KZN’s cabinet does not have the ‘X factor’

AS KZN’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance Caucus has worked hard during 2015 to ensure that KZN’s Executive (MEC’s) and senior departmental officials are held to account.

This has been done through portfolio committees, speeches and debates, engaging with decision-makers in the province and highlighting ongoing areas of concern through the media and other avenues.

Today’s Cabinet Report Cards are an important barometer for the people of our province to assess the performance of KZN’s ANC-led leadership. They deal with MEC’s attendance and input at parliamentary Sittings, portfolio committees their leadership.

Report Cards also deal with an important oversight mechanism – that of parliamentary questions.  Of the 283 questions asked in 2015, the DA submitted 252 – 89% – proof of our commitment to oversight and accountability. This in comparison with the IFP’s 5.3% and the ANC’s 5.7%.  These figures are as at 23 November.

MECs’ are given a performance rating out of 10 and are listed in descending order.

 

Finance                                                                                   MEC Belinda Scott

The MEC has taken her foot off the gas in certain areas. While attendance at portfolio committees has declined since last year to 80% the MEC is open and responsive in these meetings and always attends Sittings of the House when finance matters are on the agenda.

The MEC must be commended on her handling of the controversial issuing of bingo licences.  The swift action taken against former board members, the subsequent appointment of new board members and the 20% reduction in board costs to the department are all welcomed.

The MEC showed some regression in terms of accountability, with nine out of 12 parliamentary questions answered.

Another grave concern though is the delay of the proposed Gaming and Betting Bill.  Public hearings were completed in August 2015 and the Bill has been before the Finance committee. It was supposed to be debated and adopted before year end, as originally requested by the MEC.  The DA regards the MEC’s excuses for ongoing delays as weak and we question whether there is a more sinister force at play.

The MEC continues to face an uphill battle when it comes to budget implementation and constraints in certain provincial departments while factions within the ANC-led executive make it impossible for her to ensure fiscal discipline.  The 2014/15 close out reports and 2015/16 mid-year budget reports are a clear example of this.

Score                                                                           7/10

(Francois Rodgers, MPL)

 

 

Public Works    MEC Ravi Pillay

Having recently joined this portfolio and only attended four portfolio meetings of which the MEC attended two it is difficult to give a fair assessment of his performance.

The MEC is approachable in the committee environment and is engaging and responsive to communication. He always avails himself for Sittings when matters of Public Works are tabled and has answered all eight of the DA’s parliamentary questions.

Of concern though is that under the leadership of this MEC, the department under spent R38.167 million against specifically and exclusively appropriated funds.   Furthermore, most outputs were below the annual targets while significant under achievement in respect of GIAMA implementation was recorded.

Score                                                               7/10

(Francois Rodgers, MPL)

 

 

Agriculture                                                                 MEC Cyril Xaba

The MEC seems to be settling in well in his position and to have developed a broad understanding of the department.  His attendance record at portfolio committee meetings has been good.

Regrettably, he has not shown decisive and immediate leadership on the issue of drought.

He has also failed to deal with and resolve issues relating to Mjindi and his appointment of the board of the said entity have not been well handled.

His biggest blunder though is the delay in decisive action against staff implicated in the forensic investigations.

The MEC has answered 10 out of the DA’s 11 parliamentary questions.

Score                                                                           7/10

(Sizwe Mchunu, MPL)

 

 

Office of the Premier                                                Premier Senzo Mchunu

The Premier’s rating by the DA has improved this year, largely because he appears to be clear in terms of his intention to reposition or realign the Office of the Premier.  This includes the relocation of Gaming and Betting to Finance, the possible amalgamation of Amafa Heritage, the disestablishment of the Royal Household Department and discontinuation of the Youth Ambassadors programme.

The main problem is that since his announcement of the establishment of the directorates of Youth and Royal Household Affairs, there have been no progress reports.

The DA is aware that the directorate on Youth was appointed however we are not aware or clear of implemented programmes and their impact on youth development – this while KZN still has a large number of unemployed young people.

The Premier was also silent and invisible at a time when the country and KZN were faced with the #feesmustfall protest.

The Premier has answered all 11 of the DA’s parliamentary questions.

