And then there was light

Vicky Knoetze MPL

Shadow MEC for Roads and Public Works

After a commitment made to the communities of the New Rest and Zwelidinga outside Seaview in Port Elizabeth, solar lights have finally been installed at both these informal settlements.

In Consultation with community leadership, the community as a whole and myself in 2012, it was decided to request the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropole to install solar street lighting in these areas. This was needed mainly for safety reasons as these areas are informal settlements and do not have formal access to electricity.

The DA is delighted that the street lights have finally been installed after two years of requests to the metro’s electricity sub-directorate and continuous IDP submissions.

DA writes to Human Rights Commission to investigate King Edward VIII Hospital tragedy

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal has written to the South African Human Rights’ Commission requesting an urgent investigation into the death of a man at King Edward VIII Hospital after he was allegedly denied emergency medical treatment.

On 8 June 2014, Mr Ronald Reece was made to wait 45 minutes before receiving medical care at King Edward VIII Hospital. He was a drowning victim who was successfully resuscitated before being transported to the hospital.  On arrival at the hospital he is believed to have been refused hospital oxygen and vitals monitoring despite being on a manual ventilator.

The delay in care was due to the proper referral process not being followed – despite his serious condition – by going first to Wentworth Hospital.  Mr Reece later died in hospital.

The DA is disgusted by the uncaring attitude of staff at this hospital.

We are also appalled by KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo’s approach to this tragedy. Despite the DA having written to him at an earlier date, calling for a probe into the matter, we are yet to hear from him.   The MEC has also failed to indicate any steps taken to prevent an unfortunate incident such as this from ever happening again.  This is despite 6 weeks having passed since the death occurring.

The MEC’s conduct is indicative of a grave lack of leadership.   Given his failure to respond, the DA has no other choice but to resort to the South African Human Rights’ Commission to investigate this alarming episode.

We firmly believe that Mr Reece’s right to life and right to emergency medical care were denied.

Limpopo municipalities continue to misuse public money

Jacques Smalle MPL

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

The DA will be writing to the Provincial Chairperson of SCOPA, Rob Tooley, to summon all the Mayors and Section 56 managers to account for their poor performance with regards to their finances.

According to the Auditor General (AG) report for 2012/2013 released today , none of the 27 Limpopo municipalities got clean audit opinions,  while nine of them got disclaimer opinions.  The report suggests that accounting officers in  18 municipalities did not prevent the unnecessary irregular expenditure that amounted to R859,6 million.  The expenditure has increased by 3.75% from R828 million in 2011/2012.

An estimated R418 million cannot be accounted for and is being regarded as unauthorised expenditure and 88% was due to overspending.  Fruitless and wasteful expenditure  is standing at R10,4 million which is 68% as a results of interest or penalties on late payment of suppliers.

Rural and poor municipalities such as Bela Bela, Blouberg and Musina are the highest overspenders of their capital budget.

Municipalities such as Thulamela, Mogalakwana, Makhado , Lephalale , Aganang , Makhuduthamaga , Capricorn  and Water District opted instead to under spend their approved capital budget notwithstanding their service delivery backlog.

This is proof that  there is lack of good leadership in these municipalities and a turnaround strategy is needed urgently.

The DA believes that if the political heads and section 56 managers can be grilled by SCOPA, an amicable solution can be found.

Poorly coordinated governance slows down service delivery 

Lebogang More MPL

Spokesperson on Petitions and Public Participation

Poorly coordinated co-operative governance between the Gauteng provincial government and local municipalities is having an adverse effect on service delivery.

While the provincial budget is spent on staff salaries, very little financial and technical resources are made available to municipalities, an example of which being is its inability to retain senior engineers.

The DA believes the department’s 2014/15 budget does not radically address the challenges faced by local municipalities such as Randfontein, Westonaria and Lesedi, and fails to address key fundamentals which would improve service delivery.

The delay in finding a solution to municipal grievances creates ongoing crisis of service delivery protests.

The DA is committed to spending public funds aimed at improving governance and serving the needs of the people. Our track record in the Western Cape and Midvaal is testament to this fact, where our capacity to deliver quality service far outperforms that of ANC-run municipalities.

EC Local Government Audits: Failing Leadership Results in Failing Municipalities

Bobby Stevenson MPL

Shadow MEC for Finance

The Auditor General‘s report on audit outcomes of Local Government for 2012-13 was released today.

The failure of political and administrative leadership at local government level is the direct cause of these poor audit outcomes and our failing municipalities.

Once again the Eastern Cape municipalities have disappointed with no clean audits and 13 out of 45 municipalities receiving an adverse opinion or disclaimer.   An increase of 50% in irregular expenditure from R2,2 billion to R3,3 billion highlights the extent to which corruption and looting at local government level is prevalent.

The heart of the problem with local government audit outcomes is that we don’t have skilled personnel.  According to reports tabled in the provincial legislature last week, 20% of municipalities do not have Chief Financial Officers and some finance units  are run by interns.  Clearly we don’t have a systems problem we have a people problem.  It is time to put an end to the political protection and patronage of non-performing officials and hire those who can do the job.

The numerous departments and agencies that are involved in rendering assistance to municipalities are simply not getting the results that they should.  This is because the competency levels as laid down by National Treasury have simply not been met.

The increasing anger and frustration with poor service delivery at local government is going to find expression in the outcome of the 2016 municipal elections where the Democratic Alliance is on track to win a number of Eastern Cape municipalities.

