The DA in KZN calls for political stability after our councillors were shot at

Democratic Alliance media statement by Zwakele Mncwango, MPL

DA KZN Premier Candidate

 

The DA in KZN calls for political stability after our councillors were shot at

 

Notes to the editor: Please click here for an English soundbite and here for an isiZulu soundbite by Zwakele Mncwango and here for a soundbite by Councillor Siboniso Sibisi.

The DA in Kwa-Zulu Natal today laid criminal charges against ANC members who yesterday attacked and intimidated councillors and members while they were campaigning in KwaNyuswa’s Ward 2.

During the campaign, the councillors’ cars were blocked off and live rounds of ammunition were fired to scare them off.

Coupled with laying criminal charges with the local police, we have also contact KZN MEC for Community Safety and Liaison Hon Mxolisi Kaunda and KZN Acting Police Commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi to intervene.

This cannot be tolerted in a province that is still plagued with instances of political killings and instability. Such acts are criminal and need to be addressed as such. Acts of intimidation do not only undermine our young democracy but spit in the faces of stalwarts, veterans and ordinary South Africans who fought tooth and nail to ensure such freedoms are lived and enjoyed freely.

Today we condemn such acts and call for political tolerance in the name of freedom of association and affiliation. We cannot be held at ransom by vigilante activist who strongly believe they have a monopoly over our democracy.

The DA will continue to campaign throughout KZN and KwaNyuswa in particular. A democracy as young as ours needs to be nurtured and protected against criminal elements, who have the sole mandate to tarnish and destroy the strides achieved. The ANC in KZN must talk to its members, the leadership in the province must by example and tell their constituents that in this democracy all political parties have a right to campaign freely, a right protected by our constitution.

The DA is ready to bring about meaningful change, change that will unite this country and build One South Africa For All.

KZN Mid-Term Budget: Failing ANC has no plan

Democratic Alliance media statement by Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA Spokesperson on Finance

KZN Mid-Term Budget: Failing ANC has no plan

 

KwaZulu-Natal will not see change management within its provincial government Departments until such time as the current failing ANC leadership is removed at the ballot box.

This was evident during the Auditor-General’s provincial audit outcomes for 2017/18, followed by KZN Departmental Mid-Term budget hearings by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). The outcome saw a deterioration during the 2017/18 period, with the main contributors cited as:

  • Non-compliance with law and regulations
  • Material misstatements in annual financial statements
  • Large amounts of irregular expenditure
  • Dismal failure and disregard for supply chain regulations and;
  • Officials doing business with government.

The hearings also found, amongst others, capacity constraints, poor consequence management, non-accountability and non-compliance to be the key issues within Departments.

The Mid-Term Budget hearings are once again proof of a collapsing province, as a result of the lack of political will, ultimately leading to a lack of accountability. The non-existence of a capable state is due to one simple factor, the failing ANC talk’s right and walks left along with the fact that it continues to do the same thing again and again while expecting a different result.

This is also why KZN – since the start of the current parliamentary term – has had to launch a staggering 301 forensic investigations across all Departments and entities. Of these, only 149 have been finalised to date. Of that, just 49 have resulted in disciplinary hearings and a miserable 15 resulted in criminal cases being opened. This is less than a 50% success rate in accountability and consequence management, when officials are being charged with fraud, corruption, financial misconduct, procurement and supply chain management irregularities.

With the mid-term budgets concluded, the biggest challenge now facing KZN is a year over-expenditure of R123.6 billion versus a budgeted R122.4 billion. This R1.2billion over-spend is unprecedented. Compounding the problem is that KZN is currently sitting on cash reserves of just R174 million – way below the normal R600million ‘financial cushion’ in the event of crises in the province.

Yet earlier this year in her Budget Speech, Finance MEC Belinda Scott stated that Departments would be effecting budget cuts of R475 million ahead of this month’s adjustment budget in order to bring contingency reserves back to R650 million. There is no sign of this in the mid-term reports.

Then there are the Departments that make up the bulk of this projected over-expenditure:

  • Public Works at R320 million
  • Transport at R200 million and;
  • The biggest offender, Health, with a massive R500 million.

The question that needs to be asked is – why has no action been taken against these Department’s and in particular their political leadership? Instead, we have a state where officials suspected of fraud, corruption and or financial misconduct are allowed to resign and walk, often being re-employed into the state in some other capacity.

