Mpumalanga budget sacrifices service delivery for extravagant projects

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Note: The following address was made by Anthony Benadie to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, during the debate on the tabling of the 2013 Mpumalanga Appropriation Bill, 2013.

When considering any public budget, one does so with an expectation that the consequences of government spending would result directly into the betterment of the public good through increased service delivery.

One must also consider financial efficiency, transparency, degrees of accountability, past track record – but most importantly the extent to which the budget serves to represent the needs and aspirations of ordinary residents, and how the implementation of such a budget would improve the quality of their lives.

Over the past weeks, the DA supported individual departments when their budgets were tabled. However, when seen as a collective, we have serious reservations about the extent to the R33 billion being appropriated, will reach their intended destination.

This budget is neither pro-poor nor pro-delivery. Instead it is big on fat and small on outcomes. It is a budget that will serve to keep an oversized ineffective bureaucracy afloat. In the financial year ahead our government will achieve little more than simply funding itself. What we funded last year, we will fund this year, and as I said during the initial introduction of the budget, the financial priorities of government lack vision and are uncreative and uninspiring. As in the past, little progress will be made to bring about the realisation of a better life for all.

This budget in its entirety misses the crucial opportunities to bring about economic growth, and reflects a severe underinvestment in those disciplines and industries which hold the greatest growth potential. This includes agriculture, tourism and small business.

With our provincial economic growth set to be in the region of 2,9%,and given that South Africa’s national growth was less than 1% in the first quarter, it is clear that under ANC control, those living in poverty are set to remain exactly where they are.

It clearly is business as usual in ANC governance as government continues to pay lip service to youth unemployment.

The failure to prioritise the implementation of a youth wage subsidy in any department reflects clearly the disdain with which the ANC views the plight of jobless young people.

It is absurd, that before we even approve this budget today, departments are already issuing instruction on austerity measures and implementing cost curtailment measures on departmental budgets tabled in this house only days ago. How is it possible that within days of tabling a department budget, supposedly mirrored by a thoroughly thought-through strategic plan, the department is unable to fund the very things they told this house they would do.

Most notably is the Department of Education who has instituted a moratorium on the appointment of all staff in the province. It is a disgrace that our government is willing to compromise on the future of our children in this manner. How do we expect to teach without sufficient teachers?

But I’ll tell you why: Because the Department of Education has over R100 million in accruals, a practice that has become a norm in this department, and while the department claims to be serious about cutting costs one must ask why the MEC continues – as many other departments – in placing expensive, full page self-praising adverts in newspapers like Mpumalanga Mirror.

The DA simply cannot support the continuation of this financial irresponsibility.

Overall the massive accruals, rolling over from the previous financial year will undoubtedly burden the cash flow of departments, with over R658 million having to be spent on past expenses. This not only amplifies the lack of disciplined financial control within government, but exposes the inability of the ANC to plan, budget and implement accordingly.

It is a fact that the ANC and its administration sees this budget as a bottomless pit of wealth to plundered and spent as if there is no tomorrow. And let us not for a moment think they care where the next stash of money comes from, because the culture of accruing funds has become so instilled that it passes annually unchallenged.

But, apart from the massive amounts of money wasted annually by non-essentials, poor planning and irresponsible financial management, nothing amplifies the ANC governments disregard to deliver services more than the millions surrendered to national treasury in the last financial year.

It goes beyond comprehension, how the ANC can continue to mislead the public of Mpumalanga by claiming cash shortages and budget pressures as reasons for non-delivery and development, when over R117 million in grants had to be returned to treasury.

It is a disgrace that while hospitals in our province are literally falling apart, over R96 million of the hospital revitalisation grant was not spent. But more horrifically, while thousands of our province’s people continue to live in shacks – without water, electricity or flushing toilets, over R11 million of the human settlement development grant was not spent, depriving no less than 300 poor families in Mpumalanga the chance of owning a home.

Given the plight of poverty, the extent of unemployment and despair of so many of our province’s people, one must question some of the extravagant projects to be implemented.

How do we justify spending R1,8 billion on the establishment of a cultural hub and a staggering R5,2 billion on a high altitude sporting centre, when not only could these projects be delivered considerably cheaper, but so many of our province’s people continue to suffer in poverty.

As we head to the 2014 General Elections we held our breath to see if the ANC will use this last financial year to deliver large-scale services and claim a delivery record in the face of the electorate, but, given what we have before us it is safe to say that is not the case.

In the year ahead, those well-connected to government will continue to secure tenders and accumulate wealth, while those who are poor will remain poor, while those who are unemployed have little prospect of finding a job. And while the ANC cuddles up in comfort of government thousands of children in our province will go to sleep hungry.

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KZN Health MEC must resign following ‘absolute mismanagement’

Makhosazana Mdlalose, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health

The provincial health budget before us today cannot be supported by the Democratic Alliance.  To know where we are going, from both a policy and budget allocation perspective, we need to take stock of where we have been and what the Department of Health’s achievements, or lack thereof, were during the past financial year.

Departmental performance this past year saw;

  • Over-expenditure of R122 million or 0.49% of the allocated budget for the year 2011/12
  • Unwarranted delays in the implementation of training programmes for dietician nutrition advisors, data capturers
  • Never-ending infrastructure and maintenance backlogs which have impeded the proper implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI)
  • Continued under spending of donor funds while hospitals in this province are facing budget shortfalls and threats of closure and subsidy cuts by the MEC
  • Strikes by Emergency Retrieval Services (EMRS) employees and the current strike/go-slow threats from trade union, National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu)
  • Under expenditure of almost R30 million out of the R33 million allocated for the implementation of the NHI system in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Stalling of infrastructure projects, especially the construction of Dr Pixley ka Seme and Dr John Dube hospitals.

