respective departments highlights that there are still no plans in place to change the fortunes of the people of Gauteng.

Many of the economic successes touted by the Premier are simply the result of the private sector weathering the storm of ANC economic instability. They have little to do with government intervention.

While the Premier acknowledged many of the challenges affecting local governments, little was offered as a strategy to foster good governance and accountability to ensure that the residents of these municipalities have their Constitutional rights upheld.

The DA is committed to ensuring that the Gauteng Provincial Government takes seriously the following issues throughout the 6th administration:

  • Sustainable human settlements that break the back of Apartheid Spatial Planning;
  • Inclusive economic growth that creates jobs for all residents of this province;
  • Integrated, affordable transport including the scrapping of e-Tolls;
  • A professional and accountable police force that cares and protects all residents – including those often-neglected living in non-Metro towns and small-holdings;
  • Increased infrastructure investment – particularly broadband expansion and Wifi connectivity;
  • A drastically improved healthcare department to ensure that services are rendered timeously, and suppliers paid on time; and
  • Accountability and legal action against those stealing public money.

The people of Gauteng have put this ANC administration on a short lease. They will have little leeway to continue to treat citizens with the disdain that has become the hallmark of ANC governance.

The DA will work with the provincial government and Legislature to ensure that Gauteng prospers, but we will not shy away from tackling poor performance head-on and holding this administration to account.