Municipal Demarcation Board, Commission for the Promotion & Protection of Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities 2012/13 Annual Reports

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Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs

08 October 2013
Chairperson: Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee firstly considered the 2012/13 Annual Report of the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB). The MDB had achieved an unqualified financial audit although some issues of concern were noted in the presentation. A summary was given of the last session in which the MDB had briefed the Committee, and there was then a follow up on what had been achieved since. The strategic direction and the outputs and developments for the year were described. The MDB was concerned with the on-going review of municipal boundaries, on-going assessment of municipal capacity, re-organisation of the institutional administrative structures, enhancement of stakeholder relations and communications, enhancement of operations through national and international studies, the maintenance and improvement of governance structures and the on-going compliance with relevant legislative and regulatory requirements. Much emphasis was placed on enhancing stakeholder relations and communication, which also included national and international studies. The MDB was concerned with maintaining good governance structures and compliance with all relevant legislation. The breakdown of financial statement showed that the total income for the year was R41.3 million, but expenditure was at R34.3 million, which left the MDB with a surplus of R6.9 million. The MDB had commitments at the end of the year of R4.4 million, and accumulated surpluses were R27.2 million. The Board Chairperson indicated that the strategic direction would continue to focus on stakeholder interaction, and the strengthening of research capacity. There were a number of legislative amendments that the MDB would bring to Parliament, to try to close existing gaps and address challenges encountered provide certainty and greater clarity. Regulations were needed in some areas. It was also intending to run more awareness campaigns and enhance its partnerships with the Chapter 9 institutions and constituencies.

Members called for an explanation on why the expenditure was so low, why this had not been addressed earlier in the financial year, and more details on the precise nature of the under-spend. They asked why there was reference to eight, rather than nine provinces, asked for more detail on the applications rejected and whether the applicants had been fully advised of their rights. Clearly, many f the old boundaries still needed to be rectified. The MDB agreed with this, clarified that it was not responsible for setting the boundaries, but that it would oppose anything that would hinder efficiency. A question was asked on performance bonuses, which was not answered

The Commission for the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CLRC) tabled and took Members through the 2012/13 Annual Report. Its chairperson noted the complex nature of the work, the way in which negative perceptions about the Commission had sometimes occurred, and the fact that it tried to get all parties to state and respect other views. It had held a conference in this year, and called on Parliament to try to assist in getting neighbouring states to participate. The focal points had included defining the cultures, religions and languages of diverse communities, which involved intense public participation. Certain barbaric practices, and the Public Holiday Act, had been seen as unconstitutional. Various public hearings were arranged. The CLRC had obtained an unqualified audit but the Auditor-General was concerned about documentation produced in proof of delivery of services. The CLRC had seen a budget increase of R12 million and had managed to spend the majority of it. However, a comparison of spending showed that about half the budget was spent on salaries. This was raised, later, as a major concern by Members, but the CLRC maintained that this was due to the need to attract and keep skilled staff, two full time and 12 part time commissioners. Certain of the cases dealt with during the year were outlined, including some cultural traits that were highly debated such as ukuthwalwa, ukungena and the Rastafarians’ use of dagga as part of their religion. Members of the Committee questioned some of these further, raised the issue of cultural attire being worn by schoolchildren, criticised current sexual practices of teenagers,  and one Member expressed her concern about religions that still confined women to a lower status, whilst another raised concern about the way that traditional African practices were perceived in the South African context. Members felt that good work had been done overall.
 

Meeting report

Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) 2012/13 Annual Report presentation
Mr Landiwe Mahlangu, Chairperson, Municipal Demarcation Board, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present the Annual Report of the Municipal Demarcation Board (MDB) and introduced the team.

Ms Gababisile Gumbi-Masilela, Chief Executive Officer, MDB, recapped that the last briefing that the MDB had given to the Committee was on 19 March 2013. She outlined that this meeting had included a briefing on the broad process and timelines within the current Legal Framework 2011-2016, a progress report on performance up to March 2013, and details of the strategic objectives and the Annual Performance Plan. She had also explained about the public participation process the MDB would be undertaking, and the public meetings scheduled for April 2013, in terms of Section 28 of the Municipal Demarcation Act.

Ms Gumbi-Masilela tabled a slide showing the timeline of the MDB as well as the strategic direction of the Board, and the outputs and developments in the 2012/13 year. She outlined the primary  performance areas of the board, including the on-going review of municipal boundaries, on-going assessment of municipal capacity, re-organisation of the institutional administrative structures, enhancement of stakeholder relations and communications, enhancement of operations through national and international studies, the maintenance and improvement of governance structures and the on-going compliance with relevant legislative and regulatory requirements. She said that the proposals given emanated from the same areas, when put together and consolidated appropriately.

