Mpumalanga Health MEC must step down to save ailing department

By Jane Sithole, MPL, Spokesperson on Health:

With more evidence of gross financial mismanagement in the Department of Health emerging, the DA has no alternative but to call on Health MEC, Gillion Mashego to do the right thing and step down with immediate effect.

MEC Mashego has failed to show decisive leadership in his department and under his watch, the condition of the Health Department has reached crisis point.

In yesterday’s Social Cluster Portfolio Committee Meeting, it was revealed that in the 2014/15 financial year, the department failed to meet even half of its set targets, it only managed to achieve 41.7% yet it spend over R8.8 billion (98.3%) of its R9 billion budget.

Click here to view report.

Under MEC Gillion Mashego’s leadership, the department continues to struggle in meeting the National Core Standards in the health facilities which remain at 0% achieved and Emergency Medical Services continues to achieve 0% of its set targets.

The Department failed to upgrade 18 hospitals as planned, due to lack of leadership and a delay in appointing key personnel as some of the reasons for their failure.

It is not uncommon to hear reports of people who have had to wait hours and sometimes even days for an ambulance to arrive after it has been called. What is alarming however is that the Department of Health has spent its entire budget for Emergency Medical Services yet it has failed to achieve even one of its set targets.

The department’s financial woes continues as they failed to spend the full R608 million that was meant for Health Facility Management and the full R543 million that was meant for payment of capital assets, bringing the unspent on these much needed programmes to almost R250 million. This gives an indication as to why so many healthcare facilities are either under equipped or are forced to operate in crumbling and dilapidated facilities.

It is becoming increasingly clear that MEC Mashego is out of his depth in his role as leader of the Department of Health. He does however have an opportunity to show leadership and admit his failure by stepping down as his continued failure to lead is wedging a gap between the people of Mpumalanga and their ability to access quality health care.

Last year, the Department was placed under curatorship but this was lifted within four months, before any improvements could be made. As such, the DA will continue its bid to have the Department’s curatorship reinstated until such time that the department makes meaningful progress in stabilising its finances and improving access to quality healthcare for all.

As long as MEC Mashego is at the helm of the department of health, the department will continue its stay in the intensive care unit and the people of Mpumalanga will continue to suffer.

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ANC’s Sedibeng reshuffle is too little too late

By Cllr. Simon Mollo, Caucus Leader Sedibeng District Municipality:

The announcement made today by the ANC during a sitting of the Sedibeng Council that there has been a reshuffle in the Sedibeng and Emfuleni Executive is too little too late when it comes to fixing these failing municipalities.

This announcement follows the failed attempt by the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) to create a new Metro municipality by merging the bankrupt Emfuleni municipality with the financially stable DA-run Midvaal municipality. The DA took the MDB decision to merge Midvaal with the ANC-governed Emfuleni to court because we recognised that this move would lead to the deterioration of service delivery in Gauteng’s best run municipality.

Last month the North Gauteng High Court ruled in the DA’s favour and put a stop to the ANC’s political gerrymandering and attempts to take away the DA’s control of Midvaal ahead of next year’s local elections.

The DA believes today’s reshuffle is nothing but a desperate PR exercise ahead of the 2016 elections and will do nothing to address the current financial mess at the Emfuleni municipality.

This is proven by the fact that controversial Mahole Simon Mofokeng, the previous Mayor of the Sedibeng district municipality, has now been appointed the new Mayor of Emfuleni.

Mayor Mofokeng has a record of being drunk in public, having been arrested in 2013 and in 2014 for driving under the influence. At the time of his arrest in October 2014, it is alleged that the he was sneaked out of the police station in the early hours of the morning despite the serious charges against him. These cases have also mysteriously been withdrawn due to lack of evidence despite the fact that blood tests were taken at the scene and there are eyewitness accounts describing how drunk he was at the time.

While the ANC announced that the party’s ethics committee would be investigating these arrests, nothing has happened to date.

At the time of his arrests, the DA called for his resignation as Mayor of Sedibeng.

The 2014 Gauteng socioeconomic review and outlook also revealed that under his watch the Sedibeng district municipality has been ranked as having the highest percentage of people living in poverty and who are unemployed in the province.

