Meeting SummaryThe presentation started off with a brief introduction to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Department’s role in their execution. The Department ensured that there remained a close alignment of its work to the objectives of the MDGs. Of the eight MDGs, the work of the Department was most closely aligned with Goal One: ‘To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger’. Through the Department’s coordination efforts aimed at improving conditions at municipal levels, it had adopted two strategic goals which had a direct link to MDG 1: improved access to basic services and implementation of the Community Work Programme.
The progress report evaluated the targets and indicators set for the two objectives: The latest measurement for improved access to basic services indicated that 94.7% of households had access to water, 84% had access to sanitation, 72% had access to refuse removal and 85% to electricity. Only 28.5% of the target had been met for the upgrading of households in informal settlements. With regard to creation of work opportunities, 94,977 work opportunities had been created through the Community Work Programme (CWP) and 79 municipalities were implementing the CWP in at least two wards each. The envisaged target for CWP was one million work opportunities by 2014 which the Department regarded as achievable. It planned to have at least one site with a minimum of 1 000 CWP workers in every municipality across the country.
The major challenges faced by the Department on the implementation of service delivery was that the pace was slow, but the bigger threat was functionality rather than availability of infrastructure, particularly water and sanitation. The Department spoke about its planned efforts to address the challenges.
Members remarked that the presentation by the Department had been too summary and brief and did not contain necessary information which the Committee needed. Members asked why there was not proper integration to ensure delivery of basic services to the most rural areas. Members expressed concerns over the Department’s ability to meet the 2015 MDG targets as progress on targets in the presentation was not a true reflection when actual access to these services, rather than availability of the service, was taken into consideration. Members noted with concern that citizens in most rural communities were not recipients of basic services. Members questioned if the Department viewed the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) as a one way ticket out of all service delivery problems in municipalities. Members asked if the Department had conducted proper research on service delivery protests and if the Department followed up on media reports on service delivery protests. Members asked for clarification on the status of legislation that was to have been tabled before Parliament.
The Department provided a legislative timetable: the Disaster Management Amendment Bill would come to Parliament in March 2013; the Municipal Property Rates Amendment Bill would go to Cabinet in February 2013; the Monitoring Support and Intervention Bill had been ready to be introduced into Parliament but the Department retracted it to improve on its quality based on experiences in Eastern Cape and Limpopo.
Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) presentation
Mr Vusi Madonsela, COGTA Director General, provided opening remarks on his initial assessment of the state of the Department since he assumed office as Director General barely a month ago. The Department was not operating at full capacity and did not have capacity in respect of all the areas which it was expected to deliver. He handed over to the Deputy Director General to commence the presentation.
Mr Ricardo Hansby, Deputy Director General: Infrastructure and Economic Development, gave a brief introduction on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Department’s role in their execution. In 2000, the international community signed a declaration on the Millennium Development Goals 2015. Eight Millennium Development Goals were identified for implementation. The 2010 progress report on the MDG targets showed that there was a need to bring some of the targets and indicators to reflect realities in South Africa. Significant progress had been recorded in the majority of targets; however there were still some challenges such as unemployment and inequality. The Department ensured that there remained a close alignment of its work to the objectives of the MDGs. Of the identified eight MDGs, the work of the Department was most closely aligned with Goal One: ‘To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger’.
Working with sector departments, government adopted a comprehensive approach to eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. This approach combined cash transfers with social wage packages including the provision of subsidised housing, electricity, water, sanitation, refuse removal and transportation. Through the Department’s coordination efforts aimed at improving conditions at municipal levels, it adopted two Strategic Goals which have a direct link to MDG 1: improved access to basic services and implementation of the Community Work Programme. The progress report based on the targets and indicators set in line with these two objectives follows.
With regard to improved access to basic services the latest available measurement indicated that, 94.7% of households had access to water, 84% had access to sanitation, 72% had access to refuse removal and 85% to electricity, only 28.5% of the target had been met with regard to upgrading of households in informal settlements (see document for details). Mr Hansby was quick to point out that the figures did not take into account measurement of informal settlements, population growth and only indicated measurements for reach to services rather than functionality of service. Refuse removal sites in most municipalities had become problematic; problems existed with regard to licensing and the Environmental Impact Assessment of refuse removal sites at municipal levels.
With regard to creation of work opportunities, 94 977 work opportunities had been created through the Community Work Programme (CWP) and 79 municipalities were implementing the CWP in at least two wards each. The envisaged target for CWP was one million work opportunities by 2014; the Department regarded the target as achievable. It planned to have at least one site with a minimum of 1 000 CWP workers in every municipality across the country. To help the Department achieve its target of at least 325 000 CWP opportunities and strengthen the CWP, the Finance Minister had announced a 25% extra allocation yearly over the MTF period.
Some of the challenges faced by the Department on implementation of service delivery as highlighted in the presentation were – the pace was slow, but the bigger threat was functionality of infrastructure particularly in water and sanitation; almost 21% of the households with access to water infrastructure had a service that was not working (e.g. no water from tap) ; 5.3% of households still had no services at all; 26% (3.8 million households) were affected by sanitation services and/or facilities that were not fully functional; 9% (1.4 million households) still had no sanitation. All these resulted in an increase in service delivery protests nationwide.
The presentation also outlined some of the Departments planned efforts to address the challenges. It was clear that there was need for additional funding to develop municipal infrastructure and this needed to be prioritised. The Department had identified the need to beef up coordination efforts and bring together relevant national sector departments to establish service delivery management structures per sector to address backlogs and functionality of basic services. To achieve this, it had set up a task team in conjunction with the Department of Human Settlements and many of the issues identified through the team had been escalated to MinMEC. The Department also identified the need to use the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) as a vehicle to accelerate infrastructure and help with capacity on planning of infrastructure. The Department was making concerted efforts to focus on struggling municipalities identified by Cabinet. It had identified weak public participation process, system failures with regard to supply chain management and lack of capacity as contributory factors to the municipal infrastructure challenge. The Department in conjunction with provinces needed to prioritise ward-level service improvement plans.
Discussion on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
Mr G Boinamo (DA) asked why there was no proper integration to ensure delivery of basic services to most rural areas and condemned instances where some communities had clear natural springs within reach but the community members had been deprived of access to water. Rather than lay pipes from theses springs, municipality officials instead awarded tenders to deliver water from the springs by tankers to community members. Ms W Nelson (ANC) also noted that the Committee on oversight visit had observed in Limpopo that the nearest community to a dam had no water – and pipes laid had bypassed that community to supply the next community.
Mr Boinamo expressed concerns over municipalities that had installed infrastructure which were not functional. This proved bad workmanship on the part of the contractors and the Department needed to look into the matter.
Mr Z Nkosi (ANC) expressed concerns over the Department’s ability to meet the 2015 MDG targets. The progress on targets outlined in the presentation was not a true reflection when actual access to these services, rather than availability of the service, was taken into consideration. Ms Segale-Diswai (ANC) asked how measureable ‘access’ to infrastructure was and why many rural areas constantly complained about shortage of water.
Mr Ricardo Hansby, Deputy Director General, responded that the statistics used in the Department’s presentation had been obtained from other departments, provinces and municipalities. The standards of measurement were in terms of the RDP standards on measuring delivery. Measurements were never on terms of functionality or actual access. However, it was clear that this standard of measurement needed to be reviewed; hence it was on the agenda of the Department. A task team had been set up in conjunction with the Department of Human Settlements to review the standards on reporting of service delivery. The process however needed to be accelerated.
Mr Vusi Madonsela, Director General, added that statistics were by their nature scientific, and Members could not base arguments against the statistics on the experiences of singular municipalities/provinces.
Mr Nkosi noted with concern that citizens in most rural communities were not recipients of these basic services and even the municipalities hardly rendered services to areas outside main towns. He noted with concern that refuse removal seemed to be an urban constructed agenda and asked when sanitation infrastructure would be upgraded to equal, satisfactory levels to all citizens irrespective of location – urban or rural areas. It was in equal practice to deliver flush toilets to citizens in urban areas and drop boxes to citizens in rural areas.
Mr Madonsela replied that the Department had registered Members’ concern on the urbanisation of service delivery in sanitation and refuse removal.
Mr Nkosi asked what measures were in place to ensure effectiveness on delivery of services. He requested that the Committee be provided with statistics on service delivery per ward and per municipality across the country.
Ms W Nelson (ANC) noted that the measurements on reporting needed to change to reflect the actual situation.
Mr Nkosi asked for a commitment from the Department to ensure statistics in future reports were accurate and reflective of the true situation and that the Department ensured other departments, the provinces and municipalities corrected their statistics also.
Mr Madonsela responded that it was not entirely possible to make such commitment, however, Members concerns and feedback will be passed along to all departments in question, taking into account that measurements were drawn from RDP standards which were more quantitative than qualitative.
Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) remarked that the presentation by the Department had been too summary and brief and did not contain the necessary information which the Committee needed.
The Chairperson remarked that the briefing by the Department had not been in the proper form expected by the Committee and did not contain sufficient information.
Mr Madonsela apologised and committed to improve the quality of the Department’s next presentation to Members. Future presentations would be less aspirational and more factual.
Ms Segale-Diswai decried the slow pace in establishment of Ward Committees and noted that the turnaround strategy which had been put in place seemed ineffective. Why was there was no uniformity of stipends across the board in all municipalities and what was the Department doing to address this. Did the department ensure monitoring and evaluation of Ward Committees?
Mr Madonsela replied that the Department would provide members with a detailed breakdown of the CWP programme per province. It appeared the Department needed to share with members the policy foundation of the CWP for clearer understanding of the programme.
Ms I Ditshetelo (UCDP) remarked that the assumption that service delivery protests were politically motivated was not entirely true. Most citizens that had been involved in service delivery protests had done so out of frustrations from not being able to access basic services.
Ms Ditshetelo noted that the statistics in the Department’s presentation were not reflective of the realities on ground. Officials of the Department were not actively engaged in monitoring process and had no real grasp on the realities in most municipalities.
Mr Madonsela responded that the Department had been restructured too many times in the past and one of the consequences of the frequent restructuring was loss of capacity in critical areas. The Department had only one Director in the monitoring and evaluation directorate and the directorate was grossly understaffed.
Mr Hansby added that most of the issues regarding monitoring were due to a lack of capacity. He suggested that the Committee engaged further with the departments engaged in the monitoring and evaluation of basic services.
Mr Matshoba replied that the Committee was aware of the constant change in organogram of the Department over the last few years and was faced with its implications in its last oversight visit to the Department where it discovered that over 48 staff had issues with being assigned to similar job roles. He requested that the Department furnished the Committee with a clear structure of its current organogram, number of staff and reporting structure.
Ms Sigale-Diswai reiterated that job roles and duties of staff within the Department needed to be sorted out expeditiously.
Ms C Mosimane (COPE) asked if the Department had verified the statistics on delivery of basic services contained in its presentation.
Mr Madonsela responded that due to inadequate capacity, the Department relied heavily on the information it got from other departments, provinces and municipalities. He suggested that the Committee invited other departments that had provided the Department with information as a first step towards verification and to provide the Committee with answers.
Mr L Gaehler (UDM) noted that the information provided in the presentation was based on out dated census figures and did not reflect the correct statistics of the population. It was important the Department and other government agencies was not in a position where it was separated from the citizenry it was set up to serve.
Mr Madonsela responded that in between each five year census period, other studies were carried out and these were taken into consideration to advice on estimated population growth.
Ms Mosimane highlighted the lack of delivery of basic services to citizens in rural communities and cited an example from a municipality in the North West province where residents, including pensioners’, were charged up to R3 000 per house for installation of a tap to access water.
Mr Madonsela requested further details on the example cited and committed to follow the case up.
Ms Mosimane remarked that the establishment pace of the Community Work Programme (CWP) had been slow and asked if the programme was appropriately monitored by the Department.
Mr Hansby responded that the broad success of the programme had been its simplicity. The programme however did not have the necessary project management processes in place. The Department had responded to this by creating capacity where needed and also ensuring continued delivery of protective clothing and tools.
Ms W Nelson (ANC) remarked that although it seemed the Department was delivering basic services, the real question pertained to what kind of delivery it was. She cited examples of failed road projects in the North province and asked what the Department was doing to monitor proper execution of projects.
Ms Nelson asked if the Department had conducted proper research on the issue of service delivery protests and if the Department followed up on media reports related to service delivery protests.
Mr Madonsela replied that the Department had not yet conducted research on the issue of service delivery protests. Whether or not to channel funds into research or into providing services was a politically delicate question. However, from an administrative point of view, it would be beneficial to identify the causes of the loopholes in service delivery.
Ms Nelson remarked that with respect to the issue of corruption – actual or perceived – it had been alleged that reports were forwarded to the Department without follow-up actions on the part of the Department. She requested that the Department provide the Committee with a report on its anti-corruption and fraud strategy and on all pending cases and investigations.
Mr Madonsela responded that the Department would provide the reports as requested.
Mr J Matshoba (ANC) suggested that the Department meet with other coordinating departments to unpack programmes and realistic statistics on service delivery and thereafter forward to the Committee a report reflecting the realities on ground.
Mr Matshoba noted that the information in the Department’s presentation with regard to the Community Work Programme was misleading.
The Chairperson questioned what the officials deployed from the Department to the provinces did if they could not relay issues regarding service delivery in the provinces to the National Department before they escalated into protests.
Mr Madonsela replied that the Department was in dire straits. It was not operating at full capacity and did not have capacity in respect of all areas which it was expected to deliver. Vacancies existed within the Department but they could not be filled because of shortage of funds. Some of the staff posted to Provinces (the technical support unit staff) had been rejected by provinces as the provinces viewed this as the National Departments attempt to usurp powers of the Provincial Departments. Although the Department was required to verify the information, it was incapacitated and did not have the required foot soldiers to conduct the verification. The Department’s current staff consisted more of policy makers. As an alternative strategy, the Department had identified other departments – such as the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Department of Public Service and Administration – to help its processes for which it was not capacitated.
Ms Mosimane asked if the Department had communicated with the provinces that rejected staff from its technical support unit.
The Chairperson responded that the Committee had been informed in a previous meeting with the Department that the response differed from one province to the other. There had been established communication between the Department and provinces.
Mr Gaehler remarked that there existed a vacuum if a provincial official could reject national policies. Was there legislation or policies under which the National Department could send out staff to monitor provincial implementation. If there were, then they should be applicable notwithstanding the sensitivities of provincial officials.
Mr Madonsela replied that beyond rejecting the officials of the Department, constitutional arguments had also been raised by the provincial governments on the provincialisation of departments. The right approach was key in the light of the circumstances. An aggressive approach from the Department, as had been the case in 2010 when Department officials had been rejected, was less likely to yield the desired results.
Ms Ditshetelo remarked with concern that without the right capacity, the possibility of future progress was hampered and asked what alternative plans the Department had in the light of unavailable funds to capacitate vacant positions.
Mr Madonsela responded that the Department had placed a request with National Treasury for additional funds, although it was unlikely the request would be granted. It was acting proactively and was considering approaching social partners who could avail the department with much needed resources or capacity.
The Chairperson questioned whether the Department viewed MISA as a one way ticket out of all service delivery problems in municipalities. She requested that the Department make an entirely separate presentation to the Committee at a later date on MISA and its progress so far, as well as another presentation on MDGs after thorough investigation on service delivery by the Department.
Mr Hansby responded that MISA was not a saviour for all municipal infrastructure programmes. It however helped and contributed to addressing the challenges faced with regard to municipal infrastructure.
The Chairperson suggested that the Department considered discussions with MECs in provinces to afford it a clearer picture on service delivery nationwide.
Mr Madonsela responded that he would take the advice of visiting provinces, taking into consideration his schedule.
The Chairperson questioned if support was provided to Municipalities desirous of applying for establishment of CWP sites in their municipalities.
Mr Hansby responded that in the case of CWP, municipalities do not apply – sites were selected based on indicators such as poverty index and the unemployment rate within the municipality. Selected municipalities were only expected to confirm their interest in being hosts for the programme.
The Chairperson noted that the intended beneficiaries of the CWP ended up with dismal funds while the bulk of funds were channelled to its managers and tools. This needed to be corrected.
Mr Hansby replied that the split in cost of the CWP per head was 65% for wages and 35% running costs including tools, banking fees etc and this model was drawn from international practice. Despite this, the Department was actively engaged in seeking ways to reduce cost of procurement, banking fees and other costs using the sheer number of the economies of scale of the number of persons engaged in the CWP programme.
Discussion on Legislation
The Chairperson noted the missed deadlines on legislation which the Department ought to have tabled before Parliament and asked for an explanation from the Department.
Mr Madonsela responded that he was unable to shed light on the status of the National Traditional Affairs Bill. With regard to the Disaster Management Amendment Bill, the bill was on track. It was slated for submission to Cabinet in November 2012 and to Parliament for consideration in March 2013. The time line for submission of the Municipal Property Rates Amendment Bill to Cabinet had been revised from November 2012 to February 2013; it would thereafter be forwarded to Parliament for consideration. The Monitoring Support and Intervention Bill which had been initially certified by the Chief State Law Advisers was later retracted by the Department because it had identified an opportunity to improve on the quality of the Bill based on the experiences of the Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces. The Department planned to re-introduce the Bill to Cabinet and the Chief State Law Advisers and Parliament next year.
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