By John Moodey MPL, DA Gauteng Provincial Leader:
Gauteng ANC Premier David Makhura and his cabinet have steered through another year in office, and it is becoming increasingly clear that “Team Gauteng” is not living up to its promise since taking office in June 2014.
Members of the Executive Council (MECs) are embroiled in investigations, entities have gone bankrupt, and programmes are failing, while Gauteng’s people are crying out for more bang for their buck.
While the premier continues to insist the opposite, allegations and counter-allegations abound that the move was designed to protect officials connected to former MEC Lebogang Maile.
MEC Bopape has been appointed MEC for Social Development, while MEC Faith Mazibuko has replaced her.
For the purpose of this report card, the two will be rated on their performance in their former portfolios.
The DA Cabinet scorecard is an analysis based on individual MECs’ grasp of their portfolio demands, leadership skills, approachability, and willingness to appear before oversight committees.
Premier David Makhura
Since the 2014 report card, the Premier’s score has dropped.
Despite being the first to acknowledge ANC arrogance in the implementation of e-tolls, he swiftly back-tracked and succumbed to political pressure from above, and in the process abandoned the people of Gauteng by not scrapping the project in its entirety.
And now, the provincial government has been forced to pay just over R120 million to keep e-tolls afloat.
There are more pressing needs in Gauteng than spending money on failed projects.
His ambitious talk of Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation of Gauteng are at risk of not getting off the ground during his term of office – evidenced by the fact that there has been an 18% increase in the use of consultants.
Without the necessary skills in his office, the premier will have a hard time to deliver.
His administration has failed to make any visible strides in the revitalisation of the Township economy – which is one of the key components of his ten pillar plan.
Equally the Premier has been vague on employment opportunities supposedly created by his flagship Tshepo 500 000 programme.
To date, little tangible evidence of real jobs has been forthcoming, and replies to questions continue to be vague.
While action has been taken regarding alleged corruption in G-Fleet, and a forensic audit has been instituted in the Department of Sports, Heritage, Arts and Culture – only 3% of all government officials investigated for financial wrongdoing have been criminally prosecuted.
In a surprise move, Premier Makhura removed MEC Molebatsi Bopape from Sports, Heritage, Recreation, Arts and Culture (SHRAC), instituting an investigation into her tenure as MEC relating to corruption within the department.
The truth is that the “People’s Premier” who promised an activist government remain long on ambitious promises, but short on delivery.
Finance – MEC Barbara Creecy
During the past year, MEC Creecy has appeared to immerse herself in ICT and now speaks with the confidence of a subject expert.
However, on further probing, one discovers that the confidence lacks the technical detail.
She has had an acting HOD for the last year and only recently had her old Education HOD join her – someone who, despite management experience, also lacks the technical detail on a department completely related to ICT.
The department itself seems to be slowly picking up, meeting some targets and missing others.
The Gauteng Broadband Network is not the silver bullet it promised to be, with many centres not yet connected, and where facilities are connected, they have not switched over from their private service providers.
Problems with SAP upgrades meant that suppliers to government were not paid for a month this year.
The work of the Dav Centre still seems to be shrouded in secrecy despite its costs. So far, all we know is the failed Gauteng Online systems were open source and built by the Dav Centre.
However, the department does seem to be slowly shaping up into something resembling an ICT shared services department, but it still seems to be characterised by internal staff lethargy.
On aspects of accountability, responses to questions are deliberately vague, PAIA applications are frequently declined and avoidance still seems to be the order of the day.
Most alarmingly, officials in the department will not even assist with the most basic of information and won’t entertain entering into correspondence, out of fear of incurring the wrath of the MEC.
Social Development – MEC Faith Mazibuko
MEC Mazibuko has failed vulnerable members of society, and hopefully MEC Molebatsi Bopape will attack her new portfolio with vigour.
The department, in its quarterly reports, do not show proper finances and shortcomings, they only indicate targets and what has been achieved.
The quality of the reports remains shoddy which severely hampers efforts by committee members to perform oversight and hold officials to account.
