The Department of Cooperative Governance spoke on learnerships and learning programmes in local government. The Local Government SETA was placed under administration in Match 2013 due to failed governance and obtaining a disclaimer from the Auditor General. Both the Department of Cooperative Governance and the Department of Traditional Affairs had a seat on the Local Government SETA Board. Both Departments had thus participated in the approval of projects, including learning programmes and learnerships funded by the Local Government SETA. The Department of Cooperative Governance had undertaken initiatives in partnership with the Local Government SETA to the tune of approximately R79.5m. The Committee was provided with a breakdown of these current initiatives which included: fire fighters R2.5m; disaster management R4m; property valuers R7m; electricity R2.5m; water process controllers (2000 learners) R42m; construction R7.5m.
The Committee asked what efforts were made by the Department of Cooperative Governance on the training of traditional leaders. Details on the Department of Cooperative Governance’s Local Government School were requested by members. The Committee also requested a breakdown of figures for training programmes per province. It was felt that old and new councillors should be given different training methods.
The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) briefed the Committee on its capacity building framework and its working relationship with the Local Government SETA in achieving capacity building in local government. SALGA had developed the Local Government Professionalisation Framework in conjunction with Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). The Framework was a sound mechanism for determining levels of maturity in strategic human resources and governance processes in municipalities. Programmes undertaken by SALGA in partnership with the Local Government SETA included the Councillor Induction Programme where a total of 8000 councillors were inducted. Tied to this was the Councillor Portfolio-Based Development Programme. This targeted councillors who had gone through induction but wished to further develop to improve their oversight roles and responsibilities. A Local Democracy and Local Governance Learning Programme targeted Executive Mayors, Speakers, Chief Whips and Municipal Managers.
The Committee asked for a breakdown of councillor induction per province; was the impact of councillor training evaluated and analysed; did SALGA do follow-ups. Members commented that the vacant post problem at municipalities was due to lack of funding. Members emphasised a skills audit of municipalities was needed. What was SALGA doing about educating councillors on the implementation of the Municipal Systems Act and current legislation?
The Local Government SETA briefed the Committee on learning programmes and learnerships. Over the last two years the SETA had experienced management and governance challenges. It could not meet its obligations in law. In 2011/12 the SETA received a disclaimer from the Auditor General. The previous chairperson of the SETA had approached the Minister and had stated that he was unable to get the SETA back on track. The Minister consequently instructed the Director General to place the SETA under administration. One of the biggest concerns raised by the Auditor General was the lack of capacity. At the core of the National Skills Accord was that employers needed to open up their workplaces to train youngsters beyond their own needs as municipalities did not have enough place to train people. Since being under administration, the SETA’s constitution had been suspended and its board disbanded. A working group had since been established.
The broad objective of the SETA was to facilitate, coordinate and monitor the implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy in the local government sector. The SETA’s total income from levies in 2012 was R338m. Municipalities had to apply for discretionary grants by the end of March each year. Thereafter applications would be evaluated by the SETA. Two problems encountered were that the SETA could not meet its own timelines, and secondly, there were further requirements that needed to be met by municipalities once their applications for discretionary grants had been approved. It was felt that the discretionary grant process was problematic and skewed.
Members raised the following concerns, questions and comments: there was a lack of technically skilled people in some municipalities and service delivery was negatively affected; did the LGSETA make sure that the skills development facilitators / service providers were accredited; municipalities still lacked capacity and there was too much reliance on consultants; how long was the LGSETA to remain under administration; was there an exit strategy; given SETA non-performance, how could its senior managers claim bonuses; artisans trained by SETAs lacked practical experience; was the LGSETA training unemployed people; what action did LGSETA take against municipalities appointing unaccredited service providers; did the LGSETA have a turnaround strategy in place.
Department of Co-operative Governance (DCOG)
The DCOG briefed the Committee on learnerships and programmes in local government. The delegation included Mr Vusi Madonsela Director General, Ms Shanaaz Majiet Deputy Director-General: Provincial Municipal Government Support and Ms Sandra Greyling Senior Manager: Local Government Skills Audit.
