The Minister and the Director General of the Department of Cooperative Governance and the Director General of the Department of Traditional Affairs made presentations to the committee on the past and present Annual Performance Plans for the Department. They highlighted the various projects and programmes run by the Department and identified some of the challenges it faced.
The Minister explained the constitutional inter-relationship between the three spheres of government. In the years of democratic governance, the foundation had been laid and most structures were fairly resilient, but there was still a lot of work to do and it would take time. The Department must remain humble and hardworking. The government as a whole was aware of, and had an understanding of, the challenges facing local government, which included persistent apartheid spatial patterns, the effect of the global economic downturn on the domestic economy and revenue of municipalities, as well as the rapid rate of urbanisation. 80% of population will be urbanised by 2030 and it requires a different level of planning and capability both for urban and rural areas. Thus far they had adopted a “one size fits all” approach, but there was a need to customise the systems and obligations placed on the shoulders of municipalities. Local government had undergone tremendous evolution -- from about 1 100 fragmented and racially-based local authorities and structures prior to 1994, to 283 municipalities today. However, the fundamental question remained, “How do we implement the National Development priorities of the country in a three-sphere system of government, where local government is the only site of delivery?”
After the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCOG) and the Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA) had presented their individual objectives and plans, the DTA reported to the Committee with regard to initiation rituals, which had come under public scrutiny due to initiates dying from negligent practices, as well as lawlessness and commercialisation of this cultural practice. Two provinces had been targeted for intervention -- the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga. So far, 23 initiates had died, and the perpetrators of these deaths had largely been arrested. The causes of death ranged from excessive bleeding, gangrene, dehydration and even chronic illness. Government will intervene and act on failures in the performance of this cultural practice. Task teams have been elected, consisting of health professionals, social development institutions, the DTA, SAPS, national and provincial houses of traditional leaders, community members and parents. Monitoring teams have been established in both Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. The government goal for this initiation season is zero fatalities of initiates, supported by all stakeholders. Where the Department of Health had implemented medical male circumcision there were no deaths, so the government will enforce medical male circumcision to save lives. The majority of traditional leaders embrace this method. The registration of all initiation schools and traditional surgeons will be made compulsory.
Members raised several concerns during discussion. They asserted that the Project Management Units in municipalities were not functioning properly, and advocated better linkage between the monitoring and evaluation functions of the different levels of government. They asked what steps were being taken by the Department to ensure the financial stability of municipalities, and expressed concern over the delays in eradicating the bucket sewage disposal system. They said there was a need to harmonise relations between traditional institutions and municipalities, and expressed a lack of confidence in the ability of the Community Works Programme to effectively provide participants with skills. They also asked what happened with the excess funds for disaster management, and the strength of the disciplinary process for persons found guilty of gross misconduct in conducting their duties in municipalities.
The Chairperson greeted everybody and welcomed the fact that the NCOP members had joined the meeting, given how soon they needed to decide on the budget. It was good the two houses were together as it allowed them to interact and ask each other questions. He thanked the NCOP for agreeing to join the NA for the briefing from the Department and lightly chastised the Minister and the Department for not having sent the documents to the Members sooner. He said that the documents should have been made available at least seven days prior to the meeting.
Mr B Bhanga (DA) seconded the Chairperson’s complaint, saying that they must have the reports sooner in order to be able to interact. He stressed that the procedure with regard to the reports must be respected, otherwise when they come to the meetings, they are not properly prepared to tackle them. The late receipt of reports should not happen again, and in the future they should send the Department back if they did not get the reports timeously.
Mr L Nzimande of the NCOP (ANC) came to the rescue of the Department and said that context needed to be considered in this discussion. This was only a briefing, a presentation outlining the vision and thinking of the Department.
Mr N Khubisa (DA) seconded Mr Nzimande and said this was a preamble, a meeting to outline what they expect from each other, to set parameters on how they operate and it was unfair to chastise the Department when they had not yet outlined how they will be operating.
Mr Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, responded that it was important to get the facts right. The documents distributed and on which the presentation was based had been made available to the Members since around 27 June, and the new one was tabled at an appropriate time. This was a briefing based on the two Annual Performance Plans (APPs), and it was regrettable that the Member thought he needed to send them back when the documents were in the system. They should not create unnecessary strife and start the Fifth Parliament off in this way. Documents were available to all who want them. They had been in office for only five weeks and were still finding their feet, but if the committee wanted to begin on a note of attrition, the Department would respond in kind.
Mr Bhanga said he felt he may have been misunderstood. There was a process and procedure to the dispensation of Parliamentary reports. He did not mean the Department must go back now but in the future, should they not adhere to procedure. He was not fighting with anybody, but in future documents must be received seven days prior to the presentation.
The Chairperson says there was no need to have a long discussion over something that had been clarified. The documents were available in Parliament and the secretary should have retrieved them and distributed them to Members, if that was what they wanted. He invited the Minister to make a presentation.
The Minister outlined the setup of the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs ministry. It was comprised of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, so there were two Departments and two directors-general. There was no duplication of support services, which were shared in terms of human resources, finance, and so on. He went on to outline the system of cooperative governance.
The constitution constitutes government as national, provincial and local spheres which are distinctive, inter-dependent and interrelated -- distinctive because each sphere exists in its own right, is the final decision maker on a defined range of functions and is accountable to its legislature for those decisions. However it does not mean these spheres are constitutionally equal, enjoy the same powers or are autonomous. They are interrelated because provinces and municipalities exercise their distinctiveness within set regulatory and oversight frameworks. The regulatory frameworks retain the monitoring of compliance and if need be, intervenes when constitutional obligations are not fulfilled.
The spheres are interdependent because they must all exercise their powers for the common good of the country as a whole by cooperating with each other. In this sense, the spheres are interdependent with a duty to collaborate and coordinate their actions on the basis of an integrated development plan.
He emphasized that collaboration between and among national departments, provincial departments and municipalities is crucial. Section 40(2) of the constitution mandates all spheres of government to observe and adhere to the principles of cooperative government and intergovernmental relations as set out in section 41. Further, chapter 7 provides for the establishment of municipalities for the whole of the territory of the Republic. In addition to this, section 154 of the Constitution obliges national and provincial government to support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and perform their functions. The Department and government as a whole are at the service of the citizens and that they need to move into a period where there is stronger collaboration between the national, provincial and municipal departments if they are going to change people’s lives. The aim overall was to allow for the 51 million citizens of South Africa to live in a secure and decent environment. He emphasized the importance of providing basic services to the community.
In the context of chapter 3 of the Constitution, on the cooperative government, Section 41(2) provides for an Act of Parliament. The Inter-Governmental Relations (IGR) Act provides a framework for national, provincial and local government, and all organs of state within these spheres, to facilitate coordination in the implementation of policies and legislation, including coherent government, effective provision of services, monitoring and implementation of policies and legislation and realisation of national priorities. The Act also provides for mechanisms and procedures to facilitate the settlement of intergovernmental disputes.
