#GPSOPA2024: Lesufi won’t offer any real solutions to rescue Gauteng

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi will not offer anything new during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) this evening. The residents of Gauteng will continue to hear about the economic corridors of this province as in previous years, but there will be no tangible results.

Crime in Gauteng continues to rise, yet hundreds of crime wardens have been deployed to prevent and fight crime. The drones that were promised last year by the Premier have yet to be rolled out. Therefore, our residents, particularly women and children, continue to live in fear. Police stations and Community Policing Forums (CPF) need to be given adequate resources to fight crime in the province instead of the Premier spending millions of rands on drones and CCTV cameras. While police stations do not have enough vehicles and generators to operate during load-shedding.

Given that this is an election year, Lesufi will continue to push his pipe dream of a bullet train from Limpopo to Gauteng. While our current railway system does not function properly, residents struggle to get to and from work daily. Furthermore, the goalposts for the scrapping of e-Tolls have been moved every year since the 2019 elections. Our residents are being forced into paying for a system they never wanted. We need a real solution to e-Tolls immediately, not empty promises.

For years, we have been hearing about how our infrastructure will be improved, yet our children are still being taught in asbestos schools, clinics are not completed on time, and learners are still taught in overcrowded classrooms due to delays in completing schools. In addition, infrastructure projects are a key driver of employment opportunities, yet the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) is unable to appoint competent service providers and complete projects on time and within budget. It is high time that the Premier announces that this department is dissolved.

Corruption remains rampant in this province. Only a few connected individuals and politicians continue to benefit from government tenders. For many years, we have been told that lifestyle audits will be conducted on all MECs and high-ranking government officials. However, we have never been given any of these lifestyle audit reports. This begs the question: What is the Premier hiding from the public?

If the Premier truly cared about the well-being of our residents, he would use today’s SOPA to admit that his government has failed to uplift the lives of our residents.

Our residents need proper solutions to fix Gauteng, and this can only happen if Premier Lesufi admits that his administration has failed. The Democratic Alliance (DA) has a plan to rescue this province. It is high time that our residents are given a capable state that can deliver real solutions to the problems this province faces, not lip service.

Panyaza and co. fails industry yet again

Note to Editors: Please find photos here and here

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng condemns the Gauteng Provincial Government’s negligence, and duplicitous behaviour in leaving tenants of Township Industrial Parks high and dry.

This follows oversight visits by the DA Gauteng Premier Candidate, Solly Msimanga MPL, and Nicola du Plessis MPL the DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Economic Development.

Our oversight visit revealed an abandoned initiative, as with so many others like it across the province. The DA has been placating the provincial government since 2015 regarding these industrial parks – but they continue to ignore the pleas of residents in Johannesburg.

We have heard horror stories of how these industrial parks have been turned into havens for Mafia-like control and deep-rooted corruption. Allegations of, Fires, for example, are being set and the department claiming from insurance companies – but no work or repairs are being done. Further, we were met with incomplete upgrade jobs that were supposedly worth R12 million, tenants who had been made additional promises – without follow through, and as one has come to expect – dilapidated infrastructure.

While entrepreneurs in industrial parks across the province try to make a living, increase employment opportunities and contribute to Gauteng’s economic growth, the provincial government is nowhere to be found. While we have come to expect them to be nowhere, we surely did not expect them to actively stand in the way of development and job creation.

The government informed tenants that a term of ten years of fully paid rent would result in ownership being transferred to them. That has not happened.

The purpose of these government interventions was to ensure that small business owners in disadvantaged areas have a chance to change their lives. At this stage, however, it seems that tenants would be better off without government intervention.

Panyaza and his cronies are not even shadows of their promises, they exist only as impediments to growth.

Less promises, more action to ensure Gauteng residents get the service delivery they deserve

Tomorrow, Gauteng residents will once again hear a list of promises by Premier Panyaza Lesufi as he delivers his very first State of the Province Address (SOPA).

When Premier Lesufi took office last year, he made a list of promises on how he intends to get Gauteng working again.

Here are some of the key promises he made last year:

  • The speeding up of payment of invoices to service providers
  • To introduce new schools of specialisation
  • Capacitate and refurbish hospitals
  • Allocate R500 million for the creation and operation of spaza shops by South Africans
  • To establish South Africa’s first provincial state bank
  • To change the face of the province’s five hostels
  • To scrap e-Tolls

During his SOPA tomorrow, we expect Premier Lesufi to outline exactly how many of the promises he made have been fulfilled and what tangible difference this has made to the lives of our residents.

Our service providers, particularly those who do business with the Department of Health, do not receive payment for their services on time. This means that our hospitals will have essential services withheld because service providers are not paid on time.

