Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs 2009/14 Strategic Plan

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

12 October 2009
Chairperson: Mr L Tsenoli ( ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Acting Director-General of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs briefed the Committee on the strategic plan and budget for the period 2009 to 2014.  The presentation included the Department’s mandate, vision, mission and value statements, the strategic emphasis and the ten main medium-term strategic priorities.

The Department had developed 68 projects to implement the strategic priorities for the period 2009 to 2014.  The five major strategic priorities were: building efficient and responsive Provincial and Local Government structures; strengthening accountability and Clean Government; accelerating service delivery and supporting vulnerable communities; improving the developmental capability of the institution of Traditional Leadership and fostering development partnerships, social cohesion and community mobilisation. Details of the deliverables and milestones for each of the major priorities were provided.

The total budget for the financial year 2010/11 was R42.5 billion, of which R42 billion was for Provincial and Local Government transfers, R411.5 million for Departmental programmes and R121.5 million for fiscal transfers.

The presentation was concluded with the Department’s vision for 2011 and 2014, which focused on the Local Government turnaround strategy.

Members were concerned about the culture of non-payment for municipal services, the failure of Government entities to pay for municipal services, the weak revenue collection systems of municipalities, the negative effect of non-payment for services on the ability of municipalities to adequately maintain and develop their areas, the lack of bulk infrastructure in municipalities and the resultant inability of municipalities to deliver services and the neglect of rural communities by municipalities. Copies of the Provincial State of Municipalities reports were requested. Members felt that the Environmental Impact Assessment system required review.  Further areas of concern were job creation initiatives, the skills shortages in the Department and at the Provincial and Local Government levels, the grading system applied to grade municipalities, the inability of smaller municipalities to attract skilled personnel, the non-functioning of ward committees, the relationship between the Department and Provinces and the responsibility for primary healthcare.  Questions were asked about the development of Traditional Leadership structures, the need to clarify the roles of Traditional Leaders and the proposal to incorporate the Metro Police Services into the South African Police Services.

Meeting report

Briefing by Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (DOCGTA)
Mr Yunus Carrim, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, attended the meeting. Mr Errol Africa, Acting Director-General: DOCGTA, briefed the Committee on the Department’s strategic plan and budget for the period 2009 to 2014 (see attached document).

The presentation covered the Department’s mandate, vision, mission and value statements, the strategic emphasis and the ten main medium-term strategic priorities.  The Department had developed 68 projects to implement the strategic priorities for the period 2009 to 2014.  The five major strategic priorities were: building efficient and responsive Provincial and Local Government structures (16 projects); strengthening accountability and Clean Government (17 projects); accelerating service delivery and supporting vulnerable communities (14 projects); improving the developmental capability of the institution of Traditional Leadership (11 projects) and fostering development partnerships, social cohesion and community mobilisation (10 projects). Details of the deliverables and milestones for each of the major priorities were provided.

The total budget for the financial year 2010/11 was R42.5 billion, of which R42 billion was earmarked for Provincial and Local Government transfers, R411.5 million for Departmental programmes and R121.5 million for fiscal transfers.

The presentation was concluded with the Department’s vision for 2011 and 2014, which focused on the Local Government turnaround strategy.

Discussion
The Chairperson remarked that the strategic plan reflected the intention of the Department and it was clear that the mandate of the Department was drawn from the Constitution. He suggested that the first major priority (“
Build the developmental state in Provincial and Local Government that is efficient, effective and responsive”) was rephrased as ‘building a developmental state’ was a contradiction in terms.

Mr Tshepo Khasi, Manager: Inter-governmental Relations Policy; DOCGTA, informed the Committee that the Department was considering amending the Inter-governmental Framework Act. The Department needed to review the vertical and horizontal relationships with other Government Departments and would be working with the Planning Commission.

Mr Africa explained that the Department was building an over-arching developmental state. One of the requirements for building a developmental state was sufficient technical capacity.

Mr Carrim said that there was a strong relationship between building a developmental state and entrenching the cooperative governance system. The more a cooperative governance system was entrenched, the more the conditions for a developmental state were created.  

The Chairperson stated that the Department’s campaign to encourage people to pay for municipal services was fundamentally flawed.  The Department could not expect people to pay for services when Government institutions owed millions of Rands to municipalities for services rendered.  He asked why the Tshwane Municipality had to go to court compel the Government institutions to pay for services rendered to them. Government had to lead by example and it was an embarrassment that the capital city was not paid for the services delivered.

