Strategic Planning Workshop: Departmental briefing on new mandate, National House of Traditional Leaders and Local Government Association presentations

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

04 August 2009
Chairperson: Mr L Tsenoli (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs gave a presentation on the new mandate of the Department, noting the increased focus on governance, and the need for government at all spheres to work with communities and stakeholders in the private sector. The latter would be encouraged to participate more in governance and service delivery issues. The five main strategic priorities were the need to build the developmental state in all levels of government, the need to strengthen accountability and to build a clean government, including questions of ethical behaviour, debt management and the launch of Operation Clean Audit. The third strategic priority involved the acceleration of service delivery and providing support for the vulnerable. There would be cooperation with ward committees, community development workers and traditional leaders. The fourth priority was to have traditional leaders playing a stronger developmental role. The fifth priority focused on development of partnerships. 

Members questioned whether the Department had sufficient capacity, how it would achieve clean audits by 2014, especially in light of elections during 2011, details on the anti-corruption programme, and expressed concerns about the possible encroachment of the Department into other areas. Other questions addressed whether the Sector Education and Training Authorities were delivering what local government required, what would be done about relationship building with other entities, the roles of provincial entities, the leverage that the Department had to achieve its objectives, and the absence of cooperation. A list of those areas in the various provinces affected by service delivery protests was requested. They asked that National Departmental Support must be incorporated into Programme 3, and noted that public participation through technology was important. Members also enquired about job creation, the relationship between the existing and proposed training institutions, and the need to examine if municipalities were viable, the impact of Local Economic Development, and supported the strengthening of ward committees. They further commented on the disjuncture between mixed funding and the responsibility of building houses, and asked who would monitor the backlogs in service delivery. Climate change also needed to be addressed.

The National House of Traditional Leaders made a short presentation noting that service delivery was a priority, as it operated at local government level. Transformation was one of the challenges, and the House must ensure unity amongst all traditional leaders. Its four strategic goals were advancement of service delivery, custodianship of culture, customs and values, pro-active communication, and building capacity. It would need funding to implement sustainable poverty eradication programmes. It must preserve indigenous knowledge and languages. Members raised queries on the extent to which the House monitored what was happening on the ground, what input it made into legislation, its role in facilitating development, and its involvement in promoting cultural practices.

The South African Local Government Association was a mandated organisation that could not make its own decisions, but must give support to councilors. Its advisory role was outlined and it was noted that it also facilitated infrastructural development and service delivery. The strategic path was focused on the five-year strategic plan of the government. It played a supportive, advisory and representative role. A key focus for the next five years was ensuring the sustainability of local government. Members noted that the part-time position of councilors must be resolved. They asked what SALGA was doing about corruption, how it would meet the targets for clean audits, its financial recovery plans, the pension fund administration and what contributions it would make to unemployment. Members also queried the level of support it received from municipalities, the implication would be of having full time councilors, and the lack of mention in the presentation of urbanisation and migration. It was noted that the Department could not often rely on its reports.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s introductory remarks
The Chairperson informed the committee that the Strategic Planning Workshop would have the outcome of producing a programme to guide the Department's mandate for the next five years. He indicated that the Department, its public entities, and the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) would effectively intervene in the recent service delivery protests.

Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DCGTA or the Department): New mandate briefing
Mr Elroy Africa, Acting Director General, Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said that the nature of the presentation would provide a framework for the Department's strategic plan for the next five years. The Department had adopted a new and expanded mandate. It was previously the Department of Provincial and Local Government, and was now transformed into the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs. The focus of governance was important for the Department, and would deal with how government would work together with communities and stakeholders outside of government. The mission was to facilitate co-operative governance. The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) informed the Department and focused on the next five years.

Mr Africa indicated that one of the key strategic shifts was to get communities to participate more in the area of governance and service delivery. Policies needed to take their cue from evidence-based planning. New ways of formalising the way in which communities held government accountable were being pursued.

