Ba-Phalaborwa awards a R10 m tender before evaluation

Jacques Smalle MP

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

A tender initially worth R1.3 million but later escalated to R10.8 million (Click here) was awarded by Ba- Phalaborwa Municipality to a company even  before the evaluation committees sat  to evaluate this tender.

Documents in DA’s possession clearly show how tender No. 23/2012  initially for R1.3 million was awarded on 26 September 2013 to an engineering company  for designing and construction of infrastructure projects in this municipality.  This was  way before all the municipal tender committees were appointed .

The officials  who sat on the Bid Evaluation Committee (click) to evaluate this tender were appointed on 13 November 2013.

By the time this tender reached the Bid Adjudication Committee on 14 November 2013,  the tender amount of R1.3 million (click) had gone up to R10 million.  This is clearly an illegal  variation which amounts to a new tender altogether.

On what basis is this variation from the initial order justified.

This is a flagrant flouting of the tender procedures and in the process siphoning public money which could be used to improve the lives of the communities.

I have met with the Public Protector to ask for an urgent investigation into this matter. It must be established how this tender was accepted even before proper tender evaluation opened, who sat on both the evaluation and adjudication committees and what their role was in this matter.

The DA cannot sit back when processes are manipulated to  enrich a few instead of being channelled to improve the lives of the communities.  We believe that all officials involved from the MM, and everyone who sat on various committees must be investigated.

Child saved from cage shows growing crisis in Gauteng Social Development

Hendrika Kruger MPL

Spokesperson on Social Development

The horrific discovery of a young disabled boy in a cage in Sebokeng highlights the growing crisis in Gauteng Social Development. The heroic action by two Daily Sun journalists following community tip offs eventually led to the discovery of Kobie Small, who was found bewildered, naked, starved and dehydrated. Photos of the rescue are available here.

Kobie was held at a “place of safety”, an RDP house called Reyaphela Home for Orphans and Mentally and Physically Challenged Patients, for nearly a decade while the owner received the monthly grant of R1 260 using his ID.

The DA lauds the efforts of the journalists and community, and is very pleased to note that Kobie is recovering well in the Sebokeng Hospital.

The Department of Social Development must send social workers to conduct regular follow up visits to ensure the persons in need receive the social assistance they require.

The DA will request a full scale investigation into this incident by Gauteng Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book and any officials who failed in their duty are held accountable.

Sadly, Kobie is but one of hundreds of victims of social grant fraud, usually children, the elderly or people with disabilities.

The DA unequivocally supports social grants as society’s vulnerable citizens require immediate social protection provided by government. The right to social assistance for those who are unable to support themselves is enshrined in the South African Constitution, which the DA firmly believes in as the blueprint for building a better South Africa.

A DA government in Gauteng will address the crisis in Gauteng Social Development and introduce mechanisms to ensure those who require social assistance receive it as intended. This will include:

  • Filling the 1 300 vacant posts in the department, a vacancy rate of 20%, as a matter of urgency to ensure that key programmes are effectively implemented.
  • Introduce and strengthen community oversight mechanisms through which community members or teachers can apply for a review of beneficiary spending when there is suspicion that child grants are consistently not being used in the interests of a child. If there is clear evidence of grant abuse, arrangements can be made for a grant to be paid out to an alternative caretaker or social worker.
  • Prioritise the training of social workers by establishing two dedicated training colleges for social workers in Gauteng and offering generous bursaries for social work students and encouraging private sector investment in bursaries for social workers.
  • Make use of developmental conditionalities for child grants in which non-adherence to soft (non-punitive) conditions trigger intervention through an effective social welfare system. For example: if a grant beneficiary is not attending school or has not received the necessary immunisations, intervention must be initiated by a social worker, NGO or community organisation.
  • Maintain a zero-tolerance approach to grant-related fraud and corruption. The DA will run a clean, corruption-free department whose primary priority is the protection of vulnerable people in Gauteng.

Measures like these contained in the DA’s Green Paper on Social Protection (available here) will deliver a caring, clean government that not only locates and intervenes in horrific incidents like the one involving Kobie Small, but also prevents them before they happen.

The DA Gauteng vision for an effective social safety net also includes a zero-tolerance web that nets fraudsters and corrupt officials who attempt to profit from the vulnerability of others.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs and seven other priorities for new Gauteng MEC

Les Labuschagne MPL

Spokesperson on Economic Development

With 1.8 million unemployed people in Gauteng the new Economic Development MEC Eric Xayiya can’t afford a very long honeymoon period and must urgently prioritise addressing Gauteng’s single biggest challenge: jobs, jobs, jobs.