Mr T Botha (COPE) remarked that the weak revenue collection systems of municipalities exacerbated the problem of non-payment for services. The culture of non-payment resulted in municipalities becoming unsustainable and had a negative effect on development. Beautiful areas were becoming slums because municipalities were unable to provide the funding for maintenance and repairs. The problem was that people were not committed to paying municipalities for services provided to them.

Mr Mike Seloane of the Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs advised that the Department was launching a campaign to collect outstanding debts owed to municipalities. A debt collection strategy had been developed, which categorised debtors into groups. The Department would apply different methods of collecting the amounts owed from Government entities, companies, communities and private individuals.  Much can be learned from the old Masakhane Campaign on launching the campaign and encouraging people to pay for services. He commented that users of municipal services managed to pay their other accounts on time but failed to pay the municipal accounts. He agreed that the problem was the weak revenue collection services of municipalities. The categorisation of debtors would be completed before the campaign was launched in December 2009.

The Chairperson asked what strategic skills were required by the Department.

Mr Botha noted that the strategic plan did not mention the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system. The implementation of the EIA system was at Provincial and Local Government levels. There were managerial as well as political challenges around the implementation of the EIA system. The current EIA system delayed development projects and needed to be improved.

Mr Africa replied that EIA was not specifically mentioned in the presentation but was included in the sections dealing with planning (i.e. the need for legislative reform on planning) and the need to eliminate red tape. The Department’s strategy included dealing with environmental issues.

Mr Botha remarked that many municipalities lacked bulk infrastructure and were unable to provide reticulation services. There was an urgent need for bulk infrastructure at Local Government level. A number of houses were being built throughout the country with no water supply or sewerage connections.

Mr Victor Mathada, DOCGTA, replied that municipalities devised plans to develop communities without taking the necessity for the provision of bulk infrastructure services into account. This resulted in service delivery problems. There was a need for bulk infrastructure planning and implementation processes and the Department planned to introduce Comprehensive Infrastructure Plans, which would be incorporated in the development plans of municipalities. The Department of Water Affairs was responsible for providing funding for bulk infrastructure projects and coordination between the two Departments was necessary.  The planning process at the Local Government level had to take the sustainability of bulk infrastructure services into account.

Ms N Lester, Deputy Director-General: Urban and Rural Development, DOCGTA, reported that the Department’s assessment of spatial planning revealed that most of the service delivery concerns were caused by the fact that municipalities did not have direct control over and access to bulk infrastructure services (e.g. electricity).

Mr P Smith (IFP) requested that the Committee received copies of the State of Municipalities report of each Provincial Government rather than one consolidated report.  Consolidated reports tended to be generalisations.

Mr Africa replied that most Provincial executives had approved and signed the Department’s State of Municipalities report. The agreement with the provincial authorities was that the Department would compile a national report form the provincial reports provided.  He undertook to ascertain whether the provincial authorities could provide copies of the provincial reports to the Committee.

Mr Carrim observed that there was nothing in the report that the Committee did not already know. Most of the issues raised during the meeting were included in the report.

Mr Smith had noted the link between the strategic plan and the policy review. Elements of the policy review were brought into the strategic plan as concrete plans. He asked if there were other aspects of the policy review that were not included in the strategic plan.

Mr Africa replied that the link between the policy review and the strategic plan was dialectical. In certain instances, the Department had incorporated aspects from the policy review, for example, the section dealing with ward committees. The concept of ward committees was central to Government’s mandate. Concurrently, the Department was reformulating the entire system of participatory governance.  Certain elements of the policy review were not included in the strategic plan, for example, the two-tier system of Local Government.

Mr Carrim added that the relationship between the strategic plan and the policy review had been well clarified. No final decision had been taken on the policy review.

Mr Smith commented that both Government and the Department had to formulate strategic plans. He pointed out that the Department’s strategic plans did not mention job creation. Currently, municipalities did not create jobs but were shedding jobs. If this trend continued, it would be in direct conflict with Government objectives on job creation. He asked what the Department did to ensure that jobs were created by municipalities.

Dr Simphiwe Mngadi, Acting Deputy Director-General, DOCGTA, replied that the dire shortage of skills in the Department was well known. The Department intended to adopt a different approach and appoint a team, which was responsible for ensuring that all units in the Department worked together to address the skills shortage.  A skills audit would be conducted and the findings of the audit would inform the Department where it had to concentrate efforts to build capacity.

