Responses to Portfolio Committee questions by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Briefing on the 2012 ENE budget allocation

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

19 March 2012
Chairperson: Ms Tsenoli L. (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

There were two separate presentations by the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), based on responses to questions from the Portfolio Committee (PC).


The first presentation covered areas like invasion of state owned land; the dysfunctionality of traditional authority in villages; a complementary relationship between traditional leaders and councillors; challenges around Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA) Annual Performance Plans; lack of adequate budgeting for DTA programmes; the issue of kings taking the Department to court, and the affirmation of scattered Khoisan communities.

In discussion, members focused on matters like the role of traditional leaders in providing basic services; the composition of traditional councils; and the relationship between traditional leaders and councils. An ANC member remarked that village chiefs did not recognise government. There was a question about the role of chiefs in allocating houses. The question of which kings were recognised, aroused interest. The Chairperson requested statistics about scattered Khoisan communities. An ANC member opined that it was not proper for National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) office bearers to be paid officials of the DTA.

The second presentation covered areas like Community Works Programme (CWP); underspending of Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIGs); open toilets at Moqhaka municipality; the exclusion of traditional affairs by cooperative governance; Independent Development Plans (IDPs); spatial integration; vacancies in municipalities; skills development for engineers; targets to tackle corruption; old order fire services legislation; decreases in funding for disaster, and climate change issues.

In discussion, there were questions about GOGTA underspending, and allocation of technical capacity to provinces. The role of COGTA in disaster management was interrogated intensively. The practice of students having to work in places of origin caused concern, as did the lack of opportunities for engineering students to get experience training. It was suggested that they be used by municipalities while gaining experience. Old order fire fighting legislation caused grave concern. The GOGTA response to climate change came up for criticism. There was a question about bursary schemes. There was concern about the inability of municipalities to spend Municipal Infrastructure Grants. The ability of COGTA to deal with disaster aftermath, was questioned. COGTA was asked to elaborate on the relationship between the CWP and the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The relationship between GOGTA and Human Settlement was interrogated. There was a question about water committees in villages. The reduction of funding for disasters was questioned.

The briefing on the COGTA 2012 National allocation took the PC through allocations according to the programmes of Administration; Policy research and knowledge management; Governance and IGR; National disaster mangement centre; Provincial and local government systems; Infrastructure and economic development, and the Department of Traditional Affairs.

In discussion, the Chairperson asked why COGTA and the DTA were still under one budget vote. She asked for more detailed financial statements so that the PC could trace where funds went to. She asked what amounts went to travel and accommodation. A member stressed the importance of quarterly budget reporting, so that fiscal dumping could be prevented. An ANC member complained that the briefing did not speak to her, as it was too highly pitched. The Chairperson asked for a breakdown of underspending. There had to be a better understanding of what was being done with money.

Meeting report

COGTA responses to questions raised by the Portfolio Committee on issues relating to the Department of Traditional Affairs and National House of Traditional Leaders ( DTA and NHTL)
Professor Charles Nwaila, Department of Traditional affairs Director General, took the Portfolio Committee (PC) through responses to their questions raised on 13 March. Concerning issues of invasion of state owned land, he said that the intervention of traditional leaders was compromised due to legislative constraints. He attended to questions about the dysfunctionality of traditional authorities/institutions in villages; efforts to ensure that traditonal leaders and councillors were complementing each other; The “cut and paste” quality of DTA Annual Performance Plans; the lack of adequate budgeting for DTA programmes; the issue of kings that have taken the Department to court; the affirmation of Khoisan communities scattered all over South Africa; and the fact that the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders were office bearers, and were included in the DTA as officials. Professor Nwaila stressed that COGTA was an established department, whereas the DTA was still growing. It had only become functional in January 2011.

Discussion

Ms W Nelson (ANC) asked about basic services for people in deep rural areas. There were bodies like water councils, but the question was what the role of chiefs were in that regard. There was extreme neglect and real suffering. There were houses which had been uncompleted since 2005, and houses that were collapsing. She asked what happened when a village got a number of houses, whether it was the council or the chief that was responsible for prioritisation.

Prof Nwaila responded that traditional leaders were not supposed to provide services, but to pass perceived needs on to councillors. There were a 100 traditional councils linked to municipalities. The Minister would be encouraged to visit One for All summits. All of them had to be combined to iron out all the issues. There was legislation, but on the ground participation was uneven. In some parts of the Eastern Cape there were initiatives to get involved with municipalities, and in some not. COGTA worked with provincial government. The roles of councillors and traditional leaders were articulated in legislation. It was the function of the council to allocate houses. Traditional leaders participated. Local houses participated in the councils.

