Hundreds of unpaid medical suppliers in Gauteng

Despite promises of payment within the legally required period of 30 days, the Gauteng Health Department owed an astounding amount of R1.856 billion to 940 suppliers as at 31 January this year. This is only a 40% payment level!

This information is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

Furthermore, 223 suppliers are owed R983 million for more than three months, and 176 suppliers are owed R35.5 million for more than six months.

The situation is so bad that some unpaid companies are refusing to supply essential equipment to hospitals.

The MEC blames the late payments on the settlement of accruals from previous years, and court/ordered medico-legal payments that are not planned and budgeted for.

It’s a key challenge for Premier Panyaza Lesufi who promised in his SOPA address that there would “stringent consequence management” for the failure to pay within 30 days.

His credibility is on the line if the Gauteng Health Department does not radically improve payments in the near future.

This will require the replacement of all the cadre deployment deadbeats with competent and honest people.


Time for Rand Water to come clean about the real reason for Gauteng residents being left without water

It is high time that Rand Water comes clean about the real reasons why it has started throttling the supply of water to residents across the Gauteng Province.

For nearly a month, the country has been subjected to load-shedding, which has now affected the supply of water to our residents. Many residents have been left with low water pressure or no water at all due to the ongoing load-shedding.

Furthermore, load-shedding, and reduced water pressure affect sewage lines that rely on a constant flow of water to push waste material in the system downline.

The Minister for Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, has awarded Rand Water with a license for additional capacity which means increased water pressure. While we welcome the increased capacity, we should be cautiously optimistic as the lack of maintenance of water infrastructure may result in more bursts due to increased water pressure.

The DA is therefore demanding that Rand Water restore the water supply to its full capacity and take our residents in their confidence and explain exactly why there is a problem with the supply of water in this province.

In addition, the DA will continue to demand that an inter-governmental task team is set up to deal with the water crisis. Our municipalities are the ones that are severely impacted, as they must ensure that all our residents have access to an uninterrupted water supply.

The DA is urging all our residents to please use water sparingly and adhere to the current water restrictions that are in place so that we can have a continued reliable supply of water.

The DA will also be engaging our residents affected by the current water crisis and will be running awareness campaigns regarding water-saving measures that can be implemented.

Urgent plan needed to deal with the water crisis in Gauteng so that residents’ human rights are not infringed

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is demanding that Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi urgently implements a disaster management plan to deal with the current water crisis and load-shedding in the province.

For a few weeks now, residents living in Gauteng have been subjected to low water pressure or no water at all because the reservoirs are not able to fill up sufficiently because of the ongoing load-shedding.

The only way this crisis can be dealt with effectively is by doing the following:
• Establish a task team to deal with the water and electricity crisis.
• Outline the exact steps that will be taken to have the province become less dependent on Eskom.
• Embark on a public awareness campaign in conjunction with municipalities on water and electricity conservation.
• Engage Independent Power Producers so that additional electricity can be procured for the province.

The electricity crisis is not new, and the ANC-led government has had ample time to come up with a concrete strategy that would shield our residents from the incompetence of State-Owned Entity (SOE) Eskom.

The issues with Eskom have now had a ripple effect on the supply of water and if the current government was serious about ensuring that none of our resident’s human rights is infringed, they would have a plan in place ready to implement.

For service delivery to continue unhindered the provincial government must immediately get their ducks in a row.

A DA government in Gauteng will have a similar plan in place to the Western Cape, where residents are protected from higher stages of load-shedding because they have the extra energy-generating capacity by using hydroelectricity.

Double whammy: Gauteng residents left without electricity and water

Gauteng residents are being dealt a double blow this week as they are left without electricity and in some instances without water.

In Gauteng, municipal water entities are solely dependent on electricity to pump water to reservoirs. The rolling blackouts are impacting the ability of municipal water entities to fill reservoirs and water towers in their areas.
Gauteng residents may only have a trickle or no supply of water.

No water in pipes will also affect sewage lines that rely on a constant flow of water to push waste material in the system downline.

The continued interruption of electricity to pump stations means that the stations cannot continue to pump sewage which will overflow into rivers and water courses.

It is unacceptable that Gauteng residents are continuously being put in this position because the current government is incapable of providing proper consistent basic services in the province and the country.

The DA-led municipalities in Gauteng will continue to engage with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to provide an alternative supply of electricity so that our residents are afforded some protection from the continued ineptitude of Eskom.

Patients suffer as 162 Bara hospital workers absent for 1333 days last year

The absence of 162 workers at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital for a total of 1333 days last year has negatively affected treatment of patients at the hospital.

This is admitted by Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mokgethi, 149 employees were absent because of unauthorised leave, and 13 employees absconded.