Ms Greyling provided background information on the DCOG’s involvement with the Local Government SETA. Prior to placing the Local Government SETA under administration, DCOG had secured a seat for itself and the Department of Traditional Affairs on the Local Government SETA Board. Both Departments had thus participated in the approval of projects, including learning programmes and learnerships funded by the Local Government SETA. The DCOG’s Memorandum of Understanding with the Local Government SETA had expired and a renewed version was awaiting approval. The Local Government SETA annual Sector Skills Plan assisted in determining DCOG capacity-building strategy decisions as DCOG provided the sector’s qualifications profile and the trends in municipal skills development provision.
The DCOG had undertaken initiatives in partnership with the Local Government SETA to the tune of approximately R79.5m. The Committee was provided with a breakdown of the current initiatives: fire fighters R2.5m; disaster management R4m; property valuers R7m; electricity R2.5m; water process controllers (2000 learners) R42m; construction R7.5m (see document).
The DCOG also supported the South African Local Government Association’s Induction of Councillors which the Local Government SETA funded. Of importance to DCOG was the expenditure of R3.5m by the Local Government SETA on the training of Skills Development Facilitators. Past partnerships that were being sustained or would be reviewed included the Local Government Skills Audit which was done between 2007 and 2010. Municipalities had been tasked with updating the information on GAPSKILL which was a web based tool.
Up-scaling of skills development within the Local Government Sector was essential to improve the reach to all employees through the Local Government SETA (below 50%) and the entrance rate into the sector in the next financial year, with the aim to address the National Development Plan’s requirement for a capable state. A School for Local Government was also envisaged. The proposed funding model was accessing a portion of the skills development levies paid to the Local Government SETA by the sector annually.
Mr J Steenhuizen (DA) asked whether the Local Government SETA was still under administration and whether the administrator was present at the meeting.
Ms Majiet responded that the Local Government SETA was still under administration and that the Administrator Mr Nqaba Nqandela was present.
Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) referring to DCOG’s involvement with the Local Government SETA made reference to page three of the briefing document. If DCOG had secured one seat for the Department of Traditional Affairs who occupied the seat and what was the person’s role. He referred to the training partnerships for labour intensive construction methods to address the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and Municipal Infrastructure Grant challenges. The Committee had done oversight in the North West and Eastern Cape and he asked what programmes the DCOG had in order to do maintenance on roads. How was the maintenance of EPWP projects going to create jobs for youth and women? On building capacity, what programmes were in place to train traditional leaders who sit on mayoral committees.
Ms Majiet replied that the approach to capacity building was to use experts within local government to teach local government.
Ms Greyling said that the seat had been afforded to Traditional Affairs so that its interests could be represented. Traditional Affairs had their own capacity building unit.
The Chairperson asked if the Local Government School was going to be accredited. Would it be enrolling students who had just completed matric? What type of school was it going to be? Were workshops going to be given at the School and would the participants receive certificates?
Ms Majiet explained that the Local Government School would be a creative combination of what existed already in learning programmes on offer and the value that could be added. The Local Government School had been on the cards for many years. Training was more focused on councillor training. There would be classroom time and a technical aspect. Accreditation was very important. There was a dedicated focus on the development of women in local government. There was a whole range of training to be rolled out. In Kwazulu-Natal, there were women councillors currently graduating from training courses. In order to give effect to the National Development Plan, the School for Local Government was seen as a driver to professionalise local government.
The training of councillors taught them how to make decisions, to negotiate and how to deal with Municipal Infrastructure Grant challenges. There were partnerships with SALGA and the Local Government SETA.
The form of the Local Government School was still at a conceptual stage.
The Chairperson asked whether the Local Government School was independent and would have a curriculum on local government matters. Would the School work with other universities?
Ms Majiet answered that the DCOG would work with universities and technikons to identify gaps regarding the Local Government School. Practitioners in local government would also be brought on board. Practitioners had a wealth of expertise that could be drawn upon.
Mr D Mavunda (ANC) also asked about training partnerships for labour intensive construction methods to address the Expanded Public Works Programme and Municipal Infrastructure Grant challenges. He wanted DCOG to unpack the issue further.
The Chairperson asked what the DCOG’s budget for capacity building was for the current financial year.
Ms Majiet answered that the budget was R5m. The DCOG could only do so much with the R5m budget. The DCOG however mobilised resources from across stakeholders for capacity building.
