DA Scores Northern Cape Government performance

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape Provincial Leader

The DA has evaluated seven provincial government departments that are at the face of service delivery. These departments are:

  • Office of the Premier
  • Economic Development & Tourism
  • Education
  • Social Development
  • Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development
  • Health
  • Transport, Safety & Liaison.

The Northern Cape has a population of 1.1 million people, 40% of whom live in poverty. These seven departments should offer residents the most realistic chance to better their lives. So how have they fared in this past year?

Office of the Premier: (2/10)

Premier Lucas has stepped into her role of leadership amid a storm of controversy. Although her department received an unqualified audit, she has underspent her budget by R4.4-million on her core function of policy and governance.

Strangely, her department conducted no monitoring & evaluation, as the unit did not conduct a single quarterly site visit. In a show of a complete disregard for the poverty people experience in this province, Lucas spent R53 159 in her first 10 weeks as Premier on fast food and groceries, misusing her official credit card.

She has failed residents of this province by not monitoring her administration and has wasted money in a scandal that has embarrassed the Northern Cape. Premier Sylvia Lucas gets 2/10.

Economic Development & Tourism:  (0/10)

The MEC, John Block, has no place being in government. Block is before the courts facing serious charges of fraud and corruption.

The department received an unqualified audit, but the department has failed in the two indicators that matter, namely economic growth and unemployment.

The province’s unemployment rate remains at 36.3%. This is unacceptably high.

The department underspent by R11.9-million, stalling the implementation of key projects like the Wireless Mesh Network. This all stalls development further.

The dubious character of MEC Block also brings the department into disrepute, and it is no surprise that the department does not have any Public-Private Partners and investors working with it.

MEC Block is not fit to be in office. He gets 0/10.

Education:(3/10)

MEC GrizeldaCjiekella has not shown the leadership required to fix Northern Cape education.

Her department received a qualified audit report, has underspent its budget by R76-million, and failed to achieve 68% of its planned targets.

The department also ran up R285-million in irregular expenditure and R16.8-million in unauthorised expenditure. School children face shortages in libraries, computer rooms, and laboratories, and yet the department underspent on the programme meant to deliver these.

Having said all of this, the Northern Cape continues to produce better matric results than the national average.

Things aren’t going particularly well, but it could be worse. MEC Cjikella gets 3/10.

Social Development: (6/10)

The Social Development Department represents a missed opportunity. MEC Chukelwa Chotelo could be using this department to expand opportunity and true empowerment. We welcome her department receiving an unqualified audit. Unfortunately, all of the department’s attention is given poverty alleviation, and almost nothing to poverty eradication. We believe this department must be run to eradicate poverty over time through the expansion of opportunity as opposed to just alleviating the effects of poverty in the province.

The department funds over 897 welfare organisations. Some important sectors are underfunded, like centres providing support to victims of domestic violence. On the whole this number can be trimmed down, with increased support to the organisations that do the best work.

The department also supports 106 soup kitchens in the province. This is a noble approach, but it needs to be linked to services that would expand opportunity for the poor.

The province still does not have Drug Rehabilitation Centres.

MEC Chotelo needs to restructure her department to focus on opportunity and not just welfare, and gets 6/10.

Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development: (3/10)

MEC Norman Shushu’s department received an unqualified audit with findings for the 2012/13 year, however his impact has been minimal in people’s lives.

The department has not achieved 34% of its planned targets, and underspent its conditional grants, aimed at helping all agri-businesses, by R285-million.

The department still does not have enough Extension Officers who provide technical assistance to emerging farmers. This caused many projects to fail.

 

The department has also incurred R21-million in irregular expenditure and R2.4-million fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Established and emerging farmers have been devastated in the face of the recent drought. To date no Disaster Risk Management Plan been put in place.

For his failure to adequately respond to the drought crisis, MEC Shushu gets 3/10.

Health: (0/10)

MEC Mxolisa Sokatsha has a bad track-record, and has received a qualified audit report.

The health department has incurred R792-million in irregular and R1.8-million in wasteful expenditure.

Of greatest concern is the failure of the department to spend its budget on sorely needed programmes.

47% of people treated in health facilities are HIV patients, yet the department underspent its budget meant for HIV treatment by R35.8-million.

Nearly R19-million was underspent on the province’s Emergency Medical Services. No ambulances were purchased and no control rooms were built, despite the shortage in the province.

The completion of the long overdue Kimberley Mental Hospital still remains doubtful, and has meant patients are kept in prisons due to a lack of facilities.

The department has not filled critical vacancies across the province, and has reduced people’s access to quality healthcare.

MEC Sokatsha gets 0/10 for his sub-par performance.

