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 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 lead to the departments surrendering unspent funds, negatively impacting service delivery.

GPL Speaker rules failure of health services, water and electricity supply not urgent

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) is dismayed that the Speaker of the Legislature, Ntombi Lentheng Mekgwe has used a trivial technicality to prevent two urgent DA debates, one on the water and electricity crisis in the province, and a second debate on the failure of the provincial government to reopen the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg. Evidently, the Speaker deems that the suffering of people denied health services, water and electricity to be not urgent. This is bizarre in view of the raging Covid pandemic and the bitterly cold weather.

The first debate, proposed by DA MPL, Nico de Jager, and if agreed to by the GPL, would see the provincial government call on national government to declare all substations, electrical water reservoirs and water towers across the province as national key points. This move would allow municipalities to isolate electricity supply to electrical water reservoirs and water towers to ensure they are protected from load shedding and prevent further breakdowns that result in days-long water outages. Residents are already subjected to constant Eskom rolling blackouts, on top of unplanned power outages due to ageing and unmaintained infrastructure, but with such a move by the provincial government, the water supply would be stabilized, and residents would be able to maintain personal hygiene, especially during the Covid-19 third wave.

The second debate, proposed by DA MPL Jack Bloom, is on the failure of the provincial government to reopen the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital since its closure on the 16th April. Since then, cancer patients needing chemotherapy and radio therapy have gone without much-needed treatment, or had to struggle seeking treatment from neighbouring hospitals. Kidney patients requiring dialysis have also found themselves without any help. The failure of the provincial government to reopen Charlotte Maxeke has put a severe strain on the province’s efforts to combat the third wave of Covid-19, as the ICU beds in Charlotte Maxeke have still not been made available.

Agreeing to our first debate would get the province one step closer to ensuring a stable water supply to hospitals like Charlotte Maxeke and Rahima Moosa, where shortages were experienced just this past week and patients forced to used half a litre of water to wash and drink.

However, instead of allowing these two critical debates to go ahead, the Speaker cited a trivial technical rule, of which she has the power to overrule, and further stating that it would not be healthy for the GPL to remain in session for so many hours due to Covid-19.

The Speaker’s reasons are selfish and shortsighted. Residents of Gauteng are subjected to water and electrical outages that last up to a week. Extending today’s sitting of the GPL for a few more hours would not cause harm to anyone, especially considering we are conducting the day’s business through a hybrid model, with social distancing and health protocols followed in the House, while other Members are connected virtually from their homes.

Even then, if there was such a concern for safety, the Speaker could declare the debates to go ahead on a fully virtual sitting of the House later today.

The residents of Gauteng are suffering constant electricity outages with municipalities battling to keep up with the breakdowns caused by Eskom load shedding. It is time that the ANC in the GPL stop acting so selfish in their duties, wake up, and realise the true situation on the ground. They have the means to change the situation.

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DA to submit complaint against MEC Lesufi to the GPL’s Integrity Commissioner

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng will be submitting a complaint to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature’s (GPL) Integrity Commissioner against MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi regarding allegations of corruption around the awarding of tenders to schools that emerged in media reports earlier this week. 

 A voice recording of a meeting between Lesufi and his team in May last year, allegedly exposes the MEC involving himself in the awarding of his department tenders.

The mandate of the Integrity Commissioner is to investigate any possible violations of the GPL’s Code by Members of the Provincial Legislature.  

The Commissioner must investigate what transpired during the concerned meeting and if Lesufi indeed violated the Code.

The Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has exposed mass corruption in the Gauteng Provincial Government, filled with irregular tenders, fruitless and wasteful expenditure, while the residents continue to suffer economic hardship. 

The DA is calling on individuals to bring forward any information and evidence on MEC Lesufi’s alleged tender interference to the DA so that such information can be presented before the GPL’s Integrity Commissioner. 

Should the Integrity Commissioner find that MEC Lesufi is implicated in these allegations, it will be a clear indication that he is no longer fit to head the Department of Education and that he must face severe consequences for his actions.



Comprehensive vaccine roll-out plan, economic growth must be central to 2021/22 provincial budget

Note to editors: Please find a soundclip from Adriana Randall MPL in English here and Afrikaans here

Gauteng MEC for Finance and e-Government, Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko is set to introduce the 2021/22 budget in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), on Thursday, 11th March 2021.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) expects the MEC to focus on how the province will be using the budget to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic by strengthening the health care system, as well as a comprehensive roll-out plan of the Covid-19 vaccine. These are critical, considering that last year the Department of Health approached the Gauteng Provincial Treasury (GPT) for additional funding.