Fiscal and Economic Management of the Department

The department, under the guidance of the Honourable MEC, Sibongseni Dhlomo and Head of Department, Sibongile Zungu, has also failed miserably in bringing any semblance of fiscal and economic management best practices. It is the DA’s belief that the audit qualification received in 2011/12 will continue to hang over this department for some time, despite naively optimistic plans to achieve a clean audit by 2014.

This department’s fiscal and management woes go beyond just asset register and expenditure violations pointed out by the Auditor-General’s Office. The DOH does not have a culture of, or one capable of fiscal and economic management best practices. This is brought about, in part, by the manner in which the MEC has personalised the department, making it his own fiefdom – the widely reported use of the department’s EMRS helicopter in the latter half of 2012 is just one example.

The disdain by which the Honourable MEC treats some members of this house has trickled down to officials within his department. As the DA’s representative on the Health Portfolio Committee and a Public Representative, I have on numerous times encountered rude, unprofessional and uncooperative departmental officials during oversight visits to various healthcare institutions in the province. These officials take their cue from the MEC – why else would they behave in this manner if they had the MEC’s approval, tacit or otherwise?

I would like to highlight some of the incidents that illustrate absolute mismanagement by this department, further evidence that the MEC is not fit for purpose and should do both this House and the KZN public a favour, and resign.

Recent incidents of poor management under this MEC include:

  • The attempt by this department to withdraw subsidies to both McCord and Pongola hospitals, despite these hospitals servicing thousands of people that cannot be accommodated by an already burdened public healthcare system. The bellicose language used by the MEC and his department regarding the funding of the aforementioned hospitals should also be rebuked by this House. Indeed, some hospitals trace their beginnings to apartheid and at the time served mostly white patients, but they now serve all South Africans and the department should not use funding as a way to punish hospitals and residents of this province
  • Recently on May 21, the Democratic Alliance made it public that patients at St Margaret’s hospital in Umzimkhulu went for almost three weeks without food; this after the department reportedly defaulted on its payment to PCK Distributors. This incident is only the tip of the iceberg; the department under this MEC continues to violate treasury regulations on procurement, by consistently procuring goods and services without inviting competitive bids and dealing with companies prohibited by the National Treasury from doing business with the public sector
  • Violating Treasury regulations is symptomatic of many transactions and actions taken by this department and the latest announcement on radiotherapy machines at Addington hospital serves as the most recent example. After months of withholding payments to Tecmed Africa and machines lying gathering dust, the department decided to resume payments without any meaningful explanation. While the DA welcomes the machines being switched on, we still want to know – why were they switched off in the first place? Why is the contract being revisited when the department agreed to it at the outset?

The DA puts to this House that continuing to distribute funds under this MEC, under such poor management, under such disorderly conduct, is risky business. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health is ailing – in fact it is in ICU!

We implore the ANC government in this province to strengthen the fiscal and economic management capacity of this department so that people of KwaZulu-Natal province can finally receive optimal health services.

National Health Insurance (NHI)

It is time for the ANC government to concede that NHI is a disaster. There is no money to fund this expensive and misguided experiment.  The NHI grant has decreased, significantly, and the province has very little say on how the National Department of Health will disburse these funds.  Also, the decision by the National Department of Health not to increase the number of pilot sites in 2013/14 is telling of the failure of the NHI system.

The system, as piloted in KwaZulu-Natal has been preposterous. Out of an allocation of R33 million, the province has only spent R1.174 million. Funds allocated for the implementation of the NHI system in UMzinyathi have not been spent and reportedly delayed by supply chain obstacles. The same state-of-affairs exists in UMgungundlovu, which has thus far spent only R932, 000 out of the R9.7 million allocated.

Again, this speaks to poor fiscal and economic management within the department. When will this government realise that the problem is one of poor governance, something which the ANC government is incapable of.

Even if NHI were the proper course to take, how are we to implement it if nurses, doctors and administrators have not been trained on this new system? Adequate training and orientation on the NHI system has been lacking in both UMgungundlovu and UMzinyathi.

The difficultly with South Africa’s health system was never about financing or the ability to pay, as per the rationale of NHI system. The problem with KwaZulu-Natal’s and South Africa’s healthcare system is a lack of accountability, ineffective monitoring and evaluation, poor management, lack of implementation of existing policies, over-centralisation and corruption. Experimenting with discarded first world systems, such as NHI, without addressing the aforementioned problems, is a wasted exercise. The NHI system, from a healthcare standpoint, also fails to understand that health is a lifestyle choice – “health is more than just a bottle of pills or a bag of herbs”.

In conclusion I would like to reiterate that the Democratic Alliance cannot support this budget vote for the reasons just explained.

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2013 KZN Human Settlement Debate

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Human Settlements

Allow me to start by thanking the MEC and his departmental staff for the budget presented. Let me also record my appreciation to the Acting Head who held the fort whilst the department did not have an HOD.

Last year I indicated that the statements made by the Premier and echoed by the MEC, that the department will deliver 43 000 housing units, was unachievable with a budget of some R2.8 billion was indeed true. The MEC also promised that 1 500 houses would be rectified. Other promises to transfer 2 500 homes using the EEDBS to bring home ownership was also targeted.  The budget was so short that a number of targets set were not achieved. Clearly the number of houses built does not keep up with the number of beneficiaries. The pace of delivery must improve. I will come to some suggestions on how this could be done a little later.

