600 tons of rubbish collected

June 28, 2017

Some 600 tons of rubbish were collected at Jeffreys Bay as Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen moved her clean-up intervention into second gear.

More than 100 community members took part in the massive clean-up, which stretched over five days and covered the areas of Pellsrus, Tokyo Sexwale, Mandela Bay and Ocean View.

Mayor Van Lingen says illegal dumping sites, sidewalks and open spaces were cleared of all manner of waste, from empty bottles and dirty nappies to broken appliances and building rubble.

“The cleansing teams collected more than 600 cubic metres of rubbish – that’s roughly equal to 600 tonnes – in the five days and carted it to the regional waste site at Humansdorp,” she says.

“We are grateful to them for doing such a great job and making a visible difference to their communities.”

She said owners of open plots where rubble or garden refuse were being kept, would also be notified to have it removed.

The Mayor said casual littering and illegal dumping were two of the big challenges facing communities and the municipality.

“The municipality has accelerated its drive to keep Kouga clean, and we want to call on communities to join us in this war on waste.

“A clean area improves everyone’s quality of life and makes for happier and healthier communities.

“It also helps to create job opportunities because a clean area is more attractive to tourists and creates a good impression on potential investors.”

Van Lingen says the municipality would be putting up extra signage to warn against illegal dumping and that action would be taken against perpetrators.

She also calls on grown-ups to take children by the hand and teach them that littering was wrong and harmful to their environment.

The Kouga Mayoral Clean-up Intervention will be moving to Humansdorp this week.

Several smaller clean-ups were also held ahead of the massive Jeffreys Bay clean-up so as to help raise awareness of the need for communities and the municipality to band together in the war against waste.

R 46 million in Irregular Government expenditure

June 27, 2017

The auditor-general (AG), Kimi Makwetu, reported a slight improvement in the audit results of national and provincial governments over the past three years.

Releasing this year’s audit outcomes of national and provincial government departments and public entities (auditees), Makwetu revealed that in the three-year period under review (2013-14 to 2015-16), 24 % of the auditees improved their audit results; 14 % regressed; while the results of the majority (62 %) remained unchanged.

He further announced that during this period, public entities fared the best with continuous improvement year on year; however, the audit results of departments regressed in 2015-16.

Irregular expenditure has increased by almost 40% since 2013-14 to R46,36 billion – the increase from the previous year was nearly 80%.

The main reason for the increase in irregular expenditure was the continued non-compliance with supply chain management legislation. Irregular expenditure represents expenditure incurred towards procurement of goods and services without following prescribed processes.

Six auditees were responsible for just over 50% of the irregular expenditure in 2015-16.

They include the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, the KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga departments of Health, the
Road and Transport and Human Settlements departments in Gauteng and the Department of Water and Sanitation.

Fruitless and wasteful expenditure in 2015-16 was 14% higher than in 2013-14 at R 1,37 billion, and was again incurred by an increasing number of auditees.

Six auditees were responsible for just more than 70% of this expenditure – again the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and the Department of Water and Sanitation are included in this list, joined by three departments in the
education sector and the Compensation Fund.

Unauthorised expenditure has decreased by just over 50% since 2013-14 to R 925 million as a result of interventions at national and provincial levels.

The main reason for the unauthorised expenditure remained overspending of the budget.

ANC is polling below 50 %

June 26, 2017

Since the last sitting of the DA’s Federal Council, there has been a seismic shift in South Africa’s political landscape. The state capture that the DA warned about in 2013 is now an undisputed reality.

In this light, our country is approaching the most important election since the dawn of democracy.

The 2019 General Elections will define whether South Africa can turn around our present decline, and grow to be the prosperous modern democracy that we envisage. We know what many voters are realising day by day – the ANC cannot self correct, and we are determined that Election 2019 will see the end of the ANC’s occupation of the Union Buildings.

The Federal Council this weekend unpacked the latest DA polling data revealing that the DA is gaining ground on the ANC.

It is greatly encouraging to report that the ANC is polling below 50%, which means that it can be unseated at the next election.

It is time for all South Africans to unite against the corrupt Gupta-led ANC and to vote for change at the next election.

Over the next 700 days, the DA’s primary focus will be to prepare for national government and to mount an election campaign of unprecedented scale and reach.

A crucial part of achieving this objective is developing a policy offer that is compelling and credible.