The budget will also need to speak to definite time-lines of the vaccine roll-out, and additional funding to modernize the provincial health infrastructure, to cater for the ever increasing number of patients due to in-migration and inability to pay for medical services.

In this regard, the DA calls for the GPT to ensure there is a bigger allocation together with the Provincial Equitable Share from National Government to deal with the pandemic-related interventions. The worst case scenario would require assistance from contingency reserves.

Measures to create the correct environment for the economy to grow should also be at the forefront on this year’s budget. During his State of the Province Address, Premier David Makhura called for the Township Economy Bill to be timeously processed and has especially promised support for SMMEs and township enterprises where it concerns doing business with the province and creating jobs.

While the bill has been well received by many, there is a credible fear that it promotes xenophobia, by prohibiting foreigners from participating in the township economy. Further to this, the bill also conflicts with national legislation and mandates of other departments, causing future duplication of structures and wasteful expenditure.

The DA supports initiatives that will promote economic growth in the province but due to a lack of political will, jobs for pals, cadre deployment and shortage of skills and knowledge, tangible economic growth will continue to be hampered. It is also concerning to note that the province has been preaching about Public-Private Partnerships but still fails to show one successful project.

Economic reforms must be implemented in order to create sustainable jobs and drive inclusive growth through the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

However, in order for us to truly see a province that is working we need to fight corruption, but this provincial government continues to demonstrate no political will in doing so. Lip service will not change the situation, only consequence management and the implementation of guidelines set out by National and Provincial Treasury.

Gauteng is in a precarious fiscal position and this can only be fixed by doing the following:

  • Restraining compensation budget ceilings based on fairness, equity and affordability
  • Reversing public entities and local government financial and operational positions caused by maladministration and government failures through financial management

In addition to this, the DA is also concerned about government’s refusal to pilot the much talked about Integrated Financial Management System as this will provide an integrated framework.

During this financial year it is also expected that local governments will see serious cuts in conditional grants, worsening the growing deficit due to Covid-19 expenditure. The MEC will need to act in the best interest of the residents in keeping the Gauteng Provincial Government’s salary bill under 60% over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework. Many Gauteng municipalities are in dire financial distress and the DA hopes that the MEC will outline how these municipalities will be supported through the budget.

Given that the Department of Education is one of the two biggest departments in the province, the DA hopes there will be no reduction in this budget, resulting in disaster due to in-migration and densification in the province.

Social spending needs to be protected as we cannot place the burden on the poor and vulnerable any longer whilst a politically-connected elite continue to enjoy the benefit of being in the inner circle of cadre deployment and corruption.

It is clear that resources will be spread thin this year, however, in order to ensure that the residents of Gauteng are given proper and effective service delivery, the DA sincerely hope that the MEC will ensure that, where monies set aside for key projects are not spent on time and in budget, that consequence management does indeed materialise and that duplications of services through entities are eradicated.

DA requests Makhura motion of no confidence recount following voting irregularities

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the Speaker in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) for the Rules Committee to review the original vote of the motion of no confidence (MONC) in Premier Makhura from earlier this week, and institute a recount.

The DA has raised concern regarding the total number of votes that were recorded, and how the voting process in a hybrid plenary structure takes place.

While the total number of seats in the GPL is 73 (which includes the Speaker), one MPL had abstained, and two other Members did not respond during the roll call.

Despite this, the Speaker had recorded a total of 70 votes for the MONC. This meant that the Speaker included a vote for herself, which is contravention of the rules as the Speaker only has a vote in the event of a tie.

While the Speaker announced a result of 33 votes for the motion and 37 against, this was not a correct reflection of the tally.

One Member of another opposition party who, according to the recording, clearly voted for the motion, was recorded as voting no. It has been alleged that this specific Member had changed their mind to vote against the motion. The DA has asked the Speaker to ensure the Rules Committee also review this and ascertain if the Member really did change their mind or whether there was coercion at play.

The DA believes, after removing the Speaker’s vote and including the Member of the other opposition party who voted in support of the motion, the final tally should be 34 votes for the motion, and 35 votes against.

Even though this final tally would still result in the defeat of the motion, the rules and integrity of voting in the GPL must be maintained and protected at all times.

DA to write to GPL speaker about MEC Maile’s unruly behaviour in the House

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng will be writing to the Speaker of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL), Ntombi Mekgwe, to investigate MEC Lebogang Maile’s conduct and institute disciplinary measures, following the chaos that descended in the House yesterday.

The MEC for Human Settlements and Cooperative Governance, resorted to name calling while answering questions put to the Executive.