Departmental performance;

  • Of the 43 000 houses that were promised, the department delivered just 25 940, a shortfall of some 17 000 houses
  • Of the 1 500 houses that were supposed to be rectified only 579 were completed
  • Of the 2 500 houses that were supposed to be transferred, only 764 were transferred
  • The CRU programme fell flat on its back with only 170 out of a target of 1 934 completed
  • The targets for training of councillors and housing consumers and emerging contractors were also not achieved. The numbers are in the latest report of the Department

I must congratulate the department for producing the largest number of houses compared to other provinces.

Last year the MEC the estimated backlogs in the province is approximately one million, Ethekwini’s target alone is in the region of 412 000. At the current delivery rate of 26 000 housing units per annum, it will take 384 years to catch up with today’s backlog. At Ethekwini’s current housing delivery rate of less than 5 000 per annum, it will take more than 80 years to eradicate the slums.

An alternate form of housing delivery must be found.

It is unacceptable that Gauteng province received a billion rand more last year.  KZN will be further affected with the new census figures. Again, the MEC and the department must look at alternate delivery mechanisms.

The DA believes that serious consideration must now be given to site and service, where beneficiaries can provide their own labour to build their own homes. It has been done previously in Phoenix successfully. Serviced sites must immediately be released to qualifying beneficiaries in places like Cornubia, to enable self-help projects.

The question is – can government continue providing free houses at R100 000 each?   The answer is ‘no’ – it is completely unsustainable.  The symptoms are already there.  Ethekwini has already reduced its target from 16 000 to 7 500 to 5 000 and still it cannot reach this figure.

With the 2013/14 budget increasing by approx R295 million not much can be done in terms of the backlogs, given the pressures of maintenance and rectification. This increase will not make a dent on the number of houses that need to be delivered.

Allow me to touch on some specifics;

  • The Shallcross upgrade, scuttled by the previous MEC, must be revived.  The DA is pleased that this is now out on tender and set to commence soon
  • Austerville housing must be expedited as the community has been waiting for many years
  • The EEDBS has gone backwards.  The target of 10 000 per annum was reduced to 1 000 when Hon. Maggie Govender became MEC. Poor tenants are forced to pay rentals because of the delays in getting home ownership. This process must be expedited and in the meantime they should not be paying any rental as no maintenance is being done.

Rectification of pre-1994 and post-1994 housing units, which in many cases were flogged to tenants after being shoddily painted by an ANC cadre must be addressed. He has since disappeared. The Ethekwini municipality applied for funding in 2010 and approval is still outstanding.  The excuse is that the NHBRC has not concluded its assessments.  What is the status? The MEC indicated that an assessment was done and would be considered – this is good news.

On the issue of the NHBRC – despite the decision to opt out from NHBRC being the implementing agents to expedite the Austerville and Shallcross projects, these projects have still not begun.  The MEC has indicated that the Shallcross Flats upgrade is at a tender stage and will proceed shortly. When?  This is something that the DA has been calling for over several years.

Hon MEC – what has happened to the R120 million paid to the NHBRC and the further R58 million?

These moneys were paid to oversee the refurbishment of the rectification programme.  Yet only 579 houses have been rectified. Why was this money paid upfront?  How much is the NHBRC still holding unspent?  This must be urgently investigated.

On the issue of Cornubia – a parliamentary reply from the MEC stated that Ethekwini was working on a waiting list.  What is the progress on this? There must be a waiting list, we cannot have a situation where 15 000 informal dwellers are moved into one box. The DA calls for the department to formulate a waiting list for the project with the Ethekwini municipality immediately.

Ethekwini municipality, with the largest informal settlement backlog, has drastically reduced its targets due to cuts by the department. From 16 000 to 13 000 to 5000 in the last two years and now to 7500, It will take them approximately 62 Years to meet its current backlog.

The CRU Program has failed. The department’s allocation for this programme has not been spent. The DA agrees with the MEC that there must be another strategy to deal with hostels which are a burden to the taxpayer.  Millions are spent with no returns. This is not sustainable.

Illegal occupants in RDP houses – this is a serious problem as original beneficiaries are renting these homes out to others at a profit. They now want tenants to move out.  We must regularize the illegal occupants.

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Sports and Recreation Budget Debate

Tom Stokes, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Sport and Recreation

I Find myself this year saying very much the same as I said last year, that it is difficult to fault the department of Sports and Recreation on their mission statement, strategic goals, strategic objectives and core functions and that when one goes through the APP  there is planning and reporting.

I am not sure to what extent these strategies and plans are translated into concrete and measurable actions, but with a new HOD in place there is evidence of a tighter administration and a steadier hand on the wheel.

The DA has consistently over the years opposed the Sport and Recreation budget because it tries to be all things to all people with limited funds and limited expertise to fulfill the expectations it has generated in its planning strategies. We have argued that the creation of a separate Sports and Recreation Department is unnecessary and that large part of this department should fall under Education, another section under COGTA, another section under National Sports Department, and finally another section under Social Development.

But that is not to gainsay the very valuable work that the department does under severe restraints. It is patently obvious that most of our non-white communities have totally inadequate sporting and recreational facilities and that, consequently the daily habit of exercise and social sporting interaction is not afforded to the vast majority of our population. As a person who played sport my whole life and coached various sporting codes for 30 years, I am totally sold on the principles behind the National Development plan on compulsory school sport and community involvement in sports. If there is any activity that leads one to racial colour-blindness it is the sporting arena and we have seen how our national sporting teams have fostered nation building.

