Debate on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Quarters 2014/15 Public Works Reports

By Hon. Langa Bodlani:

Speaker

Honourable members

Ladies and Gentlemen

When the MEC delivered his budget speech for 2014/15 he assured the province that and I quote “we have plans in place to address the shortcomings the department has faced in the past. These plans address capacitation challenges as well as delivery challenges where infrastructure is concerned”.

It now appears that this assurance was no more than an empty promise.

The only visible and tangible plans so far achieved are the billboards in the province advertising the faces of the Premier, MEC and RAL’s CEO.

You see one as you drive on the Mandela Road from Seshego.

You wonder how much does it cost to maintain those billboards when our communities are up in arms in violent protests over bad roads infrastructure.

The MEC has assured us that R30 million has been set aside in this financial year to recruit built environment professionals.

This was the committee’s concern that if this matter of capacitation was not achieved, completion of designs would not be done in time.

This shortage is identified in the Limpopo Development Plan which posits on page 102 that “the provincial government requires at least two hundred and twenty two (222) registered built environment professional employees. However it currently has only eighteen (18) qualified professional employees relating to infrastructure”

The LDP underscores these constraints as the ‘primary cause of under spending on conditional grants, which is the main source of funding for capital expenditure.

We want to know MEC how have you proceeded with the recruitment of built environment professionals up to so far?

In the 4th Quarterly reports, the department failed to complete its projects planned for both in house projects and road infrastructure projects.

 

Honourable members  as I said,

It appears that the only projects the department is able to effectively complete are the billboards depicting their faces.

Again it appears that all the sources for bad negative AG opinions seem to be resurfacing in the quarters we are now debating.

Reliable asset register for the province was still an issue that the committee grappled with.

Again the issues pertaining to revenue collection as a result of government leases remain a thorn.

What further emerges from these reports is the issue of non-payment of contractors.

Whilst all measures must be taken to ensure that no one is paid without doing work, we must also be aware that those who have done proper work are not punished.

 

Honourable members

The reports under review all urge the department to appoint capable contractors.

We now must be way passed this sort of urging.

What we now must be saying rather is that should officials appoint contractors who do not fulfil the job specs, severe consequences will ensue against them.

We cannot continue as though we are hapless in the face of poor service delivery when monies are paid to contractors who cannot fulfil what they have been paid for.

MEC we must start taking action against the poor contractors and those who appoint them.

Debate on 2nd, 3rd and 4th Quarters 2013/14 Public Works Reports

By Hon. Langa Bodlani:

Speaker

Honourable members

Ladies and Gentlemen 

This department led by no less than the leader of government business in the province simply fails to extricate itself from sources of bad audit results.

It adds to our failure to attain a complete overhaul of proper management of our departments.

This being led by the most senior executive in our provincial government has to be an exemplar department for all others.

It does not appear that we are anywhere near to achieving the reversal of negative audits.

Speaker

All the quarterly reports of 2013/14 which are now debated point out to similar failures.

There is an acute failure with regards to internal controls leading to failures to trace monies deposited into the bank account.

If this does not make the department vulnerable to fraudulent transactions when it can be avoided then nothing else would.

Honourable members

With regards to this the AG said and I quote that he “was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence that management has accounted for all irregular expenditure”.

It further says “management has not investigated the full extent of the irregular expenditure”.

 

Ladies and Gentlemen

Now if the MEC who is meant to be the leader of government business can be scathed on such a basic management tool such as internal controls, how is he enforcing the same on other departments?

More pertinently does our leader of government business have the necessary hands-on approach to manage this and oversee other departments?

These reports under consideration point out to a different narrative.

 

Asset management is another albatross in our provincial government in general and this department in particular.

MEC again seems to be failing dismally on this score.

 

This has been a source of disclaimers for many past years and it looks like we are headed for the same.

The importance of knowing what assets the government owns cannot be overemphasized.

 

It is the main important source for government revenue generation and if we don’t know what is owned by government and where they are, we might be losing on essential revenue.

 

This leads to another bad thing which is happening in this department which is poor debt recoveries plan.

It is a good thing that Treasury has been roped in to help in this regard but in the end this is the capacity which the department itself must also possess.

 

MEC

 

The AG on all these matters points out to what he describes as “significant internal control deficiencies”.

This was the basis for a qualified audit opinion.

Your accounting officer Mr MEC does not always exercise adequate oversight responsibility regarding financial and performance reporting and compliance.

This cannot be right.

 

  • There was no evidence concerning the audit of movable tangible assets.
  • No evidence that the department has properly charged and accounted for all receivables.

We are here talking figures which not even the president, as we now know, can count.

MEC do something urgently to overhaul the management of this department.

