DA to pose oral questions to Gauteng Premier and MECs

Today, 30 September 2014, DA members of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature posed oral questions to Gauteng Premier David Makhura and Members of the Executive Council (MECs).

A number of issues were covered including questions regarding the Gauteng e-toll review panel, land reform projects in the province, the status of the N12 Informal Settlement and money given to the Turffontein Racecourse by the Gauteng Gambling Board.

Click here to view all the questions.

R112 million “World Cup Soccer” Road fails Alicedale

Vicky Knoetze (MPL)

Shadow MEC for Roads and Public Works

A 16km district road, which had been tarred at a cost of R112 million is in such a state of disrepair that residents have been putting up makeshift signs around the potholes and broken verges to warn motorists of the danger.

However, according to Roads and Public Works MEC Tandiswa Marawu, the road “has not deteriorated at all” and is “very safe for the public”.    For pictures, click here and here.

A proper road network is the economic life blood of rural Eastern Cape towns that rely on tourism and agriculture to survive.   The MEC and her officials have either been misled or they are simply unconcerned.

With an unemployment rate estimated to be 85% a good road would open up Alicedale, the nearby golf resort and game farms to the potential of investment, and thus job creation for the 5 000 residents of the town.

According to a reply from the MEC to a legislature question, the tarring of the MR 476, which links Alicedale to the N10 to Paterson, started in 2007 as a 2010 Soccer World Cup initiative but is yet to be completed, seven years later.   An amount of R112 million had been spent to date on 16km of surfaced road, fencing and 75% completed side drains with sub soil pipes.

The MEC gave the assurance that the road is in safe condition for public use with temporary road signage and -marking as well as monthly inspections.  Feedback from Alicedale residents however proves contrary to the MEC’s response

There also seems to be confusion within her department about the completion of the project, which will cost a further R24 million.  According to her there are no funds in the current financial year while media reports quoted the department that “funding is available in the current financial year to execute the works”.

This scenario is a sad but realistic reflection of the poor management of government departments in the Eastern Cape where all too often the one hand does not know what the other is doing.

What is needed is strong leadership to ensure that service delivery projects are successful.  This can only be achieved through proper management, monitoring and accountability.   We cannot allow that millions of tax rands are wasted on projects that bare so little value for money.

I have written to the MEC to inform her about the true facts regarding the MR 476.  I have also requested that this matter be discussed at the next meeting of the legislature’s portfolio committee on roads and public works.

Gauteng premier not serious about e-toll review panel

John Moodey MPL

DA Gauteng Provincial Leader

Gauteng premier David Makhura this morning made it clear that he is not serious about scrapping tolling on the province’s highways, by refusing to oppose national legislation.

In his response to DA oral questions the premier said that he has no intention to use the findings from the E-toll review panel to declare a dispute between provincial and national government, nor considered judicial action, despite overwhelming opposition to tolling.

The premier’s remark makes it clear that he is not serious about the damaging effects of E-tolls, the review panel, or its recommendations.

In fact it reduces the panel’s work to being a mere farce, and that the opinions of the people of Gauteng do not matter.

Premier Makhura must now decide. Will he stick with the people of Gauteng as proclaimed today and in the past, or was the E-toll review panel a mere smokescreen to pacify public opinion.

Only time will tell.

Consultancy fees soar as Municipal skills drain continues

Bosman Grobler MPL

Spokesperson for COGTA

Municipalities in Mpumalanga are paying millions of rands to consultants. This is largely caused by the skills shortage being experienced by municipalities. Over R50 million rand has been spent by 17 municipalities to acquire the services of consultants.

Of significance, are the following Municipalities who spent as follows on consultants;

  • Bushbuckridge Local Municipality that spent R8 395 951
  • Chief Albert Luthuli Local Municipality that spent R 6 385 418
  • Dr Pixley Ka IsakaSeme Local Municipality that spent R 3 858 580
  • Govan Mbeki Local Municipality that spent R 4 984 292
  • Mkhondo Local Municipality that spent R 5 664 932
  • Msukaligwa Local Municipality that spent R11 329 734

Consultants have cost taxpayers a sum of R51 692 246 in 17 municipalities. The increased use of consultants is a mirror reflection of the skills shortage that is plaguing municipalities. Municipalities are incapable of executing the mandate given to them and are simply losing too many skilled administrators, often due to ANC political instability and faction fighting. Skilled personnel are often replaced with less competent or poorly qualified loyal ANC cadres.

The Auditor General’s report on audit outcomes for 2012-13 has pointed out key problems affecting municipalities. Namely, of the 17 municipalities that used consultants only one received a clean audit, one other received an unqualified audit with findings, 11 received a qualified with findings and four received a disclaimer of opinion. The AG has pointed out his concerns about the continued regress of audit outcomes over the past three years. The Auditor General’s report further stated that the main reason for continued use of consultants by the municipalities was because municipal officials lacked the required skills.