Mr Mandela again asked who occupied the seat held by traditional leaders on the LGSETA board. On the number of partnership programmes that the DCOG had with its stakeholders on matters such as disaster management, fire fighting and electricity, it would be useful for the Committee to have a breakdown of figures per province.
Ms Greyling responded that the seat referred to by Mr Mandela was currently vacant.
Ms Majiet stated that the DCOG could provided the Committee with more information on Traditional Affairs capacitating initiatives.
The Chairperson pointed out that traditional leader schools had collapsed. What was being done to revitalise them? Was it correct that Traditional Affairs had their own programmes. She suggested that old and new councillors be given different training methods. The approaches should be different. SALGA should also host a second workshop.
South African Local Government Association (SALGA)
The SALGA delegation comprised of Mr Speedy Mashilo, Chairman, and Mr Rio Nolutshungu, Executive Manager. Mr Nolutshungu provided insight into SALGA’s capacity building framework. SALGA had developed the Local Government Professionalisation Framework in conjunction with Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). The Framework was a sound mechanism for determining the levels of maturity in strategic human resources and governance processes in municipalities. By virtue of its employer body status and prior to the Local Government SETA being placed under administration, SALGA had five seats on the Local Government SETA Board and in this way had played a corporate governance and fiduciary role in the running of the Local Government SETA. SALGA additionally had the responsibility of providing coordination and support to Local Government SETA processes.
Some of the programmes undertaken by SALGA in partnership with the Local Government SETA were the Councillor Induction Programme where a total of 8000 councillors were inducted. Tying in with the previously mentioned Programme was the Councillor Portfolio – Based Development Programme which was targeted at councillors who had gone through inductions but wished to further develop in order to improve on the performance of their oversight roles and responsibilities. There was also a Local Democracy and Local Governance Learning Programme targeted at Executive Mayors, Speakers, Chief Whips and Municipal Managers.
On the current state of the relationship between SALGA and Local Government SETA: since the disbandment of the Local Government SETA Board and the SETA being placed under administration, the interaction with the Local Government SETA had mainly been based on the management and implementation of existing skills and learning programmes. The envisaged consultative and on-going engagement between the Local Government SETA and critical stakeholders such as COGTA and SALGA had been bolstered by the recent establishment of the Working Group of Stakeholders. Given the myriad of strategic initiatives in the sector that were underway (such as the professionalisation of local government and the mooted establishment of the Local Government School), SALGA planned to introduce the Centre for Leadership and Governance as well as the introduction of the Public Administration Management Bill. As part of the National Development Plan's identified need to build a capable state, including at local government level, opportunities existed for collaboration with the Local Government SETA on pivotal programmes of capacity building.
The Chairperson said that the briefing had provided a great deal of detail. The Committee needed a breakdown of councillor inductions. If more than 8000 councillors had been trained, a breakdown per province was needed. If Members had the figures, then questions could be asked. She had attended the councillor induction workshop held in Mpumalanga Province. The process of councillor training should continue.
Mr Mashilo responded that he was a councillor himself. SALGA could provide a detailed report to the Committee. He had attended councillor training sessions and pointed out that some councillors had fallen asleep during the sessions. After each training session, the register of attendance was sent to SALGA and municipalities. It was an exercise to monitor the attendance by councillors. There were instances where councillors could not graduate because they had not completed training modules.
Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) asked how the impact of the training was evaluated. Oversight of municipalities had taken place and the problems were lack of skills and lack of capacity. She asked whether SALGA did follow-ups. Where training had been given to councillors that had not been re-elected, what happened to them? She had personally witnessed councillors who could not write and sign their names. The main issue was about how SALGA did monitoring and evaluation. The training needed to make an impact. SALGA needed credibility.
Mr Nolutshungu explained that a study had been commissioned to look at the impact of the training. The outcome of the study did not demonstrate that municipalities were improving on the whole. Some councillors were completing the training and receiving their certificates. The persons giving the training were old councillors. The impact of the training could be far greater and there was a need to look back at what the building blocks of capacity were. The study did show that skills development was not prioritised by politicians.
The Chairperson stated that the fact that the training was given by old councillors did not necessarily mean that it was a good thing. There could be disadvantages too. Some persons could have good qualifications but were not necessarily equipped to impart and share their knowledge.
