SALGA briefing on Organised Local Government Act, Full time Councillors, Councillors Induction Programme and Revenue Enhancement

This premium content has been made freely available

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

20 June 2011
Chairperson: Mr L Tsenoli (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The South African Local Government Association briefed the Committee on its review of the Organised Local Government Act. The review arose from its last two national assemblies in 2009 and 2010. It also briefed the Committee on the new Councillor Induction Programme and a proposal for a new funding model to enhance its revenue. Its amendment proposals to enhance the Association were aimed at making it a unitary organisation representing the majority of local municipalities. To fulfil its mandate effectively in legislative and Inter Governmental Relations processes, it needed to act as a collective in forums such as the National Council of Provinces, the Financial and Fiscal Commission,  Ministers and Members of Executive Councils, provincial Inter-Governmental Relations  bodies and presidential councils but did not have the human or financial resources to do this effectively. It felt it necessary that the Association have a full time political leadership of ten councillors. It felt that if these proposals were not accepted the Association would otherwise continue to struggle to implement its mandate adequately and effectively.

Councillor Induction Programme
In 2011 there was a 50% turnover of elected councillors. The programme was designed to induct new councillors on their leadership role, legislation, municipal processes and developmental local government and service delivery within the context of local service delivery challenges. The implementation of the programme would be through provincial structures. The national launch would be in Gauteng on 23 June 2011 and the programme would be monitored and an impact assessment done afterwards to evaluate the programme. The induction programme lasted five days and was followed by specific portfolio training in a modular format over four to six months.

Revenue Enhancement
The Association was proposing a new funding model. The fundamental weakness of the Organised Local Government Act as it stood was the non identification of how the mandate of organised local government would be resourced. Currently members chose whether to contribute or not. The Association on the other hand, whether its members paid or not, was obliged to execute its obligations. Member fees currently were 0.5% of salary and allowance budget of local municipalities and 0.6% for district municipalities while metropolitan municipalities had a flat rate of R8.5 million. The Association currently received a Government grant through the Department of Cooperative Governance.

The Association had identified activities it provided into two groups, one for its members, namely, internal governance issues and services (research, advocacy and direct municipal support). The other was to Government, namely, participation in mandatory Inter-Governmental Relations structures, undertaking legislative duties, and supporting transformation.  It assessed its governance activities to total R36 million. It felt it inappropriate to approach donors or funders to provide for its governance costs. Government should fund the legislative obligations placed on the body (R6 million out of the R36 million) while members needed to pay for the legislative costs. 

The Association needed to influence the forums it operated in. The estimated total costs to have ten full time officials attend various governance structures was R51.8 million. The total Government grant the Association was looking for was R102 million, an increase of R80 million and five times its current grant of R22 million.

Members asked what the criteria for selection of the 72 trainers were and how did the Association arrive at that number. What were the tools of trade - were they laptops? It had been agreed at a previous meeting that the Committee would have a look at the manual before it was published but that had not occurred. What percentage of income came from the Department of Cooperative Governance, from municipalities, from donors? What happened when municipalities could not or would not pay their fees? Who identified the 50/50 mix of officials? Would councils release the identified officials? Were the ten councillors that the Association wanted representative of the provinces? If so, whom did the tenth councillor represent? Who would check that the councillors were elected officials and not appointed officials? How would the impact of the Councillor Induction Programme be measured? Why was there a need for a national launch? What would the cost be?  Had thought been given to a quota system for councillors? What were the legal implications of having full time councillors? Had they made submissions to the constitutional review commission? What was the role of the other sectors and, the traditional leaders? What role did the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authorities play in the training?  What was the usefulness of the university training and how relevant it was? It had been agreed that the KwaZulu-Natal Local Government Association would return to the Association's fold in 2011, what was the situation? Could the Association provide valid arguments for financial support?  What were the legal arguments for the amendments? What attention was being given to train councillors in developing and maintaining relationships for effective work to be done?

Meeting report

South African Local Government Association. Briefing
Mr Clarence Johnson, South African Local Government Association (SALGA, the Association), National Executive Council member, apologised for the absence of the SALGA  Chairperson, Mr Amos Masondo.

Mr Xolile George, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), SALGA, briefed the Committee on the Association’s review of the Organised Local Government Act (OLGA). He said the Association played a key role in organised government. The Association was established as an organisation of municipalities. The Association‘s role of organised local government was to represent their interests and the Association would make proposals to enhance this facet. He also briefed the Committee on the Councillor Induction Programme (CIP) and a proposal for a new funding model to enhance revenue.

