What is the Future of Sizwe TB Hospital?

Today is World TB day on which we should reflect on what should be done to combat this scourge in our country, where 15 000 cases of drug-resistant TB are diagnosed each year but only about half are treated.

While Gauteng has achieved a commendable TB cure rate of over 80%, there is a big question surrounding the future of the Sizwe Tropical Diseases Hospital in Sandringham, Johannesburg which is the only specialized TB hospital in Gauteng  for treating drug-resistant TB cases.

According to a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature, only 150 out of 266 beds are currently used at this hospital.

According to the MEC: “The number of admissions dropped due to the national decentralization policy where Multi-Drug Resistant TB (MDR-TB) patients can now be initiated on treatment at decentralized sites near their homes”.

The hospital is short of 8 Professional Nurses, 4 Staff Nurses and 10 Assistant Nurses.

The MEC says that there are no plans to close this hospital in view of the extensive Rietfontein housing and commercial development nearby.

But residents have been told by the Rietfontein developers at one meeting that the Sizwe hospital will be closed.

The Sizwe Hospital is a national monument and has an important role to play in combating TB in Gauteng, as well as treating MDR-TB cases from neighbouring provinces.

The Gauteng a Health Department needs to assure us about the future of this hospital in treating specialised TB cases.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

Gauteng Premier Vague on Corruption Investigations

Janet Semple DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development
Janet Semple, MPL DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development

The “People’s Premier” David Makhura – who initially commenced his term of office by making all the right noises on corruption, has finally started to show his true colours.

Despite promising the people of Gauteng that the cornerstones of his administration would be transparency and openness, the Premier has retreated to the tried and tested mantle for which the ANC is notorious – obfuscation and half-truths.

In his responses to questions on corruption investigations since he took office in June 2014, the premier undertook to respond in writing and in full.

However, the written response was kept deliberately vague, only stating that 43 investigations have been initiated, and that 17 had been concluded.

As for details over the 17 concluded investigations, Premier Makhura resorted to using broad ambiguous strokes in an attempt to pacify the opposition.

No mention is made of action taken following the outcome of investigations – only, that “relevant departments would implement recommendations”.

No mention is made of which departments were affected and what recommendations were made.

Click here to view the response.

It is quite clear that the premier’s response was crafted in such a manner so as not to transgress any of the Legislature’s Rules of Order, while at the same time protecting his government from closer scrutiny.

To this end the DA will submit follow-up questions to his office demanding the full particulars of each investigation, including departments concerned, investigation reports as well as their recommendations. We will also ask the premier to provide us with full details as to whether affected departments have implemented those recommendations, and if not, why not.

The DA will continue to hold Premier Makhura and his government to account until each and every corrupt official has been brought to book.


Media enquiries
Janet Semple MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development
082 462 8239

[Image source]

Two Year Delay in Re-opening Theatres at Pretoria West Hospital

Jack Bloom DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
Jack Bloom DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

The re-opening of operating theatres at the Pretoria West Hospital has been delayed by more than two years because of a slow air-conditioning contractor.

This is revealed in a written reply by Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

The refurbishment started on 12 October 2012 and was supposed to be completed on 1 February 2013.

Late Installation

But according to Mayathula-Khoza, Cool Breeze Air-conditioning and Refrigeration started the installation late and a strained relationship between them and a sub-contractor also contributed to the delay.

The handover of the project will be later this month, but the theatres won’t be operational for several more months as testing and deep cleaning needs to be done.

Warning letters were sent to the contractor on 28 October 2014 and 24 November 2014. They are currently placed on terms and incurring penalties of R2846 per day.

R4.5 million has so far been spent on this project, and it is expected that another R1.132 million will be spent to complete it.

It is outrageous that a 5 month project has taken more than two and a half years, during which time no surgery could be performed at the hospital and patients had to be transferred elsewhere for operations.

Infrastructure Development Department needs a shake-up

It is yet another example of the department’s abysmal incompetence that includes a poor choice of contractor and a lack of project management to avoid delays.

For instance, why was the first warning letter only sent in October 2014 when the project was supposed to be finished 20 months earlier?

