Premier must now act on officials doing business with government

Anthony Benadie MPL Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza must now act on government employees doing business, as promised in his 2013 State of the Province Address. In the address, the premier boldly stated: “To show our seriousness in dealing with challenges, the provincial government has taken a decision that no public servants will be permitted to do business with government anymore, effective as from today, the 1st of March 2013.” However, since his announcement, the premier has given no indication on how he was going to enforce this decision. In the latest Auditor-General’s (AG) General Report on Audit Outcomes for Provincial Government Departments, the AG found that 311 officials or close family members were awarded contracts amounting to R68 million in the 2011/12 financial year. However, despite the premier’s wish, National Treasury regulations stipulate that government employees must disclose their interests when bidding for government contracts and recuse themselves from the supply chain process when their or close members of their families’ bids are presented, in order to prevent any allegations of tender manipulation. By implication, not all officials doing business with government are necessarily doing so illegally, potentially creating a contractual nightmare for the premier to enforce his own decisions. To this end, the premier must: * Investigate all 311 contracts in question and establish whether all legislative requirements about disclosure and recusal were met and had been followed; * Determine if all contracts of officials doing business with government were awarded fairly and legally; and * Immediately make public his plan and strategy to phase out the practise of government employees doing business with government, including accurate timeframes for its completion. Only once premier Mabuza presents evidence that he has acted to implement the announcements he made, can we begin to take government’s commitment to fight corruption seriously.

[safety] Community Safety MEC rejects call for police brutality inquiry

Kate Lorimer MPL Spokesperson on Community Safety Gauteng Community Safety MEC Nonhlanhla Faith Mazibuko today rejected the DA’s call for a Commission of Inquiry into police brutality and the breakdown in relations between communities and police in Gauteng. This despite the findings of a recent survey indicating that 53% of youth surveyed did not trust police while 23% were afraid of the police. The MEC, in response to my oral question, indicated that she does not want to duplicate the work of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) or Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and Youth Desks at police stations. Section 206(8)(a) of the Constitution empowers the province to “investigate, or appoint a Commission of Inquiry into any complaints of police inefficiency or a breakdown in relations between the police and any community”. People in Gauteng are too scared to get out of their cars when pulled over by metro police and are being bullied and forced to pay bribes by police across the province. The MEC cannot simply pass the buck while the levels of trust in the police and the relationship between the police and communities deteriorate. The DA maintains that a comprehensive investigation is necessary to determine the extent of police brutality and the reasons for the breakdown in relations between communities and the police. We cannot hope to effectively address the problem unless we know how big it is or why it exists in the first place.

DA will fight toll roads in the Western Cape like we are fighting them in Gauteng

Ivan Meyer MEC DA Leader in the Western Cape The Democratic Alliance welcomes the DA-governed City of Cape Town obtaining a court date to interdict the construction of the N1/N2 Winelands Toll Highway project. This means that Sanral will not be able to commence work on the project without first resolving the city’s concerns. The Democratic Alliance will fight the implementation of toll roads in the Western Cape like we are fighting them in Gauteng. As in Gauteng, we believe that each and every community who will be affected by the implementation of these roads have the right to be properly consulted. Toll roads will inevitably drive up the cost of transportation and constrain freedom of movement, opportunity and growth in this province. Until now, no socio-economic impact study had been done and no consultation had taken place. For proper consultation to take place, Sanral with have to provide the necessary information on the costs of tolling and upgrading the N1 and N2, the relevant fees as well as the impact on the road users. Sanral has been withholding this information, which makes it untenable to allow the process to carry on unchallenged. Sanral will also have to provide proof of their claim that the implementation of the toll project is necessary since “certain road sections are deteriorating at a fast pace”. According to information on their own website, the relevant roads are in a “good” or “fair to good” condition. The South African consumer is increasingly burdened by rising costs and taxes. The DA believes the implementation of toll roads in this province will significantly increase this burden, especially on the poor. We will fight it tooth and nail.