Review of OLGA
To fulfil its mandate in legislative and Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR) processes, the Association needed to act as a collective in participatory fora such as the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), the Finance and Fiscal Commission (FFC), Ministers and Members of the Executive Councils (MinMECs), provincial IGR bodies and presidential councils. However it did not have the human of financial resources to do this effectively. It had assesses that its present challenges would be improved through amending the OLGA to make the structure of local government a unitary one and thus be able to act as a collective and to have full time political leadership in the Association. Currently the leadership, because it was drawn from local structures focussed on local interests. The Association's agenda was currently of secondary importance.  Should full time leadership be effected, it would add value in all Government forums and provide visible leadership to the body. These proposals had emerged from the National Members Assembly in East London in 2009 and in Kimberley in 2010. This year’s national assembly was planned for September 2011 in KwaZulu-Natal. The recommendations were thus that:


1. OLGA be amended to reflect the unitary nature of SALGA and be representative of the majority of municipalities. This would not affect the status of provincial associations for provincial engagement.
2. SALGA be adequately resourced both with human and financial resources.
3. Ten full time councillors to represent local government in all Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR) structures. The deployment of full time experienced political leadership could possibly be in the form of a national working committee.
4. Failure not to implement the proposals would otherwise lead to a continued struggle to implement its mandate adequately or effectively.

Councillor Induction Programme (CIP)
The programme was designed to induct new councillors on their leadership role, legislation, municipal processes developmental local government and service delivery. A technical committee was established to prepare and roll out the training. The programme was developed within the context of local service delivery challenges. In 2011 there was a 50% turnover of elected councillors. Ultimately all councillors (9 088) would participate. The programme was designed to focus on the systems and structures of local government. The trainers and implementers would be a 50/50 mix of councillors and senior officials so as not to be merely academic but to include the practical experience and feedback of experienced officials and councillors. 172 trainers had been trained and 82 venues had been secured.  The implementation of the programme would be through provincial structures. The national launch would be in Gauteng on 23 June 2011. An Induction Manual had been printed and the CIP would be monitored and an impact assessment done afterwards to evaluate the programme. The programme would also be a means to collect data and the skills profile of councillors to assist in the development of later programs. The induction programme lasted five days and was followed by specific portfolio training in a modular format over four to six months. On the last day of the programme time had been set aside for political parties to have the opportunity to meet with their councillors for their own induction programme. The ratio of trainers to participants was approximately 1:60. (See attached document for proposed induction dates for the various provinces)

Revenue Enhancement
SALGA was proposing a new funding model. The fundamental weakness of OLGA as it stood was the non- identification of how the mandate of organised local government would be resourced. Currently members chose to contribute or not. Sometimes they pleaded poverty or argued for a reduction and threatened not to pay anything if the reduction was not given. Some claimed that the body did not represent them yet SALGA, whether they paid or not was obliged to execute its obligations. Member fees currently were 0.5% of salary and allowance budget of local municipalities and 0.6% for district municipalities while metropolitan municipalities had a flat rate of R8.5 million. It currently received a Government grant through the Department of Cooperative Governance (DoCG, the Department).

SALGA had broken down its various activities and identified activities it provided for its members, namely, internal governance issues and services (research, advocacy and direct municipal support). The second set of activities related to Government, namely, participation in mandatory IGR structures, undertaking legislative duties, and supporting transformation.  It assessed its governance activities to total R36 million. It felt it inappropriate to approach donors or funders to provide for its governance costs. Government should fund the legislative obligations placed on the body (R6 million out of the R36 million) while members needed to pay for the legislative costs. 

SALGA needed to influence the forums it operated in therefore needed to research and prepare better and thus required better resourcing. Researching and canvassing before presentations was costly. The estimated costs to have ten full time officials attend IGR structures was R16.2 million, to attend the NCOP was R15.4 million and other governance structures R20.2 million - a total of  R51.8 million.

To improve fee payment by members SALGA needed to provide tangible services to members, especially its advocacy role and its role in transforming local government. A challenge was to motivate for an increase in the member fees as local government decisions impacted on the sector as a whole and not on a particular individual municipality. To assist municipalities SALGA itself needed to have increased human resources capacity. SALGA should attempt to make a clear link between the fees it charged and the services it provided. Mr George said that in a financial year the money resources only reached SALGA in June/July which effectively crippled SALGA.

The total government grant SALGA was looking for was R102 million, an increase of R80 million and five times its current grant of R22 million.

Discussion
Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC) asked what the criteria for selection of the 72 trainers were and how did SALGA arrive at that number. What were the tools of trade - were they laptops? It had been agreed at a previous meeting with the Committee that the Committee would have a look at the manual before it was published but that had not occurred.

Mr George replied that there were 172 trainers not 72 and they were working on a ratio of one trainer for every 60 participants. The provinces were asked to give people who were available and eligible and for there to be a 50/50 balance between trainers and experienced councillors/office bearers. The tools of the trade mentioned in the presentation did not refer to laptops but rather to tools of analysis. The manual would be made available to all members of both committees.

Ms W Nelson (ANC) asked what percentage of income came from DoCG, from municipalities, from donors? What happened when municipalities could not or would not  pay their fees? She said that Executive Leadership Municipal Development Programme (ELMDP) qualifications attained at the University of Pretoria (UP) were only recognised by UP and not other universities. A large amount was spent on training; this should lead to proper certification.