The first three of the DA’s ten point priority for the MEC is therefore simple: first, jobs. Second, jobs. Third, jobs! The MEC has little over eight months to ensure his legacy is one of job creation.

The DA Gauteng plan for jobs and growth provide a very good starting point for the MEC. The document (which can be found here) outlines the DA’s plan to eradicate the barriers to job creation and economic growth and development in Gauteng.

The other, urgent priorities for the MEC must include:

  1. Appointing a full-time, permanent Head of Department to pull the rudderless department together. The MEC must also ensure the speedy finalisation of disciplinary action against the suspended Head of Department Khulu Radebe, who must be held accountable for the failures in youth development programmes in Gauteng.
  2. Filling the 25%, or one in four, vacant positions in the department. A full-time Head of Department must fill these vacancies to ensure departmental programmes are effectively run.
  3. Fix the chaotic Gauteng Liquor Board administration, finances and licensing system decisively, properly and thoroughly once and for all. Missing files, incompetence, bad audits and illegal licences are not acceptable.
  4. Inject energy and creativity into Gauteng’s tourism industry. Tourism creates more jobs than the mining industry but Gauteng Tourism is not capitalising on its assets as it should. The holiday season is on the horizon and “how ready is Gauteng?”
  5. Draw in business because they know business and they know jobs. The MEC must be confident enough to approach and partner with private business in Gauteng to review the department’s policies and seriously consider their practical suggestions to create jobs.
  6. Cut the red tape suffocating new and existing businesses in Gauteng and strangling job creation. Businesses, big and small, are buckling under the regulatory burden, while new entrants who can create jobs are loathe to do so because of the administrative burden. The message is simple cut red tape and save and create jobs in Gauteng!
  7. Finally, the MEC must ensure that the informal sector and its traders are seen and treated as legitimate, full members of the economy who are no longer subject to harassment by local officials and plagued by the insecurity of their tenure and livelihoods.

The DA challenges the MEC to deliver on his department’s most basic mandate to ensure that every person in Gauteng has the opportunity to get a job and get ahead in life.

Premier’s ultimatum to municipal managers a mere publicity stunt

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza’s latest announcement that all municipal managers signed commitment letters agreeing to be removed if their municipalities received disclaimed audit opinions, is completely misguided and a mere publicity stunt in the run-up to next year’s elections.

Municipal managers are appointed by municipal councils, and as such, are accountable to council. Furthermore, legislation demands that municipal managers enter into performance agreements with the local council on commencement of employment.

By “forcing” municipal managers to sign these commitment letters, which can be regarded as performance agreements, the premier violates municipal legislation governing the relationship between municipal managers and councils, as well as the division between local and provincial spheres of government.

The fact is that municipal governance in Mpumalanga is in a bad state, with only two municipal managers and three Chief Financial Officers compliant with National Treasury’s minimum competency guidelines, and the premier has to choose between party political alliances and the needs of the people.

With only seven months to go before South Africans head for the polls, the premier is only now trying to solve the issues he should have tackled when he assumed office in 2009, but remained silent while the ANC deployed its cronies to senior positions in municipalities they were not qualified for.

Only time will tell if the premier will act in his own political interests or those of four million of Mpumalanga’s citizens.

Fathers must be responsible

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

Earlier this month a woman claimed that her twins had been stolen after she gave birth at the George Mukhari Hospital northwest of Pretoria.

Her family alerted the media and there was a furore as police and the hospital tried to verify the story.

It turned out to be a hoax by the 37-year-old mother because the 23-year-old unemployed father was completely uninterested in his children.

She was angry and wanted him to take responsibility for them. But when she told him the babies had been stolen and could be killed, he said if they were dead, it would not be a problem.

It’s a tragic story that highlights the plight of women left to bring up children without a father.

Children are a precious gift, but many men abandon them with little conscience.

According to the SA Institute of Race Relations, only 33% of children in South Africa live with both their parents.

The rest live with single parents, on their own, with relatives, or in foster care. About 39% of children live with their mothers only and 4% live with their fathers only.

The causes are many and varied, including dislocations under apartheid, and the ravages of HIV/Aids.