The Minister also made reference to the interrelation between national and provincial government. Schedules 4b and 5b of the constitution are important in explaining the functional areas that are the responsibility of municipalities. Section 44(2) of the constitution highlights the unified aspect of government. Provincial and local governments have a responsibility to ensure and provide for the effective performance of municipalities in respect of schedules 4 and 5 of the constitution. Section 155 of the constitution enjoins each provincial government to establish various categories of municipalities and to provide, by legislative or other measures, for the monitoring and support of local government capacity, to enable municipalities to perform their functions and manage their own affairs. There are also sections which provide for intervention by the relevant executive if a municipality cannot, or does not, fulfil an executive obligation in terms of the Constitution. Various rules govern this process.
The Minister said that S152 of the constitution describes both the ideal municipality and the developmental character of a municipality. Local government and its terrain must be transformed over time. It must provide democratic and accountable government, respond to the needs of the local community with a greater sense of urgency than has been seen in some instances, must acknowledge the role they can play with respect to social and economic development, must provide a safe and healthy environment, and must encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in matters of local government. They also must facilitate a culture of public service and accountability among their staff.
In the years of democratic governance, the foundation has been laid and most structures are fairly resilient, but there is still a lot of work to do and it will take time. The Department must remain humble and hardworking. The government as a whole are aware of, and have an understanding of, the challenges facing local government, which include persistent apartheid spatial patterns, the effect of the global economic downturn on the domestic economy and revenue of municipalities, as well as the rapid rate of urbanisation. 80% of population will be urbanised by 2030 and it requires a different level of planning and capability both for urban and rural areas. Thus far they have adopted a “one size fits all” approach, but there is a need to customise the systems and obligations placed on the shoulders of municipalities. Local government has undergone tremendous evolution -- from about 1 100 fragmented and racially-based local authorities and structures prior to 1994, to 283 municipalities today. However, the fundamental question remains, “How do we implement the National Development Priorities of the country in a three-sphere system of government, where local government is the only site of delivery?”
The Minister went on to say that the Department mandate is derived from s211 and 212 of the constitution which stipulates that the institution, status and role of traditional leadership are recognised according to customary law, subject to the constitution, and national legislation may provide for a role for traditional leadership as an institution at local level on matters affecting local communities. The Department is further sanctioned by Section 30 and 31 of the Constitution, which outlines that everyone has the right to use the language and participate in the cultural life of their choice. This is an area that needs further discussion.
Section 19 provides a role for traditional councils or traditional leaders in respect of arts and culture, land administration, health, agriculture, welfare, administration of justice, safety and security, tourism, disaster management, registration of births, deaths and customary marriages, economic development and education. Section 20 outlines responsibilities and conditions for the Department when allocating the above mentioned roles to traditional leaders and traditional councils. The key objective is to work harder at harmonising municipal institutions as per the constitution, and to find ways of encouraging greater symmetry between the two institutions.
Department of Cooperative Governance performance
Mr Vusi Madonsela, Director-General of the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCOG) outlined the Department’s performance against the 2013/14 Annual Performance Plan’s predetermined objectives.
The purpose is to provide for the management, leadership and administration of the Department. The predetermined objective was to provide effective internal financial management to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs by maintaining sound internal controls and implementing the annual post audit action plan by 31 March 2014. The results were that the 2012/2013 audited outcome was unqualified, with matters of emphasis, and a post audit action plan was implemented. 95% of the budget was spent in the 2013/2014 financial year. A fraud prevention plan was developed and implemented. A predetermined objective was to provide human resource services that respond to the needs of the Department by implementing the annual Human Resources Plan by 31 March 2014. The results were that human resource management was implemented and an organisational structure was reviewed to match the mandate of the Department.
The purpose was to provide specialised support services to the Department in the areas of research and knowledge management, policy formulation, monitoring and evaluation and information, communication and business technologies. The predetermined objectives were to support integrated urban development, and they had managed to develop, with Cabinet approval, the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) discussion document -- a conceptual framework for integrated urban development -- for public comment.
The aim was to improve the vertical and horizontal coordination and alignment between the three spheres of government. The predetermined objectives were to strengthen the functionality of the ward committees and enhance community participation, to implement initiatives to improve financial management expenditure and revenue enhancement, as well as to facilitate the implementation of policy and legislation to strengthen cooperative governance across the three spheres. In this regard they exceeded their target of 2 000 and managed to increase the development and implementation of ward level operational plans in 2 059 of the 4 277 municipal wards. Further, they met their target of assessing the credit record control and debt collection policies of 30 municipalities, and identified and communicated to relevant municipalities, policy gaps requiring corrective action. They exceeded their target of 120 by supporting 128 municipalities to implement the infrastructure projects funded through the municipal infrastructure grant (MIG). Finally, they met their target of assessing the rating practices of identified municipalities and monitored their compliance with their rating practices regarding rate ratios promulgated under the Municipal Property Rates Act. They had also developed and submitted the Intergovernmental Support, Monitoring and Interventions Bill to the Ministerial Cluster.
The aim was to promote an integrated and coordinated system of Disaster Risk Management, with special emphasis on prevention, mitigation and preparedness. The predetermined objective was to improve the system of disaster management and fire services across the three spheres. The results were the development of the Disaster Management Amendment Bill which has been submitted to Cabinet for processing. In implementing the legislation, the Department declared disasters in various provinces affected by floods and drought, and supported them in securing funds for immediate disaster relief. Finally the Post-Disaster Recovery and Rehabilitation Funds application will be submitted during the August 2014 budget adjustment process.
The aim was to provide oversight, support programmes and evidence-based regulatory mechanisms for provincial and municipal government. The predetermined objectives were to improve performance and professionalism of municipalities and enhance national and provincial oversight on the implementation of local government legislation and a differentiated approach to municipal planning, The results were that the Department managed to finalise the regulations governing the appointment criteria for municipal managers and managers directly accountable to municipal managers, and these have been promulgated. They had created a database of municipal staff members dismissed for misconduct, or resigned prior to the finalisation of disciplinary proceedings, in all nine provinces. The figure at the end of the financial year stood at 36 officials. Further, with respect to the predetermined objective to take a differentiated approach to municipal planning, the results were the conducting of nine provincial workshops and 23 district workshops to improve development planning capacity in municipalities outside metros and secondary cities. The result of these workshops was that municipal officials have an improved understanding of development planning processes.