In terms of upgrading Township Informal Settlements and Hostels (TISH), we need to see the entire province prioritised, not just a certain section. Furthermore, more support needs to be given to our municipalities that are in dire straits.

A clear financial plan must be put forward when it comes to putting up new infrastructure, we cannot just talk about upgrading hospitals and building new schools when there is no budget for it.

Our roads are not in tip-top condition. Yet last year, Premier Lesufi promised that there would not be a Gautrain expansion but rather spending on townships. In addition, he also promised that e-Tolls would be scrapped. However, we need to know where the money for the scrapping of e-Tolls will come from. Will Gauteng residents be made to pay for this? Will money be taken from other departments to pay for the debt?

Furthermore, we expect Premier Lesufi to announce that the Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation will no longer spend massive amounts of money on insignificant events. Instead, the money should be used to maintain and upgrade our provincial heritage sites. More focus should be on turning our libraries into well-functioning institutions that embrace new technological innovations. In addition, they should also evaluate how infrastructure projects are rolled out.

Our hospitals have an enormous backlog of surgeries, with some patients waiting for as long as five years. The Tembisa hospital is facing immense pressure because there is no hospital in Kempton Park. Our residents need to know what progress has been made in finding a suitable site for a new hospital in Kempton Park and by when this will be completed.

A new provincial state bank is supposed to be established, but again we lack an explanation of where this money will come from and what will happen to entities like the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, which are mandated to assist our small businesses in the province.

Loadshedding is crippling our province and has a ripple effect on our supply of water. Our residents deserve to know what plans are being put in place to secure extra electricity from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and if there have been any talks with the national government to establish an inter-governmental task team to look into this and the water crisis.

We no longer want empty promises but want our residents to know that service delivery will improve and that the SOPA is not just a box-ticking exercise.

Cadre deployment needs to end. Corruption must be rooted out.

The time for politicking is over, and service delivery needs to happen now.

Our residents deserve a government that they can trust.

 

Lesufi should act on Tembisa Hospital report without fear or favour

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi should act without fear or favour tomorrow when he releases the SIU report on the Tembisa Hospital payments flagged by murdered whistle-blower Babita Deokaran.

Lesufi says four prominent business people have been implicated in the looting of the hospital’s finances.

It is likely they have connections with the ANC and have high-level accomplices in the Gauteng Health Department.

We already know about Mr Hangwani Morgan Maumela, who is a nephew by marriage to President Cyril Ramaphosa and reportedly “the don” of Tembisa Hospital with direct access to its procurement office. Companies linked to him have got contracts worth R381 million in the last three years from Gauteng public hospitals. He is reputedly close to Bejani Chauke, the president’s chief advisor, who is the front-runner candidate to be the ANC’s treasurer-general.

We also know that Mr Sello Sekhoko, the treasure-general of the ANC’s Ekurhuleni region, scored nearly R100 million in contracts from Gauteng public hospitals awarded to his three companies.

Lesufi should immediately blacklist all implicated companies so they never sell again to any Gauteng hospital.

It’s not just Tembisa Hospital as other hospitals have paid millions of rand for over-priced goods from fishy companies.

I expect more officials to be suspended and disciplined for collusion in corrupt contracts. Criminal charges should also be laid against them.

President Cyril Ramaphosa needs to extend the SIU investigation to all public hospitals in Gauteng so that all corrupt officials are exposed and dismissed.

There should be no half-measures in stopping the rampant corruption that hurts staff and patients in our hospitals.

Gauteng will continue to suffer due to loadshedding as its dams are nonviable for hydroelectricity

There is absolutely no relief in sight for Gauteng residents who are being subjected to daily power cuts. Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi admits that at this stage, the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) does not procure power for direct distribution to citizens or businesses.

This information was revealed to me in a reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) regarding the possible procurement of hydroelectricity for the province.

According to the Premier, there are ten significant dams in the province but none of them are deemed suitable for hydro-power production. Historic attempts by the City of Tshwane to run hydro-power production to proof-of-concept level at Rietvlei dam specifically have generated poor yields and indicated that such an approach is not commercially scalable.

In addition, the GPG is now more focused on microgrids to enable increased energy efficiency for large energy consumers. These microgrid systems will focus on cleaner energy solutions such as LNG, renewable energy and energy storage. While this is a step in the right direction more needs to be done to ensure that the entire province is less reliant on Eskom so that the number of blackouts experienced per week can be reduced.

