DA Urges All In Gauteng to be part of Earth Hour

John Moodey MPL

DA Gauteng Provincial Leader

Tomorrow, Saturday 31 March 2012, Earth Hour will be observed across the globe in 135 countries and territories and thousands of cities and towns. The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng wholly supports this initiative which aims to create awareness around the current threats facing the environment.

The environment unites us as human beings in ways that few other things do. We are all reliant on it for our food, water and well-being, and we will collectively suffer the effects of irreversible changes to this system. As such, it is essential that we all rally in support of this cause and that each individual realises that they have the power to make a difference.

The DA in Gauteng encourages all residents of this province to switch-off their lights, geysers, pool pumps and electrical appliances at 20h30 tomorrow night in support of this campaign. Take this time to consider your contributions to environmental sustainability and the possibility of changing even one thing to lessen your carbon footprint on the earth.

There are numerous ways, both at home and at work, that we can reduce our impact on the environment:

* Recycle

* Turn off all appliances and unused plug points

* Set your geyser on a timer so that it does not stay on all day

* Switch off all unnecessary lights

* Turn-off unused computers at the plug

* Only water your garden in the evenings to reduce evaporation

* Drive smoothly and regularly check your tyre pressure to avoid wasting fuel

Let’s use this hour as a reminder of what we stand to lose if we simply do nothing. The earth is our most precious resource, so turn off those lights and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

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NATIONAL HEALTH DEPARTMENT WOULD BE WISE TO HEED SAMA WARNING

Mark Steele MPP

DA Member of the KZN Legislature Health portfolio committee

THE SA Medical Association (Sama) has sounded a warning which the national health department would be wise to heed before making any further commitments to the National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme. Private doctors and especially GPs will require reasonable compensation for their services if they are to make a portion of their time available to public sector patients. The vast majority of doctors are committed to health care for all, but they will not give their services away without serious negotiations over the fees to be charged.

This is just one of the reasons why NHI must be critically examined. The way it is currently being promoted sounds more and more like the way OBE was originally sold to parents and teachers – an ideologically driven salvation for all things, complete with its own vocabulary and assumptions about the way society can simply be molded and controlled.

Before NHI can work it must address the real problems of public health, which were brutally exposed this week during a site inspection by the KwaZulu-Natal health portfolio committee to the brand new primary health care facility in KwaMashu. This is not some apartheid era institution, underfunded and dilapidated. This is a spanking new community hospital – but with an outpatients department half the size it should be and with totally inadequate ventilation. Patients sit in the heat breathing in each other’s ailments – no wonder they cried out when we arrived to the MPLs they recognized to help them!

The committee were unanimous in condemning the dreadful lack of planning and poor management evident at the facility – and yet that is precisely the problem NHI is not facing up to – the need to make public health workers and managers accountable for their services to the public. Without accountability nothing will change in public health care for those who do not have the means to exercise a choice of which provider they consult over their personal health problems.

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FDC should focus on its core function

Peter Frewen MPL

DA Free State Spokesperson for Finance

Note: The following members statement was delivered during the a sitting of Free State Legislature

The Free State Development Corporation has over the years only managed to build up a loan book of some R310 million. This is extremely disappointing to say the least. The FDC should by now have built up a veritable empire of small to medium enterprises creating employment for thousands of people, but sadly that has not happened.

What is not acceptable is that the FDC only manages to collect between 30 and 35% of interest and capital redemption on its loan account. We accept that the FDC operates in a high risk environment but to have such a low collection rate is totally unacceptable – this points to poor management.

On the other hand, it came as a shock but no surprise when a Board member of FDC said that political intervention often interfered with decisions made by the Board.

It was also a surprise to hear that the FDC is the implementing agent for the building of four clinics for the department of Health. This is the work of the Department of Public Works and who ever gave the go ahead for this to be done surely has no faith in the department of Public Works.

Political interference in decisions made by the Board of the FDC is not acceptable and the FDC should focus on its core function – creating small to medium enterprises.

