Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Sport congratulates Gezelle Magerman

Dr Nomafrench Mbombo

Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport

Note: Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Sport congratulates Gezelle Magerman for winning our country’s first gold medal at the Youth Olympics

At the Youth Olympic Games in China, a child of this province, Gezelle Magerman, made us proud by scooping the very first gold medal for South Africa.

Gezelle, a pupil from La Rochelle Girls’ High in Paarl has flown the South African flag high and showcased the wealth of talent which exists not only in this province but in the rest of the country.

Her magnificent achievement at the Youth Olympics is a testament of our local athletes’ competitiveness on the international stage.

I will join the Executive Mayor of Saldanha Bay, Francois Schippers, in welcoming Gezelle Magerman at Cape Town International Airport upon her return from the Olympic Games.

It is young people like Gezelle who propel the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport to keep working hard in order to create world-class sports women and men from every corner of this province.

It is our belief that sport can play an important role in uplifting young people by keeping them off the streets and making them feel part of a team- away from gangs and other risky behavioural patterns.

We hope that youngsters like Gezelle can serve as an inspiration for young people living in the province.

KZN Social Development department woefully ill-prepared to deal with drug scourge

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development

KwaZulu-Natal’s Social Development department is woefully ill-prepared to deal with the drug scourge within the province’s communities with only three government-run drug rehabilitation treatment centres and a total capacity of just 134 in-patients.

Current departmental protocol states an interview waiting time of 2 weeks and admission waiting time of 6 weeks.  Yet frontline social workers confirm that the current waiting time for admission is anything from 6 months to 2 years due to the high number of drug addicts requesting treatment and the lack of patient capacity within the province.

Non-government organisations (NGO’s) in KZN face a similar situation with an in-patient treatment capacity of 84 patients and are severely unfunded and lack proper support.

The information forms the basis of an August 2014 parliamentary reply by KZN Social Development MEC, Weziwe Thusi to questions posed by the DA in the provincial legislature.

KZN suffers a unique drug burden with Whoonga and Sugars requiring intensive medical and psychological treatment. These drugs affect the youth in our poorest communities the hardest who must then rely on state-run facilities since they cannot afford private treatment.

According to the reply, the Department’s current plans will only increase patient capacity at Madadeni and Khanyani Treatment centres by 104 in-patient beds. There are no capacity increases at Newlands Park in Durban which faces the largest drug burden.

By contrast, the Western Cape increased its number of treatment centres from 7 to 24 between 2008 and 2014.  In-patient capacity in the province also went from 3000 to 5000 while the City of Cape Town Metro now has 5 of its own out-patient treatment centres.

The DA calls on MEC Thusi and her HOD to urgently present a revised strategy aimed at increasing both the number of centres and in-patient facilities, particularly in Durban, to the KZN social development portfolio committee.  The current plan is completely inadequate.

DA welcomes MEC’s swift intervention at Grey’s Hospital

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

A DA oversight visit to Grey’s Hospital last week revealed, amongst other issues, that the Urology department’s cystoscope was broken, with a new one on order since November last year.

According to a specialist, the hospital had been forced to borrow another device from the private sector in order to continue treating patients.

I subsequently raised the issue with KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, whose ensuing intervention appears to have ruffled feathers within the department.  The MEC has committed to dealing with the problem soon.

The DA welcomes his swift response to this matter.

A cystoscope may not be the kind of equipment that will bring a hospital to a standstill.  Yet it is vital in the work of urology.  It is a “bread-and-butter” tool so to speak that is used to examine urinary bladders without surgery and is used in procedures to remove stones, check why there is blood in the urine, examine the bladder for possible cancers or growths and many other functions.

It is inexplicable that a large hospital such as Greys should be without such a piece of equipment.

It is precisely this type of tardiness and bad management by KZN’S Health department that has led to a poor working morale among medical staff and the frustration and suffering of patients.  The DA has consistently raised this point.

We sincerely hope that this type of mismanagement will come to an end with the formation of a more capable, stricter management team.

It is unacceptable that it should take a DA oversight visit and then the MEC’s intervention to sort out an issue that is the department’s responsibility.

The DA will endeavour to keep the doors of communication open with MEC Dhlomo so that matters found during such visits receive the attention they deserve.

