The Committee was briefed by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) on the status of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) review process. The presentation covered the efficiency of SALGA’s oversight mechanism and its role in monitoring the utilisation of the 15% Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocation intended for sport and recreation facilities; the usage of 15% of the MIG by municipalities for the building of sport and recreation facilities; the under-utilisation of the 15% MIG allocation in municipalities; and the impact on the delivery of the National Sport and Recreation Plan.
SALGA acknowledged that the use of the 15% MIG allocation for sport and recreation was not being utilised to its full extent and in that regard, it understood that municipalities had service delivery backlogs. These included water and sanitation, electrification and transport, and because of this municipalities were ignoring sport and recreation. From SALGA’s interaction with municipalities across the country, municipalities were saying that because of the regulations, before they could register and implement any MIG project, national COGTA had to register the project first so that it could be funded. That challenge, as well as future planning, was a recurring problem and SALGA had advised its provincial branches that they had to assist municipalities in both respects.
The Committee was exceptionally dissatisfied with the way in which the MIG was being used at the local government level. Though it accepted that the mandate to monitor the usage of the MIG lay with the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), there certainly were other aspects of SALGA’s mandate that could be worked on to assist municipalities to improve on the delivery of sport and recreation development.
The Chairperson proposed that SALGA and the Committee had to meet COGTA to express their discontent with how the MIG was being used at the local government level because social cohesion, as an imperative for the country, would never be achieved without prioritising sport and recreation. It was the Committee’s belief that the MIG had to be given back to SRSA, seeing that there was the issue of the unfunded National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP).
The minutes of 24 February were considered and adopted.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and noted that the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) was returning to the Committee to re-present an earlier briefing from 2014, at which the Committee had asked that the entity go back and prepare better. She also cautioned the entity against submitting presentation reports to the Committee on the morning of the meeting.
She read an apology and said that she would not be accepting telephonic apologies from Members. She asked Members if there were any agenda items they would want to add to the agenda before it was adopted.
Ms B Abrahams (ANC) moved the adoption of the agenda as it was, and Mr S Malatsi (DA) seconded.
The agenda was adopted without amendments.
Minutes of the Portfolio Committee for 17 February 2015
Mr Malatsi pointed out a grammatical correction.
The Chairperson asked the Committee staff if the proposed meeting with the Minister of Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) had been confirmed.
Mr Teboho Thebehae, Committee content advisor, said that the staff had provisionally discussed with SRSA’s Parliamentary liaison that she inform SRSA about the planned briefing the Committee was expecting from the Minister. In that regard, the Minister was aware that he was expected by the Committee.
The Chairperson proposed that the Committee should wait for confirmation of attendance from the Minister instead of putting that briefing in the minutes, seeing that that addition would mean that the Committee was expecting the Minister, though he had not given confirmation yet.
The Committee accepted the proposal.
Mr S Ralegoma (ANC) clarified a point he had been reported on in the minutes, where he had meant only that the staff should always keep the Chairperson informed of any Committee business, even when it was informal communication with entities and SRSA.
Mr Malatsi confirmed that what Mr Ralegoma was putting as a clarification had not been captured, as he had just explained, and indeed it needed to be reworded. He also clarified a point he had been reported on as well.
Mr Ralegoma concurred with Mr Malatsi’s clarification, and added that the Committee had indeed agreed that it was not an issue to notify the Minister that the Committee wished to have a briefing with the Eminent Persons Group (EPG).
The Chairperson proposed that though the meeting with the Minister was for a briefing on match fixing in SA football, adding the EPG as an attendant discussion point could be included in the invitation that was still to be sent to the Minister, because his diary might not open up soon again in the near future.
Mr P Moteka (EFF) said that though the minutes reported that the EPG had to be invited with the Minister for a briefing, this was not what the Committee had agreed on during the meeting of 17 February. Rather it had been agreed as Mr Ralegoma had indicated earlier. However, the EPG could certainly be invited as well.
Ms Abrahams noted a technical amendment.
Mr Thebehae explained that the staff’s understanding, in adding the EPG to the list of items for discussion with the Minister, had been that that list was already full, and that was the reason why it had been reported as a point to be discussed with him on 17 February. Seeing the Committee had since changed its stance on the matter, it would certainly be added to the agenda.
The Chairperson said that the complementary staff members were again doing exactly what Mr Ralegoma had warned against in the previous meeting. In that regard, the Management Committee (MANCO) would be meeting the following day to deal with some of the issues around invitations to presenters and other household matters.
Ms Abrahams moved the adoption of the minutes.
Ms B Manana (ANC) seconded the motion.
The minutes were adopted with substantive amendments.
Mr Sizwe Ramaremela, SALGA Councillor, apologised to the Committee for the late submission of SALGA’s presentation. SALGA held all Parliamentary Committees in the highest esteem, which was why there were SALGA delegations at all relevant Committees on that day. His colleague would be doing the presentation, but there were a few points he wanted to deal with before the presentation.
SALGA acknowledged that the use of the 15% MIG allocation for sport and recreation was not being utilised to its full extent and in that regard, it understood that municipalities had service delivery backlogs. These included water and sanitation, electrification and transport, and because of this municipalities were ignoring sport and recreation. From SALGA’s interaction with municipalities across the country, municipalities were saying that because of the regulations, before they could register and implement any MIG project, national COGTA had to register the project first so that it could be funded. That challenge, as well as future planning, was a recurring problem and SALGA had advised its provincial branches that they had to assist municipalities in both respects. For example, municipalities were going to be starting their Infrastructure Development Planning (IDP) and budget processes so that mid-year budgets could be tabled soon after. SALGA had realised and advised Municipalities that it was impractical to plan and prioritise projects in March 2015 so that they could be implemented in June 2015.
