Committee's Annual Report 2003; Section 106 Investigation Report into the Affairs of Ethekwini Municipality

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Meeting report

LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND ADMINISTRATION SELECT COMMITTEE
4 February 2004
COMMITTEE'S ANNUAL REPORT 2003; SECTION 106 INVESTIGATION REPORT INTO THE AFFAIRS OF ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY

Chairperson:
Mr B Mkaliphi (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Committee Annual Report
Section 106 Investigation into the conduct of officials of Ethekwini Municipality

SUMMARY
The Annual Report was adopted after several members had expressed their reservations about the vision and mission, uncertain focus, lack of linkages to other relevant Select Committees and the Demarcation Board, lack of interest of Ministers, poor response of the parastatal ESKOM and general ineffectiveness.
They also discussed the summary report on the Section 106 investigation into the conduct of officials of Ethekwini Municipality. The KZN MEC for Local Government reported that he had received no response to his enquiries, and furthermore, the Municipality was disputing the correctness of the High Court judgment, both of which he found disturbing. To deal with problems in some municipalities, the Committee agreed that ad hoc committees should be formed to investigate.

MINUTES

Committee Annual Report
The Chair gave five minutes for members to study the Annual Report before discussioon.

Ms Kondlo (ANC) said that more focus on local government was needed.

Mr T Ralane (ANC) agreed, and suggested that the meeting deal exclusively with Local Government and not with the Department of Public Service and Administration.

Ms J L Kgoali (ANC) was not happy with the vision and mission as stated.

Mr P D N Maloyi (ANC) pointed out that the vision and mission had been adopted and that the Annual Report was supposed to show whether what had been done was a true reflection of the vision and mission.

Mr Ralane said that the vision and mission had to be broad to accommodate two departments, namely Public Administration and Local Government, and suggested that the meeting focus on Local Government. Budget problems had to be dealt with.

The Chair said that there was the tendency in the Select Committee meetings to give too much attention to Local Government to the detriment of Public Administration, and that in future it would be better to separate these two.
He pointed out that, in addition to the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act), municipalities' performances had to be monitored by the Select Committee in terms of the MFMA (Municipal Finance Management Act). The Annual Report listed the institutions and parastatals that the Select Committee had to oversee.

Chief M Mokoena (ANC) suggested that the Demarcation Board be invited to address them talk, because in some instances the demarcation was very problematic. Linkage and 'jumping' of villages were often impractical.

Mr Ralane agreed, and pointed out that the consequences of poor demarcation were serious as preparations for elections in 2005 had to proceed.

The Chair announced that, within the confines of limited time, a meeting in March with the new Demarcation Board would be arranged to exchange views and programmes. The Minister was about to announce the Members of the new Board after a lengthy parliamentary process had been completed from 8-19 December. One of their priorities would be to re-examine the delimitation of wards. The previous Board had been pressed for time with only 18 months in which to finalise municipal boundaries and wards, with no previous experience to learn from, and it had not been well done. Three members of the original Board would be on the new nine-member Board. Board members were not representative of the provinces because it was a national board based on selection interviews.

Ms Kgoali expressed her concern that helicopters would again be used to assist in demarcation.

Mr Maloyi stated that he had gone through the Report, was satisfied that it met all the requirements and presented a good reflection of what had been achieved, and should be adopted. Mr Ralani seconded the motion.

The Chair announced that the new Board intended to talk to communities about the status of the wards and to also invite input from municipalities.

Chief Mokoena pointed out that experience with the introduction of free basic services was not encouraging, and asked how the Select Committee could assist in ensuring that contracts were followed.

Mr Ralane pointed out that even free services were sometimes cut if rates were not paid. Whereas the Government had set an inflation target of 3 to 6 %, DWAF had increased water tariffs by 6.1%. DWAF should make provision for the negative impact that tariff increases had on poor communities. He suggested that they combine with other Select Committees in finding solutions to these issues.

The Chair agreed that liaison with the Select Committees on Water Affairs and also Energy was required urgently. ESKOM should clarify its vision on free basic services, because its planning and actions did not reflect policies. The endless argument of how to induce payment of service charges arrears came up continuously.
He had explored every conceivable avenue to get an active response from SALGA, including letters, meeting with their Chairperson and personal pleas to induce them to fulfill their constitutional role, but no action resulted. It was not clear how they would implement the Traditional Leaders Bill.

Ms Kgoali proposed that ESKOM be asked how far they had progressed in implementing policy. The Select Committee should combine with that of DWAF to discuss a joint programme for infrastructure provision in municipalities, of the same quality everywhere.

Ms E Lubidla (ANC) suggested that the Ministers also be present to answer questions.

The Chair pointed out that the Annual Report noted that during 2003, no Minister had appeared before the Select Committee. The focus areas for the Committee's oversight responsibility were contained in the Report.

Prince B Zulu (ANC) asked what a community member could do if a complaint was lodged against a mayor who was a member of the same political party as the MEC, and nothing was done about the complaint. The mayor had funded the transport of his party officials from public funds.

The Chair recalled the case of the arrogant response of the mayor who maintained that he had the right to spend mayoral discretionary funds in any way and was not accountable to anybody. The notorious mayoral discretionary funds had recently been abolished by new legislation. This case would be followed up. He also announced that the Annual Report had been adopted.

Investigation into the conduct of officials of the Ehtekwini Municipality
The MEC for Local Government in Kwazulu-Natal had sent the summary of the Report to inform the Select Committee.
Enquiries by the MEC had as yet elicited no response from the Ethekwini Municipality, and furthermore, the Municipality was disputing the correctness of the High Court judgement, both of which he found disturbing. The complainant had lodged objections in time, but no decisive action from the municipality had been forthcoming. Various legislation was available to combat maladministration.

Ms Kgoali expressed her reservations about the effectiveness of Section 106. She felt that the Committee must become more effective.

Prince Zulu questioned whether the planting of trees that obstructed a neighbour's view would be in the same category.

The Chair suggested that environmental and ecological sentiments might prevail, but significant legal costs might be incurred. This was a very contentious issue. It was a challenge to update legislation to address these cases effectively. To deal with problems in some municipalities, ad hoc committees would be formed to investigate, one each in the Northern Province and the Eastern Cape. No documents were available yet.

The Chair said that the Annual Report would have to be presented to the National Council of Provinces so that colleagues there could judge on the performance of the Select Committee.

Ms Kgoali insisted that, when the ad hoc committees be formed, members from the Select Committee be included. The ad hoc committee to North West Province should go via Mafikeng.

The Chair announced that there have been discussions with the Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs to set up a programme to support the government programme for disaster areas. An invitation had been received from the Select Committee on Land and Environment Affairs to attend a briefing on the proposed drought relief measures by the Government, on 5 February from 14.00-17.00 in the Old Assembly Chamber.

The meeting was adjourned.

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