Five years of outshining other parties, the DA is ready to govern Gauteng

Issued by Solly Msimanga MPL – DA Gauteng Premier Candidate
14 May 2024 in Press Statements

The speech below was delivered by DA Gauteng Premier Candidate Solly Msimanga MPL today,  during a press conference highlighting all the DA Caucus successes achieved over the last five years.  See full document here.

Members of the DA Gauteng Provincial Legislature Caucus;

Members of the media;

My fellow Gauteng residents;

We have come to the end of the 6th Provincial Legislature, and in 2 weeks, South Africans across the country will be heading to the polls. Our residents will once again be given the opportunity to vote for a government, both nationally and provincially, that is capable of ensuring effective and proper service delivery.

For this to happen, a potential government must have a track record to show voters that they are capable of running a government. As the official opposition in Gauteng, we have evidence of all the work we have done over the last five years to help improve the lives of our residents.

Over the last five years, we have ensured that all our members attend the Portfolio Committee meetings held by the legislature. This is a critical part of the job, where issues with various departments and service delivery can be raised. The committees can also be used as a tool to haul underperforming departments and entities to ask questions about the lack of or non-existent service delivery to the residents of this province.

We have asked over 8000 oral and written questions to the Gauteng Provincial Government. This is key when analysing the quarterly performance and annual reports of departments and entities in this province.

Through this mechanism we discovered the impact of load-shedding on this province. In 2022, a total of 3 212 hours of load-shedding were experienced, which resulted in the loss of over 300 000 job opportunities and R103 million in potential Gross Domestic Product was also lost.

One of the key successes that we have had this year is the official scrapping of e-tolls. This system was imposed upon the residents of Gauteng in 2013, and since then, we have been putting pressure on the Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) to end this unwanted system. Our battle was not futile, and though it took many years, after many broken promises by the current government to end this system, we finally won it this year.

Our townships remain severely affected by crime and a lack of job opportunities. To help clamp down on crime, we have successfully passed a motion on fighting gangsterism in areas such as Westbury, Eldorado Park, and Riverlea, which has led to the establishment of a committee of inquiry.

The township economy remains crucial for job creation. It is for this reason that, as the Democratic Alliance (DA), we are constantly putting pressure on the MEC for Economic Development, Tasneem Motora, and Premier Panyaza Lesufi to do more to create the correct environment in Gauteng for the private sector to invest in our local economy.

We have also exposed how the Gauteng Department of Economic Development constantly fails to meet its job creation targets, despite having signed the Township Economic Development Act into law. We have seen absolutely no difference in the township economy.

The Life Esidimeni tragedy is still one that is fresh in the minds of our residents. 144 residents lost their lives due to sheer neglect and the current government washing their hands off mentally ill patients. One would have thought that the provincial government would have learned from this. Alas, they did not.

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) scandal that erupted during the Covid-19 pandemic took what happened during State Capture to new heights. Both the Department of Health and Education were found guilty of not following due process when it came to the awarding of tenders for the PPE that was needed. Instead, money was wasted, and to date, we still have not seen the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) report into the matter. Furthermore, no officials have been disciplined, and no money has been recovered.

While municipalities across the province fall under the Gauteng Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), we have often exposed the corruption that has taken place within the non-DA-led municipalities. One such municipality is Emfuleni and Sedibeng. Residents do not have access to a reliable supply of water and electricity; the roads are littered with potholes; all while the Sedibeng Mayor refuses to drive a R700 million vehicle because it did not meet her specifications; and later, foreign substances were found inside the car.

Furthermore, millions of rands have been wasted on overtime in Emfuleni, which could have been used to fix the roads, pay the Eskom and Rand Water bills, and improve service delivery overall.

An essential responsibility of the opposition is to diligently conduct oversight inspections. During these oversight inspections, we discovered the terrible conditions many of our residents are exposed to daily. Hostels that needed to be upgraded are still in the same state as when we visited them ahead of the 2019 elections. Five years later, the status quo remains.

The harsh reality is that many of our residents find themselves in a situation where they are dependent on assistance from the Department of Social Development. This is not a situation that anyone wants to be in during these tough economic times, the increase in gender-based violence (GBV), and the reliance on our girl children on dignity packs so that they do not miss a day of school, the performance of this department is underwhelming.

NPOs and NGOs that provide critical services to the most vulnerable in this province had to shut their doors last year due to funding cuts by this department. This has left many residents in dire need of welfare services out in the cold. Through the DA’s efforts to push this issue in committee meetings and attending pickets we have saved many NGOs from closure. However, this issue has once again reared its ugly head, and many NGOs and NPOs are again facing an uncertain future.

Earlier, I mentioned how corruption has become a cancer spreading from one department to the next. To combat this, we exerted pressure on the GPG to conduct lifestyle audits on all MECs and high-ranking officials. This ensured that they are living within their means and not siphoning off money meant for service delivery to better their own lives. We have not seen the actual audit report, but we have made a small win in getting the GPG to conduct lifestyle audits.

The one area of concern that we still have is how long it takes for disciplinary action to be concluded when officials are charged with misconduct. The days of having long, drawn-out hearings while an official still receives his or her salary will end.

These are a few successes we have had over the last five years. This clearly shows that, as the official opposition, we know and understand the needs of our residents. We understand the importance of holding the government accountable on spending our taxpayers’ money.

Today is not about ticking a box. Instead, we are showing the residents we have a plan to deal with the most pressing service delivery issues, and we will continue to address these issues until they are resolved. We also have a plan to rescue Gauteng residents from poor and ineffective service delivery. Our successes demonstrate our capabilities and readiness to govern this province. We have diligently played an oversight role over the last five years, and we will not hesitate to hold our own government to account after the 29 May 2024, when we take office.