The aim was to support and exercise oversight over provincial and local government programmes and systems, to promote economic and infrastructure development, and evidence-based regulatory mechanisms for provincial and municipal government. The predetermined objectives were to ensure the provision and maintenance of 332 500 work opportunities at the end of 2015/26. For 2013/14 the target is 171 500 work opportunities. The Department managed to create and maintain 205 494 work opportunities through the Community Work Programme. Another objective was to promote economic development within local government by supporting 25 municipalities in implementing economic development programmes. They reviewed the national framework for local economic development to create a basis for the development and implementation of a comprehensive local economic development strategy in 2014/15. 25 municipalities were supported to implement economic development programmes. Another objective was to provide technical support to selected municipalities in accordance with their identified needs. The Department supported three municipalities with development on integrated waste management plans. The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) has been supporting more than 18 identified municipalities with acceleration of grant funded projects. Another objective was to support targeted municipalities to enable them to reduce their infrastructure and service backlogs. In this regard, Vhembe District Municipality was supported with the deployment of 54 artisans that focus on water process controllers, waste process controllers and artisans to undertake operations and maintenance of water and sanitation infrastructure. MISA was appointed by the Department of Human Settlements as an implementing agent for the Bucket Eradication Programme in the Northern Cape. To date out of a total of 5 500 buckets planned for eradication, 1 200 have been eradicated. Another objective was to deploy technical experts to support municipalities in infrastructure provision, and in this regard, MISA currently has 61 technical professionals deployed to support a total of 121 municipalities throughout the country.
Mr Madonsela said that despite these achievements, there have been challenges. Some municipalities have continued to fill some posts without due regard to the regulations on minimum competency requirements. The Systems Act requires the MEC to take appropriate steps to enforce compliance, which may include an application to court for a declaratory order on the validity of the appointment. If the MEC fails to do this, the Minister may take the same steps. Further, the intermittent Departmental restructuring processes have resulted in the loss of critical skills and the shrinking of the staff establishment, thereby rendering the Department unable to deliver on its mandate. The Department is engaging with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and the national treasury (NT) to review the Department of Cooperative Governance’s organisational structure, and the financial requirements to address the above. There are limited human and financial resources to develop and maintain systems and processes necessary for the enhancement of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs’s ability to fulfil its role as a champion of cooperative governance.
In conclusion he said the process of finalising the Annual Report is underway and the Draft Annual Report for 2013/14 is with the Auditor-General for verification. Additionally, projects that were partially achieved or not achieved have been included in the Annual Performance Plan and/or Operational Plans for the 2014/15 financial year. The challenges identified in the previous financial year will be addressed as part of the implementation of the 2014/15 APP. They had planned 52 projects and had achieved 41. Ten were partially achieved and one was not achieved. The process of finalising the annual report is underway.
Department of Traditional Affairs Performance
Professor Charles Nwaila, Director-General, Department of Traditional Affairs (DTA) led the presentation on the Department’s performance against the APP’s predetermined objectives, which were:
The development and implementation of traditional leadership outreach programmes, implementation of the findings of an assessment report on the governance structures of traditional leadership, profiling of traditional councils, provision of support to provinces in respect of the reconstitution of traditional councils, and research conducted on the status of community authorities and independent headmen and headwomen, with 360 traditional leadership claims or dispute cases finalised. Further objectives were the identification of cultural tourist attraction sites with traditional, Khoi and San communities, engagement with the interfaith sector on DTA programmes, information gathering on protocols for senior traditional leaders, a partnership framework for implementing in eight provinces, implementation of a capacity-building implementation plan, the gathering of information on landless traditional leaders, coordination of summits, roundtable discussions, cultural events and celebrations to promote heritage and social cohesion, development and implementation of the Corporate Governance Framework, and the development and implementation of the DTA Service Delivery Improvement Plan and Service Charter.
In 2013/14, 32 of 34 predetermined objectives were achieved, and two were partially achieved. The National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) and the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims (CTLDC) had six predetermined objectives, all of which were achieved. Finally, corrective action plans were developed and monitored in 2014/15.
Highlights of the Department’s performance for 2013/14 were firstly, Programme 1 (administration), with an outreach project in the Eastern Cape, the Northern Cape, the Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, where traditional leaders were engaged on legislation and programmes of government. Secondly, in Programme 2 (Research, Policy and Legislation), protocol guidelines for kingship were developed and consultations carried out with all the affected kingships. Public hearings and consultations on the Traditional Affairs Bill were concluded. Reports on the reconstitution of traditional councils in five provinces were developed. The CTLDC finalised 360 dispute cases for the year under review, as planned, and also processed 700 cases from 2011/12 financial year, out of 1 244. Finally status quo reports on the community authorities in Limpopo, North West and Kwa-Zulu Natal and status quo reports on Landless Traditional Leaders in Mpumalanga, Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal were completed.
Challenges facing the DTA are the non-compliance with the Traditional Leadership and Governance Framework Act, 2003 as amended, on the reconstitution of traditional councils (Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape). Remedial action has been taken to start intervening on failure to comply by providing technical support, starting with Limpopo, and support to the remaining two provinces will continue. In addition to the de-establishment of community authorises in some provinces, there has been a proliferation of headmanship across the country. Remedial action taken in this regard has been to conduct some research and compile a report with recommendations which will be considered and implemented during 2014/15, and the conduct of research and the compilation of a report which will inform national norms and standards.
The Portfolio Committee recommended that the Department finalise its consultation with the National Treasury on its autonomy, and this had been finalised. The committee also recommended that the processing of the Traditional Affairs Bill to Cabinet and Parliament be fast-tracked. On 27 August 2013 the Bill was considered and supported by the Governance and Administration Cabinet Committee. On 4 September, the Bill was approved by Cabinet for publication and public comments. The next steps will be re-submission to Cabinet after consolidation of inputs received, and then tabling in Parliament
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs financial statements, 2013/14
Mr Madonsela presented the Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs financial statements, which remain unaudited and cover all the programmess of the Department. Out of a budget of R58 billion they had spent R56 billion. R301.6 million was allocated to compensation of employees, and of this 291.4 million was spent. Of the R2.16 billion goods and services budget, R2.15 billion had been spent. With respect to transfer and subsidies, the budget was set at R55.9 billion, and R54.1 billion was spent.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Annual Performance Plan, 2014/15
The Minister resumed his presentation at this point and said that the period ahead is informed by certain developments over the past year, namely the National Development Plan, which provides the basis for governmental planning, the Medium Term Strategic Framework, which is the government’s five-year plan, and the State of the Nation Address which indicates concrete actions to be taken in various municipalities. Additional factors were the current state of municipalities and the challenges they face.
The NDP proposes measures to move intergovernmental relations forward over and above general propositions, such as improving clarity in a differentiated system, regionalisation as a response to capacity constraints, a more coherent set of powers for metropolitan municipalities, a more focused role for provinces and a proactive approach to identifying and resolving problems. The NDP recognises the importance of a responsive, accountable and efficient local government system, as a building block towards the government system, as a building block towards the realisation of a capable and developmental state, and a differentiated approach to financing, planning and support to local government as a necessary intervention to enable it to attain its development goals and social cohesion. It also recognises the role of traditional affairs and traditional leadership in governance, administration of justice, and socio-economic and cultural development.
The Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) outlines work that will be done to implement the NDP over a five year period. The key elements of the MTSF are the sub-outcomes spread across the different chapters of the National Development Plan that are particularly important towards improving local government performance, ensuring quality service delivery and ultimately putting the local government sector on a positive path to achieving the vision. Members of society must have sustainable and reliable access to basic services, intergovernmental and democratic governance arrangements for a functional system of cooperative governance had to be strengthened, with sound financial and administrative management, the promotion of social and economic development, and local public employment programmes expanded through the Community Work Programme.
Key directives from the State of the Nation Address are to revitalise local government through a plan of action to provide support to several municipalities, infrastructure development, job creation (the Community Work Programme is expected to provide one million work opportunities by 2019), addressing corruption and fraud and managing urban development. The Minister said the key theme of the DCOG APP is a back to basics approach to service delivery -- that is to say, render it on time, on cost, and efficiently the way it is meant to be. There should also be intervention on critical failures, professionalisation of local government, promotion of good governance, the furthering of the development of institutional structures and systems, government-wide collaboration and alignment, and promoting economic development and job creation. He then described the programmes and their objectives.
This is the development of institutional structures and systems. The purpose of this programme is to improve information reliability and availability, to support the strategic goals of the Department, including the roll-out and monitoring of the implementation of the local government performance management system. An integrated monitoring and evaluation system would be developed and implemented for provincial departments of local government and municipalities. Steps to be taken towards this are to finalise local government indicators, design a monitoring and reporting system for local government, manage information relevant to Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and consolidate it into a single database, and support five provinces with the implementation of Project Management Units (PMUs) in local government
This involves government-wide collaboration and alignment, promoting good governance, economic development and job creation, intervening and acting on critical failures. The purpose of this programme is to promote competitive, inclusive and sustainable local government, review and develop policy and assess the impact of internal legislation on provincial and local government, and to enhance the regulatory, institutional and support framework for local government across provinces and municipalities. Steps to be taken towards achieving this are to develop an Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) implementation plan, develop and implement a national local economic development strategy, conduct research on identified strategic areas, produce a report on the assessment of national and provincial IGR structures, produce a report on the impact of Section 139 interventions, to determine what they need to continue doing the same, and what they need to change.
Broadly the predetermined objectives of the programme are to implement initiatives to improve financial stability, revenue management and audit outcomes in local government, as well as to manage the implementation of the Municipal Property Rates Act (MPRA) by implementing the regulatory framework, and monitoring and supporting municipalities regarding compliance with the MPRA. The steps to be taken towards achieving this are firstly to monitor and assess 30 municipalities on compliance with the MPRA, and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to deliver sustainable infrastructure and increase access to basic services, including provision of free basic services to the poor. Additionally the aim is to develop, monitor and produce a report on the implementation of a local government audit resource plan based on the 2013/14 local government outcomes, as well as to develop by 30 June 2014 a support programme to strengthen the functionality of Municipal Public Accounts Committees (MPACs) and implement it by 31 March 2015. Finally, the programme aimed to develop and implement in 20 municipalities specific initiatives to improve revenue management and debt collection.
This indicated an initiative of a return to back to basics on service delivery. The predetermined objectives are to strengthen the capacity of municipalities to deliver sustainable infrastructure and create access to basic services, including provision of free basic services (FBS) to the poor, and to effectively manage the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) Programme. The steps to be taken towards achieving this goal are to develop MIG performance and reporting systems, to support municipalities that spent less than 80% of the MIG in the previous financial year, and upport 40 municipalities on mechanism to provide FBS and to align MIG projects and water infrastructure backlogs.
This deals with the development of institutional structures and systems. The purpose of this programme is the coordination of effective fire services by enhancing the legislative framework for fire services to respond to changing conditions, promote a culture of disaster risk reduction, to build community resilience and to develop a Disaster Management and Fire Services Monitoring and Evaluation System to ensure improved disaster management and fire services coordination. The steps to be taken towards achieving this are to develop a final draft white paper on fire services and implement a national disaster management advocacy and public awareness annual plan, and to produce a national report.
The aim is to strengthen the professionalisation and performance of local government and to intervene and act on critical failure. Steps to be taken to achieve this are to develop a capacity building strategy and establish a local government skills development institute, to finalise the HR regulations for municipal staff and to draft a local government laws amendment bill. Specifically with regard to the promotion of good governance, the purpose of this initiative is to strengthen the functionality of ward committees to enhance community participation, facilitate and coordinate alignment of various development planning instruments within and across the three spheres, deepen participatory democracy through strengthening gender equity in local government, and to strengthen anti-corruption capabilities and promote ethical behaviour/conduct and accountability. Steps to be taken towards achieving this are to establish nine provincial anti-corruption technical working groups, develop and implement support, monitoring and intervention plans (SMIPs), develop and implement ward operational plains in 1 777 municipal wards, support 100 wards to develop ward-level databases, produce a report on the number of fraud, maladministration and corruption cases actioned, and finally to revise the gender policy framework for local government.
This deals with the development of institutional systems. The predetermined objectives of this are effective and efficient management and administration of the Community Work Programme (CWP), to provide and maintain one million work opportunities in all municipalities, and establish and maintain partnerships to optimise and sustain CWP outputs. The steps to be taken in this regard are to pilot a CWP monitoring, reporting and evaluation system in three provinces, finalise and implement a CWP capacity building framework, implement new CWP institutional arrangements regarding the delivery and management of CWP, and finally to finalise amonitoring and reporting system for CWP. With respect to the programme six aim of enabling economic development and job creation by way of CWP, the steps to be taken in this regard are to develop a CWP partnership and stakeholder relations management framework, sign memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with identified partners and stakeholders to create sustainable job opportunities for participants, and establish 15 additional CWP sites to create 15 000 work opportunities in municipalities.
Department on Traditional Affairs 2014/15 predetermined objectives
Professor Nwaila presented the DTA 2014/15 predetermined objectives. The first was the establishment of corporate governance systems, a project which entails alignment and development of policies, systems, processes and procedures required to comply with Treasury, public service regulations and Promotion of Access to Information Act, to promote good governance. Another objective is the creation of a Performance Monitoring, Evaluation and Information Management Policy (PMEIMP), and this project will entail the establishment of a system to monitor and track performance of all APP targets, and better management of performance information. Another objective is to refine the Initiation Frameworkwhich requires conducting research to include both female and khoi-san initiation practices as directed by Cabinet. A draft policy will be refined and re-submitted to Cabinet, and finally national norms and standards will be developed.
Another objective is to develop reports on implementation of the framework for the participation of traditional leaders in municipal councils in eight provinces. This is to harmonise the relationship between traditional leadership and municipal councils on service delivery development matters. The interim framework for the participation of traditional leaders in municipal councils has been endorsed by the technical MINMEC.