Funds earmarked for improved service delivery are being channelled to consultants who often produce very little results for residents. If this matter is not addressed municipalities will continue to suffer and fail to deliver quality basic services where they are most needed. Local government is a key sphere of government which touches the lives of many vulnerable South Africans. However it seems the ANC is more intent on wasting capital than improving the lives of our people.

The Democratic Alliance will submit written questions to the MEC of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, MEC Mtshweni on how the recommendations made by the AG have been implemented and what measures she has taken to solve the increase in the use of consultants in these municipal districts.

DA disappointed with 2015 post declaration

Edmund van Vuuren (MPL)

Shadow MEC for Education

The DA is disappointed with the declaration by education MEC Mandla Makupula this morning that the post provisioning for 2015 will remain the same as in 2014, with no new additional posts for the introduction of an African language, which forms part of the declaration.

With no extra posts allocated, it means that schools in the Eastern Cape will in 2015 again fall short of having a teacher in each classroom.  According to the declaration there will be 55 796 posts for educators and 7 080 posts for non-teaching staff.

If all vacant posts in schools could be filled and teachers are paid on time in 2015, this would go a long way in improving education in the Eastern Cape.

However, over 2 000 posts are currently still vacant and how the post basket will be distributed remains a concern.   Schools must now receive and verify their pre-final post provisioning.  The department aims to issue final post establishments in the third week of October, which leave little time for schools to plan their budgets for 2015.

The DA believes that the Department of Education can relieve the financial pressure in finding money to pay for teachers.  The department needs to cut back on the large numbers of administrative officials in its top-heavy bureaucracy.

MEC Maile found wanting on basic economic facts

Ashor Sarupen MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson for Economic Development

Gauteng MEC for Economic Development, Lebogang Maile, today had to backtrack on his assertion that “five white families own 80% of the South African economy.”

The MEC first made this statement during his budget speech on 22 July 2014, reinforcing it by stating “this is a fact” and has repeated it on several occasions in oversight committees and public speeches.

However, when confronted with an oral question asking him to name these families and if the department makes policy based on this statement, the MEC backtracked and stated that he was just speaking in broad strokes about the nature of the South African economy, and wanted to emphasize structural problems.

The MEC is prone to making irrational statements that scare off investment and deter economic growth.

While attacking “white monopoly capital” as the fundamental problem in the economy in various public forums, the MEC ignores the real problems with the South African economy.

To date, the MEC has failed to acknowledge the facts that too many people are unemployed, that the school system is not providing learners with skills to participate in the economy, as well as the barriers to entry for smaller business.

So too has he failed to acknowledge that the ANC’s policies have resulted in massive tender fraud and a closed crony ANC-linked elite that seeks to replace the old one.

The MEC’s race-baiting and avoidance of all facts relating to the Gauteng economy is clearly a response to the ANCs declining electoral support in Gauteng.

The DA will continue to challenge the MEC on his empty, race-baiting rhetoric devoid of facts, and table real proposals to create jobs and grow the economy through small business development, skills development, attracting investment and lowering barriers to entry.

Final round for school enrolment for 2015 now closed

Minister Debbie Schäfer

Western Cape Minister of Education

The final round of applications to enrol children in school for 2015 is now closed.

Thousands of parents have enrolled their children in schools already, and we thank them for their co-operation.

I am therefore making a final appeal to parents to register their children immediately by contacting their nearest district office for assistance. It is extremely important for parents to enquire about enrolling their child within the next week.

In terms of Section 3(1) of the South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1994), school attendance is compulsory for all learners from the first school day of the year in which the learner reaches the age of seven years until the last school day of the year in which such learner reaches the age of fifteen years or the ninth grade, whichever occurs first.

In terms of Section 3(6) of the South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1994), any parent who, without just cause and after a written notice from the Head of  Department, fails to comply with subsection (1), is guilty of an offence and liable on  conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months.

It is therefore the responsibility of parents and guardians to enrol children for the following school year if they are entering Grade 1, changing schools (such as entering Grade 8 or 9) or when they have moved to a new geographical area. Many schools, however, have already reached capacity.

Enrolment in schools began in March this year, with a second phase of enrolments from July to September. The WCED also launched an early enrolment campaign earlier in the year, and has issued numerous calls for enrolment.

Earlier this year, the WCED developed a new online system, School Admission Management Information System (SAMI) which simplifies management of learner enrolment.

The system automatically sends an e-mail to the district officials to assist with finding a space for any learner who remains unplaced.

