The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs presented proposals for alleviating some of the problems affecting local government. The Department noted the importance of having an effective local government structure that dealt with the concerns of its people efficiently. The Department endeavoured to improve the quantity and quality of municipal basic services, enhance the municipal contribution to job creation and sustainable livelihoods through local economic development. It also sought to ensure the development and adoption of reliable and credible Integrated Development Plans and to deepen democracy through a refined ward committee model amongst other things in its quest to fix an ineffective local government. The Department highlighted the perilous condition of a large percentage of the country which did not have access to basic services. The Department proposed a number of initiatives to improve service delivery including special purpose vehicles in specific municipalities amongst other initiatives. The Department would initiate the creation and spread of community work programmes to be targeted at municipalities to assist with improving the link between local government and the populace of the municipalities.
The Department illustrated how the monitoring of elections would be done and the amount of leeway that would be granted to candidates already in municipal employ seeking elective office. The Department made it clear that every municipal employee seeking elective office had the right to do so under the Constitution regardless of their previously held position. The Department had consulted various provincial, local government and national structures in preparing the regulations and had taken on board their recommendations.
The Department highlighted that municipalities would be expected to take on the task of drafting their own budgets with regard to out of pocket expenses and then sending them to their respective MECs for approval. Municipalities would be given guidelines to follow from their provincial governments to ensure prudent and non-wasteful spending which would garner the best results for the citizenry.
Members asked about the Department’s proposed clean audit programme, about time frames for the various proposed projects, about the problems around capacity development in municipalities, and how the Department would assess the progress made in the various municipalities in lieu of the Outcome 9 proposals.
Members expressed concern over the apparent lack of inclusion of provincial legislatures in the Outcome 9 presentation of the Department. Members sought clarity on the municipal election regulations and whether contracted municipal workers could still work for a municipality if they ran in an election and lost. They asked about the time frame for the issuing of an official candidacy certificate from the Independent Electoral Commission to municipal candidates. They suggested the Department consult with the South African Mine Workers Union and other organized labour prior to the passing of any of the proposed regulations on elections proposed by the Department.
Outcome 9: Responsive, Accountable, Effective & Efficient Local Government System
Mr Elroy Africa, Director General: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), presented the committee with the Department’s proposals for creating a more responsive, accountable, effective and efficient local government system that better served its citizenry.
The Department had identified areas which would be looked at with regard to improving service delivery and restructuring local government; these included taking more of an outcomes based approach which advocated for employees to work harder, faster and smarter in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness. These also included a more decisive political approach with active participation from managers, better intergovernmental cooperation to improve services and an intense focus on the root causes of problems to improve local government. The Department would endeavour to assist community work programmes, human settlements and access to basic services.
The Department included a ten point plan which was developed in order to alleviate the problems afflicting the local government problems. These ten points were:
▪ Improving the quantity and quality of municipal basic services to the people in the areas of access to water, sanitation, electricity, waste management, roads and disaster management;
▪ Enhance the municipal contribution to job creation and sustainable livelihoods through local economic development (LED);
▪ Ensure the development & adoption of reliable and credible integrated development plans (IDPs);
▪ Deepen democracy through a refined ward committee model;
▪ Build and strengthen the administrative, institutional and financial capabilities of municipalities;
▪ Create a single window of coordination for the support, monitoring and intervention in municipalities;
▪ Uproot fraud, corruption, nepotism and all forms of maladministration affecting local government;
▪ Develop a coherent and cohesive system of governance and a more equitable intergovernmental fiscal system;
▪ Develop and strengthen a politically and administratively stable system of municipalities; and
▪ Restore the institutional integrity of municipalities.
The Department further highlighted the harrowing nature of the situation facing different provinces in the country that had large percentages of their populace unable to access basic services:
Western Cape: 88% (of its populace had access to basic services);
Northern Cape: 71%;
Free State: 60%;
KwaZulu Natal: 45%;
North West: 38%;
Eastern Cape: 33%; and
The Department also presented the idea of establishing various means to improve local government including special purpose vehicles (SPVs), the establishment of a bulk infrastructure fund (BIF), a grant coordination framework for local government and the implementation of a review of current municipal infrastructure support programmes supporting accelerated service delivery. The Department would initiate the creation and spread of community work programmes to be targeted at municipalities to assist with improving the link between local government and the populace of the municipalities.
Draft Regulations on Participation of Municipal Staff Members as Candidates for National, Provincial & Municipal Elections
Mr Tebogo Motlasuping, Senior Manager: IDS, presented the Committee with draft proposals for regulations on municipal staff members who decided to be candidates for national, provincial and municipal elections. The Department noted that municipalities would be able to effectively manage staff members who stand for public office in any election; Participation of a municipal staff member in any election would have consequences. A municipal staff member would be deemed to have resigned from employment from the date of occupation on a full time basis, the designated public office, either in the national Parliament, provincial legislature or municipal council.
A municipal staff member who was a candidate for any election and was not elected to public office would retain employment in the municipality. A municipal staff member, who chose to participate as a candidate for any election and was issued with a certificate in terms of Section 31(3) of the 1998 Electoral Act, should take leave from not later than the next working day. The proposed regulations would also ensure stability in the administration of the municipality and continuation of uninterrupted service delivery during the period of any election.