Mr J Matshoba (ANC), addressing Mr Madonsela, said that the vacant posts at municipalities were due to a lack of funding. The Committee had brought up this issue since 2009. Municipalities in the North West and the Northern Cape had received disclaimers because they lacked capacity.
Mr Mashilo speaking on the lack of funding at municipalities said that indeed capacity was lacking. Discussions with political parties over the issue had already taken place.
Mr Madonsela reacted that capacity at municipal level was not always about funding. Issues were more complex than that. He did concede that funding was nevertheless a major issue. Even if funding was available and posts were filled, it did not necessarily mean that one had the required capacity.
Nkosi Mandela said that if 8000 councillors had been trained, where were they trained and how many per province had been trained? How much did the training cost and when had the training taken place? He read out the mandate of SALGA. SALGA fell under the DCOG but no mention was made in the briefing about traditional leaders - even though traditional leaders sat in mayoral committees. Did traditional leaders have access to training programmes? Of the 8000 councillors that trained, how many were traditional leaders? He asked that the figures be forwarded to the Committee. From the briefing, there was no reference to any engagement by SALGA with the House of Traditional Leaders at national level. He was sceptical about DCOG and SALGA’s capacity building programmes for traditional leaders. The briefing spoke about programmes where SALGA partnered with the Local Government SETA but none of the programmmes involved the training of traditional leaders. On councillor induction programmes what was done on traditional leaders?
Mr Mashilo explained that in accordance with the Municipal Structures Act, traditional leaders who were councillors were referred to as councillors.
Mr Mavunda reacted that the status of traditional leaders needed to be indicated clearly. Especially those traditional leaders who had been elected by traditional leaders to sit on councils. The matter need not be discussed at present. What was in reality and what was in legislation was different.
Mr Nolutshungu conceded that the SALGA briefing did not provide enough detail on who went on training. He acknowledged that more information about individual councillors was needed. One needed to know what their educational backgrounds were and what types of training they already had.
Mr Matshoba said that it seemed that the DCOG focused its training on ward committees and not on organised communities.
Mr Madonsela conceded that perhaps the focus of training had been on ward committees and not on organised communities. The issue should perhaps be looked at and discussed. Greater engagement was needed in the future. Consideration should be given to what was expected in law.
Mr Mashilo conceded that the focus had been on ward councillors. In the report to be forwarded to the Committee the situation regarding traditional leaders could be elaborated upon. He pointed out that some traditional leaders did not wish to participate.
Ms C Mosimane (COPE) asked when SALGA spoke about induction training did they simply hand over these programmes to councillors. Did SALGA conduct a situational analysis? In her constituency there were councillors who did not even know what their mandates were.
The Chairperson pointed out that a skills audit of municipalities, especially of senior managers, was needed. There had been talk for a long while about the implementation of the Municipal Systems Act. The issue had always been that both the DCOG and SALGA said that they were awaiting the accompanying regulations. She pointed out that the Act had already been enacted. What was SALGA doing in terms of educating councillors on the implementation of the Municipal Systems Act?
Mr Mashilo said that an audit had been done. In the appointment of service posts, persons should fulfill certain requirements. Thsee persons had to have certain qualifications. The problem was that people did not want to take up jobs at the smaller municipalities because the smaller municipalities tended to receive disclaimers from the Auditor General. SALGA had for the first time received a clean audit from the Auditor General.
Local Government SETA presentation
The Local Government SETA briefed the Committee on its learning programmes and learnerships. The briefing was undertaken by Mr Nqaba Nqandela, Administrator of the Local Government SETA, and Ms Rosemarie Du Plessis Learning Programmes Manager at the Local Government SETA.
Mr Nqandela kicked off the briefing by touching on the Local Government SETA’s mandate. He noted that over the last two years the SETA had experienced management and governance challenges. It could not meet its obligations in law. In 2011/12 the SETA received a disclaimer from the Auditor General. Prior to the disclaimer the previous chairperson of the SETA had approached the Minister and had stated that he was unable to get the SETA back on track. The Minister consequently instructed the Director General, Mr Madonsela, to place the SETA under administration.
