Gearing up Gauteng Education for Jobs

Khume Ramulifho, MPL

DA Gauteng Education spokesman

Education is every individual’s key to unlocking the door of opportunity.

According to the World Economic Forum, the quality of our state education system is among the poorest in the world, ranking 133 out of 142 countries. This explains – better than anything else – why more than half of young South Africans are unable to find work. It is also a big part of the reason we are not generating the entrepreneurs that we desperately need.

Why is our education system in a crisis?

It is not because of a lack of funding. South Africa has one of the highest rates of government investment in education in the world, with allocated expenditure on education reaching R 207 billion for the 2012/2013 financial year. Many poorer countries do far better.

If given the opportunity by the voters to govern Gauteng, the DA will adopt and implement the Plan for Growth and Jobs which contains a number of proposals that will give young people the educational opportunities and the skills they need to get jobs.

Every child has the right to a decent education that will unlock the opportunities for a fulfilling and productive life. The time has come to put in place a new plan for education that puts the rights of the learners above everything else and makes the classroom the centre of education policy.

Working for jobs and working for change starts with overhauling our education system.

I was shocked to read reports in this morning’s media that the Gauteng Education department said they were not too worried about the lack of workbooks because workbooks are supplementary material. The department was responding to information revealed by the DA in Gauteng that several schools in Gauteng are without workbooks.

This apathetic response is unacceptable. Why spend money on workbooks if they aren’t important? A workbook is as important as textbook. Every child must be properly resourced to enable them to excel in their studies. This is a key part of successfully improving Gauteng pass rates, and graduating our young people from the classroom to the workplace.


Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

The Special Investigating Unit has laid fraud charges against several senior officials of the Gauteng Health Department as well as service providers.

This is revealed in the interim annual report of the SIU tabled last week in parliament.

According to the report “all charges are based on misrepresentations these parties made to the department which resulted in improper payments to service providers of amounts of R681 916, R15.3 million and R1.2 million.”

Officials against whom charges have been laid include the former Head of Department Ms Sybil Ngcobo, the former Chief Financial Officer and a current Chief Director. The SIU has recommended that two claims for damages for the loss of R15.3 million and R1.2 million be lodged against senior officials.

The SIU investigation into 10 contracts worth over R1 billion started in May 2010.

I expect more rot to be revealed as the investigation proceeds. The big question is whether political figures were involved in the extensive looting in this department.

Every effort must be made to punish the culprits and recover as much stolen money as possible.


Neil Campbell MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Roads and Transport

A judgment handed down by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday yet again calls into question the tender procedures for Gauteng e-tolling project.

The tender procedures followed by the South African National Roads Agency Ltd. (Sanral) were slammed in a damning judgment by Judge Vahed in which he set aside the contract awarded by Sanral for the operation and maintenance of the N2 South Coast Toll road.

Judge Vahed criticised the lack of transparency that marked the tendering process and its inconsistency with s217 of the Constitution and the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act which guides procurement for state entities.

The DA in Gauteng has consistently raised concerns about the transparency and accountability of the tendering procedures for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) and the accompanying e-tolling. Friday’s judgment further illustrates the need for a full judicial review of the project.

The DA will continue to pursue all avenues to ensure that accountability and transparency prevails and that the public receives a full explanation for the controversial e-tolling project.


Khume Ramulifho, MPL

DA Gauteng Education spokesman

Edenglen Primary School in Ekurhuleni has not received all the required workbooks for the second half of this year, including Maths and English textbooks for grades 4

and 7.

This school also only received workbooks for the first half of this year in May, and like many other schools in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, Edenglen primary now has to play catch up in order for them to complete their 2012 syllabus on time.

The Gauteng Education Department conducted an audit last week on Gauteng schools, but many schools in the province are still waiting for their workbooks. The Democratic Alliance (DA) will table oral questions for next week’s sitting to establish the extent of workbook shortages in Gauteng.

It is unacceptable that students do not have the necessary study materials. The department’s lacklustre efforts to ensure all schools have the essential workbooks will impact negatively on learners studies and results.

I have written to the Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy to request that all workbooks be delivered in the province as a matter of urgency.


Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Caucus Leader

It is truly tragic that four more people died this weekend in shack fires in Gauteng. There have been nine reported deaths in total due to shack fires in July, which brings to 18 the total number of deaths from this cause in Gauteng so far this year.

According to the latest reports, one man died in the Makuse informal settlement in Germiston, another in Palm Ridge in Alberton and two men died in Muldersdrift. Many more have been injured and permanently scarred for life by shack fires.

This is a serious problem that requires the intervention of the Gauteng Provincial Government to assist local authorities in preventing shack fires.

The provision of electricity would do most to prevent these fires which are often caused by candles and paraffin stoves. In the interim, there should be enforcement of the law concerning sale of safe paraffin stoves that will not lead to a fire if over-turned.

Education of shack dwellers needs to be stepped up. Children should not be left alone in shacks, which is the cause of many fires. There should be spaces between shacks so that fires don’t spread, and fire exercises so that people know how best to put out fires.

More than 1500 people have been displaced by 25 reported shack fires in Gauteng this year.

Gauteng should follow the example of Western Cape in providing emergency housing assistance when fires occur. I will be proposing in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature that Emergency Housing Kits be provided so that people can speedily rebuild their shacks.

We cannot stand idly by while this human tragedy continues amongst very vulnerable people who lose all their meagre possessions in shack fires.


Fred Nel MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Local Government

The rot uncovered by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) in the Tshwane Metro must not be swept under the carpet. Gauteng MEC for Local Government and Housing Ntombi Mekgwe must put a process in motion to ensure that those fingered in the report are not just disciplined but also prosecuted criminally.

I will submit questions to the MEC to determine what she intends to do with regard to the Tshwane SIU report. She must also ensure that the full report is released to the public. It is imperative that transparency and full accountability mark this process.

The DA in Gauteng and in the Tshwane council will fiercely pursue the harshest action possible to ensure that an example is made of those involved in or planning wrongdoing in Tshwane or any other municipality in the province.

All funds squandered as a result of wrongdoing by politicians and officials in the Tshwane metro must be recovered. Anyone exposed in the report must be fired.

The MEC’s action on the Tshwane SIU report provides a golden opportunity for her to prove herself in the new portfolio. The MEC has a responsibility to ensure that the Tshwane SIU report is dealt with without fear or favour. This is the opportunity for her to prove that cadre loyalty is not placed above criminal prosecutions.

Government Not Making a Dent in Unemployment

Bobby Stevenson MPL

DA Eastern Cape Legislature Leader and Shadow MEC for Finance

Government is not succeeding in making a major dent in unemployment in the Eastern Cape according to the latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey as released by Statistics South Africa today.

Although the number of jobs in the second quarter compared with the first quarter of 2012 has increased by 19 000, which is some good news, the unemployment rate in the Eastern Cape has increased from 28, 3 % to 28, 6%. This is due to the labour force increasing by 36 000.

The expanded definition of unemployment for the Eastern Cape now sits at 42, 4%.

There are 950 000 people looking for jobs in the province, with 1 298 0000 million employed.

Under a DA-government, things would be a lot better, because we have a plan for jobs. This includes:

* Providing young job seekers with a youth wage subsidy;

* Providing young jobs seekers with an “opportunity voucher” to fund a small business;

* Review red tape across government to make it easier to start a business;

* Set up job zones with tax breaks for companies to invest in them; and

Improve skills development by providing a better education system.


Annette Steyn MP

DA Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

A recent spate of farm murders reflects the inability of government to provide physical safety and access to economic opportunity for all its citizens. Late last week, ‘Boy’ Jordaan was shot in cold blood in a mielie field on his farm between Barkley East and Maclear. David Dlali, an ANC MP, was killed on 10 June in Matatiele. The bail hearing for the recent murder of Mrs Helena Gouws from Ugie will take place today.

Failure to prevent farm attacks is a failure of collective governance. The DA calls on all relevant government departments – the police services (SAPS), rural affairs and agriculture – to better coordinate their efforts and improve their ability to gather intelligence and respond more swiftly and with greater effect.