Meanwhile, patients have suffered because surgery could not be done at the hospital.

The Infrastructure Development Department needs a management shake-up to ensure that hospital projects are completed expeditiously.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

1789 Patients Wait for Cataract Ops at Bara Hospital

1789 patients wait for up to 18 months for a cataract operation at the St John’s Eye Clinic at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

This was disclosed yesterday by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in a reply to my questions at a sitting of the Gauteng Legislature.

The long waiting list has been worsened by 526 cataract operations that were cancelled or deferred last year.

According to Mahlangu, the cancellations were mostly due to patient factors such as ill-health or lack of consent, but I have heard many stories of cancellations due to equipment failure and staff shortage.

For instance, on 20 January this year, patients with scheduled operations were told to go home because machinery was not working.

It was also reported last year that there were 19 vacancies out of 40 positions.

The St John’s Eye Clinic has the longest waiting time for cataracts in Gauteng.

This is inhumane and an abuse of the elderly which should not be allowed to continue.

We need special measures to improve the situation there as soon as possible, such as the extension of operating hours over weekends, and a partnership with the private health sector.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222

[Image source]

Still No Answer Why Gauteng Health Head Left

I am disappointed that six months after the departure of Gauteng Health Department Head, Dr Hugh Gosnell in September last year, we still do not have a clear answer why he left.

In reply to my questions in the House this morning, Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu said that there was a “frank discussion” and that they “separated amicably with no bad blood”.

Dr Gosnell left after only one year in office, which is very unusual, especially after the praise heaped on him when he was appointed.

I am also concerned that it took so long to advertise for a new head of department, which only took place in the press this past weekend.

This department desperately needs a permanent head with the expertise to decisively fix up the many problems which lead to poor service in Gauteng hospitals and clinics.

According to Mahlangu, Gosnell was paid R69 000 for outstanding leave, and the rest according to contractual obligation, which I estimate at more than R2 million for the remainder of his 3-year contract.

I hope that the new head is appointed as soon as possible and is able to restore confidence in the running of this department.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222


DA to Push Referendum on E-tolls to Premier Makura at First Question Day

Today, DA members of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature will pose oral questions to Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Members of the Executive Council (MECs).

DA Provincial Leader John Moodey will push the issue of a referendum on e-tolls to the Premier, while Shadow MEC for Economic Development Janet Semple’s questions will focus on the Premier’s commitment to combatting corruption in the Gauteng Provincial Government.

Questions to the MECs will include the state of police stations in Daveyton, housing developments in Naledi and Soweto, Kempton Park hospital, the Mohlakeng Hub on the West Rand, the proposed West Rand Metro, the 271 SAPS members operating in the province despite their criminal convictions, the failure of the province to implement a Drug Master Plan, excesses of the Gauteng Sports Awards, and the looming threat of Acid Mine Drainage.

Click here to view the DA questions


Date: 17 March 2015
Time: 10h00
Venue: Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Johannesburg.
Members of the media are welcome to attend
Media enquiries:
Willie Venter
DA Gauteng Director: Communications and Research
060 963 8260


[Image source]

Department Leaves Gauteng’s Top School Athletes High and Dry

Young Gauteng athletes have been left in the starting blocks by the Gauteng Department of Sports, Recreation, Arts and Culture (SRAC) as funding for their participation at the South African Schools Championships, to be held in Rustenburg, was not secured.PaulWillemburg

A concerned parent contacted me, indicating that a letter was received from the Gauteng Department of Education informing him that his son had qualified for the Gauteng team, but that attending this event would be at his own expense.

Funding for this event, which is received from the national sports Department and allocated to Gauteng, has been withheld – because the national department overshot its budget in December 2014.

These funds, which have been given to the team every year, are to cover costs of accommodation, transportation, meals and equipment. Without it, a vast majority of the 250-member team will be denied the opportunity to excel on a national platform.

This is once again another example of how government hinders the development of sports stars – particularly from the youth of disadvantaged communities.

Just last week, passionate members of the sporting community in the province made their grievances known during a stakeholder engagement at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, with complaints of inferior equipment, a lack of funding and dilapidated facilities regular points of contention.