Mr Africa tabled five strategic priorities that were identified as needing attention. The first strategic priority focused on building the developmental state in all levels of government. The Department would work closely with the National Planning Commission, provincial and local government. The two-tier system of local government needed to be reviewed and reformed. The Department was of the view that the inter-governmental framework (IGFR) required review, to establish how it had assisted in either accelerating service delivery or created problems for it, and possibly also needed to be reformed.  Better capability and capacity had to be built to allow government to maintain co-operative governance. The Department had established the need to enhance the skills of elected public officials and wanted to note, as a topic for discussion, the need for a public school for local government officials. It also wanted to create a recruitment and retrenchment strategy for municipalities. A local government skills audit was currently under way to fine-tune the Department's capacity building strategy.

The second strategic priority was to strengthen accountability and to build a clean government. This mandate had come from the lessons of the past fifteen years and the MTSF. The need for formalised monitoring and evaluating systems for local and provincial government was identified.

The current legal and constitutional dispensation needed to be looked at, since it was argued that it was blurred when it came to the legislative and executive responsibilities of local government.

Ethical behavior was identified as a problem amongst municipal officials. Anti-corruption legislation needed to be looked at more closely by the Department.

Municipal debt needed a system of management, since more than R53 billion was owed to municipalities in the country. Operation Clean Audit was launched two weeks ago to improve annual financial statements as well as to monitor financial and performance audits. Local government assessments by officials, led by politicians, were currently under way and there was engagement with every municipality.


Discussion
Mr P Smith (IFP) hoped that things would be done differently in the new Department. He asked whether all that the Department wanted to do would indeed happen, and whether it had sufficient human resources to achieve this.
 

Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC) enquired as to how the clean auditing process would be achieved by 2014, especially since there would be new elections in 2011 and some current officials would be outgoing. She asked whether there was a plan to deal with this. She requested further clarity regarding the anti - corruption programme.

Mr C Johnson (ANC) commented that there was a major shift in the Department's vision and as a result there would also be a shift in performance. It appeared that the Department was becoming involved in matters that related to local government, and he was worried that there was the possibility of encroachment. This needed to be discussed with the Department in order to clarify different roles.

Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) said that the Department's role was central where service delivery protests were concerned. He requested clarification regarding the new and expanded mandate, as well as examples of this.

Mr R Maruma, representative of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission), asked if the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) and other educational institutions could not produce what local government required. He hoped that the Department would not become a jack-of-all-trades that mastered none. Duplication by the Department would, hopefully be avoided.

Ms Nondumiso Gwayi, Deputy Chairperson, Municipal Demarcation Board, raised concerns about the Department's silence concerning relationship building with other entities and definition of the roles that other entities would play. Provinces had already undertaken initiatives that were similar to Operation Clean Audit. If the Department was already implementing this at national level, then she queried what the roles of provincial entities would be.

Mr Sidwell Mofokeng, CEO, LGSETA, noted that the issues raised so far related to the capacity of the Department, duplication and encroachment. He asked what would be the Department's leverage to achieve its noble objectives. The Department would have to create huge capacity and have access to many resources to achieve its goals. The presentation also did not clarify the Department's partnerships.

The Chairperson commented that national departments did not understand local governments. Intra political conflict was a problem, which caused instability. He noted that the absence of co-operation was also a problem.

The Department responded to the various questions by grouping topics together.

Dr Batandwa Siswana, Head of Operation Clean Up, DCGTA,  outlined leadership as one of the focal points of Operation Clean Up. The objective was that internal audit units should operate very well by 2014. Current and incoming officials would be well trained. The implementation of Operation Clean Up would have one window for co-ordination across the provinces.

Mr Yusuf Patel, Deputy Director General, DCGTA, clarified the issue of the Department's new and expanded mandate as relating to the Department's whole outlook on governance, civil society and the community. The relationship across government at all levels, and with communities, was scrutinised with a view to its improvement. The mandates had been in place,  and were re-emphasised in line with the new priorities. The Department would be careful not to duplicate its efforts and would find a way to work with stakeholders more effectively as it recognised that its own capacities were not enough. Encroachment was a legitimate concern and the Department would work more closely with South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the provinces to define roles more clearly. However, it needed to do things more effectively. There was a need for a summit to be held concerning service delivery protests to understand the underlying causes of the protests and to resolve them.

Ms S Mngadi, representative of DCGTA, addressed the issue of the need to establish a public school by revealing that studies conducted revealed skill, conduct and competency gaps amongst elected public officials. A public school would ensure that the Department delivered holistic and better thought out programmes.

