SALGA received an unqualified audit report. The report also determined that it had achieved 86% of its key performance indicators for 2010/11. SALGA had conducted a Disaster Risk Management Assessment and developed a Guide on Disaster Risk Management for Local Government about which members asked a number of questions. Members also asked questions about the Collective Agreement on disciplinary procedures and regulations for section 57 employees. The Chairperson asked questions on the incorporation of environmental issues in SALGA’s work with municipalities. A number of questions were asked about the municipal management of water resources and the worsening situation of water supply within municipalities. Budgetary constraints were a major issue faced by SALGA and it was as a result of this that SALGA was operating at only 68% of capacity. It said that only R43 million of the R96 million required was provided for.
Members were concerned about factors that obstructed the setting up and creation of new small businesses. SALGA was asked if the imposition of a new business tax on local business was preventing people from setting up small business and causing existing businesses to shut down. If this was the case then the local business tax should be reconsidered at it was costing the country jobs. Members asked to what extent SALGA had engaged with the New Economic Growth Path and if the dramatic increase in municipal staff salaries over the last three years could be sustained or if the salaries would come into line with inflation.
The Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Commission (CRL Commission) presented its 2010/11 Annual Report. Twenty-nine cases had been referred to the Commission during that year, 22 of which had been investigated / mediated and resolved and seven of which were outstanding. The Commission received an unqualified Audit Report with Emphasis of Matters for: irregular expenditure; fruitless and wasteful expenditure; going concern under-funding; non compliance to legal requirements; lack of predetermined objectives and lack of internal controls. Committee members asked for more details on cases that had been dealt with by the Commission including the practice of Ukuthwala, the rights of people to slaughter animals and the request to have Northern Ndebele declared a 13th official language.
Members asked questions about the Commission’s visibility. To what extent was the general public aware of the Commission’s work and its role? To what extent did the Commission engage with debates in the media on cultural and traditional practices such as Ukuthwala and circumcision? How did the Commission manage its relationship with other commissions such as the Commission for Gender Equality, especially in instances where the two commissions might have conflicting viewpoints? What work did the Commission do to ensure that diminishing languages, cultures and traditions were protected and preserved?
South African Local Government Association (SALGA) briefing on its 2010/11 Annual Report
Mr Thabo Manyone, Chairperson of SALGA, made some opening remarks stating that everyone needed to be aware of the current economic climate. SALGA was striving to create a balance between infrastructure development and maintaining jobs that had been created. SALGA had previously raised its concern with the fiscal framework for municipalities. In particular, municipal funding relied on data sourced from Statistics South Africa. The frequency of data collection by StatsSA was questioned as the data was often very outdated, not reflecting actual statistics. StatsSA needed to collate and update data to assist municipalities with better funding management. This would have financial consequences for StatsSA but it was necessary for improving government systems.
Mr Manyone stated that rural municipalities were unable to retain professional skills, particularly engineering skills. Engineers should be assigned to specific districts to assist municipalities.
Mr George Xolile, Chief Executive Officer of SALGA presented SALGA’s Annual Report for 2010/11. SALGA had grown to become the single recognised voice of local government in
SALGA’s unqualified Audit Report included an audit of its performance against its predetermined objectives. SALGA achieved 86% of its key performance indicators (KPIs) in the last quarter of the 2010/11 financial year. Internal oversight structures ensured consistent vigilance on particular areas and complemented the leadership and oversight of the National Executive Committee (NEC).
SALGA had conducted a Disaster Risk Management Assessment and developed a Guide on Disaster Risk Management for Local Government. This had been piloted in the
SALGA had facilitated Collective Agreement on the disciplinary procedures for Section 57 employees which would result in improved regulation of employee disciplinary procedures and in more disciplined and productive employees.
Awareness of climate change had been promoted and municipalities had been encouraged to factor climate change issues into their plans.
Budgetary constraints were a major issue facing SALGA. The funding required by SALGA for various programmes was R96 million but only R43 million was currently available. The organisation was therefore operating at 68% capacity against the approved organogram of 470 personnel.
Ms M Wenger (DA) asked SALGA for an extra slide after slide three showing the corresponding number of councillors linked to the consolidation of 843 municipalities pre 1994-1996 into the current 278 municipalities. What was the trend with the number of councillors linked to the consolidation of local government and organised local government? This was relevant as it would reflect developments taking place on the ground.
Mr Xolile replied that it would provide the Committee with this information.
The Chairperson said that the report needed to be made more accessible to ward councillors. Trends and information should also be presented in a fashion that was more accessible to all people and that more clearly communicated SALGA’s message.
Mr Xolile replied that it would take this suggestion on board.