The Speaker made no attempt to ask MEC Maile to withdraw his comments that my colleague Councillor Leah Knott is a ‘domkop’ and allowed this name calling to continue unabated in the House.

Further to this, several times Maile told members of the DA caucus to ‘shut up’ when they tried to address his inappropriate language.

It appears as if this was just a way for the MEC to obfuscate and deflect from the fact that he is failing in his mandate as MEC responsible for the proper functioning of local government. MEC Maile is one to always call people derogatory names when he has nothing to offer or to run away from accountability. This is not how government leaders should behave.

The unruly behaviour displayed by the MEC has compromised the decorum of the House and shows a blatant disregard for the opposition, whose responsibility it is to ensure that ANC-led government is held to account where service delivery is not functional in a proper and timely manner.

Maile’s unchecked arrogance is a clear sign that he feels emboldened to take over from Makhura as premier. Makhura may find it difficult to survive the allegations against him, as his enemies from inside uses it in a concerted campaign to replace him with Maile.

The DA will continue to hold the ANC-led government to account through the various structures put in place by the GPL and will not be deterred by the petulant utterances of MEC Maile.

#NotFitToGovern: Premier Makhura we cannot keep supporting you because you sing a good song

Madam Speaker, 

When I was young there was a song by Roberta Flack that contained the lines: 

“I heard he sang a good song, I heard he had a style”. 

When Hon. Makhura began his term as Premier in 2014, he sang a good song, and indeed he had a style. 

In each of the subsequent years of 2015, 2016, 2017 and so on, people applauded the Premier because he sang a good song and had a style. 

But over time, people have discovered the song keeps sounding the same: the same challenges have remained – from e-Tolls to corruption – the same promises kept being made. 

Mr. Premier, we can’t keep supporting you simply because you sing a good song and you have a style. We can’t get excited about hearing the same old, same old. 

Mr .Premier, surely you understand that you are measured on outcomes, not on effort? 

Mr Premier, you can’t say, “My Office is doing well”, even when the SIU says there is at least one crook in your office.  You are accountable for the success or failure in the department of Health; you are accountable for the success or failure of Infrastructure Development, and indeed every department under the oversight of every member of your cabinet. 

In 2014, the Honourable Premier pledged that “fraud and corruption are prevented and detected early in the value chain to prevent losses.”  We also heard that there would be an “urgent turnaround” in the Gauteng Health Department. 

These promises have been repeated in one form or another, year after year. 

And when the Covid-19 crisis hit, the corruption networks profited and the Premier reluctantly fired former MEC Bandile Masuku, after the fact. Where was prevention “early in the value chain”? 

Mr. Premier, you made promises. Not just once. These promises have proven to be empty. 

Firing is one thing. What about prosecution? 

While health workers risked their lives with inadequate and sub-quality Personal Protective Equipment, parasitic Gauteng employees enriched themselves. 

Corruption and irregularities included the R2 billion spent on urgently needed infrastructure to create new beds. Of the beds that the Premier boasted about these were, in various instances, in the wrong places. 

Moreover, when beds where provided, there often wasn’t enough staff. 

We saw scenes such as Steve Biko Hospital, which was overwhelmed with tents in the parking lot. 

The latest Auditor-General’s (AG) report shows that beside the usual financial mismanagement, there has been a rise in irregular expenditure last year and a regression in audit outcomes. 

Corruption Watch has found that corruption is four times more likely to occur in Gauteng than in similar-sized provinces such as Kwa-Zulu Natal. 

Madam Speaker, I could go on regarding the failures to achieve outcomes. These would include failure to properly oversee local government with examples such as Emfuleni and Merafong; Failure to ensure jobs are delivered through infrastructure development and the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller; Failure to apply consequence management for poor performance and corruption. But time does not permit me to do so. 

Honourable Premier, you said it in your own words: “We have lost the trust of the people”. In so doing, you have acknowledged and declared that you are not fit to govern. 

Madam Speaker, colleagues, please vote in support of this motion. 

I thank you. 

#MakhuraNotFitToGovern: ANC-led government’s vote of confidence in Premier Makhura shows their commitment to cadre deployment

It is no surprise that the ANC in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today voted to keep Premier David Makhura in office. Today’s motion of no confidence brought by the DA comes after it became quite clear that Premier Makhura is not fit to govern.

The outcome of today’s vote does not change our view. Premier Makhura remains unfit to govern.