Mr Africa admitted that the question of whether the Department could deal with all the issues raised by the Committee could not be answered upfront. The strategic shifts were not moving away from,  but emphasizing, certain aspects. Instances of encroachment would be identified and different roles made clear. The Minister was due to announce an initiative comprising the Department, SALGA and the trade unions in order to resolve service delivery issues.

The Chairperson interjected and asked which areas were affected by service delivery protests.

Mr William Ramphele, Senior manager, DCGTA,  read out a list. In KwaZulu Natal this involved Msunduso; in the Eastern Cape, Great Kei, and Duncan Village; in Gauteng,  Tshwane, Johannesburg, Orange Farm, Emalahleni, Ekhuruleni, and Mid Vaal. In Limpopo there were problems in Greater Tzaneen; in the Western Cape at Khayelitsha and Du Noon and Cape Town. In the North West there were problems in Rustenburg, Greater Taung; in the Free State Jagersfontein, Nala and in Mpumalanga at Thaba Cho, Leydenburg, Mkhondo, Balfour, and Sukalikwa.

Mr Africa continued and highlighted the need for the Department to focus on the institution of traditional leadership. In addition the Department had to work more effectively, and it had to have a presence in all provinces. Therefore, branches would be opened in every province to achieve the Department's mandate. Training and capacity building in the local government sector was currently fragmented, so a coherent and systematic approach was needed, hence the public school proposal. A core set of local government pointers was being finalised. These indicators would form the minimum basis for which municipalities would report to provincial and national government.

A Member suggested an adoption of a curriculum based on the needs of municipalities and the Department, as opposed to a school, since there were already educational institutions.

The Chairperson accepted the suggestion as one meriting further discussion.

Continuation of presentation
Mr Africa introduced the third strategic priority as comprising the acceleration of service delivery and providing support for the vulnerable. The Department wanted to focus aggressively on Comprehensive Infrastructure Plans, as they would go a long way to speeding up service delivery. Ways of getting Ward Committees, Community Development Workers (CDWs) and the institutions of traditional leadership more involved in monitoring service delivery had to be established. The rollout of the Free Basic Services programme to support the poor would continue. The capability of the National Disaster Management Centre had to be improved.

The fourth priority focused on the institutions of traditional leadership. Traditional Leaders had to participate fully in the system of governance. In the next five years, their institutions would have to  play a stronger developmental role.

The fifth priority focused on the development of partnerships. These would include international and national partners. As part of the fifth priority, the Minister had said that the Department had to improve its interaction with Parliamentary committees. The budget for the next three years would be close to R150 billion. Of this amount, 99% was managed through transfers and grants. The Local Government Equitable Share had increased to R29 billion. The Municipal Systems Improvement Grant had increased to R212 million. The Municipal Infrastructure Grant had increased to R12 billion, and would further increase to R15 billion in the last year. R121 million would be transferred during the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. The newly formed United Cities and Local Government of Africa Association would receive support from the Department. Vision 2011 was concerned with the reduction of corruption, complaints and service delivery protests. Vision 2014 was concerned with the reduction of municipal debt, ensuring that provinces and municipalities had clean audits and ensuring that they had trained competent councillors, traditional leaders and officials.

Discussion

The Chairperson requested the inclusion of National Departmental support in Strategic Programme 3. He suggested the retaining of the monitoring and evaluation unit amongst the current programmes of the Department. Public participation via technology was important and should have been included in how municipalities operated, for example Durban.

Mr Smith said that Vision 2011 was good, but he was not sure whether the end product was for local government whose end of term fell in 2016. He agreed with the emphasis on municipal maintenance under Strategic Priority 3, because no municipality spent its budget on this.

Mr Smith noted that the presentation did not refer to job creation. He asked what the relationship would be between the new public school and the already established leadership academy. He noted that there was also a need to look at the viability of municipalities, as rural municipalities were functionally non-viable and could never raise required funds. The National Planning Framework might not be necessarily good for local government, and there were questions over whether everything had to be aligned with it.


Mr Nonkonyana requested clarity on the impact of the local economic development, from the presentation. He also said that the curriculum for the public school should be all-inclusive to cater for all the role players.