The sad reality is that KZN’s people are suffering the consequences of not having a capable state – in particular the poorest of the poor, the unemployed and the destitute.

If KZN is to avoid the dark abyss of additional external funding then this failed ANC government must heed the DA’s many warnings and ensure that Departments operate within their budgetary constraints.  Change can only be achieved through the creation of a capable state, founded on a bedrock of political will and based on equality, efficiency, competency and accountability.

That bedrock is the DA, the 2019 election will afford the citizens of KZN that opportunity to not only bring about change, but real change that will improve the lives of everyone.

KZN Mid-Term Budget: Failing ANC has no plan

Democratic Alliance media statement by Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA Spokesperson on Finance

 

KZN Mid-Term Budget: Failing ANC has no plan

 

KwaZulu-Natal will not see change management within its provincial government Departments until such time as the current failing ANC leadership is removed at the ballot box.

This was evident during the Auditor-General’s provincial audit outcomes for 2017/18, followed by KZN Departmental Mid-Term budget hearings by the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA). The outcome saw a deterioration during the 2017/18 period, with the main contributors cited as:

  • Non-compliance with law and regulations
  • Material misstatements in annual financial statements
  • Large amounts of irregular expenditure
  • Dismal failure and disregard for supply chain regulations and;
  • Officials doing business with government.

The hearings also found, amongst others, capacity constraints, poor consequence management, non-accountability and non-compliance to be the key issues within Departments.

The Mid-Term Budget hearings are once again proof of a collapsing province, as a result of the lack of political will, ultimately leading to a lack of accountability. The non-existence of a capable state is due to one simple factor, the failing ANC talk’s right and walks left along with the fact that it continues to do the same thing again and again while expecting a different result.

This is also why KZN – since the start of the current parliamentary term – has had to launch a staggering 301 forensic investigations across all Departments and entities. Of these, only 149 have been finalised to date. Of that, just 49 have resulted in disciplinary hearings and a miserable 15 resulted in criminal cases being opened. This is less than a 50% success rate in accountability and consequence management, when officials are being charged with fraud, corruption, financial misconduct, procurement and supply chain management irregularities.

With the mid-term budgets concluded, the biggest challenge now facing KZN is a year over-expenditure of R123.6 billion versus a budgeted R122.4 billion. This R1.2billion over-spend is unprecedented. Compounding the problem is that KZN is currently sitting on cash reserves of just R174 million – way below the normal R600million ‘financial cushion’ in the event of crises in the province.

Yet earlier this year in her Budget Speech, Finance MEC Belinda Scott stated that Departments would be effecting budget cuts of R475 million ahead of this month’s adjustment budget in order to bring contingency reserves back to R650 million. There is no sign of this in the mid-term reports.

Then there are the Departments that make up the bulk of this projected over-expenditure:

  • Public Works at R320 million
  • Transport at R200 million and;
  • The biggest offender, Health, with a massive R500 million.

The question that needs to be asked is – why has no action been taken against these Department’s and in particular their political leadership? Instead, we have a state where officials suspected of fraud, corruption and or financial misconduct are allowed to resign and walk, often being re-employed into the state in some other capacity.

The sad reality is that KZN’s people are suffering the consequences of not having a capable state – in particular the poorest of the poor, the unemployed and the destitute.

If KZN is to avoid the dark abyss of additional external funding then this failed ANC government must heed the DA’s many warnings and ensure that Departments operate within their budgetary constraints.  Change can only be achieved through the creation of a capable state, founded on a bedrock of political will and based on equality, efficiency, competency and accountability.

That bedrock is the DA, the 2019 election will afford the citizens of KZN that opportunity to not only bring about change, but real change that will improve the lives of everyone.

Sexual, physical and verbal abuse on the rise at KZN schools

Democratic Alliance media statement by Dr Rishigen Viranna, MPL

DA spokesperson on Education

Sexual, physical and verbal abuse on the rise at KZN schools.

 

A parliamentary reply to questions by the Democratic Alliance has revealed that the number of KwaZulu-Natal learners who are the victims of sexual or physical assault by teachers is on the rise.

According to the November 2018 response (view here), by KZN Education MEC, Mthandeni Dlungwane, 20 sexual assault cases and 30 physical assault cases were recorded in KZN during 2016/17. Meanwhile, during 2017/8, 33 sexual assault cases and 22 physical assault cases have been recorded to date.

