Lesufi gobsmacked over R431 COVID-19 spending

Lesufi gobsmacked over R431 COVID-19 spending

The Gauteng Education Department has expressed shock over a report of R431 million having been spent on COVID-19 services.

In a media statement, MEC Panyaza Lesufi says he is taken aback by the report, compiled by the Head of Department (HOD) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), that the department spent millions on decontamination, disinfection, deep cleaning and sanitation of schools.

Lesufi has reaffirmed his commitment to leave no stone unturned on this matter and hold those who procured these services to account.

The department says it is engaging law enforcement agencies and Auditor General to investigate.

South Africa’s official opposition, the Democratic Alliance, has urged Gauteng Premier David Makhura to launch an investigation into the matter.

The news comes amid a Special Investigating Unit’s investigation into the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment in the province, which led to the sacking of the province’s health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku. Karabo Tebele is a producer and newsreader for Voice of Wits.

Renewed calls for Makhura to step aside amid PPE probe

Renewed calls for Makhura to step aside amid PPE probe

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Gauteng is calling on Premier David Makhura to take a special leave pending the outcome of the Special Investigating Unit’s COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) probe.

The calls comes after news emerged that former Gauteng Health Department chief financial officer, Kabelo Lehloenya, had implicated Makhura in the scandal.

In her affidavit at the special tribunal, Lehloenya stated that Premier Makhura gave her the names of the companies to appoint to supply and deliver PPEs in the province.

“The DA is not surprised to learn that Premier Makhura has been implicated in the awarding of the multi-million personal protective equipment (PPEs) tenders. This PPE corruption scandal happened under Makhura’s watch and he did not do anything to prevent it. The DA calls on President Cyril Ramaphosa to ask the SIU to urgently investigate these allegations levelled against the Gauteng Premier,” says the DA’s Gauteng leader, Solly Msimanga.

The Economic Freedom Fighters in the province has on the other hand called for Mkhura to resign over the matter, while the Cosatu affiliated nurses’ union, DENOSA, has urged him to take special leave.

In October, DENOSA Gauteng chairperson, Simphiwe Gada, said the union would work with Makhura once the SIU’s investigation is complete and his name is cleared.

The union says the Premier has a tendency of escaping accountability.

It has cited the Life Esidimeni tragedy, which claimed the lives of 143 psychiatric patients after the Gauteng health department moved at least 1 700 patients from Life Esidimeni facilities to ill-equipped NGOs and state facilities in 2016.

Msimanga off the hook after NPA drops sexual harassment case

Msimanga off the hook after NPA drops sexual harassment case

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has decided not to prosecute DA Gauteng leader, Solly Msimanga, for sexual harassment.

Sacked DA Gateng MPL, Nkele Molapo, laid the charge against the former Tshwane Mayor early in October, accusing the politician of groping her while dropping her off from a function in 2014.

She had initially laid a complaint with the DA and later withdrew it, saying she no longer had confidence in the party’s internal process.

At the time of making the claim, Molopo was being probed for leaking strategic information to EFF leader, Julius Malema.

A charge that she was found guilty of and summarily expelled from the party.

The DA questioned her timing of the reporting on the alleged sexual harassment.

However, Molapo believes the DA was bias in the matter.

Now, she is insinuating that DA Federal Council Chairperson, Helen Zille, might have had prior knowledge that the NPA would drop the charge against Msimanga.

Molapo says prior to her meeting with the NPA, Zille wrote an article that “reads like it was written by someone who knew what the outcome would be.”  

In the piece, titled Getting closer to the Truth for a Sex Scandal, the DA Federal leader questions the treatment of the harassment case against Msimanga by the media, among other issues.

Zille said despite numerous social media posts Molapo had written calling Msimanga “Eye Candy”, her “Monday Crush”;  “King Solly”, no media house questioned Molapo’s motives for laying a charge six years after the alleged sexual harassment incident.

She accuses Molapo of having accelerated victimhood after realising that she stood no chance of winning the misconduct case against her.

Molapo says she will be officially writing to the NPA requesting issuance of a nolle prosequi certificate following their decision not to proceed with the sexual assault case.

“What I find particularly strange is that the prosecutor conceded that my version was more believable, and in fact went as far as saying that with the evidence before him, he doesn’t doubt that the incident did take place. However, he will not prosecute because of one minor thing that might let the accused off the hook. Even when I said that I’m willing to take the stand and be grilled by the defence on that technicality, he declined to prosecute because he has the discretion to do so.”

Molapo says she is seeking legal advice on the matter and might push for a private prosecution.

DA launches court bid to reopen Garden Route beaches

DA launches court bid to reopen Garden Route beaches

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has taken the government to court over its decision to close  the beaches in the Garden Route District for the entirety of the festive season.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the strict measures on Sunday as part of the government’s efforts to fight the COVID-19 second wave that’s hit the country.

