Millions paid to suspended Mpumalanga government officials

By James Masango MPL, Leader of the Opposition:

Mpumalanga government departments have spent over R3million of taxpayers’ money to pay salaries of officials who have been placed on precautionary suspension.

This was revealed in reports obtained during the last financial year, indicating that R3 462 769.45 was spent on 39 officials who have been sitting at home enjoying the benefits.

See table below:

Government Department Suspended Officials Cost of Suspension
  1. Health 
19 957 287.89
  1. Social Development
4 694 910.00
  1. Public works, Roads, Transport
6 540 405.53
  1. Community Safety, Security & Liaison
2 505 971.03
  1. Education
5 397 000
  1. COGTA
1 217 000
  1. Economic Development and Tourism
1 84 195
  1. Finance
1 66 000
  1. Agriculture, R/d, Land and E/a
0 0
  1. Culture, Sport, Recreation
0 0
  1. Human Settlements
0 0
  1. Office of the Premier


0 0
Total of-  12 Departments 39 3 462769. 45

The majority of these officials have been at home for over 60 days and some for over 400 days.

This is in complete violation of the Disciplinary Codes and Procedure for Public Service Policy, which stipulates that a Precautionary Suspension must not exceed 60 days.

This further proves the disregard this government has for law and order as the Policy provides for the transfer of employees who are under investigation to other department pending the outcome of their disciplinary hearings.

This move could have eliminated the unnecessary expenditure.

There is an urgent need for a plan to address wasteful spending on suspensions, which means improving discipline management and ultimately reducing the number of suspensions.

Suspensions not only strain the public purse, but also have a negative impact on service delivery. If posts are not vacated by suspended employees, they cannot be filled. This means that other employees have to shoulder additional responsibilities.

This also hampers the chances of skilled unemployed South Africans to occupy such position. This year, 2016, is our chance as South Africans to take a stand and start bringing the change we need to move forward.

No excuse for delays in MECs’ appointment

By Andrew Louw, MPL, DA Provincial Leader in the Northern Cape:

The Democratic Alliance calls on the premier of the Northern Cape to take the provincial administration seriously. There is no excuse for the delays in the appointment of a permanent Member of the Executive Council for Education and for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism. Both of these portfolios are pivotal in driving provincial growth and require a permanent appointee.

Why does it take the ANC-led administration so long to make permanent appointments and when will it begin to prioritise provincial interests over internal party matters? The province and its people matter more than a political party. When former premier Hazel Jenkins suffered a stroke, it took more than a year to appoint a new premier.

We are not casting aspersions on the work being done by either of the acting MECs. But it is inhumane to expect that one person can do justice to both the crucial portfolios of Health and Finance, Economic Development and Tourism. We know that Mac Jack has made all the right noises about service delivery, but there simply isn’t enough time in the day for him to do everything that these demanding portfolios require.

Likewise, Education requires full-time attention which should not be split with the equally important portfolio of Transport, Safety and Liaison. It was recently revealed that the provincial pass rate for grade 12 learners has decreased by 7%, including a decrease in bachelors’ passes of 3.6%, a decrease of 6.4% in the Mathematics pass rate and a decrease of 6.1% in Physical Sciences. While the quality of education offered to learners declines, violent crimes such as assault and robbery have shown an increase in 2015. We need two different MECs who can devote their attention full-time to delivering quality education on the one hand and safe communities on the other.

Not only is the premier neglecting her duty to appoint competent members of her executive, but she is failing to appoint permanent heads of departments. There has also been a number of vacancies among heads of department in the province, including a vacancy in the Provincial Treasury since October 2014 and in the Department of Economic Development and Tourism since November 2014.

One cannot run a spaza shop like this, let alone a province.

Limpopo servants soliciting bribes: blame Premier Mathabatha

By Jacques Smalle MPL, DA Limpopo Provincial Leader:

The DA is deeply disappointed in the Limpopo Premier, Stan Mathabatha for failing to implement legislation to prevent government officials doing business with the state and to avoid corruption and bribes.

