Middelburg hospital a humanitarian crisis

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

The Middelburg provincial hospital is in throes of a severe humanitarian crisis as doctors, nurses and other medical staff embarked on a strike over staff shortages, dilapidated infrastructure, non-payment of overtime and malfunctioning vehicles and other equipment.

The DA this morning paid an oversight visit to this hospital, and was shocked at the horrific conditions patients and medical staff are subjected to:

* There are only five doctors on staff, and severe shortages of nurses;

* Staff overtime is paid three months in arrears;

* The hospital itself is filthy dirty due to a shortage of cleaning staff;

* Laundry staff have been on strike for six days now, and patients do not receive clean linen;

* The cars used for patient transport are in a shocking state and their roadworthiness is in serious doubt; Buildings and grounds are not maintained, and the DA believes that the staff accommodation is a safety risk and unfit for human occupation.

* Living quarters are in a complete state of disrepair;

* Female nurses on the fourth floor are expected to share the kitchen and bathroom with birds that enter through the roof and defecate all over;

* Ceilings are rotten and have collapsed

* There is not a single groundsman employed by the hospital, and grass in many places is waist-high.

Much of it was cut on Tuesday night in anticipation of health MEC Candith Mashego-Dlamini’s visit. The DA is highly concerned over this hospital’s readiness for any kind of emergency, and it is highly doubtful that, with the Easter long weekend upon us, it is equipped to deal with multiple road accident victims requiring urgent medical attention. During the course of the past months, the DA has conducted visits to a number of hospitals across Mpumalanga, and we rate Middelburg Hospital as the worst hospital in the province, and potentially in the country.

It is an absolute shame that following her visit to the hospital, MEC Mashego-Dlamini left there without making any concrete commitment to improve conditions – effectively condemning thousands of potential patients to purgatory. A DA government would not have allowed the dignity of medical personnel and the public be violated in such a crude and inhumane manner.

MEC’s about-turn leaves Phoenix tenants out in the cold

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal calls on KZN Human Settlements MEC, Ravi Pillay, to urgently release funding to enable Phoenix tenants in rental accommodation to buy their own homes, in line with an earlier promise by the developer Woodglaze Trading (PTY) Ltd’s that the units would be “rent to buy”.

The call comes after a clandestine meeting between the MEC, Woodglaze Trading’s Jay Singh – the current landlord of the different developments – and Ethekwini’s First Metro Housing, an institution funded by the department to deliver affordable housing.

During the meeting the MEC is believed to have attached a clause, converting the units to social housing. This was done without any consultation with tenants. The decision affects some 1 200 flats built by Woodglaze after Ethekwini municipality made land available for the provision of rental accommodation for tenants who did not qualify for bank loans. The units include Tasneeva Gardens in Stanmore, Tashmia Gardens in Treehaven, Tashmera Gardens in Eastbury and Tasvir Gardens in Rydavale.

The MEC has a duty to ensure that monies are released in order to allow tenants access to subsidies so that they can finally purchase the units they live in. The DA calls on him to engage in consultation with tenants and to fast-track this process. A detailed inspection of the condition of the flats is also required. These tenants are desperate to own their own homes.

The goal posts must not be shifted.

Democratic Alliance (free State) Speech Delivered By Roy Jankielsohn MPL

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

DA Caucus Leader in the Free State

Note: the following speech was delivered during a debate on Human Rights during a sitting of the Free State Legislature in Clocolan

Honourable Deputy-Speaker, our country has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world that is a product of an inclusive negotiation process by various groups of people that make up our rainbow nation. Our constitution was made possible by two main factors. One factor was the role of various liberation movements in South Africa who ensured that the plight of the black majority of South Africa was heard across the globe. This struggle for a new dispensation must be acknowledged by the minorities who benefited from the previous political dispensation. Those individuals who actively participated in this struggle must be given due credit by a grateful nation. Many of these individuals sit among us today in this legislature.

Another factor was the realisation by the former governing minority group in South Africa that no nation can sustain a dispensation that is morally wrong. For this reason the majority of white South Africans supported the political changes that were put before them during a referendum and subsequent elections. Human Rights day in South Africa is a time to reflect on our past and ensure that we do not repeat any of the injustices and mistakes made in the past. We must reflect on where we come from, but also on where we would like to be. In other words we must acknowledge our past, but act on our future.

Deputy-Speaker, I have listened to members of this legislature expressing legitimate anger over Apartheid. In many instances I and my colleagues have been on the receiving end of this anger. We have at times tried to fight back, and at other times listened with resignation to how a raw hatred has manifested itself in speeches and member’s statements. While the emotion is legitimate, if we as leaders cannot overcome a history of human rights abuses, hatred, and war that constitutes the history of our country, then how will our people be able to do so? The majority of white people in the Free State and in South Africa want to work with all other South Africans towards a better future. Many white South African’s find it difficult to relate to political leaders who make them feel like foreigners, outsiders, or even criminals. Most South Africans are looking to the governing party for a sincere expression of inclusion. There are still many inequalities in our country that are racial in nature. Our economy, our residential areas, most of our schools, and our social groups reflect this. We need to change this, but change can only take place if all the people who make up our rainbow nation are included in this change. After 18 years of democracy and 16 under our current constitution our country is still divided. We must all ask ourselves whether our aggressive and degrading discourse in this legislature contributes to a better South Africa? Where is the spirit of brotherhood that we remember from the queues while we all waited to participate in our country’s first democratic elections? We may have supported different political parties, but we were proud of our common achievements that culminated in that moment on 27 April 1994. We must accept that our destinies are linked to one another, and that we have a common future. Our future will however depend on how we relate to our fellow South Africans today. We must all acknowledge that Apartheid was hurtful to the majority of South Africans and that we all have to work together to overcome this legacy.

