Why is Gauteng Education MEC hiding Glenvista High forensic audit report?

By Khume Ramulifho MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education:

The DA has today filed an application in terms of the Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) and submitted written questions to Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi, to access the KPMG Forensic Audit report into corruption and maladministration at Glenvista High school.

The MEC has been privy to the outcome of this report for over two months, but as with other reports, he is yet to make its findings and recommendations public.

This comes despite the MEC’s claims that the cause of the delay was due to him reading the report, but that it would be released when schools reopened for the third term.

The DA has in the past questioned the MEC why he institutes investigations but fails to act on the findings.

The MEC needs to act and build the confidence of whistle-blowers who serve as watchdogs by exposing corruption and fraud in our schools.

The DA challenges MEC Lesufi to release the report, to take action against those found guilty, and to stop siding with wrong-doers.

By doing so, he would send the message the fairness and transparency will prevail, that perpetrators will be brought to book while protecting whistleblowers.

The DA has also submitted written questions to community safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi Malobane to establish whether cases had been opened, whether perpetrators were reported to the authorities, and what the case numbers are.

The main function of school leadership and management is to ensure that resources are properly managed to the benefit of learners in the province.

The question is now whether MEC Lesufi is prepared to live up to the principles of transparency and accountability.

DA files PAIA application on Ga-Nchabeleng Bridge

By Langa Bodlani MPL, DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Infrastructure:

I have today submitted an application in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to Fetakgomo Municipal Manager, Mr. Matumane, to access the environmental impact assessment study which should have been conducted when the bridge in Ward 6 Ga-Nchabeleng was planned to be built. This assessment must exist, and be available, before the project can commence.

Click here.

This contentious bridge, opposed to by community leaders, will start adjacent to the royal council and will cross to the community cemetery. This defies logic.

In Magothwaneng, still in ward 6 there are no less than 3 schools including a primary school where learners have to cross over a river to get to school. Old age pensioners need to cross this river to access pay-points.  There are already instances of fatalities of people trying to cross over this river. This is where the construction of a bridge should have been prioritised.

A bridge over to a cemetery should come secondarily.

The DA has already written to the municipal manager to request this environmental study – which should have been completed after affected communities being widely consulted – but the municipality has failed to provide the written assessment documents.

This creates the very real suspicion that the municipality failed to consult with the community as required by the law but instead went ahead to placate, as it is alleged, the royal council in the area.

Any government information should be in the public domain to enable the communities to assess how government decisions are reached.  Cloaking such information in secrecy goes against our constitutional democracy.

Without this substantive consultation, the construction of this bridge must be halted until proper procedures are followed.

DA to submit PAIA application to Polokwane Municipality

By Franco Marx, DA Polokwane Acting Caucus Leader:

The DA will today submit an application, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), to the Polokwane Local Municipality.

A Special Council meeting was scheduled for Friday 26 June 2015. The purpose of the Special Council meeting was to table an independent investigative report in Council as provided for in Section 5 of the Disciplinary Regulations for Senior Managers dated 21 April 2011.

This come after the Polokwane Municipality’s Municipal Manager Mrs Constance Mametja resigned shortly after she was placed under precautionary suspension pending the aforesaid investigation.

At the previous Special Council Meeting it was however resolved by Council that the independent report should be finalized in order to:

  1. determine whether other officials was involved; and
  1. what extend they were involved.

This further investigation could lead to similar proceedings against other officials and probably councillors.

Unfortunately the Executive Mayor failed to table the report but instead tabled her own summary of the report. Acting Polokwane Caucus leader, Franco Marx, indicated that the recommendations are supported in principle but in order to properly respond thereto the opposition should require a copy of the full report.

The Executive Mayor blatantly refused to furnish the DA Councillors with a copy of the original report. The Executive Mayor even refused to furnish a copy of her summary of the report and ordered that all copies should be handed in after the meeting. The Executive Mayor challenged the DA and said that ‘’you are welcome to go to court, I will go and defend myself there’’.