Farm workers underpaid ,departments must intervene

Jacques Smalle MP DA Limpopo Provincial Leader The DA oversight visit to Sunningdale Estate located in Mogoto (Zebediela) has uncovered that the workers on that farm have only been paid for 5 months over a period of 15 months since November 2011. The other months they have to endure without salaries. The 84 hectors farm produces oranges, naartjies and vegetables and it employs four permanent labourers and more than 20 casual workers. Besides salary disputes, workers also complained about working conditions. The failure of the farm to pay electricity bills has a negative impact on the productivity of the farm. The farm was originally purchased under the restitution of land reform for the community of Mogoto. The DA believes that the Agricultural and Land Reform policy should indicate that successful farming requires not only money, but also access to agricultural extension services, training, and capital for land development. The DA views that there is a need for policy interventions to prevent unnecessary job losses and to intensify the financial viability and to attract greater investment in the province. We will be urging both the departments of labour and agriculture to establish the task team to address the challenges encountered by these workers and to come up with the recommendations on how best they can assist the farm.

DA wants answers as construction of multi-million rand KZN mortuary comes to a standstill

George Mari, MPP Member of the DA in the KZN Legislature The Democratic Alliance has called for answers after a parliamentary reply revealed that construction of a multi-million rand mortuary at the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital has come to a standstill. According to the reply, the project, due for completion in July 2013, came to a halt earlier this year after the contractor went into liquidation. In the same response, KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo confirms that the facility will not be completed on time. This is a crisis situation. The areas north of the city are in desperate need of a proper mortuary and have been waiting many years for this facility. It will enable pathologists to perform post mortems, thereby easing the current burden on state mortuaries such as Gale Street mortuary which are under immense strain. Staff morale is low and personnel have refused to work due to unhealthy working conditions and the stench. The reply also confirms that the contract is worth R68 750 million and that R10 million has already been paid to the contractors, a joint venture between TBP Buildings and Civils and Isiphiwo Trading. The contract has also not been terminated to date as officials from the department of Public Works negotiate with liquidators on a way forward. This is extremely concerning. A total of 17 contractors tendered for this project. Yet the department chose to take on contractors who were not in possession of the required skills or who had risky financial positions. This situation is all too familiar. The on-going appointment of contractors who do not have the right credentials is seriously undermining delivery and a far stricter screening process is needed. The DA calls on KZN’s Health MEC to immediately terminate the contract based on non- performance. The contract must be re-awarded to the next favourable contractor – one which has the capacity to deliver – so that this essential facility can be completed.

KZN Education must fast-track marker competency tests

Tom Stokes, MPP DA KZN Spokesperson on Education The Democratic Alliance calls on KZN Education officials to fast-track the implementation of a programme designed to assess the competency of markers in the province. The programme was recently announced by National Education Minister, Angie Motshekga, and is currently being roll-out in two other provinces. The question is – what is KZN waiting for? Incompetent markers can mean the difference between success and failure for learners in our province. The DA realises that the issue of markers is plagued by problems including claims of poor pay and reluctance from educators – fuelled by teacher unions such as Sadtu – to undergo competency assessments. We congratulate the Minister for acknowledging the extent of the problem and the incredibly detrimental effect it has on learners and call on KZN Education MEC, Senzo Mchunu, to begin the programme without delay. Learners in our province must not be compromised by inept markers.

Greater Letaba Mayor ignores public finance law

Jacques Smalle MP DA Limpopo Provincial Leader The DA will approach the MEC for Co-Operative Governance to take actions against the Mayor of Greater Letaba Municipality (GLM), Godfrey Modjadji for his refusal to address over R8 million worth of public money irregularly spent. The Auditor General indicates in the latest financial statements of the municipality that R8.2 million was spent contrary to public finance law. According to the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), issues raised by the Auditor General must be addressed and the Mayor must ensure compliance by the Municipality with this subsection. During the Council meeting held last Friday (22 March 2013), the Mayor failed to account for this R8.2 million and now seems intent on sweeping it under the carpet. The Mayor’s behaviour is uncalled for and unacceptable as he is abusing his powers as the Mayor. Failure to address issues of irregular expenditure during the council meeting proves that ANC is not willing to be transparent in the financial affairs of the Municipality. The DA will once again approach the MEC Motsepe on the failure of GLM and the Mayor for not abiding by the regulation set up in the MFMA and the Municipal Systems act.

