SONA implications for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs: Minister's briefing

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

20 February 2012
Chairperson: Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC)(Acting)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs presented to the Portfolio Committee on the impact of the State of the Nation Address to his Ministry and the Ministry’s response. The Minister pointed out that the triple challenges that the President referred to in the Address were best reflected at local level. The Ministry’s mandate would be to deal with poverty, unemployment and inequality. He also highlighted the development of infrastructure in municipalities as a huge step toward addressing the challenges reflected in the Address. Municipalities would also be encouraged to use indigent policies to reduce the impact of electricity costs on poor families. The fight against corruption remained at the top of the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs agenda.

Members asked on the progress of job creation in the Ministry and also the impact of outsourcing services to the private sector. The anarchy and destruction of property during service delivery protests were also raised. Members also raised concerns about the politicisation of the traditional leadership structure. The Minister was also quizzed on the issue of corruption within municipalities.  Members also asked questions on the Khoisan population and how the Ministry was dealing with the problem of the scarce skills shortage.

Meeting report

The Hon. Richard Baloyi, Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), said that the mandate of CoGTA was to create an environment for the reduction of unemployment, eradication of inequality and poverty.  The Community Works Programme would be used to reduce unemployment and poverty with the creation of over 250 000 jobs expected by 2014. The Ministry was currently engaging the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to finalise the new Traditional Courts Bill (original 2008 bill withdrawn). The Khoisan would be integrated into the mainstream traditional governance mainstream by the promulgation of the National Traditional Affairs Bill. The Bill should reach Parliament by July 2012.

The establishment of the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) to address infrastructure development in municipalities was at an advanced stage. In addition to this, the infrastructure development programmes would be included in the Integrated Development Plans of municipalities and this would to a large extent reduce poverty and unemployment.  The Ministry was supporting the Department of Energy in terms of solar energy power supplies.  CoGTA would also be conducting assessment on provision of basic services to schools for example on electricity, water, sanitation and refuse removal this coming financial year.  In terms of intervention, two municipalities were still under Section 139 intervention (Section 139 of the Constitution dealt with Provincial government intervention in the local municipalities): these were namely Indaka (extended till July 2012) and Okhahlamba (extended until March 2012); both municipalities were based in KwaZulu–Natal. The fight against corruption remained at the apex of CoGTA’s agenda. The Ministry was currently reviewing its anti-corruption campaign by providing support to municipalities and facilitating optimum use of other role players in a coordinated manner.

Discussion
The Chairperson welcomed the presentation and asked for questions from Committee Members.

Mr J Matshoba (ANC) asked how far the Department had gone in creation of jobs. He noted that the out sourcing of services by some municipalities was not helping in the creation of employment.

Mr G Boinamo (DA) pointed out that infrastructure development was at the heart of the President’s address. He was however worried by the anarchy displayed during service delivery protests in which public infrastructures were destroyed and people seemed to get away with this, which in turn undermined Government’s programmes. He asked the Minister if any Bill would be introduced to deal with such situations and pointed out that strikes should not be violent.

Ms M Segale–Diswai (ANC) thanked the Minister for the presentation. She pointed out that the fight against corruption was mentioned time and time again and there was no progress in this regard. She gave an example of the trial under way in Rustenburg where a whistle-blower was murdered for passing information to the former Minister Sicelo Shiceka. A well defined plan was accordingly required to fight the problem of corruption.

Mrs I Ditshetelo (UCDP) commented on the appointment of community workers and highlighted that most people did not see the advertisements for these positions. She asked if the Ministry was looking into appointing permanent workers instead of temporary community workers.  She expressed dismay at some traditional leaders who were not tolerant to other political views. Corruption in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was highlighted and she hoped that the support the Ministry would give to that Department would go a long way in assisting it. She promised to congratulate the Minister if at least 30% of his presentation would be fulfilled and pointed out that this would translate to national development.

Ms W Nelson (ANC) wanted to know how CoGTA was going to encourage good intergovernmental relations mainly between different municipalities. The relationship between CoGTA and the Public Service Sector Education and Training Authority (PSETA) was also queried in light of the shortage of critical skills in local municipalities. She also requested a list of the municipalities in which the MISA programme would be introduced.

