Committee Reports on Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs Budget; BRRR & Ad hoc Committee Recommendations

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

06 June 2011
Chairperson: Mr L Tsenoli (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Members amended and approved the Committee’s Report on Budget Vote 3. Members expressed their disappointment with progress by the Department to implement the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report and Ad hoc Committee recommendations. Members explored ways in which the implementation of their recommendations could be enhanced and monitored, in accordance with strict targets, time frames, and the accountability of governmental managers. Members looked forward to receiving outstanding Departmental reports, as well as to having a hearing on the ‘State of Cities’ presentation.

Meeting report

Introduction
The Chairperson made the following opening statements and comments:
•No new submissions had been received by the Committee Secretary.
•The Committee must oversee not only the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), but also what takes place within the provinces and 278 municipal councils.
•More focused reporting to the Committee, and by the Committee, was envisaged in future.
•The incoming municipal councillors (after the 18 May 2011 local government elections) would go through an induction process, instituted in consultation with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). Intergovernmental cooperation would receive special attention. Ongoing training would follow after the induction period.
•As a result of increased pressure on municipalities to perform, the Committee would have to liaise more frequently and in a structured manner with the Portfolio Committees on Water and Environmental Affairs, Transport, Human Settlements, and related affairs.
•On 09 June 2011 a Demarcation Board Seminar would discuss inter alia the Metros as well as capacity assessment of municipalities. It must be avoided that local councils took on unfunded functions and mandates that were not feasible and constitutional.

Committee Report on Budget Vote 3
Moving to page 21 of the Report, the Chairperson proceeded to guide the Committee through the Committee’s Observations. The Committee agreed that its discussion of the Observations would result in adjusted observations/recommendations; the following were then accepted by the Committee:

Observation 1: Steps needed to be taken to speed up post-disaster assessment processes, so as not to compound the negative effects of a disaster even further by delayed aid and interventions. The Committee expected a satisfactory reply from the Department on this issue within three months (by September 2011).

Observation 2: Compliance of the Department with the Disaster Management Act had been poor. One example mentioned was that not all districts in the country had disaster management centres yet. The Chairperson also emphasised the importance of the Department’s communications with vulnerable communities – people sometimes settled in unsafe areas merely because they (unknowingly) perceived the location as their best option for survival. The Chairperson said that cities should be made aware of the need to better inform new inhabitants (urbanisation) of key Government services as well as matters/risks that deserved their cautious attention. Such information should be distributed freely by Government.

Observation 3: left as it was.

Observation 4: Mr J Matshoba (ANC) questioned the formulation of the original observation. The Chairperson also expressed the sentiment that clarification of the observation was necessary, since there were two processes used by the Khoisan when choosing/electing representatives. It was then added to the original observation that these two processes must be clarified as soon as possible so that the discussion on the matter could be closed.

Observation 5: This observation was extended so as to include the words that the Committee should cooperate with all relevant Departments pertaining to policy areas within their respective functional areas.

Observation 6: Mr J Lorimer (DA) said that the needs of the Commission for Rights of Cultural, Religious & Linguistic Communities (CRL Commission) were broader than finances for telephones. The Committee agreed that the role, function, effectiveness, and funding of this Commission should be explored further, because it had an important role to play.

Observation 7: left as it was.

Ms W Nelson (ANC) requested that an Observation 8 (new) be included, to the effect that the outstanding amounts owed to municipalities by other spheres of Government should be paid to municipalities within specific time frames. The Committee agreed that the Department must be requested to report to the Committee on this matter by October 2011, and that these outstanding amounts should preferably be settled within a one year period (by June 2012). The Chairperson emphasised that the fact of these outstanding financial resources was a restrictive factor and negatively affected the performance ability of municipalities. The next report by the Department must provide clarity on solutions found for related problems - such as billing problems and incorrect asset registers – that might impact on payment of outstanding amounts. The report must indicate how Government entities would be guided so as to include provision for settlement of these amounts (adjustment budgets). The report must be clear on mandates, accountability, managerial responsibilities, implementation plans, monitoring systems, resources allocated, project champion, and targets, so as to resolve these payments to municipalities once and for all.

Observation 9 (new): The Chairperson noted that the roll-out of infrastructure needed to be monitored more circumspectly, since poor infrastructure contributed to loss of life and damage during disasters. After discussions, the Committee accepted this recommendation. The Committee would still discuss how this recommendation should be taken forward.

Observation 10 (new): The Committee expressed its intention henceforth to set strict but realistic time frames for all its work, including receipt of Reports from the Department, as well as the Committee’s monitoring of appropriate implementation of its recommendations, at the most suitable levels of sphere of Government and accountability.

The Report was moved for adoption by Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC), seconded by Ms Nelson. The Committee accepted the Report, as amended, unanimously.

Committee Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) Recommendations (Tuesday, 02 November 2010; Page 3607-3608)
The Committee noted that it must still receive a satisfactory report from the Department regarding the execution of the Recommendations (p 3608). The following must, inter alia, still take place:
•Structure and funding of ward committees: strategy awaited.
•Replicating of municipal public accounts committees (MPACs): must still be taken further.
•No monthly reports on Local Government Turnaround Strategy (LGTAS) received.
•Hiring practices of municipalities: no report received.
•Settlement of debt to municipalities: report needed.
•A number of the other recommendations of the Committee had also not been implemented by the Department. A response from the Department was required.

Ad hoc Committee Recommendations (Wednesday, 08 September 2010; Page 2687-2691)
Corruption issue
The Chairperson said that he was unhappy with the Department’s apparent lack of implementation of Committee Recommendations. Service delivery to many vulnerable and needy communities was being seriously affected as a result. Substantial funds had been spent on the work of the Ad hoc Committee, but not sufficient benefit could be seen in society at this stage.
Ms Nelson asked why certain recommendations were not implemented, and reports requested were not received by the Committee. ‘Is the Committee like a dog that can only bark, but not bite?’ she argued. The Department must be spoken to sternly by the Committee. She demanded that time frames must be introduced, and must be cast in stone.

Mr Lorimer asked how the Committee could proceed to overcome the apparent impasse in regard to implementation of its recommendations.

The Chairperson promised to speak to the responsible presiding officers of the Department.

Service delivery issue
The Chairperson promised to talk to the Minister and the Director-General about time frames, and would determine who were responsible for the responses awaited by the Committee.

The Chairperson also requested that the meeting of Committees to discuss transversal matters should proceed on 28 June 2011.

Finance issue
The Committee noted that the elimination of inter-governmental debt was still a priority.

Regarding improvement of billing systems, SALGA and the Department must provide a report to the next Committee meeting.

Skills development and capacity issue
The Committee agreed on the need that the Department of Higher Education and Training and the relevant Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) should proceed with discussions on this matter.

The Chairperson said that it was important that all must understand the same vision and way forward.

Communications issue
Ms Nelson asked how these recommendations would be enforced.

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee indeed possessed a lawful right and duty to monitor whether legislation was implemented, and to assist/guide Government entities towards remedial action where delivery problems occurred – but the Committee could not enforce its recommendations directly.

Parliamentary oversight issue
The Chairperson indicated that it was intended that the Committee formally meet with the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in order to strengthen oversight functions, and to discuss post-election oversight strategies.

Conclusion
The Committee must still be presented with a ‘State of Cities’ presentation. The Committee Secretary must proceed to invite the relevant authors/parties. The Chairperson requested that other Committees and Members of Parliament (MPs) should be invited too, because this report was important and ‘internationally prestigious’.

The meeting was adjourned.

Present

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