Ms Gumbi-Masilele further tabled slides showing what the MDB was doing to enhance stakeholder relations and communication, which included enhancement and operations through national and international studies. She described how it would maintain and improve governance structures, and outlined the on-going compliance with relevant legislative and regulatory requirements (see attached presentation for full details).

Ms Gumbi-Masilele then went through the expenditure of the year for the MDB, and the receipts for the end of the financial year. A break-down of the total expenditure for the year, and the operating expenses, was given. Year-on–year growth trends were provided. She provided the financial summary for the year. This noted that the total income for the period was R41.3 million, as against the total expenditure for the period at R34.3 million, which left the MDB with a surplus of R6.9 million. The MDB had commitments at the end of the year of R4.4 million, and accumulated surpluses were R27.2 million. A comparison of the allocations for the 2013/14 and following financial years was also given.

The regulatory audit outcomes, as well as steps taken to address internal control weaknesses were also presented to the Committee (see attached presentation for full details).

Mr Mahlangu outlined the strategic direction for the MDB in the forthcoming years. The main focus of the Board should be the manner in which it interacted with the people. The strategic direction was thus stated to include establishment of strategic links with key stakeholders and other key partners, to enhance public participation. There would be consultation on demarcation issues. The MDB intended to strengthen its research capacity and capability. It would be developing policy positions to guide the Board through decision making in a changing world. It was intending to enhance its internal capacity and become a public entity of choice. It was planning on bringing forward legislative amendments to provide clarity and certainty in a number of areas. Overall, it would improve communication capabilities within the organisation to improve the engagements with stakeholders, would conduct awareness campaigns on matters of demarcation and delimitation and strengthen partnerships with Chapter 9 institutions and constituencies and finalise regulations for the Local Government Municipal Demarcation Act.

Mr Mahlangu noted that there were certain gaps and the legislation would have to be amended because the MDB had already encountered certain challenges. He noted that there had been some challenges associated with members of the board, the rapid expansion of the stakeholder base, lack of regulations to support implementation of the legislation, insufficient consultation between municipalities and communities affected by boundary re-determinations, and lack of understanding of the mandate of the board and its processes. He reiterated that the legislative gaps prevented the MDB from performing some of its functions optimally.

Discussion
Mr T Bonhomme (ANC) said that he wanted an explanation as to why the expenditure appeared as it did, and why there was not closer investigation of the way money was being spent during the year. He called for more details on the under-spending of R6.9 million presented by the Board. He also asked why the presentation referred to eight provinces, and not nine, and why one of the provinces was apparently excluded from the work of the DMB. He also asked about why there were so many objections in Gauteng.

Mr Mahlangu responded that demarcation was sometimes done for political reasons, not administrative purposes, and that explained why, in some years, some provinces may have been left out. The under-spending resulted from the fact that not all the demarcations planned were actually done.

The Chairperson enquired about the portion of the presentation that referred to areas where there were rejections. There was a note that there were 824 rejections. She asked for some examples, and the areas where these had occurred. She also asked whether all the 824 rejected applicants had been informed on how cases and appeals could be lodged.

The Chairperson said that fact that the magisterial boundaries that had been set under the old apartheid system were still something that needed to be finalised.

Mr Mahlangu said that all these cases needed to be engaged with, in the respective provinces. He said that the issue of under-spending was related to capacity and the MDB had changed its structure so that it would be covering the local municipalities as well as the metros. He was pleased now to be able to state that the planned work was well under way.

Mr Mahlangu noted that the large numbers of objections had stalled the work of the MDB, but it had dealt with these and was now back on track with the planned activities. He said that the issue of participation of communities needed to be improved, as indeed the municipal boundaries were not all correct. Some boundaries were actually contributing to dysfunctional systems and it must be remembered that the municipalities were growing rapidly so that immense organisation was needed to combat this.

The Chairperson noted that not all targets around improving efficiency and administration were met and wanted to know if the MDB had managed to meet similar targets in the previous year. The presentation seemed to highlight that the major cause of underspending in the MDB was due to capacity related issues.

Mr Mahlangu added that the number of proposals to the demarcation board was not consistent. He stated that there was a baseline of 7.5%, and that the board had 30 people spread across all provinces. It was a constraint for the people to cut public service participation, and that the board took a position against those decisions that would impact communities in a negative manner. He said that the board needed to look at how to get skills at right places and therefore they wanted to review the recruitment process.

The Chairperson appreciated and commended the MDB on its unqualified audit, but wanted clarity on the actual findings of the audit report. She also asked for the audit fee to be explained.