Funding Model for Ward Committee Members
Mr Justice Mohlala, Senior Manager: COGTA explained that in October 2008 the Local Government Laws Amendment Act was promulgated. Part of it amended Section 73(5) (a) & (e) of the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, which stated that:
(b) A metro or local council must develop a policy and determine criteria for and calculation of the out of pocket expenses referred to in paragraph (c) based on a provincial framework determined by the MEC subject to paragraph (e)
(e) The Minister must determine a national framework including criteria for the calculation of the out of pocket expenses referred to in paragraph (b)”
The purpose of this was:
▪ to improve ward committee functionality by ensuring that ward committee members are more active and able to effectively support their elected ward councillors to serve the community;
▪ to reimburse ward committee members with any ‘out of pocket’ expenses that they may have reasonably incurred in undertaking their duties; and
▪ to provide guidelines for provinces to develop provincial specific frameworks within which metropolitan and local councils should set policies for the payment of out of pocket expenses for ward committee members.
The role of municipalities was to provide: access to office space and equipment; technical and administrative assistance through dedicated municipal staff; communication material and community interaction systems and campaigns; out of pocket expenses for ward committee members. Cost determinants were the size and population of the wards; number of wards; frequency of meetings; revenue base. The funding sources would be the Municipal Own Revenue Sources; Local Government Equitable Share (LGES); and the Municipal Systems Improvement Grant (MSIG).
Mr A Williams (ANC) thanked the Department for its presentation. He noted that the Outcome 9 report had a distinct lack of mention of anti-corruption controls. He said that a clean audit did not necessarily mean effective service delivery was being provided to an area, in light of it being mentioned in the report.
Ms Lerato Thwane, Program Manager, Operation Clean Audit: COGTA said that the project to ensure clean audits involved more than merely ensuring that the Department had clean financial audits. She said that the project would oversee service delivery and ensure that clean audits also translated into tangible delivery on the ground. She said that the Department would strive to link good governance (anti-corruption) practices with the clean audit programme in order to ensure that service delivery was carried to the best of individual municipality’s abilities.
Mr P Smith (IFP) asked whether there was a time frame in the implementation plan for the proposals mentioned in the report. He asked whether the outputs mentioned were specific to outcomes. He asked what the Department was doing to address the capacity deficiencies in municipalities.
Ms Marna Kock, Senior Manager: COGTA said that specific timeframes would be a key part of the plans to be implemented by the Department and would be put in place according to each municipality’s problems. She said that the deficiency of staff in community work projects would be addressed but that the Department faced challenges in funding for that specific area. She said that outputs were linked to outcomes.
Mr T Botha (COPE) said that a lot of infrastructure under the purview of municipalities was dysfunctional or incomplete due to the high costs associated with maintaining or improving such infrastructure, he asked what the Department would do to assess achievement this issue at a municipal level.
Ms Kock said that intergovernmental relations would be strengthened to assist in areas where infrastructure was in bad condition. She said that oversight visits within the time frames mentioned would be undertaken to assess achievement by various municipalities.
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked whether the bulk infrastructure funds (BIF) would be appropriated evenly amongst municipalities regardless of capacity or size. She asked whether the figures provided by Statistics South Africa in the presentation were official accurate figures.
Ms Kock said that the BIF would be distributed equally amongst municipalities regardless of the size of the municipality. She also confirmed that the statistics from Statistics South Africa were the accurate and official statistics.
Mr W Doman (DA) commended the Department on its approach and its focus on the right things and the right way of correcting them. He commented that the process of refinement of ward committees should be more transparent. He asked about the lack of mention of the role to be played by provinces in the restructuring of local government.
Ms Kock said that provinces had played a major role in the restructuring of local government and had been active in contributing to the draft process of the proposals in the presentation.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) said that more should have been said about the rural development strategy of the Department. He said that before local government could give output, input was needed. He asked whether the performance agreement between the president and the Minister would be assessed on an annual basis or at the end of the Minister’s term in 2014.
Ms Kock said that the performance agreements would only be assessed at the end of the Minister’s tenure but that service agreements would be assessed on an annual basis.
The Chairperson asked several questions. He expressed his discontent on the generality of some of the language in the presentation. He asked whether specific time frames had been put in place with regard to the ten point plan. He asked whether anything would be done to address the deficiency of lower level staff at community work projects. He criticized the notion of the special purpose vehicles (SPVs) and their potential to fragment an existent organisation; he asked whether their establishment was necessary.
Ms Kock said that specific timeframes would be a key part of the plans to be implemented by the Department and would be put in place according to each municipality’s problems. She said that the deficiency of staff in community work projects would be addressed but that the Department faced challenges in funding for that specific area. Mr George Seitisho, Deputy Director General: COGTA said that the SPVs were region specific and not targeted at a national level, therefore they would not fragment standing bodies; he said that they were still under negotiation.
Mr Botha asked whether contracted municipality workers who sought election and failed in their attempt would still be employed by the municipality where they were employed.
Mr Motlasuping said that unsuccessful candidates would be released from their contracts should they fail in their attempts to run for municipal election, he said that municipal workers could not have their cake and eat it.
Mr Doman asked what the time frame was for the issuing of an official candidate certificate by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in cases where a candidate sought election. He suggested that candidates who were employed in a particular municipality should be given ordinary citizen status when entering a building where they are employed prior to an election which they intend to contest as a candidate, in order to prevent corruption.
Mr Motlasuping said that the IEC generally issued certificates two weeks before municipal elections; he said that this was a process that the Department was looking to alter drastically.
Mr Williams asked why the Department was yet to consult the South African Mine Workers Union (SAMWU) and other organized labour on the election regulation draft proposals.
Mr Motlasuping said that the Department wanted to complete the draft process prior to consulting organized labour. Mr Yunus Carrim, the Deputy Minister of COGTA, had said that the Department valued organized labour’s input and would duly seek it before finalizing the proposals.
Mr Smith reiterated Mr Doman’s points on the limited access to potential candidates seeking election.
The meeting was adjourned.
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