Prof Nwaila said a further objective is to gather information on proclamations establishing jurisdictional areas of traditional councils in five provinces, which involved gathering and verifying 829 proclamations across provinces over the MTEF. Another objective is for the genealogies and customary laws of succession for kingships to be updated and developed, which requires updating the customary laws of succession and genealogies for kingships, in order to reduce the number of claims and disputes for kingships and queenships when the incumbent passes on. The genealogies will be finalised within the medium term period 2015-2019.
With respect to research policy and legislation, the predetermined objectives are:
- To have five districts in two provinces empowered on protocol guidelines for kingship/queenships to verify and share information with all the kingships and other stakeholders on the protocols. It is also aimed at guiding engagements and the relationships between traditional leaders and government, academics, researchers, businesses, international community and other stakeholders.
- To develop a draft strategy for the promotion of culture and heritage within traditional affairs.
- To assist in the promotion and coordination of indigenous knowledge systems, culture and heritage. - To develop and consult on a discussion document on the interfaith sector within traditional affairs, which is part of the Department’s mandate to promote unity within the interfaith sector.
- To facilitate collaboration within the different segments of the interfaith sector and to promote social cohesion and nation building.
With respect to institutional support and coordination, predetermined objectives are to review the national traditional leadership capacity building plan and the implementation of capacity building interventions by provinces and the DTA to develop a capacity building implementation plan in line with the needs of the institution of traditional leadership, and to coordinate capacity building programmes in provinces, including other service providers. Another objective is to have information sharing sessions with all provincial Houses of Traditional leaders, to empower structures of traditional leadership on various pieces of legislation, policies and government programmes impacting on the institution of traditional leadership, and to promote good governance in structures of traditional leadership. Another objective is to monitor the implementation of five existing active partnerships and collaborate with other stakeholders for economic development in traditional communities, to partner with various stakeholders to promote economic development in rural communities, and to contribute to job creation and poverty reduction. Another objective is to create an annual report on participation by the National House of Traditional Leadership, the Provincial House of Traditional Leadership and the Local House of Traditional Leadership in government programmes and governance structures developed to assess and strengthen the level, value addition and quality of participation of Houses of traditional leaders in government programmes and governance structures.
With respect to the National House of Traditional Leaders, the predetermined objectives are to facilitate youth debate, using indigenous languages as part of heritage and tradition to promote the usage of indigenous languages. This project is to be rolled out to other provinces within the MTEF period. Another objective is to create an annual report on inputs made by the NHTL on government policies and legislation, to provide space for the institution to influence policies affecting traditional communities. Another objective is to address HIV and Aids challenges within traditional communities by developing and implementing a programme to assist the government to address these challenges, and working in collaboration with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to promote awareness of healthy lifestyles. Another objective is to develop traditional leaders’ participation in land development programs to ensure effective participation of traditional leadership in land development programmes and to promote the socio-economic development of traditional communities.
With respect to disputes and claims, the predetermined objectives are to research 320 leadership claims and dispute cases, and to finalise outstanding traditional leadership disputes and claims. The Commission finalised 700 cases from 2011/12 to date out of 1 244, and would process and finalise 320 in 2014/15.
Professor Nwaila then went on to present the Initiation Report. June and December are initiation seasons, and initiations have fallen under public scrutiny due to initiates dying from negligent practices, as well as lawlessness and commercialisation of this cultural practice. Two provinces have been targeted for intervention -- the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga. So far, 23 initiates have died, and the perpetrators of these deaths had largely been arrested. The causes of death range from excessive bleeding, gangrene, dehydration and even chronic illness.
He said that government will intervene and act on failures in the performance of this cultural practice. Task teams have been elected, consisting of health professionals, social development institutions, the DTA, SAPS, national and provincial Houses of traditional leaders, community members and parents. Monitoring teams have been established in both Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. The government goal for this initiation season is zero fatalities of initiates, supported by all stakeholders. They have arrested 22 perpetrators in Mpumalanga for the deaths of initiates and contact telephone numbers have been made public for reporting of illegal schools. Future actions to be taken are to have an initiation policy implemented after Cabinet approval. Where the Department of Health had implemented medical male circumcision there were no deaths, so the government will enforce medical male circumcision to save lives. The majority of traditional leaders embrace this method. The registration of all initiation schools and traditional surgeons will be made compulsory.
Presentation of the 2014/15Budget
Mr Madonsela presented the budget for 2014/15. He said the Department received R209.2 million additional funds over the 2014 MTEF period. The MTEF committee process raised several policy issues that needed further and ongoing engagement, including performance information and management of the CWP, reporting and responsibilities of the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency and prioritisation of bucket eradication with the existing Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocation. Allocations had increased to R67.3 million in 2014/15, R30.5 million in 2015/16 and R1.1 billion in 2016/17 for expansion of the Community Work Programme. Municipal infrastructure support agency received R60 million to expand infrastructure capacity in municipalities and R31.6 million reprioritised for capacity to monitor the Municipal Infrastructure Grant. R850 million was reprioritised to the MIG to support the fast tracking of the implementation of the regional bulk water infrastructure project through the Department of Water and Sanitation. The division of the 2014 MTEF allocations is as follows: 95.2% allocated to transfers and subsidies, 0.7% allocated to operational costs, and 4.1% allocated to special programmes, such as the Community Work Programme.
The Minister concluded by saying that they had reported on what the Chairperson of the Committee had requested in his letter. He apologised for the length of the presentation and says he hoped that the members found it useful.
The NCOP members thanked the Committee for their inclusion, and departed.
Prof Khubisa commended the Department for their willingness to ensure the budget is utilised and for a thought provoking presentation. He said the discussion must start on a sombre note and brought up the issue of the initiates losing lives, saying it was a sad state of affairs and required a collective effort from the DTA, DoH and other stakeholders. He talked about the issue of the budget not being well spent, saying there was clearly a wall blocking the Department from getting professional experts and that this was a battle that should be engaged in, because most of the people in the government fiscus, whether in finance or technical services, are not well trained to do the job. The Project Management Units were not functioning properly within municipalities, projects were not being well monitored because project management unions are either absent or dysfunctional, and he would like to know what the Department is doing in that terrain. He would like to know what the Department plans to do with regard to ensuring that the coastlines and townships are clean, as poor waste management and free lying waste gives way to disease and illness. It is a gloomy scenario, especially in the townships, and he thinks it is of great importance. He also wants to know what happens with the excess funds for disaster management -- does it go to the national reserve fund, or does it stay with the Department?
