The Committee met to consider its programme for the first term of 2018. The Committee spoke about various aspects relating to the programme including the worrisome absenteeism of ANC Members at Committee meetings and prioritising municipalities experiencing crises. These municipalities were spread across the Free State, KZN, Mpumalanga, North West, Northern Cape and Western Cape. The Committee discussed the need to have Members residing in those provinces present when the Committee visited these municipalities. There was also a Bill on the programme of the Committee to deal with in the first term expeditiously so that it could be sent to the NCOP.
The Chairperson stated that the agenda for the meeting was to adopt the 2018 first term programme of the Committee which was circulated a week before the meeting.
Apologies were noted from Mr S Mthimunye
Ms Engelbrecht (DA, Gauteng) asked if she could congratulate the ANC on deciding that the opposition parties were correct, a decision which was made at 03h00.
Ms T Mokwele (EFF, North West) found the absenteeism of some ANC Members worrisome – Members are voted in by the people so they should respect the people that voted them in. The meeting is an important exercise where Members need to confirm and follow-up on issues affecting the people of South Africa. It is also worrisome because this was the first meeting of the Committee for the year. Furthermore, Members of the ANC were not present at the strategic planning session of the NCOP.
The Chairperson responded that due to congratulatory remarks not being part of the agenda for today’s meeting, congratulations would be considered for later discussions. The matter of absentees will be noted and taken up with the Whip of the Committee.
In terms of the first term programme, the Committee is looking at a briefing on the status of interventions on Tuesday, 20 February 2018 because there was more flexibility for this item. The ultimate objective was to ensure Members were out on the ground and adopted a positive attitude for the first term of the year.
Municipalities facing challenges or crises will be prioritised on a flexible timeframe agreed upon and only representatives of the provinces will be taken along to expedite processes. Municipalities that will be prioritised include Masilonyane and Mafube in the Free State, Cape Town in the Western Cape, Ugu in KwaZulu-Natal, Magareng and Dikgatlong in Northern Cape, Mbombela in Mpumalanga, Rustenburg, Madibeng and Moses Kotane in the North West.
The Chairperson noted that also on the Committee’s programme for the first term was a Bill which needed to be expedited in terms of ensuring that the processes are finalised and reported back to the NCOP. Also on the programme was an amendment made in terms of the Rule 91 application that gives the Chairperson the power to act on behalf of the Committee and, when visiting municipalities, ensuring Members that resided in that province were present during the visit. The best approach for the Committee would be to ask which municipalities need immediate attention and to work around the dates based on the programme.
The outcome on the engagement with the five municipalities that were met will be tabled and the report will be scheduled for 14 February. There will be communication with the Chairpersons of the Petitions Committee and Justice and Security so that the report may be squeezed in terms of follow-ups to be made.
Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) asked that there be follow ups made on Masilonyane and Mafube because the process of being under administration was ending. These municipalities need to be looked into urgently and the Committee should consider visiting them again according to processes. He was concerned that the municipalities were a long way from standing on their own.
The Chairperson responded that as much as there are entry and exit points, the Committee needs to look at the exit point in case municipalities have already selected municipal managers or if any processes have been made. Terms of references and expected adherences, this will need to be looked into and agreed upon between the Committee, the MEC and the municipalities. The municipalities will have to be expedited in order to know if there has been an invocation of Section 139 and if the results yielded or not lie with the NCOP, because the NCOP has the power to review where it arises.
Mr Michalakis asked for clarity on the involvement of Members accompanying the Chairperson because it will take up the Committee’s time on the basis of the programme and, in light of the political situation regarding the fact that the State of Nation Address (SONA) has not yet taken place, the Committee needs to consider when the Address will take place and how this would affect the programme of the Committee.
The Chairperson responded that the pressing issues facing the Committee would be to squeeze in its programme because waiting would only cause damage.
Mr M Chetty (DA, KZN) said that in terms of KZN, the Committee needs to look at the Ugu district and the water crisis - Minister Van Rooyen has expressed interest. This was similar to what was happening in Cape Town. The matter should be reported to the local district municipality.
The Chairperson responded that the administration will have to consolidate and squeeze the dates and be flexible so that a submission could be made. Communication and agreements will be made on the development and any unfolding activities.
Ms Mokwele asked that there be an inclusion of Dikgatlhong and Magareng in the Northern Cape.
The Chairperson asked that the Chief Whip will be notified as to whom will be taken along if there were no representatives from these provinces. He emphasised that there must be proactive oversight and not a reactive oversight in case of visiting municipalities.
Mr Michalakis suggested that the Committee prioritise the municipalities where requests for Section 139 have been submitted or where municipalities are already under administration.
The Chairperson responded that Committee will try to strike a balance where there are critical issues that need to be addressed. A meeting can be scheduled in the particular areas that need follow-up such as Masilonyane which had a crisis of water. The possibility of meeting with leadership of institution needs to be checked to get a sense of what is happening to know when a concretised plan of action can be developed on behalf of the Committee so that Members were well informed in terms of the state of affairs in that particular municipality.
The Chairperson said that the process needs to be expedited for it to unfold and when reporting back to consider other provinces the Committee did not have the opportunity to interact with, except those that were dealt with in terms of section 47 of the Municipal Systems Act.
The meeting was adjourned.