The DA believes that, at all times, the government and our Municipalities must act honestly, transparently and in the best interests of all South Africans.

The DA as official opposition, the elected Councillors and the residents of Polokwane has a Constitutional right to the requested information, which has been enshrined in the PAIA, and must give effect to this right, as set out in the objectives as listed in section 9 of the PAIA.

We are therefore seeking all documents relating to the report, including the original report, with its annexures as well as the Summary of the Executive Mayor that was read out to Council on the 26th of June 2015.

It is unfortunate that duly elected Councillors of the official opposition need to submit a PAIA application for the reports and documents that was supposed to be tabled in Council.

It is clear that those intimately involved in the outcome of the report and implicated therein are not willing to be open and honest.

The DA will continue to fight for the answers that lead to the precautionary suspension of the Municipal Manager and the subsequent investigation into other persons involved.

NB: click here for questions asked in council for more information….

Health department ignores DA mobile clinic tender PAIA

By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:

DESPITE several opportunities to come clean over the allegedly flawed procurement of several mobile clinics in the province, KZN’s health department has failed to do so.

The opportunities include a Public Access to Information application submitted by the DA to KZN Health MEC, Sibongensi Dhlomo, on 21 May calling for the release of all documentation relating to the tender process.

In terms of the law, the MEC must acknowledge receipt of the application after which he has 30 days to comply – or not.

To date the DA has had no formal acknowledgement of receipt from MEC Dhlomo.

After numerous attempts to follow up on the matter, the DA received correspondence from a departmental official yesterday which states that the General Manager and his PA are both on leave and therefore “the Acting GM has to be briefed accordingly”.  The official also asks what a PAIA is.

At best, this is another case of the absolute incompetence so rife within this department.

At worst, the MEC and his senior officials are stalling and are up to their necks in corruption which they are intent on hiding.

The DA will forward a formal complaint to the KZN Legislature Office of the Speaker regarding the MEC’s lack of acknowledgement to date.

We will also notify the Public Protector of what we regard as the department’s ongoing efforts to keep this information out of the public domain and request a full investigation into the whereabouts of the four mobile clinics procured after having only had sight of two.

The MEC and his department can no longer be allowed to ignore the oversight role of the DA by attempting to sweep dodgy dealings under the carpet at the expense of KZN taxpayers.

KZN Mobile Hospitals: DA submit PAIA to force hand over of tender documents

By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:

THE DA has today submitted a Public Access to Information Application (PAIA) in a bid to force KZN’s Health department to release tender information regarding the procurement of mobile hospitals in the province.

The move is a result of KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo’s ongoing refusal to supply the DA with this, along with other related procurement documents.

We have repeatedly asked the MEC to share this information with us.  We have done so in the form of written parliamentary questions and through an appeal directly to the MEC during last weeks’ health budget debate.  Yet no answers have been forthcoming.

That the MEC refuses to be held accountable for spending public funds – and ultimately the services that those funds are intended for – is extremely alarming.

That he is so hell-bent on concealing this information leads us to believe that there something to hide.

In terms of today’s PAIA, the MEC and his department will have 30 days to respond from the time that they acknowledge receipt of our application.

Once this acknowledgement is received, the DA will obtain a qualified opinion to determine the way forward.

The people of our province will never enjoy the freedom granted by the constitution while there is a government that only offers opportunity to a connected few.

As KZN’s official opposition, the DA is committed to holding government to account where such unfair behaviour prevails.

The citizens of KZN deserve better.

KZN’s NMK Agric Audits: DA welcomes MEC’s announcement on disciplinary proceedings

By Sizwe Mchunu, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Agriculture:

THE DA welcomes a media report confirming that KZN Agriculture department officials, implicated in wide-scale fraud and corruption, are currently being subjected to disciplinary hearings with criminal action and dismissals also in the offing.