However, the official opposition believes the strict measures are unnecessary and will have dire consequences for jobs.

It filed papers in the Western Cape High Court and says it hopes the matter will be heard on Monday afternoon.

 The move followed President Cyril Ramaphosa and Cooperative Governance Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s, failure to meet the party’s deadline for it to justify the closure of the beaches. 

“The fact that the national government has requested additional time to prepare a response to our letter requesting reasons for the decision to close the Garden Route’s beaches, only demonstrates that there were none to begin with. It would seem that any reasons now provided would be ex post facto manufactured,” the party says.

The DA believes that the closure of the beaches is not in line with the scientific advice available from medical experts and is impossible to enforce. “This regulation is also proving to be the final nail in the coffin for the Garden Route’s coastal economies which are nearing total collapse,” it says.

The DA is not just about saving lives but livelihoods too, alleging that businesses in the hospitality industry along the Garden Route are already reporting devastating and life-threatening losses to the value of hundreds of millions of rands. 

“In the South African context, poverty can be far deadlier than the coronavirus, and in this instance, the national government is risking the livelihoods of thousands of South Africans unnecessarily. We cannot and will not allow this to happen.”

On Wednesday, the Western Cape reported 3 233 new COVID-19 cases. The cases had increased by 448 compared to the previous day.

DA Ekurhuleni retains wards with decline in support

DA Ekurhuleni retains wards with decline in support

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Ekurhuleni retained two of the three wards that were under grabs during Wednesday’s elections.

Lornette Joseph is the new councillor for ward 27 with 74.26% of the votes cast.

It was a dip to the votes former DA councillor Jacques Meiring garned during the 2016 local government elections.

Meiring won 91.89% of the votes.

Voter turnout in the ward was a low 22.17%.

Another DA councillor Mary Goby secured 78.72% of the votes in ward 28, while the African National Congress (ANC) retained ward 42.

The ANC was nonetheless the biggest winner of the by-elections nationally, retaining 12 wards and winning five new ones.

It lost only one ward, while the DA retained 6 wards and lost two. It didn’t win any new ward.

Limpopo’s Better Resident Association was the biggest loser, losing three wards it had won in 2016.

The party, formerly known as the Bushbuckridge Residents Association, was formed in 2011 by disgruntled ANC members.

Voter turnout in Wednesday’s elections, which took place in 17 municipalities countrywide, was 34.56%.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission, the highest turnout was 62.93% in ward 3 in Ward 3 in !Kheis Municipality, in the Northern Cape.

Ward 15 in the City of Cape Town had the lowest number of voters turning up to make their mark.

Fourteen political parties and 18 independent candidates took part in the polls.

Axed DA Gauteng MPL didn’t leak information to me: Malema

Axed DA Gauteng MPL didn’t leak information to me: Malema

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has rejected the Democratic Alliance’s claims that axed Gauteng MPL Nkele Molapo leaked information to his party.

Last week, DA Gauteng chairperson Mike Moriarty said Molapo had been booted out of the party for giving the red berrets the party’s Tshwane caucus information.

“We have never spoken to her. I do not know her. I saw a headline that says a person has been expelled because she gave Malema information of the DA. No, the person who gives me the information of the DA is White; it is not a Black person. So, we are dealing with Whites who are concerned there at the DA that this thing is becoming racist and they are not racist. I have given some of them forms so I hope they will come soon. Very prominent Whites,” he told journalists at a press briefing in Braamfontein, Johannesburg.

Molapo is also not rolling over and playing dead.

She is taking the party to court.

“After studying the DA’s irrational ruling and obtaining legal opinion on the same, I have decided to file for a review in the court of law, so as to have my case heard by an unbiased, fair and just body. After subjecting myself to all internal processes, approaching the court of law naturally becomes the next step,” she says in a statement.

Molapo says the notion that DA’s internal disciplinary hearing panels are firewalled against politics is a lie.

“Not only is the chairperson of the Federal Legal Commission (FLC) a member of the DA in Tshwane (Gauteng North region) but the chairperson of the panel that heard my appeal is married to a member of the DA in the same region. Both are au fait with the politics in the region.”

She believes that her disciplinary process was biased, unfair and its outcome was predetermined.

The Democratic Alliance is yet to respond to the developments. Acting DA Gauteng Communications Manager, Charity McCord, has told Local Voices that the party is still deliberating on the matter.

Molapo is also embroiled in a sexual harrasment tussle with the DA’s interim Gauteng leader and former Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga. She says the matter is with the police.

Msimanga has denied sexually harrassing Molapo and has laid a crimen injuria case against her.

