The Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs met to discuss its second and third quarter programmes.
During the discussion on the second term programme, Members made the following input:
- The Committee only heard about the issues of Local Government over the radio as well as the newspapers, as though the Committee did not have oversight over the local Government. The programmes were meant to change how the Committee operated.
-The nature of the Committee's work was such that Members were not able to focus on the Committee work and also monitor. There were situations where the Committee had embarked on section 139 interventions. The Committee had never been to many Municipalities for follow ups because programmes were structured in such a way that Members must complete before actions could be taken by the Committee.
-The Committee must be more proactive by going to the Municipalities. There should be a review of the programme as well as flexibility on the part of the Committee.
The programme was approved with amendments with a proviso that it could be updated from time to time.
The third term programme could not be dealt with.
Reports on the Committee’s proactive oversights visits to Nquthu as well as to Nama Khoi, Sol Plaatjie, Magareng local Municipalities as well as the provincial branch of the NYDA in Kimberley were also tabled for adoption. The objectives of the visits were to interact with the internal and external stakeholders of the Municipalities in order to solicit their opinions on the status and performance of the Municipalities in terms of the local government 5 performance areas. Although progress had been made on service delivery in Nama Khoi,the Municipality still faced challenges related to poor and uncoordinated planning; Magareng local Municipality experienced serious financial problems, while the Sol Plaatjie local Municipality experienced challenges that related to ageing infrastructure as well as reduction in grant funding.The NYDA reported that progress had been made in offering grant funding, volunteer business funding and youth dialogue. The reports on oversight visits Nquthu as well as Dikgatlong, Sol Plaatjie and Magareng were adopted with amendments.
Second Term programme
Mr G Michalakis (DA; Free State) said last week during the plenary, a motion was unanimously adopted by the House to urgently request the Mayor as well as the Municipal Manager of Masilonyana Local Municipality in the Free State to appear before the Committee. That Municipality had been struggling over the past few years. There had been human rights reports as well as court cases. This motion should be prioritised in a way that the Committee could deal with this matter urgently. The Municipality was always without water.
The Chairperson said the programme he alluded to was to change how the Committee operated. Many times, the Committee only heard about the issues of Local Government over the radio as well as the newspapers, as though the Committee did not have oversight over the local Government. The issue Mr Michalakis had raised was correct. Now that he had highlighted that issue, there would be exceptional cases where the Committee needed to take charge.
When the Committee arrived at Dikgatlong, it was told to speak for only 5 minutes and thereafter leave. That was how the Committee operated. The Committee was always taken by surprise when it went on oversight. The Committee received a notice of Kannaland as well as a notice of eMadlangeni in KZN. There were challenges in Emalahleni. The nature of the Committee's work was such that Members were not able to focus on the Committee work and also monitor. There were situations where the Committee had embarked on section 139 interventions. The Committee had never been to many Municipalities for follow ups because programmes were structured in such a way that Members must complete (what?) before actions could be taken by the Committee. Rule 91 gives a Member the power to act on behalf of the Chairperson instead of waiting. When there were emergencies that could not wait, Members could act and the Committee would adopt. In the next four days, he would be involved in other matters outside of the Committee. The Committee did not only deal with office issues, it was also involved in oversight.
Mr Michalakis had no problem with what the Chairperson was saying but pointed out two things. First it was a resolution of the House that needed to come to the Committee at some stage. Secondly, it was not a matter of oversight but that of getting the municipalities to come to Parliament to give suggestions on how it would solve the problems. The Municipal Manager (MM) the Municipality had appointed in the interim was an acting MM and came from the Free State as a Treasurer. The Mayor was appointed in August 2016. He would like to hear the solutions as well as the plans of the Municipality, and to receive assurance that it would receive the attention of the Committee, as it was a resolution of the house that was unanimously adopted by all parties that were present.
The Chairperson said that was why he had said the Committee was allowed to use the application of rule 91. The Committee would reserve the issue pointed out by Mr Michalakis until the Committee had applied for that rule and then the Committee would be able to intervene.
The report that was done in Magareng as well as Sol Plaatjie was not so visible. Copies were supposed to be circulated electronically and it was not done. The Committee could not afford what was happening. There was a Committee on Petitioning. This Select Committee would deal with the report on Magareng and Sol Plaatjie when it went to the former for adoption.