The DA is very surprised at this answer as it would appear as if the Vaal dam is the most viable option to use for hydroelectricity. We will be submitting further questions in the GPL, to ascertain exactly who had carried out the research and why it is deemed not to be a feasible option to use the dams for hydroelectricity. It is high time that Gauteng considers sourcing electricity from independent power producers to ensure that the wheels of the economy continue to turn despite the country now being on stage 6 loadshedding.

Hydroelectricity and renewable energy only solutions to rescue Gauteng from the ongoing electricity crisis

The DA is proposing that Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi urgently looks into using our dams in the province as a source of hydroelectricity, establishing a green economy war room that is mandated to look into other sources of renewable energy and provide support to municipalities so that they can procure additional electricity from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

If this is not done, we risk seeing an increase in the current unemployment rate as businesses, especially those who operate in the townships and from home will have to close their doors.

For months now, the DA has been calling on the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) to come up with a plan to mitigate the effects that loadshedding has on the province and the economy.

Gauteng businesses are at risk of having to close their doors as their profit margins are severely impacted due to the ongoing electricity crisis in the country.

The ongoing blackouts are having a negative impact on the revenue that businesses can generate which resulted in some companies retrenching workers.

For at least six hours a day, residents and businesses do not have any electricity and not everyone can afford a generator, solar panels, or inverter so that they are able to have a continued supply of electricity.

It is clear that the GPG government is missing in action as they have yet to come up with a concrete plan to minimize the impact of loadshedding on the province. The current status quo cannot remain and if Premier Lesufi is committed to ensuring that our economy grows and that more jobs are created, he will find a solution to the current loadshedding that is plaguing our province.

The DA will be using all the mechanisms in place at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature to force Premier Lesufi to adopt our proposal.

Our residents deserve a government that is committed to ensuring that the wheels of the economy in this province keep on turning. If this government is not able to then it is high time that a government is installed in 2024 that is committed to creating the correct conditions for economic growth to take place.

Gauteng still searching for money for e-Tolls while motorists suffer

The Premier of Gauteng, Panyaza Lesufi has confirmed that the current liability towards e-Tolls for Gauteng is R 12,9 billion but he has no answer on how the province will fund it.

The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) committed to paying the e-Toll debt and a further R2 billion for the maintenance of the highways over the next three years without knowing where the money will come from.

Lesufi also committed that the current budget allocations in Gauteng will not be affected and that additional funds will be raised to fund these additional commitments. His only proposal thus far is that a “hybrid model” will be developed to which residents will have to contribute.

Clearly, the plan is to replace e-Tolls with another form of tax on Gauteng residents so that the Gauteng government can cover its newly acquired liability towards the scrapping of the system. It is the only way additional revenue can be generated. This is not what the residents of Gauteng want.

It is also likely that the R12,9 billion liability will end up being much more than the current amount as the GPG wants to pay the liability off over the long term. This repayment plan will attract further interest and cause the liability to balloon. The R12,9 billion is already inordinately high.

The DA believes that an alternative solution should be sought to reduce the liability on both the provincial government and the residents of Gauteng. The province cannot afford any further pressures on it that could inhibit economic growth.

The DA proposes that the under-expenditure by government departments should be utilized to pay towards the e-Toll loans as a starting point. The very high taxes on fuel can also be used to contribute towards the repayment of loans. These are just two proposals that do not require any additional taxes.

The DA will continue keeping the GPG to account for its commitment to scrap e-Tolls and ensure that Gauteng residents are not burdened with any new taxes.

Gauteng’s adjustment budget indicates lost opportunities by the incompetent provincial government

Gauteng’s mid-year adjustment budget will tell the story of lost opportunities, lack of accountable leadership and lacklustre performance which has had a severe impact on service delivery in the province.

The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been worsened by reckless and irresponsible governance and our people remain at the losing end of the stick.

This budget comes after Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s promises of creating a provincial state bank, state pharmacy, advertising for 6000 job opportunities for crime prevention wardens, R650 million for reclaiming spaza shops in Gauteng townships as well as a state farm for nyoape addicts. The e-Toll bill that Gauteng residents must contribute to currently stands at R12,9 billion. Different revenue streams in the form of a “hybrid model” will have to be found to raise the necessary funds.

Tomorrow, the MEC for Finance, Jacob Mamabolo, will be delivering the adjustment budget for the province in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) for the 2022/23 financial year.

In the National Division of Revenue Amendment Bill 2022, the Gauteng province did not receive any additional funding through equitable share or conditional grants.