The performance plan targeting a rational and systematic transformation of human settlement nodes that will allow for the development of community recreational facilities, has the DA’s full support. The problem we have is that without a massive injection of funds – which we don’t believe is available in the short term because of other imperatives – the Sport and Recreation Department cannot with its limited budget, fractured focus and limited skilled personnel begin to address the programmes it has in a meaningful way.

The development of community recreational infrastructure for example needs to be done within municipal town planning schemes under an overarching human settlement special development plan. There seems to be an awkward intrusion of Sport and Recreation into this mix.  It seems to sit more comfortably under a COGTA and Human Settlement mandate. I have visited some of these sports fields in remote areas developed under Sport and Recreation budget in response to local community demands. What I saw was rapidly deteriorating soccer fields, vandalized ablution blocks and unused basketball courts.

It is not a matter only of satisfying a community request, but a matter of integrating the project into clear special planning schemes and I don’t see clear evidence of this.

As far as school sport is concerned, I can only repeat what I said last year. It is difficult for someone who has come out of an ex-model C background to accept the huge gap between what teachers in these schools accept as their normal duties, school sport commitments after school and on weekends, and the reluctance on the part of teachers emanating from other education departments who refuse to do any unpaid work after 2:30 pm.

Until teachers embrace the concept that extra-curriculum activities is part of their job description, and that afternoon and weekend sports and cultural activities need to be carried by every teacher in every school, my belief is that very little meaningful improvement in this field will take place. There is uncontroversial evidence of the value of extra-curriculum to the development of young boys and girls in a wide range of indicators. It is staggering that we can have an education dispensation in this country, particularly with our history, where, as a result of an ill-advised service agreement with teacher unions, teachers see the school day ending at 2:30 pm, and that after school engagement with learners is optional.

I look forward with great anticipation as our new model schools get rolled out across the province, as promised in the Education MEC address yesterday. Hopefully part and parcel of these schools will be a sports programme and a corps of truly professional teachers who will set an example of the kind of teaching service we need to create our new society.

The DA will not support this budget in its entirety.  Not because we oppose the value of sports and recreation to fuse and heal communities, but because we believe as currently conceived, this department should be fundamentally restructured for greater efficiency.

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Speech – Stagnant budget is hindering progress

George Mari, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Arts and Culture

Allow me to start by thanking the MEC for tabling her Department’s Budget.   My appreciation also goes to officials who are trying very hard to deliver on the department’s mandate with limited funding.

Budget

This years’ budget sees a substantial increase in the budget for the provincialisation of libraries. The department struggled to meet its mandate in 2012 and the portfolio committee was disappointed by the allocation given the pressures faced by the department. The budget does not provide for any new Art Centres to be built in 2013 as the limited funding provided for capital expenditure is to be used for the 2nd Phase of the existing Art Centre.

This budget is therefore stagnant and is hindering the department from carrying out its mandate, especially within cultural affairs and economic growth. Perusing the department’s Annual Performance it is clear that the targets for 2013 have either stayed the same or reduced when compared to the estimated performance for 2012. Examples of this include the number of structures the department supports – drastically reduced from 76 to 16 – and the number of artistes trained, which is reduced from 4 715 in 2012 to 2 745 and maintains this trend for the MTEF Period.

The DA is concerned that very few community-based organisations are being assisted to achieve their objectives. The number of cultural organisations within Indian Communities is reducing and there is a need to increase funding and support those organisations that produce maximum results with their allocations. The department’s under-expenditure could have been used to assist these organisations.

Cuts in allocations to the Playhouse Company and the KZN Orchestra were raised as a serious concern by the Arts and Culture and Finance portfolio committees and an undertaking was made to ensure that this be rectified in the Mid Term Budget estimates. The DA will be following up on this later in the year.

On a positive note, I must congratulate the department on its achievements in respect of the Construction of Phase One of the Arts Centres and I am looking forward to their completion.  But I have two concerns.  The first is value for money.  Are we getting value for money? The centres the committee has visited do not indicate this.  The second concern is the sustainability of Art Centres. Municipalities must ensure that they are optimally used by the various art forms, so that communities benefit. We saw some beadwork and handicrafts being made by women, which is good, but the marketing of their goods is poor and they are relying on locals to buy from them as they do not have a marketing arm.  The department must come up with a strategy to assist in marketing their products.

I was looking forward to seeing an Art Centre being built for the Indian Community, which does not have one. But this budget does not allow for any new Art Centres.  Perhaps some consideration can be given to this next year.

Libraries

Libraries are centres of learning.  The department has built some state-of-the-art libraries in the province in recent years, which must be commended. I was also impressed to see new concepts where a mini museum was incorporated in the design. We need more of these. The provincialisation of libraries must proceed in earnest so that the Department can upgrade some of the older ones. Yet the budget does not provide for more of these libraries to be built.

The Documentation centre – named the 1860 Heritage Centre – has still not been officially opened. The portfolio committee again visited the Centre and was bluntly told that it cannot open until more space is found and all the artefacts and heirloms are taken from storage and displayed properly. This Centre has been stolen from the Indian Community.  I don’t want to point fingers at anyone but I will say that there is a double storey building, which previously displayed these items and which is now being used to store CD’s and DVD’s. This building must be taken from the KZN Music House and given to the Documentation Centre. The department must engage the Department of Economic Development on this matter so that the new opening date of 16 November 2013 is finally achieved.

Museums

The Rorkes Drift Zulu Museum needs to be refurbished – it is losing its appeal, unlike the museum in Dundee, which is well run and maintained.