DA condems lack of water and facilities at Katlehong school

Khume Ramulifho MPL Spokesperson on Education The DA in Gauteng condemns the failure of the provincial education department to adequately cater for this most basic need of learners at the Pheasant Folly primary school in Katlehong. During a recent visit to the school the DA discovered there is only one water tap serving the needs of more than 800 learners. The school primarily serves learners from the nearby informal settlement. It is unacceptable that the Gauteng Education Department is treating learners at the school in this manner. This further serves to illustrate the crisis in Gauteng school infrastructure construction and maintenance exposed by the DA last week. There is also no electricity, solar lighting or decent staff room at the school and there is no proper school ground for the learners. It is clear that poor leadership and lack of support by districts disadvantage teachers and learners. The kitchen where they prepare nutrition for learners is not adequate at all. The school is left to suffer with poor infrastructure, while learners aren’t even supplied with proper nutrition because the service provider fails to comply with required speciation’s for nutrition such as providing fruit for learners. The DA believes that the department must provide all learners with quality infrastructure conducive to proper teaching and learning. It appears learners are being denied the opportunity to access quality basic education due to their socio-economic background. The DA will question Gauteng Education MEC Barbara Creecy on the department’s failure in this regard and how the school will be assisted.

Single Free State development Agency needed to boost investment!