Transport, Safety & Liaison:  (4/10)

MEC Mac Jack has only recently taken over the department. He needs to act on the crises this department finds itself in.

The department’s HOD, Stephen Jonkers, is before the courts facing fraud and corruption charges related to defrauding his own department.

The DA has also revealed information of further allegations of irregularities and fraud in the department, with Jonkers having appointed two contractors to provide learner transport for one bus route.

The department received an unqualified report with findings, as R98-million worth of receivables is irrecoverable.

It also incurred R113-million in irregular expenditure, and 82% increase on the previous year.

The department failed to launch an Integrated Transport Plan for the province, and a majority of residents still are without subsidized public transport.

Despite the fact that many residents commute to and from work by walking and cycling, no dedicated pedestrian and cycling routes exist in major cities.

The last crime stats reveal that many major crimes such as murder (up 12%), aggravated robbery (up 27.9%), hijacking (up 211%), and drug-related crimes (up 7.1%) have increased sharply in the province.

It certainly does not inspire much confidence in residents that the corruption and fraud charged HOD is the same person who drafted the Provincial Crime Prevention Strategy.

MEC Jack has a lot of work to do, and he has not done much since coming into office. He needs to suspend his HOD, and get the department working. For now, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. He gets 4/10.

The DA will continue to monitor the performance of the provincial government. But we can only truly turn this decline around if we are voted into government. Next year’s general elections offer residents a chance to stick with the same, or change for the better.

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DA questions Premier Mokonyane’s R217 000 cellphone bill

John Moodey MPL

Provincial Leader

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has racked up a cellphone bill of R217 000 in the past three financial years, increasing from R55 000 in 2010/11 to R99 481 in 2012/13. The Premier spent an average of R6 000 a month on her cellphone during this period, with the R15 534.68 for September 2012 being the highest.

The detailed monthly breakdown of the Premier’s cellphone expenditure was provided in response to my application for the information under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). The application was necessary because the Premier refused to divulge her cellphone spending to the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

The Premier’s cellphone expenditure appears excessive, especially when compared to other MECs who did provide responses to the questions posed in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko spent on average R15 000 a year, while Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi’s cellphone bill is about R26 000 a year.

Another big spender is Agriculture, Rural and Social Development MEC Nandi-Mayathula-Khoza, with a total cellphone bill of R134 848.60 for the three year period. She also had the highest monthly cellphone bill with a staggering R19 164 bill for June 2011.

It is absolutely critical that the Premier and members of her provincial executive are accessible and responsive at all times, but cost effective and tailor-made cellphone packages are being offered by all service providers.

The DA awaits further responses to our PAIA applications and will assess these as they come in. The DA calls on the provincial government to contract the most cost effective cellphone packages and ensure that cellphones, as tools necessary to do the job at hand, are used cost effectively.

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KZN Scopa Resolutions

Mark Steele, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Scopa

The audit outcomes for Departments and Public Entities in KZN represent a mixed bag of results.

Yes, there has been an improvement.  Auditees which are unqualified with no findings (the so-called clean audits) are up from 7 to 15 and include this Legislature.  There are, however, also problems.  Auditees which are qualified with findings also show an increase from 4 to 6, while those that are unqualified with findings are still 16 in number even though this is a figure much reduced from 26 in the previous year.

Of major concern to Scopa and this House should be the fact that the biggest Departments, Education and Health, which together spend nearly R60 billion, were both qualified with findings.

Joining them in the audit walk of shame were Arts and Culture and Social Development.

In his report the AG states clearly what he wants Scopa and this Legislature to pay attention to.

–        Material mis-statements in financial records

–        The usual suspects – irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure

–        Procurement management.

The resolutions tabled before you today address all of these issues.

Two matters deserve to be highlighted from the Committee Report.  At the APAC conference held earlier this year in Port Elizabeth we called for negative audit findings to have consequences, and this message is reinforced here.

‘Committee is of the opinion that stronger disciplinary actions need to be taken by the Accounting Officer against staff responsible for incurring Irregular/Unauthorised/Fruitless/ Wasteful expenditure.  In most cases the expenditure is incurred due to flagrant disregard for supply chain management regulations, lack of proper planning and the lack of capacity of staff in financial positions’.

We as a Legislature need to demand consequences.  Let us remember the PFMA division of responsibilities – the AO or HOD is responsible for the management of the Department, while the Executive Authority or MEC is responsible for the performance of the HOD.

Where a Dept has a single year negative audit finding we need to hold the AO responsible for investigating and correcting what has happened.  Where a Department has a recurring negative audit finding we need to hold the EA responsible.