Ms Wenger asked why the
Mr Xolile replied that SALGA had wanted to extend its pilot to another province but that it had relied largely on the research capacity of the University of the
Mr Thabo Manyone, Chairperson of SALGA, added that the framework for local government’s response to disaster management needed to be reconsidered as the current framework hindered local government from responding timeously to disasters.
Ms Wenger said that, with regard to business licences, there were major problems with the availability of services from municipalities. Other players however also had a part to play in this including Eskom. The availability of electricity was a major problem in the municipalities. Eskom demanded an upfront payment from municipalities wishing increased electricity provision. The waiting list was then two years before services were provided while smaller municipalities that could not afford the upfront payment had to wait at the back of line. Negotiations needed to be entered into with Eskom to overcome this obstacle.
Mr Xolile replied that it would investigate to what extent Eskom was hindering the development of local businesses.
Mr Manyone acknowledged that setting up a business in this country took a very long time as our systems did not make the process easy.
Ms Wenger said that the issue of local business tax needed to be seriously reconsidered. Trends in the manufacturing industry showed a seven percent decrease in the last year. Were we going to “kill the goose that lays the golden egg” by imposing more and more taxes on business? There was a limit as to how much tax local business could afford.
Mr Manyone replied that it would be appropriate for SALGA to make a more detailed presentation to the Committee on local business tax. SALGA was not proposing that all businesses pay local business tax and that it was mindful that SMMEs were the main employers in the country. Local business tax should be seen as a contribution to improving the operating context of businesses. The gap between the highest earning businesses and small businesses was still growing and this needed to be addressed.
Mr M Lorimer (DA) asked if SALGA had done any studies to estimate the “opportunity costs” of the local business tax. How many businesses might not be started as a result of local business tax? Had SALGA estimated what businesses might go under as a result of the imposition of local business tax?
Mr Xolile replied that SALGA had not yet assessed the impact of the local business tax on businesses shutting down. It had looked at the impact of local business tax in
Mr Lorimer cautioned SALGA that, with regard to the local business tax, there was “no such thing as a free lunch” and that, in an environment in which we were struggling to find jobs for people, we should not be under the mistaken belief that a new tax on business would not cost us either jobs or opportunities for creating new jobs.
Mr Lorimer asked if SALGA was doing anything about the huge outstanding amounts that municipalities owed to the Water Boards.
Mr Xolile replied that SALGA had conducted assessments of the debt situation of municipalities owing money to the Water Boards and engaged with the Department of Water on this matter. The value chain of water supply was an extremely complex issue.
The Chairperson said that water crises were going to be a major issue for municipalities in the future. However, when raising the issue of “greening” the economy, SALGA did not refer to efforts to preserve water resources. SALGA had stated concern about water leakages but was concerned primarily about the financial implications of this opposed to the environmental impact. How could legitimate concerns about the misuse and abuse of water be linked to our generation’s responsibility to preserve the environment? If municipalities did not lead on dealing with environmental concerns, then others would not fall into line.
Ms Wenger stated that the situation of municipal water provision seemed to be worsening. What was the reason for this and what action plans were in place to overcome these difficulties?
Mr Xolile replied that SALGA would take the Chairperson’s advice on this seriously and would consider the management of natural resources.
Mr J Matshoba (ANC) asked if SALGA had managed to meet with the Department of Water Affairs.
Mr Manyone replied that SALGA had not met with the Department of Water Affairs but that it had identified areas where there was a need to build a number of dams. The
Mr Lorimer asked if it was possible for SALGA to measure its success in the area of local economic development, particularly regarding red tape reduction.
Mr Lorimer asked for SALGA to expand on the proposed model for the application of the EPWP.
Mr Chris Neethling, National Executive Committee:
Mr Lorimer said that the Committee had heard from National Treasury that there had been a dramatic increase in municipal staff salaries over the last three years. Would the new agreements see in similar levels of staff payment increases or would future payment increases be more in line with inflation?
Mr Xolile replied that three-year agreement for wage increases expired in 2012. Increases in wages over the last three years were approximately 13%, 8% and 6.08%. Local government had 278 000 employees. Management level employees constituted 3.4% of the entire wage bill for the sector over the three-year period. SALGA would be guided by the parameters of the country’s inflationary outlook and fiscal affordability going forward. It aimed to be in line with the provisions in Section 71 of the Municipal Systems Amendment Act.
Mr Lorimer asked if the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) regulations on fact-based competence levels of Section 57 employees had been developed yet.
