DA asks Labour Minister to investigate ‘slave labour’ of Ace’s Cuban engineers

By Roy Jankielsohn, Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The cohort of Cuban engineers employed by Premier Ace Magashule continue to live in guesthouses across various municipalities while they have not taken up active duty since their arrival in May last year.

As such the salaries, travel and accommodation costs to fund Magashule’s Cuban employment scheme amounts to wasteful expenditure since not a stitch of work has been done.

Moreover, the DA has it on good authority from the Cuban employees that they were told to keep quiet and are not to complain. Some Cubans are showing signs of depression as a result of remaining idle. What is more shocking is that the Cubans have indicated to us that they only receive R8 000.00 per month of their salaries while the balance is allegedly paid to the Cuban Government. This amounts to Human trafficking (slave trade) by the Cuban Government in collusion with the Free State Provincial Government. The DA believes that this is contrary to South African Labour legislation and is in fact criminal.

The total cost to the public purse for employing these 45 Cubans in the Free State over a period of three years is estimated to be almost R110 million.

Individual accommodation inclusive of meals is estimated to be around R180 000.00 annually and a total of about R24 million over their contract period, while salaries of the minimum amount per person of R569 537.00 per annum amounts to a total just short of R77 million and traveling expenses to and from Cuba over three years totals R7,5 million over three years.

In a bid to relegate the costs of funding the Cubans, the Free State Provincial Government last year instructed municipalities to carry these costs. Meanwhile, the many hydraulic engineers employed now at municipalities to build houses are not qualified for this job. Municipalities that are struggling to deliver basic services, such as water and sanitation, simply cannot afford this additional cost while receiving no benefit.

Guesthouse owners who accommodate these engineers have also raised concerns about the lack of, or late payment, by the government of boarding and lodging charges.

I have today written to the National Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, requesting her to investigate what we perceive to be unfair labour practise by the Free State Provincial Government.

The DA maintains that engineers and architects could have been recruited locally at a lower cost to taxpayers while at the same time creating employment for South African professionals. Meanwhile, speculation is rife over where the excess of almost R64 million in salaries over three years will disappear to. Allegations of collusion between Cuban and Free State authorities over these funds are rife.

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DA shocked and saddened by untimely death of IFP’s Dr Lionel Mtshali

By Sizwe Mchunu, MPL, Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature:

The DA is shocked and saddened by the untimely death of KZN IFP Leader and former KZN Premier, Dr Lionel Mtshali.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Dr Mtshali at this sad time.

We also send our condolences to the Inkatha Freedom Party community.

Dr Mtshali was a senior, well –respected member of the KZN Legislature for many years.  He also had a wealth of institutional knowledge in the context of government in this province.

He was an extremely eloquent man and it was always interesting listening to him speak in the House.  His sharp wit and engaging manner will be truly missed.

Dr Mtshali was more than just a politician.  He also had a deep understanding and knowledge of the history of KZN and the culture of the Zulu people.

The DA will certainly miss him, as will the entire political community of KZN.

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MPL portfolios and contact numbers

By Bobby Stevenson (MPL), Chief Whip of the Official Opposition in the Provincial Legislature:

Below is an updated list of the portfolios and contact number of DA Members of the Provincial Legislature in the Eastern Cape.

Portfolio Member Contact number
Shadow MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Athol Trollip 082 417 9254
Shadow MEC for Office of the Premier Edmund van Vuuren 072 184 7840
Shadow MEC for Finance Bobby Stevenson 082 775 3444
Shadow MEC for Economic Development and Environmental Affairs Ross Purdon 082 552 5425
Shadow MEC for Health Celeste Barker 076 129 9706
Shadow MEC for Education Edmund van Vuuren 072 184 7840
Shadow MEC for Social Development Kobus Botha 076 130 6835
Shadow MEC for Roads and Public Works Vicky Knoetze 076 070 5712
Shadow MEC for Transport Marshall von Buchenroder 082 374 9232
Shadow MEC for Human Settlements Sanele Magaqa 076 842 5662
Shadow MEC for Co-operative Government and Traditional Affairs Veliswa Mvenya 082 418 7916
Shadow MEC for Safety and Security Bobby Stevenson 082 775 3444
Shadow MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Ross Purdon 082 552 5425
Public Accounts (Scopa) Bobby Stevenson 082 775 3444
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Public Service Commission closes net on Gauteng MECs

By Mike Moriarty MPL, DA Chief Whip in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature:

The DA welcomes the move by the Public Service Commission (PSC) compelling several Gauteng MECs to take action against Heads of Department (HODs) who have failed to recover millions of rand worth of public money lost due to financial misconduct.