We should be asking what the MEC is doing monitor the performance of the HOD and to ensure that proper action is taken, for example, to prevent non-compliance.  Cosy relationships between HODs and MECs are fine when audits are clean, but not when audits findings of non-compliance recur year after year.

Secondly we note that the hearing for the Dept of Health had to be abandoned.  The Committee report summarises the position accurately and confirms that Scopa is still determined to have this hearing.  However there are unanswered questions.

Did the MEC know in advance that the HOD was going to be missing from Scopa?  Did he authorise this absence?  Does the MEC in fact have full control over the actions of his HOD?

Finally Madam Speaker we must mention the strange events around KZN Ezemvelo.  Scopa had a hearing and we table resolutions – Pg 8, Resolution 16.  This calls on Provincial Treasury to investigate and report back by 28 February 2014 on the management of the Department and corrective actions taken.

So why then was Scopa called to a Joint Meeting with the Conservation portfolio committee and the Ezemvelo Board to discuss these draft resolutions before they were even tabled or adopted by this House?  This meeting was totally irregular and should never be seen to be setting a precedent for the future conduct of other PCs.

I would like to conclude by thanking the members and Chairperson of Scopa for their commitment to oversight and to the vital work of holding the Executive to account.

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WCED prepared and ready for the start of the 2013 NSC marking process

Minister Donald Grant

Ministry for Education

Tomorrow is the last examination day of the 2013 National Senior Certificate examinations.

So far, these examinations have progressed without any major incidents or disruptions. I should like to thank our dedicated and committed team for their professional management of the entire examination process. They really have done an outstanding job.

Of course, the work of this team does not end tomorrow. We still have the all-important marking process to complete. This, in itself, is a major logistical exercise that requires discretion, professionalism, organisation and compliance.

On Saturday, 30 November 2013, the marking process will begin. The majority of markers, however, will start on the 4th of December.

The WCED have appointed over 3 300 people to mark the 800 000 examination scripts that have been completed by candidates.

The criteria for markers generally are that they must be teaching the relevant subject in Grade 12, have – at least – a 2nd year university level qualification in the subject, minimum of five years teaching experience and have taught the subject for two of the last three years.

In addition, the WCED again administered competency testing for markers to ensure there is the highest possible standard of marking in these examinations and that all our markers are both competent and experienced in their subject fields.

The Western Cape is the only Province to have administered such testing for markers.

The WCED tested markers in 10 subject fields – Mathematics, Mathematical Literacy, Physical Sciences, History, Life Sciences, Accounting, Business Studies, Geography and Consumer Studies.

The competency tests assessed the content knowledge of the subject, application of knowledge and skills and marking abilities. The tests also test the ability of the applicant to interpret the Grade 12 candidate responses. Therefore it does not test subject content only.

We believe this process will reflect the overall quality of passes in the Western Cape.

It also enhances the professional status of educators and the credibility of the public examination.

The marking process will take place under strict security to protect the integrity of the examinations.

To ensure a uniform, high standard of marking, a minimum percentage of scripts will be moderated (remarked) by senior markers appointed for this purpose. 520 mark checkers will be checking the marks before they are uploaded onto a national database.

Marking is expected to be completed by the 13th of December 2013.

In the last week of December a National Standardisation process takes place where marks for various subjects are standardized and approved by UMALUSI. Once the information is checked and verified, UMALUSI approves the release of the results.

Schools collect the results from district offices on the morning of the 7th of January. They are then asked to analyse the results and check for any errors. After 12h00, candidates will receive their individual results. (National and Provincial Results are expected to be announced on the 6th of January 2013.)

We are confident that the Class of 2013 will do themselves and the Western Cape proud and we look forward to celebrating their results in early January.

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Fields Hill tragedy: Four bodies still unclaimed

Sizwe Mchunu MPP

Leader of the DA in KwaZulu-Natal

The Democratic Alliance has learned that four victims of the Field’s Hill tragedy three months ago are still unclaimed at a Durban mortuary.  This is incredibly sad as the affected families clearly have not been able to claim their relatives in order to organise proper funerals.

The accident, which took place on the 5th September, claimed the lives of 23 commuters and left scores critically injured after a runaway truck ploughed into several vehicles. The DA has repeatedly called for heavy trucks to be banned from Field’s Hill as we do not believe the road is safe for use by heavy trucks.

The provincial government must act to contact the families of the victims to make sure they are able to bid farewell to their relatives in a dignified manner.

Both the KZN Transport Department and the KZN Health Department should be ashamed for allowing the bodies to lie there for three months. They must pro-actively contact the affected families and provide them with support to claim their loved ones.

The provincial government must take all action to assist those people affected by this terrible tragedy and must take urgent action to improve safety on Field’s Hill road to prevent future loss of life.