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DA requests measures to improve medical waste removal at Free State clinics

Basil Alexander MPL

DA Free State Spokesperson for Health

It has come to the attention of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Free State that certain clinics in the Free State are experiencing problems relating to the storage and removal of medical refuse. Subsequently, the DA wrote to the MEC for Health, Me. Fezi Ngumbentombi to urgently implement measures to improve medical waste removal.

Currently, the following clinics are affected by poor medical waste measures:

* the Itumeleng Clinic,

* the Bronnville Clinic,

* the Jazzman Legotha Clinic, as well as

* the Dinani/Thaba Nchu Clinic.

The ability of any clinic to manage medical refuse is an important feature of our health care services. Such services should be provided in a safe environment.

It is important that both medical personnel and patients feel safe in Free State clinics.

Medical waste removal in Welkom had previously been a source of concern and an overall embarrassment for the Free State health care services. Whilst the aforementioned medical waste debacle is coming to a close, the DA is concerned that a similar situation might occur at other facilities.

Thus, the DA requested the MEC for Health to urgently consider the matter and expedite viable measures in order to ensure that the abovementioned clinics can function in safe environments and a similar situation that was experienced in Welkom be prevented.

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Free State Premier’s Budget Grows Exorbitantly

SPEECH DELIVERED BY ROY JANKIELSOHN MPL

DA LEADER FREE STATE LEGISLATURE

We note with concern that the budget of the Office of the Premier has grown again, percentage wise, even higher that the crucial department responsible for roads. The question is how the premier plans to use this extra money. We know that his office has become a safe employment haven for many cadres and ex-politicians. When the premier talks about jobs, these are the people he is referring to.

The premier stated during his state of the province address that our provincial economy is set to grow by 2,7% in the next financial year. This is a very low growth rate, even if it is in line with the national projections. The rest of Africa is growing at 5,5% and parts of the world that are facing an economic recession at 3,3%. In this respect we are only just managing to survive and no meaningful long term employment opportunities can be expected to develop out of this.

Speaker, our youth are suffering the most. The Free Market Foundation recently indicated that nationwide 52% of our population are below 25 years of age and that 62% of people between the ages of 16 and 24 are unemployed. With two universities and a variety of colleges in the Free State, we should have a wealth of skills to grow our economy.

Sadly Honourable Speaker, without opportunities, skills are meaningless.

In this respect Robert Wasserman recently wrote the following: “Less productive and over-priced workers in employment are increasingly being protected at the glaring expense of enthusiastic, often skilled, but always currently unemployed, potential workers. The unemployed have no lobby to represent them and their views, wishes and dreams are swept away by the loud, insistent and over-bearing voices of those enjoying the protection afforded them by current employment and union representation.”

The Free State has resources, the Free State has skills, and the Free State has location. As the central South African Province we have everything required to be a success. We lack one key requirement, namely a government that is willing to use the human potential of the province to create the infrastructure and levels of municipal service delivery that can create an environment that is conducive for the investment that is required to provide opportunities for all our people.

Currently, the DA government in the Western Cape is the best example of such a government in South Africa, and this government has vision of becoming the best run province in the world.

The Democratic Alliance also has a vision for prosperous Free State Province. A Free State in which every person has an opportunity to reach his or her potential, depending on their own personal efforts to do so. Such a Free State requires a nurturing environment, an environment which levels the playing field of opportunities, an environment that encourages and sustains investment.

Speaker, this is not beyond the potential of the province. The DA’s vision of an open opportunity society for all encapsulates this.

What do we mean by this?

An open society is one in which every person’s rights and freedoms are enshrined and protected by the constitution. A government in such a society is open, transparent and accountable to the people. The government must assist in creating an opportunity based environment and not become the only opportunities.

An opportunity society is one in which every individual is afforded the opportunity to take advantage of their rights and freedoms in order to determine their own destiny. In an opportunity society your prospects are not determined by demographics or the circumstances of your birth, but by your talent and effort brought to bear on the opportunities you are afforded.

A society for all is one in which everyone is equal before the law, no person suffers unfair discrimination, and everyone is given an opportunity to meet their potential.

