The Wednesday Report has been despatched to all members, look out for it in your inboxes!!
Fred Nel MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Local Government
Alternative budget speech delivered in the Gauteng Legislature on the Vote for Local Government and Housing – Local Government Component
The local government component of the Gauteng budget is the smallest budget in the 2012/ 13 Gauteng budget at 0,27% of the total Gauteng provincial budget. Worse even is the fact that it too has had to undergo a cut in favour of health.
It is therefore crucial that the local government function of the department executes its core business as effectively as possible. Prioritisation therefore becomes critical.
In the next financial year the department, with regards to local government will focus on four priorities to execute its mandate within its limited resources.
Local government support is a crucial focal point of the department’s core business. Within this lies most of the priorities for the department in the coming financial year.
Firstly, support to municipalities to improve their financial systems will be intensified. To this end the following programmes will be funded.
* Support to improve skills to manage municipal finances will be funded and together with our partners in this programme we will closely monitor the impact of this programme. We will also build in incentives for municipalities that improve performance in their financial management.
* Linked to this will be improving collection rates by municipalities and targeting debtors in arrears will become a specific focal point. In this regards a partnership with SARS will be explored to link municipal arrears with income tax collection.
* As part of our objective to achieve clean audits for each municipality in the province the department will pilot projects in selected municipalities to implement strategies to deal with corruption, mismanagement and wastage. Prevention is better than cure and to this end we would like to pilot independent audit units to oversee procurement. Personnel in these units should report to a central point and not to the departments where they are allocated. They will also be rotated on a regular basis so that they do not become too familiar with a department. Their role will be to ensure that all proposals and tenders comply with the specifications required by a municipality and after a contract has been completed they will inspect the deliverable to ensure it complies with the specifications of the procurement request.
* Linked to this the department envisages compiling a procurement blacklist to ensure that companies that do not honour their obligations within one municipality does the same in another municipality. The list will be accessible to municipalities and the public as part of an early warning system against dubious companies.
* Furthermore, Municipal Public Accounts Committees will be empowered to function more effectively and their reports will also be required by the MEC in terms of Section 105 of the Municipal Systems Act in order to monitor their effectiveness. Through an intergovernmental framework an operational framework for MPAC’s will be drafted jointly for adoption by municipalities in the provinces.
* It is also important that the Gauteng Legislature executes its oversight mandate in terms of Section 132 of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA).
* Municipalities will be assisted to structure their budgets for optimal utilisation of the money available to them. Budgets should spend less on operational costs, especially personnel costs, and more must be spent on infrastructure construction and maintenance as well as developmental costs. This will be done in a way that will prevent a drop in service delivery.
* Linked to this will be the formulation of a human resource plan for each municipality to prevent an expensive top heavy structure and to promote a pyramid like structure for each municipality by placing personnel where it really matters. Although municipalities compete for skilled staff in certain industries a brake has to be placed on exorbitant salaries for top officials. In an urban province like Gauteng there is sufficient workforce competition to keep salaries in check, provided that skilled workers, within the requirements of BEE, are appointed instead of political appointments.
* In order to arrest a growth in municipal debtors, municipalities will be encouraged to contain rates, services and tariff increases for residents in future budgets. The current economic climate is not conducive for high rate hikes and poses a risk to municipal financial sustainability especially since stagnant employment rates limits the tax bases of municipalities in the province.
* Having said this we are very much aware of the fact that financial sustainability of municipalities need serious attention. To this end it is important to stimulate economic growth within the province and attract investment and promote employment in order to grow the tax bases of local government. If municipalities in the province do not improve their competitiveness they will fail to attract investment to our province. If they fail to attract investment there is very little prospect for economic growth. Economic growth starts with municipalities and as long as their infrastructure deteriorates and they overburden a small tax base they will remain unattractive to potential investors, despite the reputation of the province as Africa’s economic powerhouse. This reputation will be retained or lost within the municipalities in our province. Close cooperation with the Department of Economic Development will be crucial in achieving this goal.
Speaker we have seen during the recent e-toll saga that communities in Gauteng will no longer accept deficient public participation processes and want their voices to be heard. We have seen that public participation processes have become public information sessions and that residents’ views are hardly ever taken into consideration in municipal processes in the province.