To this end, the Federal Council discussed a number of key policy areas for further development including: jobs and the economy, education, land reform, health, and human settlements.

Through our vigorous and thorough policy process, we will offer a complete suite of policy positions for national government. This remains one of our key focuses in the lead up to 2019.

Of equal importance is ensuring an expanded pool of excellent, diverse and hard-working DA candidates for the 2019 national and provincial elections. In this regard, we considered proposed amendments to the DA’s candidate selection process.

Federal Council also recognised the crucial role that our track record of good governance will play in increasing our support in 2019.

To this end, Federal Council noted the DA’s strong performance in the Western Cape where we are continuing to deliver excellent results.

The Western Cape Premier’s Office was this week praised by the Auditor General as being most actively engaged in helping to improve audit outcomes and deliver sound, clean financial management of public monies.

Under DA leadership, 80% of Western Cape municipalities got clean audits, with KwaZulu Natal in second place with just 18% clean audits.

The City of Cape Town was the only metro to receive a clean audit in the 2015/16 financial year.

Moreover, the DA-run Midvaal was the only municipality in Gauteng to get a clean audit in 2015/16.

The theme emerging from this DA Federal Council is clear: time is running out to save South Africa. Our current government is slowly destroying our precious country, with the ANC on course to lose the next election.

The DA will work night and day to unseat the corrupt Gupta-led ANC government from office.

We have set goals and targets for the Road to 2019, and we will work tirelessly to achieve them.

Regards

Mmusi Maimane

17 000 hectares destroyed in Longmore fire

June 21, 2017

About 17 000 ha of veld, plantation and farm land in the Kouga area has been destroyed by the fire that started burning in the Longmore area on 7 June.

This is only within Kouga’s area of jurisdiction and does not include damage on Nelson Mandela Bay’s side.

Lady Slipper mountain. Photo: Anike Meyer

Sanral has been replacing fire-damaged barriers along the N2. They have also been removing damaged road signs along the N2 and new ones have been ordered.

There were some flare-ups in the Van Stadens Gorge but these were extinguished. The two SANDF helicopters were also used to dump water on hot spots in the gorge.

Smaller flare-ups were extinguished in the Loerie/Thornhill areas yesterday.

Fire-fighters and farmers are now busy with 360˚ mop-ups along the perimeters of fire-damaged areas.

Kouga fire-fighters are still assisting Nelson Mandela Bay with the fire at the Yellowwoods area behind Woodridge.

About 120 000 litres of water was thrown on this fire by the SANDF helicopters, which helped to contain the fire.

Fire contained in Kouga, spreads towards Blue Horizon Bay

June 20, 2017

There have been some flare-ups in Kouga, however, the worst fire is now on the eastern side of the Van Stadens gorge.

The fire in Longmore. Photo: Dirk Erasmus

SANDF helicopters will be fighting the blaze today, while around 30 firefighters are on the ground, o prevent the fire spreading to the Blue Horizon Bay area.

There were flare-ups at Longmore but fire-fighters were able to contain and extinguish the fires before any further damage was caused.

There have also been flare-ups at Crossways and Thornhill today, but they have been contained.

There are still 80 fire-fighters on the ground in these areas.

Farmers are also busy assisting with mop-up operations, especially in the Thornhill area.

“The major concern at this stage is the fire that has flared up to the eastern side of the Van Stadens gorge behind Woodridge. Kouga has sent fire-fighters to assist Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Kouga Mayor Elza Van Lingen.

Nelson Mandela has not yet been able to restore the electricity supply to the Longmore village.

Kouga Municipality has, however, brought in a generator which is being used to supply power to houses on a rotational basis.

Kouga Municipality is also carting in water and has put in place 25 portable toilets for use by the village, as the water supply has also been affected by the power outage.

“Sightseers have been obstructing fire-fighting operations along the N2 and R102. We ask that people avoid these areas as far as is possible. Drivers are reminded to please reduce speed when driving in these areas,” added Van Lingen.

Police are patrolling affected areas to prevent looting, also of scrap metal.

The Thornhill Police Station is currently being used as the drop-off point for donations.

Zwane’s Mining Charter a plan for more state capture

June 16, 2017

The release of the Mining Charter is proof that the ANC government does not care about long-term and sustainable transformation in the mining sector. Version 3 of the Mining Charter will be a disaster for the mining industry.

In presenting his new rules, which amount to a massive giveaway of mine value to the ANC’s favoured groups, Minister Zwane has opened the doors to more ANC crony enrichment.