Ms Zoleka Capa, Chairperson of SALGA, Eastern Cape, supported the strengthening of ward committees, as community participation had to be funded. She noted that the Integrated Development Plans (IDP) had to be aligned with the National Planning Commission, and that the link should be clearly established. The lack of Information Technology in the rural areas was a serious problem.

Mr Johnson requested that the wording in the Vision Statement be changed from “with communities” to “spheres of government”. He questioned the occurrence of public participation within the Department concerning the new and expanded mandate. The disjuncture between mixed funding within the Department and the responsibility of building houses needed to be addressed immediately. He also asked who would be responsible for monitoring the backlog for service delivery. He noted that the impact of climate change would be devastating for rural communities.

The Chairperson commented that urbanisation was driven by climate change, as for example droughts led to farmers and farm workers leaving their non-productive farms and going to the cities. The Green Agenda was missing from the presentation. National disaster management had to be included in all municipalities and provincial governments.

Mr Patel agreed that some of the sectors were not defining their planning and linking it at integrated level, therefore a national planning function had to be developed. The planning system had to be built bottom up and down. The National Framework on Economic Development was focal for local economic development. The Expanded Public Works framework was critical because it created a bigger opportunity for municipalities to move to more labour intensive construction work.

Mr Patel said that, in regard to backlogs, the Department was working with Statistics SA to co-ordinate backlogs in data.

Mr Patel noted that the Department approach to public participation was three-fold: public participation in government, the strengthening of civil society and the promoting of community development and empowerment. The Department of Environmental Affairs was currently working with the Department through IDPs for sustainable development. The Department was looking at deploying community environmental workers within municipalities. Clear strategies were important for communal participation.

Mr Africa also addressed the issue of participation by saying that the Department had annual engagements through a range of multilateral and bi-lateral relationships. Monitoring and evaluation systems were catered for in the programme. The year 2014 was important because, in the Minister’s view, objectives needed to be set for all spheres of government. By 2014 there had to be common elections for all spheres of government as well as synchronised financial years. The current local government academy was a “virtual school” and it did not have the focus that the Department had envisaged. It could be part of the embryo, together with other initiatives, to assist in the initiative for the new school.

Mr Africa confirmed that the Department would look at the viability of municipalities. The vision related to South Africa and the government, not just the Department.

Mr Johnson said that the priorities and objectives were blurred. He asked what the Department was going to do exactly.

Ms Capa agreed with Mr Johnson, and she questioned the logistics of the Department.

Ms M Wenger (DA) felt that the issue of part time councillors had not been addressed. Municipalities were expected to deliver capacity and services, yet councillors were only working part time. She asked how councillors would be trained, if they would not be available due to their full time jobs. She highlighted conflict between the ward committees and councillors.

Mr Africa responded by saying that the issue of part time ward councillors was being looked at by the Minister. The Department had not presented its Strategic Plan, and this, together with all the deliverables and indicators, would be submitted to the Committee at a later stage.

Mr Fhumalani Kutama, Chairperson, National House of Traditional Leaders, requested the Parliament must urge the Executive to initiate its implementations as expected. He hoped the Department would address the issues of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL). He highlighted the importance of NHTL and the existence of such structures during the apartheid era. Issues affecting the NHTL were not raised during the meeting.

National House of Traditional Leaders Presentation
Mr Abram Sithole, CEO, National House of Traditional Leaders, introduced the NHTL as a body created by Statute. The NHTL was operating at local government level, thus service delivery was one of its priorities. It must also be a monetary body. Transformation had been one of the challenges facing the NHTL. The NHTL had a role to play in ensuring unity amongst traditional houses in the country. The NHTL had four strategic goals: advancement of service delivery, custodianship of culture, customs and values, pro-active communication, and building capacity to ensure a capable NHTL and institution. Provincial houses had to consult communities and make inputs to legislation. Municipalities had to adhere to the provisions of the Municipal Systems Act, which stipulated that municipalities must consult with local houses for input. Sustainable poverty eradication programmes had to be implemented by the NHTL, but it needed funding. There was also a need for the NHTL to preserve indigenous knowledge and languages.

Discussion
Mr Smith asked the extent to which the NHTL monitored what was happening on the ground and the extent of its input into Bills within the public domain.