The current situation is increasingly reminiscent of scenes from the late 90s, where in the space of three years 361 people were murdered in more than 2000 attacks on farms and smallholdings in South Africa. There is little that breaks trust and undermines attempts at reconciliation in South Africa quite as quickly as farm murders. It also creates radical uncertainty in rural areas, with farmers reluctant to re-invest and new investors strongly deterred. Thus it is not only farmers who suffer, but farmworkers especially.

Government’s draft National Development Plan (NDP) hopes to create 1 million jobs supported by agriculture by 2030. That is a pipedream diminishing by the day unless government acts with purpose and an effective long-term plan to reverse the current disaster.

Estimates indicate that at least 1 500 farmers have been murdered and approximately 3 000 farmers attacked on their farms since 1994. SAPS have since 2007 refused to publically release its official statistics, though it apparently does still record these. A committee of Inquiry into Farm Attacks was appointed in 2001 by the National Commissioner of Police. Interestingly it found that in 2001, only 61% of farm attack victims were on white people.

Farm attacks, then, are a war against all South Africans and should never be narrowly caricatured as a race issue. If government is serious about reconciliation and creating access to economic opportunity for all South Africans, it will move with clarity and efficacy to prevent further attacks.

Why is KZN’s Social Development Department so Keen to Shut Down Children’s Homes?

Makhosazana Mdlalose, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development

RATHER than assisting KwaZulu-Natal children’s homes to register, the province’s Social Development department appears intent on placing as many obstacles as possible in their path.

Despite the growing number of orphans in the province, functioning children’s homes are being threatened with closure over the fact that they are not registered. Yet, they claim that their attempts to do so have been met with nothing but resistance by department officials.

Ubombo Children’s Care Centre, Clouds of Hope in Underberg, Uvongo on the South Coast and the White Cross Disabled Hope Centre in Ashburton are four homes that the DA has visited which are struggling to be registered. The latter was registered incorrectly and has had to reapply for registration. A visit to Clouds of Hope earlier this year revealed that, despite the valiant efforts of board members to have the facility operate under the umbrella of the department, attempts to register have been largely ignored. And there are many more such homes scattered across the province – places where children are being offered a decent home for the first time in their young lives.

The need for strict controls around the registration of children’s homes is not up for debate. It is the department’s arrogant, high-handed attitude towards applicants that requires investigation. The question is – why is the department so keen to see these homes fail? Why isn’t it going out of its way to assist these entities to be registered? Most homes claim they have tried repeatedly to register while department officials say they have no record of the applications. Clearly somebody in the department is not doing their job.

The department has also embarked on a programme to build new children’s homes – at considerable cost. It appears that officials are keen to cover themselves in glory. This also raises questions around whether the department has its own hidden agenda.

The DA will submit the following parliamentary question to KZN MEC, Weziwe Thusi;

– How many Children’s Care Centres have been registered by the KZN Department of Social Welfare during the last year?

– How many applications for registration have been refused during this same period? Please list the names of those centres that have been denied registration.

– What are the reasons given for the applications being turned down?

The fact that children are being forcibly removed from homes and returned to biological parents, often under appalling circumstances, is an indictment against the department. Several of these children have had to be relocated again to extended family. It would appear that the welfare of the children is the department’s last priority.

Supply Chain Problems At Gale Street Mortuary Are Not New

Mark Steele, MPP

DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health

SUPPLY chain management problems at Durban’s Gale Street mortuary are not new, with concerns having been raised by members of the provincial health committee earlier this year.

According to a media report, essential medical equipment required to perform post mortems is out of stock, with the result that staff have embarked on a go-slow. A lack of necessary supplies was one of the issues noted by portfolio committee members earlier this year, with the site visit revealing that stock was not properly stored or controlled. The portfolio committee tasked the province’s health department with resolving the problem. The department gave the distinct impression that the problem would be dealt with.

An earlier surprise visit by the DA also found that the relationship between the KZN health department and forensic services was in need of urgent attention. It was on this basis that the health portfolio committee visited the mortuary.

The DA is disappointed that the supply chain problem has not been dealt with. It is appalling that grieving families should suffer further anguish due to a bumbling administration. The department must get to grips with this issue immediately.