Deputy-Speaker, we must make an effort to put aside our own feelings and make an effort to understand the stereotypes, fears, and prejudices that motivate people with different backgrounds to ours. If we as politicians can do this, then we will be able to carry out the counter intuitive gestures and actions that will ultimately change behaviour and attitudes of all our people that constitute our rainbow nation. Our constitution and bill of rights protects all the people in our country, but we as politicians, and not a document, will have to unite our people in our country. We may have a divided past, but we must accept that we all have common future in South Africa. Few of us chose to be here, most of us were born here, but for better or for worse, we are all in this melting pot together.

Former MEC’s arrest first step toward justice for public health patients

Desiree van der Walt MPL DA Limpopo Legislature Caucus Leader The Democratic Alliance welcomes the arrest of former provincial health MEC Ms. Segabutla and her appearance yesterday in court for fraud related charges. When the report from the Public Protector implicated her to alleged wrong doing, the DA objected to her continued stay in public office. We also wrote to the presidency, objecting to her appointment as South Africa’s ambassador to Cuba. We are happy that that process seems to have been stalled. Ms. Segabutla must face the full might of the law. The fact that she now holds an executive position in the ruling party must not shield her from being answerable for her role. Under her leadership the provincial department of health was on the verge of collapse. Tender irregularities reached alarming proportions. It is the people of Limpopo who use public health facilities who are now having to bear the brunt because machines are not working or there is no medication in hospitals. We hope the her arrest will be followed by other arrests of officials within the department who might also have played a role in the wrong doing.

DA calls on KZN Speaker to act as Members are denied the right to particpate

Radley Keys MPP Chief Whip to the DA in the KZN Legislature The Democratic Alliance in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature has written to provincial Speaker, Peggy Nkonyeni, calling on her to act after members of the Transport portfolio committee were last week barred from participating during a meeting. The incident took place at a meeting of the Finance portfolio committee. There are two committees that deal with the province’s finance, SCOPA and Finance. They then invite members of various portfolio committees, which have oversight over departments, to attend their hearings. On Friday last week, the chairperson of the Finance committee ruled that those transport portfolio committee members who were not members of the Finance committee could not participate in the hearings, pose questions or make statements. The Finance chair said her ruling was to enable her to “get the meeting over with”. Not only does this ruling fly in the face of the Rules of the House, it is also a direct move to obstruct the opposition from its oversight role. According to Rule 147 all Members of the House may attend and participate in committees and sub-committees of the House but do not have the right to vote. The Rules can only be altered by the Speaker and the changes must be adopted by the Rules Committee. The DA has written to the Speaker about this. Members who are denied the right to participate at these meetings are reduced to mere observers. Furthermore, the Legislature pays for the travel and accommodation expenses for these Members to attend the meetings. If they are then not afforded the right of participation then this must be interpreted as wasteful expenditure. The DA does not consider Friday’s ruling to be an isolated incident and believe that this may be the practice in other committees and sub-committees of the House. I have called on the Speaker to remind Chairpersons of the Rules that this is not permitted. The DA expects the Speaker to act and ensure that the Rules applicable to the right of Members to participate in these two committees are enforced.

Women occupy inviolable place in all aspects of society

James Masango MPL Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition Note: The following address was delivered in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature by James Masango during the Snap Debate on International Women’s Day. On 8 March 2013, when we celebrated International Women’s Day, we showed our respect, appreciation and gratitude towards women and acknowledged their economic, political and social contribution to society. The modern image of a 21st century woman depicted in glossy Western magazines is one of confidence, grace, prosperity, health and beauty. Yet – despite progress made by women in the spheres of human rights, political participation and emancipation, education and income – many of the almost 3,5 billion women of our planet are confronted with discrimination, violence and repression on a daily basis. Perhaps the most shocking recent incident in South Africa – which highlighted the extent of ongoing daily violence against women and girls in South Africa – was the brutal gang rape, mutilation and murder of 17-year-old Anene Booysen in the Western Cape. The case drew attention to the plight of thousands of South African women and girls who have also been the victims of rape and sexual abuse – despite the fact that our Constitution guarantees the right to life, dignity and physical and psychological integrity. Alarmingly high levels of violence prevent South African women from enjoying these rights. Undoubtedly, many of these problems have their roots in poor socio-economic circumstances, such as poverty, poor education and ongoing inequality. However, at the core lies the fundamental failure of too many of our men to respect the role and status of women. The purpose of International Women’s Day is to remind men and women of the equal and inviolable place that women should rightfully occupy in all aspects of society. Aside from small tangible gestures of recognition and appreciation, the most worthy token of respect that we as South Africans can show towards women and girls on this International Women’s Day – and every other day – is honouring the promises, rights and protections that our Constitution and the Bill of Rights afford to women, girls and all other South Africans. If we do so, we will ensure that women are afforded the respect, equality, dignity and humanity to which they – and all of us – are entitled to as human beings.

