NEWS & ANALYSIS

DA will help Gauteng govt get back on track – Solly Msimanga

Provincial leader says party has formulated solutions for each dept that can help make service delivery better

DA’s Getting Gauteng Back on Track Pack will help Provincial Government start restoring service delivery following lockdown destruction

22 February 2021

Note to Editors: The following remarks were delivered by DA Leader in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, Solly Msimanga MPL during a pre-SOPA virtual address.  Msimanga was joined by DA Chief Whip in the Legislature, Mike Moriarty MPL. 

The past year has understandably put tremendous strain on national, provincial and local governments across South Africa, and for that matter, around the world.  It was this time last year that the Covid-19 virus had already reached various shores, since its outbreak in Wuhan, China some months before.  South Africa was yet to have our first confirmed case, but the writing was very clearly written on the wall; we would soon join the international community in having to face an invisible enemy, of which we were still preparing ourselves for.

Once the coronavirus had been confirmed in South Africa, the Democratic Alliance (DA) declared our support to national and provincial government, to put our country into a three week lockdown, in order to afford our public and private health care industries the necessary time to prepare for the inevitable storm.  The three week lockdown also provided the opportunity for all South Africans to adjust their own personal lives to what would be termed as the ‘new normal.’

However, government did not stick to their part of the deal, and continuously extended the hard lockdown, causing great economic damage to the lives and livelihoods of many South Africans. Further to this, the provincial department of Health failed to adequately prepare and equip health care facilities for Gauteng residents.

By July last year, at the peak of the first wave, there was only one field hospital partially operating in the province.  The NASREC field hospital had opened without piped oxygen and proper equipment for 500 beds, with a further 800 planned beds still needing to be completed.  At this time, another four sites had been identified for field hospitals, but were nowhere near ready to receive patients.  This all happened, despite several proposals from the private sector to build field hospitals, but were summarily ignored by the provincial government.

Like years before, fruitless and wasteful expenditure had largely featured in 2020.  Earlier this year, the DA learnt with shock that the Gauteng Department of Education had spent R431 million in three months for sanitising schools.  It is alleged that hundreds of companies who were awarded this tender to sanitise schools did not have any expertise and experience and were not part of the cleaning industry. The money for services rendered by these companies were paid in sundry payments which raises questions as to whether this money was actually spent wisely.  The DA has already called for urgent investigation into this matter.

Nevertheless, just like other ANC governments across the country, Covid-19 related corruption also exploded in the province.  By end of July, about R2.2 billion worth of PPE tenders were awarded to 75 companies, one of them included Royal Bhaca Projects (RBP) owned by MadzikaneDiko, the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s then spokesperson, KhuselaDiko.  It was alleged that the Health Department paid inflated prices for the PPE, which were above National Treasury’s regulated price list published in mid-April.  While Diko denied his company having a contract with the department, the department’s expenditure report showed that RBP was awarded another R47m PPE contract on March 30th, two days before it got one for R78m on April 1st.  This eventually lead to the axing of the then Health MEC, Bandile Masuku due to his alleged links with the Dikos and the Special Investigation Unit’s (SIU) initial findings that Masuku failed to execute his functions in compliance with the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) to prevent these corrupt tenders.  But the tale did not end there. Despite the SIU findings, Premier Makhura was considering reinstating Masuku if the final SIU investigation cleared him of acts of corruption or collusion in the PPE corruption scandal.  However, the Provincial Executive Committee shortly thereafter approved Mahkura’s axing of Masuku, making it impossible for Makhura to reasonably ever reinstate his friend.

Makhura himself, has been implicated in the cloud of Covid-19 corruption.  An SIU investigation and a special tribunal found that the former Gauteng Health Department chief financial officer, KabeloLehloenya had received the names of companies from the Office of the Premier to appoint for the supply and delivery of PPEs in the province.  This only added more suspicion of how deep and coordinated the Covid-19 corruption materialised in the province last year.

Further to this, we cannot forget how Premier Makhura encouraged MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Lebogang Maile to issue an illegal dissolution of the Tshwane Municipal Council that was blatantly in contravention of the spirit of the Constitution.  It took a High Court ruling to set aside this dissolution and while democracy was upheld, the people of Gauteng had to foot the bill for this entire fruitless and politically-driven exercise.