DA sacks Gauteng MPL at centre of sexual harrasment claims

DA sacks Gauteng MPL at centre of sexual harrasment claims

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has terminated Gauteng Member of the Provincial Legislature, Nkele Molapo’s, membership for leaking confidential information and strategy.

Her sacking means she also vacates the Gauteng Provincial Legislature.

The legal battle between the DA and Molapo had been raging for three years now.

“Ms Nkele Molapo’s guilt has been tried by a fair process of the DA Federal Legal Commission, and after she appealed, her guilt was confirmed by an Appeal Panel of the Federal Legal Commission. The sanction imposed upon Ms Molapo is the immediate termination of her Party membership, against which there are now no possible further internal appeals,” says the party.

Molapo leaked confidential information from the DA Tshwane government to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in 2017.

Then City Mayor, Solly Msimanga, then lodged a case with the party’s Federal Legal Commission, which found Molapo guilty.

The party blames her “for handing the EFF some tactical political advantages which compromised our work.”

Molapo has denied leaking the documents, saying she had been framed.

She has told Local Voices that she and her lawyers are yet to receive official communication on the matter.

“I will be consulting with my counsel on the way forward. There won’t be further media comments from me until such time.”

Molapo’s expulsion comes amid sexual harrasment battle with Msimanga.

She alleges that the DA Gauteng interim leader groped her in 2014.

Msimanga has denied the charge and has opened a crimen injuria case against her.

Local arts finance becomes election issue

Local arts finance becomes election issue

In a broadcast election debate, Durban-based Vibe FM turned its attention to the question of local arts funding.

African National Congress representative Amanda Bhani was asked why the eThekwini Municipality and other municipalities in KwaZulu Natal don’t have proper policy on the funding of art. In response, Bunny said the city of eThekwini had drafted an arts policy that is being circulated for discussion with stakeholders.

The Democratic Alliance’s Nicole Graham accused the local ANC would claim there is little money available for arts and culture, but this is not the case. She added that unfunded mandates only means that it’s not listed as competency of the municipality.

Msizi Mkhize of Black First Land First (BLF) said that the art industry  in South Africa is not taken seriously. He added that the private sector in the arts is owned by white people and this is why they run activities everywhere. Mkhize said money is only allocated to well-developed areas.

The National Freedom Party’s Skhumbuzo Sibisi stated that art and culture should be associated with tourism so artists can been exposed to different people who visit the country. He also added that positions in the art department are given to people who do not know anything about the industry.

The ANC also emphasized that they are not focused on mainstream art issues but they are more focused on local art as they use local centres to minimize cost.

Other political parties were invited but they did not arrive.

An edited extract from Vibe FM’s arts debate

Click here to listen to the full debate.

Alex protests continue as DA, ANC point fingers at each other

The #AlexShutdown protest saw residents march into Sandton to hand over a memorandum of demands on April 8, as parties continued to point fingers at each other.

However the memorandum was not received by the municipal director or the executive Mayor Herman Mashaba as residents requested.

Speaking to Local Voices, Alex FM reporter Malesela Mangena  said the protest has been postponed until Thursday, 11th April. He reported that organisers fear the protest may become chaotic and found it best to suspend the march as residents have become inpatient with the municipal office.

In response to the #AlexShutdown, Gauteng Premier  David Makhura announced on Twitter that President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the community of Alexandra on Thursday at Alex Stadium.

Responding to the Democratic Alliance’s claim that the African National Congress is inciting violence in Alex, he said the opposition is “blame-shifting” and not delivering to the community.

The ruling party’s  Tumelo Ramoshala said “the ANC is sharing the same sentiment as the community of Alexandra and raising out their own grievances over the dissatisfaction of service delivery.”

He adde it was unfortunate that Solly Msimanga, DA candidate for Gauteng Premier, was trying to shift attention from the issue of service delivery to its political opponents. 

Alex FM reporter Malesela Mangena describes events in Alexandra

DA’s premier hopeful welcomes new members

Zwakele Mncwango, the DA’s candidate for premier of KwaZulu Natal, (far right) campaigns with DA members in Estcourt. Pic: @zwakelem

The Democratic Alliance’s KwaZulu Natal candidate for premier, Zwakele Mncwango, visited Escourt to welcome hundreds of new members into the DA.

According to the party’s Twitter account, more than 600 people were welcomed.

Mncwango also campaigned door to door in the area, asking residents to vote for the DA.

Residents who were able to meet Mncwango told him about the challenges they are facing, particularly unemployment.

Speaking to the media, Mncwango said the community of Escourt is suffering and vowed that if his party were to be elected into office, they would make sure that at least one member of  each household is employed. – Nqubeko Community radio

The DA’s Mncwango speaks to Nqubeko Community Radio