In tabling its report before the Gauteng Legislature last month, the PSC alarmingly noted that of 121 cases of financial misconduct, only 3% of individuals were criminally charged.

To date, of the R67 million that has gone missing, either through corrupt business practices, theft or negligence – only R 6000 has been recovered.

While Gauteng Premier David Makhura claims his administration is taking a hard line on corruption and financial misconduct, the facts speak for themselves, and neither the DA, nor the PSC are convinced, which is why the PSC, in writing, issued a directive and insist that concrete evidence be provided over action taken.

To this end, the DA will submit written questions to the MECs for e-Governance, economic development, roads and transport, infrastructure development and social development upon Legislature’s reopening in 2016 – asking for progress reports on the PSC’s recommendations.

The DA will continue to pursue this matter and offer all our cooperation to the PSC to ensure that public funds are recovered and that the individuals involved in are brought to book.

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Gauteng Speaker needs to improve objectivity

By Mike Moriarty MPL, DA Chief Whip in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature:

The Gauteng Provincial Legislature plays a critical role in ensuring the provincial government under the stewardship of Premier David Makhura and his executive council are held to account.

Speaker of the legislature, Ntombi Mekgwe, is vested with the powers to ensure that Gauteng’s peoples constitutional rights are upheld, that services are delivered and poor governance or any mismanagement are dealt with timeously.

For the first quarter of 2015, Speaker Mekgwe struggled to apply procedures and rules that guided sittings of the Legislature, and to a large extent allowed unruly behaviour to prevail.

This caused an unnecessary waste of time, and prevented opposition parties from holding Premier Makhura’s cabinet to account.

However, after numerous engagements with party whips, maters have improved to an extent where delays are less frequent and rules are strictly and uniformly applied during sittings.

On the downside, Speaker Mekgwe has been slow to act on allegations of nepotism and corruption within the institution.

After these allegations were brought to her attention, it took two months before she established a panel, with no clear timeframe or terms of reference, to investigate.

As far as oversight is concerned, the DA asked 1305 questions to the executive in 2015, of which 15% went unanswered.

However too many questions were either partially or unsatisfactorily answered, while MECs’ attendance to portfolio committee meetings remains a challenge.

Despite contacting the Speaker on numerous occasions to address these issues throughout the year, it was only taken up in November.

For all intents and purposes, the ANC continues to avoid oversight and accountability, while it seems that the Speaker remains content to allow the status quo to continue.

While she may tick all boxes as a functionary, she is by no means an inspiration and is unlikely to take any initiative of her own accord.

As long as Gauteng’s residents do not get quality and decent government services, the DA will continue to ensure that this government is held to account.

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DA to present Gauteng Cabinet report card

Today, 8 December 2015, DA Gauteng Provincial Leader, John Moodey and members of his shadow cabinet will present the DA’s annual report card on the performance of Premier David Makhura and members of the executive committee (MECs).

The DA will rate the Premier and the MECs’ performances in their respective portfolios during the past year, including service delivery, financial management performance, as well as their commitment to parliamentary oversight.

Date: 8 December 2015

Time: 10h00

Venue: DA boardroom, Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Johannesburg.

There will be opportunities for interviews and photographs. Members of the media are welcome to attend.

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Premier Makhura discovers the true state of Gauteng

By Mike Moriarty MPL, DA Chief Whip in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature:

In his political report for 2015 Gauteng Premier David Makhura made repeated references to the DA-led Western Cape provincial government, and has accepted the challenge to be the ANC’s flagship province to compete with the DA.

Competition is indeed a good thing. But success is another.

For the first time in many years Gauteng’s people heard a premier being disarmingly frank about the things that affect almost every citizen of the province, such as crime, corruption, unemployment and many aspects of service delivery.

And while he spoke about the government’s plans to deal with the many challenges, and while some of these plans are be recipes for success, it is the implementation that has been their undoing.

  • The so-called fights against corruption that sees only 3% of all government officials investigated for financial misconduct criminally charged;
  • Government’s initiatives to grow advanced manufacturing are non-existent;
  • The provincial infrastructure development budget has been reduced in real terms, with less projects on the cards and this is easier to achieve; and
  • No physical evidence can be found by DA or Gauteng Provincial Legislature research staff of economic development hubs the premier or government always refers to, despite repeated requests for their location and to visit them.

In fact, there is very little to show for much of what the premier claims, and he should ask the people of Gauteng how they feel about their quality of life.

He should ask the jobless, the parents who are battling to find decent education for their children, the people who struggle to get quality health care, the thousands upon thousands of victims of crime, the homeless – and motorists and commuters trying to find an affordable way to get to and from work.