Tomorrow, members of the Gauteng Schools Championship squad will receive letters of accomplishment for advancing to the SA Schools Championships at an awards ceremony hosted at Laerskool Kruinsig, in Kempton Park.

However, without funding, that is as far as they would go.

This event will be Gauteng Sports MEC, Molebatsi Bopape’s moment to shine if she can provide funding for these deserving athletes to compete with the best in the country.

However, failure to do so will show how this administration is not serious about growing sporting codes in the province, nor does it take its athletes and passionate sporting instructors seriously.

Media Enquiries:
Paul Willemburg MPL
DA Shadow MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation
082 450 0815

[Image source]

R138 million Fees Owed to Closed Gauteng Private Wards

R138 million in patient fees is owed to the Gauteng Health Department from the Folateng private wards that have now been closed.Bloom-Jack1-240x300

This is disclosed in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mahlangu, private medical aids owe R106 million of the total amount owing for patient fees.

After operating for more than 10 years, the Folateng wards at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, Helen Joseph and Sebokeng hospitals have been integrated into the main hospital for the use of public patients.

These wards were supposed to make money from private patients in order to subsidise public patients, but have lost R77 million in the last three years, mainly because of poor administration.

They were closed after instructions by National Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

The Folateng fiasco has been an expensive mistake. My estimate is that they lost more than R500 million in total since inception, including the cost of expensive building alterations.

The high level of non-collection from private medical aids shows the general incompetence in running Folateng.

I am pleased that these wards have been closed, but the outstanding money must be collected as soon as possible.


Media enquiries:

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health

082 333 4222


Proposed ANC ‘dompas’ for Gauteng Farmworkers a no-no

I am horrified at Gauteng Community Safety MEC, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane’s letter in The Star on Friday which set out an unacceptable recommendation to deal with rural safety issues in Gauteng.

I have no problem with the majority of the recommendations made, however one of the recommendations which, according to the MEC, will be implemented in the next two months is that “Farmworkers must be legal and documented and have profile cards which are verified at local stations.”

Profile cards are, in effect, a re-introduction of the dompas system.  It cannot be allowed to happen and is not an effective way to fight crime.

Profile cards are an infringement of people’s constitutional right to dignity, freedom of movement and the right to equality.

Madame MEC, you should be ashamed to support this recommendation as you clearly do in your letter to the media.

It should be withdrawn in its entirety and roundly condemned.

Media enquiries:
Kate Lorimer MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Community Safety
083 642 2727

[Image source]

Bekkersdal, Merafong: DA Lodges PAIA Application for Forensic Reports

The DA in Gauteng has submitted an application in terms of the Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) requesting the forensic investigation reports into financial irregularities at the Westonaria and Merafong municipalities.

The application comes as a result of the Department of Cooperative Governance’s refusal to divulge the findings of a report by the Auditor-General into corruption in Westonaria, which prompted widespread protests in Bekkersdal – as well as an independent forensic investigation into financial irregularities in Merafong.

In 2014, the Auditor General launched a probe into corruption allegations against officials of the Westonaria municipality and Bekkersdal Urban renewal project after widespread protests.

To date, the contents of this report are not known.

A similar situation has been playing out in Merafong, where a Phandahanu Forensics and Rebahale Consultants forensic investigation report into financial irregularities in the municipality is being deliberately withheld by Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Jacob Mamabolo for “confidentiality” reasons.

Another forensic report conducted last year looked into the alleged issuing of 21 tenders that were awarded without proper procurement policies.

Gauteng’s municipalities are in deep crisis, and the ANC-led government must live up to its promises of fighting corruption, make known the contents of forensic reports into corrupt activities.

By covering up reports, it exposes its own hypocrisy in the fight against corruption, and its blatant disregard for transparent governance will only further anger residents and communities who demand answers.

Misuse of municipal funds is unacceptable and responsible officials must be brought to book.

The DA will continue to expose corruption and maladministration until the ANC stops protecting its cronies.


Media Enquiries:

Fred Nel MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Cooperative Governance

083 263 2427

[Image source]