It is palpably clear that Mofokeng is not fit to hold public office as the Mayor of Sedibeng or the Mayor of Emfuleni.

Mr Mofokeng was recently elected as the Regional Chairman of the ANC in Sedibeng for the fourth time in a row and we believe his appointment as Emfuleni Mayor is so that he can reward his supporters with lucrative positions in the municipality, which was recently upgraded to a Grade 6 council resulting in a major increase in salaries for officials and public representatives.

The DA voted against upgrading Emfuleni from a Grade 5 to a Grade 6 municipality because  it cannot afford the major increase in salaries. Currently, the service delivery backlog in the municipality is in excess of R6 billion.

The current financial crisis in the Emfuleni municipality has seriously affected service delivery but instead of the ANC taking steps to turn the situation around, they have instead chosen deploy one of their cadres who is not fit to hold public office or has the experience and expertise to address this crisis.

The DA has continuously called for the Emfuleni municipality to be placed under administration by the Gauteng Provincial Government.  Officials responsible for the current financial mess must also be held accountable.

We believe today’s reshuffle is too little, too late and is nothing more than a desperate attempt to score some political points ahead of the upcoming elections.

The only reshuffle that is needed in Sedibeng and Emfuleni is for residents to vote the ANC out in 2016.

The DA is committed to bringing change to Sedibeng and Emfuleni. Change that roots out corruption, fires lazy officials and starts service delivery.

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DA reports alleged corruption cases to Health MEC

By Dr Isak Fritz MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Health:

The DA has today reported two alleged cases of corruption and collusion within the Northern Cape Health Department to Health MEC Mac Jack.

This comes after Mac Jack has exposed a web of corrupt procurement practices, collusion and price fixing within the department through a specially established task team appointed by him to root out corruption in the department.

The DA has long since been highlighting irregularities within the department and we are relieved that finally someone is taking action.

The DA welcomes Jack’s willingness to publicly expose and deal with corruption within his department. His bold stance against corruption is truly refreshing in this province and is long overdue.

Given the more encouraging new stance of Jack toward corruption, the DA has today reported two alleged cases of corruption to him. The cases are as follows:

  1. The first case refers to the construction contract that was awarded for Kagung Clinic.

Based on our own investigation, it is evident that this was a prime case of tenderpreneurship whereby a contractor was appointed solely because of political intervention.

It has transpired that the directors of Lefanosi Construction and Trading, which was initially awarded the building tender in 2012, are none other than the former disgraced Municipal Manager of Mangaung, Mojalefa “JJ” Matlole, and his then colleague, Florence Mokgubu.

Matlole has previously been investigated by the Scorpions and was reportedly fired as manager of Bloemfontein’s Mangaung municipality after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of fraud, theft and corruption involving tenders worth R130 million. Reports indicate that Matlole was then seconded to serve as manager of the Ngaka Modiri Molema municipality in North West, where he again made headlines for reportedly earning a salary of R1,4 million per annum. He was later accused of paying a recruitment agency about R230 000 to find a municipal manager, a job to which he was later appointed.

Poor performance by the connected contractor resulted in unjustified cost hikes for the health department. A total of R6,5 million was initially set aside for Kagung Clinic, of which construction was due to start in 2012 and end in 2013. It is now 2015, the clinic is only 30% complete and the contract value now stands at R18 million.

The DA has yet to determine who Matlole’s “friends” in the Northern Cape are but this, we believe, is a matter that should be pursued by MEC Jack’s investigative team.

  1. The second case relates to the catering and kiosk services at Kimberley Hospital.

Based on information received, we understand that both the catering service and the kiosk are being run by family members of a very senior manager at Kimberley Hospital. There are also allegations that this senior manager personally keeps a set of keys for the kitchen, and has free range of the available groceries.

The DA hopes that, if Jack is not already aware of these cases, he will also hand them over to his investigative team.

For years already the Northern Cape Health Department has maintained its notorious reputation of incurring the most irregular, unauthorised as well as wasteful and fruitless expenditure of all departments in the province. In fact, the collective irregular expenditure of this department already stands at over R4 billion.