Mr T Botha (COPE) asked what role the NHTL played in facilitating development in its areas, especially in light of the fact that land was in the hands of the institution, and not readily available for development.

The Chairperson asked about the NHTL's involvement in promoting cultural practices, saying that Provincial departments were already doing this.

Mr Sithole responded that monitoring on the ground was present, but there was no legal framework. Input in Bills at national level was minimal. Concerning the issue of land tenure, traditional leaders would make land available for development, provided that set protocols would be followed. The NHTL encouraged people to practice their cultures freely.

Mr Kutama said that the land issue would be resolved if the Communal Land Rights Act was implemented because certain sections in it allowed communities to participate in land issues.

South African Local Government Association (SALGA) presentation

Ms Zoleka Capa, Chairperson, Eastern Cape South African Local Government Association, indicated that the Association (SALGA) had the legislative mandate to represent municipalities. It existed nationally, with nine provincial structures. The major concern was that SALGA was a mandated organization, and that it could therefore not make any decisions. SALGA was there to outline problems, for example, the issues cited earlier around part time councilors, and to support councilors.

Mr Xolile George, Chief Executive Officer, SALGA, added that SALGA’s mandate was derived from the Constitution. It played an advisory role for municipalities. SALGA also facilitated the development of infrastructural development and service delivery. The governance of SALGA was intricate, but was outlined in the presented document. It had clustered and working organisations that processed policy inputs. The strategic path of the organisation was focused on the five-year strategic plan of the government. It played a supportive, advisory and representative role. The organisation had moved its attention to supporting matters affecting its members. A key focus for the next five years was ensuring the sustainability of local government. SALGA was looking at supporting the new mandate of the Planning Commission.

Discussion

Ms S Tsebe (ANC) agreed with Ms Capa that councillors did not have enough resources; and that the issue of part time councillors had to be resolved. She asked what support municipalities received regarding dealing with service delivery protests.

Ms Nhlengethwa asked what SALGA was doing regarding corruption, and whether the qualified audit reports would be brought in line with the Department's target of clean audits by 2014.

Mr W Doman (DA) asked about SALGA's financial recovery plan, and what was happening to this plan. He also asked about the position of municipal levies. He requested further information on the in-fighting between two municipalities. He asked what improvements there were for the administration of the pension fund, and what advice SALGA was giving. He too noted that the training of SALGA was very important and that it had an important role to play in this regard.

Mr Smith highlighted the unemployment rate in the sector, and asked what the position of SALGA was on the capital-intensive trend, at the cost of those who are unskilled. He asked what contribution would SALGA provide in this regard.

Mr Nonkonyana requested confirmation of SALGA's claim to have 100% support by municipalities. He wanted to know the effect of the violent service delivery protests on the poorer municipalities. He also asked what the implication would be of having full time councilors.

The Chairperson noted that urbanisation and migration were not highlighted in the presentation, yet Gauteng was identified for poor service delivery. He wanted to know how diverse was the input by SALGA with external partners. The amount of legislation pertaining to municipalities was on the increase, and he asked for SALGA’s views and position on this.

Mr Johnson said that there had to be a differentiation between SALGA and its members. The data management on backlogs had a major influence on budgeting. Without accurate data, SALGA would be dealing with fictitious data. SALGA's role was to engage with Eskom. The provision of services would be more intensified in urbanised areas due to urbanisation.

Mr George responded to some of the issues raised. He said that the financial recovery of SALGA was raised in 2007. All financial issues the organisation faced in the last ten years had been resolved. Some members have withheld funds, yet they were still part of SALGA. The governance of the pension fund was a major problem, as there was no clear accountability framework. A set of rules were being developed and adopted in relation to the pension fund.

Mr Africa commented that he did not hear SALGA address the issue of fictitious reports from local government.

The Chairperson interjected and asked if SALGA agreed with the view that there was a crisis in local government.

Mr Africa continued that the Department had done its own research, which turned out to have very different results to that of local and provincial government. The Department could not use the reports by these two spheres of government. The Department believed that local government was over-regulated, inappropriately regulated or under-regulated.

Mr Johnson addressed the Chairperson's question by saying that a lot had been done in the last fifteen years in local government. Municipalities had to raise their own revenue. The time in which budgets had to be spent was minimal.

The remaining questions were not addressed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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