eThekwini inconsistent on Zuma record deal

by Councillor Nicole Graham – DA eThekwini Caucus Leader 

The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini has noted with concern the inconsistencies from the city regarding former President Jacob Zuma’s ‘record deal’.

The DA had written to City Manager, Sipho Nzuza, highlighting that this item had not been approved or considered by the eThekwini Council.

Nzuza was encouraged to reign in Parks Unit Head, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, and put a stop to this ridiculous plan.

His response was that a report would be prepared by the responsible Deputy City Manager and presented to the Full Council. Despite this, Ngcobo has publicly announced that the project will go ahead and that auditions will be held for back-up singers.

In light of the further damning revelations in the Bosasa enquiry, which allege that Zuma was receiving an additional R300 000 per month in bribes, it is clear for all to see that he is not a man to be celebrated.

The use of public money to further glorify a corrupt and morally reprehensible person cannot be justified.

The Democratic Alliance urges the City Leadership to do the right thing and pull the plug on Ngcobo’s political schemes. eThekwini has descended into a cesspool of corruption and mismanagement, and Nzuza and his team urgently need to take control and get things back on track.

The Democratic Alliance will not stand by and have eThekwini residents and ratepayers to be made a mockery of in this manner.

DA calls for immediate probe into ‘moonlighting’ KZN teacher

by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

DA calls for immediate probe into ‘moonlighting’ KZN teacher

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal has called for an immediate probe following the discovery that a teacher in the province is holding onto her post while ‘moonlighting’ at various destinations around the world, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Thailand in order to earn foreign currency.

The finding comes after a recent DA oversight inspection by KZN MPLs, Rafeek Shah and George Mari, to Summerfield Primary in Chatsworth.

The DA’s inspection was conducted after receiving information from a reliable source that the teacher, a Mrs H B Mahomed was on leave without pay from April to December 2018 after having exhausted her leave days for the year.

During the oversight, the principal advised that both he and the school’s Governing Body had opposed the granting of leave to the teacher and had even written to the Department to request intervention. From our discussions, it appears that the teacher then sought authorisation directly from a relevant Departmental official who then authorised her ongoing leave.

The DA is deeply concerned by this situation. Not only does it point to shocking corruption within the Department itself, it also shows that while the failing ANC talks about prioritising education it clearly does not care about the learners in our province.

According to the principal, the teacher’s prolonged absence has created an extremely difficult learning environment for pupils, with different replacement teachers in and out of the classroom.

The situation is made worse by the fact that there are currently hundreds of unemployed teachers sitting on the Department’s database. This while an individual holds onto her post while jetting off to earning foreign currency.

The DA expects MEC Dlungwane to launch an immediate independent probe into this case. We expect him to ensure that both the teacher and the Departmental official involved are fully investigated and that they face the consequences of any wrongdoing. We also expect the MEC to extend this probe to include other schools in the province so that any similar shenanigans are rooted out.

Other urgent issues facing the school and which they have asked for the DA’s help in resolving include;

  • The possible threat of disconnection of lights and water due to an outstanding bill of R300 000. The school has asked the Department for help and for the Bill to be cancelled so that they can begin afresh
  • Conversion of the schools status from Section 21 to Section 20 based on its inability to afford monthly utility bills and maintain its monthly accounts. This as a result of poor school fees return and limited funds received from the Department and;
  •  Conversion of the school from Quintile 5 to Quintile 3 based on the surrounding shack settlements and the RDP housing scheme that it serves.

The DA expects MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane to heed these requests in the interests of both the school management and learners of Summerfield Primary, who deserve a properly functioning learning environment.

DA thanks community for assisting in the recovery of stolen campaign vehicle

by Zwakele Mncwango – DA KZN Premier CandidateDA thanks community for assisting in the recovery of stolen campaign vehicle

The Democratic Alliance would like to thank members of the community for their swift action in assisting the DA in recovering the party’s branded Premier Candidate Campaign vehicle.

The vehicle was stolen on Saturday night in Morningside Durban. We immediately launched an appeal across social media platforms requesting for assistance in locating and recovering it.

The party wishes to extend its gratitude to the anonymous caller who gave us a lead as to the whereabouts of the vehicle, leading to its recovery.

We are truly grateful to South Africans who have stepped up to fight crime in all its manifestations across the country.

The DA is however concerned and disappointed by the Police’s poor response to this matter. After we reported the matter to the police and made a public appeal on social media, we received the anonymous call alerting us to its location. Despite our best efforts in notifying the police of this development, they did not act and were not on the scene when the vehicle was recovered,

It is only when I followed the lead myself that the vehicle was recovered.

The DA is disappointed by the police’s conduct, an experience too many South Africans go through when they report crime. Criminals are getting away with murder because they know that the police does not care about the welfare of the people.

This incident reinforces the DA’s plan to professionalise the police service through merit-based appointment and promotion. Police should be given adequate training and strong accountability mechanisms must be put in place. South Africa needs and honest and professional police service which keeps communities safe and restores order.

The DA is the only party that is committed building One South for All where every person feels safe and can count on a police service that reacts promptly to incidents of crime.

Failing ANC’s empty promises are killing our children’s futures

by Dr Rishigen Viranna MPL – DA KZN Spokesperson on Education

Asbestos roofing, no water and electricity, a single pit latrine for hundreds of learners, alleged rape and the rampant abuse of drugs are just some of the shock findings made by DA MPLs during the KZN Legislature’s functionality visits to schools across the province this week.

The DA’s findings can only be described as deeply depressing. Perhaps most scandalous though was the failing ANC’s thinly veiled election ploy at Ugu district schools, where food parcels and uniforms were handed out under the guise of ‘gifts from the Department of Social Development to needy learners and parents.’ (view photo here).