The overall absenteeism rate amongst the 6042 staff was 2.68%, but with wide variations amongst different staff categories – no top managers were absent, and only 1.38% of medical staff, but 12.64% of Allied Support staff (excluding cleaners and porters) were absent, and 4.21% of cleaners, porters and food service workers.

Trends identified include the following:

• Substance and alcohol abuse
• Habitual truancy
• Social problems

The following consequences of absenteeism are given:

• not sufficient staff available to maintain appropriate and acceptable required service delivery standards;
• compromising service norms and standards of the Department as a whole;
• not adhering in totality to the Batho Pele principles.

It is disappointing that only 34 employees were disciplined for absenteeism, which points to a lack of consequence management.

Tighter control of absenteeism will assist in providing a better service to patients at this hospital.

R59 billion Kopanong Precinct Project fails the construction industry

The Kopanong Precinct Project, which is meant to house officials of the provincial government in buildings in downtown Johannesburg, has failed an audit of the tender process because officials did not adhere to regulations and policies that control the awarding of tenders.

The hope engendered that the project would support the economy by stimulating the construction industry and job creation, has been dashed by the Department of Infrastructure Development’s manipulation of the tender processes to irregularly propose the appointment of companies for construction, as well as the operation of the precinct.

The project, which was first mooted in 2003, has been plagued by many false starts and has at some point been impacted by former Gauteng politicians such as Mbhazima Shilowa, Paul Mashatile and Nomvula Mokonyane.

In 2015, the Gauteng government announced that the project would be resurrected as a Public Private Partnership, that the construction valued at R7,5 billon would be carried out over 5 years and that the operation of the precinct over a 30-year period would cost the taxpayer R59 billion.

The audit report indicated that not a single bidder for the work was compliant with all the requirements. Some of the bids ignored mandatory pre-qualification criteria, submitted invalid equity ownership and BEE certificates, and did not comply with legislation related to sub-contracting of local labour. As a result, the audit report recommended that the tender be cancelled and re-advertised.

Despite this, there are voices within the administration that wish to ignore the recommendation of the audit report. There can be little doubt that legal action will stop the process in its tracks if the unlawful actions are not rectified.

The fact that in 2022 the process of evaluating tenders is deemed not to be compliant with prescribed legislation and policies, proves that the wheels of government turn very slowly and calls into question the motives of officials who ignore legislated regulations and policies. One would have thought that after the PPE scandal, officials would be more circumspect in evaluating tenders.

Government has lost the confidence of Gauteng residents due to years of inefficiency and wastage as a result government’s inability to efficiently implement high impact infrastructure such as the Kopanong Precinct.

One hopes that this manipulation is not a last gasp attempt by cadres to extract the maximum amount of money from the public purse before they are voted out of power in 2024.


How difficult it is to fix the phones at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital?

Despite being only partially open, the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital has about 800 in-patients and thousands of out-patients, but the hospital switchboard has been broken for more than a week.

Anxious relatives can’t find out how their loved ones are doing, and patients cannot call departments for information and appointments.

It’s an outrageous situation, but the hospital has made no attempt to communicate with the public about what is being done to fix it.

This is one message I have received:

“Good morning to you Mr Bloom. Trust you are well. I am trying to phone Charlotte Maxeke switchboard. I want to get hold of the Oncology ward or doctor or somebody. My daughter as you know has cervical cancer stage 3 and has to undergo chemo then radiation. They told my daughter they would phone to advise when her first chemo session is. That was last week Thursday to date they have not communicated with her. This treatment must start ASAP we don’t want this to spread. Please could you advise me of a doctor’s name the quality assurance or somebody that I could speak to. No response from landline.”

With some difficulty I was able to get the alternative numbers.

See alternate numbers here

But when I phoned the alternative switchboard number, I was told it was only for emergencies and calls could not be put through to other departments. And hardly anyone has been informed of these alternative numbers.

The real question is why is it so difficult to get the phones working at this major hospital?

Many other public hospitals have the same problem, which is blamed on outdated switchboards. According to a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature earlier this year, 25 public hospitals have recently experienced switchboard problems, sometimes for weeks on end.

I will continue to badger the Gauteng Health Department to upgrade switchboards in our hospitals as they perform a vital function.

Gauteng Health finance chief should be suspended over fishy payments

The Democratic Alliance is calling for the immediate suspension of the Gauteng Health Department’s Chief Financial Officer Lerato Madyo over allegations that she authorised fishy payments flagged by Babita Deokaran shortly before she was murdered in an apparent hit.

