Gauteng AIDS counsellors spend night on streets

Jack Bloom MPL

Spokesperson on Health

Hundreds of HIV/Aids counsellors and care-givers spent last night on the cold streets of inner city Johannesburg after demonstrating outside the head office of the Gauteng Health Department.

They complain that they have not been paid their monthly stipend of R2500 for counsellors and R2200 for care-givers.
Earlier in the day, police used stun grenades to disperse them.

I raised the issue with Gauteng Health MEC Hope Papo who said that the fault was with the NGOs they worked for. These NGOs were not accountable and did not pay them despite being funded by the department to do this.

However, Zandile Msimango, the spokesperson for the protestors, blames the department (he can be contacted at Tel: 073 936 6680).

My view is that this on-going problem should be sorted out as soon as possible.

These counsellors and care-givers do valuable work. Payment problems should not lead to frequent demonstrations against the department.

Berg cableway: DA warn MEC against ‘pie in the sky’ scheme

Johann Krog, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Economic Development and Tourism

The proposed Drakensburg cableway must be privately funded and form part of an integrated tourism development strategy within KwaZulu-Natal – one which combines private, provincial, municipal and foreign investment along a long-term trajectory.

This is the view of the Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal as provincial Economic Development and Tourism (ECOD) MEC, Mike Mabuyakhulu forges ahead with the scheme. The DA also welcomes the announcement that a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) rather than a basic assessment is to be conducted.

The DA does not doubt that the MEC’s intentions are good – we all want to see KwaZulu-Natal thrive as a tourism destination.  It is essential though that the cableway project forms part of the provincial development plan (PDP) and that it is not a random and desperate proposal to inject some life into the so-called “sleeping giant” that is the Drakensburg.

The DA believes that the area is in need of attention before a project of this magnitude can even be considered.  The R600 – the route between Winterton, Bergville and the Oliviershoek Pass is a notorious stretch of road due to a lack of basic maintenance.  KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife has also proved itself to be a dismal model for tourism – not only are its access roads poor but proper management of the hospitality sector is seriously lacking with a dearth of affordable and attractive accommodation.

The MEC must ensure that the basics are in place before considering such an ambitious plan.  The alternative is another ‘pie in the sky’ scheme – one which could end up costing KZN taxpayers a lot of money.

ANC acknowledged office occupation had no legal basis

Chris Hattingh MPL

DA Leader in the North West

During the meeting requested by the NW ANC Chair, Supra Mahumapelo, earlier today, the DA was informed that the former Tlokwe Executive Mayor, Maphetle Maphetle and his former mayoral committee will vacate the municipal offices immediately. He said that they will invite DA Executive Mayor Annette Combrink to welcome her in the offices and to do a formal handover.

He further said that the ANC will formally withdraw their High Court application for leave to appeal against a judgment handed down on Monday by Judge Tuchten.

The DA welcomes this decision by the ANC – it vindicates our position (also strengthened by the high court judgment) that the ANC had no justification for their occupation of the offices other than to frustrate the DA and the municipal administration – all at the cost of the community that it was elected to serve.

The DA’s Annette Combrink and her team are ready to start with their task. The first priority is to bring stability and sound administration back to the municipality. Committees that have become dysfunctional must be revitalised and the backlog of neglected issues must be cleared.

Coghsta security contract – more questions than answers

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance suspects that strings were pulled to keep a security company on the payroll of the Northern Cape Department of Cooperative Governance for close on 10 years. This comes after a reply to a parliamentary question has raised more questions than it has provided answers.

The security contract between the department and security services, Kapa Bokone Security, initially came under the scrutiny of the Auditor-General last year for irregular expenditure valued at almost R7 million in the 2011/2012 financial year. Following information received from Coghsta, the DA has since also learnt that the department’s contract with Kapa Bokone dates all the way back to 1 July 2004 and was intermittently extended and expanded up until April this year.

The DA finds it questionable that the contract, which was only for three years with an option to renew for two years, and was thus due to expire in 2009 at the latest, was continued on an ad hoc basis for an additional four years without the department re-advertising the tender. This, especially as the department has failed not only to provide reasons for this extension, but also all relevant documentation as requested from them, instead citing that they are not in possession of all previous tenders and details of the bids. Further elevating our concerns are the allegations that came to light in February this year, to the effect that the security tender, which was eventually advertised this year, was specially re-advertised after a shortlist had already been drawn up, in order to give Kapa Bokone an opportunity to reapply because they were late doing so the first time.

The deeper one looks at this thing, the more it would appear that this department has gone out of its way to keep Kapa Bokone on their payroll, regardless of whether or not they were in fact receiving the best value for money with this service provider.  The question is why?

The DA wants MEC for Coghsta, Alvin Botes, to investigate this matter. Perhaps he could start by interviewing Ms Greta Appelgren-Narkedien, whose signature is one of those displayed on some of the addendums to the agreement, authorizing the contract extensions. Appelgren-Narkedien has recently come under the spotlight for having allegedly been unlawfully appointed as the deputy director general to the fisheries department by President Jacob Zuma via a presidential minute. The MEC should also query why, for a period of three months the contract inexplicably shot up from an amount of R472 567,19 per month to an amount of R783 206,44 per month.

It is the DA’s view that there are just too many unanswered questions regarding the security contract, worth millions of rands, and that that it needs to be opened up for public scrutiny. The DA will write to Botes, requesting him to investigate this contract. We will also submit another parliamentary question to determine to whether a new security contract has since been awarded and, if so, to whom.

ANC is acting negligent in provincial government

Anroux Marais

DA Western Cape Spokesperson for Health and Social Development

Today, 31 July 2013, the ANC once again failed their oversight role and prohibited service delivery, by again not attending the Standing Committee on Health in the Western Cape Provincial Legislature. The Standing Committee on Health conducted a public hearing in the Chamber on the Mental Health Care Amendment Bill. This is a national piece of legislation that is of vital importance for the care of committed patients.

One of the bigger issues the Director General deals with is the placement and assessment of mental health patients referred by the Judicial System. Currently, the Director General (DG) of the National Department of Health is the only authority responsible for the assessment and placement of patients, referred by the judicial system. These cases must be re-evaluated every 6 months by the DG. This puts tremendous strain on the National Health DG and this is one of many tasks the DG must perform.  There are more than 3000 cases that need to be dealt with every 6 months. This is also one of the important issues that the Mental Health Amendment Bill wants to address. The bill proposes that the DG be enabled to delegate this task to alternative national health officials.

The fact that the ANC did not show for this public meeting meant that the committee did not have a quorum to complete the negotiated mandate for the NCOP. The ANC is prohibiting the progress of extremely important legislation, causing massive backlogs and problems within the Health system. The ANC members in this legislature continue to receive salaries from the taxpayers but do not keep their end of the bargain and fail to do their jobs as public representatives without apology or excuse. They are more interested in sabotaging the provincial government by failing not to work than in the people who are truly suffering because of their negligence.

The DA will continue to fulfil our oversight role, ensuring good governance and exposing the ANC’s negligent and careless attitude towards the people of the Western Cape.

DA wants answers over KZN Agric tender

Makhosazana Mdlalose, MPP

Member of the DA Caucus in the KZN Legislature

The Democratic Alliance calls on KZN Agriculture MEC, Meshack Radebe to clarify why a company named Thethelela Thetha Investments and Projects has been awarded contracts to the value of more than R1 million over the past year, seemingly without any of the projects going out to tender.

The call comes after a July 2013 parliamentary reply by the MEC to questions posed by the DA, which shows that the company provided transport and catering for journalists a total of nine times between February 2012 and February 2013 to the value of R1 120 491.93.  This equates to some R125 000 per contract – one wonders where journalists were being transported to and what they were being fed.

The DA’s own research shows no evidence of any tenders being issued for this work.  Further investigation indicates that Thethelela Thetha Investments and Projects is an ‘ad hoc’ company with a registered address within a residential area and no visible presence.

This raises serious questions around whether the company has been established with the sole purpose of securing lucrative government tenders.

The DA expects the MEC to explain the role of Thethelela Thethe Investments and Projects within his department and furnish proof that the tender process was followed.  Just over a million rand may not be a hugely significant amount but it is the principle that counts and policy must be adhered to.

Bring the DA Difference to Ward 9

Juanita Terblanche MP

DA MP for Potchefstroom

The Democratic Alliance is proud to introduce its candidate for the Ward 9 (Sonderwater & Mohadin) by-election next week Wednesday in the Tlokwe Municipality.

Jacky Tobolo has chosen to join the DA because the DA changes people’s lives for the better by providing quality services. Together with the DA he will strive towards excellence in providing sustainable services and creating opportunities by working together as a community.

His plan for Ward 9 includes:

• Fighting against crime.

• Assisting in educational needs.

• Strive towards providing electricity to all areas.

• Encourage better community participation.

• Assisting the poor with feeding schemes.

• Promote employment opportunities and sustainable economic growth.

• Develop a health and safety plan.

• Strive to ensure quality sanitation and sewerage services.

• Encourage the building of RDP houses

I encourage all our first time and older supporters to vote for Jacky next week the 7th of August in Sonderwater, Ikageng at Boitshoko Secondary & Mohadin at the Mohadin community hall.

UNIFEC survey shows Limpopo failing to deal with poverty

Jacques Smalle MP

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

The UNICEF South Africa Annual Report 2012 has revealed that Limpopo has the highest poverty rate in South Africa.

The report entitled Men, Women and Children: Findings of the Living Conditions Survey 2008/2009 published by Statistics SA in 2013 indicates that six out of every ten (62,1%) households are living in poverty.

According to this poverty line is described as where  R304 per month is spent on an individual on food.

Limpopo is also regarded as the only province amongst the rest of the provinces in which the number of poor households especially headed by women and children prevail over the number of those non-poor households.

Families headed by female adults and children experience poverty in greater depth where they get far less than R304 as compared to those households headed by their male counterparts.

According to this our province also has the highest rate of almost seven out of every ten (69,2%) adults living in the traditional areas found to be very poor . This means that the amount of money an individual need to consume the required minimum energy plus the average amount derived from non-food items of households is only R577 per month per person.

Limpopo is also rated to have the highest proportions of children who are poor with 80.1%.

These shocking statistics go to show the ANC’s mismanagement of the economy for the past 19 years it has governed this province.

It has failed to create jobs to get people out of the grip of poverty.

The Limpopo government must establish programmes that will boost small businesses and support other initiatives which will bring investments to the province thus creating more jobs and alleviating poverty.

The DA will be submitting its Limpopo’s 8% Growth Plan to the new Premier, Mr Stan Mathabatha to urge him to consider our policy interventions which will help alleviate poverty especially among the youth.

Pilgrims Rest: One year after court order department still fails to act

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

It has now been one year since the North Gauteng High Court interdicted the Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport from evicting Pilgrim’s Rest business owners from their business premises, and granted the applicants the right to file a review of the flawed 2011/12 tender process.

Sadly, to date, the department has not fully complied with the court order and has failed to provide all the necessary documentation to the North Gauteng High court, to enable the continuation of the review application. The DA suspects that many of these documents required for the review process is physically not available, justifying Justice J Makgoba’s comments of a deeply flawed bidding and adjudication process.

The department’s non-compliance has had a devastating effect on Pilgrim’s Rest and the local economy. Over the past year a number of businesses have closed their doors, and as the uncertainty of business prospects continues, desperately needed jobs are lost while tourism numbers continue to decline.

With none of the existing businesses receiving any further correspondence on the leases of the buildings they occupy and no mention of any future plans for this historic town, the ultimate demise of Pilgrim’s Rest is imminent.

The department’s inaction further affirms the DA’s position that under the leadership of its HOD, Mr Kgopane Mohlasedi, the entire tender process was rigged and manipulated to serve the interest of the politically well-connected.

To this end, the DA will write to the chairperson of the portfolio committee for Public Works, Roads and Transport and Community Safety Security and Liaison Mr JL Mahlangu, requesting him to summon MEC Mahlangu and HOD Mohlasedi to give account on their failure to comply to the high court order, and to present the department’s future plans for a sustainable Pilgrim’s Rest.

Labour unions join forces with ambulance personnel on their safety

Directorate: Communications for Western Cape Government Health. on behalf of the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Chamber.

Western Cape Government Health, together with the representative unions ( PSA, Nehawu, Hospersa, Denosa, Nupsaw ) in the Western Cape Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Chamber (WCPHSDSBC) have joined together to raise their concerns  for the safety of ambulance personnel and other health workers  when they render life saving services to citizens in the province.

Western Cape Health Minister, Theuns Botha, says “I will be meeting with our EMS management to discuss the possible workable options that would dissolve their risk situation and also meet their needs. We will not allow a situation that will continue to put our staff at risk. There have been discussions with SAPS as well. As a government, we need to work closely with Community Safety and community structures to ensure the safety of EMS staff. This close working relationship is always relevant in a volatile situation where people’s lives are at stake.”

The recent spate of attacks on  EMS personnel has included staff being held at gunpoint and robbed of expensive lifesaving equipment.  Currently, ambulance practitioners are being escorted by police when there is a risk of gang violence.  However, due to the police having to conduct patrols in all communities  they are not always available to  accompany paramedics into these gang hotspot areas. .  Both the Western Cape Health Department and unions in the WCPHSDSBC  cannot allow a situation whereby ambulance personnel  are at risk of losing  their lives whilst trying to save the lives of others.

Violence  against  EMS staff has also resulted in a  tremendous drop in the response times of emergency medical calls due to long delays when  police escorts are not readily available. TGang violence has also had a psychological and emotional impact  on staff , as they  have also been caught up in the cross fire at times.

We call upon all stakeholders, including the public to have a zero tolerance for any action that threatens the safety of our health workers as they must be allowed to fulfil their constitutional duties to take care of the ill. The equipment in an ambulance vehicle  has been provided  to save lives.  If the situation continues, ambulance services, in particular rapid response to critical incidents, will be severely affected, thus contributing to loss of lives. Health workers are there to serve all the citizens of the Western Cape and we condemn any threats of their lives and interference with their work.

The Western Cape Government urges t all communitiesto look out for the safety of our personnel, if you see anyone endangering the lives of our EMS personnel call the police immediately and report it.