It is as a direct result of this underhanded management of funds that the department, year in and year out runs short of funds to appoint health professionals and to procure adequate quality and quantity of equipment, supplies and pharmaceuticals, and ultimately to provide quality health care services to all the people of the Northern Cape.

R4 billion could go a long way to correcting the wrongs in the provincial health system – there is no place for corruption in the Health department, no matter how big or how small.

We trust that Jack will take our concerns seriously and ensure that the necessary investigations are conducted.

The DA will monitor Jack’s ongoing expose of corruption within the Health Department closely to ensure that all cases are acted upon in a transparent and responsible manner.

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Not all Mpumalanga traffic officers who handle firearms are trained

By Bosman Grobler MPL, Spokesperson on Community Safety, Security & Liaison:

It is concerning that the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison in Mpumalanga spent R7.4 million less on Training and Development and has cut its fleet budget by R9.6 million in the 2014/15 financial year.

50 traffic officers were not trained in firearm handling, a further 50 were not recruited for training and 356 schools were excluded in road safety programmes.

This was revealed in the annual report for the 2014/15 financial year, where the Auditor General (AG) has given the department a qualified audit opinion for a second year in a row.

(Click here to view report)

The AG sites insufficient evidence to support the accumulated debt and revenue collected as stated by the department as the main reason for this opinion.

It is crucial that traffic officers undergo the basic traffic officer training and then commence with their duties, to enforce the rules of the road and to ensure the safety of our road users.

Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe’s performance in his department puts a big question mark on whether his appointment as acting Premier in Mpumalanga was the right move. How will the MEC oversee the province’s finances if he fails to deal with just one department.

This department has also managed to increase the amount spent on contractors from R12.2 million in 2013/14, to R34.5 million in the 2014/15 financial year.

It further went on to underspend its total budget by R15.5 million and reported fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R63 194 589 as well as unauthorized expenditure of R89 511 000.

The AG also states that this department’s leadership is lacking as it did not always ensure ongoing monitoring and supervision to enable an assessment of effectiveness internal control.

The Audit outcome for the Community Safety, Security and Liaison department clearly shows that MEC Shongwe is unable to provide the leadership that this department desperately needs.

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Osi’s Place outcome a warning to all traders

By Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, Western Cape Government:

The liquor licence of Osi’s Place has been revoked with immediate effect.

During a hearing this morning, the Liquor Licencing Tribunal revoked the licence and further ordered that the establishment’s owner may not apply for a licence for a five-year period.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said the decision sent a clear message to traders.

“Today is not a happy day for us. While we welcome the ruling, it will not bring back the lives lost in this tragic case and a trader, through his own actions, is no longer able to operate and create jobs.

“Let this be a lesson to all liquor licence holders. We will not tolerate irresponsible trading. If you break the law; we will shut you down.”

With the regard to the events of 28 June 2015, the Western Cape’s Liquor Authority Liquor Licencing Tribunal had to consider whether the trader had contravened his licence conditions, on the following points:

 

  • Failing to exercise proper control over the premises by

o   Allowing the premises to be overcrowded

o   Failure to ensure that clients leave the premises orderly

  • That the owner had allowed persons under the age of 18 to be on the premises/he had allowed minors to consume liquor on the premises

 

The tribunal found that the trader did not have “any interest in, or control over, the licenced premises”.

Minister Winde commended the Western Cape Liquor Authority for their efforts to raise awareness around the responsible trading and consumption of alcohol.

“Since the start of this year, the Western Cape Liquor Authority has revoked five liquor licences and issued over R100 000 worth of fines. The Authority also hosts numerous awareness sessions with residents and traders. In 2014/15,  around 3000 inspections were conducted and in this financial year, over 4000 inspections will be conducted across the province.”

Shawn Willemse, Head of the Liquor Authority’s Compliance and Enforcement unit said: “Liquor enforcement operations are planned throughout the province in the lead up to the festive season. During these operations inspectors in conjunction with SAPS and municipal law enforcement will do everything in its power to ensure compliance with the provisions of the Western Cape Liquor Act.”