Mr Xolile replied that section 57(7) made provision for municipalities to extend the provisions of section 56 and extend the five year contractual regime to managers reporting to the municipal manager. When this section was deleted, SALGA’s advice to municipalities was that they could choose to employ the section 56 managers on a permanent or a contractual basis. A meeting in September 2011 indicated that SALGA would need to take another look at section 56. Regulations that would give meat to the provisions and supervision of service for senior managers, in relation to remuneration, were still in the process of being drafted by the Department. A possible implication could be that managers hired on the basis of current vacancy advertisements may not comply fully with the regulations once they were finalised.
Mr Manyone added that SALGA had scheduled a meeting with the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to discuss section 56 and section 57. SALGA considered it imperative that these regulations were finalised soon so as to prevent a situation whereby municipal managers, without the right competencies, were employed.
The Chairperson responded that even if SALGA had met with the Minister about this “bad” legislation, the Minister would have difficulty persuading the Portfolio Committee to reverse it as a number of stakeholders had been consulted with when drafting the legislation. One factor that did persuade the Chairperson was SALGA’s high staff turnover rate. Research had shown that the most successful public sector organisations were those that managed to retain staff for the longest periods.
The Chairperson asked for SALGA to give the Committee a sense of what was happening with “Section 47 Reports” that were circulated to the provinces and then to Parliament as these annual performance reports were supposed to be an indication of the performance of municipalities.
Mr Johan Mettler, Executive Director of SALGA, replied that SALGA did not engage with these reports and that this was probably an oversight on its part.
The Chairperson was not clear on SALGA’s role in raising awareness on the implications of the Municipal Systems Amendment Act. Was this included in the councillor induction programme?
Mr Mettler replied that SALGA had sent out a circular setting out the broad implications of the Municipal Systems Amendment Act. Subsequent to this, SALGA had engaged with COGTA on how to implement section 71 of the Act.
The Chairperson said that one of the purposes of the Annual Report was for SALGA to report on its negotiations with National Treasury and COGTA around the funding of SALGA. What issues had been raised in these discussions? The presentation indicated that SALGA wanted the organised local government framework to be reviewed but it should have been more specific about what it meant by “review”. Should the legislation be improved? Did SALGA have any ideas on how the legislation could be improved?
Mr Mettler replied that SALGA would want the Act to be clear that it was organised local government that had the majority of municipalities as its members. Currently, the national organisation was recognised by the majority of provincial associations. There was also an issue with full-time councillors at the helm of SALGA. Leadership complained that they spent more time in
The Chairperson said it worried him that when SALGA spoke about LED, it did not also speak about the New Growth Path. Was this because SALGA did not see the linkages between the two? Some elements of the New Growth Path were crucial to dealing with problems affecting municipalities, such as the procurement of local produce. Such issues were major in that there were no indicators within the New Growth Path of the role played by cities considering their contribution of 60% to Growth Domestic Product.
Mr Xolile replied that area shaping SALGA’s approach was not only the LED path but linking it to how municipalities responded to the imperative of job creation. EPWP and LED interventions were aligned with the thinking that one must respond to the New Growth Path. This was not detailed in the current report but, moving forward, one of the pillars of SALGA’s work would be to have municipalities responding to the New Growth Path.
The Chairperson said that the appropriate use of information communication technologies (ICTs) in municipalities could have huge administrative advantages. Was anything being done to bring about wider use of ICTs in municipalities in a way that did not result in job losses?
Mr Xolile replied that an ICT summit had been convened in Boksburg on 24 August 2011 and looked at various ICT role players and all municipalities. SALGA had developed a detailed ICT strategy which sought ways of integrating a whole range of ICT-enabling infrastructure. SALGA had done detailed work on this which it could not include in report because of time constraints.
The Chairperson asked if SALGA could explain in specific terms what it was about the fiscal framework that worried SALGA. What three changes would SALGA like to make to the current fiscal framework?
Mr Xolile replied that the fiscal framework needed to respond to and cater for differentiated categories of municipalities. The current funding framework responded on the basis of an “umbrella funding” arrangement for municipalities. Municipalities must get their “equitable share” of national revenue. Secondly, a comprehensive review of local government equitable share should incorporate all the principles that shaped the model – institutional, economic, development, financial. In 2008/9, the review focused mainly on the institutional principle only. Certain factors such as the migration of people to and from municipalities in any given year needed to be taken into account too. There was also a need to overhaul the base-line system of funding allocation which was based on incorrect assumptions about how much funding municipalities could raise on their own. The funding level of 7% equitable share needed to be improved. A third issue was the recognition of the institutional autonomy of local government. SALGA now had a legal instrument that recognised local government as being able to raise other forms revenue. Government should assist SALGA to respond to this opportunity. Fourthly, there was room to reform the scope of the grants system to ensure that it could be managed more effectively.