It is clear the failing ANC continues to miss the mark. What our learners need most is functional schools, not food which is gone tomorrow and a uniform which is outgrown by next year.

Other serious problems encountered during the oversight inspections include teacher shortages, funding not being allocated by the DoE, incorrect quintile rankings for schools which have led to insufficient funding, principals who are absent from school and renovations which remain incomplete while learners struggle without proper infrastructure. Findings by the DA include:

  • At Mzwamandla High School in Umlazi the DA heard allegations of rape on the premises, ill-discipline and rampant abuse of dagga and other drugs. The school’s pregnancy rate is also very high. There was a matric pass rate of 28% in 2018 and concern was also expressed over the fact that many of the teachers have come straight from tertiary education. Only 17% of learners passed pure maths last year and 29% passed maths literacy
  • At Kwabulwayo Secondary in Hlabisa many girls are unable to attend school during their periods as only one pit latrine out of eight is fully functional (view photo). The school also has no library, computer room, laboratory or admin block. Despite being a no-fee school, funding was not received from the DoE in 2018. The acting principal is struggling to ensure a successful pass rate however the photocopy machine is out of order which affected them badly last year. The matric pass rate has dropped from 96% in 2016 to 56% in 2018.
  • At Sawela Primary in Umlazi infrastructure is not compliant with national health standards and includes asbestos (see notice from eThekwini Health Services here and here). The school owes more than R100 000 in municipal bills and also failed to provide audited financial statements for 2016/17/18 which led to not receiving 2018 norms and standards funds. The current Quintile 4 ranking needs to be changed as parents do not pay school fees. The principal was also absent for whole of 2018 despite only submitting sick leave documentation for the first two terms. This was not reported by the circuit manager who has now retired. The principal has subsequently submitted his resignation which the DoE has not yet processed. The DA will call for him to be investigated and charged
  • At Inkosi Ntulabakayise Secondary School in Hluhluwe the principal, with the help of some parents, has being paying for electricity which has now been disconnected as they cannot keep up with the payments. The school only has three educators despite a minimum requirement of six. The DA also heard that renovations due for completion by 2017 were still unfinished due to numerous defects while there was also little progress in terms of boreholes being made available. During a Legislature oversight visit in 2017, the DoE committed to changing the school’s name at the request of the community. To date nothing has happened. The school also has no security or cleaners despite an assurance by the DoE that EPWP workers would stand in during the interim
  • Velangaye High School in Nkandla – once a top performing school in the district – has no water and electricity after it was cut due to a R13 000 outstanding bill. The school only received a 20% Maths and Physics pass in all four streams in 2018 yet for some reason does not offer Maths Literacy. The principal is currently suspended
  • At Mbuyiselo High in Mandeni the DA established that 18 learners are currently pregnant. Meanwhile, a project started six years ago to renovate and build additional facilities is still not complete after the contractor was changed three times
  • At Enaleni High School in Isipingo the DA found 1 200 learners enrolled in dilapidated school buildings made worse by vandalism. The school is incorrectly ranked as Quintile 5 despite parents being unable to afford the fees.
  • At Manxele High School in Eshowe the DA found a school in a downward spiral with decline in the history pass rate from 100% in 2014, to 0% pass rate in 2015 and 21% since then. The school is also not viable with 56 enrolled for 2019. The DA has suggested that the school be used for skills development.

Despite being 25 years into a new democratic South Africa, there are still so many schools where conditions are entirely unacceptable. If this is what the DA found over a short two day period then there must be hundreds of similar schools and it can come as little surprise that so many of our young people drop out of the system before they reach matric.

The one good thing to come out of this week’s inspections are the resolutions taken by MPLs and representatives of the province’s DoE which include upgrades and sorting out of funding. It is critical that these resolutions are carried through. This kind of oversight remains one of the most important tools for MPLs but if promises are not followed through, then they become mere ‘talk shops’.

The DA is committed to holding MEC Mthandeni Dlungwane and his Department to account. There is no time to waste. Unless something is done, the sad reality is that many of our earners will find themselves part of the 10.5million unemployed in our country – simply because they do not have an education.

DA calls on eThekwini to come clean on Hawks’ DSW arrest

by Cllr Nicole Graham – DA eThekwini Caucus Leader

The Democratic Alliance in eThekwini has written to City Manager, Sipho Nzuza, requesting clarity on the apparent arrest of DSW Deputy Head Robert Abbu.

The DA has learned through reliable sources that Abbu was arrested last week.

Abbu was named in the report commissioned by the city into the DSW orange bag scandal. The report alleged that he was involved in the awarding of the fraudulent tender that collapsed the city’s recycling scheme.

The report further claimed that Abbu and a second official from Supply Chain Management assisted the company, Persian Star, to procure bags from another service provider when they couldn’t deliver the bags themselves, instead of canceling the contract.

The report was handed to the Hawks by the DA in 2018. The party has repeatedly requested clarity as to what is happening at DSW, which has been in tatters for over a year. This has left eThekwini residents with failing service delivery and no working recycling system.

The DA’s Councillors on the Executive Committee have repeatedly requested a report to the committee on the progress of the investigations, but this has not taken place.

It was alleged that when the report broke, DSW Head Raymond Rampersad suspended Abbu but his suspension was later lifted and Rampersad himself went on long leave.

The DA is demanding answers from the City Manager. Has Abbu been arrested, and suspended from the employ of the municipality? If so, when will this be made clear and the way forward outlined?

The DA will not stop fighting for accountability and better services in eThekwini. Although officials are implicated, it is also clear that there are politicians involved who are pulling the strings. Those who are implicated must face the fullest might of the law.