KZN Music Academy 

I want to again raise the issue of the KZN Music Academy.  This institution must be brought under the department’s control. It is not playing the role it is supposed to play. The department of Economic Development funded this academy to the tune of more than R50 million. Yet it is a commercial venue for a select few and emerging local artists are not benefitting from it.  The cost of using the recording studio is completely out of their reach as the tariffs are too high.

Last year I suggested that KZN have its own Idols competition, where indigenous songs and music are encouraged. The youth must be encouraged to participate and become involved in the arts.

Ethekwini Mega Library

I raised this matter last year – allow me to warn on the operational cost allocated to Ethekwini.  This library is earmarked to cost in the region of R500 million. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the present need for a Mega Library.  With this amount of money, the department could build 15 Libraries where the need is the greatest.   The DA warns the MEC to tread very carefully on this one.

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DA KZN LEGISLATURE – Social Development Budget Debate

Makhosazna Mdlalose, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Social Development

The Department of Social Development is to be commended for developing its staff through in-service training and bursaries. New Social-Workers were absorbed into the Department; meaning it will be an improved Department with young and invigorated blood.

Efficiency and competency matters however, continue to rest squarely on management and supervision.

This Department also exerted itself on the working of SASSA to ensure a more efficient service in terms of the re-registration and the payment of social grants. It was not smooth but efforts to get this vital service running are to be commended.

The Department of Social Development should work closely with related Departments;

If you want to go quickly, go alone, if you want to go far, go together, so says an African proverb. This is exactly what this Department fails to understand. It fails to understand that it is an important Department, interconnected with many other Departments, and that its real effectiveness relies upon proper engagement and working relationships with these Departments.

While the Democratic Alliance welcomes the increased allocation to this Department, several issues need to be pointed out;

Much as there were improvements in the funding and running of the Department there are still areas with serious shortcomings. Census statistics show a very high number of orphans and child-headed households.  The Department does not have comprehensive programmes to specifically attend to this vulnerable group of our population.

Also, other programmes besides those that appear to be grant driven are needed.  These include programmes that involve communities, schools and NPO’s giving moral support to orphaned children. Activities to prevent drug abuse, despondency, school leaving, are needed and closer working relationships with schools, the Department of Health and religious institutions should be encouraged.

Protection and promotion of services for older persons and people with disabilities;

This past year has also seen the ill-treatment of older persons and those with disabilities take the spotlight. This Department needs to work closely with the South African Police Service and the Department of Community Safety and Liaison. The number of reported incidents of crime targeting older residents of this province is alarming.  More needs to be done by this Department beyond just raising awareness about the rights of older persons and the pride of having them in our communities.

This Department, as well as the SAPS, needs to work closely with communities, to identify and prioritise the safety of our elderly population. The continued raping and pillaging of our elderly citizens in this province, is unacceptable. And this happens because the elderly are neglected by social and policing services. I urge the MEC to prioritise the safety of our elderly residents, because the current budget allocation fails to do so.

Community based care and support services for the elderly continues to be a problem. We know that this Department closed a number of unregistered non-profit organisations (NPOs) providing care for the elderly – which is a welcome development. But it is to be questioned why these providers can operate if ongoing compliance with departmental regulations is a priority of this Department.

We cannot continue to have unlicensed providers taking care of our elderly – these providers are ill-equipped to deal with their needs and see elderly care as an expedient way of making money from unsuspecting donors and the South African public. More funds need to be spent on monitoring ongoing compliance to Departmental regulations by NPOs that operate in this province.

The Department should not necessarily hasten to close down some of these institutions, and should instead work closely with them and make them compliant. Some of these institutions Madam Speaker provide vital services, even though they are operating below the required standards.  The Department should work with them; regulate them, instead of shutting them down!

Substance abuse on the rise;

Efforts by the Department to curb and address substance abuse are failing. The Youth model implemented at selected rehabilitation centres in this past year needs to be expanded to several other institutions in the province.  Speaker I would surmise that substance abuse not only happens in Madadeni or Newlands – which are the areas where the Youth model has been implemented.

In the same vein Madam Speaker, it is worrying that, children as young as 12 years old, are being rehabilitated for substance abuse.  This relative youthfulness of the population seeking treatment potentially represents a social and public health concern that requires serious attention.

The Department needs to work closely with the Departments of Education and Health in addressing substance abuse in this province, which is by all accounts spiralling out of control. Efforts to deal with youth substance abuse ought to be expanded to other Developmental centres beyond just Esicabazini and Vuma Development Centres. Youth substance abuse is on the rise and remedial efforts for youth substance abuse should not be only be accelerated but also allocated a worthy proportion of the budget.

Child-headed households and orphans;

There can be no doubt that KwaZulu-Natal is in the midst of a crisis.  The recent Census 2011 has also confirmed that the province has the highest number of orphans, with 30% of all orphans in the country.  This represents some 1 012 491 children. The province is also ranked third, after Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape, in terms of child-headed households.

The question is – what is the province’s Social Development department doing to address this crisis?

The DA believes that there are several issues compounding the lack of available care for orphans in this province;

  • The decrease in financial support by government for NGO’s and Children’s’ homes.
  • The department’s lack of encouraging community-based care in the province. This has proved to be the most effective way in which to assist children that have lost their primary caregivers.
  • A lack of awareness within rural communities in particular around the process of guardianship and fostering of children.  Sadly, orphaned children are often regarded as a financial burden by extended families, who then abandon them.  This need not be the case.

Provincial government must rise to the challenge.  We need to see an aggressive awareness campaign and we need to see the KZN Social Development department played a far more positive and active role in encouraging community-based child care.