Many times, the Committee had visited areas and there were no follow ups, which was really frustrating. This was because of waiting for the Committee to sit before getting to the nitty gritty. There was need for the Committee to be more proactive. Last week he received a report from OR Tambo regarding their frustrations on the debt of R73 million they owed the Department. He had met with them in KZN. There was also a letter from the office of the Chair (of Chairs?), where Emadlangeni local Municipality highlighted its frustration with section 139. He made the programme available to the Committee so that Members could be aware, he did not want a situation where people appeared before the Committee and said the Committee did not know its responsibilities. There must be a change on how the Committee approached issues as there would always be sporadic incidences around the Country. The Select Committee always read about Eskom from the Newspapers. It was unfortunate that the Committee had no sense of what was happening there until there was interaction with relevant people. This problem was being dealt with so that people would have in mind that the power to decide lay only with the Committee. There was a problem in Masilonyana. Emadlangeni was always in the news. There was no time to go there because a programming Committee would have to adopt a programme.
Mr Michalakis had said the Committee should summon a Municipality to appear before it. Most Municipalities could not afford the fare to come before the Committee. Let the Committee be more proactive by going to the Municipalities. There should be a review of the programme as well as flexibility on the part of the Committee. The Committee should be on the ground and not only in Cape Town. The suggestion of Mr Michalakis was noted.
Mr M Mhlanga (ANC; Mpumalanga) said the programme was proactive rather than reactive considering that the Municipality that was spoken about by Mr Michalakis was also included because there was the resolution of the House in that regard. The Committee also spoke of eMadlangeni Municipality. He therefore moved for the adoption of the programme with the amendment.
Mr M Chetty (DA; KZN) said the date that was written on the schedule was Monday. He was worried that would conflict with constituency day.
It was moved that the programme be adopted with a proviso that where a Member was not available, the Committee should see how flexible it could be without that Member.
Mr Michalakis suggested that if the Committee did use a constituency day and it was a preliminary visit, Members that represented that specific province as well as the Chairperson could do the preliminary visit and not all the Members. Most of the Members were not willing to go every single Monday as it was the Constituency day. One Monday can be given up every now and then but not every week.
The Chairperson said this was more progressive. The programme was adopted with the amendment. From time to time, the programme will be updated.
Mr Michalakis noted that on the programme there were dates that had already passed, and asked for clarity. He also noted that Free State was coming up, could a third Municipality be added?
The Chairperson had no problem adding a third Municipality but did not want to be seen as working in isolation from the team. It was better to incorporate the work that every member of the team would be embarking upon. A Member of the Committee could act and report but could not make a decision that was binding on the Committee. This meant that the Committee was still the highest decision making body. This meant that for Free State; the Committee would still have to confirm Masilonyana.
There had been a proposal from Mr Mhlanga to move for adoption for the 3rd term programme. The minutes as well as the report would be dealt with when the Committee headed by Mr Mhlanga had dealt with whatever needed to be dealt with.
The printed copies of the document were not clear so the situation could not be dealt with. The Committee would take this matter up with those responsible as it could not afford to have copies that were blank.
Report of oversight to Nquthu
The Chairperson said the Committee would deal with the minutes in respect of the oversight visit to Nquthu in relation to section 139 and apologised for the challenge of printing. What should also be captured was the coordination with regard to accommodation. It was very frustrating when the Committee was in KZN; that should be captured as part of the opening remarks. A letter should be written to Mr Nyambi to convey the frustrations of Members of the Committee. The Committee was dealing with issues that were volatile and could not afford to be in a place where there was no security. Last week Monday while in KZN; the MM of Richmond was shot dead. People went for cheaper accommodation but that made the Committee more vulnerable. Some decisions made by the Committee such as dissolving the Municipality would not be well received well. Sometimes the Committee was booked in hotels where there was no network and at other times in places that was not accessible. The Committee needed focus as it dealt with crucial issues
The report was adopted with amendment.
Report of the proactive oversight visits to Dikgatlong, Sol Plaatjie and Magareng Municipalities
The Chairperson said when the Committee arrived at Dikgatlong; the issue of accommodation was again a challenge. The Committee was threatened by Councillors who had said they would only give the Committee five minutes to speak. When there were reports, specific areas that needed follow up should be highlighted. Let there be an annexure of all extracts from the Committee so that there could be a link up of the annexure as well as the report and progress could be traced. The only amendment was on page 6, paragraph 10 (1) where the correct position was that the officials of South African Local Government Association (SALGA) came for the meeting but arrived late.
The report was adopted with amendment.
The Chairperson thanked Members and remarked that if there were situations happening on ground, Members should not wait but be flexible, respond and report back at a later stage. He thanked the Members for making his job as the Chairperson easier. The Minister would be invited very soon so that the Committee could share with him the rounds the Committee had made to many Municipalities as well as Eskom.
The meeting was adjourned.