Department of Education neglects dilapidated school built in 1978

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Spokesperson on Education:

The DA has written to the Limpopo Education MEC, Ishmael Kgetjepe, urging him to speed up the process of building a new school at Professor High School in Bonn Village, ward 25, Tzaneen as the dilapidated school is on the verge of collapsing on learners at anytime.

The school was built by community members in 1978 and its infrastructure is on the verge of collapsing as the rainy summer seasons is approaching. The doors and windows are broken while some classrooms do not have chalkboards.

The walls in some classrooms have cracks which puts the lives of the learners at risk. The school has more than 400 learners and 15 educators. Learners do not have adequate resources such as chairs, tables, desks and forced to sit on the floor during lessons.

Click here to see the pictures.

Both teachers and learners share four pit corrugated iron zinks toilets as the other toilets that were built in the same year as the school already collapsed during last season’s rain. Many learners relieve themselves in the bushes due to the conditions of the toilets as they are on the verge of collapsing.

There is no staff room for the teachers, a library , fence, water and the learners are forced to come with their own water from home. This happens despite the department allocating a whopping R805 million for infrastructure development during the current financial year.

Furthermore, the department also allocated R997 million for eradicating all the pit toilets and build flushing toilets but this never materialised due to the department’s failure to fulfil its  promise.

The department was alerted about this deplorable conditions at the school and promised parents and learners two years ago that new school will be built within six months but nothing has happened to date.

This is a clear indication that the ANC led government has failed the learners and parents of Bonn Village and only made empty promises to score cheap political goals to win the hearts of people during elections.

The DA urges MEC Kgetjepe to visit the school and provide mobile classrooms and toilets as an interim measure and initiate plans of building a new school within the next three months as per his department’s empty promise.

DA concerned over low arrest and conviction of Gauteng cop killers

By John Moodey MPL, DA Gauteng Provincial Leader:

The DA is highly concerned over the seeming inability of the Gauteng SAPS to arrest and bring to book the killers of our men and women in blue.

In a written response to DA questions, it has emerged that 136 Gauteng police officers were killed in the line of duty since 2010.

However, only 35 perpetrators were successfully prosecuted and incarcerated for this heinous crime.

Of further concern is that none were brought to book since 2012/13.

Crime in South Africa has reached critical proportions, and the SAPS will only be able to turn the tide if officials are properly trained and equipped to do their job as best they can.

If police cannot fight crime, criminals will win; and the law-abiding citizens of our country will be at their mercy.

Tomorrow our DA colleagues in the National Assembly will table a plan to address this growing concern at Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police, and will deal specifically with the under-resourcing and training challenges in the SAPS.

Furthermore, we will request a meeting with Gauteng Police Commissioner Lt-Gen Lesiba Mothiba asking to discuss policing needs in the province, and offer our assistance to raise this on Parliament’s Portfolio Committee.

The war on crime will only be won when South Africans from all walks of life and political persuasions work together to ensure that the brave men and women on the thin blue line are given every resource to tackle criminals in our society.

Ekurhuleni Metro Police provide 24 hour security to ANC Councillors

By Michele Clarke MPL DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Benoni:

A total of nine ANC Councillors and two Members of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) in Ekurhuleni are receiving 24-hour protection by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD), whereas these resources should be directed to service the residents of the metro.

 

In a situation where there is an imminent threat to the life of a Councillor or MMC, this is common practice.

 

However, in this instance, there has been no imminent threat posed to these eleven people.

 

According to the Deputy Chief of Police in Ekurhuleni, Mr U Naidoo, in reply to a written question to the Department of Community Safety, this protection was deemed necessary due to the increased number of service delivery protests in the metro.

 

The following Councillors and MMCs are receiving 24 hour protection:

  • Cllr MS Madihlaba;
  • Cllr VS Mxabangeli;
  • Cllr SJ Mabaso;
  • Cllr PN kujana;
  • Cllr EN Tati;
  • Cllr VG Zide;
  • Cllr Xakambana;
  • Cllr TS Zwane;
  • Cllr CN Mabaso;
  • MMC A Mxumalo; and
  • MMC EV Chauke

 

While service delivery protests in Gauteng have been on the increase, they are borne out of frustration by communities whose elected public representatives fail to fulfil their constitutional mandate of providing services and improving residents’ quality of life.

 

By guarding these councillors and MMCs around the clock, service delivery is further negated as EMPD officers, instead of servicing the community at large, are now playing bodyguard to a select few.

 

These officials should return to regular duties and increase manpower to an already strained metro police force.

 

The DA will write to MEC for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, and request that she liaise with her colleagues in Ekurhuleni to insist that these bodyguards return to active duty with immediate effect.

Gauteng Enterprise Propeller must diversify to stay viable

By Janet Semple MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Economic Development:

The DA notes the move by Gauteng Economic Development MEC, Lebogang Maile, to root out corruption in the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) which has nearly bankrupted the entity, but recommends a re-evaluation of its entrepreneur programme.

According to MEC Maile, GEP has only R30 million left for this financial year, which it still has to use to run operations and pay employees.

The entity, which has been in existence since 2005, is owed R100 million in unpaid loans.

What is becoming increasingly apparent is that the laissez-faire approach to providing loans to entrepreneurs is no longer viable.

The DA recommends that tight controls be put in place before loans are given, and that tight credit control is exercised over repayments.

However, what emerging entrepreneurs mostly need is mentorship from industry experts, for without practical application and knowledgeable insight, these loans will not be utilised effectively.

CPF lack of funding deeply concerning

By Pule Thole, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson on Safety:

The Democratic Alliance is deeply concerned with the lack of funding for the Community Policing Forums in the Northern Cape.

This emerged during a recent presentation of the 1st quarterly performance report of the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison to the legislature.

The department indicated to the portfolio committee that CPFs do not have the necessary funding to execute their operations.

It is not acceptable that 21 years into democracy there is still no consistent commitment to support community police relations.

CPFs were established by provision in section 221(2) of the Constitution and section 19(1) of the South African Police Services (SAPS) Act 68 of 1995.

They together with the police establish and maintain a partnership with the community, promote communication between the police and the community, promote cooperation and ensure that the police fulfill the needs of the community in respect of policing.

They also work to improve the service of the police to the community regarding transparency and accountability of the SAPS and promote joint problem identification and problem solving in fighting crime.

The lack of funding means that CPFs do not have the resources to act effectively against crime and communities are forming independent bodies as we have witnessed recently.

For instance we have seen the creation of a number of voluntary community crime prevention associations such as Wanya Tsotsi and Saam Staan Kimberley, which is a testament that there is something that we are not doing right.

This indicates that there is a gap somewhere and there is a void so the people are stepping in to close that void.

While we welcome the community activism, the DA believes adequate support should be given to the CPFs as the legal bodies aimed to foster community relations with the police in the fight against crime to ensure freedom, fairness and opportunity.

Letter to the editor: All public service appointments must be lawful

By Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs:

The Democratic Alliance is concerned that the Northern Cape Liquor Board is mired in another controversy about unlawful appointments. The latest scandal relates to the appointment of the chief executive officer. We call on the entity to comply with the Auditor-General’s request and to provide the documentation showing that the chief executive officer has been appointed lawfully, if such documentation exists.

 

In fact, the Democratic Alliance has requested an investigation into nepotism at the Board more than a month ago. The facts at our disposal indicate that the chief executive officer has employed staff who are her friends or relatives. If the chief executive officer overstepped her bounds, her contract must be terminated. The regulations issued in terms of the Northern Cape Liquor Act regarding the chief executive officer makes provision for the contract to be terminated on the basis of improper conduct or unfitness to perform the functions associated with the chief executive officer.

 

It would indeed be improper to fill such a crucial oversight entity with friends and family. The Northern Cape Liquor Board fulfils a crucial function in the province, especially with regards to the issuing and monitoring of liquor licenses. It has been made abundantly clear in portfolio committee meetings that the entity currently does not have the capacity to deliver on its mandates.

 

If you then begin to make appointments based on relationships and not merit, you will sink the ship even faster.

 

The Democratic Alliance believes that your access to economic opportunities must not be determined by your political connections or your friendships with people in high places. All appointments made in the public service must adhere to the Public Service Act.

Give women their rightful place in families and society

By Ann McDonnell, MPL, Member of the DA Caucus in the KZN Legislature:

During today’s Women’s Day debate I will confine myself to three points – the Freedom women Deserve, Fairness is true Equality and Opportunity is only limited by women’s dreams.

Freedom women Deserve;

This month we remember the 1956 march of very brave women to demand the end of the wicked pass laws.  I wonder what they would say if they could see us now?

I will always give credit where it is due and we have indeed done really well in the political sphere in terms of representation in political structures.  Iconic woman such as Helen Suzman, Helen Zille, Lindiwe Mazibuko and Sandra Botha come to mind.

Where we lack though is in the protection of our mothers and daughters. As government that is our mandate. The murder of an albino girl last week in northern Zululand is so barbaric it must send chills down the spines of all of us in South Africa.

Abuse, both physically and emotional continues and seems to have grown in South Africa – both in the supposed safety of their homes and in the streets– making our beautiful country, very insecure for women.   This applies to women of all ages – from young girls to gogos.

