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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Anti-e-toll premier David Makhura comes clean

Makhura volunteered in his state of the province address for a lifestyle audit and shouldered the blame for the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

Gauteng Premier David Makhura is to emulate the man at the top, President Cyril Ramaphosa, by undertaking to run a clean government – beginning with lifestyle audits of himself, members of executive councils and heads of departments in the provincial administration.

The premier would also appoint an independent curator to pursue the implementation of all the recommendations of retired deputy chief justice Dikgang Moseneke about the Life Esidimeni deaths.

Makhura took full responsibility for the incident in which at least 144 people died under the care of unlawful and ill-equipped NGOs.

Delivering his state of the province address at the Provincial Legislature in Johannesburg yesterday, he said he would initiate lifestyle audits.

“We want to send a strong message that we are committed to probity, transparency and accountability in the conduct of public affairs. I call on all members of this legislature to join me in volunteering to subject ourselves to lifestyle audits,” he said.

Makhura’s move is in line with an announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that senior officials would soon be subjected to lifestyle audits as a way to fight corruption.

Makhura expressed concern that many forensic audits were done by departments but wrong-doers faced no consequences for their actions.

“As a province we have been outspoken and consistent in the fight against corruption. I want to lead a province that is underpinned by high standards of service delivery, accountability, integrity an ethics,” Makhura said.

He would meet all senior managers in the provincial administration tomorrow to discuss the renewal of the public service in the province. The officials would sign a pledge to recommit themselves to Batho Pele (people first) principles and values.

“The citizens are getting a raw deal from public servants and public officials, we need a new fresh approach to enforce accountability and delivery. Passing the buck or blame shifting is not acceptable,” Makhura said.

While he reiterated that the transfer of the Esidimeni mental patients to unlawful NGOs was never approved by himself or his executive council, he took full responsibility for the problem.

“I cannot pass the buck, I am the premier, the buck stops with me,” Makhura said.

He would appoint an independent curator to ensure that the recommendations of the Esidimeni arbitration process were implemented and a panel of experts and civil society bodies would be put in place to review the government work for the most vulnerable members of society such as the mentally ill people, elderly, the disabled and children.

“The Esidimeni tragedy has brought to the fore that there are some of our public health workers and public officials who treat patients and citizens with disrespect and disdain,” he said.

Makhura, who had been advocating for the abolition of the Gauteng Highway Improvement Project (e-tolls), said he would engage Ramaphosa on the matter.

“We all know e-tolls have added to the cost of living for many motorists and public transport users in Gauteng. The new dawn must also bring a solution to the protracted and unresolved problem of e-tolls. It is clear e-tolls have not worked.”

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