Speaker, we should not have to reiterate that Apartheid was wrong and caused a great deal of suffering to the majority of our people, but I say this again for the sake of those whose purpose is to spread lies about the DA.

In this respect reconciliation should motivate our relationships with each other, and redress should determine our actions. It is in all South Africans’ interests that this happens.

The only way to ensure redress and deal with the historic inequalities in our society is by ensuring that the playing field is level and that hard work, merit and excellence are key factors in the rules of the game. This implies a uniform high quality of education for all our young people. Those who want to excel should not be held back by the social or economic factors of their birth. The 6000 bursaries handed out to our young people will assist with this, we must however ensure that this process is transparent and free of political agendas.

In closing allow me to thank all our colleagues and supporters on the ground, who openly support the opposition. We thank you for your bravery and dedication amid a total onslaught by the governing party.

A democracy is as strong as its opposition. We who are in opposition have a duty to provide a political alternative for our people, for the sake of all our children and grandchildren. We will continue to do this no matter how much intimidation, discrimination, threats, verbal abuse, and other forms of suffering we are forced to endure at the hands of a brutal ANC simply because of our belief in democracy and a better future for all.

Remember that in a democracy you get the government that you vote for, and you deserve the government that you vote for.

Thank you

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DA WELCOMES THE NEW R30 MILLION CENTRE AT THE RED CROSS CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

Anroux Marais MPP

DA Western Cape spokesperson for Health and Member of Western Cape Provincial Parliament

As the spokesperson for the DA in the Western Cape on Health, I welcome the new R30 million Centre for Childhood Infectious Disease to be built at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital. There is much need for a centre of this calibre. Even though South Africa has many hospitals with specialised infectious disease centres, not one of them are dedicated to children.

This centre will boast an outpatient clinic for infectious diseases, a research and training unit, where both paediatricians and other health workers from other community clinics can be trained in infectious disease treatment. The centre will also increase wellness in the Western Cape as well as the country as a whole. It will not only centralise services but also perpetuate that we are “Better Together” by co-ordinating the activities of the infectious disease unit and the research and training unit.

The prospect of this facility brings along with it a sense of relief, excitement and gratitude as our children will be provided with life altering treatment for diseases which have reduced wellness in our communities for far too long. If one considers the statistics, in 2009/10 there were 95 cases of diarrhoea per 1 000 children under the age of 5, which is one of the leading causes of infant mortality. Approximately 20% of children’s deaths in the country are due to pneumonia.

Even with this high numbers of deaths due to infectious diseases, it is alarming that there are parents who are still against vaccinations, especially since infections cannot be controlled without vaccines. Children can be vaccinated against Polio, measles, hepatitis B, Pertussis (whooping cough), Tetanus (lock jaw) and most importantly in the South African context, Tuberculosis (TB) Meningitis.

The DA encourages all parents to vaccinate their children as it will not only save their lives but save up to R500 000 in infectious disease treatment costs.

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RESIGNATION OF MAKHOSI KHOZA A BLOW FOR KWAZULU-NATAL

SIZWE MCHUNU, MPP

LEADER OF THE DA IN THE KZN LEGISLATURE/DA KZN PROVINCIAL LEADER

THE resignation of Makhosi Khoza, former KwaZulu-Natal Scopa Chair and current ANC Chief Whip in the provincial legislature, is a blow to the province.

As a rising star within the ANC, Ms Khoza proved an outstanding SCOPA chairperson, who made a very definite contribution towards strict oversight controls within the province. Despite her positive impact, she was removed from this. The DA views the move as politically motivated and regards the redeployment of Ms Khoza to ANC Chief Whip in the Legislature – a role far removed from the public eye – as a deliberate attempt to place her in a media backwater. Ms Khoza’s personal ambitions were further thwarted when she was forced to withdraw her application for the position of Ethwekwini Municipal Manager following death threats.

The DA believes that Ms Khoza has been used as political pawn by the province’s leadership. It is intolerable that a politician of this calibre should be lost to KwaZulu-Natal.