Mr J Matshoba (ANC) referred to the fact that councils were made up of 60% of those of royal blood, and 40% from the community. He asked who had to be part of the 40%.

The Chairperson noted that intervention might be needed in that regard. An amendment had changed the 60% requirement. The King could select members.

Prof Nwaila responded that it was in the hands of the traditional leader to form a traditional council that made up the 60%. The 60% also had to include non-traditional members. Too many royal family members posed serious challenges. The matter indeed had to be investigated.

Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) asked about the implications of a wall to wall municipal dispensation.

Dr Wilson Makgalancheche, CEO of the National House of Traditional Leaders, replied that the challenge was to demarcate space in terms of traditional leaders. Municipalities, councillors and chiefs had to talk. The reality was that municipalities had to provide service in the meantime. There was guiding legislation in place, but in practice it was not adhered to across the board. It had to be established where legislation and regulations was not working.

Prof Nwaila added that the wall to wall dispensation was not to become another sphere that would belong to traditional leaders. There had to be a complementary work relation between councillors and traditional leaders. Traditional leaders would sometimes claim an area as their own and would not allow anyone in.

Mr Matshoba remarked that the village chiefs did not recognise the government. The councils were not organised. Chiefs declared that they were the government. They did not recognise people elected to the council.

Dr Makgalancheche replied that the the National authority had to intervene on the ground. There was a need for a summit of traditional leaders, councils and communities. Traditional leaders had to complement and support government. They even had to receive a budget. COGTA was a facilitating department, it had to promote cooperation between chiefs and municipalities.

The Chairperson asked when the strategic sessions on the cost of the budget referred to under question 2 on page 3, would take place.

Ms Nelson asked when the recommendations of the Commission would become known.

Prof Nwaila replied that it would be in August.

The Chairperson remarked that the response on the capacity building implementation plan was not satisfactory. It was stated that page 98 of the 2012/13 Annual Performance Plan mentioned that quarterly targets were to report on the capacity building plan. The Portfolio Committee (PC) wanted details on implementation of the plan.

Ms Nelson asked if the chief made land available for houses to be built on.

Prof Nwaila answered that land was managed through the CPA. Land was held in trust for traditional leaders. Land had to be used for development.

Prof Nwaila noted with regard to disputed kingship claims that King Damase was currently involved in litigation.

Mr Matshoba questioned the recognition of Of King Mpendulo Sigcau and King Ndamase.

Prof Nwaila responded that the information on page 7 was not faulty. There were deemed kings and recognised kings. The kings referred to were among recognised kings as of July 2010. The kingship of Venda had been recognised, but then there had been a court interdict to put the recognition aside. When a king died, the community became the principal.

The Chairperson asked if the information about King Damase was correct.

Prof Nwaila answered that he was indeed king. A certificate had been handed to him.

The Chairperson asked if certificates had been handed to all 8.

Prof Nwaila answered that certificates had been handed to all except those who had cases in court.

The Chairperson referred to the fact of Khoisan communities being scattered over South Africa, mentioned on page 8. She asked about problems with the recognition of the Khoisan, and the role of the NTAB. She asked for information about the number of Khoisan in each province.

The Chairperson asked about a time frame for the Ministerial Commission into the situation where the Chairperson and Deputy of the National House of Traditional Leaders were currently office bearers in the Department of Traditional Affairs.

Mr Matshoba remarked that Chairpersons were not supposed to be paid by the government.

Dr Makgalancheche replied that he took notice of that as a concern relayed by the PC, and that it would be looked into.

Consolidated responses to questions raised by the Portfolio Committee
Ms K Sebego, COO of COGTA, took the Portfolio Committee through responses to questions about the Community Works Programme (CWP). It was described as a definite intervention, part of phase 2 of the Expanded Public Works Project (EPWP), and intended to provide some stability of income. There were responses to questions on underspending of Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIGs); open toilets in the Moqhaka municipality; the exclusion of traditional affairs by cooperative governance; Independent Development Plans (IDPs); spatial integration; monitoring of vacancies in municipalities; professionalisation of local government; skills development with regard to engineers; measurable targets to tackle corruption; old order fire services legislation; decreased funding for disasters, and climate change issues.

Discussion
The Chairperson asked about the relationship between the Community Works Project (CWP) and the Expanded Public Works Project (EPWP).