The DA supports share schemes for miners when they are structured to benefit the workers and are economically viable.

One way of diversifying the mining sector would be to bring mine workers into mining schemes. It’s pointless to try and diversify if it leads to the collapse of companies.

But this is not what the ANC government is proposing. Instead, the ANC government’s Mining Charter proposal wants to make cronies and insiders richer, as they open up new opportunities to get in on mining deals.

We have seen the devastating impact of how connected cronies, like the Guptas, prey on deals like this and how they facilitate capture of resources.

The reality is that only 8% of ownership will ever make it into the hands of mineworkers under Zwane’s proposal.

Zwane’s proposal also seeks to win back the favour of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) who are unhappy because of State Capture and a declining industry.

We believe that the proposal’s by the Minister seek to buy off communities who have been let down by the failure of ANC municipalities to deliver services, and the failure of the ANC government to create an economy that provides jobs.

We also believe that the requirement announced by Minister Zwane that all prospecting rights must be 50% +1 BEE inclusive, will mean the virtual death of prospecting.

The BEE sector is perennially short of cash, particularly for speculative actions like prospecting. The amount of prospecting will plummet. Even if there are new finds, capital will be extremely difficult to raise.

One wonders if Zwane actually believes his statements about this charter which he says will “catapult South Africa’s economy forward.” The only place the industry will be catapulted is over a cliff.

Almost 450 thousand South Africans work directly for the mines. At least as many again work in associated industries. The future of their jobs is now in doubt. Zwane and Zuma’s grasping charter will be to blame.

We have no doubt that this charter will end up in court in the very near future.

Kouga fire-fighters on high alert

June 15, 2017

Kouga fire-fighters are on high alert, with strong winds having been predicted for today.

Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said two helicopters from the SA National Defence Force arrived yesterday afternoon to water-bomb areas that could flare up.

“A 100 fire-fighters are also on the ground, busy with mop-up operations between Loerie and Thornhill.

“We would like to ask the public not to panic should there be flare-ups in the wind today. The situation is being monitored and managed carefully,” she said.

“If it becomes necessary to issue an evacuation alert, this will be done officially by the municipality. We ask people not to spread false rumours.

The municipality will publish relevant information on its Facebook page.”

She said the fire at Longmore was under control at the moment but still smouldering. Tree stumps are also still smouldering in the area between the N2 and R102 where fire crews extinguished fires yesterday.

“We would once again like to appeal to motorists to reduce their speed when travelling past the Van Stadens and Thornhill areas.

There are a lot of animals, both livestock and wildlife, wandering into the roads because of the fences having burnt down,” she said.

The Mayor said Sanral had already started replacing damaged road signs and fencing but that the damage was extensive.

She appealed to the public to report any fire-related incidents, including trees and obstructions that have fallen in the road, to Kouga’s all-hour emergency number at 042-2910250.

Humanitarian crisis brewing at Longmore

June 15, 2017

A humanitarian crisis is brewing at the Longmore village where residents have been without electricity and water since the weekend.

The fire in Longmore. Photo: Dirk Erasmus

Kouga Executive Mayor Elza van Lingen said 80 households were affected by the service interruption, caused by fire damage to electrical infrastructure.

“Longmore is situated in the Kouga region, but Nelson Mandela Bay is the supply authority for electricity. The Metro had hoped to have the power restored by today, but the damage was more extensive than anticipated,” she said.

“The burnt line also supplies electricity to the Loerie Dam and pump stations, hence, the interruption in the water supply.”

She said Kouga Municipality was carting water to the area and that 25 mobile toilets were being delivered to the village today. Generators are being brought in to try and get the pump stations up and running again.

“We are also collecting ready-made meals for the 204 people of the village because it has been difficult for them to make their own food.”

She said the full extent of the fire damage had not yet been determined but that early estimates put it at hundreds of millions of rands.

“Sixty percent of the Longmore Plantation, as well as the saw mill, burnt down. The cost of this damage will be immense.”

She said the Department of Social Development was working with local farmers and farming associations to assess the damage to farms in the area.

“We are concerned that hundreds of farm workers are going to be without work. It could take as long as three years or more for affected farmers to rebuild what they have lost.”

She said Social Development and the Jeffreys Bay Trauma Centre were continuing with counselling support. Eighteen children from the affected areas have already received counselling.