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AG’s report falls on deaf ears

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Leader

The Democratic Alliance is sorry to say that the Auditor General’s report on the audit outcomes of local government for the financial year ended 30 June 2011, as presented at the Kimberley Tabernacle today, was a complete waste of time. Not because the report was lacking but rather because the recommendations made herein have once again fallen on deaf ears.

It is frustrating to see that year in and year out, the very same issues pertaining to financial mismanagement come up and that instead of things improving they are in fact getting worse. This can be seen in the fact that while 53% of local governments in the Northern Cape received disclaimers in the 2009-10 financial year, in the 2010-2011 financial year a total of 25% have already received disclaimers whilst as many as 34% have still not been finalized due to municipalities submitting their documentation late, or not at all. This said, it is very likely that the outstanding 34% will also receive disclaimers, and if added to the 25%, it gives us a total of 59% of disclaimers.

It is incomprehensible that in this day and age, Supply Chain Processes are still flouted. This can be seen in that uncompetitive or unfair procurement processes increased from 72% to 90%, whilst significant deficiencies in internal control over SCM processes increased from 82% to 90%. With these figures in mind, no one in their right mind would believe that the Northern Caps is striving to achieve its Operation Clean Audit by 2014!

On top of this, the use of consultants used due to lack of necessary technical expertise increased from 78% to 82%. It is no secret that the reason for this is the ANC’s debilitating policy of cadre employment. Instead of attracting skills, they deploy and redeploy card carrying members of the ANC. Local government is nothing more than a political playing field of which we will never see the fruits of service delivery until such time as it becomes professionalized.

The DA challenges the acting Premier and her team of MEC’s, who were all present at the AG’s presentation and whose inefficiency’s were indirectly highlighted as a result of the embarrassing presentation, to take cognizance of the AG’s recommendations. Otherwise, they must simply stop pretending to care about service delivery, admit to the public that they are addicted to power, luxuries and jobs for pals, and tell the AG that they no longer need his assistance, so that he can stop wasting his time preparing well researched reports, which ultimately come to nothing thanks to a dire lack of political will.

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CHILD CARE CENTRE OPERATING ILLEGALLY

Hendrika Kruger, DA MPL

DA Gauteng Social Development spokesperson

The Love in Action care centre in Mabopane, north of Pretoria, is still operating even though an investigation by the Gauteng Health and Social Development department found the facility unfit to care for children.

A report by the Department was done in February this year after I notified the Department of the terrible conditions in which children live. (The report is available from the media office. See details below.)

The investigation found that the center is not conducive for the upbringing of children as they have to share the premises with domestic animals and livestock. Furthermore the report stipulates that the center is not safe for children as they have to share accommodation with adults, many of whom are prisoners out on parole.

The Department’s plan of action was to secure alternative accommodation for the children and to receive an order by the children’s court ensuring the children be removed by the 8th of March this year. However, this has not happened and nothing has been done to change the circumstances.

The Love in Action facility is a registered Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) but not registered as a service provider with the Gauteng Health and Social Development department, which is a legal requirement. What is most worrying is that the Department states in the report that it has known of these serious concerns since 2008.

I yet again call on the Gauteng Social Development department to immediately arrange alternative accommodation for the children and ensure that no other children are sent there to be cared for.

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AIDS PROGRESS IN GAUTENG BUT DON’T BE COMPLACENT

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

I am pleased that figures released today at the Gauteng AIDS Summit show progress in combating this epidemic, but we should not be complacent.

While HIV infection in teenagers and youth (15-24 years) has reportedly been halved from 2007 to 2011, about 30% of pregnant women in Gauteng are HIV-positive, which is the same as it was ten years ago.

More than 500 000 people are on anti-retroviral treatment, which I believe is the major factor in reducing infections rather than behaviour change. This is because HIV-positive people on ARVs are less infectious.

The Democratic Alliance endorses the goal of reducing new HIV infections by at least 50% by 2016.

Treatment is expensive, so behavioural change is critical, and this starts by testing and knowing one’s status.

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