ANC rejects oversight visit to Dipela’s farm

Beyers Smit (MP)

NCOP Member

The DA has requested the Select Committee on Land in the National Council Of Provinces (NCOP) to urgently do an oversight visit to Rietfonteinfarm in Modimolle. The farm belongs to the formerMunicipal Manager of Bela-Bela Municipality, Andrew Dipela.

Mr Dipela has been neglecting the livestock on his farm. Terrible conditions were found on the farm, with larger pigs cannibalising piglets due to chronic underfeeding.

This is a state-owned farm that requires rigorous oversight. The NCOP must urgently visit the farm to ensure that conditions improve and that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries continues to do the necessary oversight visits.

The ANC has however blocked my proposal from going ahead, in a clear attempt to shield Mr Dipela from further investigation.

We will liaise with the SPCA, who have been investigating the conditions on the farm, to consider criminal action Mr Dipela

Too many unanswered questions on Ekurhuleni MK Veterans Peace Corps

Michele Clarke MPL

DA Spokesperson for Community Safety

Yesterday I posed oral questions to Gauteng MEC for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, regarding the appointment of former Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) veterans to the Ekurhuleni Peace Corps Programme.

Her answers however raised even further questions and concerns.

According to the MEC, the Peace Corps Programme is designed for former MK veterans to assist the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department (EMPD) with general law enforcement.

However, the MEC indicated that they would undergo only six weeks of training and thereafter have powers of arrest.

It is difficult to believe that individuals would have a true grasp of the Criminal Procedures Act and proper arresting techniques after such a short training period.

If arresting processes are not followed strictly, there is a risk that criminal cases may be thrown out of court.

The MEC also failed to indicate the age of these individuals who should, if they are true veterans, be at least middle-aged and not necessarily physically able to cope with criminal police work.

I will be submitting further questions to the MEC to establish:

  1. On what basis it was decided that six weeks of training is an adequate time period to master the Criminal Procedures Act and arresting procedures
  2. Whether the Peace Corps are expected to carry firearms
  3. If so, will the veterans undergo proper firearms and competency training in accordance with the Firearms Control Act
  4. Who the issuing authority for firearms will be
  5. If the recruits are truly MK veterans, whether their physical fitness and condition will not hinder their intended purpose

While the DA supports all measures to combat crime in South Africa, the Peace Corps raises more concerns than anything else.

We hope that this a genuine attempt at improving public safety and not a jobs-for-pals scheme which will place the public at risk and undermine the criminal justice system.

DA encourages public input on Gauteng Public and Information Services Bill

Paul Willemburg MPL

DA Shadow MEC of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation

The Democratic Alliance (DA) encourages the public and other stakeholders to lodge their input on the new Gauteng Public and Information Services Bill.

The bill aims to promote the development of libraries and information services, as well as promote public access to these facilities. It will also direct responsibility for the management and running of libraries and information services.

Gauteng MEC for Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation, Molebatsi Bopape, will shortly publicise this bill in the Provincial Gazette and identified newspapers.

Libraries are an important source of information for the general public and the DA welcomes this move to promote their accessibility.

Not only are they an important hub of knowledge for the youth and students but they can also be an important job-seeking portal.

We are also pleased that the bill makes provision for promoting and integrating technology into these facilities; particularly for communities that may not have access to computers or the internet.

The DA supports this bill and hopes that the department will follow through in making it a success for benefit of the people of Gauteng.

DA to report suspected Evaton Child Grant Scam

Kingsol Chabalala MPL

DA Constituency Head for Evaton

A suspected child grant scam has come to the DA’s attention in Evaton after banners indicating that people can “Double their child grant 10 times” have been spotted in and around the area. Please click here to view the banner.

The scam is incredibly concerning as it involves taking advantage of our most vulnerable citizens.

The DA will be reporting this suspected scam to the Department of Social Development, as well as the local police authorities, for further investigation.

We also urge the public to come forward with any further information linked to these or similar scams.

It is unacceptable for individuals to attempt to cheat people out of money meant for the well-being of their children.

Social grants provide a safety net for the poorest of the poor and it is shameful to attempt to gain from people’s dire circumstances.