Mr Nqandela stressed that he was trying his level best to stabilise the SETA. There were issues of financial management. The SETA had to be fixed whilst still adhering to its mandate. One of the biggest issues raised by the Auditor General to the Minister was the lack of capacity. At the core of the National Skills Accord was that employers needed to open up their workplaces to train youngsters beyond their own needs as municipalities did not have enough place to train people. Since being under administration the SETA’s constitution has been suspended and its board disbanded. A working group had since been established.
The broad objective of the SETA was to facilitate, coordinate and monitor the implementation of the National Skills Development Strategy in the local government sector. The SETA’s total income from levies in 2012 was R338m.
Municipalities had to apply for discretionary grants by the end of March each year. Thereafter applications would be evaluated by the SETA. Two problems encountered were that the SETA could not meet its own timelines and secondly there were further requirements that needed to be met where their applications for discretionary grants had been approved. For example in the Eastern Cape an amount of R52m had been approved for discretionary grants to municipalities but the funds had to be sent back to the SETA as the requirements had not been met. Mr Nqandela felt that the process was problematic as it was the only chance for municipalities to apply for discretionary grants.
Ms Du Plessis continued with a breakdown of figures of discretionary grants granted to municipalities in various provinces. In the North West Province for 2012/13 seven municipalities had applied for discretionary grants. Only two of those seven complied with the requirements. Of the R30m committed to the province only R8m actually went to the province. In Kwazulu-Natal, sixteen municipalities applied but only one had met the requirements. In Mpumalanga Province R14m had been committed but only R3m had been spent. In Gauteng Province ten municipalities had applied but only six had complied with requirements. A total of R77m had been committed but only R12m had been spent. In the Eastern Cape Province eleven municipalities had applied but only two had met the requirements. In the Western Cape Province twenty nine municipalities had applied but only six had met requirements. She felt that the process was definitely skewed. There were many issues affecting municipalities. Municipalities complained about the SETA’s response time to applications for discretionary grants. Further, the cost of training exceeded grant amounts. Municipalities also had supply chain issues. The SETA funded many programmes such as apprenticeship training, management and leadership training.
The SETA had five strategic focus areas, infrastructure and delivery; community based participation and planning; management leadership and training; financial viability and lastly workplace training support.
The SETA encouraged municipalities to take on more unemployed learners on learnerships. There was however no data available on the numbers absorbed by municipalities.
Mr Nqandela concluded that the aim of placing the SETA under administration was to fix the organisation with the help of stakeholders. At the end of the process there should be a stronger SETA that was more relevant to the local government sector.
The Chairperson pointed out that in the Mpumalanga Province there were water issues at municipalities with a lack of water process controllers. There were no qualified technical people to deal with the water and electrical problems. Was the Local Government SETA aware of the issues and if so what was being done about it.
On skills development facilitators did the Local Government SETA make sure that service providers were accredited?
Ms Janet Davies, Skills Development Manager on water controller training, said that Phase 1 focussed on water process controller and operator training. Most of the training was on NQF Levels 2 and 3 and a few on NQF Level 4. The Department of Water Affairs was to licence water purification plants at municipalities and water process controllers were to be registered. Phase 1 looked at all municipalities in South Africa and Phase 2 was broader and focused on 23 districts. The training looked at the skills of artisans and unemployed people for example plumbers and fitters and turners. Water plants were also being refurbished and water process controllers were being trained. There was also short course leadership training for councillors.
One of the requirements of municipal infrastructure grants was that all infrastructure programmes should be labour intensive as far possible. The Department of Public Works realised that at municipal level they could not design construction programmes that were labour intensive. The Department of Public Works in 2006/07 approached the Local Government SETA and 2400 municipal officials were trained in construction NQF Levels 5 and 7. In 2011/12 a further 1200 were trained.
Ms Valencia Mashigo, Local Government SETA: ETQA Manager, said that as a quality assurer the use of accredited service providers was paramount. The interests of the learner as well as the client which was the municipality needed to be considered. The Local Government SETA had trained the Skills Development Facilitators on how to read different types of accreditation certificates. The person might be accredited but the question was about what type of accreditation they had. The capacity of the service provider needed to be considered. The quality of training given was also assessed. Assessors and monitors also needed to be registered. On the monitoring of service providers, after accreditation, a quality management check was done on whether they had the required capacity.