 

Fairness is true equality;

Here I am basing my concern on the importance of family – whatever that may look like in your context.   Visit any state institutions on any day and you will witness young and mature mothers and grandmothers queuing for hours, sometimes days, for social welfare, health and home affairs services for themselves and their children.

It sounds trite to state that two people make a baby – why then does the burden mainly fall on only one of these people?

A Human Sciences Research council report from 2006 gives the scary stats that 75% of abandoned children are abandoned by their father.   Their description of abandonment is not keeping contact or providing support.

A Sowetan newspaper in 2011 headlined that there are “Nine million kids with no Dads” – a figure gained from research into family breakdown by South African Institute of Race Relations.

The research found that the absence of fathers when children grow up is one of the several factors which are associated with poor educational outcomes, anti-social behaviour, delinquency and disrupted employment later in life

After much lobbying this year by the DA, maintenance defaulters will now risk credit judgement.   At last – mind you it is pathetic to place the importance of paying maintenance for a child’s future at the same level as furniture, cars, and appliances payments.   The burden is still largely carried by mothers and grandmothers

 

Opportunity for a woman or girl child only to be limited by her dreams;

Our women deserve education from ECD to tertiary and government and private sector employment – no quotas, just empowerment.  Our much vaunted freedom won in 1994 is not worth a thing if our women are still trapped by historical, familial and some outdated traditional practises.

School girl pregnancies limit the future of our daughters, making them drop out of school and lose the impetus of their education.

South Africa needs to quantify the cost of the National Woman’s Ministry and its value in combating the scourge of the social ills befalling our daughters.  We need to see if there is a better way of investing in the safety of vulnerable girls and women.

Surely it makes more sense to invest scarce resources on the ground, accessible to vulnerable women, rather than in a Ministry whose performance is at best hidden and at worst a mess?

This Ministry and any gender initiatives the KZN legislature puts in place, must be relevant to the people it serves, accessible to the poor and breaking the chains binding our women.

Currently the National department is spending 64% of its budget on salaries and overspends on travel and admin – not much left for programmes, shelters or special courts for victims of violence and abuse.  Not a good story!

No ministry has ever been able to change people’s behaviour – this is a job for visionary leaders and goes beyond politics.

In spite of women making up 54% of the population, they face the same triple challenge of poverty unemployment and inequality.  Add to this the challenge of disease and caring for the sick in their families and there is a quadruple challenge for women.

This has been hugely negative.

 

On a more positive note – KZN has a unique opportunity right now.  Our challenges of power supply and empowerment of women could be the basis of a wonderful economic opportunity – the manufacture and installation of solar panels for electricity generation.

We have abundant sunshine, and if these plants are situated in rural areas owned and run by women they will be given their rightful place in society.  A woman powered green economy initiative, I am sure we could get funding for this, and the technology is available.

 

To wrap up – let us give our women their rightful place in families and society in KZN and South Africa.

Let them taste the Freedom they deserve.

Let them enjoy the Fairness of equality.

Give them the Opportunity to achieve their dreams

Our people are not electoral fodder for government’s broken promises

By Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL, Member of the DA Caucus in the KZN Legislature:

South Africa comes from an extremely painful and unjust past. The evil system of Apartheid systematically denied millions of South Africans the opportunity to fulfil their potential and create the lives that they value.

 

Access to opportunities gives life and meaning to our current hard won freedoms. Every South African must be given a chance to succeed.  The DA believes that these opportunities must be spread as broadly as possible and not concentrated in the hands of the governing political elite.

 

To realise this vision, government has certain responsibilities. Effective service delivery is one of the best ways of spreading opportunities into poor communities. Access to electricity, water, sanitation, quality education and efficient health care has the ability to lift people out of poverty.

 

As reported in the recent StatsSA Non-financial Census on Municipalities, the Western Cape is the leader in pursuing pro-poor service delivery with 75.7% of residents accessing free basic water, 44.9% accessing free basic electricity and 69% accessing free basic sanitation services. With this access to services and opportunities, thousands have been able to build better lives for themselves and their families.

 

However in KZN where 1 in 3 people are unemployed and where high levels of poverty exist, it is a reality that an effective social protection net is needed to protect the most vulnerable from poverty-driven starvation.

 

The DA believes in the constitutional imperative stressed in Section 27, that appropriate social security in distress is a right. Access to social assistance and grants is not a favour from the government or political party but a right.

 

A DA managed social protection system would go beyond merely allowing the vulnerable to survive in poverty.  Instead it would assist recipients to lift themselves out of the poverty trap. It is a system that acts as a trampoline propelling the vulnerable and poor to new heights in their social development.

 

The South African people are not mere electoral fodder for the broken promises of the governing party.

 

The South African people are innovative and hardworking and with the required opportunities have the ability to make great contributions to the wellbeing of others and the global economy.