Freedom means not abusing state resources

Bobby Stevenson (MPL)

Chief Whip of the Official Opposition in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature

The ANC keeps getting is wrong when it comes to the separation of party and state.  A total of R106 000 was spent by the Department of Humans Settlements in the Eastern Cape on radio adverts in April and May 2014.  This was revealed in a reply to a legislature question I asked the MEC for Human Settlements, Helen Sauls-August.

A DA-government in the Eastern Cape would ensure money is spent on building houses and not building the profile of the ANC during an election campaign.

The Department’s justification for these adverts was the celebration of 20 Years of Freedom.  I personally heard these adverts the day before the May 2014 general election, and on election day, on 7 May 2014.  The advert ended with same election slogan as used by the ANC during their election campaign – Taking South Africa forward.

The very freedom which the ANC purports to celebrate is in fact a freedom to abuse state resources for party political ends.  In established democracies there are laws preventing government departments engaging in any form of advertising six months prior to elections.

The abuse of state resources by this department also took place during the Ward 40 by-election in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro where the Kuyga community crèche, a building owned by this department, was used by the ANC as an election campaign office.

The blurring of the lines between party and state and the misuse of resources strikes a blow to free and fair elections.  This together with the misuse of the SABC, food parcels, threats around grants and targeting of DA-supporting communities forms part of a dangerous pattern.  This undermines the very freedom that we should be celebrating.

The IEC’s whose constitutional mandate is to ensure free and fair elections should be dealing with these matters.  The DA is taking up the abuse of state resources in general at national level.

Local Government MEC washes hands of the crisis in Merafong

Ina Cilliers MPL

DA Constituency Head for Merafong

Yesterday I asked oral questions to Gauteng MEC for Co-Operative Governance, Jacob Mamabolo, regarding recent media reports which point to maladministration in the Merafong Municipality.

In response to my questions, the MEC pleaded ignorant to R28 million spent on ghost contractors, and was supposedly unaware of the alleged misconduct involving George Seitisho; the current acting municipal manager that was seconded to Merafong by the MEC’s own department.

In fact, according to MEC Mamabolo, Merafong is not in crisis and does not need a turnaround strategy. This, in spite of forensic reports indicating widespread irregularities, wasted public money and unethical human resource practices.

The DA finds this dismissal unacceptable, and will furnish the MEC with all the relevant documentation to ensure that he can no longer claim ignorance in this matter.

Further, the DA will request that the forensic reports by Phandahnu Consulting and Rebahale Consulting are released to the party for further scrutiny.

We will continue to use any and all oversight tools at our disposal to ensure that the people of Merafong are not undermined or ignored by government in such a way.

ANC, officials regarding themselves as above the law

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader

The DA is shocked that officials from the department of Transport, Safety and Liaison have emblazoned the controversial Lennox Street building with its logo. The building is now officially marked as the headquarters of the department, despite the fact that former minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan gave instructions that business ties between the provincial government and Ocean Echo Properties should be severed.

It is clear that officials and the politicians who instruct them regard themselves as above the law. The arrogance of the provincial government to bluntly ignore the instructions from a minister is outrageous. All members of the Legislature have sworn an oath of obedience to the Constitution and faithfulness to the Republic.

Members of the Executive are further required to swear that they will perform the functions of their office carefully and diligently. The ANC MECs are failing in this duty. Instead of being honest and faithful councillors, as prescribed by the Constitutional oath, they are snubbing the national government and refusing to act on instructions given by higher authorities. The MECs who fail to carry out the instructions from the Minister of Finance disregard their own oaths and so reduce their own words to meaningless nonsense.

One must ask why the provincial government is persisting in its business relations with Ocean Echo Properties. Who is benefiting from these deals? Why are the national instructions to stop the leases disregarded?

Questions on these corrupt dealings would have been put to the premier during yesterday’s House sitting. The premier and her entire cabinet instead decided not to attend the sitting. It is not a coincidence that the Aids council meeting was scheduled for the same day, but forms part of a greater ANC effort to avoid any sort of accountability and ethics. It is nothing new for the ANC-premiers to shirk question times.

Why is the executive so afraid of being asked questions to which they have to give honest answers?