Mr Smith noted that the provision of primary healthcare was a national priority but was not included in the Department’s strategic plans. He asked to what extent the Department contributed to or was involved in the plans formulated by national Government. For example, the recent statement made by the Deputy Minister of Police that the Metro Police Services had to be incorporated into the South African Police Services. (Metro Police Services were the responsibility of the Local Government entity).

Mr Cassim said that the issue of the Metro Police joining the South African Police Services should only be decided after an extensive consultation process had taken place. He suggested that the matter was discussed with the Committee at a later date.

Mr Smith remarked that certain of the aspects of the strategic plan were commendable but he wondered if the plans were achievable.

Mr Africa replied that most of the ideas expressed by the Department were realisable. The manner in which the Department operated was being reorganised to enable the realisation of the goals included in the strategic plan.  The Department planned to establish provincial offices to improve delivery of its mandate.

Mr Smith believed that rural municipalities were grossly under-funded. He asked how the Department was going to achieve its objectives if rural communities were ignored and excluded.

Mr Tozi Faba, Deputy Director-General: Corporate Services; DOCGTA, advised that the Department had visited a number of municipalities to establish where support was required. Certain of the municipalities that were visited were situated in rural areas. He said that the Department did not believe in ‘sitting in nice offices in Pretoria, not knowing what was happening on the ground’. The Department was informed about the challenges and problems faced by municipalities and communicated with them to find solutions.

Mr Africa was confident that all the institutions concerned with Local Government agreed to the principle of differentiation of Local Government. In the previous ten years, Government had dealt with Local Government entities in a generic manner. Currently, innovative ways to deal with the different types of municipalities were being explored.

A Member of the Committee commented that ward committees did not function as envisaged by the legislation. He found it difficult to understand how the Department would be able to develop a coordination model to accelerate service delivery, using the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) as the basis. The ward committees were necessary to implement the plan but in many cases, were non-existent or non-functional. He wanted to know what measures the Department had taken to ensure that ward committees had been established and were functional.  He said that it was obvious that municipalities did not have performance management systems in place and wanted to know what the Department was doing about ensuring that such systems were implemented. He said that the Comprehensive Infrastructure Plan should be a priority

Mr Africa agreed that ward committees were not functioning at the desired level. Statistics received from provinces indicated that 90% of ward committees had been established. However, the Provinces were unable to determine how well the ward committees were functioning. One of the reasons for the non-functioning of ward committees was the fact that they were not adequately resourced.  The Department planned to issue a funding model for ward committees and distribute guidelines to municipalities on methods to provide resources to ward committees.

Mr Carrim added that the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs had good ideas on how to deal with the issue of ward committees. He suggested that the Committee invited the Department to share those ideas.

Dr Mngadi advised that the programme adopted by the Department included a review of the legislation affecting the work of the Department. Chapter 7 of the Municipal Systems Act required amendment. In addition, the Act needed to address the issue of performance management systems in municipalities. The Department intended to table amendments to the Act in 2010.

Mr Errol, DOCGTA, agreed that the issue concerning the Integrated Development Plan required urgent attention. The Department had to rethink its strategy in respect of the support required. The Department agreed that municipalities had to be fully compliant with existing legislation.

Mr W Doman (DA) asked if other Departments had accepted the new role of the DOCGTA.  He wanted to know what role the Department played in the work done by other Departments and in influencing their views.

Mr Faba said that other Departments did not have a choice on whether to accept the new Department or not. He gave the assurance that DOCGTA worked closely with other Departments, particularly at the provincial level.

Mr Africa advised that the Department had prepared a report to Cabinet on the subject of Cooperative Governance and the role played by the Department in National, Provincial and Local Government.

Mr Doman said that it was important for provinces to have more authority and oversight capacity. The relationship between the Department and the Provincial authority had to be re-assessed.

Mr Faba
replied that the Department was working with Provinces to ensure that oversight was exercised over municipalities. However, when visiting Provinces, the Department found that the Provincial officials did not always know where some of the municipalities were situated.

Mr Errol was of the opinion that Provinces should have more authority as far as their work was concerned and in their dealings with Local Government entities.

Mr Doman said that the Department could not improve the lives of ordinary citizens if basic services were not provided by the Provincial and Local Government entities.

Dr Mngadi
agreed with Mr Doman’s comment and said that it was important that all people had access to clean water and sanitation. The Department had to ensure that vulnerable communities benefited from the provision of services.

Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) commented that many issues were left out of the strategic plan concerning the role of Traditional Leaders. Nothing was said in the presentation about how Government planned to develop Traditional Leadership structures. The plans reported by the Department focused on municipalities alone. Municipalities concentrated on providing services to urban areas rather than rural areas. For example, the King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality in the Eastern Cape included both urban and rural areas but services were only provided to the urban areas.  The Department needed to develop Traditional Leadership institutions, as Traditional Leaders played a role in Government. In certain rural areas, Tribal Courts still operated under trees.

Mr Faba replied that the Department considered Traditional Leaders to be very important stakeholders and the Department would achieve little without their support.  The Department made a point of liaising with Traditional Leaders during visits to the Provinces.

Nkosi Mandela said that there was a need to capacitate Traditional Leaders on operational issues, for example, on protocol. Government had to establish a structured way of interacting with Traditional Leaders.

Mr Carrim commented that Traditional Leaders were far more knowledgeable on matters concerning the protocol than the Department. He gave the assurance that the assistance of the Department would be available to Traditional Leaders whenever required.  The position of Traditional Leaders was not clearly defined and many did not know how to conduct themselves in the international arena. Chiefs would be regarded as kings in the international sphere. There was a need to arrange workshops for Traditional Leaders in order to inform them of where they fitted into the overall system of Government.

Mr Faba advised that the new Department of Traditional Affairs was at an advanced stage and a lot of training had been provided to Traditional Leaders. He conceded that the training did not include coaching on matters concerning protocol. He gave the assurance that Members’ comments would be taken into consideration by the Department.

Mr Errol said that, if required, further information on the issue of Traditional Leadership could be provided to the Committee.  The responsible official from the Department was unfortunately not able to attend the meeting.

Nkosi Mandela asked why the Nhlapo Commission was not included in the strategic plan as the Commission had a serious impact on traditional institutions.

The Chairperson advised that the Nhlapo Commission was more correctly referred to as the Commission on Traditional Leaders Disputes and Claims.

Mr Faba confirmed that the Department was attending to all the matters raised by the Commission.

Nkosi Mandela said that the role of Traditional Leaders in their constituencies and in the municipality needed to be clarified and defined. He asked how Traditional Leaders could support municipalities.

Mr Carrim remarked that the relationship between Traditional Leaders and politicians were not clear-cut.  On certain occasions, Traditional Leaders objected to interference, but on other occasions interference by politicians was invited.

Ms M Wenger (DA) noted that the presentation omitted any mention of the grading of municipalities. There were various systems to grade municipalities. The Van Der Merwe system was still being used. The system affected the skills that municipalities would be able to attract. Many People opted to work for the larger municipalities rather than the smaller municipalities.

Mr Faba concurred with Ms Wenger’s comment.  He confirmed that the small towns found it difficult to attract skilled employees. For example, certain municipalities were known to have had three Chief Financial Officers in a single year. The retention of skills was a major challenge for the Department.  The Department had requested district municipalities to assist the smaller municipalities with the skills they required.

Mr Errol admitted that the grading system of municipalities had not been implemented in the manner intended. Each grading level had particular implications.

Ms Wenger appreciated the assurance that an investigation into the service delivery backlogs would be undertaken. She warned that the Department could face a major disaster if the skills shortages in municipalities were not dealt with. A further problem was that municipalities had both full-time and part-time councillors.  Part-time councillors could not fully participate in the running of a municipality due to the other obligations they might have.  She asked what the Committee would be involved in during Local Government week.

Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) asked the Department to explain the devolution of power with regard to the provision of health services. In Metros, primary healthcare was the responsibility of Local Government but in rural areas; the relevant Provincial Department was responsible for primary healthcare. She felt that there had to be clarity on whether primary healthcare was the responsibility of Provincial or Local Government.

Mr Khosi replied that one of the key areas of the policy review process was to consider the issue of primary healthcare. The provision of primary healthcare services was governed by the Primary Healthcare Act.  Schedules 4 and 5 of the Constitution dealt with the allocation of powers and functions.  The Department was considering removing Schedules 4 and 5, which would allow the allocation of powers and functions to be dealt with through national legislation.  However, the Department would first obtain political and legal advice on the matter.

Mr D Mavunda (ANC) asked if the Department was considering allowing communal land rights in rural areas as part of the strategic plan.

Ms Lester replied
that the Department acknowledged that the issue concerning the administration of municipal areas and the areas of Traditional Leaders required a thorough review and re-assessment. The Department found the matter to be a challenge but was attempting to understand how land in rural areas was traditionally utilised and administered.

In conclusion, Mr Carrim expressed appreciation for the questions asked by the Members of the Committee. He believed that there was substance to the questions and agreed with most of the comments made by the Members.

The meeting was adjourned


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