According to the South African Citizen’s Bribery Survey report conducted by the Ethics Institutes of SA released earlier this week, it was revealed that Limpopo comes out tops in terms of officials demanding bribes at  a staggering 48 %. Avoidance of traffic fines , applications for jobs, tenders and driver’s licenses as well as illicit discounts from business or stealing from states are cited as reasons for bribes.

The DA is not surprised by the report as we have been calling upon Premier Mathabatha to crack the whip on officials and blacklist all  companies in which government officials/family members have an interest, to prevent these companies from doing business with the state but our calls were dismissed.

Under the Jacob Zuma’s regime, officials did business with the state and entities in excess of R1 billion as this regime puts the ANC first and the citizens second.

The report proves that  Premier Mathabatha failed to initiate plans to fight against corruption and bribes by holding officials accountable for their corrupt deeds.

The DA is the only political party that governs which implements fair and transparent tender processes, where all entrepreneurs can bid fairly to receive business opportunities from government.

Where the DA governs, public officials are held to a strict code of conduct and timeously submit their financial and assets disclosure reports.

It is high time that Premier Mathabatha not only vigorously implements  the Public Administration Management Act of 2014 but also actively encourage members of the public and honest officials to come forward and expose corrupt officials.

Gauteng Cabinet report card: The cracks are showing

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.

Score: 6/10
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.

Score: 6/10
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.

Score: 4/10
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.
Score: 3/10


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.

Score: 7/10

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.

Score: 3/10
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.

Score: 2.5/10
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.

Score: 3.5/10
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.
Score: 4/10
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.
Score: 5/10


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.

Score: 2/10

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.

DA scores Supra a failing “F” in Cabinet Report Card

By Joe McGluwa (MPL), DA North West Leader:

The Democratic Alliance in North West is concerned with the performance of the Premier and his MEC’s after their year-end assessment result reveals great gaps for improvements in serving the people of the province.

A summary of their performance conducted by the DA indicates:

  • Premier Supra Mahumapelo: Besides indicated in shady business deals and being responsible for millions of irregular expenditures under his management, communities took to the streets burning schools and clinics to show their dismay with the NWPG. We score him an F. See our full score card here:
  • Susan Dantjie Speaker of the NWPG gets a B for performance in 2015. The Speaker has a 74% attendance rate. The Speaker seems impartial. She is very lenient towards the members of the ANC, compared to those of the opposition. When rebuking members of the ANC as well as the opposition one can easily sense a difference of tone in her address.
  • Wendy Nelson also receives a B as MEC for Finance, Economy and Enterprise Development. She has a 91.3% attendance rate and she was an active participant during sittings. Her Department received an unqualified audit without findings.
  • Collen Maine, former MEC for Local Government and Human Settlements scores an F-. Hopefully he will be more successful in playing ANC politics than when he was a MEC who were controversial and ineffective to say the least.
  • Magome Masike, MEC for Health scores an F- and it would be pleasure to see him get as exciting about his portfolio and the people of North West as he gets by buying expensive cars. .  The purchase of his luxury car costing R920 000 has caused a stir in the Province.  This vehicle was reportedly paid for with funds originally awarded to purchase medical vehicles and equipment.
  • Wendy Matsemela the MEC for Education scores an F. Her department was put under administration and the poor delivery of education in the province is worrying. Her department is in the spot light for all the wrong reasons.
  • MEC Maketsi Thlape from Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development is reportedly very close to Premier Supra and allegedly more effective to assist and empower those who are ANC connected than to come up with ideas to develop and grow our rural areas. She scores an F-
  • MEC Madodo Sambatha responsible for Public Works and Roads lack of experience has left this department in shambles. The result of his governance is evident in the state of our infrastructure in NW. He scores an F- and we think it is time he should be fired.
  • Gaoage Molapisi MEC for Safety and Security scores an F- . This is the man in the forefront of the controversial High Frequency Bus Service in Mafikeng. He continues to push for the introduction of this service in total disregard of extensive consultation. Because of his antics, taxi association and other stakeholders brought Mafikeng to a standstill in total rejection of this Service.  He has also turned a blind eye to the mismanagement and the looting of assets and other resources at the North West Transport Investment Group.
  • Fenny Gaolaolwe is the MEC for Social Development better known as the North West’s Mrs. Hamper, has climbed the ranks of the ANC under a cloud of controversy.  She is a clinical example that cadre deployment is not the answer to an effective government.  While remaining as MEC in this position her department has underspent a shocking R35.7-million. Although the Premier stated that he merely executed the ANC’s decision by appointing her, we believe that Chauke would have been a better decision. She scores an E.
  • MEC Tebogo Modise is the MEC for Art, Culture and Traditional affairs scores an E. Modise is not new to this Legislature.  However, she has been shifted around from department to department.  She became a victim and has previously been sacked from Thandi Modise’s cabinet in 2012. Our Libraries should form a critical part in society.  Modise has found herself in an embarrassing moment where R400 000 was rolled over to the next financial year for the construction of Maquassi Hills Library.  Due to the legacy in the department, libraries are in a pathetic state.
  • MEC Desbo Mohono scores a D for her performance on Tourism. The biggest challenge for Mohono is to keep her department accountable for the failure to spend their entire budget.  Irrespective of the task team they appointed, they still faced communication issues with the department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development.  The MEC must address this lack of communication.  A total of R46 million in unspent funds is set to be returned to National Treasury, which will have a negative impact on tourism – one of the pillars of the Provincial economy.

The DA will continue to keep the Premier and his team accountable. They are in service of the people of the province. Our suffering communities can no longer suffer under the hands of under-achievers and therefore the DA will use all legislation and procedures to call them to account. Where the DA govern MEC’s are held to high standards to ensure a well-managed public service with excellent basic services, as prescribed in the Constitution.

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.

DA to release 2015 NW Cabinet report card.

Media Advisory:

On Sunday 6 December 2015 DA North West Leader Joe McGluwa MPL will release a North West cabinet score card based on the performance, attitude and behaviour of Executive Members and their Departments, including Premier Supra Mahumapelo.

This will be the first report of its kind within the North West Province.

Venue                 –     Leopard Park Golf Club Mmabatho

Time                    –     11:00

Addresses by  –   Joe McGluwa and Jacqueline Theologo

GPS:   -25 ,8121115 ,25 ,6375053

Driving from Johannesburg, pass the Towns of Magaliesburg (N4), Koster (R52), Lichtenburg (R503) and Mahikeng (R503)

Gauteng premier has no political will to fight corruption

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

Gauteng premier David Makhura today tried to spin his way out of questions demanding why so few government officials were criminally charged for financial misconduct, while others remain largely unpunished during the 2014/15 financial year.

The DA quizzed the premier over findings by the Public Service Commission (PSC) that only 3% of provincial government officials involved in 122 cases of financial misconduct amounting to R67 million are facing criminal charges.

In his reply, the premier claimed that criminal charges could only be pressed once internal disciplinary and appeals processes were finalised, despite promising on numerous occasions that he would take a tough stance on corruption.

The premier is wrong. If criminal conduct is suspected, criminal charges must be laid, and police must investigate.

There is no legal precedent that forces government to complete internal procedures before pressing criminal charges – unless the premier doubts the police’s ability to sufficiently investigate such charges.

The premier also completely misinterpreted the PSC’s findings by claiming that 3% of the 122 were successfully prosecuted, when in fact only criminal charges were pressed.

While trying to paint a picture of his administration being at the forefront in the war on corruption, the picture that emerged was that of a premier ill-prepared and out of touch with reality.

Today the truth finally emerged. Premier Makhura does not have the political will to fight corruption and cannot deliver on his promises of the past 17 months.

The question now is how many other promises will be broken.

Gauteng provincial government can’t pay city rates

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Constituency Head – Joburg East:

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development (GDID) has admitted that it is unable to pay an outstanding rates bill of R57 150 for a house it owns in Dewetshof in east Johannesburg.

I was astonished when I received this information in a written reply by Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza in reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to Mayathula-Khoza, “the non-payment of the account is due to insufficient budgetary allocation for the payment of assessment rates of GPG properties … GDID therefore prioritizes payments for those properties that provide essential services, such as Education and Health facilities.”

She adds “The GDID has requested an additional budget allocation to make up the shortfall for the 2015/16 financial year through the budget adjustment process. The additional funding, if allocated, will be used to settle rates accounts that are in arrears, like the property in question.”

Ordinary residents have to pay their rates, but a provincial government department refuses to pay on the grounds that there is no budget. It sets a very poor example, especially since the city of Johannesburg has already served summons for the rates to be paid on this house.

Gauteng Finance MEC Barbara Creecy recently committed the provincial government to clearing its municipal arears “over the next two years.”

If any resident said they would pay over two years they would be laughed off. Why should provincial government get special treatment for non-payment?

Non-payment effects the delivery of services. We should expect better from provincial government in paying its municipal bills promptly.

Season’s Greetings

By James Masango, MPL:

It seems like it was just yesterday when I ran unopposed to become leader of the Democratic Alliance in Mpumalanga. As we close off another successful year as the province’s official opposition, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of our achievements in 2015.

My colleagues can attest to the fact that it has been a busy year for DA Mpumalanga. This year saw us hold a successful provincial congress where new leadership was elected and integrated seamlessly into the workings of the party. Other political parties are so fraught with corruption and infighting that to this day, they have not managed to even secure a date for their provincial congresses.

The DA saw unprecedented growth this year. Between May and October 2015, the DA’s membership grew by over 50% allowing us to grow in areas that many never thought we could reach. This is a clear sign that the people of Mpumalanga are ready to embrace the change that the DA will bring.

Earlier this year, Helen Zille, announced that she would not be standing for another term as Federal Leader after she had led the party for eight years. It was a shock to all of us but she was succeeded by the charismatic Mmusi Maimane who has brought a different energy into this new chapter of the Democratic Alliance.

In August this year, I returned from parliament to assume my position in the provincial legislature and I was pleased to find a party that was working hard and ready to serve its people. We embarked on a provincial tour, spreading the message of hope and DA’s vision for South Africa under the banner of #Vision2029. This tour led us to some of the most remote parts of the province where we saw how people who have been abandoned by the ruling party live in abject poverty with little to no access to basic services like water, sanitation and healthcare. This only entrenched our belief that the DA must grow even more to eventually become the governing party to ensure that every citizen of this province can live in an open opportunity society entrenched in the values of freedom, fairness and opportunity.

The DA has enjoyed huge amounts of support in all our provincial events, from the commemoration of national holidays to visits from our Federal Leader Mmusi Maimane, our Federal Chairperson, Athol Trollip and our Deputy Federal Chairperson, Desiree van der Walt. We held a very successful march and received international recognition when we marched to the Legislature to defend women’s right to dress as they wish without being subjected to sexist remarks.

2015 has been an amazing journey and judging by the determination of Team DA Mpumalanga, we will conquer every challenge that 2016 throws our way.

I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in the Provincial Legislature and in the National Assembly for their unwavering support, hard work and perseverance. I’d also like to thank each and every councillor, activist and staff member who made this journey possible.

2016 will bring about its own unique set of challenges, one of them being the local government elections. If this year is anything to go by, I know that the DA is ready for election 2016 and we will continue to grow from strength to strength.

I wish each and every one of you a blessed festive season and a prosperous new year. May 2016 be an amazing year.