This process only dealt with issue of the liquor licence. Any other legal or administrative processes will be dealt with by the relevant authorities

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MEC Somyo confirms – no fish farm for Algoa Bay

By Ross Purdon (MPL), Shadow MEC for Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism:

Fears that a fish farm may be established at Hobie Beach in Algoa Bay can be put to rest once and for all.  In a reply to a speech I made last Friday (subs:  23 October) during Taking Legislature to the People in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, Economic Affairs, Environment and Tourism MEC Sakhumzi Somyo confirmed that there will be not fish farm for Algoa Bay.

The DA welcomes this confirmation, as we have, together with business and residents, vigorously opposed this project due to its location off PE’s Hobie Beach and the risk it held for the local tourism industry.

We also welcome the recent announcement by the Premier, Phumullo Masualle, that aquaculture is to be established in Zone 10 of the Coega IDZ.  The DA believes that we must create economic growth and jobs, but this must be done in a responsible and fair manner to make this province a place of rising opportunity for all.

MEC Somyo conformed in his speech that he and the Metro, had requested Minister Molewa to make a concise decision and ban fish farming in that area.  See transcript and translation.  He stated that they had discussions with Minister Molewa and his department together with the metro and told her that no one can farm fish in close proximity to hotels.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa recently set aside a decision to grant environmental authorisation to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries for the proposed sea-based aquaculture zone in Algoa Bay.

Minister Molewa reverted the matter to the Deputy DG:  Legal Authorities, Compliance and Enforcement of the Department of Environmental Affairs for reconsideration.

The onus was put on the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to assess alternate sites to produce feasibility studies.

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Letter to the Editor – DoH human milk bank a step in the right direction

THE news that KZN’s Department of Health has opened another human milk bank is a step in the right direction – at least for the first few days of life while the infant is at the facility.

It is fair to say that every effort is made to ensure that these little ones make it through the first 1 000 days of life.  But what lies ahead of them afterwards is bleak.

The challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment are destroying young lives with the DoH citing malnutrition as the leading cause of around a third of all child deaths in KZN.

Currently, our healthcare system is dealing with what ‘walks through the door’ at its facilities.  Yet the problem is much bigger and broader than we can imagine, particularly under an ANC-led government with unemployment and poverty on the rise and a shrinking economy.

The only turnaround and hope that South Africans have is to ensure that they choose carefully when they vote again next year. The government they choose must offer opportunities for all – including those for whom the milk banks have been opened.

The DA believes that “a prosperous future for South Africa can only be assured when every South African child receives a quality education, and when all adults have sufficient skills for dignified employment”. And that “Through our individual and collective efforts, and enabled by a capable state, the South African people hold the power to make our country a shining beacon for Africa and the world.”

To get there, we must start removing the enemies of true freedom, fairness and opportunity through the ballot box next year.

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Soweto health workers not paid for two months

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

About 70 newly-recruited Community Health Workers (CHWs) in Soweto have not been paid for more than two months.

I discovered this yesterday when I visited the Chiawelo Community Health Centre where the CHWs are based.

They do valuable work that includes providing home-based care, delivering medicines to house-bound patients, and going door-to-door to assess the health status of households.

The Gauteng Health Department recruited them in mid-August and promised to pay them R3500 a month.

But they have not received any payment at all despite continuing to do their duties.

This is extremely unfair and shows that administrative problems continue in this department despite claims of a “turn-around”.

I will pressure the department to pay these workers as soon as possible.

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Why is the Emfuleni LM not under administration yet?

By Cllr Danie Hoffman, Leader of the Democratic Alliance Emfuleni LM Spokesperson on Finances ELM

And

Cllr Jaco Karsten, Chief Whip, Emfuleni ELM:

The DA  is calling for urgent intervention in the Emfuleni Local Municipality.

This comes after the continued poor financial performance of the municipality in recent years.

The financial situation has deteriorated to such an extent that service delivery has become almost impossible.

The current position is reflected in the anticipated reduction in the operational budget which could see a budget cut of R300m during the current financial year as a result of poor collection levels and overspending  by the Emfuleni local municipality.

Council reports also reveal that there is a major backlog when it comes to the upgrading and maintenance of infrastructure in the municipality.