This is the true state of Gauteng, and while the premier’s words are pretty good, the reality is otherwise.

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DA’s SCOPA report on 2014/15 G-Fleet annual performance

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by the DA’s Glenda Steyn MPL and Graham Gersbach MPL during the SCOPA report 2014/15 annual performance of g-Fleet

 

Speech by
Glenda Steyn MPL

“G-Fleet needs to get its act together”

  • A year ago, the entity assured SCOPA that it had a plan of action to remedy the matter, yet the saga continues as does the mystery.
  • The difference between Avis or Budget or any other commercial car hire company and g-Fleet is that somehow, the records of the entity just are not available to be able to effectively bill, collect and report on revenue.
  • The MEC will tell us that it is revenue generating and hence brings income into the province which can be spent on service delivery. But Mr MEC, we can only be sure of that if the entity can account accurately.

The full speech can be obtained here

 

Speech by

Graham Gersbach MPL

“We can’t afford another disastrous year with g-Fleet”

  • The problems with g-fleet did not arise overnight and the warning signs were long before the 2013/14 Annual Report and yet the entity went from an adverse opinion to a disclaimer.
  • There are a number of similar fleet management businesses offering both long term vehicle leases and short term rentals and fleet management inclusive of maintenance.
  • The MEC must ensure that any promises made this year are met else it will show that there is a total lack of political will to resolve the problems facing g-Fleet.

The full speech can be obtained here

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DA stages walk-out to halt Gauteng adjustment budget

By Adriana Randall MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC on Finance:

The DA today walked out of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, and prevented the 2015/16 Gauteng Midterm Adjustment budget from being tabled and approved.

The walk-out comes as a result of the ANC’s refusal to adhere to due process as set down by the Division of Revenue Act (DorA) and hold public consultation meetings as is required by law.

In Gauteng, no effort was made to advertise public hearings for feedback on the bill for the public to comment on where funds would be allocated in the midterm adjustment budget.

One of the reasons for this must surely have been the allocation of an additional R 135 million to the e-Tolls project, which the ANC is insistent on rubber stamping despite massive public contempt for the project.

This government, despite its talk of transparency, refuses to walk the walk.

The Standing Rules of Order of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature demand that a majority of all members must be present when a vote is taken on a Bill or amendment to a Bill.

The DA’s walk-out reduced the numbers in the house to less than the required 37, force Speaker Ntombi Mekgwe to defer the bill to the next sitting.

The Legislature is scheduled to rise for recess tomorrow.

The DA will not stand by and watch institutions and the mechanisms of democracy erode because the ANC chooses to trade transparency for expediency.

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DA debates Gauteng 2014/15 Roads & Transport Annual Report

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by the DA’s Neil Campbell MPL, Justus de Goede MPL and Graham Gersbach MPL during a debate on the Gauteng Roads & Transport department.

 

Speech by
 Neil Campbell MPL

“Concerted and proactive departmental efforts key to achieving road safety targets”

  • The underfunded Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport must prioritise projects by value for money
  • Tough dialogue must take place in order to deal with taxi violence, flouting of traffic laws, operating licence delays and taxi subsidisation on the agenda.
  • The DA is pleased with planned revitalisation projects as rail must become the backbone of passenger and freight transport.
  • Arbitrary bus contract renewals must stop and a real route and subsidy needs-analysis and longer contracts which allow bus recapitalisation must start.
  • To obtain a licence many would-be drivers bribe officials who allow untested drivers loose on our roads while un-roadworthy vehicles are passed by corrupt testers

 

Speech by

Justus de Goede MPL

“Public transport crucial to efficient Roads & Transport department”

  • The Province has to take the lead in assisting municipalities to cope with rising demand for services.
  • Gauteng has a backlog of 10 000 transport operating licences and officials have lost hope with no catch- up plan.
  • The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works has invaluable lessons and support for the Gauteng Department, however all these efforts will be in vain without the necessary commitment and dynamism from leadership.
  • At the root of taxi violence is a tangled history of incompetence, corruption and open contempt for the law.
  • Public transport is essential to this province and it is very concerning that a Committee visit to a Johannesburg testing facility revealed that almost 70% of heavy vehicles tested had potential lethal flaws.

 

 

Speech by

Graham Gersbach MPL

“Residents need accessible ways of reporting road infrastructure issues”

  • The residents of Bonaero Park, Bredell and neighbouring suburbs have expressed their thanks for the on-going rehabilitation of the lighting at the Atlas Road off ramp.
  • The department should strengthen relations with municipalities in order to provide a simple and accessible process of reporting road infrastructural issues.
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