Many NGOs dependent on government grants are paid late, which compromises their ability to do their work, which is more often the work of the department.
With the rise in unemployment, the department is not doing enough to move people from welfare to working or sustainable livelihoods – especially among women and youth.
As was the case in 2014, there is still no relief and proper plans for people with disabilities, the elderly, and those who struggle with substance abuse.
Equally concerning is that there are no proper plans aimed at capacitating the growing number of non-compliant Early Childhood Development centres in the province.
The MEC has also failed to collect monies owing to the department from other departments and entities.
Health – Qedani Mahlangu
This department has shown some improvement in financial management, but still received a qualified report from the Auditor General.
Senior management posts have now been filled, including a competent new Head of Department.
According to the 2014/15 Annual Report, only 86 out of 160 targets were met (54%), and there has been little improvement in meeting targets this year.
Only one hospital (Steve Biko Academic) and only one clinic meet the required high standards set by the national health department.
Medico-legal claims now exceed R10 billion, and the department will pay about R200 million this year in court-ordered payments for hospital negligence.
Some building projects are still way beyond schedule, including the Randgate clinic in Randfontein, which was supposed to be completed in July last year, and the psychiatric ward at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital, which should have been completed four years ago.
Many patients still face long queues and waiting times for operations.
The much-vaunted “turn-around” of this department is very slow and has a long way to go.
Education – MEC Panyaza Lesufi
The MEC has done well in terms of school admission. Learners were successfully placed to schools at the beginning of the year, and Gauteng retained the number one position in terms of the 2014 Grade 12 pass rate.
The recognition of the best performing learners from disadvantaged schools by awarding bursaries to the top three is a great initiative.
This year saw the introduction of paperless classrooms as an innovative way to teach and learn, but connectivity and security of these assets remain a concern.
The MEC is open to allow Members of the Legislature to visit schools and is always approachable and ready to intervene where necessary.
The MEC is willing to listen to different views and respond immediately. He regularly conducts oversight visits to schools to see challenges for himself.
However, there are challenges that remain.
The MEC hasn’t dealt with corruption in an unequivocal manner – he made commitments to follow up on cases of corruption, but no follow-ups have been reported.
Overcrowded classrooms and high lerner/teacher ratios in historically disadvantaged schools remain a concern.
The MEC must realign districts and head offices to ensure sustainable support to schools, such as school furniture, sports, nutrition, scholar transport, intervention programmes, teacher development and school renovations.
School infrastructure still needs a proper project management plan.
The department and the MEC at times remain vague at question time, providing unverified information on the number of schools, the supply of tablets, school upgrades, and school closures.
Community Safety and Security – MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane
The MEC has done little to curb the continuing high rate of accruals which impacts negatively on the service delivery of the department.
For the past 4 years there have been the same matters of emphasis from the Auditor General which indicates poor financial management – again, the MEC has not taken the initiative to turn the tide and improve the situation.
There is an overall lack of impact on the high levels of crime in Gauteng which affects residents on a daily basis – particularly the marginalised.
The department is not focusing on its constitutional mandate of oversight of the SAPS. This is highlighted by the fact that the majority of SAPS key performance indicators were not met over the past 12 months.
Another failing of the MEC is that even though the she knew the previous HOD was leaving the department prior to April this year, it has taken more than seven months to appoint a new HOD.
Corrupt practice around the logging of overtime is still rife and has not been addressed by the MEC.
Cooperative Governance, traditional affairs and human settlements – MEC Jacob Mamabolo
The department has, during the current administration, been unable to administer, roll out or effectively monitor its purpose and function as provided for in the constitution and the Housing Act – which is the provision of housing for the poor, and the establishment, development and maintenance of economically viable communities.
The MEC continues to refuse to implement conditions of court orders, such as the directive to provide accommodation for the residents of the N12 informal settlement in Ekurhuleni.
A commitment was made to carry out a transparent audit of housing lists and the allocation of houses.
To date no information has been received and the MEC has to provide answers in this regard.
The department incurred irregular expenditure of R2,6 billion for the 2014/15 financial year, little political will has been shown to rectify this.
Economic Development, Environment, Agriculture and Rural Development – MEC Lebogang Maile
Jobs still remain the number one priority for the Province, but the department seems unable or unwilling to set targets in this regard – and escapes having to produce tangible results.
There are many wonderful schemes but not much visible action.
An example would be the Ekurhuleni Aerotropolis, which has been punted for many years, but the sod turning only occurred in the latter half of this year.
Other job creation hubs remain plans on paper or very poorly developed.
The major disappointment of the year was the declared bankruptcy of the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller, with an outstanding debt in unresolved loans of R100 million over the last 10 years.
The MEC did the right thing by placing a moratorium on any further loans but it should never have gotten to this point.
The MEC seems to lack any understanding of the importance of agriculture to job creation in this province
He appears to have little technical knowledge of his portfolio, and knows nothing noteworthy about agriculture and environmental matters.
Agriculture is still not seen as a key job driver and economic sector on its own.
This is evidenced by the results achieved in the annual report which has no impact whatsoever on the province’s economy.
Responses to oversight tools such as oral and written questions are dismal. The MEC reads from a script – he seems not to have an understanding of the answers written for him by departmental staff.
The way the department deals with the environmental impact of specifically water losses and mine tailings in the province is shockingly inadequate, and officials are happy to pass the buck on to the Blue Scorpions and Department of Mineral Resources, without playing any significant role.
The impact of the drought on the agricultural sector in Gauteng was expected in June this year but no contingency plans were put in place
MEC Maile clearly has no vision for Gauteng’s economic future and no plans to fix anything.
Infrastructure Development – MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza
The Department of Infrastructure Development continues to perform poorly.
It is unable to complete, on average, 40% of its annual targets. The result is that projects are not completed on time and within budget.
MEC Mayathula-Khoza is not prepared to publicly admit to the department’s poor performance, and aided and abetted by the Premier, spins and whitewashes reports of dysfunctionality.
During the financial year under review, the MEC allowed conditions of no consequences for poor performance to flourish.
Management failures on her watch include underspending on projects of client departments, inability to recruit professional staff and a lack of project management expertise.
Roads and Transport – MEC Ismail Vadi
MEC Ismail Vadi started out his tenure in office promisingly.
However, during the past 12 months the department has failed to live up to the grand expectations set by the MEC.
MEC Vadi is often vague and evasive about projects and programmes that are run by the department. He is non-committal and open-ended when answering pertinent questions in the house.
Once frank about e-tolls, the MEC has followed Premier Makhura and has now become complicit in foisting this unjust system on the citizens of Gauteng.
G-Fleet, the department’s vehicle rental entity, has gone from bad to worse under the
MEC’s tenure, and is the worst performing entity in the Gauteng Provincial Government.
Sports, Heritage Recreation, Arts and Culture – MEC Molebatsi Bopape
Premier Makhura’s dissatisfaction with MEC Bopape’s performance says it all, but it is doubtful whether MEC Mazibuko, with her poor track record over the years, will have any positive impact on the department.
The Department’s annual performance has regressed from last year, with more findings being made by the Auditor General. Poor planning has resulted in targets constantly being reprioritised throughout the year.
The department failed to complete all planned library construction in the 2014/15 financial year, nor did it manage to maintain functioning community sports/creative hubs.
Poor financial controls have seen the department incur irregular expenditure to the tune of R88.4 million with one tender alone amounting to R68 million.
Instead of aligning the department’s priorities to deliver services, MEC Bopape rather enjoyed utilising the department’s budget to host events and take lavish trips overseas.
The Gauteng Cabinet report card shows how after its first full year in office, the public is looking for answers and want to see results.
By now Premier Makhura has certainly realised that grand plans and announcements require follow through.
While he and his executive are quick to announce grand schemes, a lack of political willpower, and in some instances, technical know-how, keeps Gauteng’s residents in the lurch.
As long as the premier does not walk his activist government talk, his promise of a Gauteng government that delivers will remain distant if he does not steer his executive in that direction.