The system however, cannot create an entry for a child unless an application for enrolment for 2015 has been received.

The school population in the Western Cape is growing rapidly year-by-year. It’s important that children are enrolled for school as soon as possible so that we can plan ahead for 2015.

Parents should note that many schools have already concluded their admissions processes. Those parents who have yet to enrol their children have therefore reduced their chances of enrolling at a school of their choice.

Parents who have applied to schools and have not secured a space at any school may contact our district offices for assistance.  Districts will assist parents using the available information on SAMI in identifying spaces available at the nearest schools, according to the parents’ request in terms of grade or medium of instruction.

We ask that parents work together with the WCED so that we can manage this process as efficiently as possible to ensure a smooth start to 2015. Please contact your Education District Office immediately to ensure that we place your child in time for the 2015 school year.

DA KZN:  Umhlanga Clinic oversight visit reveals desperate situation

Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA KZN Alternate Spokesperson on Health

A recent DA oversight visit to the Umhlanga Local Clinic has revealed dismal conditions at this busy facility.

The clinic was recently reassigned as a temporary treatment centre by the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality. This after the municipality sold its old fixed-site premises to a property developer.

The DA visit has revealed the following;

–          No proper clinic building. The clinic currently operates out of a park home donated by the Umhlanga UIP team which is not designed for this purpose. There are only two small consulting rooms with no proper space for medication storage and patient examination. Staff must share a single consulting room violating the patient’s right to privacy.

–          Lack of sanitation. There is absolutely no provision of ablution facilities at the clinic. Patients and staff alike have to use toilet facilities at the neighbouring garage or shopping mall. This is completely unacceptable.

–          Lack of staff. The clinic is completely understaffed with only two professional nurses and one staff nurse despite the huge volume of patients. There is also no clerk or general orderly to ensure proper administration and cleanliness of the facility.

–          No waiting area. The clinic lacks a proper waiting area for patients who are forced to wait under trees on a traffic island along Lagoon Drive leaving them open to the elements. This is totally unacceptable

–          Lack of utilities. The Hooters restaurant across the road currently sponsors the clinic with electricity. The clinic also only has one tap and small washbasin. This places severe constraints on proper infection control.

–          Lack of proper air-conditioning. The park home currently has no air-conditioning and poor ventilation. It is believed that the municipality has plans to supply air-conditioners to this clinic. This must be fast-tracked.

The Umhlanga Local Clinic services scores of workers from the community’s economic zone. The majority of patients come from townships and peri-urban areas for work and healthcare. Between 70 and 80 patients are treated every day.

I have today written to KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo, to outline the situation and have urged him to do something about it.  While he may not have direct authority over the administering of a municipal clinic, I sincerely hope that as a medical doctor and Health MEC he will take up the plight of these patients with the eThekwini City Health Department.

These problems need to be rectified without delay and a fixed-site facility provided as a matter of urgency.  This would improve the morale of clinic staff and bring the clinic up to standards as set out in the National Core Standards.

Mostly importantly, it would ensure that the best possible healthcare service is provided to all patients.

In memory of LYO member who died in Dakar, Senegal

Jacques Smalle (MPL)

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

The DA family in Limpopo is still reeling in shock after learning the untimely death Daniel Matome Modiba, a members of the Limpopo Youth Orchestra.

Modiba met his sudden death last Tuesday 23 September during the group’s international tour to Dakar, Senegal where without a doubt, Limpopo and the Republic of South Africa was well represented.

In this case, not only his family but the international community of music has lost a brave young man whose future was yet to bless Limpopo people in many ways.

According to LYO, Modiba was a fantastic trumpeter who was loved by all in his peer circles both in music and in his personal life.

The DA extends its sincere condolences, particularly to his mother, Mme Modiba, the rest of the family and  his friends.

As DA we also call on the entire Limpopo to include the family in prayers for God to shower them with the strength that they need at this time of bereavement.

We must also acknowledge the care and assistance that devastated LYO received in arranging a

tribute concert in memory of Modiba  which took place at the SA Ambassador to Senegal’s residence in Dakar.

Emotional support must also be extended to the rest of LYO members and management to deal with the state of affairs at their hands.

Special school neglected: Human Rights must investigate

Today, 29 September 2014 , the Shadow Deputy Minister of Basic Education , Desiree Van Der Walt (MP) and DA Leader, Jacques Smalle (MPL) will be laying charges with the Human Rights Commission against the department of education for failing to built a new school for Setotolwane Special school learners.

The school was declared unfit for learners by the department but continuous empty promises to move them to Hwiti High School for years now has proven that there is indeed “no good story to tell in Education”. The department’s failure is a clear violation of children’s rights enshrined by the constitution.