Ms Sebego replied that there was a close relationship. CWP was a part of phase 2 of the EPWP. The two pillars of EPWP were training and skills development; and putting bread on the table. People could come out with a stipend and a skill. When someone was admitted to EPWP, money paid was calculated. CPW paid per day. Under EPWP a person was paid for work performed, even if it took less than a day. In some instances people had to work longer than a day, if that contributed to skill, as in bricklaying. Under CWP a person could be involved in a multitude of tasks. Groups were brought in under EPWP to do a specific task, like building the shoulder of a road. The EPWP paid more, but the CWP consistently provided 2 days work per week all year.

Ms Nelson asked how far the process was to improve norms and standards to prevent underspending. She asked when norms and standards would be presented.

Ms Sebego replied that a time frame would be supplied.

Ms Nelson asked about the allocation of technical capacity to provinces.

Ms Nelson asked with regard to open toilets in Moqhaka municipality, what the relationship between COGTA and Human Settlement was. Disaster management was in the hands of GOGTA, it had to assess and send reports to departments and sectors. She asked what the role of GOGTA was afterwards, with regard to reintegration.

Ms Sebego responded that COGTA did assessments and then involved other Departments. Concerning disaster she said that COGTA obtained money from Treasury. There was collective prioritisation. There were disaster backlogs in KZN, and interventions had been slow. The new Minister appointed a head of disaster management.

Ms Nelson asked about managers appointed in terms of Section 57. Some contracts had been extended. The Act was not in place.

Ms Sebego responded that it was possible to say who had replaced the 57 contract managers.

Ms Nelson asked about the requirement that students work in their place of origin for a period. She said that even medical students often did not want to return to their region. She asked how long the period was.

Ms Sebego responded that a person who had completed a 4 year degree, owed a rural municipality 4 years of work.

Ms Nelson remarked that there were engineering students in the universities of technology for whom no place could be found to do undergo experience learning. She had been struggling for four months to find a place for such a student. There were municipalities without engineers. She asked about the relationship between the universities, SITAS and municipalities. Students could be utilised under municipalities.

Ms Sebego replied that 66 municipalities had been singled out for interventions. Deployment was based on municipal backlogs. There was an incubation programme for young professionals. Engineering students were attached to professional engineers as interns. Reports were furnished about interns. The programme was intensive, and numbers were restricted because of the final exam. The content of the exam discriminated against those who had had insufficient schooling. It was being looked into. Those who could not manage academically, were deployed at artisan level. Incubation at that level was a challenge. There were efforts to get service providers who would train artisans for 3 years. The South African Railways used to do that.

Ms Nelson referred to the antiquated Fire Brigade Services Act of 1987. It caused fire fighting problems everywhere. She asked why everyone had to wait for its dismantlement to act. The new Act could run concurrently with it.

Ms Sebego responded that there was a need to go back to the Act.

Mr Matshoba complained that there were no oversight programmes over local government. He asked what was being done with money.

The Chairperson remarked that the same disasters had struck certain families repeatedly. People spent year after year under plastic. She asked about readiness to respond to climate change.

The Chairperson felt that with regard to the open toilets at Moqhaka, the Department was passing the buck. GOGTA had to take the lead with intergovernmental relations. Local government was the coalface of service delivery. Fingers were pointed at local government.

Ms Sebego responded that COGTA was a facilitator and a coordinator. The Department had merely noted where the primary responsibility lay. Working structures were being set up, co-chaired by DGs, that reported to the implementation forum.

The Chairperson remarked with regard to professionalisation, that implementation of legislation and development of regulations were long overdue.

Ms Sebego replied that regulations were ready, but there was still consultation going on.

The Chairperson asked how the 77 engineering bursary students were distributed according to provinces and municipalities. She advised that students in deep rural areas be identified.

Ms Sebego replied that the Department advertised in newspapers, which meant that students in deep rural areas could sometimes not be reached.

The Chairperson asked about ethical conduct workshops for officials to prevent corruption. She asked for a report on how many councillors had undergone training.

The Chairperson asked about the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), and the inability of municipalities to spend it.

The Chairperson asked what had made the Treasury decrease allocations. There had been a lack of interventions like food parcels and tents.

Mr Mawethu Mtyhitwa, COGTA CFO, replied that there had been a re-allocation of funding. There had been an extra R775 million as new funding. COGTA did not ask for a decrease. Money had been lost because of the disaster relief fund.

Ms Nelson asked if there had been interaction after the Treasury had done cuts, and motivation why COGTA needed larger amounts.