Public Protector must probe Co-Operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs

Jacques Smalle MP DA Limpopo Provincial Leader The DA will approach the Public Protector to investigate the department of Co-Operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) for overrating their prices when they purchased Mooiplaas 434LT farm from Greater Letaba Municipality. The farm is adjacent to Ga-Kgapane where the local municipality wanted to sell 300 erven. The farm is estimated to worth only R9 million as per the evaluations made on the farm by the municipality. The letter in our possession indicates that the department has already allocated R52 Million excluding vat to purchase the farm for human settlement development in this new financial year. Furthermore, the department appointed two private service providers to evaluate the property and they were paid R60 Million and the owner was paid R14,5 million. According to the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), section 112 (2) indicates that the regulatory framework for Municipal supply must be fair, equitable competitive and cost effective but in this case that did not happened. It is unacceptable for the department to pay extra R43 Million for a land that is worth only R9 Million. The DA is of the view that MFMA section been violated by the municipality and the department when the decision to purchase the farm at such an overrated price was made. The DA will approach the Public Protector to investigate both the department and the municipality for the overpricing on the farm and establish whether the correct procedures were followed.

Nobody should die on Addington’s doorstep

Makhosazana Mdlalose, MPP DA KZN Spokesperson Health The Democratic Alliance calls on KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, to ensure that an urgent notice is issued to all emergency medical personnel regarding the functionality of hospitals in the province. The call comes after medical emergency workers were turned away from Addington Hospital during the early hours of Sunday, 17 March. This was after they had rushed two young men, seriously injured in a car accident, to the hospital for treatment. Paramedics claim they were turned away by hospital staff who said that the operating theatres required were being renovated. The men died shortly after arriving at RK Khan and King Edward VIII Hospitals. Their deaths could have been prevented had emergency workers known where to take these young men from the outset. Clearly the health department had not thought to come up with an interim plan. Paramedics have also claimed that this is not the first time that they have been turned away from Addington. The DA extends its heartfelt condolences to the families of these two men. We call on the MEC to immediately inform emergency medical workers as to which KZN hospitals are not fully functional. The department also has a responsibility to keep the public informed about Addington and any other major medical facility which is not fully operational. This must not happen again. The department must act swiftly so that nobody dies on the door step of Addington hospital.

Gauteng housing fraud

Janet Semple MPL Spokesperson on Housing More than 2 000 provincial and municipal officials in Gauteng were prosecuted for fraudulently benefitting from government housing programmes in the 2010/11 and 2011/12. None of the officials were suspended or sacked for their fraudulent activity, instead entering into Acknowledgement of Debts (AOD) agreements with the Gauteng Local Government and Housing Department to repay the R11.7 million lost. The figures were made available by Gauteng Local Government and Housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe in response to my written question in the legislature. I asked the question following the recent report by Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale indicating that 1 061 public servants were prosecuted across the country for housing fraud. A shocking 1 630 officials in provincial government departments alone were implicated, while a further 382 municipal officials across the province were involved. The DA in Gauteng is not satisfied with the manner in which the department has dealt with offending officials. The DA believes that offending officials must, at the very least, be dismissed from public office where appropriate following disciplinary and civil or criminal investigations. The MEC must explain why her department entered into AOD agreements instead of suspending or dismissing officials. The DA will question the MEC on the criteria and reasoning behind this dubious decision and approach to dealing with fraud. Housing is a critical issue in Gauteng as the provincial population continues to grow. Public servants who defraud the public purse and obstruct or manipulate the progress in delivering on housing needs across the province are unfit to occupy public office. The MEC must ensure the toughest appropriate action against officials who prioritise illegally stuffing their own pockets over the real needs of the people.

DA concerned over Themba Hospital water supply

James Masango MPL Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition Note: The following member’s statement was delivered by James Masango to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature today Regular water supply interruption to the Themba hospital is now becoming a serious concern, not only for patients but for the medical staff as a whole. On a number of occasions last year and this year, water supply to this hospital had been interrupted, and a hospital without water poses a serious risk to patients and medical staff. Doctors and specialists who live nearby the hospital are often forced to go to work without being able to wash. The lack of consistent and clean water supply increases the general infection risk at the hospital and may lead to unnecessary deaths of those seeking medical attention and those treating them. While neither the provincial government nor the Mbombela local municipality are willing to take the responsibility for the interruptions, peoples’ basic rights of access to decent health care and clean water are being violated. Water tanks are not a sustainable solution, and an urgent and permanent solution is needed.