The slow spending on the department’s infrastructure budgets will not assist the current provincial government to grow Gauteng if the following departments continue to record poor performance:

• Health
• Social Development
• Human Settlements
• Roads and Transport
• GDARD – Also considering adjusting budget downwards with R2,5m
• SARC
• GDID

Infrastructure development is most important during the current economic crisis with the highest recorded youth unemployment figures in a long time. Infrastructure development provides a foundation for economic and social activity and is critical if sustainable growth is to be secured.

One of the biggest responsibilities of the Premier is to ensure the conditions are there for a growing job-creating economy. The fact that his departments are failing in their infrastructure spending which is critical to a growing economy is a major red light and is the flip side of his apparent generosity to townships.

This is not the budget of a senior politician who is looking to a growing economy for all residents of Gauteng but one of a politician desperately trying to shore up support in a particular group that was once a base but who is seeing through their incompetence and underperformance.

The DA proposes that instead of Premier Lesufi focusing on buying votes for the upcoming 2024 general elections, by making promises he will not be able to fund without taxing residents, even more, he along with MEC Mamabolo should focus on assisting departments in spending their budgets on time. This will ensure that for every rand spent there is value for money, and that residents on the ground receive the services this government has to date not been able to deliver to better their lives.

Proposed Sedibeng Metro is an attempt to cover up ANC failures

Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s plans to create a new Sedibeng Metro will not benefit all municipalities involved but rather it is an opportunistic move to cover up the cracks of the failed ANC-led governments.

The Premier recently announced his plans to merge Emfuleni, Midvaal, and Lesedi Municipalities into a new Sedibeng Metro.

“We can only solve the long-term problems of these municipalities here if we convert all these municipalities into a new metro of Sedibeng. I have assigned the task to the MEC to start that process again,” he said.

This plan will only bandage ANC cracks, taint the DA’s good government track record in Midvaal Local Municipality and not sustain development.

Unlike Emfuleni and Lesedi Municipalities, Midvaal Municipality has been a beacon of service delivery and maintained the best-performing municipality in Gauteng for years now under the DA-led leadership.

It is no secret how residents of Emfuleni and Lesedi Municipalities have long suffered from non-existent service delivery, maladministration, corruption, and bankruptcy because of the ANC government.

The Premier may have already activated the process to evaluate if the municipalities can be merged, but those plans will have to wait for another four years. This is as the deadline for submissions with the Municipal Demarcation Board closed in March 2022.

It is up to the Demarcation Board to decide on such a matter and not the Premier.

The DA is resolute on its decision not to support this stance, rather, we demand that Premier Lesufi take effective actions into rectifying the shortfalls of the ANC governments in the Emfuleni and Lesedi Municipalities.

The DA will continue to expose the bad governance within these two municipalities and put pressure on the administration to make more effort to serve their communities just like the DA does in the Midvaal Local Municipality.

Premier Lesufi must intervene to ensure that Westbury, Riverlea, and Dieploot SAPS are well-resourced to fight gun violence

The residents of Westbury, Riverlea and Diepsloot are living in fear for their lives due to ongoing gun violence, yet the police are not doing enough to protect them and fight crime due to severe shortages of resources.

In Westbury, pastors are now being targeted by gangsters because they are taking a stand to protect their community. In one of the churches, there are posters in front of the church gate allegedly from the gang members threatening to shoot the church leader.

See picture here

In the last three months, more than 40 people have been killed in rogue shooting incidents due to gangsterism in these areas.

The safety of all Gauteng residents is of utmost importance to the DA, hence we demand that the Gauteng Premier, Panyaza Lesufi, must urgently engage with the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to ensure that police stations servicing Westbury, Riverlea and Diepsloot are adequately equipped with resources to fight crime and ensure the safety of the residents.

The police stations in these three areas are facing a severe shortage of human resources, vehicles, and equipment.

It is concerning that despite several reports of the deadly gang shootings in these areas not much has been done to curb the senseless killing of innocent lives.

In a recent, Ministerial Briefing on police resources in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the DA requested an update on the letter we wrote to the Minister of Police regarding the daily gun violence and killings occurring in these three areas.

We have since only received a mere acknowledgement and there is no indication as to what resources will be allocated to address the challenges of the lack of resources in these communities. The response was: “The department will try to retrieve the letter and investigate the matter”. This comes more than a month later since the letter was sent.

It is also disappointing that Minister Cele has not yet visited these areas to engage with communities and police officers. This is a clear indication that the ongoing murders in these communities are not important to Minister Cele.

How many more lives need to be lost before Minister Cele prioritises Westbury, Riverlea and Diepsloot to ensure that there are adequate resources to fight crime?

The DA insists that Minister Cele, Premier Lesufi and Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Faith Mazibuko, must visit these communities to assess the situation and provide much-needed resources to fight daily murders and gangsterism.