There is currently a financial backlog of R4.2 Billion when it comes to the maintenance of road infrastructure.

There is also a:

– R1.6 billion storm water infrastructure backlog;

– R723 million backlog when it comes to the maintenance of waste water treatment plants;

– R1.1 billion sanitation backlog

In total, the municipality needs R7.2 billion to eradicate the current infrastructure backlog and a further R10.7 billion over the next ten years.

The main reason for these backlogs is because the Emfuleni municipality has failed to manage municipal expenditure and ensure proper revenue collection from residents.

The municipality’s under collection has been further aggravated by the loss of corporate income as a result of the closing of Arcelor Mittal’s Vereeniging plant, in particular a loss of electricity revenue.

During the previous financial year consumer debts increased by R498m, in addition to existing unpaid electricity, water and rates accounts totalling R2.8 billion.

Recently the municipality appointed MBD Credit Solutions to collect outstanding revenue with facilitation support provided by the municipal internal Revenue Department. However, this support has not been provided to date.

This means that the municipality is paying an outside service provider to collect outstanding debt, while failing to strengthen its own internal capacity.

 

This cash flow crisis is compounded by excessive salaries being paid to councillors, which totals almost R42 million this financial year, after their salaries were recently increased from a Grade 5 to a Grade 6 scale.

The Democratic Alliance voted twice against the approval of this increase in light of the current financial crisis at the municipality.  We also argued that this increase was only meant to implemented in metropolitan municipalities – Emfuleni Local Municipality is not a metro.

While councillors are still receiving their new increased salaries, the current financial crisis means that many service providers are not being paid. This non-payment is so prevalent that even the printing of agendas for council meetings has been halted due to the service provider not being paid.

The DA has continuously called for the Emfuleni Local Municipality to be placed under administration so that the current financial mess can be addressed and service delivery, including the upgrading and maintenance of infrastructure, can resume.

At a council meeting at the beginning of this month the DA rejected a report recommending that the Council accept a R2 billion loan from a private lending agent.

The DA rejected the report for a number of reasons including:

– concerns relating to the inadequate credentials of the private lending agent;

– excessive interest that will need to be paid to the lending agent; and

– that no due diligence and approval from National Treasury was facilitated before approval of the acceptance of the R2b loan.

The DA pointed out that accepting this unsolicited loan would result in the municipality contravening the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA)  and that it was not in the best interests of residents.

Despite our concerns, the ANC Emfuleni municipality went ahead with soliciting this loan.

It is clear that urgent intervention is required in the Emfuleni local municipality.

The DA will therefore be writing to MEC of Human Settlements and Cooperative Governance and  Traditional Affairs, Mr Jacob Mamabolo to urgently place the local municipality under administration.

This is the only way to resolve the current financial situation and ensure that service delivery and the needs of residents is prioritised.

The ANC-run Emfuleni stands in clear contrast to its neighbour the DA-run Midvaal, which leads all other municipalities in the province when it comes to sound financial management and oversight and which prioritises the interests of citizens.

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Minister Schafer accepts food parcel handover for Grade 12’s from private donors

By Debbie Schafer, Western Cape Minister of Education:

It goes without saying that to feed a learners mind, you need to feed their body.

The NSC examination period is a crucial time for our Grade 12’s. It is however a sad reality that many of our Grade 12 learners have to study for these important exams on an empty stomach.

We are therefore pleased to accept the donation by World Marine, HDI Support and All Day Foods of food parcels and other essential items to assist our Grade 12 learners with preparation and sustainability during the examination period.

The donors have provided food parcels to 5000 Grade 12 learners from 36 needy schools across all education districts.

Today I visited Voorbrug High School to accept the handover of these parcels and to hand them out to 203 Grade 12 learners who had just completed Afrikaans Paper 1.

Today 41 988 full time NSC candidates across the Province wrote Afrikaans Paper 1. 410 part time NS candidates also completed the paper.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to the donors for their generous donation and for their assistance with the distribution of the food parcels.

This is a perfect example of how public-private partnerships can work ‘Better Together’ for the benefit of our learners of this province by ensuring that our Grade 12 learners, from disadvantaged backgrounds, do not have to learn on an empty stomach.

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