Mr T Bonhomme (ANC) asked how CoGTA would deal with the duplication and overlapping of functions between the various spheres of Government.

Mr Matshoba (ANC) also reiterated the issue of protesters damaging infrastructure and pointed out that Government needed to deal with the situation. He asked why municipalities did not buy construction equipment on their own instead of issuing up tenders which opened up a lot of room for corruption.

The Chairperson asked the difference between the functions of MISA and the Siyenza Manje initiative.  She also asked on the progress integration of Khoisan into the governance mainstream.

The Minister noted that the fight of corruption in the supply chain was well covered by the National Treasury, by Chapter 9 institutions, and a plethora of anti-corruption units, and thus CoGTA did not intervene. Through the use of technology it would be able to monitor corrupt activities that might be transpiring in the Department. Ethics Officers would also work at local municipality level to enhance good corporate governance and stop corrupt activities. He said that the issue of corruption would be dealt with as business unusual and more would be done. The Protected Disclosures Act (No. 26 of 2000) was there to protect whistle-blowers. He noted that the fight against corruption meant that some difficult questions needed to be asked and that transparency would be the Ministry’s hallmark. The Minister would look at the creation of a anti-corruption manual.

The Community Works Programme was created as mitigation for the impact of poverty.  He pointed that it was more of a relief mechanism to deal with the short term problems and was therefore not a way of providing permanent employment.  The question of anarchy during the strikes needs to be addressed. He pointed out that community awareness was critical to achieve this. The relevant legislative provisions that dealt with vandalism during strikes were there; the only problem was enforcement of these existing laws. A communication line would be opened in the Department to deal with various problems of service delivery.

The Community Works Programme recruits were employed by lead agencies appointed within the provinces and the officials were not involved; the Minister would look into this if shortcomings arose.  The traditional leadership institutions were being transformed and there were over 7 399 headmen in the country; in some areas their functions differed. Some politicians wanted to create a union approach to the question of traditional leaders; this had a negative impact and tended to politicise their functions.

The 30% target raised by Ms Ditshetelo was a good aim and CoGTA would strive to achieve this. The principles enshrined in Chapter 3 of the Constitution dealt with the issue of intergovernmental relations and CoGTA came to the centre of all of this. Enabling legislation also facilitated the constitutional principles and these were the tools used in order to build good intergovernmental relations. The Minister pointed out that the duplication of functions would not happen if people understood their mandates.

The difference between MISA and Siyenza Manje was that the latter was a programme involving National Treasury and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, while the former was a governmental agency.

Professor Charles Nwaila, Director-General, Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA),  pointed out that there were five categories of the Khoisan spread through out the country.  The traditional leadership of the Khoisan was appointed and was not based on a hereditary system. The Khoisan did not have land because of their displacement. Through the consolidation of the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act (No. 41 of 2003)  and National House of Traditional Leaders Act (No. 22 of 2009) by way of the National Traditional Affairs Bill, land was no longer required as a qualification for chieftainship. The Khoisan were mostly concentrated in Western Cape and Northern Cape.

Ms Nelson asked if the different categories of the Khoisan had different traditional leaders.

Mr Bonhomme asked on the intermarriage and how that has affected the existence of the Khoisan and what measures would be out in place to deal with this issue.

The Director-General pointed out that squabbles over who were the correct leaders existed but when the Bill was finalised an advisory structure would be set up to look at the historical aspects of each group. The services of anthropologists, technologists and historians would assist on inter-marriages.

Mr Boinamo said that the issue of inter-marriages did not affect the traditional lineage structure.

Mr Matshoba asked a question on entities.

Ms Nelson wanted to know who would employ Ethics Officers.

The Minister alluded to the fact that state entities were critical and that their operations needed to be integrated. The Office of the President was reviewing some of their operations. A dual reporting arrangement has been organised for Ethics Officers with their accountability linked directly to the CoGTA.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister for the presentation and adjourned the meeting.

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