Ms Sebego replied that there was a submission from the Department, and then engagement and agreement with Treasury. Treasury set up interdepartmental committees. Departments applied for extra funds or non-reduction. Heads of departments made representations and then it was thrown into the pot, and Treasury decided how to divide the cake. Decisions had to be made about how departments could cut from their own projects to provide funding elsewhere.
There had to be prioritisation, with the ultimate decision being where to cut and where to add. The Treasury would do a Medium Term Economic Future (MTEF) projection to show how allocations would be affected. Concerning Treasury considerations, she said that Treasury would help when disaster struck and there was no money. But it had to be convinced that there was capacity to spend. Treasury did not want departments sitting on money that could have been used elsewhere.

The Chairperson expressed dissatisfaction with the Department’s response to climate change. It would not do to wait for the incorporation of climate change issues in the local government Internal Development Plans (IDPs).

Ms Nelson asked for a report on underspent MIG funding, that had been returned. It had to be known if interventions had achieved objectives on provincial, district  and municipal levels.

Ms Segale noted that the Minister had been silent about disaster aftermath since 2005.

Mr Matshoba objected that the CWP wages could not raise living standards.

Ms Sebego replied that it was not the size of the wage that mattered so much as a consistent guaranteed income for two days work per week throughout the year. Everybody was saying that the stipend had to be increased.

Ms Nelson asked if Treasury gave funds to COGTA after estimations had been done.

Ms Sebego replied that there was a disaster budget within the COGTA budget. The Department was first in line for funds.

Mr Matshoba asked about the role of COGTA in administering disaster funds.

Ms Sebego replied that R775 million had been made available for disaster to municipalities and provinces. The money was kept by COGTA. Usually money was kept by Treasury. Affected departments did assessments and sent reports to GOGTA, who made recommendations to Treasury. Approved allocations were dispersed to GOGTA provincial departments. The challenge was the time it took to do assessments.

Ms Nelson asked for a report on monies paid to COGTA since 2005 for disasters. She was convinced that it would prove that things had not changed. Monies paid over had not been followed. Money was deposited without explanation. There was no detail that indicated for which province payments had been made. It had to be certain where monies paid from Treasury to GOGTA went.

Ms Sebego responded that there would be a report on monies since 2005.

Mr Matshoba suggested that national and provincial departments sit together and come up with a report.

The Chairperson asked what difficulties had led to underspending on MIGs.

Ms Sebego replied that there would be a report according to provinces. She asked from which year it had to be.

Ms Nelson advised that it be from 2008/9.

Ms Sebego added that there were municipalities without revenue. Municipalities had to be classified. Viability issues complicated discussions with the Treasury. 10% of the infrastructure budget was for maintenance. If there was no backlog, it could be done. If there was no revenue municipalities had to use the equitable share.

Ms F Boshigo (ANC) asked about water committees in villages.

Ms Sebego replied that they were part of the public participation programme, which was the same for all wards. Water committees had been established and empowered. There was a close relationship between water committees and tribal councils. It would be supported and taken forward. There was tension between elected and born leaders.

Briefing on the GOGTA 2012 ENE allocation
Mr Mawethu Mtyhitwa, CFO of COGTA, took the PC through 2012 allocations per programme. The programmes covered were Administration; Policy research and knowledge management; Governance and IGR; National disaster management centre; Provincial and local government systems; Infrastructure and economic development, and the Department of Traditional affairs.

Discussion

The Chairperson asked why COGTA and the DTA were still one vote.

Mr Mtyhitwa replied that a separation had been applied for in 2010. The response from the Treasury had not been good. There was concern about internal systems.

The Chairperson asked for more detailed financial statements. The PC wanted to trace Rands. She did not understand why technical allocations had been increased. The PC also wanted to know what had been spent on matters like travel and accommodation.

Ms Nelson asked for a breakdown of allocations to provinces in terms of programmes. Quarterly reports on budget expenditure was essential to help prevent fiscal dumping at year end. Departments would dump money with municipalities to obtain a clean audit. Municipalities ended up unable to spend the money and it refelected on them. In the Free State the province had penalised municipalities for being unable to spend the money province had dumped on them in the first place. That had been most unfair.

Ms Segale-Diswai remarked that the presentation had not spoken to her. The details per subprogramme headings were not the same as for programmes and economic classification, but the totals were the same. She asked the Department to get down to her level. She asked why COGTA was projecting it like that.

Mr Mtyhitwa replied that COGTA could explain what had actually been paid. There had been inflationary increases.

The Chairperson asked for a breakdown of underspending. The PC had to understand the COGTA budget vote. COGTA had to come back in April with a detailed report. More people had to get involved in policy research. There had to be an understanding of what was done with money. Inability of municipalities to spend, was a challenge. COGTA and the PC had to evolve a working relationship. She said that COGTA had difficult programmes ahead.

The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.


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