Early childhood development (ECD)

Madam Speaker, it perturbs me that for the past few years this Department has been spending considerable sums of money on early childhood development, yet with no concrete results. We note the number of ECD services and activities funded by the Department in this past year, but it is clear that the Department lacks a proper guiding framework in dealing with ECD. As the national Department of Social services scales up ECD services, with focus on rural areas, it is our hope as the DA that provincial Department does the same and for once establishes a more streamlined approach in regards to ECD spending and the rollout of ECD services.

Fiscal and economic management

Madam Speaker, as we debate this budget, it is also important to be aware of how funds are typically spent by this Department and its general conduct in regards to economic and fiscal management.

The under spending by this Department is disturbing, in FY 2011/12 a total of R18.69 million was under spent. This is worrying especially given that Programme 2: Social Welfare services under-spent by almost R6 million and Programme 3: Development and Research by R9 million. Under spending for the aforementioned programmes cannot be condoned – this Department needs to realise that money unspent or under spent means that services are denied to the South African public.

The number of supply chain related irregularities in this Department is also alarming, especially given its modest allocation.

Year upon year we hear of investigations conducted because of alleged incidents of corruption and the misuse of funds by NPOs funded by the Department. This cannot be tolerated, this Department needs to clean up its act and the Accounting Officer and the MEC need to clamp down on such irregularities. Adequate controls over internal supply chain processes and the transfer payment made to Non-Profit Organisations (NPOs) should be instituted and monitored.

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DA cannot support Gauteng Health Budget when so much more needs to be done

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Gauteng Health Spokesman

Summary extract of speech on the health budget on 31 May 2013

The DA unfortunately cannot support the Gauteng health  budget while there is still so much to be done to serve the health needs of this province.

I do acknowledge that the department has the best MEC that it has ever had. Hope Papo is admirably conscientious and utterly sincere in trying to get things right in  this troubled department.

I feel sorry for him because he inherited a big mess and there are so many things outside his control.

I am concerned by the decreased budget for transfers to NGOs and to local government health services.

Whereas R947 million was paid to NGOs last year, the budget this year is only R741 million. R946 million was paid to local governments, but the budget this year is R647 million.

This is a huge gap that will definitely hit services in these areas.

The four academic hospitals are also under pressure as they have been allocated R9.27 billion whereas R9.76 billion was spent by them last year.

Goods and services are also tight, as R7.93 billion is budgeted whereas R8.33 billion was spent last year.

But I still get complaints from companies that they are owed money for months and even years.

Companies have stopped supplies in certain instances because of non-payment.

This is why food ran out recently at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital and patients had to pay for bread and toilet paper at Tembisa hospital.

Compared to previous years the overall budget is actually up significantly – it is 50% higher than four years ago.

The key issue is effective and efficient spending which is where I still have many doubts.

Emergency services are still a disaster. The Johannesburg Metro should have been called to order for refusing to provide response time figures, no doubt because they are so miserable.

The provincial estimate is that about 54% of priority 1 calls are responded to within 15 minutes.

The international standard is 80%, but our official target for the next three years is only 70 percent. So officially we are aiming for a sub-standard emergency service for the next three years.

The supply of essential medicine is also way below what it should be – around 70% due to the mess at the Auckland Park Medical Depot.

There is a complete inability to build anything without spending over-runs, avoidable design changes and delays.

The rot in procurement goes very deep indeed. We get poor value in all sorts of things, including hospital security and servicing of machines.

We retain five poorly functioning and expensive laundries, but it’s not the core business of this department to run laundries when there are plenty of private laundries conveniently close to hospitals all around the province.

It’s really shameful that male patients at the George Mukhari Hospital were given nighties to wear because of a shortage of laundered pyjamas.

The Folateng private wards should be shut down as soon as possible. They lose about R40 million a year, excluding the cost of capital.

I estimate that about R1 billion has been lost since Folateng started 10 years ago. Instead of bringing in revenue from patients to assist public patients, it has actually drained resources away from the public sector.

The department must realise that it has no expertise in running a private hospital, but that partnerships with the private health sector can be very fruitful.

Something needs to be done urgently to cut down the long waiting lists and waiting times for operations. More than 10 000 people are waiting for operations in Gauteng hospitals.

I really hope that the era of delayed operations due to broken machines and missing linen is over.

The sins of the past in this department weigh heavily on the present.

I remember when Amos Masondo was the first Health MEC and he spoke about computerisation and a health information system.

There have been umpteen false starts in this area, and all failed because of corruption and incompetence.

Paper files cause delays and are notorious for getting lost.

A health information system is an absolute necessity to enable proper budgeting and controls.

Without it, you don’t know your real costs and where money can be most productively spent.

I hope that real progress in this and other areas can be reported on when the next budget is tabled.

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Decentralise decision-making and improve health care delivery

James Masango MPL

Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition

Note: The following address was made by James Masango to the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature during the Policy and Budget debate of the Department of Health.

Honourable Speaker, last year during the 2012/13 Department of Health’s policy and budget debate I stood here and spoke at length about the unacceptably high vacancy rate among doctors, nurses and other medical staff, the department’s failure to retain critical personnel, regular shortages of critical medication, and of course its failure to spend on infrastructure and revitalisation for two consecutive financial years.

Honourable Speaker, unfortunately nothing has changed, and in many instances the situation worsened. This year the premier and the MEC again promised that funds would be set aside to appoint medical professionals – yet the vacancy rate is still at 76% for medical doctors and over 50% for nurses.