It is disturbing that the proportion of children with absent living fathers has gone up from 42% in 1996 to 48% in 2009.

Research shows that children without fathers are more likely to suffer emotional and social problems.

They are less likely to succeed in school, and boys are particularly prone to violence, drugs, alcohol and a life of crime.

Girls are more likely to fall pregnant as teenagers, and their children are also likely to become teenage mothers.

It’s a bad cycle that needs to be broken. Government can help with good schooling and enabling job-creating growth, but a broader societal change is needed.

I am not sure that the prevailing trend to diminish stigma in this matter is the answer.

Pregnancy at school used to be a great shame, and expulsion was routine. This was rough on the individual, but it kept teenage pregnancies down overall.

In some American schools, day care is even provided for pupils’ children. This surely does not encourage restraint.

The “anything goes” attitude has bad social effects that hit women and children particularly hard. By contrast, a “tough love” policy has much to recommend it.

The key is personal responsibility, especially for men. The family is the best place to learn habits of self-restraint, and religious institutions assist as well.

Government can assist by cracking down on men who don’t pay child maintenance.

The DA has pushed for the Gauteng provincial government to follow the Western Cape in working with police and the courts to enforce maintenance laws.

The Western Cape had a successful name and shame campaign against maintenance defaulters, but the Justice Department now refuses to provide the names.

We all need to work together to ensure that social pressure encourages the personal responsibility that is presently lacking.

Gauteng hospitals hit by food shortages

Jack Bloom MPL

Spokesperson on Health

Gauteng hospitals have run out of bread, chicken, fish and vegetables this year because of non-payment of suppliers.

This is revealed in a written reply by Gauteng Health MEC Hope Papo to my questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital suffered the worst non-delivery of essential food. According to Papo, 510 loaves a day have not been delivered by Mzanzi Commodities to the hospital since May this year. Deliveries of chicken, fish and frozen vegetables from Matimba Suppliers are “very erratic” since February this year.

Other affected hospitals include George Mukhari, where cheese, yoghurt, fresh fruits and vegetables, bread chicken and fish deliveries have all been badly disrupted this year.

In April this year, the Steve Biko Academic Hospital had shortages of bread, meat, cheese, eggs and tea.

I get lots of reports of food shortages at various hospitals around Gauteng.

It is very distressing that companies have ceased supplying hospital food because of non-payment. Patients need a nutritious diet to aid their recovery, but disruptions in food supply happen far too often.

Kimberley Diamond Cup : Is there value for money?

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance is questioning the economic benefits reaped from the Economic Development department’s spending on this weekend’s Kimberley Diamond Cup (KDC) skateboarding extravaganza held in Kimberley.

Despite the huge financial investment into this event by the department, actual value for money remains dubious.

A report over the weekend indicates that provincial government has spent R40 million on this year’s event. If this figure is accurate, this puts the total government expenditure on the event since 2011, at over R200 million.

During their budget presentation earlier this year, the Economic Development department failed to specify their allocation towards the

2013 skateboarding tournament. Instead, they chose to highlight that they had compiled a report detailing the gains achieved from the event to date. This report has yet to be tabled in the legislature.

For the past three years, MEC John Block’s department has merely quantified the success of this event by stating the financial worth of marketing and publicity achieved for the Northern Cape through the hosting of this event. This is vague and by no means enough to justify millions of rands worth of expenditure on a single mega event.

Ironically, Kimberley’s poor state of tourism readiness also nullifies marketing achievements.

Block owes the people of the Northern Cape an explanation. Taxpayers and the poor and unemployed people of this province deserve to know how, if at all, financial investment into this event has benefitted the provincial economy.

Since its start as the Maloof Money Cup, this skateboarding event has been shrouded in secrecy. To such an extent,  that the DA last week submitted a PAIA application to try and attain copies of the business plan, as well as past and present contracts with the Maloof family and the new contractor. This, after numerous attempts to scrutinize the event on the legislature platform failed.

The DA will continue to probe spending on this event. And we will not stop until we have discovered the truth about the Maloof and its real beneficiaries.

Cops block DA access to 15 000 page details on Gauteng police legal claims

John Moodey MPL

Provincial Leader

The DA has been denied details of legal claims against Gauteng police because it exceeds 15 000 pages and would take 10 legal officials two months to gather.