Under his watch:

  • Up to R125 million wasted on corrupt tenders for Personal Protect Equipment.
  • R431 million was spent on decontaminating schools between June and August last year.
  • AngloGold Ashanti hospital on the far West Rand received R500 million worth of funding in order to equip it with extra beds and facilities to assist Covid-19 patients. These wards are still incomplete and remain under construction.
  • Years after the horrible tragedy at Life Esidimeni, 81 claimants had still not been paid their compensation by November 2020.
  • Over 18 months since the Bank of Lisbon Fire, the Premier has still failed to release the investigation report.
  • There has been a continuous systemic collapse of municipalities like Emfuleni and Merafong.
  • An illegal dissolution of the Tshwane Municipal Council last year.

It is clear that the ANC-led government in Gauteng remains committed to cadre deployment and will do anything in their power to ensure that Premier Makhura remains in office, despite his government failing to exercise proper fiscal control and governance.

The DA will not waiver in its duty as the Official Opposition in the province to hold Premier Makhura and his executive to account.

Makhura prioritised party over province, at the expense of service delivery

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng looks forward to the debate and vote on our motion of no confidence (MONC) against Premier, David Makhura in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature tomorrow, 2nd March 2021.

As the Official Opposition, it is critical for the DA to represent the residents of Gauteng who have been negatively affected by Makhura’s failed government. Further to this, the DA has a duty to hold those in government to account when they do not deliver on their promises.

Over half of the promises Makhura made in his first 100 days in office, remain unfulfilled. These include failing to lease land and unutilised buildings to businesses that would result in job creation; failing to build a partnership with the Taxi industry and municipalities to transform taxi rank facilities to become vibrant economic nodes in all townships and CBDs; and failing to fill all hospital CEO posts.

This clearly demonstrates that Makhura was a man of all talk, but no action. Instead of delivering on his promises to the people of Gauteng, Makhura and his government delivered scandal after scandal.

Years after the horrible tragedy at Life Esidimeni, 81 claimants had still not been paid their compensation by November 2020; over 18 months since the Bank of Lisbon Fire, the Premier has still failed to release the investigation report; and last year alone saw widescale Personal Protective Equipment tender corruption, wasteful school deep cleaning expenditure, and the continuous systemic collapse of municipalities like Emfuleni and Merafong.

The only tangible explanation that one can draw from this disaster of a term for Makhura is that governing for the people of Gauteng was never his primary objective.

The evident case in point was the illegal dissolution of the Tshwane Municipal Council last year. Never before have we seen a Provincial Executive move so quickly to illegally remove an opposition party from government. All the while, this government continued to work at a snail’s pace in addressing failing municipalities where the ANC governed. The worst of this is that Makhura did not act in accordance with spirit of the Constitution or for the residents of Tshwane by stopping the dissolution, but instead encouraged it. This resulted in more wasteful expenditure by section 139 administrators, who left the municipality in a worse state compared to when they seized control. It took a High Court ruling to prove how government compromised the Constitution by instituting an illegal intervention.

Makhura’s only objective since the start of his term, was to serve his party over the province. Every decision and action has been considered with the ANC first in mind. The residents cannot have a Premier who operates as such. This is why the DA’s MONC is critical. It is the first democratic step in holding this failing Premier to account.

DA calls on Speaker to allow secret ballot for motion of no confidence in Makhura

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the decision by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature Programming Committee to schedule the DA’s motion of no confidence (MONC) in Premier, David Makhura, for Tuesday, 2nd March 2021.

This follows an initial attempt by the ANC to refuse the scheduling, which clearly exposed them for protecting Makhura from accountability.

We are pleased that the ANC finally came to their senses and allowed constitutional democracy to be exercised by the Members of the Provincial Legislature (MPLs).

The DA however, calls on the Speaker of the Legislature, Ntombi Lentheng Mekgwe to allow for a secret ballot in this very critical motion.

It is concerning that ANC MPLs might not feel safe enough to vote with their conscience if they are not protected by anonymity.

The DA believes there are many ANC MPLs who are not pleased with Makhura’s performance as Premier, and would like to vote in the best interest of the residents of Gauteng, as opposed to voting in the best interest of their party. The ANC only has 37 out of 73 seats in the Legislature, while the combined opposition stands at 36.  The 37th seat of the ANC belongs to the Speaker who only has a tie-breaking vote. If just one ANC MPL sides with the opposition, the motion will succeed.

In the spirit of accountable democracy, the DA’s request for a secret ballot should be unconditionally granted.

The time is now for MPLs across party lines to come together and act in the best interest for the people of the province. David Makhura has shown no remorse for his administration’s failures and scandals, and has proven beyond doubt, that he is no longer fit to govern.