Mr Bhanga thanked the presenters and said their presentations gave a broad picture. He asked, with regards to programme 2, why there has been a decrease in the funds allocated, given that part of the problem faced in local government is aligning the monitoring and evaluation function with activities of local government, and that in many municipalities, the monitoring unit is not aligned with the Integrated Development Plan (IDP) process, and there are no linkages between the two. This creates difficulty in determining who has authority over the other, when the two Departments are separated. They have seen that in the last budget cycle, more than R49 million was assigned to planning, monitoring and research, and it has been decreased to just over R20 million. With respect to restructuring the Department and how it affects progress, stability and continuity, especially with respect to brain drain and critical skills, he asked which critical skills are being referred to exactly and how it leads to the destabilisation of an institution. He said that this is where the problem lies in terms of local government. He understands that it is a municipality’s function, according to the constitution, to provide basic services, such as maintaining roads, providing refuse collection and maintaining parks, but they are no longer performing these core functions, so he supports the Department’s move to ensure these Departments refocus on these basics.
About the issue of circumcision, he asked how much money is allocated to addressing this issue. The problem, particularly in the EC, is that there are areas that have not practised circumcision since the 1800s, so he would like to know who is really practising circumcision in those areas. As a Committee they must interact with traditional leaders because some traditional leaders on the Wild Coast do not involve themselves in this practice, and it is done by individual families. That is part of the problem, so how does one put up institutional structures to deal with this? They must embrace cultural diversity, and since they can not ban circumcision altogether, there must be interaction with traditional leadership in this regard. Lastly he said that while he agrees with the Minister in terms of what a state is, and how long it takes to create a functioning one, he is confident the systems that have been put in place are sustainable. However, in some municipalities and local governments, the weaknesses of these systems are being exploited, people do not work according to the constitution and the frameworks available are being ignored. He hoped they will deal with legislation to bridge the gap. Their approach as a Committee in tackling issues of government should always be in the interests of the country -- they must look to build SA.
Mr KJ Mileham (DA) said he had a few concerns in terms of the review of the APP in 2013 and 2014. He felt the presenters did not highlight enough on what they had not achieved, which was important to the Committee because these were areas they had to make up, so the Committee needed to know more about them. Looking forward, he hoped the Department would pay particular attention to compliance, to regulations, to the legislation, to procedure and the like. He stressed that the Department must ensure the municipalities are particular about their compliance with legislation and regulations. With respect to the financial stability of municipalities, he said there are three aspects to this -- firstly revenue collection, secondly expenditure control and thirdly procurement processes and supply chain management. Where municipalities fail to collect revenue, where the expenditure is out of control and where procurement processes are not above board, there will be problems. These are critical areas for any municipality from a financial perspective, and something the Department should put a lot of emphasis on, moving forward. He referred to the issue of grant funding, mainly to MIG and equitable share funding, which make up 95% of the budget, and said he is aware of municipalities using this funding to fund their operational expenditure, and not for the purposes for which it had been allocated. This is unacceptable and the Department needs to get processes in place to ensure grant funding is used for what it is intended. He would like to know what plans are in place to address this.
Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) welcomed the comments made about harmonising relations between traditional institutions and municipalities, because it does seem as though traditional leadership and institutions are not seen as equal partners in the Department, and they must be elevated to that level. In practice, traditional leaders and councillors are at odds with each other and this is a bottleneck for service delivery, because traditional councils see themselves as institutions that should be playing a far greater role in effecting service delivery. It causes problems if there is no working relationship between the institutions. It is his hope that the Minister looks into the issue of traditional councils and their financial management, as it was difficult for them to access funds for developmental programmes due to heavy bureaucracy. He referred to the finalisation of disciplinary procedures, and asked about the extent of the migration of those people with misdemeanours, to ensure problem people were not moved from one municipality to another. He asked for the official definition from the Department as to what it is they considered to be work opportunities. Finally he talked of the enabling economic development and job creation, and asked if there would be any specific and special interventions to stimulate growth, because a blanket approach did not work.
Mr M Mapulane (ANC) congratulated the Department on a comprehensive and informative presentation. He referred to the issue of bucket eradication, where out of a total of a 5 500 target, 1 200 buckets had been eradicated. He said this was a failure on the part of the Department, as the bucket system is dehumanising and a constant reminder of how the apartheid government treated the indigenous people, and more needs to be done to fix this. The achievements thus far are unacceptable. The second issue he raised was with regard to the turnaround strategy, of which there was no mention in the entire presentation. He said it was a welcome development, as it had been felt only at the Departmental level but not on the ground. It was good that it had been dropped and the Department was emphasising the back to basics. They needed to stop talking and just continue to do the job. With respect to expenditure, the report indicated about 96% of the budget had been spent but R2 billion remained. He thought these funds could be allocated to creating incentives around MIG expenditure to municipalities that are performing and to encourage others to perform. He also supports the move to assist those municipalities spending less than 80%. He referred to a programme called Community Development Workers (CDW), which was not mentioned by the Department, and said there is a need to clear up tension between the CDW, which exists in every ward, and the ward councillors, because the responsibility of the CDW is not well defined and sometimes encroaches on to the responsibilities of the ward councillors. He recommended the Department should do something about this.
Mr M Galo (AIC) thanked the Department, and asked what kind of criteria are used when people are identified as employed in terms of the Community Work Programme. The perception is that they are employed by ward councillors. For instance, in Lunda village he had never heard of a general community meeting called by municipal officials responsible for these kinds of programmes, but you would see these people working and they were not sure as to how this came to be. Another issue he raised is that there is confusion in traditional councils. For example, in May 2010 traditional councillors were elected and it was ensured that they would meet four times a year and receive stipends, but that was not happening and he would like some insight into that. Furthermore, what are their responsibilities, as they are not assigned anything and he wondered if they are undermining the intelligence of their traditional leaders? He was of the view that they should consider doing away with district municipalities, because it was just a duplication of responsibilities and then the money channelled to municipalities could be made into grants for the traditional councils, and they could take on responsibilities. Lastly, on the question of medical circumcision which is to be enforced by government, he said he is concerned that in certain areas this will be greatly resisted because this aspect of culture is very important. If it was thought these policies could be forced down the throats of other people, he did not think it would go over well, so he encouraged the Committee and Department to make this policy available in the communities -- not just through traditional leaders, because they might not be taking this information to the people on the ground.
Mr Bhanga raised another concern regarding the ability to appoint 61 engineers, given the backlog. He asked if this was sufficient to deal with the challenges and if there were any major investments to intervene where there were serious infrastructural problems. For example, Mthatha was only getting worse because of infrastructural problems. What the Minister had said about those who steal going to jail was an important and profound statement, and it was not said often enough. He asked if they would see action in some of the collapsing municipalities under national monitoring, or if they would wait till they were completely dead before intervening. He also asked what the maintenance plan was with respect to infrastructure, as they talked only about building new infrastructure -- but what about maintaining what already exists?
The Minister responded on the question of initiates dying, saying one death is one too many, and while they have made strides towards rectifying the issue, much more needs to be done and much harsher punishments must be made against people who take away the lives of these young people.
On the issue of restructuring the Department, he says it should be clear that there is a need for new skills -- for example, engineering skills of the right type so that the Committee knows what is going on and how to assess if something is being done right. The urban development framework will require new skills to monitor what is going on and to guide that process, and similarly there are a whole host of other technical areas, some of which are covered and some of which require training people to attain skills in those areas, and none of this should destabilise anything. He is glad there is support for the back to basics programme from the Committee. As he indicated earlier, they would like to move to a new phase in terms of how they work with agencies involved in the infrastructure side. They needed a few more weeks to get their footing and familiarise themselves with everything. On the point about maintenance, both he and the Treasury are looking to enforce maintenance plans, rather than waiting for people to do it voluntarily. In respect of infrastructure requirements elsewhere, they are looking into it, and more needs to be looked at in this regard. When systems have been in place for 14 or 20 years, flouting of the system would take an entire day to debate, but it was safe to say that a system takes a long time to become an institution and then it takes a long time for that institution to develop the right culture and philosophy with respect to service. If one looked at supposed well established democracies, such as Britain, every administration in Britain worries about the implementation pf projects and what they are going to do about national health care and infrastructure. Most developed countries in the world’s biggest deficit is in infrastructure, and they are in great need of help.
Mr Obed Bapela, COGTA Deputy Minister responsible for Traditional Affairs, responded to the question of the death of the initiates. He said the issue had been better managed than in the past. There were quite a number of interventions being put in place, such as encouraging the involvement of traditional leadership and getting medical professionals to come in as well, and while there are some areas that do not practise it, the new generation of young people want to do it and this is where the scam artists and criminals flourish. With respect to communities resisting these interventions, he gave the example of the Limpopo, where health professionals were sent in and met with, and debated with, traditional leaders and reached agreement. As a result, there are no longer any deaths in Limpopo. In KZN, the King made a pronouncement to say they would do medical circumcision, and there are no more deaths in KZN. In those areas where there is still resistance, he said they will negotiate and engage with the community, and will not simply force it on the people. However, a national framework will be constructed to say how it should be, while engaging with people to say we are not trying to impose on their culture and traditions, but we just want to develop and modernise because traditional institutions also need to modernise. Even in areas where there had not been any deaths, the traditional surgeons must be retrained, so they can breed a new generation of properly trained traditional surgeons. More details are to come in this regard, and they had really provided the committee only with a brief.
With respect to harmonising traditional leadership, he said attention needed to be paid to this. There was a need to develop a mechanism that can be adhered to by all, to give the traditional leaders a more prominent role and to allow them to be active participants. As for the red tape surrounding getting money back from the councils, he said they needed to look at this issue, identify the obstacles and develop a mechanism to rectify them. However, in addition to the obstacles, there are also members of the private sector who have not done their part, such as mining companies and large agricultural companies who have not been paying their dues, so they needed to look at the situation as a whole so they can fix it properly, and channel that money towards development in those societies.
Lastly, it would be prominent on the agenda of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs to give a dedicated focus to traditional affairs, which he feels is why the President had appointed two deputy ministers to this Department.
Mr Madonsela responded to the issue of revenue and the financial management for traditional councils, saying a number of traditional councils have not been reconstituted and so remain tribal authorities not transformed, so the DTA are intervening to provide technical support to those provinces to ensure they are reconstituted. Provinces have a problem providing budgets to those institutions which have not yet been reconstituted. The DTA will be visiting them to look at revenue collection and to assist them to ensure that in the mining areas they get the benefits due to them.
Mr Andries Nel, COGTA Deputy Minister responsible for provincial and local government, responded to the question about local economic development. He said that if they said one of their five national priorities is job creation and economic development, this put a huge burden on municipalities. COGTA had developed a local economic development framework and had assisted some municipalities to implement it. They will expand that area of work over the next five years. In a sense, local economic development is a misnomer because all economic development is local -- regardless what factory you build or what business you start, it will be started in some municipality. Therefore, in addition to the focus and the differentiated local economic development framework referred to, there is a need to ensure the municipalities are friendly places to do business in. It is for this reason that COGTA, together with the DTI and Economic Development, has been engaged in a red tape reduction programme. What will also be crucial going forward is for the Department to build a relationship with the newly established Ministry of Small Business Development. This is going to be a huge job creation area, where local government has a direct impact. With respect to financial stability, this is affected by a range of interventions spearheaded by COGTA to strengthen the institutional capacity of local government, and the national treasury plays a huge role in this field. and he feels they have highlighted the need for a strong working relationship.
The Department agrees with Mr Bhanga, regarding monitoring and evaluation and IDP alignment, and in the course of last year they had embarked on some interesting work in conjunction with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, in developing a municipal management performance assessment tool. Some of the officials would be able to give a more detailed update, but as far as he is concerned, the tool is being piloted in two or three dozen municipalities and based on the outcome, it will be refined and rolled out further, so that will help them strengthen the institutional resilience of their municipalities. COGTA takes the view that their monitoring and evaluation should take a much more proactive form. It is responsible for the Outcome Nine delivery forum and in many ways, the delivery forum has been more of a reporting forum, where various Departments come from time to time to report. However, it has not been a forum that has played an active role in between those reporting periods, to identify through monitoring and evaluation what stumbling blocks exist and to proactively unblock them, so that by the time they get to the next reporting period they would have made progress and improved.
Mr Ken Terry, Head of the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC), said disaster funding, is divided into two different categories. One is immediate relief funding, to be distributed within 90 days of a disaster, and then there is provincial disaster grant funding, which goes through MTEF process and which is for longer processes, such as the construction of a new bridge. The short answer to the question raised about unspent funds in terms of disaster management, is that it goes back into the revenue fund. The R600 million allocated to the national disaster management centre is like an insurance fund, to be used only if and when there are disasters.
Mr Themba Fosi, Deputy Director General, DCOG, answered the question regarding what criteria were used to describe the 30 municipalities. He said they worked closely in assessing the financial health of municipalities, and Treasury is a key player in this area. There are eight measures the Treasury uses to assess their financial health, such as the cash as a percentage of the operating expenditure, to ensure adequate cash is available in a municipality to meet its requirements. There is also an assessment of cash shortages or bank overdrafts that pose a challenge in terms of financial stability. Other measures include understanding the municipality and its capital and operational budget, the criteria to look at the revenue management of the municipality in terms of its ability to collect revenue, the issue of yearly growth in terms of debtors to assess the ability of the municipality to collect outstanding debt, and looking at the reliance on national transfers. Treasury does assessments of municipalities in terms of expenditure and performance on a monthly and quarterly basis.
Mr Tozi Faba, Deputy Director General of the Community Work Programme (CWP), said they do not create jobs, they create work opportunities, and the participants are not called employees, they are called participants. They are paid R71 a day and work for two days a week, 100 days a year. The participants are not temporary; they are permanent so they can stay in the programme, but most importantly they are learning skills, as a lot of training is taking place. They are encouraged to learn skills and then leave the programme and create jobs for others.