Mr Johnson replied that if members did not pay, SALGA imposed its constitution and members had no say; their membership was suspended and they had no standing in bargaining councils. It had implications for SALGA which had to then shelve projects based on cash flow or do budget adjustments.

Mr George replied that the KwaZulu-Natal Local Government Association (KWANALOGA) would be fully integrated into SALGA by 2011 in line with the unitary model. All provinces would hold conferences in August in the run up to the September national conference. The DoCG grant ratio had two components; 11% from the fiscus and a voluntary levy from the municipality. SALGA had made a business case and municipalities would have to participate. If the funding model was agreed then the balance of the existing ratio would be affected. The universities were Fort Hare, University of the Western Cape (UWC) and UP. It had had engagement with the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LG SETA), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and DoCG. The SETA gave accreditation of the ELMDP which was certified as National Qualification Framework (NQF) 7. SALGA would follow up to see if it graduates could continue and do further studies and at which universities

Ms M Wenger (DA) asked if the KwaZulu-Natal Local Government Association (KWANALOGA) had a training programme in the province. Was there coordination with it? Who identified the 50/50 officials? Would councils release the identified officials? Were the ten councillors that SALGA wanted representative of the provinces? If so, whom did the tenth councillor represent? Who would check that the councillors were elected officials and not appointed officials?
 
Mr George replied that KWANALOGA would be fully integrated into SALGA by 2011 in line with the unitary model

Mr J Lorimer (DA) asked how the impact of CIP would be measured. Why was there a need for a national launch? What would the cost be? He asked for a budget breakdown of the meeting costs.

Mr George replied that the costs of meetings mentioned in slide 23 (see attached document) were not payments to members; the costs were only for the venue and food. The cost of the induction programme was R19 million per annum. The LG SETA had provided R14 million, the DBSA R2.3 million and the DoCG R300 000.

Mr Johnson replied that over 50% were new councillors which meant greater resources were needed for training. SALGA had invited all premiers and Members of the Executive Councils (MECs) to contribute to the CIP.

Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) asked if thought had been given to a quota system for councillors.

Mr George replied that he welcomed proposals as the continuous changing of new councillors remained a challenge.

Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) asked what the legal implications of having full time councillors were. Had SALGA made submissions to the constitutional review commission? What was the role of the other sectors, such as the traditional leaders - did they play a part in the CIP or not? What role did the Local Government SETA play in the training? He asked Mr George to explain the differences in the training programme of the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

Mr George replied that appointing  full time councillors would have legal implications which would require amendments to OLGA. Regarding traditional leaders' training he said that there was a Memorandum of Understanding and SALGA had had meetings with traditional leaders. On the role of the Local Government SETA he said SALGA was cooperating and the SETA had made a substantial contribution to the CIP. Half of the SALGA board was on the SETA board. The SETA was central in certifying the unit lessons.

The Chairperson asked what the usefulness of the university training was and how relevant it was. It had been agreed that KWANALOGA would return to the SALGA fold in 2011, what was the situation? What were the financial implications of SALGA’s obligations for SALGA? Could SALGA provide valid arguments for financial support by identifying the arguments against the proposals and then giving its responses to them? What were the legal arguments for the amendments? What attention was being given to train councillors in developing and maintaining relationships for effective work to be done?

Councillor Johnson replied that the review of the white paper on local government was a high priority and tried to bridge the divide of the three spheres of Government. The traditional leaders belonged to two houses and position papers were being developed. SALGA was concerned with building human resources. The training of new councillors was being done by councillors with training ability. SALGA wanted to empower councillors in their oversight role with the tools of performance management systems; similarly the political parties had a role to educate on compliance issues. Regarding SALGA’s non participation in IGR, he said that some of the directly elected councillors were mayors, causing a major challenge in respect of IGR. The question was how to bridge the gap of representation in IGR structures, how to ensure continuity in local government matters in governmental bodies when dealing with national level issues like security or basic services which were not discussed at local government level meetings.

Mr George replied that The launch of the CIP invitation was sent on 14 June 2011 to the Chairpersons of the Select and Portfolio Committees. On what had not worked, he said that lots of lobbying was required to promote local government’s interests. The leadership’s availability to do that was affected by inconsistent representation at meetings and SALGA therefore had a weaker voice to represent local government level issues. The Department had been engaged and SALGA had been assured of a pending meeting to assess the full implications of the funding. SALGA had also had a meeting with the Minister of Finance. None of those it had approached had said that there was no merit in the proposal.

The Department said that its contribution had in fact initially been R200 000 and was then increased to R300 000. It had not been budgeted for, so it had identified funds it could use from other projects.

Ms W Nelson said it was a crisis if the Department had not budgeted for councillor training, and asked how the deficit would be financed.

Mr George replied that the CIP had a deficit of R5 million. The launch for about 300 people cost R50 000. 

The meeting was adjourned.


Present

  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting
Share this page: