The Committee met to consider and adopt its Report on the 2013/14 Annual Performance Plans and Budget Vote of the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG) and Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA). Members focused on par graphs 16 and 17 of the document, which dealt with the Committee observations and recommendations respectively.
The Committee expressed concerns on the Department’s performance in the field of disaster management, particularly in respect of indigent communities who settled in flood plains and
were vulnerable to seasonal rainfall. There was a need for close liaison with municipalities so that people in disaster prone areas are removed, and early warning systems were put in place to avoid loss of lives. The Committee expressed its disappointment on the Department’s failure to implement the previous recommendations, more especially with regard to tabling of quarterly reports in respect to departmental strategic objectives and priorities. The Committee recommended that the Department should table quarterly reports to the National Council of Provinces on the implementation of its strategic policy priority areas, as well as challenges encountered. The Committee would recommend to the NCOP not to approve the budget vote of the Department if it failed to adhere to this.
The Committee adopted the report with amendments.
Committee Report on Department of Co-operative Governance and the Department of Traditional Affairs 2013 Strategic Plans
The Chairperson tabled the report for consideration. Thereafter, he requested Members to focus on sections 16 and 17, which dealt with the Committee observations and recommendations respectively.
Mr J Gunda (ID; Northern Cape) noted that in paragraph 16.2, the Committee had expressed the need need for close liaison with municipalities so that early warning systems were put in place. He agreed with early warning systems but it was high time that local municipalities should take people out of flooded areas. He agreed with the observation; however he felt that the point needed to be emphasised.
Mr B Nesi (ANC; Eastern Cape) said that he was not debating the issue but wondered whether the problem was with the drainage system, which local municipalities were suppose to fix so that water could not flood.
Mr A Matila (ANC; Gauteng) said that the sentence was fine but the Committee should just extend it by indicating that municipalities should avoid any loss of life in any disasters that might occur in future. If they were putting early warning systems in place they were dealing with the point that Mr Nesi was raising and avoiding the loss of life.
Mr Gunda agreed but commented that it was time for municipalities and the Department of Human Settlements to put proper infrastructure in place such as a stormwater system and but big pipes (as opposed to small ones) when they build houses thousands of people were going to stay there. In all the previously disadvantaged communities there was no proper stormwater drainage system and that was where the flooding was coming from.
Mr Matila agreed with Mr Gunda. He further stated that the Kei River was a stormwater drainage system on its own because its a flat laying area even if it got full. It would be preferable to put early warning systems in such areas rather than infrastructure in those areas not meant for habitation. In most cases people built their informal houses on the banks of rivers. This was why he was talking about trying to avoid the loss of life.
Mr Nkosana Mfuku, Committee Content Adviser, said that normally the areas that were prone to disaster were areas where people illegally occupied land and later the municipality tried to formalise those areas. Geographically, those areas were not meant for people to live in and there would forever be the challenges of floods in those areas. The observation dealt with those areas that were prone to disasters, but he had taken note of the sentiments expressed by Members.
Mr D Bloem (COPE; Free State) said that there was nothing wrong with the observation but it did not read well. It should read "the Committee is concerned" not the Committee was concerned as stated in the report. The second sentence of that recommendation should be changed to read that "questions were raised for more details on legislative plans to address those challenges".
He also noted that paragraph 16.3 needed to be changed because if one read this it would seem the Committee was doing nothing and had noted that the Department had failed to implement the previous recommendations more especially with regard to the tabling of quarterly reports in respect of departmental strategic plans. The recommendation should be changed because the person in the street would say the Committee had noted the failure of the Department and did nothing.
Mr Moses Manele, Committee Secretary, said that the reason why they had captured the recommendation in that way was because in the previous 2012 Budget Vote the Committee had made the recommendation to say the Department should provide quarterly reports in respect of services, goods and objectives. However, he reminded Members that in terms of the Auditor-General's report the Department had again failed to provide quarterly reports. He agreed with Mr Bloem’s comments. The recommendation could be expanded in terms of the action the Committee had to take so as to follow compliance with the recommendation of the Committee.
Mr Gunda said that the Committee had noted that the Department had failed with the previous recommendations but it needed to put something in place which indicated that the department had failed to follow the recommendations more especially to provide quarterly reports in respect of departmental strategic objectives and priorities. The paragraph should reflect the current position of the Committee.
Mr Matila agreed that the Committee needed to put something as a recommendation which stated the position of the Committee.
Mr Bloem proposed that the recommendation should emphasise the Committee’s outrage that the Department had failed to implement the previous recommendations more especially with regard to the tabling of quarterly reports.
Mr L Ndzimande (ANC; KwaZulu-Natal) apologised for coming late. He asked what the Committee was correcting.
Mr Bloem read out the recommendation for Mr Ndzmande.
Mr Matila suggested that the paragraph should indicate that the Committee was not happy with the Department's failure to implement the previous recommendations.
Mr Ndzimande said that it appeared as if there was a problem with the word "noted", but the sentence captured exactly what the Committee wanted.
Mr Gunda agreed that the problem was with the word "noted". The Committee was not going to delete the sentence but rather change the word "noted" because noted was just a lenient word to be used in that sentence. The Committee should express itself when it felt the Department was not taking the recommendations of the Committee seriously. He agreed with Mr Matila that the Committee was not happy with the Department not implementing the recommendations of the Committee. The Committee needed a strong word to tell the Department that it was not happy with it not implementing the recommendations because those recommendations were a public document which would be read by the public. The public should know that the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs took its work seriously because it had a very straight forward debate with the Department in this regard and every Member of the Committee was very serious about the issue. The Committee wanted to ensure that this does not get repeated.
Mr Ndzimande said he had heard the explanation but that sentence explained the state of affairs of something that did not take place. Mr Matila had suggested that the Committee should use appropriate wording to express its dismay and outrage at the failure of the Department.
The Chairperson said that Members were talking about paragraph 16.3 which highlighted the Committee’s observation. Paragraph 17.1.3 was a Committee recommendation for the Department to table quarterly reports in respect of the implementation of departmental priorities and challenges.
Mr Bloem said that Mr Matila came up with the suggestion to change the sentence and what they needed to do was to delete the word "noted" in that sentence.
Mr Matila said that the previous reports always involved the word "noted" in the recommendations and the Department had not taken the Committee seriously. The problem was with the wording and how the Committee dealt with that aspect because if they looked at the recommendation it was the same recommendation that was used in previous reports. Therefore, the Committee should come up with something that was strong which indicated to the department that it should act and timeframes should be set on that recommendation.
Mr Manele reminded Members that the Committee had said it would recommend to the NCOP not to approve the budget vote of the Department if it failed to adhere to the recommendations.
Mr Nesi said the Committee should express its disappointment about the failure of the Department to implement the previous recommendations.
Mr Matila moved for the adoption of the report with relevant amendments made by the Committee.
Mr Bloem seconded the move.
The Committee adopted the report with amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
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