Score                                                                           6/10

(Sizwe Mchunu, MPL)

 

 

Sport and Recreation             MEC Ntombikayise Sibidhla-Saphetha

The MEC has been absent in defining KZN’s road map towards hosting the Commonwealth Games. Instead of leading from the front and taking the public into her confidence over costs and related benefits of the Games, she has remained quiet as a result of cabinets’ bullying.

Her department also handed over R30million to Hoy Park, yet failed to show any leadership in the handling of this controversial matter.

School sport remains an ongoing challenge with minimal support.  Meanwhile the MEC has no clear plan on how to fill that gap so that each child has adequate opportunities.

Finally, despite movement on the 15% MIG grant reserved for sports infrastructure – following sustained pressure from the DA – the MEC has not been at the forefront of driving this spend. Instead it has been up to the DA to push her and the portfolio committee into some form of action.

The MEC answered five of the eight parliamentary questions submitted by the DA.  Her attendance at portfolio committee meetings has been satisfactory.

Score                                                                           5/10

(Hlanganani Gumbi, MPL)

 

 

Human Settlements                                                  MEC Ravi Pillay

The department is increasingly involved in litigation, which they often lose.  An example is the case of Abahlali Basemjondolo, where the MEC is advocating for a permanent eviction order which the DA believes would allow wide-scale abuse by government and eThekwini Municipality.

The MEC’s heavy hand in dealing with land invasions is a strong indication of the slow pace of housing projects, particularly in urban areas. While some progress has been made in terms of title deeds KZN is still very far behind in giving citizens these deeds which would enable them to formally hold ownership rights and use them to improve their lives.

In remaining silent on KZN’s long promised Housing Waiting List, MEC Pillay has failed in his biggest test – that of ridding the allocations process of corruption by officials and councillors.  The R900million Kokstad tender is another huge shadow over his head.

This department remains challenged by a serious lack of capacity resulting in a failure to deliver on its mandate – this to the point where it has been found transferring certain aspects to KZN’s Public Works department, indicating a declining inability to serve KZN’s people.

The MEC failed dismally when it came to responding to DA parliamentary questions with just 14 out of 22 answered.  His attendance at portfolio committee meetings has been good.

Score                                                                           5/10

(Hlanganani Gumbi, MPL)

 

 

COGTA                                                                        MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube

While the MEC has been brave in placing a number of municipalities under administration, and even dissolving Mtubatuba, it is not enough.

Her much-promised municipal skills audit has still not seen the light of day.  Meanwhile unauthorised, irregular and wasteful expenditure continue with no consequences for errant officials. Cadre deployment has clearly failed with the MEC now calling for proof of qualifications from her own senior management.

There was minor progress on financial reporting, with a marginal increase in clean audits, but several issues highlighted during the Mid-year review for 2015/16 remain a concern.  The biggest is that only 12% of grant funding had been spent by mid-year.  That municipalities are not utilising these funds is a serious offence given the precarious state of water supply in our province.  Poor spending on small town rehabilitation and disaster management were also raised.

By far the MEC and her department’s biggest failure this year is the failure to deal with the current drought which has devastated communities and their livestock.  If ever there was a case of ‘too little too late’ this is it.

An over-expenditure of R20million is predicted for this department by the end of the year.The main question is whether monies spent by either the department or municipalities translate into service delivery

The MEC answered 20 out of 21 parliamentary questions submitted by the DA however many were ‘non-replies’ which referred the queries to municipal structures with the claim that they did not fall under her jurisdiction.

Score                                                                           5/10

(George Mari, MPL)

 

 

Economic Development Tourism and Environmental Affairs       MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu

On the upside, MEC Mabuyakhulu attended most portfolio committee meetings this year.

On the down-side, he and his department are failing in their primary mandate -to develop KZN’s economy and create much-needed jobs.

The department still has too many entities with expensive Boards and Administrations that are not performing.  The planned Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone has ground to a halt as a result of water use licences not being granted.  Meanwhile, the need for more land seems to be the excuse for missing 10 out of 24 Annual Performance Plan targets.

The performance of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, once a proud organisation, has been a disaster under this MEC’s leadership with a R350 million under-spend on essentials like roads, accommodation and staff in the last financial year.

Hosting the expensive World Route event at a cost of millions is all very well – and we are pleased to have Qatar and Turkish airlines flying in to KSIA – but are our tourism infrastructures ready?  Certainly our once iconic game parks are not!

The MEC answered 16 out of the 20 parliamentary questions submitted by the DA this year.

Score                                                                           5/10

 

 

Education                                                                   MEC Peggy Nkonyeni

The financial crisis in MEC Nkonyeni’s department threatens to derail the entire functionality of this critical portfolio.  Alleged financial irregularities saw millions spent on a Commission of enquiry launched by the MEC.  Yet, one year on and she has still not tabled the findings.

Had she been serious about turning this department round she would have done so and dealt with the perpetrators. Her failure to act shows that this entire exercise was simply a smokescreen.

In 2014 KZN received the sharpest drop in matric results, finding itself close to the bottom in crucial subjects like Mathematics. Further investigation revealed that in many cases subject advisors had only visited schools once during the entire academic year.

This is symptomatic of the bigger problem that the MEC faces but is yet to address – that of rogue employees and officials. KZN’s Education department is plagued by scandals involving cash for posts, excessive infighting between SGBs and officials, highly unionized infighting that spills over into school management and some officials, including her HOD, who seem incapable of carrying out her express orders.

The MEC needs to get these rogue elements under control otherwise her continued leadership will be in question.

On a more positive note, the MEC did try to implement some measures to ensure better matric results for 2015, including operation ‘bounce back’.  However this is merely a band aid on a gunshot wound.  MEC Nkonyeni must clean out the rot and return to the basics of teaching and training to ensure KZN learners are truly being equipped for their futures.

The MEC answered 23 out of a total of 24 parliamentary questions submitted by the DA.

Score                                                                           4/10

(Mbali Ntuli, MPL)

 

 

Transport                                                                   MEC Willies Mchunu

The performance of KZN’s Transport department under this MEC sees a steady decline, with a qualified audit opinion with six findings during the past two financial years.  This, after unqualified reports for the 2010 to 2013 financial years.

While the reasons for this regression are too numerous to detail some include irregular expenditure mainly due to blatant non-compliance with PFMA procurement and contract requirements, a lack of adequate systems to detect and record irregular expenditure, inadequate systems to account for and value movable and immovable assets and endemic corruption with 16 forensic investigations totalling half a billion rand.  This while the department complains it does not have enough money to fund its mandate.

The situation within this department shows clearly that the leadership and senior management are failing in their respective oversight and management duties.

In terms of accountability, the MEC’s attendance at portfolio committee meetings was poor.  He answered a dismal 10 out of 17 parliamentary questions submitted by the DA and many are now months overdue.

The MEC seems to be overwhelmed by internal ANC politics which has kept him away from his core duty of steering his department. And then there are the ongoing issues which he continues to avoid including senior management vacancies and the implementation of the recommendations contained in the RTI Commission Report.

The MEC should be fired. He does not have his hands firmly on the steering wheel and his department is stuck in the mud of mismanagement.

Score                                                                           3/10

(Rafeek Shah, MPL)

 

 

Social Development                                                  MEC Weziwe Thusi

While the MEC shows the care and compassion required for this role, the lack of firm and proper leadership within this department has led to a financial and service delivery crisis, increasing the suffering of the poor and vulnerable in KZN.

Her attendance at portfolio committee meetings has been good but regrettably she spends most of her time trying to explain her department’s failure to achieve its targets.

The MEC is leading a department which can barely keep its head above water as it lurches from one issue to the next. The year began with 1 700 social worker graduates unemployed after the department failed to hire them – a figure that is set to increase to more than 2 000 in 2016.  Meanwhile, communities are crying out for their services.

Soon after this, four of the department’s district offices were condemned by the Department of Labour due to poor maintenance and infrastructure planning.

But the MEC’s biggest blunder of the year is her fight with Finance MEC, Belinda Scott, over the provision of the 6% tariff increase to Non-Governmental Organisations.  MEC Scott announced this increase in her Budget Speech but MEC Thusi claims there are no funds.

The last news was that the department is introducing a rationalisation plan which could see NGOs closing down.

MEC Thusi has shown poor financial leadership with her department projecting a R47m overspend for the 2015/16 financial year. Her department has also regressed in its audit outcome with the Auditor-General reporting that it cannot even account for its own assets including laptops and office furniture.

Her track record in responding to DA parliamentary questions has improved this year with all eight questions replied to.

Score                                                                          3/10

(Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL)

 

 

Office of the Speaker                                                Lydia Johnson

While the rating for the Speaker Office is low, it recognizes that there has been some improvement in certain areas while other areas have either regressed or stayed the same.

The ‘toxic’ tone of debate at the beginning of the term has improved as the ANC learns to live with the DA now being the Official Opposition. Regrettably, racist abuse suggesting that the DA has some kind of bizarre connection to either colonialism or apartheid continues, mainly from the EFF, with our members not enjoying any measure of protection.

The DA notes an improvement in oversight performance, with good attendance at STACOV portfolio committee meetings and increased checking of Departmental Budgets and briefings for portfolio committees. Overall though, the administration regressed to a qualified audit finding in 2014/15.  As an institution we cannot hold Departments accountable if we cannot keep track of our own Legislature assets.

The politically offensive TLTPs continue at massive cost to taxpayers with little or no return by way of improved governance or service delivery – Thankfully budget constraints have reduced the frequency of these events.

The internal organization of the Legislature remains chaotic with dates and venues of both portfolio committees and House sittings frequently subjected to last minute changes or cancellations.

This is no way to run an efficient and professional organization and indicates very poor co-ordination between the Speakers Office, the Office of the Chief Whip and the Committee secretariat.  For this the Speaker must take responsibility.

Score                                                               3/10

(Mark Steele, MPL)

 

 

Arts and Culture                                                        MEC Ntombikayise Sibhidla-Sapetha

This department has regressed badly with qualified audits during the past three financial years.  The 2014/15 close out report sees the department under-spend on its budget in both programmes 2 and 3 due to construction and court cases.

The current financial year sees the trend continuing with the department not achieving many of its targets and spending only 71% of its budget at the second quarter.

It has also failed to spend a R2million Extended Public Works Grant allocated for job creation programmes, thereby denying hundreds of unemployed people the opportunity to put food on the table.

The library conditional grant is also under-spent. Meanwhile millions have been spent on musical instruments which have not been delivered, especially to the Indian community.

The MEC answered five out of eight parliamentary questions submitted by the DA.

Major mismanagement and weak leadership lie at the heart of this department’s regression, the result of which is poor service delivery to the people of KZN.

Score                                                                           3/10

(George Mari, MPL)

 

 

Health                                                 MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo

This department has reached the bottom of the barrel with the A-G adding two audit queries to the previous list and citing poor leadership under MEC Dhlomo as one of the main reasons for this.

Irregular expenditure increased to over R850million – a red flag for “endemic corruption” to quote President Zuma’s words. Meanwhile, the department also overspent its budget again.

The MEC’s relationship with his own staff remains poor – never good for a healthy working environment.

This year, the MEC presided over a critical medicines shortage which he failed to take ownership of.  Instead, he hid behind the national minister and then mislead KZN’s legislature by saying there was never a shortage of ARV’s – this while the people of KZN continue to suffer the consequences.

The department’s Medico-Legal claims are almost R6billion, an unprecedented figure. The shortage of staff and freezing of posts no doubt contribute to this.  That he is still sending medical students to Cuba during such tough economic times is also worthy of several demerit points in the DA’s book.

Curable cancers are becoming incurable as waiting times for studies such as CT scans take up to a year.  This points to the collapse of specialised radiological and radiotherapy services.  The untold suffering as a result of this earns the MEC more demerit points.

The only positive is that the MEC has an open door policy, seems genuinely concerned and tries to deal with matters brought to his attention.

While he has attended most portfolio meetings, he never stays until the end. His appearance at Sittings is either for short periods or not at all.  The MEC answered 53 of the DA’s 66 parliamentary questions but avoided those that deal with specific tenders which is alarming.

Score                                                                           2/10

(Dr Imran Keeka, MPL)

 

 

Community Safety and Liaison                                MEC Willies Mchunu

The MEC’s ‘laissez faire’ attitude continues unabated as a new Head of Department tries to run things for him.  It is under the MEC’s watch that the former CFO was found to be working for two provincial departments, showing a lack of controls and proper background checks.

The MEC’s contempt for portfolio committee meetings continues, with a shocking attendance record of just one out of five meetings in 2015. The MEC answered 12 of the 14 parliamentary questions submitted by the DA.