If the MEC and the department are serious about appointing staff then they must do so with determination and commitment, to both increase the number of doctors and nurses in our health care system as well as to retain those we already have.

The same goes for the state of Mpumalanga’s hospitals. Every year hundreds of millions are made available for hospital revitalisation and infrastructure, but somehow, conditions don’t improve. Rob Ferreira has potholes in casualty, in Bernice Samuels the roofs are leaking and patients lie in the passages due to a shortage of beds, Tintswalo is still dilapidated, while Mapulaneng and Themba don’t have enough water or sanitation facilities.

Honourable Speaker, late last year the premier visited hospitals across the province and promised that action would be taken, and that health care would improve – yet, we still don’t see an improvement. The Human Rights Commission is currently investigating the state of our hospitals and health care in the province, and still the department is slow to respond.

  • Every year 422 new-born babies die in our hospitals;
  • 196 women die annually due to complications while giving birth;
  • We have 58 community healthcare clinics (CHCs), of which 21 are not able to provide any maternity services due to a shortage of staff, leaving an estimated R1,9 million worth of medical equipment to stand idle; and
  • The number of reported TB cases for Mpumalanga have increased from 23 312 to 24 451 in a space of only one year.

This while a world-class service exists in the private sector, but its costs put it beyond the reach of 88% of Mpumalanga’s residents.

Honourable Speaker, the basic health care system in Mpumalanga needs to be streamlined and overhauled to bring effective health care delivery to more than three million people who cannot afford private health care.

We have to explore options such as bringing private, public, community and NGO health care providers, who currently operate on separate and sometimes conflicting tracks, together in a comprehensive health care system, making it more efficient and more responsive to the needs of the people.

We have to decentralise hospitals and clinics, giving CEOs and CFOs the authority to set their own rates for patients with incomes above a certain prescribed level, appoint staff, collect fees, and respond to the health needs of the area they serve in the way that they see as most appropriate, within an overall national framework.

This would almost immediately improve service delivery as decision-makers would be held more accountable. Honourable MEC, why does the department employ Chief Financial Officers in provincial hospitals if they are not allowed to decide how their budgets are spent?

Hospitals must be allowed to attract as many fee-paying patients as they wish, and employ more staff and upgrade their facilities if they are able to generate the means to do so.

Decentralisation would reduce the department to a facilitating body where it monitors and oversees the overall effectiveness and smooth coordination of the health system, and ensure that the basic requirements for an effective health system are in place.

A system such as this would not only reduce the bloated bureaucracy and its massive annual salary bill, but also make more funds available for the operational management of health facilities.

If the state does not undertake health care service delivery with the necessary rigour and sophistication, the lesson from history is that health care become and expensive service accessible only by the elite – or no functional health service at all.

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The war on crime is far from over

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Note: The following address was made by Anthony Benadie during the Policy and Budget debate of the Department of Community Safety, Security and Liaison. Budget vote 9.

During the 2011/12 financial year, 163 756 incidents of crime took place in Mpumalanga. Of these, over 37 000 were contact crimes, over 36 000 were property related crimes and over 31 000 were other serious crimes. These statistics are hair-raising, and reflective of a society plagued by crime. In reality, the question is not if you will be affected by crime, but when will you be affected by crime.

And, despite the best attempts by the ANC government to convince South Africans that they are winning the war against crime, the statistics speak otherwise: while contact crime is down, property-related crime is up, while contact-related crimes are down, crimes heavily dependent on police action is up, while other serious crimes is down, crimes forming part of aggravated robbery is up.

Honourable Speaker, while at least four crime categories recorded decreases in incidents, these were marginal (ranging from 1% to 6%), while those categories which recorded increases in incidents, were significant (ranging from 3,2% to 34%).

This is simply unacceptable and one has to turn to leadership of government to ask why, given all the evidence of criminal activity, no decisive action is forthcoming. The ANC’s lack of political will to deal with crime and to equip our officers with sufficient skill and resources, are turning our communities into safe havens for criminals and a battleground for civilian survival.

At the same time, we need to assess the current state of the South African Police Service. Our officers cannot fulfil their mandate in keeping our province’s people safe, with insufficient resources, too few vehicles, dilapidated vehicles, lack of firearms, too few officers and a depressing working environment characterised by work overload, dilapidated police stations, low salaries, inconsistent and slow promotions – with some officers having served in their current ranks for 20 years.

So too, the deteriorating internal discipline within the SAPS is having a crippling effect on dedicated officers. It is reported that many officers arrive at work when they like and leave when they like, while in some cases disciplinary procedures were riddled with cover-ups, based on who-know-who, with ordinary officers called upon to act as DC prosecutors.

Over 450 officers in our province do not possess a Grade 12 senior certificate. Many don’t have driver’s licenses, and frankly, too many officers are simply too lazy to care, adding tremendous stress and burden to those who are dedicated to their blue uniform.

But, despite dwindling morale, all is not lost.

Every day, hundreds of police and traffic office officers across our province brave dangerous and trying circumstances to catch criminals and keep us safe. To them we say “Thank You”. We recognise your sacrifice and we treasure your commitment. It is those officers that deserve our attention, energy and support.

It is those officers to whom the DA’s vision for an effective and efficient police and traffic force is dedicated.