Mr Steenhuizen noted that the Auditor General’s Office had just released an audit outcome for the last financial year and one of the key problem areas was the lack of capacity at local government level. Local government was using consultants to do its work. Governance at local government level required there to be capacity. Greater attention should be given to the issue and resources required should be allocated.
He asked for how long was the Local Government SETA expected to be under administration. Was there an exit strategy in place and what the timeframes were? The Annual Report of the Local Government SETA and the Auditor General’s Report both reflected that there were problems of performance and procurement at the SETA. How was the decision to grant bonuses to senior managers at the SETA justified? Were the managers deserving of the bonuses in terms of the management structure?
Mr Nqandela responded that once the Local Government SETA was placed under administration, issues had to be responded to as soon as possible. There was a plan in place to deal with financial and human resource issues. Reports were submitted to the Director General on a monthly basis. The period of administration was for 12 months. At the end of the period a review would be done. Even with all the problems that the Local Government SETA was experiencing, its board still approved the bonuses. The issue was however being addressed. For the financial year 2011/12 no bonuses had been paid. Investigations were being done to identify where things had gone wrong.
Mr Matshoba asked if the Local Government SETA used consultants and if they did, for what period of time?
Mr Nqandela emphasised that the Local Government SETA lacked capacity. There were many vacant posts. Even the Chief Financial Officer and the Human Resources Manager posts were vacant. There were personnel on short term contracts but even they had to be capacitated. Yes, consultants had to be brought in. External accountants had to be brought in to assist with the audit in order to prevent a disclaimer. A human resources and a legal person had to be also brought in.
Mr T Bonhomme (ANC) pointed out that many persons trained through SETAs often received certificates of training but the problem was that they lacked on the job training. These persons were basically thrown out to the wolves. He wished to hear some success stories. Artisans needed proper training.
Mr Nqandela agreed that short course training without much practical experience was not a solution. Was proper training being done? Artisans should be properly trained. These and other issues were things that stakeholders should address.
Mr Mavunda asked what the SETA could do about training unemployed persons given that unemployment in South Africa was a huge problem. When municipalities did not use the discretionary grants, the funds were taken back. Who was suffering - it should be asked - was it the people on the ground? Instead of taking the funds back, why were municipalities not assisted in spending the funds? What was the Local Government SETA doing to assist municipalities with supply chain problems? Why were municipalities appointing unaccredited service providers? What action was the Local Government SETA taking?
Mr Nqandela said that there was not a choice in the matter. Unemployed persons should be trained. The focus had been on the training of the employed and he felt it not to be correct. The fact was that municipalities lacked technical persons. The current Annual Performance Plan of the DCOG 2013/14 did place more emphasis on the training of the unemployed. He felt that more could be done. At the moment the Local Government SETA did not have a shortage of resources but rather it should become more organised. On non-compliance by municipalities, he felt that funding should be approved but that the Local Government SETA could run projects for them. The Local Government SETA should also appoint service providers as in the end it was beneficiaries who suffered.
The Chairperson noted that one of the issues coming out of the briefing was that when municipalities applied for discretionary grants, the Local Government SETA tended to reply too late to the applications. She asked whether the Local Government SETA also had capacity problems. She added that all stakeholders should come on board to assist municipalities with grants.
Mr Nqandela, speaking on the response time for municipality grant applications, said that by the end of September 2013 the Local Government SETA would have responded to municipalities. It was one of the interventions undertaken after placing the Local Government SETA under administration. He added that the organisational structure of the Local Government SETA was being worked on and it was moving away from the use of consultants.
Ms Mosimane pointed out that often there were protests because meters had not been read properly. Competent people were needed to read meters.
The Chairperson asked whether the Local Government SETA had a turnaround plan in place. She agreed that the DCOG and SALGA needed to do a skills audit. The needs of municipalities should be identified and thereafter models of training should be developed. The Local Government Academy School by SALGA and the DCOG’s School of Local Government would be discussed at another time. The Committee recommended that SALGA should come up with workshop programmes for councillors on current legislation and grants. In addition the Committee would invite the Department of Traditional Affairs and discuss capacity and how tools of trade and resources could be made available to traditional leaders.
The meeting was adjourned.
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