We have already tabled a motion of no confidence in Premier Makhura, and despite the ANC currently refusing to schedule the motion for a debate and vote, we will keep pursuing the opportunity to exercise this constitutional mechanism.  However, in the meantime, the residents of Gauteng need a Provincial Government that delivers services.  We as the DA have formulated a few solutions for each provincial department to implement, that can help make service delivery more functional, considering the disastrous performance of this government during 2020.  We call it the Getting Gauteng Back on Track Pack, that should help the province start getting back to some form of tangible functionality as we hope in the next 1-2 years, South Africa will be able to almost fully enter a post-Covid world;

Office of the Premier

Urgently implement the outstanding 86% forensic investigation recommendations from the 2019/20 financial year.

Department of Health

Implement a computerised health information system in all hospitals and clinics to cut queues and eliminate the problem of lost files.

Allocate a budget for Covid-19 vaccines and directly engage all available suppliers to get more vaccines and help build herd immunity sooner rather than later.

Implement all the Auditor-General’s recommendations to ensure efficient and effective spending without corruption.

Department of Community Safety

Make the Gauteng Traffic Police a 24-hour service.

Ensure more coordination action between SAPS and the Metro Police to tackle gang crime throughout Gauteng such as Boko Haram in Tshwane and others.

Work to reduce gender-biased violence through a multidisciplinary approach.

Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation

Appoint a permanent CEO of the Gauteng Film Commission to avoid further internal hostilities that result in irregular decision making.

Cut wasteful expenditure on unnecessary celebratory events.

Implement consequence management where officials are failing to meet targets or where they are found to be acting in either a corrupt manner or wasteful manner against the good practice of public service.

Department of Education

Immediately place all Grade 1 and 8 students who have still not been allocated a school for the 2021 academic year.

Prioritise filling in of approved vacancies to avoid further class room overcrowding.

Better budget planning for more schools in developing areas.

Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, and Human Settlements

Formulate a comprehensive plan to anticipate, monitor, manage and control land invasions while balancing the rule of law with the plight of homelessness to prevent unrest.

Increase political and operational accountability to curb underspending.

Replace non-performing officials with suitably qualified, and independent experts to ensure effective monitoring and support of governance across the province.

Department of Infrastructure Development and Project Management

Allow client departments to procure the services of 3rd parties and not force them to only use the services of the Infrastructure Department.

Build a professional property management entity with adequate resources and expertise to avoid further deterioration of department property and poor management of immovable assets.

Abandon cadre deployment once and for all so the most skilled individuals are hired to ensure projects are completed on time.

Department of Roads and Transport

Fill all vacant positions, especially those in management with skilled and fit for purpose individuals, as almost everyone is still in an acting capacity.

Fix procurement processes to ensure projects are no longer stalled unnecessarily.

Department of Economic Development

Ensure the Gauteng Enterprise Propeller (GEP) is effective in assisting small business by spending the R250 million for economic recovery and appoint senior GEP leadership.

Facilitate more trade with other countries, especially those in Africa through the African Continental Free Trade Area.

Department of Finance

Implement measures for consistent application of the Gauteng government’s supply-chain management and procurement strategies to clamp down on corruption, fruitless, wasteful and irregular expenditure, avoid further job losses and delayed infrastructure projects.

Urgently implement recommendations of SIU forensic reports to avoid further wastage of taxpayer money.

Department of Social Development

Cut down the costs of distribution with food parcels by replacing them with food vouchers.

Offer more training for youth in various artisans where there is currently a skills shortage.

Ensure a full staff compliment in Monitoring and Evaluation to ensure beneficiaries get value for money.

Ensure all funded positions such as social workers and psychologists are urgently filled.

Although we are not hopeful that all, if not, any of these solutions will be mentioned during tomorrow’s SOPA, we still believe that the Members of the Provincial Executive can take these measures and implement them to bring about some form of stability in their respective departments and that service delivery can improve for the people of Gauteng.  It is high time that all MECs shake themselves out of their lockdown hibernation and step up so that the residents of our province can finally start having a government that works for them.

Issued by Solly Msimanga,Leader of the Opposition in Gauteng, 22 February 2021