The same reply also states that the number of learners who were referred for counselling as a result is a staggering 231 to date this year. The DA remains concerned by under-reporting of violence in schools as principals attempt to protect perpetrators or their school’s reputation.

The DA is deeply disturbed by these figures. One case of sexual or physical abuse of a learner by a teacher is one too many. This information points directly to our young people being failed on so many levels.

Our schools should be a place of learning and safety, yet it appears that criminality is endemic with a never-ending stream of reports of abuse from what must be described as a minority of teachers.

Just last week it was reported that a KZN high school teacher is believed to have impregnated five learners from different schools in the Manguzi area during the last five years.

While the DA welcomes reports that the South African Council for Educators (SACE) has deployed a special team to investigate the allegations, the question is – Why did the Department of Education and SACE only react after five learners were pregnant?

The same reply also confirms that 16 KZN teachers were also attacked or verbally abused at schools in the province within the following areas:

  •  Zululand (1)
  •  Umkhanyakude (6)
  • Uthukela (4)
  • King Cetshwayo (3)
  • Umzinyathi (2)

The DA acknowledges the often extremely difficult conditions that educators are working under. We also acknowledge that many have the best interests of learners at heart and it is extremely alarming to hear of such cases.

The findings within this parliamentary reply make it clear that current interventions by KZN’s ANC-run DoE to improve overall safety within the province’s schools are not working. Nor are the disciplinary measures against teachers with individuals often turning up in schools in other provinces.

Essentially, KZN’s Education Department has failed in its duty to protect both learners and teachers and maintain proper discipline within our schools. It is clear that a complete re-think is needed. The DA calls for:

  •  The filling of security guard positions at schools to protect both learners and educators from crime;
  • The development of an educator sex offenders list that both schools and Departments of Education can check educators references against so that province-jumping is avoided;
  • Swift suspension and disciplinary procedures against accused educators and learners;
  • Co-ordinated school safety programmes between the Departments of Education, Community Safety and Social Development. These departments cannot continue working in silos and;
  • Programmes to educate parents and communities when it comes to teaching their children discipline and the power of education in creating future opportunities.

A DA –led government will continue to fight for safe learning environments for both learners and teachers within KZN’s schools. Education is the most powerful tool for millions of poor KwaZulu-Natal learners to escape the poverty trap. Our learners deserve safe schools, quality education and the best possible opportunities.

KZN facing projected R1.2 billion deficit while Departments continue runaway spending

Democratic Alliance media statement by Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance

KZN facing projected R1.2 billion deficit while Departments continue runaway spending

 

Mid-term hearings by KwaZulu-Natal’s Finance portfolio committee have revealed that the province is facing a massive projected deficit of almost R1.2 billion for the 2018/19 financial year. This as a result of ANC-led government Departments being unable to operate within their given budgetary constraints.

The bad news comes as the province sits with less than R200million rand in contingency reserves.

The DA has for some time now been warning of a looming financial crash as the fiscal noose tightens. The crash is no longer avoidable. It is clear that the failing ANC-led government has neither the political will nor the muscle to constrain its Departments. This while senior officials continue to flip the proverbial finger and persist in spending with gay abandon.

A prime example of this disregard and non-compliance was found during last week’s interaction with the KZN Department of Health which is now facing a whopping R500million in over-expenditure, making it the biggest contributor to the projected deficit.

Despite this serious transgression, neither MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo nor his HOD, Musa Gumede bothered to attend the engagement, leaving an acting CFO to defend the over-expenditure. Regrettably, this attitude is indicative of the general arrogance displayed by the failing ANC-led executive and their senior departmental officials.

In fact, the MEC decided that it would be more important to hit the door-to-door campaign trail – in an ANC t-shirt, surrounded by a group of state doctors and senior provincial failing ANC officials also adorned in their ANC regalia – clear evidence once again that the failing ANC places party before state and of the MEC’s priorities despite his Department’s deficit of half a billion rand.

As the province’s official opposition, the DA has played a proactive role in the recent mid-term hearings. In particular, we welcome the committee’s adoption of a proposal that all Departments will from now on submit cash flow projections, monthly expenditure analysis and a turnaround strategy to their respective portfolio committees on a monthly basis.

The DA remains committed, through its Members, to monitoring all forms of expenditure in a bid to ensure that zero over-expenditure is incurred.  KZN can ill-afford to start raising funds to sustain service delivery, resulting in interest charges which will only further impact already poor service delivery in our province.