Democratic Alliance-led municipalities will eradicate corruption, improve service delivery and ensure that our municipalities become places of hope and opportunity for those who reside in them.

R40 million Boipatong Youth Monument stands empty

Kingsol Chabalala MPL

Spokesperson on Arts, Culture and Heritage

In a reply to DA questions on the R40 349 133 Boipatong Youth Monument, the Gauteng MEC of Sport, Arts, Culture and Heritage indicated that the site is still not complete.

A site visit to the location by the Democratic Alliance revealed numerous empty buildings with no sign of the promised youth centre or computer lab.

This is after the department promised to use the erection of this monument to uplift and develop the community.

In written replies to my questions, the MEC declined to go into detail regarding how the initial construction phase had benefitted the residents of Boipatong.

This monument, erected to honour an Apartheid youth uprising and subsequent massacre, cannot pay proper tribute to their sacrifice in such a state.

I will be writing follow up questions to the MEC to establish:

  1. How many people are expected to be employed at the monument upon completion
  2. When exactly the department expects the monument to open
  3. If the department still plans to install a community centre and computer lab and how exactly these will be used to benefit the community
  4. How exactly the construction phase of this project has benefitted the community

The proper way to honour those who gave their very lives for our freedom is to ensure that today’s generation has a better life.

The key to this is getting our youth working and into the economy. It is crucial that we use every opportunity, including the erection of this monument, to promote growth and development in our most vulnerable communities.

Shortage of Maths and science teachers: DA wants action

Jacques Smalle MPL

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

The DA will be writing to the Chairperson of education portfolio committee to call an urgent meeting to discuss the current bulge of mathematics and science teachers in the province.

According to a parliamentary reply to the DA, the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga , confirmed that only 33,060 learners have registered to study mathematics while 41.121 have registered to do mathematics literacy across the province this year. Furthermore, 86 schools are not offering mathematics in grade 12 , 55 in grade 11 and 61 in grade 10 respectively in Limpopo. She alleges that learners are not interested in registering for the subject due to the escalating shortage of maths and science teachers in their respective schools.

To make matters worse, the department has opted not to renew all the temporary teachers contracts and issued out a circular to all the schools to sack them.

More than 1000 temporary teachers are now idle and from this number, half of them were teaching maths and science in grade 10 to 12.

This is proof  that the department is not serious about putting measures in place to attract more learners to do maths and science. The department’s failure will worsen the perception that South Africa’s quality of maths and science is one of the poorest in the world.

In our letter to the Chairperson, the DA will be requesting the prioritisation of this issue and further summon MEC for Education, Ms Thembisile Nwedamutswu, to provide a comprehensive report and resolutions on how she is planning to resolve the issue.

MEC turns back on Specialised Drug Units

Michele Clarke MPL

Spokesperson on Community Safety

During yesterday’s sitting of the Gauteng Legislature, MEC for Safety and Security, Sikakele Nkosi-Malobane, indicated that the province has no plans to implement Specialised Drug Units.

In fact, the MEC was unable to provide any clear strategies for tackling the drug scourge in Gauteng.

This was in response to oral questions posed to the MEC after disturbing statistics of drug-related crimes discovered by the DA during a recent oversight visit to the Sophiatown Police station.

Sophiatown is not the only precinct suffering from such incidents; the MEC and the provincial government are well aware of extent the issue and of the fact that current strategies are not working.

Despite international best practice and the success of Specialised Drug Units all over the world, the MEC appears determined not to consider this option seriously.

I will be submitting questions to the MEC to establish:

  1. When exactly the department will have an strategy in place to tackle the drug scourge in Gauteng
  2. What options the department is considering if not Specialised Drug Units
  3. Has the MEC considered international best practice and the global success of Specialised Units
  4. If not, why not

While the department continues to delay in implementing an effective strategy, drug abuse and related crimes continue to increase exponentially across the province, placing more and more residents at risk.

Emfuleni mayor must act against extortionist protesters

Kingsol Chabalala MPL

DA Gauteng Constituency Head for Emfuleni

The DA is becoming increasingly concerned over the lawless behaviour by protestors in Evaton and Beverley Hills in the Emfuleni municipality, who are extorting residents who use public roads.

On regular occasions protestors barricade roads over the poor state of service delivery by the Emfuleni local municipality, and demand payment from residents and commuters wishing to pass through.

While the DA acknowledges the constitutional right to peaceful protest, such actions have to take place within the confines of the law, and may not infringe on the rights of others.

To this end our colleagues in the local municipality will engage with the Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Safety, Cllr V Mcera, and demand that municipal traffic officials be deployed to ensure that people’s fundamental right to freedom of movement is not violated.

Mayor Nomadlozi Hlongwane must show leadership and restore law and order to troubled areas.

DA welcomes long overdue hand over of Oribi Village

Hlanganani Gumbi, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements

The Democratic Alliance in KwaZulu-Natal welcomes the long overdue handing over of Oribi Village to the Msunduzi Municipality.

This move should have taken place ages ago.  Yet the province’s Human Settlements department chose to hang onto the development- for no clear reason. This was despite Msunduzi’s willingness to upgrade the village and the growing level of squalor within this severely dilapidated settlement.

With the handing over, Msunduzi municipality is now able to forge ahead with its long delayed plans to revitalise Oribi village and bring it one step closer to fulfilling its potential.

The DA sincerely hopes that this will mark the beginning of a trend which will see the department surrender other villages and settlements that it should not be in its possession.