Mr Mahlangu said that the MDB paid the fees of the Auditor-General and that the fees would rise every year. This was an expense that simply had to be paid.

The Chairperson questioned what was included in the performance bonus and asked for clarity on why this was awarded.

Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) wanted to know how the MDB identified the areas to that were to be demarcated. The reason why people protested was that they did not want to be included in a particular area. She wanted to know how the MDB would intervene in the case of protests.

The Chairperson said that she would like to emphasise that much attention must be paid to proper public participation in order to avoid such occurrences.

Mr Mahlangu said that it was not the MDB that made the final decision on what areas had to be demarcated. He explained that section 22 of the relevant legislation allowed the public, or Minister, to make application for a particular demarcation. He fully agreed that public participation was an important factor and that verification of the places that needed to be demarcated was done with municipalities. He added that there were financial and service delivery implications of any municipality structure. He agreed that people needed to be consulted about things that affected them.

The Chairperson thanked the MDB for their presentation and took note of the remarks of the Board.

Commission for the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CLRC) 2012/13 Annual Report briefing
Reverend Wesley Mabuza, Chairperson, Commission for the Promotion and the Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CLRC) tabled and took Members through the 2012/13 Annual Report. He noted that the oversight function of the CLRC tended to be to be affected by its original induction, orientation and planning. He said that the incoming CRLC needed to have a far clearer induction.

Mr Mabuza noted that this was an extremely difficult and complex Commission and there still remained work to be done on its perceptions. For instance, CLRC, through the way in which some radio interviews were interpreted, had become visible for the wrong reasons, and was labelled as promoting dagga. He said that the CLRC was essentially sometimes caught in a “Catch 22” situation,  that through constant effort it was managing to improve.

In the last financial year, the financial situation of the CLRC had improved, and this year the Commission was planning to hold a conference, although admittedly it should have been held at the inception of the body. He said that it was vitally important that people be allowed to air their views and be heard. He hoped that the Committee would be able to facilitate the conference, including the participation of foreign entities and perhaps engage with ambassadors so that South Africa could influence other surrounding African countries. It was a little disappointing that although countries such as China and Iraq visited South Africa to draw on its experiences, South Africa’s own neighbours were not doing the same.

Advocate Kgositoi Sedupane, Acting Chief Executive Officer, CLRC, noted that the Annual Report was mostly guided by legislation. He noted the focal points for 2012/13. These had included defining the cultures, religions and languages of diverse communities, so that the CLRC was in the process of helping others to educate each other on their diversities. Defining of cultures and languages had involved intense public participation.

The barbaric stigmas associated with cultures such as ukuhlolwa kwentombi, as well as Schedule 1 of Section 2 of the Public Holiday Act No 36 of 1994 were seen as unconstitutional. In the latter regard, he pointed out that all the public holidays were those of the Christian faith. He set out various other components of the work of the CLRC.  

Further slides showing the performance information, a summary of the audit opinion, as well as some the concerns that had been raised on certain aspects of the strategic plans were tabled (see attached presentation). The major concern of the Auditor-General was that there had not been sufficient correlation between the actual service delivery and documentation produced.

Mr Sedupane noted that various public hearings were held throughout the country, targeting various organs of state.

Mr Cornelius Machiel Smuts, Chief Financial Officer, CLRC, provided a summary of the financial statements and indicated that a substantial amount of the budget was used, despite the fact that the CLRC had had its funding increased in this financial year, by R12 million. One half of the budget – R6 million – was used for the NCC. Procurement had been centralised in the office of the CFO and this would help in administering funds adequately.

He presented the comparison of the expenditure trend as well as the medium term budget. He also added that he realised that the CRLC was using a large component of the funding on staff, but that it was a challenge to bring down the salaries, given the fact that the staff required to be highly qualified and skilled in order to do the work of the CLRC.

Discussion
Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) wanted clarity on the issue of ukuthwala and what the Commission’s findings were in this regard. He said that the Department of Traditional Affairs had alluded to legal ways in which ukuthwala could still be practised, and he wanted to know what these were. He also wanted a clear understanding of what ukungena was, and what were the findings and proceedings of ukungena were.

The Chairperson said that the Department of Traditional Affairs had to institute programmes to educate traditional communities, taking into consideration cultural issues. One of the cultural practices – which was ukungena – was that according to certain cultures widows were meant to marry their husbands’ brothers when their husband had passed on. She said that the issue of their inheritance had to be evaluated, given the nature of this custom. She also enquired about title deeds and what rights the widow lost due to this custom.

Mr T Bonhomme (ANC) congratulated the CLRC and told them that they were doing well aside from a few glitches.

Mr G Boinamo (DA) said he wanted to know what was considered to be so barbaric about ukuthwalwa,  and stated that in some African culture a girl was not permitted to fall pregnant unless married, and if she did so, risked being disowned. He was particularly critical of the fact that young people were “sleeping around”, even on school premises, and at times this was done under the influence of drugs.

The Chairperson interjected that “it takes two to tango” and said it was incorrect to suggest that only girls were sleeping around  - the boys were doing so too.

Rev Mabuza explained that ukuthwala, in the legal sense, concerned eloping rather than abduction, and that it usually involved two people running away together, with consent. They generally loved each other, but had no money to settle excessive lobola. The  CLRC was conscious of the need to begin where people were and move with them on these issues.

Rev Mabuza thought that ukungena was not socially acceptable in South Africa’s current society, given that all religions and all cultures were moving to a point where they no longer supported the notion that women were so subservient that they were like objects. There was no constitutional support for this notion, because it violated human dignity. The country should be educating its population to eradicate such behaviour. He said that the CLRC usually did not adopt only one single position, because it generally attempted to facilitate discussion on all sides, but the Constitution was always the guideline.

Nkosi Mandela appreciated the presentation of the Chief Financial Officer, but it left him with serious concerns as to the “excessive amount” being spent on employee costs. Operational expenditure had decreased to 32%, but employee costs had rocketed to 61.1%. He wanted to know why more was spent on employee costs than on operational costs.

Reverend Mabuza said that ideally the CLRC should get notification of some of the concerns at the start of the year. However, he fully accepted that the nature of the meeting was that the CLRC should be interrogated on what it had delivered.  The salary issue was also partially linked to the fact that the CLRC had two full-time commissioners, and in all had 14, now that one of the original 15 commissioners had passed away. They were included in the total salary structure. He said that in South Africa there was often a misperception that expenditure was irregular and went straight into people’s pocket but this was not always true.

Mr Smuts added that when compared with other service institutions, similar ratios around employment rates and salaries were evident. For instance, the Department of Basic Education was continuously hiring staff.  It was necessary to increase the operational expenditure to cover the need for services of qualified people. It would definitely impact on the service delivery of the CRLC if employment costs were cut.

Ms C Mosimane (COPE) said that her concern with many religions was that men took the superior stance, leaving women at the bottom, and if religious doctrines were used and accepted, this meant that women would further be oppressed. She said that it was not enough to talk about religion. In fact, women rather needed to be educated about what their rights were. She asked if the CLRC would consult with traditional leaders in the provinces.

Mr Boinamo noted that Rastafarians fully promoted the tenets of their religion to consume dagga, and asked if the CLRC thought that this was acceptable.

Mr Boinamo noted that the CLRC had been distributing pamphlets, and asked to what areas and what was the content of the pamphlets.

Mr Boinamo enquired the take of the CLRC on children who wanted to wear traditional clothes rather than school uniform.

Advocate Sedupane responded to the questions in general, and noted that 83 cases were investigated  in the last year. They were not necessarily all resolved; the issues were referred to organs of state, the Department of Rural Development and other relevant institutions. He mentioned the Ngquthu case, involving the Basotho, and said that the CLRC had engaged with the MEC on Education and Head of the Provincial Department and had made recommendations that there must be engagement on the issues. Such cases could be used as a precedent all over the country.

He said that NCC resolutions were in progress and that the “Barbarism of African Religions” related to the core issue of intolerance amongst communities. He said that the pamphlets were distributed in provinces. The CLRC could give further information on this and on case handling.

In answer to questions around the dress codes, he noted that there were some precedents around matters such as wearing traditional attire at schools, or keeping dreadlocks. Sometimes, the donning of certain attire led to problems – there was an instance of a nurse who wanted to wear a head-scarf that covered her face also, but the issues around health and safety also had to be considered.

Reverend Mabuza added that there were stubborn views on culture. Africans had an acceptance of worshiping through the ancestors, even before the Christian gospels had been introduced. Many people conveniently ignore the carrying out of their own customs, but criticised those of others. When an African committed a horrendous act, the comment was “what is wrong with these Africans?”. The struggle continued.

Rev Mabuza noted that this would be the last year that the current commissioners served and said that the current Commission was left with only three months to conclude its work.  He thanked Parliament and South Africa for entrusting them with such a great challenge and expressed the hope, on behalf of all commissioners, that the CLRC would continue to be effective at national, provincial and local level.

The Chairperson said it had been a fruitful journey working with the CLRC, from whom many lessons had been learned and she would be commending their hard work and dedication in the House.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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