She appealed to non-profit organisations that work with poor communities to contact Sarah Hugo from the National Lottery at 086 006 5383 to see how they can assist those traumatised and affected by the fire.

Ready-made meals can be dropped off at the Thornhill Hotel, the Kouga Municipal offices at 33 Da Gama Road, Jeffreys Bay, or at the Kouga Fire Department on the entry road to Humansdorp from the N2.

Fires contained but not under control

June 14, 2017

The Longmore fire is still not under control but is being contained. Firebreaks have also been created at Crossways to help contain the fire.

Photo: Dirk Erasmus

No structures are currently under threat. A fire that threatened a chicken farm was extinguished during the course of Monday night.

Some 120 fire-fighters are on the ground to deal with flare-ups and to do mop-up work. This includes 50 fire-fighters who arrived from across the Sarah Baartman district today.

Hot spots in the Kouga region are in the vicinity of the J-Bay Zebra Lodge near Thornhill, as well as the section between the R102 and N2.

Wind gusts are predicted for later this week, which could impact on mop-up operations.

A request has been submitted by the Joint Operations Centre to the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) for air support in the form of helicopters to “water bomb” flare-ups in the region.

In addition to Kouga, the JOC included Nelson Mandela Bay Metro and SAPS. It was chaired by Major-General Johan Fourie.

Roads

Sanral has put up temporary road signs on the N2 asking motorists to reduce speed.

A large number of animals have been wandering into the road because of the fire. Visibility also remains problematic at places because of the smoke. There are also fire crews along the roads.

Water and electricity interruptions

The Longmore/Loerie area is currently without electricity or water after 1km of the 11kv electrical line that supplies power to the area burnt out. The line also supplies power to the Loerie Dam and related water infrastructure, hence, the interruption in the water supply as well.

According to feedback given at the JOC, the electricity is expected to be restored by this afternoon (Wednesday).

Damage and donations needed

The full extent of the damage is still to be determined but it is estimated that about 12 houses burnt down on farms and small-holdings in the Longmore/Thornhill area. About 60% (about 12 500ha) of the Longmore Plantation has burnt down.

There are people who have literally been left with nothing. The Department of Social Development is assessing how many households have been left destitute and what their needs are.

State of Disaster declared in Kouga

June 13, 2017

Prompted by the widespread destruction caused by fires that have been burning in the region since Wednesday (7 June), the Kouga Council declared a Local State of Disaster yesterday afternoon.

The fore in Longmore. Photo: Dirk Erasmus

The declaration, made at a special meeting at Jeffreys Bay, will now be promulgated in the Provincial Gazette.

This will allow the municipality to apply for additional funding from provincial and national government so as to address the impact of the fires on the local infrastructure and communities.

FIRE HOTSPOTS
Two hot spots are still burning in the Kouga region. These are in the vicinity of Loerie and Crossways.

There is no immediate danger to property. “We are grateful to the local farming community who has also been helping with mop-up operations in these areas,” said Mayor Elza Van Lingen.

LONGMORE PLANTATION

About 50% (roughly 10 500ha) of the Longmore Plantation has burnt down. A total of 110 fire-fighters are still fighting fires in the plantation.

ROAD SAFETY AND ANIMALS

Motorists are cautioned to reduce their speeds when travelling along the N2 and R102 in the vicinity of Van Stadens and Thornhill.

Visibility has been poor, especially along the R102 in the vicinity of Thornhill.

Many animals, both livestock and wildlife, have also been wandering onto the roads because fencing either burnt out or had to be cut so that the animals could escape from the fire.

Sanrail has been asked to put up temporary road signs to warn motorists.

ELECTRICITY: THORNHILL AND LONGMORE

Nelson Mandela Bay Metro was able to restore the electricity supply to Thornhill yesterday and has undertaken to have the power restored to Longmore by Wednesday.

The Metro supplies electricity to Thornhill and Longmore even though these areas are located within Kouga Municipality’s boundaries.

TRAUMA COUNSELLING

Trauma counselling is being offered to residents affected by the fire through the Department of Social Development and Jeffreys Bay Trauma centre.

DONATIONS

“We are very grateful to everyone for the donations and support that have been streaming in since the crisis started on Wednesday.

We have sufficient supplies for affected communities at present.

We also have enough prepacked meals for fire-fighters at present, but will send out an alert should there be any further requirements,” added Mayor Van Lingen.