KZN’s people continue to live in fear of violent crime.  Recently released crime statistics revealed that the province is the murder capital of South Africa with one person killed every 2.5 hours. There was also a rise in other violent crimes.

The many hardworking and dedicated police officers working to fight crime are being let down by poor leadership.  This is epitomised by the cloud of alleged corruption and criminality hanging over KZN police commissioner, General Ngobeni, a situation exacerbated by poor oversight shown by the MEC and his department.

Given the severe lack of leadership in this department, the DA will soon resubmit the KZN Community Safety Bill to the Speaker’s Office. This Bill seeks to strengthen the department’s oversight over SAPS and rebuild the community’s confidence in the department’s and SAPS’s ability to fight crime.

Score                                                                                       1/10

(Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL)

 

 

Conclusion

The turmoil within KZN ANC structures has impacted heavily on the Legislature this year, with a lack of focus increasingly evident as party political ambitions are placed ahead of legislative duties in this Congress year.

This is set to be compounded as local government elections grow nearer.

The KZN Cabinet remains a divided cabinet with MEC’s still operating in isolation.

Again, apart from a just a few better performing MEC’s there is also general lack of understanding about the critical role that they as Cabinet Members play.

The big question is how much longer these particular individuals will remain in their roles and whether their days are in fact numbered.

One thing is certain – change is coming.  How this change is managed is what the DA is interested in.

It is well known that leadership failings have a catastrophic effect on the day-to-day lives of citizens.

The DA expects the ANC to heed this as restructuring takes place in KZN and to ensure that there is a seamless rollover.

As KZN’s official opposition, the DA will continue to hold the ANC-led leadership to account on this.

We do so in the interests of KZN’s people who deserve a fully-functional provincial leadership which puts their interests first.

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DA releases Gauteng Government Report Card

Jack Bloom MPL

Caucus Leader

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane gets four out of ten in the Democratic Alliance’s provincial government report card released today. The full document is available here.

This is down from the five out of ten she got previously and is based on the average score of the ten Members of the Executive Council as she is ultimately accountable for their performance.

Her most glaring failure is that there are 400 000 more people who are unemployed than when she took office in May 2009.

More than 80% of suppliers are not paid within the required 30 days despite the premier’s repeated promises.

The provincial government’s performance is also undermined by the 26% senior management vacancy rate.

Education MEC Barbara Creecy is the top scorer, with seven out of ten. She has consistently raised the matric pass rate, with effective interventions like the Secondary School Intervention Programme. She has increased the number of no fee schools, and taken effective action to improve school security.

Hope Papo gets 6/10, down one point as he struggles to fix the deep-seated rot in the Health Department. He has tightened up financial controls and vastly reduced more than R4 billion in outstanding payments to suppliers. Medicine distribution has improved after he took action taken against the disastrous Auckland Park Medical Depot, but one in five essential medicines are still not delivered timeously to clinics and hospitals.

Papo is let down badly by the Infrastructure Development Department under MEC Qedani Mahlangu, which failed to complete the Jabulani and New Natalspruit hospitals. Mahlangu gets 2/10 for her many failures, including the incomplete Asset Register, non-market related rentals still not charged and leases relating to provincial properties still not signed.
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Worst performer is Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko, who gets 1/10 as she refuses to answer Legislature questions lucidly and still does not understand her essential oversight role in holding the police to account. She blundered in not vetting the proposed new Provincial Commissioner Mondli Bethuel Zuma, who was forced to withdraw after it was found that he was facing criminal charges.

Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe drops from 5/10 to 3/10 as he is completely ineffectual in getting other departments to adhere to strict financial discipline, including paying suppliers on time. He is also responsible for the Gauteng Online fiasco where R3 billion has been largely wasted on computers in schools amidst controversy over favouritism to a politically connected company. There is still underspending on infrastructure and the Gauteng Broadband Network has still not been implemented.

Other poor performers who get 4/10 include Local Government and Housing MEC Ntombi Mekgwe who shows little leadership in her department despite a record number of service delivery protests, and Agriculture, Rural and Social Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza who does not give the necessary support to emerging farmers and neglects the welfare needs of the most vulnerable.

The drop-off in general performance is sad as Premier Mokonyane started off with much energy and grand promises that are largely unfulfilled.

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