The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs met for the consideration and adoption of the Annual Performance Plan and Budget Vote 3 of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. The Committee interrogated the report page by page, making comments in respect of its substantive content. The report stated that the budget vote was aimed at improving cooperative governance across the three spheres of government, in partnership with institutions of traditional leadership. The total budget for 2014/15 was R63.2bn which, when taking inflation into account, represented a real increase of 3.69% from the R57.4bn of 2013/14.
During consideration of the report, Members raised several issues for the Department to take into account. They said there was a need for close cooperation with the Department of Health over the implementation of the medical male circumcision programme in order to reduce the number of initiation deaths. They asked how traditional leaders accounted for the funds allocated to them. It was asserted that the portion of Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIGs) intended for the maintenance of sports facilities, was being used instead to fund salaries. Project Management Units (PMUs) should be monitored to ensure they fulfilled their function of helping problem municipalities to spend their MIG funds. The Department should develop plans to prevent the misuse of conditional grants. It should provide a detailed analysis on the status of the bucket system eradication programme. Members also asked for more feedback on the Community Work Programme.
The Committee adopted the report with amendments, with the Democratic Alliance reserving its right to debate the report in the House.
Committee Report on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs 2014 Budget
The Chairperson said the purpose of the meeting was to consider and adopt of the Annual Performance Plan (APP) and Budget Vote 3 of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). The draft report had been prepared by the support staff for the Committee to consider and adopt. It was very short so Members would not need to waste time looking for grammatical errors, and could focus on the substantive issues in the report.
On page 1, the report covered an introduction, a briefing by COGTA on the APP and budget, and the Department’s vision.
On page 2 of the report, focused on the Department’s budget. It stated that Budget Vote 3 was aimed at improving cooperative governance across the three spheres of Government, in partnership with institutions of traditional leadership, to ensure that provinces and municipalities carried out their service delivery and development functions effectively. There were seven budget votes that fell under this vote.
The overall budget was allocated to all the programmes, which included administration; policy, research and knowledge management; governance and intergovernmental relations; national disaster management; provincial and municipal government systems; infrastructure and economic development; and traditional affairs. The total allocation in 2014/15 was R63.2bn which, when taking inflation into account, represented a real increase of 3.69% from the R57.4bn of 2013/14.
Mr C Matsepe (DA) asked for clarity on how traditional leaders accounted for their funds.
The Chairperson said that the Department allocated money for traditional leaders to run the affairs of traditional leadership in provinces.
Mr K Mileham (DA) said that this issue would surely form part of the annual accounting process of the Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR), when they get to it later in the year in terms of the Department’s presentation of the annual reports of its various entities. When COGTA presented its annual report, the Committee would be able to interrogate how the funds had been spent.
Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) said that on the operational side, allocated funds were submitted to the local house of traditional leaders, which then transferred the money back to the Department. Therefore, whenever the traditional council needed to make use of it, it was requested from the department.
The Chairperson said that it would be important to invite the traditional leaders in order to clarify the situation, because they received the money to work on dealing with their issues. The Committee also needed to have a discussion with traditional leaders on the issue of initiation schools.
The Chairperson said that page 5 of the report, point 2.4 dealt with COGTA’s contribution to the National Development Plan (NDP) and point 2.5 dealt with its contribution to the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF), 2014 to 2019. On page 6 of the report, point 2.6 dealt with the key elements for the Department from the State of the Nation Address (SONA). Point 2.7 dealt with COGTA’s priorities and commitments for 2014/15.
Mr M Mapulane (ANC) said that on page 6 and 7, there were five issues which the Minister had called important. The Committee needed to capture them in the report as issues that Department should focus on.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would do that, and change the numbering in the report.
The Chairperson said that with regard to the Committee’s observations, they should not generalise in terms of the death of 21 initiates but rather be specific as to the part of the country in which those initiates had died so that they could make a clear recommendation.
The Chairperson said that the Department of Sport and Recreation always complained that the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) was not used to fulfil its purpose of maintaining sports facilities, but was rather used to pay salaries. It was therefore important for the Committee, when they meet with Sports and Recreation, to discuss the issue of MIG thoroughly.
Mr Mileham said that he did not dispute that part of MIG’s funding should be used for sport and recreation, but he had to question whether it was a priority issue given the backlog in education, water, electricity, housing, sanitation, etc. Therefore, the question was whether they should be prioritising sport and recreation at the expense of all the other human needs that also needed to be addressed.