Roy Jankielsohn MPL DA Caucus Leader in the Free State Legislature Note: the following speech was delivered during the budget Debate of the Department of Environment, Economic Affairs and Tourism during a Free State legislature sitting at Ventersburg. Honourable Deputy-Speaker The Free State has 357 000 unemployed people and the highest increase in unemployment in the country. Government is not in the business of creating jobs. They consume tax-money and do not produce it. Only private sector investment generates jobs and taxes. The communists among us attack the private sector, but experience shows us that nationalisation and communist tendencies destroy economies and nations. The Eastern block is still grappling with the legacy of communism and Cuba is impoverished. China has only started to become a superpower since it started opening up its markets and the economic and social differences between North- and South-Korea are stark. In fact the arguments put forward around these issues are as impoverished as the countries that implement them. Our crucially important social net in South Africa requires a vibrant private sector tax base to sustain it. It is as simple as that. Deputy-Speaker, the Free State has huge potential in terms of tourism and agro-processing. Some small areas of the Free State are beneficiaries of tourism, such as Clarens which is becoming known as Little Gauteng. Other areas have similar potential, but are not able to utilize it due to poor municipal services and infrastructure and a decaying provincial roads network. In places such a Dihlabeng Municipality, individuals are withdrawing their plans to invest due to the unwillingness of the municipality to assist them to obtain the land resources on which to develop new businesses and industries. Investors who want to bring money into Dihlabeng cannot even get past officials who are often arrogant during telephone conversations. In Mangaung Metro the developers who want to develop Portion 1 of Hillandale Farm 294 at Woodlands Estate have put their plans on hold due to the inability of developers to obtain the necessary support from the municipality. The development phase of this project could create over 9600 jobs and about 1000 permanent jobs could be created from this. The developers are brushed off by municipal officials and politicians. Experience tells us that officials and politicians are waiting for some kind of offer before they will assist, and because they already have lucrative jobs they do not care if the developers take their investments to other provinces. On the other hand developments, such as the proposed Judges Park in Mangaung, are almost implemented without the necessary council approval because of collusion between developers and senior municipal officials. Agriculture has much potential, especially for agri-processing and bio-fuel production. Once again our provincial roads infrastructure is hampering further development in this industry. The same applies to the production and transport industries. Many once thriving factories in the Free State have come to a standstill due to the lack of support from the provincial government and municipalities. We will watch with interest to see who is going to open the factories mentioned by the Premier in his state of the province address. Deputy-Speaker, many goods and services are sourced from outside the Free State by our provincial government. If our own provincial government are not willing to support local businesses and industries, then who will? It does not help for MEC’s to stand up in this legislature and say South Africa belongs to all who live in it, when the rest of South Africa is benefitting from a Free State Provincial Government whose own people are becoming poorer by the day. 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. Our unemployed young people in the Free State deserve an environment that can generate opportunities for economic growth and jobs. 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, but we do not have one key requirement, namely a government that is willing to provide the infrastructure and enabling environment to create investment that should provide opportunities for our own people. Deputy-Speaker let me briefly speak on other issues in this department. The gambling and liquor board continue to fail our people by providing licenses to establishments close to schools, churches in residential areas. Complaints by both the SAPS and residents are mostly ignored. This is contributing to crime into our communities. The Free State Development Corporation pays salaries and does very little else, while the Tourism Authority is a total waste of money, time and energy. For this reason the DA will proposes the establishment of a single Free State Economic Development Agency (FSEDA). International precedent shows that economic development strategies are best implemented by a single agency and people who have real business expertise. It is also essential to ensure value for money in our spending on economic development and proper integration between the various role-players in executing economic development strategy. The FSEDA could be mandated, among others, to manage the following: * coordination of destination marketing for major events and tourism; * investment and trade promotion; * enterprise development; * local economic development co-ordination; * skills development as a participant in a provincial skills development forum; and * co-ordinating support and liaison between various role players in government, business and education within the various sectors of the provincial economy. Deputy-Speaker, our provincial parks remain under resourced while private establishments manage to make profits. There is also too little law enforcement and control taking place over genetic aspects relating to the breeding of wildlife in the province. For example, of the approximately 5000 lions in breeding facilities in South Africa, 2500 are in the Free State. There is no stud book for lions and they can therefore never be rehabilitated back into the wild. Only one out of the 350 breeders in the province keeps a stud book. These lions are mostly bred for canned hunting and bones export to the East. Another serious issue is that animal welfare gets little recognition, even in Environmental Impact Assessments. Animals have been reduced to mere economic commodities. Regarding the exploitation and protection of our natural resources, I would like to conclude with a warning by a Native American Chief Seattle of the Davinish when he was forced to surrender to the Europeans in the nineteenth century. His words are more relevant today than any other time in the history of our planet: “Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only then will you find that money can not be eaten.” Thank you!

Still no toilets for Viljoenskroon residents

Patricia Kopane MP DA Leader in the Free State The Democratic Alliance has requested the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to investigate more incidents of houses without toilets in Viljoenskroon. The DA has found that a newly developed housing project in Northleigh, Viljoenskroon does not provide for any toilets in the houses. The attached photo’s clearly indicate that residents are required to use the bucket system. Moqhaka Municipality was recently subpoenaed by the HRC on the DA’s request, after the municipality failed to honour recommendations to rebuild unenclosed toilets in Rammulotsi. The latest neglect to provide proper toilets is a sign that the ANC governed Moqhaka municipality repeatedly ignores the right to dignity of residents as well as the national housing code, which includes a minimum quality for basic services, including sanitation. The DA has now requested (attached) the HRC to visit the new development in Northleigh as part of yet another possible human rights violation by Moqhaka Municipality. The DA will also ask in the municipality in council to indicate what amount has been spent on the Northleigh Development. The Humans Rights Commission this week gave government an ultimatum to come up with concrete plans to eradicate the growing crises of sanitation in especially historically marginalised areas. On local level, the municipality has no excuse to escape its responsibility to ensure that the rights of residents to sanitation and dignity are protected. The DA will continue to fight on municipal, provincial and national level for the rights of Moqhaka residents.