The Chairperson interjected that Councillor Ramaremela sounded as if he was pre-empting the Committee’s response to the presentation before it was actually delivered. She therefore asked him to allow his colleague to do the presentation first.
Councillor Ramaramela apologised and handed over to his colleague to take the Committee through the presentation.
Ms Jean de la Harpe, Executive Director, Municipal Infrastructure Services, SALGA, took the Committee through SALGA’s presentation. This covered the status of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) review process; the efficiency of SALGA’s oversight mechanism and its role to monitor the utilisation of the 15% Municipal Infrastructure Grant allocation meant for sport and recreation facilities; the usage of 15% of the MIG by municipalities for building of sport and recreation facilities; the underutilisation of the 15% MIG allocation in municipalities; and the impact on the delivery of the National Sport and Recreation Plan. (See document)
As an analogy, she said that when a Bill was tabled in Parliament, SALGA would engage its member municipalities on the Bill, put together a comprehensive response and continue to lobby for their interests in other state forums, seeing that 94% of its funding came from its member Municipalities.
A big challenge for government as a whole was the unavailabity of information on how grants were performing in delivering sustainable services to Municipalities.
The Chairperson thanked Ms De la Harpe and allowed the Committee to engage the presentation.
Mr D Bergman (DA) said that he had been involved with SALGA in the past and from what the Committee was hearing, it still seemed like it remained a talk shop rather than showing any productivity. The Committee understood and accepted the problems that SALGA was reporting on, but he felt that it was about time that talking was actually translated into working. Possibly when local government met with Parliament again during oversight it would be good for the two spheres to talk about why there was still so much underspending of the MIG. There had to be sanctions somewhere for why the MIG could not be spent for its purposes, and meeting SALGA once or twice a year was proving not to be enough anymore as well.
Mr Moteka said he was disappointed by what he had just heard, as SALGA had just reported that sport and recreation would remain unprioritised. Could SALGA give the Committee a breakdown from the 2011-2014 financial years of each province’s use of the 15% MIG? Had municipalities ever expressed their incapacity to use the MIG to the allocating department? If not, what was the aim of accepting it, if it was not going to be used properly all these years?
Ms Abrahams asked what action was being taken against contractors who never delivered after they had been appointed. Where there any skills development projects being rolled out to remedy the lack of capacity to manage the MIG at local government level? Had SALGA identified which rural areas to prioritise in tackling the backlogs in the roll out of sport infrastructure in municipalities?
Ms Manana said that seeing that SALGA was not mandated to monitor MIG expenditure, local government had to take the blame. Moreover, municipalities were more interested in Mayoral cups, inter-governmental and SALGA games, instead of delivering sport infrastructure.
Mr Malatsi said that the more the Committee understood the backlogs and challenges in terms of the use of the MIG, the bleaker the picture was for the prioritisation of sport and recreation. What the presentation had been thin on was what initiatives SALGA, as a support and advice agency to municipalities, had put in place to assist them to deliver sport infrastructure. There were also no figures on what amounts had been lost to the reprioritisation of the MIG for other purposes besides that of sport and recreation. If there were no interventions that SALGA had put in place, that then affirmed the Committee’s stance on why the MIG had to be taken back to SRSA.
Mr Ralegoma said that he was at least clear as to who was monitoring the usage of the MIG, and that the Committee had to meet the people responsible.
The Chairperson said that she was not satisfied with SALGA’s oversight role at municipalities, though its presentation had been frank and honest. Therefore she was proposing that SALGA and the Committee had to meet COGTA to express their discontent with how the MIG was being used at the local government level because social cohesion, as an imperative for the country, would never be achieved without prioritising sport and recreation. She re-emphasised the Committee’s belief that the MIG had to be given back to SRSA, seeing that there was the issue of the unfunded National Sport and Recreation Plan (NSRP). The Committee would invite SALGA to its next oversight tour.
Mr Moteka said that he was simply interested in the work that SALGA had been doing since their last visit to Parliament in 2014.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that the SALGA delegation that had been to Parliament previously had not been properly prepared, as it had not assisted the Committee, but the second delegation had certainly been informative and honest.
Mr S Mmusi (ANC) commented that the information that SALGA had presented was nothing new to him, especially since the MIG had been an allocation which had started as far back as 2004. He felt the presentation was rather evasive and proposed that next time SALGA returned to Parliament it had to speak to the real reasons why the MIG was such a challenge.
The Chairperson reiterated that the Committee was not satisfied at all with the state of affairs between SALGA and municipalities concerning the use of the MIG. Moreover, even if the MIG eventually moved to SRSA, SALGA would still have to ensure that SRSA was rolling out sport infrastructure.
Councillor Ramaremela said that in terms of SALGA’s mandate, even the report on which the presentation was based had come from COGTA. Those were the types of limitations SALGA was facing in terms of the lines of accountability and monitoring of the MIG. He suggested that at the next meeting between the Committee and the entity, COGTA should be invited as well so that the roles and responsibilities between the Department, the Committee and SALGA could be discussed.
The Chairperson stressed that SALGA still had a role to play at local government, though there were some obstacles. Therefore, even though its mandate limited the entity from doing certain things, those that could be done had to be done, so that municipalities could deliver on their priorities. There could not be a toothless SALGA while municipalities were underperforming.
The meeting was adjourned.
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