The Chairperson said that in dealing with gender, SALGA had touched only on the narrow issue of the representation of women and had not mentioned broader issues such as the impact of work done by municipalities on women.
Mr Xolile replied that the National Local Government Women’s Commission had been established as an institutional response to ensure that broad gender challenges, apart from representation of women, were integrated into SALGA’s work. A lot of work on gender issues, beyond the issue of representation, was being conducted by SALGA.
Ms Wenger asked why SALGA relied on ten year old statistics from Stats SA when municipalities produced monthly reports and were themselves best equipped to provide such information. Could municipalities not use its reports to update statistics on a quarterly basis so that funding was more aligned with what was happening in municipalities?
The Chairperson recommended that Stats SA, SALGA, COGTA and others meet to consider this issue and put into place an accredited information collecting system.
Mr Seana Nkhahle, SALGA Acting Executive Director: Strategy, Policy and Research, replied that SALGA had engaged extensively with Stats SA on this matter. Stats SA had addressed SALGA’s recent provincial conferences and a municipal managers meeting held in
Ms Wenger said that this issue was linked to the grading of municipalities. There was still a huge discrepancy between rural and metro councils, yet she was yet to find out what extra work the metro councils did compared to rural councils. Rural councils actually incurred higher travel and other costs in carrying out its work. When would this huge discrepancy be considered?
Mr Lorimer noted that SALGA was operating at 68% capacity and asked what was not being done as a result of the 32% shortfall.
Mr Xolile replied that in 2007 when SALGA was reforming its institutional capacity, it had operated at 55% capacity and was unable to fulfill its core mandate. There had been an imbalance between the desired ratio of technical to administrative staff which had been corrected over the last three years. Funding was a major constraint and had prevented SALGA from operating at full capacity. The impact was felt in the provinces. For example, in the
The Chairperson said that SALGA should initiate campaigns for the development of electricity, water and other infrastructure as this would lend itself to job creation.
Commission for Promotion and Protection of Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Annual Report 2010/11
Adv Solomon Moreroa, Chief Executive Officer of the CRL Commission, said the Commission’s strategic objectives was the investigation of complaints and facilitation of conflict resolution. Twenty-nine cases were referred to the Commission in the 2010/11 financial year. Twenty-two cases of these were investigated/mediated and resolved and seven were outstanding. Fifteen cases would be carried over into the next year. Adv Moreroa listed the cases solved which fell under the heading of either cultural, religious or language. One of the language cases being dealt with was a request for the recognition of Northern Ndebele as a 13th official language. A number of seminars, workshops and dialogues held on matters such as the practice of Ukuthwala, the right to brew an African beer and witchcraft killings were listed as other achievements. Cultural and Linguistic Community Councils were launched in Balobedu, Mabunda,
The Chairperson asked for more detail on the Commission’s failures to implement proper risk management controls, including IT controls, and to ensure an adequately resourced and functioning internal audit committee.
Adv Moreroa replied that when he joined the Commission there were a lot of things that needed to be changed. One of these related to governance. He recently presented to plenary that the company that had been tasked with rendering IT services to the Commission had not kept up with its work and failed to do its job. The Commission needed someone who could handle its IT issues. The audit committee had presented similar problems. Both of these problems were being resolved.
Ms MJ Segale-Diswai (ANC) asked to where the “referral” cases on slide 12 were referred.
Adv Moreroa replied that the referral cases were cases brought to the Commission but that did not fall within its mandate and had to be referred to other commissions.
Ms Segale-Diswai asked how the Commission interacted with the people “on the ground”. How did the Commission advertise itself and make itself known to the community?
Adv Moreroa replied that the Commission had made a breakthrough in its visibility on the ground. When the Commission visited Mpumulanga for example, it collected thirty cases in one day. The more the Commission went out to the people, the better its visibility would be. This required local offices which required resources. The Commission now had a website but needed to have a physical presence in the rural areas.
Rev Wesley Mabuza, Chairperson of the CRL Commission, added that visibility was a concern for the Commission and asked if it should send out advertisements to increase its visibility. A lot of people were interested in the Commission but the Commission did not always have the financial resources to respond to complaints, especially in cases originating in rural areas where there was less visibility.
Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) said that there had been a number of advertisements in the media and on the radio “attacking” their culture, yet he had not seen the Commission leading or participating in such debates. This included the debates on Ukuthwala and circumcision.
Adv Moreroa replied that the Commission had engaged with the media on 42 occasions between January and March 2011. The Commission had tried to engage all issues arising in the media that related directly to its mandate. Adv Moreroa had appointed a communication and marketing committee whose work was to deal with these issues. Whenever media issues arose that were of direct interest to the Commission, this committee would notify Adv Moreroa and there would be an intervention. The information on this was captured on the Commission’s website.