The DA’s attempt to understand the mounting legal claims against Gauteng police was shot down in a reply received from Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko. The full reply is available here. The question was posed after the DA revealed that the South African Police Service (SAPS) indicated that the courts have granted R98 252 380.77 in 2 079 claims in 2011 and 2012.

It is even more insulting that police refuse to take responsibility for mounting claims and instead blame it on citizens being more aware of their rights and attorneys specialising in claims against police and “actively pursuing alleged victims to file outrageous lawsuits”.

The DA will submit an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to get what we believe should really be a simple spread sheet indicating the amount for each one of the 2 079 claims, the nature of the claim, and the police station in question.

The DA insists that Gauteng police take responsibility for their role in the increasing number of claims against police, often for assault or destruction of property.

It is imperative that police, as custodians of the law and public order, act within the confines of the law at all times.

Blaming informed citizens or specialist attorneys instead of critically assessing the role of heavy-handed police action or misconduct does little to rekindle public trust in the police service.

Update on phased closure of GF Jooste Hospital

Theuns Botha, Minister of Health

Western Cape Government

The phased closure of GF Jooste Hospital and the commissioning of Mitchell’s Plain Hospital have commenced. The movements that will impact on the functioning of GF Jooste Hospital will take place in the next few days. Patients have been personally informed of the changes that would affect them.

On Friday, 27 September, GF Jooste Hospital’s surgical admissions and orthopaedic theatre will close and relocate to Mitchell’s Plain Hospital.

The majority of GF Jooste hospital staff has been transferred to Mitchell’s Plain hospital. The staff that remain at GF Jooste Hospital will work in the emergency centre.

The surgical patients have already been informed and redirected to other metro hospitals – Groote Schuur Hospital, Victoria Hospital in Wynberg and New Somerset Hospital in Green Point for the period Friday, 27 September till Tuesday, 1 October. Booking slips have been issued to these patients.

The closing of GF Jooste hospital’s surgery theatre heralds a new phase in the commissioning of Mitchell’s Plain Hospital, when the first acute surgical patients will be admitted from Tuesday, 1 October. The first elective surgeries will start on   Wednesday, 2 October.

Western Cape Health Minister Theuns Botha says: “We are now in the process of commissioning Mitchell’s Plain Hospital and de-commissioning GF Jooste Hospital. In the short term this requires some altered arrangements for our patients, but in the long term it means that our patients will have improved health care. I am grateful that our patients understand that it will have better outcomes. Patients who are unsure of arrangements should contact the facility to explain the alternate arrangements.”

Chairperson of the GF Jooste hospital facility board, Mrs Mercia Isaacs, said: “The GF Jooste Hospital Facility board was presented with the total roll-out of the services up to the closure of the GF Jooste Hospital in April 2014. We wish the management well and thank them for the hard work they have invested  in the process.”

The final closing of GF Jooste Hospital is expected to be in April next year when the hospital’s emergency centre plus a 30-bed overnight ward will move to the back of the Heideveld Community Development Centre.

The new GF Jooste Hospital will only be ready in the 2018/19 financial year. At present the department is awaiting a report and recommendations from the CSIR with regard to the architectural infrastructure of the present building.

Mine royalties clouded in major cover-up

John Franzsen MPL

DA Whip – NW Provincial Legislature

North West Premier Thandi Modise appeared before a SCOPA public hearing in the Madibeng Local Municipality Council Chambers to report to the Committee on the progress into investigations into the controversial “D Account”

The D-Account falls under the control of the Premier of the Province in conjunction with the MEC of Local Government & Traditional Affairs and of the MEC of Finance.

The account collects monies in the form of royalties from platinum mines on the tribal lands in the province.

The purpose of these royalties was to provide for development in these tribal areas for the benefit of the wider communities living on the land.

Over the years this account has seen deposits of over R500 million and monies were withdrawn at their own  will with no control. The current balance now is approximately R100m.

To make matters worse, the account has not been audited for the past 19 years.

The Premier in her submission to the Committee, which was meant to clarify the management of this account, failed to clarify any meaningful aspects regarding this.

She however admitted that she “did not understand the working” process of the D-account.

The DA can only after listening to the Premier come to the conclusion that this account is clouded in a major cover-up.

She suggested to the Committee that a closed meeting be held where she would arrange a delegation of “all concerned” to discuss and report on the D-account.

The DA will monitor the developments into the investigation of the management of the account until the truth about its management is fully disclosed.