Mr N Masondo (ANC) said that everything possible should be prioritised by the MIG fund, because all these issues were challenges that faced poor communities.
Mr. Mapulane said that there was a need to elaborate more on the observation by the Committee on the non-functionality of project management units, and their relationship with the spending of the MIG fund, because what they wanted to raise had not been captured properly
The Chairperson said that they would build on it, and capture what the Committee observed.
Mr. Mileham said that the first paragraph of the recommendations should be made 5.1, which reads: “Based on the engagement between the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 08 July 2014, the Committee accepts the 2014/15 budget and Annual Performance Plan of the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs”.
He said that 5.2 should state that there should be a close relationship between the Department of Health and COGTA with regard to the medical male circumcision programme.
5.3 should state that COGTA should report on a quarterly basis on the monitoring and evaluation of problem municipalities so as to allow the Committee to interrogate and proactively address the problem of municipalities.
5.4 should state that the various entities funded by the Department should present comprehensive reports on their activities and APP’s to the Committee within two months.
5.5 should state that the Department should present a plan that would address the misuse of conditional grant funding for non-approved purposes.
5.6 should state that the Department should report on municipal compliance with the Municipal Rates Act and its regulatory framework.
5.7 should state that the Department should brief the Committee on the operational role, challenges and achievements of the Community Work Programme (CWP) because it was something the Department had touched on and would bring implementable action.
5.8 should state that COGTA, along with the Department of Water and Sanitation, should present a detailed analysis of the status of the bucket eradication programme, including the backlog that existed and any proposals to get rid of the backlog.
Mr Mapulane said that in 5.2, the Department should also put measures in place to ensure there were zero fatalities of initiates.
Mr Mapulane said that conditional grants (5.5) were used for infrastructure purposes, but at the end of the term, people should account for their use. They were called conditional grants because they had conditions attached to them -- they were meant for infrastructure, and could not be used for salaries.
Mr. Hlengwa said that the Committee should apply their minds on that issue. The difficulty was that they saw what had happened to the grants only at the end of the term. They needed to take a step back before that actually happened, and be aware of the warning signs.
The Chairperson said that the point had been made, and they had to rephrase that sentence because the misuse of conditional grants was common in all municipalities. They should have a discussion with the Department in that regard.
Mr Mapulane said in regard to 5.7, the Department should be asked to brief the Committee on the CWP and what the challenges were, because there had been no response as yet from COGTA on what was one of their very important programmes.
The Chairperson said that they would capture and consolidate all the recommendations, but those recommendations should be in line with the rules. Some to the issues that had been raised by Members would be part of their programme of action, so when COGTA came before the Committee, they would know exactly what issues to address.
Mr Mapulane said that they had not yet crafted a recommendation on MIG. There was an issue on the Project Management Unit (PMU) that had emerged, and the recommendation was that the Department should develop a plan to assist those municipalities that did not have a functional PMU to assist them on their MIG spending. It had been indicated that those municipalities that had spent less than 80% were going to be helped. The Committee needed just to concretise this, because it was a concern in terms of under-expenditure.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mapulane, and said Members should ensure that their recommendations were part of the agenda. The main purpose of putting these recommendations forward was to ensure that there was an action plan from the Department, and to ensure that it implemented the recommendations of the Committee. The support staff had captured all the issues raised by Members, and the recommendations would be condensed into one recommendation. After the Committee had adopted the report, it would be tabled in the House. The Committee would recommend that the report be considered by the House.
Mr Mileham said that it should be recorded that the DA would reserve its right, in order to consider the report in its caucus.
Mr Masondo said that Mr Mileham was the one who had come up with almost all the recommendations, but was now reserving his right to accept the report. As Members they should be working in a spirit of cooperation so that there would be progress with the report.
Mr Mileham said that as a Member of the Committee, he had made recommendations and inputs to the report but could not accept it since it was not yet finalized, because they had only made amendments. He would want to consult with his party in that regard.
Mr Mapulane said that as a Committee, they should accept the report because the only things that were substantially different were the recommendations that had been made by Mr. Mileham, which he had supported. The bulk of the report was what was before them, except for the recommendations that were made and were going to be condensed into one recommendation, as the Chairperson had suggested.
Mr E Mthethwa (ANC) moved the adoption of the report.
Mr Masondo seconded.
The Committee adopted the report with amendments.
Mr. Mileham said that it should be noted that the DA reserved its right to debate the report in the House.
The Chairperson said that the right of the DA to debate the report in the House would be captured.
The meeting was adjourned.