It is for them:

  • That we support higher salaries and better working conditions.
  • That we lead the drive for increased visible policing and reduced case-loads by reviewing the police / citizen ratio. The DA’s vision would not only see an additional 30 000 detectives countrywide, but 250 000 additional officers employed, trained and deployed on our streets.
  • That we champion the call for the reintroduction of specialised policing units: a narcotics unit to tackle the devastating surge of drug related crimes, a rural safety unit to tackle the orchestrated brutal attacks on farmers and residents of rural areas, and a child protection unit to remove those destroying the lives of our children from society.
  • We support the call for the speedy implementation of the 2011 agreement with the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council to incorporate administrative staff into the SAPS pay grade.
  • That we believe in the depoliticising of the force and ensuring those in position of command are there by virtue of their sincere conviction for safety and security, and not political affiliation.
  • That we need immediate access to professional trauma counselling in times of need.
  • And it is for them that we hold a vision of a corruption free, independent and well resources force, dedicated to the personal security of every South African.

Honourable Speaker, it is true that despite being two very distinct forces, many of the challenges facing the SAPS are also faced by our traffic officers, including insufficient resources, poor salaries and corruption. The work done by our traffic officers is often unappreciated and many of them face hostile and agitated drivers on a daily basis – indeed no one enjoys those nervous moments of interaction with a traffic officer.

So, Honourable Speaker, let us recognise the work done by our traffic officers, the late nights, the long hours, the traffic law enforcement, the accident reaction and their visibility across the province. Indeed their contribution is priceless and their presence essential, however, let me hasten to say that no degree of officer brutality can or should be tolerated. It does not matter what colour you beret is or how wrong a motorist is, you are leaders in uniform, ambassadors of our province, and nothing can justify the unnecessary use of excessive force against a member of the public.

Honourable Speaker, the disappearance of TMT (Traffic Management Technologies) from our province is not only a victory for every motorist, but every traffic officer as well.

Despite R91 million paid to TMT, still unaccounted for, their operations within the province threatened the job security of many officers and their modus operandi relegated many traffic officers to mere spectators in the key field of speed prosecution and traffic law enforcement. Honourable MEC, I sincerely hope that the rumoured negotiations to renew TMT’s contract is not true and that any intention to do so is abandoned. Cameras in bushes don’t make our roads safer, visible traffic officers, enforcing rules of the road do.

Honourable Speaker, crime is not an inescapable reality and road deaths are not a given. Let’s intensify our efforts to keep Mpumalanga’s citizens safe. We wish all our officers in blue and brown the very best. Take care of yourselves, be safe and stay alive!

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DA has no faith in current administration

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader

In a display of no confidence, the Democratic Alliance has voted against the budget speeches of all five of the province’s most strategic departments, including Health, Social Development, Education, Roads and Public Works, as well as COGHSTA.

Analysis of these departments clearly shows that, by way of their inability to manage past budget allocations to meet their predetermined objectives, they have failed the sick, young, old, vulnerable, unemployed and talented people of the Northern Cape, including those who are trying to be economically productive. We sympathize with these people. Their right to follow their dreams has and is being violated by the current ANC administration.

Sick people are suffering. They spend hours waiting for medical attention at clinics and hospitals. They further wait months, if not years, to undergo operations that have the potential to significantly improve their quality of life. Meanwhile, grieving families also have to wait prolonged periods of time to bury their loved ones. This is ethically unacceptable and is due to a deteriorating health system in the province. This sad state of affairs is epitomized by the declining number of doctors and nurses in the employ of this department, our very own monument of corruption by way of the unfinished mental health hospital, and the growing amount of irregular expenditure being accrued by this department.

At the same time, vulnerable people of this province have to take a back-seat. This is because we are faced with a situation whereby this department is relieving poverty but not releasing people from poverty. A total of 41% of the population is dependent on social grants. Soup kitchens have grown by 52% and unemployment amongst the youth stands at 70%. NGO’s all need to receive above inflation allocations and be measured against set targets, particularly those that translate into real opportunities for the youth. This includes skills training to link them to economic strategies. We also need to strengthen families by addressing domestic violence and addiction through building safe houses and a rehabilitation centre for the province. This is important if families are to take advantage of economic opportunities, and play their part in improving the moral fiber of our society.

Talented people of the province are being sidelined. In rural areas in particular, there is a shortage of educators. The quality of our maths and science marks also indicates that there is a problem with quality of our teachers. In effect, this narrows the opportunities of our learners to become part of economic initiatives such as the SKA and Bloodhound projects, as well as those in the mining and agriculture sectors, or to run their own business successfully. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, teachers who excel are not recognized or rewarded. Sadly then, it is both our learners and our teachers who are short-changed.

Those people who want to be productive are also getting the short end of the stick. The critical state of our road network and the province’s severely lacking public transport system, is obstructing economic development. It seems that maladministration, fraud and corruption within the Department of Roads and Public Works, has become the greatest cost driver of this department. This is deplorable as investments in the road sector have the potential to benefit all our people by providing access to territory and allowing the alleviation of poverty.

Our people are also bearing the brunt of the breakdown of social cohesion within our communities. This is largely due to the frustrations, which translate into protests, caused by the poor delivery of basic services on a local government level. In this respect, the Department of COGHSTA is failing to properly oversee our municipalities. This is evident from the fact that 21 out of our 32 municipalities fell into the disclaimed or qualified category during the latest audits.

In effect, the Northern Cape people have taken a back seat due to the funding allocations of provincial departments and municipalities not translating into effective service delivery.

Sound financial management is linked to service delivery. In this regard, the DA proposes that the Northern Cape take a lesson in best practices from the Western Cape provincial government, where within a year of the DA coming into power, the new administration was able to turn provincial departments around. Proof hereof is the string of clean audits attained by WC government departments. There is no reason why the same results can’t be achieved here.

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