The officials who are named in five damning forensic audit reports, completed at a cost of R10 million to date, stand accused of siphoning up to R200million from state coffers amongst other offences.

According to MEC, Cyril Xaba, processes to implement the reports’ recommendations are at an advanced stage with stern disciplinary action, recovery of public funds and filing of criminal charges against those implicated.

The DA welcomes this announcement.  We look forward to receiving detailed information from the MEC within the next few days in line with our oversight role as KZN’s official opposition.

Our primary goal at this stage though, is getting hold of the forensic reports themselves.

The DA was originally denied access to the documents but was then allowed to view them under strict supervision and only after signing a confidentiality agreement.

It was found that the contents were explosive and we therefore undertook to submit a Public Access to Information Application (PAIA).

Last week Friday marked the deadline for MEC Xaba and his department to respond to our application – this in spite of a two week extension to the original deadline.

In his budget speech, also on Friday, the MEC questioned the DA’s motives for the application.

The answer is very simple – this is public money and the citizens of this province have a right to know if it is being squandered by corrupt officials.

In failing to respond to the DA’s PAIA, the MEC and his department are in contravention of Section 26 of the Constitution.

Furthermore, in failing to respond, the MEC and his department are in effect refusing to divulge the findings of the forensic audits to both the DA and the public.

The DA expects MEC Xaba and his department to provide a response – one way or the other – without any further delay.

Gauteng education department rejects PAIA application

Khume Ramulifho MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Education:

The DA is highly concerned over the Gauteng Education Department’s continued refusal to fully disclose forensic reports into financial irregularities at 159 schools in the province.

Two months ago the DA launched an application in terms of the Public Access to Information Act (PAIA) requesting the reports which MEC Lesufi has been refusing to make public for months.

The department’s refusal to release the report is on the basis of protecting the identity of third parties is concerning.

While the DA appreciates the department’s concern for whistle-blowers, we maintain that it is in the public interest, especially those of parents and teachers at affected schools, to study the contents of these reports.

Fraud and corruption, if left unchecked, will have a severe impact on the quality of life and education of our province’s youth, and parents have the right to make informed choices about where their children should be educated.

By refusing to divulge the contents of forensic reports into fraud and corruption for spurious reasons, the department opens itself to criticism and the public perception that it is not serious about fraud and corruption in our schools.

To this end, the DA will appeal the department’s interest, noting that the public interest overrides the department’s concerns – and that all names of confidential informants be removed from the reports, and to disclose the reports to us.

The DA will continue to fight for transparency and will go to every length to expose wrongdoing in Gauteng’s schools.

DA submit PAIA to force release of Agric forensic reports

Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance:

THE DA has submitted a Public Access to Information Application (PAIA) to KZN Agriculture MEC, Cyril Xaba, demanding the immediate release of completed NMK forensic reports into the province’s Agriculture department.

I have done so in my capacity as a member of the DA and as an MPL in the KZN Legislature.  The PAIA was submitted on Monday 16 March.  The MEC now has a legal obligation to respond within 30 working days.

The information contained in these reports could well lead to one of the biggest financial scandals to rock KZN.

Viewing of the NMK forensic reports by the DA was only granted after a formal written request.  Restricted access was granted after the signing of a confidentiality agreement.

The evidence contained in the forensic reports is a clear indication of fraud, corruption and maladministration of the highest order – under the watch of former MEC, Meshack Radebe.   We estimate that the total cost to conduct these 10 forensic investigations will exceed R20million.

The DA finds it unacceptable that despite these explosive reports being concluded in February 2014 they have yet to see the light of day.

It is also a concern that only half the investigations have been concluded since investigations first began two years ago.

Most concerning though is the fact that critical recommendations contained in the reports – which name and shame certain individuals – have yet to be implemented.

These reports belong in the public domain – the MEC has an obligation to release this information and inform the citizens of KZN what corrective measures are to be taken.

PAIA Dept of Agriculture Forensic reports