Mr Hlengwa interrupted to ask for a precise definition of “work opportunities.”
Mr Faba continued, saying the CWP did various types of work, such as cleaning certain areas, renovating homes, establishing food gardens, working on projects identified by municipalities, working in graveyards, filling potholes -- useful work, and that is why it is called the Community Work Programme.
Deputy Minister Nel said the reality was that many South Africans are unemployed and the government have to do something about it. They need to kick start the process to grow the economy so people can find long-term stable jobs and provide a range of employment or work opportunities, There is a dynamic public employment programme. The Community Work Programme is one element, and there is also the Expanded Public Works Programme run by Public Works. Other departments such as Rural Development, Water Affairs and Sanitation, and Environmental Affairs, all run various forms of public employment. The good thing about having so many of them is they offer a differentiated approach to meet different kinds of social needs, and apply to the needs of people who need those opportunities. There was an interesting study done by the ILO recently on SA public employment programmes, where they speak highly of the models adopted. The challenge going forward is how to create greater synergies between these different programmes. There has been very serious talk of creating an overarching presidential public employment commission that would provide a greater degree of coordination and synergy between these different programmes.
Prof Nwaila described what he said were distinguishing features between “jobs” and “work opportunities.” Jobs should be decent work, where the focus is mainly on wages and benefits. With work opportunities, the focus is on training and exposure to work. It has a skills training component so people take away not just the benefits and salary, but the exposure to work and the skills training element, improving the chance of these people to enter the mainstream labour market
Mr Hlengwa said he took this to mean the programme is not counting individuals, but the number of available opportunities. He asked how one gauged the extent to which a person has acquired the skills in a particular area, if you are working only two days a week, 100 days a year, in and out. He says maybe the programme should be strengthened to ensure the skills transfer is actually tangible.
The Minister said the Committee should look at the current policy document and could set up a special session in the future, have some of the service providers come in, and then Mr Hlengwa could put forward his proposals.
Mr Ongama Mahlawe, Acting CEO of Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) of DCOG, responded to the question relating to the PMUs that are not functional within the municipalities. He said the majority of those municipalities not fully spending grants did not have properly functioning PMUs. Those municipalities that have spent less than 80% of their MIG will get support to ensure they spend their grants fully. However, it is not only the MIG, because even with the original infrastructure grant, they were engaging with the Department of Water and Sanitation to ensure those municipalities not only spend their grants, but they capacitate them to ensure their PMUs are properly functional beyond the support they provide.
As for the bucket eradication programme, it is very dehumanising and it is against that background that they decided to take extraordinary measures to accelerate their eradication. That had been the responsibility of Human Settlements, but government had decided to appoint government agencies, including the water board and MISA, to speed up the process of eradication. Sadly, there were processes to be followed to ensure they complied with legislation, and those processes were finalised around January/February 2014, so in essence the programme was only started in February 2014. They had prioritised it to ensure they accelerate the programme during the current financial year.
Lastly, in respect to operations and maintenance of infrastructure, it is a problem in municipalities -- not only a funding problem, but a skills one, because there are not people properly skilled to operate and maintain infrastructure in municipalities. This means that even in instances where there are plans, if there are no skills to realise those plans and they will not be implemented, so it requires a multi-pronged approach. Part of that is around the funding of operations and maintenance. Municipalities do not budget for operations and maintenance, so they should maybe engage the Treasury to ensure that they do.
Ms Shanaaz Majiet, Deputy Director General of DCOG, answered the question about the database, and how the Department ensured offenders do not migrate from one municipality to the other to create havoc. In the regulations dealing with senior management appointments and conditions of employment, published on 17 January this year there is a category of the ranges of misconduct and the penalty periods attached to them, specifying the period that an offender would be banned. For example, a person found guilty of misconduct for fraud, financial misconduct as contemplated in terms of the municipal finance management act section 171, or corruption, that person will be banned for ten years from future employment. There were other categories, such a gross negligence, sexual harassment and so on, and the Department is working to ensure these people are monitored and tracked. It was incumbent for each municipality, prior to making an appointment, to check in with the database, and they are managing that on a proactive basis. It is an electronic system with reading rights and access control for both provinces and municipalities, and is one of the checklist questions that an MEC must check, prior to condoning an appointment made in terms of the Municipal Systems Act.
Mr Sigidi Muthotho, Deputy Director General, DCOG, addressed the question raised by Mr Mapulane, saying there was R1.6 billion currently in the books from the local government equitable share, and that amount had been offset from the 15-plus grants that flow directly or indirectly to municipalities. Any municipalities who had failed to account to national treasury in terms how they have spent any particular grant have that amount offset from the municipality and that amount goes to the coffers of the Department. In relation to the MIG, the amount available to the Department is R130 million. This does not mean that all municipalities have spent their money, and only R130 million remains; it means that within the coffers of the Department they have R130 million that has not been allocated that is now being applied for a roll over.
On the issue of incentives, he said that towards the end of February they looked at the spending patterns of municipalities and decided they would reallocate money to those who had indicated which projects that they were going to spend on, rather than those who had not indicated that they are going to spend. At the time, they had an amount of R678 million to work with, and of that amount they reallocated R548 million to other municipalities. The remainder was R130 million, so that established the context for the actual expenditure. He says the issue of incentives is not one that can be solved by reallocation, because they are reallocating these funds in terms of the backlog prevailing in particular municipalities, so they needed to look to other mechanisms to improve the capacity of PMUs.
On the issue of identifying 30 municipalities for rating purposes, the criteria used are varied. For one, they might look at the implementation of the rate ratio regulations, and when looking at municipalities that were coming to an end in terms of implementing their valuation roles, they might ask what practice should be adopted when one adopts a new valuation role for the next four years, so good practices are incorporated into the new valuation role. On the issue of grants being misused, this touched on the question about the equitable shares, and it can not be truly determined whether a municipality has misspent anything until audits are completed.
The Chairperson called on The Minister to provide concluding remarks.
Minister’s concluding remarks
The Minister thanked the Chairperson and the Members for their questions, and said the Department was on a developmental curve, so there was a lot of work to do. While it might be tempting to take shortcuts, compliance systems and enforcement were important. The Department wants municipalities to function well, focus on the basics and behave and comply, or they will use existing regulations, or even create new legislation, to ensure that they do. He said he was optimistic there was a lot of goodwill, and it was important for to focus on what needed to be done to ensure development and success.
The Chairperson thanked the Department, and they left the meeting
The Chairperson then looked to attend to some housekeeping issues. He said the report to be compiled must represent the views of all the Members. It was a reflection of the legacy of the Committee and the Committee must have time to work on it. He said there appeared to be schedule changes that might result in major problems in terms of preparing the report. The Members settled on a date to meet and compile the report.
The meeting was adjourned.