Nkosi Mandela asked what the Commission did in instances that traditional leaders, as custodians of their traditions and cultures, came under attack from the media. Was the CRL Commission joining forces with other commissions in defending cultural and traditional practices?
Nkosi Mandela said his understanding was that Ukuthwala was practised mostly in the
Adv Moreroa replied that this issue was one of resources which determined how far the committee could go. The aim of this particular Ukuthwala conference was to get information from experts in order to understand the issue of Ukuthwala and to make a presentation to Parliament on it. The seminar had helped to clarify the Commission’s position on Ukuthwala which was important.
Nkosi Mandela responded that the cultural aspects of Ukuthwala was often lost in discussions around Ukuthwala in which the violations usually took centre stage.
Rev Mabuza responded that where there was a clash between tradition and the Constitution, the Constitution prevailed.
Nkosi Mandela asked what the role of the Commission was in preserving
Adv Moreroa replied that the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) was tasked to deal with matters of traditional leaders. The Commission’s mandate in this matter was to protect the rights of communities to engage in traditional and cultural practices. It did not want to step on the toes of the National House.
Nkosi Mandela asked if the Commission’s four offices placed around the country engaged and worked with national and provincial houses of traditional leaders as this would give them access to the 84 traditional councils in the country and enable the Commission to extend its reach.
Rev Mabuza replied that the Commission was supposed to have a meeting with traditional leaders and that it was clear that it needed to meet with the NHTL. It would also like to engage with the chiefs. This engagement was important to ensure that culture was dynamic.
Nkosi Mandela asked for an understanding on the issue of “graves”? In his own village there was an individual and a family who was going against the wishes of the community in his preference for the relocation of graves. Whose wishes would take preference in this issue?
Adv Moreroa replied that the Commission had to follow its interpretation of the Constitution and balance the rights of the individual against the rights of the community. The rights of the community would take precedence as the Commission could not be seen to be violating the rights of an entire community. One case that had arisen was an instance in which a gentleman had insisted that it was his right to beat his drum as part of his cultural practice. The community however had complained about the noise. In this case the community’s rights superseded the gentleman’s rights.
Mr Matshoba asked where in the
Adv Moreroa replied that the two areas were Zwide in
Mr Matshoba asked for clarity on the different languages spoken by the Ndebele tribe that had led to the request for Northern Ndebele to be declared a 13th language.
Adv Moreroa replied that a complaint had been received by a group of people who spoke an Ndebele that was different to the Ndebele spoken in
The Chairperson said that if the government were to grant the Northern Ndebele people its request, it would have to do the same for other language groups that also had splinter versions of their languages. This would not be appropriate, especially in the context in which government was trying to preserve languages.
The Chairperson pointed out that no one had made mention of the Pan South African Language Board. What was the state of health of this entity? Had a merger of the Pan SA Language Board and the CRL Commission ever been considered?
Mr Mandela said that the Khoisan people spoke a very unique language that was under the threat of becoming extinct. What was the Commission doing to preserve this language and other languages that were not official languages?
Adv Moreroa replied that the Commission had requested its researchers to investigate diminishing indigenous knowledge systems. A number of processes were taking place around this matter including a debate on a bill put forward by COGTA.
Rev Mabuza said that the Commission aimed to motivate people, particularly parents, to play a role in encouraging their own children and families to speak and preserve their indigenous languages.
Mr Matshoba asked what was meant by the “Launch of African Ritual Animal Slaughter” on slide 15.
Adv Moreroa replied that African people had complained that they were not allowed to slaughter animals in urban areas as by-laws prohibited them from doing so. The Commission researched this issue and produced a report which advised that it was the constitutional right of individuals to slaughter animals as part of their traditional practice and that it should be allowed, as long as neighbours were given notice that a slaughter would be taking place.
Rev Mabuza added that there were a lot of traditional African healers that experienced friction with their municipalities and complained that municipalities were not sensitive enough to their practices.
Rev Mabuza said the Commission had requested a meeting with the Acting Minister of COGTA to discuss a number of its concerns and would incorporate the issues raised by the Committee.
The Chairperson said that reports on the annual performance of the Commission needed to include the Commission plans for the future and therefore, its performance. Plans for the Commission did not need to operate at the pace of a “village cow”. There was a way of fast-tracking the development of the Commission. It was not acceptable or appropriate that the Commission had to constantly haggle for funding. The Portfolio Committee would assist in moving things along.
The meeting was adjourned.
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