This is evident from the fact that draft municipal budgets and IDP’s hardly ever change after public participation processes. Municipalities do not even include public participation reports in their budget or IDP agenda items when they serve before a council.
The second focal point thus for the department would be to improve public participation processes in the province by introducing the following initiatives.
* In future the MEC shall in terms of Section 105 of the Municipal Systems Act and Section 23 of the MFMA require municipal IDP’s and budgets to be submitted to him and to include a report on the inputs from communities during the public participation process.
* The department will be formulating provincial legislation setting minimum standards for public participation in the province in order to protect our communities’ rights during these processes.
* The ward committee process will be improved in conjunction with municipalities the province through the implementation of a new oversight model. This model would require reports to go from the mayoral committee to ward committees first before serving before portfolio committees. Membership of ward committees responsible for a portfolio will also be expected delivery to report back at the following ward committee meeting what a council’s decisions were with regards specific items.
* In order to keep ward committees community driven and to prevent political patronage the province will set a maximum level of R300 stipendiary meeting for ward committee members. The province will furthermore legislate for a ward committee operational framework to ensure that ward committees can exercise their rights, stay within their mandates, are elected democratically and are elected from communities served by a ward.
* Finally, as an incentive to stimulate ward committees the province will match the budget allocated to each ward committee by a municipality for ward projects to a certain level.
Speaker, the third priority for the department is to play an active role in coordinating spatial planning in the province. Through intergovernmental processes the department will assist municipalities to among each other and in conjunction with the various provincial government departments agree on, and conduct proper land-use and transport master planning.
Our province is plagued by urban sprawl which can no longer be allowed to continue unabated. It is therefore important to promote densification strategies all over the province to contain the need for new infrastructure and to rather invest in upgrading infrastructure capacity within high density areas. Densification will become more important in the long run as urbanisation continues in order to accommodate those seeking opportunities in our province.
The further inclusion of areas outside the province, like Balfour, can therefore not be accommodated by Gauteng. If the province’s borders are not set firmly all surrounding small municipalities around the province will be vying for inclusion into Gauteng. What these smaller municipalities does not realise is that their inclusion into Gauteng will most probably cause them to pay much higher rates and taxes than what they are currently used to. This will promote impoverishment of those communities and would become a liability for the Gauteng province.
Linked to this it is important to review the current system of local government in the province. Although it has been the policy of this government before to cover the whole of Gauteng in Metros this does not seem to be feasible for a variety of reasons. However the current two tier system is also not conducive to effective local government. To this end the department will lobby the National Department for Cooperative Governance and Traditional affairs to amend the municipal structures act to add a provision for the establishment of unitary secondary cities in the province without them having to be classified as metros and without the requirement of district municipalities.
Lastly speaker I would be remiss if I did not address the issue of Community Development Workers. This programme costs us 55% of the budget allocated to local government in the province. This makes it the most expensive item within the cooperative governance budget while it does not perform a purely local government function. There is conflict between CDW’s and councillors and ward committees and we have struggled to define their roles.
To this end it is important to explore cooperation with other departments like health, social development and the national home affairs department to see if CDW’s cannot be retrained to serve in mobile and static one-stop service centres where they can assist residents with all the issues they currently have to deal with. Costs can be shared by all these departments which would not just promote a unique service delivery model in South Africa but would also make their existence much more affordable.
Speaker, the MEC may at this point wonder why the bulk of what I have said is not in his budget speech or documents. The truth is that most of it he would not find in the budget being debated today. What I have just delivered is the budget this house would have heard if the DA was in power in Gauteng.
I thank you.
DA Leader in the Free State
The Free State roads network is an embarrassment for the province. Not only are most provincial roads dangerous to drive on, but the department responsible for the management of these roads does not appear to showing improvement. Contractors are not paid; work has stopped on some roads causing job losses, and the Roadsgate Scandal is still under wraps.
The apologies received yesterday from the MEC for Roads, Mr Komphela and his Head of Department, Mr Msibi, indicating that they were unable to attend a meeting of the Portfolio Committee Police, Roads and Transport due to an Executive Committee meeting is further proof of growing problems in the legislature. The inability of the legislature to liaise with the executive over a simple aspect such as programming is further proof of this.
It is crucial that the legislature is able to obtain information from the political and administrative heads of department in order to carry out oversight and hold the executive constitutionally accountable. While the province’s roads are in a shocking condition, and there are serious questions over the allocation of an alleged R1,9 billion worth of tenders, the Portfolio Committee is unable to get answers. The only information that the committee was able to get was that an investigation has taken place and two senior individuals in the department resigned while one was dismissed. Further questions on these issues or on the status of the province’s roads were not answered due to the lack of information available to the individuals responsible for reporting to the commttee.
Both the legislature and the executive of the Free State appear to be in a state of limbo while the ANC is attempting to deal with factionalism and a leadership race. This is also affecting the functioning of the legislature and its ability to hold departments to account. It appears that only the MEC for Agriculture, Mr Zwane, attended to his commitments to the legislature this week.
The DA has submitted questions through the legislature to the MEC for Police, Roads and Transport in order to try and get some answers from him (see attached questions).
DA Leader in the Free State
After numerous complaints from contractors involved with roads construction in the Free State, I have written to the President, Mr Jacob Zuma, requesting his intervention (see attached letter).
Some contractors have been carrying the provincial government financially for up to two years and are now facing bankruptcy as a result of this. Furthermore, many job losses are being experienced in the construction sector within the Free State due to government’s non-payment of contractors. The inability of provincial government to pay contactors may be due to the alleged corruption regarding allocation of tenders within the department.
The placing of the Free State Department of Police, Roads and Transport under administration, as well as the constant references of over-payment to some contractors per kilometre per road, cannot indefinitely be used as an excuse by the department or the provincial government not to meet their financial commitments.
If the whole fiasco is due to irregularities and corruption in the department, then this proves the point that corruption leads to massive job losses and makes poor people poorer.
I have requested The President to intervene in this matter and attempt to ensure that the provincial government meets its commitments in order to prevent further job losses and other economic damage to the province.
DA Free State Spokesperson for Cooperative Governance, Traditional Affairs and Human Settlements
Steering Committee: Why is Mangaung’s debt growing?
The Democratic Alliance takes note of the presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs by the National Steering Committee responsible for assisting municipalities to reduce their debt. It was announced that debt owed to Mangaung Metro Municipality had increased by 95% between September 2011 and December 2011.
In the presentation by the Steering Committee in parliament on 22 May 2012, it was announced that debt owed to Mangaung increased with R 68.983 Million. The results of Free State Municipalities’ debt (September and December 2011 Debt Comparison per municipality) were:
|Municipality||As at 30 September 2011||As at 31 December 2011||Increase||Increase in %|
An important result of the report by the Steering Committee was that persistent debt was attributable to, amongst others :
• the high rate of management turnover in municipalitie,s
• insufficient reconciliation of the state immovable asset registers for all three spheres of government and
• a lack of sound financial management.
In fact, the Free State is one of two provinces that recorded an increase of debt to municipalities by national and provincial government. The irony of the situation is that a municipality such as Mangaung is not capable of issuing correct accounts for rates to provincial governments, owing to the dire situation of the accounts department of the municipality. The majority of free State Municipalities cannot issue correct accounts to government departments. The report by the Steering Committee supports this, stating that “ this is in part due to the verification processes taking longer than expected.” Clearly an urgent inter-ministerial engagement should be convened in order to agree upon effective timelines for government departments to meet their obligations to municipalities.
However, the DA will submit questions in to the Free State Departments of COGTAH and Treasury, as well as Mangaung Metro Municipality to establish which provincial and governmental departments are in arrears on their municipal accounts, and how the municipality intends to collect the outstanding debt owed to them and treasury.
It is unwarranted that residents of Mangaung are expected to pay their accounts on time, while either other spheres of government are not paying their debt, or the municipality is unable to issue correct statements to such departments. It is unfair that residents’ services can be cut, while government departments are allowed to get away with this.
Pine Pienaar MPL
DA Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Roads and Transport
It’s rather depressing to speak about roads and public works in this Legislature. Wherever I turn I can only see incompetence and problems.
Last week I received a report from people travelling from Magusheni and Bizana in the former Transkei. Their report to me was really shocking and even worse news for our provinces tourism prospects.
The unhappiness of local communities with the state to the road between Magusheni and Bizana has started to lead to acts of angry violence as mobs of locals are now blocking the road making driving on it either impossible or really dangerous. Last week alone I was informed of at least three incidents where tourists had to turn back, had windows smashed and forced to use an alternative route from the Umngazi River Bungalows towards Kokstad.
In the words of one tourist: ‘We came across an angry and very aggressive crowd of people and were warned to turn back by a man who had tried to drive through and had been threatened.
He told him they were demonstrating because they did not have a tarred road.
Later, on their way to Kokstad near Fort Donald the same couple came across a broken down car and a man desperately trying to flag down motorists.
They found German tourists, Dr Herbert Plum and his wife, who had encountered the demonstrators and had their hire car’s windows smashed with rocks and sticks.
The poor people were forced off the road and they had to escape through the veld – and in doing so had damaged the underside of the car which ground to a halt at Fort Donald.
Mrs Plum was severely traumatised and was unable to stop crying. Mr Speaker, can you just imagine what she will tell her friends back in Germany about our people? What will she say?
But while the couple who reported this to me were still there, they also encountered people from Gauteng who had the same experience. The front window of their Toyota Fortuner was smashed.
Do you think they will visit our province again. NO! Next time they will go the Western Cape where a proper DA Government can ensure their safety. Sorry – but that’s simply the facts of the matter.
It is these kinds of incidents that cause irreparable damage to the image of our country. Who can blame these people if they never visit our country again and advise their friends never to set foot in this country?
While our aim is to encourage tourists to visit our province, these incidents will achieve the opposite.
Who will ever be able to calculate the damage to potential income of only one such incident?
I have written to the MEC to investigate the problems with the road in that area and would like to urge that we reach an urgent solution.
People are unhappy with service delivery and also unhappy because nobody listens to their grievances. The government needs to be pro-active to resolve similar issues.
I am further concerned that the tourists did not encounter any police vehicles heading towards the scene from the Mthatha or Kokstad areas.
Do we still have police that patrol these areas? You might say yes, but where were they?
This is just one avenue of problems with regards to roads. Let’s look at what our portfolio committee found overall that might explain why incidents like the above are allowed to happen:
We found that the department does not have a well-established protocol for responding/communicating with the Committee on matters relating to petitions.
Neither does the department have a mechanism in place to ensure that questions raised are answered.
The maintenance work carried out by the department on the road network is of poor quality eg the potholes that are repaired but it does not take long before the same potholes have to be patched again.
The Department is unable to quantify the roads that needs to be attended to hence other Provinces with less backlog and challenges than the Eastern Cape are funded more than our province.
The Department has no database on bridges that need to be repaired, maintained or constructed.
There are not sufficient funds to attend to roads damaged by floods.
I can off course go on and on, but I’m sure you are getting the picture by now.
So now we have gone and established a three-year R1,5-billion Roads Contractor Development Programme (RCDP) with the Coega Development Corporation (CDA). Everybody seems to think this is the answer to our prayers.
But Mr Speaker, look a bit closer and you will see it is not because everything is not what it seems when we have a closer look at this arrangement.
At first it seems as though contractors and other related service providers will be trained in construction and maintenance of roads and bridges in the province by the CDA. But, what it actually means is that the DPRW is appointing the CDA as road maintenance service provider.
In the process, Mr Speaker, our department is relinquishing its budget and responsibility to a third party – the first being the taxpayer and the 2nd the provincial government. In the past smaller service providers have been appointed to provide road maintenance in the province, creating jobs and spreading the work to businesses in rural areas benefiting as many people as possible. What is happening now is that all these smaller companies will have to re-register as service providers with the CDA.
At this stage we have no guarantees that the original service providers will ever retain existing projects, while early evidence suggests that up to 50% of the money is now being spent on administration by both DPRW and the CDA because of the duplications of tasks. Many staff members within the department who used to be tasked with managing maintenance contracts find themselves without work while they are still receiving their government salaries.
The DA also believes the awarding of exorbitant commissions when appointing contractors is eroding away vast amounts of our provincial roads budget which could only lead to the deterioration of our already overloaded roads and backlogs in maintenance.
Turning to Public Works the situation is not at all rosier.
Our committee found that most of the government buildings that were inherited from the former homelands are not user friendly to people with disabilities.
The rental tariffs that are charged by the Department on the use of government properties are far below the market rates.
There is no reliable audit of government properties and as a result some of the properties are illegally occupied.
The Department continues to source materials to build temporary structures from suppliers outside the Province as they allege that local manufacturers are not producing materials that are SABS approved.
And again I can go on and on, but could I advise the members of the House to read the shocking report themselves.
What we need to ask is why we write these reports year after year and nothing gets done about it, while the MEC every year makes the same promises in this House. This term most of the MEC’s promises did not realize. Time for promises is up. If you can’t deliver on your promises, do the honourable thing. Step down.
Gerda Moolman, MPL
DA Northern Cape: Spokesperson for Economic Development
The Democratic Alliance is highly concerned about the intentions of Kholisile Diamonds, whose chief member was previously found guilty of fraud, to obtain a diamond prospecting right on 38 properties situated in Ward 5 in the Warrenton area.
Kholisile Diamonds has up until tomorrow, 30 May 2012, to issue all 38 property holders with an Environmental Management Plan. This comes after the 33 property holders including the Magareng municipality, as well as five farmers in the Windsorton area, received notices on 28 March 2012 informing them that Kholisile Diamonds applied for a diamond prospecting right on their property.
The community is up in arms about the prospective mining rights that could be awarded to Kholisile Diamonds. The community fears that the mining will not only flout health regulations pertaining to how close a mining operation may be to a residential area but that it could also threaten to pollute the water source of the Vaal River. In response, DA councillor of ward 5, Pottie Potgieter, convened a meeting of all affected property owners on 4 May 2012. It was jointly decided at the meeting that the property owners would oppose the application and that they will also seek to get the Department of Water Affairs on board, in order for them to evaluate the potential threat to the river.
In the meantime, however, additional concerns regarding the chief member of Kholisile Diamonds, namely Kholisile Knowledge Komanisi, whose signature appears at the bottom of the notification letter, have emerged. It appears that in December 2009, Komanisi was found guilty of tax fraud after defrauding the receiver of revenue of more than R700 000, for which he was fined R90 000 in November 2010. He was also found guilty on 27 charges of transgressions of the Income Tax Act after he failed to hand in tax returns. At the time of the court case, it also came to light that Komanisi was involved in mining companies where he receives bonuses and dividends of up to R140 000 per month.
The DA is very concerned about the above mentioned application and the allegations surrounding Komanisi. We fear that if the prospecting right is awarded, it will be to the financial detriment of the property owners. In this respect, we also want to voice our misgivings that consultants are being paid astronomical fees in order to make applications for mining companies such as
At the same time, the DA fears that if the prospecting right is awarded, it will be to the detriment of the environment. The area between Windsorton and Warrenton, on the Groenkloof farm, is the only spawning area of the Grootbek Geelvis, in the whole of South Africa. As it is, fishing is not allowed on that part of the river, only tag and release. Mining on this strip could thus well prove detrimental to this conservation project, and in turn the survival of this fish species.
While the DA doesn’t dispute that mining must take place, the big question for us is to what extent is the push to mine being factored into the sustainable development framework? And to what extent, and up to what point, can this particular development path be allowed to use high potential soils, biodiversity, water and carbon space in our bid for a green economy?
It is the DA’s submission that for too long now, the Department of Mineral Resources has regarded its principal legislation, the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, as being able to trump other legislation. In this regards, the Department of Mineral Resources has for several years now foisted unwanted mines on many local communities and they are increasingly imposing mining practices on agricultural land, and more worryingly, along our precious rivers.
In this regard, the DA calls on the Department of Environment and Conservation to also get involved. The DA is firmly of the view that this department must not sit alongside other government policies and programmes. Instead, it is other government policies and programmes that need to fit into the context of laws and regulations governing the environmental sector. Furthermore, regarding the business interests of Komanisi, we hope that that SARS is keeping a close eye on his operations.
Mike Moriarty, MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Finance
No action was taken against an official in the Gauteng Health Department who was implicated in the award of a corrupt tender because the report was not handed over to the right authority.
This official now faces disciplinary action after I asked questions about this report to Gauteng Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe.
In a written reply she reveals that in December 2009 a forensic audit undertaken by the Gauteng Shared Services Centre (GSSC) concluded that a senior official, Mr Hans Ramogale, facilitated the award of a R16m contract to Isindingo Security Services in spite of them failing to meet tender requirements.
The audit report further concluded that there was an apparent corrupt relationship between Mr Ramogale and the representative of Isindingo Security Services. Accordingly, the auditors recommended disciplinary action against Mr Ramogale, and that criminal charges be laid.
According to Mekgwe: “The report was not handed over to the Directorates Internal Control or labour Relations. The report was never included in the database of forensic audits for Health. Therefore no action was in initiated against the official concerned.”
This is a threadbare excuse for why no action was taken for nearly three years. It seems that Ramogale enjoyed protection and I would like to know why this is the case.
This official has evaded disciplinary action because one department doesn’t communicate with another. In so doing the government has effectively rewarded corruption.
MEC Mekgwe has now promised that action will be taken and the Democratic Alliance will monitor this to ensure that it does happen
I find it incredible that there is no collective responsibility in Premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s government. The Premier must undertake to complete the job of tackling this specific incident of corruption and also investigate whether there has been a cover up or negligence.
Fred Nel MPL
DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Local Government Deputy Spokesperson for Roads and Transport
The inclusion into Gauteng of Dipaleseng Municipality, which includes Balfour, is being actively promoted by the Gauteng Local Government department despite the potential consequences such a move may have.
In the Department’s Annual Performance Plan, their strategy for the 2012/13 financial year, it is indicated that the Department will actively work towards including Balfour into Gauteng. It also lists the steps it would undertake to achieve such an inclusion, including a change to the South African Constitution.
Balfour is currently situated in Mpumalanga and has been plagued by many service delivery protests over the past few years. In response to a question I posed in the Gauteng Legislature to the MEC for Local Government and Housing, Humphrey Mmemezi, he indicated that it would cost billions of Rand to upgrade the infrastructure in Balfour in order to address service delivery backlogs.
It is therefore strange that the Department would want to persist with the inclusion of Balfour into Gauteng. This could also set a dangerous precedent as various towns around Gauteng may want to follow suit to escape from under-performing provinces.
The inclusion of Balfour into Gauteng will not just impact the province and increase the pressure on its already stretched budget; it will also have a negative impact on the residents of Balfour. They will in all probability be included in the Ekurhuleni Metro which has much higher property and services rates than Balfour. These residents would therefore experience increases in their municipal tariffs amounting to hundreds, even thousands of percent, as was the experience for residents in Kungwini and Nokeng Tsa Taemane when their municipalities were merged with the Tshwane Metro.
The inclusion of Balfour will promote urban sprawl in Gauteng and it will place additional pressure on the province’s ageing infrastructure and limited budget. The Democratic Alliance will oppose such a move.
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Health Spokesman
Six power cuts have hit the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital so far this year.
This was revealed yesterday by Gauteng Health MEC Ntombi Mekgwe in a reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
According to Mekgwe, the following power failures occurred at the hospital:
* 3 January – out for 8 hours due to Eskom power fault
* 20 January – out for 5 hours because of a power overload
* 27 April – out for 8 hours due to cable theft
* 28 April – out for 4 hours due to power overload
* 30 April – out for 11 and a half hours due to cable theft
* 15 May – out for 6 hours because two cables were stolen at Orlando station.
Mekgwe claimed that generators worked in all cases, but there were “some delays”.
In the case of the power outage on 15 May, the delay in the generator kicking in was due to a “faulty diesel pump”.
My information is that generators frequently did not kick in immediately, leading to major problems.
On 15 May doctors were forced to manually ventilate intensive care patients in the dark.
Last year also saw a spate of serious power failures disrupt the operation of the hospital. In one instance doctors had to complete an operation by torch light.
The hospital has suffered a total of forty-two and a half hours of power cuts this year – almost two full days.
It is totally unacceptable that a solution has not yet been found for the power problems at this hospital.
There must be accountability for the broken generators and it is high time that a reliable power supply is established.