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Infant Rape: DA condemns horrendous incident

Harold McGluwa, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Chairperson Spokesperson on Transport, Safety & Liaison

The DA condemns the rape of a six week old baby in Galeshewe. This is an utterly disgusting and disturbing incident.

We send our condolences to the family and community.

The community must be commended for their united action. They apprehend the suspect, and handed him over to the South African Police Services (SAPS).

The law will now run its course. If the suspect is found guilty, we urge the courts to impose the harshest sentence possible.

SAPS must investigate the case thoroughly to bring the true perpetrator to justice.

We have to stand up together against the scourge of rape and violence. The time has come for us to start respecting each other’s rights.

In solidarity with all victims of gender violence, LGBTI discrimination, and child-abuse, the DA in the Northern Cape will be hosting a march on the 7th of December in Kimberley in support of the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign.

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Modimolle By Elections: DA retains ward with increased majority

Jacques Smalle MP

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

The DA won the by-election held in Modimolle ward 8 yesterday. We retained the seat with an increased majority, increasing our share of the vote from 63% in 2011 to 65% yesterday.

The DA continues to grow in all communities across South Africa. The by-election results from across the country yesterday show a similar trend:  the DA retained all of its wards with increased majorities, and made inroads into the ANC support in every ANC ward we contested.

This victory comes shortly after we won our first rural ward in Makhado ward 5, Olifantshoek and Tiyane. We are  building support across the province in diverse communities.

I would like to thank the community of Modimolle who went out in their numbers to support the DA.

We will now work as hard as we possibly can to ensure that service delivery is  improved for all the people of Modimolle.

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DA shows strong growth in Eastern Cape by-elections

Athol Trollip MPL

Eastern Cape Provincial Leader

Yesterday the Democratic Alliance swept to victory in Ward 5 in the Kouga Municipality where it retained the seat notwithstanding the fact that the ANC put forward the Kouga mayor, Booi Koerat, as the candidate.   We showed stunning growth in Ward 9 of the same municipality where we grew from 33% of the vote to 44% of the vote in the face of desperate intimidation by the ANC.  In Ward 2 in Mnquma the result was particularly exciting, where we grew from 8,7 % of the vote to 21 %.

This growth shows that the DA is on track to do well in the 2014 elections in the Eastern Cape.  The growth that took place in other by-elections around the country also illustrates that the DA is on track when it comes to national growth.  For the results, click here.

In Ward 5 in Kouga the DA candidate, Desmond Peterson, won with 58 % of the vote and in Ward 9 the DA candidate, Otto Williams, obtained 44 % of the vote.

In Mnquma the DA’s Mazizandile Tyeku polled 21 % of the vote which is an increase from 8, 77% in 2011.

The intimidation that took place yesterday in Ward 9 in Kouga where roads were frequently blocked by ANC supporters to prevent voters coming to the polls highlights the panic reaction of the ANC to the prospect of losing power in this municipality.

The DA stood firm against this onslaught and voters voiced their increased support for change.

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DA wins Emalahleni by-election

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Yesterday, the DA won a decisive victory in the Emalahleni Ward 22 by-election, with a winning margin of over 66%, obtaining 448 votes over the 226 of the ANC. The by-election follows after the resignation of the ward councillor.

A DA victory was never a given, and this result once again shows that South Africans are increasingly turning to the DA for their service delivery needs, knowing that a vote for the DA is a vote for a better life.

The DA wishes to express its gratitude and appreciation to the residents of Ward 22 Emalahleni for voting, and congratulates Councillor Helene Griffiths on her election.

Helene and her fellow DA councillors in the local council will continue to serve the interests of residents with great dedication and commitment, and make Ward 22 a safer and happier place to live.

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Tribunal ruling to fix Gautrain water problem a victory for Gauteng taxpayers

Dr Neil Campbell MPL

Spokesperson on Roads and Transport

The DA is delighted with the findings of the arbitration tribunal regarding the water ingress into the Gautrain tunnel between Park Station and the Wilds.

The requirement that the concessionnaire, Bombela, must reduce the water inflow to approved levels is a great victory for the Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) and the Gauteng taxpayer.

The design life of the tunnel is 100 years but the amount of seepage is what one could expect in a tunnel after 80 years and not after such a short time.

Had the GMA not stuck to its guns the taxpayer would have had to pick up the costs of pumping the mineral rich water after Bombela’s 20 year stint as the concessionaire.

The high content of minerals would rapidly have corroded the pumps and the taxpayer would have had to pay for numerous sets of pumps. With decreased water in the tunnel the pumping will be less and pumps will last longer.

The DA hopes that this outcome will result in more contractors working for the provincial government making certain that the work they deliver is up to specification.

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