According to a News24 special investigation, Deokaran was concerned about a flood of payments by Tembisa Hospital to fishy companies, including three companies headed by ANC big wig Sello Sekhokho, who is currently Treasurer-General of the ANC’s Ekurhuleni region.

Deokaran investigated thousands of suspicious purchase orders by the hospital for under R500 000, which is the amount below which the hospital CEO can sign off rather than going to public tender.

According to emails and WhatsApp messages in the possession of News24, Deokaran alerted Madyo on 17 August last year to payments of about R1 million to Sekhokho’s Keizan Projects company. She questioned why an events management company was supplying medical items to the hospital.

But Madyo allegedly instructed Deokaran to make the payments and to keep it secret after saying earlier in a WhatsApp message that she “hated dealing with politicians”.

Sekhohko is the sole director of two other companies which were flagged by Deokaran for selling medical equipment to Tembisa Hospital, apparently at grossly inflated prices.

The investigation by News24 indicates that the total fishy payments by Tembisa Hospital could be as high as R850 million, and Deokaran was concerned for her life after uncovering them.

But instead of a forensic investigation into Tembisa hospital, the Gauteng Health Department only did a randomised compliance audit which they said identified weaknesses in supply chain management that have been addressed.

Lerato Madyo was the acting CFO last year and was recently appointed as permanent CFO despite a poor record with late payments to suppliers.

The massive scandal uncovered by the News24 investigation needs to be thoroughly investigated. This requires the first step of suspending Madyo so that evidence will not be tampered with.

I will be asking questions in the Gauteng Legislature about an apparent cover-up of the Tembisa hospital payments, and what is being done to investigate their possible link to Deokaran’s murder.


Maile illegally intervenes in motion of no confidence against ANC Rand West Mayor

It is very disturbing that the tabled motion of no confidence against the ANC Mayor of Rand West City Local Municipality, Gladys Khoza will no longer go ahead because the MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Lebogang Maile has decided to call for an “urgent meeting” to discuss a possible intervention.

The council sitting notice was served to councillors last week and a motion was submitted last month which was supposed to be debated and voted upon tomorrow, 27 July. The fact that MEC Maile has called for an “urgent meeting” is once again a way of trying to illegally intervene with council business which he does not have a legal right to do so.

It is known that the ANC lost a ward in Bekkersdale in the recent by-elections, Maile therefore acutely aware that there they do not have the numbers to defend the motion if it is processed tabled. Hence MEC Maile has decided to abuse his office to play party politics and continue to protect his own comrades.

This so called “urgent intervention meeting” could have taken place on any day of the previous week or even today but is so unsurprisingly taking place on the day when Council is meeting. This is also yet another way attempt to keep a failing Mayor in office. Instead of MEC Maile concentrating on his own work he opts to rather get involved in party politics.

The DA is demanding that Premier David Makhura intervenes in this matter urgently and fires MEC Maile for overstepping on his core mandate. This is not the first time that MEC Maile has overstepped, in 2019 he illegally placed the Tshwane Metro Municipality under administration. The DA proceeded to take the matter to court and won the case while he lost at every court in the country.

It is unfair that our residents are put in a position where they are unable to get the basic services they rightfully deserve as they religiously pay their rates and taxes. The DA will use all the mechanisms at our disposal to ensure that this motion of no confidence goes ahead.

Gauteng spends R35 million per month on office rentals while government-owned buildings are standing empty

It is very concerning that the Gauteng Provincial Government spends R35 million per month to rent offices for its officials despite owning many buildings across the province.

This is the result of the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development’s inability to implement the planned Kopanong Precinct project in downtown Johannesburg. This project was meant to provide office space for officials of the administration. This information was revealed in a reply to questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

See the reply here

The Kopanong Precinct project has been on the books since 2003, but because of a lack of skills and expertise, poor planning, political gymnastics and false starts, the project is still in the planning phase.

Many of the buildings identified for this project are owned by the government, have deteriorated in the interim and have contributed to the crime and grime in downtown Johannesburg.

One such building was the Bank of Lisbon building, which had to be demolished because of government negligence and incompetence. Many other buildings owned by the government are not compliant with health and safety regulations, which is yet another obligation of the government in which it has failed.

Both Premier David Makhura and her MEC for Infrastructure Development, Tasneem Motara must accept culpability for the lack of resources, expertise, systems, and processes to manage the substantial property portfolio of the Gauteng government.

The DA will be conducting oversight inspections of these buildings, and we will also be engaging directly with the MEC for Infrastructure Development on our findings.

In terms of the social contract, the government owes its citizens an obligation of care in ensuring the best value for every Rand spent. In this case, government politicians treat the public purse as their personal piggy bank and do not deliver the required service or skills.